Viking Oceans

Viking has set the standard for European River Cruising,  having succeeded in taking its passengers to places that have been overlooked  in mainstream tourism and providing a look into parts of Europe  that have yet to be ruined by endless crowds, cheap food, and inauthentic  tourist traps.  But, though Viking River  Cruises has continued to grow and expand its fleet of longships, they  announced almost a month ago   the introduction of the Viking Star, which  will herald in their new fleet of oceangoing vessels under the brand Viking  Oceans.

The new Viking Star, © Viking Cruises

Forget the massive cruise ships that have replaced the  destination as the reason for going, Viking Oceans’ ships will bring passengers  back to exploring the cultural, historic, and culinary heart of the places they  visit.  Here’s what it will offer:

© Viking Cruises

Viking has tailored its newest brand with experienced  travelers in mind.  Its ports include  cities that appeal to experienced travelers, with more time in port, late  evenings, or overnight stays, offering guests the chance to explore a port’s  nightlife.  Each cruise fare will include  a veranda stateroom–that is, all staterooms are veranda staterooms.  Shore exursions, all onboard meals, all port  charges and government taxes, complimentary beer and wine with lunch and  dinner, wifi, self-service laundry, and 24-hour room service for all  passengers.

 © Viking Cruises

Accomodations:

Although every stateroom has a verandah there are still the  conventional room categories that range from the 270 sq. ft. standard room  which offers king sized beds, large showers, and LCD TVs to the incredibly  spacious 1163 sq. ft. explorer suites that provide wrap around verandas and  priority access to ship’s services and options.

© Viking Cruises

Dining:

Like its river cruises, the Viking Star will highlight regional  and local specialties made from locally sourced ingredientswith several  additional options onboard for passengers wanting American classic, heart  healthy options, or simply seeking to enjoy their meals al fresco.

© Viking Cruises

Activities:

Keeping in line with their alternative approach to cruising,  the ship’s activities and amenities.

  • The onboard spa offers a holistic, Scandinavian set of options such as its snowflake filled snow room.
  • Two onboard pools: one featuring a retractable roof and the other an infinity pool that’s perched off the stern of the ship.
  • Relaxing spaces such as the Explorers’ lounge with its two story panoramic windows, selection of craft beers, and Viking Deli or the Wintergarden surrounding the main pool where passengers can play witness to a tea ceremony or partake in an afternoon tea service.
  • The Star Theater will offer enrichment lectures from experts on topics of       regional history, art, and music.
  • An onboard cooking school allows passengers to not only enjoy the regional specialties that are served onboard but also how to make them.

Sailings:

Although the first ship, the Viking Star, isn’t scheduled to begin its maiden voyage unto 2015,  rooms are already filling up for its itineraries to Scandinavia and the Baltic; and Western and Eastern   Mediterranean destinations.

To learn more, we invite you to visit the Viking Oceans’ website.

Our Review of Allure of the Seas: Part 2

While the multitude of things to do aboard the Allure could fill any vacation, the ship does visit several ports of call along its Caribbean route where various shore excursions are offered. Here’s what my experience was:

Renaissance Ft. Lauderdale Cruise Port Restaurant

Jamaica

Best of Jamaica tour —We were picked up at the harbor for our drive to Dunn’s River Falls, the first stop on our tour. Jamaica is a beautiful, lush and green island. Climbing the falls is a great experience, but visitors should be prepared to get wet as they literally climb up the rocks in the falls. Though it’s not as dangerous as it sounds. Local guides help each group with the climb. After, we drove past Ocho Rios to Shaw Park Hotel designed and built in a historic plantation style. Our meal consisted of traditional Jamaican fare. Our next event was a boat ride along coast of Jamaica back to Ocho Rios for a ride back to Falmouth where the ship was docked. And, as with any cruise ship terminal, there are plenty of stores here that more or less offer the same touristy souvenirs passengers can expect at every stop along the way.

Cozumel
Swimming with the Rays – We were picked up from the pier and took a short, 5 minute ride to a resort on the beach where the stingrays are. The first ½ hour of the excursion was spent in the shallow portion of the ocean where we were able to feed, pet and learn about stingrays. The next ½ hour was the actual snorkeling in deeper water with stingrays and other fish.

Before concluding my reviews of the Alllure of the Seas and its offerings, I wanted to provide some fun facts and some useful information for anyone thinking about or planning on traveling aboard this ship.

Senor Frogs, Cozumel

Fun and useful facts:
•Princess Fiona (from Shrek) is the godmother of the ship.
•The main theater on Allure of the Seas is equipped to handle 3D movies, many of which are first-run DreamWorks films.
•All cabins feature iPod docking stations
•The Allure also has over 9800 pieces of art throughout the ship, with over 1,200 works of art in the public areas. As you explore the ship, you will find new hidden treasures everywhere. One of the best things I really liked was finding new surprises on every deck.
•TV’s in the staterooms allow you to access your personal shipboard account, see your daily calendar and make reservations if you wish.
•Though our own personal experience is perhaps not typical for all passengers, we were not forced to wait in any lines or delays in getting on and off the ship which I thought was amazing.

The Allure of the Seas is a wonderful ship with plenty of options for cruisers of all ages and families of all sizes. And while the size and the number of passengers may put off some travelers to the idea of sailing aboard it, the ship’s variety of venues afforded several opportunities to find my own little place onboard that wasn’t crowded. While the experience was enjoyable, one of the things I did note was that many times I did not feel like I was at sea but at a land based resort, and I could not feel any movement of the ship at all nor could I feel the wind. The entire crew the Allure was friendly, going out of their way to make sure every guest enjoyed their cruise; the number of dining options, both included and not, were exceptional and never once did I find myself unsatisfied with the selection or my meal; and all in all, I would do it again, just to get to everything I did not have time to experience the first time around.

Jamaica

Other useful information:

The only time the ship felt crowded was at meal times for breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer buffet and then waiting in line for the dining at 5:30pm and 8:30pm. The elevators took a while during meal times as many people were using them, and on the sea days, the pool areas were jammed packed.

Taxi from the FLL airport to the pier is about $20 and takes about 10 minutes. You can actually see the cruise port from the airport. For a really great hotel close to the pier, we stayed at the Renaissance Ft. Lauderdale Cruise Port which includes breakfast. There is a Walgreens Drug store across the street from the hotel and a lovely restaurant a very short walk from the hotel, right on the water. The hotel offers a shuttle to the pier for $6.00 per person which is about a 3 minute drive. It actually took longer to wait in line to get out of the taxi than driving from hotel. Check in was very easy and efficient, making for a quick ship boarding.

Activities Aboard the Allure of the Seas

As I mentioned in my previous posts about the Allure of the Seas, this ship has everything. Among the many amenities available aboard it includes a jogging track on Deck 5. 1 lap around is approximately 1 1/2 miles. There is also a state-of-art fitness center, 2 Flow Rider surf simulators, 2 rock-climbing walls, a zip line, a full-size basket ball court, ice-skating rink, mini golf course, 4 pools including 1 adults only pool in the Solarium, 10 whirlpools with 2 of them cantilevered overlooking the ocean, an H20 Zone kids water park. There is also a full-service spa and salon, the fitness center offers yoga and tai-chi classes. One will also find Dreamworks characters onboard ship, character dining, parades, ice shows, aqua shows and of course, the only carousel at sea.

The Solarium is a great place to relax in on the days at sea if you are looking for a quiet place on the ship. It is located at the front of the ship on Deck 15 with wonderful views of the ocean.

The other pool areas get very crowded in the late morning and early afternoons on the days at sea, so you have to get to the pool areas early to get some chairs. I found the pool spaces to be a bit too small for the number of people on the ship, but with a bit of pre-planning, it works.

There is lots of evening entertainment, the Comedy Club, the Ice Show, Chicago, Oceanaria, The Blue Planet, Casino Royale, On-Air karaoke club, live jazz club, movies under the stars, etc. You will not lack for something to do.

I definitely recommend making reservations for the nightly shows to ensure you get in. Space does “sell out”. If you do not have reservations and wish to try to get in, the shows will release all unclaimed reservations 10 minutes before showtime and allow anyone waiting to go in.

There are several great children’s and teen programs onboard the ship based on age appropriate activities as well as teen lounge areas and a disco. There are also several family friendly activities including games and contests.

Allure of the Seas Dining Options

A ship the size of the Allure of the Seas it’s no surprise that there are many, many dining options that span both complimentary and specialty restaurants. Among the complimentary dining is the Main Dining Room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Park Café, Windjammer Café, Wipeout Café, Promenade Café, Solarum Bisto, Sorrento’s Pizza and room service (there is a fee for room service in the very early hours of the morning). Among the Specialty restaurants, which require a surcharge and reservations to dine in them, are 150 Centra Park, Chops Grille steakhouse, Giovanni’s Table and Samba Grill. The ship also offers casual restaurants for a nominal fee; Johnny Rockets, Cupcake Cupboard, Rita’s Cantina, Boardwalk Dog House and the Ice Cream Parlor.

During my stay aboard the ship, I had breakfast the first 2 days at the Windjammer Cafe. The café had lots of people at regular dining times, but I had no trouble finding a table in spite of the crowds. The café offers great breakfast buffet fare with many food choices. To avoid the breakfast crowds, we decided to try out the Park Café in Central Park and were delighted to discover that there are not many people here, plus we had the added bonus of dining outdoors among the lush gardens. Not as many food choices, but they offered a build your own bagel bar, fresh fruit, muffins, breakfast burritos, McMuffin sandwhiches and a selection of pastries.

I had dinner in the My Time Dining Room 3 times and the food was excellent as usual and they offer a magnificent Crème Brule for dessert. Opting for the My Time Dining allowed me to choose what time I wanted to eat. With it, you can choose to make reservations at a specific time for the dining room, or you can just show up when you are ready to eat. I did not make reservations for the dining room and was able to get right in when I arrived between 5:30 and 6:30pm. If you want to use the My Time dining option but want to eat after 7:00pm, I would suggest making reservations for the dining room.

I also tried 4 of the specialty restaurants: Rita’s Cantina, Samba Grill (a Brazillian steakhouse), Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table.

Dinner my first night was a Sail Away party at Rita’s Cantina, a Mexican restaurant on the Boardwalk which requires reservations. The meal included 3 margaritas, excellent appetizers, a main course of fajitas, and a dessert of flan and churro’s with chocolate dipping sauce. Audience participation entertainment was provided in the form of dancing along to the Mexican fiesta music as well as dancing instruction outside the restaurant on the boardwalk, familiar favorite songs, and sombreros and blinking light necklaces. My only complaint was the music was very, very loud and I felt I had been at a rock concert after leaving dinner.

The Samba Grill experience begins when you are seated and the waiter brings a warm basket of small round divine cheese rolls. One could really make a meal of these cheese rolls, they are so delicious. The meal begins at a self-serve salad bar filled with a wonderful selection of appetizers, soups, salads, shrimp (one of my absolute favorites). The main course features various cuts of rotisserie-roasted meat carved tableside and traditional Brazilian desserts.

Chops Grille feels like an upscale restaurant and their specialty is, of course, steak. The meal begins with a loaf of warm, crusty bread. Appetizer selections are always hard to make, but I choose the wild mushroom soup which was wonderful. There are several steak choices and I selected the fillet mignon. The steak was wonderfully tender and came with a side dish of broccolini, and my dessert choice was Red Velvet Cake.

Gionvanni’s Table is also located in Central Park and offered outside dining, in fact the same table I had at breakfast. Giovanni’s table is a family style Italian restaurant with many lovely pasta dishes.

There are several types of drink packages offered. I took advantage of the soda package, receiving a refillable drink cup in my stateroom and my shipboard card also had a symbol on it denoting the drink package. I just needed to show my card at any bar or restaurant and received my choice of soda. The ship also has drink machines where you can refill your cup yourself. My friend choose to purchase a 5-bottle wine package which she enjoyed. Each night at dinner, she received a list of wines that she could choose from. If she was not able to finish the wine at dinner, the waiter was able to save it for the next night. They notate the bottle with your room number on it, making it available the next night at whatever dining venue passengers decide to eat at.

Our Review of the Allure of the Seas: Part 1

I’ve never had the desire to sail onboard one of the new mega ships, but recently, I had the opportunity to take a 7-night cruise on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. The ship holds 5,400 passengers and 2,175 crew. Thanks to its size, once onboard, it is easy to forget you are on a ship. There is virtually no movement of the ship when at sea and many places where one does not even see see the ocean.

My first impression upon arrival at the pier is that this ship is gigantic–truly a floating city. We arrived at the pier at about 11:30am and was surprised at how quickly check-in went. Our staterooms were not ready until 1:45 PM, but we were able to wander around and get familiar with the ship. In spite of its enormous size the ship is very well laid out, providing plenty of places for its 5,400 passengers to occupy its time.

The design and features of this ship are really spectacular. One thing I noticed right away onboard ship is that near all the elevators is an interactive information center which is available in 5 languages. These information centers help you find your cabin, include dining and venue information, what to do right now and also give indicators on how busy each dining venue is at that moment. It also provides a very handy button for mapping the way to any destination or cabin. The ship is easy to navigate. I saw many parents with strollers and several people with mobility scooters.

Central Park

We entering on the Promenade Deck, I took the elevator to Central Park for a look around and some lunch. My first impression of Central Park was one of incredulity. Royal Caribbean has really recreated an open-air park. You actually forget that you are on a ship as there are no views of the sea but it is open to the sky. Live, lush green foliage, plants, flowers and open air bring it to life along with many hidden gems tucked away in corners. There were even live birds and butterflies sailing with us during the week.

Central Park has 4 restaurants and 2 bars; the Park Café, Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and 150 Central Park, Vintages Wine Bar and the Trellis Bar. It also has 3 shops, the Britto Store and art gallery, a Coach store and a portrait studio. This is also where you find the interior view balcony cabins rising up on both sides of the park. Lunch at the Park Café was tasty, offering salads, roast beef sandwiches and panini’s. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. After discovering the Windjammer Café is really crowded for breakfast in the mornings, we tried out the Park Café and had a great breakfast sitting outdoors with no waiting.

The Boardwalk

The Boardwalk is a really fun place which was inspired by seaside piers on the coast a England and Coney Island. It really feels like you are on a boardwalk. Again, hard to believe you are at sea on a ship. The Boardwalk features the Boardwalk Dog House offering many different types of hot dogs, ice cream parlor, Pets at Sea (pseudo Build-A-Bear) candy store, Johnny Rockets 50’s style diner, donuts at breakfast time, cotton candy, 2 rock climbing walls and the only all wood carousel at sea. The Aqua Theater where Oceanaria, a water/diving show with water acrobatics and high-diving is performed as well as a Madagascar water show during the day. You can also watch movies under the stars here. The Boardwalk also has the interior balconies overlooking the boardwalk as well as the Aqua Theater Suites which have really big balconies. The Aqua Theater Suites are at the end of the Boardwalk overlooking the Aqua Theater. People booking cabins in this area will have quite a bit of noise from the Boardwalk well into the night.

Promenade

The Promenade is a lovely deck that has somewhat of a 1920’s feel to it, complete with bars, shops, Sorrento’s Pizza. A really great 1920s feel to it, complete with a 1920 Cadillac right in the middle of it, a Cupcake Cupboard, Guest Services, a Coach store, the Rising Tide Bar which moves between decks 5 & 6, and the first ever Starbucks at sea and much more. The Cupcake Cupboard offers delicious cupcakes and also offers a cupcake making class (for a fee). The class was loads of fun and most of all, a delicious treat at the end!

Royal Caribbean’s Next Ship: The Quantum of the Seas

While the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure  of the Seas hold the title as the largest and longest ships in the world,  Royal Caribbean’s next class of ships, the Quantum  Class, will feature its own set of unique, industry firsts such as an  onboard skydiving simulator and an observation tower.  Here are some of its more notable features:

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

One of the most notable features  of a Quantum class ship is the giant arm with a glass walled capsule at the end  sitting at the top.  This is the  NorthStar observation tower which will take guests up and over the side of the ship.  Use of it will be complimentary and on a  first come, first serve basis with the exception of sunset, sunrise, and  private trips which will be available for reservations and an extra charge.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Ripcord, the skydiving simulator,  is an onboard vertical wind tunnel that provides passengers the sense of  freefalling.  It’s available free of  charge to all passengers, but it does require a reservation which can be made  pre-cruise.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

 

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Two70 is situated on decks 5-7 at  the stern of the ship features a three story high, 270 degree panoramic ocean  view.  Changing throughout the course of  the day, this venue features a cafe, an ice bar, and a performance venue for  nouveau cirque style show and disco.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Along with some of Royal  Caribbean’s favorite activity venues such as the flow rider and the rock  climbing walls, Quantum ships will feature a new sports venue called  SeaPlex.  Located on deck 15, this two  story indoor venue features a full-sized basketball court that also serves as a  dance floor, flying trapeze school, a roller skating arena, and a bumper cars  ride.  It also features a food truck  styled, casual dining option with table tennis, air hockey, and foosball tables  on the second level.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Following Norwegian Cruise Line  in the same vein of endless options for travelers, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of  the Seas will feature studio staterooms for single travelers with 12 that will  feature balconies, interior staterooms use floor-to-ceiling 80-inch  high-definition TV screens showing live views of the outside of the ship which  Royal Caribbean refers to as Virtual Balconies, and modular staterooms that can  be connected for families.  On average,  the staterooms aboard Quantum class ships are 9% larger than those of the Oasis  class.

Photo Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The Quantum of the Seas is  scheduled to visit the Caribbean and the Bahamas  for its first itineraries, sailing out of New York harbor.

The Royal Princess Arrives June 2013

The next ship to be launched under the Princess name is to  be the Royal Princess which will enter service in June of this year.  It is to be the first of a class bearing the  same name and will have two sister ships, the Regal Princess and another yet to  be named ship.

Atrium, Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Among her most notable highlights:

  • A       piazza style atrium, now 50% larger in size.
  • The       largest top pool deck throughout the Princess Fleet which will feature a       water and light show, an improved Movies Under the Stars screen, and the       new SeaWalkSM where passengers will be able to walk over the side of the       ship and view the water 128 feet below through a glass bottom on the       starboard side. On the port side of the ship, is the Seaview bar.
  • Water       & Light Show is an evening show on the top pool deck with sound and       light accompanied by dancing waters that shoot 33 feet in the air.
Forward Dining Room, Courtesy of Princess Cruises
  • Dining      
    • General Dining Options
      • Two Anytime Dining rooms where passengers will         have the choice to dine with whoever and whenever.
    • Casual Dining Options
      • Ocean Terrace Seafood Bar encompasses every         seafood option imaginable including sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and caviar.
      • Alfredo’s         Pizzeria offers hand tossed Neapolitan style pizza
      • Vines         provides wine, sushi, and a tapas bar
      • The Horizon Court Buffet is double the size of         those aboard other ships and features the a large selection of quick         meal options, snacks, a hibachi grill, several rotisseries, carving         stations, a taqueria, salad tossing stations, and the Pastry Shop which         is situated in a completely separate space offering, as the name         suggests, pastries and a full range coffee bar.
      • Gelato is the pastry shop/ gelateria
      • International Cafe offers pastries but also         paninis
      • The Pastry Shop naturally has pastries, hote         desserts, flambes and a coffee bar.
    • Specialty        Restaurants aboard the Royal Princess will include
Seaview Bar, Courtesy of Princess Cruises
Movies Under the Stars, Courtesy of Princess Cruises
    • Club        6 aptly named for its location on Deck 6, is the new dance club.
    • Princess        Live! is the first at sea TV studios that will broadcast aboard ship        events such as culinary shows, live concerts, late night comedy and game        shows.
  • Staterooms      
    • Staterooms        offered aboard ship includes a larger version of the balcony stateroom,        the Deluxe Balcony stateroom, which offers all of the same amenities as        the other rooms including more space and a sofa bed.
    • Staterooms        aboard ship feature a new design that includes a larger vanity area,        enhanced mirror lighting, increased shower space, and a detachable        hand-held massage shower head.
    • Environmentally-friend        key card system helps to save energy onboard when passengers are not in        their stateroom.
  • Recreation
    • The Center Court        offers a number of outdoor activities that include basketball, tennis,        volleyball, a portable batting cage, putting green, bocce ball, croquet        area, an indoor driving range, and a laser shooting range.
    • The        Lotus Spa is another largest offering the largest spa with an even        greater number of services such as the Relaxation Lounge and treatment        villas for couples.
    • Movies        Under the Stars has become a fairly common occurrence among cruise        ships.  Aboard the Royal Princess,        the screen is high-definition and twice the size on previous ships.
    • The        Sanctuary is an outdoor lounge which is 20% larger with a new decor and        white canopy, and an adjacent retreat pool with poolside cabanas.
Top Deck, Courtesy of Princess Cruises

The Royal Princess’s Maiden Season will include voyages  through Europe.

Itineraries   will include

  • 7-Day Iberia  Voyage
  • 12-Day Grand Mediterranean
  • 18-Day Maiden Venetian Passage
  • 3-Day Advance Preview Sailings

While these features represent only a few of the aamenties, to read more about the Royal Princess, click here.

Celebrity Cruise Line’s Newest Ship: The Celebrity Reflection

October of this year saw the release of Celebrity Cruise  Line’s latest ship: the Celebrity  Reflection.  Though technically the  fifth ship in its Solstice-class, it actually hosts several amenities that are  unique to it.  Here’s what they are:

Celebrity Reflection
The Celebrity Reflection/ Image Courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Lines

All of the Solstice-class ships share a few things in  common.

  • The       half-acre of lawn appropriately named The       Lawn Club which is featured on deck 15.  Surrounding it are various restaurants,       shops, and permanent exhibits such as the Hot Glass Show.
  • The       staterooms present throughout the ship are actually larger than on other       classes in the Celebrity Line with 80% onboard having a       veranda.
  • For       the environmentally conscious, the ships of the Solstice-class were       constructed with sustainability in mind.        With a specialized silicone paint coating and hull design intended       to improve travel ships require less fuel to propel through the water,       glazed windows throughout improve energy efficiency reducing heating and       cooling costs and eliminating up to 99.9% of UV rays, onboard solar panels provide sufficient       energy to power the guest elevators or 7,000 of the ship’s LED lights, and       further energy efficient implementations make the Solstice-class ships       some of the most energy conscious cruise-ships in the world.

As for the Celebrity Reflection:

    • The       ship offers three new classes of suites
      • The        AquaClass Suites         offer 79 square foot verandas, spa amenities, and priority access to        specialty restaurants.
AquaClass Suite
The AquaClass Suite/ Image Courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Lines
  • The        Reflection Suites offers Celebrity’s first two-bedroom suite with sea-view bathrooms is        located in a private section of the sihp requiring special cardkeys to        enter.  To better facilitate        comfort in these suites, each room comes equipped with an iPad with the        Reverie Remote app allowing guests to control various features of the        room.  Included in the cost is        European-style butler service 24/7, in-suite lunch and dinner, afternoon        tea, evening hors d’oeuvres with complimentary espresso and cappuccino.  The new sea-view bathroom actually        extends over the ship allowing passengers to shower in an all-glass        enclosure with unparalleled views.
Reflection Suite
The Reflection Suite/ Image Courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Lines
Reflection Suite Bathroom
The Reflection Suite Bathroom/ Image Courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Lines
  • The        Signature Class         Suites, located near the Reflection Suites,  requires the same special        cardkey to access. It is similar to the Reflection Suites only smaller.  Still, these rooms come with        high-ceilings, an iPad control to manage various features of the room,        butler service, and many of the same amenities as its nearby sister class        of cabins.
Signature Suite
The Signature Suite/ Image Courtesy of Celebrity Cruise Lines
  • This ship also offers additional seating in the main and       specialty restaurants, more sun lounges on the pool deck, and more seats       in the theatre.
  • And, as part of the AquaClass suites, the AquaClass only restaurant Blu isn’t just about healthy  food but rather a reenvisioning of various dishes in a more health conscious light.

Though the Celebrity Reflection has already concluded its inaugural sailing from Amsterdam to Barcelona, the ship will be sailing the Caribbean from Miami for Winter 2012, the Mediterranean from Civitavecchia (Rome) during Summer 2013, and returning to the Caribbean next winter. If you’re interested in booking a sailing aboard the ship it’s best to remember that doing so in advance could save you money and guarantee a better chance to choose among the various room categories and classes.

Disney Fantasy

The latest ship to enter into service for the Disney Cruise Lines is almost ready to begin receiving passengers. Built in the same style as its sister ships the Disney Fantasy takes cues from the grand age of Ocean liners and combines it with the whimsy of Disney. However, the Disney Fantasy is not a carbon copy of the Disney Dream and features many of the same amenities but some of their own.

Restaurants

Animator’s Palate was designed to, as the name suggests, look like an animator’s studio.
Cabana’s is an indoor/outdoor casual restaurant that features fresh foods.
The Enchanted Garden was inspired by the gardens of Versailles with a sky that changes according to day.
Palo and Remy, the Italian and French themed restaurants, are adults only and are not a part of the regular rotation.

Lobby

Walt Disney Imagineering Concept Art

Nightclub

The new nightclub district, aptly named Europa, connects the various European styled bars and clubs. Including:

La Piazza: This Adults only lounge with an Italian theme has a bar modeled after a carousel.

O’Gills Pub: The name says it all. O’Gills Pub is an Irish bar offering streamed live sporting events.

The Tube: Think chic, London underground bar with mod furniture and Union Jack colors.

Ooh La La : Is the French boudoir themed bar.

Pools

The Aquaduck Water Coaster is the wildly popular transparent waterslide that extends over the side of the ship, through the forward funnel, and drops down 4 decks.

Aquadeck

Walt Disney Imagineering Concept Art

The AquaLab, another new feature to the Disney Fantasy, and is a family friendly pool. With various water experiments the Aqualab has 3 aqua stations that lets kids control the speed and temperature of the AquaDuck water coaster.

Kids Only Activities

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Walt Disney Imagineering Concept Art

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

The Fantasy is the first ship to offer the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique where girls can receive a princess makeover and boys can get the pirate experience. Also, unique to the Disney Fantasy, is the Pirate Party Nights where the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is transformed into a pirate hideaway where guests can partake in their own Pirates of the Caribbean.

Pirates League

Walt Disney Imagineering Concept Art

Spa

Like previous Disney ships the Fantasy offers a full service spa and fitness center and, in the usual Disney fashion, it also offers a teen’s only spa. The Chill Spa was built especially for teenagers age 13-17 years old and offers a Hot Chocolate Wrap featuring a massage and an antioxidant rich Body Wrap or the oddly self explanatory Ice Cream manicure and Pedicure.

Besides the new features many of the popular and interesting features of previous ships are, as previously mentioned, incorporated in the Disney Fantasy. Staterooms onboard the Fantasy are family friendly with even inside staterooms featuring a live feed of the ocean outside, a wide range of entertainment activities including an onboard movie theater and Broadway styled shows, and a combination of venues for families, kids, and adults.

Celebrating the Holidays at Sea

The holidays are a great time to cruise for families. Kids have a long break, cruise lines offer excellent specials, and ships are decked for the holidays.

For example, take those traveling aboard a Princess cruise the ships are filled with festive decor including wreaths, holly, mistletoe, and Christmas Trees. There are Yuletide carolers, waitors wearing Santa hats, themed shows, movies, and concerts. Catholics onboard can attend a Catholic Mass as well as an inter-denominational church service. Christmas dinners feature roast turkeys and goose and for dessert there are a range of seasonal treats such as gingerbread mousse, mincemeat pie, chocolate Yule logs, and Christmas cookies. In the tradition of cruising there are events to keep children entertained including parties, creating ornaments for the ship’s Christmas tree, participating in a holiday play, and on Christmas day Santa Claus visits each child onboard and brings them a present.

For Jewish passengers there are special prayer services performed by a rabbi. decorations onboard include menorahs and flower arrangements in the colors of Hanukah. During holiday sailings meals include kosher options when requested in advance and dining rooms feature specialty items such as potato latkes, matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and matzo.

New Year’s celebrations include a New Year’s Eve party with a champagne toast at midnight.

Aboard Norwegian Cruise ships there will holidays decorations including a menorah that will be lit each evening, a rabbi and a priest/minister will lead services on Christmas Eve. Menu items will include desserts such as pumpkin souffle and pear and chestnut torte. For New Years guests can celebrate with a glass of champagne and countdown to midnight with the captain.