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Holland America Ship Gets a New Look [PHOTOS]



Holland America Line has released new photos of the recent renovation to their vessel ms Westerdam.  The ship underwent a 12-day dry dock at Fincantieri shipyard in Italy this past April, and emerged with major renovations.

Museum of the Netherlands

The cruise line’s partnership with Rijiksmuseum – the Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam – celebrates the company’s Dutch heritage.  With Rijiksmuseum at Sea aboard Westerdam, reproductions of some of its most famous masterpieces are showcased at a dedicated space on deck one of the atrium.  There are also videos about the museum and its collections on stateroom televisions.

New EXC Program

Holland America’s multifaceted EXC experience combines an array of travel resources with enrichment opportunities for guests to make their vacation more engaging and meaningful.  Much of the EXC experiences is featured in the newly created Exploration Central’s hub in the Crow’s Nest, which includes interactive screens and a virtual bridge.  Programming also includes a full EXC team to engage with guests, EXC tours, destination guides, and a theater.

Lincoln Center Stage

Cruisers aboard Westerdam have even more entertainment choices with the addition of Lincoln Center State and Billboard Onboard, complementing the existing B.B. King’s Blues Club.  Lincoln Center Stage showcases an ensemble of world-class musicians performing multiple chamber music programs nightly, and Billboard Onboard features two pianists performing shows centered around facts and figures of the music industry as chronicled by Billboard.

Gallery Bar

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During dry dock the ship also received the intimate Gallery Bar.  The sophisticated venue serves an exclusive cocktail menu by mixologist Dale DeGroff and is adorned with an eclectic and whimsical mix of artwork.  The Gallery Bar replaced Northern Lights during the refit.

America’s Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen got a whole new look during the renovations with a new color palate and new tables and chairs for guests.  The cooking demonstration shows were created in partnership with the beloved public television program and also includes hands-on workshops for those that want to get their hands dirty.  Topics range from Asian dumplings to perfecting a pie crust and more.

Lido Market

The casual Lido deck buffet has been transformed into the Lido Market concept – a marketplace with different themed stations offering a wide selection of cuisine for guests to nosh on.  Areas include freshly-baked bread and pastries at Breadboard, comfort food at Homestead, dishes from around the world at Distant Lands, Wild Harvest’s freshly made salads, and sweet treats at Sweet Spot.  Service is enhanced with coffee, juice, water, and iced tea served tableside, and in the evenings the space invites guests in with placemats, glassware, and cutlery awaiting guests at each table where they can order from a menu.

More Upgrades

Other renovations include 25 new staterooms on deck 10, a new television system throughout the ship, and new soft furnishings in public spaces around the ship.  The suites onboard also received upgrades including carpeting, a privacy curtain, quartz-stone surfaces, USB outlets, a new vanity area in the bathroom, and bedside LED lights.

Outside on deck 11, The Retreat was relocated from deck 10 and includes 15 private cabanas for rental.  Ms Westerdam is currently cruising the Mediterranean on 12-day itineraries between Barcelona and Venice or Rome.

Photos: Holland America

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Instagram Posts Reveal Cruise Secrets



According to a new study, if you’ve sailed on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, there’s a pretty good chance you not only took a lot of pictures but posted them to Instagram. The same can be said for folks who sailed on Carnival Cruise Line, who reportedly Instagrammed the second most photos. But those same posts reveal all kinds of information about who’s going where… and what they’re doing once they get there.

Over 1.8 Million Cruise Photos Were Studied

Harmony of the Seas docked in Nassau.

By studying nearly two million photos, the booking site SeaHub was able to figure out now only which lines had the biggest representation on the wildly popular photo-sharing app, but extrapolate info regarding popular destinations, which group is more likely to party and how long people tend to spend on shore while in port.

As of early January, Royal Caribbean cruisers had posted over 630,000 photographs to Instagram, while Carnival’s passengers clocked in at just under 500,000. Rounding out the top five were Disney (319,000), Princess (112,000)  and Celebrity (102,000). Breaking things even further down, SeaHub was able to determine which ship within the various fleets was most popular with Instagrammers… and which were the least popular.

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READ MORE: 7 Gorgeous Pics Of Sunsets At Sea

Where Royal Caribbean was concerned, Harmony of the Sea proved to be the most popular ship, with Rhapsody of the Sea coming in last place. For Carnival, Vista took the top spot while Ecstasy was on the bottom. Norwegian Cruise Line saw their Escape in first place, with the Bliss in dead last. And while this at first seems surprising, given how much buzz there is regarding the new ship, it’s important to remember that the rankings are based on photos posted, and those are few-and-far-between where the new build is concerned!

Carnival Claims The Party Prize

Carnival Vista

By looking at the hastags and terminology used in the posts, the informal study was able to reveal which cruise lines were associated with certain buzzwords. Carnival took the top spot when you looked at the word “party”, but Norwegian knocked them off the throne if you instead looked at “drinks.” When it came to “food” and “dinner”, Princess was the big winner… but “breakfast” went to Carnival. And while it sometimes seems as if lobster is the most talked-about menu item on cruise ships, it only ranked No. 5 when SeaHub analyzed what food is most posted/buzzed about on ships. (To be fair, “seafood” came in at No. 1, and that could include lobster.) The rest of the top 5 food items? Dessert was second, chocolate clocked in at No. 3 and the ubiquitous buffet earned the fourth spot.

What are you most likely to post pictures of when you cruise? 

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Cruise Line Cuts Ship In Half [PHOTOS]



Well, here’s something you don’t see every day: A cruise ship being sawed in half like a magician’s assistant. Why? So that a new 49-foot segment can be inserted.

What Does It Take To Cut A Ship In Half?

Silversea Cruises

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

This week in Palermo, Italy, the folks at the Fincantieri Shipyard have been executing the kind of thing you sort of have to see to believe: Thanks to the marvels of modern engineering, they are cutting Silversea’s Silver Spirit right down the middle, separating the two halves and then inserting a pre-built block into the ship before welding the whole thing together in so seamless a fashion that none will be the wiser.

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

So what does it take to accomplish such a feat? Well, breaking it down by the numbers, here’s what you get:

  • Over 500 workers
  • 450,000 man hours
  • 846 tons of steel
  • 360,892 feet of cabling
  • 26,247 feet of piping

And why would one undertake such a monumental task? Believe it or not, it’s actually cheaper than buying an entirely new ship… and will result in the Silver Spirit being able to increase their capacity by 12 percent. At the same time, she’ll undergo a massive refurbishment that will in essence transform her into an entirely new vessel.

How The Ship Will Be Refurbished

Photo via Silversea Cruises.

The entire project was inspired by the line’s flagship, Silver Muse (which not coincidentally was built at the same shipyard) and is serving as the focal influence of a fleet-wide renovation. “The lengthening and refurbishment of Silver Spirit will replicate the modern elegance of our latest vessel to make for a more luxurious travelling experience,” said Barbara Muckermann, chief marketing officer for Silversea. “This ambitious project will amplify the onboard features that matter most to our guests.”

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Photo via Silversea Cruises.

That includes dining options, which will see several dining options introduced, resulting in an 8-restaurant configuration. Up on the sky deck, the pool area will also be expanded from 98 feet to 148 feet to not only offer more space for sunworshippers, but also add a new aerobics area. The renovation will also see two new public spaces added, The Arts Cafe and Dolce Vita. Finally, all of the suites will be refurbished and upgraded.

And how cool is this? Just before arriving in Palermo to undergo her surgical procedure, the Silver Spirit stopped in Chaina, Crete, so that furniture that was being replaced could be donated to some of the charities on the island.

The ship will return to service on May 6, 2018, with 7-day sailings between Civitavecchia (Rome) and Barcelona. For more on the ship and her itineraries, click here.

“Witnessing these breathtaking phases of the Silver Spirit lengthening project has filled us with pride and excitement,” said Muckermann. And now you, too, can be wowed by the scope of the project by watching the video below.


Featured Photo via Silversea Cruises.

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Cruise Trends: What’s Topping Travel Wish Lists



When it comes to trends in cruising, Alaska is hot… and so is living the suite life. That’s according to newly released data based from the Travel Trends Survey. What else did the survey reveal about the places cruisers want to go — and what they want to do when they get there? Read on to find out.

Alaska Claims The Top Spot

Un-Cruise Adventure

While in the past, land-based vacations to places like Las Vegas and Orlando claimed the top domestic spot, the survey of over 1,300 travel agents (conducted by Travel Leaders Group) showed that Alaskan cruises are the current hot ticket. In looking at international travel, cruises to the Caribbean came in at the No. 1 spot, while there was also a sharp rise in the level of interest travelers expressed toward river cruises. The results certainly indicate that the cruise industry’s efforts to convince the public that cruising is a better value than land-based vacations seem to be paying off in spades. “Cruises are continuing to soar as a popular vacation choice for North Americans,” said Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Planning An Alaskan Cruise

The survey also revealed that interest in cruises to Cuba has increased about 10 percent over last year, which is certainly reflected in how the various lines are approaching the port. While there was some concern that recent changes in the political arena might have a negative impact on the cruise industry where Cuba was concerned, execs at the recent Seatrade Global Cruise Convention said the opposite is proving true. Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said that his line would be doubling their capacity to the region in 2018, adding, “Cuba has been great for the industry.”

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Cruisers Like The Suite Life


Photo via Carnival.

The survey also indicated that when it comes to suites, more and more passengers are booking the higher-end staterooms. In fact, 30 percent of the travel agents responding to the survey indicated that they had seen an uptick in suite bookings. Meanwhile, when asked what type of question cruisers ask most often, the respondents said shore excursion-related queries topped the list, which again is very much in keeping with what executives have indicated is happening industry-wide. During quarterly earnings calls, numerous executives from the cruise lines have indicated that when they look at onboard spending, passengers are increasingly spending their money to purchase experiences as opposed to material things.

While 72 percent of the travel agents surveyed indicated put shore excursions as the No. 1 question, other topics they were frequently grilled on by clients included shipboard activities, pre- and post-cruise travel arrangements and specialty restaurants.

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