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All-Inclusive Cruises Prove A Big Hit For Norwegian

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Last month, we told you about Norwegian Cruise Line’s move toward selling all-inclusive packages to passengers in the U.K. and Ireland. And according to a new report, the program has proven wildly popular with consumers. Could U.S. passengers soon see NCL offering all-inclusive packages again?

Agents Report “Staggering” Response

Grand Pacific dining room – Norwegian Cruise Line

Launched on April 6, Norwegian’s version of an all-inclusive cruise folded the price of drinks and service charges into the up-front price. In addition, guests staying in The Haven also received a dining package, 250 minutes of free internet service and $100 of onboard credit. And according to a report from TTG — aka the Travel Trade Gazette out of England — the program has already proven to be a wild success.

One travel agent explained to TTG that passengers liked knowing that at the end of the cruise, they’d have no bill. Perhaps more importantly, the concept is proving very popular with first-time cruisers, one of the groups of passengers lines are extremely anxious to court. “The concept will really appeal to new-to-cruise customers,” Adele McGough of Broadway Travel Group told TTG, “who have [previously] told us that they are unsure of what’s included. We can now sell them this concept in the same way we would an all-inclusive land-based hotel.”

Why New Cruisers Matter

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Library – Norwegian Cruise Line

That last point is extremely important because the cruise line industry is very aware of two things. First, there is a certain population of vacationers who still view cruising as something for old folks. Second, they know that people who do cruise — no matter their age, and no matter how they perceived cruising before setting foot on a ship — tend to become hooked. In fact, the Cruise Line International Association recently reported that an astounding 92 percent of people who are surveyed post-cruise indicate that they will book another trip in the future.

Already, the major lines have had great success in combating the “only old folks cruise” stigma by adding high-octane features like go-carts and bumper cars to their ships. But all-inclusive sailings are something which, at least in the mainstream American sector, have really only been offered as limited time special deals. In fact, in 2014 Norwegian briefly offered an all-inclusive package which included alcoholic beverages, specialty restaurants, shore excursion credits, pre-paid gratuities and more.

Not for North America, yet

Norwegian Escape in Nassau.

While Norwegian does not currently offer all-inclusive North American sailings, their Free At Sea promotion does offer perks such as free gratuities, beverage packages and more. And for guests sailing in The Haven, the cruise is virtually all-inclusive given that it includes a whole slew of the Free At Sea perks. When speaking about the future of the company during the most recent quarterly report, Norwegian execs made no mention of plans to bring back all-inclusive rates. But a Norwegian rep told us last month that “with Norwegian Sky already being all-inclusive and Free at Sea offering many amenities included in the rate, I think you’re seeing the product move toward a more inclusive model.”

Would you be willing to pay more for an all-inclusive cruise?

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Carnival Cruise Line

Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 10: Before You Disembark

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Hard as it is to believe, our time together exploring Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ships is coming to an end. But before that can happen, we need to take one last spin around the Carnival Horizon… just to make sure you aren’t missing anything!

How Do You Spend That Final Day?

Nobody likes to think about disembarkation, yet that seems to be what the mind winds up focusing on during those final 24 hours of any cruise. You’re not even off the ship yet, but the mind begins wandering to the work that will be waiting on your desk or the unmowed lawn waiting to be tended. Our best advice: Given that you are on a Carnival ship, do as they advice and Choose Fun for as long as you possibly can.

Sure, you’ll have to pack your suitcase eventually… but the last day of your vacation is when you should slow down enough to soak it all in. Give yourself a little extra time to sit in a quiet spot, staring out at the sea and taking mental photographs. Have a long, leisurely brunch (during which you allow yourself to have a second, and maybe even a third, Bloody Mary. Head to Cherry on Top and get one more of those amazing ice cream sandwiches, which you know you’re going to have cravings for once you get back home.

Choose your cookie. Choose your ice cream. Choose your toppings. Eat. Could anything be simpler?

One thing we’d definitely recommend you do in advance: If you have a specialty restaurant you want to enjoy that final dinner-at-sea in, make a reservation. For many people, dining at the Steakhouse, for example, is a perfect capper to their cruise. Tomorrow, they’ll be back to making their own dinner and clearing their own tables, so why not have one final high-end meal?

Go ahead, live a little… it’s the last night of your cruise!

Another thing you definitely want to make sure to do on that final evening is head to the casino to cash in any winnings you might have! One of our favorite ways to make sure we go home with a little money? Cashing out whenever we have a decent win on a slot machine, putting a fresh $20 bill in the game… and sticking those tickets into the safe in our stateroom and not touching them until the week is over. When it’s time to head upstairs on the final night and pack our bags, we grab those tickets and cash them out.

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One way we fight the melancholy that can often set in on the final day is by booking another trip, which on the Carnival Horizon can be done by visiting the future cruise desk on deck 10. Then, having put it off as long as we possibly could, we finally head back to the room and pack. After spending a fair amount of time deciding what to bring and what to leave behind during the days building up to the cruise, the packing-to-disembark process is a lot quicker and easier. You know the drill: Throw everything into the suitcase, don’t even bother folding it, taking as little time as possible.

The saddest thing ever? Seeing all the suitcases lining the hallways, waiting to be collected on that final night.

If you need any information at all about the disembarkaton process, make sure to check the Fun Times or ask at Guest Services. But don’t leave this until the last morning… trust us, the staff will have their hands full trying to get everyone off the ship so that a whole new group of passengers can board and begin their vacations! In fact, if you have anything at all you need to deal with Guest Services about, try not to wait until that last evening, because the place can become a bit of a zoo!

And remember that there is no room service available on that final morning, so if you want to grab one last free meal, you’ll have to actually leave the room… or at least convince one of your traveling companions to do so! Again, consulting the Fun Times will tell you where you can go for that final meal, whether it’s a sit-down breakfast or just grabbing some coffee to get yourself going!

Sadly, it is here that we, too, must part ways. Here’s hoping that you’ve enjoyed our special, in-depth look at the Carnival Horizon. Keep checking back for more information on not only this ship but the upcoming Carnival Panorama, which we’re already excited to explore!

 

 

 

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Cruise News

Property Brothers to Set Sail on Royal Caribbean Ship

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Royal Caribbean and the Property Brothers themselves, Drew and Jonathan Scott, are excited to announce a special upcoming cruise aboard Mariner of the Seas. 

Fans can join the twins this December 3 to 7 on a four-night voyage aboard the ship, which will have just completed a $90 million renovation this year. Sailing With the Scotts will include presentations with the brothers, as well as panel discussions and workshops. Attendees will also get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the latest season of Brother vs. Brother, as well as a personal session of 20 Questions with Drew and Jonathan. The twins will also host shore excursions, meet & greets, photo sessions, and dance lessons, as well as their Scott Living Showroom at Sea, featuring a sneak peek of new pieces from the brothers’ own home goods collection.

photo: Sailing with the Scotts

The brothers will be donating $25 to the charity WE (formerly known as Free The Children) for each stateroom sold for this special sailing. Every $25 will provide one person with access to clean water for life in a developing community.

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Cuisine aboard the ship includes sushi, hibachi, freshly made pasta at Jamie’s Italian, and bar bites and arcade games at Playmaker Sports Bar & Arcade. The vessel will also feature the new Bamboo Room tiki lounge.

During the day, travelers can enjoy rock climbing, ice skating, surfing on the FlowRider, and the new Sky Pad – a virtual reality, bungee jumping adventure, as well as an escape room and glow-in-the-dark laser tag.

For more information on this special cruise, visit sailingwiththescotts.com.

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Cruise News

Disney Cruise Line Details Fall 2019 Schedule

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In fall 2019, Disney Cruise Line will be returning to favorite destinations on a variety of itineraries, including cruises to Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean.

New York

Disney Magic will return to New York City in September for departures to a number of destinations.

Three special 5-night cruises feature two days in Bermuda, allowing extra time for guests to enjoy the island’s pink sand beaches, water activities, shopping, and culture. During two 7-night cruises to the Bahamas, guests will enjoy a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay as well as a day in Port Canaveral, where every guest will receive a one-day Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation to the theme parks in Orlando.

One 5-night cruise to Canada will transport travelers from New York to Saint John, New Brunswick with a stop in Bar Harbor, Maine. Saint John is home to the famous Reversing Falls and the world’s highest tides, where the Saint John River meets the Bay of Fundy.

California

In September, Disney Wonder will spend some time in San Diego for voyages to Baja and the Mexican Riviera. Baja cruises highlight the region’s famous beaches and water activities with calls in Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico. Two 7-night Mexican Riviera cruises will feature stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas.

Those sailing on select San Diego-based cruises can enrich their vacation with a pre-cruise package from Adventures by Disney. During the three-night itinerary, guests embark on a behind-the-magic visit to The Walt Disney Studios and Disney Archives, a private tour of Walt Disney Imagineering, and a visit to the place where it all began – Disneyland Resort.

Texas

Beginning late November, Disney Wonder will homeport in Galveston for a special series of cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas that are 4, 6, and 7 nights. Caribbean cruises stop in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Falmouth. Bahamian cruises stop in Castaway Cay and Key West. Two of the Bahamas sailings also stop in Nassau, and another includes a second day in Castaway Cay.

Florida

In fall 2019, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy continue sailing their extremely popular itineraries to the Bahamas and Caribbean from Port Canaveral. Meanwhile, Disney Magic will return to Miami in November with a variety of itineraries.

Disney Magic‘s lineup includes 3, 4, and 5-night cruises to the Bahamas and 5 and 6-night cruises to the western Caribbean. Most also include a stop in Castaway Cay. Bahamas cruises also stop in Nassau and Key West, and western Caribbean cruises call in Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

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photo: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line

Disney Dream will be operating 3 and 4-night cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay.

Disney Fantasy will sail 7-night Caribbean voyages, and every departure includes a stop at Castaway Cay. Eastern Caribbean itineraries visit Tortola and St. Thomas, and western Caribbean cruises call on Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth.

The vessel will also sail a selection of special cruises; in October, an 8-night voyage will head south for visits to St. Kitts, Antigua, and San Juan. A 6-night western Caribbean cruise will include calls in Costa Maya and Cozumel. Both are capped off with a day at Castaway Cay. In December, two unique 7-night cruises include one cruise to San Juan, Tortola, and Castaway Cay, and another features two days in Castaway Cay after visits to Cozumel and Grand Cayman.

DVC Charter Cruises

Disney Vacation Club has now announced the dates for two special members-only charter cruises. The first is a 5-night Pacific Coast sailing aboard Disney Wonder on May 15, and the second is a 7-night cruise to Bermuda aboard Disney Magic on October 5. Bookings for both open to DVC members on June 23, 2018.

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