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MSC Launches New Island Destination

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MSC Cruises has been a busy bee with new destinations recently!  They just announced the first details of yet another island destination, the Sir Bani Yas Island beach oasis which is located off the coast of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The 1.5 mile stretch of land on the natural island of Sir Bani Yas has been transformed into a oasis destination, just for MSC guests.  Starting in December of this year, MSC Fantasia will add the new destination to its winter cruises in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi region, and guests will be able to spend a full day there.

The cruise line has been working on perfecting the destination with the Abu Dhabi Ports Authority for over two years.  The beach is on a smaller island, which is connected to the main island via a wooden boardwalk.  It features all you could want in a beach vacation – hundreds of palm trees, over 2,000 sunbeds, and shaded cabanas.

Other key facilities include:

  • a private space for MSC Yacht Club guests with finger food and drinks
  • an MSC Aurea Spa area with a menu of massages from beachside cabanas with sea views.  Treatments will include the Aurea Del Mare massage with seashells, bamboo massage therapy, and a range of Bali massages.
  • sports facilities include beach volleyball and tennis
  • a family and kid’s area with a parents’ pergola
  • a bedouin tent offering local arts and crafts
  • a lounge space with a bar and live music

MSC’s beach oasis will offer something for everyone.  From natural sunbathing spots to walking trails, and more action-packed activities such as mountain biking, football, snorkeling, kayaking, and more.  When it comes to cuisine, the cruise line hasn’t overlooked this aspect of the destination either.  Guests will be able to enjoy a variety of fresh and authentic food options, with offerings such as regional and international favorites, beachside BBQs, and exotic cocktails from one of the six beach bars.  Ship food and drink services, such as drink packages, extend onto the island as well – so the fun never ends.

Sir Bani Yas island is one of the region’s largest wildlife reserves, and the Arabian Wildlife Park on the main island is home to over 13,000 animals, as well as millions of trees and plants.  MSC Cruises has worked closely with the port authorities and ecologists to develop the destination fully in line with the broader island project, and support the ongoing preservation work.

Guests at MSC’s beach will have direct access to the reserve, with a range of special excursions allowing guests to take in the natural beauty.  These include horseback riding, a safari-style nature drive, and a Dhow tour around the island in a traditional powered boat, giving guests the opportunity to see giraffes, hyenas, and cheetahs in their natural habitat.  For guests that want to learn about the history and culture of the island, a tour to the ruins of an early Christian monastery site from 6th century AD will be available.

Cruises to the Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sir Bani Yas region will range from 7 to 14 nights.  Guests can embark from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and visit Sir Bani Yas Island, Bahrain, Doha, Khasab, Khor Fakkan, and Muscat.  The first cruise to call at the new destination will depart on December 3, 2016.

photos: MSC Cruises

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line Returns to St. Maarten

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Carnival Cruise Line has marked their return to St. Maarten, four months after the island was devastated by hurricanes. Earlier today, Carnival Sunshine was the first in the fleet to return to the nation with a day-long call there.

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The visit is the first of dozens of port calls by Carnival ships to the Caribbean destination in the coming weeks.

Over 3,000 passengers onboard enjoyed a variety of shore excursions, as well as St. Maarten’s world-class beaches and shopping and dining in downtown Philipsburg.

Photos: Carnival Cruise Line

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Princess Cruises Debuts Treehouse in Alaska

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Princess Cruises has announced that their 2018 schedule will feature the line’s custom-designed wilderness treehouse at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. The new addition will allow guests an opportunity to view Denali while enjoying themed activities amongst the trees.

The treehouse was the first-ever designed and constructed in Alaska by Pete Nelson, the star of Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters.” As one of the highest land-based north-facing viewing areas, it will provide travelers a great view of the mountain. At approximately 500 square feet and powered by solar panels, guests can access the treehouse by hiking the short “hill trail loop.”

princess cruises treehouse

Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge Treehouse

Guests on a Princess cruisetour will be able to enjoy the treehouse, along with visits to other Princess-owned lodges, and a ride on the exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service. This year, treehouse activities and programs will include:

Tales from The Sourdough Expedition

Hosted by author, world record holder, and amputee mountain climber, Todd Huston, guests will follow along a story of the first successful ascent of Denali – the Sourdough Expedition. Participants will be Huston and fellow adventurers before beginning their own trek to the line’s treehouse. Stories of the first successful ascent will entertain guests as they explore area trails, and the journey will end with a cup of hot chocolate and doughnuts. The 45-minute expedition runs five days a week for a small fee.

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Sappy Hour

Found in the interior of Alaska, boreal forests are carpeted with Birch and Spruce trees, providing ideal conditions for syrup production. Beginning in 2018, guests can gather inside the treehouse for a rare sampling of birch syrups and other tree-inspired products. Guests will learn about Birch trees and the harvesting of Birch syrup. Sappy Hour will run daily for a small fee.

Trivia at the Treehouse

Guests can test their knowledge of The Great Land with an afternoon of brain-stretching fun. Hosted by the lodge’s resident naturalist, travelers will experience trivia while taking in gorgeous views of North America’s highest peak from the trees. Trivia will take place daily and is complimentary for lodge guests.

Watch a time-lapse of the construction of the Mt. McKinley treehouse here.

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Ship Gets Major Makeover

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It’s not every day that a girl turns 18. But since the Carnival Victory — launched in October of 2000 — is hitting that milestone this year, she’s about to get a very special present in the form of a major makeover. By the time the ship emerges from a scheduled 17-day drydock, she’ll have a whole slew of new features sure to make her popular among those looking to do short cruises out of Miami!

Big Changes For The Carnival Victory

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Popular Guy’s Burger Joint was added during the refit.

Having quietly slipped away for a rejuvenating dry dock visit on January 4th, the Carnival Victory will remain in seclusion until January 21st, when she’ll make her triumphant return to Miami, ready to once again receive guests. (And where better to spend her downtime than in Freeport, Bahamas?) When the Victory returns to service, changes will be made to nearly every aspect of the ship, including the addition of several new venues and even stateroom categories.

So what are the highlights of the Carnival Victory’s refurb? As big fans of Guy’s Burger Joint, we’re going to put the addition of that venue at the top of the list. When you’re hanging out by the pool and want a little something to munch on — but don’t feel like getting dressed to hit the buffet — there’s nothing better than one of these burgers with a side of fries.

In fact, a lot of the Victory‘s improvements can be found poolside, and they are venues which have proved crazy popular on other ships. The RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Cantina and BlueIguana Tequila Bar will all be serving up food and drinks to sunworshippers once the ship returns to service at the end of January.

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View Carnival Victory Deck Plans

But don’t worry… eating al fresco won’t be the only new option available to passengers. The ship will also add a Bonsai Sushi Express, a great grab-and-go option for fresh sushi, sashimi, rolls and more. The ship’s deli is also getting an upgrade, with a whole new look and seven new sandwiches on the menu. And you’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Cherry On Top, the perfect place to not only stock up on candies but (if you’re feeling generous) pick up a unique gift for the folks back home.

New Stateroom Categories

(Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)

As part of the dry dock, several new stateroom categories will also be added to the Carnival Victory. Among them will be the 260-square-foot Scenic Ocean View cabins and 320-square-foot Scenic Ocean View staterooms. But if you really wanna live a little, check out the Captain’s Suite. This 820-square-foot space includes two full-sized bathrooms, a big living room and an extended balcony.

Once out of dry dock, the Carnival Victory will return to Miami and again sail 3- and 4-day cruises. The three days sailings depart on Friday and call upon Nassau, while the four-day trips go to Key West and Cozumel or Nassau as well as the line’s private island, Half Moon Cay.

Photos via Carnival

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