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New US-Based Ship Will Have Go Karts, BBQ, and More

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Back in April, Norwegian Cruise Line announced some of the entertainment venues planned for their newest ship, the Norwegian Bliss, which is set to debut next summer. But at that time, there was no word on what dining options would be available. But this weekend, Norwegian finally released the long-awaited deck plans, giving future cruisers their first look at what restaurants will be featured, and there are more than a few surprises!

Two Biggies Are Missing

Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

Perhaps the most shocking revelation is that Norwegian Bliss will not feature the line’s popular 24/7 complimentary eatery, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill. Taking its place on deck 7 is something called the Local Bar & Grill, a rebranding of the spot perhaps best known for its wings. Also gone is Moderno, the churrascaria (or Brazillian steakhouse) found on many ships in the NCL fleet. In its place is Los Lobos, the Mexican restaurant first introduced on the Norwegian Dawn. No word yet as to whether, as in her sister ship’s version of the establishment, the Los Lobos aboard Bliss will offer an exclusive Patron-branded tequila.

Where The (Food) Action’s At

As with every Norwegian ship introduced to the fleet since the Breakaway class debuted, Bliss will feature the area known as 678 Ocean Place as well as the Waterfront promenade. The main attraction on deck 7 remains the casino (and the new Skyline bar), while deck 8 is where you’ll find the majority of restaurants, many of which will offer outdoor Waterfront seating. In fact, nearly every food and beverage venue on deck 8 — including the Sugarcane Mojito bar, Ocean Blue (the line’s high-end seafood establishment) and La Cucina (NCL’s Italian restaurant) will offer seating on the Waterfront. For those wanting a pre-dinner glass of wine, this deck will also feature the Cellars Wine Bar.

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Read More: Norwegian Bliss Now Open For Sale

It looks like the top level of 678 Ocean Place will feature both a District Brew House and Food Republic, each of which were introduced on the Norwegian Escape and proved instantly popular. The Brew House, as the name implies, is a craft beer lover’s dream, while Food Republic — developed with the folks at Pubbelly Restaurant Group — offers a wide variety of tapas dishes. (Assuming the formula which proved so successful on Norwegian Escape will be carried over, guests enjoying a beer at the Brew House will be able to order snacky bits from Food Republic!) Another cocktail venue will be The A-List bar, a main draw of which will be handcrafted cocktails.

Another new-to-Norwegian concept will be Q, an upscale Texas-style BBQ joint which will have its own staging area and feature live music performances.

In Other News

Meanwhile, Norwegian’s announcement also confirmed the worst-kept secret on the planet: that Bliss will, in fact, feature a top-deck go-kart track. The concept was first introduced aboard the Norwegian Joy. In fact, several elements aboard Bliss are carryovers from the previous ship, including a top-deck, open-air laser tag room. And despite the fact that the ship will be spending part of the year cruising the chillier environs of Alaska, she will also feature the Vibe Beach Club area, which will likely prove more popular during her months sailing in the Caribbean. And for those who need their overpriced caffeine fix, there will be a Starbucks in the atrium on deck 6.

Will you be booking a cruise on Norwegian Bliss? What feature are you most excited about?

Photos: Norwegian

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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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