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Princess Kicks Off 2018 Alaska Cruising Season

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Princess Cruises has officially kicked off the start to their 2018 cruising season in Alaska. This summer, the line has seven ships sailing the region, including the newly enhanced Golden Princess. Guests will be able to experience the newly designed space and menu at Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, kids will enjoy the Camp Discovery youth center, and guests can kick back and relax with a Princess favorite: Movies Under the Stars.

While onboard all ships sailing in Alaska this year, guests will be able to engage in unique experiences through the North to Alaska program, featuring Princess’ favorite “Cook My Catch,” a culinary program that allows guests to return from select fishing excursions to have the chef prepare their own catch of the day. Also offered is Puppies in the Piazza, where real Alaska sled dog puppies are brought onboard in Skagway for travelers to interact with.

New Features and Updates

Those venturing into Alaska on a cruisetour visiting Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge will be some of the first to visit its newest addition, a treehouse built by Pete Nelson from Animal Planet’s show “Treehouse Masters.” The treehouse will open its doors to guests for activities including a historic walking tour and a meeting with a local Birch tree sap harvester for Sappy Hour, a look into the process of harvesting the natural product of the boreal forests.

In addition, Princess Cruises will debut a new dining venue at their Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, Rod & Reel. The restaurant renovation is the latest enhancement to the lodge, and will offer new menu items for both lunch and dinner.

Cruises

With 130 departures from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Whittier, there are lots of options for exploring Alaska this year, including:

Voyage of the Glaciers – the most popular Gulf of Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Whittier offered by Princess feature two glacier-viewing experiences on every voyage, with visits to Glacier Bay National Park plus either Hubbard Glacier of College Fjord. These cruises are offered on Island Princess, Coral Princess, Star Princess, and Golden Princess.

Inside Passage – This part of Alaska is known for its lush scenery and pristine fjords, and will be featured on 7, 10, and 12-day roundtrip voyages from Seattle, San Francisco, and for the first time, Los Angeles. Ruby and Emerald Princess sail seven-day itineraries round-trip from Seattle, with all Ruby Princess cruises visiting Glacier Bay National Park. Grand Princess sails out of San Francisco, featuring five departures visiting Glacier Bay. Two 12-day cruises roundtrip from Los Angeles aboard Emerald and Golden Princess will also include Glacier Bay.

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Cruisetours

Princess cruisetours combine a seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with a land tour, including the line’s wilderness lodges, rail service, and visits to the top two attractions in Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park.

In 2018 there are over 22 cruisetour options, most featuring multiple nights at Princess’ own wilderness lodges. Choices include:

  • Denali Explorer: The most popular option, these itineraries feature multiple nights at the Denali lodge and/or Mt. McKinley lodge. Most offer Princess exclusive Direct-t0-the-Wilderness rail service between the ship in Whittier and the Denali area all in one day, plus the opportunity to explore Fairbanks and/or Anchorage.
  • On Your Own – An affordable option for independent-minded travelers, these itineraries offer a flexible way to see Alaska. Tours follow similar routes as Denali Explorer options, but don’t include any pre-planned excursions, giving guests the chance to customize their experience.
  • Off the Beaten Path – These itineraries are designed to take travelers beyond Denali to sought-after, remote regions of the state like the Kenai Peninsula and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
  • Connoisseur – The line’s highest level of service, these cruisetours provide an immersive experience complete with a professional tour director, most meals included on land, and enhanced sightseeing.

For more information on the treehouse at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, click here.

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Cruise Ships Diverted By Tropical Storm

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If there’s one thing cruisers have learned over the past couple years, it’s that Mother Nature gets an almost perverse thrill out of throwing a wrench into the best laid vacation plans. So it should come as no surprise that Tropical Storm Alberto is causing several cruise lines to make itinerary changes in order to avoid unpleasant weather as best they can.

Two Carnival Ships Impacted So Far

As of Saturday morning, the National Weather Service’s Twitter feed reported that Alberto was “moving northward toward the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico.” Meanwhile, Carnival announced that two of their ships would slightly alter their itineraries in order to avoid the storm’s path.

Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy was one of two of the line’s ships to alter itineraries as a result of Tropical Storm Alberto. Photo, as well as featured photo, courtesy Carnival Cruise Line. 

Although scheduled to visit Cozumel on Saturday, the Carnival Valor instead went to Progreso. From there, it will, as previously planned, spend a Fun Day at Sea on Sunday before returning on Monday to Galveston, Texas. Meanwhile, the Carnival Fantasy made the same change to its own itinerary — swapping Cozumel for Progreso — followed by a sea day on Sunday before returning to Mobile, Alabama on Monday.

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Royal Caribbean Itinerary Changed

Meanwhile, according to the Royal Caribbean Blog, that line’s Majesty of the Seas also skipped its scheduled Cozumel stop in order to avoid the storm, instead spending the night in Havana, Cuba. And in news unrelated to the storm, Royal’s Vision of the Seas apparently experienced a ship-wide blackout for about 15 minutes earlier this week. According to announcements made by the captain, the power loss was caused by “a technical malfunction” which was later resolved, allowing the ship to resume her 12-night Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona.

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the seas spent the night in Havana, Cuba.

With the storm continuing its approach, and Governor Rick Scott having Saturday morning declared a State of Emergency across Florida in anticipation of its arrival, there is every likelihood that the cruise lines could announce more itinerary changes in the hours and days to come. Cruise Radio will update this story as it learns of any such developments.

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Inside The Party For Carnival Horizon [PHOTOS]

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Given that Queen Latifah is the Godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, you had to know a good time was going to be had by all at the Carnival Horizon’s official naming ceremony. Held in New York City on a picture-perfect afternoon, the event featured plenty of food, lots of drink, singing, dancing and even a pretty substantial charitable donation.

Welcome To Flavortown

Things got under way with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as celebrity chef Guy Fieri welcomed guests to the latest outpost of Flavortown, the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse. With live music playing, servers dished out hearty helpings of the venue’s signature foods, including trashcan nachos, dragon chili cheese fries and a pecan pie that was, according to the genuine Southern belle at our table, “to die for.”

Guy Fieri and brewmeister Colin Presby, doing the honors.

After that, the traditional naming ceremony kicked off with Brand Ambassador John Heald offering up a tip of the hat to “the one man to blame” for the fact that “I now have X’s in the back of everything I’m wearing,” Fieri.

Next up was the traditional prayer of blessing, followed by Carnival president Christine Duffy welcoming everyone aboard before discussing the very special bond between the cruise line and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Speaking proudly of the $16 million dollars raised by Carnival since the partnership first began in 2010, Duffy then presented the hospital with a check for another $100,000 and directed everyone’s eyes to the 24-foot Dreamscape, which anchors the atrium and now features among it’s displays 33 pieces of art created by St. Jude patients.

Artwork done by St. Jude patients lit up the Dreamscape.

Next up was the ship’s Godmother, Queen Latifah, who also happens to be a major supporter of St. Jude. After thanking the crowd “for looking so good,” Latifah asked everyone to take another look at the artwork-adorned Dreamscape. “My mom was an art teacher,” she said of her recently-deceased parent, “so I appreciate what the kids do. I know what it does for a child’s heart to create like that.”

Of being Godmother to a cruise ship, Latifah admitted it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to be a part of in my life!” She was then joined on stage by Captain Luigi De Angelis and, together, they poured an oversized bottle of champagne (“This is the only time the captain will hold a bottle of champagne like this,” quipped Heald) over the ship’s inaugural season bell.

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“Only at Carnival Cruise Line,” quipped Heald of the ceremony, “do we water the plants with Moet.”

With the official business of the day out of the way, it was time for the fun to start in the Liquid Lounge, where Latifah battled Philadelphia Eagles player Jake Elliot in an epic Lip Sync Battle hosted by popular Carnival cruise director Matt Mitcham. But before the main event could begin, the crowd was in for an unexpected treat when Duffy was joined on stage by Carnival Corp’s President and CEO, Arnold Donald, for a lip synched performance of The Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”

Duffy and Donald proved they definitely choose fun.

With Duffy cheering on Elliot, and Donald firmly in the Queen’s corner, the main event began. And while footballer Elliott took the pumped-up crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbangers Ball by donning a massive wig to perform Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” this was Latifah’s battle to lose. And if you know anything about the singer/actor/businesswoman — who also happens to be a past Lip Sync Battle champion — it’s that she does not come to lose. The moment she and the Playlist Productions performers took to the stage to perform “It’s Raining Men,” it was all over but the cheering. Of the stripping background dancers, Mitcham joked that Latifah’s performance was “like Baywatch and Magic Mike went wild,” while Donald said that the dancers “inspired me to keep my shirt on!”  

Elliott put up a good fight, but he couldn’t dethrone the Queen.

Before being crowned the winner, Latifah admitted there was one thing about her new role which she’d found disappointing. “Shouldn’t Godmother’s have a wand?” she asked… only to promptly be presented one, with which she sprinkled “love dust over the crowd, even my sworn enemy Jake.”

The evening ended with a bang… or, more precisely, a whole lot of bangs.

With the scheduled events of the evening over, invited guests dispersed to enjoy the live entertainment taking place all around the ship, as well as movies in the Imax and Thriller Theaters, a party on the Lido deck, a midnight buffet and an impressive fireworks display that was, appropriately enough, set in part to the tune “New York, New York.” 

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June Special: Kids Sail Free to the Bahamas

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With summer around the corner, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has a special deal for families traveling with kids. Valid for all June cruises, those 16 and under will sail free if they’re staying in the same stateroom with two paying parents.

With the school year wrapping up and Father’s Day on June 17, it’s the perfect time for a quick escape to the Bahamas. Both of the line’s ships, Grand Classica and Grand Celebration offer a number of activities for guests on their way to the island. There are youth clubs divided by age, swimming pools, multiple dining options, a mini movie theater, mini rock climbing wall, a ball pit, and more.

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There’s also a number of shore excursions that families can take part in once they arrive, including snorkeling, a beach day, cruising the beach in an open-top Jeep, swimming with dolphins, parasailing, kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours, and more.

For more information, visit bahamasparadisecruiseline.com.

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