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by Sally J. Maisel

This is the site for the latest news on cruise bargains, itineraries, awards, new ships and items of interest to the discriminating cruise traveler.

Silver Shadow in Sydney Harbor


Silversea Cruises, known for its luxurious cruise ships and exotic destinations, has rolled out 10 unique "Grand Voyages" for 2013.

Designed for the traveler who relishes a more leisurely pace, this special collection offers extended voyages from 34 to 54 days. These unmatched odysseys combine the luxury of sailing aboard intimate, elegant ships with expanded journeys to diverse regions of the world, featuring visits to must-see traditional ports, as well as exotic destinations that are off the beaten path.

Ellen Bettridge, Silversea's president of the Americas, said: "Our Grand Voyages are the perfect option for true travel enthusiasts who can spare the time and prefer a more immersive on-shore experience. You can circle South America, sail around Europe or sweep across hemispheres between Asia and the Americas, all while enjoying the personalized luxury of our intimate ships and all-inclusive shipboard lifestyle."

Listed below is a sampling of the Grand Voyages for 2013:

Silver Cloud in the Mediterranean: This journey departs Sept. 16, 2013, on a 54-day "Three Continents Transatlantic" voyage from Istanbul to Barbados with calls in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, Malta, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. Highlights include overnight stays in Valletta and Barcelona.

Silver Spirit in the Mediterranean: Voyages 5332-5335 depart October 15, 2013 on a 41-day "Mediterranean Passage" from Athens to Ft. Lauderdale, with calls in Turkey, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia Malta, Monaco, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal and Bermuda.

Silver Shadow in the Far East and Oceania: The Silver Shadow departs Nov. 25, 2013 on a 40-day "Dragons, Kangaroos & Kiwis" voyage from Hong Kong to Auckland, with calls in Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Highlights include overnight stays in Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Bali, and Melbourne.

Silver Cloud in South America: The ship departs Nov. 26, 2013, on an exciting 40-day "South America Serenade" voyage from Barbados to Santiago, with calls in Grenada, Tobago, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Falkland Islands and Chile. Highlights include a two-night stopover in Rio de Janeiro and overnight stays in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia.

Aboard Silversea's intimate, all-suite ships, guests enjoy spacious ocean-view accommodation, sumptuous gourmet cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and all gratuities.

For a full list of Grand Voyage itineraries, click on the link below:

Silversea Cruises Grand Voyages


Carnival Victory’s arrival at PortMiami kicks off its new year-round schedule of four- and five-day cruises that visit tropical destinations throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas.

Carnival Victory’s new Miami-based schedule features three distinctly different itineraries, providing consumers with a variety of convenient and affordable cruise options departing from one of America’s top tourist destinations.

Four-day “long weekend” cruises departing Thursdays call at Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico; five-day cruises departing Mondays include stops at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands; the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay; and Nassau, The Bahamas; and five-day voyages departing Saturdays feature George Town, Grand Cayman; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Each of these destinations offers a truly unique vacation experience, with miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches and an interesting array of shore excursion choices such as zip-lining, horseback riding, kayaking, and more.

Carnival Victory features a 214-foot-long Twister water slie, a 270-square-foot poolside LED screen showing nightly Dive-In Movies and a wide range of dancing and entertainment venues, including the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez. Dining options range from two full-service restaurants with extensive menus and wine lists to a two-level casual eatery offering an array of delectable culinary choices, including a New York-style deli, an Asian specialty venue, a 24-hour pizzeria, pasta- and meat-carving stations, and a Taste of the Nations area offering a different international cuisine each day. Additionally, 60 percent of the ship’s 1,379 staterooms offer either an ocean view or private balcony.

Reservations are currently being accepted for Carnival Victoryfour- and five-day cruises from Miami. For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit Carnival website by clicking on the link below:

Carnival Cruises


Travelers experiencing football withdrawal during the long months between the Super Bowl and pre-season match-ups can get their fix with some of the game’s greatest minds aboard Crystal Cruises’ summer Baltic cruise. Legendary coach and record holder for most NFL wins ever, Don Shula, Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka and 31-year NFL veteran referee Jim Tunney will bring their collective expertise and tales from their storied careers aboard Crystal Serenity during a 10-day Scandinavia/Russia cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm departing June 15, 2013.

Guests will have the rare opportunity to interact with the Gridiron greats throughout the voyage, as they impart their experiences in leadership, on and off the field, and share inspiring anecdotes of success and teamwork.

“Whether or not one is a football fan, all guests can learn from these experts’ wisdom about success and victory through great team management—disciplines that are applicable to virtually any aspect of life,” said Bret Bullock, vice president, entertainment. “We’re thrilled to welcome these legendary athletes on board for what is certain to be an enlightening and motivating experience for everyone.” With overnights in Copenhagen, St. Petersburg (two nights) and Stockholm, the 10-day sailing also visits Berlin, Helsinki and Tallinn. For bookings by February 28, all-inclusive cruise fares start at $4,580 per guest, with airfare add-ons available from more than 90 North American gateway cities. For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit the website by clicking on the link below: .

Crystal Cruises


Royal Caribbean International’s Legend of the Seas has emerged from a month-long $50 million drydock in Singapore and will show off a new array of features and amenities for its remaining Asia season before returning to Europe. The Vision-class Legend of the Seas is the most recent ship in the fleet to receive Oasis-class amenities, extensive upgrades and a bow-to-stern revitalization.

Legend of the Seas will “wow” guests with acclaimed industry enhancements, such as popular specialty dining, first introduced on Oasis of the Seas, and give diners the choice to expand their palates with Park Café, Chef’s Table, Chops Grille and Izumi Asian Cuisine, along with new spots for an evening cocktail at the ‘60s inspired R Bar or Viking Crown Lounge nightclub. Onboard entertainment options now include an outdoor movie screen, perfect for alfresco movie viewing and the addition of aerial entertainment experiences in the Centrum, the main gathering place on the ship. New and updated staterooms, flat-panel TVs, digital signage and bow-to-stern Wi-Fi all add to the contemporary guest experience onboard.

Legend of the Seas divides her 2013 Europe summer between the Italian homeports of Rome (Civitavecchia) and Venice. From May through August, the ship will sail a seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary, calling at Genoa, Italy; Provence (Marseilles), France; and Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia, Spain. A nine-night circumnavigation of the Italian peninsula, departing August 31, will bring Legend of the Seas to Venice, where she will offer vacationers 10-night Greek Isles and 11-night Greece and Turkey itineraries in September and October. The ship will then return to the Caribbean to offer Southern Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings.

For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, contact the line by calling (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN or visit the website by clicking on the link below:

Royal Caribbean


Oceania Cruises announced the completion of an extensive new menu rollout featuring 85 new dishes for its Grand Dining Room on the line’s newest ship, Riviera. The remainder of the Oceania Cruises fleet will incorporate the new menus over the next three months.

“Since the founding of Oceania Cruises 10 years ago, we have held a reputation for serving cuisine that is the finest at sea and even rivals the best restaurants ashore,” said Kunal S. Kamlani, the line’s president. “Our latest innovations in the Grand Dining Room are inspired by classic European fare, with a contemporary, creative touch. They reflect our ongoing commitment to provide an exceptional dining experience that starts with a thoughtful and meticulously researched menu concept, the highest-quality ingredients and the perfect execution of traditional culinary techniques.”

Oceania Cruises devotes extraordinary resources to cuisine. While most cruise lines employ a single corporate chef, Oceania Cruises has an entire team at the helm of its culinary program, including its executive culinary director, renowned master chef Jacques Pépin.

Fleet Corporate Chef Franck Garanger, who travels the world sampling international cuisines to inspire his creation of dishes, led the team in conceiving the new menus. The Oceania Cruises culinary team has spent the past eight months designing and rigorously testing the new menu items. As the menus in the Grand Dining Room change daily, the rollout features a total of 85 new dishes, including three new lobster dishes and 10 new pastas and risottos. New creations include dishes such as Pancetta-Wrapped Jumbo Shrimp with Kalamata Olive Sauce and Vegetable Julienne, Roast Segovian Suckling Pig with Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, and Diver Scallops over Orange-Braised Endive with Vanilla Vinaigrette Salad. The new dishes also feature unique, high-end ingredients such as Castilla–La Mancha saffron, Lessatini olive oil from Nice and Ibérico de Bellota pork. There is also a selection of new Canyon Ranch® dishes, including Dover Sole Meunière in Lemon Butter Sauce with Sweet Leek Puff Pastry and Steamed Potatoes, as well as Pulpo a la Gallega: Octopus on Warm Potato Salad with Sweet Spanish Paprika de la Vera.

The rollout includes an array of new wines by the bottle as well as an extended list of wines by the glass. Oceania Cruises’ flagship restaurant, the Grand Dining Room, is a tribute to the five-star restaurants in Europe's grandest hotels, which inspired its dignified and elegant ambiance. Tuxedo-clad wait staff graciously serve course after course featuring classic European fare or delectable alternatives such as healthy, savory Canyon Ranch selections or Jacques Pépin’s signature dishes. The Grand Dining Room features open-seating and accommodates parties from two to 10.

For more information, visit the line's website by clicking on the link below:

Oceania Cruises


Family-owned and operated river cruise line AmaWaterways announced a robust list of new developments for its 2013 and 2014 seasons, including new itineraries, discounts, ships, amenities, land programs, theme cruises and marketing tools.

New Ships: AmaWaterways will debut two new ships in Amsterdam and Portugal in 2013. The 164-passenger AmaPrima (sister ship to the AmaCerto will make its maiden voyage on April 3, 2013 in Amsterdam, with a special christening celebration Aug. 6, 2013. The 106-passenger AmaVida will make its debut on March 26, 2013 in Porto, Portugal. The AmaPrima will service 10 itineraries: Tulip Time Cruise, Melodies of the Danube, The Romantic Danube, Blue Danube Discovery, The Legendary Danube, Magnificent Europe, Grand Danube Cruise, Black Sea Voyage, Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube, and Christmas Time Cruise. The AmaVida will service four itineraries on the Douro River: Port Wine & Flamenco, Enticing Douro, Impressions of France & Portugal and Classic Port Wines & Charming Quintas.

The AmaSonata and AmaReina (sister ships to the AmaCerto) will debut in Europe in 2014. These deluxe 164-passenger ships will feature Twin Balcony Staterooms and Suites, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary creations, complimentary fine wine and beer at lunch and dinner, multiple dining venues, a heated pool with swim-up bar, massage and beauty salon, fitness center, free in-room Internet and Infotainment, and a fleet of bicycles for guests to borrow and enjoy. The AmaSonata will travel the Danube and Rhine Rivers on seven itineraries: Tulip Time Cruise, Melodies of the Danube, The Romantic Danube, Blue Danube Discovery, The Legendary Danube, Magnificent Europe and Christmas Time Cruise. The AmaReina will serve The Enchanting Rhine seven-night itinerary.

New Amenities: Starting in 2013, AmaWaterways offers complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner and lunch on its European fleet (except for the AmaVida and AmaKatarina).

New Land Programs: Starting in 2014, AmaWaterways will offer a second optional land extension on its “Provence & Spain” itinerary – two nights in Marseille, France.

New Theme Cruises: AmaWaterways has expanded its theme cruise options for both 2013 & 2014. • “In Celebration of Wine” Cruises: (21 departures in 2013) • Harvest Wine Cruises on Portugal’s Douro River (two departures in October 2013) • Jewish Heritage Cruises on the Danube River (four departures in 2013) • Tulips & Jazz Cruise aboard the AmaCerto on April 22, 2013 is produced by Jazzdagen Tours and features two complimentary onboard jazz performances every evening. • Gourmet Cruise with celebrity chef Bob Blumer, who will bring his passion for food and cooking demonstrations to guests aboard the AmaVida in Portugal on October 22, 2013. • Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise (2014) on April 28, 2014 is a chocolate-themed “Romantic Danube” itinerary onboard the AmaCerto, featuring expert host Norman Love of Norman Love Confections, maker of artisanal, handcrafted gourmet chocolates.

For more information about AmaWaterways, contact your travel professional, visit the line's website by clicking on the link below:



Holland America Line has added even more star power to its 2013 “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises featuring professional and celebrity dancers from ABC’s smash hit "Dancing with the Stars.”

Professionals scheduled to appear are two-time champion Mark Ballas, champion Kym Johnson, Chelsie Hightower, Tristan MacManus and Lacey Schwimmer. Celebrities scheduled to sail are singer Joey Fatone, actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley.

The theme cruises on select ships are part of the line’s recently announced “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” on-board experience that also features an exclusive “Dancing with the Stars” program on all ships in the fleet including dance lessons and an opportunity to dance center stage in a live dance-off performance.

These activities will showcase the ships’ professional dancers and will be developed in collaboration with the show’s dancers and choreographers.

“The ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ theme cruises are all the more exciting with the addition of such popular professional dancers and celebrities from ABC’s hit show,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. “We know our guests are going to be thrilled with the opportunity to see such incredible talent live on these cruises.”

The six theme cruises in 2013 and early 2014 will feature “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” events including dance lessons, a chance to meet the dancers, ask questions and take photos, and a dazzling production starring the celebrities and famed dance pros, complete with glamorous costumes and routines from the TV show. Performers are subject to change.

Professional dancers Lacey Schwimmer and Mark Ballas are scheduled to appear on ms Eurodam’s Feb. 16, 2013, Eastern Caribbean cruise. Joining the pros on the seven-day voyage are celebrities Joey Fatone and Sabrina Bryan.

Chelsie Hightower and Mark Ballas are scheduled to sail Jun. 22, 2013, on ms Veendam’s seven-day Canada and New England voyage. Celebrities to be announced.

Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus are scheduled to sail on ms Oosterdam’s Jun. 30 and Jul. 7, 2013, seven-day Alaska cruises along with celebrity Carson Kressley. Additional celebrity to be announced.

2014 “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises are on board ms Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 5 for a seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailing and Jan. 12 seven-day Western Caribbean cruise. Celebrities to be announced.

For more information about Holland America, contact a travel professional or visit the website by clicking on the link below:

Holland America


Celebrity Cruises will be offering Zumba fitness classes on its ships. In addition to the original classes, Celebrity will offer the Aqua Zumba pool workout, Zumbatomic routines for kids, and Zumba Gold for active, older adults. Every cruise features a licensed Zumba instructor who leads the classes. Celebrity also is adding a Zumba fitness party to the brand’s theme party lineup once per sailing. The party is held in the nightclub, where guests learn the basic steps of Zumba. Known as “exercise in disguise,” Zumba classes blend upbeat world rhythms with choreography to provide total-body workouts. Class-goers can burn up to 1,000 calories in a one-hour class.

For more information on Celebrity Cruises, visit the line's website by clicking on the link below:

Celebrity Cruises

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Sally J. Maisel
7454 Tyrone Ave. Van Nuys, CA 91405