Tag Archives: Carnival

Cruises Offer More Dining Options

main_dining_hero

Celebrity Cruises just announced the introduction of Celebrity Select Dining. This new option allows passengers to dine in the ship’s main restaurant, but not have a preassigned dining time, as is the traditional dinner schedule. Instead, guests can select to dine at any time between 6:00 and 9:30 pm., and even make reservations online up to 4 days before the cruise.

The program is being rolled out sequentially to all Celebrity ships (except for Celebrity Xpedition), starting with the Equinox on the September 26th sailing. It will be completed by February. Reservations will be on a first come, first served basis, and for passengers who elect to participate, gratuities will be automatically charged to the on board account.

It used to be that cruise lines offered 2 set times to dine in the main restaurants. You chose between early and late dining, and were stuck with that choice for the duration of the cruise. If you wanted to have dinner at a different time, you had to go to one of the alternate restaurants. In the last few years, however, starting with Norwegian Cruise Lines, the option to have dinner in the main restaurant (or one of them, at least), has been introduced by several lines. The following is a summary of the offerings:

  • Norwegian Cruise Lines: They were the pioneers of the flexible options with their Freestyle Dining. You’ve surely seen the commercials; do whatever you want, whenever you want. Norwegian has done away with the set dining times altogether, and bases dining service on offering different menus in different restaurants. Their newer ships, like the Jewel and the Gem, have even been designed with the Freestyle philosophy in mind. NCL ships offer smaller restaurants, with up to 13 different restaurants on board.
  • Carnival: The Fun Ships don’t currently offer a flexible option. It’s either early, late, or one of the other restaurants.
  • Royal Caribbean: Their “My Time” dining allows passengers to have dinner at any time in the main restaurants. It’s very similar to Celebrity’s Select Dining, which is likely based on My Time. In addition, Royal Caribbean offers “Family My Time” dining. This program is targeted to families with younger children. Appetizers are served immediately, and the children’s dinner is finished in 40 minutes.  They are then taken to evening activities with Adventure Ocean counselors, while the adults continue the meal at a more leisurely pace.
  • Princess Cruises: Their anytime dining allows passengers to dine at the main restaurant between 5:30 and 10:00 pm. Some ships have dedicated Anytime Dining restaurants, separate from the traditional dining restaurants, but providing the same menu and service.
  • Holland America: Provides an open schedule in its main dining room, as part of their As You Wish Dining program.
  • Cunard: Guests can dine any time between 7 and 9 pm, but some restaurants offer either early or late dining only.

Any way you look at it, dining is one of the prime attractions of a cruise, and a very important part of the cruising experience for most passengers. If you’ve been on a cruise, you understand why. If you have not, I invite you to experience it. Just contact us and we’ll plan the perfect cruise for you.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Go Behind the Fun with Carnival

Carnival Cruise Lines has just introduced a “behind the scenes” tour that takes guests to areas that are usually off limits.  The tour, called “Behind the Fun”, is currently available on the Carnival Valor and Carnival Conquest only, and will be extended to all ships with sailings of 7 days or longer by September.

Carnival Valor

Carnival Valor

Ship tours themselves are nothing new. Most cruise lines offer tours of the theatre backstage area and the main galley. Carnival’s tour will also include crew areas, such as their gym, galley, dining room, and training center, as well as the ships’ laundry rooms and galley. The biggest draw, however, are bound to be the engine room and the bridge.

The tour is also unique in that it will let guests interact directly with several officers, including the captain, chief engineer, chef de cuisine, and other department heads. Since groups are limited to 16 guests per tour, they afford a great opportunity to interact with them in a more intimate setting. Guests also receive souvenirs from the tour, including a picture with the captain on the bridge.

The three and a half hour tour costs $95 per person and can be booked through the ship’s excursion desk.

There are currently great prices for cruises into the Fall and Winter, so there’s no better time to go on a cruise and experience this tour. Prices are as low as $489 per person + taxes. Feel free to contact us for details and to book your next vacation.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Time to Go Back to Mexico?

It seems that the swine flu scare is subsuding, just a few weeks after it made the front pages.  On May 15th, the CDC removed its recommendation to avoid traveling to Mexico.

On the cruise front, Royal Caribbean is resuming visits to Mexican ports of call on sailings starting on May 24th. Carnival has also announced that it will resume its stops in Mexico once their already modified itineraries run their course. In fact, I’ve already started to receive requests for short cruises to the Western Caribbean, which stop in Cozumel, such as this one. Mexican Riviera sailings will also be restored.

Even if cruise lines were affected economically by the epidemic, they were still able to operate and most guests elected to sail the modified itinerary. Hotels and resorts didn’t fare as well. Some chains, like Iberostar and Occidental, were forced to close some of their hotels, with the effect that has on the company and its employees.  Guests in the affected hotels were upgraded to the more upscale resorts that remained open.

Guests may not return as quickly as people would hope, so companies are enticing tourists to come back with discount and even assurances. Occidental Resorts is offering free nights, starting with every second night free at the Occidental Grand Xcaret and  the Grand Cozumel, all the way to every 4th night free at the luxurious Royal Hideaway.

Free Nights from Occidental Resorts

Free Nights from Occidental Resorts

AMResorts' Flu Free Vacations

AMResorts, owner of the Dreams, Secrets, and Zoetry brands, announced a Flu Free Guarantee. If a guest contracts Influenza A – H1N1 while staying at one of their resorts, their next three vacations will be free of charge. In order to qualify, the guest must have reserved their stay between May 8, 2009 and June 30, 2009 for travel taking place between May 8, 2009 and December 20, 2009 (see the website for more details).
More offers are available from other companies, so if you want to hear about them and plan your next trip, let us know.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171

Carnival Reports Higher Profits

Last month, I wrote about Royal Caribbean’s drop in profits compared to last year.  Last week, it was archrival Carnival Corp.’s time to report earnings. In contrast to Royal Caribbean’s report, Carnival’s profits actually rose from the same period last year. Earnings per share rose by 10%. A closer look at the numbers, though, reveals that the increase is likely due to a reduction in costs, as revenue actually fell.  This is due to the dramatic price reductions we’ve seen due to the economy. As Carnival’s CEO Micky Arison put it: “We’ve had very strong volume against very lousy rates.”

Of course, the drop in rates is very good news for travelers, if not for the cruise lines. Take for example the prices on Carnival Freedom’s upcoming cruises:

Carnival Freedom Offers

When you think of Carnival, though, keep in mind the company not only owns the “Fun Ships”. They own such varied brands as the venerable Cunard, the classic Holland America, Princess Cruise Lines, and the Yachts of Seabourn, among other brands. This range attracts a very diversified customer base, and it allows their customers to “mature” from one line to another. A first time passenger on Carnival may want to try Princess for a different atmosphere, or may move to Holland America or Cunard as they get older and more affluent.

In short, if you want a cruise, it’s likely one of Carnival’s brands will have what you’re looking for. They offer different experiences and are targeted to different audiences. If you’re thinking about a cruise, please let us help you find the right one for you.

Regards,

Enrique Brener
KC Travel
N. Miami Beach, FL
www.kctravel.jurni.net
info@kctravel.jurni.net
305-792-0618
FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171