Tag Archives: Celebrity Cruises

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

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Repositioning Cruises

If you’re looking for very good deals for a cruise, you’ll often be told to look for a repositioning cruise. So, what is a repositioning cruise? As the cruising seasons change, cruise lines need to relocate (or reposition) their ships where demand is stronger and where they can command better prices. Other factors that play into moving ships around like this are weather patterns (like the Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane season) and the need to provide repeat cruisers with new itineraries in different regions or ports.

The two most common types of repositioning cruises are:

  1. Transatlantic cruises: Ships leave the Caribbean for Europe in the Spring and return from the Old World in the Fall. This also coincides with the hurricane season for the Caribbean routes, and this is when cruise lines keep the fewest ships in the area (most likely for financial reasons than climatic ones, though).
  2. Transcanal cruises: Cruise lines often advertise Panama Canal cruises of around 10 days leaving and coming back to Florida. In reality, these sailings enter the canal, reach Gatun Lake, turn around, and come back to Florida. However, as the Alaska sailing season begins in May, and again when it ends in September and October, ships make a full transit of the canal as they move from one coast to the other.

Other repositioning cruises are made when ships come back from South America to the Caribbean, from Alaska or the West Coast to Asia or Australia, etc.

So, how good are the deals for these cruises? Sometimes they’re really good. Back in April, I have clients who traveled on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale to the UK, and paid $700 per person for a 13-day cruise, and sailed on Balcony cabins! Granted, this was an extremely good deal, but not really unheard of. This one for Celebrity Century’s trip back in November comes close.

The main drawback of repositioning cruises is usually the airfare. By definition, you need to purchase one-way tickets, which especially for international flights, tend to be expensive. However, I just came across one offer from Royal Caribbean that solves this problem. They are moving the Enchantment of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale and Colon, Panama. They have also chartered flights to return passengers back to Miami. This allows them to offer much better prices and lock the air fares as well:

RCCL Enchantment Repositioning

As you can see in the flier above, prices for this 8 day sailing start at $749 per person, including the flight back! This is less than $100 per person per night, for a cruise that goes all the way South to Cartagena, and includes the flight back to Miami. It’s really pricing that you don’t see very often. Of course, the also offer cruise only pricing for those who want to stay in Panama longer, or who want to fly back directly.

If you would like to know more about repositioning cruises, or want to look into booking this sailing of the Enchantment, please let me 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

Norwegian Cruise Lines Welcomes You Aboard

I have to admit Norwegian Cruise Lines has never been among my favorites cruise lines. It seems that for every good experience someone has aboard an NCL ship, there’s a negative one. However, they seem to be improving. Feedback I’ve received from clients in the last year has been much more weighted to the positive side of the balance. This does not come through coincidence. Norwegian has been working on improving its service and the overall quality of its product for the last year or so.

Norwegian’s difference from most other cruise lines is its emphasis on doing whatever you want whenever you want. They call it Freestyle Cruising. The most obvious place where you experience Freestyle is the dining rooms. Your are not tied to having dinner at a specific time, or in a specific restaurant, as you are with most lines. You can choose among several options, some of which incur an additional cost. Feedback from recent clients suggests that it’s worth it to pay for the premium restaurants, as the food is much better.

Norwegian’s improvements have focued on making Freestyle better. They call it Freestyle 2.0. The main points are:

  • As you board the ship, you receive a complimentary glass of champagne
  • Upgraded bath and body products
  • Fresh fruits delivered to your stateroom daily
  • Expanded kid’s crew hours
  • Twice weekly lobster in the main restaurants
  • Upgraded mattresses, linens, and pillows
  • Seaday Jazz Brunch

Now Norwegian has added a Welcome Aboard cruise guide. The 21-page booklet includes information on the itinerary, stateroom, deck plans, advice  on what to pack, and cruise information in general. It also includes personalized luggage tags. This booklet reverts the decision Norwegian made a couple of years ago to issue only electronic documents that had to be printed at home. It obviously makes cruisers feel better about who they are traveling with and anticipate the cruise more eagerly.

If that’s not enough, Norwegian also released a press release last week announcing that customers who purchase the now improved travel protection plan when they book their cruise, will be eligible for a full refund (minus the cost of the policy) if they have to cancel because of a job loss.

If you want to take advantage of their offers, I’ll be happy to find the right cruise for you. Their current promotion is below:

NCL Freestyle Promotion

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

Royal Caribbean Profits Down 98%

Royal Caribbean reported this week that 4th quarter earnings were down 98% compared to the previous year.  It’s not a surprise that earnings would be lower. With the economy as it is, many companies are seeing sales go down. People have declared that 2009 will be the Year of the Deal, where travel is concerned. Cruise cabins, just as hotel rooms and airline seats, are time sensitive products. Once the ship has sailed, well, the ship has sailed. Conventional wisdom is that some revenue is better than none, and so prices go down to at least put some people in those rooms and cabins.

In the case of cruises, sailing full is even more relevant because cruise passengers add to the line’s income by spending money onboard.  In fact, USA Today states that Royal Caribbean gets 25% of their revenue from on board spending. All the more reason to discount the price of the cabin to get people to spend on board!

Royal Caribbean has acknowledged the need to lower prices, as have most other cruise lines. However, CEO Richard Fain has said that he’d rather have empty cabins and not sacrifice prices to levels that would be artificially low. Through the last couple of years, Royal Caribbean has been able to keep prices up compared to competing lines like Carnival and Princess, mainly because of the high demand the Freedom class ships get.  Even so, I have clients sailing on the new Independence of the Seas in April for less than $700 per person, for 13 days, including all taxes (and there are even lower prices available!).

In addition, Royal Caribbean is offering reduced deposits until February 28th. Celebrity Cruises, also owned by Royal Caribbean, has a similar promotion, but they are offering up to $300 on-board credit with many sailings as well.  You can read my review of their newest ship, Solstice, and see the details below and contact us for more information or to book your cruise:

Amazing Ships, Amazing Perks

Feel free to contact us for details on these promotions, or to plan 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


The 49th’s 50th

This month, Alaska celebrated its 50th year as a State. It was admitted to the Union on January 3rd, 1959, and was followed by Hawaii a few months later.  Fifty years later, Alaska remains one of the country’s distant frontiers and an exotic destination.

There are 3 popular ways of exploring this largest of the States: By cruise, by tour, and by combination tour/cruise.

Alaska cruises are offered by most major cruise lines, and offer the opportunity to visit several ports, get up close  and personal with glaciers, and see spectacular scenery. As can be expected, demand for these cruises increases as the weather gets milder in July and August. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Statehood, Princess Cruises is offering 2-for-1 fares on many of its Alaska sailings. Most Alaska cruises are either 7-day round trip sailings from Seattle or Vancouver, or one-way cruises between one of these ports and Seward or Whittier. The following is a typical round-trip itinerary:

Alaska itinerary

Other cruise lines, which use smaller ships, like Cruise West, also have sailings in Alaska, and offer the opportunity to get to places where the bigger ships can’t.

The second popular way to visit Alaska is by land. Companies like Tauck, Globus, Abercrombie&Kent, Trafalgar, and others, offer tours from 6 to more than 15 days. Some like Tauck, offer tours geared to multigenerational families, so everyone from kids to grandparents can enjoy the State’s attractions, from watching varied fauna that includes bald eagles, moose, beavers, and perhaps even bears, to experiencing true Alaskan traditions like dogsledding, hiking, fishing, etc. A detailed itinerary can be seen here.

The third way to visit Alaska is by combining a tour and a cruise. In my opinion, this is the best option because it combines the opportunity to see glaciers and navigate through the majestic Alaskan waterways with the unique experiences that only an inland tour can provide. You can combine any cruise with any tour, even if they are offered by different companies, provided that the dates match. Cruise lines, however, offer extensions to their cruises that allow travelers to stay in Alaska in combination with sailings starting or ending in the State. Right now, there are very good offers from several cruise lines on cruisetours. For example, Princess is helping passengers save money by allowing them to fly into Seattle instead of Vancouver, and is including a motorcoach transfer to the port, the cruise, tour, flight back to Seattle, and a night’s hotel in  Seattle before the flight back home.  Celebrity is offering $200 shipboard credit per stateroom:

Celebrity alaska

There are many other offers from most suppliers, so feel free to contact us to find the best deal and the best fit for you and your family.

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