All Aboard: Cruise News for Week of July 22

Carnival doubles its fun in Barcelona; NCL ups suggested gratuity again; and Crystal Cruises to expand by land, sea, and air. Here are this week’s cruise updates.  


Travel Pulse reports that Carnival Corp. plans to build a cruise terminal at the Port of Barcelona, Spain. The new terminal will cost €30 million, and construction is expected to begin in 2016 with a 2018 opening. Seven out of Carnival’s 10 brands use the current private cruise terminal in Barcelona as a destination and homeport.

Travel Weekly reports that Norwegian Cruise Line will raise its suggested gratuity to $13.50 in staterooms and to $15.50 in suites, effective Aug. 1. Guests who already booked will be subject to the old rates—$12.95 and 14.95, respectively. Suggestive gratuity amounts are automatically added to the customer’s onboard account at the end of the cruise and can be adjusted at guest services on the cruise ship.

Freedom of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International ship, caught fire yesterday as the ship was docking in Falmouth, Jamaica, according to the Royal Caribbean Blog. According to the company’s Twitter feed, the fire was located in a mechanical space. The suppression system was activated, and it contained and extinguished the fire. One crew member sustained a first-degree burn, and the ship resumed its itinerary on July 23.


Travel Weekly reports that Oceania Cruises has added more food-focused tours in Europe, in order to position itself as the “cruise line for foodies.”  Culinary Discover Tours will now be offered in Barcelona; Marseille and Antibes, France; Catania in Sicily; and Iraklion on Crete; and were crafted by Kathryn Kelley, the cruise line’s executive chef and director of culinary enrichment.

Crystal Cruises announced plans to become the first hospitality brand to offer ocean, expedition, river, yacht, and air adventures. Over the next three years, Crystal will introduce new ships with new classes and the brand’s very own Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“Our intent is to make Crystal Cruises the core of what will become the world’s premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand portfolio, not only for the immediate future but for years to come,” said Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Crystal Cruises on the annual Chairman’s Cruise.

Crystal will introduce Crystal Yacht Cruises later this year with the all-suite Crystal Esprit yacht, which will have a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs for special excursions, and a 12-passenger Wider 32-foot super yacht for special boating adventures. In 2016 and 2017, the new yacht will sail to the Seychelles Islands; Dubai; Venice, Italy and Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Dubrovnik, Croatia and Athens, Greece.

In 2017, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Luxury Air will debut. The river cruises will have six-star service, world-class dining, and enriching shore-side adventures while the air service will offer 28-day itineraries that will include 10-12 remote locations, accommodations in luxury hotels and resorts, and celebrity-chef dishes and cuisine.

Finally, Crystal Exclusive Class will feature three new, all-suite, all-balcony cruise ships with expedition capability and accommodations for up to 1,000 guests. These new ships will have a minimum 400 square feet for suites with ceiling heights starting at eight feet, plus they will also house the Crystal Residences with 48 unique “homes,” which will have their own private restaurant, reception, and facilities.


Last Week’s Highlights

Norwegian Cruise Line announced it will offer a la carte specialty dining on its newest and largest ship,Norwegian Escape, as of October. Guests will be able to choose from enhanced menus and select as many courses they’d like to enjoy, with per-item pricing. Modern Churrascaria and Teppanyaki will retain their cover charges $19.95 and $29.95 respectively and as will entertainment dining such as Wine Lovers The Musical and For the Record?: The Brat Pack. Guests will also be able to purchase a Norwegian Specialty Dining Package to enjoy La Cucina, Le Bistro, and Cagney’s Steakhouse at no additional charge. The Specialty Dining Package will include Bayamo by Jose Garces for $15. Ocean Blue on Norwegian Breakaway andNorwegian Getaway will be available for a la carte dining on October 3, 2015, and fleetwide by January 1, 2016. Cirque Dreams and Dinner and The Illusionarium will also retain a cover charge.

Carnival Cruise Line has expanded its shore excursions with new landside experiences, customized private tours, and family-friendly enhancements. These additions bring their landside excursions up to 1,200 experiences in more than 50 ports of call and include La Casa en la Playa, a five-hour tour with access to a beach house in Cozumel with five-star service; Eat, Drink, and Dance in Ocho Rios, giving guests a cultural experience in Jamaica with food, music, and mixology; Photo Safari and Beach Expedition in Cozumel with the ships’ own photographers; and Eat, Drink, and Walk in St. Thomas, which is a “walking culinary/culture tour.” New family-friendly getaways include beach escapes and a treasure hunt and lunch at the Blue Lagoon.

And completely unrelated…Royal Caribbean International also introduced new shore excursions across seven categories to bring their total to more than 2,800 adventures. The seven categories are: Active Adventures, Family Connections, Royal Tour Challenge, Culture and Sights, Culinary Delights, Caring Discoveries and the Royal Premium Tour Collection. New excursions include six ziplines and two skybridges in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; a thrilling watercourse in Madeira, Portugal; gladiator school in Rome, Italy; a wilderness kayak experience at Chilkoot Lake in Skagway, Alaska; a half-day laser tag adventure in Cozumel, Mexico; five-on-five soccer game in Gijon, Spain; sprawling Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand; Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, Bahamas; pizza-making in Naples, Italy; save a sea turtle in Cozumel, Mexico; and meet an Iditarod musher and their racing dogs at a dog sled camp in Skagway, Alaska.


Check out this week’s updates!

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