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Celebrity Cruises has announced big changes yesterday in its two new Solstice-class ships: the “Celebrity Silhouette” (debuting late next year) and the “Celebrity Reflection” (arriving in 2012). 

The “Reflection” will actually grow in size by a meter in width and 4,000 more gross tons to make room for more cabins, a larger theater, and expanded restaurant space.  In the Lawn Club area on both ships, the Corning Class Museum and the glass-blowing demonstrations will be replaced by two new dining venues (the Lawn Club Grill specialty restaurant [$30 per person] and the Porch) and eight cabana alcoves (available for rent), plus hammocks and Adirondack chairs. 

Meanwhile, the popular Michael’s Club area will become a craft beer bar, and the Team Earth interactive exhibit will be replaced by The Hideaway (a quiet lounge area).

Without a doubt these are going to be spectacular ships, especially Reflection!

Don’t hesitate!!!  Contact me today to discuss your next cruising adventure.

Just when you did not think Royal Caribbean could do any better! 

Contact me today to book your next AMAZING family vacation onboard the Allure of the Seas!

No offense to the Howard Johnson’s Hotel Chain (well, maybe a little…)

I’ve held off on posting this blog entry in regards to my cruise on the Carnival Elation last March.  However, I just can’t hold back any longer!  I must spill the beans; get it off my chest, etc…

First off – I PROMISE TO NEVER BOOK ANY OF YOU, MY DEAR, DEAR CLIENTS, ON THIS SHIP!!!  The good news for us West Coasters, she has left us for her new homeport of Mobile, Alabama.  So sorry for all ya’ll Southerners.

It started out great, since the ship was leaving from San Diego for a 6 night cruise to Cabo San Lucas for a 2 day stay and a stop at Ensenada (okay, so that port is not so great).  What was truly splendid was the ease of flying into San Diego and taking a 5 minute cab ride to the port.  (And, folks I truly mean it.)  Why the Port of San Diego is not used more, completely baffles me?  Forget crummy San Pedro or Long Beach, let’s hear a big cheer for San Diego!!!

Okay, back to the “Ho Jo….”

I knew we were in for an interesting crowd, while waiting for our group number to be called to board the ship.  The 4 gentlemen (ahhhemm) sitting next to me were already drunk!  During this embarkation period, we got to watch Holland America’s Oosterdam also board their guests.  Who do I see while waiting????…Ronald Regan, Jr. and his family boarding the “dam” ship!  Now he’s not a huge celebrity, but geez, I would have much rather cruised with him than the “ahhhemm gentlemen” that I had the unfortunate circumstance of not only seeing, but smelling.

Once on board we headed to check out our lovely peach & orange oceanview cabin, aka our home away from home for the next 7 days.

Why, oh why???

Fine, it’s a very 80’s color palette, fine they seem to have the Titanic as a light fixture, but really Carnival that painting over the beds must scare small children.  Frankly, it’s even a lot creepy from an adult’s perspective.

 

 

 

 

Now what is one of the major attractions or in some cases fear for cruisers? – the food!  As I headed toward the dining room on the first evening, I was not expecting a 5-star or Michelin rated meal, but geez how about something edible?  I can only describe the food as a cross between school cafeteria and hospital food.  Each night when it came time for dinner, it was getting harder and harder to drag the feet into the dining room.

Now earlier you might have winced at the thought of Ensenada, but wow was it truly welcomed.  Thank you Habana Banana for your great margaritas and FOOD!!!

The entertainment onboard was either lacking or just plain bad.  However, the best entertainment found on the ship was art auctioneer, Ellis.  He was full of energy and a great comedian.  So even if you don’t plan on purchasing any art, still go and check it out.  Not to mention you will receive free champagne while you there.

As the tradition goes with Carnival’s “fun” factor, returning each evening to a towel animal in the cabin puts a smile on one’s face.  I am still wondering what the cabin stewards do if you don’t leave out your sunglasses for them to use?  Personally, my favorite was the Towel Monkey!

The Pool Area continued with the strange color scheme of the ship – Orange and yellow tile with a blue slide… I mean really, does this draw you to want to hang out if you are over the age of 12?

So Carnival heard the pleas from the over 21 crowd and created an adults only outdoor space.  No pool, but there are 2 Jacuzzis.  They refer to this as The Serenity – an adult retreat.  Great idea, no screaming children to be found anywhere in sight, but…Carnival you lost me on the serene part with all of the engine noise!

Overall, I found the ship décor to be dated, worn and tired (in some cases walls were cracked and falling apart), the crowds at the buffet areas were overwhelming due to poor space planning and the cabins, especially those located mid-ship on the port side to be very noisy!  There are much better, nicer and palatable ships out there sailing the Western Caribbean!

– Coming soon, Cabo resort reviews!!!

Last month I discussed the good, the bad & the ugly in regards to the Sea Princess.  Feel free to re-visit the post, but let’s just say I was less than impressed.

After having a telephone conference with my rep for Princess this morning, I think there might be hope for the Sea Princess after all!  She is going into dry dock in September for about 2 weeks.  Oh my, what in the world could this mean?…. Well, let me tell ya:

A new piazza-style atrium with an inviting street cafe atmosphere and a new dining option – The International Cafe which will serve up specialty coffees, fresh baked cookies, pastries, panini sandwiches and tapas;  an adults-only Sanctuary aka, the “pocket of tranquility” (see below for more details).  For the Staterooms – Flat screen TV’s; new mattresses; new bedding; and new lampsoms.  There will be a revamped menu in the main dining rooms. Of course new carpet paint and varnish, where needed.

For those moms out there who need a little get-away from cruising with the family, there is a place to hide –  The Sanctuary!   Guests will lounge amidst lush greenery, with the presence of gentle breezes, ocean waves, and softly piped-in spa music combining to further insulate the area with relaxation sounds.  Guests can relax on plush outdoor furniture including double loungers for couples (yes, bring the hubby along and check the kids into the Youth Program), as well as, deluxe chaise lounges and chairs. Passengers also enjoy the personal attention of Serenity Stewards in The Sanctuary, who are on hand to provide everything from a chilled face towel and Evian water atomizers, to a menu of healthy beverages and fare. Serenity Stewards also have personal MP3 players with noise canceling headphones available loaded with themed playlists focused on relaxation for those who want to escape with music.

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Guests can also refresh with a variety of special drinks and snacks created exclusively for The Sanctuary.  Each day Serenity Stewards will be on hand to offer guests an array of drinks and snacks.  Signature Sanctuary beverages include healthy smoothies, energy drinks, iced flavored waters and freshly made lemonade.  A menu featuring a selection of light bites such as refreshing fruit skewers, lettuce wrapped spring rolls, and spicy tuna pate with baked pita wedges will also be available through the Serenity Stewards.

Half-day passes for The Sanctuary are available for $10 per person, for 8 am to 12:30 pm or 1 pm to 5 pm.

So next year, when I stop on by and take a gander at her new fresh look, perhaps my review of her will be much better!

HIGHRES-The%20Piazza

Just when you didn’t think the wonderful dining experience on a cruise can get any better!   Princess Cruises now takes gourmet to a new level -Chef’s Table!   In putting together today’s blog, I found my tummy grumbling…

Designed as a unique treat for “foodies,” Princess Cruises has introduced a new Chef’s Table experience on select ships, and will expand the program across the fleet. Chef’s Table offers a select group of gourmands the rare opportunity to be welcomed into the ship’s galley to enjoy a full evening of memorable sights, tastes and conversation hosted by the executive chef.

While many passengers are able to enjoy galley tours during the quiet off-hours, the Chef’s Table experience takes interested diners behind the scenes during the height of dinner preparation where they’ll also enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a special multi-course tasting dinner paired with selected wines at a special table in the dining room. 

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The chef previews the details of the menu he created for that evening, and the group is welcomed to their special table in the dining room.

Here’s an example of what your dinner menu can be for the evening:

Hors d’oeuvres and Champagne in the Galley

  • Blue Crab Margarita with Avocado and Mango
  • Foie Gras Terrine on Toast, Apple Chutney
  • Fontina Mini Quiche with White Truffles
  • Buckwheat Blinis with Caviar and Creme Fraiche

Dinner, accompanied by Red and White Wine

  • Asparagus Risotto with Lobster Tail and Claws
  • Lip-Smackin’ Bloody Mary Sorbet (topped with a splash of Grey Goose Vodka)
  • Trio of Beef, Veal, and Pork Tenderloin on Medieval Spiked Flambe Roastie
  • Jus, Salsa Verde, Bearnaise Sauce, and Cafe de Paris Butter
  • Dirty Rice with Corn and Pine Nuts, Grilled Asparagus and Charred Cherry Tomatoes
  • Potted Stilton with Port Wine and Walnuts, Rosemary Biscotti
  • Iced Amaretto Parfait, Vanilla Plums and Brandy Snap Tuile
  • Coffee or Tea and Homemade Gourmandises

The multi-course menu is specially created by the chef, and is not offered anywhere else on the ship. During the dessert course, the chef rejoins the group at their private table to participate in a discussion about the evening’s meal, answer questions, and share culinary secrets perfected during many years of experience at sea and on land.

Additionally, each couple at the Chef’s Table will receive a personalized autographed copy of Princess’ best-selling cookbook, Courses, A Culinary Journey. 

The Chef’s Table experience can be reserved by up to 10 passengers per night, at a cost of $75 per person.  

Contact me about further details on planning your next cruise!

Lauren Liebert

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