Most of us know that one of the easiest ways to get through a flight is to drink, but there’s a line passengers can cross with drinking and if they cross it, their flight isn’t going to be any easier. In fact, boozing it up too much on the plane can make a flight a lot more difficult.
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri reportedly engaged in a heated argument with his hair dresser after drinking on a flight to SFO. Take note, travelers! Keep your drinking in check when flying lest you wind up arguing with your hairdresser after landing like Guy Fieri.
(Watch the video of the fight here. Warning: profanity used.)
In the world of cruise travel, the big story is often about the latest, greatest, biggest cruise ships to be launched and what they have to offer travelers. Those new floating resorts often command the highest fares as cruise travel fans line up to book passage and be one of the first to sail. But while major cruise lines build new ships with the best of what they have to offer, they have not forgotten about their existing fleets. Older ships, relaunched with major updates, can often be one of the best cruise travel values available.
Disney Cruise Line is proud of new Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, the two new ships that more than doubled their fleet capacity. But Disney Magic, first launched in 1998, is not forgotten. The ship has been kept up to date with periodic dry dock maintenance but after living with new features rolled out with Fantasy and Dream, Disney imagineers have taken another look at Disney Magic. The result of that look is an extensive remodel that will bring a host of new reasons to sail the ship.
Headlining the new features on Disney Magic is The AquaDunk, a 37-foot body slide that starts by taking riders down three decks from Deck 13 to Deck 10 through a translucent tube. That tube extends 20 feet over the side of the ship above the ocean that is over 100 feet below.
We have always been committed to reinvesting in our fleet and continuously making shipboard enhancements that elevate the guest experience,” said Karl L. Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line in an Orlando Sentinel article. Marvel comics is now a part of the Disney family of brands, so the Super Hero icons of Marvel have been introduced on Disney Magic as a new space for children. Marvel’s Avengers Academy will be a big part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club as young crime-fighters are transported to a high-tech command post used by The Avengers for special mission.Dining venues are also getting an update with Animator’s Palate getting all-new, larger high-definition flat-screens for better views of the animation magic that takes place all around. “Drawn to Magic” is a new dinner celebration where the black and white “blank canvas” of the Animator’s Palate turns full color, as Disney and Disney-Pixar characters come to life throughout the dinner event.
Carioca’s is a new restaurant tapping the current cruise industry trend to make public spaces multi-use areas. By day the area (which replaces the current Topsider buffet) is a fun quick lunch venue. By night, the now air-conditioned area is an elegant dinner place.
Disney has also added a bigger, better Spa area with a barber shop and more redesigned areas for adults only. Staterooms will get more room, storage and bathing space too. This new Disney video gives full details of all the re-imagined features to be on board Disney Magic:
Disney Magic will be taken out of service on September 10, 2013, returning with all of the above and more on October 8, 2013. But cruise travelers will not have to wait that long to see the result of Carnival Cruise Line’s new Carnival Sunshine, sailing right now after a $155 million refit.
Formerly launched in 1996 as Carnival Destiny, Carnival Cruise Lines took that popular ship, gutted it, and added back all the best features from all their ships and then some. As the first ship in the Carnival fleet to incorporate all of the dining, bar and entertainment options that are part of Carnival Cruise Line’s refreshing Fun Ship 2.0 enhancement program, this one is far more than a pit stop dry dock overhaul.
WaterWorks, a racing-themed water park featuring the line’s longest water slide
Havana Bar, by day a Cuban coffee and finger foods place and by night a Cuban-themed bar
Shake Spot, which will offer classic milkshakes and floats, as well as tropical fruit shakes and adult shakes and floats
JavaBlue Café, which will have sweet and frothy cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and other caffeinated favorites
Pizzeria del Capitano, an expansion of the line’s popular Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant
For both Disney and Carnival, the name of the game is being relevant. Much of what worked for cruise lines 10 or 15 years ago does not work today. Today’s cruise travelers are inundated by more ships, with more features every year. But that one new ship for any given line – the one that is the newest, best ship in the fleet – is a small percentage of the line’s capacity and not everyone can sail on it. Reworking older ships to bring relevant features is becoming more of a must-do item all the time and these two ships are great examples of the magic and sunshine that can come as a result.
Carnival Cruise Lines is sponsoring Boo at the Zoo, a “spooktacular” event at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans which attracts thousands of families who will enjoy trick-or-treat houses, a Ghost Train, haunted houses, fun games with prizes and entertainment, children’s decoration stations, and more. One of the main attractions is a massive 70-foot-long giant pumpkin cruise ship display made up of more than 500 carved jack-o-lanterns.
Many of the pumpkins included within the Boo at the Zoo display feature designs showcasing various elements of Carnival’s new look at cruise vacatons, Fun Ship 2.0, with depictions of the RedFrog Rum Bar, the EA SPORTS Bar, and Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network personality Guy Fieri, as well as the iconic winged funnel that adorns all Carnival ships.
Carnival’s history with New Orleans goes back to hurricane Katrina, when the line positioned ships off the coast of the state to house emergency rescue workers. Sponsorship of this event reconfirms the line’s commitment to the New Orleans community and the company’s role as the city’s number one cruise operator. Carnival carries 340,000 passengers annually on its two ships based year-round in New Orleans.
Interested in carving your own pumpkins? Click here for some stencils that make it easy.
Often believed to be the travel choice of the newly wed or nearly dead, the nature of cruise vacations has evolved in recent years. At one time, a cruise vacation meant shuffleboard, never-ending buffets and a few thousand older, overweight passengers on a spin around the Bahamas. Now, the old iconic activities, dining options and even older passengers are being replaced with an active lifestyle and options for adventure travelers.
As new ships come out, cruise lines are careful to build in an ability to be flexible and cater to the traveler of today. Relevant dining options ranging from lifetime event dining, like a steakhouse dinner to celebrate a graduation at a fraction of the cost on land, to comfort food dining, like Macaroni and Cheese in the ship’s main dining room, reflect an evolving passenger’s taste.
Pinpointing that taste and satisfying it, cruise lines are more rabidly focused on capturing the attention of would-be passengers with far more than low prices and bonus offers. Branded experiences ranging from an infusion of DreamWorks characters into the Royal Caribbean fleet, a Nickelodeon influence on Norwegian ships and even Apple products in iLounges on Celebrity Cruises are proving popular. Off the ship, adventurous shore experiences often put cruise travelers on a path similar to that suggested by popular travel bloggers going it on their own.
Along with this “give-them-what-they-want” focus comes a branding effort designed to jumpstart the infusion of trendy, relevant elements to the onboard experience on older ship as well. Royal Caribbean has a Royal Advantage program being rolled out to older ships, replacing tube sets with flat-screen TV‘s, adding new trendy dining venues found on the newest of ships and upgrading other elements of the onboard experience as well.
On Carnival Cruise Lines some travelers may lament the near extinction of the party-going frat sailings (AKA “booze cruise”) but don’t have to look far for new, different venues that are becoming the place to be at sea.
Inspired by what is popular while traveling, Carnival unleashed its FunShip 2.0 initiative in New York last October. The $500 million enhancement program includes partnerships with popular celebrities and leading brands.
Funnyman George Lopez and celebrity chef Guy Fieri along with Miami Heat‘s DJ Erie are doing more than simply lending/selling their well-known names and star statuses to the Carnival brand in an attempt to draw a new breed of cruise passenger. Each has worked with Carnival to create experiences that fit the brand and infuse their own unique style.
The Food Networks Guy Fieri is working with Carnival to offer a dining venue called Guy’s Burger Joint, featuring the Food Network star’s (really amazing) hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries with special recipes created exclusively for Carnival.
Different, from previous product upgrades that have happened throughout the years, cruise lines are listening and communicating with passengers and targeted travelers, speaking their language. Also, reflecting a degree of transparency, cruise lines are letting us in behind the scenes to see what goes into bringing something new on board as never before.
At a press conference in New York, Fieri manned the outdoor grill most of the afternoon, making soon-to-be signature burgers and answering questions. When asked why he got involved with the project, straight-talking Fieri told us, “…because these people at Carnival really care about their customers. It really means a lot to them that the people who sail on their ships have a good time. I wanted to be a part of that.”
It’s funny how you can hear something like that from a cruise line a million times and think nothing of it, but let those words come out of a popular icon in the world of food and all of the sudden they have meaning.
Fieri’s influence goes beyond the burger recipe too and gets really detailed in its execution on board. Condiment stations will feature a suggested menu developed by the chef to show guests what condiments and toppings they can use to build a specialty burger. In addition to burgers, Guy’s Burger Joint will serve fresh, hand-cut French fries prepared on board. We sampled (OK make that “inhaled”) both in New York and agreed with most others that it was one of the best burgers ever.
Carnival is also teaming up with comedian and TV personalityGeorge Lopez who will become the cruise line‘s “creative director for comedy” as Carnival introduces the Punchliner Comedy Clubs Presented by George Lopez.
To become the cruise line’s curator of comedy, acting as a consultant on the vetting and hiring of comedic talent for the line’s existing fleetwide comedy clubs, Lopez will play an active role in the securing of top up-and-coming comedic talent, utilizing his vast resources within the North American comedy scene.
“Carnival’s ships offer a huge audience that truly appreciates comedic performances and the on-board clubs are fantastic,” Lopez told us. “I intend to help build and nurture an understanding among up-and-coming comedic talent that these ships represent a phenomenal environment to work and gain experience.”
Through the partnership, Carnival ships will feature a Lopez comedy routine shown on in-cabin televisions fleetwide and pre-recorded introductions by Lopez at comedy club shows, as well as a new Punchliner Comedy Brunch that will be offered on sea days. Lopez will also partner with the line on a comedy-themed consumer contest in 2012.
“Carnival’s guests absolutely love comedy which is why we are already the cruise industry leader in fleetwide comedic programming and, in fact, we host more guests in our shipboard comedy clubs than any land-based comedy chain in the U.S.,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s president and CEO. “By partnering with George Lopez, an exceptionally talented, respected and popular comedian, Carnival’s comedy offerings will be taken to an entirely new level.”
Lopez is seriously into the comedy concept too, much like Fieri and his cooking. In an interview with CruiseRadio‘s Doug Parker and Matt Basford, Lopez detailed his involvement saying “I will bring people from television and movies and that will make it better. You start to see people on the ship that you have seen in movies and that makes it fun, that’s a great surprise,” adding, “I will be performing on the ships occasionally myself which I am excited about.”
DJ IRIE, song master to the stars and the official DJ of the Miami HEAT, will develop a first-of-its-kind DJ academy at sea that will train all Carnival DJs across the “Fun Ship” fleet. The DJ IRIE Spin’iversity promises to bring an exciting and relevant new vibe to the line’s legendary nightclubs, deck parties and beyond.
“Miami HEAT games are known for their high-energy and non-stop fun created by DJ IRIE and we want to tap into his unique skills and passion for music to create an unforgettable atmosphere on board,” Mark Tamis, Carnival’s senior vice president of guest operations told us. “Music is the soundtrack of our lives and our goal is to create an emotional experience for our guests through the right mix of terrific music and a DJ with a unique personality who can energize a crowd.”
Whether spinning in clubs in Miami or Las Vegas, at a sporting event or hosting his popular South Florida radio show, the internationally known DJ IRIE has mastered the art of bringing a crowd to its feet and pumping up the energy and excitement – much like Carnival had done for 40 years.
But through his new comprehensive training program, IRIE will train Carnival’s DJs how to read a crowd and tailor song selections from every musical genre, appealing to guests of all ages. He will also instruct DJs on how to make maximum use of their own personality and energy to create their own persona and build popularity among guests to develop a fan following.
An important point to note: none of this costs extra. This is Carnival reinventing the at-sea experience, adding more options than ever, all included in the price.
The onboard experience is changing in other ways as well. Big name entertainment is lending their name to new cruise ships as Godmothers, or just to be were the entertainment action is.
Off the ship too, cruise lines are taking a good hard look at what they have for travelers once ships reach their destinations. Taking a page from travel bloggers, cruise line “excursions” are far more than a busload of tourists complaining if the air conditioning is not cool enough.
Today we’re seeing cruise passengers getting off the bus and on to kayaks, scuba diving, surfing, hiking and climbing trails, viewing history, arts and culture up close in any given port. At the end of the day some ships may stay in port late or overnight before moving on to their next stop.
Always a solid reason for cruising, travelers get to see and sample destinations they may or may not want to return to later, for a longer land-based vacation.
No, today’s cruise vacations are not your parents’ idea of a good time, they’re yours, whatever that may mean.
Cruise vacations come in all sizes and shapes. Gigantic new ships have everything from gourmet cuisine created by celebrity chefs to amusement parks. Smaller ships get up-close and personal with destinations large ships can’t get to. On board, a new generation of cruise traveler is taking over, demanding more in the way of value and programming both on and off the ship. Let’s see how that is playing out in real life on the cruise lines of today.
The Base Experience is the Same For Everyone, But it Can Be Customized- Still, today we can go on a cruise vacation and spend not one dime more than the cruise fare with the possible exception of nearly mandatory gratuities for the crew. Those who want more in the way of dining options and an upgraded experience both on and off the ship have more options than ever to choose from.
Prices Go Up, Prices Go Down- A lot of what goes into cruise line pricing strategy is based on demand and demand almost always changes over time. There are a number of factors at work here including ship positioning, the economy, the effect of new ships just entering the marketplace on the sales of older ships and more. Best bet: consider the price at the time of booking as simply the starting price and use a travel agent to keep an eye on it.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire- As our online world has developed with Internet-equipped tablets, faster connections, transparency and more rapid responses from all interested in cruise vacations, sites like CruiseCritic.com have become even more relevant and accurate. Clear example: CruiseCritic message boards are often the first source of breaking news when ships get into trouble at sea.
Celebrity Chef-Created Menu Items Sometimes Carry an Extra Fee- Royal Caribbean‘s 150 Central Park that is featured on Allure of the Seas has a fabulous menu created by celebrity chef Molly Brandt for $40 per person extra. The fee is well worth what would be priced easily at three times that much on land.
All Cruises are not Created Equal- There was a time when the onboard experience of a cruise vacation was about the same from cruise line to cruise line. That is not even remotely true anymore, as cruise lines have gone full speed ahead on branding and positioning themselves to be clearly different from each other.
Click-To-Buy is not the Smart Move- When cruise lines were very similar, it was simply a matter of choosing a sailing that worked with our travel window and an itinerary we liked. Buying online was arguably a viable option for booking. Now, with dynamic pricing strategies, differentiated onboard programming that varies widely from line to line and many more options, booking online is becoming more difficult all the time.
Travel Agents are Back and Better Than Ever- In the olden days, travel agents tried to be everything to everyone, selling any type of travel product. Most of them went broke. Today, more and more agents are becoming specialists in just cruise vacations and even specific cruise lines. That laser-sharp focus has brought better pricing, a better booking experience that often includes bonus amenities and this almost always equals a better value.
Cruises Have Something for Adventure Travelers Too- Previously turned off by the old stereotype of cruise vacations, adventure travelers are seeing cruise ships as an efficient way to see and sample destinations they may wish to explore more in depth on a later journey. The rising popularity of river cruising is testament to the destination immersion possible via cruise ship and how more travelers are demanding it.
Cruise Vacations are Safer Than Ever- A common and understandable if not warranted concern by cruise travelers after the grounding of Costa Concordia last January was safety. Cruise lines have bumped up the level of safety and security in an industry that already had good procedures in place. Now, even more emphasis has been placed on mandatory safety drills, security in port and at sea and crew training on everything from advanced fire prevention and response.
Celebrity Chef-Created Menu Items Sometimes do not Carry an Extra Fee- Guy’s Burger Joint created for Carnival Cruise Lines by the Food Network’s Guy Fieri has the best burger on the planet included in the price.
Still ranked as one of the most compelling reasons to cruise, dining has evolved from the stereotypical ‘belly-up-to-the-buffet’ feed fest to a variety of healthy options served in a growing number of onboard venues as we see in this video.