Tired Of Caribbean Islands? No Problem: We’ll Make More, Say Cruise Lines

Caribbean
breezy421/Flickr

After a few sailings in the Caribbean, North American cruise travelers can get tired of going to the same islands. Their cruise vacation may be a great value and easy to do but they want more. The problem is that ships can only go so far before having to turn around and get back in a week, the time most travelers have for vacation. The answer: make more islands.

While the cruise industry has not exactly figured out how to make there be land where there was none before, they have become good at building custom cruise ports. New Banana Coast cruise port in Honduras is a great example.

Beginning construction in 2011, the $30 million Banana Coast cruise destination is scheduled to open in November 2014. Billed as “Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea,” the western Caribbean port already has cruise lines adding Banana Coast as a port of call. So far, Silversea Cruises, Holland America Line and, just this week, Oceania Cruises have committed to regular stops with more lines expected as they roll out future itineraries.When the project is complete, Banana Coast will have a 50,000-square-foot shopping facility and transportation hub, which will take visitors to other places on the island. Possible experiences include a VIP airplane trip to the Mayan ruins, snorkeling, kayaking, ATV rides, a culinary tasting tour and more. The diverse climate and topography of Honduras offers waterfalls, rivers, streams, mountains, a tropical rainforest, a nature reserve, coral reefs and crystal clear waters all at the same destination.

This is not the first man-made Caribbean cruise destination either. The Jamaica port of Falmouth, a joint project between Royal Caribbean International and the Port Authority of Jamaica, is another good example. Reminiscent of the historic 1700’s and 1800’s when Falmouth was the big port for sugar exports worldwide, the port is built to handle Royal Caribbean’s huge Oasis-class ships. The location also allows visitors to do shore excursions from both existing ports of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, each about a half-hour away.

Back in Honduras, the Mahogany Bay Cruise Center is a Carnival Corporation sponsored destination that has welcomed over one million cruise passengers since opening in 2009. The Roatan, Honduras, location is on 20 acres of waterfront property and is an attractive area to visit for guests of Carnival Cruise Lines. In addition, there are sister-lines Seabourn, Princess Cruises, Holland America, Costa Cruises and non-Carnival Corporation vessels.

In the Dominican Republic, construction continues on the Amber Cove Cruise Center, a giant $65 million facility that will be able to accommodate up to 8,000 cruise passengers and 2,000 crew members daily. This one is expected to host more than 250,000 cruise passengers in its first year of operation. Amber Cove will feature a welcome center with a variety of retail offerings, including a marketplace for locally sourced Dominican crafts and souvenirs, as well as a wide range of themed restaurants and bars, water attractions and a transportation hub allowing visitors easy access by land and sea to the surrounding destinations and attractions.

As the high price of airfare continues to keep North American cruise travelers sailing from home ports scattered around the United States, look for these man-made islands to continue gaining popularity.

Another Caribbean destination, which has become increasingly accessible by sea or air is Curacao. Boasting 35 beaches and an eclectic mix of history and culture, the capital city of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a good choice to visit as we see in this video:

Recycled Hong Kong Airport Opens As Cruise Terminal

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong‘s $1 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal is open and processing cruise travelers as anticipated. Located at the site of the former Kai Tak International airport runway, the terminal will eventually source passengers from a pool of 50 million potential middle-class passengers in China. This week though, it’s all about the Americans.

Passengers disembarking Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas this week found a bit of a different experience than that of other cruise ports around the world. Showcasing some of what China has to offer cruise travelers, Mariner of the Seas offered passengers a kung fu demonstration, a lion dance at Mikiki mall in San Po Kong, shopping, dining and more on planned tours.

Adventure cruise travelers with a desire to go it on their own had a bit different experience, finding transportation options limited. “The terminal is fine, the building is fine but there is no good connection to the city,” passenger Fred Lutjens said in a Standard report that notes a queue of 100 people waiting for a taxi.Kai Tak airport, which closed in 1998 after 70 years of service, was replaced by the current Chek Lap Kok International Airport. Using that valuable and available land efficiently, the $1 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal has the ability to handle passenger vessels as large as two of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships, the largest in the world.

New Quantum Of The Seas Cruise Ship Is A Quantum Leap Forward

Quantum of the Seas

When Royal Caribbean International debuted their Oasis-class ships, complete with dual Flow-rider surf simulators, a zip-line across the deck and a host of other over-the-top features, they created an at-sea travel experience like no other. As the world’s largest cruise ships, twin sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas are so big that the vessel is divided up into neighborhoods. Either can only call at ports designed to handle the massive ship and those who have sailed the 225,000-ton ships agree; there is nothing quite like them – until now.

Now, Quantum of the Seas has arrived.

Today, in New York City, Royal Caribbean revealed details on the line’s new Quantum class of ships. A big secret that Gadling first reported in 2011’s, “The Secret is Out: Royal Caribbean to Build New Class of Ships,” the vessels were code-named “Project Sunshine” and very few details were given. We knew they would be smaller ships, weighing in at 158,000 tons, and carry fewer people, a mere 4,100, but that was it.

Fast-forward to February of this year and names for the new ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, were revealed. At the time, Royal Caribbean President and CEO Adam Goldstein simply said, “The new ship will be such a leap forward in terms of vessel design and guest experiences that we thought the name Quantum of the Seas was perfectly appropriate,” and left it at that.

Today’s reveal begins to put a face on the ship and define what the new Quantum-class will be about.%Gallery-185758%

Continuing to focus on families and occupying their time, how about some bumper car action while cruising the Caribbean? Quantum of the Seas will have that, roller-skating, a full, regulation-sized basketball court and more. But the big features, those designed to satisfy Royal Caribbean’s trademark “wow” factor will no doubt redefine cruise travel as never before.

Those who thought pro-quality, rock-climbing walls were impressive will like RipCord by iFly, a skydiving wind tunnel like the ones professional skydivers use for practice, mounted on the back of the ship. Looking out of the ship-mounted RipCord tunnel, visitors will be able to see the ocean as they simulate free fall. Pretty impressive.

Moving from impressive to bizarre (but in a good way), we have North Star, a jewel-shaped glass capsule that careens visitors 300 feet over the side of the ship on a breathtaking journey. This is where Royal Caribbean shows its depth and how well it understands the nature of big ship cruise travel.

Included as part of the cruise fare, North Star will be available at sea as well as in port, and Royal Caribbean promises that no two “flights” will be the same. Premium packages also will be available for sunrise and sunset flights, or a private flight, which looks to be good for marriage proposals and wedding ceremonies. All packages include a pre-flight reception, in-flight Champagne toast, a commemorative flight certificate and a post-flight brunch or dinner.

Coming back down to earth, briefly, Quantum of the Seas will also feature some multi-use areas that transform throughout the day, utilizing space efficiently.

Two70° is a multi-level great room named for its 270-degree panoramic views via floor-to-ceiling glass walls, three decks high at the stern of the ship. By day, Two70° brings a modern and comfortable living room space for guests to sit back and relax. At night, the space gradually transforms to a venue featuring spectacular, mysterious and unexpected entertainment via new technology that immerses the audience through a combination of live performers, including aerialists, as well as breathtaking video and digital scenery.

SeaPlex will be the largest indoor activity area at sea. This transformational sporting and entertainment venue will begin the day with activities like a circus school with a flying trapeze and a full-sized basketball court. At night, its bumper cars and roller skates deliver the fun and excitement. Not into either? Guests can dance to music orchestrated from a floating DJ booth, which hovers above the activity below.

The two-story Music Hall will have live performances, DJs, theme night parties, billiards and more.

Known for well-appointed, roomy staterooms on their newest ships, Royal Caribbean is making no exception with Quantum class vessels. Averaging nearly 10 percent larger that those on previous Oasis class ships and crafted using Royal Caribbean’s new smart design concept, each stateroom features customizable layouts and larger storage solutions.

Remember Disney Cruise Line’s Virtual Porthole cabins? The inside cabins will feature Virtual Balcony Staterooms, interior cabins with real-time (simulated) views of the ocean.

Further smart use ideas on Quantum feature Family-Connected staterooms that use three different cabin categories that produce separate bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone. New studio staterooms, some with balconies, will appeal to solo travelers. New Junior Suite categories expand the possibilities of the popular mini-suite option and the top-end Loft Suites are even bigger.

Quantum of the Seas will still have popular venues like the adults-only Solarium, an outdoor pool, a rock climbing wall, FlowRider surf simulator and other standard entertainment and dining venues too. But more new features are yet to be announced.

The new Quantum class ships debut in the fall of 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015, sailing out of the New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty on seven- to 12-night itineraries during the winter 2014/15 season.

[Photo Credit – Royal Caribbean International]

Hong Kong Cruise Terminal To Be In World Class Of Its Own

hong kong

When Hong Kong‘s Kai Tak cruise terminal opens in June, the nearly quarter-mile long facility will be able to handle the biggest cruise ships in the world. Located at the site of the former Kai Tak International airport runway, the $1 billion terminal will source passengers from a pool of 50 million potential middle-class passengers in the Pearl River Delta provinces of China. The numbers are big, and so are expectations.

“Hong Kong is fully geared up to provide cruises of all sizes,” said James Tien, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board in a Travel Weekly report.

The ability to handle passenger vessels supposedly as large as two, 1,200-foot, Oasis-class cruise ships at a time puts the 985,716 square-foot Kai Tak cruise terminal in a world class of its own. Not even custom-built Terminal 18 at Florida’s Port Everglades (240,000 square feet), home to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure of the Seas, can do that.

hong kong

Preparing for 37,000 passengers on 10 ships during the first phase of operation, capacity will double by mid-2014 when the second half of the terminal opens. That’s a huge increase over the old cruise terminal, able to handle just two, 50,000-ton ships at a time.

When complete, Kai Tak will have five passenger bridges, 100 check-in stations and the ability to process 3,000 passengers an hour. Those waiting to board will have no lack of things to do either with close-by local attractions Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden setting the stage for a unique sailing experience.

Think a trip to Hong Kong and maybe a cruise might go well together? Check this video with more details about Hong Kong’s Kai Tak cruise terminal.




[Photo Credit- Hong Kong Tourism Board]

Secret Cruise Ships Named, Construction Begins

cruise shipsIt has been almost two years since Gadling published “The Secret Is Out: Royal Caribbean To Build New Class Of Ships.” Details were few at the time, only that the mysterious new class of cruise ships would be referred to as code name “Project Sunshine” during development, which had already been underway for a year. This week, Royal Caribbean released a few details about the two new ships set to debut in 2014 and 2015.

This week, the first piece of steel was cut for Quantum of the Seas at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, where both ships will be built. Quantum of the Seas will debut in the fall of 2014 and sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in the spring of 2015.

“After three years of design and advance planning this is the first step of the construction of the ship and I look forward to seeing it all come together in the coming months,” said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International in a press release.

Short on details about the two new “Quantum-class” ships, Royal Caribbean reminded fans of their rich history of being first with unique ship features like rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks, zip lines across decks and more. Expect more of the same wow-factor features on new Quantum and Anthem of the Seas.”The new ship will be such a leap forward in terms of vessel design and guest experiences that we thought the name Quantum of the Seas was perfectly appropriate,” added Goldstein.

Royal Caribbean plans to release details of the ships over time, typical of most cruise lines constructing new vessels. Unique to Royal Caribbean’s rollout of all things Quantum-class, the line will release details first on its new Tumblr page.

The 158,000-ton Quantum-Class ships will be smaller than giant Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, carrying just over 4,100 passengers based on double occupancy. Oasis-class ships are 225,000 tons and over 5,400 passengers.

Here’s more about the steel-cutting in Germany and a (very) few details about the ships:




[Photo credit – Flickr user LinksmanJD]