Cruise Line Taps Top Artist For Hull Design

Norwegian Cruise Line today released the first image of the hull art planned for its next ship, 144,000 ton Norwegian Breakaway, designed by pop-artist icon Peter Max.

Covering 40,000 square feet of the ship’s exterior, the New York City-themed design features images of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline.

“The Big Apple is known for its love of art and its many galleries — and now, Norwegian Breakaway becomes a floating piece of that art that will cruise in and dock every Saturday on New York’s West Side,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian president and CEO in a statement.

Artists and art at sea is nothing new, Peter Max was along for the ride on inaugural sailings of Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and an on-board Britto store with works from Romero Britto, is featured on the ship.

Sister line Celebrity Cruises has a similar focus on the arts, offering hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, painting and beading, as well as the art of food with culinary-themed classes on their Solstice-class ships.
Currently under construction in Germany, Norwegian Breakaway will debut in April 2013. The ship is scheduled to sail year-round from New York to Bermuda and the Bahamas and will be the largest ship ever to be based year-round in the city. That adds one more drive-to-the-port option for cruise passengers in the often under-served New York market.

Embarking on seven- to twelve day cruises to the Bahamas and Florida from October 2013 to April 2014, ports include Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay, Orlando and Port Canaveral. Two 12-day Southern Caribbean voyages and two “Weekend Escape” cruises in January 2014 are also scheduled with the 12-day itinerary incorporating visits to San Juan, St Thomas, Philipsburg, Castries, Bridgetown and Basseterre.

Photo courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

5 Great Spots In North America To Relax And Unwind For National Relaxation Day

National Relaxation Day is fast approaching. The August 15 holiday marks a day where you’re supposed to kick back and take some much needed “me” time. Here are five spots where you can do just that.

Lake Placid Lodge, Lake Placid, NY
The Check In to Check Out Package at New York’s Lake Placid Lodge requires you leave your smartphones/iPads/laptops and other electronic devices in the safe hands of the front desk staff and feel the bliss of being truly “off-the-grid.” Spend two nights in a room or cabin, where the on-demand, in-room entertainment is the fireplace, the view of the lake, and each other’s company. Complimentary boating, yoga, hiking and fishing are included with your stay, as well as a choice of current New York Times Bestseller books to enjoy by the lake. Lastly, without the interruption of beeps and chirps, learn new cooking skills with Chef Nathan in the Lodge’s incredible Teaching Kitchen. Rates begin at $550/night.

The Reefs, Bermuda
Pink sand beaches, scenic harbors, and an intimate luxury resort. As if that wasn’t the perfect setting for letting go, add in unlimited spa treatments. The award-winning La Serena spa offers unlimited treatments with a three-day package including treatments for two, scheduled wellness and yoga classes, ocean view accommodations, breakfast, light spa lunch and three-course dinner for two each night and champagne upon arrival. Rates start at $1,670 per night.

L’Auberge de Sedona, Sedona, AZ
Located in in Sedona’s famous Red Rock Country, along a tranquil creek under acres of shaded trees, L’Auberge de Sedona is a scenically pleasing relaxing retreat. Guests have the option of waking up to an outdoor yoga class at sunrise or taking in a breathtaking red-rock hike with a local hiking expert. For the ultimate way to unwind, guests can relax in their private outdoor hot tub and cedar showers with open roofs and scenic views or enjoy massages in their cabanas while listening to the sounds of Oak Creek. In the evenings, guests may choose to cozy up by their fireplaces or enjoy a creekside dinner followed by after-dinner drinks at the fire pits of the new wine bar. Other available outdoor activities include stargazing, horseback riding and more. Rates begin at $360/night.

Hotel Monaco, Chicago
A true urban oasis, this lavish two-room suite features the comforts of a two-person soaking tub, plush furniture and bedding, in-room massage rollers, sound machines, sleep masks and towel warmers. The Suite also boasts picturesque window seats, also known as “meditation stations,” which are complemented by views of the Chicago River. Guests can also unplug and unwind by opting for the “black out” option and forfeiting all methods of electronic communication at check-in. If that’s not enough, the hotel also offers in-room spa services. Suite rooms begin at $359 per night.

Fairmont Kenauk, Quebec, Canada
Fairmont Kenauk is the ideal spot for relaxing and star-gazing, as it’s set on 65,000 acres of protected wilderness in Quebec, is solar-powered, and totally off the grid. Guests use walkie-talkies in lieu of phones, as there’s no cell service or landlines. One- to six-bedroom cabins are equipped with propane lights, refrigerator, stove, furnace and hot shower. Rates begin at $209 per night.

Overnight Stays In Port A Popular Cruise Option

Cruise ship overnight stays in port are becoming more popular all the time. Breaking away from port-intensive itineraries, long-time cruise ship travelers appreciate the extra time at iconic destinations. Those new to cruise vacations like being able to explore strange, new worlds but have the convenience and security of that cruise ship waiting for them at the end of the day.

Azamara Club Cruises features voyages with overnight stays at events such as Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, the Monaco Grand Prix and the British Open. The focus towards events brings what Azamara calls a “destination-immersive” travel experience.

“We continue to offer more late-night and overnight stays in ports than any cruise operator to offer guests the chance to savor a destination’s nightlife, oftentimes after the other cruise ships have departed,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises in a Breaking Travel News report.

Azamara is not alone. Overnight stays are fairly common among luxury cruise lines. Dialing back the price a bit, mainstream cruise lines are getting into overnights as well.

Norwegian and Royal Caribbean sail to Bermuda, bringing multiple full days in port to explore the pink sand paradise. Carnival Cruise Lines and others do the same sort of thing in the Bahamas, overnighting in Nassau to allow late-night party time but no drive home.

But other ships, going to areas where they could easily sail to a different port each day and keep moving, are stopping to allow more time in dream destinations.

Disney Cruise Lines will sail Disney Wonder from Los Angeles round trip with an overnight in San Francisco. Costa Cruises has Costa Favolosa with an overnight stay at Dubai.

It’s all part of a focus on delivering what travelers want, a game cruise lines have had nailed for decades. Today, a maturing cruise industry is seeing a different kind of prospective passenger. Travelers now want more time in port, less touristy experiences and more destination immersion.

Cruise lines are setting up to deliver.

[Flickr photo by joiseyshowaa]

Hotel News We Noted: June 1, 2012

It’s finally Friday (short weeks always feel the longest, don’t they?) and this week’s edition of “Hotel News” is unusually full! This week, we discuss a number of hotel acquisitions, openings, and planned openings – it was a busy week in the hotel world. If you have tips or news, please email us for consideration.

Hotel Ownership: Gaylord Sells to Marriott
Gaylord Entertainment has sold the rights to manage its four massive hotels to Marriott for a whopping $210 million, as well as its plan to convert to a real estate investment trust. Gaylord hotels are currently in four cities – Nashville, Tennessee, Kissimmee, Florida, Grapevine, Texas, and National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of DC. What does that mean for Marriott? Good news for its meetings portfolio – the four hotels are known for their massive amounts of conference space. Marriott beat out three other hotel management groups for the title, although the hotels will still operate under the Gaylord name. Executives are hopeful for future development, but a planned project in the Denver area has been put on hold indefinitely. For the full story, visit Hotels Magazine.

Coming Soon: Bulgari London
Opening just in time for the London Olympics will be the third hotel in the Bulgari portfolio, Bulgari London. The 85-room hotel will be the first new luxury hotel build in four decades in the city of London. Two other properties (operated under the Marriott name) are currently open in Bali and Milan.

Hotel Openings: Ritz-Carlton Montreal and Japan
The Ritz-Carlton announced two hotel openings this past week on opposite ends of the globe. Its historic Montreal property (shown above) re-opened after a nearly four-year, $200 million renovation. The property was North America’s first-ever Ritz-Carlton and originally opened in 1921. In the Far East, the Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa opened its doors as well, making it the first luxury property on the Japanese island.

Hotels on TV: Rosewood Tucker’s Point
Never mind that strange Hotel Catalina, the luxe Rosewood Tucker’s Point in Bermuda is playing host to a reality series of its own this week. The June 4 episode will feature the cast of “The Bachelorette.” The Point, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, will be the backdrop for a one-on-one date, and the private beach club and its famed pink sand as the group date location. We wonder if the bachelors or bachelorette got to use the spa’s crazy $100,000 shower?

Private Parties: Soho House Gets Five New Locations
Private members club Soho House has announced additional expansion with new openings confirmed for Toronto, Mumbai, Chicago, Istanbul and Barcelona, all of which will open by the end of 2014. The private members club was founded in London in 1995 and has long been an exclusive retreat for the film, media and creative elite.

Bermuda takes over New York’s Grand Central today

If you pass through Grand Central in New York today, you might catch a little piece of Bermuda during what’s being called “Experience Bermuda” day. The Bermuda Department of Tourism will be offering commuters samples of Bermudian cuisine and tropical beverages, chances to win giveaways, and live performances–including Bermudian musicians and the H&H Gombeys Cultural Dance Troupe.

Stop by to win one of 50 round-trip airline tickets to Bermuda in a dance contest that will place participants “virtually” on the island, or get a picture next to one of the pink Vespa scooters that can be seen on the island. The day will end in a Bermuda shorts runway contest on a pink runway, where one lucky winner will walk away with a trip for two to the island.

It’s all taking place in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall (just off the main concourse) from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you can’t make it to the terminal, WCBS-FM will be broadcasting the event live from 6 to 10 a.m. on the “Dan Taylor Morning Show,” and will be giving away vacations for two to Bermuda from February 13 through February 17.

Photo of H&H Gombeys Cultural Dance Troupe by GoToBermuda / Flickr.