On Celebrity Cruises X marks a change to on board experiences

Cruise lines continue to hack away at what we think of them. Pretty much burried are images of shuffleboard, bingo, and “just old folks” on the ships. Now, they are moving forward with intense new branding efforts that are making for clear choices between lines.

It wasn’t all that long ago that if your answer to “Where did you go on vacation?” was “on a cruise” that similar images, impressions and perceptions would come up. Cruise vacations really were quite similar between lines and “on a cruise” was a good, accurate answer.

Now, cruise lines are clearly focused on defining their brands and making sure you know it.

Celebrity Cruises, traditionally seen as a more upscale line with a more fancy onboard experience, is taking it’s signature “X” icon to a different level with a new theme “X the rules”. This is different than Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Freestyle Cruising” that promotes how guests are “free to do whatever…” It’s different than sister-line Royal Caribbean’s “Land of why not?” campaign.

Celebrity Cruises is promoting change through a “trendsetting onboard experience”, different than other lines. Still upscale, Celebrity “iLounges” offer the latest Apple technologies and invite guests to become immersed in new applications through “iLearn” courses. Celebrity also offers vacationers the chance to learn a new language through Rosetta Stone, become immersed in the culture of the destinations with experts from Smithsonian Journeys, or taste the difference a glass makes in comparative wine tastings with Riedel Crystal.

Yes, there’s still bingo and you can find shuffleboard if you look for it. But Celebrity ships, new and old, are going after a unique onboard experience that won’t be for everyone. That’s a new direction for cruise lines in general who wanted to be everything to everybody for so long as the industry was developing.

While only an estimated 20% of the U.S. population has taken a cruise, the Cruise Lines International Association predicts strong growth in the future. If the individual lines have anything to say about it, they will find you, sail with you, and be everything you ever wanted in a vacation.

As Celebrity might have said in the not-nearly-as-well-defined past “It’s all about you”.

Flickr photo by sailorbabe80

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova to climb Kilimanjaro

54-year old tennis legend Martina Navratilova is in Tanzania this week where she’ll be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet. She is making the climb to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting sportsmanship and a code of conduct in athletics, around the world.

The nine-time Wimbledon singles winner has never been above 12,000 feet before, so the altitude could prove to be a bit of a challenge. She lives in Aspen, Colorado however, so has a good level of acclimatization before ever arriving on the mountain. Navratilova doesn’t seem too concerned about the challenges of the climb though, as she has called the trek “just a basic hike.”

She does hope to raise 100,000 euros, or about $134,000 through the donation page on the Laureus webpage. A little more than half of that amount was already raised before she after left for Africa.

While still playing professional tennis, Martina was viewed as one of the toughest competitors to ever set foot on the court. During her long career she won 167 individuals titles, including 31 Grand Slams, and dominated the sport like no woman before or since. When she reaches the top of Kilimanjaro, she plans to hit tennis balls off the summit of course.

Paris Hilton’s Top Twenty Travel Tweets

OK, so how creepy is it for a grown man to follow Paris Hilton? Because I do, like, on Twitter.

I’m not ashamed–on the contrary–I love Paris and will always defend her, because that’s what BFF’s do for each other. For the record, I’m no follower-come-lately. I’ve been with @ParisHilton back to the time when she was barely hovering around one million followers. Since then, we’ve gone through so much together, she and I–Life’s ups and downs, laughs and cries, canceled flights, denied visas, the works.

What I’ve learned about Paris is that she and I have SO much in common: We both love scuba diving, we both use superlatives freely, we like to fly carry-on only, we just adore baby animals and both enjoy deep tissue massage. Oh! And we’re both 29 years old!

We’re also crazy about travel–loves it–though if it was a contest Paris totally wins, chihuahua paws down. No matter that I’ve been to some 25 countries this year–Paris travels much, much more. In the last year she’s been to France, South Africa, Brazil, Asia, and Anguilla. She also can’t get enough of Vegas–heads there as much as possible on her private jet.

I always know where Paris is because she’s forever sending little messages from such-and-such a place, often with a little picture to prove that she’s really there. It’s our more intimate version of postcards and over the years I’ve been collecting her digital missives in stacks.

Here’s a few of my favorites from 2010, unedited and published in full with links for the sake of journalistic integrity (Thank you Paris!):

1. I LOVE BRAZIL!! :) 7:04 PM Sep 26th

2. Love Michigan, so fun. Been fishing all day and been at our friend son’s 16th birthday party all night, now lighting fire works. Loves it! 9:12 PM Sep 18th
3. I love Vegas!
4. On set, what another beautiful day in LA. I love this city! :) 2:27 PM Aug 9th

5. Just went on Space Mountain 3 times in a row. My favorite ride at Disneyland. So much fun! :) 11:37 PM Aug 3rd

6. On set of the music video shoot. What an incredible house were shooting at and the weather is just beautiful! I Love Ibiza! 4:32 AM Jul 28th
7. Having the time of my life in St Tropez! Best Summer Ever! :) 10:26 AM Jul 23rd via web
8. Portofino is such a beautiful place. http://twitpic.com/26zwce 7:12 AM Jul 20th via Twitpic // Sailing to Portofino. Looking forward to the shopping there and amazing italian food. Loves it!

9. http://twitpic.com/13bhne – Me in Seoul, Korea

10. Jetting off to yet another amazing destination. Life is amazing! http://twitpic.com/25s5hy 8:11 AM Jul 16th
11. Another day in beautiful Paris. The most romantic city on the planet. Friday, July 16, 2010 8:24:35 AM
12, Having the most incredible time in South Africa. This place is magical! I Love Life! 3:59 AM Jul 7th
13. Went to Cape of Good Hope. So beautiful. Saw the cutest penguins and ostrichs. Having an amazing dinner in Cape
Town now. Love the food here 12:27 PM Jul 4th
14. Cape Town Rocks! 6:20 PM Jul 3rd
15. Finally finished packing for my trip. Excited to go to Brazil again. :) 12:39 AM Jun 9th
16. Had such an incredible day! Saw the mummy’s and tombs at The Egyptian Museum, Went in the Pyramids, Saw the Sphynx and rode Camels. So Fun! 5:13 PM Jun 3rd
17. Such a Beautiful View from My Room. Central Park is so Beautiful. http://twitpic.com/1rcmob 4:49 PM May 26th

18. Just landed in Madrid for a couple important business meetings. It is so beautiful here! I Love Spain! :) 10:36 AM May 13th

19. I Love staying at The Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami. It’s such a beautiful hotel and has the best club and restaurants. Th Club LIV is fun! 7:03 PM Mar 22nd

20. Just landed back in LA. :) Can’t wait to get home to all my pets, miss them so much! :)

Paris Hilton hopes to open her own hotels

Seems the partying ways of Miss Paris Hilton might be coming to an end (or just a new destination). The Hilton heiress announced she is ready to try her hand at being a hotelier.

The reality-star-turned-singer-turned-actress-turned-designer celebrity told Pop Tarts that since she’s already hand her hand in most of the entertainment industry, she is ready to test out the hotel industry.

“I’ve pretty much done all you can do, but my next project that I’d like to do is get more involved in real estate – just from being in the business and growing up in it my whole life, it’s always something I’ve been interested in,” Hilton said. “And right now that I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do, that would definitely be the next step, to open my own hotels.”

Would they be Hilton hotels? Could she use the Hilton name? The facts aren’t all there, but this will be one hotel we’ll keep an eye on.

[via FoxNews.com]

Top 5 things to do in Bermuda

Few people think to travel to Bermuda but those who do find a charm unknown on many more popular islands. While Bermuda is technically a British overseas territory, the residents of Bermuda consider themselves very much an independent nation. Bermudians are known for their practicality, integrity and simple luxuries – they are fiercely proud of their heritage and it shows in all aspects of their island.

It’s hard to find an unattractive place in Bermuda. Thanks to the turquoise waters and multi-million dollar homes, Bermuda is utterly elegant. But like most anywhere, there’s a hidden side to Bermuda that will take a tourist past the pink sands and inside the history that makes Bermuda such a great destination spot.

1. Dark and Stormy’s: There’s no drink a Bermudian loves more than a good Dark and Stormy, which is why it’s known as the national drink of the island. The Dark and Stormy gained popularity in the sailing community along the east coast, thanks to black rum brought home by various sailors who frequented Bermuda. Made with Gosling’s® Black Seal rum and ginger beer, the drink is poured over ice and garnished with a lime. Some variations of the dark and stormy include adding gingerale, muddling the lime and decorating the rim of the glass with sugar but in Bermuda, simple is best and the old standby is the best: Pour the rum, add the ginger beer, and enjoy!

2. Golf at Tucker’s Point: The Tucker’s Point golf course is one of the most talked about courses among golf’s elite. In its 2005 World’s Best Golf Resorts issue, Travel + Leisure Golf’s readers placed the club in the top three in categories of Best Golf Resort and Best Restaurants in the Caribbean, but there’s a special place on this course for beginners, too. Grab a lesson with one of the golf pros and tee off amid some of the most breathtaking views of the island, thanks to Tucker Point’s perfect position along
Castle Harbour and Harrington Sound. I took a turn on the links and while I’m not ready for any upcoming PGA tour, I enjoyed the exercise and scenery from my few hours on the course. The undulations and landscape make this course worth a visit for any traveler. After 18-holes (or nine, or just a few driving rounds), head into the Golf Clubhouse for food and drink in the private club, decorated with an authentic Bermuda in mind. Don’t worry if you forget anything, the Golf Pro Shop has everything you could want from golf shorts and shirts to hats and shoes.3. Boat ride to the stars: The beauty of Bermuda lies in its intimacy, which is why many celebrities look for a home on the island. Hope a boat ride to the outskirts of the island and take a glimpse of the famous homes of the stars including Ross Perot, David Bowie and his wife Iman, and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones. While you’re out and about, tuck into a few of the hidden coves and awe at the homes and boats of Bermuda’s wealthiest residents. Why? Because you can.

4. St. George’s town: St George’s was Bermuda’s original settlement and one-time capital located at the east end of the country. It’s a great way to kill a few hours and spot some historic architecture. A walking tour is a good way to explore the museums and shops and if you’re lucky, you’ll run into the Town Crier along the way, who will reenact some of Bermuda’s famous moments in history. The hub of town life is King’s Square where you’ll find Town Hall and the State House, dating back to the early 1600s. Nearby are art galleries and museums, but the best part of the area are the narrow sidewalks and hidden streets that frame the picturesque homes.

5. Bermuda glassblowing: While you’re here, don’t miss a visit to the Bermuda Glassblowing Studio. Watch the artists in action and marvel at how color and shapes are made with hot glass. Bring your wallet because it’s likely you’ll want to walk out with a treasure from this idyllic island.