Luxury Cruise Line Makes Bedding A Status Thing

luxury bedding
Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel/Flickr

On a luxury cruise vacation, travelers are pampered with everything from butler service to their selection from a menu of pillows. Taking that idea a step further, Celebrity Cruises is in the process of upgrading bedding, teaming with a sleep system manufacturer to get the job done. Every stateroom on every Celebrity ship will eventually have the new sleep system, but some passengers will get a better experience than others.

Already outfitting four of Celebrity Cruises ships with Celebrity eXhale bedding, sleep system/adjustable bed manufacturer Reverie is moving through the 11-vessel fleet, most recently outfitting Celebrity Constellation.

Over 2000 cruise travelers on Celebrity Constellation will enjoy the comfort of either an 8-inch or 10-inch Dream mattress. The Dream Sleep Systems feature air cylinder technology that allows guests to adjust the level of firmness in their mattress with some allowing the base of the mattress to be manipulated remotely, via iPad. Perfect for couples, each side of the bed can be re-configured at different firmness levels to accommodate varying sleep preferences.Celebrity guests staying in a suite will get the 10-inch mattress and experience butler service that includes a personalized introduction to the customizable aspects of eXhale bedding. Those in other accommodations will get the 8-inch mattress, no butler intro.

Guests who stay in Celebrity’s top digs Reflection Suite also get an in-room iPad that can be used to wirelessly control the adjustable base of the bed as well as other bedroom appliances using Reverie’s remote app. That one feature alone has a bunch of possibilities for fun in-stateroom games.

'GoSleep' Sleeping Pods Début At Abu Dhabi International Airport

Relaunched Cruise Ships Bring Sunshine and Magic

Disney Cruise Line

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.

Disney Cruise Line

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.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival is adding new, branded onboard dining and programming elements like Guy’s Burger Joint designed by the Food Network’s Guy Fieri, comedian George Lopez’s Punchliner Comedy Club & Brunch and an assortment of games, music and activities through partnerships with names like Hasbro, EA Sports and Miami Heat celebrity DJ Erie.

New on Carnival Sunshine will be:

  • 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.

A travel guide to the 2011 Oscar movies

Travel guide to Oscar moviesThe 83rd annual Academy Awards are coming up in a few weeks and the Oscars race is on. This year’s nominations contained few surprises, with many nods for Brit period piece The King’s Speech, Facebook biopic The Social Network, and headtrip Inception. While 2010’s ultimate travel blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love failed to made the cut, there’s still plenty to inspire wanderlust among the Best Picture picks.

Read on for a travel guide to the best movies of 2010 and how to create your own Oscar-worthy trip.

127 HoursLocation: Danny Boyle’s nail-biter was shot on location in Utah’s Blue John Canyon near Moab and on a set in Salt Lake City. Go there: Should you want to explore Moab’s desert and canyons while keeping all limbs intact, check out Moab in fall for bike races and art festivals.



Black Swan
Location: Much of the ballet psychodrama was shot in New York City, though the performances were filmed upstate in Purchase, New York. Go there: To see the real “Swan Lake” on stage at Lincoln Center, you’ll have to hope tickets aren’t sold out for the New York City Ballet, performing this month February 11-26.

The FighterLocation: in the grand tradition of Oscar winners Good Will Hunting and The Departed, the Mark Wahlberg boxing flick was filmed in Massachusetts, in Micky Ward’s real hometown of Lowell, 30 miles north of Boston. Go there: For a map of locations in Lowell, check out this blog post and perhaps spot Micky Ward at the West End Gym.

InceptionLocation: The setting of this film depends on what dream level you’re in. The locations list includes Los Angeles, England, Paris, Japan, even Morocco. Go there: There are plenty of real locations to visit, including University College London and Tangier’s Grand Souk. Canada’s Fortress Mountain Resort where the snow scenes were shot is currently closed, but you can ski nearby in Banff.



The Kids Are All Right
Location: Director Lisa Cholodenko is a big fan of southern California, she also filmed the 2002 Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. Go there: Love it or hate it, L.A. is still a top travel destination in the US and perhaps this year you can combine with a trip to Vegas, if the X Train gets moving.

The King’s SpeechLocation: A prince and a commoner in the wedding of the century. Sound familiar? This historical drama was shot in and around London, though stand-ins were used for Buckingham Palace’s interiors. Go there: It might be hard to recreate the vintage look of the film, but London is full of atmospheric and historic architecture and palaces to visit. If you’re a sucker for English period films or places Colin Firth has graced, tour company P & P Tours can show you around many historic movie locations like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

The Social NetworkLocation: Another Massachusetts and California movie, this very academic film shot at many college and prep school campuses, but none of them Harvard, which hasn’t allowed film crews in decades. Go there: If you enjoyed the Winklevoss rowing scene, head to England this summer for the Henley Royal Regatta June 29 – July 3.

Toy Story 3 – Location: The latest in the Pixar animated trilogy is set at the Sunnyside Daycare. Go there: Reviews are mixed, but Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new Pixar parade, to let fans see their favorite characters in “person.” Visit any Disney gift shop to make your own toy story.

True Grit – Location: The Coen brothers western remake may be set in 19th century Arkansas, but it was filmed in modern day Santa Fe, New Mexico and Texas, taking over much of towns like Granger. Go there: If you’re a film purist or big John Wayne fan, you can tour the locations of the original film in Ouray County, Colorado.

Winter’s Bone – Location: Many moviegoers hadn’t heard of this film when nominations were announced, set and shot in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri. Go there: The difficult film centers around the effects of methamphetamine on a rural family, but travel destinations don’t get much more wholesome than Branson, Missouri. Bring the family for riverboat shows and the best bathroom in the country.

[Photo by Flickr user Lisa Norman]

You might not like Disney Dream

You might not like disney dreamIt’s sure the big cruise ship story of 2011, of that there is no doubt. Like Disney or not, like cruise vacations or not, Disney Dream is the big tamale of ships for the year. There will be more new ships from other lines coming out later in the year. But none will be as big of an event as the launch of Disney Cruise Line’s first ship in over a decade.

Why then, is it that so many have this all wrong?

If you’re not a fan of Disney, you won’t have too look far to find someone who has taken issue with something about the new ship. Some say it’s simply too much “Disney” to take. Others get more specific, pronouncing individual features disappointing. Still others compare what happens on board to a land-based theme park which I suppose is fair, since Disney does have a certain presence in that area.

Following their standard game plan, many who review cruise ships give Disney Dream a thumbs up but hedge their bets with a story or two about something universal that most people would agree is a negative. Kids bouncing off walls because soft drinks are free or comparing the cost per night on Disney Dream to some other new ship are common complaints.

On the other side, some reviews highlight innovative features like virtual portholes for inside cabins or the AquaDuck watercoaster as defining elements of the new ship. They mention the zillion dollars it cost to build Disney Dream and upcoming twin Disney Fantasy and get into details of how profitable these ships will probably be for Disney.

Neither one of them has it right.

What they are missing, the experience they are robbing themselves of is quite simple.Disney Dream is not a cruise ship at all.

Disney Dream is a show.

A grand show put on by the masters of storytelling, dream-making and all-things wondrous for kids of all ages for decades. The show begins before the curtain goes up as guests are greeted by cast members, dressed and rehearsed for the part, from the time they enter the cruise terminal at Port Canaveral in Florida.

Actually, the show begins before that. As guests approach the purpose-built cruise terminal, they see a carefully landscaped art-deco facade calling them into a grand space with a timeless air that transports them back to the days of grand ocean liners.

Waiting to board, guests line up, not to board the ship like they would on some other line, but to have their picture taken with a rotating parade of classic Disney characters. Do they really think this will be their only opportunity to get in a picture with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck? Really?

No. Those people get it. Those people; large and small, young and old, get it. They have bought their tickets, checked in, are ready to board and have the time of their lives. Once on board they will experience a show that starts with their family name being called out as they enter the ship, answered by a round of applause. The show continues with every cast member they encounter along with every meal, activity and performance they attend. They’ll hear obscure bits and pieces of classic Disney music in hallways or elevators foreshadowing a culmination of energy, emotion, memories that represents a total escape from reality during some performance later in the day.

Disney has taken what every cruise line knows is the key to success: allowing passengers to Escape Completely, visit the Land of Wny Not or take a ride on The Fun Ships to an entirely different level.


If they believe.

Guests who allow themselves to be taken in. If they play along. If they can let Disney do what they do best on the perfect stage setting that the closed environment of a cruise ship provides, they will have a unique vacation experience like no other.

If they can’t do that, they might not like Disney Dream.

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Photos: Whitney Owen