Princess Cruises Veterans Day Spirit Starts At The Top

Princess Cruises Veteran's Day

At Princess Cruises, a deep respect for veterans starts at the top. Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew, himself a Vietnam veteran, has shared his story with fans of Princess Cruises on the line’s engaging “50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List” blog. Princess Cruises offers a year-round Special Military Onboard Credit Program for veterans sailing with the line and has discount prices in honor of Veterans Day.

Now, Princess Cruises is marking Veterans Day by announcing an unprecedented cruise to support U.S. veterans, expected to raise $1 million for two highly regarded U.S. veteran non-profit organizations.

To support the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) and Operation Homefront, Buckelew will be on board Caribbean Princess as host from November 5-9, 2013, sailing from Galveston to the Western Caribbean.”We all know someone – a family member, a neighbor, a friend, perhaps ourselves – who has served,” said Buckelew in a statement. “As a veteran myself, I know that America’s warriors face immeasurable challenges both during active duty and when they return home. I look forward to meeting many of our passengers on board to help us raise much-needed funds to assist our veterans.”

The four-day cruise, calling in Progreso, Mexico, is designed to raise $1 million for the organizations. $500,000 will be raised via a portion of each passenger’s cruise fare, and $500,000 will be matched by Princess Cruises.

Onboard programming
and activities, designed to honor those who have and are serving our country include guest lecturers, special topic panels, a Stars and Stripes Sailaway, service branch get-togethers, a film festival and more.

Perhaps even more significant, the cruise launches a new “Cruising for a Cause” initiative where Princess will dedicate entire sailings to support select charitable causes, providing the line’s passengers a way to make a difference even as they vacation.




[Photo Credit: Flickr user John M Cooper]

Preview: Princess Cruises New Royal Princess

Princess Cruises Royal Princess

Princess Cruises will debut their latest cruise ship, Royal Princess in July of 2013. The new ship promises to be everything fans of “The Love Boat” line have become accustomed to. At the same time, new Royal Princess has a renewed look for Princess Cruises with updated classic and new features that may very well prove appealing to fans of other lines as well.

“Royal Princess will not only be Princess Cruises newest and largest cruise ship, it will be its most distinguished,” cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO CruiseGuy.com told Gadling,

Over the past decade, the cruise industry has pumped out new ships like there was no tomorrow. Luxury cruise liners of all shapes and sizes capitalized on the latest technology to bring over-the-top onboard programming and features. We saw Royal Caribbean roll out gigantic Oasis and Allure of the Seas blowing away every ship in the ocean with enough attractions and diversity to occupy 6000 travelers without seeming crowded. Celebrity Cruises focused on and perfected their modern Solstice class series of ships, raising the bar on mainstream luxury. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic heralded a new era in at-sea entertainment and Carnival Cruise Lines paced calculated, steady growth resulting in Carnival Breeze, a flagship like no other.

Princess Cruises
too grew during that time, adding several more cruise ships but slowed down growth over the last half of the decade, carefully perusing what they might do next.

Princess Cruises new Royal Princess, due out in June of 2013, looks to be a careful evolution of all of their former work. Rabidly loyal Princess fans will feel quite at home with a ship laid out in typical Princess patterns, with all of the Princess Cruises signature onboard programming, features and staff. The big differences look to be a focused concentration on what made the line of “The Love Boat” popular over the years and keeps travelers coming back for more.

Princess cruises royal princessThe central atrium Piazza area of Royal Princess looks to be the classic liner hub of activity it always has been with new features and capitalizing on the popularity of tried and true venues. Added to the 50% larger area are new casual dining options that include an Italian gelateria, a seafood bar and expanded seating in the passenger-favorite International Cafe.

Also in the atrium of Royal Princess, Celebrations, a new gift shop has flowers, gifts, chocolates and other items for sale to help celebrate a special occasion. Vines
Wine Bar will feature tapas, sushi and wine by the glass. New to Royal Princess, an adjacent extension takes passengers to the shore excursion and passenger services desks. Next door is signature Italian eatery Sabatinis, featuring a new gourmet a la carte menu.

On upper decks but still in the Piazza area via either of the dual spiral staircases, showcased by a water and light feature, is an Italian-inspired cocktail venue Belinis Bar, Alfredos Pizzeria, the Photo and Video gallery and more.

princess cruises royal princessLike other new cruise ships, a great deal of attention is given to top deck features on Royal Princess.

At one time, a pool or two, a few hot tubs and plenty of lounge chairs made for a good top deck layout. Princess changed all that with their Movies Under The Stars concept years ago and other lines quickly followed.

Royal Princess continues that innovative tradition with new top deck features not before seen at sea.

New features include the first SeaWalk, a glass-floor walkway hovering 128 feet above the ocean, a nighttime interactive sound and light show featuring fountains shooting water 33 feet into the air and a 30% larger screen.

“Princess debuted the outdoor video screen and is the most copied feature on all ships following Caribbean Princess debut in 2004. Royal Princess’ Sea Walk, a previously introduced design on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, will take passengers farther out over the ocean in the most unique fashion, providing outstanding views,” added Chiron.

princess cruises royal princessPrincess bent over backwards on the Royal Princess design to respect its Love Boat heritage that has served the line so well over the years.

The original Pacific Princess that sailed as TV’s Love Boat was a tiny 19,903 tons. At 141,000 tons, new Royal Princess is obviously a huge ship by comparison and a huge ship by today’s standards as well. But the way Princess has put this one together, it promises to have every bit as big a heart as the original that brought the line so far.

Princess Cruises has a series of videos about the construction and features of new Royal Princess. Here is one released this week about the new top-deck features:


[Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises]

Relaxation Day Survey Says Millennials Work Harder

Relaxation Day

The third annual National Relaxation Day is coming up August 15, 2012, and Princess Cruises is once again asking, “Do you need a vacation?” In their just-released Relaxation Report survey findings, Princess Cruises has some interesting results.

“It’s evident through our survey findings that Americans’ approach to relaxation and vacationing is changing with each generation,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president in a press release reported in SF Gate.

Millennials work harder than Boomers says the survey, noting that a third of most Boomers work on vacation while about double that amount of younger Millennials work rather than relax while on vacation. Eighty-three percent of those who get vacation time, regardless of age, said they didn’t use it all because they either had too much work to do or couldn’t find time to take off.This year’s survey got right down to preferred beverages while on vacation as we see in this first infographic.

Continuing along, the Relaxation Report found that 85 percent of all workers say it’s more relaxing when they go on vacation than when their boss does. Sixty-four percent of parents have taken a vacation without their child, 46 percent felt guilty about it, moms more than dads.

Sitting on the beach on a resort or cruise vacation or pausing for a break when hiking or camping, those surveyed had strong feelings on which social media platforms they might use too. This next infographic shows the clear winner.

[Infographics courtesy Princess Cruises; Flickr photo by graphistolage]

Cruise Lines To Plug In Ships, Finally

cruise shipMore than a year ago, Brooklyn’s Red Hook cruise ship terminal was to become the first East Coast cruise operation with the capability to let ships “plug in” and access power off the grid. A year later, ships have still not plugged in to cleaner, shore-side electric power and continue to spew fumes due to a $4 million price increase along the way. Now, Port Authority officials say they will approve the project and get going on it this month.

“The shore power project I expect will be on the Port Authority agenda for the June meeting,” Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye told the New York Daily News. “We’re working with our colleagues in city government to see what help they can provide and those discussions are ongoing. The environmental impacts to the local community – obviously it is an immensely populated area – are real and we’re focused on them.”

Concerned parties including state and local officials, Con Ed, Carnival Corporation and owners of ships that will use the facility, worked and debated for years to figure out how much electricity would cost and how to pay for it, before finally announcing a deal last April to split the cost.

Plugging in cruise ships is a big focus of cruise line environmental efforts, with several west coast ports already equipped to do so. When cruise ships come in to the Brooklyn Cruise Ship Terminal they bring a lot of travelers. That business is great for the local economy. Each cruise ship also brings some 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide and 6.5 tons of particulate matter annually when they park and burn their diesel engines – bad news for the humans that live near by.

“It will be the equivalent of removing 5,000 cars per year from the road annually,” Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation told the New York Times.

In California, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco already have the ability for ships to plug in.


Port of San Diego Completes Shore Power System from Port of San Diego on Vimeo.

Photo by Ian Barbour via Compfight

Cruise Vacations: Not Your Mother’s Slow Boat To China

cruise vacationsOften 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.

Flickr photo via Trey Ratcliff

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.

cruise vacationsThe 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 personality George Lopez who will become the cruise line‘s “creative director for comedy” as Carnival introduces the Punchliner Comedy Clubs Presented by George Lopez.

cruise vacationsTo 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.”

cruise vacationDJ 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.

Martina McBride performed on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas; Maroon 5 rocked Galveston with Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Magic as a backdrop. Other acts from Kid Rock to Dancing with the Stars contestants host themed cruises, allowing fans up-close-and-personal time like never before.

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.


Photos via Carnival Cruise Lines