Cruise lines seek new ports, secure islands to visit

“You can only go to Cozumel just so many times” is a common complaint from frequent cruise travelers, bored with the same ports being offered by cruise lines year after year. As the cruise industry matures and more repeat passengers come back for more, they look to sail in some different directions.

Celebrity Cruises Eclipse will sail from Southampton boasting new destinations such as Reykjavik in Iceland, Genoa in Italy, and Ponta Delgada in the Azores. The 2012 return of the popular ship will bring revised cruise itineraries in response to guest demand including a series of eight and fourteen night cruises.

“Celebrity Eclipse is the most popular ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet for UK and Irish holidaymakers, and we’ve further enhanced itineraries and destinations to keep guests coming back” explains Dominic Paul, Vice President & Managing Director, UK & Ireland.

New calls will be made to St Lucia in the 2012-2013 season too when Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun makes regular visits to the island.

Cruise line itineraries are chosen based on a number of factors including safety, size of the ships, where other ships are going and more. The decision greatly impacts ports visited, bringing in considerable tourist spending when ships call.

“This is incredibly exciting news for our tourism sector. St Lucians are thrilled to welcome Norwegian,” said St Lucia tourism Minister Allen Chastanet of Norwegian Cruise Lines move to visit the island adding that “the decision to include regular stops to St Lucia was made after the company sampled the island’s offerings with limited calls in 2009.”

Cruise lines seek new ports for other reasons as well. Some not so great for local economies.

New ports, as well as existing ports, must meet and maintain standards demanded by the cruise lines. Don’t meet the standards down the road? Cruise lines will pull out and go someplace else.

When violence in Mexico reached a level of concern, cruise lines, one by one, were quick to divert to different ports. To get them back, Mexican government officials had to prove their ports safe, secure and a good place for cruise ship passengers to visit.

The threat of cruise lines moving their mobile assets to safer waters happens commonly for weather-related issues too. As master of the vessel, the ship’s captain will occasionally skip ports or revise itineraries when weather conditions that day warrant staying out of harms way. That’s part of every cruise passenger contract, the agreement all guests buy into before boarding a cruise ship.

It may be rough seas that at a port requiring a tender operation using smaller boats to ferry guests to and from the ship. An approaching storm, not on the radar when the ship first started its voyage may cause a modified itinerary down the line.

Often discounted by travel purists as a lesser travel experience, there is a lot that goes into a cruise vacation and each sailing is unique. While it may appear that ships run the same routes over and over, these are ocean-going vessels manned by experienced seamen, not a ride at an amusement park. New ports are often planned years in advance and all factors that go into making for a safe, secure and enjoyable experience have to be in place before the first ships visits.

Flickr photo by Loimere

Vail and RockResorts summer travel discounts expiring by Monday!

Looking for a quick summer fix at a deep discount? The latest deals from Vail Resorts Hospitality and RockResorts will definitely turn you on. Book by Monday, May 24, 2010 at noon, and you can pick up a room at Keystone Resort for a mere $71 a night or spend only $79 a night for the newest RockResort, One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge. If Colorado doesn’t tickle you, The Landings St. Lucia is offering a deal for $277 a night, and it’s good through November.

There’s one more catch: you need to book online.

Daily Pampering: New restaurant opens at The Landings in St. Lucia

If you haven’t been to The Landings St. Lucia lately, the restaurant that just opened is probably worth a trip. This RockResort just threw open the doors of The Palms, which is located in the grand entrance pavilion as an extension of the open-air Viscount Lounge. The menu boasts a Caribbean flavor, not to mention sustainably produced seafood from local St. Lucian farms.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday and serves the creations of Executive Chef Richard Tonks. His menu includes potted pork and duck appetizers with pickled vegetables and potato pancakes, but what really excites me are the shredded braised lamb shanks wrapped in lettuce girolles, shallots and merlot sauce – I might book a flight just to toss that into my mouth.

And then there’s the art …

I could spend hours staring at contemporary art, and The Landings is making that pretty easy. In The Palms, the walls are adorned with the creations of local artist Llewellyn Xavier. Every piece on display in the restaurant is made from recycled materials.

With only 28 seats, this is an intimate environment and an ideal space for a meal on a romantic getaway. Be sure to take in at least one meal at The Palms when your down at The Landings.

Get your daily dose of Pampering right here.

Four Twitter deals for Valentine’s Day getaways

You may not be able to say how you feel in 140 characters or less, but you sure can get leads on the best Valentine’s Day experience that way. So, instead of tweeting a feeling, use the white-hot social media platform to grab the top travel specials for the most romantic day of the year. Several resorts are running Twitter-only Valentine’s Day specials this year, so follow the right people, and you’ll be able to wow your better half this year.

1. @BalHarbourFL

ONE Bal Harbour, a five-star luxury property in Florida, is offering a savings of up to $800 a night through its “Tweeterhearts” package. Follow @BalHarbourFL and look for the package that has a room rate of only $1,335 a night for three nights, champagne in your room upon arrival, a couples spa treatment in a private beachside cabana and a romantic dinner for two at 1 Bleu.

2. @FairmontNewport
Look for a room rate of $199 a night at the Fairmont Newport with its “Twitter-patter” package. You’ll stay in a junior suite, enjoy breakfast on your private balcony and receive plush robes adorned with the names of you and your guest (perfect for Twitter nerds like @tjohansmeyer and his wife, mommy-blogger, @ljpimberton — I’m seriously kicking this around, just for the robes). Other amenities, from high-speed internet access to valet parking and champagne are covered, as well. And, the window is wide: you can stay from the beginning of February through the end of March. Get the booking code from @FairmontNewport or @FairmontHotels.3. @LandingsStLucia
Who thought you could get a great wedding deal on Twitter? This RockResort is putting its best foot forward with the “Twitter Bells” package, which you can find by following @LandingsStLucia. You can save up to 25 percent with rates starting at $564 a night for a six-night stay as part of your wedding getaway. Enjoy a ceremony on the beach with a decorated wedding arch, floral arrangements and a bouquet and boutonniere. Your wedding dinner will be prepared for by Executive Chef Richard Tonks, and you’ll eat it on your luxurious “Tweet Suite” terrace. You’ll also pick up breakfast and lunch daily and evening champagne turndown service. You’ll need to tie the knot by May 11, 2010.

4. @ArrabelleVail

Do you crave powder? The Arrabelle at Vail Square‘s “Sweet Tweet for Two” package will get you a two-night stay at a discount of up to 30 percent, if you follow @ArrabelleVail. You’ll be greeted with champagne, roses and chocolate covered strawberries, and during your stay, you’ll enjoy an 80-minute couples massage, a Tweethearts tubing session and breakfast every day. The package is available through the end of ski season (April 17, 2010), with rates starting at $465 a night.

Get out and go: Events around the world (December 9-14)

It’s time to look at the festivals and events happening around the world, and this week has a particularly international selection of happenings. If you’re close and have time, then you have no excuse to get out and go!

  • TorontoThe Festival of Carols, a holiday tradition, will be held in Toronto this Wednesday, December 9th.
  • Oslo – The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony will be held in Oslo Thursday, December 10th. The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony takes place every 10th of December, the date on which Alfred Nobel died in 1896.
  • Cape TownThe Hout Bay Harbour Festival will take place in Hout Bay, Cape Town on Friday, December 11. The festival will continue until December 13.
  • St LuciaThe Festival of Lights Celebration will take place for two days in St Lucia starting this Saturday, December 12. Saint Lucians celebrate this day by going to church services, attending parades and rallies, organizing sports meetings and staging cultural presentations. December 13th is the National Day of St Lucia.
  • AucklandCoca-Cola Christmas in the Park will take place in Auckland on Saturday, December 12 . This is a free musical event that begins at 7:30 p.m.
  • TokyoGishi-sai takes place on Sunday, December 13 in Tokyo, Japan. This is a festival honoring the forty-seven loyal retainers (ronin) in Akoh, who were made popular in movies and dramas.
  • Tanjay CityThe Bod-Bod Festival will take place Monday, December 14th in Tanjay City in the Philippines. The festival celebratesto the Bod-bod, a native delicacy made of glutinous rice, coconut milk, sugar and salt. The festival will continue until December 16th.

If you make it to one of these events, let us know how it was, or if you know of an even that’s coming up, please let us here at Gadling know and we’ll be sure to include it in the next “Get out and go” round-up.