Celebrity Cruise’s and the Top Chef Reality Show
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Qsine Restaurant

One of the top rated cruise lines for dining experiences and award-winning cuisine, Celebrity Cruises, is back in the cruise industry news. Since 1988, Celebrity has been providing excellent service, ports and attractions to passengers around the world and they recently obtained a revolutionary new culinary experience that is sure to draw in the crowds.

THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION

Gourmets, aficionados of food and those that appreciate a good meal have had their palates more than satisfied by exquisite menus that are inspired by the James Beard Foundation, taking passengers on a culinary voyage around the world. Many of the James Beard chef’s personally oversee the delectable menus.

Celebrity established an affiliation with the foundation based on the late James Beard’s philosophy. The foundation remains a key figure in culinary arts from cookbooks to being a training ground for rising talent in the restaurant industry, as well as educating the public about proper nutrition and new trends in cooking.

On a cruise with Celebrity, besides the main dining room, passengers can indulge with several specialty dining options. Recently they  introduced a Specialty Dining Package where passengers can obtain savings by purchasing a 3, 4 or 5 day specialty restaurant voucher in advance.

THE TOP CHEF REALITY SHOW

The cruise line has again decided to team up with the famous television show seen on British cable, “Top Chef.” It seems that the combination of an Emmy award winning reality show and a luxurious cruise line is too tempting for most. This project has obtained widespread approval from fans of cruising and foodies alike.

After the enormous success of the “Top Chef: The Cruise” program in 2013, the idea has clearly paid off as this new scheme is going to be offered on 10 different ships for cruises in Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean.

RECORDINGS START ON 27 JULY

The program allows visitors to participate in some of that thrilling action that the reality show is well known for with Top Chef’s contestants on four of the ships. The ships featuring the contestants for the TV show will be recorded on the July 27, August 15, September 19 and November 15 sailings of this year.

Lisa Kauffman, VP of Marketing of Celebrity Cruises is very excited by bringing back this program.  “Embodying passion for creativity and culinary excellence, ‘Top Chef’ perfectly complements our already exceptional culinary line-up”

The enrichment program will feature cooking demonstrations and private cooking classes. What makes this so special is that the passengers themselves can join in on the fun and enjoy the thrill of this competition and get some good cooking knowledge at the same time.

QUICKFIRE CHALLENGES

In addition, the Quickfire Challenges are going to be available on all 10 ships for passengers to show their talents in the kitchen. There is also a special Top Chef-inspired menu for dining in the evening. The connection between the cruise line and the television show couldn’t be any closer as Celebrity Cruise Lines are well known for their extremely high standards when it comes to cuisine.

Go on a Top Chef inspired cruise this year with Celebrity and gain a whole new menu to try at home. Besides, you will get to see a few destinations along the way in a luxury quality floating hotel.

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Top Trends in Cruising for 2014
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Cruising has considerably risen in popularity over the past few years, possibly because the cruise lines manage to push the envelope in terms of innovation and new ideas. Here are just a few of the biggest trends that the cruise industry has in store for 2014 and beyond.

Destinations

Cruise ships travel to nearly every continent of the world, but many passengers are requesting the big lines to offer more itineraries away from Europe and the Caribbean. The cruise industry has listened and cruises on the continent of Asia are a top attraction for 2014.

There are over 200 sailings in Asia aboard Crystal, Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean ships amongst others this year. The trend will continue and this will see a sizeable increase in cruise tourism in Asia. Shanghai will be the major catalyst of the program.

chinese building

The official Chinese Cruise Tourism Development Pilot is noting that prospects for cruising in China will rise sharply through advancements being made. Presently under construction are two new development zones through the efforts of the Shanghai International Cruise Industry Development Comprehensive Reform Pilot Area to handle the increase.

Entertainment

There is going to be a series of new entertainment styles to be found on cruise ships. A more fun approach is being taken with a particular emphasis on spectacle.

Everything from show stopping Broadway and West End musicals on Royal Caribbean to the hit reality show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ at Sea on Holland America await passengers.

Carnival has just introduced series of concerts called ‘Carnival Live’ with a line-up of different celebrities performing. There will also be some star gazing taking place on other parts of a ship. A shining example of this is the North Star observatory which can be found on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

River Cruises

River Cruises are once again in vogue. The river cruise market has expanded, and is looking to take on more exotic and interesting destinations. One of the major lines is AMA Waterways, who have decided to include locations in Africa and Asia on some of their 2014 cruises.

Cape Town

A great example is their Dicover Africa tour which departs from Cape Town and takes in the legendry Victoria Falls.

Other river cruise lines are beginning to renovate their ships and preparing for their passengers to experience more diverse destinations. This is one experience everyone should try.

Safety

Onboard safety procedures are the number one priority and will continue to be consistent throughout the cruise industry. Regulatory changes are in effect and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) “certify that all ships meet all applicable regulatory requirements and standards are met”.

IMO ensures that all ships will comply with relevant laws, regulations and international treaties. A more cohesive standard throughout the cruise industry for all crew and passenger’s safety is anticipated in 2014.

Spa Staterooms

One of the biggest sellers in terms of staterooms for 2014 will be ‘spa cabins’. They are referred to as spa cabins for the simple reason that they are strategically located right next to the spa and just steps away for a rest, relaxation and pampering. Due to this placement, they are often more expensive.

MSC Aurea Spa

Image courtesy of MSC Cruises

However, they also offer priority appointments and a reduced rate for most spa treatments, so it’s well worth the money. In addition, luxurious robes are provided for maximum enjoyment of the treatment as well as various higher quality lotions and toiletries.

Technology

Many passengers just can’t leave home without their Smartphone or tablets. System wide, staying connected is easier than ever as cruise lines have developed Wi-Fi hot spots onboard their ships.

Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas even supplies every cabin with an iPad for use for the entire duration of a cruise holiday. Silversea Cruises has recently increased their onboard media options to their complimentary digital service.

Passengers of the line can now use their personal Smartphones or tablets and access newspapers and magazines from hundreds of sources.  

Each year brings new innovations, amenities and fresh possibilities which makes a cruise holiday nothing short of a positive and memorable experience.

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That’s Entertainment!
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The most popular part of a cruise holiday for many passengers is the dining experience. After that, what they look forward to is the entertainment. Experienced cruisers will have noticed more changes being made when it comes to the ship’s entertainment styles.

Here is an array of what is happening now or on the horizon with the major cruise lines:

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines is introducing a new feature for entertainment in 2014. They are splashing the waves with their innovative series of concerts called ‘Carnival Live’.

This idea cropped up in an attempt to restore the image of Carnival after a few problems last year. The brand is hoping to restore confidence in many ways, one of which is bringing in the concerts.

The first to open in this series is Jennifer Hudson. Before her winning stretch of both a Golden Globe and Academy Award for the film ‘Dreamgirls’, Jennifer Hudson sang on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls

Carnival Ecstasy is the ship that will debut the first concert with Ms. Hudson on the 18th of June. There’s a repeat performance the next evening onboard the Carnival Breeze in Cozumel, Mexico, one of Carnival’s most beloved port of calls.

The Carnival Live concert series line-up also includes Trace Adkins, Chicago, Leann Rimes, Daughtry, Foreigner, Olivia Newton-John, Gavin DeGraw, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, REO Speedwagon, Jewel, Kansas, Styx and .38 Special.

Cunard

Cunard has had longstanding partnerships with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the Juilliard School of Music. In the Royal Court Theatre, located on all ships, passengers can catch a bit of culture with ballet or classic theatre of Shakespearean classics as well as production shows and a good variety of cabaret.

The theatre has a unique feature that is a first and not found anywhere else at sea. It contains private box seats that can be reserved prior to a performance for a fee.

orchestra

MSC

One of the most famous bands of the 60′s, The Moody Blues are going to thrill their fans with a special themed cruise that is based on the Isle of Wight Festival from 1970.

For 5 nights commencing on the 2nd of April, cruisers onboard the MSC Divina will get to hear music from the band as well as several special guests, including Roger Daltrey of The Who, The Zombies, The Electric Light Orchestra, Starship and the Little River Band. There will also be a Question and Answer segment for those who want to know all about these famous artists.

Electric Light Orchestra

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian cruise line was always the innovator in entertainment on their long decommissioned classic flagship, the Norway. Since the introduction of the Norwegian Epic and more recently the Breakaway, Norwegian has come up with original entertainment options at sea.

Catch familiar names such as Blue Man Group as well as introducing ground breaking concepts like the Cirque Dreams and Dinner Show.

For the 5th year in a row, music legend Kid Rock will be hosting the Kid Rock’s Redneck Paradise special, commencing on the 3rd of March. This will take place on the Norwegian Pearl departing out of Miami.

The line-up, which is being selected by Kid Rock himself, will be held throughout the week. There will also be daily concerts and two special shows held by the pool deck.

Kid Rock

Royal Caribbean International

In the past, you never knew who would be on-board in the evening. However Royal Caribbean began to introduce other forms of live entertainment such as ice extravaganzas held in an onboard rink. RCCL was the first to bring West End shows on to the waterways with shows such as “Hairspray”, “Mamma Mia” and “Chicago”.

Chicago

Heavy metal fans across the world are celebrating at this moment the ‘70,000 Tons of Metal’. Over forty celebrated heavy metal bands are performing on the Majesty of the Seas. Names include Carcass, Dark Tranquility, Death Angel and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles.

It may be too late for Heavy Metal fans to experience this for 2014, but gear up as this specialised cruise holiday is bound to be on-board for 2015.

Cruise lines continue to seek the exceptional in the field of entertainment. It really does benefit the passengers who gain an even more fun and enjoyable time away from home.

What Artist or Band would you like to see on your cruise holiday? Tell us below.

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Cruise with these Famous Characters!
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Cruises have become an extremely popular holiday choice for families. The cruise lines are aware that more children are sailing these days and have made preparations for them. It is commonplace that special zones have been set-aside for the younger ones, complete with age appropriate activities.

The really good thing about these extensive children’s programs is that it allows parents time for themselves to enjoy gourmet dinners and late night shows, whilst children are safely supervised.

The best family cruise lines can offer an experience which will be highly memorable to children of all ages and is also relaxing for parents.

One of the first to promote families and characters onboard a ship was the Disney Corporation and it didn’t take long for other major cruise lines to catch on.

Having special popular culture children characters onboard cruise ships is one way to distinguish whether that particular cruise ship is ultra family friendly.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES

Carnival has been known as being a line not to be outdone. In 2014, the ‘Fun Ships’ line announced its partnership with Dr. Seuss Empire. A new program for children will be in place within the next 18 months. The Green Eggs and Ham breakfast includes a typical “Seussical’ theme filled with lopsided table settings and breakfast favourites such as actual green eggs and ham.

Cat in the Hat vs Cheshire Cat

There will be cabins themed to Dr. Seuss characters in decor, along with character parades, favourite Dr. Seuss films such as “Cat in the Hat” and “Seuss-a-palooza” story hours.

DISNEY CRUISE LINES

Originally licensing their characters to Premier Cruise Lines (no longer in business), the corporate office developed their cruise line in 1999 with one ship. This concept flourished and three more Disney ships were added to the fleet.

You never know who might show up on a Disney cruise. Mickey and Minnie may stroll through the pool area. Cinderella may pop in for dinner or Goofy may greet the family in the cruise ship terminal before boarding. There will be plenty of photo ops as many as 22 characters will be on board on a single sailing.

Goofy

Disney Cruise Lines also operate traditional cruise features, where there are no specific themes or Disney characters, such as an adult only pool area and specialty restaurants to dine without the children.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES

Norwegian Cruise Line soon teamed up with Nickelodeon television. On many of their ships you will be greeted with feature “character experiences” from Team Nick that children will adore. Nickelodeon channel’s cartoon stars like SpongeBob Squarepants and Dora will certainly be around, so bring along the autograph book. Children will fancy special onboard events including Dora’s Dance Party.

SpongeBob

They can leave their PJs on and partake in a Nickelodeon’s Pyjama Jam Character Breakfast to sing and dance the morning away at breakfast. There are theme arts and crafts workshops where children and their parents can create a masterpiece together and gain some good quality time.

The Nickelodeon television theme is on most sailings on five of the line’s ships.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE

Children and their families can experience Madagascar, Shrek and many others at character breakfasts on designated ships. A weekly parade filled with characters offer photo opportunities throughout each sailing. RCCL also shows DreamWorks movies in 3D movies to coincide with the characters on board.

Shrek

Recently introduced, ladies of a certain age will find that the Barbie Premium Experience is tailored to their Barbie fashion sense on selected RCCL ships and sailings. Girls between the ages of 4 and 11 (with their parents) get to stay in Barbie-themed staterooms and even have fashion design workshops available as an activity.

The cruise industry has come a long way in making a family cruise holiday extra special.

At times, a particular ship may offer a “Kids Travel Free” promotion, which is a win and a financial perk for any family.

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Keeping your Cruise Holiday Costs Down
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Save money on your next Cruise

One of the best options for your next holiday is the cruising option. A Cruise holiday allows passengers not only the chance to visit new destinations, but to also enjoy the luxury of a floating hotel.

Sometimes though Cruise travellers feel that once they get onboard, they are being inundated with extra costs. This is due to the cruise lines adding more options such as specialty dining and other activities with a separate surcharge if they wish to partake.

Here are the top ten items that will keep your holiday costs down!

1. Expand your Knowledge Not all enrichment classes come with a fee and include more stimulating activities on those days at sea, instead of simply lying by the pool. These interactive classes can range from culinary demonstrations, ice sculpting, how to lose weight safely, learning to use a computer and money saving tips.

2. Eat Eat Eat! The theme restaurants on board might be something to try for one evening, but even the buffet has all kinds of culinary options for one to try. This is the perfect opportunity to sample a fare that one never gets a chance to do so at home. Cruise ship dining menus offer everything from the mundane to the exotic. There will always be something that’s unusual to try for free.

3. Get Physical  A good way to keep off weight and get a workout is by heading to the gym. Don’t think of this as work; think of it as a way to sample that latest state of the art equipment without signing up for a long term contract as one would in their local physical fitness centre. Head to the gym early in the morning, when it’s practically empty.

4. Whether in the cabin, theatre or at dusk poolside, admission to a movie is always free. The best part is snacks are welcomed and many ships supply free popcorn and blankets to snuggle in for watching the big screen on deck.

5. Cruise ships are great places to learn a step or two without costing a quid. The variety of dance genres that the staff teaches can range from the Texas Cotton Eye Joe to the tango to the Electric Slide and everything else in-between.

6. Picture Perfect Don’t bother with photos taken by the ship’s photographer, which tend to be pricey. Instead, carry a camera at all times as photos can be taken anywhere, aboard the ship or in an exotic port.  These photos will serve as a wonderful reminder of the holiday.

7. Putt Away It may not be the 18-hole course that golf enthusiasts are seeking but mini-golf is free. Normally located on the top-deck of many cruise, it is a great opportunity to practice putting and patience under the ship’s swaying at sea.  Mini-golf competitions may also be scheduled.

8. That’s Entertainment Head to the theatre and get a close up view of Vegas-style revues with all the glitz and glamour of showgirls, singers and comedians. But there’s more…some cruise lines kick up West End/Broadway musicals for their guests and there is never a fee for two on the aisle.

9. Tour Take an opportunity in exploring on your own with a good guidebook in hand. There’s no need to go on a prearranged tour at every port of call, especially when many destinations can be easily explored by yourself. Most ports have shuttles for their passengers from the berth directly to the edge of town.

10. Viewing the Sunrise Although you might have to get up early to do this, its well worth going out to the deck as the sights that you will see will be remembered forever. The view of the sun glimmering on the water whilst rising over the horizon may seem like something out of a painting or film.  It is all too real and is an awakening experience to begin a day of adventure.

You don’t need to pull out your wallet at every opportunity on a cruise and as described some of the best things to do and experience on a cruise holiday, as in life, are free.

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How do you save money on your cruise? Tell us below.