The Ultimate Dining Package From Norwegian
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Moderno Churrascaria

The innovative corporation behind Norwegian Cruise Lines were the first to introduce the concept known as “FreeStyle Dining”. The testing results were an instant hit and put into place on the entire fleet.

Many past passengers considered the FreeStyle concept one of the most popular elements on their cruise holiday.

FREESTYLE

Today, all the Norwegian Cruise Line ships offer an open-seating policy which allows a passenger to dine whenever they wish in a 5:30 to 10pm window for dinner. Pre-assigned tables were no longer set up for those who didn’t want this flexible option.

The formality of dress was eliminated although management frowns upon jeans, shorts and tank tops.

FreeStyle Dining works well for families, groups and anyone who wishes not to be tied down for eating at a set time. When first introduced, the program pertained to a separate section in one or two main dining rooms.

SPECIALITY DINING

The next step was to initiate a specialty restaurant. Originally, a more refined Italian/Continental restaurant was set up, whereas guests made a reservation for a meal that would exceed their expectations with a cover charge.

Today, the entire Norwegian fleet including the brand new Getaway has at least six alternative specialty restaurants serving food that’s on a par with all the very best of the competition.

Succeeding and becoming the talk of the cruise industry, it was only a matter of time that other cruise lines took notice and followed suit. It is now commonplace to see a few specialty restaurants on nearly every large ship.

Normally, specialty restaurants carry a cover charge, which ranges from £6 to £15 per person. If you wish to try a new dining experience everyday that certainly raises the on-ship expenditure.

INTRODUCING THE ULTIMATE DINING PACKAGE

The company has decided to introduce a revolutionary new system that is virtually guaranteed to increase the standards on the ships. This system consists of a dining package that lets passengers save the cover charge on the specialty restaurants on board.

The dining package, known as the Ultimate Dining Package, is sure to reduce attendance at the buffet as it allows the restaurants to become more affordable for all.

For only £36 (59 USD) on sailings from 3 to 6 day cruises, guests can eat at any restaurant of their choice. The total pre-arranged costs rise on a seven day journey to approximately £73 (119 USD).

Cagneys Steak House

Prices rise accordingly to the number of days over a week depending on how long the cruise is, but its well worth getting the opportunity to experience some of the best food on the sea without breaking the bank.

No foodie will be disappointed at the selection of venues. To get a taste of what each restaurant serves beforehand, take a walk around on embarkation day, when each one offers food samples.

The huge choice runs from Italian to Tex-Mex and more. A few examples of the type of dining facilities that the package includes are the romantic French/Continental restaurant called “Le Bistro” and a Norwegian signature favourite “Cagney’s Steakhouse”. The Brazilian-style barbeque “Moderno Churrascaria” and the Japanese hibachi-style restaurant “Teppanyaki” will provide a feast to remember.

Le Bistro

This package deal does not apply to the 5-star Ocean Blue and a la carte restaurants such as the sushi bar and the noodle bar. However, a 20% discount will be applied to whatever is ordered in any of those venues.

This package can be purchased prior to sailing at the time of booking or on board the ship during the first and second day of your cruise holiday.

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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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Cruise to the Fantasy Islands of Hawaii
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Hawaii is perhaps best known for being a top notch cruise destination, beginning in the early 2000s when Norwegian Cruise Lines set up a series of 7 day excursions leaving from Oahu. Other major cruise lines such as RCCL and Cunard stop on the islands but NCL cruises does this 52 weeks a year.

Cruise holidays have swelled in popularity in the Hawaiian Islands, especially amongst families and honeymooners. Discover Hawaii’s own extraordinary gems.

Big Island

From such awe inducing sights like glistening waterfalls in Wailuku River State Park to a rain forest preserve in Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, the Big Island of Hawaii has something for everyone.

Hawaii

This is the place to experience active and bubbling volcanoes which are increasing the land mass each day at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Even the sand will manage to amaze visitors, as it shows up in a variety of colours from black to green to even golden yellow.

Akaka Falls State Park contains a deep gorge into which the tallest waterfall on the island plunges.

Kona is known for its splendid diving, featuring beautiful coral reef structures and lovely tropical fish of all colours. It is also home to fertile volcanic soil and is filled with coffee plantations.

Kauai

Known as the jewel of the Pacific, Kauai has been featured in several famous Hollywood films such as “South Pacific” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” There’s plenty of flora, fauna and waterfalls on Kauai.  Make the most of this cruise holiday post of call by soaring like the albatross from the sky with a helicopter tour. You’ll get to see what the fuss is about.

Kauai Hawaii

The Napali Coast State Park is a rugged mountain coastline that is best viewed by helicopter. The moving terrain is something you will never view elsewhere and create a lasting memory.

Visit the peaks of Makana Mountain in Ha’ena State Park. The mountain is perhaps best known for the scenes where Jack Sparrow made his escape at the end of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” film. The park also offers whale sighting outings.

Maui

When thinking of Maui, one automatically conjures images of high surf beaches. There’s plenty of other activities available for a cruise passenger.

Try a bike tour from the summit of Haleakala, known as the world’s largest dormant volcano. Take a dip in the crystal clear mountain pools of Oheo Gulch, in Haleakala National Park. These pools were once thought to be The Seven Sacred Pools. Waterfalls and cascades feed into the pools.

Maui Haleakala

The Hawaii Nature Centre in Iao Valley is Hawaii’s natural history in a museum setting with the highlight of a rain forest walk.

Other things to do in Maui are touring the 120-year old Sugar Mill at Kahulu or head to Banyan Tree Park to observe the making of traditional canoes.

Oahu

The cruise will commence in Oahu, so add extra time with the pre or post cruise holiday here. From the very first step on land, a warm welcome is customary with lei greeting and sets the mood for an extraordinary holiday far from home.

Beaches throughout Oahu present amazing underwater adventures, thrilling water-sports along the shore and heavenly views.

Massive waves can be located on the coast on the North Shore of Oahu and this area draws surfers from around the world.

Waikiki was once the playground for Hawaiian royalty and bordering it, is the landmark Diamond Head. This is a crater created by eruptions from the now dormant Ko’olu Volcano. It presents a rocky terrain but is an easy walk for both the elderly and children.

Diamond Head Waikiki

Experience the magic of all of Polynesia at the Polynesian Cultural Centre.  The centre offers IMAX films, leisure canoe tours and Pacific Island history.

A cruise holiday is the best way to see as much as possible as there’s no packing and unpacking as there would be with a traditional land tour. Just step onboard and be transported to the best of Hawaii each day.

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Q&A with Travelzoo UK Cruise Experts
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Questions & Answers

We have put together some of the most popular questions that get e-mailed to us and with the help of Travelzoo UK cruise experts here are the answers.

What are the advantages of booking early?
Traditionally, cruise lines tried to encourage customers to book early with early sales and discounts. This worked well with regular cruisers who were used to booking a long time in advance. However, two factors have combined to change things slightly.

First, cruising is becoming mainstream, and people used to booking last-minute land holidays are now considering cruises, too. Second, there are many more cruise ships operating, meaning more cabins to sell and therefore more discounting needed to fill them. As a result, we see some great last-minute bargains.

That said, it’s not all about the price either. Waiting until the last second might mean that some of the best cabins are sold out. Even worse, the sailing you want could be entirely sold out. So, if you’re just looking for a bargain, it pays to leave it late, but if you want to book a specific date on a specific ship – you’re better off booking early.

Why are cruises for single travellers so expensive?
It’s mostly down to the limited availability of single cabins. Some ships offer a few, others none. Once the single cabins are sold out, prices jump for single travellers.

This is because cruise lines can make more money with two people per cabin. It’s not only about the getting two fare-paying customers per bed, it’s also having an extra body on board, buying drinks, spa treatments, souvenir photographs…  On the plus side, the industry seems to slowly adapt and tries to cater more and more for the singletons out there.

Notable examples includes NCL’s Epic and P&O’s Azura, which both offer single cabins.

What are the chances of another Costa Concordia disaster happening again?
You can never guarantee this type of disaster will never happen again. But, at the same time, the chances are rather slim. The main cruise lines take safety very seriously. Plus, the Concordia disaster led to a tightening of safety guidelines across the industry.

I have been on many ocean cruises and am now thinking of taking a river cruise. What lines would you recommend?
The number one consideration is budget. Overall, river cruising is more expensive than ocean cruising, mostly because the ships are smaller and have fewer cabins.

However, some budget-friendly options can be found, such as Shearings Holidays and The River Cruise Line. More expensive alternatives we would recommend include Avalon Waterways, Viking River Cruise, Noble Caledonia and Scenic Tours.

Is every six star cruise line All Inclusive?
First, it’s important to understand that there’s no official star rating when it comes to cruise ships.

Six star is mostly a term that’s been coined to differentiate what you can call ‘mainstream luxury’ lines (like Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Lines) to the more boutique lines, with smaller ships like Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Paul Gauguin. Whilst the last three examples are all-inclusive, some cruise lines which could be considered 6-star or premium, like Oceania Cruises or Windstar, do not include alcoholic drinks.

If you’re interested in a high-end cruise, the best is to research thoroughly the market and find what’s best for you. For example, Regent includes excursions in the price, so if you like discovering places it’s ideal. And, Oceania is widely praised for its restaurants and is perfect for foodies.

For more information and fantastic Cruise Deals visit www.travelzoo.com/uk/cruises/

Have any more Questions? Please use the comments section below and we will do our best to answer them!

Norwegian to increase ship visits to Belize
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This month Norwegian Cruise Line made the announcement that they had purchased an area of approximately 75 acres of land in Southern Belize with the intention to develop this into an eco-friendly cruise destination. Norwegian Cruise Line will spend around $50 million on this ambitious project which has already created some controversy with its proposed plans.

At present, the land is named Harvest Caye and comprises two islands. These two islands had previously received planning permission for the development of an airstrip.

NCL already has a large number of exciting and popular Western Caribbean itineraries and a number of ships (including the Norwegian Dawn pictured below) operating in this area.

Norwegian Dawn

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sheehan states that ‘once the new destination is complete [they will be able to] bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today’.

At present passengers arrive at Belize City port (pictured below) by tender boats.

Belize City Port

The plan for the development of the 75 acres of land is still mostly under wraps, but it has been confirmed that Norwegian Cruise Line will turn this into a world-class cruise port which will consist of two locations.

One of which will be an island destination with docking or tendering facilities and the other will be a connection to the mainland to allow passengers to embark upon tours of this area.

It is expected that there will be a floating pier, an island village, a state of the art marina, a transportation centre from which tours will depart to the mainland of Belize and a sheltered lagoon where passengers will be able to take part in various water sports or simply relax on the beach.

The cruise line have stated that this is to be an eco-friendly destination and their development plans will depend on using a design approach that will be determined by the local environment. They aim to ensure that the fragile and unique area will be protected from any potential damage or change.

Belize is a destination which currently has high environmental standards and the government of Belize have signed a memorandum with Norwegian Cruise Line agreeing that Norwegian will work to their strict environmental standards, create a number of jobs for the people of Belize and create a significant amount of economic growth.

NCL are planning to employ mainly Belizeans in the construction and operation of the project and it is anticipated that this project will create around 1,000 jobs for the locals of Belize and will also help with decentralising cruise tourism in Belize.

This will reduce the number of passengers arriving into the one cruise port which exists there are present which will mean the area is less crowded with cruise tourists. This will surely make visiting Belize a more pleasant experience for cruise passengers and land based tourists too.

So, what do you think of the plans to create a new cruise port in Belize?

Thanks