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Travel With Rick Year In Review 2015

It’s been an incredible year on Travel With Rick and this week, John and Rick sit down to chat about all the amazing destinations, food, and friends that they met along the way.  Plus stayed tuned for some bloopers at the end!

Hope you enjoy today’s video, be sure to leave a comment and share it with your friends!


Carnival Bringing New Ships to Galveston and Port Canaveral

Carnival Cruise Line announced deployment changes designed to enhance its leadership position in two key homeports – Galveston and Port Canaveral, Fla., – while providing exciting “Fun Ship” itinerary choices in time for next summer’s cruise season.

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Carnival Breeze will reposition to Galveston in May 2016 and Carnival Magic to Port Canaveral in April 2016, several months earlier than previously announced. Carnival Breeze will assume Carnival Magic’s year-round schedule of seven-day Galveston cruises beginning May 8, 2016. Carnival Magic will take over Carnival Valor’s current seven-day Port Canaveral cruise program April 23, 2016.

In turn, Carnival Splendor will assume Carnival Breeze’s six- and eight-day Caribbean schedule from Miami May 1, 2016. Carnival Valor will offer a new series of five- and eight-day departures from Port Canaveral beginning June 4, 2016 instead of October 2016 as previously announced.

“Galveston and Port Canaveral are two important markets for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising and these deployment changes provide our guests and travel agent partners with exciting new options featuring a variety of on-board innovations and visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Bahamas and Florida,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

Carnival Breeze to Launch Year-Round Service from Galveston in May 2016

Carnival Breeze will kick off its new Galveston-based cruise program May 8, 2016, departing every Sunday on three different week-long itineraries: western Caribbean cruises calling at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, and a seven-day Bahamas/Florida route with stops in Nassau, Freeport, and Key West.

The line’s newest ship, Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, the Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks, an aqua park that includes a 312-foot-long slide, a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, the DrainPipe funnel-style attraction and a splash area for younger cruisers.

Carnival Breeze, originally scheduled to reposition to Galveston in December 2016, replaces Carnival Magic which will reposition to Port Canaveral in April 2016.

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Carnival Magic to Sail Seven-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in April 2016

Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral to operate seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning April 23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove. Prior to launching its new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special three-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic was the first cruise ship to feature a suspended ropes course, part of an expansive open-air recreation area called SportSquare, as well as the Cucina del Capitano Italian family-style restaurant and the RedFrog Pub, a Caribbean-inspired watering hole serving the line’s private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

Carnival Magic’s previously announced schedule from Port Canaveral was scheduled to begin in December 2016.

Carnival Splendor to Offer Six- and Eight-Day Cruises from Miami in May 2016

Carnival Splendor will launch six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami May 1, 2016, departing alternating Saturdays and Sundays.

The schedule, which runs through December 2016, includes eight-day southern Caribbean cruises featuring Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curaçao, and Aruba, along with eight-day eastern Caribbean departures visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. Carnival Splendor will also offer a three-port, six-day option featuring Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Ocho Rios.

Carnival Splendor will offer a nine-day Carnival Journeys cruise round-trip from Miami departing May 26, 2016, and featuring an overnight call in King’s Wharf, Bermuda, as well as visits to Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) and Grand Turk. A number of special on-board activities and programming are planned, as well.

The 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor boasts on-board features like a 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa featuring a thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, a retractable dome covering the mid-ship pool, and a classic American steakhouse serving prime steaks and other gourmet cuisine.

Carnival Valor to Offer Three- to Eight-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in May 2016

Carnival Valor will offer a new short cruise schedule from the Space Coast in May 2016 before launching year-round five- and eight-day departures in June 2016.

Three- to five-day sailings will take place throughout May and visit such popular ports as Grand Turk, Nassau, Freeport, and Amber Cove. The ship will also offer a one-time six-day cruise departing May 15 and featuring Nassau, Amber Cove and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor’s year-round five- to eight-day voyages begin June 4, 2016. Five-day cruises will visit Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport. Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten; while eight-day southern Caribbean sailings will include Curaçao or Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor is currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in spring 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations.

Book Your Next Carnival Cruise Today!

All About Carnival Cruising With Amanda Tinney

This week we discover all the incredible benefits of sailing on Carnival Cruise Lines. From the amazing service to the food and activities, Carnival has something for everyone!


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A Conversation with Filipe Couto, Cruise Director for the Carnival Liberty

This week Travel With Rick introduces us to Filipe Couto, Cruise Director for the Carnival Liberty, as he and Rick discuss Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Live, and all the fun for the whole family on a Carnival cruise!


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Carnival Announces Summer/Fall Carnival Live Series

Crank it up to 11, music fans! Today, Carnival Cruise Line unveiled the roster of artists for its upcoming Carnival LIVE concert series, adding The Band Perry, BOSTON, Lionel Richie and Heart to the diverse and talented lineup of musical acts set to perform on board the “Fun Ships” this summer and fall.

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The shows complement the highly anticipated spring series which kicked off last month and includes performances by Journey, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Smokey Robinson and Styx.

Bringing the best of musical entertainment to the seas, Carnival LIVE is a one-of-a-kind entertainment option that provides guests an opportunity to experience captivating concerts by major musical artists at a tremendous value. Concerts are held in the ships’ intimate main theaters – ranging in guest capacity from 900 to 1,300 – meaning there’s never a bad seat in the house.

Carnival LIVE concerts are performed on Carnival vessels while they are docked in one of three ports of call: Cozumel, Nassau and St. Thomas.

“We’re thrilled to build upon the tremendous success of Carnival LIVE with concerts this summer and fall by The Band Perry, BOSTON, Lionel Richie and Heart – four incredibly talented acts that will provide our guests with an extraordinary entertainment experience,” said Bernie Dillon, director of Carnival LIVE.

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The Band Perry will perform July 28-29-30 on Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination and Carnival Magic, respectively, while those ships are docked in Nassau. During these shows, guests can enjoy up-close-and-personal performances by this award-winning trio who recently won Best Country Duo/Group Performance for Gentle on My Mind at the 57th Grammy Awards.

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Fans will get “more than a feeling” as they can enjoy four shows this summer by rock superstars BOSTON which has sold more than 31 million records worldwide, including 17 million copies of their self-titled debut. BOSTON brings their high-energy performances to four Carnival ships in Nassau – Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Ecstasy – Aug. 19-22.

Multiple Grammy and Oscar award-winning singer Lionel Richie will have audiences “dancing on the ceiling” on Carnival Freedom Oct. 14 and Carnival Pride Oct. 15 while those ships are docked in Nassau. One of the most popular recording artists of all time, Richie has sold 100 million albums worldwide and is only one of two songwriters in history to have a number one record for nine consecutive years.

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Rounding out the series is Heart, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 and have sold more than 35 million records during their accomplished musical career that spans more than 35 years. Guests can enjoy three shipboard performances in Cozumel by these rock legends: Oct. 20 aboard Carnival Paradise, Oct. 21 aboard Carnival Ecstasy and Oct. 22 aboard Carnival Breeze.

Carnival LIVE tickets for 2015 range from $35 to $75 for general admission, significantly less than land-based venues. VIP tickets are available for $125 to $250 and offer seating in the first four rows, a photo opportunity with the artist and a commemorative concert pass.


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Carnival Sunshine to New York, Charleston and Norfolk in 2016

The Carnival Sunshine will offer a unique schedule from New York in 2016 encompassing 20 voyages departing between June and October 2016.

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Carnival Sunshine will also offer a series of sailings from Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., in summer and fall 2016, providing exciting new cruise choices in these markets.

Following these departures from New York, Charleston and Norfolk, Carnival Sunshine will return to its current homeport of Port Canaveral, Fla., to offer a schedule of five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from the Space Coast beginning in November 2016.

“Carnival Sunshine has an extraordinary array of guest features and facilities and will provide consumers and our valued travel agent partners with a wide range of itinerary choices from these highly attractive East Coast homeports,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.
Carnival Sunshine’s 2016 schedule includes:

New York
· Two-day cruises departing June 18 and Oct. 8, 2016
· Four-day cruises to Saint John departing June 30 and July 28, 2016
· Five-day sailings to Saint John and Halifax departing June 20 and 25 and Oct. 10, 2016
· Seven-day Canada/New England cruises to Boston, Portland, Saint John and Halifax departing Sept. 3, 10, 17 and 24 and Oct. 15, 2016
· Seven-day Bermuda cruise featuring a three-day stay in King’s Wharf departing Oct. 1
· Eight-day Exotic eastern Caribbean voyages to San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk departing July 4 and 20 and Aug. 17, 2016
· Eight-day Exotic eastern Caribbean voyages to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau or Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) departing July 12 and Aug. 1 and 9, 2016
· Nine-day Carnival Journeys voyage departing Aug. 25 and featuring San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk

Charleston
· Two-day cruise departing Nov. 11, 2016
· Four-day voyage to Nassau departing May 26, 2016
· Five-day Bahamas cruises to Nassau and Freeport departing May 21 and Nov. 6, 2016
· 10-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing May 30, 2016 and featuring St. Thomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and San Juan

Norfolk
· Two-day cruises departing June 10 and Oct. 28
· Five-day voyage to Nassau and Freeport June 12
· Five-day Bermuda cruise overnighting in King’s Wharf Oct. 23
· Six-day Bahamas cruise to Nassau, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Freeport departing Oct. 30

Port Canaveral
· Five-day cruises to Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay departing Nov. 14, 2016, Jan. 8, Feb. 19 and April 2 and 23, 2017
· Five-day cruises to Amber Cove and Grand Turk departing Dec. 26, 2016, Jan. 19 and March 12, 2017
· Seven-day eastern Caribbean sailings to Amber Cove, St. Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk departing Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, 2016
· Seven-day western Caribbean cruise to Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, Belize and Cozumel departing Nov. 26, 2016
· Eight-day southern Caribbean cruises visiting Aruba, Curacao and Grand Turk departing Dec. 31, 2016, Jan. 21, March 4 and 25, and April 28, 2017
· Eight-day southern Caribbean voyages to Aruba, Bonaire and Grand Turk departing Dec. 10, 2016, Feb. 3 and April 15, 2017
· Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten departing Dec. 18, 2016, Jan. 13, Feb. 11 and 24, March 17 and April 7, 2017
· Nine-day Carnival Journeys voyage visiting St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Maarten departing April 29, 2016

In 2015, Carnival Splendor will operate a series of four- to eight-day voyages from New York to the Caribbean, New England and eastern Canada and two- to seven-day departures from Norfolk to The Bahamas and Bermuda.

Carnival Sunshine replaces Carnival Splendor on the line’s departures from New York and Norfolk in 2016. Additional information on the future homeport of Carnival Splendor will be provided in the near future.


New Fun Ship Choices Coming to New Orleans, Jacksonville & San Juan

Carnival Cruise Line will expand capacity on its four- and five-day short cruise program from new Orleans by 34 percent when Carnival Triumph replaces Carnival Elation on this schedule next spring.

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In turn, Carnival Elation will reposition to Jacksonville, Fla., for year-round four- and five-day cruises and Carnival Fascination will shift to San Juan for year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning in spring 2016, providing consumers with fresh and exciting new choices in these markets. As previously announced, Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Triumph on the line’s year-round four- and five- day cruise program from Galveston next spring.

“Repositioning these ships to New Orleans, Jacksonville and San Juan provides our guests and valued travel agent partners with fresh and exciting new ‘Fun Ship’ choices in three important and highly attractive cruise markets,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

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New Choices in the Big Easy
Carnival Triumph will shift from Galveston to New Orleans to launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico beginning April 4, 2016. On this route, four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and call at Cozumel while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays and visit Cozumel and Progreso. During these fun and affordable getaways, consumers can relax on world-class beaches, enjoy a variety of dining, shopping and cultural opportunities and visit centuries-old Mayan ruins including Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Carnival Triumph will also offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from New Orleans April 8-11, 2016.

Carnival Triumph will join Carnival Dream which operates year-round seven-day cruises from New Orleans. Together these two ships are expected to carry 450,000 guests annually from New Orleans – the most of any cruise operator. Carnival is the only cruise line to operate two year-round ships from New Orleans and offers the widest variety of cruise durations and itinerary choices from the Big Easy.

Carnival Triumph has undergone an extensive dry dock that added a number of Fun Ship 2.0
innovations, including Guy’s Burger Joint, developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, poolside watering holes BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, and Cherry On Top, a “candy and more” store. Carnival Triumph also features more than 500 staterooms and suites with private balconies that are not generally available on other short cruises and are highly coveted by Carnival guests.

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Carnival Elation to Jacksonville, Carnival Fascination to San Juan
Carnival Elation will shift from New Orleans to Jacksonville to operate year-round four- and five-day cruises from Jaxport beginning April 23, 2016, providing a newer ship on this highly attractive cruise program.

Carnival Elation will assume Carnival Fascination’s four- and five-day schedule from Jacksonville and continue cruising’s only year-round program from that port. Four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Freeport and Nassau and five-day voyages depart Mondays and Thursdays and visit the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay and Nassau.

In turn, Carnival Fascination will reposition to San Juan to operate year-round seven-day southern Caribbean cruises beginning April 24, 2016. These week-long adventures feature five breathtaking Caribbean islands: St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten. In addition to some of the world’s best beaches, these tropical seaside destinations are known for their exceptional snorkeling, scuba diving and water sports.

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Exciting Six- to 11-day Voyages from New Orleans and San Juan
In anticipation of its new homeport, Carnival Elation will offer two exciting longer length cruises
visiting some of the Caribbean’s most stunning ports of call. An 11-day cruise will depart New Orleans April 2 and arrive in San Juan April 13, 2016, with port calls at Aruba, Curacao, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas, while a 10-day cruise will sail from San Juan to Jacksonville April 13-23, 2016, featuring Barbados, Grenada, Tobago, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Thomas.

Carnival Fascination will also offer a special six-day cruise departing Jacksonville April 18 and arriving in San Juan April 24, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage will include St. Thomas, St. Kitts and St. Maarten.

All of these cruises have been specially designed to offer our guests who have previously sailed with Carnival from New Orleans or Jacksonville, with new itineraries that visit more exotic ports of call. The unique appeal of these voyages should provide first-time cruisers with even more incentive to experience a Carnival cruise vacation. The 10- and 11-day cruises also offer our valued travel agent partners with the ability to earn higher commissions due to the longer cruise duration.


Carnival Moves Ships to Miami and Galveston in 2016

PortMiami will be the year-round homeport for Carnival Cruise Line‘s new Carnival Vista starting in late 2016.

The Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty will reposition to Galveston, Texas in 2016, joining Carnival Freedom which arrives in Galveston this Saturday.

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The Carnival Breeze and Carnival Liberty will replace Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, respectively, in Galveston.

Details on new homeports for the Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph, as well as year-round departures from San Juan, will be provided over the coming weeks.

With the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Freedom, Galveston will be home to three of the line’s ships, making it the biggest cruise line in the Texas port.

“Miami and Galveston are among our most popular points of embarkation and deploying our newest, most innovative ships to these homeports speaks volumes about our confidence in growing these markets,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

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“These ships not only offer our guests incredible on-board experiences but also provide our valued travel agent partners with exciting new choices to market to their clients,” she added.

The Carnival Vista starts its new schedule from PortMiami with a four-day cruise to Grand Turk departing Nov. 29, 2016.

The ship will then launch year-round six- and eight-day cruises beginning with an eight-day voyage departing Dec. 3, 2016. Six-day cruises feature Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while a mix of different eight-day itineraries visit some of the Caribbean’s most sought-after destinations, including Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten and La Romana (Dominican Republic).

The ship will also offer a combination of one-time voyages, including a five-day cruise departing Dec. 11 and seven-day voyages departing Dec. 17 and 24, 2016.

Prior to the start-up of year-round service from Miami, the Carnival Vista will operate a pair of voyages round-trip from New York beginning with a three-day cruise November 4-7, 2016, followed by an 11-day voyage departing Nov. 7, 2016, followed by a 11-day cruise from New York to Miami Nov. 18-29, 2016, with calls at Grand Turk, Bonaire, Aruba and St. Maarten.

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The Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will shift to Galveston in 2016.

Carnival Liberty will launch year-round four- and five-day cruises to Mexico from Galveston beginning March 21, 2016. Four-day “long weekend” cruises depart Thursdays and feature a stop at Cozumel, while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays visiting Cozumel and Progreso. Prior to the start-up of its new Texas-based program, Carnival Liberty will offer a special three-day cruise round-trip from Galveston March 18-21, 2016.

The Carnival Breeze will offer three different week-long itineraries visiting popular ports in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida beginning Dec. 11, 2016. Western Caribbean voyages call at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, while a Bahamas/Florida route includes Nassau, Freeport, and Key West. Carnival Breeze will also offer a special two-day cruise from Galveston Dec. 9-11, 2016, before kicking off its new year-round seven-day schedule.

Before their new deployments, the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze will each operate a unique 12-day Caribbean cruise in 2016.

The Carnival Liberty will offer a 12-day cruise from San Juan to Galveston March 6-18, 2016, calling at St. Thomas, Barbados, Tobago, Grenada, Aruba and Grand Cayman. The Carnival Breeze will operate a 12-day cruise departing Miami Nov. 27, 2016, and arriving in Galveston Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports on this one-time voyage include St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Curacao, Aruba and Cozumel.


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Carnival Vista’s Incredible New Features Revealed

Carnival Cruise Line has revealed brand new features along with enhanced ones at its Carnival Vista unveiling located in New York and London on January 22nd. The upcoming ship has brought several surprises with new industry firsts at sea and exciting inaugural itineraries.

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The vessel will have the largest WaterWorks in the fleet and going one step further than previous ships.

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One of the most thrilling parts of this water park is the Kaleid-O-Slide where guests can hop on one or two person rafts and wiz around all the twists and turns that is 455 feet.

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While still bearing the imprint of Funship 2.0, the Vista will have a number of novel elements not shared by other Carnival Cruise Line ships.

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SkyRider, a recumbent cycle that runs a circuit around and above the sports deck, may be the most noticeable of the bunch.

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But there’s also an IMAX theater, part of a Multiplex area; a new kaleidoscopic water slide; a casual seafood restaurant; an area of suites with hammocks; and a new approach to family staterooms. With the Vista, Carnival will become the first cruise line to brew its own beer at sea.

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The cluster of new features is reminiscent of two other ships introduced in 2014: Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Norwegian Getaway and Royal Caribbean International‘s Quantum of the Seas. The new deck of indoor/outdoor restaurant space on the Vista’s Deck 5 looks remarkably like the Waterfront on Norwegian’s Breakaway/Getaway ships.

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Norwegian, Royal and Carnival have been rivals for more than 40 years, but their competition in ship design is as vital as it has ever been. Each is pushing the other to develop better and more exciting new features, and the benefits are accruing to cruise passengers who have a fantastic array of fun things to do on a ship.

Carnival Vista is due in May 2016.

 

Amber Cover To Welcome First Carnival Ship in 2015

Amber Cove, an exciting new destination located in the heart of the Dominican Republic’s breathtaking North Coast, known as the Amber Coast, just outside the historical town of Puerto Plata – will welcome its first cruise ship when the Carnival Victory arrives on October 6, 2015, for a day-long call.

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The visit by Carnival Victory is the first of 37 calls by eight different Carnival Cruise Line ships that will take place between October 2015 and April 2016, accounting for more than 100,000 guests during this period.

Amber Cove will be a featured port on select sailings of Carnival Breeze, Carnival Glory, Carnival Splendor and Carnival Victory from Miami, Carnival Conquest from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Valor from Port Canaveral, Fla., and Carnival Fantasy from Charleston, S.C.

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“Amber Cove is destined to become a cornerstone in creating new itineraries from several U.S. home ports,” said Terry Thornton, Carnival’s senior vice president of itinerary planning. “It will provide an unmatched combination of ‘fun in the sun’ activities and eco-tourism opportunities along with unique sightseeing, dining and cultural experiences to create a lifetime of wonderful vacation memories for our guests,” he added.

Designed to serve as the gateway to one of the world’s most beautiful cruising regions, Amber Cove features dramatic architectural elements that echo the area’s storied Colonial past. The port is situated in a picturesque cove that serves as the backdrop for soaring mountains and lush tropical landscape. Its cobblestone plazas will be lined with a wide variety of retail offerings, including themed restaurants and bars and a marketplace with locally sourced crafts and souvenirs, recreational amenities, and a transportation center for access to land and sea adventures.

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The facility will offer two berths that can accommodate up to two large post-Panamax cruise ships simultaneously.

Amber Cove will feature one of the most extensive shore excursion programs available in the Caribbean, offering a wide array of landside experiences including beautiful beaches, exciting water sports and special culinary, cultural and adventure options. Nearby Ocean World, which is one of the region’s largest marine adventure parks, will offer guests many great ways to experience and interact with a variety of marine animals.

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Dozens of shore excursions will be available, from cross-country adventures in 4×4 Terracross buggies that traverse the rugged countryside and horseback riding on the beach to snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and swimming in a pristine natural river pool. Guests can also travel via speedboat to beautiful Paradise Island, one of the Caribbean’s top spots for snorkeling and scuba diving, or visit rural coffee plantations and sample traditional Dominican cuisine, rum and seasonal fruit. Or for the ultimate luxury experience, guests can reserve their own private beachside bungalow with the services of a personal chef, bartender and staff.

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Amber Cove will also provide easy and convenient access to the nearby historic town of Puerto Plata, named by Christopher Columbus when he discovered the island in 1492. Puerto Plata is home to the first fort built by European settlers in the New World. Visitors to the city can shop in the bustling downtown area featuring numerous artist studios and rum and cigar factories or stroll along the famed Malecon, a three-mile-long open air beach-side boardwalk dotted with bars, restaurants and shops.

Carnival Pride Makes Tampa Her Home

Carnival Pride has kicked off its winter schedule of seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Port of Tampa following a $75 million dry dock that added new Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements, including four Playlist Productions shows.

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On its new winter schedule, Carnival Pride will depart Sundays on week-long itineraries to four Caribbean destinations: Cozumel, Mexico; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; Belize City, Belize; and George Town, Grand Cayman, or Costa Maya, Mexico. Available shore excursions will range from ziplining, snorkeling and kayaking to cave tubing and exploring ancient ruins.

The Carnival Pride’s three-week dry dock added a variety of new features, part of Carnival‘s Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement initiative.

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New features include dining options like the Guy Fieri co-developed Guy’s Burger Joint, the full-service Bonsai Sushi, the Mexican Blue Iguana Cantina, as well as beverage venues like the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the Caribbean-inspired Red Frog Pub, EA SPORTS Bar with a 16-monitor video wall, and the poolside Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Red Frog Rum Bar.

The ship has also added a WaterWorks aqua park highlighted by the Green Thunder water slide, as well as Hasbro, The Game Show, offering adaptations of the company’s iconic games, and Cherry on Top, a “candy and more store.”

Guests sailing on Carnival Pride can also enjoy four new Playlist Productions shows – 80s Pop to the Max, Heart of Soul, Getaway Island and 88 Keys: The Rock and Roll Piano Show. The new shows are highlighted in a video hosted by senior cruise director John Heald and featuring interviews with members of Carnival’s entertainment team and exclusive behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage:

 

Carnival Pride will operate from Tampa through March 2015, and then reposition to Baltimore for year-round five- to 14-day departures from that port.


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Carnival Unveils WiFi@Sea

Carnival Corp. announced it will offer a long-range, broadband wireless Internet network on all of its 101 ships across nine cruise line brands.

The Miami-based cruise ship company says WiFi@Sea will use a combination of strategically located land-based antennas installed along cruise routes, Wi-Fi from a port connection and advanced satellites to offer onboard Internet.

Cruise ships currently have Internet packages and cafes, but the connectivity has traditionally been slow.

Company officials said in recent years, passengers have asked for a faster network. It also is trying to lure the tech-savvy millennial generation toward cruise ship vacations.

“In the past, people wanted to be on vacation and be disconnected,” said Ramon Millan, senior vice president and global chief information officer for Carnival Corporation. “Recently we’ve found that people want to be connected. Knowing you have that option allows you to relax even more.”

Millan said the network will be similar to a cell phone’s when it changes from one data connection to another while moving across a coverage area. It’s 10 times faster than connectivity previously offered on Carnival ships.

Pricing will vary by brand upon service rollout, which has already started on some ships. All of the company’s ships are expected to have the new network by 2016.

Currently, most of Carnival’s ships charge a $3.95 activation fee and then sell Internet packages. On Carnival cruises longer than six days, for instance, 250 minutes is $100. Ships also have Internet cafes with similar prices.

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world. It’s comprised of Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Ibero Cruises, P&O Cruises and P&O Cruises.

Millan said the new Internet is also great for cruise ship workers, who often videoconference with family and friends.

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Colleen McDaniel, the managing editor of the online website Cruise Critic, called this a “major step” in keeping cruise ship passengers connected.

Previously, passengers who went on cruises felt a huge disconnect while onboard ships and tried to access the Internet.

“People have gotten so used to high-speed Internet on land,” she said. “This is a response to what people said they want.”


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Carnival Cruise Lines and DJ Irie Create DJ Academy for Teens

Carnival Cruise Lines has teamed up with legendary DJ IRIE – the official DJ of Carnival and the Miami HEAT who has entertained crowds from South Beach and Vegas to Paris and Brazil – to create Spin U, a new shipboard DJ academy exclusively for teens ages 15-17.

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Part of the line’s popular Club O2 teen program and inspired by DJ IRIE’s own Spin’iversity – a customized training program exclusively for developing Carnival’s shipboard DJs – Spin U is designed to provide aspiring spin-masters all they need to know about this emerging art form, from bringing a crowd to its feet to pumping up the dance floor with energy and excitement.

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Under the guidance of Carnival’s talented and energetic shipboard pro DJs, Spin U students learn not only how to operate the latest mixing and sound equipment but also how to read a crowd and tailor song selections from every musical genre to keep the party moving, while making maximum use of their own personality to create their own memorable DJ persona.

Three different Spin U packages will be offered:

  • Intro – a free 30-minute introductory session that includes an overview of equipment basics and spinning and mixing techniques.
  • DJ 101 – a 45-minute program that expands upon the Intro program with a comprehensive overview of both mixing and scratching. Cost is $20.
  • DJ Master – comprised of three one-hour sessions, DJ Master is exactly what the name implies, helping participants master the art of mixing, mic skills and understanding song structure and transitions. After selecting their own creative DJ moniker, DJ Master students participate in a “Battle of the Beats” against other up-and-coming DJs with one lucky DJ entertaining guests poolside on Lido deck. Cost for the three-session program is $99.

Personalized, one-on-one sessions with Carnival’s shipboard DJs are also available and all DJ Master participants receive a “swag bag” containing a variety of premium branded logo items.

“I am thrilled that Carnival and I were able to cultivate a youth program that involves something I am so passionate about and really translates into a fun guest experience,” said DJ IRIE. “It is exciting to be a part of a program that supports the arts and provides an outlet for young music lovers to express themselves during a family vacation,” he added.

Spin U is currently being piloted on six- and eight-day cruises of the Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with fleetwide rollout expected by the end of 2015.

The Spin U program can be booked via the Club O2 venues throughout the fleet.

Growing New Cruise Destination: The Philippines

Three of the world’s leading cruise companies—Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Lines—have expressed interest to help develop the Philippines as a cruise-ship destination, the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, said recently.

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In a statement, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said officials of the three companies provided feedback on how the Philippines could become a cruise destination that would provide their guests with a unique and memorable experience.

“The cruise giants were open to working with the Philippines in destination development while they discussed infrastructure requirements, “ Cuisia said after a recent economic diplomacy mission to the US state of Florida, where he met with cruise-company officials.

During the meeting, Cuisia took the opportunity to emphasize to the cruise-line executives the notable destination possibilities in the Philippines, particularly Vigan City in Ilocos Sur province, which is now vying to be one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.

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A favorite tourist destination in the northern Philippines, Vigan has been described as “the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia,” and is the only Philippine city on the list of heritage sites declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

At the same time, the three cruise-industry leaders, which already employ a combined total of 61,700 Filipino crew members, disclosed their plans to hire more seafarers from the Philippines as they acquire more cruise ships to support their expansion plans.

“They have nothing but high praises for their Filipino crew. They told us that service is in the Filipino genes,” Cuisia said. “Carnival officials even commented that their company will not be what it is if not for their wonderful Filipino crew.”

Carnival Corp. employs the largest number of Filipinos, with 37,700 crewmen; followed by Royal Caribbean, with 16,000; and Norwegian Cruise Lines, with 8,000.

Carnival Live Concert Series a Hit Among Passengers and Performers

Martina McBride became the latest artist to hit the stage on a Carnival cruise ship Wednesday night as part of the line’s Carnival Live! concert series. The country artist, sparkling from head to toe (only in part because of her sequin-covered suit), belted out some of her biggest hits as well as pop and R&B songs she says she’s always wanted to sing.

mcbride2Performing in the 855-seat Sapphire Theater onboard Carnival Ecstasy, docked in Cozumel, the country sensation’s concert encapsulated all that is good about Carnival’s concert series: high-energy concerts performed by well-known artists for a bargain price. Tickets for Carnival Live! range from $20-$40 for general admission, $100-$150 for VIP tickets, which includes close-up seating, a meet and greet with the act and a souvenir photo.

Carnival unveiled the idea for the series of 49 shows in January at a snowy news conference in New York, and since then, has held nine concerts onboard ships docked in either Nassau or Cozumel. Each venue promises intimacy; the largest onboard theater (on Carnival Breeze) has a maximum capacity of 1,400. Acts so far have included McBride, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Kansas, while others slated to appear this year include Jewel, Jennifer Hudson, Daughtry, Olivia Newton-John and Lady Antebellum.

While booking ahead of time online is an option (and Director of Carnival Live! Bernie Dillon says more than 50 percent of passengers elect to do so), passengers can buy tickets onboard as well. From Day One, it was clear this cruise would feature the concert; big signs blared the announcement in the port and onboard the ship, and a D.J. gave away tickets poolside as passengers were embarking. Passengers noticed, lining up to purchase their tickets at guest services immediately upon boarding.

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The relatively low price point and ease with which passengers can buy tickets appears to draw both fans and those who just want to catch a concert by a performer whose name they recognize. Last night’s show had a solid mix of both types. Die-hard fans jumped from their VIP seats and danced stage-side to McBride’s covers of hits by artists including Pink and Elvis, while her anthems like Independence Day and For the Girls had everyone on their feet. The show was flat-out fun, and afterward, passengers talked about how impressed they were, even though they “only knew one or two songs.”

For McBride, who says she’s never cruised, the experience was different as well. Though the approach to an intimate audience vs. an arena requires a different mindset, she said, it’s all about making a connection with the audience, something she had no problem doing last night.

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“I like this kind of venue because I can hear you all, and I can see you all,” McBride said midshow.

“And I can see people leave in the middle,” she joked. She didn’t need to worry; no one was leaving.

Sound was a bit of an issue for the powerful McBride and her equally dynamic band, but it didn’t dampen the experience for the audience, which she described afterward as “enthusiastic and loving.”

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Carnival is thrilled with the concert series so far and is already hard at work securing artists for 2015, which Dillon says will see more shows, bigger names, more ports and bigger ships. He says the appeal to artists is the ability to reach a whole new audience and, consequently, a brand-new market.

Count McBride among those who are sold on cruise. When asked if she might take a cruise vacation in the future, she responded: “After that experience, it’s definitely something I want to consider.”


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