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Carnval Inspiration launches year-round cruises from Long Beach

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Inspiration has launched year-round short cruises from Long Beach, Calif. Carnival is offering a new choice on this popular itinerary which encompasses three-day cruises departing Fridays to Ensenada and four-day cruises departing Mondays to Ensenada and Catalina Island. Previously, this itinerary was operated by the Carnival Paradise, which has been redeployed to Tampa.

The 70,000-ton Inspiration underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar refurbishment as part of the line’s “Evolutions of Fun” enhancement program and includes such innovations as a WaterWorks aqua park (with water slide, racing slides and a water spray area), a Serenity adults-only retreat and a tropical-themed resort-style main pool area. Carnival Inspiration also has a nine-hole miniature golf course, a 1,080-square-metre spa, a jogging track, and spacious facilities and supervised programming for children in three age groups.

Source:  Travel Press Weekly


Muppets to Debut on the Disney Fantasy


Guests on board the Disney Fantasy will be able to take part in a new interactive adventure game involving the Muppets.  The newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line is filled with “Enchanted Art” and technology designed to bring the guest into the story.  “The Case of the Stolen Show” leads guests around the ship in search of clues to solve a mystery.  In this adventure, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and Animal are planning a big stage show, but they discover that their props are missing.  Guests will use a map and special game card to check out pieces of the Enchanted Art to find clues and uncover the whereabouts of the missing props.  Guests will even find a Muppets message board and a Muppet-sized stateroom door on board, containing clues to help solve the crime before curtain time for the big show.  This game, designed for ages nine and up, is self-paced and can be played over and over, as events and endings will change each time.


New Celebrity Reflection to offer five Signatures Suites of 441-square-feet with floor to ceiling windows

Set to sail in the fall of 2012, Celebrity Cruises fifth member of the Solstice class, Celebrity Reflection, will offer a two-bedroom suite for the first time. Located in a private area of the ship’s 14th deck, Celebrity Reflection’s five Signature Suites each offer a 441-square-foot stateroom area and 118-square foot veranda, with floor-to-ceiling windows and veranda doors, all designed to maximize the views of the sea. Celebrity’s Signature Suites each can accommodate up to four guests, and will offer the 24/7 butler service.
The entire area – including the new Reflection Suite – features cardkey access exclusively for guests booked in the elite group of suites, such that a family or group of up to 26 guests traveling together can enjoy a private, six-suite modern luxury vacation experience.

Splendour of the Seas getting iPads in all staterooms

Royal Caribbean International will mark another industry first with the introduction of iPad mobile digital devices in every stateroom onboard the newly revitalized Splendour of the Seas. The device will give guests an additional medium by which to receive, retrieve and use information on their cruise vacation. With a touch of the screen, guests will be able to access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities; personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions; monitor their onboard account; order room service; view restaurant menus; access the Internet; and watch movies.

The iPads will be available beginning mid-February 2012 on Splendour of the Seas before being extended to all Vision-class ships when each undergoes revitalization in the following two years. In addition to the iPads, Splendour of the Seas, which recently emerged from dry dock, also boasts an array of new stateroom amenities such as flat screen televisions, new bathrooms and completely remodelled interiors. The newly revitalized Splendour will also debut new dining options including the Asian Izumi restaurant; the line’s signature steakhouse, Chops Grille; the Boardwalk Dog House hotdog counter; the Park Café deli-style restaurant; and the exclusive Chef’s Table dining experience.

Source: Travelpress

Transit of Venus

On June 5, 2012 (June 6 for those west of the International Date Line), a rare astronomical event will occur: the Transit of Venus. The event will last six hours and will not occur again until 2117. This is your last chance to see one!
Because you can actually see a planet move across the disk of the sun, transits provide a unique opportunity to watch the solar system in motion. For a Transit of Venus to take place, the planet Venus must be located in line with both the Earth and the sun. This positioning doesn’t happen very often due to the track of Venus’ orbit.
A telescope is necessary to even notice a transit, so the Transit of Venus was not observed until 1639. Since that time there have been only five Transits of Venus. The most recent was in 2004 and, before that, over a century ago, in 1882. There were no transits during the 20th century.
Two early transits (1761 and 1769) were used by astronomers to calculate the distance to the sun. Observers were dispatched to all corners of the Earth to record the time when Venus first appeared against the solar surface and when it departed. These numbers were “crunched” (by hand) to come up with a relatively good value for our distance to the sun.
During the 1769 transit, the enigmatic Captain Cook led one of the more famous expeditions, on the ship Endeavour to Tahiti. This was Captain Cook’s first of three voyages into the Pacific Ocean, and the observation of the Transit of Venus was just one of the achievements of his explorations.
Now, if you embark on the June 2, 2012, sailing to Tahiti & the Society Islands, you will have the opportunity to recreate Captain Cook’s experience, aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin. On June 5, 2012, The Gauguin will be at anchor off the island of Bora Bora. Safe solar viewing tools will be available under the direction of an onboard solar expert. Take a look through the solar telescope, then wait a few minutes before looking again. Venus will have moved. You will have seen Venus pass Earth against the backdrop of the sun. It is an exhilarating experience!
–         Approximately 12:12-12:30 p.m.: Venus moves inside the solar disk.
–         5:38: Sun sets on Bora Bora.
–         Approximately 6:24-6:43 p.m.: The Transit of Venus ends.
Venus will be visible against the surface of the sun all afternoon, barring clouds or other weather-related impediments.

Get Ready for the Labour Day Winter Cruise Sale

Choosing your cruise cabin.

So you have found just the right ship and itinerary. Now you need to find just the right stateroom! Choosing your cabin can be exciting, but also quite a process.

In essence there are really only 4 cabin types on any cruise ship:

Inside: Generally the smallest cabins onboard and have no views.

Ocean View:  A window providing you with a sea view—can be obstructed (lifeboat outside window), porthole (small, round window) or a full picture window—all provide you with some natural light in the cabin.

Balcony: Private verandah.

Suite: Range from mini to penthouse suite with larger living space and extra amenities

Once you are aware of the four types of cabins, the differing categories within those types narrow down location, size and price.



The main factor to consider when picking your stateroom is location. If you are susceptible to seasickness, sensitive to loud noise or require a specific area of the ship-near an elevator or with a particular view, for example-it is very important to do your research.

Seasickness: if you are prone to seasickness, the location of your cabin is extremely important. The lower and more central you are in a ship, the less motion you will feel. So choose the lowest level and most mid-ship stateroom possible, even if you choose a balcony stateroom. If a mid-ship cabin is not available, your second best choice is to choose an aft cabin, towards the rear of the ship. The least enjoyable location for you will be in a forward cabin, towards the very front of the ship.

Limited Mobility: If you are unable to walk long distances, choosing a specific location is very important. Passenger decks on a ship are long hallways, with usually only two to three sets of elevators. It can be quite a hike to your cabin if you do not choose accordingly. Look for cabins near an elevator, but a few cabins down to limit noise pollution from those late-night deck partiers.

Viewing Pleasure: If you would enjoy a specific view from your balcony, obviously cabin location is imperative. Here are some popular areas of a ship to enjoy your verandah:

Aft Balcony Staterooms—these became popular only recently. They are now some of the most coveted staterooms because you are offered a 180 degree view over the ships rear and the balconies are almost always 50% bigger than your standard balcony. They are however at the very back so far away from an elevator or access to activities; they are usually uncovered or only partially covered; they are usually stacked out so that the cabins above are able to see your balcony.

Some standard rooms and many suites are located at the aft ‘corners’ of a ship, with a balcony that curves up the side. This allows you to see where you’re going and where you’ve been at the same time.

Front-facing balconied cabins are almost always suites.

Some viewing drawbacks include balconied cabins under the Lido Deck overhang, which limits visibility; cabins above or adjacent to the lifeboats; and forward balconied cabins located close to the bridge wing.

Sometimes your cruise itinerary will decide what type of view you will receive from your ocean view or balcony. If you are doing a south/northbound Alaska cruise, or south/northbound Mediterranean cruise, you would want to consider choosing a cabin on the side of the ship that will face land. These will fill quickly, so make sure you book as early as possible. If you prefer a sea-view, make sure you choose the side of the ship that will face the ocean. On a roundtrip Caribbean cruise or a trans-Atlantic crossing, the side of the ship you are on doesn’t really matter as they can berth into port both ways.


Newer cruise ships are increasing the square footage of even their most basic cabins to give cruise passengers the chance to get away from the hubbub and relax in the peace of their stateroom.

Inside Cabins: Your mainstream standard inside stateroom will range from 120-180 square feet. There is no window, so can be a a bit dark. The bedding arrangements will also vary, from one upper/one lower (essentially bunk beds) to a king bed. So make sure you confirm with your cruise guide that you are receiving the square footage and bedding you prefer.

Outside, Ocean View Cabins: Your mainstream standard ocean view staterooms are very similar to a standard inside cabin. The main difference will be the window, bringing in natural light. Many of the newer ships have large picture windows instead of portholes, but they cannot be opened.

If you would like a sea breeze, a balcony will be your best choice. Some of the older ships have both porthole and picture windows, with the portholes being located on the first few passenger decks. They tend to be less expensive and provide some light, but do limit your view. On many ships there are also obstructed ocean view cabins. These will be located on a higher passenger deck, but there will be a lifeboat obstructing your view. The location is a bit more desirable for some. Like the porthole, it will provide you with natural light and you will know what time of day it is. You, however, will not have the sweeping sea views.

Balcony/Verandah Cabins: If you would like an unobstructed sea view with a breeze, a balcony will really be your best bet. But be warned, once you sail in a balcony you never go back! Balcony cabins are typically larger than your standard inside or ocean view cabins. They have sliding glass doors to your private verandah, giving you a view from anywhere in the room. The balconies themselves are typically only large enough for two chairs and a small table, so no sun bathing but it is perfect for morning coffee!

Suites: There are plenty of suite categories available but some of them, especially on older ships, are neither significantly bigger nor considerably more elegant than standard cabins are on newer ships. The sizes and amenities vary widely, from mini/junior suites to penthouse/villas. Generally speaking, a suite will typically be a bit larger than a standard balcony and have a separate seating area, spacious verandah, larger bathrooms (some with actual tubs!) and upgraded amenities.

When it comes to choosing suite accommodations, it’s best to figure out how much space you really need, what amenities are important to you and what you can afford to spend. Suites on most ships are the first category to sell out, partly because there are fewer of them, and partly because they often offer extremely good value. For this reason, it is important to speak with our cruise guides early and decide what kind of suite you’d like.

If you absolutely need the cream of the crop, for just under $20,000 per week you can take advantage of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Garden Villa suites. These are the largest suites at sea accommodating up to 8 passengers in 3 bedrooms, feature private saunas and hot tubs, a kitchen and butlers, an array of additional lavish amenities and private elevator entrance.

Family Style Cabins: Most of the newer ships on the mainstream cruise lines have standard cabins that will sleep four, sometimes even five, mostly comfortably. The cabins are typically the same size as a cabin that sleeps two, though there will be bunk-style third and fourth berths that pull out of the walls. They work well for children, but could be a bit difficult for an adult to get into. However, the third and fourth passenger rates are usually less than the first two passengers, making this an affordable way to travel.

If you are able to spend a little more for peace of mind, you could reserve two separate adjoining cabins that have a connecting door. This provides you with a bit more privacy and two bathrooms! Or there are certain suites that have two separate bedrooms or a separate area with a pullout couch.

These ‘family-style’ cabins do tend to fill quickly due to limited quantity and rising popularity. It is best to deposit as early as you can so you have your pick of staterooms.


To hammer it home, researching and depositing for your cruise as early as possible guarantees you will be in the cabin you want on the cruise you want—no compromises. This is your vacation, right?

It also ensures you have the best rate and savings possible. The last minute cruise deal is a bit of a myth unfortunately. The ships are sailing full; especially at peak times such as holiday, spring and summer breaks.

Even if you deposit early, if the price for your category goes down before final payment the cruise line will honor the lower rate. However, your price is locked in ON your final payment date. Most cruise lines now do not offer any reimbursement if the rate goes down ON or AFTER you pay in full. The best rule of thumb is that if you find a ship you like on an itinerary you like, get the cabin you desire and go for it. If the price goes down and you get a refund, consider it a nice bonus.


Upgrades: It’s important to remember that there’s no secret formula or witches brew you can drink to get an upgraded cabin. It is usually just plain luck, or being in the right place at the right time.

If a certain category of cabin has sold out, or is oversold (more cabins have been sold than are actually in inventory), the cruise line cannot downgrade passengers who have paid for their cruise. So at random (it really is random), they choose certain passengers and upgrade them to a category with a bit more availability. So luck does play in here.

A guarantee cabin in this instance would be a great deal for the possibility of an upgrade.

Normally if you have chosen a stateroom, or have been assigned a specific stateroom by the cruise line that will be your cabin for the cruise. We can all dream of that Garden Villa upgrade though!

Did you get all of that!? I hope this helps you choose the best cabin for your particular needs and desires. If you are still clueless–that is completely fine by the way–just give one of our cruise guides a call (1-888-541-9879), makes things much easier. This is what they are trained for; providing you with their knowledge and experience for a seamless vacation!