Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Panama Canal Gives Nod to New Pacific Port

Panama Canal Gives Nod to New Pacific Port

Panama Canal Gives Nod to New Pacific Port
The Panama Canal Board of Directors this week formally approved the development and construction of a transshipment port in Panama’s Corozal region.
Upon completion, the port will have the capacity to handle more than five million TEUs within a 120-hectare area at the Canal’s entrance to the Pacific. The project is now awaiting the final step for approval from Panama’s National Assembly.
The two-phased port project will include the construction of a 2,081-linear-meter-dock, a container yard, offices and warehouse facilities within a 120-hectare area owned by the Panama Canal.
The project’s first phase will include 1,350 linear meters of docks, three docking positions for Post-Panamax ships, and an approximate handling capacity of three million TEUs. Currently, the Pacific side has an estimated capacity of five million TEUs. With the expanded Canal, demand on the Pacific side is expected to reach six million TEUs and by 2020, eight million TEU capacity.
The National Assembly is expected to review the bill in the coming days. If approved, the Panama Canal will move forward with the development and tender process. The Panama Canal will issue a call for bids to hire a company that will be responsible for all stages of the project. The contract will, most likely, consist of a 20-year concession, renewable once for 20 years.
”Advancing the terminal in the Corozal region is a priority. It is part of the Panama Canal’s goal to explore and develop areas, products and services that are close to our core business, and that add substantial value to our customers as a one-stop gateway with multiple services,” said Panama Canal Administrator/CEO Jorge Luis Quijano.
The new port terminal will also include the construction of port facilities capable of handling Post-Panamax vessels. With a terminal of 16.3-meter-deep access canal and a depth of 18 meters along the dock, the new facility will provide docking facilities for five Post-Panamax ships.
Clips of My Panama Canal Transit - 
Photos of Our Transit and More  - 

Celebrity Cruises Project EDGE elusive like Carnival Vista

Celebrity Cruises Project EDGE elusive like Carnival Vista

Celebrity Cruises Project EDGE elusive like Carnival Vista

If you wanted any more proof that the cruise industry is doing very well, then we are sure the news before the weekend that Celebrity Cruises had two new ships would be it. Other cruise lines also have new ships on order, such as Carnival with Vista, although that is still very much elusive, such as the details Celebrity shared.
Project EDGE, as this program is called are two ships that will hold 2,900 passengers each and they will come in at 117,000 tons and so will have a large ship feel inside, while being much smaller on the outside.
They will sit between Solstice and Millennium-class vessels, so will give them the ability to go smaller ports than Solstice-class ships can manage, which will then help expand Celebrity’s ports of call.
Celebrity Cruises has not shared any more details with us about these new ships, although we can tell you the first will debut in 2018, and the second in 2020. However, we do hope the cruise line will be more forthcoming than Carnival are with its Vista ship, as that is still rather elusive.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Ship originally built for Carnival to replace damaged Bahamas Celebration

Ship originally built for Carnival to replace damaged Bahamas Celebration

It's official: Florida's Port of Palm Beach will be getting a replacement ship for Bahamas Celebration, which was damaged after striking an object when sailing from Freeport Oct. 31.
Grand Celebration, built in 1987 as Celebration for Carnival Cruise Lines, is to begin operating as early as February for the newly named Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, the Port of Palm Beach confirmed Tuesday. The ship will depart every other day on two-night Bahamas round-trips and offer cruise and resort vacation packages of four to eight nights.
'This is a tremendous day for the Port of Palm Beach and Palm Beach County,' executive port director Manuel Almira said.
According to port chairman Edward Oppel, the agreement for a new multi-day cruise vessel will generate an average of nearly $3.9m of annual net revenue and significant spending for Palm Beach County.
The 47,000gt Grand Celebration can carry about 1,800 passengers, about the same as the ship it's replacing. Most recently Grand Celebration was named Costa Celebration and, previously under operation by Iberocruceros, Grand Celebration.
It recently underwent a €4.5m refurbishment. Carnival Corp. & plc management referred to the ship's sale during Friday's earnings call. CFO David Bernstein said the sale had a 0.3% impact on overall costs, on an available lower berth day basis, in the fourth quarter
Bahamas Celebration, which grounded on Halloween night outside Freeport with no injuries, had entered Grand Bahama Shipyard for repairs. The vessel was built in 1981 and previously sailed as Prinsesse Ragnhild for Color Line before undergoing a major conversion in 2009 to begin Bahamas cruises from Florida. At 36,000gt, it is smaller than Grand Celebration.
Grand Celebration has 10 public decks and 751 cabins, more than 60% with ocean views. There are 14 terrace suites. The pool deck has five pools and Jacuzzis. Other public areas include a spa and fitness center, five restaurants and a casino.
The Port of Palm Beach said the ship's 950-seat 'performance center' will stage big-name concerts.

9 Fun Facts about Cruise Lines

9 Fun Facts about Cruise Lines

 9 Fun Facts about Cruise Lines
9 Fun Facts about Cruise Lines:
1. An average cruise ship could have six huge diesel engines producing one hundred four horse powers and guzzling three thousand gallons of fuel per hour.

2. Cruise ships on modern design can actually cost about six hundred sixty million dollars.

3. There are nine brand new ships that entered service around the North America coast line every year.

4. A modern luxury cruise vessel is able to be built, fitted out and tested in one-and-a half years though it usually takes about three years.

5. On the average, there are one hundred five thousand meals are prepared every single week onboard a cruise ship. The meals include twenty thousand pounds of beef, twelve thousand pounds of chicken and twenty eight thousands of eggs.

6. There are about one thousand crew members on board the average ships to cater to passengers every need. These people are experts from engineers to waiter to navigators.

7. A modern cruise liner are able to hold three thousand passengers aboard in an absolute luxury.

8. Caribbean is the most popular cruising destination in the world with almost every cruise line operator.

9. The cruise line industry produces two thousand five hundred fifty five gallons of gray water and thirty thousand gallons of black water every single day. Gray waters are wastes from sinks, showers and bath while black waters is what you flush down the toilets.

Pandaw to introduce Ganges cruise in 2015

Pandaw to introduce Ganges cruise in 2015

Pandaw River Expeditions is introducing a new river cruise for 2015 on India’s Ganges and Hooghly rivers on the 40-passenger Rajmahal.
The 16-day itinerary will begin with a three-night land tour from Varanasi to Patna. Passengers will embark the Rajmahal in Patna on day four of the itinerary and sail toward Kolkata. A detailed itinerary can be found here. There is one Pandaw departure of this cruise scheduled for Oct. 27.
The Rajmahal was built in Kolkata in 2013 and features climate-controlled staterooms with en suite bathrooms as well as in-room refrigerators and coffee and tea makers. The onboard restaurant will serve Western and Indian cuisines. There is also a spa on the main deck, a sun deck with open and shaded lounge chairs and a small library and saloon.
The cruise price includes an airport transfer in Varanasi, all meals during the cruise, excursions, port fees and government taxes, porterage, English-speaking tour guides, drip coffee and tea, bottled water, a cruise director and crew gratuities. It excludes laundry, visas, drinks, fuel surcharges and gratuities for local guides and drivers. 
Pandaw River Expeditions' 40-passenger Rajmahal will sail a 16-day itinerary on India’s Ganges and Hooghly rivers.
Pandaw River Expeditions' 40-passenger Rajmahal will sail a 16-day itinerary on India’s Ganges and Hooghly rivers.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

14 amazing cruises setting sail in 2015

14 amazing cruises setting sail in 2015

It's going to be a big year for travelers who love cruising.
Not only will 2015 see the launch of a number of spectacular new cruise ships, but the opening of new routes will make some of the world's most remote places significantly more accessible.
We asked some of the travel world's top cruise experts to share their picks for the hottest cruise itineraries of 2015 and the ships that will be sailing them.
A smaller boat lets travelers get closer to Alaskan wildlife.
A smaller boat lets travelers get closer to Alaskan wildlife.
Alaskan Dream Cruises
In 2015, cruise ships will be pushing deeper into the wilderness than ever before, and this particular sailing offers some great wildlife-spotting opportunities on a smaller boat.
"This Alaskan Dream Cruises sailing includes complimentary shore excursions designed to showcase true Alaskan adventures and the native heritage," says Annie Scrivanich.
"Departures coincide with seasonal changes and animal migrations for the best weather and animal viewing opportunities. If you're only going to visit Alaska once, this itinerary is your best bet."
Windstar Cruises: Star Breeze
The latest addition to Windstar Cruises' fleet, Star Breeze has fans of European cruises particularly jazzed.
Among the top picks is the 10-day Sicilian Splendors cruise, which takes in Rome, Catania, Valletta, Gozo, Trapani, Sorrento and Capri.
"We're all very excited about the new Windstar Star Breeze," says Scrivanich.
"This new power yacht holds a maximum of 212 guests and provides new opportunities for those looking for a European cruise on a smaller ship."
Viking Cruises: Viking Star
This Viking Cruises tour takes in the best of Europe's northern cities, including Bergen, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Gdansk, Berlin, Copenhagen and Stavanger.
But it's the boat that experts are most excited about, as it will be Viking Cruises' first ocean-going ship.
The 47,800 gross tonne ship will have 464 cabins and accommodate 928 guests
"I'm really looking forward to Viking Cruises' Viking Star, which sets sail in 2015," says cruise journalist and Telegraph Travel cruise specialist Jane Archer.
"It's a brand new ship and the mockups look amazing."
Other itineraries available on the Viking Star include Mediterranean and western European tours.

Enroute to Japan, it\'s only fitting Diamond Princess offers a sushi bar.
Enroute to Japan, it's only fitting Diamond Princess offers a sushi bar.
Princess Cruises: Japan Getaway
Fancy checking out Japan but short on time?
Then consider stepping aboard one of the many cruise ships heading there in 2015.
"Japan is one to watch for 2015 and into 2016," predicts cruise journalist Archer.
"A lot of people want to visit but are nervous because of the language, food and very different culture.
"Having a cruise ship for a base helps to give confidence and means they can visit several ports on one holiday."
Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess ship has two Japan Getaway itineraries on offer in 2015.
There's a 16-day Grand Japan and Taiwan tour setting sail in May, followed by an 11-day tour of Japan, China and Southeast Asia that hits the seas in September.
Royal Caribbean: Quantum of the Seas
Next year, some of the biggest cruise operators will be making an extra effort to entice Asian passengers onto their ships.
This includes Royal Caribbean, which is sending its newest and most hi-tech ship, Quantum of the Seas, to China.
"Asia continues to grow as an emerging market cruise lines want to invest in, especially in 2015," says Michelle Fee, chief executive of Cruise Planners.
"The new Quantum of the Seas will be based in Shanghai, as part of an effort to introduce the Asian traveler to cruising."
The ship's five-night Fukuoka and Busan cruise departs Shanghai on August 3, 2015, and takes in Fukuoka, Japan and Busan, South Korea before heading pack to its starting port.
Compagnie du Ponant: Le Lyrial
This exciting cruise itinerary makes the cut in part because the mode of transport is so fantastic.
"Compagnie du Ponant is introducing its newest luxury expedition ship, Le Lyrial, in spring 2015," reveals Richard West, founder of
"It's exciting because it's a truly luxurious expedition-style small ship".
The Athens to Dubrovnik itinerary is a seven-night cruise that sets sail in August, taking in the highlights of the Croatian coast before heading to Greece.
Uniworld River Cruise: Splendors of Egypt and the Nile
Cruise companies pulled out of Egypt en masse due to the recent turmoil, but in 2015, it will be possible to cruise the Nile once again.
"Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has re-launched a sailing along Egypt's great Nile River on board the elegant, all-suite River Tosca, with cruises starting in October 2015," says Fee of Cruise Planners.
"Egypt is an awe-inspiring destination and travelers can experience its culture on a 12-day program with luxury accommodation."
P&O Britannia
Here's one for those who consider themselves a bit of a foodie.
P & O's Cookery Club, on its new Britannia ship, allows guests to hone their culinary skills alongside some of the world's top chefs.
"P&O Cruises' culinary offerings on-board their new ship Britannia are particularly exciting," says Adam Coulter, editor of Cruise Critic.
"The line has enlisted the help of a number of celebrity chefs to create the first cookery school on-board a British ship."
Chefs leading workshops will include Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochar and wine guru Olly Smith.
The vessel will spend its first year touring waters around the Caribbean, Baltic and Mediterranean.
Bagan, Myanmar will be a popular destination for river cruises in 2015.
Bagan, Myanmar will be a popular destination for river cruises in 2015.
Wendy Wu Tours: Irrawaddy Voyager
"In 2015 we'll see more luxury ships are moving into Burma [Myanmar]," says Peter Lynch, editor of website Cruise Passenger.
"It's a country filled with wonderful people and astonishing historic sites."
One such cruise is Wendy Wu's 12-day Irrawaddy Voyager sailing, which takes in Kyauk Myaung, where traditional Myanmar 50 gallon water pots can be seen, the magnificent wooden Bagaya Monastery and the U Bein Bridge (the world's longest teak wood bridge) as well as Bagan, where there are 2,000 Buddhist structures scattered across a vast plain.
Norwegian Cruise Lines: Norwegian Escape
"Norwegian Cruise Lines are launching the Norwegian Escape in 2015, which was named by consumers via a Facebook contest, so travelers are already invested in it," says Cruise Planners' Fee.
"The Norwegian Escape will be the largest ship in the Norwegian Cruise Lines fleet and features The Haven, which is almost like a separate ship, with luxury suites, private dining and more."
One of the most popular cruise routes is predicted to be its Eastern Caribbean itinerary, which sails out of Miami.
CroisiEurope: Loire cruise
Cruise fans have been eagerly awaiting this particular outing because the boat will use paddle wheel technology to allow it to navigate the shallow waters of the Loire, and overnight cruises along the river haven't been possible until now.
"I'm especially excited about the new Loire cruises because it's a river which has yet to be explored," says Cruise Passenger's Lynch.
"Paddle ships will allow this to be done for the first time in 2015."
Crystal Symphony was designed with a focus on fitness and wellness.
Crystal Symphony was designed with a focus on fitness and wellness.
Crystal Cruises: Best of the Baltic
Proving that cruises are no longer just about eating a lot of food and not doing very much, Crystal Cruises is just one operator offering passengers the chance to work off those calories -- in this case, with a 90-minute run around St. Petersburg during its "Best of the Baltic" cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen.
"There is a growing focus on fitness and wellness, both through facilities on board and excursions ashore, such as Crystal Cruises' excursions for runners," says Edwina Lonsdale, chief executive of Mundy Cruising.
Azamara Club Cruises: Bali & Great Barrier Reef
The introduction of this new 14-night cruise of Bali and the Great Barrier Reef is another indicator of a cruise trend we'll see in 2015.
"Australia and New Zealand cruises are becoming more popular," says Sean Keddy, cruise expert at travel agency Love Holidays.
"I suspect this is mainly due to an increased interest from the local markets, but this does allow passengers from Europe and the U.S. more choice and competitive pricing."
Crystal Cruises: Northwest Passage
Sometimes tropical destinations just don't do it for would-be cruisers. For those who have some cash to splash, there's Crystal Cruises' new 32-day Northwest Passage cruise, which will set sail in 2016.
It starts in Alaska and finishes in New York, getting there via Nunavut, Greenland and Maine.
"For those interested in a genuine Alaska cruise experience, this itinerary offers a great blend of scenic highlights, wildlife viewing opportunities, off-the-beaten-track excursions and unique ports of call," says Scrivanich of Cruise Specialists.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Fire Extinguished After Outbreak Onboard Costa Cruise Ship

Fire Extinguished After Outbreak Onboard Costa Cruise Ship

Apparently a fire broke out onboard the Costa neoClassica which is operated by the European based Costa Cruises.
According to reports the fire broke out in the ships funnel while the 56,800 gross ton ship was sailing in the Red Sea yesterday evening (December 23rd). The good news is that the fire was extinguished by crew personnel quickly and it didn’t affect any onboard operations.
Cruise hive got in touch with Costa Cruises and gave us the following statement:
Yesterday at about 9.25pm Italy time a fire has been detected coming out of the funnel on board Costa neoClassica while sailing the Red Sea, destination Aqaba on her planned route to Indian Ocean.
The shipboard personnel promptly intervened and the fire was quickly extinguished. The safety of guests and crew was never put at risk and no injury was reported. As a precaution and as per procedures General Emergency signals have been given and the released shortly thereafter.
All ship services have always been working and have never been stopped. The ship reached her destination port in Aqaba and is now berthed. Proper investigations on root causes are in progress and situation is normal.
According to the assessments now being performed, operations of the ship will be modified if needed. The Costa neoClassica has been refurbished in Dec 2014 she can host a total of 1,680 Guests, she is 53,000 gT. The ship is currently performing a 25 days cruise to Indian Ocean.
The Costa neoclassica departed Savona, Italy on December 18th on a 28-day voyage to multi destinations that will end up at Mauritius on January 11th 2015. An investigation is now underway by Costa on the cause of the fire and there is not expected to be any further delay.
The Costa neoClassica was previously known as Costa Classica and has recently undergone a multi million Euro upgrade. The vessel had been in dry dock since 18th December.

Costa Classica set to re-join fleet after €22m overhaul

Costa Classica set to re-join fleet after €22m overhaul

After a complete redesign to the sum of a €22.5 million, the Costa Classica will join the Costa fleet as part of the Costa neoCollection that offers slow cruises to unique destinations.
Costa Classica – at 53,000 gross tonnage and 654 cabins - will join Costa neoCollection, alongside Costa neoRomantica and Costa neoRiviera, offering some of the most stunning and unique Costa neoCollection itineraries with a “slow cruise” style that use smaller ships.
The redesign took place at San Giorgio del Porto yards in Genoa, one of the international leaders for ship repairs and refitting.
The process began on November 8th and involved 600 technicians and 400 crew members.
The process included work on the hull and engine sections as well as a complete repainting of the hull.
Public areas and guests cabins were totally renewed, with a new design by Partner Ship Design, reproducing the atmosphere of the more intimate Costa neoCollection ships and providing the same type of unique cruise experience.
Fitness lovers will be able to take part in Total Body Resistance Exercise training sessions.
Features and services throughout the ship will reflect the brand’s ethos of providing “Italy’s finest”.
The ship will offer a broad selection of food and wine options including restaurant menus that will be inspired not only by Italian cuisine but also by regional foods local to the destinations being visited.
The Al Fresco Café has been transformed into a shipboard natural oasis, decorated with trees to create a peaceful park-like environment to relax.
The space includes a balcony area overlooking the sea as well as an indoor space for those wanting to enjoy an aperitif or a glass of Ferrari sparkling wine.
At the Dolce Amore Bar, guests can enjoy an array of specialty coffees from around the world throughout the day and then return in the evening to enjoy a selection of pizzas.
When in their cabins, refitted with bright, luminous colours, guests will be able to wake up to authentic espresso thanks to Illy coffee pod machines installed throughout.
There will also be Elemis amenities and beauty products to keep guests feeling pampered.
Sun-lovers will enjoy the renovated lounge areas on the open deck where they can enjoy a drink by the pool all day and into the evening.
Costa neoClassica will also offer a “Stargazer” experience, an original Costa neoCollection entertainment activity that will allow guests to admire the skies through high-quality telescopes, assisted by Costa experts.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Oceania ship to be out of service for nine weeks following fatal engine room fire

Oceania ship to be out of service for nine weeks following fatal engine room fire

Oceania Cruises’ ship Insignia will be out of service for more than two months following an engine room fire which killed three workers and injured another crew member.
The line has been forced to cancel a 24-day cruise over Christmas from Miami and the first three legs of an unprecedented 180-day round the world voyage.
The world cruise, which had been due to depart from Miami on January 10, will now begin in modified form in Singapore on March 22. Fares for the cruise began at $41,999.
The fire on the ship occurred on December 11 in St Lucia while it was on a 10-day sailing from Puerto Rico. The 656 passengers on board at the time were safely evacuated from the ship and flown to Miami and the remainder of the cruise was cancelled.
Parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has now confirmed that repairs to Insignia are expected to take about nine weeks.
President and CEO Kevin Sheehan said: "The timing of repairs has unfortunately required the cancellation of Insignia's holiday voyage along with the modification of the world cruise.
"We understand how disappointing this news must be to our valued guests and we extend our sincere appreciation for their co-operation and understanding."
The financial impact on the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 is estimated to be a reduction in earnings of approximately $0.05 and $0.05 per share, net of insurance proceeds, respectively, the company said.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Disney Cruise Line Fun Facts!

Disney Cruise Line Fun Facts!

- The Disney ships are painted in Mickey Mouse-inspired colors – black hull, white superstructure, yellow trim and two giant red funnels, each with the Disney Cruise Line Mickey Mouse logo.

- Disney Cruise Line was the first cruise line to have yellow lifeboats, instead of the traditional regulation orange. Disney was granted special permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to paint the lifeboats yellow, to keep with the special color theming of the ship.

- The Disney Magic was built in two halves… one hundred miles apart! Part of the ship was constructed in Ancona, Italy then towed 100 miles to meet the stern in Marghera (just outside Venice) to be perfectly joined and welded together.

- Disney Cruise Line ships use the iconic first seven notes of the “When You Wish Upon a Star” song melody as their horn signals.

- Disney ships are the only cruise ships to have four captains – the ship’s captain, Captain Mickey, Captain Hook and Captain Jack Sparrow.

- Measuring 964 feet in length, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are each longer than Main Street U.S.A at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

- The anchor on the Disney Magic weighs 28,200 pounds – about the same as three full-grown elephants. Each ship weighs 90 million pounds.

- Taking place every cruise onboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, the “Pirates IN the Caribbean” deck party features the only fireworks display at sea.

Guest Experience
- Seventy-five percent of staterooms on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are outside, ocean view cabins. Of those, nearly half offer a private verandah.

- In a cruise industry first, most staterooms on Disney Cruise Line ships feature a split “bath-and-a-half” design, providing families the added convenience of a sink and tub/shower in one room and a sink and toilet in a separate room.

- Onboard each Disney Cruise Line ship, there are about 950 crew members representing more than 60 different nationalities. That is approximately one crew member for every three guests.

- Disney Cruise Line was named the top large cruise ship experience by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the ninth annual "Reader's Cruise Poll." In fact, Disney Cruise Line has won more than 50 different awards and accolades since launching in 1998.

- On an average seven-night Disney Cruise Line voyage, the following food items are consumed:
• Beef – 5,000 pounds
• Chicken – 10,000 pounds
• Salmon – 1,200 pounds
• Shrimp – 1,300 pounds
• Lobster Tail – 1,000 pounds
• Melon – 12,800 pounds
• Pineapple – 3,300 pounds
• Individual Eggs – 71,500
• Coffee – 57,820 cups
• Soda – 3,125 gallons
• Beer – 12,385 bottles/cans
• Wine and Champagne – 2,700 bottles

- In a single day, each Disney Cruise Line ship uses:
• 10,000 forks
• 5,000 cloth napkins
• 800 tablecloths

- Disney Cruise Line dining room Cast members represent, on average, 60 different nationalities.

- The décor and food of the Palo restaurant are inspired by Italy, the birthplace of both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

- Palo takes its name from the poles that line the canals of Venice. Palo’s extensive reserve wine list features selections that hail from some of the most mature vineyards in the world and highlight some of the greatest Super Tuscans like Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Tignanello.

Onboard Features
- The Disney Magic interior is in the art deco style, characterized by geometric designs and bold, solid colors. The interior on the Disney Wonder is in the art nouveau style, which is characterized by organic influences and curved patterns.

- A bronze statue of Helmsman Mickey adorns the lobby of the Disney Magic and was inspired by the famous “Man at the Wheel” statue in Gloucester, Mass. On the Disney Wonder, a bronze statue of Ariel from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” graces the lobby.

- The main atrium chandeliers on both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder are each one-of-a-kind commissioned pieces created by celebrated glass artist Dale Chihuly. To meet cruise line safety standards, Chihuly worked within a new medium and fashioned the vibrant chandeliers out of acrylic plastic.

- The décor of the Buena Vista Theatre on both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder was designed to emulate the elegant movie houses of the 1920s and 1930s, the period when Walt Disney was producing the first Mickey Mouse animated films.

- The main showplace for entertainment onboard Disney Cruise Line ships, the Walt Disney Theatre spans three decks and can seat 977 guests.

- A leader in family entertainment, Disney is the only cruise line to feature first run films from the Walt Disney Pictures film banners, with movies premiering exclusively at sea on the same day that they are released in US theaters. Disney Cruise Line is also the industry leader in onboard enhanced digital entertainment with advanced Disney Digital 3-D technology in all shipboard theaters.

- With ships purpose built for family cruising, both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder boast nearly an entire deck of space dedicated to age-specific children's activities.

- Don’t worry about getting a chill! The swimming pools on Disney ships are heated when the water temperature drops below 75 degrees.

- A room with a view! 73% of staterooms onboard Disney ships have ocean views. Of those outside facing rooms, 60% boast private verandahs.

- Stay connected, even at sea! Disney ships feature Wi-Fi service in staterooms and public spaces, allowing guests to surf the web at sea from their wireless-ready personal laptop computers.

Castaway Cay

- Castaway Cay is the only private island in the cruise industry where the ship docks alongside so guests do not have to tender to land.

- Visitors to Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, can catch a glimpse of the ghost ship Flying Dutchman – the actual, full-size studio prop from the Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest moored in the waters just offshore.

- Guests can mail a special souvenir message to family and friends back home by using the Castaway Cay Post Office. All postcards, letters and packages shipped from the island display an exclusive Castaway Cay postmark.

- Water is procured in Port Canaveral and delivered to Castaway Cay by the ships to an 80,000 gallon fresh water storage tank on the island.

- Feels like home? Approximately 60 Disney Cruise Line crew members live and work full-time on Castaway Cay.

Environmental Programs
- Each Disney ship has an onboard Environmental Officer dedicated to overseeing all environmental systems and procedures, along with shipboard recycling, waste minimization and water reclamation efforts.

- While cruising, Disney ships can convert sea water to fresh water for use onboard. An onboard desalinization plant produces nearly 500,000 gallons of fresh water every day.

- Disney Cruise Line made history by being the first cruise line to utilize an innovative hull coating that is both 100 percent non-toxic and effective in increasing fuel efficiency. The coating helps reduce the ships’ surface resistance in the water, decreasing the need for propulsion power as the ship glides through the sea.

- On Castaway Cay, an innovative recycling program repurposes used cooking oil from the ships’ galleys and combines it with diesel fuel to power machinery on the island. The program reduces waste and carbon dioxide emissions, saving up to 8,000 gallons of traditional fuel each year.

- Shipboard recycling systems help divert more than 405 tons of aluminum, plastics, paper and non-traditional recyclables from conventional waste streams each year. That's the equivalent of over 27 school buses or 12 humpback whales.

- Researchers at Castaway Cay are helping to restore the health of coral reefs through a unique research project transplanting native sea urchins in The Bahamas. The urchins help to control harmful algae levels that can choke out corals, and the project is providing vital research for rebuilding coral reef systems that serve as homes for tropical fish and marine life.

Can Virgin Group Solve the Cruise Industry's Old-People Problem?

Can Virgin Group Solve the Cruise Industry's Old-People Problem?

A worker leans over a railing on the Celebrity Constellation cruise ship while docked in Falmouth, Jamaica, on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.
Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

Sun, fun and drinks on a boat? That's about as logical a brand extension as one could imagine for Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, which plans to field two new, 4,200-passenger cruise ships late this decade and begin selling Caribbean voyages.
Virgin Group's expansion into the cruise market seems inevitable, given the company's long experience in travel and hospitality, from airlines to passenger rail to space travel to its first Virgin Hotel, which opens next month in Chicago. In fact, Virgin has been considering a cruise brand for several years, says Evan Lovell, a U.S.-based Virgin executive, but only moved ahead this year, after judging its brand image suitably well-formed and appreciated in the U.S. The United States is by far the world's largest cruise market, contributing more than half the estimated 22 million people who took a cruise this year, followed by the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany. There is also room for new brands: Today, three cruise players control more than 80 percent of the market.
Virgin, along with its lead investor, Bain Capital, is betting it can solve for a longstanding problem in the cruise industry: Most customers are loyal, return cruisers, and the industry is keenly seeking to attract first-timers—cruise virgins, as it were. Along with what the industry dubs "cruise nevers," Virgin will target younger cruisers who "value a fun, youthful, energetic experience," Lovell says. "There is a misperception that the cruise business is an older person's experience."
The company will probably offer four-to-seven-day cruises in the Caribbean, complemented by sailings in the Mediterranean. Virgin's plans also were delayed due to deliberations about whether to retrofit older ships for the venture or to order new.
Also to Virgin's advantage, the industry has dialed back its effort to construct ever-larger ships, with more varieties of dining and entertainment. "They've reached the point where you can't simply build a bigger boat," says Ryan Cotton, a principal with Bain Capital. That suggests to Bain and Virgin that a cruiser's focus is shifting from the vastness of novel options onboard—bumper cars! rock climbing! skydiving! chocolate buffets!—to a cruise's overall service and experience. Ship size and over-the-top amenities will fade as the industry settles on ships that accommodate 4,000-4,500 passengers, Cotton says: "The industry has realized that this is almost exactly the sweet spot. It's big enough to provide all the onboard amenities you need but it's not too big that customers get lost."
The largest player in the industry, Carnival, considers land-based vacations its main competition and welcomes a new cruise brand, spokesman Roger Frizzell said in an email.  "The cruise marketplace represents only a small percentage of the overall vacation market today, so anything that can help stimulate new cruising guests is good for the industry as a whole," he wrote.
Of course, as the owner of a 105-foot luxury catamaran called Necker Belle, Virgin founder Branson has plenty of personal seafaring experience. If a Virgin Cruises voyage seems too mass-market, Necker Belle is available for charter--only $110,000 per week.