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World’s largest cruise ship ready for the first voyage

The world’s biggest cruise-liner, Symphony of the Seas, has left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire in France to embark on its maiden voyage in the Mediterranean. French shipbuilder STX handed over to U.S. giant Royal Caribbean International on Friday. The ship, which weighs 228,000 tonnes, is 362 metres long just 20 metres shy of the length of the Empire State Building. It is marginally bigger than its sister ship, the Harmony of the Seas, which STX France delivered to Royal Caribbean in 2016.

Love cruising? Read: Which are the world’s most popular cruises!

Majestic view of the Symphony of the seas

The Symphony will head to Malaga in Spain and spending its first season in the Mediterranean before heading to its home port of Miami. Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, led the traditional flag-changing ceremony, which symbolizes the ship’s official delivery from the ship builder to Royal Caribbean.

Crew celebrating the inauguration

Symphony of the Seas will welcome her first guests on Saturday, March 31 for a one-time-only, 5-night preview sailing, calling on Naples and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy. The ship’s maiden 7-night Mediterranean voyage departs Saturday, April 7 from Barcelona, Spain, where the crescendo of thrills will be brought to life by the 2,200 international crew members who proudly represent 77 countries around the world. Symphony of the Seas will homeport in Barcelona for the summer, visiting Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence, France; and Florence/Pisa, Rome and Naples, Italy.

The 25th ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Symphony of the Seas is 228,081 gross registered tons, measures 238 feet tall and spans 1,188 feet long. She will welcome 5,518 guests at double occupancy in 2,759 staterooms, including 28 additional balcony rooms that overlook the ocean or signature Boardwalk neighbourhood. One Oasis Class ship, seven distinctive neighbourhoods, the tallest slide at sea with the Ultimate Abyss and countless adventures for guests of all ages, the family adventure of a lifetime has surprises at every turn.

Language of the cruise! Read: Cruise Lingo to help travellers talk the talk!

New Culinary Adventures

• Hooked Seafood: This upscale eatery atop of the world’s largest cruise ship in the Solarium serves up the real taste of New England-inspired seafood and unparalleled ocean vistas to match. Approachable and unassuming, the menu offers classic coastal favorites, such as lobster rolls, crab claws, signature fish sandwich, and a raw bar where oysters are shucked to order.

Playmakers bar at the Symphony of the seas

• Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade: Stretching the length of a reimagined Boardwalk, now touting fresh energy and swagger, the whole family can watch the home team play across 31 big-screen TVs, during the day and into the late night. The indoor and outdoor arcade, packed with over 20 games, offers the opportunity for friendly competition. The on-point menu of classic American bar food features everything from wings, burgers and popcorn shrimp to picture-perfect sundaes; as well as craft beers and cocktails.

• El Loco Fresh: Made-to-order tacos and burritos wrapped with fresh tortillas are among the Mexican “street food” favourites that will hit the spot for adventure seekers looking to fuel up with minimal downtime.

• Sugar Beach: The signature candy and ice cream shop is the sweet spot on the Boardwalk with more than 100 types of candies, a lineup of ice cream flavors and even DIY activities for the aspiring culinary artist.

New destinations for cruise! Read: Adventure seekers can now visit Havana on Empress of the seas

A view from balcony of the rooms around central park

New Ways to Play

• Battle for Planet Z: Royal Caribbean’s first glow-in-the-dark laser tag game brings two teams of eight head to head in an out-of-this-world adventure to determine who will claim the last planet in the galaxy.

• Escape the Rubicon: In the ultimate race against the clock, friends old and new must band together in the Rubicon submarine – a sophisticated, custom-built escape room – to solve a collection of puzzles before time runs out.

Royal suite with a loft

Unparalleled Family Accommodations

  • Ultimate Family Suite: A two-level, 1,346-square-foot suite filled with awesome thrills offers more than enough room for the whole family – and friends – to come together and catch up on “me time.” Features include an in-room slide, a private cinema with an 85-inch HD TV, a floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall, a 212-square-foot balcony complete with table tennis and a full-size whirlpool. Complete with a Royal Genie, who caters to every whim, there are many more surprises awaiting guests along the way.

Fly into cruise! Read: Cruisefly for Royal Caribbean cruises

A family suite at the Symphony of the seas

Beginning Nov. 10, Miami, FL. will become the ship’s year-round homeport, making Symphony of the Seas the first new Oasis Class ship to sail from the cruise capital of the world using Royal Caribbean’s new state-of-the-art Terminal A. The 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises will call on Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s newly revealed destination in the Bahamas.

Aerial view of the helipad of the Symphony of the seas

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 49-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean, including jaw dropping, state-of-the-art entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike.

Also read: Vagabond at a cruise- Super Star Virgo

On board, guests are catered to with the cruise line’s world-renowned friendly and engaging service by every staff and crew member. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 15 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards. The cruise line sails 25 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in Bermuda and the Caribbean, Europe, Canada and New England, Alaska, South America, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand.

Have you been on cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruises? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

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Which are the World’s most popular cruises!


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The winners of the 8th annual Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards – naming the most popular cruise ships of the year, based on consumer reviews shared on Cruise Critic over the past 12 months have been revealed. This year’s list of winners has the wide range of ships awarded as the best of the best, explains Colleen McDaniel, Senior Executive Editor of Cruise Critic.

Also Read: Vagabond at Cruise- Super Star Virgo

Colleen says, “You have two of the largest ships at sea, alongside luxury yachts and small expedition ships that sail to some of the most far-flung destinations across the globe. As different as these ships are, the common thread is the exceptional ratings they received from actual guests. Whether you’re looking for a mega ship or a more intimate vessel, a port-heavy itinerary or laid-back beach escape, this list is a fantastic resource to guide to you to a ship perfectly suited to your needs.”

Large Ship Category

  • Celebrity Cruises was this year’s big winner in the Large Ship Category, winning five awards, including Best Overall, Best Dining, Best Public Rooms and Best Service for Celebrity Equinox, and Best for Value for Celebrity Silhouette. Celebrity Silhouette sails a number of itineraries, including the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Baltic and has been praised for its wide range of dining and entertainment options onboard.
  • Royal Caribbean International received four awards in the Large Ship Category, including Best Cabins, Best Embarkation and Best for Fitness & Recreation for Harmony of the Seas, and Best Entertainment for Allure of the Seas. Allure of the Seas features a number of chart-topping shows including Mamma Mia! and How to Train Your Dragon performed on ice.

Mid-Size Ship Category

  • Oceania Cruises was awarded the most accolades in the Mid-Size Category, snagging five awards for Best Overall, Best Cabins, Best Dining, Best for Fitness & Recreation and Best Public Rooms for its ship, Riviera. This is the fourth consecutive year that the line was awarded in all five categories. Riviera offers Caribbean, Baltic and Mediterranean sailings, and will begin sailing to Cuba in 2019.
  • Celestyal Cruises won two awards in the Mid-Size Category for its Celestyal Crystal – Best Shore Excursions and Best for Value. The ship sailed Cuba year-round, but will be redeployed to sail in the Mediterranean later in 2018.

Also Read: Adventure seekers can now visit Havana on Empress of the Seas

Small-Mid Ship Category

  • Viking Ocean Cruises was the runaway winner in the Small-Mid Category, winning in every category but one – Viking Sea was named Best Overall, Best Cabins, Best for Fitness & Recreation, Best Shore Excursions and Best for Value; Viking Sky was named Best Entertainment and Best Public Rooms; and Viking Star was named Best Dining and Best Service. Viking Sea was also named Best for First-Timers across all size categories.

Small Ship Category

  • Windstar Cruises won four awards in the Small Category – all for different ships in its fleet. Star Pride was named Best Cabins, Wind Spirit named Best for Fitness & Recreation, Wind Star named Best Service and Star Legend, Best Public Rooms. Wind Star and Wind Spirit are both four-masted sailing ships, while Star Pride and Star Legend are luxury yachts.
  • Silversea Cruises won three awards in the Small Category – Best Overall, Best Shore Excursions and Best for Value – for its 100-passenger Silver Galapagos. The ship is all-inclusive and offers year-round Galapagos cruises.

The winners of the 8th annual Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards are awarded in four ship size classes, based on passenger capacity (Large: 2,000+ passengers; Mid-Size: 1,200 to 1,999 passengers; Small-Mid Size: 400- 1,199 passengers; Small: Fewer than 400 passengers.) The rankings are calculated using ratings published with user-submitted reviews on Cruise Critic.

First-place winners include:

Best Cruise Overall

  • Celebrity Equinox (Large) – Celebrity Cruises
  • Riviera (Mid-Sized) – Oceania Cruises
  • Viking Sea (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Silver Galapagos (Small) – Silversea Cruises

Best Cruise Ship Cabins

  • Harmony of the Seas (Large) – Royal Caribbean International
  • Riviera (Mid-Sized) – Oceania Cruises
  • Viking Sea (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Star Pride (Small) – Windstar Cruises

Also Read: Uniworld’s S.S. Joie De Vivre sets sail on maiden voyage

Best Cruise Ships for Dining

  • Celebrity Equinox (Large) – Celebrity Cruises
  • Riviera (Mid-Sized) – Oceania Cruises
  • Viking Star (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • National Geographic Explorer (Small) – Lindblad Expeditions
Allure of the Seas

Best Cruise Ships for Embarkation

  • Harmony of the Seas (Large) – Royal Caribbean International
  • Amsterdam (Mid-Sized) – Holland America Line
  • Pacific Princess (Small-Mid) – Princess Cruises
  • Celebrity Xpedition (Small) – Celebrity Cruises

Best Cruise Ships for Entertainment

  • Allure of the Seas (Large) – Royal Caribbean International
  • Disney Wonder (Mid-Sized) – Disney Cruise Line
  • Viking Sky (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • L’Austral (Small) — Ponant

Also read: Costa Cruise to sail from Mumbai to Maldives and Colombo

Best Cruise Ships for Fitness & Recreation

  • Harmony of the Seas (Large) – Royal Caribbean International
  • Riviera (Mid-Sized) – Oceania Cruises
  • Viking Sea (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Wind Spirit (Small) – Windstar Cruises

Best Cruise Ships for Public Rooms

  • Celebrity Equinox (Large) – Celebrity Cruises
  • Riviera (Mid-Sized) – Oceania Cruises
  • Viking Sky (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Star Legend (Small) – Windstar Cruises

Best Cruise Ships for Service

  • Celebrity Equinox (Large) – Celebrity Cruises
  • Amsterdam (Mid-Sized) – Holland America Line
  • Viking Star (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Wind Star (Small) – Windstar Cruises

Also read: Dubai gets world’s largest cruise terminal at Mina Rashid

Best Cruise Ships for Shore Excursions

  • Carnival Breeze (Large) – Carnival Cruise Line
  • Celestyal Crystal (Mid-Sized) – Celestyal Cruises
  • Viking Sea (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Silver Galapagos (Small) – Silversea Cruises

Best Cruise Ships for Value

  • Celebrity Silhouette (Large) – Celebrity Cruises
  • Celestyal Crystal (Mid-Sized) – Celestyal Cruises
  • Viking Sea (Small-Mid) – Viking Ocean Cruises
  • Silver Galapagos (Small) – Silversea Cruises

Also Read: Most Eagerly awaited Indian Wedding of the year on Costa Cruise

Best Cruises for Families

  • Carnival Breeze – Carnival Cruise Line
  • Best for First Timers
  • Viking Sea – Viking Ocean Cruises

(Source: cruisecritic.com)

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Adventure Seekers Can Now Visit Havana On Empress of the Seas

cubasThese are changing times. With Cuba getting closer to the world. Salsa music, dominoes, Mojitos and historic Havana neighborhoods are easier to reach than ever before for guests on Royal Caribbean International. The newly revitalized Empress of the Seas will make history for the cruise line with its first visit to Cuba during a 5-night sailing departing Miami on April 19, 2017. The ship will then reposition to Tampa offering two itineraries with calls to Havana on April 30 (7-night sailing) and May 20 (5-night sailing). These Empress of the Seas sailings are now open for sale.

empress-of-the-seasEmpress of the Seas will homeport in Tampa for the 2017 summer season – the cruise line’s first-ever summer program from the destination – offering a series of 4- and 5-night sailings, including port calls to destinations in Cuba. The largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States, Empress will provide vacationers with the opportunity to discover the timeless sights, sounds and culture of this island nation. Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

“Royal Caribbean is the world’s most exciting adventure company, and we’re thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba. As the unrivaled innovators of the cruise experience, no company is better positioned to help adventurers explore and experience this culturally rich destination,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. Guests sailing onboard Empress of the Seas and visiting Cuba can enjoy curated people-to-people experiences created to immerse vacationers in the natural beauty of Cuba, its architecture, cuisine, music and art. All cruises will be designed in accordance with current U.S. to Cuba travel regulations.

empress-of-the-seas2While in Cuba, guests will explore Old Havana – a UNESCO World Heritage site – some of the city’s most notable squares, historic neighborhoods, a local artisan market, Havana’s rum museum as well as Hemingway’s former residence and favorite haunts. Local experts will immerse guests in the history, culture and people of Cuba. These authentic encounters will give guests an unforgettable taste of what has made Cuba the gem of the Caribbean.

The authentic experiences aren’t limited to land. The vibrant culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music, guests will have a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life during the entire journey. The revitalized Empress will bring the shipboard Cuban flair together with signature amenities, such as a thrilling rock-climbing wall for adrenaline seekers; new pools and whirlpools, including an adults-only Solarium; a Vitality Spa with an extensive treatment menu; and a complimentary Adventure Ocean youth program. Empress also will offer a variety of dining options with the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Café and fine dining at Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse Chops.

empress-of-the-seas3The summer program on Empress of the Seas provides travelers with more opportunities to sample the unique Royal Caribbean experience from Tampa. Two other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, will offer Caribbean itineraries from the homeport during the winter season.

Coming soon! Skydiving on cruise!!

Kneel laying of Anthem of seas
Kneel laying of Anthem of seas

If cruising itself doesn’t sounds adventurous to you, then very soon you will be able to add thrills like skydiving to it. Sounds amazing, isn’t it. Royal Caribbean International is working hard to make everything possible. A new class of ships will have many things more to offer.

Royal Caribbean International recently marked an important milestone in the development of its newest class of ships, Quantum class, with Anthem of the Seas receiving its first block as the keel was lowered into place. The keel-laying signifies the beginning of the ship’s physical construction. During the ceremony, a 620-ton block measuring 59 feet by 121 feet (18 x 23 meters) was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane.

Royal Caribbean International already has much to offer
Royal Caribbean International already has much to offer

The groundbreaking Quantum-class ships will debut new unprecedented features, such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; transformative venues, such as The SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry’s first-ever Virtual Balcony staterooms, which offers expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations for interior staterooms.

Anthem of the Seas will debut in spring 2015 following the launch of her sister-ship Quantum of the Seas in autumn 2014. Each ship spans 16 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms.

Go cruising this winter, huge discounts on offer!

Royale Promenade from Aft Atrium at Mariner of seas
Royale Promenade from Aft Atrium at Mariner of seas

Holiday time is fast approaching and its time to enjoy sea cruises too in south-east Asia. Sea cruises have been in huge demand particularly in Christmas and New year holidays. Hence, there are many cruise discounts on offer. Rush to avail a few of them.

Royal Caribbean International Cruises is launching 60/60 Offer on Singapore Sailings. Royal Caribbean International Cruises have launched the Singapore season of Asia’s largest cruise ship – Mariner of the Seas – with a 60/60 Special Offer. All Indian travelers may avail upto 60% off on select 3,4 and 5 night itineraries from Singapore, with prices starting from $60 per person per day. This announcement comes at a time when Mariner of the Seas begins her regular Singapore sailings from 10th November onwards, visiting exotic locales in Thailand and Malaysia, till March 2014. Mariner of the Seas defines a new standard of cruising within the region, being the largest and most innovative cruise ship in Asia this year. The special Singapore 60/60 Offer is applicable on multiple 3,4 & 5 Night sailings this December to January 2014, for bookings made by 15th November 2013.

Adventure activities at Mariner of the Seas
Adventure activities at Mariner of the Seas

Mariner of the Seas, with its 15 decks of activity, first-at-sea innovations, luxurious staterooms, entertainment and dining options, brings more opportunities for WOW! closer to home for guests. Recently emerged from a revitalization that added dining venues and bars, entertainment options and an array of technological upgrades, at 138,279 gross registered tons (GRT), Mariner of the Seas can carry 3,807 guests and stretches more than a thousand feet in length, making it the largest and most innovative cruise ship in Asia. Singapore, KL, Penang, Phuket and Langkawi are the most popular ports of call in this region.

Millennium at Hubbard Glacier - Alaska in Celebrity Solstice
Millennium at Hubbard Glacier – Alaska in Celebrity Solstice

On the other hand, Celebrity Cruises have also announced two special savings offers for per stateroom on outside categories and above, for all new bookings made until November 24, 2013, on select ships and sailings in 2014. The first promotion offers a 15% off on Cruise fares for Captain’s Club members, Classic tier and above, and 10% off for Non-Loyalty guests, on Ocean-view category and above, on all 2014 (4-night plus) Alaska, Europe, Bermuda and Caribbean cruises. This offer allows guests an average savings of $400 per stateroom. Captain’s Club is a premier recognition and rewards program that benefits the guests with more rewarding experience with each travel.

The second promotion allows guests to be supremely spoiled in the unspoiled land of Alaska by offering Cruise-tour On board Credits (OBC) for Alaska sailings only, where non-loyalty guests receive $200 USD and Captain’s Club members receive $250 USD OBC per stateroom, on Ocean-view category and above. With this special promotion, Celebrity Cruise tours offer the most scenic and relaxing way to get to some of the most spectacular corners of Alaska, as travelers sail to the edge of a six-mile wide glacier. Guests can revel in 360-degree views of the six-million acre Denali National Park, Canadian Rockies, and Whistler; or listen to tales of the land from guides who know this country like no one else. From the breathtaking sights of Hubbard Glacier to the pioneering spirit of Juneau, Celebrity Alaska is an expedition in rekindling your hidden, untamed soul.

A couple enjoying in the balcony of a Stateroom
A couple enjoying in the balcony of a Stateroom

With a fleet of 11 ships, Celebrity is one of the fastest-growing major cruise lines, and one of five cruise brands operated by global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. In addition to receiving consistently impressive scores from guest surveys, the cruise line has been recognized with some of the travel industry’s most coveted accolades since its inception. Over the recent years, Celebrity Cruises have received magnificent recognition across various segments like No.1 Large-Ship Cruise Line; Best Premium Cruise Line; Top 5 Large Resort Ships for the 8th Year in a Row; Best Health & Wellness Program; Best Big-Ship Debut of the Year-Celebrity Silhouette SM; Best Premium Cruise Line; Best Cruise Line Food and many more honorable titles.

Fly ‘Jet’, Cruise ‘Royal’

Luxury at Sea
Luxury at Sea

With sailings from Singapore starting November 2013, the ‘Fly & Cruise’ vacation offer is comprehensive and valuable for the Indian travellers.  This holiday concept combines the most attractive airfares from Jet Airways and inclusive value from a leading cruise brand, Royal Caribbean International.

These packages are 3-night itineraries onboard Mariner of the Seas, sailing from Singapore to exotic destinations in Malaysia, with a choice of multiple sailings from November 2013 to February 2014. Available sail dates include 15, 22 and 29 November 2013 and 6, 13 and 20 December 2013; 20 January, 12 and 27 February in 2014 respectively. The packages include return air travel in economy, airport transfers, 3Nights/4Days accommodation onboard Mariner of the Seas, all meals onboardMariner of the Seas, access to par-excellence entertainment and various public amenities whilst onboard the cruise, travel insurance, as also allowing JetPrivilege members the opportunity to earn 5 JPMiles for every INR 100 spent.

Guests from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai can avail the packages at INR 60,500, INR 54,000 and INR 64,500 respectively. Similarly, attractive packages are available to guests from Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata at INR 66,660, INR 66,900 and INR 66,955 respectively. The packages offer an exceptionally convenient, affordable and ideal getaway option this winter.

Pooling fun
Pooling fun

Mariner of the Seas is truly designed to enthrall guests with its on-board amenities, innovative features and world-class service. Mariner of the Seas will leave guests spoilt for choice with 15 decks replete with activities, including many first-at-sea innovations. With an array of amenities and features on-board including luxurious staterooms, Broadway-style entertainment and multi cuisine dining options at 8 world class dining venues, an ice skating rink, a full size sports court, 10 pools and whirlpools, a rock-climbing wall, a mini-golf course, multiple entertainment options including complimentary ice shows and theatre performances, Casino Royale®, VitalitySM Spa, award-winning Adventure Ocean® Youth Program, DreamWorks® experience, Barbie Premium Experience and much more – a cruise aboard Mariner of the Seas will prove to be a once in a lifetime experience.

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 40-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry firsts never-before-seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programs that appeal to families and adventurous vacationers alike.