AROUND THE WORLD BY SHIP
The Carnival Corporation family of brands has a variety of unique travel experiences for cruise travelers ranging from fun to luxury. Each offers a distinct focus and goes after their target traveler with an effort backed by dynamic resources. Some recent moves by Carnival Corporation brands highlight the diversity of what each specializes in and serves as clear evidence of why their loyal passengers come back for more. In a way, these recent announcements highlight an industry-wide destination focus.
Holland America Line Invests More In Alaska
Travelers who have enjoyed a trip to Alaska, one that combines the unique perspectives offered by land and sea, know from experience two important considerations: Timing and Positioning. Get the timing right and we might see a flock of American Bald Eagles soar overhead, a bear catching salmon on the run in mid-air or a whale the size of our imagination. If we lived there, we would no doubt see more of these amazing sights. But we don’t. We’re just visiting with a few precious hours in any one place. That makes positioning of critical importance in improving the odds of seeing something amazing. It’s for that reason a story about a new base camp being built by Holland America Line caught our eye.
To be built at the entrance to Alaska’s Denali National Park the yet to be named “base camp” is part of Holland America Line’s ongoing enhancement program at the 60-acre McKinley Chalet Resort, already a premier destination hotel in Alaska.
The new facility will serve as a new gathering area to relax, shop, and dine. The largest building in the development will be a grand two-story 7,800-square-foot restaurant, also yet to be named. Those wanting to quench their thirst or listen to live music can visit the Gold Nugget Saloon, home to the “Music of Denali Dinner Theater” that turns into a bar and music venue after the show.
Carnival Cruise Line has expanded its shore excursion offerings to include new landside experiences, customized private tours and new family-friendly enhancements. Stop right there and it sounds like a number of pricey tours that might appeal to just a few travelers. But the intensified shoreside program also includes fun complimentary beachside activities, value pricing and free tours in select ports for children under age five. The new options bring a total of nearly 1,200 unique landside experiences in more than 50 ports of call throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Bahamas, Canada, New England, and Central and South America.
Carnival Only Options In the Caribbean
Carnival seems to have all the bases covered when it comes to families and destinations. ‘Carnival Only’ options include access options ranging from private villas in the Caribbean to unique enrichment activities that allow guests to fully immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine.
- La Casa en la Playa (Cozumel) – Recently named Carnival’s “Tour of the Year,” this five-hour-long tour offers an exclusive luxury experience limited to 30 participants with access to a beach house with five-star service for the day, complete with a personal chef and wait staff. Participants can also learn how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine, make refreshing Margaritas and mojitos, or simply relax on a white-sand beach while enjoying pampering and attentive service.
- Eat, Drink & Dance (Ocho Rios) – This tour is definitely on “island time,” designed to please guests’ palates and awaken their senses through Jamaica’s unique food, music and culture. After savoring spicy samples at a traditional jerk hut, guests enjoy a delicious meal at Miss T’s Kitchen which was featured on Guy Fieri’s Family Vacation on Food Network. The day continues with a visit to a beachside bar where mixologists create hand-crafted Jamaican rum cocktails and concludes with a spirited reggae dance lesson.
- Jamaican Home for the Day (Ocho Rios) – Just like the name implies, this day-long tour offers guests their own Jamaican home for a day where they can relax, kick off their shoes, and enjoy a fantastic home-cooked island lunch in their own private paradise. The tour also includes full use of the expansive property which features a beautiful secluded beach where guests can enjoy refreshing frozen daiquiris and other rum-infused cocktails.
- Photo Safari & Beach Expedition (Cozumel) — Taking place over the course of two days, the tour begins with a one-hour photo seminar on board led by the ships’ photographers who offer tips on camera equipment, lighting, photo composition and more. The tour continues the following day with a visit to gorgeous Mexican beaches and a national park where participants are offered an informative hands-on demonstration to “Capture the Moments that Matter.”
- Eat, Drink & Walk (St. Thomas) – This self-described “walking culinary/culture tour” begins with a drive through the lush countryside to St. Peter Mountain Great House & Botanical Gardens, home to diverse plant and animal life and an observation level where guests can see the 15 islands that comprise the Virgin Islands chain. Participants can sample 24 different island rums as they learn how to make banana daiquiris and nosh on island-inspired food like saltfish, plantains, jonny cakes and West Indian pumpkin soup.
Family Friendly Caribbean Experiences
Carnival is offering new “family friendly” shore excursion options in ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico, with tours offered at multiple price points to provide parents the ultimate in flexibility, value and convenience. Children age five and under receive complimentary beach excursions with their parents’ paid tour. Sample excursions include:
- Family Beach Escape (Freeport) – Designed with all-ages appeal, this tour begins with an air-conditioned ride to a breathtaking beachside resort. Here, under the watchful eye of trained youth specialists, kids can enjoy such activities as sandcastle-making competitions, treasure hunts and face-painting while parents can relax under oversized umbrellas and sip a cool tropical drink. Lunch is included and water toys, paddle boats, kayaks and other watercraft are available for rent.
- Island Beach Escape for Families by Power Catamaran (Cozumel) – After an exhilarating power catamaran ride, families arrive at Passion Island, which boasts white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters along with full resort facilities with plentiful beach chairs and hammocks. Guests of all ages can enjoy volleyball, water trampolines and pedal boats, while kids get their own special beachside play area. A Mexican-style buffet with guacamole, grilled mahi-mahi and a kids’ menu is included in the price.
- Family Treasure Hunt with Lunch at Blue Lagoon (Nassau) – Families are sure to have a blast during this fun-filled adventure where participants must discover hidden treasures, collect clues and answer trivia questions on their journey to win the Pirate’s Bounty! After their plunder, families can soak up the sun on a stunning powdery beach as they enjoy a grilled lunch and icy beverages at Blue Lagoon Island, one of the top destinations in The Bahamas.
- All Inclusive Family Beach Resort Getaway (Montego Bay) – Hosted at the Mediterranean-inspired Seawinds Beach Club, one of Jamaica’s premier oceanfront properties that is home to magnificent beaches and world-class amenities, this tour includes lively island entertainment, along with a complimentary buffet lunch and drinks. When it’s time to cool off, families can take a dip in the ocean or one of the many on-property pools and enjoy fun water sports like sailing, snorkeling and kayaking.
Seabourn Taps Top Photographer To Highlight UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited
Seabourn’s ships circle the globe throughout the year, visiting more than 150 designated World Heritage Sites on its itineraries. Through its partnership with UNESCO, Seabourn offers deeper insight and behind-the-scenes information about current and future World Heritage sites and projects.
The company supports the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme aiming to ensure that tourism delivers benefits for the conservation of sites and local communities. The line has created special World Heritage Discovery Tours with exclusive enhanced content developed in cooperation with UNESCO World Heritage site managers and tour experts. Fares for Seabourn optional excursions that include UNESCO World Heritage Sites include a donation to UNESCO’s World Heritage Fund.
Ultra Luxury cruise line Seabourn is partnering with internationally acclaimed New Zealand photographer Geoff Steven to capture images of less photographed World Heritage Sites at destinations where Seabourn ships visit. Steven will also share his rare perspective, knowledge, and experience documenting the many World Heritage Sites around the globe as a guest lecturer in the line’s Seabourn Conversations onboard enrichment program. Better yet, he will also offer photography tips and coaching as guests visit these impressive sites.
Uber qualified for the role, Steven is the director of Our Place, a UNESCO approved team of International photographers who capture the human dimension of a site as well as its important physical elements and have worked in a large variety of cultures and geographical locations.
“Our partnership with Geoff and Our Place is a perfect fit. Seabourn visits an extensive array of ports that are home to hundreds of World Heritage Sites, and there is no one better to capture imagery of these historic destinations than Our Place,” said John Delaney, Seabourn’s senior vice president, marketing and sales. “With his talent through the lens and expertise and knowledge on the subject, Geoff will offer a unique perspective on the significance of these destinations, what they mean for the world, and why they must be protected.”
It’s an ongoing effort for Seabourn that goes far beyond a simple donation from time to time. See more of Seabourn’s UNESCO focus in Seabourn UNESCO Partnership To Foster Appreciation, Understanding. To view some of the more than 360 World Heritage sites currently documented by the Our Place team and to see some of Geoff Steven’s photographs selected from sites he has personally photographed, visit www.ourplaceworldheritage.com. This guy is good. Really good.
Interestingly, The discerning readers of Travel + Leisure have voted Seabourn as the “World’s Best Small-Ship Cruise Line” in the prestigious magazine’s 2015 annual survey. The ultra-luxury line has dominated the top spot in the “Small-Ship Cruise Line” category over the last decade. This would be one reason why.
Carnival Corp Gives Back, Launches Fathom
All of the above is in addition to what might be the single largest commitment to a focus on destinations by any cruise operator ever: starting a new cruise line devoted to just that. Recently, Carnival Corporation announced a giant leap in its philanthropic efforts, launching Fathom, a new trademarked brand that looks to define a new travel category tagged ‘social impact travel’.
Beginning operations in April of 2016, Fathom will take a different sort of cruise traveler for what could be the ride of their lives. Globally-minded passengers who want to make a difference in the lives of those who live on close-by Caribbean islands will have the best cruise-based opportunity to do just that. Beginning with the Dominican Republic, Fathom passengers will work alongside locals and fathom partner organizations on one or more projects suitable for a wide range of ages, levels of skill and amounts of physical activity. Good stuff there for sure, but not for everyone. We liked the idea for a number of reasons and now we have one more: Cuba.