Friday, May 05, 2006

Carnival's Version of Freedom ...

From Ancient China to Art Nouveau: Carnival Freedom, debuting next March, features interiors from ancient Babylonia onward. Shaping up at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard, the 2,974-passenger Freedom enters service in 2007 with 12-day Med cruises —including the line’s first-ever visit to the Greek Isles and Turkey — starting March 14. As usual, Joe Farcus, CCL's ship architect, has outdone himself on decor. Freedom’s Millennium atrium transports to the near-future with iridescent lacquers and veneer dyed like tiger skin. The Victoriana show lounge, hailing Queen Victoria, evokes London West End theater with ornate moldings, fancy marble, gold leaf and pre-Raphaelite paintings. Chic and Posh dining rooms reflect the 1990s, with python skin patterns. Named after Louis XIV, Sun King Supper Club represents 18th-century glory, with chandeliers, tapestries, and a trompe l’oeil mural. Player’s Sport Bar highlights the '50s. Bar Nouveau steps back to the 1890s. Babylon Casino recalls Hammurabi's palace . Poolside Freedom Restaurant has Statue of Liberty replications. Habana Cigar Bar has stogie-like stools, Monticello Library brings American colonial to mind, and Dynasty Room pays homage to ancient China. Freedom's Grand and Med & Greek Isles cruises are from Rome. Med & Greeks, for instance, sail March 14, 26, April 7, 19, June 18, Aug. 5, and Sept. 22, for Naples, Rhodes, Ephesus, and Istanbul, Athens, Katakolon, and Livorno. Details? Call 800-CARNIVAL.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

CCL Tantalizes from San Juan ...

Destiny Calls in Southern Caribbean: The 2,642-passenger "Fun Ship" Carnival Destiny launches seven-day southern Caribbean adventure from San Juan calling at five tropical gems starting Jan. 7, 2007. The island-intensive itinerary features extended day-long visits to St. Lucia, Antigua, Dominica, Barbados, and St. Thomas/St. John, plus a fun-filled day at sea. Bob Dickinson, president and CEO, allows the “southern Caribbean is one of the world’s most desirable cruising regions.” Destiny’s itinerary provides culture diversity, historical landmarks, and magnificent beaches. St. Lucia has the Pitons, twin volcanic mountains. Antigua is known for 365 beaches. Dominica offers rugged mountains, hot springs and volcanoes. British Barbados boasts white sand, St. Thomas duty-free bargains. Destiny's 12 passenger decks feature 18 lounges/bars, and a 1,500-seat theatre. Also aboard: Four swim pools – one with a 214-foot-long water slide – health club, Internet café, duty-free mall, and casino. A golf program offers pro instruction onboard and on Caribbean golf excursions. Twin bi-level dining rooms and a poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria feature Georges Blanc Signature Selections. Carnival "Comfort Beds” have luxe duvets and quality linens. For details, call 800-CARNIVAL.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Celebrity Century Goes Ultra, Icy Cool ...

Bring on the Olives: The Martini Bar onboard Celebrity’s “new” Century boasts the first “ice bar” concept at sea when emerging May 30 from its $55-million, five-week revamp. Features include a liquid wall freezing to form a sparkling crystalline appearance, and a bar counter freezing into ice-cold stone, while a block of ice displays liquor bottles behind the bar. There's more. To highlight such coolness, kinetic lighting regularly changes the venue color and appearance. Century’s Martini Bar, of course, offers Celebrity’s famed menu of 30-plus martinis. Also redone: All other clubs/lounges onboard the “new” Century, including Michael’s Club, Rendezvous Lounge, and Hemispheres observation lounge/disco. Century's aggressive five-week drydock yields the “Murano” specialty restaurant, 314 new verandas, 14 new suites, 10 new staterooms from inside to veranda category, and more ConciergeClass staterooms. The “new” Century departs May 30 on on a nine-night “Best of Europe,” followed by 12-night Baltic and 10- and 11-night Med sailings, a 13-night “Best of Europe,” and a Norwegian Fjords seven-nighter. In November, Century sails shorties from Miami. For details, call 800-437-3111.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Freedom Weighs About 32,000 Elephants ...

World's Largest Ship ... For Now: Royal Caribbean International has taken delivery of Freedom of the Seas, this hot second the world's largest ship, eclipsing Cunard's Queen Mary 2. RCI's 3,634-passenger Freedom of the Seas -- not to be confused with CCL's new Carnival Freedom, was delivered amid hoopla in Hamburg, Germany, with U.S. debut in New York on May 10. RCI, revolutionizing cruises with rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks and the Royal Promenade, now poises for another round of industry-firsts: Freedom of the Seas' shipboard surf park and cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean, plus a full-size boxing ring and a 14-person family suite. The 160,000 GRT Freedom of the Seas weighs more than 80,000 cars or 32,000 adult elephants. The 185-foot wide ship is actually wider than the White House is long (168 feet), and from waterline to funnel top, Freedom of the Seas towers 208 feet, about the same height as two of the Statue of Liberty, head to toe. As the first in RCI's Freedom class, Freedom of the Seas will sail seven-nighters from Miami calling in Cozumel, George Town, Montego Bay, and Labadee. For details, call RCI at (866) 562-7625.