Category Archives: Cruise Ships

Featured Ship: Disney Fantasy

Launched in 2012, Disney Fantasy is the most recent addition to Disney’s “family-oriented” fleet of cruise ships. The ship carries up to 2,500 guests and offers them all the usual cruise amenities – many with a Disney touch.  And while the kids will be well entertained, they haven’t forgotten the adults.

disney-fantasy-concierge-royal-suiteWe can’t say that we often give much thought to the weight of cruise ships, but it is kinda impressive that Fantasy weighs in at a hefty 130,000 tons.  There are fourteen decks with 1,250 staterooms spread across nine of ’em.  Family oceanview staterooms with verandah have sufficient space for a family of five, albeit a cozy situation.  Standard oceanview staterooms with verandahs can handle 3 or 4 guests.  (There are also variations on the oceanview staterooms without verandahs.)  Deluxe and standard inside staterooms are designed to accommodate 3 or 4.  At the top end of accommodations on Disney Fantasy are the Concierge One-Bedroom Suite and the Concierge Royal Suite, both with verandahs.

There are nine “youth clubs” on Disney Fantasy, offering a variety of fun for kids based on interests and age.  The “Arr-cade” is what you think it is: a pirate-themed video arcade.  The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is fun to say and a fun place for kids willing to undergo princess and pirate makeovers.  The “D Lounge” is a family lounge and nightclub with karaoke, game shows, dancing and more.  “Edge” is a hangout for tweens, “It’s A Small World Nursery” is place for Fantasy’s youngest guests and “Vibe” tries really hard to be a cool place for teens (we leave it to your teen to determine whether it succeeds).

disney-fantasy-enchanted-gardenDisney Fantasy’s dining options range from the fancy-shmancy, adults-only restaurants “Palo” and “Remy” to the very kid-friendly and ever-popular “Animator’s Palette”.  The other main dining rooms are “Royal Court” (more princess-themed ambiance) and “Enchanted Garden” (a rather pretty Versailles-themed eatery).  Casual eating is available at the indoor/outdoor “Cabanas” cafe and the poolside “Flo’s Cafe”.

Fantasy’s three swimming pools are designated for kids, families and adults.  Other entertainment includes movies in the Buena Vista Theatre, Disney character meet-and-greets and a live version of Disney’s Aladdin.  You can stay in shape – or just allow yourself to be pampered – in the fitness center and Senses Spa & Salon.  Goofy’s Sports Deck includes a basketball/volleyball court, miniature golf and virtual simulators for golf, basketball, football, soccer and baseball.

disney-fantasy-eastern-caribbeanDisney Fantasy currently spends 365 days a year making trips out of the cruise port closest to Orlando – Port Canaveral.  Voyages are 7 days in length, alternating between the eastern Caribbean (Sint Maarten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay in the Bahamas) and the western Caribbean (Cayman Islands, Costa Maya, Mexico and Castaway Bay).

In addition to those offered by Disney Fantasy, TheCruiseNexus can tell you about hundreds more 7-night cruises to the eastern Caribbean and all the other cruises scheduled to depart from Port Canaveral.

Featured Ship: Costa Fascinosa

Costa Fascinosa joined the Costa cruises in 2012, matching its sister ship Costa Favolosa as the largest in the fleet with a capacity of 3,016 passengers.  Let’s see…3,016 divided by 2…that means there are 1,508 guest rooms on the ship.  For those looking for a special relaxing experience, there are 91 Samsara cabins and suites with direct access to Fascinosa’s spa facilities, as well as a bunch of exclusive spa/wellness amenities.  In total, there are 524 cabins with private balconies (including all of the suites).

“Wellness” is emphasized on Costa Fascinosa.  The Samsara Spa facilities are spread across two levels and include a gym, baths, a “thalassotherapy” pool, treatment rooms, sauna, Turkish bath and a UVA-ray solarium.  The ship also has four pools, 5 Jacuzzis, an outdoor jogging track and a “multipurpose pitch” for group sports.

costa-fascinosa_poolFor your eating and drinking enjoyment there are five restaurants and 13 (!) bars on-board.  The restaurants include two “specialty” venues (i.e. “additional fee required”), the Club restaurant and the Samsara restaurant.  As you may have guessed, Samsara specializes in healthier fare – and those staying in the Samsara cabins and suites don’t have to pay that “additional fee”.

Entertainment on Fascinosa includes a big theatre with live entertainment, a 4D cinema, a Grand Prix racing simulator, a disco and a casino.  The public spaces on the ship are also entertaining, with over 300 original works of art.

As of August 2013, Costa Fascinosa is scheduled to spend most of the year sailing the Mediterranean and around South America, with departures from cities like Barcelona, Venice, Istanbul and Buenos Aires.  And we also have early schedule information for Costa’s next, even bigger ship: Costa Diadema, due to launch November 2014.

Featured Ship: Celebrity Reflection

Celebrity Reflection joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in 2012, the latest “Solstice Class” ship afloat and offering a new level of amenities.  Reflection quickly became that cruise line’s busiest ship, currently splitting its time between sailing the Mediterranean out of Civitavecchia (near Rome) and cruising the Caribbean from Miami.

celebrity-reflection-sky-suiteBeyond the usual variety of standard staterooms, Reflection has an unusually large number of suite types.  There are 34 AquaClass suites situated near the AquaSpa and include priority dining at the healthy Blu specialty restaurant.  Penthouse Suites have lots of living space, including a living/dining area that’s bigger than most staterooms – you also get a butler to help you find your way around all that space.  At the top end of on-board accommodations is the Reflection Suite.  A two-bedroom suite with butler service and all kinds of other high-end amenities, its most notable feature is the bathroom – specifically, the shower: perfect for your inner exhibitionist, it’s a glass-enclosed rain shower that hangs off the edge of the ship!

celebrity-reflection-lawn-club-grillReflection’s top deck features include the “Hey, they’re growing grass up there!” Lawn Club, where you can take an art class, grab something to eat in The Lawn Club Grill or have a small party in one of the private Alcoves cabanas.  For some indoor relaxation the AquaSpa was given some updates plus new spa and salon services.

“Qsine” is the newest restaurant, offering items designed to impress “foodies” (and with iPad menus).  The aforementioned Blu is aimed at the healthy, spa-interested crowd.  Murano offers Celebrity’s modern take on classic French cuisine.  Tuscan Grille is an “Italian steakhouse” with one of the nicest contemporary atmospheres you’ll find on a cruise ship.  And, of course, there’s the big open-round-the-clock Main Restaurant, the casual Oceanview Cafe and bars and lounges all over the ship.

Featured Ship: Carnival Sunshine

Although it originally launched back in 1996, Carnival Sunshine essentially started over in 2013 as a new cruise ship.  Formerly known as Carnival Destiny, the ship was the beneficiary of $155 million worth of renovations.  The top-to-bottom transformation included 182 new cabins that increased the ship capacity from 2,642 to 3,006 passengers and the addition of Carnival’s most comprehensive set of “Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements” to date.

The variety of dining available on Sunshine is pretty amazing.  Among the new offerings are “JiJi” (Carnival’s first Asian-themed restaurant); the steakhouse Fahrenheit 555; Cucino del Capitano (you can probably guess the type of food on the menu); and a Guy Fieri Burger bar.  The BlueIguana is a Mexican cantina offering freshly made tacos and burritos.  Plus a pizzeria, Mongolian Wok, the JavaBlue Cafe, the Shake Spot, hot dogs at SeaDogs and more.  And you can always choose from the room service menu, available 24 hours a day.

You shouldn’t have any problem keeping yourself hydrated on Carnival Sunshine.  The options for liquid refreshments range from the RedFrog Rum Bar, the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and the RedFrog Pub (serving up Carnival’s own RedFrog beers) to the EA Sports Bar where you can grab a drink, watch some sports or play the latest EA Sports video games.  Other indoor fun can be had in the casino – slot machines, all the usual table games and poker.

carnival-sunshine-waterworksThe focus of water-based fun on the top deck is the brand new Carnival WaterWorks, with several great water slides including the paired Speedway Splash slides that let you take on all comers in a race to the pool waaaay down below. SportSquare is the fitness area up top, with a jogging track and the SkyCourse ropes course.

The kids can spend time having fun with kids their own age in the Camp Carnival, Circle C and Club O2.  Relaxation for adults is available in the Cloud 9 Spa and the Serenity retreat.  Serenity is an adults-only spot located in the new deck added to the front of the ship as part of the renovation.

Looking to save a little money – and not really expecting to spend much time in your room?  Then an interior stateroom might be just the thing for you.  But that’s just the starting point for the many stateroom options on Carnival Sunshine.  There are exterior rooms with portholes and others with full-sized picture windows.  There are rooms with balconies and aft-facing rooms with expanded balconies for great views of where you’ve been.  And then there are the suites: Grand Suites and Ocean Suites and Cloud 9 Spa Suites.

TheCruiseNexus has the full current schedule of Carnival Sunshine cruises, including departures from New Orleans, Barcelona and Venice.

Featured Ship: Royal Princess

royal-princess-sea-walkThe latest incarnation of Princess Cruise Lines’ Royal Princess set sail on its first voyages in June 2013 after being christened by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (you know, Prince William’s wife, the former Kate Middleton).  It became the line’s biggest ship and featured a new batch of state-of-the-art cruise ship amenities.  Unique to Royal Princess is the “Sea Walk” – a glass-enclosed walkway that hangs off the edge of the ship, over 120 feet above the water.  The SeaView Bar occupies a similarly scenic spot on the opposite side of the ship.

royal-princess-bellinisRoyal Princess has the usual variety of staterooms, from the windowless interior rooms to mini-suites to full-size suites.  All outside staterooms have balconies.  Passengers in suites get sitting areas, an improved level of furniture on the balcony, complimentary mini-bar, luxury linens and bathrobes, fresh flowers, walk-in closet and upgraded bathroom supplies.  Some of the highest-end suites have hot tubs, PC’s, wet bars and fireplaces.

Dining onboard is available in both “Traditional” (fixed time, table, waiter, etc.) or “Anytime Dining” (eat whenever and with whomever you’d like).  Specialty restaurants include Sabatini’s (featuring – you guessed it – Italian fare) and the Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant.  Horizon Court is the big top-deck buffet.  Other casual eateries include Alfredo’s Pizzeria, a pastry shop, the Ocean Terrace seafood bar, the Gelato gelateria, the International Cafe and “Vines” – a wine, sushi and tapas bar (that’s “tapas”, not “topless”).

royal-princess-sanctuaryThe top-deck pool on Royal Princess is the cruise line’s largest ever and transforms into a water and light show at night.  The Sanctuary and Retreat Pool are also on the top deck, but offer a bit more peace and quiet as “adults only” amenities.  The Sanctuary has been enlarged on Royal Princess and features a new design.  The pool area is also home to the “Movies Under The Stars” video screen.

In addition to those outdoor movies, other night-time activities include entertainment in the Princess Theater, dancing in Club 6, gambling in the Princess Casino plus drinks and entertainment in the Vista, Bellini’s, Crooner’s and Wheelhouse bars/lounges.  A completely new addition to the entertainment line-up is “Princess Live!” – a TV studio-style theater where they’ll be staging cooking shows, concerts, game shows and comedy performances.

When you’re not venturing forth on land when the ship is in port, you’ll find plenty of on-board daytime activities.  More than just some great pools, Royal Princess has the Lotus Spa; fitness centers; an aerobics studio; a “lawn” space for putting, bocce or croquet; jogging track; a basketball, volleyball, tennis court; a laser shooting range and an indoor golf driving range.

As of July 2013, Royal Princess was scheduled to spend the next two years on a mix of voyages to the Mediterranean, Caribbean and northern Europe.  See the comprehensive current schedule of Royal Princess cruises.