Costa Deliziosa delivers a top new ship for the European Market
Latest Cruise News Update
We just returned from the inaugural voyage of the brand new Costa Deliziosa. Italy-based Costa Cruises mostly operates larger mass-market ships designed for European vacationers, but with its new Costa Deliziosa, the line is taking things in a new direction. The ship belongs to the same class as Carnival Spirit, at 92,000 tons and a capacity of 2,826 passengers, and boasts a surprisingly intuitive, modern design with all the ship's public rooms on the lowest passenger decks, leaving plenty of room for the 772 veranda cabins on the upper decks.
European cruising is the fastest growing market in the world right now, much faster than the U.S. market, which is already much bigger but is starting the peak out in terms of the number of new passengers every year. Deliziosa is designed to be Costa's top-of-the-line premium vessel for its most discriminating European customers. It will be the first Costa ship to sail a world cruise since the line was acquired by U.S.-based Carnival Corp. about a decade ago. The ship will also venture into more exotic itineraries, including the Persian Gulf. Costa says it expects most of the Deliziosa's sailings to be filled with Italians, Germans and British.
For those of you who didn't already know Costa is owned by Carnival Corp. all of the ships in its 15 vessel fleet are identical copies of Carnival ships in terms of floor plans- but entirely different when it comes to decor. But Costa Deliziosa brings a few tasty new tidbits to the cruise world that could appear on Carnival ships soon. Among them is an amazing 3-D Cinema with the same polarized 3-D process as used in the movie Avatar. There is also a new interactive account management system where you can buy shore tours or movie tickets, make restaurant reservations, or just access a ship's map or the daily schedule without having to go to the front desk. You can even register your credit card for your onboard account without talking to anyone.
See our complete wrapup of the new Costa Deliziosa
Recommendation for those about to cruise.
We have seen the booking window open wider in the last few months - in other words, people have returned to booking their cruises as much as four to six months ahead of schedule. That means most people are booking their summer cruises right now. But this current blizzard has also led to a "flurry" of last minute bookings to the Caribbean and Mexico in the last couple of weeks.
This week, the biggest concern is whether you will be able to get a flight to your cruise. We have seen headlines that currently the airlines are allowing changes of flights with no change fees. There should be a fair amount of availability this week if you MUST fly since many people have postponed travel plans during this blizzard of the century. If you have a cruise this week we recommend that you think about leaving a day early. Or if your flight happens to have a stopover in a major East Coast city you may want to consider a different route, or even better, a non-stop flight.
In the Kuki blog "Sailaway Sale of Savings of the Century" Kuki offers a sendup of "cruise sales announcements." Bottom line, despite the annoucements of ongoing sales from all the various cruise lines it is more difficult than ever for the average cruise buyer to know how much value one is getting for your cruise dollar. Kuki helps you sort out the fact from the fiction, and deflates a few false notions in the process.
"I detest the promotions that advertise 50% , 60% or 70% off brochure rates. The last person who paid brochure rates was the guy who'd been found living in a cave with wolves for 38 years, and the first thing he did once he learned to speak a human language was book a cruise," says Kuki. He also explains the logic behind booking early rather than waiting for the last minute, and why price alone is not the sole factor for any given cruise.
Read Kuki's Blog, "Sailaway Sale of Savings of the Century".
In our Cruise Bargain Newsletter, which you can read online, we take a look at Alaska cruising. Now is the peak time for Alaska cruise bookings, and it isn't a bad idea. Not only do you get the best selection when you book farther out but you also get the "lowest price guarantee" from both the Royal Caribbean the Carnival families of cruise lines. If the prices go lower you pay the lower price, or you get a shipboard credit for the difference if you have already made your final payment.
Read our Cruise Bargains Newsletter.
We just recieved an in depth report from our culinary editor, the accomplished gourmet Janice Wald Henderson. She just returned from Crystal Serenity to report that, "After a thorough sampling, I believe Crystal serves some of the best food I have ever experienced at sea." Quality, consistency and finesse are just a few of the adjectives she uses to describe the great food served on Crystal. Personally, as the editor of CruiseMates, but something much less of a culinary expert, I still agree with Janice; Crystal does have some of the best, and consistently high quality food at sea.
Keep in mind that running a restuarant is challenging enough - but today's gourmet restaurants can buy fresh ingredients directly from the best suppliers on a daily basis. It isn't quite so easy on a cruise ship, but you would never know that on Crystal. Janice reports...
"Penthouse guests can order caviar, lobster, crab claws and other spendy hors d'oeuvres to their suite or cabin for free. Imagine, daily caviar and lobster-fests and no bill. That and the amazing butlers who present food as if you were royalty, make (if you can afford it) a Penthouse experience an unparalleled one. But even if you're in the least-expensive stateroom, you will enjoy caviar, lobster and many other luxe treats often and throughout the cruise."
More about our cruise culinary editor Janice Wald Henderson: Janice has been a longtime contributor to many magazines, including Bon Appétit Magazine and Brides. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Eating Well, Cooking Light and numerous other publications. Janice is also the Los Angeles editor of the Essential Restaurant Guide at epicurious.com.
Read Janice Wald Henderson's review of Crystal Cruises Cuisine.
new feature articles
Costa Deliziosa Arrives
Costa delivers its new "Top of the Line" cruise ship for world cruises and exotic voyages
Sailaway Sale of Savings of the Century
Can you believe your luck? You're getting ready to book your cruise and you find it just happens to be time for the "Sailaway Sale of Savings for the Century."
2010 - Alaska Bargains
Now is the peak time for Alaska cruise bookings, and it isn't a bad idea.
Going Ashore in New England and Canada
East Coast summer cruises offer historic cities like Boston, Cape Cod, Newport RI and Nova Scotia.
Crystal Cruises: Foodies' Gem of Choice
by Culinary Expert Janice Wald Henderson: After a thorough sampling, I believe Crystal serves some of the best food I have ever experienced at sea.
Read about CruiseMates
NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"
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