Norwegian features dining package in new promotion

By Tom Stieghorst

Norwegian Cruise Line said it will offer free dining and beverage packages in a Wave season promotion for sailings of Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway in the second and third quarters.

Andy Stuart, the cruise line’s vice president of sales, said the promotion, dubbed “The Ultimate Freesome,” has “never been done before at Norwegian.”

The offer includes a free Ultimate Dining package for booking a balcony or mini-suite cabin on the two ships during the promotion period from Feb. 27 to March 10. Those who book a suite in the Haven will get a dining package and an Ultimate Beverage Package.

The dining package allows for complimentary dining at the extra-charge alternative restaurants on Breakaway and Getaway. The first two guests in the stateroom will get the packages in the promotion. In the suite promotion, all guests will get the beverage package, with a soda package for anyone under 21 years old.

Stuart said the point was partly to promote the sale of dining packages by travel agents. 

“We really think this is a package more and more guests will enjoy,” he said. 

The package, new this year, costs $119 per person for seven-day cruises.

Norwegian launched the promotion on a webinar with more than 4,000 participants, a record number Stuart said. 

Attendees were eligible to win one of 50 free cabins on Getaway and Norwegian Epic, which were allotted at random to those still listening at the end.


Serenity refurb a breath of fresh air

By Tom Stieghorst

Outside the Galaxy Lounge on the Crystal Serenity.The Crystal Serenity’s $17 million makeover is notable as much for what was subtracted as what was added.

After emerging from a drydock in Cadiz, Spain, the most noticeable change to the 2003-built ship is the complete disappearance of one of its pools.

The space that had been devoted to a pool area with a retractable roof for shelter in inclement weather has been turned into another restaurant, called Tastes. The area, now filled with wicker seating, is also home to the Trident Grill and Scoops ice cream bar.

“It’s great to say we have two pools,” said Crystal President Edie Bornstein. “But the reality was it was really never used.”

Tastes, which has an eclectic menu that runs from Alsatian tarts to California street tacos, opens in the early afternoon for lunch and then is transformed after 6 p.m. into a casual eatery with what Bornstein called a “summer-in-the-Med feeling.”

The Serenity’s other pool remains, as do other fitness facilities such as a 360-degree outdoor promenade for walking, a golf driving range and putting green and two paddle tennis courts.

Another focal point in the makeover was the four penthouse suites.

In an ultracontemporary remodel, interiors of the 1,345-square-foot suites were gutted and the dining area moved closer to the outdoor veranda. The former dining room became a den/library/media room. The color scheme has been lightened to light gray and creme with purple accents.

Another change during drydock was the addition of air- and surface-cleaning equipment to 70 cabins, meant to reduce the irritants that cause allergies.

The so-called hypoallergenic rooms, an industry first, are a boon to passengers who have allergies or other sensitivities that can disrupt a vacation. Now a state-of-the-art, medical-grade air purifier filters out 99.9% of all airborne impurities on an ongoing basis.

A new cherry wood dance floor in the Palm Court gives that area a fresher, richer feel. And the Lido Cafe area has been remodeled with more tables for two and food stations replacing older-style buffet counters.

Propeller problems halt P&O cruise

Technical problems force P&O cruise to return home three days early

A P&O cruise vessel is having to return to port in the UK early after a technical issue with a propeller slowed its progress on a holiday to Madeira, the Spanish Islands and Portugal.

The Oriana will return to Southampton Port three days early, and passengers will have the option to disembark when they arrive or remain until the planned arrival date.

They have also been offered a refund consisting of 40 per cent of the original ticket price in cash or 100 per cent in credit to use on a future occasion.

P&O Cruises’ director Christopher Edgington was quick to apologise, saying: “Our decision to bring back the ship early has not been taken lightly and I am sorry that our customers’ holiday plans have been impacted.”

He added that although the repairs were required urgently, passenger lives were never in any danger and they were kept fully informed of the situation at all times