Norwegian extends Cuba cruises through 2018

Photo credit Dave Jones, Norwegian Sky departing the Port of Miami.

Norwegian Cruise Line will further extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba through 2018, with 33 new voyages.

This year’s Norwegian Sky sailings are scheduled through December 2017, and cruises will resume March 26, 2018.

Thirty-two of the 33 new voyages will include an overnight in Havana and a call at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas.

The format on the Sky will continue to include alcoholic beverages in the cruise fare.

Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half- and full-day shore excursions that are compliant with the U.S.’s rules about people-to-people travel in Cuba.

Sales for the new cruises open April 20.

Norwegian Cruise Line goes all-inclusive

Norwegian Cruise Line goes all-inclusive to compete with land-based holidays

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Norwegian Bliss due to cruise in 2018

Norwegian Cruise Line is “upping its game” as it unveiled a major change to its pricing policy by making all cruises fully all-inclusive.

Bookings made in the UK and Ireland across all 14 of Norwegian’s ships are now classified as Premium All Inclusive.

The line announced the new pricing package at an event in Baker Street in London. Senior vice president, international for the line Frances Riley said this was the next ‘natural step’ for Norwegian.

“In recent years we have upped our game with our ships and with our hardware, this is now about innovating the experience for our customers.

The all-inclusive pricing means items that were formerly ‘extras’ are now included in all cruise prices.

These range from a wide variety of premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to unlimited juices, water and soft drinks for children, as well as all service charges and gratuities.

Norwegian said the extras in total were worth about £1,200 per stateroom. The policy takes effect from Thursday April 6.

Premium All Inclusive applies to all staterooms, including studio, inside, ocean view, balcony and mini suite accommodation.

Guests staying in the higher-level haven or suite accommodation will additionally benefit from a dining package, 250 minutes of free internet and $100 onboard credit.

The line said it was introducing the change to stay competitive with all-inclusive holidays on land.

Premium All Inclusive has already been rolled out in several European markets including Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France on sailings to all destinations.

The new strategy means the lead-in price for a comparable seven-night sailing in the western Mediterranean rises from £609 to £739. But Norwegian said it worked out cheaper than making a cruise-only booking and purchasing the extras separately.

Nick Wilkinson, senior director and general manager for northern Europe, said: “We are confident that Premium All Inclusive, and the relaxation and peace of mind it offers, has the power to inspire your customers to book with you.

“We will support you with our comprehensive Partners Toolkit.

“Also, our business development team will proactively assist you with maximising the opportunities it offers.”

What Sets Regent Seven Seas Cruises Apart

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I have now personally sailed aboard the new Seven Seas Explorer and toured the Seven Seas Navigator from Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and I can better outline what is special about the luxury line and sets it apart from the competition.

The Seven Seas Explorer

The Seven Seas Explorer itself is such an incredible ship that its mere inclusion in the fleet is a differentiator for the entire Regent brand. Its attention to detail is unparalleled at sea, and the palatial Regent Suite is unlike any other accommodations.

Its passenger space ratio ensures ample space for each guest with no crowding, and altogether the ship feels much larger than it is. The atrium soars through all the public decks, the Constellation Theater is an impressive two stories in height and private balconies are massive.

Genuinely All-Inclusive

Despite what it says, all-inclusive as a description is often not accurately applied to cruise lines. There are many cases where others are nearly all-inclusive or an all-inclusive experience can be purchased for an extra fee, but Regent is easily the most genuinely all-inclusive cruise line there is.

Understandably, things like the casino, retail shops and spa services are excluded, and likely always will be, but just about everything else is complimentary including unlimited shore excursions, premium drinks and specialty dining, 24-hour room service, pre-paid gratuities, WiFi internet access, airport transfers, a pre-cruise hotel night and even airfare.

Seamless Service

Other cruise lines may have a very friendly crew, but not all of them exhibit the best in actual service. Regent’s crew tirelessly provide guests with everything they need, and passengers are seldom in a position to ask or request. The crew does not hover but rather blends in such that the service seems effortless, which means plenty of effort is made behind the scenes to make it appear so.

L’Occitane Bath Products and Teddy Bears

Accommodations onboard are extremely comfortable and well configured, but it’s the extra touches that especially make them stand out to guests. L’Occitane has long been my favorite purveyor of fine soaps and shampoos, and it’s a delight to see that Regent exclusively features its excellent Mer & Mistral line of bath products on its ships. Similarly, as a collector of teddy bears, I was overjoyed to see that a welcoming Regent bear greets guests in top-tier suites as a lovely touch of home.

Extending elegant flourishes throughout the public areas of the ship as well as private suites is a beautiful collection of artwork. The breadth of paintings, mixed-media pieces and sculpture is very intriguing without ever being too bold or offensive. Several pieces speak to guests on different levels emotionally and literally across different decks. There are even plans in the works to showcase the collection with a detailed book.

Best Main Dining Room at Sea

Often it’s the specialty restaurants that most impress from a culinary perspective on ships, but Regent’s equivalent of a main dining room, Compass Rose, actually makes a bigger statement by offering a menu that is beyond extensive.

There are still a dozen or so options offered daily on a rotating basis, but when combining that with the dozens more of always-available choices, the combinations of courses to order are seemingly endless. Guests can pick their favorite proteins, sauces and sides to craft a customized meal as well as experiment with new flavors in a single evening.

Culinary Arts Kitchen

Regent’s Culinary Arts Kitchen is the cherry on top of the sundae for allowing guests the opportunity to learn how to cook gourmet cuisine in a hands-on setting in addition to enjoying world-class cuisine. Individual cooking stations ensure each participant can fully prepare several dishes during a single course of instruction and then be able to sample it on the spot before taking their newfound knowledge home with them.