Check Out 2018’s Blues and Rock-Themed Cruises

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Fans of blues and rock can head out to sea in 2018, simultaneously getting their musical groove and vacation on aboard three new themed cruises.

Cruise to the Edge 2018

Cruise to the Edge 2018 will be aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas for five nights from February 3-8. Prog-rock’s biggest festival at sea will be hosted by YES as it sails from Tampa, Florida to Belize City, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico prior to returning.

There’s also a complimentary pre-cruise party optional to guests.

Joining YES will be Marillion, Steve Hackett, Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (honoring Keith Emerson and Greg Lake) and Marin Barre (of Jethro Tull), Saga, Anathema, Gong, Haken, Glass Hammer, Adrian Belew Power Trio, Lifesigns, Knifeworld, Stick Men with special guest violinist David Cross, Sound Of Contact, Moon Safari, IO Earth, Bad Dreams, Thank You Scientist and Baraka.

UK journalist and preeminent YES expert, Jon Kirkman, will also be joining the sailing.

Experiences onboard will include artist/cruiser photo experiences, Q&A sessions, theme nights and more. One main event will be CTTE Late Night Live with the opportunity to potentially jam with a headliner, watch fans and artists performing together, see a guest showcase or have your song selection played.

The Brilliance of the Seas beckons guests with a nine-deck atrium, glass-enclosed elevators, Solarium pool, Vitality Spa, rock-climbing wall and plenty of other venues and Prog Performances stages.

Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV

From February 26 to March 2, 2018, Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV will be presented by Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation, Joe Bonamassa and Sixthman aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade.

The four-day voyage will naturally showcase Bonamassa and others as the ship departs roundtrip from Miami, Florida to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“We’ve had a blast this year and we’ve had a blast every other year…There has been some great music this year and we will carry it on to next year,” said Bonamassa, in a press release.

Besides Bonamassa, set to perform across multiple onboard stages are Black Country Communion (Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian), Los Lobos, JJ Grey & Mofro, Ana Popovic, North Mississippi Allstars, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, The James Hunter Six, Matt Andersen, Kirk Fletcher & Josh Smith, Marcus King Band, Greyhounds, Toronzo Cannon, Larkin Poe, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, New Orleans Suspects, The Steepwater Band, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Jack Broadbent, The Bros. Landreth and Juzzie Smith.

More are expected to be announced.

The Norwegian Jade will be newly refurbished by the time the music festival kicks off with musical group collaborations, a Black Country Communion reunion, artist activities and lots of live performances. The ship itself will feature new restaurants, bars, lounges and updated interior design.

Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018

The Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018 is scheduled for five nights aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas roundtrip from Miami, Florida to Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee on February 11-16. The hard rock/heavy metal festival will additionally feature two pre-cruise parties.

Artists include Tesla, Queensrÿche, Thunder, Lita Ford, Winger, British Lion featuring Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Doro, KIX, Y&T, Vixen, Great White, Beasto Blanco, LA Guns, The Pretty Maids, Lynch Mob, Firehouse, Loudness, Michael Sweet (of Stryper), The Quireboys, Tyketto, Dangerous Toys, Junkyard, Keel, Raven, Madam X, Rhino Bucket, John Corabi, Autograph, Lillian Axe, Rough Cutt, Mitch Malloy, The Iron Maidens, Kickin’ Valentina, Jared James Nichols, Thee Rock ‘N Roll Residency, Atomic Punks and more to be announced.

Hosting the cruise and moderating Q&As and other events will be Eddie Trunk and comedian Don Jamieson (VH1’s “That Metal Show”), as well as radio host Nikki Blakk and Luc Carl (SiriusXM’s “Hair Nation”).

Additional activities will extend to artist photo-ops, Gong Show Karaoke, My Bloody Valentine Fantasy Ball, “So You Think You Can Shred” and Cooking with Rock Stars hosted by Lisa Tirone and more.

As a Voyager-class ship, Navigator of the Seas showcases the Royal Promenade and attractions such as a FlowRider surf simulator.

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Cuba cruises on Empress of the Seas to sail mainly from Tampa

After first April 19 cruise from Miami, Empress of the Seas will reposition to Tampa

After first April 19 cruise from Miami, Empress of the Seas will reposition to Tampa

Ater a first Cuba cruise from Miami on April 19, Royal Caribbean International’s Empress of the Seas will sail to the island from its new homeport, Tampa. Bookings opened today.

The April 19 cruise from Port Miami lasts five nights.

The ship will then reposition to Port Tampa Bay, offering two itineraries with calls at Havana on April 30, a seven-night sailing, and May 20, a five-night sailing.

Empress of the Seas will remain in Tampa for the 2017 summer season in the line’s first summer program from there, with a series of four- and five-night cruises, including calls in Cuba.

Details of the summer itineraries will be released at a later date.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told Seatrade Cruise News the company has a framework for a long-term agreement with Cuba, and is working on the details of future sailings.

The line’s people-to-people experiences for passengers include exploring Old Havana and some of its most notable squares, historic neighborhoods and an artisan market, Havana’s rum museum and Hemingway’s former residence and favorite haunts.

Cuban culture will extend to Empress of the Seas, from cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal to salsa music and other activities developed to bring the island to life during the entire journey.

Two other Royal Caribbean ships, Rhapsody of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas, will cruise from Tampa during the winter.

‘The Tampa Bay market has always been important to us, and the entire family at Royal Caribbean is excited to give our guests great year-round options to travel on one of our beautiful ships from a world-class port like Port Tampa Bay,’ RCI president and ceo Michael Bayley said. ‘We are thrilled to introduce culture-seeking travelers to Cuba from Tampa and we look forward to continuing to grow our business in Tampa for years to come.’

Port president and ceo Paul Anderson welcomed the news as ‘truly historic for Port Tampa Bay to have cruises to Cuba, and we are thrilled that Royal Caribbean has chosen Port Tampa Bay to offer the largest ship to sail to Cuba from the United States.’

The 48,563gt Empress of the Seas underwent a $50m refurbishment earlier in the year after coming back to the Royal Caribbean fleet following several years of service for Pullmantur. It has double-occupancy capacity for 1,602 passengers.

Independence of the Seas to sail Caribbean cruises

By Tom Stieghorst

Royal Caribbean International said the Independence of the Seas will spend its first summer in the Caribbean in 2015, returning from deployment in Europe.

The ship will sail alternating seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean recently announced that its largest ship, Allure of the Seas, which had been sailing from Fort Lauderdale year round, would be sent to Europe for the summer in 2015.

Oasis of the Seas will continue from Fort Lauderdale, and Freedom of the Seas from Port Canaveral next summer.

Grandeur of the Seas will continue sailing to Bermuda and the Bahamas in the summer of 2015 from Baltimore, and alternate Bermuda with Canada/New England itineraries in the fall.

Brilliance of the Seas will do Canada/New England fall itineraries from Boston, while Serenade of the Seas will sail back and forth between the New York area and Quebec City on 10- to 14-day foliage sailings.