Carnival Cruise Line to Offer Sailings to Cuba from New York, Virginia

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Classic Pink convertible driving past a cruise ship in Havana, Cuba. (photo via WoodysPhotos / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus)
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Disney’s Magical Private Caribbean Island

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Imagine having your own private island.

Well, Disney has done just that with its enchanted Castaway Cay. This tranquil retreat is just for Disney cruisers and embodies the perfect island paradise.

I’ve often said I’d take a Disney cruise just for a stop on this magical isle. The rest of the family heartily agreed after we returned from our 3-night sail on the Disney Dream, celebrating our grandson’s birthday.

The cruise itself was one fantastic experience. Food, service, staterooms and entertainment were all top-notch Disney-esque.

Our first port of call was Nassau— a fun place we’ve visited in the past—teeming with Bahamian and British flavour, miles of spectacular beaches and stretches of vivid coral reefs perfect for snorkelling.

Excitement, however, started to build as our ship slowly approached Castaway Cay. The tropical island hideaway located just 225 nautical miles from Port Canaveral, Florida is a stop on all Disney’s Bahamian and Caribbean cruises.

There’s no shortage of things to do here. (Actually, we found it impossible to do it all in a day.)

Ships dock right on the island, allowing Disney cruisers to disembark directly onto the pier. A short 15-minute walk leads to unbelievable amenities, including our first stop: powdery white and sandy Castaway Family Beach. The beach area is quite extensive with points and coves along the shoreline.

Trams are available for those who need them (or want to get to the beach faster) and traverse all Castaway Cay amenities. Beach towels are provided by cruise line members at the pier, so no need to pack those in your suitcase or beach bag.

Beach and Water Fun

After securing our chairs and umbrellas, the kids scurried to the bay’s turquoise crystalline waters. Snorkeling is available to those wanting to explore the Caribbean’s undersea marine habitat in Snorkeling Lagoon just off Castaway Family Beach.

Two submerged submarines from Magic Kingdom’s retired 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction add an element of adventure for intrepid snorkelers.

We found it impossible to resist Pelican Plunge, the 2,400 square-foot floating platform with two bending twisting water slides dropping squealing riders directly into the lagoon. A giant “bucket dump” of water delivering hundreds of gallons brought more anticipation and laughter. Four water cannons provided sharp-shooting fun with floating nautical targets.

Game pavilions near the Family Beach offer a variety of sand and shaded games like volleyball, tetherball, foosball, ping-pong, pool, shuffleboard and basketball. And there are also places where each age group can hang out with their peers that include planned activities like Teen Hideout or Scuttle’s Cove kids club for the younger cruisers.

Inner tubes, snorkel masks and fins can be rented from Gil’s Fin and Floats or Flippers & Floats on the beach, while kayaks, paddle boats, paddle boards and Aqua Trikes can also be rented for use in this water wonderland.

Hammocks are located beachfront and very popular with visitors. And while my husband was clowning around in one with our grandson, that wily, notorious pirate Captain Jack Sparrow snuck up on them, grabbed our camera and started snapping photos.

Celebrity adds second Edge maiden voyage

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Celebrity Cruises is to take delivery of new ship Celebrity Edge almost a month earlier than originally planned.

The ship is expected to be completed ahead of schedule and enter service with four special short cruises.

The line is also scheduling two seven-night maiden voyages in the Caribbean rather than one as first planned as part of an expanded inaugural season.

Celebrity Edge will homeport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, making its first sailing on November 21, 2018. This will be one of four new three-day preview sailings to the Bahamas which will also run on November 24, December 3 and December 6.

The first seven-night inaugural voyage departs to the western Caribbean on December 9, followed by a previously announced seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise leaving on December 16.

Celebrity Cruises’ president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: “Thanks to the amazing work of the STX France shipyard team, the industry-changing Celebrity Edge is now scheduled to arrive much earlier than anticipated, which gave us the opportunity to offer not one, but two maiden voyages.

“Both of these maiden voyages, plus the taste of luxury preview sailings, will have all of the festivities one would expect from the launch of such a revolutionary new ship, and now even more guests will have the chance to experience these one-of-a-kind inaugural sailings.”

Celebrity Edge will be joined by three sister ships in 2020, 2021 and 2022.