Carnival expects Panorama's cooking classes to sizzle


Occupying 1,350 square feet on the Panorama’s Deck 4, the Carnival Kitchen will feature nine cooking stations.

Will guests who pick their vacation primarily for fun find it in a classroom? Carnival Cruise Line is about to find out. The line’s newest Fun Ship, the Carnival Panorama, will be it’s first to have a culinary studio for cooking classes.

Occupying 1,350 square feet on Deck 4, the Carnival Kitchen features nine cooking stations designed for 18 students per class. With its debut, Carnival becomes the first contemporary cruise line to offer a full-time space for cooking instruction.

To date, culinary arts centres have been more common on ships that sail for premium or luxury lines, which tend to have longer, more global itineraries that involve more sea days than mass-market lines. In addition to catering to the desire for enrichment and engagement, the luxury lines’ culinary centres provide guests with something to do while their ship is travelling on long ocean legs between ports.

However, Carnival’s voyage model is the opposite: short cruises sailing from domestic ports with frequent stops.

Cyrus Marfatia, the cruise line’s vice president of culinary and dining, said he’s confident that a culinary centre can succeed, in part thanks to the line’s experience with its 16-person Chef’s Table on other ships.

“When we started, we used to do it twice a week, and maybe the second [session] wouldn’t even fill up, and that’s only 16 seats,” Marfatia said. “Now we find that on ships like the Horizon and Vista, we do six days a week and there’s always a waitlist.”

That growth resulted in revised thinking about the concept.

“We felt there is a lot of natural demand for people to deal with food and learn food, so we thought of it as ‘Why not? Why not try it?'” he said. “And we were pleasantly surprised, because when we opened it up for reservations, it was very, very positive, and it had limited awareness.”

The Carnival Panorama is scheduled to launch Dec. 14 and sail seven-day, roundtrip itineraries to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, Calif. Marfatia said there are three sea days on the itinerary, providing a fair chance to sample the Carnival Kitchen.

On sea days, Carnival plans to hold up to three one-hour classes during the day plus a two-hour evening session that combines a class with dinner. The day classes are $30 per person, the evening ones are $59.

On port days, the $30 buys a two-hour combined class and lunch, a little extra incentive for those who feel they might be missing something by not going ashore, Marfatia said. There is also a two-hour dinner class.

Marfatia said that because of the types of foods they will be making, guests won’t get bored. Classes come with fun course titles such as “Bake Shop & Pie Town,” “Tailgate Party” and “It’s an Ice Cream Kind of Day.”

“We have a pie-making class. We have an entertaining class, pizza. All of these are fun things to do,” said Marfatia, who added that the format is also family-friendly. “So fun and education kind of come together.”

Carnival has tapped Juliana Barrera, a Colombian chef who has worked at Carnival for several years, to run the program. In addition to teaching, she will enlist guest chefs drawn from Panorama’s diverse galleys who are experts in ethnic specialities such as Indian or Mexican.

A course titled “The Orient Unknown” may be taught by a Thai or Indonesian chef, Marfatia said.

“If there is a sushi-making class, a chef from Bonsai will come and visit,” he said, referring to the name of the line’s sushi bar.

Culinary studios took off about a decade ago with their inclusion on the Oceania Cruises newbuilds Marina and Riviera. But the 4,000-passenger Panorama is triple the size of those ships, so if the classes prove popular, they may be oversubscribed.

Marfatia said that if the sea days sell out, Carnival would consider adding more classes on port days.

Carving out dedicated space for culinary instruction is taking a bit of a chance, Marfatia admitted, because real estate comes at such a premium on a cruise ship. On other Carnival ships, sometimes even the Chef’s Table is held in a dining room annexe or in the library.

Customer research so far suggests the classes will find an audience.

“We’ll learn as we go along, and one of the strengths of Carnival is that we are able to implement and make changes on the fly,” Marfatia said. “So we’re not going to be stuck in something that doesn’t work.”

Disney to Expand San Diego Season in 2019

Disney Wonder

Disney Cruise Line will offer an expanded two-month season from San Diego in 2019, sailing to Baja and the Mexican Riviera as the company today announced some of its 2019 deployment.

There are also cruises to Southern Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to the company. From January to May, all cruises departing from Florida feature a stop at Castaway Cay.

Bookings open to the public on Nov. 2, 2017.

More details on 2019 itineraries can be found on the Ports and Itineraries for 2019 page of

The Disney Wonder returns to San Diego for an extended season from March to May 2019, with a variety of cruises to Mexico, including two-, four-, five- and seven-night voyages.

Most sailings to Mexico’s Baja peninsula call on Ensenada. Two-night cruises to Ensenada boast Friday departures from San Diego for a weekend experience.

Four- and five-night Baja options include a visit to Cabo San Lucas.

Seven-night sailings to the Mexican Riviera call on Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatlán.

In January, three special Disney Wonder cruises from San Juan sail to the Southern Caribbean. The Disney Wonder arrives in San Juan after a five-night journey departing Jan. 9 from Galveston, Texas, with a stop in Falmouth, Jamaica.

On Feb. 3, a four-night cruise aboard the Disney Wonder takes guests from San Juan to Port Canaveral, Florida.

The Disney Fantasy continues to sail seven-night Caribbean voyages, with Eastern Caribbean itineraries visiting the Virgin Islands of Tortola and St. Thomas, and Western Caribbean cruises calling on Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Falmouth.

The Disney Dream embarks on three- and four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay and the Disney Wonder will alternate similar three- and four-night itineraries throughout February.

To kick off 2019, the Disney Magic continues sailing from Miami with four- and five-night voyages to the Bahamas, plus five-night Western Caribbean cruises.

Norwegian Unveils Bold New Ship Design

Norwegian Unveils Bold New Ship Design

Norwegian Cruise New Project “Project Leonardo ship class”

PHOTO: Rendering of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Project Leonardo ship class. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

After recapping and detailing a number of current projects at the annual Seatrade Cruise Global conference, Norwegian Cruise Line pulled back the current on the exterior design of its next ship class, dubbed Project Leonardo.

That wasn’t the only notable news on the docket, however.

In between its seasonal deployments in Alaska and the Caribbean, it was announced that California would get some love in between with 7-, 8- and 14-day Mexican Riviera sailings from Los Angeles. On the routes, Mexican ports of call will include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Ensenada, Manzanillo and Puerto Quetzal, with the longer sailing being a repositioning to Miami through the Panama Canal’s new larger locks.

Also on the itinerary side of things, Cuba was anticipated as Norwegian Sky’s next destination beginning in May, 2017, for a total of 30 weekly 4-day sailings from Miami that will initially last through this December. The other port of call on these voyages will be the cruise line’s Great Stirrup Cay, which is also the focus of renewal, to the tune of $40 million.

The private island has aready received an enhanced beach area, updated cabanas, a refurbished boardwalk, new dining and shaded lounge seating, landscaping and the free Abaco Taco eatery. Next to be added through the end of the year will be a new Landshark Bar & Grill, zip-line, underwater sculpture garden, marina lockers, family beach, shaded benches, private lagoon area and medical center.

Back on board, the next-to-launch Norwegian Bliss was also featured for its connection to the ocean, completing a journey that began with the al fresco Waterfront on the Norwegian Breakaway and coming to full fruition with its multiple decks of sea-view observation lounges. Other new features include virtual views for the ship’s studio cabins bringing outside vistas in. There will also be the same amount of Haven suites on the Bliss as on the preceding Norwegian Escape while providing double the amount of common ship-within-a-ship space.

Entertainment is being added on the current fleet with a complimentary “Escape the Big Top” puzzle room experience on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Escape. Plus, “Cirque Dream & Dinner” is to be enhanced on the Breakaway and Epic as well as being added to the Getaway via a format that arranges the new show and main dining elements separately.

Even though the Norwegian Bliss itself will not launch until the summer of 2018, the next aforementioned Project Leonardo is already making waves with its exterior aesthetic. The first ship from the new series will come out in 2022 followed by other ordered sister-ships in 2023, 2024 and 2025. Options exist for two more in 2026 and 2027.

When Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. revealed the renderings of the 140,000-gross-ton vessel, he pointed out that it will include broad decks as well as several infinity pools, all in service to his vision of crafting a premium product for the mainstream line.

Each new ship will carry approximately 3,300 guests, building on the amenities found in the line’s latest Breakaway Plus-class ships.