New Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Arrives in NYC Harbor

The new Disney Fantasy arrived in New York yesterday.  The newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet is scheduled for christening on March 1 in New York City before the ship sails down the East Coast to its homeport in Port Canaveral, Florida.

The Disney Fantasy will sail alternating seven-night cruises to the Eastern and Western Caribbean and Disney’s private island paradise, Castaway Cay, with the maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.

New Experiences: Disney’s newest ship will bring to life many of the innovative features guests love on the recently launched Disney Dream including AquaDuck — the world’s first shipboard water coaster. But new design elements and guest experiences will give the Disney Fantasy an identity all its own.

Some of the new highlights found on the Disney Fantasy include:

  • Europa – a nighttime entertainment district exclusively for guests 18 and older that features sophisticated bars and trendy lounges inspired by the very best in European travel.
  • A new, innovative show for the Animator’s Palate restaurant where diners will serve as guest animators. During the “Animation Magic” show guests are asked to hand-draw a character of their own at the start of dinner. After an entertaining show featuring montages from Disney animated films and shorts, guests prepare for a whimsical finale moment where the guest-drawn characters spring to life and interact with characters from beloved Disney animated classics.
  • At Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique aspiring young princesses and pirates receive the full fairy tale treatment with pixie-dusted and piratical makeovers at this very special salon.
  • A new ship means new main stage entertainment at the Walt Disney Theatre:
    • “Wishes” is a spectacular production debuting on the Disney Fantasy. This signature show is a 45-minute musical journey about three best friends who discover that the secret to being a grown up is staying connected to their inner child. Full-scale production numbers and special effects bring excitement to the stage as the cast of “Wishes” performs original songs and classic Disney tunes with a contemporary twist.
    • New to Disney Cruise Line®, “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular” takes the stage on the Disney Fantasy. During this Broadway-style production, guests laugh along with the wise-cracking Genie and the cast from the classic animated Disney film, “Aladdin.”
    • “A Fantasy Come True” is a 45-minute high energy, multimedia, musical production that follows one family’s journey as they discover the amazing experiences and enchanting surprises that await them aboard the Disney Fantasy. Ultimately, they learn that the greatest experience the ship has to offer is the opportunity to make memories together as a family that will last a lifetime.
    • “An Unforgettable Journey,” is a 45-minute musical production that celebrates the extraordinary journey guests experienced onboard the Disney Fantasy. This farewell show highlights the memorable moments and distinctly Disney touches through the words and wisdom of the man himself – Walt Disney. Walt Disney quotes, audio and video clips connect the guests’ experiences to the man who started it all.
  • Guests can splash and play in the AquaLab – a brand-new water play area on deck 12, near the entrance to the AquaDuck water coaster. Families can frolic among pop jets, geysers and bubblers in this fun and fanciful 1,800-square-foot space. As the story goes, AquaLab was created by Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, and features a variety of water “experiments” designed to drench the whole family.
  • The Disney Fantasy features another new area for guests of all ages to cool off. On deck 12 forward, a wading pool with a fountain water feature, ample seating and lounge chairs under canopy offer a respite in the shade.
  • In addition to Quiet Cove Pool and Cove Bar on the Disney Fantasy, a new adult-exclusive area offers a retreat on the upper decks for guests 18 and older. At Satellite Sun Deck on deck 13 forward a brand-new water feature called Satellite Falls is a circular splash pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain that provides cool comfort. Around this upper deck, adult guests can soak up the sun in loungers or relax in the shade under a canopy.
  • The Muppets make their debut on Disney Cruise Line in a brand-new adventure game aboard the ship. In “The Case of the Stolen Show,” Guests set out on an interactive quest to help a cast of more than 20 Muppets find their missing show props.

Source/credit: Disney Cruise Line

Click here to view the itineraries for the Disney Cruise ships (pdf file).

Contact Island Time Travel for a quote!

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Today I had the opportunity today to participate in a online training session and learn more about Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  Did you know that Regent is truly an all-inclusive luxury cruise line and their fares include:

  • 2-for-1 Fares plus additional bonus savings of up to $10,000 per suite
  • FREE Roundtrip Air (and if you book a Penthouse Suite or higher on a Europe Voyage, you get a free upgrade to Business Class Air)
  • FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions
  • FREE Luxury Hotel Package
  • FREE Beverages including fine wines and premium spirits
  • FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities
  • FREE Ground Transfers
  • FREE In-suite mini-bar replenished daily
  • FREE 24-hour room service and no additional charge for specialty restaurants
  • Elegant casual dress code. Formal and semi-formal attire optional on sailings of 16 nights or longer
  • Welcome bottle of champagne
  • Up to four gourmet restaurants including the iconic new steakhouse Prime 7, and Signatures, featuring Le Cordon Bleu®-inspired cuisine, Compass Rose, La Veranda plus the al fresco Pool Grill
  • In-suite dining, served course-by-course during restaurant hours
  • Butler service in Penthouse Suites and higher, included iPad® in suite, iPod® docking station and complimentary in-suite mini-bar setup
  • Fitness programs, sauna and steam rooms in the spa
  • Onboard activities including expert guest lectures, theatre performance and day time entertainment
  • Interactive flat screen television in each suite with extensive media library and complimentary movies-on-demand

If you’ve sailed on, or you’re considering, a premium cruise line such as Holland America, Celebrity, or Princess, please click and review the chart below.  Regent’s cruise fares may seem out of reach at first glance, but when you take a close look at all the inclusions that you pay extra for on other cruise lines, the price is very competitive.

Please visit our Regent Seven Seas web page.

Regent Seven Seas comparison to other premium cruise lines

Related: All inclusive alcohol on cruises?
Also see: Size Matters, But Not in Boutique Cruising

Sandals La Toc St. Lucia Photos

Thanks to the great folks at Sandals for allowing Island Time Travel to tour Sandals La Toc St. Lucia while on our recent cruise.  This is a beautiful resort and we can’t wait to go back for a longer stay.  We got to see many of the various room categories, most with stunning ocean views.

This adults-only all-inclusive resort is set on 210 acres along a half-mile beach, has a complimentary 9-hole golf course on property, 8 restaurants, and 3 pools.

U.S. Updates Mexico Travel Warning Citing Unaffected Destinations

We’d like to share this story from Travel Pulse which outlines the U.S. State Department’s recent Mexico travel warning.   This travel warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated April 22, 2011.  No advisory is in effect for Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum.

Some highlights regarding popular tourist areas:

Baja California:  The State Department said no travel advisory or warning is in effect for Cabo San Lucas, a major city and travel destination in the southern portion of Baja California.

Guanajuato: In Guanajuato, where San Miguel de Allende and Leon are major cities and travel destinations, no advisory is in effect.

Guerrero: In Guerrero, where Acapulco, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo and Taxco are the major cities and travel destinations the State Department is recommending travelers defer non-essential travel to the northwestern and southern portions of the state (the area west and south of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca), except for the cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Ixtapa. In those cities, the department is recommending travelers should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas. They should also exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours on highway 95D (cuota/toll road) between Mexico City and Acapulco and highway 200 between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than 2 blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence. Flying into the coastal cities in southern Guerrero remains the preferred method of travel. Travelers should also exercise caution in the northern region of Guerrero (the area north of the town of Arcelia on the border with Estado de Mexico in the north and the town of Tlapa near the border with Oaxaca). The state of Guerrero has seen an increase in violence among rival criminal organizations. Acapulco’s murder rates increased dramatically since 2009; in response, the government of Mexico has sent additional military and federal police to the state to assist state security forces in implementing operation  “Guerrero Seguro” (Secure Guerrero) that focuses on combating organized crime and returning security to the environs of popular tourist areas.

Jalisco: In Jalisco, where Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are the major cities and travel destinations, the State Department is recommending travelers should defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas. They should also exercise caution when traveling at night outside of cities in the remaining portions of this state. The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur. Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival TCOs involving automatic weapons.

Nayarit: In Nayarit, the State Department is recommending that travelers should defer non-essential travel to all areas north of the city of Tepic as well as to the cities of Tepic and Xalisco. The security situation north of Tepic and in these cities is unstable and travelers could encounter roadblocks or shootouts between rival criminals. But there is no recommendation against travel either to Riviera Nayarit in the southern portion of the state or to principal highways in the southern portion of the state used to travel from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta.

Oaxaca: For Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca, no warning is in effect.

Quintana Roo: In Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum, no advisory is in effect.

Yucatán: In Yucatán, which includes Mérida and Chichen Itza, no advisory is in effect.

Read the full article here:

To view on a map, click here:

Save Money with a Mystery Vacation

Secrets St. James and Wild Orchid Montego Bay Jamaica

If you can be a little flexible regarding your resort and room type, mystery hotel deals are a great way to save money on your vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico.  With such a program, you save money, but you allow the resort chain or vacation package provider to select which exact resort you will be staying at.

I have done this type of program three times in the past and was very satisfied with the results.  While it’s no longer offered by Club Med, many years ago we used the Club Med “Wild Card” program.  We knew we would be spending a week, with charter airfare included from either Chicago or New York City, at one of the Club Meds in Mexico or the Caribbean.  The first time we did this program, we got assigned to the Club Med Cancun, which at the time was adults only.  We liked the program so much we did it again the following year and this time got sent to the Club Med in Huatulco (now Las Brisas).

My third time using such a program was the SuperClubs Resorts “Super Surprise” program.   We knew we would be staying at one of their resorts in Jamaica.  We were sent to Hedonism III (now the Royal Decameron Fun Caribbean) and had a great time.

This post will be a “work in progress” while I continue my research into which resort chains and tour operators offer such packages.

Apple Vacations

Apple Vacations offers their “Square Deal Program” which guarantees you a room at an all-inclusive resort in a pre-specified category based on Apple’s rating system, e.g. “6 Apple”, “5 Apple,” etc.

Couples Resorts

Couples Resorts offers the Secret Rendezvous program for their four couples-only resorts in Jamaica.  With this program, the resort you’ll be staying at remains a ‘secret’ until 7 days prior to your arrival.  3 night minimum  stay is required.  Savings off published rates is from 41% off to 51% off depending on the time of year.

MLT Vacations

MLT offers two types of Mystery Deals, offering incredible savings:

  • The first option provides customers with the brand name of the hotel in their select destination, but not the exact hotel
  • The second option provides customers with the rating of the hotel in their select destination, but not the hotel name, or the specific location in the destination

Funjet Vacations

Funjet Fun For Less

Funjet Vacations offers a mystery hotel program they call their Fun For Less program.  You’ll stay at one of Funjet’s best hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean, but won’t find out where you’re staying until 7-10 days prior to departure.

  • Huge Savings!  Get the best deal by booking a mystery hotel — you are guaranteed a hotel with a star rating that’s equal to or greater than the advertised rating
  • Multiple-room bookings on the same reservation are GUARANTEED to be placed at the same hotel for bookings made 10+ days prior to departure.
  • Incredible product lineup in Mexico and Caribbean destinations
  • The actual hotel name is provided 7-10 days before departure
  • For some of the deals, Funjet will tell you the resort chain
  • Note that no special room requests are allowed and rooms with disability access cannot be guaranteed.  Rooms will be in the lowest category.

Cruise Lines Imposing Stiffer Cancellation Penalties

Below is a link to a great article by  Dori Saltzman of Travel Market Report that summarizes the major cruise lines’ cancellation policies.  A recent change by Carnival Cruise Line is the latest in a gradual move by cruise lines to impose stiffer penalties for cancelled cruise bookings.

I will not re-hash or copy the article in this post, but merely point out how important it is to protect your vacation investment against unforseen circumstances that could arise either before or during your trip.  At Island Time Travel, we never travel without insurance and stress with our clients the importance of travel insurance to protect you not only for trip cancellation and interruption, but also:

  • travel delay
  • medical expenses and 24/7 emergency assistance
  • emergency medical and non-medical evacuation
  • lost or delayed baggage
  • hurricane cancellation protection

Our preferred suppliers are Travel GuardTravelSafe, and Allianz Travel Insurance (formerly Access America).

Read the full article from the Travel Market Report here.

Related posts: Police investigate two separate deaths on cruise ship

Also see: Royal Caribbean Guest Dies in Fall, Cruisers Hurt in Shore Crash