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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.

Cruise Views - March 6, 2006

Cruise Views  
This week's commentary by TravelPage.com's European Cruise Editor, Malcolm Oliver focuses on the subject of onboard entertainment

That's Entertainment?

In the early days of ocean travel by liner, formalized onboard entertainment was virtually non-existent. The ship's library, the writing room or a game of cards served as the main attractions. Gradually, music and dancing increased in popularity, but throughout the first 70-years of the last century there were certainly no show lounges offering Broadway productions.

Today's big cruise ships are fast becoming 'floating resorts' offering every activity that people have become accustomed to expect at a large shore-based resort. Show lounges have evolved into 1,000 plus seat theatres, with raked seating, offering multi-media spectacular live shows. Other types of passenger facilities have increased dramatically, too. It seems as if almost every cruise ship today offers kids clubs, arcade-games, pools, water parks, hot tubs, cinemas, planetariums, beauty therapy centers and casino's

Then we have the sports facilities. Old favorites still remain such as shuffle-board and deck quoits, but we now have the ever expanding gymnasiums, jogging tracks, basketball and paddle-ball courts, golf driving ranges, putting, trampolining, rock climbing, in-line skating and even ice skating.

Royal Caribbean's 'Radiance' class vessels have computer controlled self-leveling pool tables. RCI's new 'Freedom of the Seas' will offer the innovative 'Flow Rider', a surf simulator on deck, with real water. The 'Genesis' project will have a full sized boxing ring (...go figure).

Norwegian Cruise Lines new 'Norwegian Pearl' will even have a ten-pin bowling alley. Princess Cruises offers 'movies under the stars', an outdoor movie screen above the pool. And finally let's not forget the humble multi-channeled cabin TV; ships have not always had these.

Carnival Cruises has taken entertainment to a whole new level. Marine architect Joe Farcus calls his over-the-top décor, found on all Carnival ships, 'Entertainment Architecture'. The many bars found on today's big ships are often decorated with themes such as an 'English Pub' or a 'Colonial Club'. These bars often feature live musical entertainment including pop bands, piano, harp, string quartets and jazz bands.

Food itself has become part of the entertainment. There is a multitude of choices and styles of dining venues on most big ships including: American, British, Japanese, Italian and Asian food. The midnight buffets, especially NCL's 'Chocoholic Buffet' is well worth a few photographs before it's eaten. Some ships have purpose built cookery demonstration areas. Royal Caribbean even offers 'Johnny Rockets' burger diners at sea.

This multitude of facilities is of course appealing to younger, more active passengers. Perhaps the only facility that is hard to find on the mega ships is a quite spot where a passenger can sit and relax in peace and just watch the ocean roll by, without the sound of piped music or a nearby 'belly-flop' competition.

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Royal Caribbean - Bahamas Getaway from $129 per person
Description: Experience the beautiful ports of Nassau and Royal Caribbean's private island - CocoCay on a 3-night Weekend Getaway to the Bahamas. Absorb everything island life has to offer as you snorkel with the stingrays, parasail above the serene blue waters and walk the endless white sand beaches. From Miami.
Carnival - 4-Day Bahamas  from $229 per person
Description: Enjoy a wonderful 3 Day cruise to the fun-loving playground of Nassau, Bahamas. Discover Nassau, the capital city as well as the cultural, commercial and financial heart of the Bahamas. Meet the Atlantic Southern Stingrays, the guardians of Blackbeard's treasure.
NCL - Bermuda - 7 Day from $499 per person
Description: What a charming little chain of islands. Walk on pink sand beaches. Swim and snorkel in turquoise seas. Take in the historical sights. They're stoically British and very quaint. Or explore the coral reefs. You can get to them by boat or propelled by fins. You pick. Freestyle Cruising doesn't tell you where to go or what to do. Sure, you can plan ahead, or decide once onboard. After all, it's your vacation. There are no deadlines or must do's.
Holland America - Eastern Caribbean from From $599 per person
Description: White sand, black sand, talcum soft or shell strewn, the beaches of the Eastern Caribbean invite you to swim, snorkel or simply relax. For shoppers, there's duty-free St. Thomas, the Straw Market in Nassau, French perfume and Dutch chocolates on St. Maarten. For history buffs, the fascinating fusion of Caribbean, Latin and European cultures. For everyone, a day spent on HAL's award winning private island Half Moon Cay.
Celebrity - 7-Night Western Mediterranean  from $549 per person
Description: For centuries people have traveled to Europe to see magnificent ruins, art treasures and natural wonders. And the best way to do so is by cruise ship. Think of it - you pack and unpack only once. No wasted time searching for hotels and negotiating train stations. Instead, you arrive at romantic ports of call relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Holland America - Alaska from From $499 per person
Description: Sail between Vancouver and Seward, departing Sundays on the ms Statendam or ms Volendam and enjoy towering mountains, actively calving glaciers and pristine wildlife habitat. Glacier Bay and College Fjord offer two completely different glacier-viewing experiences.
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