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Living on the Edge

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

by Erin


As we return from our industry preview cruise on Celebrity Edge, we come back with pictures, details and excitement about this brand new ship – and with that, the countdown until our return.  There are so many captivating, innovative, luxurious and surprising details that come together to create this amazing ship and being able to experience it first hand is really the only way to take it all in.


Before you even step onboard, you know that this ship is different.  Having a cruise terminal in Ft. Lauderdale designed just for this ship, everything about the entry process screams ‘brand new’!  From the clean lines and bold colors of the terminal and use of technology for a seamless boarding process, you will be walking onto Edge quickly and feeling your pre-travel stress melt away.


Once onboard, even those who are very familiar with other Celebrity ships will be blown away.  At first glance, the layout is similar to what you expect but with tons of feedback and meticulous attention to detail, you will be wowed at the thought that went behind every element of Edge.  From the three-story Italian inspired atrium that is home to the Martini Bar and evening entertainment to the more intimate dining rooms, the guest relations desk which seems more like visiting a friend to the immersive theater space and the interactive Eden lounge to the multi-use Magic Carpet, you literally won’t know where to start.  Many sailings start with a day at sea and you are going to love this time as you take in every part of this amazing ship.


Speaking of the Magic Carpet, let me take a minute to tell you about this awesome feature!  Initially created as a new way to complete the experience when taking a tender to shore, a new space was created to streamline the process.  Rather than standing in the stairwell and waiting your turn to go into the bowels of the ship to hop on a tender and head to shore, a beautiful waiting area now awaits.  When going to shore on a tender, you can now spend time in the beautiful lounge where bars are on either side and comfortable chairs and couches are where you relax before taking your turn on the beautiful new boats.  Click here to see a video of the Magic Carpet in use (click on the link and then play the video for the whole experience including sound)!  Celebrity usually uses tenders to only 20% of their ports, but after seeing how it works now, we may hope for more tender ports.


With this new Magic Carpet as a tender space, the cruise line thought how to make the most of this feature and use it as a multi-purpose space.  When raised to the fifth floor, it becomes an outside extension of the Sushi of Five restaurant – when elevated to deck 14, it lives as a lounge/bar area that is next to the cabanas poolside.  With a number of uses, this is the first cantilevered restaurant at sea!


Dining on a Celebrity ship is always an art form as the line prides itself on service and quality.  But rather than continuing with the traditional “main dining room” where 2,000 people are served dinner in one large room, Edge has approached dinner time from a different angle.  Boasting four dining rooms, this ship offers dining in a different way.  Each dining room has a traditional shared menu that rotates nightly but remains consistent throughout the restaurants – but, in addition to the traditional menu, there is also a restaurant specific menu that is offered each night.  So, if you are in the Italian inspired restaurant for dinner, you will have the same options as all other diners, as well as specific Italian themed offerings, each restaurant offering their specialty.  And in addition to this dining option, there are still specialty dining options scattered throughout the ship.


The cabins of Edge are beautiful and differ from those that cruisers are used to in the past.  Not only are the cabins elegant and modern, but also offer plenty of space, making the most of every inch that is provided.  The bathrooms are spacious, the drawers are larger than ever and the windows really allow you to take in the beauty as you sail.  For those passengers in an Infinity Veranda cabin, you will see the biggest difference from a Balcony cabin that you are used to.  Rather than offering a sliding class door to the balcony area, the new Infinite Veranda cabins give you folding doors that can be tucked away, essentially giving you all of the floor space from your balcony as extra square footage in your cabin.  The window that goes to the outside is a wall-to-wall glass window that slides down to waist level at the push of a button, allowing you to open your veranda as much or as little as you want, depending on your mood.


The lounge spaces on this ship are found from end to end and with each one having a different feel, you will always find the right spot depending on what you are looking for.  The Rooftop Garden is a beautiful space on the top of the ship that offers comfortable couches, beautiful wrought iron sculpture trees, a stage and dance floor and relaxed vibe for entertainment.  Eden, the jungle-feeling room has unique cocktails, interactive creature-like performers and a more sultry feel that changes as the night goes on.  The Martini Bar in the center of the ship is a lively spot that has an energy all its own and is a great meeting spot for grabbing a drink before dinner or listening to music into the evening.  The theater onboard has a modern feel and technology is incorporated into each show giving you a true sensory experience.  And with five varying productions on a seven night cruise, you are sure to find the entertainment that will send you home with a story to tell!


And if it is relaxation that you are aiming for, you will not be disappointed by Edge.  In keeping with the Celebrity tradition, the Solarium is an indoor space that allows you to relax while still being able to see outside.  The soothing music, the huge space, the inciting pool – everything about it makes you want to park yourself in a lounge chair and stay there for days.  Add to this the amazing spa that not only offers treatments, but gives you access to multiple saunas, steam rooms, water features and relaxation stations, you could find yourself making the most of your days at sea in just one area of the ship alone.  The state-of-the-art gym with more machines than ever, as well as the classes that are offered throughout the day will keep you fit and at the top of your game.

As you can tell, I could go on for days about the incredible features that Edge has to offer at every turn, but why just read about it when you can experience it for yourself?  We are thrilled to be returning to Edge this August as we sail through the Mediterranean on a nine night cruise to Italy, Spain and Monaco and would love to have you join us to live on the edge!

New Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Edge takes to water

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Celebrity Cruises Launches New ‘Captain’s Club’ Program

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Celebrity Cruises recently announced an enhanced Captain’s Club loyalty program.  Guest feedback helped define the new program features, which include two new, additional levels of status and rewards beyond the existing “Elite” level, which is the highest level of membership in the brand’s current four-tiered program.

Effective on sailings commencing after November 25, 2013, the new Captain’s Club will offer a six-tier program. The Club’s current levels of  “Preview,” “Classic,” “Select” and “Elite” will remain, with two new tiers — “Elite Plus” and “Zenith” — each with their own unique set of benefits and privileges.

Members who achieve the new Elite Plus status will receive an even higher level of recognition and broader benefits, including additional beverage and specialty dining discounts, complimentary 200-minute Internet packages, complimentary cappuccinos, lattes and more.

Members who achieve Zenith status will receive benefits and perks befitting this ultimate level of membership, such as access to Michael’s Club Lounge (available fleetwide in 2014), a complimentary premium alcoholic beverage package, complimentary laundry, a 1,600-minute Internet package, and other benefits.

Celebrity’s guests now can accelerate their progression through the loyalty tiers with a new Club Points system which recognizes the stateroom category as well as the days spent onboard. Members’ previous cruise credits will be automatically converted into Club Points, and members will retain all of the benefits they earned in the program to-date – with no expiration. In many cases, guests may automatically become charter members of Celebrity’s new Elite Plus or Zenith tier. It is important to note that no current members will lose any of the benefits they have come to expect and enjoy today.

Another new enhancement is the ability to quickly access special pricing exclusively for Captain’s Club members through the Captain’s Club portal on the Celebrity Cruises website. By simply entering their name and Captain’s Club member number on the site, they can instantly see available loyalty pricing.

“At a time when many loyalty programs are cutting back on benefits or making it more difficult to redeem rewards, we’re thrilled to do just the opposite,” said Celebrity’s Director of Loyalty Lee Moreau. “Guest loyalty is the cornerstone to any successful business, and that’s why, at Celebrity Cruises, we make our guests the center of our attention.  We hope this reinvigorated program will even more vividly show our guests how much we appreciate their loyalty, and allow us to welcome them back onboard even more frequently.”

Original source:  CelebrityCruises

Cruise industry seeking big jump in telecom speeds

Monday, November 25th, 2013

If you’ve ever been on a cruise and decided that leaving your emails behind just wasn’t for you, you probably wished you had.  Understandably some people need to stay connected even while on vacation….maybe for work purposes or to stay in touch with a sick relative or just to chronicle the vacation to friends on facebook back home.  The frustrations of online connectivity while sailing at sea aboard a passenger cruise ship has long been a thorn in the industries bow and stern.   Slow connections and dropped communications coupled with charges so deep even the waters of the Atlantic Ocean couldn’t compare, have long been maddening and mounting means of angst in an otherwise blissful vacation experience.  Fortunately, that’s about to change.

Faced with accelerating demands by passengers for digital connections for their mobile devices, cruise lines are pushing vendors for faster, cheaper, more reliable telecommunications at sea. In response, the satellite providers are getting creative in their efforts to provide the bandwidth that enables Internet access, social media use and other telecom services. Solutions include creating a hybrid of satellite and land-based carrier networks, installing additional antennae on ships for more flexible, reliable signal tracking and using satellites in lower orbits to reduce signal transmission times. In some cases, passengers can expect a “dramatic” rise in the speed of Internet access from the ships, one analyst said. The innovations from companies such as MTN Satellite Communications and Harris CapRock are being implemented now, although they won’t start being ready for use until next year or 2015. 

“There are a whole series of new technologies and satellites that are going to be available in the coming couple of years that will greatly improve the performance and the available bandwidth on those ships,” said Rick Simonian, president of maritime solutions at Harris CapRock. With its purchase of CapRock Communications in 2010, Harris Corp. embraced a commitment to the cruise ship segment.  Since then, it has won contracts with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp. to install new equipment and provide services. Its contract with Carnival, disclosed in mid-October, covers more than 100 ships in the fleets of 10 Carnival brands. Harris CapRock said it will provide bandwidth levels higher than those previously available on each fleet to meet “new service requirements Carnival set for its guests and crew.” Simonian said a key piece of the puzzle is installation of more than one satellite antenna on each ship. Most ships, he said, have a single antenna, housed in a spherical dome fixed to the ship’s mast.

“The problem with that is that if the ship is turning and the line of sight to the satellite gets blocked by the smokestack, or if they’re in some other obstruction, then the service goes down,” he said.
Two antennae mitigate that problem and will also be capable of switching back and forth between different radio frequencies, C-band and Ku-band, using the resiliency of one and the greater bandwidth of the other as conditions change.
Earlier this year, Harris CapRock completed installing gear on 33 ships belonging to Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. It will also integrate an ambitious new satellite system from O3b Networks, starting with the Oasis and Allure of the Seas.  O3b is launching satellites that orbit about 8,000 miles above the Earth, rather than the 23,000-mile distance of existing, geostationary satellites.  That cuts the back-and-forth signal speed to the satellites from 720 milliseconds to 130 milliseconds. “It will dramatically increase the amount of bandwidth available, to kind of unheard-of rates,” Simonian said. “The only ships that get rates like this would be Navy aircraft carriers, just for comparison.” O3b has launched four of its eight-satellites constellation and should be ready to serve the Oasis and Allure next spring, Simonian said.
But the O3b concept has some limitations and is unproven, said Chris Quilty, who covers satellite companies for the Raymond, James & Associates brokerage. “Royal Caribbean has made a huge, very expensive bet on a category-killer solution for the cruise industry,” Quilty said.

One limit is that coverage doesn’t extended beyond latitudes up to 45 degrees north and south of the equator, which excludes cruise areas such as the Baltic Sea and Alaska. Also, O3b’s satellites aren’t fixed in geosynchronous position like higher-orbiting satellites, so they have to be tracked.  “One is coming up over the horizon as the other is going down,” Quilty said. The tracking system that’s required, he said, “is much more complex. I would say it’s a high-risk, high reward proposition.” MTN Communications is offering a different solution, one that seamlessly switches satellite signals from satellites to land-based networks when ships approach or are in ports. When that happens, existing satellite bandwidth is freed up for use by cruise ships farther out at sea. “Adding more satellite bandwidth will no longer solve the ‘constantly connected’ demand,” said Errol Olivier, president and CEO of MTN. “And, way too often, adding more bandwidth just raises the costs for cruise operators.”
As cruise lines roll out MTN’s hybrid system and other solutions, such as the one offered by Harris CapRock, the retail cost of Internet service, which is currently 50 cents to 75 cents per minute, should come down, even as performance improves. How much prices will drop and speeds will increase is up to the cruise lines, Simonian said, adding, “That information is proprietary. They [the cruise lines] want to protect that.” MTN once held upward of 90% of the cruise industry communications market, and it still serves Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Pullmantur, Windstar Cruises and others. Still, Harris in recent months has gained a big foothold by landing the two biggest companies in the industry as customers. Brad Grady, an analyst at Northern Sky Research, said that because Harris is a big, public company with a broad client base ranging from the U.S. Navy to the global oil and gas industry, it can use its scale to reduce prices.  “There is always a bigger fish willing to do more at a better price,” he said. “And for larger end-users, specialization does not necessarily beat price.” Quilty said that except for the U.S. government, Harris is the largest consumer of satellite capacity in the world.  “By definition it is an economy-of-scale business, so you can generally buy capacity at a lower price,” he said.

Original source:  Travel Weekly Magazine

HAPPY NEW YEAR (already?)

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

For Amazing Journeys and 92 excited people (Jewish singles) from across North America and other countries across the globe, the New Year’s holiday is about to begin.  Our amazing tour of southeast Asia is about to embark with two days in Hong Kong before setting sail on December 23rd for two weeks in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. 

And so, our holiday begins tomorrow as the planning and planning concludes and the transit across the globe commences.  Friends from 15 cities across the US and Canada will meet up with friends from Australia, Great Britain, and Switzerland for an indulgence of wildly interesting cultures, tantalizing cuisine and a plethora of social interaction that will provide friendships and memories to last a lifetime.  Add to all this, a newly revitalized cruise ship – the Celebrity Millennium – and a little bit of pampering will just top off the truly remarkable vacation for everyone. 

Follow our escapades on our facebook page; we’ll be posting photos and captions from our adventures. just click here: www.facebook.com/AmazingJourneys 

To all who are joining us, we can’t wait to see you.  To all of our other “amazing” friends; we hope to see you again in 2013.   Happy Healthy New Year to all!