Rita Ippoliti, a beloved Cruisemates crewmember passed away last night. More below.
Amazing New Ships Arriving
If this economy wasn't so awful this would be the most exciting time in cruise line history. The end of 2009 will bring two brand new cruise ships from the two most popular cruise lines - Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Each of these new ships are "best of breed" in their own fleets, and they both bring innovative, original designs to the table. Such an instant facelift to the cruise industry profile has not happened in almost a decade. This is truly an exciting time in cruise history.
Carnival Cruise Lines is set to debut Carnival Dream, the first significantly bigger and better cruise ship they have released in almost a decade. The last time Carnival took a major leap in radical design innovation was in 1996 when Carnival Destiny debuted. That ship was the world's largest ship for a few months, but more importantly it was the beginning of an entirely new era of ship design for Carnival - their first Mega-ship.
Carnival Dream will be the capper on that line of ships that began with Destiny. As the biggest Carnival ship yet, not by a highly significant margin (15%), but certainly enough to merit praise, the ship promises to have innovative design features never seen on Carnival or any cruise ship before. We are especially excited about the "social networking hubs" called "FunHubs" where people can access computers at stations all over the ship and make contact with other passengers and the outside world.
The best part about the FunHub is that they are an onboard intranet, which means the primary function is to connect guests onboard the ship. We haven't seen it in action yet, but the potential sounds like something CruiseMates would have "dreamed" up. We have always said ships need more ways to get passengers with common interests together. Right now you could be sailing on a cruise ship with several people who graduated from your high school and you wouldn't even know it. Or you might have fellow fans of your favorite obscure rock band right next door.
Here is what Carnival says about FunHub, "Carnival Dream's on-board social network mirrors the experience one finds on other social networking sites. Guests can create a personal profile and .. meet and interact with others on board, send and receive private messages, create groups based on interests, and invite friends to attend shows or participate in on-board events. Guests can also create their own private or public discussion group, inviting others in their traveling party or friends they meet on board to participate."
With the FunHubs not only will you be able to leave messages for your parents or sibs, you will also have the means to connect with all kinds of people who may have things in common. This reminds us a lot of many how we envisioned the original CruiseMates with the tagline "meet online, meet onboard." We love the idea of knowing who else might be on your cruise ship and we think it takes cruising to a whole new level of passenger interaction. Not only does it add to the fun, but it also adds to the safety and convenience factor of cruising. People can always let other people know where they, cutting down on time spent wandering the entire ship "looking for someone". Plus, although it is voluntary, a person can leave a virtual record of everything they do on the ship and let people know where they plan to be. This not only adds convenience, it adds safety.
The other very ground-breaking new ship getting close to completion is Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean - the next world's largest cruise ship. How quickly we forget the codename for Oasis used to be "Genesis Project." But this ship promises to be the genesis of a completely new paradigm in cruising. With Oasis, the ship is truly the destination. Larger than any previously built cruise ship by at least 25%, Oasis will actually be 40% bigger than even Carnival Dream, that line's largest ship ever built.
We just received a new batch of Oasis pictures from RCL chairman Richard Fain and the ship is truly exciting already, even in its raw state. Start with the Aquatheater with its hydraulic water effects, go to the Rising Tide bar and proceed to the inward-facing balcony cabins and the zipline from the fantail piece. There will be so much to this ship it will take an hour just to describe all of the fun features.
So much has been said about Oasis already, but to recap; it will be 220,000 tons with a guest capacity of 5400. There are three major entertainment venues; the AquaTheater for water-based stage shows, Studio B ice rink for ice-skating shows, and a regular production showroom theater. It will have a Royal Promenade running the length of the ship, three decks tall and lined with shops, restaurants and nightclubs. Outdoors it has two open ceiling public areas flanked by inward facing balcony cabins six decks tall; Central Park with growing trees and live grass, and The Boardwalk with carnival features like a carousal, games, cotton candy, fortune tellers, etc.
Oasis of the Seas will debut in late November, 2009, the same month as Carnival Dream. If all goes as scheduled they should arrive within weeks of each other. Carnival Dream is going to be exciting enough, but with Oasis just over the horizon expect cruise ships to be dominating the news cycle soon.
And don't forget Norwegian Epic, yet another highly anticipated innovative design for the cruise industry. Coming from NCL, Epic will arrive next summer and also boast plenty of features never seen on a cruise ship before. Look for the first purpose-built theater for a proven crowd pleasing stage production, The Blue Man Group. Epic will also feature an ice-bar, an expansive aquapark with the first plunge slide at sea, six lanes of bowling and fourteen full-service restaurants.
Both Oasis and Epic feature innovative new cabin designs. Oasis has the first two-story outside cabins (Loft Suites) with full two-story high picture windows. Epic has several new types of staterooms, all with cool curves and special lighting effects. Epic has the first "studio cabins" at sea, which will all share a common living room area.
Like Star Trek, get ready to enter the "Next Generation" of Cruising. Carnival Dream, Oasis of the Seas and Norwegian Epic. The future is upon us.
Rita Ippoliti, 2009. We at Cruisemates lost a valuable piece of our soul last night. Rita Ippoliti passed away in her home from natural causes. Rita was only in her 50s - too young. She possessed a great sense of humor, took care of her elderly father in her home, loved to cruise after a sky-diving accident made it hard to walk and she held a full-time night job along with several part-time day jobs to earn extra money. Rita was fun and vital for all of us who knew her, and we will miss her immeasurably.
new feature articles
Fore Play While Cruising
Admittedly golf might not be the first thing to come to people’s minds when they are considering their cruise vacations,
Have a Safe Cruise
Why are cruise ships mostly registered in foreign countries and employ mostly foreign crew?
Family Fun on New Ships: 2009
The next generation of vessels has plenty of new options for kids and teens.
Twitter Travel Trends!
Do we really live in a world where people want travel information every three seconds, but only in 140 characters or less?
Read about CruiseMates
NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"
NEW CRUISEMATES CRUISES!
Snoozeman's Galveston Conquest Cruise
Join your CruiseMates Host Snoozeman on the Conquest of Galveston!
Travel from the Lone Star harbor to the Western Caribbean: Galveston to Montego Bay Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
Ruby Princess Venetian Fantasy
Travel down the canals of Venice to the Inter-coastal Waterways of Ft. Lauderdale! 18 Amazing nights and six glorious 25 hr. sea days on the most stunning Princess ship yet.