Royal Caribbean 2015-16 Schedule Includes Year-Round Sailings from New York and Galveston

April 18, 2014
Sailing into the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda. Throughout 2015 summer and fall, Liberty of the Seas will sail from Cape Liberty, NJ to Bermuda. © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sailing into the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda. Throughout 2015 summer and fall, Liberty of the Seas will sail from Cape Liberty, NJ to Bermuda. © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Royal Caribbean International announced its 2015-16 year-round sailings from the New York-metropolitan area and Galveston, Texas, and seasonal sailings from Tampa and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Still ranked among the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ships, Liberty of the Seas will homeport at Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. for summer 2015 and offer vacationers the most advanced cruise options to sail from the New York-metropolitan area to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada and New England. Simultaneously, Navigator of the Seas will continue to sail seven-night Western Caribbean cruises throughout summer 2015 and complete two consecutive years of homeporting at Galveston.

In winter 2015-16, Anthem of the Seas will arrive at Cape Liberty for its first season in North America – after finishing its inaugural season in Southampton, U.K. – and offer vacationers unforgettable Quantum-class experiences to the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean. At the same time, Liberty of the Seas will take over weekly Caribbean sailings from Galveston, offering Texas vacationers a newer and larger ship, while Navigator of the Seas will sail six- and eight-night Caribbean itineraries from Fort Lauderdale. Furthermore, Brilliance of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will return to Tampa in winter 2015-16 to offer a variety of Caribbean itineraries that all combine to provide extensive choices for exciting Royal Caribbean cruise vacations throughout 2015 to 2016.

Liberty of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas’ 2015-16 cruise seasons are now open for booking. Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members have the exclusive privilege to book Anthem of the Seas’ winter 2015-16 season starting April 25, 2014, in advance of the general opening to the public on April 29.

Cruise Vacations from New York

New York is among the world’s top cosmopolitan cities where Royal Caribbean is deploying its most technologically advanced ships. Throughout the 2015 summer and autumn seasons, Liberty of the Seas will homeport at Cape Liberty and offer the best family cruise vacation option in the region. The Freedom-class ship will be the cruise line’s newest and largest ship to offer cruises to Bermuda from the New York-metropolitan area. Liberty of the Seas will alternate a five-night, roundtrip Bermuda itinerary with a nine-night Caribbean itinerary in the summer, and then with a nine-night New England and Canada itinerary throughout the autumn season.

“The Bermuda Tourism Authority is delighted at the news that Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas will be making visits to Bermuda for the 2015 summer season,” said Bill Hanbury, CEO, Bermuda Tourism Authority. “Royal Caribbean is an extremely valued partner to Bermuda and is considered a leader in the global cruise market. This latest announcement is a welcome endorsement of Royal Caribbean’s continued commitment to Bermuda and its tourism industry.”

For its winter 2015-16 season, Anthem of the Seas will set sail on October 27 for an eight-night Ocean Voyage from Southampton to Cape Liberty and continue Quantum Class cruising for New York-area vacationers. The ship will sail a range of seven- to 12-night roundtrip itineraries and take guests to the Bahamas and throughout the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. The 12-night Western Caribbean itinerary is brand new, featuring maiden calls for the Quantum Class at George Town, Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

“The New York-metropolitan area is a very important market for us,” said Adam Goldstein, President and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are committed to bringing our most advanced ships to this region and delivering our distinctive style of high-quality vacations to our loyal customers, as well as win new converts to cruising. Sailing Anthem of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas from New York fits the bill perfectly.”

Year-round Caribbean Vacations from Galveston

Having just been revitalized in January 2014, Navigator of the Seas offers vacationers the most innovative and modern cruise experience to sail from the Lone Star State. Navigator of the Seas will continue weekly sailings from Galveston until November 2015, when Liberty of the Seas repositions there to offer Texans a larger and more advanced cruise ship for unforgettable vacations. Both ships will alternate a pair of seven-night roundtrip itineraries to the Western Caribbean.

Winter Caribbean Escapes from Florida

Vacationers also have a range of the industry’s most advanced ships for a variety of Caribbean itineraries, sailing from convenient Florida ports during the 2015-16 winter season. Completing two full years of homeporting in Galveston, Navigator of the Seas will reposition to Fort Lauderdale in November 2015 and sail six-night Eastern and eight-night Western Caribbean itineraries.

For its part, Brilliance of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will return to Tampa for their third and second consecutive winter seasons, respectively. Brilliance of the Seas will offer vacationers four- and five-night Western Caribbean itineraries, while Vision of the Seas will sail seven-, nine-, and 10-night itineraries throughout the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean.

 

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Shanghai, China will be Homeport for Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas Beginning in 2015

April 18, 2014

Royal Caribbean International announced that its newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will make its home port in Shanghai (Baoshan), China. “We’re bringing the company’s most innovative ship to the world’s fastest-growing cruise market,” Adam Goldsein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, said.

The ship will reposition to China in May 2015, following her inaugural winter season sailing out of New York Harbor to the Caribbean. In China, Quantum of the Seas will join Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas in Asia, increasing the company’s capacity in the region by 66 percent.

“Consumers in China have grown to expect the best the world has to offer, and Quantum of the Seas meets that standard like no other ship,” said Goldstein. “We are ready to accelerate the growth of this vital market with a ship that will capture the imagination of travelers looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience.”

“Every trend we are seeing in China tells us we can achieve real long-term competitive advantage and appealing returns on our investments in this fast-growing market by accelerating our presence there,” Goldstein said. “We will have to be nimble, but the ability to move fast is one of our strengths.”

Goldstein said the company was able to make the move because its new-ship pipeline will keep the New York region supplied with top-rate ships as well.
“We are very mindful of the importance of New York, which is why we are bringing Liberty of the Seas and then Anthem of the Seas to this market.”

Quantum of the Seas will debut in November 2014, and will spend its inaugural season sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., before repositioning to China in May 2015. Beginning late June 2015, the ship will sail three- to eight-night itineraries year-round from Shanghai to Japan and Korea.

Liberty of the Seas will then arrive to Cape Liberty to sail to Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Canada and New England for the 2015 summer and autumn seasons. The Freedom-class ship will be the company’s newest and largest ship to offer cruises to Bermuda from the New York-metropolitan area.

Finally, Quantum of the Seas’ sister ship, Anthem of the Seas, which launches in April 2015, will complete her inaugural Europe season from London (Southampton), U.K., before arriving to Cape Liberty in November 2015 to continue Quantum-class cruising to the Bahamas and Caribbean for the winter 2015-16 season.

“These incredible ships will meet the sophisticated expectations of consumers in Shanghai, New York and London. Our mantra for the new Quantum class of ships is ‘this changes everything’ – and upping our game in these key markets achieves just that,” said Dominic Paul, Vice President, International, Royal Caribbean International. “Our distinctive style of high quality innovative cruises has become known to travelers around the world and we will continue to deploy our most technologically advanced ships where the demand is, with the expectation of winning new converts to cruising.”

The groundbreaking Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, will debut a new set of first-at-sea onboard experiences, such as Ripcord by iFLY, a heart-pounding skydiving experience; North Star, a thrilling adventure that transports guests more than 300 feet in the air on a breathtaking journey; cutting-edge transformative venues including SeaPlex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever.

Guests also will enjoy the new Quantum-class “Dynamic Dining,” a completely new culinary experience that offers a landscape of 18 restaurant concepts as vast and varied as dining in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, including specialty restaurants created with partner-chefs Jamie Oliver, Devin Alexander and Michael Schwartz.

The Quantum Class spans 18 decks, encompass 167,800 gross registered tons, carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,090 staterooms. More information on Quantum class is available at http://www.RoyalCaribbean.com/QuantumoftheSeas.

Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 45-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry “firsts” never before seen at sea.  The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike.

Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL), the cruise line sails 21 of the world’s most innovative cruise ships to the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, South America, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. World renowned for its friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service, delivered by every staff and crew member, Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for 11 consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards.

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Eurail Pass Offers ‘Mediterranean Deals’ with Free Travel Days Thru Apr 30

April 16, 2014
Rail travel in France © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rail travel in France © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Eurail Pass travelers can now take advantage of the “Mediterranean Deals” promotion, adding one free travel day to the Italian One Country Pass and one free travel day to the Regional Passes France-Italy, France-Spain and Italy-Spain. The offer is valid for any variations of these products purchased through April 30, 2014.

As France, Italy and Spain count themselves among the most popular European tourism destinations, Eurail wants to entice its non-European customers even further by offering these special “Mediterranean Deals.” The French, Italian and Spanish railway companies offer an extensive and modern rail network, making traveling by train comfortable, relaxing and hassle free. Moreover, these Eurail Passes provide the traveler with the flexibility to choose from a selection of available travel days and dates, within a period of two months.

In March, Eurail announced that France will return to a revamped Eurail Select Pass after a one year absence. The Eurail Select Pass re-launches as a Four-Country Pass only. Starting on April 1st, only Four Country Select Passes can be purchased, with France as one of the 26 Eurail countries to choose from.

Eurail offers four types of Eurail Passes as part of its product portfolio to those residing outside of Europe: the Eurail Global Pass valid in 24 member countries, the Eurail Select Pass, the Eurail Regional Pass and the Eurail One Country Pass.

Eurail Passes are available from a worldwide network of Authorized General Sales Agents. Visit www.eurailgroup.org/eurail-vendors.

Eurail Group G.I.E., the organization dedicated to the marketing and management of the Eurail Passes, is wholly owned by more than 30 participating railways and shipping companies. In addition, Eurail Group has many benefit partners, including hotels, transport companies and museums, which offer their services either at a reduced rate or free of charge to rail pass holders.

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National Park Week, April 19-27 Offers Special Events Nationwide

April 16, 2014
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. All 401 national parks across the country are celebrating National Park Week, April 19-27, 2014 © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. All 401 national parks across the country are celebrating National Park Week, April 19-27, 2014 © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

From April 19 – 27, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will host National Park Week, featuring special events in parks nationwide. This year’s theme, “National Park Week: Go Wild!” invites visitors to celebrate all that America’s 401 national parks have to offer. With free admission to all parks on April 19 and 20, and exciting activities and programs scheduled throughout the week, National Park Week is the perfect time to discover the diverse wildlife, iconic landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history found in America’s national parks.

There are countless ways to enjoy National Park Week. Here are nine suggestions for what is happening April 19 – 27 in national parks.  A complete list of National Park Week events taking place across the country is available at www.nationalparkweek.org.

Go wild for bears. This year the National Park Foundation has teamed with Disney on the new Disneynature film, “Bears,” premiering just in time for Earth Day and National Park Week on Friday, April 18. For every ticket sold during “Bears” opening week, April 18-24, Disneynature will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation to protect wildlife and wild places across America’s National Park System.

Go wild for Junior Ranger Day.  On April 26, young visitors can celebrate National Junior Ranger Day by taking part in special family-friendly activities.

Go wild for a walk in a park. More than 100 free, ranger-led walks are offered during National Park Week. Hike to a cloud forest, take a sunset stroll, wander through John F. Kennedy’s neighborhood, and more.

Go wild for Earth Day. Tour John Muir’s house in California and take part in a combined John Muir Birthday/Earth Day Celebration with music, food, and family-friendly events.

Go wild for Hawaiian culture. Experience first-hand the traditions of Hawaiian sailing and Hawaiian crafts! Join a sailing expert guide for a ride on a double-hulled canoe and learn interesting tidbits about Hawaiian sailing techniques, history, and culture. Immerse yourself in Hawaiian crafts such as lauhala weaving, coconut leaf weaving, and lei making.

Go wild for Patriot’s Day. Commemorate the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War with parades, reenactments, and special ceremonies in Massachusetts.

Go wild for waterfalls. Take the Whiskeytown Waterfall Challenge at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in beautiful northern California and hike to Brandy Creek, Boulder Creek, Crystal Creek and Whiskeytown Falls!

Go wild for national park road trips. Enjoy a self-guided tour to historic places, most of which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Each trip takes you to a variety of places significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

Go wild for wildflowers. Spring has sprung and it is the perfect time to see nature in all of its colorful glory in parks across the country. Parks including the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and Cumberland Gap and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky will have wildflower walks and talks.

Using the resources on the National Park Week website, visitors can plan adventures, share national park photos, videos, and tips, and learn about all the ways to help support national parks.

National Park Week also offers many opportunities for the public to explore local parks, trails, and architectural gems sustained by National Park Service programs such as the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program and the National Register of Historic Places.

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New Broadway Production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Cats” Comes to Oasis of the Seas

April 4, 2014

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas will be bringing the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of CATS to the high seas. The fully licensed production of CATS will join Oasis of the Seas once it completes its drydock in fall 2014.

Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” CATS was one of the longest running productions on Broadway and is the winner of numerous awards including seven Tonys, two Oliviers and a Grammy. The show has been seen in over 20 countries and translated into more than 10 languages.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Really Useful Group to bring one of the world’s most beloved musicals to Oasis of the Seas,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “Adding CATS to our already amazing line up of Broadway musicals such as Hairspray, Chicago: The Musical, Saturday Night Fever and Mamma Mia exemplify our commitment to bringing top quality entertainment to our guests at no extra cost.”

Oasis of the Seas features exclusive amenities and concepts throughout its seven themed neighborhoods, such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the Aquatheater high-diving performance venue, and Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants. Oasis of the Seas also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin FlowRider surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an ice-skating rink, the H20 Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others. (For webisodes detailing the variety of experiences aboard Oasis of the Seas, visit http://tinyurl.com/bw585wa.)

Launched in December 2009, Oasis of the Seas has been heralded as an architectural marvel at sea, spanning 16 decks, encompassing 225,282 gross registered tons, and with a double-occupancy capacity of 5,400 guests. Oasis of the Seas is first ship to tout the cruise line’s neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, comprising Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Founded in 1977, The Really Useful Group exists to bring the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber to the world and manage his complete catalogue including theatrical and symphonic works, a requiem mass and countless rock and pop songs.

For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers should call their travel agent; visit RoyalCaribbean.com; or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean or on Twitter @RoyalCaribbean.
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Meritage Resort & Spa Celebrates Napa Valley’s Arts in April with ”Meritage Masterpiece Art of Relaxation’ Package

March 26, 2014
The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, is offering its 'Meritage Masterpiece: The Art of Relaxation' package in conjunction with Napa Valley’s Arts in April.

The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, is offering its ‘Meritage Masterpiece: The Art of Relaxation’ package in conjunction with Napa Valley’s Arts in April.

The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, is embracing all that the Napa Valley has to offer by creating a true “Meritage Masterpiece” with The Art of Relaxation package. The package is being re-launched in coordination with Napa Valley’s Arts in April.

The Art of Relaxation package allows guests to dream big and paint their own masterpiece. Easels, canvas, paints and brushes, for two, are provided at check-in along with overnight hotel accommodations in a superior guest room or suite and multiple spa treatments. Experiencing The Meritage Resort and Spa goes well beyond its plush guest rooms. With nightly turndown service, a bottle of sparkling wine and a Spa Terra Welcome Amenity, guests will leave feeling rejuvenated. After a day of walking through the resort’s hillside vineyards or lounging in a cabana by the adults-only pool, guests can relax with two 50-minute spa treatments at Spa Terra which are included in this package. Choosing from a Terra Massage or a European Facial, guests will find themselves in a spa that is truly in the heart of the earth: the Estate Cave at The Meritage Resort. The award-winning spa includes a variety of treatment rooms including couples treatment rooms, a serenity lounge, his and her private lounges with steam grottoes and whirlpools, all within the hushed atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind environment. (See additional information about the package.)

“The Art of Relaxation package and Napa Valley’s Arts in April are both designed to allow guests to experience the true beauty of the Napa Valley,” said Sheri Thomas, director of sales and marketing for The Meritage Resort and Spa. “This package gives guests the opportunity to create their own art and soak in the spectacular views that are all around them during their stay. From walking in our hillside vineyards to visiting one of the hundreds of wineries throughout the valley there are plenty of ‘paintable moments’ and opportunities to make ‘Meritage Masterpieces.’ The best part though rests in the relaxation with a signature massage or facial at Spa Terra located in the ‘heart of the earth’ in the resort’s Estate Cave.”

The Meritage Resort and Spa is a four-diamond Napa Valley luxury resort set against a hillside vineyard. A destination unto itself, it features 322 Tuscan-inspired guestrooms and luxury suites, seasonal farm-to-table cuisine at the Siena Restaurant and wine tasting in the Estate Cave featuring Trinitas Cellars. Regain a healthful balance with curative treatments at Spa Terra—a lavish underground spa with steam grottoes, soaking pools, treatment alcoves and tranquil walls of water. The resort boasts the most comprehensive event and meeting space in the wine country, including the two largest ballrooms in the Napa Valley, the Estate Cave and three covered terraces. Crush Ultra Lounge offers guests a chance to relax with a full bar, sports entertainment and six bowling lanes. Far more than a place for relaxation, our unique property is an Old World escape from the ordinary. The Meritage Resort and Spa experience is the perfect blend of gracious hospitality, unrivaled amenities and peerless personal care. The Meritage Resort and Spa, We are Napa. TheMeritageResort.com.

The Meritage Collection is a new life and style collection from Pacific Hospitality Group, which includes independent hotels, resorts, wineries and golf courses. The Meritage Collection offers exceptional travel and one-of-a-kind experiences in four of California’s most spectacular locations—La Jolla, Napa Valley, Newport Beach and Santa Barbara. These design-focused properties are stylish yet welcoming, with creative restaurants, relaxed lounges and inviting social spaces. Experience hospitality in a whole new light. For more information about the Meritage Collection, visit MeritageCollection.com.

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Historic Lord Baltimore Hotel Reopens After Total Restoration to Grandeur

March 26, 2014
The historic Lord Baltimore Hotel reopens after a complete renovation that has restored its grandeur.

The historic Lord Baltimore Hotel reopens after a complete renovation that has restored its grandeur.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel, one of the crowning architectural jewels of Baltimore, Md. when it was built in 1928, reopens with a grand ribbon cutting on March 27 after being completely restored and transformed by Rubell Hotels

Every surface has been touched by craftsmen, artisans, artists and designers to bring the hotel back to life.

The grand French Renaissance landmark, a member of Historic Hotels of America, features 23 stories comprised of 440 guest rooms and suites, more than 20.000 square feet of event space, several dining and lounging spaces, one of the city’s only rooftop event spaces, and more. The landmark hotel is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

Rubell Hotels, a family-owned business well known for transforming architecturally significant historic hotels into affordable cultural hubs, acquired the property in March 2013 and immediately began applying the vision of owners Mera, Don, Jason and Jennifer Rubell – combining their love of art and architecture with a bright, modern feel. Interior designer Scott Sanders, formerly the lead interior designer at Ralph Lauren, who specializes in distinctive residential and commercial interiors for notable clients and properties, spearheaded the design, which typifies his “New American Style.” Inspired equally by classic men’s haberdashery and the six historical Lords Baltimore, Sanders has used traditional menswear fabrics in unconventional ways, resulting in an interior that seamlessly combines a fresh, clean modern look with all the warmth and grandeur of a historical property.

“Since the first time I laid eyes on the Lord Baltimore Hotel, I knew that I had to become a part of this architectural gem that is such an important piece of Baltimore’s history,” said Mera Rubell of Rubell Hotels. “Over the past year, my family and I have become immersed in Baltimore’s art, culture and community and it feels like a perfect fit.”

Upon entering the grand lobby, guests feel as if they are in a “social living room,” complete with a massive gold Murano glass chandelier, towering glossy white columns and intimate groupings of mid-century inspired lounge seating. Complimentary high-speed internet is available throughout the hotel as are 50” high-definition televisions with 60 complimentary HD channels. The LB Tavern, just off of the lobby, is a communal gathering space where guests can enjoy cocktails in a library-like setting. Seven large, multi-colored Candida Höfer photographs of libraries of the world, on loan from the Rubell Family Collection’s museum in Miami, are featured throughout this space, and additional lounge seating gives this corner of the hotel a chic and sophisticated atmosphere.

440 guest rooms and suites feature dark wood tones with clean lines, contemporary art, velvet drapes and plush mattresses that leave guests feeling like they are in a luxurious loft. Every guest room includes complimentary high-speed internet, a television with 60 HD channels, refrigerator, coffee maker, digital safe and bedside charging station. Four penthouses overlook the Lord Baltimore’s two rooftop areas, which feature a panoramic view of downtown Baltimore. The rooftop gardens and penthouses are available for private events. Guests can also enjoy the new state of the art gym with a range of LifeFitness equipment.

In keeping with the history found in every nook and cranny of the hotel, the Lord Baltimore’s updated Calvert Ballroom highlights the space’s original scenic murals, crystal Baccarat chandeliers, and six balconies, which are symbolic of the six Lords Baltimore. Sanders added a chic modern layer to the event space by choosing layers of gold textured wallpaper, platinum gray linen wallpaper with glossy white trim and a swirling array of gray, black and gold carpet.

“The Lord Baltimore Hotel highlights everything that is special about Baltimore – history, cuisine, art and architecture,” said Gene-Michael Addis, general manager. “From our modern yet comfortable guest rooms and suites to our unmatched meeting spaces and sweeping views of downtown, the Lord Baltimore appeals to everything that a guest or visitor to Charm City could ask for.”

The Lord Baltimore Hotel features unparalleled dining options including its signature restaurant, French Kitchen, which offers classic French fare in contemporary preparations. Inspired by the familiar bright colors used in Matisse paintings, Sanders transformed the historic Versailles dining room using a bright, modern aesthetic. Additionally, guests can enjoy the LB Bakery, a contemporary take on a small-town American coffee house, featuring house-made breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches.

Art exhibitions are planned throughout the public spaces and will highlight local, national and global artwork. Additionally, the hotel will feature a signature gift shop, SideShow, an outpost of the American Visionary Art Museum’s museum shop.

The Rubell family – whose Rubell Family Collection in Miami is widely acknowledged as one of the top contemporary art museums in the world – is known for its talent in discovering emerging artists, emerging cities, architectural gems and emerging neighborhoods. The Rubells believe deeply that the key to the economic success of a city is dependent on its cultural relevance. They often invest deeply in areas they feel have strong cultural potential, and their transformation of the Lord Baltimore Hotel indicates the beginning of what is sure to be a long-term commitment to the cultural life of Baltimore.

On Thursday, March 27, the Lord Baltimore Hotel will hold an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m. featuring Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore City Councilman William Cole and other dignitaries.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is located at 20 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD, 21201. More information can be found at www.lordbaltimorehotel.com.

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Victoria Cruises Celebrates 20th Anniversary with 2-for-1 Pricing on Yangtze China Cruises

March 25, 2014
Victoria Cruises is kicking off its 2014 Yangtze River sailing season with special 2-for-1 pricing on all private balcony superior staterooms on its acclaimed Three Gorges Highlights program.

Victoria Cruises is kicking off its 2014 Yangtze River sailing season with special 2-for-1 pricing on all private balcony superior staterooms on its acclaimed Three Gorges Highlights program.

Victoria Cruises (www.VictoriaCruises.com) is kicking off its 2014 Yangtze River sailing season with special 2-for-1 pricing on all private balcony superior staterooms on its acclaimed Three Gorges Highlights program in celebration of the New York-based pioneer’s 20th anniversary carrying Western passengers along China’s most popular cruise experience.

“A lot has changed since our first ship edged out of port in 1994,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises. “The completion of the Three Gorges Dam, for example, has allowed us to build larger, more luxurious ships and venture into new territory with exciting, new excursions added to our program,” Greenman observed.

“We’ve also upgraded our five-star fleet and implemented technological enhancements to streamline operations for passengers’ convenience. In the culinary arena, we’ve added a la carte dining and continue improve our menus through our longstanding relationship with Celebrity Chef and Emmy award-winning host of PBS’s A Taste of History, Walter Staib,” noted Greenman.

“But while much has changed, one thing still remains constant after 20 years exceeding the expectation of discerning travelers – our knowledge and understanding of the Western passenger and our ability to cater to their specific needs with personalized service that is second to none,” said Greenman. “We remain the only American-managed company upholding Western Standards on the Yangtze River.”

Starting at $880 for the first passenger (second passenger is free when booked in conjunction with the 2-for-1 offer), Victoria Cruises’ most popular Three Gorges Highlights program is available in three- and four-night options (based on river direction) and encompasses views of centuries-old temples, pagodas and stone carvings nestled along the mist-shrouded Yangtze.

A standard shore excursion package is available for $90 for the first passenger (second package free with 2-for-1 promotion) and includes tours of the “Ghost City” of Fengdu and Three Gorges Dam as well as a scenic journey on a traditional sampan through Goddess Stream, surrounded by beautiful peaks and teeming with local wildlife from monkeys to mountain goats. Once just a brook, Goddess Stream is a recent addition to the excursion package made possible by the Three Gorges Dam, which raised the stream’s water level and extended its reach to the southern bank of the Yangtze, opposite Goddess Peak (Goddess Stream excursion may be substituted based on river conditions).

From an additional $200 per person (only charged to first guest with 2-for-1 promotion), passengers can upgrade to Victoria Cruises’ Executive Amenities Program featuring enhanced ship placement and a host of VIP additions including “white glove” service, access to exclusive ship areas, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, enhanced dining privileges, shoe shine service and reserved seating for evening entertainment (must be reserved in advance).

For more information or to book, or for a list of tour operators which include the Yangtze River in their China programs, contact Victoria Cruises toll-free at 800-348-8084 or visit www.VictoriaCruises.com.

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CLIA Cruise Lines Offer Last-Minute Availability on Easter, Spring Break Sailings

March 25, 2014
Enjoy the thrilling zipline on Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island on Haiti's north coast © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Enjoy the thrilling zipline on Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island on Haiti’s north coast © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Easter Bunny, parades, special Easter menus and egg decorating are just part of the festivities and family fun aboard select cruise ships exploring the world this April.

Here are cruises that are still available from the North American fleet of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for Easter and Spring Break departures:

Follow the Easter Bunny

MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina has a 7-night departure leaving from Miami on April 19 visiting Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Road Town, Tortola; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, with a variety of “Easter themed” activities. Kids “Easter hunt”, costume parades, Easter chef classes, chocolate Easter eggs and special Easter menus in the main restaurants make the week particularly festive. Seven-night departures from Miami on April 12 and April 26 visit Falmouth, Jamaica; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico, and the private island of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas for other spring break options. An added plus, is that kids sail free year-round on MSC Cruises.

The Easter Bunny will pass out chocolates and will be available for photo ops on select Holland America Line’s April sailings. There will also be an Easter bonnet competition, egg decorating, a Jelly bean count and Easter mass. The Maasdam will sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale for an 11-day Southern Caribbean itinerary on April 11 with port stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Kingstown, St. Vincent; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-De-France, Martinique; Frederiksted; and the private island of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. A 14-day Panama Canal sailing on Westerdam departing on April 15 travels from Fort Lauderdale, FL to San Diego, and will include Cartagena, Colombia; through the Panama Canal; with ports of call in Costa Rica and Mexico, ending in Cabo San Lucas. Also departing on April 15, the 11-day Adriatic Dream itinerary on Noordam departs from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, and includes the Strait of Messina, Italy; Greece and Croatia with an overnight and disembarkation in Venice, Italy.

Celebrate the Sun

Those who have suffered through the cold winter will be especially ready to celebrate spring in the sun. Disney Cruise Lines’ four ships will all be in the Caribbean this April. Disney sails from Port Canaveral with three options: a 3-night Bahamian cruise on April 18 on Disney Magic with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island; a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on April 19 on Disney Fantasy with stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas/St. John and Castaway Cay; and a 4-night Bahamian cruise with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay on Disney Dream on April 20. Disney Wonder sails from Miami on April 18 on a 5 -night Western Caribbean itinerary with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Norwegian Cruise Line is currently offering free Balcony upgrades, reduced deposits and e-coupons worth $300 on these Easter sailings: 7-night Mexican Rivera from Los Angeles on Norwegian Star on April 13; 7-night Western Caribbean from New Orleans on Norwegian Jewel on April 13; 3-night Bahamas from Miami on Norwegian Sky on April 18; 7-night Eastern Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian Getaway on April 19; 7-night Inter-Island Hawaii on Pride of America on April 19; 7-night Western Caribbean from Tampa on Norwegian Dawn on April 20; and 7-night Western Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian Epic on April 20.

Royal Caribbean International‘s Navigator of the Seas sails April 20 from Galveston, Texas, on a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, calling at Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. Allure of the Seas sails April 20 from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, calling at Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island on Haiti’s north coast. Enchantment of the Seas sails April 18 from Port Canaveral on a 3-night Bahamas cruise, calling at Nassau and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private Bahamian-island. Guests also can combine a cruise aboard Enchantment of the Seas with a 3- to 4-day stay at Universal Orlando Resorts, enjoying savings and inclusive Universal Express Unlimited ride access among many more theme park privileges.

Cultural Odyssey

Guests of Paul Gauguin Cruises’ m/s Paul Gauguin can combine sun with culture when they travel to Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands on a 14-day cruise departing April 12 from Papeete, Tahiti. They’ll experience a true glimpse of the Polynesia of the old including Bora Bora, Moorea, Taha’a (Motu Mahana), and Huahine.

Tauck River Cruising has limited space on its 10-day April 18 departure of “Belgium & Holland in Spring” aboard the ms Treasures. The itinerary begins with an included overnight in Brussels before embarkation in Maastricht and sailing to Amsterdam. Special experiences along the way include Keukenhof Gardens and the Rijksmuseum, a scenic Amsterdam canal boat cruise, the Netherlands American Cemetery, a culinary experience at Chateau Neercanne, chocolate and beer tastings, and a private dinner at and tour of the In Flanders Fields Museum to observe the WWI Centennial.

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit departs April 19 on a 16-day repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. Ports of call include Bermuda, the Azores, Malaga, Cartagena and Valencia. There is still availability on Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria during the 12-day Transatlantic Crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, England on April 16.

Guests dine on Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s cuisine while sailing through Japan with Crystal Cruises during the 15-day “Skyscrapers & Shoguns” itinerary. Starting April 16, Crystal Symphony sails from Beijing to Tokyo, with a 3-day overnight land program in Beijing included, followed by visits to Shanghai (two nights docked locally), Nagasaki, Osaka (local overnight), Shimizu, and, finally, Tokyo (local overnight—a rare call for the cruise line.) The cruise is also available without the Beijing land program, and as a shorter 7- or 8-day “Getaway.”

For expert advice, travelers can turn to a CLIA Cruise Agent, who stays current on the latest offerings and trends and is an expert in helping clients selects a cruise of their dreams. To find a CLIA Cruise Agent or Agency in your area, visit www.cruising.org and click on Vacations and use our Cruise Expert Finder.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. CLIA represents the interests of cruise lines and travel agents before regulatory and legislative policy makers. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cruise holiday vacations with thousands of travel agency and travel agent members. CLIA’s Associate Member and Executive Partner program includes the industry’s leading providers of supplies and services that help cruise lines provide a safe, environmentally-friendly and enjoyable holiday vacation experience for millions of passengers every year. For more information on CLIA, the cruise industry, and CLIA-member cruise lines and travel agencies, visit http://www.cruising.org. CLIA can also be followed on the Cruise Lines International Association’s Facebook and Twitter fan pages, and CEO Christine Duffy can be followed @CLIACEO and cruising.org/ceoblog.

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Alys Beach, Florida Opens Ticket Sales for 7th Annual Digital Graffiti Festival, June 5-7

March 23, 2014

Tickets for the Seventh Annual Digital Graffiti Festival, Alys Beach, Florida’s signature annual event, to be held June 5–7, 2014 will be placed on sale on Monday, March 24, 2014.

During what has become a weekend extravaganza event, the community of Alys Beach located on Scenic Highway 30A on the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida, opens its doors, courtyards, and pedestrian paths to groundbreaking digital artists from around the globe. At this innovative, one-of-a-kind live art exhibit, the iconic white walls of Alys Beach are transformed into “blank canvas” screens onto which various forms of newly created digital art is projected.

For 2014, the world’s first outdoor projection art festival has expanded adding a new offering on Thursday night — an exclusive behind-the-scenes, informative tour lead by DG 2014 Curator Brett Phares beginning at 8 p.m. Friday evening includes activities and a meet-and-greet gallery stroll featuring some of digital artist finalists, who will be on hand to answer questions and discuss their work on display. The excitement continues on Saturday with the live festival exhibit lighting up Alys Beach beginning at 8:30 p.m. and ending with the must-not-miss poolside party of the season at Caliza Pool, featuring music and video mixing by DJs and VJs, light bites and cash bars.

All access weekend passes are available for $200 per person and includes admission to the event on all three days, an official Digital Graffiti evet t-shirt and Tervis tumbler. Tickets for Friday night are $50 per person for adults and $20 for children (12 and under). Tickets for Saturday are $75 (for adults and children). VIP patron tickets are $100 and include an official Digital Graffiti t-shirt and a refillable Tervis tumbler. Proceeds to benefit The Alys Foundation, which supports select local charities.

Tickets are limited; pre-purchased tickets are highly encouraged. Tickets will be available for purchase online beginning March 24, 2014 at digitalgraffiti.com and in person at the Alys Beach Bike Shop, The Alys Shoppe and Fonville Press in Alys Beach. Digital Graffiti will be presented rain or shine.

Come for the festival and enjoy all South Walton has to offer all along Scenic Highway 30A. Luxurious multi-bedroom homes are available for vacation rental in Alys Beach. For details and rates visit alysbeach.com or call toll-free to 1(866) 732-9276.

Staging Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach gives artists a large-scale canvas to explore the intersections of art and architecture, while creating entirely new art forms. Once darkness falls on the weekend, the town will be set aglow as artists compete for  $10,000 in cash prizes. A panel of judges will select five award winners including Best of Show; Best in Florida; Curator’s Choice; and three Honorable Mentions.

In just a few short years Digital Graffiti has become irrevocably linked to Alys Beach. “Watching our beautiful, stark, white washed walls and roofs become completely transformed by the colorful and evocative swirling pieces of digital art is truly an inspiring experience, says town architect Marieanne Khoury-Vogt. “The projected vivid images that mold and melt against the backdrop of our sculptural architecture are fascinating to observe.”

 

One of the most beautiful new towns in the world, Alys Beach is located in Northwest Florida on Scenic Highway 30A, along what The New York Times said “May be the best beach in the continental U.S.” The resort town’s extraordinary architectural vision drew inspirations from both Bermuda and the family courtyard homes of Antigua, Guatemala. Alys Beach was founded in 2004. When complete, it will be home to 900 villas and courtyard homes, as well as restaurants, parks, shops and other resort lifestyle amenities. Alys Beach is the first Fortified…for Safer Living® community in the world, and all homes are built to Florida’s Green Home Designation Standard. For more information, visit alysbeach.com.

Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach is one of the world’s first outdoor projection art festivals. This innovative, one-of-a-kind dynamic event celebrates the many possibilities found at the intersection of art and architecture. During the three-night event, dozens of digital artist finalists from around the globe are invited to showcase their original work and vie for cash prize awards in a juried art competition. Utilizing the latest technologies, the finalists’ art is projected throughout the town on its iconic white walls.

Follow the event on Facebook, Twitter @Alysbeachfl, Instagram @Alysbeachfl and You Tube/AlysBeachFlorida. Join the conversation at #digitalgraffiti.

For information on Digitial Graffiti 2014 and an event overview video, visit digitalgraffiti.com.

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