Voting for the Culinary Challenge contest that was looking for the the next Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park, the signature restaurant onboard Allure of the Seas, ended this past Sunday and Royal Caribbean announced that contestant Maureen Brandt of Stillwater, Minnesota has won the contest.
Brandt was chosen from a group of six finalists for the contest. She was trained in cooking at the Food Channel, where she named a Food and Wine best student chef in 2006. Since then, she's gone on to work in a number of restaurants and currently Brandt owns her own private chef and catering company, Cook in the Kitchen in the Twin Cities. In addition, Brandt is co-founder and villa chef for Flavors of Italia, a company that offers intimate, culinary-focused vacations in Northern Tuscany.
While Brandt finished first in voting, the second place chef is Daniel Fein of Rochester Hills, Mich., and third place goes to Beth LittleJohn of Durham, N.C.
The Brazilian Cruise Associaton has announced that the port of Rio de Janeiro is expected to welcome almost 500,000 cruisers for the 2010-2011 season, which begins in October. About 17 ships will make a stop in Rio and according to the Brazilian Cruise Association, 479 000 cruisers will disembark in Rio de Janeiro. This number represents a 7% increase compared to the quota registered last season.
Along with many other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean will have two of it's ships visiting Rio. These ships include Mariner of the Seas and Vision of the Seas.
The Brazilian season of 2010/2011 Cruise will have 20 ships, two more than in 2009/2010, which will sail along the coast of Brazil until May 2011. In 2008/2009, Rio de Janeiro received 112 cruises, which took almost 270 000 cruisers, and in the 2009/2010 season were 448,000 tourists on 193 routes.
Last month, the town of Rockland, Maine announced it was going to increase its fee for passengers that arrive on cruise ships from $1 to $6 and that didn't leave Royal Caribbean happy, as they complained the new measures did not give the cruise line enough time in advance to react to the changes and felt the fee hike was unfair.
On Monday night, the Rockland city council voted 3-2 to reverse its decision, however, the decision only applies to Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas. Jewel of the Seas will arrive in Rockland in October. This is a short-term victory for Royal Caribbean, who will not have to foot the bill for the difference in the rate increase, but the future of Royal Caribbean's presence in the town or even the area may still be in doubt.
CruiseLineFans posted an article that is looking at the effects of cruising on Europe and the overall trend that cruise lines are experiencing to move their ships to Europe to meet the growing demand there. In the article, there's a mention about Royal Caribbean's strategy of increasing their presence in Europe and competing against not only their traditional counterparts (NCL, Carnival) but also stalwarts of European cruising such as P&O, Thomson and others.
Royal Caribbean International will have eleven ships in Europe in 2011, with the latest addition being Mariner of the Seas, having left Los Angeles for Rome. Mariner will sail from March to November 2011, while the Liberty of the Seas will be based in Barcelona and the Independence of the Seas now will sail year-round from Southampton, England.
Royal Caribbean will also base a ship in Palma, the traditional base for tour operator ships (such as TUI/Thomson, with whom they halve a half interest in TUI Cruises) and also to take on Aida Cruises.
Quick note for anyone sailing on Liberty of the Seas, comedian Lewis Black will be headlining a seven-day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas on Nov. 7, sailing out of Miami.
Joining Lewis will be some other comedians including
- John Pinette
- Dom Irrera
- Kathleen Madigan
- John Bowman
- Larry Wilmore
- Ted Alexandro
- Joe Grifasi
- Mark Linn-Baker
- Vic Henley
Today it seems like every cruise ship has lots of different amenities to choose from like water slides, pools or other fun recreational activities. HospitalityNet wrote an article about the advent of water based fun on cruise ships and looks back to Royal Caribbean pioneering the idea of physical entertainment on a cruise ship when they debuted rock climbing walls, mini-golf and ice-skating rinks in 2005. Then in 2006, Royal Caribbean launched the industry’s largest passenger ship at the time, Freedom of the Seas, with an onboard surf simulator called a FlowRider and an H2O Zone aqua park. Ever since then, it's been a competition among the cruise lines to out do each other.
The article talks about what the different cruise lines have, but here is the write up on Oasis of the Seas.
Photo by Ashley Sindaco
Following last week's killing of a cruise passenger, the United States Virgin Islands say they are making strides to make the island safer for tourists. The police on the island are increasing their foot patrols across the island to stem violence from occuring.
Police commissioner Novelle Francis issued a statement regarding the measures the police are taking, "In response to the tragic incident at Coki Point on July 12, the (Virgin Islands police department) has quickly augmented its efforts to increase police officer presence on the streets and patrol specific areas visited most often by tourists, including but not limited to cruise ports, beaches, historical attractions, hotels and popular sightseeing areas".
The increased measures to combat violence include
- Increased mobile patrols of other areas with high visitor traffic
- The upgrading of security surveillance apparatus across the territory, including the addition of surveillance cameras in towns with 24 hour monitoring
- New intelligence gathering prior to and during visits of the areas frequented by visitors
- Monitoring of the movement of visitors
- Increased high intensity patrols of popular attractions throughout the territory
In addition, the U.S. Virgin Islands' tourist office announced plans this past Friday for a $1.2 million advertising and marketing campaign that will hopefully help portray the territory in a better light than it has been recently due to the news of the killing and violence on the island. The money will also be spent on new public relations efforts and to bring travel writers to the territory to write about it.
Charles J. Adams III took a cruise recently on Oasis of the Seas to see what was so great about the ship and he came back with a simple conclusion: everything! From the amenities to the layout of the ship, Charlie (as he's often called), liked all of it.
I found it surprisingly easy to find my way through the Oasis, despite its enormity. It is divided into distinct "neighborhoods" and "zones" and each passenger is provided with a pocket-sized map and guide. Interactive and static signs throughout the common areas also were very helpful.
Even after a week, Charlie admits he was hard pressed to find anything to complain about on Oasis, but did mention that some of the issues raised about Oasis are being addressed with its sister ship Allure of the Seas.
The Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line's bar-raising behemoth is incomprehensibly immense and, at first, intimidating. But after a bit of exhaustive virtual and exhausting physical exploration, I quickly became comfortable within the confines of the ship that is taller than the Berks County Court House and almost as long as the Maple Grove Drag Strip. Stood on end, it would easily be the tallest building in Philadelphia.