Norwegian Getaway – Captain, Hotel Director, Cake Boss, Artist and Restaurant Review

Posted in Caribbean, Cruise, Cruise Holidays, cruise ship dining, Cruises, cruises, cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Ships, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by beyondships
Norwegian Getaway in New York

Norwegian Getaway in New York


This week we present a series of inside views of Norwegian Getaway by people connected to the ship. While a cruise ship’s facilities are certainly an important part of the cruise experience, the people who work aboard give the ship its soul. So one of the ways Beyondships seeks to give a feel for the various cruise ships it covers is by presenting interviews with the people who run the ships.


Captain Tommy Stensrud is an experienced mariner who is in overall command of Norwegian Getaway. So we turned to him for an assessment of the nautical qualities of Getaway as well as the big picture view of what the ship is all about.


Hotel Director Sean Wurmhoeringer is in charge of everything that directly impacts the cruise experience including the food, the beverages, the entertainment and the accommodations. He is a veteran hotelier who has brought many cruise ships into service. We spoke with him about the process of breathing life into the ship as she entered service.


Artist David LEBO Le Batard painted the lively hull art that adorns Getaway. He speaks about the concepts that underlie his painting.


Viewers of the popular television show “Cake Boss” are familiar with master baker Buddy Valastro. Mr. Valastro talks about his relationship with Norwegian Cruise Line and about opening a branch of Carlo’s Bakery at sea.


Another interview that we did on Getaway was with Norwegian’s CEO Kevin Sheehan. While not specific to Getaway, Mr. Sheehan’s remarks about Norwegian Cruise Line place its latest ship in perspective.


Finally, we have a review of Le Bistro specialty restaurant on Getaway.

Norwegian Getaway Profile and Photo Tour

Posted in Caribbean, Cruise, Cruise Holidays, Cruise Ships, Cruises, cruises, cruises, cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Photography, Ships, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2014 by beyondships
Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Getaway


We have added a profile of Norwegian Getaway to Beyondships.


Norwegian Getaway is Norwegian Cruise Line’s latest ship. Like her sister ship, Norwegian Breakaway, she is a very big ship – - 146,000 gross tons. However, more importantly, she is part of the new breed of cruise ships. Traditionally, an evening on a cruise ship revolved around dinner in the main dining room and a show in the ship’s theater. The new breed give guests several quality alternatives, not only in where and when to eat but also a variety of entertainment options. As a result, the guests have much more freedom to decide how to spend their evenings than before.


Physically, Getaway is very similar to Breakaway. Indeed, the only structural difference I noticed was that the courtyard in the Haven area does not have a retractable roof like it does on the Breakaway. However, there have been several changes in the line-up of public rooms. Chief among these is the Illusionarium, a dinner theater where guests are awed by a series of magicians and mentalists whose appearances are connected by a light-hearted storyline. There is also the Grammy Experience, where Grammy-nominated artists give live performances.


Most of the differences between Breakaway and Getaway relate to the fact that Breakaway is intended to reflect her homeport of New York City while Getaway is designed to capture the spirit of Miami. Getaway has a Latin theme that appears in menu items, drinks and in the entertainment. Indeed, Getaway’s version of the Burn the Floor dance show is set in Old San Juan.


This does not mean that Getaway will only appeal to people with a Latin background. For the most part, Getaway offers the Norwegian cruise experience. It has the signature dining venues, Le Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse, La Cucina Italian restaurant, and Ocean Blue seafood restaurant. Freestyle Cruising is still the name of the game. It just has a Latin overlay to it. Consequently, Getaway will appeal to all Norwegian fans.


Like Breakaway, Getaway was built by Meyer Werft. Once again, the German shipyard has delivered a quality product.


The profile page for Norwegian Getaway is at . Our photo tour of the interior, public areas and accommodations on Getaway starts at


In addition, the profile includes menus from Getaway’s restaurants. There are copies of her deck plans. And a selection of Freestyle Dalies (daily programs) and other information distributed onboard Getaway.


Next week, we get an inside look at Getaway from her captain and other people connected with the ship.

Revolutionary dining for Quantum of the Seas; Majesty of the Seas photos

Posted in Cruise, Cruise Holidays, cruise ship dining, Cruise Ships, cruises, cruises, gourmet dining, Photography, Royal Caribbbean, Royal Caribbean, Ships, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by beyondships
Adam Goldstein, CEO and President of Royal Caribbean International, unveils Dynamic Dining

Adam Goldstein, CEO and President of Royal Caribbean International, unveils Dynamic Dining


Last week Royal Caribbean unveiled a revolutionary new dining system for its Quantum class ships – - the forthcoming Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and a ship to be named later. The presentation quite impressed me because the new system, which Royal Caribbean is calling “Dynamic Dining” is so different than what anyone – - including Royal Caribbean – - are presently doing.


Traditionally, cruise ship passengers were assigned to a specific table in the ship’s main dining room for their meals. On larger ships where the main dining room could not accommodate all of the passengers at the same time, each passenger was assigned to either the early or the late seating.


In the 1990s, this began to change as ships developed buffet restaurants that became a viable alternative for breakfast and lunch. However, for dinner, passengers continued to be assigned to a specific table at one of the two seatings on most ships. Some ships began to add a specialty restaurant where you could dine for an extra charge.


Early this century, Norwegian Cruise Line developed Freestyle dining. Its ships have more than one main dining room plus an array of specialty restaurants. Guests could eat in any of the main dining rooms or in any of the specialty restaurants when they wanted. No assigned tables, no assigned dining times.


In response, almost all of the other major cruise lines have added flexible dining options. Usually, one part of the main dining room follows the traditional system while another part has a system that allows guests to come when they chose. On ships that have multiple dining rooms, typically, one dining room is devoted to the traditional system while the other(s) have flexible dining. The menus used in all the dining rooms are the same. These lines have also added more specialty restaurants as time has passed to give the guests more alternatives.


With Dynamic Dining, Royal Caribbean is doing away completely with the traditional dining system. Instead of one main dining room, there will be five complimentary dining rooms as well as an array of extra tariff specialty restaurants. It is up to the guest to decide where and when to dine.


Dynamic Dining differs from Freestyle dining chiefly in that each of the complimentary dining rooms will be different with a unique theme and a unique menu. One will be American favorites, one will be a grand formal restaurant, one will be very hip and cutting edge, one will be Asian-inspired and one will be a California-style venue.

In addition, each of the complimentary restaurants is a relatively small venue and each has its own galley. (On most ships with multiple dining rooms, all of the food is prepared in the same galley). Thus, the chefs will be able to give more time and attention to each meal. This should enable them to make more sophisticated dishes.


To prevent more passengers than a particular restaurant can handle all arriving at the same time, Royal Caribbean is instituting a reservations system. Making reservations for cruise ship specialty restaurants is something passengers are used to but it is a rare exception for complimentary dining rooms. In any event, Royal Caribbean has developed an app that will enable guests to make reservations before they board and while on ship. There will also be other more traditional means of making reservations.


Dynamic Dining is a bold move. It promises to offer more choice and variety in cruise dining. At the same time, there are risks. For example, the traditional dining system lends itself to getting to know your fellow passengers. Over the course of the cruise, you often become friends with the people that dine at your table each night. This is particularly important to solo travelers.


There is also the question of how passengers will react to having to make reservations for dinner. Requiring reservations could dampen the feeling of being able to decide at the spur of the moment where and when to dine. Also, will people who purchase their cruises near the sailing date be disadvantaged because people who booked the cruise earlier have taken all the choice spots.


I tend to think such concerns can be dealt with using a little creative thinking. Thus, I look forward to seeing this concept in action. Moreover, the food samples served at the unveiling event in New York were excellent.


I spoke with several Royal Caribbean executives including Adam Goldstein, Presidenmt and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, about Dynamic Dining. That article is at The article also covers the new specialty restaurant offerings on Quantum including venues developed in partnership with celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz and Devin Alexander.


Turning from Royal Caribbean’s newest ships to the grand dame of the fleet, we have a photo feature showing Majesty of the Seas as she traveled on one of her short Bahamas cruises. There is also a video of Majesty at sea. All of this augments our profile of Majesty of the Seas.


Legend of the Seas profile and review

Posted in Cruise, Cruise Holidays, cruise ship dining, Cruise Ships, Cruises, cruises, cruises, cruises, Photography, Royal Caribbbean, Royal Caribbean, Sea and Ocean, Ships, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2014 by beyondships
Legend of the Seas cruise ship

Legend of the Seas


We have added a new section to Beyondships on Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas.


Legend of the Seas is one of six ships that comprise Royal Caribbean’s Vision class. In fact, Legend was the first one that they built.


I had been looking to sail on Legend for some time. Each of the Vision class ships is somewhat different – - four were built in France and two in Finland – - and so you find different layouts and different nautical characteristics. I’ve enjoyed cruising on the other Vision class ships that I have sailed on (Vision of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas) so I was looking forward to exploring Legend.


Catching up with Legend wasn’t that easy. Royal Caribbean uses her to develop new markets and for the last five years she was sailing out of Singapore, which is quite far from my home base. Last summer they brought her closer – - the Mediterranean – - but this winter she did a season of Caribbean cruises, which is almost down the street from me.


The cruise experience on Legend followed the classic model. Although new dining and entertainment options have been added to enhance the experience, it is very much the way cruising used to be – - relaxing and comfortable. We wandered lazily through the islands of the Southern and Eastern Caribbean, well-fed and entertained. The crew seemed happy and eager to please.


Of course, Legend is nearly 20 years old. Last year, Royal Caribbean did a multi-million dollar revitalization of the ship. They added new specialty restaurants and entertainment offerings such as a giant LED screen over the main pool. They also redid the passenger cabins. This did not and was not intended to magically transform Legend into a new ship. She retains the character of the ships of the time in which she was first built.


While I like the new ships that are coming out of the shipyards these days, there is clearly a place for more classic ships. Ships like Legend are more intimate and less flashy than the new ships. The recent changes to the ship do make the cruise experience more interesting but Royal Caribbean is to be commended for not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They supplement rather than detract from the ship’s overall ambiance.


Legend was built at a time when the cruise lines were still interested in building fast ships and so she can tool around at 25 knots. Citing the high cost of fuel, she only uses her speed in cases of emergency. However, it is comforting to know it is there.


Along the same lines, the ship has good stability. A dick tail was added to the stern of the ship in 2013 to make the ship even more stable in rough seas and during high speed turns.


The home page for our profile of Legend of the Seas is at The photo tour of the interior and public areas of the ship begins at We also have a page of daily programs (Cruise Compass) and a page of menus from the main dining room and the specialty restaurants


We spoke with Captain Kjell Nordmo and Hotel Director Silvio Ghigo to get their insights as to what Legend of the Seas is all about. Then we have reviews of the new Izumi specialty restaurant and of the Chef’s Table dining experience on Legend of the Seas.

Norwegian Sky revisited

Posted in Bahamas, Cruise, cruise ship dining, Cruise Ships, Cruises, cruises, cruises, cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Photography, Ships, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by beyondships
Cruise ship Norwegian Sky

Norwegian Sky


Norwegian Sky sails on three or four day cruises out of Miami to the Bahamas. It is a very competitive market with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines ships sailing essentially the same itinerary.


Like all of the ships doing this itinerary, the Sky has a reputation for being a party ship. And as it turned out, it was during my most recent cruise on her. However, it was not a rowdy, obnoxious party. People were having fun but not misbehaving, at least in not in a way that intruded upon others.


Sky, is now 15 years old. She Is clean and well-maintained. You do not have all of the facilities of the more recent Norwegian ships. But then you would not have time on a three or four day cruise to do everything that those ships offer. Indeed, the Sky offers more dining options than you could experience in just a short cruise.


The Sky has some very elegant traditional venues. Both Le Bistro and Cagney’s specialty restaurants have splendid 19th century decors. The menus for these venues are the same as on the bigger Norwegian ships but the rooms are entirely different. Thus, for those who travel regularly on Norwegian, the Sky offers a pleasing combination of the familiar and the new.


I was impressed by the attitude of the crew. During the pre-inaugural on Norwegian Getaway, the line’s CEO, Kevin Sheehan, had challenged members of the press to talk to the crew and how they they felt about Norwegian. On Getaway, the crew was very enthusiastic but then you would expect that from the crew of the line’s latest ship just as it was entering into service. But what about on Norwegian Sky, one of the oldest ships in the Norwegian fleet? I found that the spirit was much the same as on Getaway – - enthusiastic about the company and a genuine desire to make sure that the guests were having a good time.


All in all, Norwegian Sky delivered what it promised – - a fun and relaxing short break.


We have updated and expanded Beyondships’ profile of Norwegian Sky.


New photos and pages have been added to our photo tour of the interior of the ship.


We have also added an interview with Hotel Director Calvin Lodge in which he gives his insights as to what Norwegian Sky is all about.


There is also a new photo feature and video showing the ship at two ports of call – - Nassau and Norwegian’s private island Great Stirrup Cay.


We have also added a menus page and a daily programs page . (You can learn quite a bit about what goes on on a ship from reading its daily programs).

Guide to cruise destination Barbados

Posted in British cruising, Caribbean, Caribbean, Cruise, Cruise Holidays, Cruises, cruises, cruises, cruises, Cunard, Destinations, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2014 by beyondships
Bathsheba, Barbados

Bathsheba, Barbados

Barbados was one of the first Caribbean islands I visited. It was during my first cruise on Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2). I had crossed the Atlantic several times on her before that but as the people at Cunard were adamant in pointing out, a crossing is not a cruise. Since I liked the experience onboard QE2 during these crossings, I decided to see what the ship was like during a cruise. Therefore, I booked one of the two or three Caribbean cruises that the ship did each year.


QE2 departed from New York City and using her incredible speed we were quickly out of the lingering cold weather of early Spring. Once down in the warmer waters, the ship slowed down and the days took on a lazy pace as well. We visited Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), occupying what was then one of the few cruise ship berths in what was then still primarily a cargo ship harbor. Then we headed south to St. Thomas and St. Maarten, which were both still tender ports.


The southernmost point on the journey was Barbados. It was often called “Little England” then and so it was appropriate to visit the island on a British ship. I found it to be a pretty island with a charming, restful atmosphere.


I have been back to Barbados many times since then. It has changed over the years. To an outsider, the standard of living appears to have improved. There has been much construction and development but the island still has charm. It also still has a British flavor but perhaps less so now.


Barbados is not uni-dimensional. On the west coast, you have the beautiful Caribbean beaches, the expensive resorts and the fabulous yacht marinas. Going further east, the island becomes less developed but still scenic in its natural beauty. On the east coast, powerful waves roll in from the Atlantic, carving the coral rocks into unusual shapes.


Looking somewhat more closely, the island has historical and cultural attractions as well including plantation great houses, churches and military facilities. For most of its history, the island’s economy thrived because the climate was so well suited to agriculture. The economy has moved on but the people have taken advantage of the climate to create flourishing botanical gardens.


Our section on Barbados begins with an overview and a brief history There is a page providing information about the cruise port and a slideshow showing some of the cruise ships that have called at Barbados We then take a look at some of the attractions of the island including the beaches the Bathsheba beach and rock formations the great houses the Gun Hill Signal Station and the botanical gardens There is also a links page with links to other websites with information relevant to cruising to Barbados.


Finally, we have a video of the cruise ship Norwegian Jewel sailing from Barbados.

Allure of the Seas – Interviews, reviews, photos and video

Posted in Cruise, Cruise Holidays, cruise ship dining, Cruise Ships, Cruises, cruises, Photography, Royal Caribbbean, Royal Caribbean, Ships, Travel, Uncategorized, Vacations with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by beyondships

Allure of the Seas, cruise ship


When I first went on Allure of the Seas, I was very impressed. I had been on her sister ship Oasis of the Seas before. However, there was such a great spirit and energy to the ship. That added to all of the ship’s entertainment and dining options made for a great cruise experience.


Of course, that was the ship’s maiden voyage. The ship was just out of the shipyard and there was all of the excitement that goes along with a ship’s entry into service. I wondered if she would be able to maintain that energy. When people like maritime historian Bill Miller came back from sailing on Allure and said they were impressed, I was hopeful.


When I recently returned to Allure, I was not disappointed. Several of the key players who brought the ship into service had moved on but many remained. The spirit remained.


There had been a few changes but they were more in the way of refinements than major changes.


Allure is very much a new model cruise ship. Traditionally, an evening on a cruise ship revolved around two seatings in the main dining room and two shows in the main theater. On Allure, you have a variety of alternative dining venues including complimentary venues. You also have several high quality entertainment options each evening.


People have a number of misconceptions about Allure. Some are intimidated by the thought of going on a ship that carries some 6,000 guests. However, the people flow on the ship keeps it from feeling crowded. With all of the various alternatives, people spread out.


I’ve also heard people say that they don’t like the idea that you have to make a reservation for the major entertainment offerings. The fact is that the ship encourages guests to make reservations but you do not have to make reservations. I went to a number of shows without reservations.


I’ve added quite a lot of material to the Allure of the Seas section of Beyondships. To begin we have an interview with Captain Johnny Faevelen. Captain Johnny is something of a legend among Royal Caribbean fans. He rides a motorcycle in ports of call and carries a parrot around the ship. However, he is also known for his seamanship and management abilities. We spoke about Allure and about the importance of being a visible presence among the passengers.


When I first sailed on Allure, Joao Mendonca was the Food and Beverage Manager. He has now been promoted to Hotel Director. Part of the ship’s original team, Joao understands what Allure is all about. We spoke about maintaining and elevating the “Wow” that Allure delivers.


We also now have a menus page with menus from the main dining room and the specialty restaurants. There is also a page with copies of the Cruise Compass from Allure.


We’ve also added a guide to the alternative breakfast venues on Allure. You don’t have to go to the main dining room or the buffet restaurant to have a good breakfast.


In addition, we have a new photo feature and video of Allure in various ports and at sea.



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