Cruise News Shorts: Cats Set Sail, Cruise Directors Get Their Jobs Back and More Cruise News

April 4, 2014
cruise-cats-news-shorts-roundup (3:30 p.m. EDT) -- Every week we catch wind of so much cruise news, we don't always know what to do with it all, but a few standout bits sometimes catch our attention. Here are some interesting snippets we think you might like to know about.

Broadway-at-Sea Invasion Continues
In the wake of a growing number of Broadway-style performances, cruise lines continue to expand the Broadway theater circle. Adding to its entertainment offerings, which already include "Hairspray," Oasis of the Seas will feature the world's longest-running musical, "CATS," after its fall 2014 dry dock. This show rounds out five Broadway productions from Royal Caribbean, including "Chicago: The Musical," "Mamma Mia!" and "Saturday Night Fever." Meanwhile, it's not quite a hard-knock life onboard Oceania Cruises, which is raising the curtain on a new onboard series called "Life in the Theater," available on select sailings. Starting with the October 29, 2014, voyage of Riviera, the series will feature stage actress Andrea McArdle, best known for her role as the original "Annie" on Broadway and the youngest performer ever nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The theater package costs $375 per person and includes a cocktail party, five song-and-story events and one private full performance of "Annie." One performance will be open to all passengers during the sailing, but those who purchased the package will receive preferred seating.

It's All Fun and Games
Who has time for budget meetings and daily schedule production when there are just so many fun events to host onboard? Until recently, Carnival cruise directors did, whether they liked it or not. But the line wants to get back to the days when a cruise director's only job was to interact with passengers and make sure they are having fun. To do that, the line has created two new onboard positions to take care of the nitty-gritty elements of onboard fun. The entertainment director will be responsible for things like the scheduling of events, departmental meetings, technical meetings for show and lounge productions and more. The media manager will produce the daily Funtimes and manage the content for in-cabin TVs and the big screens around the ships. Cruise directors will go back to the days of hosting events, walking the ship and just having fun with the passengers onboard.

Price Increase at Johnny Rockets
Royal Caribbean has raised prices at onboard alternative eatery Johnny Rockets, a 50s-style diner that takes up residence on 11 of the line's ships. The cover charge is now $5.95 (up from $4.95) per person for all-you-can-eat menu items like burgers, fries and onion rings. (Beverages like soda, bottled water and milkshakes incur separate fees; cruisers aren't charged the $5.95 fee if they order only beverages.) Although the price has only gone up by $1, it represents a 20 percent increase from the previous surcharge. It's the first increase at the restaurant in five years.

NOLA Cruise Terminal Expands for Carnival Dream
Carnival Dream will begin sailing seven-night Caribbean itineraries from New Orleans later this month. The vessel is the port's largest to date, and nearly $2.3 million worth of upgrades and renovations was needed to spruce up the Erato Street terminal and expand it to accommodate Dream's size and the more than 3,600 passengers each sailing will carry. Dream will replace Carnival Sunshine, which is slated to relocate to Port Canaveral. Meanwhile, Carnival Elation is continuing its regular four- and five-night Mexico itineraries from New Orleans.

Award-Winning Chef Appointed Advisor of Culinary for Quantum-Class Ships
James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz will incorporate his culinary ideas on Royal Caribbean's new Quantum-class ships, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. After helping out with 150 Central Park, an upscale for-fee restaurant found on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, he (and his name) have been tapped for Michael's Genuine Pub, the first gastropubs at sea -- a feature that will debut on Quantum and Anthem later this year and in 2015, respectively. The line has also brought other experts onboard for their input during the construction of Quantum and Anthem. HGTV star Genevieve Gorder has been appointed Quantum Experience Advisor for design, and athlete and adventurer Dhani Jones is serving as Quantum Experience Advisor for sports and fitness.

Cruise Line Christens New River Ship in Switzerland
Tauck christened its newest ship, ms Inspire, in a ceremony today (April 4) in Basel, Switzerland. Champagne was smashed, and blessings were given as a local band played, and four Tauck cruise directors served as honorary godmothers. The first in the line's Inspiration Class, 443-foot-long ms Inspire features "loft" cabins, which offer larger windows to passengers in staterooms on the ship's lower level. A second restaurant onboard (in addition to the main dining room) focuses on lighter, more standard American fare for its 130 passengers. Dubbed Arthur's, it was named for Tauck's current chairman, Arthur Tauck, Jr. The second ship in the Inspiration Class, ms Savor, is scheduled for launch in July 2014.

P&O Cruises Achieves Record Bookings for Britannia Launch
P&O Cruises saw a record increase in bookings yesterday (April 4), during the first day of sales for the line's newest ship. Bookings on P&O's new flagship Britannia, which debuts in February 2015, beat out initial sales for Azura in 2009 by 81 percent and Ventura in 2007 -- the line's previous best opening -- by 24 percent. The record sales came in spite of technical issues during the morning, caused by "unprecedented demand" resulting in the unusual failure of all three booking engines, according to a statement from P&O.

--By Ashley Kosciolek, Copy and Ports Editor; Brittany Chrusciel, Editorial Assistant; Dori Saltzman, News Editor; and Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor