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May 26, 2008

It's Slime Time with Nickelodeon and Royal Caribbean

This summer's highlight for many kids will no doubt be the first-ever nickelodeon Family Cruise with Royal Caribbean, which sets sail August 10-17 on the Freedom of the Seas. Non-stop fun and activities are promised on the Western Caribbean cruise, including a special kick-off sail away party; evening shows; Nick character breakfasts, featuring SpongeBob SquarePants; Dora the Explorer; Diego; The Backyardigans and Jimmy Neutron; a Nick Live Poolside "Slime Time" interactive game show; special screenings of The Naked Brothers Band and SpongeBob SquarePants; Nick Karaoke and many other opportunities to meet favorite Nick characters. Autograph signings with iCarly stars Jennette McCurdy and Nathan Kress also are scheduled. In addition, families can disembark on the cruise line's private island of Labadee for Nick's Let's Just Play Family Beach Day, featuring beach games and fun with a special Nickelodeon twist.

Teen guests now use prepaid cash cards on MSC Cruises

There is no need for teenagers to continually pester their parents for cash aboard MSC cruises. The cruise line is now selling the prepaid My Teen Card to use for purchases and as room keys. The program is targeting kids ages 12-17 and can be used to buy sodas and gift shop items. On Caribbean sailings, passengers can buy a $30 card with $5 bonus or a $50 card with $10 bonus. In Europe, the prepaid cards cost 30 Euros with a five euro bonus or 50 Euros with a 10 euro bonus. The next question is how many of these prepaid cards can a typical teenager go through in a single cruise?

Celebrity offers first-ever Antarctica cruises

To celebrate its tenth year cruising South America, Celebrity Cruises will be will be heading even further south during it's first-ever Antarctica sailings in 2010. The Celebrity Infinity will be leaving Buenos Aires, Argentina for two 14-night Antarctica sailings, departing January 31 and February 14, 2010. While there, guests will gaze upon glaciers, rare wildlife and other natural wonders as they cruise past Elephant Island, Paradise Bay and Gerlache Strait. The Antarctica voyages also will include traveling through Cape Horn, with visits to Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands, Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

Luxury cabanas treat guests extra special on Eurodam

Holland America's first Signature-class ship, Eurodam, will feature private tented cabanas on two decks when it debuts in July. Guests will be charged $30-$75 per day for the luxury cabanas, which will be located on the Observation Deck in an area called the Retreat and by the midship pool on the Lido Deck. Each cabana will feature chaise lounges, ottomans and settees, plus bathrobes, towels, handheld fans, an Evian spray mister and iPods with preloaded music. If that is not enough, chilled water and iced fruit skewers will be served in the cabanas during the morning. Afternoon delights will include frozen grapes, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne.

Holland America's 2008 roster of guest chefs will delight

One of the most popular attractions aboard Holland America cruises is the line's Culinary Arts Center, co-sponsored by Food & Wine magazine, which attracts renowned chefs from around the country. The program was started four years ago and 2008 is slated to be its best ever. Guest chefs and experts slated this summer and fall include:

Eric Villegas, host of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series, Fork in the Road, ms Veendam, June 13-20;

Sally Bernstein, San Francisco restaurant critic and culinary educator, ms Zaandam, June 8-15;

Chef Gustav Mauler of Amsterdam-Dover, ms Prinsenda, July 3-17;

Pichet Ongvasit of Copenhagen, ms Rotterdam, July 16-28;

Johnny Iuzzini, executive pastry chef, Jean Georges (N.Y.), ms Noordam, July 26-Aug. 5;

Max McCalman of Artisanal Cheese (N.Y.), ms Noordam, August 5-15;

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, authors of the "Ultimate" cookbook series, ms Eurodam, Aug.14-29;

Mark Frasier and Clark Gaier from Mediterranean (Venice), ms Zuiderdam, Sept. 17-29;

James Mazzio, executive chef of Via (Denver) and Food & Wine's Best New Chef 1999, ms Amsterdam, Sept. 19 Oct. 22; and,

Harold Dieterie, Perilla (N.Y.) and Top Chef Season 1 Winner, ms Amsterdam, Oct. 22-Nov. 4.

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