Photo courtesy of Facebook

Photo courtesy of Facebook

The name Oktoberfest is somewhat of a misnomer, for although part of Germany’s annual celebration of beer and Bavaria does indeed take place in October, the majority of the fest’s events actually take place in the second half of September.

The root of the festival’s name, Oktoberfest, dates back to October 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen and the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the royal event in the fields in front of the city gates. The wedding festivities ended on October 17th with a horse race. Modern Germany continues to the now annual tradition of Oktoberfest, which has grown to be the largest festival in the world (more than six million people fro around the globe attend each year). However, the celebrations have been moved up by a few weeks in order to take advantage of September’s warmer weather and stay out in the tents longer.

This year, the festival runs starts on Saturday, Sept. 20, with the grand entry of the Oktoberfest landlords and breweries, and ends on October 5. On the opening Saturday, the Mayor of Munich officially taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at noon, and then everyone is invited to fill their steins at any of the 14 enormous beer tents, including the new horse-themed Marstall tent.  On Monday to Friday, beer is sold from 10 am to 10:30 pm; and on Saturdays, Sundays and Friday October 3rd, the tents serve beer from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday is host to the Oktoberfest Costume and Rifleman’s Parade, one of the fest’s main highlights.

Celebrity guests who are stopping by Berlin or Warnemunde may want to consider a detour to Munich for the authentic Okotberfest experience, if you have enough time on your schedule.

For guests outside of Germany, Oktoberfest has taken on a cultural life of its own, and countries as varied as Vietnam, Canada, Peru and India now host their own versions of the German celebration. Indeed, practically every state in America tries to join in on the Oktoberfest bandwagon as well, though many say that the best U.S. celebration is Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, which features seven stages of non-stop live German music, over 30 vendors serving roughly 200 dishes (including 80,500 bratwurst and 23,004 soft pretzels), and an annual mass performance of the Chicken Dance.

Prost!

Credit: Instagram.com/l_d_f_offical

Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby below “Double Space for BMW” Credit: Instagram.com/l_d_f_offical

If you plan to visit the London Design Festival—which began this past Saturday and runs through Sunday, Sept. 21—this year, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. The 2014 edition of the event, which celebrates the best in British design, boasts of 300 events with 250 partners ranging from retailers to educators, to businesses young and old. Early highlights include “Double Space for BMW,” a kinetic sculpture by2012 London Olympic torch designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby and architect Zaha Hadid‘s “Crest” demountable sculpture over the pool in the center of the V&A’s John Madejski Garden.

Conceived by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans and first staged in 2003, the London Design Festival is meant to “promote the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to a deliver an unmissable celebration of design.” Now, thanks to social media, the fest is also inspiring anyone with a smartphone camera. Below are some of our favorite shots from Instagram so far:

Credit: instagram.com/fancylampcreative

Credit: instagram.com/fancylampcreative

Credit: Instagram/bethanryder

Credit: instagram.com/bethanryder

Credit: instagram/wuy20

Credit: instagram.com/wuy20

Credit: instagram.com/tubanar

Credit: instagram.com/tubanar

Credit: Instagram/jchaps21

Credit: instagram.com/jchaps21

Credit: instagram.com/maxfraserdesign

Credit: instagram.com/maxfraserdesign

Credit: instagram.com/silvigiu

Credit: instagram.com/silvigiu

Credit: instagram.com/olivermarshall

Credit: instagram.com/olivermarshall

Credit: instagram.com/feeldesain

Credit: instagram.com/feeldesain

If cruisers are already near London for the design festival, consider checking out these other recommended must-see spots in Southampton, England from our partners over at Travel + Leisure.

If you want to expand your art interest onboard, you are welcome to partake in a self-guided iPad® art tour around our ships, which house one of the world’s largest permanent collections of contemporary art.

Image courtesy of the International Agatha Christie Festival 2014.

Image courtesy of the International Agatha Christie Festival 2014.

In her lifetime, Agatha Christie wrote 79 novels (including six under a pseudonym), 19 plays, 22 short-story collections as well as an autobiography. The brilliant creator of such memorable character like the detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, made Christie a literary household name and a figurehead of the mystery and crime literary genre; indeed her creative plots continue to inspire and fuel new creative works to this day, and retain a loyal following.

The next 12 months will be particularly exciting for Christie fans. On Sept. 9, HarperCollins will publish The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot book in 39 years. The story, set in the 1920s, is penned by contemporary crime writer Sophie Hannah and was commissioned with the blessing of the Christie estate. The book, which will be Poirot’s 34th full-length adventure, is described by HarperCollins as being “a diabolically clever puzzle that will test [Poirot's] brilliant skills and baffle and delight longtime Christie fans and new generations of readers discovering him for the first time.” (Eager fans can download the first chapter from the official Agatha Christie website as a teaser.)

Between September 14 to 21, Christie fans will gather at the International Agatha Christie Festival in Torquay, Devon, which is Christie’s birthplace. The 2014 fest is of particular importance because, though the festival has unofficially been in existence since 2004, the 2014 fest will officially bring all related events under one fully-integrated umbrella. Hannah, unsurprisingly, will be a featured speaker at this year’s festival. (Admission to the Festival Hub is £5.)

2015 marks the 125th anniversary of Christie’s birth, giving way to a number of tribute events and programming. The BBC has already commissioned a three-part adaptation of “And Then There Were None,” one of the author’s most popular novels, as well as a six-part series “Partners in Crime,” based on Christie’s lesser known married couple detectives, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. The broadcaster is also planning a series of documentaries about Christie.

Christie fans traveling to the United Kingdom in the coming should make time to take a day trip or two and explore the origins of their favorite mystery author, or bring a copy of The Monogram Murders to read poolside.

Vogue Book Cover

Vogue & The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People.

Abrams, September 23, $50.

Every year, one of the world’s most exclusive tickets is an invitation to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala. The glamorous affair—a major fundraiser for the Costume Institute—never fails to be awash with the year’s most sought-after A-list celebrities and top models who partner with the world’s best design houses to collectively play their part in the red-carpet display of spectacular haute couture.

Traditionally, Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor in chief and the artistic director for Condé Nast (Vogue’s publisher), has kept the ball’s guest list as exclusive as possible. For this year’s ball, for example, she reportedly raised ticket prices to $25,000 in order to keep the guest list and invitees as stellar as possible.

On September 23, publishing house Abrams will release Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People, a gorgeous, 272-page collection of the most stunning images from past balls and exhibits for fashion loyalists who are interested in getting a closer look at the gala and how it has evolved over time.

The beautiful coffee table book, penned by Vogue’s European editor-at-large, Hamish Bowles, and edited by Vogue’s social editor, Chloe Malle (with an introduction by Wintour and a foreword by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director and CEO, Thomas P. Campbell),delves into the history of the Costume Institute and the fashion world’s “party of the year,” which dates back to 1948, when it was first thrown in the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Plaza. The book is filled with a plethora of exhibition and fashion-shoot photography from the likes of legendary names, including Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino.. Within it’s pages, readers will also uncover an in-depth exploration into the Institute’s more notable gala themes, such as 2005’s Chanel, 2011’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, 2013’s Punk, and even 2014’s Charles James.

A must-buy for all fashion and history lovers ; cruisers might even find inspiration for Celebrity’s formal-dress evening events. Starting Oct. 14, Celebrity Reflection guests can also shop for Kate Spade, Cole Haan and Furla onboard the ship for the first time and try to recreate their favorite looks.

celebrity ilounge

Celebrity Cruises shares a unique relationship with Apple, being the first Authorized Apple Specialist at sea. Our Celebrity iLounges—available on all ships except the Celebrity Century—offer a number of how-to tutorials, from organizing audio and digital books, to creating a website. The on-hand product specialists can advise on all Apple products, from iPods to MacBooks, and pretty soon, the Apple Watch, if Tuesday’s much anticipated Keynote by CEO Tim Cook in Cupertino, California is anything to go by. Here, our summary of what you have to look forward to… Coming to a Celebrity iLounge soon.

THE ONE WE WERE ALL WAITING FOR

What: iPhone 6

Confirmed: As expected—or hoped—Apple will soon be releasing the iPhone 6. Actually, to be more specific, the iPhone 6 ($199 on a 2-year contract for 16GB model) and the iPhone 6 Plus ($299 on a 2-year contract for 16GB model).

He said: “They are, without a doubt, the best iPhones we have ever done.”

What you need to know: The new iPhone 6, which will come in a choice of silver, gold or “space grey,” will be thinner and feature a bigger screen plus an operating system that is 50 times faster than the original iPhone. Other new features include: rounder edges, power button on side, new sensor, barometer, improved 8 mega-pixel camera, mobile calls over WiFi, iOS8, NFC for Apple Pay (see below).

When can you get your hands on it? Available for pre-order on September 12. Shipment starts September 19.

 

THE GROUNDBREAKER

What: Apple Pay

He said: “Wallet: Your days are numbered.”

What you need to know: This one was a surprise. ApplePay, the company’s new payments system, integrates with the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch to allow users to pay with a single touch, thanks to a technology called near-field communication. Apple said it had already signed deals with American Express, MasterCard and Visa—which along with banks represent 83% of all credit card payments volume—and the new payment system will be accepted at over 220,000 locations, including McDonalds, Whole Foods, Disney, Target, and Apple stores (of course). Uber and OpenTable have also put themselves up to be the proverbial ApplePay guinea pigs.

When? October. But only in the US, much to the chagrin of Asian and European consumers.

 

DO BELIEVE THE HYPE

What: Apple Watch

What he said: “We have one. More. Thing.” [Cue wild applause.]

What you need to know: This is the company’s first wearable device. The much speculated Apple watch features a flexible Retina display, a built-in heart monitor, wireless charging and select built in apps. What’s more, it can sense force as well as touch. Apple has designed a range of digital watch faces that can be combined with a choice of six different straps, including a sports band, which is both sweat and chemical resistant, a “leather classic buckle” designed to look like a traditional watch strap, and a stainless steel bracelet-style brand. The Apple Watch will launch with three collections, each of which comes in two sizes—the basic Apple Watch collection and the Sport collection, with a stronger case. For the ultimate Apple aficionado, there will also be the Apple Watch Edition: “Made from an 18-carat gold” that’s been developed to be up to twice as hard as standard gold.

When can you get your hands on one? We have been promised an early 2015 release date.

How much? Starting from “just” $349, said Cook.

 

With so many new Apple devices hitting stores in the next few months, we’re certain our Celebrity iLounges will be filled with passengers looking for tutorials and advice come this fall—and we will be on hand to welcome you in with open arms.

Fashion Month Kicks Off in New York

NYFW2

Courtesy: MBFW Facebook Page

Tomorrow, September 11, 2014, marks the end of Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week where, for the past week, designers have been sending their looks for Spring/ Summer 2015 down the runway, beginning with Coach and Tome on September 4. In what has become something of a recent custom, Marc Jacobs’s will conclude the New York shows at the Seventh Regiment Armory before the world’s fashion editors, stylists, models and celebrities reposition to the UK for London Fashion Week. Then, it’s onto Milan, which will be followed by Paris. Collectively, the runway shows in these four major cities form what is known as “Fashion Month.”

Although, traditionally, New York, London, Milan and Paris were considered the fashion capitals of the world, being that they are home to the majority of major fashion houses, other world cities have been catching on in recent years, tacking on their own fashion weeks to this important time of year and bringing more awareness to their homegrown talent.

Most runway shows are exclusive and can be attended by invitation only. To get on the ubiquitous front row, one must be a celebrity or prominent fashion editor; from there, ranking descends with each row back. Occasionally, tickets can be won at high-end charity auctions but, let’s face it, the majority of us won’t ever get the opportunity to experience fashion week firsthand. However, thanks to the rise of live-streaming and social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, it’s easier than ever to watch your favorite designers unveil their latest designs in real time. Besides, just think: with over 100 designers showcasing at NYFW alone, even the most influential fashion editor can’t attend them all. That said, if you want to get caught up in the excitement firsthand, look out for fashion-related pop-up activities that have become an increasing part of fashion week. In London, for example, visitors and general consumers can check out fashion-related museums exhibits, attend style seminars, and more..

To make sure you’re always in step with the latest shows, below we present a handy calendar for this year’s couture sprint. Celebrity cruisers whose vacations to Europe, Asia and Australia will take them to these major fashion cities during Fashion Week, might want to look into how they can get in on a piece of the action. For cruisers not headed to London, Milan or Paris, not to fret! Starting Oct. 14, Celebrity Cruises will become the first cruise line to offer Kate Spade, Cole Haan and Furla onboard the Celebrity Reflection, with Diane von Furstenberg, Trina Turk, Joseph Ribkoff Noir, Spartina and Hugo Boss Green (for the gentlemen) to follow in early 2015.

September 4-11: New York Fashion Week

September 12-16: London Fashion Week (schedule)

September 17-23: Milan Fashion Week (schedule)

September 23-October 1: Paris Fashion Week (schedule)

And later on…

September 24-27: Sydney Fashion Week

October 13-18: Istanbul Fashion Week

October 13-18: Tokyo Fashion Week

October 20-24: Toronto Fashion Week

October 23-27: Moscow Fashion Week

November 12-15: Zurich Fashion Week

 

 

Wine and Food Pairing

You have no doubt heard “wine experts” describing a certain vintage as having “hints of blackberries, cinnamon and lavender, followed by touches of blueberries, licorice and an increasing peppery nose.” With all those flavors in there already, it’s no wonder pairing certain wines with complementary food can get complicated.

Basic guidelines begin with matching the weight of the wine with the weight of the food: light wines with light foods, such as chicken and seafood; sturdy wines with sturdy foods, such as cheese and steak. It’s also important to remember that a white wine isn’t always light—some New World Chardonnays, for example, may be more full-bodied than certain Cabernets.

Once you have the wine’s weight in balance with the food, work on harmonizing the flavors. You don’t want the aromas of the wine to overpower the food, just as you don’t want the food to crush the subtle nuances in the wine. With that said, if you are tempted by a sense of adventure, try something different, out of the usual guidelines. You might be pleasantly surprised.

“It’s all about exploring the various combinations to discover your personal preferences,” says Rufino Rengifo, Corporate Executive Chef at Celebrity Cruises.

Read More

LibraryFall is traditionally when publishers release their best books, and this year is no exception. Big modern-literature names, such as Anne Rice, Stephen King, John Grisham, Ian McEwan, and James Patterson, are all releasing new reads this year, which are slated to become undoubted bestsellers. Meanwhile, some of our favorite personalities—Lena Dunham, Neil Patrick Harris and Amy Poehler—take their talent from on-screen to in print. Here, our top 10 suggestions for the best reads to entertain you from Autumn to Winter.

The Children Act, Ian McEwan (Deckle Edge, $25)
Release date: September 9, 2014
What It’s About: A leading judge must decide the fate of a devout teenager who, on medical grounds, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life.
Why Read? McEwan, the award-winning author of Atonement and Saturday, never fails to deliver a beautifully told and moving story.
Read this if you’re cruising in and around: London, McEwan’s home town and the novel’s setting.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Mantel (Henry Holt and Co., $27)
Release date: September 30, 2014
What It’s About: Mantel delivers a collection of 10 contemporary short stories that touch upon infidelity, death and family secrets.
Why Read? These stories are all we’re getting out of the Booker Prizer-winning Mantel until she releases the third book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, following Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, in 2015.
Read this if you’re cruising in and around: The Caribbean. Short stories are meant for the beach!

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned,” Lena Dunham (Random House, $28)
Release date: September 30, 2014
What It’s About: In this collection of personal essays, Dunham showcases the millennial wit that catapulted her—and her HBO series Girls—to fame.
Why Read? Love her or hate her, you can’t deny Dunham has a strong and sardonic voice that resonates with her generation and therefore demands to be heard.
Read this if you’re cruising in and around:  New York City, Dunham’s hometown and the setting for Girls.

Read More

Bestival Stage

For the past10 years, music fans have been trekking to the Isle of Wight for Bestival, an eclectic music festival created by BBC Radio 1 DJ and entrepreneur Rob da Bank and his wife Josie. Now, da Bank is bringing the award winning annual celebration of music to North America.

Da Bank has announced that he plans to take his festival brand abroad by expanding into North America and Europe. “The deal has been a long time coming,” Da Blank told The Daily Telegraph. “I’ve never been in this industry for the money but now I’m 40 with three small kids, it’s time to get business minded.”

Designed to be completely independent and unlike all other festivals, Bestival—which runs from September 4 to 7 at Robin Hill Country Park this year—not only features original live music performances, but also a slew of idiosyncratic events ranging from a Desert Island Disco Carnival Parade (expect plenty of “dy-no-mite dance moves” to complement this year’s “Desert Island Disco” theme) to  a “ramshackle but beautiful” star-gazing site called Oberon’s Observatory. In addition, the event is becoming increasingly known for its “fancy-dress” attendees, who come decked out in incredibly elaborate costumes (and even get their own Bestival section at certain online party stores).

Read More

Recipe: Classic Cheesecake

cheesecake

What better way to celebrate Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer than with a picnic or cook-out? While we’re sure you’re got the burgers and barbecued chicken covered, be sure not to forget dessert! At Celebrity, when we want to end our meals with something tasty, yet not overly decadent, we head over to the Aqua Spa Cafe for treats that are both flavorful and good for you.

One of our favorites is a light light on a classic favorite: Cheesecake!

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

Cake Base

5 ounces graham cracker crumbs
2 ounces granulated sugar
2 ounces butter (unsalted, melted)

Cheesecake Filling

21 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
5 large whole eggs
4 ounces sour cream

Garnish

3 tablespoons powdered sugar
As needed popcorn
3 ounces mixed berries
10 chocolate curls
3 tablespoons chocolate sauce

Method

For the cake base, preheat oven to 400° F (200° C). Combine all the cake base ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Place 1/4-inch mixture in a 6-inch by 2-inch round mold. Bake at 400° F (200° C) for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and reserve.

For the cheesecake filling, preheat oven to 220° F (105° C). Mix the cream cheese, vanilla extract, granulated sugar and lemon juice until smooth consistency. Then add the eggs one by one and finally the sour cream little by little while stirring. Place in the cake base mold. Bake at 220° F (105° C) bain-marie or water-bath style for at least 2 1/2 hours.

To serve, cut the cheesecake into 6 portions. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, then caramelize the top of the cheesecake with a creme brulee torch. Torch the popcorn to caramelize. Place portions on plates. Decorate plates with berries, chocolate curls, chocolate sauce and popcorn.

Serves 6.

Wine Pairing: Chalk Hill; Semillo; Botrytised Estate Vineyard Selection; Sonoma, California

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