Jazz PlayerNew Orleans is home to some of the most festive, entertaining, and delicious festivals in the world. Perhaps the most well-known of these is Mardi Gras, and this past February marked the city’s busiest—and safest—one to date, with highlights including the ubiquitous parade and infamous Bourbon Street revelry. Celebrity guests who want to check the New Orleans Mardi Gras off their bucket list—and, regulars, too, of course—will want to sign up for our 2017 Mardi Gras Signature Event Sailing on board Celebrity Equinox®. The limited-edition, 11-night sailing departs from Fort Lauderdale on February 20th, and with staterooms filling up fast, we advise that you book now to avoid disappointment.

Meanwhile, later this month, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be held at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course over two consecutive weekends (April 24-26 and April 30-May 3). Now in its 46th year, the festival celebrates the city’s rich music culture that includes a wide variety of genres: R&B, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, country, bluegrass, and of course, jazz. The don’t-want-to-miss lineup of artists currently slated to perform on the festival’s 10-plus stages include today’s hottest contemporary stars, including Ed Sheeran, John Legend, and Hozier; country artists Keith Urban and Kacey Musgraves; legendary performers Elton John and the Who; and jazz masters, Ellis Marsalis and the Rebirth Brass Band. In addition, the Georgia-based jam band, Widespread Panic, has been honored with the festival’s longest set—an impressive three hours and 15 minutes.

To keep fans going strong all weekend, the New Orlean’s top restaurants will set up pop-up food stands, serving over 200 different bites and beverages. The collective menu has been curated to include traditional and contemporary Creole and Cajun recipes, as well as the New Orleans standards (think po’ boys, alligator pies, and beignets from Café du Monde).

Tickets and hotels are still available, so if hot nights and even hotter music are up your alley, book your accommodations today.

Celebrity Cruises, An Evening of Fado and Folklore, Shore Excursion, Lisbon, Portugal

Heading to Portugal on a Celebrity cruise any time soon? If you’re looking to spend an evening immersed in culture and authentic local entertainment, be sure to check out our new Evening with Fado and Folklore shore excursion in Lisbon. The tour is an exciting addition to our new Evenings Around the World Shore Excursions collection, which showcases some of the most unique, intriguing, and distinctive activities and happenings at a port of call that take place after the sun sets.

On this excursion, you’ll discover one of Portugal’s iconic cultural hallmarks, Fado, while also being treated to a spectacular song and dance performance. Fado, translated from the Latin word “fatum”, meaning destiny, is a centuries-old genre of music typically characterized by poignant melodies and lyrics. An integral part of the history and life of the Portuguese people, Fado is recognized on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

First, you’ll take in some of Lisbon’s beautiful nighttime sights on the drive to a local Fado House, a tavern where Fado performances are traditionally held. The venue is charming and intimate, boasting décor and furnishings typical to the taverns of yesteryear where Fado music was played.

After being shown to your seats, you’ll instantly feel as though you were transported hundreds of years back in time to the days when Fado originated. Before long, the performance will begin and you won’t help but feel captivated by the entrancing and soulful lyrics, profound choreography, and intense rhythms of the folkloric music.

A centuries-old cultural tradition comes to life before your eyes on our Evening with Fado and Folklore shore excursion. It’s an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime and the perfect way to see, feel, and actually become a part of the most emblematic representation of Portuguese heritage.

Blu Chilled Sweet Pea Soup Blu, Celebrity Cruises’ spa concept restaurant, which is exclusive to our AquaClass® guests, was designed to highlight our fresh ingredients, and showcase their clean, crisp flavors. At Blu, our world-class chefs deconstruct popular dishes to modernize them in an elegant yet simple way. Open for breakfast and dinner, the menu changes daily, with entrees that may include charred veal loin with roasted vegetables, or curried chicken and roasted beet salad. Appetizers include ever-popular beef carpaccio, as well as our signature chilled sweet pea soup with crab salad, which is as perfect for a quick spring lunch as it is an ideal prelude to dinner. With that said, we thought we’d share the recipe for this popular dish with you, just in time for al fresco lazy lunches and laidback evening suppers. Ingredients: Sweet Pea Soup 4 teaspoons olive oil 4 teaspoons shallots (chopped) 1 teaspoon garlic cloves (chopped) 2 pounds frozen green peas 6 cups soy milk 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1 bouquet garni To taste kosher salt To taste white petter (ground) Read More

cappuccino

Today, this Milanese coffee creation is sought out more frequently than a good ol’ American cup of joe. But making the perfect cappuccino is trickier than you think. For it to be considered top-notch by any coffee-loving connoisseur, the added milk must be steamed to the correct temperature (between 130° and 150° Fahrenheit); the water pressure, or “the pull,” should be engaged for an exact amount of time; the cups must be filled just so… You see our point.

On board our Celebrity Cruises’ ships, the Italian espresso company Lavazza helps us maintain a world-class level of coffee drinks by training our staff (and retraining them every six months). They also inspect our espresso machines as if they were powerful sports cars, ensuring that our pressure pumps are perfectly calibrated, and our grinds are adjusted for the changing heat and humidity as our ships travel the world.

For those looking to recreate the Celebrity cappuccino experience at home, here are some of our tips for consistently preparing the perfect cappuccino.

  1. Chill the metal milk pitcher, then add the desired amount of cold milk.
  2. Froth the milk before you begin the pull. The milk should be frothed to between 130-150°F. When you begin to froth, always keep the tip of the stem wand just below the milk’s surface, riding up with the milk as it rises higher in the pitcher. After reaching 100°F, plunge the tip deeper into the milk.
  3. As the steam builds, tilt the pitcher so the milk begins to swirl. You are looking for a creamy consistency, with a texture of fine, dense bubbles. Upon reaching the perfect temperature, set the milk aside.
  4. Pull the espresso shot. It should take 25-30 seconds and—if done correctly—you will see a fine, thin caramel/hazel colored stream resting on top of the espresso shot, this I known as the “crema.”
  5. Now, pick up the milk pitcher and “work” the film (gently moving the pitcher in a circular motion) while you’re waiting for the pull to finish. You’ll see a creamy, glossy foam develop as the heated milk reacts with the whirling air.
  6. Pour the milk into the espresso to create a slight dome. The milk will drop out of the foam, giving the perfect balance of milk and espresso in the cup.

Celebrity Cruises, Shore Excursions

At Celebrity Cruises®, we’re committed to giving you a truly remarkable vacation experience, connecting you with the world through exclusive and extraordinary tours and activities to take you far beyond the shores, and straight to the heart of the destination and its people.

With that said, we’re excited to announce that we’re introducing four unique shore excursion collections, which cater to individual preferences and lifestyle: Uniquely Celebrity, Culture & Locale, Lifestyle & Wellness, and Family.

Discover how easy it is to pick your perfect experiences as we introduce our most spectacular collection of shore excursions to date.

 

The Uniquely Celebrity Collection

We’ve partnered with locals around the world to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences that are exclusive to Celebrity. For the ultimate in modern luxury, our Uniquely Celebrity premium excursions are not to be missed. Choose from a range of Celebrity ExclusivesSM, our premiere excursions, like The Winds of Tuscany, where you can glide over the Tuscan countryside on a hot air balloon, or create your very own dream experience, completely tailored to your desires, with our Private JourneysSM.


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top chef at sea

Get ready, Top Chef fans: Celebrity Cruises® has announced their 2015 Top Chef Signature Sailing. Like last year’s offerings, guests will able to dine, learn from, and interact with past cheftestants, which this year includes newest Top Chef alumni Gregory Gourdet and Doug Adams, as well as past favorites Nina ComptonAsh Fulk, Tiffany Derry and Chris Crary. The group will lead private cooking classes and best of all—and new to this year—host shore excursions with guests. Also new to this year: dual-style cooking demonstrations, which will pit cheftestants against each other in a culinary battle, while answering fans’ questions. In true reality show-style, the audience members will decide on the ultimate battle winner.

The 2015 Top Chef Signature Sailing will set sail on Saturday, November 14 onboard the Celebrity Reflection®. It joins Celebrity’s ongoing Top Chef at Sea activities, which include interactive Quickfire Challenges and Top Chef-inspired menu evenings on board nine of their ships, for all sailings departing through June 2016. Guests will indulge in some of the dishes the judges raved about on the show at Top Chef Night in the main restaurant.

Sign up now to see what culinary adventures lie in store for this year’s passengers.

 

Turkish leg of lamb

Conventionally, the highlight of Easter Sunday’s dinner is a roast lamb dish. While many credit this to Spring being lambing season, the reason is actually rooted in the Old Testament in which we learn that the Children of Israel ate the gamey meat in remembrance of their Exodus from Israel, when they were commanded by God to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on their doorposts so that the angel of death would “pass over” their homes when carrying out the final plague—the slaying of the firstborn—in retribution for the Egyptians’ cruelty. Subsequently, Jews have honored their escape from slavery by sacrificing the Paschal Lamb at Passover. Since the Pesach seder was Jesus’ Last Supper, it is believed that the Passover lamb must have been his final meal, and therein lies the roots of the Easter tradition. (Fun Fact: Incidentally, this is also why Easter is the only ‘moveable holiday’ on the Christian calendar—it falls in line with the Jewish Passover, which is dependent on a lunar (versus solar) calendar year.)

In honor of the Easter and Passover holidays, here’s one of Celebrity’s takes on roast lamb, which we think is the perfect update to your traditional Easter meal.

Ingredients

1 (12-pound) lamb leg (boned, whole)
10 garlic cloves (peeled, cut in four lengthwise)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rosemary (chopped)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2  large white onions (rough chopped)
4 large carrots (rough chopped)

Method

Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).

With a small boning knife, make small incisions randomly around the leg of lamb. Insert the cut garlic cloves into the incisions, and with fingertips, press cloves all the way into the meat.

In a small mixing bowl, combine chopped rosemary with salt and spices; mix well and set aside. Brush lamb leg with olive oil, rub with the rosemary and spice mix. In a roasting pan, place onion and carrots on bottom; place leg of lamb on top.

Cook lamb or 7 to 10 hours, or until completely tender and almost falling from the bone. Remove and serve with a salad and tzatziki sauce.

Serves 6.

Celebrity Shore Excursions, Family Tour Challenge, The Big Nugget, Skagway, Alaska

Alaska is filled with wonderful opportunities for families to explore, learn, and forge lasting memories together. If you’re planning a Celebrity cruise vacation to Alaska with your loved ones, we have an array of exciting adventures your whole family will enjoy, including our popular Family Tour Challenge – The Big Nugget in Skagway.

From gold panning to interacting with professional dog mushers and their pups, this incredible Shore Excursion offers the perfect chance for you to spend quality time with your loved ones while enjoying an unforgettable firsthand look at Alaska’s famous Gold Rush days.

But don’t take our word for it; see what one of our guests, PHILMARJ, has to say about this amazing destination experience:

“This was a great excursion. We learned a lot about the Iditarod race from someone who had competed multiple times. We got to meet a dog sled team and young husky puppies that we got to hold. We also got to see the dogs pull a sled on a gravel track. Next we got to dress to go into a very cold room to experience 40 below. From there, we got a tour and explanation of a gold mine dredging operation, gold panning and then had the opportunity to pan gold ourselves. From gold panning, we went to a beer tasting room where we were able to sample a variety of commercially available and beers brewed locally at the excursion site. After the beer tasting and tour of the brewing local facilities, we were treated to a delicious meal in an adjacent building. We would highly recommend this tour for adults and families.”

How can we help you?

How can we help you?

Packing for a cruise can intimidate even the most experienced of travelers because unlike “traditional” vacations, cruises have the prospect of “formal” and themed nights to contend with, thus vacationers are posed with the ultimate question: to pack, or not to pack, the tux or gown. What’s more, all clothing and travel items need to be packed into two suitcases, max. But worry not—cruise packing can actually be pretty stress-free; especially when you follow our top tips.

Wardrobe: Mix it Up

Most cruises feature both laidback and more formal dining options, so in addition to your casual attire—such as t-shirts, jeans, sundresses and shorts—you’ll also want to bring a set or two of dressier options for those nights when you want to take your evening up a notch. Tuxedo- and gown-averse guests needn’t worry—dark suits, or blazers with trousers will work just fine, as will contemporary nighttime looks for women. That said, should you wish to don cocktail attire, you’ll also feel right at home. Other essential items include a minimum of 2 bathing suits (so one will always be dry!), workout clothes, sun hats, sandals, and sunglasses. However, if you’re headed for a cooler region, you’ll also want to add a lightweight (but warm) coat, pieces you can layer, along with socks and suitable footwear.

Technology: Capturing the Memories

To help you remember every aspect of your trip, you undoubtedly want to pack a camera (or if you have a smartphone, a charger to make sure your device won’t let you down at the wrong moment!).

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Faberge Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, boasts an incredible history and eclectic culture. Once the capital of imperial Russia, the city is renowned as one of Europe’s cultural epicenters, with its numerous world-famous museums, galleries, monuments, and parks. Naturally, when visiting St. Petersburg, you’ll want to soak in as many of these incredible sites as possible. But what if we told you there was a whole other side to these historic landmarks not many are privy to?

If you’re visiting St. Petersburg on your next Celebrity® cruise, be sure to check out these amazing shore excursions that’ll take you beyond the typical sights and sounds of the city, creating an exceptionally unique experience.

Catherine Palace and Amber Restoration Workshop

Catherine Palace is one of St. Petersburg’s most iconic landmarks. The stunning 18th century imperial palace is the epitome of opulence, with its extravagant carved panels that are gilded with over 200 pounds of gold. Yes, Catherine Palace is one of the city’s top attractions, but on our Catherine Palace and Amber Restoration Workshop shore excursion, you’ll have the unique opportunity to not only explore the palace grounds, but also enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Amber restoration workshops, where the palace’s famous Amber panels are being rebuilt to their pre-World War II glory.

Your experience will begin with a tour of the palace, following in the footsteps of Russian tsars who frequented the estate during the summer. After, with champagne in hand, you’ll enjoy a “backstage” invitation to the Amber restoration workshops, where you’ll learn all about the room itself—which many consider to be the “Eighth Wonder of the World”—and it’s fascinating history, concluding with the modern day restoration project under task, whereby restorers are hoping to restore the space to her original grandeur. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, you’ll also have some time to stroll the palace’s enchanting 1,400-acre park, that’s set around a central lake and dotted with a number of charming pavilions.


Faberge Museum Evening Experience

If you’re a fan of intimate and exclusive experiences, our Faberge Museum Evening Experience is not to be missed. Because on this exceptional shore excursion, you won’t only enjoy a private evening tour of the world-famous Faberge Museum, but you’ll also be treated to a wonderful cocktail reception and private musical performance.

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