Big news announcement from Brightline:
(Press Release)_MIAMI – December 28, 2017 – Brightline continues to make progress toward operational readiness by training our teammates and testing our equipment. We will launch introductory service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale the week of January 8, 2018.
Read more in Gerry's Blog:
(Press Release)_MIAMI (December 27, 2017) – Grammy Award-nominated, multi-platinum, singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, who has sold more than 20 million singles worldwide, will perform a free concert aboard Carnival Splendor in February 2018, as part of the Carnival LIVE Concert Series. The concert marks the first time the cruise line is collaborating with Universal Music Group and Brands (UMGB), the brand strategy and partnership division of Universal Music Group.
While the concert is a departure from previous Carnival LIVE performances in that it is free and open to all guests sailing on Carnival Splendor’s Feb. 17, 2018, seven-day voyage, it continues the line’s mission of bringing the best in live entertainment to the seas and providing guests an opportunity to enjoy captivating performances by top artists in a memorable setting.
The concert will take place on Carnival Splendor’s Lido Deck Feb. 18 while the ship is at sea during a week-long Mexican Riviera cruise that operates round-trip from Long Beach, Calif. The voyage features a day-long call at Puerto Vallarta and two days at Cabo San Lucas.
Jepsen broke onto the music scene in 2012 with her major label debut Kiss that included the smash hit “Call Me Maybe” which climbed to #1 on the iTunes Singles charts in more than 47 countries and earned her Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year. After earning rave reviews starring in the Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Jepsen released her next album, E·MO·TION, which received critical acclaim and featured the Billboard Top 40 hit “I Really Like You.”
Jepsen also starred as the iconic Pink Lady, "Frenchy," in FOX's four-time EMMY award winning musical GREASE: LIVE and most recently voiced the character of Odette in the animated movie “LEAP!". “LEAP!” featured Jepsen’s song “Cut To The Feeling” which has been hailed by critics as a top song of 2017 showing up on year end lists for Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, Noisey and more.
Jepsen joins an impressive lineup of Carnival LIVE artists who run the gamut of musical genres, from rock, country, R&B, and pop, as well as some of the biggest names in comedy. Previous Carnival LIVE artists include music superstars Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood and comedians Jim Gaffigan and Chris Tucker.
“While I’ve performed all over the world and on Broadway, I’ve never performed on a cruise ship before and I’m really looking forward to a night with my fans in what promises to be a unique venue for an incredible night,” Jepsen said.
“We’re delighted to have Carly bring her signature brand of pop music to guests sailing aboard Carnival Splendor,” said Sarah Beth Reno, Carnival’s vice president of entertainment. “A free open-air concert on Lido Deck is an exciting new twist for Carnival LIVE and we can’t wait for our guests to experience this one-of-a-kind entertainment concept in an entirely new setting,” she added.
(Press Release)_MIAMI – December 22, 2017 – Today, Brightline announced the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) approved a $1.15 billion Private Activity Bond allocation, and that Brightline also secured the final two South Florida Water Management District permits needed to construct the segment between Orlando and Cocoa. Both actions are important steps as the company plans to start construction on Phase 2 in early 2018 and marks a year of achieving important milestones.
“In another major step forward for Brightline’s Phase 2 extension to Orlando, U.S. DOT approved a $1.15 billion Private Activity Bond allocation,” said Dave Howard, Brightline’s CEO. “After a successful $600 million PAB closing this week, we are pleased to have this financing option available. We appreciate the leadership of U.S. DOT as they work to move major infrastructure projects forward, creating thousands of jobs and stimulating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development.”
Brightline is still analyzing all financing options for Phase 2, including a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan. With all federal approvals in place, Brightline is finalizing the engineering and design for the rail infrastructure. Additionally, Brightline is working on the installation of a new signal system and Positive Train Control (PTC) for the entire system between Miami and Orlando. PTC will be in place between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2018 and will be operational along the entire 235-mile route when the extension to Orlando opens.
Brightline’s station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex.
The company continues working toward operational readiness with the Federal Railroad Administration for the launch of introductory service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and will release details soon.
Actress and avid traveler Shay Mitchell is Royal Caribbean's "Adventurist." Come along as she explores the culture, food and shopping in the Bahamas.
This sailboat spotted on the Intra-Coastal in North Palm Beach was definitely in the holiday spirit Sunday. Deck the halls, and the water! (Photo by NBPL)
(Press Release)_MIAMI – December 15, 2017 – Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a Record of Decision for the privately funded Brightline intercity passenger rail project between Miami and Orlando. The Record of Decision (ROD) represents the final step in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process after the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was issued in 2015 and is the last federal environmental approval needed to construct the system between West Palm Beach and Orlando. This decision marks the achievement of another significant milestones for the company as it gears up to launch Phase 1 of its service and start construction north of West Palm Beach.
“This is the most critical and final step in the extension of Brightline’s service to Orlando, and we are excited to move forward with Phase 2,” said Dave Howard, Brightline’s CEO. “This was a great year for us as we completed construction on two of our major stations and rail infrastructure, successfully presold tickets and corporate packages to individuals and businesses throughout the region and priced $600 million in Private Activity Bonds to fund Phase 1. We look forward to launching service to Miami and starting construction north to Orlando in the first quarter of 2018.”
For the past four years, the Federal Railroad Administration, the lead agency, has worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, numerous local agencies, water management districts, cities and counties on the development and issuance of the FEIS. The process included extensive public outreach, including dozens of public meetings and the submission and consideration of thousands of public comments.
The project is moving full speed ahead. Over the next few months, Brightline will finalize the design for the rail infrastructure and the 70-acre Vehicle Maintenance Facility that will be located on Orlando International Airport property. Construction of the system will create thousands of jobs and provide a much-needed link between Florida’s two most visited and populated regions.
Brightline’s station in Orlando will be located at the Orlando International Airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility (ITF) that will be the hub of the future South Terminal complex. The ITF is connected to the North Terminal by a recently completed Automated People Mover and includes a 5,000-space parking garage. SunRail, Central Florida’s commuter rail system, has a planned connection to the ITF. The completion of the South Terminal will add 16 new gates for international and domestic flights.
Brightline will announce the launch date for the start of introductory service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach soon. The company expects to become fully operational and extend service into downtown Miami in early 2018.
(Press Release)_NETHERLANDS – December 15, 2017 – The ceremonial keel laying took place for Celebrity Flora in Tolkamer, Netherlands, setting the foundation for the ship's innovative new structure. A 49.2 ton block was lifted in the air and a lucky coin was placed in the dock before the block was lowered into position. With the solid foundation in place, the building blocks can be joined together to create the ship of the future.
Leaders from both Celebrity Cruises, BG Studios, and DeHoop were at the event to celebrate the next stage of the ships evolution. Celebrity Flora will sail from Baltra year-round, making her first sailing on May 26, 2019. Bookings are now open at www.celebritycruises.com/galapagos/ships/celebrity-flora or through a travel agent, for the ship’s alternating seven-night inner and outer loop itineraries.
Here is more about Flora from an earlier release:
MIAMI – Nov. 16, 2017 – Celebrity Cruises unveils another stunning revolution in ship design: Celebrity
Flora is an elevated and inspired approach to marine exploration, meticulously designed expressly for the
awe-inspiring Galapagos Islands.
One of the most energy-efficient ships of its size in the diverse archipelago, the 100-guest Celebrity Flora
will offer seamless sea-to-shore transportation, and includes anchorless technology that maintains the
ship’s position while protecting the sensitive sea floor. Innovative outward-facing design gives guests
360-degree views of the islands, while personal suite attendants, new dining venues, an open-air
stargazing platform, and expert-lead ecological seminars will round out the modern luxury vacation
“Celebrity Flora marks another example of our revolutionary ship design by allowing the destination and
its environment to influence every decision we’ve made,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO,
Celebrity Cruises. “From the luxurious all-suite accommodations to industry-first, eco-friendly innovations, we created a ship that brings a new level of luxury, sustainability and natural exploration to the region. Guests will feel as though they’re boarding a high-end yacht for a week of unparalleled adventures, and they are!”
(Press Release)_Meet our new bundle of Christmas joy - a rare, baby Pygmy hippo (born Dec. 1 to mother Zsa Zsa, and weighing in at 9 pounds). Our General Curator, Chris Massaro, gives us the inside scoop on the newest addition to our Zoo family. Tampa's Lowery Park Zoo is one of only 13 zoos in the U.S. to care for this unique species.
(Press Release)_MIAMI (December 14, 2017) – Carnival Fascination will undergo an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that will add a variety of popular food and beverage innovations, including Guy’s Burger Joint developed by Food Network star Guy Fieri, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, BlueIguana Cantina Mexican eatery, Cherry on Top sweets shop, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and a Bonsai Sushi Express venue.
The spaces will be added during a two-week dry dock taking place Feb. 4-17, 2018, in Freeport, The Bahamas, prior to the ship resuming its year-round schedule of seven-day southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico, beginning Feb. 18, 2018. Carnival Fascination is currently being chartered to FEMA to house relief workers in St. Croix.
“We can’t wait for our guests to experience these exciting new features aboard Carnival Fascination when she returns to her year-round homeport of San Juan early next year,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, adding that other Carnival ships began visiting San Juan as a port of call Nov. 30.
The new F&B options aboard Carnival Fascination include:
· Guy’s Burger Joint: a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries enjoyed amidst a décor that celebrates the chef’s California roots and love of car culture.
· RedFrog Rum Bar: a poolside watering hole offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival’s own private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.
· BlueIguana Cantina: a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas, as well as an elaborate toppings and salsa bar.
· BlueIguana Tequila Bar: a fun and festive outdoor bar offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin’ by the pool.
· Cherry on Top: The “sweetest spot on board,” Cherry on Top is the gateway to the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun-and-fanciful gifts, just-because novelties, colorful custom apparel and more.
· Alchemy Bar: a vintage-themed cocktail “pharmacy” that’s the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who “prescribe” concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests’ own custom-created cocktails.
· Bonsai Sushi Express: the success of the full-service Bonsai Sushi restaurants has spawned this casual, convenient yet equally tasty offshoot featuring a mouth-watering array of sushi, sashimi, rolls and more.
These new options complement popular attractions like a WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long Twister slide, Seuss at Sea operated exclusively with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, and myriad entertainment choices including the Punchliner Comedy Club, Playlist Productions shows, and Hasbro, The Game Show, with larger-than-life adaptations of the company’s iconic games.
Carnival Fascination’s year-round schedule from San Juan encompasses week-long sailings to five Caribbean islands: St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
Exploring what to see and do in North Palm Beach and the South Florida area. Your hosts are Pam and Gerry Barker.
GERRY PRONOUNCED GARY
Listen to Chapter One of "Panama Palmer"