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News Archive - April 2006

Weekend Cruise News 4-28-06
Want an advance look at Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship at 160,000 gross registered tons and a passenger capacity of 3,634? You can see the giant vessel on NBC's Today Show May 12, as she arrives in New York Harbor for the first time. The mega-ship will be christened on the show, and will also host a live appearance by singer/songwriter Barry Manilow. The ship features a number of on-board innovations, including the FlowRider surfing simulator; an interactive water park; a pair of cantilevered whirlpools that extend out from the sides of the ship; a boxing ring; and family suites that accommodate up to 14 persons. Freedom of the Seas will operate seven-night western Caribbean itineraries out of Miami starting in May.

Princess Cruises said it will deploy a record five ships on the Gulf of Alaska route in 2007, offering a total of 85 departures for the season on two seven-night itineraries. The cruises will be combinable with any of 22 different land tour options created by Princess Tours. The 2007 schedule will include the addition of the 670-passenger Pacific Princess to the Gulf of Alaska. The ship will operate a series of 14 alternating seven-night northbound and southbound itineraries with mid-week (Wednesday) departures. Southbound sailings will call at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway with visits to Glacier Bay and College Fjord; northbound trips will call at the same port cities and will cruise through Tracy Arm Fjord, and visit Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord. Meanwhile, the Diamond Princess, Sapphire Princess, Coral Princess and Island Princess will be back next year to offer "Voyage of the Glaciers" seven-night sailings between Vancouver and Whittier. Diamond and Sapphire Princess will offer Saturday departures from Vancouver or Whittier, while Coral and Island Princess will operate on a Monday-to-Monday schedule.

Meanwhile, Princess also said last week that its upcoming summer series of Caribbean cruises out of New York on the new Crown Princess has generated such heavy bookings that the line has decided to repeat the same schedule in summer of 2007. A sister ship of Caribbean Princess, the new Crown Princess will sail from New York this summer on 12 departures of nine-day Eastern Caribbean-plus-Bermuda sailings from May 12 to September 6. Ports include Bermuda (West End), San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. June 26 and August 28 departures will offer visits to San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. Early-booking fares start at $599 per person.

Celebrity Cruises said its 2007-2008 Europe schedules will provide customers with the broadest array of itineraries and ports since the line began sailing there in 1999. Among the plans for 2007:

  • Constellation will sail transatlantic April 23, 2007 from Ft. Lauderdale on a 12-night trip, visiting Cornwall, England and ending in Dover; then the ship will operate a series of two-week Scandinavia/Russia sailings roundtrip from Dover.

  • Galaxy is slates to leave April 27, 2007 from San Juan on a 14-night transatlantic voyage to Civitavecchia (Rome), stopping along the way at Casablanca and Agadir, Morocco. Galaxy will then operate 10- and 11-day eastern Mediterranean cruises roundtrip from Civitavecchia to ports in Italy, Greece and Turkey through October 13, followed by a pair of 14-night Mediterranean/Black Sea cruises.

  • Millennium will leave Ft. Lauderdale March 18, 2007 on a 14-night cruise to Southampton, calling at one new port along the way � Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands. Then comes a 12-night sailing from Southampton to Barcelona via ports in France, Spain and Morocco, followed by a series of 12-night Mediterranean cruises between Barcelona and Venice.

  • Century will offer varied itineraries in Europe next year, including eight-night Norwegian Fjords trips from Amsterdam May 9 and 26 and August 26; a Scotland/Ireland nine-night itinerary from Amsterdam May 17; a series of 12-night Scandinavia/Russia cruises roundtrip from Amsterdam in June, July and August; a July 9 Arctic Circle/North Cape itinerary from Amsterdam; and a 10-night British Isles cruise from Amsterdam September 3.

    Starting in January 2007, Carnival Cruise Lines will break out a new southern Caribbean itinerary with the Carnival Legend. The ship's will sail from Ft. Lauderdale on an eight-day schedule that includes calls at St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Maarten. The new southern Caribbean itinerary will begin January 27, 2007, Carnival said. Since the schedule is eight days, departures from Ft. Lauderdale will be on different days of the week.

    Holland America Line has now completed new "Signature of Excellence" enhancements on 12 of its ships, with the emergence of Maasdam from drydock last week. Like its sister vessels, Maasdam's upgrades included the addition of an Exploration Caf� powered by the New York Times, for web surfing, coffee sipping and book borrowing; a new Culinary Arts Center for cooking demonstrations, in partnership with Food & Wine magazine; an expanded Greenhouse Spa and Salon; and a refurbished Crow's Nest lounge, among other improvements. The only HAL ship without the full complement of "Signature of Excellence" improvements is the Oosterdam; it has some of the service enhancements already, and will go into drydock in September to have a Culinary Arts Center installed.
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    Update On Star Princess Fire
    Princess Cruises has said that although no definitive cause of the fire has yet been determined, it will confirm that the fire did start on one of the ship's balconies, and spread to other balconies. "We believe the fire is an isolated incident, and would like to stress that our company has been safely operating ships with large numbers of balconies for over ten years. Nevertheless, after the fire we immediately put in place on all our ships precautions designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event of a similar situation happening again, we would be able to quickly detect and extinguish the fire." company officials have said.

    To that end, we implemented a 24-hour fire watch of our balconies, introduced specific training and fire response procedures for our crew in handling fires on balconies, enhanced communication to passengers regarding fire safety, and changed certain crew housekeeping procedures on balconies.
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    Weekend Cruise News 4-14-06

    *** Royal Caribbean has announced the name of the cruise line's second Freedom class ship, Liberty of the Seas. Freedom of the Seas enters service this June and sister ship Liberty of the Seas will debut in May 2007. The 3,600-passenger Liberty of the Seas will sail alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries year-round from Miami, calling on San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Labadee, Haiti in the east and in Labadee; Montego Bay, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico in the west. Liberty will depart Miami on Saturdays while Freedom of the Seas also sailing alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries out of Miami, will depart Sundays. Also new in 2007, Explorer of the Seas returns to Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., on May 6, 2007, where she will sail alternating 5-night Bermuda and 9-night Caribbean sailings. In time for the fall foliage, this popular Voyager-class ship will head north for four 9-night Canada/New England sailings. Explorer will remain in the Northeast for the remainder of the year, offering various 2007-08 winter escapes from Cape Liberty including 9-night Eastern Caribbean sailings calling on Labadee, Haiti; Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico; as well as an exotic 12-night Southern Caribbean itinerary calling on Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. John's, Antigua; Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Charlotte Amalie and San Juan.

    *** Princess Cruises paid a special tribute to actor Gavin MacLeod, best known for his 10-year role as Captain Merrill Stubing in the popular television series The Love Boat, honored by Princess Cruises for his 20 years as the line's spokesperson. MacLeod began appearing in Princess advertisements and at public events in 1986, and continues as the line's celebrity ambassador, which was featured as the setting for the long-running show.

    *** Cruise ship passengers arriving or departing through Seattle during the 2006 cruise season now have a new resource for rental cars through Thrifty Car Rental. Through an exclusive arrangement with the Port of Seattle's cruise ship terminal operator, Thrifty will operate rental counters at Seattle's two cruise ship terminals located at Pier 30 and Pier 66. With the completion of the rental paperwork upon disembarking, rental customers take a short shuttle ride to Thrifty's auto rental center at Pier 48 for the pick-up of their vehicle.

    *** Princess Cruises' newest ship, Crown Princess, will begin service June 9, sailing round-trip from New York to the Eastern Caribbean. The cruise line has added 20 new shore excursions in Grand Turk, including soft adventure tours (dune buggy tours, Stingray Interaction, horseback riding). In addition Grand Turk's new cruise terminal offers a pool, restaurants, shopping, car/jeep/bike rentals, an internet cafe and beachside massages.

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    Weekend News 4-7-06
    *** Delta Queen Steamboat Company has been sold to Ambassadors, International, a company which also owns and operates America West Cruises. Joe Ueberroth, President and CEO of Ambassadors International, Inc., said, "The combination of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company with American West Steamboat Company takes two significant regional businesses and creates a national, American cruise company." The acquisition will increase Ambassador's number of vessels to five and the number of berths from 365 to approximately 1,400 berths. The Delta Queen Steamboat Company is America's oldest cruise line with its history dating back to 1890, today operating a three-vessel fleet which includes the 436-passenger American Queen, the 416-passenger Mississippi Queen and the historic 174-passenger Delta Queen.

    *** Princess Cruises will offer 2l new excursions during the 2006 Alaska cruise season. The new programs include Alaska's Whales & Rain Forest Trails, an intimate eco-tour in which passengers can experience Alaska's abundant wildlife by both land and sea in a intimate 20-passenger boat for truly up-close whale watching (sightings are guaranteed) in Juneau. In the same port stop Princess offers the new "Dog Sledding on the Mendenhall Glacier" featuring one of the originators of helicopter glacier flightseeing for a dog sledding adventure on the Mendenhall Glacier. Iditarod mushers share tales from the trails as the dogs pull passengers across the glacier. In Ketchikan, the "Canopy Adventure & Wildlife Expedition" features the opportunity to glide through the rain forest on zip lines, aerial bridges and nature trails. Seven zip lines and dramatic suspension bridges offer unique angles from which to view the forest reserve's abundant wildlife. In Skagway, one new offering, "Takshanuk Mountain Trail by 4x4" allows passengers to wind their way through scenic wilderness via a four-wheel-drive Kawasaki "mule." Designed to be easily accessible, these rugged vehicles explore forest and mountain spaces filled with waterfalls and lakes. The "Sitka Photography Tour" is led by an experienced local photographer on a tour customized for shutterbugs who want to capture images of Sitka seldom seen by visitors, whether historic sites, wildlife, flora, harbors, or even spawning salmon. These tours may be pre-booked by passengengers scheduled to sail on a 2006 Princess Alaska cruise by visiting

    *** Oceania Cruises' 2007 Europe cruises will offer more than 80 overnight port stays in the greatest destinations in Europe such as Athens, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Sorrento, St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Venice. Sailing next year to the Western Mediterranean, the Greek Isles and Scandinavia will be Oceania's 720-passenger sister ship Regatta, Insignia and Nautica. New ports of call include Cinque Terre, easily accessible from the Ligurian port of La Spezia; the Albanian seaside port of Sarande with visits to Roman ruins of Butrinti, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Albanian coast; Mitilini, on the Greek isle of Lesbos; historic Cagliari, on the Italian isle of Sardinia; the yachtsman's haven of Portoferraio on Italy's isle of Elba and Mahon, on Spain's Balearic Islands.

    *** The first visitor to Carnival Corp's new $52 million Brooklyn, NY, cruise terminal will be Queen Mary 2, scheduled to arrive April 15 to a ceremony and welcoming remarks by Mayor Bloomberg. The Red Hook facility will be used by Carnival Corporation's Cunard Line and Princess Cruises. In its first year of operation, the 182,000-square-foot Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is expected to welcome approximately 40 ships, including the new Crown Princess launching in June 2006. The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal is the first in the New York area to be designed specifically to accommodate today's larger cruise ships. In addition to deepening the channel, reinforcing moorings and upgrading the gangway, the new facility includes traveler-friendly improvements such as improved signage, landscaping, a tourist kiosk and more attractive glass exterior and canopy.

    *** Princess Cruises' upcoming 113,000-ton Crown Princess recently completed a major step in preparation for her June 2006 debut -- her first sea trials. The ship's first major outing took the new vessel out of its construction dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. Engineers tested the ship's maneuvering and propulsion machinery, and were pleased to report the ship's systems responded well. After further exterior and interior finishing, Crown Princess will undergo an additional series of sea trials in coming months. Her maiden voyage departs June 14, launching her season of nine-day roundtrip sailings from New York to the Caribbean. In fall, the ship repositions to San Juan for a series of alternating Southern Caribbean itineraries.

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    Two Princess Inaugurals In Europe
    In 2007, Princess Cruises will debut two new ships in Europe, the Royal Princess and Emerald Princess. The The 680-passenger Royal Princess (former Renaissance Cruises vessel) joins the Princess fleet in 2007 and will offer five unique new itineraries, including Princess' first cruises to Israel in more than five years. Sailings between Athens and Rome offering stops at Patmos, Santorini, Kusadasi, Haifa (for Galilee/Nazareth), Ashdod (for Jerusalem), Port Said (for Cairo/Giza), Alexandria, Sorrento/Capri. This 12-day voyage departs four times, on June 1, September 5, October 23, and on a modified Athens/Venice itinerary on November 4. The 3,100-passenger Emerald Princess' Inaugural Season will include Mediterranean and Greek Isles itineraries. Additional Princess ships scheduled for a Europe season next year include Grand Princess, Sea Princess and Star Princess.
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    HBO to Air Documentary on Gay Family Cruises
    HBO this month will air a documentary about comedian Rosie O'Donnell's gay family charter cruises, R Family Vacations. Filmed in 2004 aboard Norwegian Dawn, the program details experiences of passengers on a seven-night Caribbean cruise; all are part of, or friends of, gay families.

    "This documentary is about tapping into a celebration of gay people and prejudice against gay families that is inherent in large parts of America," Sheila Nevins, one of the film's producers, told the New York Times.

    Former talk show host O'Donnell and her partner, Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell, created R Family Vacations in 2004 with a friend who specialized in booking gay charters. The pair has four children. The O'Donnells and 1,500 others took the first R Family Cruise that year. In 2005, 2,200 passengers sailed from New York for a New England charter. Alaska will be the next itinerary when a sold-out cruise of 2,600 leaves from Seattle this summer.

    The 90-minute documentary -- which begins to be aired Thursday, April 6, on HBO -- features interviews with passengers and footage of their tasks as parents. In addition, a male couple is married on-board, and celebrity passengers like NFL defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo talk about their lives as gay men and women.

    "All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise" will air through the month of April.
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    Carnival Switches Ship Itineraries
    Effective April 6, 2006, Carnival Cruise Lines will permanently swap the itineraries operated by its cruise ships Fantasy and Sensation. Both ships are based at Port Canaveral, Florida. The Fantasy will take over the Sensation's four- and five-day Bahamas/Grand Turk cruise program and the Sensation will, in turn, operate the Fantasy's three- and four-day Bahamas program. The year-round three and four-day Bahamas program, to now be operated on Sensation, features three-day voyages departing Thursdays to Nassau, The Bahamas. 4 day cruises, departing Sundays, visit Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas.

    The change is being made as the result of a technical issue on the Sensation which is limiting the ship's maximum cruising speed. The ship cannot sail at a speed that enables it to operate its current five-day itinerary but it does have sufficient speed to operate the Fantasy's existing three and four-day Bahamas program. The technical issue, which relates to the Sensation's propulsion system, is only impacting the ship's maximum speed. All hotel systems and services are functioning normally. Reservations will automatically be switched from one ship to the other and booking numbers and stateroom assignments will remain the same. For guests who have already received cruise documents, new ones will not be issued. Guests may use their existing documents.

    The year-round four and five-day Bahamas/Grand Turk program will operate from April 6 through Oct. 19, 2006 on the Fantasy and then be assumed by the Elation, effective Oct. 23, 2006, as previously announced. Four-day cruises visit Nassau and either Freeport or Half Moon Cay, The Bahamas, while five-day cruises visit Grand Turk, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Half Moon Cay and Nassau throughout 2006 and from May to Sept. 2007. From Jan. to April 2007 and from Oct. to Dec. 2007, the five-day itinerary will feature Key West and Cozumel, as previously announced.

    In October 2006, the Fantasy will reposition to New Orleans to resume a four- and five-day cruise program previously operated prior to Hurricane Katrina. (Originally, the program was to be resumed on Sensation but will now be operated on the Fantasy.) Four-day cruises will visit Cozumel, Mexico while five-day voyages will call at Cozumel, as well as either Calica or Costa Maya, Mexico.
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