- Costa "Kids Sail Free" One-day Sale May 3rd
- Splendor to Sail Carnival's First Northern European Cruises
- Weekend News: 4-28-07
- Cruise Season Starts Monday in Seattle
- Carnival Revises its Liquor & Beverage Policy
- NCL to Convert to All Electronic Cruise Documents
- Royal Princess Inaugural Debut from Barcelona
- RCI Takes Delivery of Liberty of the Seas
- Pride of Hawaii to become Norwegian Jade
- Coast Guard Flies 200 Miles for Woman, 88
- Hugh Downs on Seabourn Spirit Vietnam Cruise
- MSC Cruises New Ships Reach Critical Points
- Holland America Historic Meeting in Dubrovnik
- Princess and San Francisco to Develop Shore Power System
- Crystal offers Prague and Budapest pre-cruise options in Europe
- Celebrity introduces Europe-themed Onboard Activities
- Emerald Princess Begins Its Inaugural Voyage
- NCL Moving Pride of Hawaii to Europe 2008
- Clarification on the CruiseMates Sea Diamond Statement
- NCL's Spring Sale Offers Up to $450 in On-board Credit
- CruiseMates' Statement on Recent MV Sea Diamond Tragedy
- Ambassadors International Completes Acquisition of Windstar
- Carnival Changes its Policy on Packing Liquids
- Royal Caribbean Exercises Option for Second Genesis Class Ship
Add CruiseMates to your My Yahoo See the Newest Updated TSA Security Requirements and Passport Required for All Cruisers, Starting June 1st, 2009.
4-30-07: Costa "Kids Sail Free" One-day Sale May 3rd May 3rd is the day to contact your cruise agent if you would like to book a cruise on Costa where your kids sail for free. This one-day sale only applies to Costa Fortuna and Costa Mediterranea. Destinations include the Eastern, Southeastern or Western Caribbean and you can choose from Saturday or Sunday departures.
Costa Fortuna Western Caribbean Saildates: 2007: Nov. 18 (Thanksgiving) 2008: Jan. 6, 20, Feb. 3, 17, Mar. 2
Costa Fortuna Eastern Caribbean Saildates: 2007: Dec. 2, 16 2008: Jan. 13, 27, Feb. 10, 24, Mar. 9
Costa Fortuna Southeastern Caribbean Saildates: 2007: Nov 25, Dec. 9 2008: Mar. 30
Costa Mediterranea Western Caribbean Saildates: 2007: Dec. 15 2008: Jan. 12, 26, Feb. 9, 23
Costa Mediterranea Eastern Caribbean Saildates: 2008: Jan. 5, 19, Feb. 2, 16' Mar. 29
4-30-07: Splendor to Sail Carnival's First Northern European Cruises Carnival Cruise Lines' new 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor will debut in July 2008 operating the line's first-ever Northern European cruise program. Four 12-day Northern Europe voyages, July 13 - Aug. 30, 2008, will visits Denmark, Germany, Finland, Russia, Estonia, and The Netherlands. Following the Northern European voyages is a 12-day London-to-Rome cruise Sept. 11, 2008. Following that is a series of 12-day Mediterranean voyages Sept. 23 - Oct. 17, 2008.
Carnival Splendor will be the second Carnival ship deployed in Europe next year, joining the Carnival Freedom which will operate a program of 12-day Mediterranean cruises May-October 2008.
Also included in Carnival Splendor's 2008 inaugural season will be a 16-day transatlantic voyage departing Rome Oct. 29, as well as a series of seven-day Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale commencing Nov. 22, 2008. A special one-time four-day eastern Caribbean cruise will depart from Fort Lauderdale Nov. 17, 2008.
Inaugural 12-Day Northern Europe Program : Carnival Splendor is slated to debut July 13, 2008, with a 12-day Northern Europe cruise departing from London (Dover) - the first of five voyages within the program. Other departure dates include July 25 and August 6, 18 and 30, 2008. Featured ports on these voyages include Copenhagen, Denmark; Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia (two-day call); Tallin, Estonia; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Guests will have the opportunity to experience and explore a spectacular variety of historical and cultural attractions including St. Petersburg's extraordinary palaces, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Amsterdam's Vincent Van Gogh Museum, and Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens just to name just a few.
12-Day Mediterranean, Greek Isles Voyages : Following its Northern Europe cruises, Carnival Splendor will operate on a special one-time 12-day western Mediterranean cruise departing London (Dover) Sept. 11, 2008, and arriving Rome (Civitavecchia) Sept. 23, 2008. The voyage includes port calls to Le Havre (Paris), France; Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Malaga and Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; and Livorno, Italy.
Carnival Splendor will then operate one Grand Mediterranean and two Mediterranean & Greek Isles cruises round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia) Sept. 23 - Oct. 17, 2008. The 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruise will depart Sept. 23, 2008, and call at Naples and Venice (two-day call), Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Messina, Sicily; Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; and Livorno, Italy.
The two 12-day Mediterranean & Greek Isles cruises will depart Oct. 5 and 17, 2008, calling at Naples, Italy; Marmaris, Izmir (Ephesus) and Istanbul, Turkey, with scenic cruising of the Dardanelles; Athens (Piraeus) and Katakolon, Greece; and Livorno, Italy, as well as an overnight call in Rome (Civitavecchia).
16-Day Transatlantic Crossing: Following its Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruises, Carnival Splendor will sail on a 16-day transatlantic crossing that will depart Rome on Oct. 29 and arrive Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Nov. 14, 2008. Ports of call include Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Funchal (Madeira), Portugal; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles.
Seven-Day Caribbean Cruises from Fort Lauderdale: The 16-day transatlantic crossing that ends in Fort Lauderdale will position Carnival Splendor for a series of 10 seven-day exotic eastern Caribbean voyages from that port beginning Nov. 22, 2008. These Caribbean voyages will call at four tropical ports - Casa de Campo/La Romana, Dominican Republic; St. Thomas/St. John, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Nassau, The Bahamas, each of which offers beautiful beaches and excellent watersports opportunities.
Variety of Modern Amenities, Innovative Features: As the first in a new class of "Fun Ships," Carnival Splendor will offer a host of innovative on-board features and facilities, highlighted by a 21,000-square-foot health and fitness center - one of the largest at sea - which will feature Carnival's first elaborate thermal suite and thalassotherapy pool covered by a glass dome. Surrounding the facility will be 68 exclusive "spa staterooms" - also a first for Carnival.
Guests in spa staterooms will have exclusive entry access to the adjacent spa facilities and will receive a wide array of special offerings including priority spa appointments, unlimited use of the thermal suite and thalassotherapy pool, complimentary fitness classes and other amenities.
Its family-friendly facilities will include a water spray park on Lido Deck, along with a two-level 5,500-square-foot children's play area - the largest in the Carnival fleet, part of the line's "Camp Carnival" program � along with a teen club featuring a dance floor, DJ and high-tech sound and lighting system, part of Carnival's "Club O2" program. Of the ship's 1,503 spacious staterooms, more than 60 percent will offer an ocean view or private balcony - ideal for scenic European cruising. A comprehensive golf program with opportunities to play top European and Caribbean courses will also be available.
4-28-07: Weekend News: 4-28-07 Silversea's 2007 Med Season Features Special Cruises this year Silversea Cruises offers 45 Mediterranean cruises of six to 15 days, including over 95 ports in 20 countries. Through Silversea's exclusive partnership with FAI-Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano (the National Trust for Italy), guests can extend their voyage on 20 itineraries with optional four-night, pre- and post-cruise land extensions to Northern Italy. The land extensions feature deluxe accommodations, all transportation, transfers, guided sightseeing and some meals. Prices start at $2,995 per guest, double occupancy.
Silversea guests can experience the 32nd America's Cup regatta when Silver Whisper drops anchor in Valencia, Spain. This eight-day voyage roundtrip from Barcelona departs on June 22. All-inclusive, cruise-only fares start at $6,915 per person, including all port charges, government fees, taxes and special event fees.
On Culinary Arts sailings, guest chefs display their talents during cooking demonstrations. One such cruise is the Silver Whisper's Aug. 3 seven-day voyage from Athens to Venice, featuring Chef Gale Gand of Tru in Chicago. Early Booking Incentive fares start at $5,036 per person. The Whisper's next cruise, departing Aug. 10 and sailing from Venice to Rome, features Chef Renato Piccolotto of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice. Fares start at $5,036.
One such add-on is "Italy's Romantic Landscape," which includes a cruise on Lake Como to FAI's 18th century Villa del Balbianello and a stay at Villa d'Este hotel. The program departs from Monte Carlo and Nice. For more information, call 877-215-9986 or visit www.silversea.com.
Costa Inaugurates Barcelona Cruise Terminal Costa officially opened its new Palacruceros cruise terminal on Tuesday with an inaugural ceremony in Barcelona. Inaugural festivities concluded with a concert by the singer Soraya and a special fireworks presentation.
Costa invested approximately 12 million Euros in the new terminal for preferential use by Costa and other Carnival Corp. cruise lines. The new Palacruceros terminal occupies nearly 6,000-square-feet of the Muelle Adosado quay. The Port of Barcelona granted a 25-year concession on the area to Costa, which is now equipped to accommodate cruise ships of all tonnage, length and capacity, including the largest currently in service (over 140,000 tons).
The new terminal was built on four levels, covering a total area of approximately 107,000 square feet. The architecture is characterized by light and glazed surfaces. Passenger safety and protection for the environment are just two of the factors that were given priority during the development of the project. Among the facilities in the terminal are a children's club, an Internet café, a shopping area, a VIP lounge and a cafeteria and terrace with views. Palacruceros will now be the site of Costa's office in Barcelona, which features 20 employees. In 2006, Costa featured around 80 calls in Barcelona, bringing a total of over 200,000 guests. The Italian company is expecting its local traffic to increase substantially during 2007, with 126 planned cruise operations and approximately 330,000 guests (65 percent more than in 2006).
The 2,720-passenger Costa Fortuna and 3,000-passenger Costa Concordia will offer weekly departures this summer from the terminal. In 2007, Carnival Corp. companies anticipate 251 cruise operations in Barcelona, which amount to over 500,000 passengers in total. According to the European Cruise Council, each passenger that visits a Spanish port generates an average expenditure of nearly 45 Euros per passenger visit. As such, in 2007, Costa's guests will generate a forecasted economic benefit for Barcelona of almost 15 million Euros. Barcelona has forecasted a total of 1.6 million cruisers in 2007, with more than 20 percent coming from Costa). For more information, call 800-GO-COSTA or visit www.costacruises.com.
|Two Regent Seven Seas Ships Meet in Atlantic Regent Seven Seas Cruises surprised guests earlier this week with a meeting of two of its ships in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The meeting of the Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Voyager was orchestrated by Captains Dag Dvergastein and Jarle Jensen. The afternoon included a brief exchange of personalities onboard and a bit of humor as Seven Seas Voyager cruise director Jamie Logan performed a water-skiing display -- in elegant black tie. For further information, call 800-285-1835 or visit www.theregentexperience.com.|
MSC Cruises Offers Family Holiday Special MSC Cruises is offering savings up to 66% on a holiday Caribbean cruise for families. Families of four sailing on MSC Lirica's seven-night Dec. 21 Eastern Caribbean sailing or the ship's Dec. 28 Western Caribbean New Year's itinerary, both sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale qualify for a family cruise-only prices starting at $1,942.60 for a family of four on the Dec. 21 sailing and $2,357.36 for a family of four on the Dec. 28. Price is for two adults and two children (age 17 and under sharing a Category 3 interior stateroom).
Government fees and taxes are included. The Dec. 21 itinerary includes two days at sea and calls at San Juan, St. Thomas, Cayo Levantado in the Dominican Republic and Nassau. The Dec. 28 sailing calls at Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Nassau, and also includes two sea days. This offer cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. This limited time offer expires May 31. Restrictions apply and the offer is capacity controlled. For more information, call 800-666-9333 or visit www.msccruises.com.
4-26-07: Cruise Season Starts Monday in Seattle The cruise ship season begins Monday in Seattle with the arrival of two ships -- Holland Americas Zaandam at Terminal 30 and Celebritys Mercury at Pier 66. The Port of Seattle says a total of 190 vessel calls this summer will bring 755,000 passengers to the city. In 1999 it was just six ships and 66-hundred passengers.
All together, five cruise lines will be sailing from Seattle to Alaska this year, some of them with several ships. Holland America will have regular departures for the Amsterdam (Fridays), the Oosterdam (Saturdays) and the Noordam (Sundays). Norwegian Cruise Lines will sail Norwegian Star on Saturdays and Norwegian Pearl on Sundays, Princess will load Golden Princess on Saturdays and Sun Princess on Sundays, Royal Caribbean will berth Vision of the Seas in Fridays. Celebrity Cruises will start regular sailings on Mercury beginning Oct 1st, alternating three and four-day cruises to Victoria.
The port says every cruise ship homeported in Seattle this season will use shore power or burn low sulfur diesel fuel while docked.
4-26-07: NCL to Convert to All Electronic Cruise Documents Beginning May 28, 2007, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and NCL America converts to an electronic documentation process for all cruise bookings. For reservations that are paid in full and finalized, e-documents will be available up to 60 days prior to sailing. In addition, guests will have 24/7 access to their cruise documents wherever and whenever they want.
Travel partners or guests with fully paid reservations after May 28 will begin receiving email messages from NCL that serve as notification that electronic documents are ready and can be accessed via an imbedded link in the e-mail. As an added convenience for travel partners, the subject line of all email notifications will contain the guest name, reservation number, and ship and sail date, allowing travel partners to easily organize incoming email messages. In addition, travel documents can be accessed from any computer with internet access by going to a designated section of NCL's website.
Once the cruise documents are accessed, the travel partner or guest views HTML-based cruise documents that are easy to print or forward on to clients or traveling companions. If they have not already done so, guests may also complete their online advance guest registration form up to four days prior to sailing, giving them 10 days longer than the current system allows.
NCL's e-documents include a welcome aboard letter, cruise ticket, passenger terms and conditions, airline e-ticket if air travel arrangements have been made through NCL's air/sea program, pre- or post-cruise hotel vouchers (if applicable), pre- or post-cruise transfer vouchers (if applicable) and electronic luggage tags which are printable online.
In advance of the e-documents, travel partners or guests with paid reservations will receive a new pre-documentation Freestyle Cruising Kit in the mail approximately 75 to 21 days prior to their scheduled sailing. This kit includes a personalized welcome letter, NCL's welcome aboard booklet that answers questions they may have prior to their cruise, a shore excursion order form and booklet, personalized luggage tags and travel protection plan details, if applicable.
4-20-07: Carnival Revises its Liquor & Beverage Policy Carnival Cruise Lines has repealed the recent change to its onboard beverage policy, and will allow passengers to bring limited quantities of nonalcoholic beverages aboard. Carnival said that since enacting a policy that prohibited passengers from bringing alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages onboard, including bottles of water, it has reconsidered the new policy, which came about as a result of what it called abuse on the part of passengers bringing nonalcoholic beverages onboard.
We've been re-examining the policy for the past couple of weeks," said spokesman Vance Gulliksen. "Behind the scenes, we have been monitoring reaction to the ban on bringing limited quantities of nonalcoholic beverages onboard and discussing it at length internally for a few weeks now. In the end it was decided to continue to allow limited quantities but to monitor the situation."
The policy concerning alcoholic beverages has not changed.
Carnival's new official Liquor and Beverage Policy is stated as follows: Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages onboard. However, wine enthusiasts may bring fine wine and champagne onboard during embarkation at the beginning of the cruise. A $10 corkage fee per bottle will be charged should you wish to consume this wine in the dining room or a $14 corkage fee per bottle in the Supper Club. Guests may bring small quantities of nonalcoholic beverages. All liquor, excessive quantities of wine and non-alcoholic beverages, to be determined at the discretion of security and embarkation personnel, will be confiscated and discarded without compensation. Alcoholic beverages will not be sold or served to anyone under the age of 21. We reserve the right to refuse the sale of alcoholic beverages to anyone. Alcoholic beverages purchased in the ship's gift shops or in the ports of call will be retained by Carnival until the end of the voyage."
4-19-07: Royal Princess Inaugural Debut from Barcelona Royal Princess, the newest ship to join the Princess fleet, set sail on its maiden voyage from Barcelona, Spain under the command of the line's senior master, the recently appointed Commodore Michael Fatchen.
The 710-passenger vessel, which takes the name of a much-beloved former Princess ship, debuts with a series of Mediterranean cruises that feature calls in Marseille, Florence/Pisa, Elba, Palermo, and Mallorca.
Upcoming voyages include four ports appearing for the first time in Princess routes: Ravenna, Italy; Split Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Canakkale (for Troy), Turkey - all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Royal Princess itineraries will also take travelers to such intriguing places as the Crimean coast, Egypt and the Holy Land.
A sister ship to the line's popular Tahitian Princess and Pacific Princess, the 30,200-ton Royal Princess offers passengers a boutique version of Princess' acclaimed onboard options -- including a variety of dining and entertainment choices and a large number of cabins with private balconies - all offered in intimate surroundings.
Royal Princess guests will enjoy the line's new culinary enhancements set to debut on the ship, including the innovative Chef's Table exclusive dinner experience, all new dining room menus, enhanced buffet service, and a number of special treats such as an afternoon "cookies and milk break" featuring fresh-from-the-oven soft-baked cookies, and in-cabin delivery of Princess' renowned homemade pizza.
Passengers will find the ship offers many of Princess' signature dining options, including the favorite Sabatini's trattoria and Sterling Steakhouse. Other hallmark Princess features added to the vessel include the Lotus Spa, Grand Casino and 24-hour room service, including Ultimate Balcony dining. Suite passengers will enjoy fully renovated accommodations featuring fresh d�cor and new furnishings. The ship was also readied for her new passengers with new production staging in the show lounge, new carpet and upholstery, and the line's new premium mattresses and bedding.
4-19-07: RCI Takes Delivery of Liberty of the Seas Royal Caribbean International took delivery of its newest Freedom-class ship, Liberty of the Seas, from Aker Yards during a ceremony today in Turku, Finland. Just weeks away from making her U.S. debut on May 3, 2007, the ship will be the first in Royal Caribbean's fleet to showcase new and distinctive wellness, family and wedding programming, which will be rolled out fleet-wide. Liberty shares the title of world's largest cruise ship with sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, which launched in May 2006.
Royal Caribbean will originate enhanced programming on Liberty. For health and wellness enthusiasts, Royal Caribbean presents a completely revamped Vitality wellness program, promoting well-balanced healthy vacations through a variety of diverse fitness, spa, shore excursion and culinary offerings, including Tai Chi, acupuncture, wellness seminars and even a soothing signature scent.
Adventure Theater by Camp Broadway, New York City's famed children's theater group, introduces kids and teens to the theatrical arts by folding folktales, music, dance and cultural elements into the mix. Sure to be a hit among teen cruisers are the Scratch DJ 101 classes, where teens hone their turntable skills in sessions hosted by professionals from New York City's Scratch DJ Academy.
Royal Caribbean launches the Crown & Anchor Society Youth Program, the industry's first loyalty program designed for cruiser under the age of 18. Members will enjoy frequent cruiser rewards such as the Youth Ultimate Value Booklet, which includes puzzles, games, and special onboard offers to Ben & Jerry's, Challenger's Arcade, and Y-spa, the line's teen spa treatment menu.
The Build & Grow with Lowe's program and Chefs on Deck by Fisher-Price bring budding young builders and tomorrow's culinary super-stars together with their families to play, learn and grow while at sea.
Brides and grooms now have more distinctive settings in which to say "I do" with Explorer Weddings, an extreme extension of the line's existing Royal Romance wedding and vow renewal program, allowing thrill-seekers the option of tying the knot on an Alaskan glacier, in a hot-air balloon or on Liberty's FlowRider surf simulator, to name a few.
At 160,000 GRT with a capacity of 3,634 guests double-occupancy, Liberty of the Seas has other popular, industry-first amenities seen on Freedom of the Seas, including the FlowRider, the H2O Zone water park, a full-size boxing ring and a 14-person family suite.
Liberty's 445 foot-long Royal Promenade will keep guests busy at one of the many restaurants, shops and lounges. From an Italian-style pizzeria, Sorrento's, to A Clean Shave men's barbershop and the Hoof & Claw pub - cruisers have a wide variety of venues to visit and experience while onboard. The On Air Club, the ship's karaoke venue, and the Art Deco-style Platinum Theatre (1,350 guests), home to dazzling new Broadway-style shows Ever After and Somewhere in Time, provide endless hours of entertainment.
In addition to the popular FlowRider, Royal Caribbean's active onboard amenities include an interactive sculpture garden, located in the H2O Zone water park. Both offer many ways to stay cool in the Caribbean sun. Cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean, located in Liberty's serene solarium, are an adults-only oasis flanked by a pool, hammocks and colorful art sculptures. For an indoor chill, the ice-skating rink, Centre Ice at Studio B, is open for lessons and free skating during the day and presents the spectacular original ice show Encore on Ice at night.
At 1,215 square feet, Liberty's Presidential Suite sleeps 14 people and features an 810-square foot outdoor living area with a Jacuzzi and private wet bar. The 588 square-foot Royal Family Suites include two bathrooms, a living area, and best of all, a 234 square-foot balcony to catch a breath a fresh air and enjoy a private meal. In addition, each stateroom onboard Liberty comes equipped with flat-paneled televisions and the line's plush bedding enhancements, an indulgence for all guests.
Sailing the Caribbean Royal Caribbean's new Freedom-class ships will be joined by a third, Independence of the Seas, in 2008. Liberty will depart on Saturdays and Freedom on Sundays from Miami and will alternate between 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. Both itineraries include a call at Royal Caribbean's private destination Labadee, Haiti. Liberty's Western Caribbean itinerary calls in Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Cayman Islands; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary calls in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, allowing for a third day at sea to take advantage of all the ship has to offer.
4-18-07: Pride of Hawaii to become Norwegian Jade Norwegian Jade will be the new name for the ship currently sailing as Pride of Hawaii as of February, 2008. The ship will be re-flagged in the Bahamas registry. Pride of Hawaii will continue her seven-day roundtrip Honolulu cruises through the January 28, 2008 cruise. The ship will enter wet dock on February 6 where she will receive modifications including the addition of a casino and new hull artwork. The ship will be re-named Norwegian Jade and will be showcased during inaugural events in both Los Angeles and Miami. After a series of repositioning cruises, the ship will arrive in Barcelona for her first 12-day cruise beginning on March 30, 2008.
Norwegian Jade will join her sister ships Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Jewel in Europe in 2008 offering NCL's largest and most varied European deployment ever. Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Jewel itineraries will go on sale April17 and Norwegian Jade's itineraries will go on sale April 24. Norwegian Jade will be the first to arrive in Europe at the end of March 2008, staying through the end of November. The ship will sail a unique mix of Eastern and Western Mediterranean cruises, and then reposition to Southampton in the UK for a series of cruises to the Mediterranean, North Cape, Western Europe and British Isles. The sailings out of the UK will be designed specifically for the local UK market, departing roundtrip from London (Southampton).
Norwegian Gem, NCL's newest ship, complete with bowling alley, arrives in Europe in early May after her winter season in New York and will sail seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises roundtrip from Barcelona through November 9, 2008. The Western Mediterranean itinerary includes stops in Valletta, Malta; Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), and Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Nice (Villefranche), France.
Returning for her third season in Europe in early May, Norwegian Jewel will replace Norwegian Dream, sailing a Baltic Capitals itinerary roundtrip from London (Dover) through mid-September. The 12-day sailings will run from May 5 through August 23 with stops in Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin (Warnemunde), Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; two days in St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. On August 9, the ship will offer a two-day sampler cruise from London (Dover) specifically designed for the UK market. A final 13-day sailing departing on September 4 will include a stop in Oslo, Norway.
4-16-07: Coast Guard Flies 200 Miles for Woman, 88 The Coast Guard rescued an injured 88-year-old woman from a cruise ship more than 200 miles southwest of Miami on Sunday afternoon, according to a spokesman Petty Officer Robert Simpson.
The woman, who was not identified, fell on the Royal Caribbean ship Brilliance of the Seas. The ship called the Coast Guard just after 10:40 a.m., and a helicopter was sent to rescue the woman. The woman possibly had a broken leg and internal injuries. Rescuers arrived just before 4 p.m. and hoisted the woman onto the helicopter.
She was flown to Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center in Fort Myers where she was in stable condition.
4-13-07: Hugh Downs as guest speaker on Seabourn Spirit Vietnam Cruise: December 2007 - Hugh Downs, one of television's most familiar and highly regarded personalities, will be a special Dress Circle guest speaker on board the award-winning Seabourn Spirit during a 14-day Southeast Asia voyage, departing December 6, 2007.
Downs and his wife will share the fascinating Singapore to Hong Kong journey with guests aboard Seabourn Spirit. Highlights include calls at Bangkok and Ko Kood, Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Halong Bay and Cai Lan (for Hanoi), Vietnam. At the tropical island of Ko Kood, weather permitting, guests will enjoy a complimentary Exclusively Seabourn beach barbecue featuring Seabourn's signature "Champagne and Caviar in the Surf."
Downs, who anchored Today and hosted NBC specials and documentaries from 1962 to 1971, earlier served as host of Concentration and helped launch the Tonight Show where he remained for five years. When he left regular broadcasting in 1999, he began to pursue other activities, including travel, flying, riding, sailing, composing, lecturing and writing.
4-13-07: MSC Cruises New Ships Reach Critical Points. MSC Cruises marked two significant events today at the Aker Yards in Saint-Nazaire, France, in the construction of MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata, two of the largest ships built for a European ship owner:
- MSC Fantasia's coin ceremony - Following maritime tradition, two gold coins -- one from the shipowner and the other from the shipyard -- were welded in the keel.
- MSC Serenata steel cutting ceremony
4-13-07: Holland America Celebrates Historic Meeting of Two Ships in Dubrovnik. Holland America Line's flagship the ms Amsterdam, and the "Elegant Explorer" ms Prinsendam met today in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The combined 2,000 guests were treated to a special event commemorating the first time in the company's 134-year history that two ships on simultaneous Grand Voyages met at a port of call. Presented on the ms Amsterdam, the event featured performances by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and a Dubrovnik children's choir. Special guests included His Excellency Robert A. Bradtke, United States ambassador to the Republic of Croatia; Her Excellency Catharina Maria Trooster, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Croatia; and Dubravka Suica, mayor of Dubrovnik.
4-13-07: Princess and Port of San Francisco to Develop Shore Power System. The shore power system that will enable Princess ships to turn off their engines when they dock at Pier 35 and "plug in" to clean electrical power.
The Port of San Francisco and Princess Cruises have received a $1.9 million clean air grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to develop the system, which will be based on similar shore power programs Princess debuted in Juneau in 2001 and in Seattle in 2005. Next year, Princess will also begin a shore power program at the Port of Los Angeles.
Shore power, also known as "cold ironing," enables ships to turn off their diesel engines and connect to local electric power that travels to the ship from a specially designed transformer at the dock. As a result, shore-based electricity runs all onboard services during the day-long calls.
Princess' shore power program made history when it first began operations in Juneau in the summer of 2001. The innovative program, initiated by the City of Juneau, involved the expertise of worldwide and local contractors, including Alaska Electric Light and Power. The technology was expanded to Seattle in summer 2005, and shore power connections are now featured on eight ships which are equipped to use local hydroelectric power. All Princess ships sailing from the Port of San Francisco are fully equipped and ready to plug into shore power when it debuts there.
To create this unusual power system, Princess has outfitted its ships with a custom-built, state-of-the-art electrical connection cabinet that automatically connects the ship's electrical network to the local electrical network ashore. The electrical power is transmitted from the landside transformer to the vessel via four 3 1/2-inch diameter flexible electrical cables. The actual cable connection on the vessel is a traditional, though quite large, male/female plug and socket.
4-13-07: Crystal Cruises offers Prague and Budapest as pre-cruise options in Europe.
Via four- and five-night luxury hotel programs from Venice and Rome, Crystal is offering guests extended stays in Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg and Lake Como. Crystal Cruises is also offering luxury rail travel options aboard the Orient-Express. The programs feature stays at the award-winning Villa d'Este on the shores of Lake Como, the sumptuous Hotel Imperial in Vienna and coveted Four Seasons Hotels in Budapest and Prague.
From spring through fall, the extended land programs, available with select European cruises aboard Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, include:
4-13-07: Celebrity introduces Europe-themed Onboard Activities. Celebrity guests on Mediterranean and Baltic cruises will soon will have the opportunity to delight in the rich cultures of Europe without even disembarking the ship. In June, the line will introduce "Passaporto di Europa," on its newly expanded, Europe-themed onboard activities program.
Designed to enhance guests' experience on sea days and in the evenings throughout the cruise, Passaporto di Europa will offer numerous entertainment-, shopping- and dining-related activities based solely on several cultural activities of Europe.
Highlights of the Passaporto di Europa program on Mediterranean sailings include the following activities:
On Baltic sailings, highlights include:
4-12-07: Emerald Princess Begins Its Inaugural Voyage The new Emerald Princess welcomed its first passengers on board today, as it set sail on its maiden voyage from Civitavecchia, the seaport for Rome, Italy. The 113,000-ton ship's first cruise is a 12-day Greek Isles voyage to Venice, including Naples/Capri, Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Mykonos, Athens (Piraeus), Katakolon (for Olympia), Corfu and Dubrovnik. Then the ship will offer a series of Greek Isles and Grand Mediterranean cruises before crossing the Atlantic to Ft. Lauderdale in October.
The new vessel includes many of the design elements and amenities that debuted last year on sister ship Crown Princess, including a dramatic piazza-style atrium, a multitude of casual dining venues and an adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary.
A number of new culinary enhancements also debut on the ship, including a special Chef's Table dinner, all new dining room menus, enhanced buffet service, and an afternoon "cookies and milk break" featuring fresh-from-the-oven soft-baked cookies, and in-cabin delivery of Princess' renowned homemade pizza.
Emerald Princess offers the many other features of the Princess experience, including the Movies Under the Stars poolside movies, Personal Choice Dining, a relaxing Asian-style Lotus Spa with fitness center, an extensive children and teen's center, a wedding chapel and nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies.
4-11-07: NCL Moving Pride of Hawaii to Europe 2008 Effective February 2008, the Pride of Hawaii will be moved from the NCL-America fleet to NCL and deployed to Europe for the summer of 2008. NCL is citing substantial losses for 2006 caused by downward pricing pressure in the Hawaii market following the addition of Pride of Hawaii to the fleet last summer, and the steep increase in the amount of foreign flag competition entering the Hawaii market from the west coast.
"We take this action with regret, but sure in the knowledge that a temporary retrenchment is the right thing to do for the good of the business and the good of Hawaii in the long run," said Colin Veitch, NCL Corporation's president and CEO. "We remain committed to building a strong U.S. Flag cruise business home ported in Hawai`i, and we need to make sure that our other two ships, Pride of Aloha and Pride of America, are able to achieve acceptable profitability before we can confidently re-introduce Pride of Hawaii."
According to Veitch, NCL America has grown very quickly over three years, and its competitors have also surged, starting in 2006, offering almost 80 percent additional capacity days on top of NCL America's in 2007.
"Clearly we are victims of our own success," Veitch continued. "We have demonstrated that Hawaii is a highly attractive cruise destination and Hawaii now has four times as much capacity serving it in 2007 as it did in 2004 when we started NCL America."
For guests booked on Pride of Hawaii in February 2008 and beyond, NCL is offering a $50 on-board credit per stateroom for those who rebook by May 1, 2007, on Pride of America, Pride of Aloha or any ship in the NCL fleet. Guests choosing to cancel will receive a full refund.
4-11-07: Clarification on the CruiseMates Sea Diamond Statement I have received two letters taking exception to my editorial below, "CruiseMates' Statement on Recent MV Sea Diamond Tragedy." The first is short and responds to my statement "I wish they had consulted me first," with "as if you knew this accident was going to happen." Of course I did not know it was going to happen, but I do know something about the history of such ships versus the ships we recommend.
The second letter takes exception to the fact that I say I am upset that so many U.S. and Canadian students were on board, as if I intended to say that other people's lives are not as valuable. Of course it was never my intention to suggest that; All lives are equally worthy, all women and men created equal. My point is that the more rigorous standards applied specifically to the U.S. market for cruise ships means that these students clearly had better choices available to them.
Before any ship can visit any U.S. port it must undergo rigorous and regular scrutiny by the U.S. Coast Guard for safety and the CDC for health. This includes ALL of the ships of the most value-priced cruise lines we have including Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean (alphabetic order). Each of these lines will have Coast Guard inspected ships sailing regularly scheduled routes in Europe this summer.
Secondly, both of the emails I received used the word "accident" in reference to the Sea Diamond incident. I do not see the MV Sea Diamond incident as an accident at all, and this is the one perception I choose to stress the most. I see it as extreme malfeasance on the part of the captain and the other navigational officers on the ship, and here are the reasons why; While all the facts in the case have not yet been revealed, a few things have been become apparent. The ship hit a plainly visible reef, and it sustained damage to a significant degree. However, according to reports the emergency alarm to muster passengers was not sounded at that time (in fact, there are no reports that it was ever sounded, though it may have been subsequently).
For a modern cruise ship to sink, it either receives damage to a very large amount of the hull, enough to fill several water-tight compartments, or else the water-tight system on the ship fails and water from one area leeches into other areas and eventually reaches the whole ship. This was the case in the Epirotiki Oceanus incident (the Greek ship that sank off the coast of South Africa, and the captain and his staff were the first people in the lifeboats, with their luggage). Either way, the first thing the captain should do is assess was how much damage is done and the implications of that damage. Had the captain known the ship was likely to sink he should have taken care of his passengers first by sounding the emergency alarm and taking command of an organized evacuation. By all accounts, this did not happen, and so we conclude the captain did not know how much damage was done, and therefore he did not take the appropriate actions.
Passenger reports only mention chaos and non-organization on board. The captain stated something along the lines of "I wanted to get the ship off the reef before I sounded the alarm." Was he drunk? I ask this specifically and metaphorically, because first he hit the reef, and then he apparently made the odd decision to try to get the ship off the reef. Though reports are still sketchy on this, it appears that taking the ship off the reef was what caused it to sink. In any case, he should have known the ship was going to sink, the alarm should have sounded, and the passengers should have been disembarked in an orderly manner.
One of the letters I received, and the media, are mentioning other U.S. market cruise ship (true) accidents and putting the MV Sea Diamond in the same category. I wholeheartedly disagree. There was an incident with an NCL ship and a rogue wave, but the company was cleared of all charges in that case, even in civil court where only the presumption of evidence is required to find fault. Absolutely no criminal charges were brought. The Star Princess fire was a tragedy, but no criminal charges were ever brought and no one ever questioned the actions or motives of the captain and crew in the way they handled the incident. The Princess listing incident was attributed to a mistake, but it was a momentary lapse that was immediately corrected once it declared itself, as opposed to an entire sequence of events in which the ability of the captain must be called into question.
And finally, with all of the media articles I have seen asking "How do you know if your ship is safe?" The simplest way to know is to ask your travel agent, "Does this ship dock at U.S. ports regularly?" If it does, it receives the scrutiny of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Centers for Disease Control on a regular basis. And for the record, there are many European cruise lines which do dock at US ports regularly, including Costa, MSC and others. These lines together have almost two dozen ships sailing in the Mediterranean Sea regularly. In addition, almost every cruise line you ever see mentioned in CruiseMates has several ships in Europe this year, including Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, Windstar, Regent, Silversea, Crystal, Oceania, and Seabourn. Any of these would be a far better choice than this ferry was, and in the end that is my point. The MV Sea Diamond was not a true cruise ship by our definition, it was a ferry. A dolled-up ferry, but still a ferry in the end.
I will be amending my statement below to change two things. First of all, I should not have said all ships with an all Greek crew are questionable. I will amend that to say Greek ships that are not subject to the scrutiny of other countries as to how well they enforce the SOLAS (safety of life at sea) treaty. I will also clarify my statement regarding U.S. students. Finally, to clarify, my intention with this entire editorial is to draw the distinction between the standards the MV Sea Diamond adhered to and the standards of the cruise industry as we experience here in the U.S. The Sea Diamond was not a ship that was being managed to the standards we at CruiseMates expect before we recommend a ship, and so it should not be included in the same category as the cruise lines we cover editorially.
If you would like to comment on this, please do it in our new Cruise News Discussion Message Board.
4-09-07: NCL's Spring Sale Offers Up to $450 in On-board Credit Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is rewarding travelers who book a cruise with up to $450 in on-board credits during the Spring For It sales event. From now through June 18, guests who book any NCL sailing between Oct. 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008 will receive a $25 on-board credit for reserving an inside stateroom, $50 for an oceanview stateroom, $75 for a balcony stateroom, $100 for a mini-suite and $150 for a suite or garden villa (all based on double occupancy). In addition, travelers can earn up to an additional $50 in on-board spending for each additional guest booked per stateroom.
Guests can use their credits however they please, from getting a spa treatment to enjoying a bottle of wine with dinner at one of NCL's specialty restaurants. "This sales event emphasizes Freestyle Cruising; doing whatever you want, whenever you want," said Andy Stuart, executive vice president for NCL. "By letting our guests choose what they'd like us to 'spring' for, we encourage them to experience everything NCL has to offer, both on board our ships and ashore in our exciting destinations."
Each week, NCL is also rewarding one lucky cruiser with the "NCL Springs for Your Next Vacation" contest. Guests are invited to play an online game at www.ncl.com and enter to win (one entry per day) a five-day cruise from Miami for two.
4-09-07: CruiseMates' Statement on Recent MV Sea Diamond Tragedy In light of the recent tragedy involving the Greek cruise ship, MV Sea Diamond, the online cruise guide, CruiseMates wants to make its editorial policy clear. Editorially, CruiseMates does not cover ships or cruise lines that are not regularly marketed to the U.S. cruising public. This includes the MV Sea Diamond of the Louis Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of Louis plc, listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
The reason we do not write about them is that we do not recommend them to our readers. They do not offer the same standards for comfort, safety and convenience. The cruise lines we cover are all members of the Cruise Line International Association and the International Council of Cruise Lines (recently merged: Web site). Our cruise lines have much higher standards and a much better safety record over all.
We want our readers to know that the incident aboard the MV Sea Diamond is not in any way representative of the sort of cruising that we describe in our articles. In fact, we were rather surprised, and saddened, to read reports that the majority of passengers on this ship were of U.S. or Canadian citizenship. By many accounts, many of the Americans on board were U.S. high school students presumably in groups being led by adult supervisors. This leads us to wonder if lines such as Louis may be marketing directly to high schools or the tour operators who help to organize such group journeys for young people. We only bring this up to point out that the U.S. has very rigorous safety standards, and these students had far better cruise ships to choose from than this one.
In the same way, we were also saddened to see to reports of this incident in U.S. papers and Web sites making reference to reputable cruise lines that CruiseMates does cover, giving the overall impression that this incident is somehow related to the U.S. market cruise industry, which it is not.
In the same vein, no sponsor of CruiseMates has ever advertised a vessel such as the MV Sea Diamond on our site, and as far as we know, they would not sell such a trip. Frankly, we do not know how the U.S. citizens that were on this vessel found out about the ship, but it certainly was not through CruiseMates. Therefore, we wish they had consulted our site before making such an ill-informed decision.
For a reputable accounting of worldwide passenger vessel tragedies, we recommend this web site from PBS.org. In this list you will see that the last CLIA-member cruise ship that sank was the Holland America Prinsendam (not the one of the same name currently sailing). In this 1980 incident all of the passengers were rescued with no medical emergencies.
In the same list, you will see that other ships have sunk while on cruises with passengers, but these ships belonged to cruise lines that typically catered to foreign passengers, and do not qualify as "cruise vacation" vessels by CruiseMates' definition. In one incident, the Estonian Steamship Line's "Estonia," while enroute to Stockholm, hit rough seas and sank in the Baltic Sea. Over 900 lives were lost; most of the passengers never made it out of their cabins. Another ship also belonged to a Greek cruise line, Epirotiki. This ship, the Oceanos, sank off the coast of South Africa after springing a leak. All passengers were safely rescued.
The Estonia and The MV Sea Diamond both fall into the category of "passenger ferries" as far as we are concerned. Yes, they offer cabins and meals on board, but the number of passengers they pack into their gross tonnage makes them far more like simple transportation vessels than vacation experiences unto themselves.
MV Sea Diamond was built in 1986 and underwent extensive refurbishment in 1999. She joined Louis Hellenic Cruises' fleet in 2006. The ship's statistics point out the differences between a passenger conveyance vessel and a Cruisemates' recommended cruise ship. MV Sea Diamond's size is a mere 22,412 gross tons yet she carried 1500 passengers in a mere 584 cabins serviced by only four elevators.
CLIA- member cruise ships of this size rarely carry more than 300 passengers.
In addition, it saddens us to say that in general we do not trust any ship that is completely staffed by Greek officers and does not undergo the scrutiny of United States regulators such as the Coast Guard and the Center for Disease Control. Though are exceptions, notably Celebrity Cruises which was founded by a respected Greek shipping family, John Chandris, and whose record for safety is unquestioned.
But when it comes to faulty management by Greek officers, The MV Sea Diamond is one example, and the Oceanos is another. When the Oceanos sank, it is well documented that the officers and crew were among the first in the lifeboats, and that the rescue of the passengers was accomplished by a (non-Greek) musician in the stage band who stayed on board to contact help and assist in the complete evacuation of all passengers. In the MV Sea Diamond incident it was reported that the emergency alarm did not sound immediately, but that passengers were notified of the emergency by crew members in life jackets running through the ship.
Summing up the recent MV Sea Diamond Tragedy: MV Sea Diamond scraped its side on a reef outside the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea and sank during the early morning hours of April 5th. 1156 passengers and 391 members of crew were on board the vessel. All passengers, with the exception of the two missing French nationals, were safely evacuated from the cruise ship with the company's assistance and that of several other vessels.
The captain has been indicted along with the five other crewmembers on blanket charges of causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment, the Cyclades islands public prosecution office said. All have been released pending further testimony. Authorities have not named the captain or five other crewmembers charged in the sinking.
Passengers from Sea Diamond arrived in Piraeus on the MV Aegean Two and MV Perla around noon, April 5th. The missing French passengers were identified as Jean-Christophe Allain, 45, and his 16-year-old daughter, Maud. The missing man's wife told authorities she had narrowly escaped from the family's flooding cabin on a lower deck, near the area where the rocks tore a hole in the hull.
Most of the ship's passengers were American, but also included groups from Canada, Britain, Spain, France, Australia, and the Dominican Republic. Most rescued passengers returned home Friday and Saturday and some described the evacuation as poorly organized and chaotic.
"It was haphazard. It was makeshift. ... It wasn't an organized plan," William Christopher, a Miami firefighter who accompanied a school trip, told The Miami Herald after his return.
The ship's operator is part of the Cyprus-based Louis Group of tourism businesses which has been involved in two other accidents in the past year. The cruise ship Calypso caught fire in the English Channel last May and was towed to safety, with all 708 passengers unharmed. Last October, two British children were found dead at a Louis-run hotel on the Greek island of Corfu after inhaling carbon monoxide, believed to have come from a malfunctioning boiler.
Louis Group today has a fleet of 12 cruise ships (not including MV Sea Diamond), and the company also operates cruises from the ports of Genoa and Marseilles to the West Mediterranean, North Africa as well as to the Eastern Mediterranean. From the port of Piraeus, Louis Hellenic Cruises sails to the Greek islands and Eastern and Western Mediterranean. CruiseMates would never recommend any of these cruises.
Watch a video about the Oceanos Sinking.
4-05-07: Ambassadors International Completes Acquisition of Windstar Ambassadors International, Inc. announced today that it has completed its acquisition of Windstar Cruises from Holland America Line, a unit of Carnival Corp.
Windstar Cruises is a leader in luxury, small ship cruising offering deluxe accommodations, state of the art amenities, a casual yet elegant atmosphere and exquisite service and cuisine. Windstar Cruises is comprised of a three ship fleet which includes the 312-passenger Wind Surf, and the sister 148-passenger ships Wind Star and Wind Spirit. The three ships are all motor-sail-yachts that provide a spectacular sail yacht experience to their guests featuring itineraries in the Mediterranean during the Spring, Summer and Fall, and Winter cruises in the Caribbean and Costa Rica. At the end of 2006 the Wind Surf completed an extensive enhancement and renovation program that elevates her as one of the top ships in the luxury segment. Both the Wind Star and Wind Spirit are scheduled to undergo significant renovations in 2007.
David A. Giersdorf, President of Ambassadors International Cruise Group, stated, "Windstar Cruises delivers exactly the type of intimate, extraordinary cruise experiences of outstanding quality and value that we are focused on delivering to our customers. We could not be more pleased. We look forward to welcoming the exceptional officers, crew members and employees of Windstar Cruises to the Ambassadors family."
Ambassadors International, Inc. is a cruise, marine, and travel and event company. Through Ambassadors Cruise Group, the Company operates Majestic America Line, North America's premier river and coastal cruising company. The Company is also a global leader in providing construction and consulting services to marina owners through its Ambassadors Marine Group subsidiary. In addition, the Company provides travel and event services through its Ambassadors Travel and Events division. The Company is headquartered in Newport Beach, California.
4-4-07: Carnival Changes its Policy on Packing Liquids Carnival Cruise Lines yesterday announced that it has changed its beverage policies. Passengers are no longer allowed to take nonalcoholic beverages onboard, including water. And they will now be limited to one bottle of wine per adult upon embarkation only. The new policy also warns that ship personnel will confiscate and discard any outlawed beverages. Carnival will continue to charge a $10 corkage fee per bottle for personal wine consumed in the dining room ($14 for the Supper Clubs). Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the rule was changed because security and embarkation personnel were reporting that passengers were "abusing" the previous guidelines, which allowed cruise-goers to carry on board a "small quantity" of nonalcoholic beverages, wine and champagne, both at embarkation and while in port. Asked whether the abuse related to passengers carting cases of bottled water aboard, or toting suitcases full of wine, or smuggling vodka disguised as water (hard liquor has never been permitted as a carry-on), Gulliksen said the issue related to "excessive amounts of nonalcoholic beverages being brought on board."
4-4-07: Royal Caribbean Exercises Option for Second Genesis Class Ship Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. exercised its option to build a second ship in its "Genesis Project". Destined to become the 24th ship in the Royal Caribbean International fleet, the 5,400-guest, 220,000-gross-registered-ton ship would be built at Aker Yards in Finland, with delivery projected for August, 2010.
Like the prototype ship due out in October, 2009, the second Project Genesis ship will be a trailblazer in cruise-ship and vacation innovation. New icons and amenities will continue to challenge and expand guests' expectations of cruising, and the latest technology and design will continue to increase efficiencies.
The company estimates the all-in cost of the ship will be approximately $260,000 per berth. The contract is contingent on the completion of customary financing.