News Archive - April 2009

| Wednesday, 01 Apr. 2009

 

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4-30-09 WHO: No Evidence of Pandemic The World Health Organization just announced ( 9:00 pm, Paris) that they see no reason to raise the H1N1 classification to the "pandemic" level of "6". They also say such a move is NOT imminent right now. They raised the alert level from a four to a five yesterday.

Assistant Director General Keiji Fukuda reported a higher number of confirmed cases in Mexico at 97, while the number of confirmed deaths in Mexico stayed steady at seven. The jump in the number of cases in Mexico represents a backlog of specimens collected from people with various symptoms. Fukuda added "we have also seem other countries holding steady, for example the United States."

"There is nothing which suggests epidemiologically today that we should be moving towards phase six," he added. Article in reference

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4-30-09 LA Times Suggests Flu Virus Too Mild for Concern A Thursday morning article in the Los Angeles Times suggests that the strain of the Swine Flu virus that has reached the United States may actually be milder than the average flu virus which kills as many as 36,999 people each year in our nation, according to a consensus of scientists.

The U.S. has had but one death from this virus so far, and it took three days before it was truly confirmed that the child who died in Houston had become infected near Mexico City. To date, not a single incident of this flu spawned within the United States has been deadly.

Dr. Christopher Olsen, a molecular virologist who studies swine flu at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison, said, "Let's not lose track of the fact that the normal seasonal influenza is a huge public health problem that kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone and hundreds of thousands around the world."

"This virus doesn't have anywhere near the capacity to kill like the 1918 virus," which claimed an estimated 50 million victims worldwide, said Richard Webby, a leading influenza virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

"Any time someone dies, it's heartbreaking for their families and friends," Olsen said. "But we do need to keep this in perspective. Just because the virus is being identified in a growing number of places -- including Austria, Canada, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Spain and Britain -- doesn't mean it's spreading particularly quickly," Olsen said. In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.

"There are certain characteristics, molecular signatures, which this virus lacks," said Peter Palese, a microbiologist and influenza expert at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. In particular, the swine flu lacks an amino acid that appears to increase the number of virus particles in the lungs and make the disease more deadly.

Read the entire article here: Los Angeles Times.

In another source, a map by the WHO tracking the virus worldwide updated Thursday, April 30, notes that there have still only been nine confirmed deaths worldwide from this virus. Although there are cases in 13 countries, there have been jusy 8 confirmed deaths in Mexico and one in the U.S., of a young girl who contracted the disease in Mexico City.

The WHO just upgraded the threat from this virus to a 5, which essentially means it is a threat in more than one nation. The next step, 6, refers to a "pandemic." However, the definition of pandemic is not divulged.

We are STILL seeing panic headlines like "four in 10 Britons will be affected," when in fact if anything the suspected cases in existence are often turning out NOT to be Swine Flu. This was the case in South Africa which reported it had two cases amd now says neither one could be confirmed. The same scenario has played out several times in other places as well.

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4-29-09 Silversea Expands $1000 Shipboard Credit Offer Silversea Cruises' $1,000 per suite "Onboard Spending Credit" promotion now includes 37 additional voyages, including fall sailings. In all, travelers can now take advantage of this extra perk on 70 select voyages calling in Alaska, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Seychelles, Far East and South Pacific.

Keep in mind, Silversea already includes all beverages and gratuities in its cruise fare, so a shipboard credit tends to go much farther.

The new voyages offering the special promotion are:

SILVER CLOUD: Voyages 1924, 1926 - 1931.

SILVER WIND: Voyages 2927, 2929 - 2931, 2934 - 2938.

SILVER SHADOW: Voyages 3924 - 3931, 3933.

SILVER WHISPER: Voyages 4920 - 4923, 4925, 4927, 4928, 4933, 4934, 4936 - 4938.

In addition, the booking deadline has been extended to July 31, 2009 to qualify for the $500 per person (or maximum $1,000 per suite) Onboard Spending Credit. To take advantage of the offer applicable to new bookings only, the guest or travel agent must request promotional code WWSBC500 at the time of booking.

Always willing to go the extra mile in matters of flexibility and choice, Silversea has designed this promotion to allow guests the freedom to use the Onboard Spending Credit as they choose -- without limitations. The credit might be applied toward shore excursions (none are excluded) or luxurious onboard services including spa treatments, dinner in the Relais & Châteaux Wine Restaurant, rare wines, premium spirits, boutique and Internet Café purchases. In addition, the offer can be combined with other available discount promotions, including Early Booking Incentive, Advance Payment Bonus, Silver Sailing, and Free Air programs.

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4-29-09 Royal Caribbean Clarifies Mexico Port Changes Last night's statement from Royal Caribbean says they are "temporarily suspending our port calls in Mexico. The decision was made in an abundance of caution, and allows additional time to better understand the full impact of the Swine Flu."

Royal Caribbean is temporarily suspending all calls to Mexican ports including the following ships: Enchantment of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas.

It affects Mariner of the Seas to the largest extent:

  • 7-night sailings from Los Angeles will sail a fully revised itinerary, visiting Canada and the U.S. West Coast.
  • San Francisco, California, Mondays from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Victoria, British Columbia, Wednesdays from noon to 10 p.m.
  • Seattle, Washington, Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

The ship's May 10 sailing will feature a port call in Astoria, Oregon, rather than San Francisco. At the current time, our revised itineraries for Mariner of the Seas are scheduled to take place up to and including the ship's June 14 sailing.

Mariner of the Seas guests booked on a revised sailing are encouraged to contact their travel agent or Royal Caribbean International for compensation and rebooking options. We have established a special help desk to assist these guests. The toll-free is: 1-800-327-6700.

The one thing we notice about these changes is that it will benefit other ports like Ocho Rios Jamaica. San Diego is getting many new port calls including an overnight stay. We like San Diego and hope many new cruisers will discover this wonderful city for the first time.

It also involves two additional ships scheduled to make upcoming Mexico port calls as they reposition - Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas. The revised sailings for other ships will be as follows:

Enchantment of the Seas 5-night sailings from Port Everglades on Mondays: replace Cozumel with additional time in Key West and an additional day at sea. 5-night sailings from Port Everglades on Saturdays: replace Cozumel with with port calls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Freedom of the Seas 7-night sailings from Port Canaveral replace Cozumel with additional time in George Town, Cayman Islands, and an additional day at sea.

Liberty of the Seas 7-night sailings from Miami replace Cozumel with Coco Cay, Bahamas.

Serenade of the Seas On its current sailing, it will replace its port call in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with a port call in San Diego, California.

Radiance of the Seas On its current sailing, it will replace its port calls in Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with an extended, overnight port call in San Diego, California, and additional time at sea.

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4-28-09 NCL Also Cancels Mexico Calls This Week As a precautionary measure due to the recent travel advisory relating to Mexico, NCL is cancelling Norwegian Pearl's final two calls in Mexico on its current repositioning cruise. The stops were scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 1, 2009. Apart from this sailing, Norwegian Cruise Line's scheduled deployment does not include any other ports of call in Mexico until the end of September 2009.

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4-28-09 Royal Caribbean to Cancel Mexico Calls This Week Royal Caribbean has just reported that it will cancel the rest of its port calls in Mexico ports this week.

The revised itinerary for Mariner of the Seas includes stops in San Francisco, San Diego and Victoria, British Columiba. This is a rare itinerary and CruiseMates encourages you to take it and enjoy it if you were originally scheduled for a Mexican Riviera cruise. You may not get the opportunity for this All-American itinerary again soon.

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4-28-09 Carnival Corp. Ships Avoid Mexico Out at Sea USA Today's Gene Sloan has reported that certain ships under the Carnival Corp. umbrella chose to remain at sea today rather than going into Mexican ports. The article says that the Coral Princess avoided Purto Vallarta today and the Coral Princess avoided Cabo San Lucas. Princess is a owned by the Carnival Corp. parent company. Princess also announced that Sapphire Princess will cancel calls in Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas and replace the ports with San Diego and Catalina Island.

Three Carnival ships also stayed out at sea today. The Carnival Inspiration and the Holiday avoided Cozumel, while Elation avoided Ensenada.

Another Carnival Corp. ship, Holland America's Ryndam, avoided Mazatlan today.

Meanwhile, the non-Carnival Corp ships from Royal Caribbean, Mariner of the Seas, did make a call in Cabo San Lucas today.

We at Cruisemates just want to say that we think it is a shame that a small group of vocal people were able to persuade Carnival Corp. to cancel the port stops. We assume a lot of cruisers were disappointed to miss these ports of call. While Princess may be able to dock in San Diego this week on an emergency basis, it isn't expected that they will be able to do that every week.

We urge you to read our editorial on Swine Flu and Cruiser Options.

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4-28-09 Carnival to Cancel Mexico Ports of Call - This Week AP is just now breaking a report that Carnival Corp. will suspend stops at Mexican ports for all three ships it has scheduled to visit the country in the next few days. This statement precedes a more detailed statement scheduled for today at 5:00 pm EDT to address later stops.

Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Lines still hope to reassure their passengers that their onboard facilities can provide sufficient health care and infection prevention measures to keep onboard guests safe.

Norwegian Pearl, currently on a repositioning cruise with stops in Mexico, is monitoring the situation by conducting fleet-wide guest health questionnaires.

Royal Caribbean is telling passengers not to go overboard with panic and concern, noting that the outbreaks are inland rather than in the Mexican coastal cities popular with cruise tourists.

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4-28-09 Nine Somali Attackers of MSC Melody Captured A Spanish frigate has arrested nine Somalis suspected of being the pirates who attacked MSC Melody. According to the Spanish defense ministry, the warship intercepted a skiff carrying the nine Somali suspects near the Seychelles and handed over to authorities there, officials said.

The group of pirates attacked the ship in a speedboat in the area on Saturday, but the ship's crew and security men repulsed the attack by firing into the air and spraying the gunmen with water. No-one was hurt in the incident.

Spanish officials said that after the hijacking attempt, a search was launched for the hijackers by the Spanish frigate Numancia, along with patrol planes from the Seychelles and France and an Indian navy ship. During the search they found two small boats with nine suspects on board close to the scene of the attack.

The suspects abandoned one of the boats and were later caught in the skiff. The Numancia "intercepted a skiff with nine occupants who could be connected to the hijacking attempt of the Italian cruise ship which was eventually repelled by the boat," the defense ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

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4-27-09 Crystal: $2000 Onboard Credits on Most New Cruises Due to an overwhelming response to the recent "All Inclusive - As You Wish" spending credits for Europe, Crystal Cruises has expanded the offer to most of its cruises in 2009, as well as most of 2010. Guests can now receive a shipboard credit of up to $2,000 per couple for most 12+ day voyages, and up to $1,000 per couple for most shorter cruises.

"The positive response to the All Inclusive - As You Wish spending credits has been astounding," says Bill Smith of Crystal Cruises. "Guests can spend the bonus dollars on experiences that are meaningful to them." The All Inclusive - As You Wish spending credit can be used toward:
  • Any Crystal Adventure shore excursion,
  • Any spa treatment,
  • Any wine,
  • Any cocktail,
  • Any boutique or lifestyle photography purchase,
  • Any gratuities,
  • Any Vintage Room experience,
  • Anything else on board except cruise deposits, air and Casino gaming.

For 2009, besides Europe, All Inclusive - As You Wish spending credits have been added to most cruises in New England/Canada, Panama Canal and South America, and also apply to virtually all 2010 itineraries. 2009 fall cruise fares begin at $2,480 per person, double occupancy. The line's recently published 2010, 20th Anniversary cruise fares begin at $2,165 per person, double occupancy.

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4-27-09 Cruise Lines Go Forward With Mexico Cruises USA Today is reporting that all of the cruise lines have announced there are no current plans to modify or cancel any Mexico cruise itineraries. A mutual statement from the Cruise Lines Industry Association says that the cruise lines are monitoring the situation very closely and that they are in contact with major federal and world health organizations, but that so far they feel they are sufficiently in control of the health environment aboard their ships, and they are positive they can deliver a safe and healthy cruise to Mexico.

Naturally, this statement is based upon current conditions and the Swine Flu situation is in flux, but so far we at CruiseMates agree that the outbreaks are mostly regional and the port stops on most cruise itineraries are within the cruise lines' parameters of safety. Cruise Lines are very able to handle outbreaks of disease on ships with quarantine and infirmary treatment of infected individuals protocols already in place.

Most areas that cruise lines visit in Mexico are tourist areas that are already highly isolated from the general population. These tourist areas already have separate water filtering and plumbing facilities for guests. Tourism is the fourth largest industry in Mexico and it is far too important to them not to be able to handle this situation.

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4-27-09 High-speed Rail - Portland, Seattle, Vancouver Proposed Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Vancouver's cruise ship industry could benefit from proposed high-speed rail between Vancouver, Seattle and Portland in a speech from the mayor's office said yesterday.

The proposed train is part of an $8-billion US plan to link dozens of U.S. cities with high-speed rail. It would travel at a speed of around 180 km/h, up from the current speeds of less than 130 km/h.

Funding was announced Thursday by U.S. President Barack Obama as part of his $787-billion economic bailout plan.

Vancouver Mayor Robertson met with his Portland Mayor Sam Adams on Friday to work on furthering the proposal. Part of the marketing plan for the railroad includes the cruise industry. The train would make it easier for American tourists to get to Vancouver and would have big economic benefits for the city's cruise ship industry.

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4-27-09 Stocks Drop on Mexico Travel Concerns [ UPDATED ] Reports on CNBC saying that the State Department just issued a warning against unessential travel to Mexico were wrong. The State Department is considering the warning and frankly has waffled on the matter the last few days. This has affected the stock prices of Royal Caribbean and Carnival, just when both stocks had made nice rebounds in the last week.

A pattern seems to be emerging with the Obama administration; Just yesterday they said no one should change any plans they had to travel to Mexico. We are looking at the State Department web site now and we do not yet see the warning, but some reports are saying it is imminent.

If the past is any pattern, this pandemic warning will pass soon enough, but this one is much closer than SARS, Bird Flu and all the others that have come and gone in the last decade. They were in Asia. This Mexican Swine Flu is a bit too close for comfort, and Swine Flu is the variety that created the most famous flu pandemic in history, in 1918 when millions of Americans died.

Investors need to watch this situation carefully. The stocks are down but could rebound quickly when the news subsides, but if the situation gets worse the stock prices could go lower. Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival Corp. have several ships that sail to Mexico on a regular basis, and both just increased capacity on the West Coast a few months ago for "Mexico Riviera" cruises.

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4-26-09 MSC Cruise Ship Fires Back at Pirates

The MSC Melody security crew, armed with pistols, repelled a violent attack by six men firing upon the ship.

MSC Orchestra, a modern cruise ship owned by MSC Cruises, a part of the Italian Mediterranean Shipping Company, made history today by being the first cruise ship to ever fire back at "pirates," or "hijackers" as we prefer to call them. The ship is carrying 1000 passengers and 500 crewmembers. Just last week (4-17-09) MSC Cruises had publicly announced it would change the Melody's scheduled itinerary to put more distance between its path and the Somali coast.

Today, April 26st, 2009, the ship was sailing 200 miles north of the Seychelle Islands and fully 600 miles from the Somali Coast, further away from the typical pirate zone where other hijacking incidents have happened when this attack occured.

Reports and an interview with the captains tells us that six men in a small white speed boat, apparently operating from a much larger mother ship in the immediate area, seemed to appear from out of nowhere. It was less than five minutes before the small boat was alongside the ship.

The six pirates "opened fire like crazy," according to the captain who described the action like "being at war." The Synday Morning Herald newspaper reports the hijackers were peppering the ship's windows with machine gun fire and other automatic weapons.

"They tried to put up a ladder with hooks. They were climbing up, so we reacted. We started firing. When they saw us firing - we even sprayed them with water with the fire hose - they gave up and went off," the captian of MSC Melody is reported as saying.

The captain had handed out pistols to the ship's onboard security crew as the small boat was approaching. A U.K. newspaper is reporting the the onboard security staff fired the pistols "in the air" and used a firehose to repel the pirates.

Panic broke out with the passengers onboard as a gun fire fight ensued, smashing windows and putting bullet holes in the hull of the ship. The firefight continued with pistol fire and a firehouse being used to repel the hijackers. With the open fire being returned the hijackers abandoned their attempt, momentarily, but they continued to follow the ship and fire at it for 20 minutes. This left the cruise chip crew to wonder what more formidable weapons the mother ship might have and how far this situation could escalate. The captain said in an interview tat he "felt as if he was at war." It is a night he will never forget.

Indeed this is the first time in modern history, since World War II, that we have any news of a cruise even having arms on board, let alone using them for any reason. The ANSA news agency said the pistols had been kept in a safe under the joint control of the commander and security chief.

"When they saw our fire ... they left us and went away. They followed us for a bit but then stopped," The captain told the European news agency Sky News. The ship is now being escorted by a Spanish naval escort from the area.

The nationality of the security guards onboard the ship is Israeli. It is not unusual for cruise ships to hire crewmembers of a specific nationality for a specific job. Many cruise ships use Nepalese Ghurkas, a style of Asian defense discipline that has proven highly effective in one on one confrontations. But it is well known that when it comes to dealing with armed terrorists in this part of the world that Israelis have more experience than most.

Domenico Pellegrino, managing director of parent company MSC said, "We use them because they are the best, and we [now] have a demonstration of that."

Fortunately, no one onboard the cruise ship was hurt during the firefight. The damage inflicted includes just the broken windows, bullet holes and a lifeboat hit by gunfire.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, Lt. Nathan Christensen, said that the location of the attack shows "a sign that they are moving further and further off the Somali coast... a definite shift in (the pirates) tactical capabilities."

Last December, pirates opened fire on a U.S.-operated ship carrying hundreds of tourists on a monthlong luxury cruise from Rome to Singapore, but the cruise liner was able to outrun the pirates. In early April a tourist yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Seychelles just after having dropped off its cargo of tourists.

The Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the pirates fired "like crazy" with automatic weapons late Saturday, slightly damaging the liner, Pinto said. The pirates tried to put a ladder on board, but were unable to climb aboard, he said.

Ironically, CruiseMates had just done an editorial last week where we asked if cruise ships should be armed. We didn't mention that it is highly unusual for cruise ships or any ships to carry arms because the insurers are more afraid of what might happen as a result of having those weapons onboard than they are concerned about protecting the ship from pirates.

Now, this stance does make sense considering that cruise ships very rarely go through these now famously dangerous waters. However the Seychelle area is proving to be almost as dangerous as the Gulf of Aden. Another Italian ship, a cargo carrier, was attacked in the same area just last week.

4-23-09 Independence of the Seas to Home Port in Southampton Year Round Royal Caribbean International announce Independence of the Seas will be based year round in the U.K. starting in 2010. It will be the first Royal Caribbean International ship to be based year-round from the UK and will remain the largest and most innovative ship sailing in Europe.

Operating at maximum capacity, Independence of the Seas can carry up to 4,300 guests. Royal Caribbean first based the 2,076-guest Legend of the Seas from Southampton in 2005. After two summer seasons from the port, the line introduced the 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas for one year in summer 2007. Navigator of the Seas was replaced in summer 2008 when the Independence of the Seas launched in Southampton and became the first new Royal Caribbean International ship to operate its inaugural season from this port.

The first ever winter 2010 season of Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas will go on sale on 1 June 2009. Royal Caribbean International will be supporting the push with a major trade and consumer marketing campaign, as well as dedicated point of sale materials for agents.

Winter cruises in 2010 and 2011 will include romantic destinations along the Italian Riviera, amazing island visits in the Sorrentine Peninsula on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, as well as the Balearic Islands, these cruises range from 11-to 18-nights in duration. Prices for an 11-night Winter Sun cruise to the Canary Islands start from £799 per person based on two sharing an inside stateroom or an 18-night Mediterranean Cities cruise visiting historic coastal towns from £999 per person based on two sharing an inside stateroom.

Traditionally, Royal Caribbean International ships have only operated the summer season (April until October) in Europe and the Mediterranean. In 2008, Brilliance of the Seas became the first ship in the fleet to operate year round in the Mediterranean from the homeport of Barcelona.

Currently one of the largest in-class of cruise ship in the world, Independence of the Seas is longer than three and half football pitches and is unlike any other to have operated in UK waters in terms of both its size and onboard facilities. If standing upright on its bow it would dwarf the UK's tallest building, London's One Canada Square at Canary Wharf (771 feet tall).

Featuring an onboard ice rink, rock climbing wall, surfing simulator and a Royal Promenade packed with shops, restaurants and bars that is longer than the pitch at the new Wembley stadium, Independence of the Seas is described as an action-packed floating resort.

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4-23-09 Broadway's Hairspray to be Featured on Oasis of the Seas We are starting to get a clearer picture of the entertainment options Royal Caribbean will debut on Oasis of the Seas and it appears they will be as diverse as they are unique. It was just announced to day that Oasis will have the only licensed Broadway show at sea. Hairspray, the populat winner eight Tony awards, will show in the Opal Theater, the main showroon onboard, at least three, maybe four times per cruise.

Hairspray will alternate with a new "aerial show" also scheduled for the Opal Theater, details yet to be announced.

Oasis will have three large audience entertainment venues, the Opal Theater, Studio B as the ice rink and theater for ice shows and the AquaTheater at the stern of the ship for water acrobatic shows similar to La Reve showing at the Wynn in las Vegas or the Cirque d' Soliel show, "Eau".

In addition, there are several smaller entertainment venues including "Jazz on 4" and "Comedy Live". The jazz club will feature live jazz nightly, while the comedy club will feature comedy. While that sounds obvious, it is actually a radical departure for a cruise ship to have both a full-time jazz club and comedy club. Carnival tried a jazz club on Destiny back in 1996, but it soon turned into a caberet lounge singing venue.

There has never been a fulltime comedy club on any ship, and it will be both challenging and exciting for Royal Caribbean to bring this to fruition. It will require having one or more full time comedians on evey cruise.

The entertainment focus on Oasis is to provide a wide variety of options so people get a high-value entertainment experience almost every night of the cruise. It starts with two different productions in the main showroom, two different AquaTheater productions and the ice show. That is five first class shows per cruise. In addition, the smaller venues for jazz, comedy and dancing fill the bill for other nights. Each show in each venue will be repeated several times so guests do not have to struggle to find good seats. All of the theaters are much small than the total ship capacity of 5400 guests. They average seating for 1200 guests at once, so the shows will be spectaculars but you will get a good seat and even have more than on opportunity to see them.

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4-23-09 Royal Caribbean Earnings Beat Estimates - Stock Up Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced a net loss for the first quarter 2009 of US$36.2 million, or US$0.17 per share, compared to net income of $75.6 million, or $0.35 per share, in 2008. But, the results were significantly better than the expected loss of between $0.30 to $0.35 per share.

Revenues were $1.3 billion, versus $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2008. Net Yields decreased 13.5% from the prior year. The overall revenue environment was slightly better than previous guidance due to stable close-in booking patterns. Onboard Net Yield declined consistent with the company's prior expectations.

Fuel costs benefited from reductions in at-the-pump pricing and continued consumption reduction initiatives and were US$10 million better than previous estimates.

"Obviously, we are never happy to report a loss, but I am pleased that the full year earnings outlook has not changed materially," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Given the horrible economy, I am encouraged by a more stable revenue environment and I am proud that our people have been able to reduce expenses and deliver better than expected results."

Royal Caribbean stock was up by $2.00 per share on Thursday Morning.

Revenue Environment

While consumer spending continues to be impacted by the economy, the company noted that its overall revenue environment has remained relatively consistent since the end of last year. Discounting continues to be aggressive, yet remains within the range of previous guidance and booking volumes have been sufficient for the company to achieve its forecasted occupancy levels.

"In January, we noted that our booking patterns had begun to stabilize but that there was still a high level of uncertainty in the market," said Brian J. Rice, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "Since then, we have seen consumer behavior stabilize even further. We are obviously not completely back to equilibrium yet, but the predictability of our bookings gets better every day and the risk of a dramatic deviation continues to fall."

Second quarter Net Yields are projected to decline approximately 17% on an as-reported basis and approximately 12% on a constant dollar basis. Third quarter yields are projected to perform slightly better than the second quarter on both an as-reported and constant dollar basis, mainly due to the company's Pullmantur brand, which will have much easier comparables from the prior year due to the earlier deterioration in the Spanish economy.

The second and third quarter Net Yields are projected to show the largest yield declines on an as-reported basis, as each quarter is impacted by approximately five percentage points based on current exchange rates. On a constant dollar basis, the second and third quarters are also being impacted by relatively weaker demand for the company's seasonal premium itineraries such as Alaska.

Many of these same factors indicate that the fourth quarter will not suffer as large a revenue decline. In addition to having more favorable currency comparables and a product mix that is weighted more heavily toward relatively stronger Caribbean products, the company's fourth quarter will be compared to last year's fourth quarter which already included an impact from the economic downturn. Lastly, bookings for the Oasis of the Seas are extremely robust and are expected to have a significant accretive impact on yields.

For the full year, the company expects Net Yields to decline 12% - 13% on an as-reported basis and 9% - 10% on a constant dollar basis. "A later booking pattern continues to make forecasting difficult, but our visibility gets better every day," said Rice. "We have lowered our revenue forecast marginally to take into account selected areas of weakness including a more cautious view of onboard revenue, but overall, our bookings continue to come in within the range of our earlier expectations. In today's world, that is significant."

Expense Guidance

Net cruise costs are forecasted to decrease 10% - 12% for the year and 11% - 12% for the second quarter. Excluding fuel, net cruise costs are expected to decline 6% - 8% for the year and approximately 9% for the second quarter.

In addition to a very successful cost savings program, the company has benefited from falling fuel prices and the stronger dollar. Based on current dollar exchange rates net cruise costs are realizing a benefit of approximately five percentage points in the second quarter and between two and three percentage points for the year. There continues to be some natural inverse correlation between revenues and expenses and the company's cost cutting initiatives are focused on taking advantage of this correlation.

Fuel Expense

The company does not forecast fuel prices and its cost calculations are based on current at-the-pump prices net of hedging impacts. Based on today's fuel prices the company has included US$574 million and US$142 million of fuel expense in its full year and second quarter 2009 guidance, respectively.

The company is currently 51% hedged for the second quarter and 48% for the full year. Because of the relatively low fuel prices available, the company has recently increased its hedges in 2010 to 40% and has hedged approximately 25% of forecasted 2011 consumption.

 

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4-22-09 Queen Mary 2 to Host Tribeca Film Festival Documentary Competition Cunard Line has a new partnership with New York's Tribeca Film Festival, scheduled 22 April - 3 May, where Cunard is recognized as the Official Cruise Line of the Festival.

Cunard will sponsor the World Documentary Competition for the 2009 Festival and then later this year will bring elements of the Tribeca Film Festival experience to the high-seas with original enrichment programming aboard the line's flagship Queen Mary 2 during a legendary Transatlantic Crossing.

Exclusive Tribeca Programming: Tribeca Film Festival will provide exclusive programming aboard November 5, 2009 and April, 29 2010 Transatlantic Crossings on Queen Mary 2 in association with Cunard Insights, the line's award winning enrichment programme. Established and emerging actors, directors, documentarians and screenwriters will engage guests in thought-provoking discussion about the love of their craft and the art of movie making. Tribeca Film Festival fans can enter (online) for a chance to win a free voyage on the 5 November Transatlantic Crossing that will feature Tribeca Film Festival original programming at www.cunard.com/tribeca.

Though the Tribeca Film Festival screens more than 80 films this year, documentaries are one of the festival's strong suits. This year, Cunard will be the sponsor of the festival's World Documentary Competition in which 12 films and their filmmakers will compete for Best Documentary Film and Best New Documentary Filmmaker.

One of these films will win the 2009 Best Documentary Award to be announced on Thursday, 30 April and in addition to prize money awarded by TFF, Cunard will present the grand prize documentary filmmaker with a Transatlantic voyage on Queen Mary 2.

For more information visit www.cunard.com.

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4-20-09 MSC Extends Balcony Blowout Sale MSC Cruises is extending the deadline to book its popular "Balcony Blowout" rates savings on Mediterranean and Northern Europe sailings until May 31, 2009, giving guests more time to save up to 60 percent on their European cruise vacation.

“Balcony Blowout” rates begin at $999 per person for a balcony stateroom on a 7-night European cruise on some of the line's most elegant ships - including two of the newest in the cruise industry.

The special rates are for new bookings made by May 31, 2009, while space is available, on select 7-night sailings of:

  • MSC Poesia: Eastern Mediterranean roundtrip from Venice or Bari
  • MSC Orchestra: Baltic or Norwegian Fjords roundtrip from Copenhagen; Western Mediterranean roundtrip from Barcelona or Genoa
  • MSC Splendida (which debuts in July 2009): Western Mediterranean roundtrip from Barcelona, Genoa, Civitavecchia, or Marseille
  • MSC Fantasia (which debuted in December 2008): Western Mediterranean roundtrip from Genoa, Barcelona, Naples or Marseille
  • MSC Musica: Eastern Mediterranean roundtrip from Venice or Bari

 

Cruise-only rates are per person for a balcony, based on double occupancy (government fees and taxes for all guests are additional) and cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion. As on all sailings, children ages 17 and younger sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults.

For more information about MSC Cruises, visit us online at www.MSCCruisesUSA.com or inquire with a local travel professional.

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4-20-09 Cruises to Antarctica Limited by International Agreement Nations with ties to Antarctica have agreed to limit tourism, especially by cruise ship, say scientists and diplomats working together to protect the South Pole ice region according to the Sun newspaper in Baltimore.

Member countries of the Antarctic Treaty are required to prevent ships with more than 500 passengers from landing in Antarctica. Landings anywhere in the regionwill be limited to a maximum of 100 passengers on shore at any given time.

The agreement was reached Friday at the 32nd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Baltimore, where nearly 400 people are to meet during the next two weeks to discuss environmental protection and scientific research on the continent. The agreed tourism limit won't become binding until ratified by each of the 28 nations that signed the initial Antarctic Treaty 50 years ago.

Visits to Antarctica, primarily from cruise ships, rose from 6,700 in 1992-93 to more than 45,000 last year.

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4-14-09 Oasis Financing Details in Place The original reports today about financing for Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas were not very clear until the Miami Herald supplied more complete details. 100% of the financing is now in place subject to closing conditions.

It was always known that Finnish government agency Finnvera would guarantee 80% of the loans, but now they will guarantee 95% of the total loans. The related export credit company Finnvera Ltd will actually supply 40% of the loans. More financing will come from other banks, BNP Paribas (France) and Swedish banks Nordea Bank and SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken) who will each kick in 20 percent. Royal Caribbean is paying the balance of guarantees through cash installments it is making as construction progresses.

Wall Street analysts have been watching this large scale financing closely due to the difficulty all companies face getting credit these days. The Herald reports these analysts said 'the larger role for Finnvera likely signals hurdles in cobbling together the deal in a challenging credit market.'

One analyst, Robin Farley of UBS said in a report, "This is the first time we can recall a government agency not just guaranteeing a portion of the outstanding debt, but also providing actual financing. [Plus] this 95 percent guarantee is higher than the 80 percent guarantees historically provided by Finnvera and potentially indicative of difficulty finding financing without this government backstop."

And? She seemed like a nice person as I saw her speaking with Peter Greenberg in his Cruise Inc documentary, but I find the deliberate vagueness of her statements confounding. She lowered her expectations for the share price for Royal Caribbean to $7.00/share just about three weeks ago right when it was trading at $7.00/share. Since then it has risen over 40% to well over $10 share (going over $11.00 on Tuesday). Recent news of a possible thaw in travel restrictions to Cuba helped get it over $11.

Yes, this deal is indicative of the difficulty of finding financing in this economy - but is it a good thing that RCL found the financing, or is it a bad thing that Finnvera had to guarantee 95% of it? If you ask me it is a good thing for any company to get $1 billion in credit from anywhere, it certainly beats a bailout.

I predicted last month that either Finnvera or the Finnish shipyard would step up. Shipbuilding is a major industry in this Baltic nation, much like our GM. The Finnish government lending to a company as capable as Royal Caribbean comes as no surprise. If only GM had anything on the horizon as remotely exciting as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.

Furthermore, I find it odd that Wall Street does not see historically low interest rates as the reason for the reluctance of banks to lend, rather than a lack of confidence in the borrower. It isn't that the banks don't want business, it is that they want more for their money. Yes, the debt rating was just lowered for Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but what if that was the catalyst for this deal finally coming together?

Wall Street and politicians, here is an interesting tidbit; BNP Paribas was created when France nationalized all of its banks in 1946. The bank was taken private once again in 1993.

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4-14-09 Elvis Cruise Promises "The King Around Every Corner" Tickets are on sale today for the third annual Elvis Cruise. Producers Sixthman Productions say, "this is the only officially licensed cruise by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc." The Elvis Cruise will set sail on the 2,052-passenger Carnival Inspiration November 12-16, 2009, round-trip from Tampa, Florida, calling at Cozumel, Mexico.

The cruise is hosted by former close friend and Elvis entourage member, Jerry Schilling, and will feature live music and entertainment from some of Elvis' former band mates and backup singers along with "the best Elvis tribute artists in the world." The artists, who will perform nightly throughout the Carnival Inspiration, include The TCB Band, The Imperials, The Sweet Inspirations, Joe Guercio, D.J. Fontana, Terry Mike Jeffrey & Band, Andy Childs, Ronnie McDowell and The Dempseys along with Elvis Tribute Artists Gino Monopoli, Victor Trevino, Ted Torres, Dwight Icenhower, Jay Zanier, Simon Patrick, Bryant Scott, Mark Anthony, Joseph Hall, Kevin Mills, and George Thomas. Joining the cruise for the first time this year are Elvis' movie co-stars Celeste Yarnall from Live a Little, Love a Little, Cynthia Pepper from Kissin Cousins and Chris Noel from Girl Happy. Another addition this year is famed Elvis photographer Al Wertheimer.

"The type of talent performing on this cruise is what you would have found on tour or in the recording studio with Elvis. as many of the artists worked with him professionally for many years," said Jerry Schilling, host of The Elvis Cruise.

From the Carnival Inspiration's seven-deck-high Atrium, gift shops and dining rooms to the bars, Lido Deck and main stage, you will find the King of Rock 'n' Roll and his music around every corner. In addition, guests will enjoy in-room Elvis movies, meet and greet sessions with celebrity guests, an Elvis fashion show featuring officially licensed merchandise, Elvis Monopoly and trivia tournaments, ice carvings and many other Elvis-themed activities.

"The third installment of the Elvis Cruise demonstrates the success of the two previous events and the commitment of Elvis Presley Enterprises, to take Elvis and his legacy to new and exciting places by allowing fans to experience his music in a unique setting," said Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Cabins for The Elvis Cruise are now on sale and start at $599 per person based on double occupancy plus taxes and fees. For more information, go to www.theelviscruise.com.

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4-14-09 Royal Caribbean Reënacts Loyalty Awards Adam Goldstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean International, sent a letter to members of the Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor society members explaining that the line has decided to give back or amend some of the rewards it had previously taken away from its most loyal customers.

The letter, sent by email, says in part, "I am writing to provide you with an update regarding the recent changes to our Crown & Anchor® Loyalty Program."

"As you may know, we recently announced a number of changes to our Crown & Anchor Loyalty Program. Many of our Diamond Members have expressed considerable unhappiness about the change in eligibility for access to our Concierge Lounges. While we knew the reaction would be negative, it has been more negative than we anticipated."

"We deeply regret having to restrict this access, but we are committed to delivering an exceptional Concierge Lounge experience. Having said that, we realize we should have provided more notice of our decision, which carries such consequences. To that end, we will delay the implementation date for the change in eligibility from July 1, 2009, to September 1, 2009."

"...outside the Concierge Lounge, effective September 1 we will offer [Crown and Anchor Diamond Members] a dedicated VIP private party in one of our bars or lounges. This may be held in the Viking Crown Lounge, or any other bar or lounge designated by the ship. In this dedicated area, from approximately 5 to 8 p.m., we will offer complimentary wine and champagne and a happy hour discount of 25 percent off all other beverages. This will be offered every day of each sailing and will replace our recently announced one-time per-cruise special Diamond party."

"Additionally, we will offer a new continental breakfast from approximately 8 to 10 a.m. in one of the rooms adjacent to the main dining room onboard. During these morning hours, a crew member will be present and will provide services such as obtaining ice show tickets, and other assistance. We believe these changes will address the primary desires our Diamond members have expressed. These enhancements will be instituted on all our ships that don't have a Diamond Lounge today."

The entire letter, along with the listed changes in the Crown and Anchor Society program will be reflected on the Royal Caribbean Web site.

 

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4-13-09 Crystal Cruise Hosts Carville and Matalin On the heels of the recent electric and historic Presidential election, Crystal Cruises is reaching out to both sides of the aisle. Provocative Democrat and Republican political insiders - and husband and wife - James Carville and Mary Matalin will give candid opinions of current newsmakers, debate hot topics and analyze top headlines with their famous fervor on Crystal Serenity's July 28 Mediterranean sailing. The dynamic duo will also present their observations of and predictions for the new Obama Administration, as well as both political parties.

As co-hosts and guests of television's most popular political talk shows, Carville and Matalin have captivated audiences with their wit, passion and contrasting political viewpoints. Their lecture series, "A Walk Through the Races…Where they're Going…What to Make of This Historic Time," is sure to ignite stimulating debate from all sides of the political spectrum.

"Our guests are educated, savvy individuals who relish insightful programming on politics, current events and contemporary entertainment," says Bret Bullock, Crystal's vice president of entertainment. "James and Mary were so enthusiastically received on their previous cruises with us. Their return to Crystal this summer is sure to inspire great conversation and debate."

The 12-day itinerary sails from Venice to San Marino, Italy; Corfu, Rhodes and Mykonos, Greece; Bodrum and Istanbul, Turkey, and ends in Athens, Greece. Cruise fares begin at $6,055 per person, double occupancy, plus a $1,000 per person All Inclusive - As You Wish shipboard credit to customize one's vacation.

Also aboard this sailing, Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa will share his talents, techniques and will create a week of special Omakase - or chef's choice - menus in Silk Road, Crystal's onboard specialty restaurant featuring his signature dishes.

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4-12-09 Volcano Erupting in the Galapagos Islands After four years of inactivity, a volcano has erupted in the Galapagos islands, leading to fears that unique wildlife could be harmed.

The La Cumbre volcano began spewing lava, gas and smoke on Saturday, officials from the Galapagos National Park said. The volcano, on the uninhabited Fernandina Island, has been inactive since May 2005.

The park said the eruption is not a threat to people living on nearby Isabela Island, the largest in the Galapagos. But it added that lava flowing to the sea will likely "affect" marine and terrestrial iguanas, wolves and other wildlife.

Scientists say Fernandina is the island with the most volcanic activity in the archipelago, which is part of Ecuador's national park system.

The Galapagos Islands are home to unique animal and plant species - including the famous Galapagos tortoise - because of their location where three ocean currents meet. The unusual flora and fauna inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection after he visited them in 1835 on board HMS Beagle.

The islands were the first area in the world to be officially declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

In 2007, the Galapagos were added to the list of world heritage in danger because of the threat from from invasive species, tourism and immigration.

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4-11-09 Maritime Court Accepts Cruise Passenger Guilty Plea The current system for cruise ship crime cases works. An Aberdeen newspaper is reporting that a 26-year old resident of St Louis, Missouri, pled guilty to one count of assault in federal court yesterday. The plea was made before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon within the special maritime jurisdiction of the United States. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Peter M. Thomson.

According to court documents, Joseph Brussel was a passenger on the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship which had set sail April 5, 2008 from New Orleans on a western Carribean cruise. Cruising with family members and friends in a wedding party, on the second day of the cruise, Brussel was drinking wine from a glass while on the dance floor in the disco nightclub. He appeared to be intoxicated according to witnesses. When a ship security officer advised Brussel that alcohol is not allowed on the dance floor and escorted him off the dance floor, Brussel struck him in the face with the wine glass, which shattered, cutting the officer in several places. Brussel attempted to flee the area of the disco, but was arrested by other security officers in a nearby hallway.

Upon sentencing, which is scheduled for July 15, 2009, Brussel is subject to a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years and a $250,0000 fine.

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4-7-09 NCL Announces Record Results and Net Yields Norwegian Cruise Lines just released an earnings overview in which they report record results despite the challenging economic environment. The report cites for the full year of 2008 that NCL reported a "record setting" 18.2% increase in EBITDA in 2008 of $228.1 million versus $192.9 million in 2007.

On a pro forma basis, EBITDA increased 55.7% to $300.1 million versus the prior year after including the impact of restructuring initiatives such as the re-flagging and redeployment of Pride of Hawaii and Pride of Aloha from the Company's U.S.-flagged fleet to its international fleet as Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sky.

In 2008, net revenues increased 2.9% despite a 3.7% decrease in capacity. Total revenues for 2008 were $2.1 billion versus $2.2 billion in 2007, a 3.2% decrease. Net Yields for 2008 increased 6.9% from the prior year while Gross Yields were modestly higher. Operating income for the Company increased by 46.3% to $65.5 million in 2008 from $44.8 million in 2007, excluding impairment charges in 2008 of $128.8 million related to the cancellation of a contract to build a ship and $2.6 million in 2007 related to the sale of Oceanic.

Excluding these one-time charges, the Company reported a net loss of $83.0 million for its year ended December 31, 2008, as compared to a net loss of $224.4 million for the prior year. Interest expense (net of capitalized interest), decreased by $23.0 million year-over-year as a result of lower average outstanding debt balances for the year.

In the "Outlook" for 2009 section, the report says:

In the first few months of 2009, the Company experienced strong bookings with a rise of 15% year-over-year through March 15, 2009. In 2009, the Company will return the last of its older chartered ships (Norwegian Majesty) to Star Cruises, completing the transformation of its fleet to 100% modern ships purpose-built for Freestyle Cruising.

The Company is eagerly anticipating the arrival of its next generation of Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic, scheduled for delivery in May 2010. The Company announced further details about the ship's wide range of accommodations on March 18, 2009, the innovative dining and amenities on April 3, 2009 and will reveal information about the entertainment on May 20, 2009. The Company will also open Norwegian Epic's 2010 itineraries for sale to the public on May 20, 2009.

In recent months, the Company had been exploring alternatives to optimize its capital structure. In conjunction with an equity investment by its shareholders of $100 million, the Company has refinanced approximately $800 million of debt that it had coming due in 2009 and 2010.

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4-4-09 Queen Elizabeth Maiden Voyage Sells Out in 39 Minutes Cunard Line announced that the October 2010 maiden voyage for the new Queen Elizabeth sold out in 29 minutes on April 1, easily making it the fastest-selling voyage in Cunard's 170-year history. The voyage sold out faster and involved more guests than QE2's final voyage, which sold out in 36 minutes in June 2007. More than half of Queen Elizabeth's remaining maiden season, comprising six voyages from October to December 2010, was sold within the first two hours.

"This is an impressive record set by what will be an impressive ship and speaks volumes about the Cunard brand as well as for the resilience of the cruise sector as a whole in these challenging times," said Carol Marlow, president and managing director of Cunard. "It is also very encouraging to see the level of interest in Queen Elizabeth coming from all our international markets, with bookings in the U.K., U.S. and Germany particularly strong."

Queen Elizabeth's maiden 2010 season will consist of six voyages calling on 32 ports in 18 countries. The maiden voyage will depart from Southampton on Oct. 12, 2010, en route to the Atlantic Isles. The ship will then embark on five celebratory inaugural voyages, for which space is still available but selling fast.

The 14-day "Mediterranean Premiere" departs Southampton on Oct. 25, 2010, and calls at Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples (for Capri and Pompeii), Cartagena and Gibraltar. Fares start at $2,795 per person.

The 18-day "Aegean Introduction" departs Southampton on Nov. 8, 2010, to Malaga, Malta, Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi, Athens and Alicante. Fares start at $3,295 per person.

The five-day "Gallic Debut" departs Southampton on Nov. 26, 2010, and calls at Rotterdam, Brussels/Bruges and Cherbourg; fares begin at $1,195 per person.

The 13-day "Iberian Discovery" departs Southampton on Dec. 1, 2010, and calls at Vigo, Lisbon, Seville, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma and Madeira. Fares start at $2,395 per person.

The 22-day "Festive Debut" departs Southampton on Dec. 14, 2010, and visits Madeira, Tortola, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Azores Islands. Fares start at $4,795 per person. For more information, call 800-7-CUNARD or visit www.cunard.com.

 

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4-2-09 Celebrity and Azamara Summer Cruises: 2 for 1 Rates Through April The latest booking promotions from Celebrity Cruises and deluxe sister Azamara Cruises, running through April 30, 2009, says cruisers can book a limited number of berths on select Alaska and Europe sailings at a two-for-the-price-of-one rate based on published brochure rates. Any of these cruises booked during April 2009 also feature a price-protection component and a travel agent booking incentive.

Azamara offering Europe for less: Azamara Cruises offers savings of up to 50% off published brochure rates on 21 different cruises sailing between May and November 2009 through the Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, the Black Sea, Western Europe, Iceland and Scandinavia/Russia. Ranging in length from seven to 15 nights, the discounted cruises offer travelers the opportunity to experience the spectacular service, cuisine and amenities on the 694-guest Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.

Sample discount fares being offered in "The Azamara Assurance," based on double occupancy in a veranda stateroom, are a 14-night "Best of Italy" cruise sailing on August 9, 2009, that was $3,999 per person and is $1,999 per person; and a seven-night Mediterranean cruise sailing on May 2, 2009, that was $2,099 per person and is being offered at $1,049 per person.

Celebrity offering Alaska and Europe at a discount: Celebrity Cruises' offer is called "The Celebrity Starring You Promise," and offers savings of up to 51% off published brochure rates on 53 different cruises sailing in Alaska and Europe between May and September 2009.

Alaska sailings in "The Celebrity Starring You Promise" range from seven to 13 nights in length and are being offered on Celebrity Mercury, Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Millennium. An example of the type of discount guests can receive by booking their Alaska cruise on one of the sailings featured in the offer is a seven-night "Southbound Alaska" cruise between Vancouver and Seward on June 5, 2009, that was $999 per person based on double occupancy in an inside stateroom and is being offered at $499 per person.

Guests who book select Celebrity Europe cruises between today and April 30, 2009, are eligible for savings such as a 12-night Mediterranean cruise on July 21, 2009, that was being offered at $2,199 per person for an inside stateroom, based on double occupancy, and is being offered today at $1,149 per person. The Europe cruises in the promotion range from 10 to 14 nights in length.

Offer's price protection component adds security: Price protection, a component of both the Azamara and Celebrity offers, gives guests who book during the promotion access to lower rates up to 48 hours before their sailing. If Azamara or Celebrity publish a lower price for the same stateroom category on the same sailing that the guest previously booked, the guest must call Azamara/Celebrity to verify eligibility for the lower price. A limited number of special rate programs are excluded. Guests or their travel agents must make their requests for a price adjustment no later than 48 hours prior to sailing by calling Azamara/Celebrity. Prices offered in "The Celebrity Starring You Promise" and "The Azamara Assurance" are per person, cruise only, based on double occupancy, in US dollars, subject to change without notice, and capacity controlled. The price protection component does not apply to price programs, such as resident and senior rates, that the guest does not qualify for at the time the request is made and cannot be used to obtain rates offered as part of other select pricing programs. Other terms and conditions apply.

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4-1-09 Seven Seas Voyager Cancels Apr. 18 and May 8 Cruises Regent Seven Seas Cruises says it is necessary to cancel the upcoming April 18th and May 8th cruises of the 700-guest Seven Seas Voyager in order to make necessary repairs to one of its pod propulsion units. While this engine failure does not compromise the ship's safety or seaworthiness, the damaged propulsion unit substantially reduces the vessel's cruising speed and its ability to reach the scheduled itineraries.

The starboard (right side) propulsion unit became entangled with a fishing net around March 18th after departure from Singapore. The subsequent mechanical failure resulted in the shutdown of the pod. Inspections in India and Dubai determined the extent of the damage is greater than originally expected. The ship must be dry-docked for the necessary repairs.

Seven Seas Voyager will be withdrawn from service upon arrival in Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy on April 18. Arrangements will be made to transport all guests back to their city of origin, including the shipping of luggage, from Rome. Guests on the April 18th voyage from Istanbul and the May 8th voyage from Fort Lauderdale and are being informed of these cancellations, along with their travel agents.

All guests will be offered a variety of options which may include re-accommodation on an alternative RSSC voyage or voyages or a full refund. Travel Agent commissions are being protected for all affected sailings.

Specific re-accommodation details and refund offers for each sailing will be sent in a separate letter to guests and their travel agents and dedicated team of Regent Seven Seas cruise specialists will be contacting all affected guests and agents. A special toll-free number, 877 505 5632, has been established to answer questions and provide details to those guests and agents with reservations on these sailings.

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