News Archive - August 2006

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8-31-06 Royal Caribbean acquires Spaninsh Cruise Line - Pullmantur Just when you thought all the acquisition news in the cruise industry was over for good, we get word that as of Aug. 31 Royal Caribbean is buying Pullmantur, the largest cruise operation in Spain. Pullmantur has five cruise ships, a tour operation that sells travel packages which include hotels and resorts to customers in Spain and Latin America and three planes to fly travelers to its tour destinations.

This will be Royal Caribbean's first wholly-owned European cruise line, while larger rival Carnival Corporation, owns the largest cruise lines in Italy (Costa), Britain (P&O) and Germany (A'Rosa).

One downside to now being under the Royal Caribbean umbrella is that Pullmantur will have to withdraw from the Cuba travel market. The line's ships formerly sailed seven-day Caribbean cruises from Havana, with a stop at Isla de la Juventud, a small Cuban island sometimes called Isle of Pines about 60 miles off the south coast of Cuba.

Royal Caribbean president, Richard Fain, referred to the acquisition as a strategic opportunity to enter the European cruise market. The European cruise market, though currently smaller, is growing at a much more rapid pace than the U.S. market. And indeed, many of Carnival Corp.'s recent new build ships have been alloted to their European brands; Costa and Aida (Britain). Europeans, on average, get more vacation days per year than Americans by almost 300%. The downside is the lack of places to send the ships during the colder winter months. Back to Top

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8-29-06 Cruise Line Offices Closing for Ernesto Most of the South Florida-based cruise lines are closing down their home offices today for the safety of their employees and their homes. The storm, which was previously heading due west over Cuba, was predicted to turn northwest and make landfall near the tip of the Florida peninsula. The Keys are expected to be fairly hard hit, even though the storm winds have slowed down to 45-75 mph.

Closing their offices today are Royal Caribbean (2:00 EDT) and Carnival (3:00 EDT). Luxury lines Silverseas and Regent Seven Seas are closing as well. Disney Cruises, based farther north near Pt Canaveral, is expected to remain open. The companies that are closed that have call centers in other parts of the country will still have phones answered for customers.

Previously, both Royal Caribbean and Carnival announced itinerary changes for several of their ships sailing in the area. Back to Top

8-28-06 Ernesto Forces Port Changes Royal Caribbean:

  • Sailing from the Port of Galveston, Rhapsody of the Seas departing Sunday, August 27, will sail a revised itinerary with port calls in Belize City, Belize, Wednesday; Costa Maya, Mexico, Thursday; and Cozumel, Mexico, Friday.
  • Sailing from the Port Everglades, Enchantment of the Seas departing Monday, August 28, will sail a revised itinerary with port calls in Nassau, Bahamas, Tuesday and Wednesday; Coco Cay, Bahamas, Thursday; and Key West, Florida, Friday.

    Carnival

  • Carnival Glory from Port Canaveral - August 26, 2006: The ship will now visit Nassau (Sun.), St. Thomas (Tue.) and St. Maarten (Wed.)
  • Ecstasy from Galveston - August 26, 2006: The sequence of ports will now be Progreso (Mon.) and Cozumel (Tue.)
  • Carnival Conquest from Galveston - August 27, 2006: The ship will now visit Progreso (Tue.), Cozumel (Wed.) and Grand Cayman (Thur.)
  • Elation from Miami - August 27, 2006: The scheduled call in Half Moon was replaced by a visit to Nassau (Sat.)
  • Carnival Miracle from Tampa - August 27, 2006: The ship will visit all of the scheduled ports but the sequence will now be Belize (Tue.), Cozumel (Wed.), Costa Maya (Thur.) and Grand Cayman (Fri.)
  • Fascination from Miami - August 28, 2006: The ship will now visit Calica (Wed.) and the call in Key West may be cancelled.

    Disney Cruises:

  • Currently monitoring Tropical Storm Ernesto very closely as it moves through the Western Caribbean and are prepared to make itinerary changes if needed. However, at this time, there have been no changes in the August 31, 2006 sailing of the Disney Wonder. Guests on this voyage should check disneycruises.com for regular updates throughout the week. Back to Top

    8-26-06 Celebration's Sailing Delayed Carnival says more time is needed in drydock to repair the Celebration's propellar, so the ship will not return to service as planned. Instead of the scheduled departure from Jacksonville on Saturday, the Celebration is departing Monday on a modified three-day cruise calling at Freeport. Passengers who sail on the shortened voyage will receive a 50% refund and a 50% discount on a future cruise. Those who cancel may choose a refund or a future cruise credit.

    The Celebration experienced an engine problem after a propeller touched ground when the ship was attempting to dock in Nassau on Aug. 15. Repairs were undertaken at Grand Bahama Shipyard. Back to Top

    8-25-06 Weekend News 8-25-06 *** Crystal Cruises wants to give you a sample of a world cruise by offering you all the onboard goodies one would experience on the entire circumnavigation during a 24-day segment of the voyage. The April 7 -May 1, 2007 combination voyage marks the last two segments of the full 109-day Crystal Serenity World Cruise; Mediterranean; Istanbul to London.

    During this segment, passengers will be treated to onboard enrichment such as lectures and demonstrations by CNN Food and Travel Anchor Carolyn O'Neil, and former U.S. Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater, pro football Hall-of-Famer and award-winning Coach Don Shula, and senior military and government leader General Nick Halley. The itinerary includes: Embracing Exotic Antiquities: April 7 - 19, 2007; 12-day; Istanbul, Turkey (overnight) to Rome/Civitavecchia, Italy. Visiting Kusadasi, Turkey; Rhodes/Lindos and Návplion, Greece; Gabès, Tunisia; Taormina/Sicily and Naples, Italy; and Wonders of Western Europe: April 19 - May 1, 2007; 12-day; Rome/Civitavecchia, Italy to London/Southampton, England. Visiting Genoa, Italy; Marseille, France; Málaga, Spain; Casablanca, Morocco; Oporto/Leixoes, Portugal; Le Verdon/Bordeaux, France (overnight).

    *** Carnival Cruise Lines is planning to deploy it's newest super-liner, Carnival Freedom, to operate year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Port of Miami beginning in November 2007. Carnival Freedom will replace Carnival Triumph which will be deployed from Miami to New Orleans to begin year-round seven-day Caribbean departures beginning in September 2007.

    Carnival Freedom's new Miami-based schedule will begin November 17, 2007, and consist of seven-day cruises departing Saturdays alternating to the eastern and western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean cruises will call at San Juan, St. Thomas/St. John, and St. Maarten, while the western route will visit three different tropical ports of call - Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios.

    Prior to the start-up of its new Miami-based cruises, Carnival Freedom will debut with an inaugural summer schedule of Mediterranean/Greek Isles voyages March 14 - October 16, 2007, followed by a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy to Miami Oct. 28 - Nov. 11, 2007.

    *** Royal Caribbean is showing ots appreciation to travel agents by running a competition to select one as the godmother for the new Mega-liner soon to launch - Liberty of the Seas. Travel agents are submitting nominations through the Royal Caribbean agent web site through December 9th. A 10-person panel panel comprised of cruise industry luminaries will select three finalists, with winner to be selected by the general population, online. The godmother will be announced at Cruise Lines International Association's cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale, March 30 to April 1, 2007 - a month before Liberty of the Sea's much anticipated debut in New York City.

    *** Silversea Cruisesis offering special savings for luxury lovers with incentives of up to 50% on a special selection of South Pacific and Southeast Asia voyages in 2007. The most generous savings are in the Vista, Veranda and Midship Veranda Suites -- the line's most popular categories. Higher category suites (from Medallion to the Owner's Suite) will also offer Silver Sailing savings of up to 20%. Twelve voyages are included on Silver Cloud (Jan. 7 - April 5 cruises) and Silver Whisper (Jan. 14 - March 7 cruises).

    *** Carnival Fun Ships celebrate Halloween with "Frightfully Fun" features including costume contests, scary movies and ghost stories and even trick or treating (kids up to 14 years only) onboard for a seemingly endless array of Halloween goodies. Goodies are provided by company "Masterfoods USA," makers of M&Ms, Snickers, Skittles and other goodies. The new promotion will be held on every Carnival cruise departing between October 9-31, 2006. Highlighting the festivities will be a costume contest where guests can dress up in their favorite costume and compete for a variety of prizes. Crew members throughout the fleet will be dressed in costume, as well, and guests can have their photo taken with their favorite M&Ms Character.

    *** Seabourn Cruise Line has announced two 2007 "Wonders of the World Odyssey" extended voyages aboard Seabourn Spirit. "Wonders of the World Odyssey I" is a 66-day adventure linking 3 continents, dozens of ports and a selection of the world's most renowned antiquities, such as the jungle-clad temples of Angkor, the Taj Mahal, Egypt's pyramids, the long-lost cities of Petra and Leptis Magna. Beginning March 14 in Hong Kong, the itinerary includes visits to China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Oman, Dubai, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Malta and several ports in Italy before it ends at Rome on May 19.

    Departing from Istanbul on October 20, 2007, the 61-day "Wonders of the World Odyssey II" explores the ancient wonders of the eastern Mediterranean including Athens, Mycenae, Ephesus, Knossos and Pergamum before transiting the Suez Canal and visiting Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Dubai, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, ending at Hong Kong on December 20, 2007. Back to Top

    8-25-06 Alaska Voters Pass Cruise Tax Alaska voters have passed a proposal that will levy a "head tax" of $50 dollars per cruiser who enters the state on a cruise ship. The initiative still has to be further ratified by state officials, but is currently expected to go through. In addition to the $50 head tax (which would most likely be automatically added to the cruise fare as part of a non-commissionable fee), the cruise lines face additional taxes. They state will levy a gaming tax for any gambling that occurs on the ship while in state waters, it expects the cruise lines to pay sales tax on money received for port shopping promotions and their share of income from shore excursions. The state will start requiring corporate state income tax filing for all cruise lines operating ships in Alaska.

    Carnival Corporation and PLC, which includes Holland America and Princess Cruise, and all together operates 16 ships in Alaska in 2006, says that the taxes will require renewed consideration the legal and business ramifications before it decides how much capacity to deploy to the region. It says the gaming and income taxes alone will cost the company $.03/share. The $50 head tax will likely simply be passed on to the consumers.

    It is also possible the tax will never see the light of day as legal challenges are expected concerning gaming taxes on taxes in international waters, and the fact that two of ports, Juneau and Ketchikan, already have head taxes higher than what the initiative would give them. Back to Top

    8-19-06 Weekend Update 8-19-06 *** Celebrity Summit pulled into the dock at Seward, Alaska, with an unexpected sight atteched to its foremost keel, known as the bulbous bow. A 25- to 30-foot long, dead whale, tentatively identified as a humpback, was dangling from the large ball of metal that is designed to cut through the water at the leading edge of the ship.

    The whale was removed from the ship Saturday afternoon and towed by tugboat to a beach in nearby Thumb Cove. A necropsy will ascertain whether the whale was struck by the Summit or if it was already dead. It is probable the carcass was floating when the ship picked it up, however, testing will reveal if the whale died from being hit by the ship, a predatory attack or of natural causes.

    Humpback whales are an endangered species protected under several federal laws.

    *** Carnival Glory assisted a raft full of Cubans floating in the water by giving them food, water and life jackets. The drifters refused to come aboard the ship, however, and so the Coast Gueard was notified of their whereabouts which picked up the rafters. Glory was en route from Costa Maya, Mexico, to Nassau, Bahamas, with about 3,500 passengers aboard.

    *** The body of a woman who disappeared from Voyager of the Seas in the Aegean Seas last July 25 was discovered on August 16th. It was previously believed another body of a female recovered soon after the young lady initially disappeared was that of 22-year old Elizabeth Galeana, but it has been confirmed that this is the victim's remains. It has been ruled she is a victim of drowning, and that investigators believe their was no foul play involved in her death. She was last observed as the ship was heading toward Naples, Italy from the port of Civitavecchia. Her sister later reported Galeana missing from the ship about seven hours after their last meeting.

    *** Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that esteemed ship architect and designer Joe Farcus has narrated a series of new in-stateroom videos so guests aboard the "Fun Ships" can learn the story and backgrounds of the many dramatic public rooms on each Carnival vessel. Throughout the videos, Farcus offers guests compelling insight into what inspired his dramatic and sometimes whimsical creations, as well as interesting and humorous anecdotes behind each of his one-of-a-kind designs that have become a hallmark of the Carnival fleet. Back to Top

    8-18-06 Carnival Celebration Aug 21 Sailing Cancelled Carnival Celebration's Aug. 21 five-day cruise from its homeport in Jacksonville, Fla., has been cancelled by the cruise line so it can make necessary repairs to the damaged propellar. Guests scheduled to sail on the Aug. 21 voyage will receive a full refund of their cruise fare and a 50% discount on a future three- to seven-day Carnival cruise departing prior to Dec. 13, 2007, Carnival said. Back to Top

    8-17-06 Carnival Celebration Propellar Update Carnival Celebration was forced to pass inspection at sea by the Captain of the Port of Jacksonville before it could return to the port of Jacksonville. Coast Guard inspectors wanted to ensure there was no risk of further environmental damage and that the ship's steering would hold up as it heads into the congested St. Johns River and up to Dames Point to dock.

    The ship was allowed to re-enter at approximately 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning, so passengers can disembark today. Those passengers however, have had their compensation increased to $100 ship board credit and a discount on a future cruise. The ship is expected to leave as scheduled on the next cruise, however a change in itinerary is in effect since the ship cannot travel at full speed.

    Due to the reduced cruising speed, the cruise will cancel its scheduled call in Freeport, but will offer a visit to Nassau on Saturday from 7:30 AM until 6:30 PM.

    Carnival will provide guests that sail on this new cruise with a $100 per person credit to their onboard Sail & Sign account. In addition, guests that sail will receive a 20% discount off a future 3 to 7 day Carnival cruise (excluding Alaska, Christmas and New Years) departing prior to December 13, 2007. Shore excursions pre-purchased for Freeport will be automatically refunded. Back to Top

    8-16-06 Oceania Cruises has Record Day for Bookings Oceania Cruises reported today that as it opened up bookings for its new Australia and New Zealand itineraries on August 15th, the company set a record for new reservations and associated revenue for any single day in the company's history. With the launch of the new itineraries, yesterday, approximately 30% of the inventory has already been sold with two voyages more than 50% sold.

    Next summer's European season for Oceania Cruises' three ships, to sail in Europe from April through November, is also experiencing record demand with close to 50% of the entire season's inventory already booked. The line is offering 53 departures on 21 distinct itineraries to the Mediterranean, Greek Isles and Scandinavia. The current offer of free airfare and 2 for 1 cruise fares for the 2007 European season expires on August 31st, at which time fares on many voyages will be raised. Back to Top

    8-16-06 Carnival Adds Second Ship to New Orleans Year-round Carnival will become the number one cruise operator in New Orleans starting next August (2007) when it will deploy the Carnival Triumph to the city in addition to the current Carnival ship, Fantasy.

    Carnival Triumph will offer seven-day Caribbean cruises from the Port of New Orleans, beginning Sept. 2, 2007, becoming the largest cruise ship based at that port year-round. The Fantasy will launch year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans beginning Oct. 26, 2006.

    Carnival expects to carry 320,000 passengers annually from New Orleans on the two ships combined. Back to Top

    8-16-06 Silversea World Cruise Entertainment Roster The world cruise for luxury cruise line Silversea is scheduled to begin January 15, 2007, in Ft Lauderdale, FL. The entertainment roster for the cruise includes luminaries of song and stage, including Multiple Grammy Award-nominee Michael Feinstein, renowned for finding "lost," older songs by such renowned songwriters as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, and Duke Ellington.

    Also on tap is Clint Holmes, Harrah's "Entertainer of Choice for the Millennium" In 2002, Harrah's named their main showroom the "Clint Holmes Theater," a rare honor received only by a handful of entertainers. He's been named "Best Kept Secret" by Las Vegas Life Magazine and "Best Singer" by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    On the enrichment side, the line has recently signed actress Karen Allen, co-star of the blockbuster movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, Peter Hillary, adventurer and son of Sir Edmund Hillary, and David Garrard Lowe, renowned cultural historian and author, to join an impressive roster of over 30 guest lecturers including legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, influential political commentator William F. Buckley, Jr., ABC News correspondent Lynn Sherr, author Richard Reeves, film critic Rex Reed, champion yachtsman John Bertrand, Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, photojournalist Steve McCurry and Michael Green, wine and spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine. Back to Top

    8-15-06 Carnival Celebration Snags Propellar Reports are coming out that one of the propellars on the Carnival Celebration struck the sea floor while attempting to dock in Nassau. Since the propellar and engine were damaged enough to spill an estimated 53 gallons of lubricating engine oil, the stop at Nassau was cancelled so the ship could make way straight back to its homeport of Jacksonville on the remaining engine power.

    The ship will undergo inspection and repair while in port tomorrow, and so far no change to the ship's scheduled Aug 17 cruise departure has been announced, pending further inspection. The passengers on this current cruise will receive a $50 per person shipboard credit for the missed Nassau call and a 25% discount on a future cruise.

    Carnival reported the incident to officials, including the U.S. Coast Guard. The lubricant is not visible at this time and appears to have fully dissipated. Back to Top

    8-15-06 NCL Announces new Past Passenger Program NCL unveiled an enhanced Latitudes program that features tiered benefits based on the number of NCL cruises passengers have taken. The program is divided into four tiers-Bronze (1-4) completed cruises, Silver (5-8 completed cruises), Gold (9-13 completed cruises) and Platinum (14 or more completed cruises) each offering a set of benefits designed to recognize and reward loyalty to NCL.

    Each membership level offers guests access to a Latitudes Customer Service desk; a complimentary subscription to Latitudes, a quarterly members-only magazine; exclusive pricing on all sailings; the added enjoyment of Polo Club benefits when sailing on Orient Line's Marco Polo; Latitudes Check-in Desk at the pier; a Latitudes ship pin; a members-only cocktail party hosted by the Captain; and a Latitudes onboard liaison to ensure that all past guests receive their benefits.

    Additionally Silver Members receive an invitation to an exclusive gathering on board and treats delivered to their stateroom twice during the cruise; Gold Members receive VIP service, which includes priority boarding, an in-stateroom welcome basket upon embarkation; priority restaurant reservations; priority tender tickets; priority disembarkation and an invitation to the Captain's VIP cocktail party. Platinum members receive all of the above and enjoy the added benefit of a complimentary dinner in NCL's signature restaurant, Le Bistro.

    The program is retroactive to the inception of the original Latitudes program from 1995, which means some members may automatically be designated Gold or Platinum status based on the number of cruises they have sailed on over the years. On every cruise a guest takes with NCL in the future, his/her cruise card will indicate the appropriate tier level. Membership is automatic and complimentary.

    NCL has Latitudes representatives available to assist members from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Guests can call (800) 343-0098 or (305) 436-4872 or visit www.ncl.com.

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    8-12-06 Princess Purser in $400k Theft The Anchorage Daily News is reporting today that one Elisha Cuffe is being held in Anchorage on charges she stole $400,000 in U.S. currency, checks and credit card slips from the main safe of the Sapphire Princess. The alledged theft began last May when Cuiffe started noticing a discrepancy between the cash amount the computer said the ship had on hand and what was actually in the safe. At that point she started putting the difference into a shoebox near the end of her bed.

    Senior ship employees started noticing finincial discrepancies and launched an investigation which they just concluded this week. A search of her cabin revealed the "booty" and she taken into custody at the following port (Anchorage) where she appeared in court yesterday charged with felony theft. In addition to the U.S. currency, Cuffe also had $40 in Canadian currency, $4,660 in U.S. traveler's checks and $9,700 in credit card payment slips.

    According the article, a cruise ship may have as much as $1.5 million on hand at any given time. The theft did not include any valuables or cash belonging to any passengers, it was solely company money.

    Cuffe had been employed with Princess Cruises for 10 years, and had just recently been promoted to the senior assistant purser position. She is of Australian citizenship, but declined to have the authorities contact the Australian consulate. Her passport was seized and turned over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Back to Top

    8-11-06 Weekend News 8-11-06 *** Airlines Limit Carry-on Luggage. Starting immediately, after a security scare at London's Heathrow Airport, all U.S. air carriers are implementing a new policy that restricts the type of containers people can carry in their carry-on baggage. The restrictions apply to any containers that hold any type of liquid or gel-like substances that could conceivably be flammable or even highly explosive chemicals. The ban was implemented after security officials uncovered a plot that they say has all the hallmarks of an Al Queda operation.

    Typically banned items ran the gamut from bottles of drinking water to very small but expensive bottles of perfume. Souvenir bottles of wine and liquor form duty-free ports were dumped in airport terminals before passnegers could board the planes. For the most part, the changes did not slow down security too much as people repacked their necessary items into non-carry-on bags.

    ***CruiseMates.com is Acquired. That's right, ths very web site you are looking at was acquired this week by a Los Angele company known as Internet Brands. On the same day, Internet Brands also acquired another cruise Web site, cruisereviews.com, which was once the official cruise reveiew website of the online newsgroup rec.travel.cruises.

    In conjunction with the acquisition, Internet Brands has named site co-founder Paul Motter to be Editor of CruiseMates. "With the technical and marketing resources from Internet Brands team and the user-contributed content on CruiseReviews.com, we are ready to take these sites to the next level in the online cruise information category," said Motter. "CruiseReviews has long been one of the best resources for traveler-written reviews," said Tom Ogg, founder of CruiseReviews.com. "The combination of the well-regarded editorial content on CruiseMates will nicely round out the user experience of these sites."

    *** A tour bus carrying 15 hikers from Celebrity Cruises' Summit and two guides was involved in an accident in Juneau, Alaska, Tuesday morning. The bus was trying to drive around potholes while driving down a dirt road in the hills north of downtown Juneau when a front tire went over the embankment, rolled down the hill and rested on its top. Nine people were injured, but no one was seriously injured, although some were taken to the hospital while the rest returned to the ship. One passenger remained hospitalized on Wednesday with non-life-threatening injuries. The ship sent one of its doctors and its guest relations manager to the hospital to offer additional assistance to the guest. The driver was cited for reckless driving. Back to Top

    8-10-06 Celebrity Infinity Cancels 9-13 Cruise The Sept. 13 Celebrity Infinity 10-night Alaska cruise, Vancouver to Skagway, has been cancelled for needed repairs to one of the ship's two propulsion pods. Passengers will receive a full refund and a certificate for a future cruise.

    Because of the failing pod the ship has been unable to complete its scheduled itineraries on time. A pod is an external propellar connected to the rear of the ship that has it own encased motor and is capable of turning around 360 degrees. Speeds have been reduced from 22 to 19 knots, Celebrity said. Repairs will be made in Victoria, BC.

    Infinity will return to service on Sept. 24 for its scheduled trans-canal cruise from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale. Normally a 15-day transit, the voyage will be trimmed to 14 days, leaving one day late from San Francisco and skipping a call at Cabo San Lucas. Passengers will get a $500 per stateroom shipboard credit and a $200 certificate for a future cruise. They also will receive overnight accommodations in San Francisco on Sept. 23.

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    8-9-06 $209,188 Casino Jackpot Ecstacy Lee Booker of Tyler Texas, after hitting a Caribbean Stud progressive jackpot for $209,188 on Carnival's Ecstasy, has become the biggest cruise ship casino winner thus far this year. The ship was sailing out of Galveston when Booker drew a royal flush in diamonds on August 6th while sailing home from a cruise to the Western Caribbean, winning the Caribbean Stud Poker Diamond Edition jackpot for a $1 side bet.

    Booker's win was the first six-figure jackpot of 2006. Back to Top

    8-4-06 Weekend News 8-04-06 *** Royal Caribbean International announced today that the sister ship to the world's largest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, is just a slip and aweigh from its debut in May of 2007. The hull of the new ship is already complete and floating in a wet dock ready for completion of her upper decks. The new ship will be called Liberty of the Seas, and is currently under construction in Turku Finland. Each of the ships comes in at just over 160,000 tons and can accomodate over 3600 passengers. Royal Caribbean is quick to note, however, that its next wave of ships now code-named Project Genesis will make these sisters look small. Scheduled to debut in 2009, these ships will come in at an estimated 220,000 tons.

    *** The captain of the Celebrity Mercury who was accused of being legally drunk hours before his ship was scheduled to depart from Seattle has entered a plea of guilty to the charge of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol. The Coast Guard smelled liquor on his breath during a routine check, and upon testing Captain Petridis, 47, they discovered he had a blood alcohol level as high as 0.181, more than four times the federal maritime limit for operating a ship. Petridis received one year's probation, a $15,000 fine and a one-year ban from entering U.S. waters as an employee of any commercial vessel.

    *** The dead body Elizabeth Kay Galeana, 22, of Naples, FL, the young woman who went missing from Voyager of the Seas while it sailed along the coast of Italy last week, was recovered near the island of Ponza on the Italian coast near Naples. The girl's family did not say they knew of any indication of how the incident occured, or indicate that any suggestion of foul play was present. Galeana was reported missing about 7:30 a.m. on the morning of July 25 by her sister who had last seen her alive at 12:30 a.m. A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said Galeana likely fell off the ship.

    *** Norovirus socked Mariner of the Seas this last week when 230 passengers and several crewmembers fell ill during the cruise that ended last Sunday morning. Sick passengers were given medication and quarantined to their rooms for 48 hours. The Centers for Disease Control, which has been tracking the outbreak since Wednesday, says that most (former) passengers are now feeling better. The ship was permitted to leave on its next regularly scheduled cruise the same day it arrived in port.

    It is suspected a passenger brought the virus aboard. Some of the sick people were restricted to their cabins to help keep the virus from spreading, crew members made hand sanitizers available in the doorways to all the ship's restaurants and bars, and passengers were asked repeatedly to wash their hands.

    *** Some five lawsuits have already been filed inthe Crown Princess listing incident, and it is estimated that hundreds more could be filed. The attorney for these originating lawsuits says the fine print on the tickets actually requires all lawsuits to be filed in California, the home state of Princess Cruises, and that passengers must file individual claims as opposed to a class action lawsuit. 240 people were reported seriously injured as a result of an incident in which the ship tilted at least 15 degrees to its right while making a turn just off the coast of Port Canaveral. The cause, so far, is believed to have been a combination of technical malfunction and human error, though the exact reason for the incident is still under investigation and has not been fully described. Back to Top

    8-4-06 Weekend Embarkations in Florida on Schedule While Chris did cause some ships (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess) to announce course changes the last couple of days, as the storm weakens to an average wind speed of 45 mph and continues to head due west, south of Florida, no new itinerary changes have been announced for the weekend. Weekend embarkations in Florida should go as scheduled. Back to Top

    8-3-06 Chris Changes Royal Caribbean Itineraries Royal Caribbean has announced the following itinerary changes due to hurricane Chris:

    • Navigator of the Seas will not make its scheduled port call in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Wednesday. Instead, the ship will spend the day at sea. The ship will then make its port call in Nassau, Bahamas, on Thursday, one day earlier than scheduled.
    • Explorer of the Seas will not make its scheduled port calls in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, or Labadee, Haiti, Thursday. Instead, the ship will spend the day at sea Wednesday and make a port call in Nassau, Bahamas, Thursday.
    • Freedom of the Seas will not make its scheduled port call in Labadee, Haiti, Friday. Instead, the ship will spend the day at sea.

    Tropical Storm Chris quickly weakened Thursday morning as tropical storm warnings for Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands were discontinued. A hurricane watch in the Bahama Islands was also downgraded. And forecasters said Chris will likely weaken to a tropical depression later today.

    Furthermore, the projected path was changed from one tilting north to hit Southern Florida to a new path going straight west directly over Cuba. The storm could hit the Texas Gulf later, but it is currently weakening. Latest data shows 20.5N 66.8W with maximum sustained winds at only 40 mph and moving due WNW at 12 mph. Central pressure has also increased to 29.88 inches of mercury.

    The latest National Hurricane Advisory states:

    1130 AM EDT THU AUG 3 2006
    
    FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE 
    GULF OF MEXICO...
    
    THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER IS ISSUING ADVISORIES
    ON WEAKENING TROPICAL STORM CHRIS...LOCATED ABOUT 
    255 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF GRAND TURK ISLAND.
    
    ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL STORM FORMATION IS NOT 
    EXPECTED THROUGH FRIDAY.
    Back to Top

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