News Archive - August 2012

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8-29-12 Royal Princess Sister to be named "Regal Princess"

The two now flagship vessels coming to Princess in 2013 and 2014 will be (1) the Royal Princess and (2) Regal Princess, Princess Cruise Line announced today.

Princess Cruises today marked the beginning of construction of the second of its new generation of ships with the official keel laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At the same time the line announced that the ship's name will be Regal Princess.

The vessel, a sister ship to Royal Princess, will debut in Spring 2014. The company and shipyard officials started the countdown to the ship's launch today as the keel – the bottommost part of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position in the building dock.

"Just as Royal Princess was named after one of our iconic early vessels, Regal Princess also takes a name from our past that we think is well suited for this spectacular ship," said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises. "Today's keel laying is an exciting event as it marks a key milestone in our newbuilding program."

Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship's keel – which weighs approximately 500 tons – was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than 2 million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel. The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out next summer.

Regal Princess will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess, which debuts in June 2013. Among these are a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. More information and video previews of Royal Princess are available at www.princess.com/royalprincess.

Additional details including schedules and itineraries for Regal Princess will be announced next year.

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8-23-12 American Queen Steamboat Company Voyages Selling at Record-Setting Pace

-July and August 2012 Bookings Best Yet-

MEMPHIS, Tenn., August 23, 2012 - The American Queen Steamboat Company reported record-setting monthly bookings for July coinciding with the announcement of 2013 voyages. Additionally, the second week of August was the brand's best sales week in its history, nearly doubling the previous weekly booking volume benchmark.

"There has been tremendous word-of-mouth support from agents and guests alike as they clamor for remaining space in 2012 and for the newly announced 2013 season," explains American Queen Steamboat Company CEO Jeffrey D. Krida. "We are building a new audience of loyal steamboaters, most of whom are seasoned travelers that have traveled with luxury ocean-going and European river brands, and now can't get enough of the American Queen experience offered in our very own backyard. Many who have booked for this fall and winter had already traveled aboard the American Queen since her launch this past April and are back again. "

Guest satisfaction ratings on the American Queen are currently averaging 96 percent and greater than 90 percent of steamboaters have shared they will come back and recommend to friends and family.

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, fares begin at an affordable $1,095 per guest based on double occupancy, and include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in every port onboard deluxe SteamcoachesSM, the acclaimed cuisine of legendary chef Regina Charboneau and complimentary wine and beer with dinner. A variety of holiday lengths ranging from five days to fourteen offer exceptional value and convenience, with little or no flying required.

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8-23-12 American Cruise Lines to Christen Queen of the Mississippi

First New Riverboat on the Mississippi River in 17 Years will be Christened in Nashville

GUILFORD, CONN. - (August 23, 2012) - American Cruise Lines, operator of the newest fleet of riverboats and small cruise ships in the United States, is proud to announce that on Saturday, August 25, in Nashville, Tennessee, Phyllis Dale, a nationally-recognized travel agent and small-ship cruise expert, will christen Queen of the Mississippi and help celebrate the company's first-ever season on the Mississippi River. Following the ceremony, Queen of the Mississippi, the first authentic paddlewheeler built for the Mississippi River in nearly 20 years, will set sail at full capacity on an eight-day voyage from Nashville to St. Louis.

Queen of the Mississippi offers guests a brand new way to see the longest river system in North America and explore the remarkable port cities that line the way. Most of the ship's spacious 300-square-foot staterooms--the largest in the industry--offer private balconies while an all-American staff and crew cater to passengers' every need. Daily educational events and themed entertainment help paint a picture of what life on the Mississippi was like in days gone by. Construction of Queen of the Mississippi was completed in June by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., making it the most luxurious, fully-functioning, authentic paddlewheeler in the industry.

"The christening of Queen of the Mississippi is a meaningful way to celebrate the official launch of American Cruise Lines service on the Mississippi River," said Charles A. Robertson, president and CEO, American Cruise Lines. "Guests now have access to the industry's best amenities aboard an authentic paddlewheeler with a historic appearance."

The Queen of the Mississippi was designed and built to set the standard for modern river cruising. During each eight-day journey, guests will explore Queen of the Mississippi's numerous amenities, including the most spacious staterooms and suites in the industry, unique lounges and libraries. Staterooms features private balconies, many with large sliding glass doors, hotel-style bathrooms, access to room service, in-room phones, Wi-Fi and satellite TV. Seasoned cruise passengers will also appreciate American Cruise Lines' exclusive, open seating dining plan, which allows guests to enjoy meals in a single seating or at the time of their choice, while surrounded by panoramic views of the River.

"There's a reason I've booked hundreds of clients with American Cruise Lines. They simply love the intimacy, history and pure nostalgia of leisurely cruising our country's smaller waterways," said Phyllis Dale, co-owner, Great Escapes Travel. "After boarding this beautiful vessel, it's clear Queen of the Mississippi offers the finest of amenities, ambience and décor. This, combined with outstanding pampered service from a personable crew creates a recipe which will bring passengers back to enjoy all of the Queen's itineraries. I'm honored and proud to have been asked by American Cruise Lines to christen this beautiful vessel."

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8-23-12 Carnival Testing All-inclusive Beverages on Victory According to the travel agent publication, Travel Pulse, Carnival Cruise Lines is testing a new all-inclusive beverage program aboard the Carnival Victory. People who pay $42.95 per person per day, plus a 15 percent gratuity, are entitled to the "My Awesome Bar Program" which includes wines by the glass, beer and individual cocktails priced at $10 and less. Sodas and non-alcoholic frozen cocktails are also included.

Drinks that are normally priced above $10, as well as full bottles of wine and champagne, are available at a 25-percent discount. Each guest aged 21 years and over in the same stateroom must purchase the beverage package. The length of the test period has not been determined.

The reporter notes that this seems to be a season of "testing" for Carnival, which recently tested a new for-fee early embarkation program and a new system to stop deck chair hogs.

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8-9-12 Windstar Yacht Gets a Makeover

The three-ship Windstar fleet was acquired by the Anschutz Company of Denver when Majestic Cruises declared Bankruptcy. The surprise buyout was a good omen for the company since the new company is well-funded. They have planned an $18-million renovation of the entire fleet, and the first yacht was just completed.

Wind Star, one of three sailing yachts in Windstar Cruises' fleet, has recently completed a stem to stern renovation, bringing a modern, casual elegance to the brand's landmark cruise experience. As part of the $18 million fleet-wide renovation, Wind Star was the first yacht to receive redesigned staterooms and owner's suites and enhanced public areas.

"We have a company-wide commitment to ensuring our yachts are in excellent condition," said Hans Birkholz, Chief Executive Officer and President of Windstar Cruises. "The vision for the renovation is a classic, stylish luxury that dramatizes the unique thrill of sailing and a private yacht experience."

Wind Star's décor was updated with new furnishings, upholstery, art, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floor coverings. The design palette combines sand and marine colors contrasting elegantly with the warmth of wood finishes, elevating the look and feel to stylish luxury at sea.

The Restaurant was transformed into a whole new dining experience as AmphorA Restaurant including a redesigned seating layout, and state-of-the-art wine display and storage. A new menu was introduced featuring savory dishes such as Dover sole, duck a l'orange and lobster ravioli. The Veranda's outdoor seating was significantly expanded, creating an ideal mid-ship area for guests to enjoy breakfast and lunch alfresco. The interior includes a new buffet, new lighting, and epicurean style display counters. The Compass Rose was also reconfigured to open up expansively to the adjoining outdoor deck.

Other public areas enhanced include:

The Lounge – new hardwood flooring was put in, accented with inset rugs, a new mix of contemporary furniture, and a lighter color palette. A new AV system was also put in place.

Casino – installed new sound insulation.

Reception Area – received a make-over with new artwork and a fresh color palette.

The Pool Bar – redesigned to offer a more engaging and upscale social experience by creating additional alfresco seating for sunset dining at Candles Grill with new awning and deck furniture.

Library – enhanced to promote a more relaxing atmosphere.

Wind Spa – received a soft goods update.

"So far the feedback on Wind Star's renovation has been excellent," said Birkholz. "We wanted to really enhance the feeling of being on your own personal yacht, and I think we've succeeded."

As part of the $18 million renovation project, Windstar Cruises has already redesigned the fleet's staterooms and suites. The newly enhanced rooms showcase new leather headboards, stately arm chairs, linen wall coverings, new lighting features, window coverings, plush wool carpeting, new art work, stylish bed cushions and luxurious bed throws. Additionally, the owner's suite received new furniture.

The billowing white sails that make Windstar Cruises famous were also replaced. Over 69,000 square feet of hand-crafted sails, equivalent to 1.5 acres, were ordered. Wind Spirit, the last of the fleet to receive the order, hoisted the sails up last week.

The next phase in the renovation project will include the complete enhancement of Wind Surf, previewing on December 1, 2012 and Wind Spirit, completed on December 22, 2012. To learn more about Windstar Cruises renovations, visit the website.

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8-3-12 Queen of the Mississippi Inaugural Cruise Aug. 4

Queen of the Mississippi, second paddle-wheel boat introduced to Mississippi cruising this year, brings First-Class Amenities to River Cruising in America's Heartland

American Cruise Lines, operator of the newest fleet of riverboats and small cruise ships in the industry, is celebrating the launch of Queen of the Mississippi, the first new, authentic paddlewheeler built for the Mississippi River in nearly 20 years. Commencing the company's first-ever season on the Mississippi River, the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi will set sail tomorrow, August 4, on a sold-out, eight-day, roundtrip voyage from New Orleans.

Queen of the Mississippi offers guests a brand new way to see the longest river system in North America and explore the remarkable port cities that line the way. Almost all of the ship's spacious 300-plus-square-foot staterooms—the largest in the industry—offer private balconies with sliding glass doors, while an all-American crew cater to passengers' every need. Daily educational events and themed entertainment help paint a picture of what life on the Mississippi was like in days gone by. Construction of Queen of the Mississippi was completed in June by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Md., making it the most elegant, fully-functioning, authentic paddlewheeler in the industry.

"The launch of Queen of the Mississippi represents the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Mississippi Riverboating, where 21st century amenities are offered aboard an authentic paddlewheeler that is historic in appearance," said Charles A. Robertson, president and CEO, American Cruise Lines. "We know Queen of the Mississippi will set a new standard for river cruising expectations."

During the eight-day journey, guests will explore Queen of the Mississippi's numerous amenities, including the most spacious staterooms and suites in the industry, unique lounges and libraries. Every stateroom features hotel-style bathrooms, access to room service, in-room phones, Wi-Fi and satellite TV. Seasoned cruise passengers will also appreciate American Cruise Lines' exclusive, open seating dining plan, which allows guests to enjoy meals in a single seating or at the time of their choice, while surrounded by panoramic views of the River.

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