News Archive - December 2002

12-27-02 Weekend Cruise News

*** Tahitian Princess set sail from Papeete, Tahiti on her maiden voyage last Tuesday, Christmas Eve. She is sailing year-round on 10-night Tahiti cruises in the region. About 300 guests were present at the naming ceremonies which took place December 20 in Papeete. Madame Tonita Flosse, wife of the Governor of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse is the Godmother. Tahitian Princess is the former R4 of Renaissance Cruises, small by today's standards at 30,200-tons and carrying 684 passengers. She is proving extremely popular and bookings are surpassing expectations.

*** The next new ship to enter service will be Coral Princess which was handed over by the shipyard, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, to the cruise line last Monday, December 23. Coral Princess is now sailing across the Atlantic, en route to her home port of Ft. Lauderdale from where she will sail 10-night Caribbean/Panama Canal cruises commencing January 3. Coral Princess is a new class of ship for Princess. At 88,000-tons in size carrying 1,974 passengers she slots in between the Sun class and Grand Class ships. The propulsion and power systems feature a combination of diesel engines and gas turbine with the gas turbine located in the ship's funnel, allowing more space on board for passenger facilities. Problems with the propulsion system during sea trials delayed the ship's delivery but have now been resolved.

*** Statendam will be the first cruise ship to visit the Hawaiian island of Molokai when she calls at Kaunakakai tomorrow. Passengers will tender ashore to visit the town. Tours include whale watching, deep sea fishing, island drives to the tallest sea cliffs in the world and Kalaupapa National Historic Park where the former leper colony is located. Statendam is on a 15-night Christmas and New Year cruise, round-trip from San Diego. She will visit Molokai on 16-night Hawaii cruises, round-trip from San Diego in 2003.

*** Seven Seas Voyager will operate a 94-night, Grand Asia Pacific Voyage in 2004. The 49,000-ton 700-passenger ship enters service next April 1 in Monte Carlo. On January 10, 2004 she will sail round-trip from Los Angeles to 41 ports in 18 countries including calls at the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, Tonga, New Caledonia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Japan and Hawaii. Extended overnight calls in Sydney, Melbourne, Fremantle (Perth), Singapore, Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin (for Beijing), Kobe and Tokyo. The voyage is available in five segments of 15 to 23 nights each of which include six complimentary shoreside excursions. Bookings open January 6, 2003.

*** Costa Cruises has two special offers for winter sailings aboard CostaVictoria from Ft. Lauderdale. On the vessel's alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, kids 17 and younger cruise free through April 12, 2003, if sharing a stateroom with two adults. The line's promotion for seniors offers rates beginning at $399. For more details see your travel agent or call 1-800-33-COSTA.

*** Carnival Glory will feature an interactive television system in all staterooms, allowing passengers to preview and reserve shore excursions, watch on-demand movies and informational videos, order room service, and review their folio accounts. The 100,000-ton Carnival Glory enters service next July 19 sailing alternating Eastern/Western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral. The vessel is the sister ship of Carnival Conquest which entered service earlier this month in New Orleans.

*** Tours are available of the Queen Mary 2's construction site. At 150,000-tons, Cunard's new liner will be the largest passenger ship ever built. She enters service n January, 2004. The vessel is under construction at Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, situated on the Atlantic coast near the Loire estuary. During the two and a half hour guided tour, visitors see scale models of the new ship followed by a visit to the construction site.

*** Princess alumni will be interested to hear that Captain David Christie has been promoted to V.P. Marine Operations for the line. Captain Christie has served on many of the Princess ships, most recently on Grand Princess. His knowledge and skill guided Royal Princess around Cape Horn on many voyages with minimum discomfort for passengers or itinerary disruption, despite the difficult conditions in the region. Captain Christie will be based in Santa Clarita, CA for his new position. Back to Top

12-20-02 Weekend Cruise News
*** Catch the christening of the new Norwegian Dawn at the NCL web site The video shows the entire event which took place Monday in New York City. NCL pulled out all the stops for the show which was a complete departure form traditional christening ceremonies. Kim Cattrall of 'Sex and the City' was joined by a surprise Co-Godmother - the Statue of Liberty. Computer generated images of the statue addressed the audience and joined in the actual naming of the ship. (This part of the show was created by Rhythm & Hues, Oscar winners for the movie 'Shrek'.) Norwegian Dawn sets sail tomorrow on her first sailing from Miami - a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise.

*** Windstar Cruises' has revamped its Mediterranean program as it shuffles its sail vessels following the loss of Wind Song to an engine room fire. Wind Star is being re-deployed to Tahiti to take over Wind Song's year-round cruises in French Polynesia so will not sail in the Med next summer. Wind Spirit's Mediterranean cruises will therefore combine Western Med and Greek Isles cruises to make up for Wind Star's departure. There will be no change in Wind Surf's cruises as published in the 2003 brochure.

Wind Spirit is now scheduled to sail the Greek Isles on 10, seven-night cruises between Athens and Istanbul, May 10 through 31 and September 13 through October 18, 2003. A total of 16 Mediterranean cruises sail between April and November with departures from Lisbon, Barcelona, Nice, Rome, Malta and Venice. Shipboard overnights are featured in Monte Carlo, Marseille, Malta, Sorrento and Venice. The Med cruises are seven to 11-days in length. They can be combined to create longer itineraries with a ten percent discount on the second cruise.

*** The expedition ship Hanseatic was struck by a freak wave on December 14 while sailing from the Chatham Islands to Dunedin, New Zealand. Reports indicate the wave broke a window in the navigation bridge and caused serious electrical damage. Two tugs were sent to escort the ship which was having difficulty steering. Hanseatic arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand last Sunday for repairs. There were 87 passengers and 112 crew members on board at the time of the incident. The voyage from New Zealand to Ushuaia, Argentina has been canceled. The next cruise will be from Ushuaia to Antarctica on January 15 for Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.

*** Cunard Line plans to lay the keel of an 85,000-ton newbuild next July 4. The vessel will be built by Fincantieri at Marghera, Italy. The name of the new ship is being kept secret. Meanwhile the Queen Mary 2 is under construction at Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France. Delivery is scheduled for December 16, 2003 with christening ceremonies to take place in Southampton, January 10, 2004. The maiden voyage, January 12, 2004 is a 14-night transatlantic crossing from Southampton to Ft. Lauderdale. QM2 will serve as a hotel during the 2004 Olympics in Greece. She will be in Piraeus from August 12 through 30, 2004.

*** Passenger numbers are up in both Port Everglades and Vancouver. A reported 3.5 million passengers sailed from Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades during the year ending September 30, 2002, a 12.4 percent increase over the previous year. Vancouver reports a six percent increase in 2002 with 1,125,252 revenue generating passengers passing through the port. Sailings increased by 11 to 342 in 2002. It is estimated that the cruise industry brought $508 million in economic activity to Vancouver this year.

*** Holland America Line's 2003 Europe program will feature the new Oosterdam, the second Vista-class ship, sister to the Zuiderdam which entered service last weekend. Oosterdam sets sail next July 10 on a maiden voyage from Harwich to Copenhagen. Joining Oosterdam on Baltic and Western Mediterranean cruises is the Noordam which sails in Europe from April through November. The Rotterdam makes a unique voyage in August - a 33-day 'North Atlantic Odyssey' round-trip from New York on August 15, 2003 calling at Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Shetland Islands, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Russia and Ireland. Two 16-day transatlantic crossings are also planned for Rotterdam, July 12 from Boston to Rotterdam and July 30 from Rotterdam to New York calling at Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, England and France.

*** Hilton International is joining with First European/Festival cruises to present Hilton Floating Resorts. Special Hilton suites aboard the line's three newest ships, European Vision, European Stars and Mistral, will feature the upscale level of comfort and service found in Hilton's executive rooms on land. The program is expected to launch in early 2003 and will be available through both Hilton and the cruise line. Back to Top

12-14-02 HAL Zuiderdam Christened
Television personality Joan Lunden, left, checks out the controls of Holland America Line's new ms Zuiderdam with Captain Jack van Coevorden Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002, prior to an official naming ceremony for the new 951-foot-long, 1,848-passenger cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Lunden, the ship's godmother, presided over the pomp and circumstance before the ship departed on its inaugural Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades. Photo by Andy Newman/HAL
Following Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002, cermonies to officially name Holland America Line's new ms Zuiderdam, are left to right, Holland America President Kirk Lanterman, television personality and Zuiderdam godmother Joan Lunden, Zuiderdam captain Jack van Coevorden and Carnival Corp. CEO Micky Arison. Zuiderdam is sailing on weekly easter and western Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Photo by Andy Newman/HAL.

12-13-02 Weekend Cruise News *** The maiden voyage of Coral Princess has been delayed for the second time. In November, the cruise was delayed from December 14 to December 24. Now the December 24 inaugural sailing has been canceled as the ship continues to undergo sea trials. The vessel was built at the shipyard, Alstom Chantiers de l"Atlantique, in France. Passengers on the December 24 cruise are receiving a full refund and credit towards a future voyage. The Coral Princess inaugural sailing is now scheduled for January 3, 2003. Christening ceremonies are set for January 17, 2003 while the ship sails through the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal. Mireya Moscoso, the President of Panama, will name the new ship. The event takes place on the cruise departing Ft. Lauderdale, January 13, 2003. The 88,000-ton 1,970-passenger Coral Princess is the first of a new class of ship for Princess. She will sail 10-night Caribbean/Panama Canal cruises round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale to April 13, 2003 then position to Vancouver for the Alaska season where she will be joined by sister ship Island Princess, debuting in May.

*** Other inaugural events are going ahead as planned. Zuiderdam will be named tomorrow by Joan Lunden at ceremonies in Ft. Lauderdale after a week of promotional events for travel agents and media. Norwegian Dawn is currently on the Atlantic heading for New York where naming festivities will take place on Monday. Kim Cattrall who plays Samantha Jones in the TV show 'Sex and the City' will christen Dawn. Navigator of the Seas begins Caribbean cruises from Miami tomorrow. RCI reports that $1.5 million was raised for the United Way of Miami at last weekend's inaugural events, during which Navigator was christened by tennis star Stefanie Graf. Meanwhile, downunder, the new Pacific Princess, the former R3 of Renaissance Cruises, has been named at ceremonies in Sydney. The ship is on a split deployment sailing for P&O Cruises Australia until April 27 then for Princess Cruises on Alaska sailings from San Francisco for the summer.

*** Silversea Cruises has expanded its new 'Personalized Voyages' program to operate fleetwide beginning in January. The expansion is in response to the success of the program announced last July for sailings aboard Silver Cloud. 'Personalized Voyages' allows passengers to customize their cruise by selecting the port of embarkation and debarkation for a minimum five-night itinerary. The cost is determined by selecting a desired suite category, then adding up the daily rate of the days on board. Passengers will need to arrange their own air transportation, but Silversea will assist with hotel and/or transfer arrangements in select ports. Guests opting not to book under the 'Personalized Voyages' program can still confirm a Silversea cruise vacation by booking either a comprehensive value air/sea fare or simple cruise-only fare. A new brochure outlining the program will be out shortly. Details are also available on the Silversea web site at

*** Crystal Harmony has emerged from a multi-million dollar overhaul with expansive new spa facilities, Connoisseur Club and remodeled public areas. The Crystal Spa & Salon and Fitness Center has been expanded by 430 square feet. The new design was created in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui, the ancient practice of balance and harmony. The Connoisseur Club is a new and intimate cigar and cognac lounge with private club atmosphere. It has been modeled after the lounge on Crystal Symphony. The 450-seat Galaxy showlounge received new ceiling and wall finishes, window treatments, carpet, seating, and cocktail tables. As well, the hydraulic stage has been refinished with a new stained wood floor and scarlet velvet curtains. On deck 11, the Palm Court lounge was freshened with new carpeting, vintage, over-sized wicker chairs, and new cocktail tables. See the Crystal Cruises' web site for more details and photos of the makeover.

*** Crystal also announced this week that the new Crystal Serenity, which joins the fleet next summer, will sail the World Cruise from January 19 to May 5, 2004. The 106-day voyage will call at 34 ports on a route from Los Angeles to New York City via Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Port calls include Honolulu, Hawaii; Hiroshima, Kobe, Nagoya and Yokohama, Japan; Shanghai and Hong Kong, China; Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand; Singapore; Male (Maldives); Victoria (Seychelles); Mombasa, Kenya; Durban and Cape Town, South Africa; Rio de Janeiro; Barbados; Tortola and Fort Lauderdale.

*** Celebrity Cruises is adopting a practice that has raised the service standards and performance of some of the world's finest hotels. The line is bringing the Richey International evaluation program on board its ships. Personnel from Richey will travel incognito to evaluate Celebrity staff for cleanliness, courtesy, efficiency, facility condition, cash/billing accuracy, sales/merchandising skills, and technical skills.

*** The European SAFENVSHIP project started last April is showing results. The $15 million project is looking at new technology which can be used on board cruise ships and ferries to improve safety and help the environment. Aboard Holland America's Veendam, a system has been successfully tested which reduces visible smoke and emissions from diesel engines and decreases fuel consumption. The new system is the first successful use of water-fuel emulsification, a techniique which has been known to reduce emissions since the 1970's. The new technology injects water into the fuel, creating micro droplets of emulsified fuel. Further testing is underway and Carnival will employ the system on board several other ships for evaluation.

*** Costa has officially open a new cruise pier at the Casa de Campo resort at La Romana in the Dominican Republic. The resort has been a popular port of call for the Costa ships sailing in the Caribbean. In 2003, other Carnival vessels will also call at Caso de Campo with an estimated 100,000 passengers expected to visit. Costa's Casa de Campo Preparatory Institute also opened on Monday. The school will train hospitality personnel from the Dominican Republic, Central and South America for the expanding Costa fleet.

*** The inaugural voyage of Oceana Cruises' Regatta, the former R1 of Renaissance Cruises, will be a 14-day sailing from Barcelona to Dover on July 5, 2003. The new line is undertaking a major refit of R1. Renamed Regatta, the ship will be smoke free and carry 684 passengers in a casual, elegant style. Open seating dining will be available in four restaurants. Oceana Cruises' second vessel, as yet unnamed, sets sail October 4 on a 14-night cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon. This ship is the former R2 of Renaissance. See your travel agent for more details. Back to Top

12-6-02 Weekend Cruise News *** Navigator of the Seas will be christened today by tennis legend Stefanie Graf at ceremonies in Miami. The vessel is Royal Caribbean's fourth, 142,000-ton, voyager-class ship, sister to Voyager, Explorer and Adventure of the Seas. Navigator commences year-round, seven-night cruises every Saturday from Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean on December 14, 2002.

*** Inaugural events for Holland America's new Zuiderdam are underway in Ft. Lauderdale. The first of the Vista-class ships is being shown off to VIP', media, travel agents and alumni in a series of Open Houses, luncheons and three-night cruises. Joan Lunden, long-time co-host of ABC's Good Morning America and current host of A&E's Behind Close Doors & The Real Story, will christen Zuiderdam on December 14 before the vessel embarks on year-round, seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Crystal Cruises this week announced the godmothers for their new ships:

  • Kim Cattrall who plays Samantha Jones in the TV series, Sex and the City, will christen Norwegian Dawn at ceremonies in New York, December 16, 2002. Norwegian Dawn sails tomorrow from Southampton for New York and begins Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami December 21.
  • Madame Tonita Flosse, wife of President of the Government of French Polynesia, will christen Tahitian Princess in Papeete, December 20. the former R4 for Renaissance cruises beginning 10-night sailings round-trip from Papette, December 24.
  • Stage and screen star, Dame Julie Andrews, famous for her roles in The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Victor/Victoria, Thoroughly Modern Millie and 10, will christen Crystal Serenity in Southampton on July 3, 2003. The 1,080-passenger vessel will be the largest in the Crystal fleet. Crystal Serenity will sail in the Baltic, Western Europe and the Mediterranean to November, 2003 followed by Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera sailings.

*** The power lines across the Mississippi which are a danger to Carnival Conquest, are being moved underground. Officials from Entergy, Louisiana's power provider, will undertake the project at a cost of $15 million over the next 18 months. Carnival Conquest may have to sail from Gulfport instead of New Orleans at times while the project is underway, depending on river conditions. At present the ship has to sail along the river's edge, where the power lines are at their highest, which disrupts river traffic.

*** Stella Solaris will celebrate her 30th season with a variety of European cruises ranging from seven to 21 days. The 620-passenger vessel gives passengers a classic cruise experience. The on board enrichment program is one of the best available. In May Stella Solaris positions from Piraeus (Athens) to Amsterdam for a series of 11-day Baltic and 10-day Norwegian Fjords cruises which can be combined for 21-day cruises. Returning to Piraeus in September, she will sail seven-night Black Sea, Greek Isles and Eastern Mediterranean cruises which can be combined for longer sailings.

Royal Olympic's 2003 European program includes seven-night Mediterranean cruises from April through October aboard sister ships Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer. On Olympia Voyager's "Grand Mediterranean" program, passengers can embark in Piraeus (Athens), Venice, Italy or Istanbul. Each embarkation option begins a roundtrip cruise from that particular port. Other ports of call are Dubrovnik, Croatia; the Greek coastal port of Katakolon (for Olympia), Turkey; and the Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu. Olympia Voyager's "Mediterranean Splendor" itinerary can be taken from Piraeus (Athens), Genoa (Portofino), Italy; Villefranche (Nice), France; or Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. Other ports of call include Messina (Taormina), Sicily; Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and in Greece - Pythagorion (Samos), Rhodes and Kos. Sail both itineraries by sailing back to back cruises from Piraeus on Fridays. For more information, contact a travel agent or Royal Olympic Cruises toll-free at 800-872-6400. Visit the Royal Olympic web site at

*** The new 88,000-ton, 1,950-passenger Coral Princess will feature the industry's first New Orleans-style restaurant at Sea. The Bayou Cafe will serve up live jazz along with Cajun and Creole cuisine including peel-and-eat shrimp, alligator ribs, gumbos and jambalaya with fresh seafood and traditional dried spice mixes. Dessert lovers will enjoy Buttermilk Bread Pudding, Sweet Potato Pie, Chocolate Pecan Fudge Cake, Fried Yellow Peach Pie and Banana Whiskey Pound Cake. The lunch and dinner cover charge of $10 includes a Hurricane cocktail. A bar menu of appetizers will be available in addition to the lunch and dinner selections. Coral Princess debuts December 24 sailing 10-night cruises to the Caribbean and Panama Canal from Ft. Lauderdale.

*** World Explorer Cruises' joint venture with Silja announced last month has fallen through. World Explorer's 23,500-ton, 731-passenger Universe Explorer, will sail year-round for the University of Pittsburgh's semester at sea program next year. The collapse of the Silja venture now leaves the line without a ship for 2003. World Explorer has announced it will suspend operations following Universe Explorer's Holiday Central America cruises on January 17 and will reorganize for 2004. World Explorer has offered educational cruises to Alaska for 25 years. Universe Explorer has sailed the program from Vancouver to Alaska every summer since since 1996.

*** Abercrombie and Kent's expedition vessel Explorer will be retired next August. The Minerva, presently sailing for Swan Hellenic, will become the Explorer II for 2003/2004 expedition voyages to Antarctica, South America and Northern Europe. Back to Top

12-5-02 NCL Increases US Ports Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a fleet expansion and the addition of three new U.S. home ports: Baltimore, Houston and New Orleans.

* NCL will remodel the Crown Odyssey (currently in the company's Orient Line company) for "Freestyle Cruising" and join the fleet in September, 2003, when she begins a series of 11-day Canada/New England sailings from Baltimore. She then takes over Norwegian Dream's South America itinerary for the 2003 winter/spring season. In May 2004, she will take over Norwegian Sea's Philadelphia and New York based 7-day sailings to Bermuda through October before heading to South America again for the Winter.

* Norwegian Sea will move to Houston in November 2003 after her summer Bermuda season. From then on, she will be based in Houston year round sailing a seven-day, four-port exotic Western Caribbean itinerary.

* Norwegian Dream heads to New Orleans in November 2003 where she will spend the Winter and Spring sailing a 7-day, four-port exotic Western Caribbean itinerary She will continue her summer season in Scandinavia/Russia in April and her Canada/New England fall program from Boston. Back to Top

12-2-02 Wind Song Update Carnival Corporation, owners of Windstar Cruises, has announced that a fire which occurred aboard the Wind Song yesterday in Tahiti has caused a total loss to the vessel. There were no injuries and all 127 passengers and 92 were transferred to a local ferry boat. Windstar will deploy the 148-passenger sister-ship, Wind Star, to Tahiti for cruises beginning January 24, 2003. Wind Star's Costa Rica/Panama Canal/Belize sailings have therefore been cancelled beginning with the January 4, 2003 departure. Passengers booked on cancelled sailings are advised to contact their travel agent. They are being offered a number of alternative sailings on Windstar or Holland America Line as well as a $250 shipboard credit. Passengers who choose not to rebook will receive a 100 percent refund plus a 10 percent future cruise credit certificate.

The 127 passengers and 92 crew aboard Wind Song have been flown to Papeete, Tahiti where they are staying at a resort. Arrangements are being made for flights home. Windstar is arranging with the French Navy for Wind Song to be towed to Papeete where damages will be assessed.

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