News Archive - December 2003

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

12-26-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Queen Mary 2 arrived in her homeport of Southampton today, surrounded by a flotilla of small boats and jet-skis. Hundreds of onlookers braved the wind and rain to welcome the world's largest cruise ship. The Master of QM2, Captain Ronald Warwick, was today promoted to the rank of commodore during a ceremony on board the ship. Commodore is the highest rank a cruse line can bestow and was the rank of Captain Warwick's father, the late Commodore Bill Warwick who commanded the first Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth as well as the QE2.

Since her delivery to Cunard Line on Monday, the 150,000-ton QM2 has undergone technical tests and crew-orientation while cruising off Spain. Last Monday thousands watched as the world's largest cruise ship sailed out to sea from Chantiers de l'Atlantique ship yard in Saint-Nazaire, France, dwarfing the tug boats which towed her. Both the hand over to Cunard Line and welcoming ceremonies to Southampton were subdued in reverence to the 15 people who died in a tragic gangway accident at the shipyard only five weeks earlier. Candle light and torches replaced fireworks displays in Saint-Nazaire.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will christen the QM2 at ceremonies in Southampton, January 8 with more than 2,000 guests in attendance.

*** Star Princess will call at Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, in place of Istanbul on next summer's Grand Mediterranean sailings between Barcelona. The cruises are scheduled to depart from May 16 to September 1, 2004. Istanbul is being replaced by calls at Piraeus (Athens) and Dubrovnik on the 30-day Bangkok to Venice sailing which departs March 3, 2004.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines' wedding program is expected to attract 2,200 couples in 2004. Wedding packages offer a ceremony aboard ship during embarkation day or at various on-island locations. The Chapel aboard the new Carnival Miracle, debuting in March, will feature stained-glass windows and Old Testament scenes. A central aisle leads to the stage and a private dressing area is provided for the bride. The Gothic-style facility will serve as the venue for weddings held during embarkation day. Miracle's homeports in 2004 include Jacksonville, Baltimore, New York and Tampa. Shoreside ceremonies are possible in Key West, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Packages range in price from $750 for an official civil ceremony, a champagne toast with keepsake flutes, flowers for both bride and groom, a wedding cake with cake topper, pre-recorded wedding music, a decorated bridal aisle and photographic services, to more elaborate ceremonies with reception for $1,450. A wide variety of options such as videography services, live music and tuxedo rental are also available at additional cost. For additional information on Carnival's wedding packages, call the line's Bon Voyage Department at 1-800-933-4968.

*** Discovery World Cruises sets sail for Antarctica today with a group of leading scientists on board to lead the enrichment program and expeditions ashore. Expedition Leader Dr. Peter Carey has made fifty trips to the continent of Antarctica as a research scientist and continues to visit on a yearly basis. The line's ship, Discovery, is the former Island Princess of Princess cruises. Discovery entered service in 2003 after an extensive, multi-million dollar refit. Carrying 500-600 passengers on Antarctic trips, the ship offers 351 cabins and suites, equipped with televisions and built-in hairdryers. Facilities and public rooms on board include three restaurants, five lounges, a well-stocked library, small casino, health club and beauty center, two swimming pools, including one with a retractable dome, two Jacuzzis and duty-free boutiques. Senior officers are from Scandinavia, the cruise staff is American and European, while the service staff is from The Philippines. During the inaugural season, Discovery will sail throughout the Southern Hemisphere on itineraries, ranging from 13 to 27 nights. Cruises include extended stays and sightseeing in embarkation and/or disembarkation cities. For more see the line's web site at www.discoveryworldcruises.com.

*** Crystal Cruises is working with Universal Express –USXP-to provide luggage pick up and delivery directly to the ship. The Virtual Bellhop Service will handle luggage, golf clubs, skis, and virtually anything else that can be checked onto a flight allowing passengers to travel with just a carry-on. "Crystal Cruises strives to offer our guests a seamless vacation experience no matter where in the world the cruise begins," says Jason Ellisen of Crystal Cruises. "Whether embarking on a 100+ day World Cruise or a seven-day departure from New York, guests will appreciate the convenience of this service." Back to Top

12-22-03 RCI's new port choice: Bayonne, New Jersey Royal Caribbean Cruises said it will base two ships at a new port next summer: Bayonne, New Jersey, across New York Harbor from Manhattan. From May through October, the company plans to use Bayonne's Military Ocean Terminal as the home base for Royal Caribbean's 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas, operating five-night Canada and nine-night Caribbean sailings; and the smaller Nordic Empress, offering six- and eight-night Bermuda itineraries. Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises will continue to operate from Manhattan's Passenger Ship Terminal.

RCI said that it will eventually build a new cruise terminal at the Bayonne facility, but for now it will use existing structures there. The port is about 15 minutes from Newark Airport, and a short distance from the New Jersey Turnpike. It will have Customs and Immigration facilities, visitor parking, bus and taxi areas, and access to public transportation including light rail service that connects to Amtrak and PATH trains. RCI said it may also start its own ferry service from Manhattan. Back to Top

12-22-03 Royal Olympic Cruises Cancelled Royal Olympic Cruise Lines has confirmed that some itineraries of Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer have been cancelled, including the Dec. 22, 2003 Christmas cruise. This follows the news last week that two of Royal Olympic's divisions, which own Voyager and Explorer, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy. Back to Top

12-19-03 Weekend Cruise News *** This week Carnival Cruise Lines announced a number of new ship deployments for 2004:

  • Carnival Valor, the third 110,000-ton Conquest-class ship, will embark on her maiden voyage from Miami on December 19, 2004. Valor will sail every Sunday on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises calling at either Nassau, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten, or Belize City, Belize; Isla Roatan, Honduras; Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
  • Carnival Spirit will inaugurate sailings from San Diego for Carnival. Spirit will sail from October 16, 2004 to April 2, 2005 on eight-night voyages, round-trip from San Deigo calling at Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa and Manzanillo.
  • Holiday will launch the first year-round cruise program from Mobile, Alabama on October 16, 2004. Holiday will sail four-night cruises to Cozumel on alternating Thursdays; five-night cruises to Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen on alternating Mondays and five-night cruises to Cozumel and Costa Maya on alternating Saturdays.
  • Celebration will replace Holiday on four- and five-night cruises from Jacksonville, Florida beginning in October 2004. As previously announced, Ecstasy will replace Celebration on its current schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Galveston, Texas.

*** Olympia Voyager sailed six hours late from Ft. Lauderdale, bound for St. Thomas on Wednesday night. The vessel is still under the court's jurisdiction due to a restraining order from a German bank. Meanwhile the court order against sister ship Olympia Explorer was lifted Wednesday and the ship was allowed to sail from Honolulu to Hawaiian and Californian ports. For more, see the December 17 story below - "Royal Olympic Subsidiaries File Chapter 11".

*** A head tax on cruise passengers is once again being proposed in Alaska as the state tries to balance its deficit. The budget proposed by Governor Frank Murkowski includes a tax of $5 per cruise passenger, per night plus a gambling assessment based on passenger counts. The tax is considered as an accommodation tax and would be combined with a statewide tax on hotel guests. In addition tour operators would pay a five percent tax on excursions. A federal law prohibiting Alaska from balancing its budget at the expense of out-of-state visitors is under study and may play a role in stopping the proposed taxes. Cruise lines have fought successfully against similar head taxes proposed by the state government in the past. Industry representatives are reviewing details of the budget and hope to respond to the administration soon. Cruise ship visits contribute $800 million to the state each summer from money spent by tourists and taxes and fees paid to local governments. The industry also provides thousands of summer jobs in the state. "We pay our own way, and then some" said John Hansen, president of the North West CruiseShip Association.

*** Princess' two Denali Lodges are undergoing expansion for the 2004 Alaska cruise season including $26 million in enhancements. Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge, located near the park entrance will receive a new lobby area, the addition of local art work, a new "River Run" deli and espresso bar, more walking paths, trees and flower boxes plus five new shops. The addition of 80 new guest rooms means the Summit Restaurant, overlooking the Nenana River, will be extended. The McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge receives its second addition since opening in 1997 with the addition of 96 new guest rooms underway. A new dining option, Expedition Pizza, offers a casual alternative to the dining room. The lodges are featured as part of 42 cruisetours offered by Princess in Alaska next summer.

*** Passengers aboard Queen Mary 2 will watch the Carnival in Rio from the grandstand in the Sambadrome. Reserved grandstand seats for the samba parade, worth $245, are included on the 12-night Carnival in Rio cruises, departing February 11 from Ft. Lauderdale and February 23 from Rio de Janeiro. Both cruises include overnight on board in Rio. Ports of call include St. Thomas and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil southbound and Barbados, Martinique, St. Maarten and St. Thomas northbound. Double occupancy rates starting at $1,999 per person.

*** Ft. Lauderdale will welcome a record 15 ships on Sunday December 21, most preparing to depart on their Christmas cruises. Last Thursday three Radisson vessels were in port together for the first time - Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator and Radisson Diamond were all docked in Port Everglades.

*** Carnival Corporation is looking to order a new ship for Costa Cruises. Delivery would be late 2006 or early 2007. The line's new flagship, CostaFortuna entered service last month and sister ship CostaMagica is due next fall with no other newbuilds currently under construction.

*** Police were on hand in Sydney, Australia as Pacific Sky returned to port this week. Five men from Adelaide were confined to their cabins for three days after embarking on a destructive rampage aboard ship during a South Pacific cruise. Police escorted the men off the ship. No charges have been laid. The vessel, which sails for P&O Cruises Australia, is the former Sky Princess of Princess Cruises.

*** The port of Saint John, New Brunswick is gearing up for the arrival of Voyager of the Seas next summer. The biggest cruise ship to ever call at Saint John requires a new gangway system which will be installed as part of the cruise facility under construction at the port. Saint John expects 57 cruise calls in 2004, up from 37 in 2003. Voyager of the Seas will call 12 times from May through October, 2004 during five-night cruises from New York City which alternate with a nine-night Caribbean itinerary. Back to Top

12-17-03 Royal Olympic Subsidiaries File Chapter 11 Royal Olympic Cruise Lines said all of its ships are continuing normal operations even though two subsidiaries have filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Each of the line's eight ships is owned by separate corporations, and two of them – Olympic World Cruises, Inc., owner of the Olympia Voyager, and Royal World Cruises, Inc., owner of Olympia Explorer – have entered Chapter 11 in order to renegotiate terms with their lenders. The two companies have $250 million in outstanding loans, which are secured by the ships.

"Like others in the leisure and transportation industries, we have experienced very difficult operating conditions due to the effects on tourism of the September 11 events, the conflict in the Middle East, the SARS crisis, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the international economic situation and other events," said Royal Olympic CEO Yiannos Pantazis. "We will continue discussions with our subsidiaries' lenders and remain committed to maintaining all operations, and our standards, during this period." Back to Top

12-16-03 Carnival Eliminates Paradise Smoke Free Policy Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that the Paradise will no longer be a smoke-free ship when the 2,050-passenger vessel is deployed to Mexico Sept. 20, 2004. Paradise will replace Ecstasy on three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach, CA. Ecstasy replaces Celebration on year-round four- and five-day cruises from Galveston, TX, beginning Oct. 23, 2004. Back to Top

12-12-03 Weekend Cruise News *** The new Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess, debuting next March and June respectively, will each feature five main dining rooms. In addition to the traditional dining room, there will be four themed restaurants for those selecting Princess' Anytime Dining option - Vivaldi (Italian cuisine), Sterling (steakhouse), Santa Fe (Southwestern) and Pacific Moon (Asian). The main dining room menu will also be available to those dining in the specialty restaurants. For those passengers who choose traditional dining in the main dining room, the daily menu will feature several options from the themed restaurants. The themed restaurants will seat 230 passengers each, in keeping with Princess' philosophy of "big ships with small ship feel". In addition, Trattoria Sabatini, serving an eight-course Italian menu for a charge of $20, and the 24-hour Horizon Court causal, buffet restaurant will be found aboard both ships.

*** Silversea Cruises celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2004 with nine special sailings. Each voyage features an Anniversary themed ball and two special dinners, one recreating the inaugural menu served during Silver Cloud's maiden voyage and the other specially designed for the 10th Anniversary. A complimentary shore experience is offered during each cruise including a grand ball at Peterhof Palace while in St. Petersburg and a Chopin piano recital in Palma de Mallorca. The 10th anniversary celebrations take place on the following sailings:

  • May 23, 2004, 14 nights, Silver Shadow, Tokyo - Anchorage
  • May 31, 2004, 7 nights, Silver Whisper, Rome - Barcelona
  • June 14, 2004, 7 nights, Silver Wind, Rome - Monte Carlo
  • July 8, 2004, 7 nights, Silver Cloud, Copenhagen - Stockholm
  • July 28, 2004, 12 nights, Silver Wind, Venice - Venice
  • August 15, 2004, 15 nights, Silver Cloud, London - Southampton
  • August 16, 2004, 7 nights, Silver Shadow, Vancouver - Seattle
  • September 14, 2004, 16 nights, Silver Whisper, London - New York City
  • November 8, 2004, 11 Days, Silver Whisper, Ft. Lauderdale - Ft. Lauderdale

*** Following the success of the Carita spa aboard the Paul Gauguin, Radisson Seven Seas is launching Carita spas fleetwide. The upscale spas are operated by Carita of Paris, reported to be the favored retreat of celebrities Catherine Deneuve, Isabel Adjani, Anita Eckberg and others. Carita will offer a full range of spa and beauty salon treatments. The first shipboard Carita Spa opened on the Paul Gauguin in 1997. Aboard the rest of the Radisson Seven Seas fleet, the changeover from Judith Jackson Spas will take place on the Seven Seas Mariner December 15, Seven Seas Navigator December 18 and Seven Seas Voyager December 20. The Radisson Diamond changeover from Steiner will be in March 2004.

*** Princess continues its launch of 2004-05 Exotic brochures with the 62-page Asia booklet. Pacific Princess will spend the summer months in Asia with itineraries from Japan to Singapore. Two special "Islands of the Pacific Theater" cruises between Honolulu and Osaka, May 17 and July 25, 2004, call at Midway, Majuro (Marshall Islands), Honiara (Solomon Islands), Guadalcanal (scenic cruising), Papua New Guinea, Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima (scenic cruising), Okinawa and Hiroshima. Royal Princess ventures to Asia in the fall sailing from Rome to Bangkok, 30 nights, September 16, 2004; Bangkok to Beijing, 16 nights, October 16, 2004 and reverse November 1, 2004 and a 30-night sailing from Bangkok to Cape Town, November 17, 2004. Sapphire Princess will position from Sydney to Seattle via Asia in the spring of 2005 following her first Australia/New Zealand season. The 12 to 19-night cruises sail from Sydney to Bangkok, Bangkok to Beijing, Beijing to Osaka and Osaka to Seattle.

*** Peter Deilmann Cruises will introduce sailings on Poland's Vistula River in 2004. The seven-night cruises sail between the historic capital of Warsaw and the Baltic seaport of Gdansk from March 30 to July 3 and October 2 to 30, 2004. Summer sailings are round-trip from Gdansk on the Vistula. The river cruises are, fittingly, aboard the 70-passenger Frederic Chopin, built in 2002 and named after Poland's most famous composer. The vessel 41 cabins on two decks, with full-length French doors on the upper deck that open into the cabin and large picture windows on the lower deck. Six meals are offered daily the Panorama Restaurant. Highlights of the river cruises include visits to the restored Old Town of Warsaw, a visit to Chopin's childhood home, the churches and museums of Gdansk, the medieval town of Torun which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and on the round-trip from Gdansk sailings, the town of Kaliningrad, Russia. Originally part of Germany, Kaliningrad consisted of three towns that grew up around the walls of a 13th century castle. It became a part of Russia after World War 1. For more on Peter Deilmann's 2004 cruises and to order brochures, visit the line's new web site at www.deilmann-cruises.com .

*** Revisions to the 2004 itineraries and rental program aboard The World are now set. The condominium vessel will feature an average stay of two days in port while the fall schedule will spend more time in Greece and the Mediterranean. The rental program is now based on a minimum of six nights, instead of three. Studio condos will be available at $650 to $2,050 per night, per apartment (double occupancy) with fares including meals and beverages, onboard gratuities and port charges. Some two- to six-bedroom condos are now available with nightly fares ranging from $2,100 to $3,200 per apartment, including meals, beverages, daily maid service, port charges and gratuities for two passengers. Apartments accommodate up to four in two bedrooms and six in three bedrooms with the additional passengers paying $200 per person, per night. The changes follow the purchase of the vessel by its condominium owners.

*** The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) reports an 8% increase in cruise passenger travel during the third quarter of 2003. Alaska led the way as the most active destination with Seattle seeing dramatic growth as a departure port with a 251 percent increase in the past two years. Miami had the highest passenger numbers followed by Vancouver, Port Canaveral, and New York. MARAD's statistics are based on 10 major cruise lines operating ships with more than 750 passengers. Meanwhile, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reported a similar increase in cruise travel during the third quarter. CLIA's 24 member lines sailing worldwide saw an 8.92% increase in passenger numbers over the same period in 2002. CLIA expects 8.3 million North Americans to cruise during 2003.

*** The delivery date for Queen Mary 2 has been finalized for December 22. The ceremonies surrounding the hand over to Cunard Line have been scaled down following the tragic gangway accident at the French shipyard last month which killed 15 people. The departure of the world's largest cruise ship from Chantiers de l'Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France, will now be a tribute to those who built QM2 and pay homage to the victims of the accident. Residents and visitors watching the ship's departure from the banks of the Loire will hold electric torches to illuminate the route. At the seafront, against a background of blue light, pictures recalling the building of the QM2 and the maritime history of Staint- Nazaire will be displayed with music and narration over loudspeakers. In the town's botanical gardens, an eternal flame will burn to commemorate the victims of the gangway accident. These events replace the fireworks display and party originally planned. QM2 will sail first to Spain and arrive in her home port of Southampton on December 26. Queen Elizabeth II will christen the vessel at ceremonies in Southampton on January 8, 2004. The maiden voyage to Ft. Lauderdale departs January 12, 2004.

*** Campbell River, British Columbia is getting a new cruise terminal in the hope of attracting the ships that sail by en route to Alaska. Cruise lines have expressed interest in calling at the Vancouver Island community of 30,000 as it could offer passengers a variety of cultural and outdoor activities. Sport fishing, snorkeling, flightseeing tours of Vancouver Island's glaciers, whale and wildlife watching excursions are being developed by the city and the Campbell River Indian Band. The Band has also constructed a shop, art gallery and theatre. The cruise terminal will be half a mile from downtown, next to the seaplane base.

*** Celebrity Cruises is launching a new excursion in Grand Cayman: a yacht race from the pier to Seven Mile Beach. Celebrity has purchased the former "Lodka Sport," now named "Celebrity Cruises," an 80-foot Maxi-class yacht which ranked third in the world's largest transoceanic race from Las Palmas Gran Canaria to St. Lucia just last week. Celebrity's contender in the new racing excursion will be a nearly identical yacht which has been purchased by sister company Royal Caribbean International. RCI plans to offer the same excursion to its passengers. Constructed of carbon, Kevlar and titanium, the virtually indestructible Maxicat yachts are built for speed, but are safe for both experienced sailors and novices. Each vessel will accommodate approximately 20 passengers per 3.5-hour race, at a cost of $105 per person. Reservations for the "Seven Mile Beach Maxi Regatta" can be made online beginning December 19 via the Celebrity web site at www.celebrity.com. The new excursions begin January 3, 2004.

*** The International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) and Conservation International (CI) have announced a joint initiative to protect in top cruise destinations and promote industry practices that minimize the cruise industry's environmental impact. CI works on projects in close to 40 countries on four continents to show that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. CI develops scientific, policy and economic solutions to protect threatened natural ecosystems. The joint initiative with the ICLL will focus on four priority areas including best practices for wastewater management; working with local governments and communities to protect the natural and cultural assets of cruise destinations; raising passenger and crew awareness of and support for critical conservation issues and lessening the environmental impact of items supplied by vendors to cruise ships. ICCL, which represents fifteen of the world's leading cruise lines, has committed $850,000 to the initiative and its supporting projects. Conservation International has made an investment of $250,000. Back to Top

12-05-03 Weekend Cruise News Cruise Staff Shirt Hotel Staff Shirt The winning Cruise Staff (left) and Hotel Staff (right) shirt designs for NCL America. Click image for full size.

*** NCL America has chosen the winners in the Aloha Shirt Design competition launched last September. The designs of Deidre Britt and LeRoy Na'ahulelua Makekau Jr. both of Oahu were selected from over a dozen entries from University of Hawaii art students. Deidre Britt's shirt will be worn by Cruise Staff aboard NCL America's Pride of America and Pride of Aloha, which will debut in Hawaii in July and October, 2004 respectively. LeRoy Na'ahulelua Makekau Jr.'s shirt was selected for the Hotel Staff aboard both vessels. The winners were announced during a press conference aboard Norwegian Star in Honolulu last Sunday. They each received an award of $2,000 and a cruise for two aboard either the 2,146-passenger Pride of America or 2,002-passenger Pride of Aloha.

*** Holland America Line's Oosterdam arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Wednesday, following her first transatlantic crossing from Lisbon. The second Vista-class ship, sister to Zuiderdam, entered service August 3. Oosterdam will sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Ft. Lauderdale to April 11, 2004 when she positions to Seattle for summer cruises to Alaska. This will mark the first time a Vista-class ship has sailed on the west coast.

*** The new Caribbean Princess will be the venue for the wedding of Jill Whelan who played Captain Stubing's daughter, Vicki, in the Love Boat Television series. Whelan will marry fiance Michael Chaykowsky on April 2, 2004 on board Caribbean Princess in Ft. Lauderdale. The couple will then spend their honeymoon aboard the ship during its inaugural Western Caribbean cruise departing April 3. TV father Gavin MacLeod as well as other members of the Love Boat cast will be among the guests at the wedding. The nuptials will also be broadcast by the ship's Bridge Cam so that friends, family and fans at home can follow the festivities on Princess' website, www.princess.com. Whelan's ceremony will be one of the more than 1,000 weddings that have taken place aboard Princess ships since 1998 when the line introduced the industry's only wedding at sea program where couples can be married by the captain. The most extensive wedding program offered by a cruise line, Princess' "Tie the Knot" program also features ceremonies aboard the ship in port and ashore in many of the ships' romantic ports of call. Caribbean Princess will be the largest ship in the Princess fleet at 116,000 tons and carrying 3,100 passengers. The ship is an enlarged version of the Grand-class ships, Grand, Golden and Star Princess.

*** Carnival Miracle will be christened by Jessica Lynch at ceremonies in Jacksonville, Florida on February 27, 2004. "We are privileged that Miss Lynch, who represents the thousands of courageous American men and women serving in our armed forces, has accepted our invitation to be godmother of our newest ship," said Carnival President & CEO Bob Dickinson. Carnival has also made a significant donation to the Jessica Lynch foundation which assists the children of soldiers who have either served in the military or were killed while on duty and also benefits the Wirt County, West Virginia, community where she lives. The 88,500-ton, 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle will be the fourth Spirit-class ship, sister to Carnival Spirit, Pride and Legend. Miracle will be the first cruise ship to debut in the port of Jacksonville and the first Carnival ship to sail from the port. She will sail 12 three- to six-day voyages through April 17, 2004 followed by seven-day departures from Baltimore and New York before repositioning to Tampa for year-round seven-day western Caribbean cruises beginning November 7, 2004.

*** Radisson Seven Seas will welcome Hugh Downs, former co-anchor of ABC's newsmagazine 20/20, as a guest lecturer aboard Seven Seas Voyager in January. Downs will sail on the first segment of Voyager's 94-night Grand Asia Pacific Voyage, departing Los Angeles on January 10. The 22-night segment calls at the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, Tonga, New Caledonia and Australia. Hugh Downs is certified in the Guinness Book of World Records as logging the greatest number of hours on network television. He retired in 1999 after 60 years in broadcasting. As reported in CruiseMates' November 14 Weekend News, other celebrity guests sailing aboard segments of the Grand Asia Voyage include journalists Peter Arnett, Catherine Crier and Garrick Utley, as well as former CIA and FBI head William H. Webster, former attorney general Dick Thornburgh and political satirist Mark Russell.

*** Pride of America will sail an overnight, gala fundraising cruise on July 3, 2004, prior to being christened in Honolulu. All ticket revenue from the cruise will benefit the Bishop Museum, Child and Family Service, Ready to Learn, The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial. NCL America will donate the use of the ship and all operational, food and beverage services and amenities for the sailing. The 2,156-passenger Pride of America will be based year-round in Hawaii and is the first new U.S.-flagged cruise ship in nearly 50 years. Passengers on the fundraising cruise will enjoy a sail away cocktail party, live entertainment, a comedy show and a silent auction that will also raise money for the charities as well as the eight different restaurants on board. Prices for the overnight charity cruise are per cabin and are: Inside Cabins $300 Outside Cabins $500, Balcony Cabins $700, Family Suites $1,000, Penthouse Suites $1,250 and Deluxe Penthouse Suites $1,500. To book the cruise, contact the charity of your choice. Phone numbers for each charity are: Bishop Museum - 808-848-4157; Child and Family Service - 808-543-8413; Ready to Learn - 808-585-7425; The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement - 808- 521-5011; U.S.S. Missouri Memorial - 808-454-1434.

*** Gourmet magazine is arranging the "Chefs at Sea" program to be featured on 12 voyages aboard Queen Mary 2 in 2004. The chefs will be showcased in the ship's "Chef's Galley" restaurant, where passengers are taught how to prepare their meal prior to dining. The Galley will feature a mirrored workstation to give the best view of the meal in preparation. Cunard's own chefs will be featured in addition to those sponsored by Gourmet magazine. The Chefs at Sea program will be featured on the following voyages:

  • January 31, Inaugural Caribbean Voyage 11 nights, round-trip Fort Lauderdale - Chef Daniel Orr, Gustavino, New York
  • February 23, Rio's Queen of Carnival 12 nights, Rio de Janeiro to Fort Lauderdale - Chef Jimmy Bradley, The Harrison, New York
  • March 16, Explorer's Caribbean, 10 nights, round-trip Fort Lauderdale - Chef Cindy Hutson, Ortanique on the Mile, Miami
  • April 25, Inaugural Eastbound Transatlantic, 6 nights, New York to Southampton - Chef Jonathan Waxman, Eleven Madison Park, New York
  • May 10, Explorer's Caribbean, 8 nights, round-trip Fort Lauderdale - Chef Jeffrey Vigilla, Aria, Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne
  • May 24, Jewels of Iberia, 12 nights, round-trip Southampton, Chef Phillip Cooper, Mirabelle, London
  • June 25, Westbound Transatlantic, 6 nights, Southampton to New York - Chef Laurent Gras, Fifth Floor, San Francisco
  • July 11, Majesty of the Fjords, 14 nights, round-trip Southampton - Chef Matthew Harris, Bibendum, London
  • August 30, Jewels of Iberia, 12 nights, round-trip Southampton Chef Kevin Dundan, Dumbrody House, Dublin
  • September 17, Splendors of the Fall, 12 nights, round-trip New York - Kira Volz, The Abbey Dining Room, Miami
  • November 16, New Yorker's Caribbean, 10 nights, round-trip New York - Chef Scott Conant, L'Impero, New York
  • December 6, Escapist's Caribbean, 14 nights, Fort Lauderdale to New York - Chef Pascal Oudin, Pascal's on Ponce, Miami
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