News Archive - November 2009

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12-29-09 New Restaurants, Canyon Ranch SpaClub Added to Regent Navigator Regent Seven Seas Cruises' 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator debuted in Port Everglades yesterday fresh from a comprehensive, stem-to-stern 50-day transformation.

Considered one of the most luxurious ships afloat, the intimate, all-suite vessel sports a sophisticated new décor, with rich fabrics and furnishings, much like those found in an elegant estate home.

"The makeover of Seven Seas Navigator gives the ship a stunning new look and feel," stated Mark Conroy, the line's president. "Along with the new Canyon Ranch SpaClub, I'm sure our loyal repeat guests will love the new dining options, including La Veranda, Prime 7 and the Patio Grill, as well as the redecorated main dining room."

Highlights at a Glance:

  • Prime 7 - a new restaurant - features a rich palette of green and gold, with supple leather seating, granite and burnished woods. The menu features prime-aged steaks and chops as well as poultry and fresh seafood.
  • Compass Rose - the ship's main dining room - has undergone a dramatic update with new window treatments, carpets and plush cranberry and camel armchairs. New signature china, silver and glassware complete the redesign.
  • La Veranda, with both indoor and al fresco seating, replaced Portofino's restaurant. New furniture, carpeting and draperies create an elegant ambiance. Food stations have been redesigned and enhanced for guests to enjoy lavish breakfast and lunch buffets. In the evening diners select from a menu of regionally themed specialties.
  • A new Pool Grill features a hot and cold buffet, panini sandwich station and coffee and dessert area in addition to a state-of-the-art barbecue grill. The Pool Bar, at the other end of the pool deck, was expanded and enhanced with a new ice cream station, fully equipped with machines for milkshakes and frappes.
  • Stars Lounge (pictured left) received a masterful makeover. A ruby-red carpet running the length of the entryway sets the stage for this glamorous club with furnishings that exude a classic Hollywood elegance.
  • Galileo's sports bold new interiors, window coverings and a sleek new bar area. An outdoor lounge has been added with stylish sofas and chaises overlooking the sea.
  • Navigator Lounge features rich hues of cappuccino, camel and navy accented by apple-green. The card room and library were redecorated and all public spaces throughout the ship were refreshed.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub: Last, but certainly not least, the former health club and an observation lounge have been transformed into the ship's new Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The serene and stylish wellness center has body and skin-care, massage and thalassotherapy treatment rooms, including a couples' suite. Added is an aerobics studio and new gymnasium with cardio and strength-training machines, both affording forward-facing, panoramic ocean views. Locker rooms, including his and hers sauna and steam rooms, have been updated as has the full-service beauty salon, which features new wood cabinetry and granite accents. A juice bar and relaxation lounge are additional SpaClub amenities.

Seven Seas Navigator will operate seven- to 11-night cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America this winter, followed by a summer series of seven-night Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Anchorage. Upon completion of the Alaska season, the ship embarks on a 96-night Grand Asia Pacific cruise. To receive a brochure or for more information on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, see a professional travel agent, visit www.RSSC.com or call toll-free 800-285-1835.

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12-29-09 Does Matt Damon Own a Shipboard Condo on ResidenSea's World? An Australian news web site, New.com.au is reporting that Matt Damon arrived in Australia aboard the residential cruise ship, the World, on Dec 30. It is said that he came onshore and visited a local fish shop, signed autographs with his name included, and was very friendly with the locals.

The ship, The World, is the world's only sailing condo cruise ship where the vast majority of passengers own the staterooms they travel in, much like a condominium. There are a few guest cabins onboard, but it is far more likely that Matt Damon was in one of the more palatial condo staterooms. The corporation that manages the "homeowners association" for The World has never revealed who owns the condos on the ships, and the privacy of that matter is taken very seriously. No one is allowed to board the ship without signing a promise that they will never reveal what they see or hear about who may own condos on the ship.

The ship has 165 residential units; 106 apartments, 19 studio apartments, and 40 studios, all owned by the ship's residents. The ship carries between 100 and 300 residents and their guests. The management does make arrangements for owners to rent their staterooms when they are not being used, however, to offset the cost of ownership. The idea for the ship belongs to Knut Kloster, who started NCL an the first luxury cruise line, Royal Viking Line.

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12-21-09 Celebrity Names Fourth Solstice Class Silhouette Celebrity Cruises today announced the name for the fourth ship to be built within the widely popular Solstice class they just first introduced in November of 2008. The ship will called Celebrity Silhouette. According to the company, the word "silhouette" conjures up images of light and shadow, and sleek profiles in the world of design and fashion, so it's fitting that Celebrity Cruises has named the fourth ship in its "stylish" Solstice Class fleet Celebrity Silhouette.

"And what better date to announce it than on winter solstice?" asks Celebrity, supposedly because the ship is the fourth itieratrion of the Solstice-class.

As far as well can tell there will be very little architectural or even interior decor differences between any of the four Solstice-class ships. They mention that "Celebrity Solstice, which was named "Best Premium Ship" and "Best Rookie Ship" in Travel Weekly's annual awards gala just last week; Celebrity Equinox, which set sail in July 2009 was a virtual clone of the Silstice, and it is expected that Celebrity Eclipse, which will enter service in April 2010, will be the same way.

The 122,000-ton Celebrity Silhouette will also offer the series of "brand-defining, industry-first attributes that guests, travel agents and press have praised about Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox," including a half-acre Lawn Club with real grass, a glassblowing show and studio developed with The Corning Museum of Glass, unrivaled dining venues offering trendsetting cuisine and design, and widely varied entertainment. Like its sisters, the 2,850-guest Celebrity Silhouette will have larger staterooms; 90 percent outside, and 85 percent with verandas, and spacious bathrooms, as well as several categories of accommodations, including Celebrity's ConciergeClass and spa-inspired AquaClass staterooms

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Celebrity is holding a contest for cruise lovers interested in being among the very first to see Celebrity Silhouette while under construction in Germany. By entering Celebrity's "Eclipse of a Lifetime" sweepstakes, running through January 14, 2010, 10 winners and their guests will be the first individuals outside of the line's employees to board Celebrity Eclipse when it sets sail for the very first time; the first to have exclusive, up-close-and-personal views of the construction process of Celebrity Silhouette at Meyer Werft, one of the most modern shipyards in the world; first to be led and hosted throughout Celebrity Eclipse by Celebrity's President and CEO Dan Hanrahan; first to nestle into the ship's AquaClass staterooms; first to sample the ship's innovative cuisine created by the line's VP of Culinary Operations and Chef Jacques Van Staden, and the first to have the chance to interact with the ship's senior officers.

To enter, visit the Celebrity web site, at www.celebritycruises.com and click the "Eclipse of a Lifetime" tab to access the entry form and sweepstakes rules. Or, click www.celebritycruises.com/EclipseSweepstakes. The sweepstakes runs through January 14, 2010. Winners will be announced January 28, 2010. This sweepstakes is open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada. See Official Rules on the site for complete information.

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12-15-09 MSC offers Special Caribbean Savings for Single Cruisers Single travelers can experience the beauty and tranquility of the Caribbean with special rates for MSC Cruises' 7-night sailings on the beautiful MSC Poesia.

Single guests can book an interior, oceanview, or balcony stateroom for one on select MSC Cruises' 2009-10 Caribbean itineraries with rates starting at $649. This limited-time offer expires on January 31, 2010.

This special single promotion offer is applicable for Categories 1, 4, and 6 on the following MSC Poesia itineraries from Fort Lauderdale:

  • 7-night - "Island Treasures & Ancient Temples" on February 13 and March 13 to Key West, Florida; Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Nassau, Bahamas; single rate begins at $749 and $699, respectively;
  • 7-night - "Eastern Caribbean Enchantment" on February 20 and March 6 to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas; single rate begins at $699 and $649, respectively;
Rates are per person, cruise only and subject to availability; government fees and taxes are additional.

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12-10-09 Malfunction to Delay AquaTheater Shows by Two More Weeks We've already written about our disappointments with the Oasis AquaTheater shows not being ready for our Dec. 1 cruise. While there are supposed to be two complete live shows for guests when the theater is up and running thoroughly, on our cruise all they had ready was a little over 1/2 of one show.

Now we have an inside source telling us one of the artist safety features, actually an emergency button that will stop all underwater technology from moving in case an entertainer is trapped underwater, has now malfunctioned and replacement parts could take as long as two weeks to arrive. This means it is not safe to run an "live" shows in the AquaTheater for the next few cruises - although the automated fountain dances are fine to go.

The AquaTheater has been hampered by a number of setbacks seemingly since even before the ship changed hands from the STX shipyard to Royal Caribbean. Wires were installed that shorted out when they got wet, stage lights malfunctioned and in some cases the lighting instruments installed were the "architectural" models rather than the professional theater models. All together, these small problems have added up to one big delay in getting this "first of its kind" ship-based AquaTheater off to an impressive start.

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12-9-09 Celebrity to Offer Contest Winners Exclusive Preview of New Eclipse Celebrity Cruises just launched the "Eclipse of a Lifetime" sweepstakes, running from December 6, 2009, through January 14, 2010. 10 winners and their guests to be the first individuals outside of the line's employees to board Celebrity Eclipse when it sets sail for the very first time from the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Germany. The winners will be the first to have exclusive, up-close-and-personal views of the construction process of Celebrity's fourth Solstice Class, will be first to be led and hosted throughout Celebrity Eclipse by Celebrity's President and CEO Dan Hanrahan; first to nestle into the ship's AquaClass staterooms; first to sample the ship's innovative cuisine created by the line's VP of Culinary Operations and Chef Jacques Van Staden, and the first to have the chance to interact with the ship's senior officers.

The winners will partake of these experiences during the "conveyance" of Celebrity Eclipse. Scheduled for March 13, 2010, the conveyance marks the occasion when Celebrity Eclipse departs Meyer Werft shipyard for the first time, and navigates the narrow River Ems - backwards - from Papenburg, Germany, to Emshaven, Netherlands, prior to embarking on sea trials.

During the "conveyance" through Germany's River Ems more than 75,000 residents are expected to line the river banks - in cars, on bikes, on horseback and in RVs - to watch and cheer as one of the largest ships ever to transit the river meanders past charming villages and quaint farmlands. An indisputable rarity in cruising, the conveyance takes the ship along a truly challenging course: At its tightest points along the way, there will be as few as two feet between each side of the 1,040-ft-long, 121-ft-wide Celebrity Eclipse and the locks. The depth of the river and the draft of the ship allow for mere inches - or less - beneath the ship. Celebrity and shipbuilder Meyer Werft have essentially created a science all their own, to closely and carefully monitor the position of the moon and tidal conditions to pinpoint the precise moment when the depth of the river is ideal for the ship to depart the shipyard.

"The science and precision of the process is actually more complex than transiting the Panama Canal," said Celebrity CEO Dan Hanrahan. A railway bridge must be completely dismantled, and normal train schedules adjusted, to allow for the ship's passage at one point on the course.

The journey will take between 12 to 15 hours to complete, and is likely to be the most challenging ride the ship will encounter in its life. Only one captain in the world - who sweepstakes winners will have the exclusive opportunity to meet - is licensed and qualified to take the helm during the conveyance. The limited space available for navigation, the nature of sailing in reverse, and the number of narrow passages and bridges to transit are factors cruise ship captains normally don't have to deal with; but, it provides the chance for them to test the ship's maneuverability at slow speeds.

In addition to the series of 'first-ever' experiences, Celebrity's "Eclipse of a Lifetime" prize package includes a night in Dusseldorf, one of the hippest cities in Germany, prior to boarding the ship, and a night in freewheeling Amsterdam after departing the ship. Each "Eclipse of a Lifetime" prize package also includes coach-class air for two from each winner's nearest major gateway to Dusseldorf, Germany; hotel accommodations and meals prior to boarding Celebrity Eclipse; all meals and activities onboard the ship; all pertinent gratuities; ground transfers to and from airports, hotels, and Celebrity Eclipse; the exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Meyer Werft shipyard, and coach-class air from Amsterdam to the U.S.

Celebrity has made it a breeze to enter the sweepstakes. Simply visit the Celebrity web site, at www.celebritycruises.com and click the "Eclipse of a Lifetime" tab to access the entry form and sweepstakes rules. Or, click www.celebritycruises.com/EclipseSweepstakes. The sweepstakes runs from December 7, 2009 through January 14, 2010. Winners will be announced January 28, 2010. This sweepstakes is open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada. See Official Rules on the site for complete information.

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12-9-09 Disney to Preview New Show for Dream aboard Magic The malevolent world of the Disney villains takes a comical spin in 'Villains Tonight!," a musical spectacular that Disney Cruise Line is premiering in spring 2010. The revue-style show will debut during the March 27 voyage aboard the Disney Magic and will delight guests aboard the new Disney Dream cruise ship in early 2011.

"Villains Tonight!" is the first full-scale musical production dedicated to the Disney villains. The show is a family-friendly, fun-filled musical extravaganza that places these famous evil-doers in some irreverent funny moments.

"We pride ourselves in delivering exceptional entertainment and magnificent stage spectaculars aboard our ships," said Jim Urry, Vice President of Entertainment for Disney Cruise Line. "With ‘Villains Tonight!' we are bringing the lovable and loathsome Disney villains to life in a way never seen before - as the stars of the first musical comedy devoted to the anti-heroes of our films."

Disney Cruise Line assembled an all-star creative team headlined by the Tony-nominated Broadway writing team of Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen. They are joined by director Allison Narver, choreographer Karma Camp and musical director Ben Cohn.

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12-9-09 Seabourn Refurbishes Pride, Spirit and Legend Capping off a year that saw the launch of its first new yacht in over a decade, The Yachts of Seabourn has embarked upon a multi-million dollar renovation of the original trio of its award-winning, small-luxury fleet. Seabourn Spirit has just completed a makeover, and Pride and Legend are planned to undergo extensive refurbishments during the coming year, transforming the look and feel of each vessel with open and airy interiors, modern embellishments, and richly colored contemporary on-deck furnishings.

"Seabourn Spirit came out of drydock a couple of weeks ago," said Seabourn President and CEO Pamela Conover, "and the response of our guests, both multi-repeaters and first-timers, has been unanimous—the Spirit looks absolutely beautiful." The renovation is being overseen by RTKL Associates Inc. in Miami, an award-winning international design firm recognized for its creative approach to commercial and residential spaces. The extensive work is being done during regularly scheduled periodic maintenance. With Spirit finished, Pride and Legend will head to dry dock in January 2010 and fall 2010, respectively. Enhancements begin just steps into the Reception Lobby with honey-toned wood paneling, two-toned marble flooring and furnishings reupholstered in rich burgundy. Onboard entertainment spaces shine, with the main show lounge transformed with cut-velvet banquettes in muted blues and taupe chairs beneath glittering stars. In The Club, floral-motif carpeting plays off warm reds and burnt oranges while elegantly toned, matte stone panels invoke spaciousness throughout. That play of color and comfort continues in the observation lounge, where wrap-around windows illuminate new pale-green accents and soothing creams and beiges with the ever-changing light of sea and sky. New club chairs and sofas of creamy leather are inviting perches for taking it all in, accented with leaf-patterned throw pillows that echo the foliage theme in the carpeting. In The Restaurant, celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer's cuisine is presented in a rich, yet understated elegance realized in handsome toffee-toned woods, creamy caramel accents, dramatic sheer curtains striped horizontally in violet and gold interspersing muted purple drapes, and flooring finished in sumptuous golden stone with sage infusions. Meanwhile, the open decks are going modern with graceful new furniture of coffee-hued, powder-coated metal and chocolate-toned fabric. "The renovation of Pride, Spirit and Legend ensures that guests will be enjoying the Seabourn experience on these unique vessels in a fresh, contemporary style," said Conover. "With our original three yachts scheduled for refurbishment, Seabourn Odyssey enjoying a stellar maiden year, and Seabourn Sojourn scheduled to launch in June 2010, Seabourn can now offer travelers more beautiful yachts in more exciting destinations throughout the year."

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12-8-09 Bon Apétit Magazine to offer Branded Cruises Signature Travel Network and Bon Appétit magazine just announced a new partnership to create a culinary travel program for epicurean enthusiasts.

With the launch of a series of exclusive cruise and land vacations available for purchase only through Signature's Travel Specialists, travelers can now delve into culinary adventures through a variety of Bon Appétit branded vacations. Beginning in 2010, Signature and Bon Appétit will provide a collection of culinary immersion itineraries. The first scheduled holiday will be on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner departing on July 18, 2010 for a 7-day cruise, which will visit the Tuscan region of Italy and the South of France.

Travelers will now be able to familiarize themselves with a destination through culinary experiences such as: hands-on cooking classes, select tastings, wine and food pairing dinners, and much more. "We're thrilled about this partnership. It's a win-win situation," said Michelle Morgan, President of Signature Travel Network.

This joint program with Bon Appétit will work under Signature Travel Network's popular Personal Enrichment Series. The branded travel experiences will provide benefits to Bon Appétit and Signature clients through a variety of special offers, exclusive amenities and in-room/in-stateroom gifts. Some destinations the new program will feature will be Barcelona, Spain and Tuscany, Italy where guests will have the option to enjoy a private car and driver to guide them along a tailored culinary visit throughout the region crafted by Bon Appétit.

"Food is such a wonderful and vivid way to enjoy the individuality of a particular region of the world. The Bon Appétit branded departures will surely heighten the traveler's overall vacation experience. Traveling and tasting local cuisines go hand-in hand. By sharing the history and origins of each region's food, we will be providing a very different approach to discovering the spectacular destinations we will be visiting," said Michael von Wittenau, Vice President of Strategic Business Development at Signature.

The partnership with Bon Appétit and Signature will bring success to both organizations. "With a world class hotel and resort program, seasoned travel professionals well-versed in destinations around the world, and one of the industry's most robust amenity programs, we feel that Signature Travel Network will deliver the experience and authority that our readers have come to expect from us," says Paul Jowdy, Vice President and Publisher of Bon Appétit.

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12-1-09 Carnival Orders a NEW ship, Triplet to Dream

Jusu when it looked like the shipyards of Finland, Italy and France had better start planning to make something else - a major cruise line, Carnival, has ordered a new ship! I don't have the stats in front of me right now, but I am willing to bet it has been at least a year if not two since any cruise line actually placed a firm order for a brand new cruise ship.

The new ship, not yet named, will be a third sister to Carnival Dream which just arrived in New York two weeks ago to great fanfare and is now about to start sailing regular 7-day Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral. Carnival Magic, the second sister to Dream, is currently still under construction at Fincantieri shipyards nears Venice Italy. The new ship will be built there as well, and is scheduled for delivery in 2012.

Carnival is actually quite pleased to be ordering ships again and it says something about the fact that these newer and bigger ships have a future in the cruise business. The Dream, Magic and third sister will each carry over 4000 passengers at peak capacity and come in at 130,000-tons volume. They all have extensive waterparks and "Ocean Plaza," the new entertainment complex on the Promenade decks with cantilevered hottubs.

One reasaon given for the decision to move forward with a third new ship in the Dream class is the "rave reviews" Carnival Dream is already receiving.

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12-1-09 Oasis of the Seas Officially Named

With seven godmothers doing the duty, the world's newest and largest cruise ship was officially named last night in a ceremony with several announced and unannounced guest stars in attendance. The ceremony did double duty as a special benefit for the "Make-a-Wish Foundation" who received the proceeds from the sale of 1000 cabins.

The seven Godmothers onboard: The first one was Gloria Estefan - The second one was World Champion figure skater and Olympian Michelle Kwan who presided over "Entertainment Central" where the Studio B ice rink, the Comedy Club, the Jazz Club and the Casino are all located. The third godmother was Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, who was the godmother for the Boardwalk area, since that is where the AquaTheater swimming pool and water acrobatics stage is located.

Godmother number four was Academy Award winning actress Jane Seymour.

Number five was that cutie from the Cosby Show, actress Keisha Knight Pulliam. She was the adorable toddler on that show from the 1980s - now some 20 years older. She was born in 1979, which means she is now 30, and "all grown up." Godmother number six was yet another Olympian: 2008 medalist- gymnast Shawn Johnson!

And Godmother number seven is: Daisy Fuentes, international television personality and producer!

Among the celebrities making surprise appearances were those whom certain "wish kids" wanted to meet. These included Michael "Air" Jordan whom Miami's NBC affiliate reports was granting a wish by a South Florida girl who wanted to spend the day with him. Also granting wishes as part of the event were Corbin Bleu of High School Musical fame, Dancing with the Stars' dancer Karina Smirnoff and Oasis godmother Johnson.

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