News Archive - February 2002

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2-27-02 New RCI Houston Itinerary Royal Caribbean International will reposition Splendour of the Seas to Houston. From November 11, 2002 through April 28, 2003, the ship will sail on 10- and 11-night Panama Canal voyages sailing round-trip from Houston. The ten-night cruises will visit Progresso, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Belize and Key West and the 11-night voyages will call at Puerto Limon, Panama canal, Cartagena and Grand Cayman. Back to Top

2-22-02 Weekend Cruise News ***Carnival Cruise Lines is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It was March, 1972 when Carnival's first ship, the TSS Mardi Gras, sailed from the Port of Miami. Formerly the liner Empress of Canada, the 27,240-ton Mardi Gras carried 906 passengers, mainly travel agents, on that fateful first voyage: Mardi Gras ran aground on a sand bar outside the port. The line has come a long way since then and currently has a fleet of sixteen ships, with two more scheduled to debut in 2002.

*** Barbados is preparing for the arrival of RCI's Adventure of the Seas which will call at Barbados every two weeks from April through November. In preparation for the 140,000-ton vessel, the port of Barbados has commenced $6 million dredging project to be completed in March. Work will then begin on a new megaship pier. The new facility will cost $25 million and take about 18 months to complete. Adventure of the Seas sails from San Juan every Sunday from April 14, 2002 through December 15, 2002, on alternating itineraries calling at either St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados or Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

***Valentines Day is over for this year, but Windstar Cruises says every day is romantic when you sail on board the line's intimate sailing yachts. Carrying just 74 couples per ship, Wind Star, Wind Spirit, and Wind Song offer all ocean-view staterooms with CD, VCR players and 24-hour room service. Windstar offers romantic escapes to over 40 destinations in 2002, featuring 34 Tahiti and 46 Greek Isles cruises. The line's new couple's packages are priced per couple and include champagne and hors d'oeuvres delivered upon arrival in your stateroom. On-deck weddings can also be arranged through the lines new made-to-order wedding packages.

***Royal Olympic has new itineraries planned for sister ships Olympia Voyager and Olympia Explorer this summer. The 25,000-ton, 836-passengers vessels boast spacious rooms and suites, balconies and a luxurious spa and amenities. They feature fast Monohull technology which allows them to reach an increased number of ports, with more time in each. Royal Olympic also specializes in destination focused cruises with informative on board programs.

  • Olympia Voyager debuts this summer, sailing weekly, roundtrip from both Venice (Sundays, May 5-Oct.13, 2002) and Piraeus (Fridays, May 3-Oct. 18, 2002) calling at Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Istanbul (Turkey), Athens, Corfu, Katakolon (for Olympia), Mykonos, and Santorini (Greece). ). An Early Booking Savings of 45% is available on May 3-15, July 5�Sept. 4, and Oct. 11-18, 2002 sailings; savings of 35% on May 17 � July 3 and Sept. 6 � Oct. 9, 2002 sailings. Port charges are included and low air add-ons from $795 are available.

  • Olympia Voyager will sail roundtrip from Houston every Saturday from March 30 to October 19, 2002, calling at Playa del Carmen, Puerto Cortes (Honduras), Belize City, and Progresso (Merida, Mexico). This is the first time Royal Olympic will have a ship sailing summer, Caribbean cruises. To celebrate the inaugural season of roundtrip Houston sailings, Royal Olympic is offering a 45% Early Booking Savings on all cruises booked 120 days prior to departure. This means cruise-only rates range from $797-$3,201 per person based on double occupancy, including port charges. Low air add-ons from $300 are available.

    ***Holland America has announced new Medallion Special Collection shore excursions in conjunction with Canada/New England cruises this autumn on board Rotterdam. Seven Medallion Special Collection excursions, recently developed by Holland America, offer "in-depth or extraordinary experiences" for a limited number of passengers. Designed for seasoned travelers, the Medallion excursions provide a unique perspective on the culture, history and heritage of the area visited. On the "Soldier for a Day" tour in Halifax, participants learn about all aspects of a soldier's life and then change into period costume to become a full fledged member of the Queen's garrison. "Recruits" learn how to load and fire the Citadel's defensive cannons. A themed period lunch is included as well as time to explore on one's own. Other Medallion trips take guests sailing the pristine Bras d'Or Lakes on Cape Breton Island and experiencing life in 1744 through a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the Fortress Louisbourg near Sydney, Nova Scotia. They can also explore Quebec City on an intimate walking tour with a Quebecois guide, concluding with high tea at the historic Chateau Frontenac, and relax for a day at Dalvay by the Sea, the magnificent Victorian summer home resort of wealthy American industrialist Alexander MacDonald. Cost of Medallion excursions ranges from $49 to $249 per person. In addition to the Medallion shore excursions, Holland America offers a wide selection of tours in each port where the 1,316-passenger Rotterdam calls. The tours range from two to seven hours in length and $24 to $119 per person in price. Holland America Line's excursions can be viewed and booked online at

    *** Peter Deilmann Cruises has ten ships sailing on European rivers this summer including the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Po, Oder and Elbe. Deilmann river ships accommodate from 58 to 204 passengers. Each is a deluxe floating hotel with fine dining and a high level of service. Cruise tours include air transportation, meet and greet service, transfers between airports and ships and pre/post-cruise hotel packages and tours are available. The new Chopin debuts March 23 with seven-night cruises from Frankfurt on the Oder, just 30 miles east of Berlin. Chopin sails through one of the last unspoiled areas of western Europe between eastern Germany and Poland. Special pricing is available on all Peter Deilmann ships for the Spring value season.

    *** The Statendam sails round trip from San Diego to Hawaii on its Circle Hawaii cruises March 23, April 17, Oct. 6 and 31 and Nov. 25, 2002. Ports of call on each cruise are Hilo, Hawaii (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tour option); Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili, Kauai, plus scenic cruising along its Na Pali coast; Lahaina, Maui; and Kona, Hawaii, before returning to San Diego. The cruises also sail past the active Kilauea Volcano in the evening when its glowing lava "show" can be seen best. Also new for 2002 is the Statendam's first port call at Molokai -- one of the most Hawaiian, and least-visited, islands of all. Molokai will be a featured port call on the Statendam's Dec. 20, 2002, holiday cruise. Called "The Friendly Island," Molokai is populated by more native Hawaiians than any island (except Niihau, which is closed to visitors) and so offers a true spirit of traditional Hawaiian aloha (welcome). A selection of more than 50 shore excursions are offered on the Hawaii sailings starting from $15 per person for adults.

    ***Crystal Cruises' 2003 Atlas will be available in March. The new Crystal Serenity joins the fleet in July, 2003, sailing in Western Europe and the Mediterranean through October. A transatlantic crossing will be followed by Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Riviera cruises. Other highlights of the year include Crystal Harmony sailing the Panama Canal then in Asia and the South Pacific before spending the summer in Alaska. Panama Canal and Caribbean itineraries follow. Crystal Symphony will make the line's inaugural call at Antarctica during her 104-day world cruise. She will spend the summer in the Baltic and British Isles with autumn in Canada and New England, South America and the Caribbean.

    ***Queen Elizabeth 2 will visit the South Seas, Asia and Africa on her 107-day world cruise which departs New York, January 5, 2003. A number of 11 to 105-day segments are available on the voyage which takes QE2 on a route from New York to Colombia, Panama , the Mexican Riviera and Los Angeles then across the Pacific to Hawaii, French Polynesia, Auckland, Bay of Islands, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Darwin. QE2 continues to Asia calling at Kota Kintabalu on Borneo, Manila, Japan, Taipei, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. QE2 continues on through the Indian Ocean calling at Sri Lanka and the Seychelles, Mombasa, Mauritius, Durban and Cape Town. Heading north, ports of call are Walvis Bay, St. Helena, Tenerife, Madeira and Southampton. The world cruise ends with a transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York.

    *** R7 and R8 of bankrupt Renaissance Cruises may soon have a new home port. Imperium Cruises is a new cruise line set to sail from the port of Dubai in June. The line has chartered the R6, to be renamed White Goddess for Arabian Gulf and Red Sea cruises. The line plans to charter R7 and rename her Goddess Nayana for Indian Ocean cruises from Dubai commencing late November. Back to Top

    2-15-02 A $4.5 BILLION VALENTINE The battle for Princess Cruises between Royal Caribbean and Carnival reached its climax in the early hours of this morning, when Princess shareholders voted to adjourn a vote that would approve a merger with Royal Caribbean International. This is a major victory for Carnival Corporation, which offered $5.4 billion to purchase Princess.

    Carnival's Micky Arison said "We are delighted with the adjournment of the P&O Princess EGM. We will focus all our efforts on securing regulatory clearance." There are potential anti-trust issues which must be worked out before the British and US governments approved a Carnival Purchase of Princess/P&O.

    As late as yesterday, Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain threatened to withdraw his offer if the vote was postponed. However, in a RCI press statement this morning, Fain said "Now we will need to consult with our advisors to determine the implication of the votes and their impact on the merger. Back to Top

    2-15-02 Weekend Cruise News ***Norwegian Star is calling at Kahului, Maui instead of Lahaina, Maui on Fridays from now through May 3, 2002. Norwegian Cruise Line is experimenting with the call at Kahului, where Norwegian Star can dock, instead of tendering passengers ashore at Lahaina. The same shore excursions will operate from Kahului and there is a free shuttle from the ship to historic Lahaina throughout the day.

    *** CruiseWest has announced ship redeployment for Alaska in 2002. Spirit of Alaska will sit out the season. The vessel will be replaced by the larger Spirit of Endeavour on the Juneau-Ketchikan itinerary. The 84-passenger Spirit of Discovery, which was to have joined Spirit of Alaska on that run, will now replace Spirit of Endeavour on the Seattle - Juneau route.

    ***Governor, Tony Knowles has introduced his proposed $30-per-head cruise passenger tax to the Alaska Legislature. Knowles expects to raise $20 million annually with the tax which would offset Alaska's $1.2 billion budget gap. Cruise lines are fighting the tax through the North West CruiseShip Association which represents cruise lines visiting Alaska. The Association is joined by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Travel Industry Association which oppose the cruise tax as it threatens an important segment of Alaska's vital tourism industry. Knowles realizes the proposal could be struck down but says if that happens, he plans to place a corporate tax on the cruise lines to raise the $20 million.

    ***In conjunction with new Alaska cruises from Seattle on board the Amsterdam, Holland America Line is offering a variety of new shore excursions in the Pacific Northwest. All land packages start with an overnight stay at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Seattle and include a tour of the Seattle area. Seven pre-cruise options range from one to four-night packages and cost from $195 per person, double occupancy, to $625. Destinations include Seattle Classic with Mt. Rainier (two nights), Seattle Classic with Paradise Lodge (three nights), Seattle/Mt. St. Helens/Mt. Rainier (three nights), Seattle and Olympic Loop (three nights) and Seattle and Columbia Gorge (four nights).

    ***The World of ResdidenSea has been delayed. The first resort condominium at sea will now set sail March 4, 2002, from Trondheim to Oslo, Norway, arriving March 6. The route to New York includes calls at Hamburg, London and Ft. Lauderdale. The World is scheduled to be christened in New York on April 19.

    ***Swan Hellenic is offering several one week cruises on board the Minerva this summer in Europe. Renowned for their educational, destination focused cruises, Swan Hellenic initiated cruses to the Greek Isles back in the 1930's when the company arranged visits to archaeological sites. The 12,500-ton Minerva carries 356 passengers and a crew of 157. The style on board is that of an English country house, restrained with fine wool carpets, an oak-paneled dining room and outstanding artwork. The well stocked library has an excellent reference collection, many of university standard. Special one week sailings include: May 25-June 1 from Istanbul to Athens; June 1-8 from Athens to Venice; Aug. 31-Sept. 7 from Naples to Athens; Sept. 7-14 from Athens to Kusadasi; Sept. 14-21 from Kusadasi to Athens; Sept. 21-28 from Athens to Istanbul; Nov. 23-30 Aqaba round trip. Cruise-tours include round trip air from London.

    ***Crystal Harmony rescued four persons who were floating in a life raft after evacuating their burning freighter in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Feb. 1. Within two hours of leaving St. Thomas, Crystal Harmony crew members spotted the Loraine, a small, 206-ton inter-island freighter, engulfed in flames and a nearby life raft carrying four people. Crystal Harmony contacted the United States Coast Guard and altered its course for the rescue mission. The captain and all three crew members from the Loraine were safely rescued, and brought aboard Crystal Harmony for medical treatment. Only minor injuries were sustained and the four remained overnight on board Crystal Harmony, until she diverted to St. Lucia the following morning for their disembarkation. The mission delayed Crystal Harmony's scheduled arrival in Fortaleza, Brazil on Feb. 6 by only 90 minutes.

    ***Palm Beach, Florida opened a new, 100,000 sq. ft. Cruise Terminal and Maritime Office Complex on February 11. The port hopes to draw more cruise traffic with completion of the new facility. Currently the only passenger ship sailing from the port is the Palm Beach Princess, a casino ship offering day cruises. Palm Beach is one of the busiest container ports in Florida.

    ***Carnival's 1,486-passenger Jubilee is heading for Galveston, August 19 to begin year-round cruises to the Western Caribbean. On its new route, the Jubilee will depart Galveston Thursdays on four-day sailings to Playa del Carmen/Cozumel and Mondays and Saturdays on five-day voyages to Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen. The Jubilee will join its sister ship Celebration which launched a similar four- and five-day schedule from Galveston in September 2000, the first year-round cruise program from that port. Fares for the new cruises start at $349 per person double occupancy.

    ***Viking Serenade will return to Los Angeles to resume three and four-night Mexico cruises from December 6, 2002 to March 31, 2003. Renamed Island Escape, the vessel will be sailing for Island Cruises, the joint venture between Royal Caribbean International and U.K. tour operator, First Choice. It was previously announced that the vessel would sail winters in the Caribbean, following summer Mediterranean cruises. Viking Serenade is currently enroute to Lisnave, Portugal for a $10 million refit beginning around February 25. The 16-day refit will add a coffee shop, Internet cafe and English pub as well as new carpeting and soft goods. Dress code will be casual on Island Escape, allowing bathing suits in a 24-hour buffet restaurant and shorts in the main dining room . The Mexico Cruises will go on sale in May.

    ***Regal Empress will host an unusual theme cruise - SpyCruise featuring spies, espionage and intrigue on the high seas. The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies in Alexandria, Virginia, is holding the event on board Regal Empress, March 10 to 17. Participants will hear daily lectures about spies and spycatching from intelligence experts formerly with the FBI, CIA and KGB along with well-known intelligence authors. The speakers' list includes Oleg Kalugin, a retired major general who was the head of KGB foreign counterintelligence; Ray Wannall, former chief of FBI counterintelligence; and the FBI's former top Chinese counterintelligence analyst, Paul Moore. Spy technology will be on display. SpyCruise sets sail March 10, 2002 from Port Manatee, Florida to the Western Caribbean.

    ***Holland America Line's University at Sea gives health care professionals a chance to combine professional development with a vacation at sea. A total of 35 professional University at Sea courses in 2002, the majority designed for physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and health care providers. They can select from 20 accredited courses including anesthesiology, gastroenterology, emergency medicine, family practice, pediatrics, pain management, dermatology and women's health. Eight other courses provide updates in dentistry, chiropractic, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. University at Sea courses are offered primarily on Holland America's seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises aboard the Maasdam, plus two 10-day Southern Caribbean/Panama Canal cruises on the Rotterdam. The seven-day cruises sail virtually year-round, and the 10-day cruises operate in February and October 2002. For the first time, Holland America will feature a University at Sea course on its seven-day Canada and New England cruise aboard the Rotterdam departing July 6. For more information phone University at Sea at 1-800-926-3775 or visit for a complete course schedule. Back to Top

    2-8-02 Weekend Cruise News ***The cruise industry is rebounding strongly from the aftermath of September 11 with many lines setting booking records in January. "The resurgence has been influenced by several factors, including the lines' repositioning of ships, new programs and enhancements, extensive marketing campaigns, early booking incentives, and current price levels combined with already exceptional value," says James G. Godsman, president of CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association. The New Year "Wave Period" is traditionally a barometer on how cruise line bookings will go for the year. Lines whose Wave Period bookings surpassed expectations included Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises.

    ***Windstar Cruises returns to Tahiti this May after a four and half year absence. An agreement between Windstar and the government of French Polynesia was signed January 17 clearing the way for Wind Song to offer sailings from Papeete to the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The 148-passenger sailing yacht was designed specifically for cruising among tropical islands and spent her first ten years from 1987 to 1997 sailing the South Pacific.

    The new Tahiti sailings replace Wind Song's previously announced summer cruises in Asia. Wind Song will now position from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, May 1, crossing the International Date Line and calling at Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Atiu in the Cook Islands. A special inaugural cruise sails for 10 days, round trip from Papeete, Tahiti, May 14 calling at Rangiroa, Arutua, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Moorea. Wind Song will then sail every Friday round trip from Papeete for seven nights calling at Raiatea, Huahine, Bora Bora, and Moorea, May 24 to December 13, 2002 with special Christmas and New Year sailings, December 20 and 27, 2002.

    ***Princess Cruises has finalized Alaska excursions from its newest property, the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge. This is the first time a cruise line has offered tours to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park area. Excursions from the new lodge include a variety of experiences from flightseeing over the park's mountains, river rafting and salmon fishing to hiking, dog sled rides and historic tours. The most spectacular tour is "Historic Kennicott and Wrangell-St. Elias Flight Adventure" Participants fly over the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park en route to the remote and historic towns of McCarthy and Kennicott. From the airstrip, a knowledgeable guide leads the tour of McCarthy and the once thriving copper mining town of Kennicott. For more details and photos see CruiseMates' Copper River Lodge article.

    ***Carnival is offering "Quit Smoking Caribbean Cruises" on board the smoke-free Paradise in 2002. Carnival has partnered with the American Lung Association of Connecticut (ALAC), and Manchester Community College to produce the unique event. During the cruises, participants attend a variety of on board smoking-cessation clinics and seminars conducted by the ALAC's trained experts who utilize positive behavior modification strategies to help smokers develop their own "quitting plan," adjust to recovery symptoms, manage stress through proven relaxation techniques and fight the urge to resume smoking. Prior to taking the cruise, participants must enroll in the Freedom From Smoking program and attend the first and second sessions in their geographic areas to lay the groundwork for quitting smoking. Sessions three and four, the sessions during which smokers actually quit, will be held during the seven-day Paradise cruise. The Quit Smoking cruises sail round trip from Miami Sept. 15, Oct. 13 and Dec. 1, 2002.

    ***Clipper Cruise Line is offering special golf cruises in Europe next summer including a visit to the British Open in Muirfield, Scotland. The luxury expedition vessel, Clipper Adventurer, is your floating hotel for the nine-night cruisetours. On the July 13 departure, tee off at Cruden Bay Golf Club, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Nairn Golf Club, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Kingsbarns Golf Links then enjoy the British Open at Muirfield before disembarking at Leith (Edinburgh). The Ireland Golf cruisetour June 27, journeys from Dublin, Ireland to Greenock, Scotland visiting a number of famous links in Ireland. The Scottish Golf cruisetour, July 5, 2002, sails from Glasgow to Edinburgh and visits famous Scottish links including St. Andrews.

    ***Windjammer Barefoot Cruises' sailing ship S.V. Legacy will be in the Bahamas this summer sailing four, five and eight-day cruises from May 24 to September 6, 2002. The eight-day sailing, round trip from Miami calls at Bimini, Gun Cay, Great Abaco, the Berry Islands, and Freeport. Passengers can take the trip in segments, sailing for four days from Miami to Nassau or five days from Nassau to Miami. The "Junior Jammer" program from June through August allows kids ages six through 12 to sail free when accompanied by two full-fare adults or for half fare when accompanied by one adult. There are special activities on board for children as part of the Junior Jammer program. The 294-foot sailing ship S.V. Legacy carries 122 passengers and a crew of 43.

    ***Construction of CostaFortuna, Costa Cruises' first 105,000-ton 2,720-passenger vessel is underway. The fore end section has arrived at the shipyard at the shipyard in Genoa. CostaFortuna will be the largest passenger vessel to fly the Italian flag. The vessel is scheduled to enter service in 2003 followed by sister ship CostaMagica in 2004. Other new ships for Costa include CostaEuropa, formerly HAL's Westerdam, in April this year and CostaMediterranea, an 86,000-ton 2,114-passenger sister ship to Costa Atlantica, scheduled to sail in the summer of 2003.

    ***Holland America Line has expanded its wedding program to include the European ports of Santorini, Greece; Florence, Rome and Naples, Italy; and Stockholm, Sweden. Holland America's wedding packages are tailored to individual needs. Couples may opt for a small ceremony and mini-reception or cruise along with family and friends for a larger celebration. European wedding packages start at $1,900, which includes wedding planning, officiant, romantic recorded music, custom wedding ceremony, wedding site, bride's bouquet and groom's boutonniere, bottle of champagne, 10-inch wedding cake, photography service, wedding photo album, keepsake certificate and 10 announcements. Additional services, such as live music, are available. European weddings may be arranged through The Wedding Experience, 1177 South America Way, Suite 200, Port of Miami, Miami Florida 33132-2017. Ph: 1-305-577-3358. Toll Free from the U.S. 1-877-580-3556; Toll Free from France, Spain, Netherlands and the United Kingdom; 800-558-03556; Toll Free from Italy 800-787-556.

    ***Seabourn has formed an alliance with renowned French champagne maker Heidsieck & Co. to feature Piper Heidsieck champagne on board the yachts Seabourn Legend, Pride and Spirit from June 1 this year. Heidsieck champagne is recognized as amongst the best in the world. Dating from 1780 it has been a favorite with British royalty and the Romanoff czars. Seabourn welcomes passengers aboard with a chilled bottle of champagne in their suite. Champagne is also poured for special occasions and at various times throughout each cruise.

    ***The World of ResidenSea sets sail February 19. This first resort community at sea will sail around the globe on continuous exotic voyages. In conjunction with tour company Abercrombie and Kent, passengers will have the opportunity to visit three premier world events while on their ResidenSea cruise. Participants will not only be spectators at these events. They will join in special activities and be treated as VIPs:

    • Attend the Cannes Film Festival - May 22-23, 2002 in conjunction with a nine-night voyage from Venice to Cannes. The cost is $1,025 per person per evening of the festival in addition to the cruise fare of $8,495.
    • Experience the Monaco Grand Prix - May 25-26, 2002 on a two-day program in conjunction with a 14-night cruise from Cannes to the French and Italian Riviera ports and the Isle of Capri. The Grand Prix package costs $5,400 per person.. A day of racing a Formula One car costs $2,200 per person. Cruise fare starts at $11,470.
    • Enjoy the British Open Golf Championship - July 18-21, 2002 on a four-day program of special events in Muirfield, Scotland, in conjunction with a seven-night cruise from Edinburgh to Copenhagen. The package cost is $4,850 per person while the cruise fare starts at $7,795. Legendary PGA golf pro Billy Casper will join travelers on this voyage.

    ***The luxury yacht Le Levant of Ponant Cruises will be sailing the Great Lakes in elegant style this summer. The streamlined 3,504-ton vessel carries 90 passengers and a crew of 50. Passengers sail between Toronto and Chicago on seven-night cruises that visit the five Great Lakes and call at the Welland Canal, with an excursion to Niagara autumns; Windsor, Ontario; Manitoulin Island; Saint Mary's River; Soo Lock; Mackinac Island and Sturgeon Bay. More information is available from Elegant Cruises and Tours at 800-683-6767.

    *** Ship buffs will be interested to learn that the Patriot, formerly the Nieuw Amsterdam, has been reacquired by Holland America Line following the bankruptcy of American Classic Voyages. The vessel's future is uncertain. It may be transferred to another cruise line in the Carnival Corporation group.

    ***Viking Serenade, currently on her final cruise for Royal Caribbean International, will arrive in Lisnave, Portugal for a $10 million refit around February 25. The 16-day refit will include drydocking for propeller and steel modifications and refurbishment of public rooms and cabins. Renamed Island Escape, the vessel will sail from Palma, Mallorca on March 26 on the first of a series of Western Mediterranean sailings for Island Cruises, a new joint venture between British tour operator First Choice and Royal Caribbean. First Choice specializes in fly-cruises packages from Britain. Back to Top

    2-1-02 Weekend Cruise News ***RCI's Viking Serenade sets sail on her final voyage for the company today. The cruise from Los Angeles to Aruba will take 13 days. Viking Serenade is to be renamed Island Escape for the new Island line, a joint venture between RCI and U.K. tour operator, First Choice. Summer cruises are to be in Europe with winters in the Caribbean.

    ***Princess has expanded the automatic gratuity program. A charge of $10 per person per day is now automatically applied to each passengers' shipboard account, whichever dining style is selected, traditional or the new flexible personal choice dining. Previously gratuities were only added if personal choice dining was selected. The amount covers the waiter, assistant waiter and cabin steward. Those wishing to adjust the amount can do so at the front desk. Passengers can also arrange to tip crew members in person if they prefer.

    ***Holland America Line ships will start introducing a new non-smoking policy in all dining areas tomorrow. As each vessel commenced a new cruise, there will no longer be smoking areas in the main dining rooms, alternative restaurants or lido dining areas.

    ***SeaDream II has arrived in Miami following a major refit, and will be displayed to the travel trade and special guests February 1-8. The former Sea Goddess II was purchased last August for the new SeaDream Yacht Club, ultra-luxury line. SeaDream I, currently sailing the Caribbean, will undergo the same refit in April.

    ***Star Princess set a record as the largest ship to transit the Suez Canal last Wednesday. The 109,000-ton vessel also called at the port of Suez for fuel. Star Princess, a sister to Grand and Golden Princess, was just hadned over to Princess last Friday. The ship is currently on its way to Singapore, where it will pick up its first passengers and begin its inaugural 26-day Pacific cruise to Los Angeles. Once in California the ship will begin sailing on its regular itinerary, a seven-day round-trip voyage to the Mexican Riviera. Star Princess will be the largest and most amenity-filled ship ever to be based on the West Coast. Summer will be spent in Alaska with sailings from Vancouver.

    ***Carnival Cruises is sailing from a record 18 Home Ports in North America in 2002. Carnival ships will sail from the Non-Traditional Cruise Ports of Mobile, Norfolk, Charleston, Philadelphia and Baltimore in addition to the line's usual home ports. An increased number of shorter cruises is also a feature of the year's itineraries. For a complete list of Carnival Cruises visit CruiseMates' Carnival Cruises Itineraries page.

    ***Britain's decision regarding the merger of P&O Princess and RCCL has been delayed until May 20. The delay is the second by Britain's regulatory board and it delays the merger which was originally expected to be complete by April, 2002, if approved by shareholders this month.

    ***Holland America's Amsterdam will sail a 108-day the company's 38th grand world cruise from Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 4, 2003. The cruise will visit 38 ports, repeating just eight ports from the 2002 world cruise. Sailing southward, the Amsterdam visits the Southern Caribbean, the Orinoco River, South America, Antarctica, Easter and Pitcairn islands, French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia. Turning north, Amsterdam sails on to China, South Korea and Japan, then across the Pacific to the Hawaiian Islands before the adventure ends in Los Angeles on April 22.

    ***Star Clippers has added an air special to the two-for-one promotion on Star Clipper form Barbados. The line is offering round-trip airfare from New York, Miami or Washington, D.C to Bridgetown, Barbados for $298 per person. Another two-for-one promotion has been announced on the Star Clipper sailings from St. Maarten, February 24 and March 10, 2002. The cruise will follow the Treasure Islands itinerary out of St. Maarten to Anguilla, Sandy Cay, Soper's Hole, Norman Island, Virgin Gorda, St. Kitts and St. Barts. Both cruises feature t Sunday evening departures, convenient for honeymooners. Star Clipper is a four-masted, 360 foot, luxury clipper ship which carries 170 passengers. For details and a brochure, see your professional travel agent or call 1-800-442-0551.

    ***Princess has extended the deadline for the Alaska "Double Early Booking Discount" offer to February 14. Discounted fares begin at $799 per person for a seven-day Alaska cruise and $1,499 for an 11-day cruisetour. Princess offers more than 50 land/sea options for 2002 in Alaska. The runaway best seller this year is the "Maximum McKinley" cruisetours which feature two and three-night stays at the two lodges in the Denali area, Mr. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge and Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. The tours include a rail journey on the Midnight Sun Express with its Ultra Dome rail cars. New for 2002 is the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the first time a cruise line has offered cruisetours to this area. Back to Top

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