News Archive - February 2004

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

2-27-04 Weekend Cruise News Miracle *** The Carnival Miracle christening takes place today in Jacksonville, Florida with Army Private Jessica Lynch acting as godmother. Today's christening ceremonies are a first for Jacksonville. Last Monday afternoon, the Dames Point Bridge over the St. Johns River was closed for 15 minutes as thousands watched the new ship sail into port, clearing the bridge by only six feet. The 88,500-ton Carnival Miracle is the 20th ship in the Carnival fleet and the fourth Spirit-class vessel, sister ship to Carnival Spirit, Pride and Legend. She will operate three-, five- and six-day departures from Jacksonville through April 17, followed by a series of seven-day cruises from Baltimore and New York through the fall. The ship will then reposition to Tampa to launch year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises November 7, 2004, becoming that port's newest and largest cruise ship.

*** The Mississippi River reopened on Wednesday afternoon. The main channel to New Orleans had been closed since last Saturday following the sinking of a supply boat during which five crewmembers died. Grandeur of the Seas was able to depart New Orleans for a two-day cruise to nowhere Wednesday afternoon. The vessel had been unable to leave New Orleans this week due to the closure. While it meant passengers were in town for Mardi Gras, many local residents had booked the cruise to get away from New Orleans during the festivities which draw thousands to the city. Royal Caribbean is giving passengers a full refund and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

*** Radisson Seven Seas is offering a wide variety of Spotlight theme cruises in 2004. Topics covered include wine, food, chocolate, music, history, well-being and antiques. Notable experts from the TV series, Antiques Roadshow will be aboard for the "Spotlight on Antiques" cruises. Seven Seas Mariner's film festival features film screenings, guest musicians who performed in classic films, singers presenting great themes from the movies and a series of wine tastings called "Pinot and Film Noir," a celebration of actor and wine lover Fred MacMurray. This takes place on the Tokyo to Los Angeles voyage, 15 nights, October 18, 2004. Observe the transit of Venus on Radisson Diamond's seven-night sailing June 7 from Istanbul to Athens. Robert Naeye, Editor of Mercury Magazine will be one of the many experts on board for the "Spotlight on The Stars cruise". For a complete list of theme cruises by cruise line see CruiseMates' Theme Cruises page and see your travel agent for a Spotlight Cruises brochure.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the winners of the 2003 "Junior Star Seeker" passenger talent competition. Olivia Mann, a 9 year old, from Thornhill, Ontario and Stephanie O'Neil, a 14 year old, from Brooklyn, New York will receive a complimentary NCL and during which they will perform their winning routine as a featured entertainer in a variety show. Olivia performed her winning dance routine aboard Norwegian Star's August 17th sailing. Mann is a member of the 2003 Toronto Raptors Mini Dance Pak and trains at The Dance Zone, Inc. cruised on August 2nd on Norwegian Dawn where she performed her winning song, "I Will Always Love you." O'Neil has performed in talent shows and plays in neighboring schools, among being the weekly soloist during services at her church. NCL's Junior Star Seeker program is offered as part of NCL's Kids' Crew program. Junior Star Seeker contestants perform a three-minute routine showcasing their talent before a panel of judges consisting of the ship's hotel and cruise directors, plus a musician and a guest performer from the ship's entertainment staff. The judges select the winners based on each performer's entertainment value and the audience's reaction. First-round winners, such as Olivia Mann and Stephanie O'Neil, receive a complimentary NCL cruise The Summer 2004 Junior Star Seeker program begins in June, runs through August and will be offered on every NCL ship. The program will feature more of the same great talent in three separate categories: voice, dance and instrumental. One winner for each category will be selected for the grand prize of a family cruise, up to four members, and a spot on the ship's variety show to perform their winning routine.

*** NCL America will offer direct flights between Chicago and Honolulu for Norwegian Wind and Pride of Aloha passengers sailing seven and 10-night Hawaiian Island cruises. The flights aboard United Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft commence June 3 with a 10:15am departure from Chicago. The return flight departs Honolulu at 4:25pm.

*** Crystal Cruises is offering 91 shore excursion in Alaska this year including glacier trekking, ice climbing, river rafting, fly fishing, whale watching and dog sledding. A new overnight excursion to a Base Camp of Mendenhall Glacier combines helicopter and airplane flightseeing with trans-glacial hiking using the latest mountaineering gear. Accommodation at the camp is in private sleeping tents. The 50,000-ton, 940-passenger Crystal Harmony sails 12-night cruises round-trip from San Francisco to the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay or Hubbard Glacier and the ports of Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Vancouver, Victoria, and either Skagway or Haines. Children under 12 can sail free on all Alaska cruises when sharing the same stateroom with two adults. A children's activity program operates on board including the Cotillion program which teaches social skills. Fares on Alaska sailings are being offered at 50% off published fares for staterooms and 40% off verandah accommodation.

*** Passengers on Seven Seas Navigator's New York-Bermuda sailings receive free economy airfare from 84 North American gateways, a complimentary two-night pre-cruise stay at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria and a ticket to a choice of Broadway musicals. From May to September, the seven-night cruises depart Wednesdays from New York calling at Hamilton and St. George, Bermuda and Norfolk, Virginia. (The cruises can be taken round-trip from Norfolk on Tuesdays.) For families sailing aboard Navigator, a program of counselor-supervised activities for kids six to 11 and 12 to 17 is offered, focusing on Bermuda's culture, heritage and crafts and a children's menu will be served in the Compass Rose dining room.

*** The expedition ship Hanseatic made an emergency call at the Falkland Islands for fuel on Friday February 20. During the surprise call the ship's musicians gave a classical concert at Christ Church Cathedral in Port Stanley which featured baritone and organ works by Gluck, Handel, Liszt, Gounod and Schubert.

*** Oscar presenters at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremonies will be given a free cruise aboard SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream I or SeaDream II in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. The cruise is part of a gift basket worth around $100,000. which each presenter receives for participating in the event. Back to Top

2-26-04 Barbados exempts cruisers from passport rule Starting March 1, Barbados will require all foreign visitors to the island to have a passport, but there has been some confusion about whether this new requirement will apply to cruise visitors. A spokeswoman for Barbados said that cruise passengers will not need a passport if they are just getting off the ship for a shore tour or day visit. If their cruise ends in Barbados, though, they will need a passport to fly out from Grantley International Airport, she added. Back to Top

2-26-04 Diamond Princess Christened Diamond click for full size pic Diamond Princess was christened in Nagasaki, Japan today in a colorful ceremony which featured traditional Japanese festivities and touches designed to bring the ship good fortune. A taiko drum performance, traditional dragon dance, Shinto-style blessing and fireworks display were included in the ceremonies which were attended by hundreds of guests from Japan and other Asian regions. Godmother was Yoshiko Tsukuda, wife of Kazuo Tsukuda, president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries which built the Diamond Princess at its Nagasaki shipyard. A ceremonial hatchet was used to cut a line, propelling the champagne bottle against the hull of the ship.

Diamond Princess is the first ship to be built in Japan for Princess and this week Princess Cruises' officials have had strong praise for the craftsmanship and finish of their newest vessel. It has been described as the best delivery they have seen for the first ship in a new series. The 116,000-ton, 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess launches a new ship design for Princess and makes history as the first large cruise ship built in Japan in more than a decade. The vessel incorporates Princess' design philosophy, including an abundance of balcony cabins, flexibility in dining and entertainment options and a variety of intimate spaces giving the ship the feel of a much smaller vessel. Personal choice dining is offered in four themed dining rooms with traditional early and late seatings available in the main dining room. Diamond Princess also features alternate dining in Sabatini's trattoria, a new Princess Concierge Service, the fleet's largest Internet Cafe, and the debut of Club Fusion, a new high-tech dance lounge. Diamond Princess begins Mexican Riviera sailings from Los Angeles on March 13 and repositions to Seattle in May for the Alaska season. Sister ship Sapphire Princess will enter service in Seattle in June. Click here for more photos of the Diamond Princess christening. Back to Top

2-23-04 New Orleans cruise schedules disrupted Thousands of cruise passengers heading into or out of New Orleans had their trips disrupted after an accident Saturday (February 21) between a container ship and a smaller supply vessel. The smaller vessel sank, and officials shut down the main channel of the Mississippi River below New Orleans while they conducted a search for survivors. New Orleans newspapers said the channel could stay closed until Wednesday (February 25).

Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas was stuck in port at New Orleans; it had been scheduled to depart Saturday night on a seven-day cruise to the western Caribbean. Ships due to arrive in New Orleans were making alternate arrangements. The Norwegian Dream had to dock at an industrial facility outside of town, while the Carnival Conquest used Gulfport, Miss. instead. Passengers from both ships were taken to New Orleans in buses. On Monday (February 23), Carnival's Holiday is expected to dock in Mobile, Ala., instead of New Orleans, and RCI's Rhapsody of the Seas is due to call in Gulfport as an alternative. Back to Top

2-20-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Pride of America has been refloated and moved to dry dock for inspection. There is no damage to the hull of the vessel. NCL is assessing the water damage to the three lower decks which were submerged for nearly a month following a winter storm, January 14. Work on the ship was near completion as it was to be delivered this spring. The engines were in place and cabins had been furnished. NCL reports the vessel was well insured. The company which raised the ship, SMIT Salvage, has undertaken many difficult projects in the past including raising the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk from the floor of the Barents Sea.

*** Carnival Miracle is scheduled to arrive in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday afternoon following a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Helsinki. Carnival's 20th ship will be named by former Army private Jessica Lynch during ceremonies on February 27, 2004. The new 88,500-ton 2,124-passenger Spirit-class vessel features on board decor inspired by works of myth and fiction. Italian artist Augusto Vignali has created 18 original paintings of fictional characters including the Phantom of the Opera, Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe and Captain Ahab. Three bronze statues of the mythical figures Orpheus, Ulysses and Sirensa adorn the Lido pool deck. These six-foot-high statues were created by Italian sculptor Katia Tasselli. Throughout the Carnival Miracle's stair landings will be 60 Bohemian crystal pieces by Czech glass artist Borek Sipek, along with 27 original murals on the ship's stair landings by artists Andrea Tana, Calman Shemi and Devita Writer.

*** Clipper Cruise Line is offering three different voyages aboard the 122-passenger Clipper Adventurer honoring the 60th Anniversary of D-Day this year. Cruising Europe's Atlantic coast from Bordeaux to Calais, and the shores of England, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, passengers will visit the historic battlefields of Normandy, and explore the classic seaside villages, cities, landmarks, and beaches made famous by the events surrounding June 6, 1944. "Liberating Europe - 60th Anniversary" is a 12-day cruisetour showcasing the lasting memorials from the D-Day landings along France's Normandy coastline. Highlights include the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach; Utah Beach, including the Airborne museum in Sainte-Mère Eglise; the Musee de Debarquement in Arromanches; the Patton Monument outside Avranches; Portsmouth's D-Day Museum; a tour of the "Operation Dynamo" museum in Dunkirk; and a tour of the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms and Imperial War Museum, as well as England's Royal Air Force Museum in London. The May 23 and May 30 cruisetour departures include a full day in Honfleur and Caen where the main commemorative services will take place June 6. A third departure is scheduled for June 6, 2004. The "Classic Medieval Seaports of Western Europe" visits France's Atlantic coastline, departing May 16, 2004 for 11 days. "Exploring French Normandy and the Shores of Ireland" includes two nights in Paris and visits the historic Normandy coastline and the islands of the Celtic Sea, departing June 11, 2004 for 15 days.

*** Glacier Bay Cruiseline has new owners and a new direction as it offers the first multi-sport adventure cruise on the Columbia River. The "sport utility vessel" Wilderness Discoverer is a 169 ft. vessel which carries 87 passengers and an all-American crew. It also carries a fleet of kayaks and a special kayak launch platform as well as shore landing craft (similar to zodiacs). The seven-night cruises feature kayaking and hiking, optional mountain biking and whitewater rafting plus an included jet boat ride into Hells Canyon. The new cruises operate round trip from Portland, Oregon and navigate eight locks and dams along the route. Kayaking excursions in scenic places along the Columbia and Snake Rivers include Miller Island, the Lewis & Clark Wildlife Refuge and the Blalock Islands, home to thousands of migrating birds. Cruises depart between April and May or September and October with rates starting at $1,200 per person, based on double occupancy. Book a Columbia River cruise departing in April or May and receive a $250 gift certificate to Seattle-based Recreational Equipment, Inc.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is offering free air on cruises in Europe and Tahiti. In Europe, on 21 Radisson Diamond and two Seven Seas Voyager cruises between May and October, the "What a Fare Deal" gives passengers a choice of either free roundtrip economy air from any of 84 North American gateways, or $1,000 savings on the cruise fare. In Tahiti, dates for free roundtrip economy airfare from 84 North American gateway cities have been extended to include Paul Gauguin's April 3, 10, 17, and May 8 and 29 sailings.

*** Windstar Cruises' Romance Under Sail program has its own web site. The line offers a variety of customized honeymoons and weddings, renewal of vows packages and romantic shore excursions for passengers aboard the sailing ships Wind Surf, Wind Spirit and Wind Star. A selection of excursions specifically designed for couples includes an overnight interlude in an over-water bungalow at one of Bora Bora's resorts; Parasailing in Moorea; a Gondola Serenade at Night in Venice; a day in Kythira, the 'island of love' and Eros and Ahprodite; a Passion Catamaran sail in the Grenadines. Through the wedding program nuptials can be arranged at sea or on shore during more than 140 itineraries in the Caribbean, Tahiti and Europe. A personal Wedding Planner is available to assist with arrangements in advance and on site. The Romance Registry is a wedding registry containing a selection of vintage wines and champagnes, rejuvenating spa treatments and shore excursions for couples to enjoy during the honeymoon cruise. Weddings are arranged through The Wedding Experience by calling 877-580-3556 or visiting www.theweddingexperience.com.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line is adding Rosenthal porcelain and Frette linens as new Signature Delights aboard its yachts Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit. All 277-square foot ocean-view suites will receive sheets, pillowcases and duvets from Frette, the 140-year old Italian purveyor of fine quality linens. The new Rosenthal is a mix of two contemporary patterns - Epoque and Loft - and will be used in the indoor/outdoor Veranda Cafe. Other Signature Delights aboard the Seabourn yachts include document portfolios and luggage tags by Tumi, Heidsieck French champagne, Bose Wave audio systems, Molton Brown beauty and well being products and designer soaps by Chanel, Bijan, Hermès and Bronnley. In addition, the line features signature cuisine designed by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer.

*** The results are in from Princess Cruises' "Caribbean Princess Valentine's Day Survey". Valentine's Day is of special significance to the line because of its Love Boat connection - the TV series was filmed mainly aboard the old Pacific Princess and Princess ships were referred to as Love Boats in subsequent years. The national survey revealed women prefer jewelry as a Valentine's Day gift followed by flowers and Candy/Chocolate. The top three choices for men were candy/chocolate, time together/love and a card/note/letter. Time together/love ranked back in fifth place for women and second place for men prompting Princess to pose the question "are men more sentimental than we think?" As previously reported, Caribbean Princess sets sail April 3 following christening ceremonies in Ft. Lauderdale April 2. Jill Whelan, the actress who played Vickie on the Love Boat TV series will christen the ship before getting married on board. Back to Top

2-19-04 RCI cancels Labadee port calls Growing civil unrest in Haiti has prompted Royal Caribbean International to cancel port calls at its private beach port of Labadee for the next two weeks. The decision will affect six cruises of RCI vessels during that period. The company said that even though Labadee is in an "isolated area" on Haiti's north coast, and is "far removed from the recent unrest," it decided that canceling its port calls there would be "the most prudent course of action." Back to Top

2-13-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Carnival Cruise Lines took delivery of Carnival Miracle last Monday. The traditional handover ceremonies took place in Helsinki, Finland at Kvaerner Masa-Yards where the $375 million vessel was constructed. The 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle is the 20th ship in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet and the fourth Spirit-class vessel, sister ship to Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride and Carnival Legend. Following a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Helsinki to Jacksonville, Florida, Carnival Miracle will be named by former Army private Jessica Lynch during ceremonies on February 27, 2004. The inaugural cruise is a three-day voyage from Jacksonville, marking the first time that Carnival has ever operated from this Northeast Florida port. Carnival Miracle will operate three-, five- and six-day departures from Jacksonville through April 17, followed by a series of seven-day cruises from Baltimore and New York through the fall. The ship will then reposition to Tampa to launch year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises November 7, 2004, becoming that port's newest and largest cruise ship.

The design of the sixteen lounges and bars aboard Carnival Miracle is inspired by famous characters from film, literature, theater and song. Public areas on board include a 14,500-square-foot health club, indoor and outdoor promenades, children's play room, wedding chapel, Internet cafe, and a duty-free shopping mall. Dining options include a two-level main dining room, a poolside restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets and a 24-hour pizzeria, an upscale reservations-only supper club, a patisserie, and complimentary 24-hour stateroom service. Of the ship's 1,062 staterooms, 80 percent offer an ocean view with 80 percent of those featuring private balconies.

*** CostaVictoria is back in service following a lengthy dry dock during which 246 balconies were added. This means 43% of Victoria's outside staterooms now have balconies. The ship's buffet area was also expanded and two panorama promenades, each about 459 feet in length were added. The newly-renovated ship emerged from dry dock last week and will sail back to Savona where she is scheduled to depart for Egypt/Greece/Turkey on February 14, 2004.CostaAtlantica, CostaEuropa, CostaRomantica and CostaTropicale have also undergone renovations and routine maintenance work since last November.

*** Crystal Cruises has cancelled Crystal Symphony's April 12 transatlantic crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to Lisbon as more time will be needed for the extensive renovations planned during drydock in Europe. Symphony will need to start the drydock sooner than expected in order for the work to be completed in time for European sailings. The major changes are similar to those made to Crystal Harmony last October. The spa will be completely redesigned, a vintage room added, all penthouses refurbished and the University at Sea computer center expanded. Passengers booked aboard the transatlantic crossing are being given the option to either switch to Crystal Serenity's May 5 crossing at a reduced rate, book any other 2004 cruise at a $1,000 per person reduction or receive a full refund.

*** Celebrity Cruises' new ship Xpedition, sets sail June 11 in the Galapagos Islands. Passengers on the 10-night cruisetours fly to Quito, Ecuador for a two night stay before flying on to the Galapagos where they join the ship: Day 1 fly to Quito, Ecuador for a two-night stay including a full day tour of the city. Day 3, fly to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands, board the ship and sail to North Seymour, Espanola, Santa Cruz (Darwin Station and Cerro Dragon), Bartolome, Isabela, Fernandina, Rabida, Santiago and Santa Maria. Day 10 disembark in Baltra, fly to Quito; Day 11, fly home.

Shipboard dress is casual with smart casual recommended for the Captain's dinner, held once during each cruise. Included in the fare are gratuities to shipboard staff and beverages including house wine, champagne, liquor, beer and soda. The 98-passenger Xpedition has a crew of 50 to 60 and is registered in Ecuador. The 2,329-ton ship is 296 feet in length, 43 feet at beam and cruises at 17 knots.

*** Princess is getting ready to welcome three new ships to its fleet: Caribbean Princess sets sail April 3 following christening ceremonies in Ft. Lauderdale April 2. Jill Whelan, the actress who played Vickie on the Love Boat TV series will be married aboard the ship and act as godmother, wearing her wedding gown. Diamond Princess, the first Japanese-built vessel for Princess, will be christened in Nagasaki, February 26 while sister ship Sapphire Princess' naming ceremonies take place in Seattle on June 11.

*** Windstar Cruises has made special arrangements for passengers on the May 16 Wind Surf cruise to watch the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. Windstar has reserved Le Benoit Restaurant, located next door to the Hermitage Hotel which has an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of the race's start and finish lines, as well as the harbor and the Royal Palace. In an exclusive party for Windstar passengers, the restaurant will be the venue for a buffet lunch with a dessert and cheese buffet. Specialty wines will be poured throughout the afternoon, concluding with a champagne toast to the winner of the race. The event is limited to 120 passengers at a price of US$890/person. Wind Surf sails round-trip from Nice, France on May 16 calling for two days in Cannes at the height of the film festival and three days in Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix. Other ports of call on the eight-night cruise are St. Florent, Corsica and Portofino, Italy. Fares for the voyage start at begin at US$2,595 per person, double occupancy.

*** Clipper Cruise Line is offering an expedition to the North Pole aboard the Russian, nuclear-powered ice-breaker Yamal next August. The 19-day Bridge to the North Pole, departs August 17, 2004. Following an overnight at the Anchorage Hilton hotel, participants fly to Pevek in the Russian Arctic, for a 16-night voyage to the North Pole, ending in Murmansk. A special reception at the North Pole will be held with a champagne toast and stroll around the world. Those brave enough can take a plunge into the Arctic Ocean. The expedition will be led by explorer Dr. Don Walsh and a team of Polar experts. The 23,445-ton, 100-passenger Yamal was built in 1992. She features all-outside cabins with large windows and private bathrooms, a theater-style auditorium, two lounges, a library, a gymnasium, and a heated indoor swimming pool. Meals are prepared by European trained chefs. A fleet of zodiac landing craft and a reconnaissance helicopter are used for excursions from the vessel. The rates for the expedition begin at $22,280 per person, double occupancy and include the hotel stay in Anchorage and air from Anchorage to Pevek and Murmansk to New York, all sightseeing and shore excursions, including helicopter and Zodiac landing craft expeditions, and an official trip parka.

*** Celebrity Cruises' first annual "Shine Miami" fundraiser raised more than $1 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. During the two-day event, January 30 and 31, more than 500 sponsors, donors and volunteers participated in the festivities at the Coca-Cola Company Gala and Auction Celebration held at the InterContinental Miami Hotel. Chef Emeril Lagasse made an appearance and designed a special appetizer for the evening. Entertainment included live comedy, magic, music, and live and silent auctions.

*** NCL expects the Pride of America to be raised soon, then enter dry dock for a complete assessment of her condition. Meanwhile, parent company Star Cruises has announced the sale of SuperStar Aries to the Spanish operator, Pullmantur. Aries sailed originally as Hapag-Lloyd's Europa built in 1982. The Sale is in line with Star's plan to rejuvenate its Asian fleet, replacing aging vessels with mid-size NCL ships. Last month Star sold SuperStar Capricorn, built in 1973 as the Royal Viking Sky, to Iberojet of Spain.

*** First European/Festival Cruises is continuing to develop a new operating and financial plan following financial difficulties last monthe which led to the arrest of its vessels. The new plan concentrates on the line's latest ships, Mistral, European Vision and European Stars, all built in the last five years. The Flamenco (ex StarShip Majestic, Sun Princess, Spirit of London built in 1972) has been sold while Azur(1971) and Bolero (ex Starward 1968) are up for sale. The Caribe, which sails in the Caribbean, will be the remaining older vessel. (Caribe was originally built in 1948 and rebuilt as a cruise ship in 1994 sailing as the Italia Prima and Valtur Prima.) Back to Top

2-6-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Empress of the Seas will be the new name for Nordic Empress when she begins Bermuda cruises this May. Nordic Empress will undergo major revitalization prior to the 2004 Bermuda season, emerging in May as the Empress of the Seas. Major changes on board include the addition of the Italian specialty restaurant, Portofino; and a combined coffee bar and ice cream scoop shop called Latte'tudes, featuring Seattle's Best Coffee and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The expanded spa and gym complex will be on two levels with the fitness center at the top of the ship overlooking the Viking Crown Lounge. The High Society Lounge will be converted into a Latin themed bar, Boleros, while the Carousel Bar becomes the nautical-themed Schooner Bar, found on board all ships in the RCI fleet. A new card room will be added off the Centrum and the casino will move to Deck 6. New carpet, upholstery and decor will be found in public areas throughout the ship. All staterooms will receive new and upgraded bathrooms. More storage will be added to cabins accommodating third and fourth passengers. Owners' Suites will be completely redesigned and refurnished.

The name change brings the ship in line with the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet which began being named "of the Seas" in 1988 when Sovereign of the Seas entered service. Sovereign was the first "mega ship" to be built and was named after the tall ship built in 1637 by Charles I of England; the largest and most powerful ship of its day. The original Sovereign was renowned for its size and opulent beauty as was the new Sovereign of the Seas when she debuted. A model of the original 1,500-ton tall ship is housed aboard the 73,192-ton Sovereign of the Seas.

*** As security regulations continue to increase and change around the world, traveling with a passport becomes increasingly important. Barbados is the latest country to require a passport for the identification of visitors, although cruise passengers are exempt from the ruling. Changes in regulations are not always announced publicly so be sure to check regulations for each of your cruise ports well ahead of leaving home and confirm you have the correct paperwork to allow you to board your ship.

*** Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation has released a report stating that wastewater treatment systems installed aboard cruise ships in recent years have dramatically improved the quality of wastewater. Recent samples showed no hazardous materials and only minute amounts of copper, nickel, zinc and ammonia. There is still concern about wastewater dumped from smaller cruise ships and the Alaska Marine Highway ferries however, these vessels have until March 2004 to comply with wastewater standards which the large cruise ships have been following since 2001. Juneau Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula who was instrumental in creating the 2001 cruise ship legislation applauded the cruise industry and the DEC for their role in reducing marine pollution. "We're not 100 percent, but ... every other place in the world would love to have these standards" she remarked.

*** Star Clippers has secured a limited number of tickets for the Monte Carlo Formula 1 Grand Prix in conjunction with the May 22 cruise aboard the sailing ship Star Clipper. The tickets are for reserved seats in the Grandstand area near the swimming pool along the harbor and standing tickets on the Rock overlooking the Hairpin Turn near the Palais du Prince. Tickets cost 250 Euros for the reserved seats and 50 Euros at the Rock plus a small handling charge. Star Clipper sails from Cannes May 22 and calls at Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix on Sunday May 23. Other ports of call on the seven night cruise are L'lle Rousse/St. Florent, Corsica; Bastia, Corsica; Elba and two days in Portovenere, Italy.

*** Crystal Cruises has announced the chefs and wine experts who will be aboard Crystal Harmony, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity for the line's 16 Food and Wine Festival cruises in 2004. Special guests include Master Chef Anton Mosimann of London's Chateau Mosimann-Private Dining Club; alumni of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs - Campanile's Nancy Silverton, Popina's Randy Lewis, The Village Pub's Mark Sullivan; and chefs from The Leading Hotels of the World - One Aldwych Hotel's Mark Gregory, Orchid Restaurant's Darryl Fujita, and Andrea Manzoni of Florence's Hotel Regency; Master of Wine John Clevely, former managing director of Veuve Cliquot/U.K.; David Stevens, first president of the Masters of Wine Institute; Andrea Fulton, winery sommelier at Justin Winery in Paso Robles, CA; and, Robin Kelly O'Conner, U.S. Liaison for the Bordeaux Wine Bureau. Among the returning celebrities are Andre Soltner, former owner/chef of New York's Lutèce; Hawaiian star chef Sam Choy, chef/owner of Diamond Head restaurant and author Leslie Sbrocco, wine journalist for New York Times Online and the San Francisco Chronicle.

*** Players, coaches and executives from the Florida Marlins baseball team will be on board Carnival's Imagination for a four-night cruise departing November 4, 2004. The "Florida Marlins Championship Cruise" celebrates the team's 2003 World Series victory. Highlights of the cruise will be player autograph and photo sessions, a Q&A session, appearances by mascot, Billy The Marlin and various youth baseball-themed events. An auction of baseball memorabilia will benefit various charities. Ports of call on the itinerary are Key West and Cozumel.

*** Silversea Cruises has released its globetrotting lineup for 2005. All four of the ultra-luxury line's ships will sail in Europe for the summer of 2005. Silversea returns to Africa next year featuring a number of cruises aboard Silver Wind out of Cape Town:

  • Silver Cloud begins the year in Australia and New Zealand followed by sailings in Asia. She positions to Europe for the summer, sailing in both the Mediterranean and Baltic, and ends the year in South America.
  • Silver Wind begins the year in South America then sails from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town for several Southern Africa cruises before heading for the Mediterranean for the summer and fall. She returns to South Africa via Suez and the Indian Ocean ending the year on a cruise from Cape Town.
  • Silver Shadow starts the year in the Mexican Riviera followed by cruises in South America. Summer and fall are spent in the Mediterranean. She positions via Suez and Singapore to end the year in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Silver Whisper begins the year in the Caribbean sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Barbados, San Juan and Antigua. She positions from Barbados to Lisbon in April and sails several Mediterranean cruises before heading north for the summer to sail Baltic and Norwergian Fjords cruises. Following a North Atlantic crossing, Shadow visits Canada and New England then ends the year in the Caribbean sailing from Ft. Lauderdale, Barbados and Curacao.

*** New York City and Mobile Alabama are planning new cruise facilities. Mobile's City Council has approved a contract for a $20 million terminal to be built as part of the waterfront development. The new facility will be situated at Mobile Landing, south of a planned Maritime Center which will include a visitors center, museum and a docking point for Mobile Bay ferries. Carnival's Holiday will sail from Mobile on cruises to Mexico starting October 16, 2004. Mobile hopes to attract other cruise ships to its port in the near future. New York's Economic Development Corporation wants to improve cruise facilities in the city. The plan was announced at a city council hearing this week. The $250 million project calls for three berths for large ships in Manhattan and two berths in Brooklyn.

*** Royal Olympia's Olympia Countess has been sold to Maximus Navigation Ltd. of Greece for US$9.7 million. The vessel had been under arrest since January 8 in Durban where she was sailing under charter to Starlight Cruises of South Africa. She is to serve as a hotel during the Athens Olympics in August and may cruise for her new owners in the Eastern Mediterranean. The 17,593-ton Olympia Countess was built in 1976 as the Cunard Countess. Back to Top

2-5-04 Majesty of the Seas Galley Fire A small fire broke out at 4:47am this morning in the Windjammer Cafe aboard RCI's Majesty of the Seas. The fire, caused by a deep fat fryer, burned for 21 minutes causing minor damage. No passengers or crew members were injured and the ship is sailing safely. Passengers were moved to their muster stations for 24 minutes during the incident as a precaution. The 2,376 passengers and 829 crew members were on a four-night cruise to Key West and the Bahamas. The Windjammer Cafe has been closed for the remainder of the cruise and casual dining is being offered in other areas of the ship. Majesty returns to Miami tomorrow. Back to Top

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