News Archive - February 2005

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

2-25-05 Weekend Cruise News Princess Cruises will hold Oscar parties onboard most of its ships this Sunday. Princess started broadcasting the Academy Awards four years ago and has made the event an annual tradition. This year it features a walk down a red carpet and specialty cocktails and appetizers in designated lounges where passengers watch the show via satellite. Passenger film critics who pick the winners can win prizes awarded throughout the evening. For the first time aboard Caribbean Princess and Grand Princess the Academy Awards will be shown on their 300 square foot poolside screens.

*** Holland America Line's Zaandam and Prinsendam have been upgraded in accordance with the line's 'Signature of Excellence' program. Aboard Zaandam stateroom enhancements include Euro-Top mattresses, deluxe waffle and terry cloth bathrobes, flat-panel televisions, DVD players and complimentary fresh fruit bowls. New public rooms are the Culinary Arts Center, Explorations Cafe - powered by The New York Times, while the Greenhouse Spa has been expanded and youth facilities upgraded. Prinsendam received the Culinary Arts Center and in each stateroom flat panel TVs were added. This ship already operates a full Greenhouse Spa, Neptune Lounge for suite passengers and the Pinnacle Grill restaurant. Since Prinsendam's longer voyages do not attract families it will not receive youth facilities and due to space limitations, the 793-passenger vessel will not have the Explorations Cafe. Ryndam became the first ship to be converted for 'Signature of Excellence' last October. Rotterdam, Westerdam and Statendam are scheduled to be transformed by May this year with the rest of the fleet to be completed by fall 2006.

*** Carnival Pride will sail the 2nd Annual Mind and Body cruise on October 23-30, 2005. The cruise to the Mexican Riviera sails round-trip from Los Angeles (Long Beach). SHAPE and Men's Fitness magazines will host the event. Tai Chi, Kick Boxing, aerobics and yoga as well as all the usual programs offered by the spa and fitness center onboard. Workshops will be held on fitness, how to eat healthier, manage stress, feel good about your body and more.

*** Master chef Jacques Pepin will host a 14-night culinary cruise aboard Oceania Cruises' Insignia on August 25, 2005. The cruise from Lisbon to Venice will call at Seville, Barcelona, Provence, Monte Carlo, Portofino, Florence, Rome, Dubrovnik, Umbria and Venice. As the Executive Culinary Director for Oceania Cruises, Pepin designed the signature menus available in the four gourmet dining rooms onboard Insignia. Pepin will present culinary demonstrations, question and answer sessions and lead Epicurean Excursions ashore. Master Sommeliers and guest wine experts will also be onboard to lead wine tastings and teach the history of wine and the art of choosing and pairing wines. The sailing is currently offered with no air add-on and 2-for-1 cruise fares beginning at $3,499 per passenger.

*** Silversea has released details of its 2006 deployment. The line will visit 320 different ports in 100 countries on more than 145 itineraries. Inaugural calls will be made at 23 cities from Eden, Exmouth and Kangaroo Island, Australia to Zante, Greece and Isafjordur, Iceland. A highlight of Baltic sailings will be three-day stopovers in St. Petersburg, Russia. Silver Cloud will start the year in South America and the Caribbean, followed by cruises in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe before heading for Australia via Suez. Silver Wind starts the year exploring South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, the Seychelles and the Arabian Peninsula. From March to early November, the ship will offer 25 cruises throughout the Mediterranean followed by sailings in South America. Silver Shadow starts 2006 in Australia, New Zealand and the Far East then heads for Alaska sailing from San Francisco and Vancouver. The vessel then sails through Panama to end the year in the Caribbean. Silver Whisper starts the year in the Caribbean and Panama Canal. From May through October, the ship will sail in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, including several three-day stopovers in St. Petersburg. In the fall, Silver Whisper transits the Suez Canal and sets a course for the Far East, featuring calls in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Silversea's new Voyage Atlas, featuring complete day-by-day itineraries from spring 2005 through spring 2006, is scheduled to be published in mid-March.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line has introduced a new series of Seabourn's Personal Shopper shoreside services designed for those seeking the finest local designers, craftsmen and artists. Seabourn's Personal Shopper tours provide transportation by luxury private car and the services of a knowledgeable, English-speaking shopping specialist. They can be arranged as half-day or full-day events, and tailored to the interests and wishes of the shoppers. Full days include reservations for luncheon in a favorite local restaurant. The program is currently offered in Florence, Rome, Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo, in Athens, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Bangkok, Hong Kong and St. Petersburg, Russia with others cities planned. Prices range from $295 to $895, depending on the location and duration.

*** Royal Caribbean has opened a new pirate-themed water playground called the Splash Bash. Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company it features a "sunken" pirate ship, ground geysers, toppling water buckets and water archways. Would-be pirates can stage mock battles with four water cannons mounted on the climb-aboard ship and connected wharf, or follow the splash pad's painted-on treasure map trail. The Splash Bash features a special play area for kids ages 3 to 5 with a central pipe that sends water into three separate play areas with dams, water wheels and other fun activities designed for young children. Admission to the new water playground is $5 per person for a two-hour period.

*** Ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau, is scheduled to sail the Amazon, the Falklands and the Chilean Fjords aboard Seven Seas Mariner's 'Grand Circle South America' cruise in 2006. Cousteau, along with associates from his Ocean Futures Society, will share his broad knowledge of South America through onboard enrichment programs and a range of shore excursions. The 62-night sailing is available in four segments: Ft. Lauderdale to Manaus (with onboard overnight) 12 nights, January 10, 2006; Manaus to Buenos Aires (with shipboard overnight) 17 nights, January 22, 2006; Buenos Aires to Lima, 20 nights, February 8, 2006 (with shipboard overnight in Buenos Aires); and Lima to Ft. Lauderdale, 13 nights, February 28, 2006.

*** Peter Deilmann Cruises has organized several golf theme cruises on rivers in Europe and on ocean voyages by the Deutschland for 2005. River cruises feature golf in the Rhône-Saône, Provence and Normandy regions of France, the Rhine areas of France and Germany and the Danube region of Germany, Austria and Hungary. Sailings are aboard the river boats Princesse de Provence, Mozart, Heidelberg and the Cezanne. The golf cruises include pre- or post-hotel stays that offer additional opportunities to golf at nearby courses. Golf cruises are scheduled aboard Deutschland on three Atlantic and Mediterranean sailings. The Ireland Golf Cup 2005 cruise, 12 nights, August 3 features three courses in Ireland, one in Holland and France. The Atlantic Golf Cup, September 10-22, combines an 11-night sailing with play on five golf courses in France, Portugal and England. The fall Mediterranean Golf Cup, September 22, 15 nights, plays six courses at Madeira, Elba, Casablanca, Barcelona, the Côte d'Azur and Catania, Sicily. Back to Top

2-18-05 Weekend Cruise News *** NCL America has scheduled an overnight fund raising cruise aboard Pride of America prior to the vessel entering year-round service from Honolulu in July. Passengers sailing on July 22, 2005 will enjoy a full evening and morning onboard, a sail away cocktail party, live entertainment and a comedy show. All ticket revenue from the cruise will benefit three local charities. NCL America will donate the use of the ship and all food and beverage services and amenities for the cruise. Prices are per cabin and range from $300 for an Inside to $1,500 for a Deluxe Penthouse Suite. To book participants should contact the charity they would like to support: Child and Family Service - 808-543-8413; The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement - 808- 521-5011; or Kapi'olani Children's Miracle Network - 808-535-7157.

*** Work has begun on Pride of Hawaii, which joins the NCL America fleet in Hawaii by summer 2006. Han Lim, son of NCL Corporation Chairman K.T. Lim, ceremoniously laid the traditional "lucky penny" before the first of 67 keel blocks was lowered at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. It is said to bring the ship good luck if the penny is recovered once the keel is completed and the ship is floated out. Pride of Hawaii will be 93,000-tons and carry 2,400 passengers. Itineraries have yet to be announced.

*** Crystal Cruises has added 38 new shore excursions in Alaska bringing the total number to 125. The new active adventure excursions include kayaking, dog sledding, glacier trekking, mountain biking and flightseeing. Highlights are a rock climbing and rappelling adventure in Skagway; an extreme rainforest hike in Wrangell; a birding expedition in Sitka; and a wilderness kayaking excursion in Vancouver. Among the many wildlife encounters are reindeer feeding, octopus petting, whale watching and fishing expeditions. Soft adventure suitable for the whole family include cycling through a rain forest, gold panning and river rafting. Following two Alaska cruises from Vancouver, The 940-passenger Crystal Harmony will sail round-trip from San Francisco on 12-night Alaska cruises from May 30 to September 15, 2005. A complete listing of all 125 Alaska shore excursions may be found on the Crystal Cruises website at www.crystalcruises.com.

*** Holland America has two Big Band Cruises planned aboard Westerdam this year. The transatlantic crossings feature dancing to the sounds of the 1940's every night of the cruise. The April 27 crossing sails from Ft. Lauderdale to Rome for 15 nights, calling at HAL's private island in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay; Ponta Delgado, Azores; Cadiz and Barcelona, Spain; Monte Carlo; and Livorno (for Pisa/Florence), Italy. The October 22 crossing sails from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale for 15 nights, calling at Gibraltar, Cadiz, Casablanca, Madeira, St. Maarten and Half Moon Cay. Book by February 28 to take advantage of HAL's View and Verandah sale which offers an outside stateroom for the price of an inside or a verandah for the price of an outside.

*** Carnival's Ocean Players Club is sponsoring slot tournaments in 2005 with a guaranteed $25,000 prize pool. The tournaments are open to all passengers age 18 and over aboard three seven-night cruises - May 22 from Miami aboard Carnival Valor, Aug. 14 from New Orleans on Carnival Conquest, and Oct. 29 from Port Canaveral on Carnival Glory. These 110,000-ton ships have a 9,000-square-foot casino with more than 220 slot machines as well as blackjack, craps, roulette and poker. The entry fee for the tournament is $100 per person which includes a number of onboard amenities, including complimentary champagne and chocolates in their stateroom, as well as an invitation to attend a private cocktail reception and awards reception. Tournament entries are limited so it is advisable to enter prior to departure. First-place winners for each tournament receive $10,000 and a variety of other cash prizes totaling $15,000 will be awarded. The Ocean Players Club offers awards for playing slots to establishing credit lines and betting limits for high rollers. Players can earn points towards complimentary beverages, free gifts, discounts off onboard services, future cruise benefits and cash back rebates redeemable onboard future cruises. Membership in the Ocean Players Club is free. For more information visit www.oceanplayersclub.com. Fares for the Ocean Player Club Slot Tournaments cruises begin at $679 per person including the entry fee.

*** Silversea has announced the lineup of wine experts for this summer's Wine Series cruises in Europe. On each wine-themed cruise, participants sample great vintages and learn about the tradition and art of fine winemaking in special tastings and lectures conducted by wine professionals, vineyard owners and winemakers. On most voyages, there's a chance to explore wine regions on guided shore excursions, from the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, to rising-star winemaker Fattoria Villa Maionchi, located in Lucca, Tuscany, to the Giogantinu Cellars of Sardinia's Gallura region. Winemakers onboard this summer are:

  • Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros, Napa, California, Silver Shadow, Rome to Athens, 10 nights, May 25, 2005
  • Philip Di Belardino, Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate & Winery, Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy, Silver Wind, Rome to Palma de Mallorca, 10 nights, July 1, 2005
  • Rob and Diana Jensen, Testarossa Vineyards, Los Gatos, California, Silver Shadow, Rome to Monte Carlo, 7 nights, July 8, 2005
  • Kathleen Heitz Meyers, Heitz Cellars, Napa Valley, California, Silver Whisper, Stockholm to Copenhagen, 7 nights, July 16, 2005.
  • Francesco Russo, Capannelle Winery, Chianti, Tuscany, Italy, Silver Shadow, Venice to Barcelona, 7 nights, August 5, 2005

*** Alex Trebek, host of the television quiz show 'Jeopardy!' will sail aboard Seabourn Pride this summer as a part of the ship's 'Dress Circle' enrichment program. The 14-night "Baltic Treasures" cruise sails round trip from Tower Bridge in London on June 19, 2005 and calls at Warnemunde, Germany (for Berlin or Prague); Tallinn, Estonia; Stockholm, Sweden (including overnight onboard) and St. Petersburg, Russia, where the ship stays for three days. It will be the second Seabourn cruise for Trebek, who is also a well-known geography buff and hosts the National Geographic Society's annual Geography Bee. Included in the cruise is a complimentary 'Exclusively Seabourn' shoreside experience - a private reception and concert in the baroque Yusupov Palace.

*** Disney Magic will spend two days at Castaway Cay on some future sailings to give passengers more time to enjoy Disney's private island in the Bahamas. On November 19, 2005 and November 18, 2006 Magic will sail round-trip from Port Canaveral calling at Grand Cayman, Cozumel and at Castaway Cay on two separate days, early and late in the cruise. Magic will call at Costa Maya, Cozumel and spend two days back to back at Castaway Cay on the May 27, June 24, July 22, August 19, September 16, October 14, November 11, December 9, 2006 departures. A 10-night cruise is planned, round-trip from Port Canaveral on December 16, 2006 which will call at Key West, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Thomas/St. John and spend one day at Castaway Cay. Back to Top

2-14-05 Pride of America Leaves Dry Dock America Pride of America. Click for full size *** NCL America's Pride of America has left the dry dock at Lloyd Werft and is now alongside the outfitting pier at the German shipyard. The vessel sports the stars and stripes as her decorative hull art. Sea trials are scheduled from May 19 through May 22 and NCL America will take delivery on June 6, 2005. After a series of inaugural events and cruises in the U.K. and the U.S. mainland, Pride of America will sail to Honolulu where she will be based year round beginning July 23, 2005. She joins NCL America's first U.S.-flagged ship, Pride of Aloha, which began sailing seven-day round-trip Hawaii voyages last July.Back to Top

2-11-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Carnival Cruise Lines expects to carry a record 3.3 million passengers this year. In total, the line will operate more than 1,300 cruises aboard 20 ships departing from 18 different North American homeports during 2005. The new Carnival Liberty will sail the line's first Mediterranean cruises round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia) followed by a transatlantic crossing. In the last few years Carnival has revamped virtually every aspect of the cruise experience adding new dining options and shore excursions and expanding children's programming and spa facilities. Carnival President and CEO Bob Dickinson reports: "Carnival has a variety of exciting developments on tap for the coming year. Consumers are encouraged to book early to not only get the best price but also the itinerary and stateroom of their choice."

*** Cost Atlantica is the latest ship to receive a perfect score of 100 on in its semi-annual health inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The inspections, conducted by U.S. Environmental Health Officers, focus on a checklist of 48 areas of sanitation including the handling, preparation and storage of food; plumbing, spa and pool facilities; onboard water supply; and equipment maintenance and personnel. Each ship is given a score based on a scale of 1 to 100, with an 86 or above being a passing score.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is adding further enhancements to the suites aboard its fleet and introducing a new print-on-demand service of same-day newspapers. Passengers can now receive daily printed editions of USA Today, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Le Monde. Highlights of the suite enhancements include the addition of Bose Wave Music Systems radio/CD players to the top three categories of Seven Seas Voyager, Mariner and Navigator; DVD players will replace VCRs fleetwide and an extensive DVD movie library, already found on Seven Seas Voyager, will be established onboard Mariner and Navigator. Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner's Latitudes specialty restaurant now features a new "Indochine" menu with dishes from Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan while Seven Seas Navigator's Portofino restaurant is serving a new traditional Italian menu inspired by Chef Angelo Elia from the renowned Casa D'Angelo Ristorante in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

*** Royal Caribbean has added some new excursions in the Caribbean bringing the total number to more than 600. Royal Caribbean's Explorations! program now includes The Original Canopy Tour (Ocho Rios, Jamaica), a jungle canopy tour; St. Barths Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (St. Maarten), a Hydrocruiser ride to St. Barths, known as the playground of the rich and famous; Tikal Ruins by Air (Belize), a flightseeing trip and visit to the ancient Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala; Tabacon Hot Springs and Arenal Volcano (Costa Rica), a tour to the active volcano and the Tabacon Hot Springs Resort; Grenadines Flightseeing (St. Lucia), a flightseeing tour of St. Lucia and St. Vincent. Excursions are described in detail on the company's Web site www.royalcaribbean.com and can be booked online.

*** Crystal Cruises' Wine and Food Festival is in its 9th year. The Festival will operate on 15 cruises during 2005 in Europe, Mexico, Alaska, New England and world cruise segments. The lineup of Master Chefs for this year includes Gray Kunz of Cafe Gray (New York City), David & Michelle Myers of Sona (Los Angeles), Dominique Filoni of Bianca (Philadelphia) and Alfredo Russo, Owner/Chef of Dolce Stil Novo in Italy's Piedmont region who will be part of the program "Best Young Chefs of Italy". Canada's barbeque-grilling expert Ted Reader, host of the hit television show "King of the Q" and Sam Choy who specializes in the unique tastes of Hawaiian regional cuisine will also participate along with many Master Sommeliers and wine experts. During each cruise, a specially prepared four-course dinner will be prepared featuring each chef's signature dishes and utilizing the sailing region's ingredients. The meal will be matched with wine pairings by the guest wine expert. The menu, showcasing an appetizer; soup, salad or pasta; seafood/fish and meat entrees; and dessert, is offered to all passengers in the Crystal Dining Room. By day, the visiting chef will demonstrate cooking techniques, share recipes and tips, and participate in question and answer sessions.

*** MSC Cruises has added another baseball theme cruise aboard MSC Lirica, April 22, 2005. Sailing on the 10-night cruise will be pitchers Bob Feller, Vida Blue and Jack Billingham and outfielder Tommy Davis as well as other baseball legends. MSC's baseball cruises feature trivia games, pitching and hitting clinic, passenger pitching accuracy test, baseball player Q & A, autograph session, and talks with the players on hitting & defensive strategies. Sailing round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, MSC Lirica will call at San Juan, Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten and Nassau. MSC Opera is scheduled to sail baseball theme cruises on February 12, 26 and March 12, 2005.

*** Celebrity Cruises has joined with National Geographic to present photography lectures aboard three Infinity sailings. National Geographic photographers and photojournalists Daisann McLane, Pablo Corral and Michael Melford will be aboard Infinity's February 13, 27 and March 13 sailings respectively. Celebrity will also introduce a National Geographic channel on its in-stateroom TV system to present some of what National Geographic considers its best programming. Celebrity passengers will receive an exclusive subscription offer to National Geographic Traveler, as well as an opportunity to win a framed, limited edition National Geographic print. Celebrity's ConciergeClass and suite guests will receive a complimentary book from the onboard lecturers, and an invitation to a private autograph session. The photography lectures are part of the "Celebrity Discoveries" enrichment series which presents up to four lecturers on every cruise, on topics from world affairs and finance to art and music.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines' passengers can purchase a new instructional book on how to create towel animals. "Carnival Towel Creations" is filled with color photos and easy-to-follow instructions for making a variety of towel animals like those created each night by the line's stateroom stewards for passengers' enjoyment. The 88-page publication includes instructions for more than 40 different designs, from cats and dogs to dinosaurs, elephants and snails. The book sells for $12.95 and is available in the "Formalities" shops onboard or from the stateroom stewards.

*** Looking ahead to 2006, Holland America Line will debut the new Noordam, visit Libya for the first time, feature eight ships cruising Alaska, and Australia/New Zealand voyages aboard the Statendam. HAL's 13 ships will offer nearly 500 sailings to all seven continents from more than 25 home ports. Itineraries range from two to 108 days and feature many new ports, including Benghazi, Libya; Pearl Island, Panama; South Georgia Island in the sub-Antarctic islands; and Narvik, north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. The newest Vista-class ship, Noordam, debuts in February, 2006 offering 10- and 11-night, cruises round-trip from New York to the Caribbean.

*** Crystal Cruises and its employees have donated $82,626 to the American Red Cross for Tsunami relief. The funds were raised in January from shoreside and shipboard staff for the American Red Cross International Response Fund and matched by the company. The shipboard staff also elected to donate an addition $11,500 from its respective existing crew welfare funds. Including the Crystal Cruises donation, the NYK Group is estimating its donation efforts in excess of $1,000,000. Back to Top

2-4-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Cruise ships serving as floating hotels, entertainment and dining venues during the Super Bowl arrived in Jacksonville this week. Radisson Seven Seas Navigator was the first to sail into town on Wednesday morning. Holland America Line's Volendam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam and Carnival Miracle makeup the rest of the Super Bowl fleet. The ships are assisting with Jacksonville's shortage of hotel space by providing 3,600 staterooms during the event as well as restaurant and entertainment facilities. Also in town are Silver Wind, on a private charter, and the Nantucket Clipper which offered a special Super Bowl package following the cancellation of its private charter.

*** Princess Cruises has added 13 new tour options for the 2005 Alaska season, bringing the total number of shore excursions to 137. New excursions in Ketchikan include a Harley Davidson Motorcycle tour and a skills course set in the heart of the southeast Alaska rain forest. The 'Photo Safari by Land & Sea' is new in Juneau as well as a tour combining three of Juneau's premiere attractions - the Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest, Mendenhall Glacier and the Original Alaska Salmon. The 'Deluxe Klondike Experience & Rail Adventure' in Skagway, combines the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad with a virtual journey back in time at the Klondike Experience plus lunch at the Historic Skagway Inn. At Victoria, a new tour visits the Dominion Observatory for stargazing. All Alaska shore excursions are available for pre-reservation by logging onto the Cruise Personalizer at www.princess.com. Many excursions, notably flightseeing and dog sled excursions, do sell out so passengers are advised to book early.

*** Disney has plans to build a third ship. Walt Disney World President Al Weiss says the cruise line is waiting for a good exchange rate before placing an order for the vessel with a European ship yard. Disney currently operates the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic which sail from Port Canaveral. For the 50th anniversary of Disney Land in California, Disney Magic will sail a series of cruises from Los Angeles this summer. When the new ship joins the fleet, one of the three vessels will probably be based in Los Angeles.

*** Celebrity is converting "Notes", the music library on the Millennium-class ships, in-keeping with changes to the line's onboard programs. Aboard Constellation, the two-level area with panoramic views now houses a computer learning center and an area for the "Acupuncture at Sea Program" which is now available on every sailing. The music library space aboard Summit will be converted in time for the February 28 sailing with Infinity and Millennium following later this year. Passengers can listen to their favorite music by renting an iPod from the library for $10 per day. The iPods can be loaded with the listeners choice of music.

*** Radisson Seven Seas has two voyages to Antarctica planned for 2006 aboard the Explorer II. Operated in partnership with Abercrombie & Kent, the 12,500-ton luxury expedition vessel will sail round-trip from Ushuaia for 11 nights, January 16 and 27, 2006. The expedition visits the Falkland Islands, South Shetland Islands and Drake Passage (Cape Horn). Pre and Post cruise stays in Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina and tours to Iguazu Falls available. The expedition cruise fares start at $7,295 per person. Radisson is currently offering an early booking discount of $500 to $1,000, complimentary one-night pre-cruise stay in Santiago (Jan 15) or Buenos Aires (Jan. 26) and free economy class airfare, or, $1200 cruise only credit. Expedition participants also receive a complimentary backpack and parka.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines has launched the Presidential Wine Club, the first wine club developed exclusively for cruise passengers. Members will receive two bottles of select boutique wines each month and have access to an on-line wine information and communication resource. All wines featured in club mailings are tasted and approved by Bob Dickinson, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, a noted wine collector and connoisseur. Many of the wines come from small, boutique wineries located in the world's great wine regions of California, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina and Australia. Anyone with an interest in wine may join. The cost is $39.99 per month for two bottles, plus $9.99 shipping and handling. There is no contract and membership can be discontinued at any time without penalty. Dickinson says the club's mission is to educate people about the enjoyment and health benefits of wine. The club's Web site includes an interactive message boards for members to trade opinions about wine and a monthly "Ask Bob" column by the cruise line's president. There will be an annual Presidential Wine Club cruise featuring wine tastings, food pairings and sessions with wine makers and other wine experts. Members also qualify for discounts on special wine purchases and wine-related products and accessories sold through the Web site. To become a member of the Presidential Wine Club, visit the Web site at www.presidentialwineclub.com or call, toll-free, 1-888-292-2582.

*** The "Shine On Miami" fundraiser organized by Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International raised $1.9 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) and United Way of Miami-Dade. The three-day event, January 21 to 23 included fishing and golf tournaments capped by a gala evening aboard Celebrity's Summit. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity President & COO Jack Williams led the bidding at the live auction Saturday night. Items included dinner for 10 created by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, who will be joined by Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal ($40,000); Michael Bolton singing three songs in the winning bidder's home ($21,000); a consignment piece by contemporary artist Romero Britto ($21,000); an original Marc Chagall painting ($20,000), and a private tennis lesson and lunch with acclaimed tennis star Andre Agassi ($20,000). Summit's "Fortunes Casino" raised $39,500. Entertainers and sports stars participating in the weekend's activities, included football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti, actor John Byner, baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter, entertainer Bobby Dee, actress Bo Derek, Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler, hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert, Marlins third baseman Mike Lowell, baseball Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, PGA golfer Dave Stockton, Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, and songwriter Paul Williams. Back to Top

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