News Archive - February 2011

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2-24-11 Rock Boat XII Scheduled Sixthman - the music cruise production company is announcing Rock Boat XII will sail March 1-5, 2012, on Carnival Ecstasy from New Orleans to Cozumel. This time around, joining hosts Sister Hazel on Sixthman's inaugural floating music festival, are Alternate Routes, Tim Brantley, Carbon Leaf, Freddy Jones Band, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, and Vertical Horizon.

The return to New Orleans is a special one for veteran Rock Boaters - in 2005, The Rock Boat V was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and in response, Sixthman organized "Rock For Relief," featuring many of the bands who had been scheduled for the cruise, to raise funds for residents of New Orleans. Sixthman is very excited to bring The Rock Boat back to Louisiana for the newest cruise adventure.

Since it's inaugural sailing in 2001, The Rock Boat has undergone many changes - ports, dates, bands, etc - but one thing remains the same: the guests. About sixty percent of guests on each Rock Boat have been on more than one Sixthman cruise, and when new guests sail, they become part of an extended family-like community. The love for great live music brings people together at sea, and this year will be no different.

Pre-sale for The Rock Boat XII begins February 28; reserve your spot now by signing up at therockboat.com. Prices start at $699 per person.

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2-14-11 MSC Cancelling All Ports Stops in Egypt for 2011 MSC just cancelled all of its scheduled port stop in Egypt and is monitoring Tunis for the rest of 2011. The substitution ports vary by cruise ship and itinerary. We highly suggest you consult msccruises.com for your updated itinerary. The following statement is on their website:

Update on cruises calling in Egypt and Tunis

EGYPT MSC Cruises always puts the safety and security of its guests before all considerations. This is the reason why, closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, we have decided to alter all of the upcoming calls of MSC Magnifica and MSC Splendida at Alexandria for the rest of the season. We will continue to follow the situation very closely and in case the situation would stabilize again we will not hesitate in changing the itineraries back to their original deployment. You will find all the latest updates on this page.

TUNIS MSC Cruises has always implemented all necessary policies to ensure the safety and comfort of its guests, as this is our main concern. Therefore, with reference to the current situation in the Tunisian Republic, should conditions not return to normal, all the ships concerned will take an alternative itinerary during the weekly cruises, and not call at Tunis.

The following ships are affected: MSC Fantasia from the 16th of April to the 15th of October 2011 MSC Splendida from the 10th April to the 06th of November 2011 MSC Lirica from the 18th of April to the 07th of October MSC Sinfonia from the 04th of June to the 15th of October In case that the situation gets back to normal, the original itinerary will be respected and the call at Tunis will be operated as usual.

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2-11-11 Royal Caribbean Orders Two All New Ships Royal Caribbean has signed a letter of intent with shipyard Meyer Werft (Papaenburg, germany) to build the first of a new generation of Royal Caribbean ships. Developed under the code-name "Project Sunshine," the new vessel design incorporates new and exciting features that take advantage of the best of Royal Caribbean's experience and imagination. The project is a result of over a year of dedicated research and development.

The order calls for one ship to be delivered in the Fall of 2014 with an option for a second ship for Spring 2015. The 158,000 Gross Registered Tons (GRT) new build will carry just over 4,100 guests based on double occupancy. The estimated all-in cost per berth is about €170,000. (This comes close 700 Euro or $1billion). This all-in cost includes the yard's base contract price plus everything needed to design, operate and build the vessel, from architect fees to supervision costs and all loose inventories from computers to art and bed linens.

"Royal Caribbean has worked hard to earn a reputation of offering the most innovative ships in the cruise industry and this next generation will not disappoint," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "While we continue our policy of keeping our newest ideas and features under wraps during the early stages of construction, I can say that I am very excited about the passion and imagination that our teams have devoted to the project. Project Sunshine builds on the best ideas of our existing ships and adds exciting new activities and entertainment concepts. It will offer features for everyone: from grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families. I am also excited about the energy efficiency and environmental technologies which have been incorporated. Our existing ships are some of the most energy efficient in the world and Project Sunshine takes this one further step. Based on our over 20 years of experience with Meyer Werft, along with their compelling proposal, we know they will deliver on all of the innovations Royal Caribbean's guests have come to expect."

"Meyer Werft is pleased to be working with Royal Caribbean especially in light of their reputation for building such innovative ships. I am very happy we are continuing our long time partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and its brand Royal Caribbean International. Their projects always present incredible opportunities for Meyer Werft to create the latest cutting edge hardware in the cruise industry," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft shipyard.

The letter of intent is subject to customary conditions being satisfactorily met.

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2-11-11 Grand Princess Losing Iconic Skywalkers Nightclub The most significant transformation ever of a Princess Cruises ship will occur this spring aboard Grand Princess. During a 24-day makeover the ship, which was the prototype for the line's "Grand Class" vessels, will undergo a remarkable renovation to receive many of Princess' trademark features introduced since the ship's 1998 debut including the signature Piazza atrium. Several new features will be also be added including a unique tea lounge and library called "Leaves"; and "Alfredo's," a full-service pizzeria showcasing this renowned Princess dish.

A brand new nightclub called One5, inspired by its deck location, will be created on the top deck of the ship, replacing its iconic Skywalker Nightclub, which has given the ship its distinctive profile. Skywalkers will be removed from its 18th deck perch, with its replacement located on deck 15. This change will significantly improve the operational performance of the ship, including greater fuel efficiency.

"This is the largest makeover we've ever undertaken for any of our ships," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "When Grand Princess was launched she was the most innovative ship at sea, and now we're adding some of the later innovations we introduced on subsequent ships."

Artist renderings of the Grand Princess changes are available in a Flickr gallery at: http://bit.ly/g0JA8I.

The changes will be made during a drydock from April 11 to May 4 at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. Highlights of the dramatic makeover include:

  • New Piazza atrium- The atrium space of Grand Princess will be completely rebuilt to include this signature Princess feature -- a multi-faceted social hub of the ship combining always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. The Piazza will feature the International CafĂ© for pastries, grilled panini sandwiches, salads, fresh-baked cookies and a variety of coffee drinks. Passenger will also enjoy a new Vines wine bar offering a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of tapas and sushi, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.
  • Leaves Tea Lounge and Library- A fusion of tea lounge and library, the new Leaves offers a distinctive opportunity for passengers to custom-blend a variety of base teas with herbs, fruits and spices to create a personalized tea blend. Created in partnership with Mighty Leaf Tea Company, one of the world's premier maker of artisan teas, Leaves will give passengers an impressive choice of up to 500 different tea blends to suit their palates. A trained tea sommelier will assist passengers in blending a personalized tea creation, which which they can enjoy in the midst of the library and a good book.
  • Alfredo's Pizzeria- Known for serving the best pizza at sea, Princess will introduce Alfredo's, a new sit-down pizzeria with an enticing menu of freshly prepared individual-size pizzas. Named for the line's master executive chef, Alfredo Marzi, the pizzeria will feature an open kitchen where passengers can watch chefs create the pizzas they'll enjoy with a glass of wine or other beverage.
  • One5 Lounge- The new One5 lounge will replace Skywalkers as the place to be for nighttime dancing and relaxing. The new lounge on deck 15 (hence its name) takes its inspiration from the chicest urban nightclubs, and will offer a cool vibe, contemporary seating and lighting, and a dramatic back-lit bar.
  • Crown Grill- A classic steakhouse with rich wood surroundings, this specialty restaurant features an open, theater-style kitchen where chefs custom-prepare premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, including live lobsters.

Also part of the renovation will be 10 new suites; remodeled casino, boutiques and art gallery; enhancements to the Horizon Court, Lotus Spa, and wedding chapel; and the addition of Crooner's Martini Lounge.

The newly renovated Grand Princess will debut on May 5 in Ft. Lauderdale where the ship will depart on a transatlantic crossing for her summer and fall homeport of Southampton, from which she will cruise a variety of European itineraries.

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2-11-11 Disney Fantasy Keel Laid

Disney Cruise Line celebrated the keel laying of the Disney Fantasy at the Meyer Werft shipyard today, Februaru 11. This is the second of two newly-designed ships that take the family cruise experience to all new heights. Sister ship to the Disney Fantasy, Disney Dream, entered service on Jan. 26, 2011.

The keel laying ceremony is a significant milestone in the ship building process when the first block, or section of the ship, is lowered into the building dock and a coin is placed under the keel for good fortune. Placing the coin was Karl Holz, President of Disney Cruise Line, assisted by Minnie Mouse.

As a sister ship to Disney\ Dream, Disney Fantasy will offer many of the innovations that the Disney Dream brought to the cruise industry for the very first time, including AquaDuck -- the world's first shipboard water coaster. However, the Disney Fantasy will feature a few new design elements and guest experiences that will give the ship a unique identity all her own.

The 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy will sail week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla. with its maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.

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2-2-11 Carnival and NCL Ships Return to Mazatlan The web site "Travel Pulse" is reporting that both Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Spirit and Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star both called on Mazatlan, Mexico, on Feb. 1, just days after other lines cancelled calls at the port due to reports of crime against passengers.

"Over the weekend, members of our Security Services management team from our headquarters in Miami met with local law enforcement and government officials in Mazatlan to review their plan for increased security," Carnival said in a statement. "Mexican authorities agreed to place extra security personnel in all the main tourist areas, including all shore excursion sites."

NCL said it has "been closely monitoring the situation in Mazatlan. At this time, the U.S. Department of State has not deemed Mazatlan an at-risk area for traveling. We hope our guests enjoy their visit to Mazatlan, but do encourage them in any port to always be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution and good judgment."

Over the weekend the two cruise lines met with tourist officials from Mazatlan and executives from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association to review the security measures that have been taken and further outline Mazatlan's commitment to ensuring the safety of cruise passengers.

On Jan. 25, Disney Cruise Line announced it was cancelling the Disney Wonder's calls at Mazatlan, Mexico, due to the "changing environment." Holland America Line and Princess Cruises also to temporarily cancelled Mazatlan calls.

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