News Archive - January 2008

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1-31-08: Princess Rolls out New Streamlined Disembarkation Process Princess ships are now offering a new, streamlined farewell process for passengers leaving ships on the last day of the cruise (disembarkation).

Contrasted with the typical process where passengers listen to staggered public address system announcements for their luggage tag color to be called signaling their time to disembark, Princess has debuted an efficient, more relaxed process where passengers are each given an assigned time and place to assemble on the final morning and are personally escorted to the gangway by a member of the ship's staff, eliminating the guesswork as to the actual time passengers will be disembarking.

The new program is in the process of being rolled out fleetwide, and has already been met with enthusiastic response from passengers. The new system eliminates loudspeaker announcements calling color-coded departure groups, and instead provides passengers with a letter the day before the end of the cruise that outlines their designated time to meet in an assigned public room, depending on their return air arrangements. There they will be met by a member of the ship's staff who will wait with them until departure time, when they will be personally escorted to the gangway.

The revised system enables passengers to easily plan their morning without the uncertainty as to when they should prepare to depart the ship. It also eliminates passengers congregating in the ship's atrium near the gangway, plus creates a more relaxed flow for morning breakfast.

"Passengers have told us that they're enjoying their final morning on board much more since we've started this program," noted Jan Swartz of Princess. "It gives the departure a much more personal touch and creates a great beginning to their onward travels."

In addition to the enhanced disembarkation program, in many ports departing passengers can also take advantage of an express disembarkation option in which those who choose to carry their own luggage off the ship can elect to be part of the first group exiting the ship, allowing them to get an early start on their post-cruise travel plans.

The new disembarkation process complements Princess' innovative early embarkation program, which makes staterooms available to passengers immediately upon boarding. Arriving passengers can also enjoy a full dining room lunch in addition to the ship's Horizon Court buffet.

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1-29-08: Hurtigruten Unveils 2008-2009 Season of Diversity After a name change – to Hurtigruten from Norwegian Coastal Voyages -- this company is offering a new 106-page brochure outlining its entire portfolio of vacations. New for 2008 are "Longitudinal World Cruises" sailing between the Arctic and Antarctic in the spring and fall aboard the line's newest ship, MS Fram. New Antarctica adventures, including a 17-day program that journeys through the rarely visited Marguerite Bay and a 19-day voyage that highlights the Falkland Islands, have been added to the current roster of three expeditions. And new escorted vacations couple Russia's St. Petersburg and Finland's Helsinki and Sami region with the popular Norwegian Coastal Voyage, plying the fjord-filled Norwegian coast.

In 2008, Hurtigruten's year-round Norwegian Coastal Voyage, named by Lonely Planet's "Bluelist" as the "world's most beautiful voyage," is supplemented with special on-board themes, the newest being "Bridge Players," enabling both novice and veteran players to hone their skills with the help of a master instructor. The line also reprises its "Watercolors and Art" theme cruises; "Harmony at Sea" programs, where passengers transform into concert-performing choral groups; and "Winter Digital Photography," enabling guests to experiment with the ever-changing and challenging Arctic light. The Hurtigruten ships sail daily between Bergen and Kirkenes, above the Arctic Circle, calling at 34 ports along Norway's 1,250-mile coast. The voyages are available in 12-day roundtrips, seven-day northbound and six-day southbound voyages. Fares range from $1,299 to $9,999 per person, double, including three meals daily, taxes and port charges.

Hurtigruten has also added a new selection of winter "Northern Lights" voyages, including a nine-day Bergen-Tromsø itinerary from January through March, showcasing both cities and the Lofoten Islands, which may be extended to nine days.

Optional shore excursions include dog sledding and a five-course Arctic gourmet dinner. A nine-day-day Tromsø-Kirkenes-Tromsø voyage sails entirely above the Arctic Circle in January and February, increasing the chance to see the Northern Lights; and a seven-day Tromsø-Trondheim cruise sails through Norway's Vesterålen and Lofoten Islands and can be extended with a winter Oslo-by-Rail trip. Fares range from $1,999 to $2,499.

A new 16-day air-inclusive "Spitsbergen Ultimate Voyage," aboard the MS Nordstjernan, sails from Bergen to the North Cape, across the North Atlantic and on to the western cost of the Arctic's Spitsbergen Islands on May 29. Fares range from $7,399 to $8,399. Two other offerings are a 12-day itinerary, on the MS Polar Star, with a similar exploration of Spitsbergen, without the Norway portion or North Atlantic transit, at fares of $7,799 to $12,299; and a nine-day "Arctic Adventure" that takes in Oslo before flying to Spitsbergen and a four-day sailing, priced at $6,499 and $6,799.

In Greenland, MS Fram begins a second season of air-inclusive exploration sailings, with PolarCirkel boat landings and excursions and lectures led by expert guides from May through September. An eight-day program explores the Disko Bay region off the western coast of the country, known for a its indigenous culture, dog sledges and a 24-hour sunlit summer sky; fares are $3,673 to $12,399. A 15-day "Disko Bay & Thule" itinerary visits the Qaanaaq (Thule) district, first region of Greenland colonized by Inuits from the west and is among the northernmost inhabited places on earth with a population of about 1,000. Prices range from $8,099 to $21,899. Another 15-day itinerary, sailing between Reykjavik, Iceland, and the lower eastern, southern and Disko Bay regions of Greenland, costs $6,299 to $16,899. All fares include roundtrip airfare from the U.S., accommodations in first-class hotels and select cabin categories, all meals and excursions.

Besides the three new Antarctica adventures, travelers can take the shorter 13-day expedition aboard MS Fram that highlights Argentina's Buenos Aires and Ushuaia; a 19-day voyage coupling Antarctica with Argentina and the Chilean Fjords; or a 21-day sailing to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands; fares range from $5,499 to $18,199.

MS Fram's 66-day Arctic-to-Antarctica World Cruise, departing Iceland Sept. 23, 2008, takes in dozens of ports in 17 countries, is also available in segments of 11 to 18 nights, with prices ranging from $4,199 to $15,499. The entire journey is priced from $13,999 to $58,399. A reverse world cruise sailing that stops in ports on the eastern side of South America, Europe, the Baltic nations and Russia, and ends on May 21in Reykjavik, Iceland, is sold in 11- to 18-day segments.

Other itineraries include seven-day December "Killer Whale Safari" cruises, visiting Tromsø, Svolvaer and Oslo, and focusing on the Orcas as they breach and hunt; an seven-day "Alta Igloo Hotel" vacations that combine Oslo, a night on a Norwegian Coastal Voyage and a stay in the hotel built entirely from ice and snow -- and looming above the Arctic Circle in Lapland. Fares for these programs range from $2,389 to $2,999 per person, double.

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1-29-08: First Nickelodeon Cruise Coming Nickelodeon and Royal Caribbean International announced a new agreement where the two will introduce the "Nickelodeon Family Cruise with Royal Caribbean." The first-ever Nickelodeon cruise will set sail on August 10-17, 2008, departing out of Miami, Fla., on an exclusive, seven-day Nickelodeon family summer vacation.

Taking place on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, the largest ship in the cruise industry with a capacity of more than 4,000 passengers, the "Nickelodeon Family Cruise with Royal Caribbean" will match the family-friendly amenities of Freedom of the Seas with a packed schedule of Nickelodeon activities and entertainment. The cruise will visit four Western Caribbean destinations including: Cozumel, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios and a special stop at Royal Caribbean's private beach in Labadee. The beach will be Nickelodeon-themed. "For the past few years, we've been witnessing the coming of age of Nickelodeon families and have been expanding our brand and business to meet their growing entertainment, recreational and vacation needs – from hotels, to theatrical shows, to theme parks," said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. "Taking to the seas with our first-ever family cruise with Royal Caribbean was the natural next step for us." "Royal Caribbean is proud to team up with Nickelodeon to bring the cruise vacation experience to life for its family audience," said Alice Norsworthy, senior vice president, Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "From the thrilling FlowRider surf simulator to the playful H20 Zone water park, Freedom of the Seas offers guests a wide variety of memorable family vacation options. Royal Caribbean's private beach destination will also offer endless sun and sand entertainment for kids and adults." The "Nickelodeon Family Cruise by Royal Caribbean" will offer an experience complete with Nick-themed on-board activities such as live game shows featuring the trademark Nickelodeon slime; visits with kids' favorite Nick characters like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants; appearances by the network's live-action stars; and much more. In addition, Freedom of the Seas offers a multitude of activities, including the FlowRider surf simulator, the H2O Zone water park, an ice skating rink, a nine-hole mini-golf course, 10-route rock-climbing wall, and full-size basketball court. The "Nickelodeon Family Cruise" will also feature a full range of activities and amenities appealing to adults. Freedom of the Seas offers more than 10 bars and lounges and eight restaurants. During the day, guests can rejuvenate with a session in the Freedom Day Spa and state-of-the-art fitness center, and relax in the cantilever whirlpools in the adult-only Solarium. The Royal Promenade, a grand boulevard that runs the entire length of the ship, features live parades, boutique shops, and restaurants and lounges. In the evenings, guests can enjoy live music and entertainment, a Broadway-style performance in the Arcadia Theater, or try their luck in the Casino Royale. 24-hour room service is always complimentary for a late night snack or a movie-night in the stateroom. In addition, Freedom of the Seas provides their award-winning Adventure Ocean kids programming to entertain toddlers to teens while parents enjoy the on-board activities. Vacation packages for the "Nickelodeon Family Cruise" go on-sale to the public beginning Jan. 28. Visit www.nickfamilycruise.com for more information.

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1-22-08: Silversea Outlines Alaska Cruises This summer, Silversea's all-suite, 382-guest Silver Shadow explores Alaska. Boasting a crew-to-guest ratio of 1 to 1.29 and a space ratio of 74.0 (or 7,400 cubic feet of space per guest), Silver Shadow offers a level of personalized service and spaciousness that is unsurpassed. And at just 28,258 gross tons, these hallmarks of luxury are served up in a most intimate, club-like environment not available on larger ships.

Silversea will reveal the natural wonders of Alaska and the Pacific Coast on ten distinctive itineraries of nine to 12 days. Several sailings feature convenient round-trip departures from Vancouver, with open-jaw voyages also available from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seward.

David Morris, Silversea's executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, points out, "There are a number of mainstream mega-ships calling in Alaska this summer, but only Silversea offers an exclusive alternative for the sophisticated traveler seeking an award-winning, all-inclusive and intimate shipboard experience. With one voyage already sold out, and others about to, space is filling up quickly -- so now's the time to book."

In addition to savings of up to 40%, Silver Shadow guests will enjoy spacious, ocean-view accommodations (most with private veranda), gourmet cuisine, personalized service, warm Italian hospitality, and Silversea's generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, 24-hour room service, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet and all gratuities. Plus, complimentary Butler Service is provided in the Grand, Royal, Rossellini and Owner's Suites.

ENRICHMENT HIGHLIGHTS

The Alaska voyages will showcase a diverse enrichment program of noted scholars, writers, and other experts selected from a variety of fields to share their passion, knowledge and insider views for the entertainment and edification of Silversea's guests.

A small sampling includes:

  • For the nature lover, marine biologist John Palmisano (Ph.D.) will host the May 31 Los Angeles-to-Vancouver "Inside Passage" voyage, offering insights on the oceans and diversity of marine life. Silver Sailing fares for this 12-day voyage (3812) start at $5,596 per person (30% savings).
  • For the gourmet, on June 21, Silver Shadow's Vancouver-to-San Francisco cruise welcomes Relais & Châteaux chef Anne Desjardins from the award-winning restaurant and inn L'Eau à la Bouche (Ste-Adèle, Québec) and wine expert John Shafer of Shafer Vineyards and Winery (Napa Valley, California). Early Booking Incentive fares for this 10-day voyage (3814) start at $5,690 per person (15% savings).
  • For the nature lover, Sabin Robbins, published author, former zoo society director and writer-editor at the National Geographic Society, will host Silver Shadow's September 5 "Inside Passage" cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Robbins' field research includes East Africa, Galapagos Islands, Amazon River and the whale nurseries of the Pacific. Silver Sailing fares for this 12-day voyage (3822) start at $4,797 per person (40% savings).

    IN-DEPTH EXPLORATIONS ASHORE

    Silversea guests can extend their Alaska voyage with optional pre- and post-cruise land programs featuring deluxe accommodations, all transportation, transfers, guided sightseeing and some meals. Prices start from $1,395 per guest.

    Highlights include:

  • From Vancouver, "The Majestic Canadian Rockies" four- or five-night program explores the breathtaking peaks and valleys of the Canadian Rockies from the comfort of your railcar. Enjoy two nights in Banff and visit the "Jewel of the Canadian Rockies" -- Lake Louise, set in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join the Rocky Mountaineer for a two-day journey by rail through the snow-capped Canadian Rockies, past the Continental Divide, the Spiral Tunnels and Kicking Horse Canyon to Kamloops for an overnight stay. Continue your rail adventure past the Cascades, lush Fraser River Valley and Hell's Gate, then on to Vancouver and the Pacific Ocean. (Offered on all Alaskan itineraries except 3812, 3815, 3816.)
  • From Seward, the three-night "Denali -- Nature at Her Grandest" program features a journey to Denali by luxury rail, crossing the magnificent vista of Hurricane Gulch. Denali National Park, one of the world's greatest wildlife sanctuaries, offers the chance to spot grizzly bears, caribou, moose and wolves. The park rests under the shadow of spectacular Mount McKinley, North America's highest mountain. (Only available on Voyage 3820.)
  • Also from Seward, the six-night "Land of the Midnight Sun" offers the ultimate Alaskan experience, combining the grandeur of Denali National Park with a journey of over 300 miles above the Arctic Circle to Barrow, the largest Inuit settlement in Alaska. Here in the land of the midnight sun, stand on the northernmost tip of the continent, encounter the unique traditional lifestyle of native Alaskans and explore the white wilderness of the tundra. The program includes a scenic riverboat adventure from Fairbanks. (Only available on Voyage 3820.)

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    1-22-08: Renowned Chef Nobu to Sail on Crystal Symphony World-class master chef Nobuyuki "Nobu" Matsuhisa will travel aboard the award-winning Crystal Symphony this spring to officiate the opening of two new restaurants onboard. Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, conceived in partnership with Crystal Cruises, will feature the cuisine of the legendary Japanese chef.

    On March 21, 2008, at the start of Crystal Symphony's Hong Kong to Beijing cruise, Nobu will preside over a traditional sake ceremony for all guests. During the cruise, he will personally oversee the launch of both restaurants and will continue to work closely with his Nobu-trained chefs on the delicate nuances of preparing his cuisine, described as a blend of classically styled Japanese foods with Peruvian and European influences.

    Occupying the former Jade Garden space, Silk Road and The Sushi Bar will accommodate a total of 68 guests and will be open most evenings. While there is no additional charge, reservations are recommended for Silk Road; dining at The Sushi Bar will be on a first come, first served basis.

    The new restaurants represent an expansion of Nobu's culinary alliance with Crystal Cruises. Since 2003, his cuisine has enjoyed tremendous success aboard Crystal Symphony's fleetmate, Crystal Serenity. All of the head chefs in Silk Road and The Sushi Bar have held key positions at one of Nobu's worldwide restaurants. In the case of Crystal Symphony, the head chefs were chefs at his Los Angeles or Tokyo establishments.

    The 15-day cruise program (12-day cruise plus three-day land program) includes two ports of call in Japan, including an overnight stay in Kobe and a full day in Hiroshima. China is explored with two days in Shanghai, a call Dalian and an inclusive three-day overland adventure to Beijing. Fares start at $5,495, per person, double occupancy.

    About Nobu

    He has been described as a "sushi mogul" and bears an air of celebrity that surrounds each of his restaurants. Nobu boasts of his unwavering passion to communicate his "kokoro" - the Japanese term for "heart" - through his cuisine. This has earned him a litany of awards beginning with his 1989 award as one of Food & Wine magazine's 10 Best New Chefs and highlighted by Matsuhisa's 1993 recognition as one of the top destination restaurants in the world according to The New York Times.

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    1-22-08: CruisingFromNewYork Web Site Details NY Cruises Anne Campvell, the former editor of Internet cruise sites CruiseMates and Cruise Critic has just opend her second cruise-centric web site, this one dedicated to her home town of New York City.

    The new site: Cruising From New York (www.CruisingFromNewYork.com), will provide all the information travelers need to plan a cruise from the three New York area ports, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Cape Liberty (Bayonne), N.J.

    Anne describes it as a "single click resource", allowing cruisers to easily find information on the three ports, including directions, parking and suggested routes. The user-friendly format also features reviews of all ships sailing in and out of New York, year-round itineraries, message boards and cruise discounts. Those planning a pre- or post-cruise stay in New York will find information on hotels, sightseeing, nightlife and shopping in "The Best of New York" chosen by Campbell, who has lived in the city for several decades.

    According to Anne Campbell, "In 2006, over one million passengers came through the City's cruise facilities. Since 9/11, the port of New York has undergone such massive growth in the number of ships and passengers that new port facilities were added in Brooklyn and Bayonne, N.J. And, four of the largest cruise lines have ships sailing year-round on voyages ranging from one-day party cruises to a full circumnavigation of the globe. Air travel has become so unreliable that people will drive up to ten hours to sail from New York rather than fly to Florida."

    Since finding the best ship and itinerary can be daunting with the large number of vessels sailing in and out of the city, www.CruisingFromNewYork.com provides ship reviews and itineraries arranged by destination such as the Caribbean, New England and trans-Atlantic. A monthly calendar of 2008 and 2009 itineraries makes narrowing down the selection process simpler by clicking on a ship name to go directly to the vessel's review.

    Campbell notes that New York City is second only to Orlando in visitor traffic. The "Best of New York" provides information helpful for adding a few days either before or after the cruise. An intrepid bargain hunter, Campbell gives insider's advice on getting the best price in hotels, theater tickets, dining and shopping plus "101 Very Cool Things To Do" in New York.

    CruisingFromNewYork is owned by ShipCritic, LLC, which also owns ShipCritic Blog (www.shipcriticblog.com). Advertising, Marketing and Technical Operations are managed by CruiseJungle Holdings, Inc. which operates several other cruise related web sites.

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    1-18-08: Vicki Freed: Quits Carnival for Royal Caribbean Vicki Freed, the former senior vice president of Sales and Marketing at Carnival Cruise Lines has left her job at Carnival and will be taking a similar job at rival cruise line Royal Caribbean.

    To those of us in the industry this is very surprising news. Vicki was the face of Carnival Cruise Lines to many people in the business, especially to travel agents. She worked at Carnival for 29 years, probably longer than anyone else at the company other than recently retired president Bob Dickinson and owner Micky Arison.

    Whether or not it is a coincidence that the person she reported to for the last 29 years, Bob Dickinson, retired from Carnival just about five months ago, giving Vicki a new boss, is not known to us, and we can only ruminate. The new president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines is Gerry Cahill, and he came from the financial side of parent company Carnival Corp. This implies that his focus was on all of the Carnival brands including Seabourn, Holland America, Costa, Princess and Cunard. He does not have the experience or focus on the unique brand of Carnival Cruise Lines that Dickinson and Freed shared so successfully in making the line the most successful cruise brand in the world.

    Vicki is well-known as a "people person" while Cahill's professional background is pure dollars and cents. He was the Chief Financial Officer for parent company Carnival Corp. and previously worked at Price Waterhouse, in a financial position at Safecard and Resorts International. Not to say he is cold, however. I have met him, and he is personable and likable.

    Vicki's background is pure and simple, she learned how to do what she does through experience and got to where she is by forging personal relationships. What it means to Carnival as a cruise line for them to lose their two leading personalities and direction leaders within a few months is difficult to predict. It could mean that there are changes ahead, but does not mandate it. It should be an interesting year, however.

    We congratulate Royal Caribbean on their good fortune in hiring Vicki as she brings a lot of goodwill within the sales channel (also known as travel agents) with her to her new company.

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    1-18-08: More Details of Celebrity Solstice Revealed The first of the next generation of ships coming to US shores, Celebrity Solstice, is scheduled to arrive in December 2008. The newest detail Celebrity just announced about the ship is that it will have live grass on a portion of the top deck, and not a small portion either, the "Lawn Club" is a half-acre or 7190 square feet of live grass. That is the equivalent of eight tennis courts, three times larger than the Rockefeller Center skating rink.

    The lawn will be used to allow guests to enjoy bocce ball and croquet, practice their putting, picnic with a basket of wine and cheese, or simply feel the grass between their toes, while sailing the oceans of the world. The area also will feature the Hot Glass Show, another first in the industry, developed in collaboration with The Corning Museum of Glass. There will also be a sitting area called the Patio on the Lawn; the Lawn Club Shop, and the Sunset Bar.

    They are currently looking to fill the position of groundskeeper, although this is not the first time the cruise line has grown flora aboard their ships. The Millennium class has had beautiful floral conservatories for years, greenhouses where they grow all kinds of beautiful tropical plants. This is the first non-artificial lawn at sea however.

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    1-18-08: Royal Caribbean "Name the World's Biggest Ship" Contest Royal Caribbean is making an unprecendented move in asking the public to help them name the ship that will become the largest cruise ship in the world. This is the new Genesis class of ships that has just barely begun construction.

    Asking the public to participate in contests is not unprecedented, but what is surprising is that they would ask them to help name what is going to be the most significant ship to arrive in decades, arguably the most important to date in history, because this ship is SO big that it will make the rest of today's cruise fleet, even the behemothic super-ships of today like Freedom of the Seas, appear small.

    My personal interest is that I was hoping Royal Caribbean would use this ship as a reason to get awat from the "Of the Seas" theme in naming their ships. Personally, I have never liked it and I think most people agree with me. It reminds of my days in Hollywood show biz when we always said, "never pick a ficticious name a critic can use to makw fun of you" - Well, I'm sorry, but for anyone over the age 40 "anything" - of the seas, sounds like Charlie Tuna.

    And so, I submitted my pick for a new name, the one I thought they would be using anyway - Simply "Genesis" with NO "of the Seas" behind it.

    If you would like to participate in the Royal Caribbean "name the ship" contest, go to usatoday.com.

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    1-16-08: Silversea Announces 2009 Schedule Silversea Cruises has announced its 2009 worldwide voyage schedule and is now accepting reservations. The company's four all-suite ships are set to visit over 320 different ports in 108 countries on a diverse schedule of over 140 itineraries ranging from seven to 92 days. Complete day-by-day itineraries can be found at www.silversea.com.

    "Our 2009 schedule includes several new ports with an array of specially crafted itineraries focused on exploring popular marquee destinations as well as some of the world's most exotic regions," said David Morris, Silversea's executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing.

    Of special note is the company's first-ever Grand Pacific Voyage, a 92-day extended odyssey that explores the azure waters and pristine beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Following a diverse route from Los Angeles to Papeete, Sydney and the Far East, with final stops in Alaska and Vancouver, Silver Shadow will visit 45 ports, 15 countries and two hemispheres on this epic journey.

    Other highlights include return visits to Alaska plus 10 new destinations: Szczecin (pronounced Stettin, as it was once known), Poland; Malmo, Sweden; Skagen, Denmark; Gozo Island, Malta; Symi, Greece; Koper, Slovenia; Olhahali Island, Maldives; Nemuro, Japan; Visakhapatnam and New Mangalore, India.

    SILVER CLOUD

    Silver Cloud starts the year exploring South America before heading to the most exclusive destinations of the Caribbean. From late May through September, the intimate 296-guest ship will be positioned in Northern Europe and the Baltic offering 11 cruises of seven to 15 days, including several voyages featuring three-day, two-night stopovers in historic St. Petersburg. Other highlights include Voyage 1920, offering inaugural calls to Szczecin, Poland, once considered the "Paris of the North"; Sweden's beautiful Malmo, home of famous 15th-century Malmohus Castle; and Skagen, Denmark, a picturesque resort town and 19th-century colony for artists and writers. The ship heads back to the Caribbean and South America for the fall.

    SILVER WIND

    The 296-guest Silver Wind begins 2009 with cruises to Africa, the Seychelles and the Arabian Peninsula, highlighted by inaugural calls to the sunny beaches of uninhabited Olhahali Island in the Maldives (Voyage 2905) and India's less-traveled Visakhapatnam and New Mangalore, both gateways to important temple sites (Voyage 2906). From mid-April to early November, the ultra-luxury ship will traverse the Mediterranean on over 20 different itineraries ranging from seven to 12 days. Of special interest to Formula One racing enthusiasts is Voyage 2916, which overnights in Monte Carlo during the Grand Prix. Other highlights include return visits to Israel's popular coastal cities of Haifa and Ashdod (Voyage 2935), and Voyage 2919 offers the new destination of Gozo Island, second largest of the Maltese Islands, known for its impressive citadel and the Ggantija prehistoric temples. The ship repositions to Africa's east coast and the Sechelles for the fall.

    SILVER SHADOW

    The 382-guest Silver Shadow kicks off the year with a series of mostly 9-day Caribbean voyages before transiting the Panama Canal to Los Angeles to embark on its 92-day Grand Pacific Voyage from March to June. Of special interest to nature-lovers is an inaugural call on May 18 to Nemuro, Japan, home of the magnificent Shunkunitai Wild Bird Sanctuary. On the schedule for the summer is Alaska, with a series of 12 cruises ranging from seven to 12 days, including several round-trip departures from San Francisco and Vancouver. During the balance of the year, Silver Shadow transits the Panama Canal and continues on a course exploring the warm waters and sunny beaches of the Caribbean.

    SILVER WHISPER

    For the 382-guest Silver Whisper, the year opens with the sights, sounds and flavors of Australia, New Zealand, the Far East and South Pacific featured on eight itineraries, ranging from nine to 18 days. Highlights include extended overnight stays in Auckland, Sydney, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tianjin (Beijing), and Shanghai. On a pair of spring repositioning cruises, Silver Whisper will journey from Singapore to Dubai, with an overnight stay in vibrant Mumbai, followed by a Dubai-to-Athens voyage that overnights in Dubai and includes overnight visits to Safaga and Aqaba, gateways to some of the world's most treasured archaeological sites. An extended summer season in the Mediterranean offers the opportunity to explore the region in absolute luxury with 22 mostly seven-day voyages, many of which can be combined for a more expansive journey without duplicating any ports. Highlights include two new destinations for Silversea: the Greek island of Symi, renowned for its picture-postcard beauty (Voyage 4928), and Koper, Slovenia, famous for its medieval architecture and fascinating Postonja Caves (Voyage 4921). Silver Whisper wraps up the year exploring the Arabian Peninsula, India, Australia and New Zealand.

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    1-16-08: Seabourn:40% Savings in Europe, 2 for 1 Biz-Class Air Seabourn has a special promotion offering two-for-one international business class airfares to join ten Europe cruises of nine to 15 days aboard the all-suite Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend. The complimentary airfare, with a value of up to $5,800 per couple, may be combined with special savings of up to 40% off the brochure fares for the cruises.

    The airfares are available round trip from 38 North American gateways to voyages embarking between March and July, 2008 in Lisbon, Venice, London, Copenhagen, Rome, Nice and Barcelona and exploring itineraries in the Adriatic, the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Western Europe and Norwegian fjords.

    For details on this special promotion, contact your travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com.

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    1-16-08: Cunard Queens Thrilling America All three Cunard Queen have been in court in various celebrations on the East Coast this week. The first and largest celebration featured all three Queens, the newest Queen Victoria, The largest Queen Mary 2 and the eldest Queen Elizabeth 2, about to retire, all converged in New York harbor near the Statue of Liberty on January 14.

    Thousands of people gathered on the shores of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey to watch the spectacle. The celebration began with a whistle salute by each liner, followed by a majestic procession through New York harbor illuminated by a fireworks-filled sky as they departed on their respective voyages. It is the first time that three Cunard Queens have been in service simultaneously in the company's 168-year history. And the first time they have all met in one place.

    Two day later in Ft Lauderdale: The brand new Queen Victoria made her maiden call to Ft. Lauderdale, along with QE2. Queen Victoria has been sailing with QE2 since departing Southampton, England on January 6 making a tandem Transatlantic Crossing together. QE2 embarked on her 26th and final World Cruise and will complete her service to the Cunard fleet in November 2008.

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    1-16-08: NCL Launches Annual Freestyle Resolution Sales Event Cruisers can find special offers at the NCL web site every week, in concurrence with its biggest sale of the year, the Freestyle Resolution Sales Event, which launched on January 7. To find these special offers, go to http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/hotdeal/specialOffers.html.

    According to the cruise line, you will find the best offers for NCL here, and our experience bears this out. You can also get the same prices by asking your travel agent to check these specials, but at the web site you get a chance to win a free cruise. This week, Alaska is the featured destination and the offers include an on-board credit up to $100 per stateroom and 10 percent off per stateroom in the Suites and Villas category.

    Also, back by popular demand is NCL's Freestyle Showdown online game that lets visitors challenge their friends to see who knows the most about NCL's Freestyle Cruising fleet and then enter to win a free cruise. Last year, this game was incredibly popular with more than 30,000 people participating. Visitors can also simply register each week to be eligible to win the cruise or send a friend information on the event and be entered to win the popular Wii video game system by Nintendo.

    The Freestyle Resolution Sales Event runs through the end of February 2008.

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    1-14-08: Voyager of the Seas to sail from Galveston Everything is bigger in Texas and the next biggest thing in the Lone Star State is Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas. The largest cruise ship ever to be based in the Gulf Coast and to sail from the Port of Galveston, Voyager will sail seven-night itineraries visiting the Caribbean, South America and Mexico calling on Cozumel, Costa Maya and Yucatan, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and George Town, Grand Cayman through April 2008.

    At a ceremony held onboard Voyager of the Seas yesterday, special guests, including local dignitaries, travel agents and media gathered to celebrate the arrival of the ship which was adorned with gigantic longhorns, 140 feet long and weighing 600 pounds. Following the ceremony, Royal Caribbean kicked off a week-long charity auction on eBay (www.ebay.com/longhorns) with proceeds benefiting the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation (www.starlight.org), which helps seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities. The highest bidder will win the longhorns and a seven-night cruise for two.

    "In 2006, we welcomed 617,000 cruise travelers, making Galveston the Gulf Coast's most popular cruise port. With the arrival of Voyager of the Seas, the port will undergo a $3.3 million upgrade to accommodate a 50 percent increase in Royal Caribbean guests," said Steven M. Cernak, port director, Port of Galveston. "Hosting the most innovative ship in the Gulf will have a significant economic impact, adding to the success of 2006 when we saw $1.1 billion in direct spending, resulting in 19,341 jobs created and $907 million generated in new income in the state of Texas as a result of the cruise industry."

    When she debuted in 1999, Voyager of the Seas introduced cruise-industry innovations such as an ice-skating rink, rock-climbing wall and the 308-feet-long Royal Promenade, a shopping, dining and entertainment boulevard. Offering a vacation experience that can be tailored to suit all energy levels, Voyager also features a basketball court, miniature golf course, interactive golf simulator, three swimming pools, six whirlpools, the full-service Voyager Day Spa and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

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    1-14-08: Coast Guard Rescues Coral Springs on Cruise Ship A rescue crew from Air Station Miami hoisted a 65 year-old man from Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, Grandeur of the Seas 65 miles west of Key West, Fla., after suffering from a vascular injury possible due to a broken ankle Sunday.

    Peter Young, a resident of Coral Springs, Fla., was hoisted from the cruise ship about 11:45 a.m. Search and rescue coordinators at the Seventh Coast Guard District command center in Miami received the call from the cruise ship captain around 9 a.m. The Coast Guard flight surgeon and the cruise ship's medical staff agreed Young needed to be medevaced immediately to the nearest trauma center.

    Young was safely hoisted into the helicopter and flown to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami and arrived about 12:40 p.m.

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    1-8-08: Regent to Offer Deepak Chopra Life Extension Cruise Regent Seven Seas Cruises will offer a June Alaska voyage featuring celebrated doctor, spiritualist and life-extension guru Dr. Deepak Chopra, who will host "Grow Younger, Live Longer" aboard the 700-guest, all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner.

    "Grow Younger, Live Longer," developed by Chopra and Dr. David Simon, co-founders of the Chopra Center, draws on the timeless cultural traditions of the East, as well as modern discoveries in quantum physics, plus Chopra's and Simon's many years of personal and professional experience. The program offers a transformative 10-step process designed to "reverse" participants' biological age through instruction in areas including stress management, relationship fulfillment, cultivating a youthful mind, sexual vitality, restful sleep and optimal nutrition.

    "Aging isn't inevitable, and those who join us on our Alaskan cruise will learn how to transform the way they look, feel, and live their lives," said Dr. Chopra. "Whether you're communing with a brown bear or bonding with a glacier, these are simple reminders of your timeless, ageless self."

    "Grow Younger, Live Longer" also features instruction in primordial Sound Meditation and Chopra Center yoga; Pilates, calisthenics and movement; plus meditation and Ayurvedic cooking classes. A native of New Delhi, India, Chopra is former Chief of Staff at The New England Memorial Hospital and Boston Regional Medical Center. His revolutionary health and wellness principles were first outlined in his 1986 book, Creating Health, and were expanded in Quantum Healing (1989) and Perfect Health (1991). He has also addressed spiritualism's effect on mental and physical health in The Book of Secrets (2004) and Life After Death: The Burden of Proof (2006).

    Departing from Seward, Alaska on June 4, Seven Seas Mariner will cruise to historic Sitka and Juneau, plus the gold-rush era town of Skagway and Ketchikan, before ending in Vancouver, B.C. This seven-day journey is highlighted by scenic cruising of majestic Hubbard Glacier, Alaska's longest tidewater glacier, and Tracy Arm, featuring tidewater glaciers and steep, 2,000-foot granite walls rising out of the water. "Grow Younger, Live Longer" must be pre-purchased by contacting Regent's Reservations department and costs $1,955 per person, exclusive of cruise fare. Additional information can be found at www.rssc.com.

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    1-8-08: New Crystal Smoking Policy Prohibits Veranda Smoking Beginning in May, Crystal Cruises is prohibiting smoking on verandahs of all staterooms and suites aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

    In keeping with lifestyle trends, most areas of Crystal ships have been non-smoking for several years, including restaurants and the main entertainment lounges. Non-smoking areas dominate most bars and lounges, although there are some tables that permit smoking. Cigarette smoking is permitted in private accommodations, although pipe-smoking and cigars are only permitted in the Connoisseur Club and most open decks.

    "The majority of our guests are non-smoking, and travelers are used to more non-smoking environments today," says Gregg Michel, Crystal Cruises' president. "We respect that smoking is a personal lifestyle decision but there is growing discomfort from non-smokers about verandah smoke negatively impacting the enjoyment of their personal outdoor living space."

    As with the current policy, guests who do not observe the non-smoking policy will first be asked to comply. Failure to do so can result in a guest being asked to leave the ship at his/her own expense.

    The new smoking policy takes effect with the May 7, 2008 London-to-Rome cruise on Crystal Serenity and the May 25, 2008 Athens-to-London cruise on Crystal Symphony.

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    1-8-08: Crystal Offers Food and Wine Cruises in 6-day Segments An unprecedented number of wine and food-themed excursions and onboard presentations are set for Crystal Serenity's May 2008 Wine and Food cruise. Highlighted by a two-day overnight call in Bordeaux, the 12-day voyage from London to Rome offers 18 epicurian Crystal Adventures in the French wine country, Portugal, Spain and the French Riviera, as well as onboard events with Master Chef André Soltner and Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein. Connoisseurs short on time can experience new six-day segments of the cruise.

    "From cooking lessons in Barcelona and the South of France to 'from the barrel' tastings at Chateau Mouton Rothschild, the region is rich in opportunities for authentic wine and food programs," says John Stoll, director of Crystal Cruises' land programs. "To visit the wine regions of Bordeaux, Cognac, St. Emilion, and Pomerol, as well as Spain's La Rioja region and Lisbon's Port Wine Institute on the same voyage is a rare treat. To pair that experience with onboard instruction and a multi-course dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning Master Chef André Soltner, former owner of New York's famed Lutèce, is extraordinary."

    Whether guests opt for the complete 12-day voyage or one of the two six-day segments, nearly 10 carefully crafted boutique excursions in each port of call help travelers make the most of their time ashore. Of the 57 shoreside experiences featured, a full one-third are devoted to fine wine and food, including:

    • New Wine making and explore the cellars at magnificent Château Margaux;
    • New Enjoy a tour, tasting and dinner at historic Château Smith Haut-Lafitte;
    • New The famed Médoc wine road to visit the village of Soulac and its basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
    • New The Cognac region and learn how the fine liquor is crafted
    • Wine tasting and the reserves at Spain's coastal Txakolí Cellar, the underground El Fabulista Cellar and the architectural marvel Ysios Cellar

    In addition, new outdoor adventures allow guests to:

    • New Experience a mountain safari in the Serra Sintra region outside Lisbon
    • New Sail on a dolphin and whale watching expedition off the coast of Gibraltar
    • New Bicycle through Barcelona
    • Visit Bilbao's stunning Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry
    • Scuba dive around Gibraltar for certified divers and beginners alike

    Departing London on May 7, 2008, Crystal Serenity will call in Bordeaux and Villefranche, France; Bilbao and Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and Gibraltar, United Kingdom; before concluding in Rome. The cruise can be experienced as a full 12-day journey or in two six-day segments (London to Lisbon / Lisbon to Rome). Fares for the full 12-day Epicurean Adventure from London to Rome begin at $4,595. Fares for the six-day segments begin at $2,530. All fares are listed per person, double occupancy.

    Crystal's unwavering commitment to a superior wine and food experience is evidenced by the line's extensive wine cellars offering more than 230 wines and as many as 25,000 bottles, a reserve wine list featuring such rare vintages as 1959 Château Lafite Rothschild and 1971 Château Petrus; Crystal's own proprietary label, C Wines; and intimate Vintage Room dinners. All of the line's sommeliers have been recently certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, enhancing a fine dining experience highlighted by collaborations with world-renowned Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio for its specialty restaurants.

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    1-8-08: Celebrity Cruises New Year Promotion Celebrity is giving onboard credit to passengers who book Celebrity Cruises vacations in Alaska, the Caribbean, or in Europe between now and February 29, 2008, based on the length of the voyage. Guests can spend the onboard credit on a variety of experiences during the cruise, including spa treatments, shore excursions and more. Guests who book sailings that total less than six nights will receive $50 in onboard credit per stateroom.

    Guests who book voyages that total seven, eight or nine nights will receive $100 in onboard credit per stateroom. Guests booking voyages lasting ten, 11, 12 or 13 nights will receive $150 in onboard credit per stateroom, and guests booking voyages lasting 14 nights or longer will receive $200 in onboard credit per stateroom.

    Guests who book quickly will enjoy reduced deposits: those who book any Celebrity Alaska, Caribbean or Europe cruise before January 20, 2007, will only have to pay 50% of the cruise fare at the time of booking.

    There are also incentives for travel agents who sell a lot of these cruises, so book this cruise through your travel agent.

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    1-7-08: MSC Lirica - Perfect Health Score The inspection team of the Vessel Sanitation Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a surprise Christmas Eve inspection in St. Thomas, USVI, on MSC Lirica. The ship received a perfect score of 100 following the rigorous examination and the U.S. Public Health officials had nothing but praise.

    The CDC officers conducted intense inspections of the food provisioning, storage and preparation areas, the ship's laundry, bars, self-serve buffets, restaurants, washing machinery, room service operations, medical and children's centers, as well as its Integrated Pest Management Program, waste management, housekeeping and public area cleanliness, recreational and potable water protection and supply system, air purity controls, and the ship's general procedures to prevent or control illnesses such as Norovirus.

    The inspection team (CDC) said the award of 100 points was by no means a "Christmas Gift." They said the exceptional score was awarded because of the outstanding state of sanitation, safe food handling, and the general high level of understanding and compliance in the areas of food, water, air and general hygiene onboard MSC Lirica. Over the years, MSC Cruises' ships sailing in Caribbean waters have consistently earned "Superior" scores on USPH inspections.

    "We are extremely proud of our consistently top-rated scores from the USPH inspectors. Our guests often tell us that we have the best entertainment and the cleanest ships afloat," says Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA). "Such accolades are the results of a dedicated effort to provide our guests with the safest, cleanest and most enjoyable holiday."

    "It's probably stating the obvious that what happens in the USA is our international standard on every ship, wherever they operate – but it is a fact. We have standards in some cases that exceed the USPH requirements, and our objectives are to maintain those standards. Part of our mission statement is Absolute Health and Absolute Food safety. It's what we do, and a result like this one makes us a very proud company," says General Manager Emilio La Scala of MSC's Cruise Technical Department at the company's headquarters in Sorrento, Italy.

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    1-7-08: Coast Guard performs Emergency Med-evac at Sea Despite heavy weather off the coast of California last night, the Coast Guard medevacuated a man from Crystal Symphony. A crew from Air Station San Diego conducted a medical evacuation of a 88-year-old male Saturday night from the cruise ship, 40 miles northwest of La Jolla, Calif.

    The intial report from the cruise ship was received by Sector San Diego just after 8:00 p.m. Friday. A Coast Guard flight surgeon determined the man would require a medical evacuation, and crews were dispatched to the location.

    An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station San Diego hoisted the man and a nurse from the ship. The patient was taken to Scripps Hospital in La Jolla.

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    1-07-08: Teen from Navy Airlift Rescue Returns to Thank Captains: Princess and US Navy Just released from the hospital, 14-year-old Laura Montero, the teenager who was successfully airlifted off Dawn Princess for an emergency appendectomy last month, greets the Captains and Crews of Dawn Princess and the USS Ronald Reagan who helped save her life. Above, she presents Dawn Princess Captain Marco Fortezze (Left) and USS Ronald Reagan Captain Terry Kraft (Right) with thank-you notes she wrote while recovering in the hospital. In a special ceremony hosted onboard Dawn Princess, Captain Fortezze was honored to welcome Montero back on board and meet in person for the first time the Captain and crew of the USS Ronald Reagan who came to her aid when she required emergency surgery.

    Pictured from left to right: Dawn Princess Captain Marco Fortezze, Laura Montero, USS Ronald Reagan Captain Terry Kraft and Princess Cruises Executive George Wright.

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