News Archive - January 2012

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1-31-12 Reuters: Concordia Search for Bodies has Ended The Reuters news agency is reporting that the search for bodies aboard the downed Costa Concordia has ended as of today, January 31. It has been more than two weeks since the cruise ship capsized against the rocks of Italian island Giglio. A local authority said conditions have become too dangerous for the search to continue.

A total of 17 bodies were recovered from the ship, and 15 people are said to be still missing. Several bodies were wearing life vests found by divers in submerged evacuation assembly points. The ship was carrying more than 4200 people, including passengers and crew, when it went down.

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest in Italy. He has been blamed for causing the accident and accused of abandoning the ship before the evacuation was complete. The ship, Costa Concordia, scraped a shoal of large rocks after Schettino steered to within 150 meters of the tiny island of Giglio. One large rock remains embedded in the hull of the ship.

Passengers have characterized the evacuation as chaotic and frightening. Some people sat in lifeboats for two hours before reaching the water and becoming free to sail away from the ship. Italy's top-ranking Coast Guard official, Marco Brusco, said last week that Schettino lost "a precious hour" which made evacuating the ship more difficult, according to the report.

Searching is set to continue in other sections of the half-submerged ship and in waters up to 18 square kilometers around the vessel, where a number of objects have been spotted which investigators believe could turn out to be bodies.

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1-31-12 Princess Cruises Wants Your Photos for New Royal Princess Introducing the "1,000 Memories at Sea" Contest

Princess Cruises is looking for 1,000 passenger-submitted cruise vacation photos to permanently showcase aboard its new Royal Princess when the ship debuts in spring 2013.

The line has launched a "1,000 Memories at Sea" contest inviting passengers to submit their best cruise vacation shots, which will be displayed on the walls of hallways between staterooms and in other locations around the ship. In addition, one lucky photographer will win a cruise for two, including airfare, on Royal Princess.

Whether they captured the perfect Caribbean sunset, caught Alaska wildlife in action, found a breathtaking rainbow over Hawaii, or snapped a meaningful moment onboard, passengers can submit their favorite cruise photos on Facebook, at princess.com/royalprincesscontest or by mail. The "1,000 Memories at Sea" contest will be judged by a panel which is looking for creativity, originality, style, and images that capture the spirit of what it means to "escape completely." Contest judges include Rai Caluori, Princess' executive vice president of fleet operations; Teresa Anderson, the line's vice president of interior design, and Ian Johnson, director of photography and video for Princess.

"With the introduction of Royal Princess, we wanted to pay tribute to our passengers and their vacation memories made aboard our ships," said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess. "This contest will be a fun opportunity for 1,000 of our passengers to be permanently recognized aboard our new ship, so they should start sifting through their travel photos now, and submit a remarkable shot to be considered."

The "1,000 Memories at Sea" contest runs through March 31, 2012 and is open to entrants 21 years of age or older, residing in the United States, Canada (excluding Quebec), the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Full entry details for the contest can be found at princess.com/royalprincesscontest.

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1-27-12 Costa Cruises Details Costa Concordia Guest Reimbursement Costa Crociere wishes to again express its profound condolences to the families of the victims, continued sympathy to the families of the missing and deep regret and sorrow for the damages and hardship the Costa Concordia accident caused to all its guests.

Costa Crociere announced a compensation proposal for guests who have returned home after the Jan. 13 tragic Costa Concordia accident. This proposal is the result of negotiations between Costa Crociere and consumer associations protecting guests' interests, with the support of multiple tourism and travel industry associations. In Italy, the company has already reached an agreement with the National Council of Consumers and Users, a national organization.

The families of the deceased and guests who were injured and required medical treatment on site will be covered under a separate proposal that will take into account their individual circumstances.

The compensation package for Costa Concordia guests who have returned home includes:

  • A lump sum of 11,000 euros (US$14,458.07 at today's exchange rate) per person as indemnification, covering all patrimonial and nonpatrimonial damages, including loss of baggage and personal effects, psychological distress and loss of enjoyment of the cruise vacation;
  • Reimbursement of the value of the cruise, including harbor taxes;
  • Reimbursement of air and bus transfers included in the cruise package;
  • Full reimbursement of travel expenses to reach the port of embarkation and return home;
  • Reimbursement of any medical expenses resulting from the cruise;
  • Reimbursement of expenses incurred on board during the cruise.

This compensation package is higher than the current indemnification limits provided for in international conventions and laws currently in force. The 11,000 euro lump-sum payment is offered to all Costa Concordia passengers, including nonpaying children, regardless of their age.

Costa also has pledged not to deduct from this sum any amount paid by any insurance policy stipulated by guests. In addition, the company will return all goods stored in cabin safes, where retrieval is possible.

Costa Crociere also has pledged to provide a program for psychological assistance to any guests that request it. The company has further agreed to offer customers the ability to cancel any upcoming cruise booked before Jan. 13, on any of its routes, without penalty through Feb. 7, 2012.

Dedicated operation units will handle claims to ensure timely resolution. Payments will be credited by the company within seven days of receipt of the acceptance of the proposal. Guests should e-mail careteam@us.costa.it or call 954-266-5693 for assistance.

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1-26-12 Explorer of the Seas' Arrival Delayed Due to Medical Emergency Explorer of the Seas' arrival to Cape Liberty has been unexpectedly delayed due to a medical emergency, and will now arrive in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Saturday, January 28, one day later than originally scheduled.

We ask that guests who are scheduled to sail on Explorer of the Season Friday, January 27 not arrive at the port until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 28. We kindly ask that guests come to the terminal between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 28 for check-in and boarding.

Regrettably, the delayed arrival is expected to have an impact on the scheduled itinerary. Guests will now spend Sunday, January 29, and Monday, January 30, at sea. Unfortunately, this additional day at sea will mean that the port call to Labadee, Haiti, will be cancelled. The remainder of the itinerary will remain the same.

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1-25-12 Labor Strikes Delay New Oceania Cruises RIVIERA MIAMI, January 25, 2012 - Oceania Cruises was notified by Fincantieri late last week of construction delays and as a result, will reschedule the maiden voyage of its m/s Riviera. Construction on the 1,250-guest ship fell behind schedule when strikes at Fincantieri's shipyard near Genoa, Italy, lasted longer than expected.

The maiden voyage of Riviera has moved from April 24 to May 16, and all guests affected by the delay will be contacted by their travel agents or by Oceania Cruises directly to discuss alternative cruise dates.

"We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this may cause our guests," stated Kunal S. Kamlani, the cruise line's president. "We are working very closely with the shipyard to ensure Riviera is completed to meet Oceania's high standards of quality and service."

"We know that sophisticated international travelers are anxious to welcome Riviera and we regret that labor strikes have caused this delay," said Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri's chief executive officer. "All of us at Fincantieri are committed to producing a superior quality ship and we will deliver a truly magnificent vessel to Oceania Cruises without further delays."

The new maiden voyage is a 10-day "Pearls of the Aegean" cruise that includes an overnight aboard ship in Venice before visiting Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Monemvasia, Crete, Santorini, Kusadasi (gateway to Ephesus), Delos, Mykonos and Athens.

Guests booked on affected sailings will have the option of rebooking another cruise and receive a future cruise credit, which ranges from $250 to $1,000 per guest, depending on category of accommodation. In the event guests do not wish to rebook, they will receive a full refund. Travel agent commissions will be protected.

For more information on Riviera or Oceania Cruises, or to order a brochure, contact a travel professional, visit www.Oceaniacruises.com or call toll-free at 800-531-5658.

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1-24-12 Norwegian Cruise Line - Interactive Facebook Contest

Fans can win one of five Norwegian cruise vacations to an amazing destination

Norwegian Cruise Line is launching an interactive Facebook contest encouraging fans to "See the World the Norwegian Way." Through March 31, 2012, participants will have a chance to win one of five incredible seven-day cruises to one of the top cruise destinations around the world. Each weekday, Norwegian will release a new contest clue on its Facebook page. Fans will have to collect responses to all five clues and then correctly answer each in order to be entered into the contest.

The exciting contest is centered on the five different destination-focused Wave season offers, including Europe; Alaska and Hawaii; Bermuda and Bahamas; and the Caribbean. During each two-week offer, Norwegian will post a question or riddle about the line's products, ports-of-call or destinations, which fans will have to solve. A new clue will be revealed every day from Monday through Friday on the dedicated "Destinations" tab. Once all five clues have been collected, participants will have the opportunity to submit their answers into the contest entry form. Those who submit correct answers to all five questions will be entered to win a cruise for two to one of Norwegian's most sought after cruise destinations.

The contest kicks off today with a two-week focus on Europe and then transitions into an Alaska & Hawaii focus on February 6; Bahamas & Florida on February 20; Caribbean on March 5; and finally a fleet-wide focus on March 19. Fans may submit one entry per each two week promotional period and are encouraged to participate in all phases of the contest. The five winners will be announced on the line's Facebook page at the beginning of April.

As part of "Norwegians Take it to the Next Level" sales event, new reservations made through March 31, 2012, can receive same category upgrades, reduced deposits and e-coupons worth up to $400 in on-board savings (for sailings taking place before December 31, 2012) on select ships.

With these coupons, guests can take advantage of some of the most popular amenities at sea. Once booked and checked in online, guests will receive electronic coupons for spa treatments, internet minutes and a complimentary dinner in a specialty restaurant.

To enter, visit Norwegian's Facebook page at www.ncl.com/facebook. To book a cruise on board one Norwegian Cruise Line's Freestyle Cruising® ships, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit www.ncl.com.

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1-24-12 Disney Cruise Line Unveils New Itineraries and Ports for 2013

First-Ever Miami Departures and New European Destinations Provide More Options for Disney Cruise Line Guests

In 2013, Disney Cruise Line will offer new itineraries, including an expanded portfolio of European cruises with new destinations such as Venice, Italy, and the Greek Isles. In addition, Disney Cruise Line will utilize a second homeport in Florida, with Caribbean sailings departing from the Port of Miami for the first time.

With the addition of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy to the fleet of cruise ships, Disney Cruise Line is able to take more families to more destinations around the world. Disney Cruise Line has always catered to the unique vacation needs of families, and next year will be enhancing the cruise options for guests -- whether it's sun and sand in the Caribbean, outdoor adventures in Alaska or experiencing the wonders of Europe.

Highlights of the Disney Cruise Line 2013 schedule (which can be booked beginning Jan. 26, 2012) include...

Mediterranean from Barcelona

Beginning June 1, 2013, the Disney Magic returns to Europe with plenty of new twists to the Mediterranean itineraries, including a four-night option and special 12-night sailings in addition to seven-night itineraries that treat guests to the best of Europe during the three-month season.

The new 12-night sailings visit destinations such as Venice, Italy, and Croatia's Dalmatian Coast on one itinerary and Ephesus, Turkey and the Greek Isles including Athens, on another. Each itinerary will offer a sailing departing in June and another departing in July.

All itineraries depart from Barcelona, Spain, as the Disney Magic takes guests on an exciting journey of richly diverse cities, cultures and people. With romantic boulevards, bustling bazaars, iconic locations, mild climates, sun-drenched islands and the brilliant blue Mediterranean Sea, guests will enjoy a world-class family vacation with legendary Disney guest service.

Rates start at $796 per person for four-night cruises, $1,015 per person for seven-night cruises and $2,244 for 12-night cruises departing from Barcelona for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Four-night Mediterranean Getaway

Ports: Barcelona; Nice (Villefranche), France; Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Departure dates: July 9, Aug. 6

Seven-night Mediterranean Cruise

Ports: Barcelona; Nice (Villefranche), France; Florence (La Spezia), Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Naples, Italy

Departure dates: June 1, 8, Aug. 10, 17, 24, 31

12-night Mediterranean with Greece

Ports: Barcelona; Nice (Villefranche), France; Florence (La Spezia), Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Valetta, Malta

Departure dates: June 15, July 13

12-night Mediterranean with Venice

Ports: Barcelona; Nice (Villefranche), France; Florence (La Spezia), Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Naples, Italy; Venice, Italy (overnight); Dubrovnik, Croatia; Valetta, Malta

Departure dates: June 27, July 25

Bahamas and Western Caribbean from Miami

Disney Cruise Line will sail from Miami for the first time on Dec. 23, 2012. One six- and one seven-night Caribbean sailing aboard the Disney Wonder will set the stage for a schedule of four- and five-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas and Western Caribbean between Jan. 5, 2013, and May 2, 2013. The four- and five-night cruises have a variety of itineraries. Ports of call may include Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Key West; Nassau, Bahamas, and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

The itineraries offer families magical days at sea to explore all of the fun aboard the Disney Wonder and days in port to lounge on warm, golden beaches, to swim and snorkel in azure waters or to shop to their heart's content in exotic marketplaces.

Rates for four- and five-night cruises departing from Miami start at $440 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Five-night Caribbean

Ports: Miami, Cozumel, Castaway Cay

Departure dates: Jan. 5, 19, Feb, 2, 16, March 2, 16, 30, April 13, 27

Five-night Caribbean

Ports: Miami, Grand Cayman, Cozumel

Departure dates: Jan. 14, 28, Feb. 11, 25, March 11, 25, April 8, 22

Four-night Bahamas

Ports: Miami, Key West, Nassau, Castaway Cay

Departure dates: Jan. 10, 24, Feb. 7, 21, March 7, 21, April 4, 18, May 2

Western Caribbean from Galveston

The Disney Magic, which will begin sailing from Texas in 2012, will continue to sail from the Port of Galveston through May 2013, to the Western Caribbean.

Rates start at $750 per person for six-night cruises and $920 per person for eight-night cruises departing from Galveston for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Six-night Caribbean:

Ports: Galveston, Grand Cayman, Cozumel

Departure dates: Dec. 15 and 29, 2012, Jan. 12, 26, Feb. 9, 23, March 9, 23, April 6, 20. May 4

Eight-night Caribbean:

Ports: Galveston, Key West, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel

Departure dates: Dec. 21, 2012, Jan. 4, 18, Feb. 1, 15, March 1, 15, 29, April 12, 26, May 10

Alaska from Vancouver

Beginning May 27, 2013, the Disney Wonder will sail seven-night cruises from Vancouver to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.

These cruises will combine the natural wonder and adventurous spirit of Alaska with the unparalleled, family-friendly experience found on a Disney Cruise Line ship. Disney Cruise Line worked closely with Alaskan tour operators to create exclusive-to-Disney family-friendly Port Adventures that allow guests to best experience Alaska's natural beauty and rich history.

Rates for seven-night Alaska cruises departing from Vancouver start at $1,015 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Seven-night Alaska:

Ports: Vancouver, Tracy Arm (scenic cruising through fjord), Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan

Departure dates: May 27, June 3, 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Aug. 5, 12, 19, 26, Sept. 2

Caribbean and Bahamas from Port Canaveral

The Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream will continue to sail a variety of Caribbean and Bahamian itineraries departing from Port Canaveral.

The Disney Fantasy will sail out of Port Canaveral on seven-night Caribbean itineraries - alternating eastern (St. Maarten and St. Thomas) and western (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel). Special Eastern Caribbean sailings, January through April 2013, stop at San Juan, Puerto Rico. All Disney Fantasy itineraries include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Rates for seven-night Caribbean cruises on the Disney Fantasy start at $1,085 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

The Disney Dream will sail three-, four- and five-night cruises from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Rates for three- and four-night Bahamian cruises on the Disney Dream start at $450 per person for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

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1-20-12 Carnival Corporation & plc Announces Comprehensive Audit and Review of Safety and Emergency Response Across All Its Cruise Lines

Following the tragic Costa Concordia accident, Carnival Corporation & plc, parent company of Costa Cruises and nine leading cruise lines around the world, today announced a comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures across all of the company's cruise lines.

Carnival Corporation & plc and the cruise industry as a whole have maintained an excellent safety record over the years. "However, this tragedy has called into question our company's safety and emergency response procedures and practices," said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. "While I have every confidence in the safety of our vessels and the professionalism of our crews, this review will evaluate all practices and procedures to make sure that this kind of accident doesn't happen again."

The review is being led by Captain James Hunn, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and currently the company's senior vice president of Maritime Policy & Compliance. Following a 32-year career in the Navy, Hunn has held senior positions at Carnival Corporation & plc for nearly a decade, focusing on corporate-wide efforts to establish maritime policy standards, while overseeing the company's health, environmental, safety, and security practices.

Hunn and senior health and safety executives from each of the lines will review all safety and emergency response policies and procedures, officer and crew training and evaluation, bridge management and company-wide response and support efforts. Hunn will report to the Health, Environment, Safety & Security Committee of the Board, and to Howard Frank, vice chairman and chief operations officer of Carnival Corporation & plc.

In addition, the Health, Environment, Safety & Security Committee is engaging outside industry-leading experts in the fields of emergency response organization, training and implementation to conduct an audit of all of the company's emergency response and safety procedures and to conduct a thorough review of the Costa Concordia accident.

Frank said, "This company-wide initiative will identify lessons learned and best practices to further ensure the security and safety of all of our passengers and crew."

Carnival Corporation & plc also supports the call for a comprehensive evaluation of safety regulations by the International Maritime Organization, which was requested earlier today by the Cruise Lines International Association.

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1-20-12 AmaWaterways Unveils New African Cruise and Safari Tour

Luxury Safari Cruises, Featured on Hit-TV Show with Jack Hanna, are Scheduled to set Sail in 2012

Showcasing herds of zebras, grazing elephants and rivers teeming with exotic animals, AmaWaterways' adventurous African safari river cruises will debut in the summer of 2012. Recently featured on the hit TV show, "Jack Hanna's Into The Wild," AmaWaterways explores Africa's most renowned locations, including South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania up close and personal. Guests will have an opportunity to embark on the Zambezi Queen, a 28-passeneger ship designed specifically for safari river cruising to maximize sight seeing.

"Africa is a popular destination spot that provides so many natural activities," said AmaWaterways' Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Kristin Karst. "AmaWaterways is always looking for ways to wow our guests and the safari itineraries do not disappoint. Africa's diverse wildlife, sweeping plains and towering peaks make it the perfect place for an exciting vacation."

AmaWaterways' African cruises include the 16-day Stars of Africa, the 16-day African Sunsets and the 19-day Golden Trails of Africa. The tours bring the picturesque cities to life with morning and afternoon game drives, beach picnics and local wine tours. Guests will visit local museums such as the Huguenot Museum or Ngorongoro Archaeological Museum and also experience the sights and sounds of tribal dancing and visits to local villages. Experimental excursions such as tiger fishing, tours of Victoria Falls and evening sky presentations are destined to become favorites for guests.

"I highly recommend the Zambezi Queen. It's a must. Anyone that's looking to cross something off a bucket list or a way to travel in Africa, this is the way to go," said Jack Hanna, travel host. "From dining to the resting area to the accommodations and the wonderful staff and riverboat guides that get you up close to the wildlife, everything is top-notch and beyond five star. I've done this for 26 years now and this has been the epitome for me and my family to be on this magnificent vessel."

For more information about AmaWaterways, please contact your travel agent or visit www.amawaterways.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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1-18-12 Costa Cruises Statement Regarding Environmental Issues Related to Costa Concordia HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2012) — For Costa Cruises protecting the environment is an integral part of its corporate mission, as it has demonstrated by obtaining the most stringent international certifications (UNIEN ISO 14001).

The company therefore recognized the need to promptly address issues concerning the protection of the marine environment following the Costa Concordia accident.

In the hours immediately after the accident, Costa Cruises commissioned leading worldwide salvage experts Smit Salvage BV, of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to draw up a plan to recover the reserves of fuel from Costa Concordia. From the outset, this plan has been shared with the relevant authorities and, as a result of their full cooperation, is expected to be implemented by the end of the week.

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1-18-12 Costa Cruises Jan. 18 Statement Concerning Costa Concordia HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2012) — We are deeply saddened to learn that additional people have been found during the search of Costa Concordia, and extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families.

We continue to cooperate with authorities to support the rescue and recovery efforts, and to help secure the vessel to ensure that there is no environmental impact.

Our main priority remains the location of those passengers and crew who have not yet been accounted for. While rescue efforts continue we are reaching out to all our guests and their families to offer further assistance.

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1-15-12 Latest Costa Concordia Statement Costa Cruises Statement on Costa Concordia

Update #3

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Jan. 15, 2012, 4:30 p.m. ET) We at Costa Cruises are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected.

Over the past 48 hours, more than 1,100 Costa employees have been working tirelessly in the wake of this terrible event. We are working closely with the authorities to support ongoing search-and-rescue operations, and are focusing on ensuring that all guests and crewmembers return home safely.

Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew, and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts. We have engaged the services of a top specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship. It should be noted that the Prosecutor has seized the ship and the DVR — the so-called "black box" containing all navigation data — and the vessel can be accessed by Costa only with permission from the authorities.

We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia. While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences. The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures. We are aware that the lead Prosecutor has leveled serious accusations against the ship's captain, who joined Costa Crociere in 2002 as a safety officer and was appointed captain in 2006.

In light of these accusations and the continuing investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.

As we are learning more about the event and the evacuation, however, it is becoming clear that the crew of the Costa Concordia acted bravely and swiftly to help evacuate more than 4,000 individuals during a very challenging situation. We are very grateful for all they have done.

Costa is committed to ensuring that no such incident ever occurs again. Our number-one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and crew, and we comply with all safety regulations. (See background on Costa safety below).

Background on Costa's Commitment to Safety

Costa complies very strictly with all safety regulations and our personnel are committed, first and foremost, to guest safety and security.

All crewmembers hold a BST (Basic Safety Training) certificate and are trained and prepared in emergency management and to assist passengers abandoning the ship with numerous drills. Roles, responsibilities and duties are clearly assigned to all crewmembers. Every two weeks all crewmembers perform a ship evacuation simulation. A lifeboat and evacuation drill for all guests is conducted within 24 hours of embarking, as required by law. Costa has a computerized system that ensures all passengers undergo this drill.

The skills of Costa crew are periodically tested by Coast Guard authorities and an independent classification organization, per SMS (Safety Management Systems) requirements.

There are lifeboats and jackets on board in excess of the number required for all passengers and crew. Lifeboats are equipped with food and water supplies, first-aid kits and communication and signaling equipment. All life-saving appliances meet international standards and are subject to close, regular inspection by shipboard personnel and certification authorities. All Costa ships are certified by RINA and have been built to the highest standards and technologies.

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1-13-12 Costa Concordia Sinking - Passengers Missing - 3-6 Reported Dead How quickly the news changes overnight. The ship that last appeared to be salvagable his now mostly underwater and a lost cause. Furthermore, it is reported that some 50 - 70 are reported to be missing. We are not sure why they would not have an exact count of who is missing already, but I am sure we will have a clearer picture soon. The Costa Concordia, a large cruise ship based in Italy but belonging to Costa Cruises, a cruise line in the Carnival Corp. Family, apparently struck ground near a tiny island named Giglio off the coast of Italy. The ship had just loaded a new contingent of passengers in Savona, near the city of Genoa on the West coast of Italy.

Passengers reported that the ship jolted suddenly while they were eating dinner. The captain came on the public address system to tell the passengers and crew that the ship had experienced an electrical fault, however witnesses quoted in European newspapers said it was obvious that the ship had hit something. They said they felt a sudden jolt quickly followed by a large banging sound.

Right now there are reports that three to six people have died although their names and whether or not they were passengers or crew has not been specified. There are reports of sightings of people dying after jumping into the water in a panic however that has not been confirmed, but it is being reported by CNN that 50 - 70 peopler are missing.

The lack of specificity is somewhat staggering to us here at CruiseMates considering it is late in the day in Europe already, the ship is close to shore, and there has been plenty of time to do an accounting of every passenger.

Costa Concordia is identical in superstructure to the Carnival Splendor, the ship that lost power off the coast of Mexico two years ago. However that is just a coincidence and the two incidents are not related.

All of the Costa Concordia passengers were evacuated after the captain sounded the abandoned ship signal of six short and one long blasts of the ship's horn. To evacuate the ship the passengers went through the muster drill just as it had been rehearsed a few hours previously just after embarkation, assuming this cruise took the regular protocol for boarding passengers.

Although the ship was listing at 20º soon after it struck ground company representatives said the vessel is in no danger of sinking. However, in the morning the ship was fully on its side in the water and it appears it will be fully submerged (if it is not already) soon. It has been reported that the ship struck a shallow underwater shoal off the Punta Gabbianara cape close to the island. Although ships have radar and charts to warn them of such obstacles, charts can be outdated or inaccurate and large ships cannot perform last minute evasive maneuvers. Without a doubt, a complete investigation into the incident will commence shortly.

The passengers were taken to the island of Giglio, which means "Lily" in English. The ship was on a cruise in the Mediterranean leaving from Savona, near Genoa, with planned ports of call in Civitavecchia, Palermo, Cagliari, Palma, Barcelona and Marseille, Costa cruise lines reported.

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1-11-12 AmaWaterways Repositions The AmaDagio AmaWaterways is currently transporting the AmaDagio from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Marseille, France to operate 7-night cruises on the Rhone River starting on March 29, 2012. The voyage from its current location in the Netherlands will take the ship through the English Channel, around Spain and Portugal and through the Strait of Gibraltar before it docks in Marseille, France. Previously, the AmaDagio served the Rhine, Mosel and Danube itineraries.

The AmaDagio has 71 170-square-foot staterooms and four 255-square-foot Junior Suites. Inside the exquisitely decorated staterooms are all the amenities of a fine hotel with white-on-white plush bedding, a cozy sitting area, individually controlled air-conditioning and ample closet space. Eighty percent of all staterooms and Junior Suites feature large French balconies.

As part of AmaWaterway's 15-day Provence and Spain cruise-tour itinerary, the ship will begin sailing 7-night cruises in France between Lyon and Arles in March through the end of the year. Excursions include the Beaujolais wine region; tours of Roman ruins; and stops at UNESCO World Heritage Site of Avignon and Arles, where Vincent Van Gogh spent much of his life. After the cruise, guests will visit the medieval town of Perpignan, France before ending their voyage in Barcelona.

"The AmaDagio provides the best ship for our guests on this beautiful excursion," said AmaWaterways President and Co-Owner Rudi Schreiner. "Our guests are like family to us and we want the AmaWaterways luxury travel experience to come to life. "

The AmaDagio features the latest in onboard entertainment with HD-TVs featuring the Infotainment system offering keyboard with internet access, English language TV stations, a large selection of movies and numerous music programs. Additional amenities include a full-service restaurant, wellness area with glassed-in fitness room, complimentary Wi-Fi and bicycles to explore the small towns and cities along the route.

AmaWaterways' President Rudi Schreiner will host a President's Wine Cruise on the March 29 departure with special guests from the Chappellet Winery and the Central Coast Wine Classic of California.

For more information about AmaWaterways, please contact your travel agent or visit www.amawaterways.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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1-11-12 Princess Cruises to Fund Two Breast Cancer Research Grants

The Princess Cruises Community Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure(r) have announced a new three-year partnership for two research projects supporting the fight against breast cancer.

One of the Foundation-supported research grants, at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), will look at the molecular effects of the chemical BPA on breast cancer, while the other, at Stanford University School of Medicine, will study breast stem cell differentiation.

The projects are funded by the Princess Cruises Community Foundation's On Deck for the Cure(r) program, which is a 5K fundraising walk for passengers held during the course of every Princess cruise.

At the same time, the Foundation has been welcomed into the Komen Million Dollar Council for surpassing this donation milestone.

"These two research projects are both important steps toward finding causes and treatments for breast cancer," said Alan Buckelew, president of the Princess Cruises Community Foundation, and also president and CEO of Princess Cruises. "Reaching the million dollar donation level and being able to fund this work underscores our commitment to this cause, and we want to acknowledge the support of our passengers for this important milestone. On every cruise, they take time out of their vacation to circle the decks, raising both funds and awareness to fight one of the leading causes of death for women in the U.S."

The research supported by Susan G. Komen with funding from the Princess Cruises Community Foundation's On Deck for the Cure program includes:

Determining the Molecular Effects of Bisphenol A (BPA) in Mammary Gland Stem Cells and Breast Cancer Proliferation

Headed by Dr. Susan Krum at UCLA, this study will investigate whether a chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA) - commonly found in plastic containers, ranging from baby bottles to food containers - causes or accelerates breast cancer. BPA is similar to the hormone estrogen, which is responsible for stimulating the growth of a large percentage of breast cancers. Dr. Krum and her colleagues will test whether BPA, acting like estrogen, may also stimulate tumor growth.

Functional Analysis of the DLK1-GTL2 Imprinted Region in Breast Stem Cell Differentiation and Tumorigenesis

Dr. Michael Clarke heads this Stanford University School of Medicine study to attempt to determine whether small RNA molecules (MicroRNA) from a specific region in breast stem cells can be used to treat or predict breast cancer. The study will also investigate whether restoring irregular MicroRNA in breast cancer cells can prevent tumor growth.

"Princess Cruises Community Foundation is a committed partner in the fight against breast cancer," said Katrina McGhee, CMO & executive vice president for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "Not only do they raise awareness on board every ship during every sailing, they also raise significant funds to help Susan G. Komen fulfill our promise to end breast cancer forever. We are so grateful to Princess Cruises Community Foundation and the Princess employees and guests for their dedication to our cause."

Since the On Deck for the Cure program was launched on Princess ships in 2007, thousands of passengers have participated in the fundraising walks held during the course of each cruise. The five-kilometer walks around the ships' decks always draw an enthusiastic group of passengers who donate a minimum of $15 to participate, and receive a special hat, and a post-walk appreciation reception.

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1-8-12 Disney Fantasy Floats Out from German Shipyard Just hours ago today, the Disney Fantasy met water for the first time as it was floated out from the massive ship building warehouse at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. After final outfitting and crossing the Atlantic, the Disney Fantasy's maiden voyage is scheduled to make way on March 31, 2012.

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1-6-12 Kenny G Charters Fan Cruise Onboard Celebrity Millennium Grammy Award-winning artist Kenny G has chartered modern luxury line Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium to create a special vacation experience in Alaska, May 17-24, 2013. The world-renowned saxophonist will not only offer multiple performances during the sailing, but also will mix and mingle with guests onboard throughout the cruise. Other recognized artists yet to be announced will perform during the sailing, as well.

In a recording career spanning nearly three decades, Kenny G is the biggest-selling instrumentalist of all time, with sales of more than 75-million records worldwide, and more than a dozen climbs to the top of Billboard's contemporary jazz chart. In the past year alone, Kenny performed in more than 100 concerts in the U.S., Asia and Russia. He continued his iconic status with recent appearances on Saturday Night Live, performing with Foster the People, played a prominent role in pop artist Katy Perry's video hit, "Last Friday Night," and appeared on several Audi TV commercials featured during the 2011 Super Bowl. Since the early 1980s, Kenny G's combination of unparalleled instrumental talent and enduring melodies have resulted in him being recognized as one of the most successful music icons of his generation.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to cruise with my closest fans aboard Celebrity Millennium," said Kenny G. "The experience of playing with my band and sharing the breathtaking sights of one of the most beautiful destinations in the world will be one I'll remember forever. This cruise will allow me to spend quality time and get to know the fans onboard, just as they've gotten to know me through my music. Sailing with them on a week-long Celebrity Cruises vacation will be a highlight of my career, and I can't wait to share the journey."

"We had the thrill of having Kenny perform on our newest Solstice Class ship, Celebrity Silhouette, during the ship's Stateside debut in November, and watching the crowd interact, hearing his exceptional musical talent, and observing his engaging personality was so exciting," said Celebrity Cruises Director of Corporate Sales and Charters Ron Gulaskey. "He's approachable, funny, smart and interesting. The opportunity to sail with him for a week, and experience all this up-close, will create incredible memories for the fans onboard."

To make a booking, or for further information about this special sailing, visit www.KennyGcruise.com or call 1-800-952-2991. Reservations can be held with a deposit of only $100 per person until January 15, 2012, when the full deposit will be due. Special early booking benefits include guaranteed orchestra seating to his opening performance, if full deposits are made by or before that date. Montrose Travel is the exclusive booking agent for this charter cruise; however, agents from other firms also have the opportunity to book their clients on the sailing.

"Unlike many charters, travel agencies wishing to book their clients on the Kenny G Cruise can do so and still receive commission," said Celebrity Cruises North American Charter Sales Manager Andrea Sieger. "When calling Montrose Travel, travel professionals calling from a travel agency to book a client must register their agency with Montrose Travel to receive a 10 percent commission."

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1-3-12 Dumbo Flys Aboard Disney Fantasy's Stern The finishing touches are well underway on the soon to be launched Disney Fantasy. One such final detail was completed with the installation of the ship's stern ornamentation. Dumbo along with Timothy Q. Mouse sprouting from his hat have made their way onto the ship to assist in painting the vessel's name.

Such a tableau of characters is featured on each Disney ship with Goofy on Disney Magic, Donald Duck and his nephew Huey on Disney Wonder, and Sorcerer Mickey and his magical brooms on Disney Dream. And now Dumbo, the flying elephant, and Timothy Q. Mouse grace the Disney Fantasy, launching on March 31, 2012.

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