News Archive - July 2008

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7-31-08 P&O Pacific Sun Takes Roll in South Pacific: Passengers Injured Reports out the New Zealand are saying that the P&O ship, Pacific Sun, took two separate rolls in high seas last night. A number of passengers were injured. Various reports put the number of injured as high as 57, though most accounts put the number at 42.

The Pacific Sun was returning from an eight-day South Pacific cruise and was carrying 1,732 passengers and 671 crew. The ship was returning to Auckland, New Zealand, but will likely arrive in Auckland a day late because of continuing stormy weather.

The ship had left Vanuatu, west of Fiji earlier in the day, when it was battered in high seas with 22-foot swells and 50-knot winds. Although it is said the ship received warnings of the high seas, the company says it had no way of predicting how fierce the weather would get.

A passenger email describes being in the casino at the time of a particularly large roll, which caused machines to come loose from the floor and slam into passengers. The same passenger said she watched a later roll send crockery flying across the dining room.

Updates report that winds have eased slightly and passenger activities are back to normal in the dining room and on the decks this afternoon. Carnival Australia, which owns the cruise ship, has launched an investigation into the incident.

The Pacific Sun was once the Carnival Jubilee, a sister ship to the Carnival Holiday. Built in 1986, it was transferred to P&O Cruises in 2004.

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7-28-08 Soap Opera Cruise Coming to Celebrity Century Cruise enthusiasts who enjoy daytime TV's most popular soap operas - and the actors who star in them - are likely to find the vacation of their dreams in "Soap Cruise," which will be held on Celebrity Century in 2009.

Soap Cruise - the second voyage of its kind - will offer exclusive activities for guests participating in the Soap Cruise to directly interact with 16 of the hottest actors from all eight of daytime TV's top shows.

The activities will include autograph and photo sessions, soap opera trivia games, an elite cocktail party with the stars, and other special events, including the opportunity to write a script and act it out with one of the stars.

Hosting Soap Cruise will be Cameron Mathison, who plays "Ryan" on All My Children, and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Mathison will be joined by fellow All My Children actors Alicia Minshew ("Kendall") and Jacob Young ("J.R.").

Other Soap stars onboard include Austin Peck ("Brad") from As the World Turns; Brandon Beemer ("Owen") of The Bold and the Beautiful and formerly "Shawn" on Days of Our Lives; Winsor Harmon ("Thorne") and Lesli Kay ("Felicia") of The Bold and the Beautiful.

Also attending will be Nadia Bjorlin ("Chloe") and Jay Johnson ("Philip") of Days of Our Lives; Bradford Anderson ("Spinelli") and Greg Vaughn ("Lucky") from General Hospital; Murray Bartlett ("Cyrus") and Ricky Paull Goldin ("Jake") of All My Children, formerly ("Gus") on Guiding Light; Kamar de los Reyes ("Antonio") on One Life to Live; and Don Diamont ("Brad") and Christian LeBlanc ("Michael") of The Young and the Restless.

The soap stars will mix it up exclusively with guests who have booked the Soap Cruise package on Celebrity Century's January 22 itinerary departing roundtrip from Miami, with visits to Key West, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico. A limited number of staterooms have been reserved for guests interested in experiencing Soap Cruise.

For reservations and to view images and video from last year's Soap Cruise, visit or call (248) 855-7918. Bookings on Celebrity Century's January 22 itinerary through other avenues will not include access to Soap Cruise activities.

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7-25-08 Carnival Fantasy Moving Operations to Mobile, Ala, This Weekend Due to the closure of the Mississippi River, the current voyage of the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy will end in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday, July 26, instead of its regular homeport of New Orleans. Disembarking guests will be provided complimentary motorcoach transportation back to the Port of New Orleans or the New Orleans airport.

Carnival Fantasy's next voyage, set to depart on Saturday, July 26, will also depart from Mobile. Carnival will provide complimentary motorcoach transportation from New Orleans' Erato Street cruise terminal to Mobile.

All guests for the next voyage are instructed to proceed to the Port of New Orleans to board a motorcoach to Mobile, because at the end of the cruise, the Fantasy is expected to return to New Orleans. The only exception would be individuals who are being dropped off and not leaving a car and prefer to proceed on their own to Mobile.

Both the voyage ending Saturday and the new one departing Saturday are five-day cruises to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

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7-24-08 Marriot Executive to Take Over NCL Hotel Operations Is this the silver bullet NCL needs to fulfill the promise of "Free-style Cruising? The company just announced that they are hiring former Marriot Hotels executive Dennis Nau to the position of Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations. Why is this significant? Because while NCL has innovated with its "Free-style" offerings and new ship designs, the line still gets frequent criticism for the execution of food and service on their ships.

NCL offers a vastly different cruise experience - with as many as 12 different restaurants onboard, many carrying an extra service charge, and a variety of entertainment venues as well. But if a free-style cruise, with so many food and entertainment options, doesn't deliver the excitement it promises then it falls short. This will be especially true in the next generation of NCL ships, F3, where the ships won't have traditional dining rooms or production show theaters. Instead, guests will choose from a number of different dining and entertainment options each night on board.

Nau has worked with Marriott Hotels & Resorts since 1985. He held a number of very senior roles including General Manager, Waikiki Beach Marriott and Hotel and General Manager of the New York Marriott Marquis and Marriott Eastside. He most recently served as Marriott's Vice President, Global Brand Management.

Andy Stuart, former executive vice president of marketing, sales and passenger services, will enter a newly created position; Chief Product Officer.

"The appointment of Dennis Nau to our most senior Hotel position, taken together with the recent creation of the role of Chief Product Officer filled by Andy Stuart, underlines the importance we place on delivering our newly upgraded Freestyle 2.0 cruise experience consistently, to the highest standard, every day to every guest. We are pleased to have attracted a hotel veteran of Dennis' caliber; our guests and our travel partners can now look forward to enjoying what he will bring to NCL," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO.

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7-22-08 Royal Caribbean to Focus on Park West Art Auctions During the most recent Royal Caribbean quarterly conference call, management says that the operator of onboard art auctions, Park West's "revenue stream has been an area of weakness compared to other onboard products." The cruise lines says it has discussed this problem with Park West in the past, although not in the last week since a recent critical New York Times article came out.

In terms of Park West's business practices within the world of art auctions, Royal Caribbean said, "we expect the highest standards of credibility for the business they are in." Royal Caribbean also said "we will be focusing quite a bit of attention on them to assure they are both operating properly and producing properly."

If you are not aware of the recent events, be sure to read our article on the Park West cruise ship art auction controversy.

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7-19-08 Fox News Investigates Delta Queen Controversy Fox news ran a story on their national news network on the controversy surrounding Rep. James Oberstar (Dem. Minnesota) and his singluar effort to scuttle the Delta Queen, The United States oldest and last remianing original paddle-wheel steamboat still offering regular cruises. The Delta Queen is a registered National Historic Landmark according to an act of Congress, and can operate as a cruise vessel solely because of congressional mandates allowing her to do so. These mandates (exemptions to specific vessel requirements) have been virtually rubber-stamped by Congress every few years since the early 1970s, but this year Oberstar, head of the U.S. transportation committee, is holding the exemption in committee and not even allowing it to come to a vote.

This is will end Delta Queen's career as a passenger cruiser. Why is Oberstar single-handedly scuttling her, especially considering he personally voted FOR the very same exemptions in previous years including just two years ago. According to the Fox New Report on Oberstar's Delta Queen Opposition, the only thing that has changed in the last year is that the boat went from a union member crew to a non-union member crew. Oberstar's state is on the Great Lakes and many Seafarer's Union members vote in his district. The Union has come out openly against the Delta Queen's continuation.

So, while Oberstar is nakedly saying, in the video, that the only reason he is witholding the legislation is concern over fire safety, he voted for the same legislation previously, and the only thing that has changed is the union withdrawing support for the vessel. In other words, Oberstar is obviously a two-faced double dealer who only cares about himself.

The Save-the organization, has been working stridently to bring this obvious grandstanding by Oberstar to the attention of the American public. They have staged demonstrations and helped other congressmen (Ohio's Rep. Steve Chabot) to sponsor alternative bills to get around Oberstar's roadblock, but Oberstar, head of the transportation, committee has scuttled those bills as well.

As the Fox report notes, nothing else has changed on the Delta Queen. She is as seaworthy and fire-resistant as ever. One Save-the-Delta-Queen spokesperson, Vicki Webster, believes Oberstar deserves to lose his office for his obvious pandering to a small, local group that has made contributions to his campaigns rather than preserving a piece of American history for the entire nation to continue enjoying.

The Fox News video sums it up nicely, and we encourage you to watch it.

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7-18-08 "There Was No Crime" Says Jennifer Hagel Smith COMMENTARY: Jennifer Hagel Smith, widow of George Allen Smith who died mysteriously on a Mediterranean cruise in 2005, has released a statement that says her husband's family has refused to acknowledge the possibility that Smith's death was accidental. The family has insisted Smith was a victim of foul play despite a lack of evidence, according to the widow. Her attorney says the family has "described a crime scene in the cabin on the ship that simply didn't exist" and "published reports of blood evidence that the families now know is baseless."

The statement, as reported by the Associated Press, is a response to an appeal the family filed against the widow claiming she accepted an inadequate settlement from Royal Caribbean. Her lawyer further remarks that Hagel Smith has received numerous documents, including cabin access records and statements made to investigators, and "There's no evidence we can see of murder."

The crime was investigated by the FBI and no charges were ever brought. All of the evidence and the testimony of Smith's widow points to an accident or suicide.

What is most interesting about this? George Smith's family is one of the co-founders of the highly outspoken anti-cruise industry organization "International Cruise Victims." The other co-founder of ICV, and their spokesperson, is Kendall Carver whose daughter Merrian disappeared from a cruise ship also in 2005. In that case there is also no evidence that a crime ever occured. The final conclusion was that her disappearance was a deliberate act by the deceased.

So, now the best evidence we have in both of the cases of the families who started "International Cruise Victims" is that neither case involved foul play. Neither of them were victims at all, let alone "cruise victims," yet they have been such highly consistent critics that they have have sparked three congressional investigations into "cruise ship crime."

In two of the most recent additions to ICV's roster of "cruise victims", Ashley Barnett and Mindy Jordan, neither of those cases bears proof of foul play, either. Ashley ingested her boyfriend's methadone (a strong opiate) apparently by accident because it had been transferred to a Nyquil bottle. Mindy was attempting to climb from one balcony to another, high above open water in high seas. A camera caught her in the act and shows her losing her grip. Both incidents were investigated by the FBI and no charges were filed.

Are these cases sad? Of course. Is it easy to criticize anyone who has lost loved ones? It doesn't feel good at all. But since these are the same people who have put the cruise industry on trial a look in the mirror is only fair. We are desperately sorry for their losses, but are they "cruise ship crime victims?"

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7-16-08 Sixthman Announces 2009 Rock 'n Roll Cruise Lineup Sixthman has announced its line-up of chartered music cruises for 2009, featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man Cruise 2009, The Rock Boat IX, Barenaked Ladies' Ships & Dip V, Cayamo 2009 and John Mayer's Mayercraft Carrier 2.

Sixthman's 2009 cruises feature new destinations, more luxurious ships and new artists. Each cruise includes "round the clock" concerts, jam sessions, karaoke parties and acoustic shows. Special deals on flights and rental cars are also available with Sixthman travel partners, AirTran Airways and Hertz. Guests can contact Sixthman at 1-877-SIXTHMAN for more information on travel deals.

Sixthman's 2009 cruise line-up includes:

Simple Man Cruise 2009 Lynyrd Skynyrd, 38 Special, Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, Blackberry Smoke, and others come together onboard the Simple Man Cruise 2009 for the greatest southern rock cruise ever. This 4-day Caribbean adventure will depart from Miami, FL on Jan. 8, 2009 on the Carnival Destiny and sail to Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, Carnival Cruise Line's private island in the Bahamas, returning on Jan. 12, 2009. For more information, visit

The Rock Boat IX Sister Hazel presents the Rock Boat IX onboard the Carnival Destiny, featuring Hanson, Cowboy Mouth, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, and more. Leaving from Miami, FL on Jan. 17, 2009 and heading to Nassau, Bahamas and Half Moon Cay, the Rock Boat IX is the world's greatest floating music festival. After five days of non-stop rock and roll, The Rock Boat IX returns on Jan. 22, 2009. For more information, visit

Ships and Dip V Barenaked Ladies are bringing back the wild and wacky Ships and Dip V onboard the Norwegian Jewel, the first Sixthman event to be hosted on this cutting edge, free styling cruise line. Fans will join artists like Great Big Sea and The Weakerthans for five days of music, comedy and fun. Departing from Miami, FL on Feb. 1, 2009, Ships and Dip V will sail to Norwegian Cruise Line's private island Great Stirrup Cay and Cozumel, Mexico, returning on Feb. 6, 2009. For more information, visit

Cayamo 2009: A Journey Through Song Cayamo 2009: A Journey Through Song brings together Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Indigo Girls, Brandi Carlile, Buddy Miller and well over a dozen other legendary acts for the ultimate singer-songwriter music experience. Cayamo 2009 will sail onboard the Norwegian Dawn leaving from Miami, FL on Feb. 28, 2009, for a 7-day adventure heading to Samana, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Great Stirrup Cay, returning on March 7, 2009. For more information, visit

Mayercraft Carrier 2: Even Craftier! Grammy award winning artist John Mayer invites fans to cruise on the Mayercraft Carrier 2: Even Craftier! with friends including O.A.R. and Guster. Sailing from Los Angeles, CA on March 27, 2009, Mayercraft Carrier 2 will head down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico onboard the Carnival Splendor, Carnival's newest and biggest ship, returning on March 31, 2009. The Mayercraft Carrier 2 will be the first West Coast cruise to sail on the 1500-cabin Carnival Splendor. This new class vessel offers a number of innovative new features, including a luxurious 21,000-square-foot spa and large open glass walled pool, along with a 270-square foot outdoor movie screen. For more information, visit

Sixthman, LLC, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, focuses musically-driven lifestyle events with an emphasis on themed cruises. Founded and formed in 2001 and led by industry leader Andy Levine, for more information, visit

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7-16-08 New York Times Reports on Park West Galleries In an investigative piece, the New York Times writes that cruise ship auctioneer Park West @ Sea is embroiled in two class action lawsuits and that they have been forced to return the money of many art buyers who have disputed the appraisals of certain paintings.

The NY Times article mentions art experts interviewed on another web site,, who dispute the authenticity and value of certain Dali prints being sold by Park West. These prints belong to the Les Heures Claires collection. To see a Park West @ Sea auction of one of these prints, click here: Park West Auction Video.

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7-15-08 Crystal Now Offering Acupuncture Crystal Cruises is introducing onboard acupuncture, along with a menu of Chinese herbs revered for restoring and enhancing health, beauty and longevity. A menu of optional acupuncture treatments, launching this month on Crystal Serenity, focuses on weight loss, pain management, stress reduction, detoxification, smoking cessation, facial rejuvenation and even sea sickness.

The Crystal acupuncture program includes:

  • Onboard acupuncturist - Nancy Kerastas, Crystal Serenity's licensed acupuncture physician, has been practicing the art since 2002
  • Menus of Chinese herbs - Includes remedies that reactivate the body's fat-burning process; stabilize blood sugar metabolism; and relieve swollen or immobile joints
  • Shipboard seminars - Three to five classes will be held per cruise, discussing acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and Feng Shui practices and benefits

Guests receive pre-session consultations to discuss their conditions and medical histories. Cost is $150 for a 60-minute session and can be booked through Crystal's Feng Shui-designed spa.

Crystal also offers complimentary yoga, Pilates and newly introduced "Tour de Spin" cycling classes, and an exclusive Walk on Water(r) program utilizing weighted vests to increase resistance. The line continues its partnership with the esteemed Cleveland Clinic to feature onboard lectures and seminars with leading medical experts.

In December 2008, and in 2009 both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity host Mind, Body & Spirit theme cruises, focusing on general wellness through classes and discussions with guest instructors in Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates and general fitness.

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7-11-08 Hurricane Bertha Causing No Changes Yet Today's date is 7-11, and so far luck is with us as far as cruises to Bermuda are concerned. Although Hurricane Bertha is encroaching on the island, only Royal Caribbean has felt the need to even mention it, and only to say that so far they are not changing any itineraries.

Most Bermuda cruises leave on the weekend (Saturday or Sunday) and do not reach the island until mid-week. Right now, that has all Bermuda cruises ships closer to the their mainland ports and not set to turn around for a day or two. It appears that by the time ships are scheduled to be back in Bermuda ports that Bertha will have already cleared out.

Anything can happen, however, as the currently relatively small hurricane wends slowly towards Bermuda, is could soon new currents as it closer to the mainland. This could change the way it is reacting to the weather conditions. Should any changes occur, we will let you know.

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7-10-08 Silversea to Host 2009 World Leaders Symposium Silversea has also been selected to host the 2009 World Leaders Symposium, "The Middle East in the 21st Century," which will take place next March 19 to April 3 aboard the line's newly refurbished Silver Wind. Participants will travel to the Persian Gulf states of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman with former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, and other leading scholars and historians. This unique symposium will be produced by educational tour operator High Country Passage.

In March, 2008 Silversea's Silver Whisper was the host of the 2008 World Leaders Symposium titled "Rising Global Powers: China and East Asia." The conference guest speakers included former U.S. President George H.W. Bush; former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; and leading China scholar and author Jonathan D. Spence. It brought nearly 250 participants to the East Asian cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Nagasaki.

Participants in the "Rising Global Powers: China and East Asia" symposium enjoyed a luxurious journey aboard Silver Whisper and enriching events and tours ashore, including:

  • A visit to the Joint Security Area of the DMZ between North and South Korea, led by former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry;
  • A gala event at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing with former President George H.W. Bush, Mrs. Bush, and U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Rundt;
  • Panel discussions featuring leaders in the environment, media, and business in China (including the CEOs of Intel-China, Boeing-China, and PepsiCo-China);
  • Unique excursion options, such as a visit to Beijing's Olympic Stadium with the architect who designed it; regional cooking lessons; and a visit to a traditional Chinese-medicine hospital.

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7-10-08 Solstice Boasts 10-sided "Solstice Diamonds" Celebrity Cruises is discussing new features for its new ship, Solstice, about to debut in Novenber of this year. Highlighting the onboard attractions is what they call an "exceptional offering", a new way to cut a diamond in a 10-sided pattern for the first time. These diamonds, aptly named the Solstice Diamond, will be available exclusively on Celebrity Solstice. The patented gem will have 86 facets to create a visible, distinguishing star pattern said to be more sparkling than the familiar 58-facet brilliant-cut diamond.

With stones derived from Canada, the Solstice Diamond was created by UK-based Harding Brothers, who will manage the retail shops onboard the ship. Mounted in hand-created settings and in varying sizes for rings, pendants and earrings, no two pieces will be alike. The diamonds will be available in Celebrity Solstice's luxurious "Boutique C," one of 18 shops spanning three decks and 6,500 square feet onboard the ship.

In addition to the high-end Boutique C, Celebrity Solstice's retail venues include:

The Lawn Club Shop The refreshing aroma of freshly-cut grass will welcome guests in Celebrity Solstice's Lawn Club Shop, with golf-oriented merchandise, wine-related items, and a casual, contemporary resort line designed by Bobby Chan, whose apparel highlights pro shops and lifestyle specialty stores around the world. The shop also will feature a "grass"-soled flip-flop sold exclusively on Celebrity Solstice.

The Showcase Sparkling glass works from around the world will be the focus of The Showcase, where guests can purchase creations such as those found at The Corning Museum of Glass, whose alliance with Celebrity led to the industry's first Hot Glass Show and Studio on Celebrity Solstice. Among the brands "showcased" are Mats Jonasson, Kosta Boda and Steuben. The Showcase also will feature limited edition and retired pieces sold exclusively on Celebrity Solstice.

The Solstice Shop Celebrity Solstice's signature store, The Solstice Shop, will offer a variety of fashion-forward, private-label apparel, accessories and souvenirs, all tastefully marked with the ship or brand logo.

Exquisites The largest jewelry boutique onboard, Exquisites will present a vast array of necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets from new designers, as well as recognized, world-class brands such as Bellarri and H. Stern. The boutique also will present canary, pink and blue diamonds, as well as Tanzanite creations.

The Artisan Store Guests interested in one-of-a-kind jewelry and artifacts will find it hard to bypass The Artisan Store, where they can observe and interact with resident artists as they string pearls, carve cameos, and mount gemstones to suit each shopper's interests and preferences. The venue also will present special enrichment lectures and demonstrations.

Pieces of Time The timeless elegance of fine watches will be evident in the product line found in Pieces of Time, with featured brands including Dior, Gucci, H. Stern and Tag Hauer.

The Collection Style is in the bag at The Collection, where guests will find classic and contemporary purses of all styles, sizes, colors and textures, as well as belts, scarves, and other accessories.

The Men's Store True to its name, The Men's Store will feature casual yet sophisticated apparel for men from Newport Blue and Saltaire, as well as Celebrity's exclusive Blue Collection, among other brands.

Moda Chic women's fashions ranging from everyday, active wear to cocktail apparel will highlight Moda, with selections from leading designers such as Joseph Ribkoff, Celebrity's exclusive Blue Collection, and a number of variations on the classic "little black dress."

Jasmine Celebrity Solstice's Jasmine will focus on perfumes, cosmeceuticals and other skin care products. The venue also will offer personalized cosmetics consultations, and interactive workshops focused on color.

Adagio The ambience of indulgence and tranquility found in Adagio will be reflected in its products, ranging from self-tanning products to scrubs, rubs and body butters. The venue also will present many of the world's most popular fragrances, along with new launches.

Serendipity Shoppers in Serendipity will have the good fortune of finding an eclectic mix of merchandise that is constantly evolving, reflecting the unique character of each destination on the ship's itinerary. The selections will range from ethnic foods to apparel to accessories.

The Sundialer Fashionable watches and sunglasses are always timely, and will be the focus of The Sundialer, with hip selections from a variety of designers, within a fun, relaxed environment.

Glitz Trendy costume jewelry from established international brands as well as up-and-coming designers will be the focus of Glitz, with selections made of acrylic, crystal, gold and/or silver.

Sol Y Mar Sun worshipers will find Sol Y Mar a welcome venue, with its vast array of designer sunglasses, suntan lotions, pool cover-ups and other beach apparel, and paperback books.

Spirits & Such In a departure from the traditional shipboard liquor store, Spirits & Such will offer not only premium liquors, but also bar and kitchen accessories, and tote bags to ease the process of carrying purchases home. The venue also will host tastings.

Travel Made Easy Guests who need additional luggage to take home all the products they can't resist onboard will find relief in Travel Made Easy. There, accessories, sunglasses, hats and beach blankets are sold, along with luggage, tote bags, and electronics.

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7-7-08 Refitted Norwegian Sky Sails 3 and 4-day Bahamas Cruises from Miami Norwegian Sky returns to Miami today, to begin sailing three and four-day Bahamas cruises on Monday, July 14, 2008. The ship recently underwent a two-month wet dock in Freeport, Bahamas and now features a casino and NCL's Freestyle 2.0 enhancements, the company's fleet-wide initiative to further improve the guest experience across all guest touch points from food and beverage to staterooms.

"NCL pioneered the first Bahamas cruise from Miami more than 41 years ago and last had a ship in the three and four-day cruise market from Miami in 2003." said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "In addition, we have outfitted Norwegian Sky with the Freestyle 2.0 enhancements currently being introduced across our fleet."

Norwegian Sky, the newest ship of any cruise line sailing these Bahamas cruises, departs Miami on Mondays sailing four-day Bahamas cruises with full-day stops in Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island in the Bahamas. On Fridays, the ship sails a weekend getaway three-day Bahamas itinerary, departing Miami at 5 p.m. with all-day stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, returning to Miami at 7 a.m. on Monday mornings. Fares are from $229 per person for an inside stateroom and from $329 per person for a balcony stateroom. Sailings are currently scheduled through April 17, 2009.

Originally launched in 1999, Norwegian Sky has more than 240 balcony staterooms, a choice of seven different restaurants, nine bars and lounges, multiple entertainment venues, two pools, extensive children's facilities, a sports deck and a variety of spacious public rooms. Norwegian Sky had been reflagged under NCL-America and renamed Pride of Aloha in 2004 to sail Hawaii cruises until May 2008.

Culinary Delights

Upon embarkation, guests are greeted with NCL's new Freestyle 2.0 welcome "bubbly" to celebrate their arrival and are then treated to a 'Taste of Freestyle,' a sampling of culinary creations from the ship's specialty restaurants.

Norwegian Sky features seven restaurants with all new Freestyle 2.0 menus offering expanded choices. In addition, guests will experience lobster in the main restaurant and in every specialty restaurant. New menu selections include broiled lobster tail, 32-ounce porterhouse and Alaskan king crab legs in Cagney's Steakhouse, an NCL guest favorite; and in Le Bistro, NCL's signature French restaurant, guests can choose from the Côte de Boeuf, a 32-ounce premium gold angus rib eye steak; Plateau de Fruits de Mar, a cold seafood platter including mussels, lobster tail, shrimp and raw oysters on the half shell; and Cardinal of the Seas, braised lobster tails. In addition, Norwegian Sky also offers culinary experiences in its two dining rooms: Palace and Crossings; Il Adagio, a casual Italian trattoria; the Garden Caf� and Great Outdoors, where NCL chefs cook fresh, prepared-to-order food as guests watch.

Guests can enjoy sipping cocktails and dancing the night away in nine signature bars and lounges including a martini bar; a sports bar; a champagne bar; two outdoor bars, as well as Dazzles Bar & Night Club.

Luxurious Accommodations

Norwegian Sky offers four Owner's Suites complete with a private balcony with hot tub, living room, dining room, bedroom, a luxury bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower along with butler and concierge service to cater to the guests ever whim. Ten Penthouses feature a sitting area, private balcony, dining area, separate bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed and luxury bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower, along with butler service and concierge service.

Also on board are NCL's latest amenities in balcony, oceanview and inside staterooms including televisions, hair dryers, safes, mini-bars, as well as the new Bliss Collection by NCL bedding, Elemis luxury bathroom amenities and a new room service menu.

With the implementation of Freestyle 2.0, guests staying in a balcony stateroom or above are treated to a customized fruit menu, NCL insignia bathrobes and a warm chocolate chip cookie at turndown on the last night of the cruise. Those staying in an Owner's Suite or Penthouse are treated to a complimentary bottle of champagne upon arrival, a pillow menu, the Bliss Bed by NCL, customized daily treats, and exclusive meals in Cagney's.

Relax and Rejuvenate

The Body Waves Spa is the perfect place to unwind with unique and exotic spa treatments reflecting the beauty, spirit and traditions of rejuvenation from around the world. Guests will find everything from the traditional to the exotic in spa and salon treatments.

Guests can get their heart pumping at Body Waves Fitness Center using the state-of-the-art cardiovascular workout equipment while enjoying a view through floor-to-ceiling windows. In addition, aerobics, spinning and exercise classes are available.

Guests can cool off at two large outdoor swimming pools with sun beds, deck chairs and four hot tubs. Poolside attendants are ready with cold towels and refreshing Evian mists when the temperature rises.

Rock Around the Clock

Norwegian Sky features two productions in the Stardust Theater: "South Rockin' Nights," a high energy party celebrating the sounds of southern rock, R&B and pure rock �n roll; and "On Broadway," a lively production of today's current Broadway smash hits including "Wicked," "Mama Mia," and "Hairspray."

In addition, music by three bands keeps the energy going into the evening when guests can party until the wee hours of the morning at two new themed experiences: White Hot Night, the ultimate dance party at sea set in a wonderland of white; and Monte Carlo Night, a sizzling casino party with the glitz and glam reminiscent of the French Riviera.

Get Lucky

The Sky Club Casino features Blackjack, Roulette, 3-Card Poker, Texas Hold �em and Craps. For slot lovers, there are more than 160 of the newest video and traditional slot machines. The ship also features less traditional games including Pai-Gow Poker, Pai-Gow Tiles and Mini Baccarat, on request. Guests can also join NCL's Casinos at Sea Players Club - the most rewarding players program at sea.

Kids Rule

Norwegian Sky offers Freestyle family fun for children of all ages, and parents can enjoy the ship with extended Kid's Crew hours. The Kids Korner features areas for arts and crafts, movies and computers. The Zone serves as a hip place for teens from 13 to 17 to hang out complete with video games, jukebox, fooseball table and air hockey. By night, The Zone turns into a teen disco and bar serving non-alcoholic drinks. Splashes Kid's Pool is just right for pint-size splashing and playing and features a waterfall and a children's hot tub nearby. In addition, the popular Nintendo Wii is available for play in the Atrium.

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7-2-08 Holland America Eurodam Naming Ceremony In Rotterdam Holland America celebrated the naming of its newest ship, the Eurodam, in Rotterdam, Holland yesterday before a crowd of several thousand people.

Presiding over the honor of naming the ship was the royal monarch of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix. She gave the invocation before launching the champagne bottle against the bow of the ship. To see the video of the naming and bottle breaking, watch this video: Eurodam Naming Ceremony Video

On hand for the event were the president of Holland America, Stein Kruse, and the CEO of Carnival Corp, Micky Arison. Entertainment was provided by singing groups from London, a full band and orchestra.

Queen Beatrix gave the invocation "I name this ship Eurodam," and paused. She then continued, "May God bless Eurodam and all who sail upon her." At that point, per traditional, a bottle of champagne was swung on a rope to the bow of the ship where it shattered, squarely on target, right in the center of the "O" in the name "Eurodam" painted on the bow of the ship.

The ship, Eurodam, has been docked in Rotterdam for three days. Rotterdam is the traditional home of Holland America Lines and the city where the Eurodam is registered and flagged. All Holland America ships are registered in Dutch cities, although the company headquarters are in Seattle, Washington. The ship has been visited by thousands of locals and people from all over Europe and the United States during the last three days.

At 4:00 p.m., July 2, Eurodam sets sail for Hamburg, Germany and then on to Copenhagen. This brief 3-night cruise is her first "revenue" cruise. After that she sails on a 10-day Baltic itinerary before sailing trans-Atlantic and landing in New York City. Fron New York she will sail five Canada/New England Cruises and then begin a series of Caribbean cruises through April, 2009. She will return to Europe next summer for Baltic and Norwegian Fjord cruises.

Look for a full article on the new ship tomorrow. For pictures of the ship, go to the Eurodam Photo Gallery.

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7-2-08 Norwegian Dawn Rescues Sailors from Two Different Boats in Rough Seas. Norwegian Dawn, while sailing off the coast of Massachusetts and New York on Monday, June 30, 2008 on its way to Bermuda, answered two separate distress calls within twelve hours, rescuing two injured sailors from different boats in rough seas.

The first rescue, 210 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., involved the sailboat Patriot on its way back from Bermuda. Crew members, Andrew Paul Giglia, 42, of Wilton, Conn., was suffering from shock-like symptoms and needed to be evacuated immediately. Norwegian Dawn was contacted by the United States Coast Guard as the closest ship to the sailboat, approximately 52 miles away. The ship quickly diverted course and made radio contact with Patriot. The Coast Guard had already deployed an aircraft to provide additional support for the rescue operation.

Norwegian Dawn Captain Trygve Vorren maneuvered the 965-foot cruise ship along side the 40-foot sailboat and ordered a small rescue boat lowered. Despite winds up to 35 knots and waves up to fifteen feet, a three-person rescue team from Norwegian Dawn was able to embark the ill sailor without difficulty. He was treated for dehydration by the ship's doctor.

Within twelve hours of rescuing the first sailor, Captain Vorren was notified of another, potentially more serious, injury on the sailboat Misty approximately 260 miles south of Montauk, NY. Hillary Bercovici, 55, of Greenwich, Conn., a male crew member aboard the Misty sustained a head injury and was loosing consciousness. Once again, Norwegian Dawn was the closest ship, approximately 32 nautical miles away. Despite deteriorating weather conditions, reported as very rough with rain, wind gusting up to 33 knots and 20-foot swells, Norwegian Dawn located the vessel, lowered a rescue boat with the same three crew members manning it and took the injured sailor onto the ship where he received immediate medical attention, including five stitches to the forehead.

Norwegian Dawn's doctor has reported that both men are in stable condition. They will disembark the ship upon arrival in Bermuda on Wednesday, July 2 at 8 am.

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7-2-08 Reservations Open for 130,000-ton Carnival Dream The largest Carnival 'Fun Ship' ever is set to debut in September 2009, but the cruise line began accepting reservations July 1 for the European and Caribbean itineraries of the new Carnival Dream, scheduled to enter service Sept. 21, 2009.

The 3,646-passenger Dream is set to debut with a 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruise from Rome (Civitavecchia), calling at Naples, Livorno and Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Messina, Sicily; Monaco; and Barcelona, Spain. Two additional 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises will be offered on Oct. 3 and 15, 2009.

Carnival Dream will then sail on a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to New York Oct. 27 - Nov. 12, 2009, with visits to Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Malaga, Spain; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; and King's Wharf, Bermuda. From New York, Carnival Dream will operate two eight-day Bahamas/Florida cruises departing Nov. 15 and 23, 2009, with stops at Port Canaveral, Fla., and Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas.

Carnival Dream will then reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., for year-round seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises beginning Dec. 5, 2009. On this program, Eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Nassau; St. Thomas/St. John, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles; while the exotic Western Caribbean route will include Cozumel; Belize; Costa Maya; and Isla Roatan.

Representing a new class of "Fun Ship," Carnival Dream will offer a variety of unique features and facilities, including a bold new concept in entertainment called The Piazza, a stunning indoor/outdoor caf� and live music venue.

Additionally, the ship will offer the most elaborate children's facilities at sea, including expansive play areas and a huge Carnival WaterWorks aqua park. Other features include "scenic whirlpools" that extend over the ship's beam and a variety of new stateroom categories, including an innovative two-bathroom configuration that should be particularly attractive to families.

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7-2-08 Orient Lines Acquired by CruisesOnly Founder. Wayne Heller, the founder of Cruises Only, an Orlando-based cruise retailer that is the largest seller of cruises in North America. president of the Celebration-based Origin Cruise Group, has bought the Orient Lines from Star Cruises Ltd. Orient Lines has been a sister company to NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) for several decades, but has maintained a low profile, generally selling out its older ships (former ocean liners) to a small but loyal following of people who enjoy longer cruises to extic destinations.

The only ship currently left in the company is the Marco Polo, a small former ocean liner built in the 1960s. Heller apparently will follow the same tradition, by acquiring additional ships of a similar age and design.

Heller says the Orient Lines will travel to all seven continents. The company will buy ships that have a "rich history and character" that are capable of carrying 600 to 800 passengers.

"In the coming weeks we will announce our new flagship, followed by inaugural cruise itineraries and the senior management team," Heller says. "As for details of the onboard product, consumers and travel agents can expect the same friendly and gracious service that has endeared legions of intrepid travelers to Orient Lines over the past 15 years."

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