News Archive - June 2004

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

6-30-04 NCL Announces New Ship Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that a new ship will enter the fleet, the 92,000-ton Norwegian Jewel. Sister ship to the Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn, the vessel will have 10 restaurants as part of the cruise line's "Freestyle Cruising" program. Slated to enter service in August, 2005 Norwegian Jewel will cruise in the Caribbean from Miami and on one-week Alaska cruises.

NCL also announced that it is adding a second ship on year-round voyages from New York. Beginning Nov. 17, 2005, Norwegian Spirit will replace the Dawn on 10- and 11-day Southern Caribbean voyages, visiting Barbados, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Maarten and Tortola. Norwegian Dawn will move to 10- and 11-day alternating Eastern Western Caribbean cruises. Back to Top

6-30-04 Society Suspends Operations Society Expeditions has posted a notice on its web site that it has suspended operations of the World Discoverer until further notice. The company's mortgage holders took possession of the vessel June 18, 2004 in Nome, Alaska. The company cites "below budget numbers on summer and fall voyages .... which have led to financial shortages." Back to Top

6-25-04 Weekend Cruise News *** The Queen Mary 2 is being fitted with and additional 1,300 fire alarms in bathrooms today after it was found that the ship did not fully comply with fire regulations. The UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) advised Cunard Line and parent company Carnival Corporation that panels in 900 of the ship's bathrooms are not of fire regulation standard. However, the areas involved are low-risk and adjacent cabins and corridors are equipped with smoke detectors and sprinklers. An investigation is underway to find out what went wrong since quality assurance procedures were followed during construction. Additional sprinklers which need to be added to bathrooms will be installed over a longer period. QM2 is expected to sail from Southampton this evening bound for New York with the new fire alarms installed. The MCA is satisfied with the way Cunard Line is handling the situation.

*** Society Expeditions has ceased operations following the seizure of the World Discoverer in Nome, Alaska, June 18. Arrangements were made for passengers on the June 18 cruise to return home. The line is attempting to secure funding in order to return to service. World Discoverer's Antarctic program is the most popular offered by Society Expeditions however low bookings on other sailings have resulted in financial difficulties. The company's web site is no longer functional, containing only a company statement.

*** Crystal Cruises has reduced its brochure rates in the 2005 Cruise Atlas. The new simplified and "more realistic' brochure fares reflect discounts of 7% to 38% over fares previously released in the 2005 Cruise Guide. They are combinable with Crystal Society (past passenger) offers and on board booking incentives. "We've reevaluated the entire year and recognized that the current competitive travel environment and economic climate demands more realistic pricing - even in the luxury sector," explains Bill Smith, Crystal's senior vice president, sales & marketing. The 146-page, full color atlas details the line's 95 cruises aboard Crystal Harmony, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity and highlights the classic service, space, choices and quality that distinguish a Crystal vacation. To order a 2005 Atlas, call 800.820.6663.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises welcomes on-air hosts of public television shows to Seven Seas Voyager in November. The hosts of MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, Ciao Italia, Great Performances, Antiques Roadshow, Find! and Frontline will join the ship in Athens on November 12, 2004 for a nine-night to Barcelona which calls at Kusadasi, Rhodes, Naxos (Taormina), Sorrento, Civitavecchia (Rome), and Monte Carlo for an onboard overnight. During the cruise a series of keynote talks, panel discussions and open forums will take place on history and travel, art and antiques, literature, music, food and wine, personal finance, politics and current events. Highlights include the reunion of Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer who will demonstrate how the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour became the gold standard of TV news. Leigh and Leslie Keno, hosts of Find! and appraisers on the popular series Antiques Roadshow will lead treasure hunts in key Mediterranean ports, appraising passengers' finds when back on board. Le Cordon Bleu cooking workshops ($395 per person) will also take place during the cruise as well as Mediterranean wine tastings with regional experts, port excursions lead by the TV personalities, a public TV book club hosted by Jim and Kate Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, nightly cocktail parties, and late night lounge and piano bar events. Per person prices start at $4,496 and include a choice of either free economy class air from 86 North American gateways, or a free upgrade to business class air (when economy air add-ons are purchased), or savings of $1,000 per person off the cruise fare plus the special public television events, all shipboard gratuities, wine with dinner, and an in-suite bar set-up. Additional information is available at Artful Travelers' www.ptvatsea.com and the Radisson Seven Seas web site www.rssc.com.

*** Princess Cruises is offering nine cruisetours in Europe for 2005 including three new tours - "Under the Tuscan Sun", "The Ring of Kerry" and "English Sojourn". "Under the Tuscan Sun" is available in conjunction with the 12-night Mediterranean cruises of Grand Princess. The four-night tour features two nights in Milan with sightseeing of the Duomo and two nights in Florence, with excursions to the hilltop town of Siena and to a Tuscan vineyard for wine tasting and lunch. The tour concludes with first class travel aboard the Eurostar train from Florence to Venice to board Grand Princess. "The Ring of Kerry" and "English Sojourn" can be taken in conjunction with Golden Princess' Western Europe sailings. "English Sojourn" is a four-night trip which includes one night in London, one night in Stratford-upon-Avon and two nights in Bath, tours of each city and visits to Blenheim Palace, Bladon, Warwick Castle, Glastonbury Abbey, Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. "The Ring of Kerry" is a three-night tour in Ireland featuring Shannon (one night), Killarney (two nights) and the magical Ring of Kerry. Visitors can also kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle and enjoy the panoramic views of the Clare coastline from the Cliffs of Mohr.

*** Celebrity has announced details of the new entertainment concept being developed for the line by Cruises by Cirque du Soleil to begin in December aboard Constellation and aboard Summit in early 2005. A Cirque du Soleil Masquerade Ball and world-class performance will be presented once on every cruise. Representatives of Cirque du Soleil will participate in Celebrity's "Celebrity Discoveries" enrichment lecture series on dates yet to be announced, and the two organizations are designing new Cirque du Soleil boutique spaces for both ships beginning in 2005. The observation lounges aboard Constellation and Summit will be transformed into mystical-themed lounges called "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth". For two hours each evening, passengers will be greeted by surreal characters "The Wave Correspondent" "The Lantern Tuner" and "Pez Erizo". Several other characters also are being created by Cirque exclusively for Celebrity, with each designed to "invite guests on a journey to a place beyond imagination," according to both organizations. "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth" will offer exotic food and beverages available exclusively in that venue.

*** Star Clippers has announced 2005 and 2006 itineraries in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. The line will again offer 10 and 11-night Mediterranean cruises in 2005 and 2006. The Rome to Venice (11 nights) and Venice to Rome (10 nights) itineraries aboard the Royal Clipper offered this year will be repeated. Star Clipper will also sail new 10 and 11-night cruises round-trip from Cannes in July and August 2005 with calls at St. Tropez; St. Florent, Bonifacio and Calvi, Corsica; Sorrento, Lipari, Capri, Portoferraio, Elba, Palermo and Taormina, Italy. Both sailing ships will offer seven-night cruises as well during the season which runs from May to mid-October. The line's third vessel, Star Flyer, will sail seven-night Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea cruises from Athens in 2005. For the 2005-2006 winter Caribbean season, Royal Clipper will sail from Barbados on Sundays to the Windward and Grenadine Islands while Star Clipper will sail from St. Maarten on Saturdays to the Leeward and Treasure Islands.

*** A ceremony to celebrate shipping was held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London on June 21. Cunard Line presented a model of the Queen Mary 2 to the IMO's Secretary-General, Efthimios Mitropoulos, who referred to Queen Mary 2 as a "symbol for all that is excellent in shipping today." At a reception following the ceremony, the International Council of Cruise Lines, through its charitable arm, the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, presented the International Search and Rescue Fund with a check for $10,000. The recently established fund will assist countries that do not have the resources to put into place an adequate search and rescue infrastructure.

*** The Italian Shipping Register, RINA, has awarded Costa Cruises its BEST 4 certification for the cruise line's compliance with the latest international standards in four areas - social accountability, environment, safety and quality. The BEST 4 certification was awarded on board Costa Fortuna, the line's flagship, in the port of Naples. Costa is the first Italian company to achieve all four types of certification at the same time. RINA technical committees checked and validated Costa's procedures and found them in line with current standards. The inspections will be followed up annually in order for Costa to retain the BEST 4 certification. Back to Top

6-18-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Pride of Aloha will feature the first Hawaiian cultural center at sea. The Kumu Cultural Center contains exhibits covering three stages in Hawaii's history - Everyday life in Ancient Hawai`i, the Hawaiian Kingdom and Contemporary Hawai'i. Kumu is Hawaiian for "source of learning" and the Kumu Cultural Center is the place for passengers to learn about Hawaii's history and culture. The center will include three separate meeting rooms and a business center in addition to the exhibits. They replace the casino aboard the ship. Casinos are not allowed to operate in Hawaiian waters. The design throughout Pride of Aloha embodies the history, art and culture of Hawaii. Hawaiian designer Mary Philpotts and a team of 40 artists and artisans have worked with NCL to create the authentic Hawaiian decor. Pride of Aloha begins weekly service from Honolulu on July 4.

*** The "Celebrity X-Men" team finished 12th in the 24th annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon on June 6 in San Francisco, raising nearly $50,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The corporate team consisted of Celebrity Cruises President and COO Jack Williams, along with Royal Celebrity Tours President Craig Milan and Assistant Treasurer Carlos Torres de Navarra. Milan was the team's swimmer, Torres de Navarra the cyclist and Williams the runner in the 27.5-mile triathlon which combines a 1.5-mile swim through San Francisco Bay, an 18-mile cycling race through hills and coastal roads, and an eight-mile run through the Presidio and along Baker Beach.

*** Carnival Miracle's August 28 cruise has been canceled. The vessel will undergo repairs to a bearing in the starboard Azipod that week. Passengers who rebook an earlier Florida/Bahamas sailing from New York will receive a $200 per cabin shipboard credit. Carnival Miracle entered service last February and began sailing Florida/Bahamas cruises, round-trip from New York last Saturday. The weekly cruises from New York through August 21 call at Port Canaveral/Orlando, Nassau and Freeport.

*** The 1,800-passenger Splendour of the Seas will arrive in Tampa on November 27 to commence seven-night Western Caribbean cruises to April 30, 2005. Ports of call are George Town, Grand Cayman; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. In each port, Royal Caribbean's Explorations! shore excursions program offers a range of activities including snorkeling with stingrays in Grand Cayman; going off-roading in dune buggies in Costa Maya; navigating the Belize River by kayak; and exploring the history, culture and art of the ancient Mayan city of Tulum. Shore excursion options are listed on the line's website and can be purchased online at www.royalcaribbean.com. Splendour of the Seas replaces the smaller Empress of the Seas on this itinerary. Empress will sail alternating three and 11-night cruises from San Juan next fall and winter.

*** Silversea Cruises is featuring 50% off published fares with its Silver Sailings program 12-day "Empire of the Incas" cruises aboard Silver Shadow this fall. The voyages sail round-trip from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, on October 7 and November 22, 2004, calling at Esmeraldas and Manta, Ecuador; Salaverry, Peru; and Callao (Lima), before returning to Puerto Caldera. South American tour guide and travel manager Niki Sepsas will be on hand as the featured Guest Lecturer. Each "Empire of the Incas" cruise offers a three-day/two-night optional land excursion to the ruins of Machu Picchu during the call at Callao, Lima's port city. Cruise-only Silver Sailing fares start at $2,835 on the October 7 sailing and $3,085 on the November 22.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line is introducing 75 exclusive shore excursions to its worldwide itineraries. The new tours will be offered during 2005 and 2006 aboard the 208-passenger Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend. Called "Trophy Experiences", the new excursions have been custom designed by Seabourn in many of the line's 250 ports of call world wide. They include a private meal with Mrs. Gihan Sadat, social activist and widow of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, in her Nile-side home in Cairo; sailing aboard the high-performance V.O. 60 Volvo ocean-racing yacht in the Baltic Sea near Warnemunde; game viewing in Ngorongoro Crater and touring the Olduvai Gorge, discovery site of mankind's earliest ancestors, escorted by a member of the Leakey family; driving a fully race-equipped Ferrari through its paces on a professional circuit near Venice; shopping for ingredients in a local Florence market followed by an exclusive culinary class at the Italian Cordon Bleu Cooking School. Prices for the excursions are expected to range from over a hundred to several thousand dollars.

*** Celebrity will welcome aboard an aviation legend, the Conde Nast photography exhibit and a number of notable speakers on upcoming cruises:

  • Burt Rutan will talk with passengers on board Mercury's seven-night Alaska cruise departing from Seattle on June 25, just four days after attempting the first non-governmental space flight. On June 21 Rutan and investor/philanthropist Paul Allen will launch "SpaceShipOne" 62 miles into sub-orbital space above the Mojave Civilian Aerospace Test Center. If the flight is successful, according to Rutan, it will demonstrate that the space frontier is open to private enterprise, expanding space access for future generations. An adventurer, entrepreneur and engineer, Rutan designed the record-breaking "Voyager," the first airplane to circle the world non-stop without refueling. His company, Scaled Composites, developed the catamaran for Dennis Connor in the America's Cup challenge and the gondola for Virgin Atlantic's CEO Richard Branson in his attempt to fly non-stop around the world by balloon.
  • Conde Nast Traveler's 15th anniversary photography exhibit will be displayed on Zenith's seven-night New York-Bermuda sailings from September 4 through October 16, 2004. Onboard photography workshops will be led by the magazine's photographers Lisa Limer, Rick Lew and Francesco Lagnese on Zenith's September 4, 25 and October 9 sailings. Photographers from Fuji Film will host lectures and workshops during the September 11, 18 and October 2 and 16 cruises. A more hands-on experience are the photography-focused shore excursions offered in Bermuda. A Conde Nast Traveler photographer will lead each group to share tips on technique and different types of travel photography, including portrait, still life and landscape. The shore excursions are available on the September 4, 25 and October 9 sailings, and can be purchased online in advance. For more, visit the Celebrity web site at www.celebrity.com/photography.
  • Other notable speakers participating in Celebrity's expanded, enrichment lecture series this year include Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, CNN financial correspondent Myron Kandel, NBC News veteran Irving R. Levine, airline industry veteran Howard Putnam, political consultant Dick Morris, film critic Leonard Maltin, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and actors Ernest Borgnine, Arlene Dahl, Gloria De Haven, Beverly Garland, Michael Learned, Regis Philbin and Alan Thicke.

*** Ship buffs will be interested to learn that the Rotterdam V is expected to open in Fall 2005 as a museum and hotel in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the port where she was built in 1959. Built as a transatlantic liner for Holland America Line, Rotterdam V was later converted for cruising and sailed to ports around the globe including many world cruises. In 1997 she joined Premier Cruise Lines as the Rembrandt and underwent a number of changes due to new SOLAS (safety of lives at sea) regulations. Rotterdam V is now being refurbished and returned to her original design. Her new permanent home will be near Holland America's original headquarters in Rotterdam harbor. Back to Top

6-14-04 Carnival To Europe In 2005 Carnival Cruise Line has announced its first-ever Mediterranean voyages, scheduled aboard the 2,974-passenger Carnival Victory in summer, 2005. The new itineraries will encompass eight 12-day cruises operating roundtrip from Rome (Civitavecchia) July 20 - Oct. 12, 2005. Featured ports include: Naples, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Venice, Italy (two-day call); Messina, Sicily; Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; and Livorno, Italy. Prices for the 12-day cruises begin at $1,499 per person, based on double occupancy. The 110,000-ton ship, presently under construction in Italy, will be the largest ship operating in Europe in 2005. For additional information visit www.carnival.com or contact your travel agent. Back to Top

6-11-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Sapphire Princess was christened in Seattle yesterday. The event was a first for the city. Nancy Murkowski, wife of Alaska's Governor Frank Murkowski, broke the ceremonial bottle of Washington State Mountain Dome Brut sparkling wine to officially name the new 116,000-ton vessel. As part of the celebrations, the largest sapphire in the world was on display aboard the ship. The 28 lb, 61,500 carat Millennium Sapphire, discovered in Madagascar in 1995, is the size of a football. Sapphire Princess is the seventh ship in as many months to enter service for Carnival Corporation. Since last November Costa Fortuna, Queen Mary 2, Diamond Princess, Caribbean Princess, Westerdam and Carnival Miracle have set sail.

*** Celebrity Xpedition embarks on her maiden voyage this Sunday, June 13. The 2,329-ton, 100-passenger vessel sails weekly around the Galapagos Islands on Celebrity's new Xpedition cruises, designed to take travelers on unique, destination focused voyages. The 11-day cruise package includes two nights pre-cruise and one night post-cruise in Quito, Ecuador before flying to the ship in Baltra, Galapagos for the seven-night cruise.

*** It was confirmed Wednesday that Pride of Aloha did anchor at the correct place in Monterey Bay. There was concern that the ship had anchored in a shale bed and missed the anchorage deemed safe for the protection of Monterey's fragile marine ecology. The local pilot anchored the ship at Anchorage A, located at 36-degrees latitude, 121 degrees longitude. Scientists from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary confirmed the location. The ship may have drifted over the shale bed giving the impression that the anchor was not in the correct position which aroused concern among some local scientists and residents.

*** Silversea Cruises has reduced the single supplement for solo travelers on many 2004 and 2005 voyages. The "Solo Traveler Savings" option is available on a limited number of suites with single supplements from 110% to 125% of the published per-person, double-occupancy fare. All beverages are complimentary throughout the ship, including select wines, champagnes and spirits and gratuities are also included in Silversea fares. On many voyages, Gentlemen Hosts will be on board for single female guests looking for a dining companion or a dance partner. Sample "Solo Traveler Savings" include $2,952 for a seven-night Caribbean cruise round-trip from San Juan aboard Silver Whisper, February 24, 2005; $4,357 for eight nights aboard Silver Shadow sailing from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, February 27, 2005 and $6,045 for a 14-night transatlantic crossing aboard Silver Wind, sailing from Barcelona to Barbados, October 20, 2004.

*** Oceania Cruises is the latest cruise line to raise the standard of luxury and pampering in select staterooms. Commencing with the line's 2005 European voyages, new A1 and A2 Concierge Level staterooms aboard Regatta and Insignia will include new amenities and services. There are over 100 of the Concierge Level staterooms on Decks 7 and 8 aboard each ship, all featuring a balcony with teak deck. New in-cabin amenities for passengers booking Concierge Level include a welcome bottle of champagne, refrigerated mini-bar, DVD player, cashmere throw blanket, complimentary tote bag, hand-held hair dryer, upgraded bathroom amenities and toiletries. Enhanced services offered are priority embarkation and dedicated check-in desk, priority luggage delivery, priority restaurant reservations, complimentary shoeshine service and complimentary pressing of two garments upon embarkation.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is embarking on a joint venture in Tahiti with Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society. The program, which Cousteau calls "Ambassadors of the Environment," will be held aboard the 320-passenger Paul Gauguin on sailings from June 26 to August 28, 2004. The program aims to give young cruisers aged nine to 15 knowledge of marine and island ecosystems, emphasizing the critical importance of coral reefs, sustainable lifestyles and traditional Polynesian culture. "Ambassadors" are encouraged to share their new skills and insights with friends when they return home. Sailing round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti, every Saturday night ports of call are Raiatea, Tahaa, Motu Mahana, Bora Bora and Moorea. The young Ambassadors participate in a variety of daily activities including exploration of coral reef habitats, rainforest trail hikes and learning from Polynesian youth how to paddle an outrigger canoe. The Paul Gauguin now has an additional 28 triple staterooms in categories C, D and E with a pullout bed for the third passenger. Per person prices from $3,145 include all shipboard gratuities, wine with lunch and dinner, soft drinks throughout and an in-stateroom bar set-up. The June 26, July 3, 10, 17, 31 and August 7 cruises also include complimentary roundtrip economy airfare from 86 North American gateways.

*** Costa Cruises' free balcony special is underway for 2004-2005 Caribbean cruises aboard Costa Atlantica and Costa Mediterranea. Both ships will sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale with departures from November 2004 through April 2005. Book a category 4 or 5 oceanview stateroom on most sailings and be upgraded to a category 6 or 7 balcony stateroom at no charge. New aboard the ships is a Late Night Buffet for night owls from 1:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. The alternative restaurants on board feature a menu by leading Italian chef, Gualtiero Marchesi. Costa has a Golf Academy at Sea with pro instructors on board both ships and excursions to courses ashore. Three theme nights are featured on each sailing - an Italian Street Festival, the Roman Bacchanal toga party and a tropical deck party with a Mediterranean theme. Ports of call on the eastern itinerary are San Juan, St. Thomas/St John, Catalina Island, Nassau and a night call at the private resort of Casa de Campo. On the western route, both ships call at Key West, Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman.

*** Last Sunday, June 6, Holland America's welcomed the 75,000th passenger to sail from Seattle to Alaska since the line began cruising regularly from the port in 2001. Oosterdam and Amsterdam will again sail from Seattle to Alaska in 2005 with Oosterdam departing Saturdays, featuring Hubbard Glacier and Amsterdam sailing Sundays, featuring Glacier Bay National Park. Holland America Line's headquarters are in Seattle so to honor its Hometown supporters, the line is offering special Hometown Savings of 40% available to Washington residents who purchase a view or balcony stateroom (Categories PS through H), on their choice of six May departures. Included are the May 7, 14, 21 and 28 departures of the Oosterdam and the May 22 and May 29 sailings of the Amsterdam. Bookings must be August 31, 2004. Hometown Savings fares begin at $1,069 for outside staterooms and $1,239 for balcony staterooms.

*** In Europe, MSC Italian Cruises has taken delivery of its newest ship, MSC Opera from Chantiers de l'Atlantique in France. The 1,760-passenger vessel will be christened by Actress Sophia Loren at ceremonies in Genoa, June 26 before commencing seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises. MSC may add an additional ship to their fleet soon. The line is considering purchasing European Stars of now defunct Festival Cruises when it comes up for auction. MSC has already purchased Festival's European Vision and is operating the ship as the MSC Armonia in the Mediterranean. Back to Top

6-4-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Pride of Aloha will officially enter the U.S. Registry in San Francisco on Monday June 7, 2004. The former Norwegian Sky has emerged from a lengthy drydock completely transformed for NCL America's Hawaii program and renamed Pride of Aloha. During the refit, public rooms were transformed to feature artwork and memorabilia from Hawaiian history. They include the Kumu A`o Cultural Center, Blue Hawaii Night Club, Outrigger Lounge, Mark Twain Library, Captain Cook's Bar and Cigar Club, the Plantation Club and a sports bar inspired by Duke Kahanamoku, the four-time Olympic swimming winner and world renowned surfer. Hawaiian cuisine will be available in the Pacific Heights alternative restaurant, one of six restaurants on board. The colorful art displayed on the hull of Pride of Aloha illustrates Hawaii's symbol of welcome, the Plumeria lei. It was designed by Hawaiian artist Linda Umstead. Pride of Aloha will commence weekly inter-island cruises form Honolulu, year-round, on July 4 following naming ceremonies.

*** Princess Cruises has added 50 new shore excursions to its Baltic, Mediterranean and Western European cruises this year. A two-day tour of St. Petersburg is among the new offerings. "The Grand Tour of St. Petersburg" is a comprehensive tour program over two days for passengers who want to see as much as possible without any repetition. It includes visits to Peterhof Palace and Grounds, Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Hermitage, Yusupov Palace, Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, and a Canal tour. Hands-on tours include "Paint your own Matrioshka" where participants paint their own traditional Russian nesting dolls or visit the Delftware factory and decorate a Delft blue tile while in Holland on the "Delft Blue Pottery" tour. The new Deluxe tours include "Deluxe Berlin", which includes a private train car journey to Berlin followed by a comprehensive tour of the city. Take a mountain bike ride in the Scottish highlands and canoe the lake on the "Loch Lomond Experience". From Naples, visit the ruins of Pompeii, the National Archaeological Museum and lunch on pizza in the city where it was invented in 1830. "Ephesus, Locomotive Museum and Sultankoy" is a Princess exclusive featuring the ruins of Ephesus with a visit to the Camlik Steam Locomotive Museum and the village of Sultankoy. This summer Grand Princess debuts in the Baltic and Star Princess takes over the Grand Mediterranean sailings. Royal Princess rounds out the schedule with a series of Connoisseur Cruises in Western Europe. In total, Princess offers 39 departures of 16 itineraries, with calls at 67 different ports. For more and to book online go to www.princess.com and click on shore excursions in the menu at the top of the page.

*** Cruise West has added three new wineries to its California Wine Country cruises from San Francisco: Clos Du Val, a Napa Valley winery specializing in Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Chardonnay, Clos Pegase, a Calistoga winery known for its Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot, and Rosenblum Cellars on the East Bay island of Alameda, with its award-winning Zinfandels. The three- and four-night itineraries, detailed in a new California Wine Country brochure, include private dining in winery settings, storage-cavern tastings, and private tours of vineyards, wine museums and art collections. Departures run September 17 through November 15 aboard Cruise West's 102-passenger Spirit of Endeavour. Both itineraries visit Benziger, Ledson and St. Supery wineries. The three-night also visits Clos Du Val, Clos Pegase and Domaine Carneros while the four-night adds Schramsberg, Markham Vineyards, Viansa Winery & Italian Marketplace, Rosenblum Cellars, a wine-tasting at Bacchus and Venus wine and art gallery in downtown Sausalito. Cruising affords up-close views of Alcatraz, Angel Island and Tiburon's hillside mansions. Fall season fares are $699 to $1,399 per person, double for the three-nights and $1,049 to $1,899 for the four-night version. On board wine tastings, shore excursions with meals and wine, transfers, taxes, port charges and fees are included. Passengers can extend their stay in San Francisco with optional two-night, pre- or post-cruise hotel packages in Fisherman's Wharf or Union Square, from $245. Single and triple cabin rates are also available.

*** Windstar's second consecutive summer in northern Europe begins on June 20th when the 308-passenger Wind Surf sails from Lisbon, Portugal to London (Dover), Windstar is offering a second cabin to guests at $1,000 to $1,500 off "Sail and Save" rates for select Baltic sailings: June 20, 10-day Lisbon to London; June 30, 12-day London to Copenhagen; July 29, 13-day St. Petersburg to Copenhagen; Aug. 21, 12-day Copenhagen to London; Sept. 2, 10-day London to Lisbon. These rates are combinable with current coach and business class upgrade air offers. As an added bonus, currently booked passengers will receive a $500 shipboard credit upon booking a second cabin. This is Windstar's final scheduled season in the Baltic. Windstar is not sailing in the Baltic next year. Wind Surf will be redeployed to the Mediterranean in the summer of 2005.

*** Holland America Line has introduced private tours as part of its shore excursions program. The Signature Collection tours provide passengers with a luxury car and English-speaking driver during their stay in port, allowing them to visit points of interest on their own timetable. The service is currently available in 46 European ports of call and will be expanded worldwide. It is available for groups of two to eight guests. Most tours are available in four- and eight-hour segments, including unlimited mileage and utilizing the highest-grade vehicles available ashore. Also included are motorway tolls, parking fees and bottled water. Signature Collection tours start at $300 and prices vary per group up to $3,000 depending on the location, duration and type of vehicle. For more and to book online visit www.hollandamerica.com and click on Shore Excursions under 'For Booked Guests' in the top menu.

*** Princess is adding additional amenities for its suite passengers. Complimentary internet access, dry cleaning, laundry and shoe polishing are now offered free of charge. On formal nights suite passengers receive a complimentary corsage and boutonniere. They can schedule a private portrait sitting with Princess' onboard photographers or enjoy afternoon tea served in the privacy of their own suite. In addition, suite passengers will enjoy expedited cruise embarkation and early disembarkation in all tender ports, with full privileges in the ship's Platinum disembarkation lounge. These new touches are in addition to the existing suite amenities which include luxurious bathrobes and towels, complimentary slippers, exclusive toiletries, fresh flower arrangements, and complimentary fine liquors and soft drinks in the mini-bar. Deluxe canapes are delivered daily, and passengers can now choose their favorites from a variety of hors d'oeuvres. Suite passengers can request assistance with packing and unpacking from their dedicated suite steward. They can also choose from an extended room service menu, with extra options for breakfast and any of the day's dining room selections for lunch and dinner.

*** A three-man relay team headed by Celebrity Cruises President and COO Jack Williams is hoping to break out from the pack during the 2004 Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, set for June 6 in San Francisco. Williams and his teammates hope to raise $100,000 by participating in the triathlon, with proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Williams, Royal Celebrity Tours President Craig Milan and Assistant Treasurer Carlos Torres de Navarra will compete under the team name "The Celebrity X-Men" in the 27.5-mile event, which has been called "one of the world's most dangerous triathlons." Now in its 24th year, the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon competitors swim 1.5 miles through the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay, bike 18 miles through hills and on coastal roads, and run eight miles through the Presidio and along Baker Beach. Highlights from the event will be televised on the Outdoor Life Network later this year. Williams' participation in the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon comes on the heels of his completion of last November's New York City Marathon, in which he raised $300,000 for Cystic Fibrosis.

*** Ship buffs will be interested to learn that the Olympia Explorer of bankrupt Royal Olympic Cruises has been renamed Explorer and will sail for the University of Pittsburgh's Semester at Sea program starting June 17. The vessel replaces the aging Universe Explorer (1958 - formerly Enchanted Seas, Queen of Bermuda, Liberté, Island Sun, Volendam, Monarch Sun, Brasil) which has been used for the program since 1996. An 11,000-volume library will be added to the 24,300-ton Explorer as well as a campus store. Billed as the fastest passenger ship afloat today with a cruising speed of 28 knots, Explorer's special hull design has won a number of engineering awards. Back to Top

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