News Archive - May 2009

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6-26-09 Carnival Offers West Coast Cruises from $169 With Carnival ships returning to Mexico earlier this month, the line is currently offering great rates on its shorter itineraries to Mexico from Long Beach and San Diego.

Early Saver rates from only $169 per person are available on three- and four-day voyages aboard Carnival Elation from San Diego, as well as four-day voyages on Carnival Paradise from Long Beach.

You must book at least three months in advance for 5-day or less cruises, and five months for longer cruises. These special fares include all stateroom types, including suites, and come with price protection if rates later drop below what you originally paid.

Attractive rates are also available on Carnival Elation's new four-day weekend and five-day cruises that begin next month featuring extended visits to Cabo San Lucas. Unique to this program is the five-day itinerary departing Saturdays that features two full days in Cabo San Lucas.

Carnival's West Coast shorter cruise options include:

Three and four-day Baja cruises aboard the Carnival Paradise year-round from Long Beach. Three-day cruises departing Fridays that call at Ensenada and four-day voyages departing Mondays that visit Ensenada and Catalina Island.

Early Saver rates start at $219 per person for three-day cruises and $169 per person for four-day cruises.

Three, four and five-day Baja or Cabo sailings on the Carnival Elation year-round from San Diego. Three-day cruises departing Fridays visit Ensenada. Four-day cruises departing Mondays go to Ensenada and Catalina Island, with four-day weekend cruises leaving Thursdays to Cabo San Lucas. Five-day cruises depart Saturdays offer two full days in Cabo San Lucas, while five-day cruises departing Mondays stop at Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada.

Early Saver rates start at $169 per person for three-day and four-day mid-week cruises; $259 per person for four-day weekend cruises; and $299 per person for five-day cruises.

Carnival Paradise and Carnival Elation, after their multi-million-dollar renovations, offer a variety of facilities and features - a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health club, lavish production shows presented in elaborate multi-level theaters, three swimming pools, conference centers, a jogging track, and spacious accommodations. All staterooms feature the Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality linens and pillows.

Dining options include two main dining rooms, an expansive poolside eatery with 24-hour pizza and ice cream, sushi bars, patisseries and complimentary 24-hour stateroom service. Both of these ships offer the choice of traditional early or late assigned dining or Your Time dining which allows guests to dine at any time between 5:45 pm and 9:30 pm.

Each ship also features Carnival's award-winning children's programs - Camp Carnival for ages 2-11, Circle "C" for 12- to 14-year-olds and Club O2 for ages 15-17, with expansive facilities and dedicated counselors for each group. An Internet caf�, ship wide Wi-Fi access and cell phone service are available, as well.

Rates are based on double occupancy, reflect category 4 (interior) accommodations for select fall sailings and are subject to change without notice.

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6-24-09 Silversea Introduces Custom-Designed Shore Tours Silversea is making it easier for guests to design their own unique experiences ashore with the introduction of its new "Silver Shore Concierge" service.

Now Silversea guests, or their travel agents, can call or email to make personalized, private onshore arrangements.

Call the dedicated toll-free phone line, 1-800-968-9518, or email 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (East Coast time, U.S.), Monday through Friday.

The Silver Shore Concierge arrangements could include not only sightseeing but also sporting activities, and securing behind-the-scenes or after-hours access to exclusive designer shops, museums, cathedrals and more. Other possibilities might include a champagne picnic and hot air balloon ride over Tuscany, access to a designer's atelier in Venice, or a journey through Juneau's glacier-carved fjords by private catamaran.

Additionally, guests can call upon the Silver Shore Concierge to plan pre- and post-cruise land adventures that include accommodations at some of the world's best hotels, flights, ground transportation, and guided tours of historical sites and other attractions.

To take advantage of the new service, Silversea guests will need to have a deposited or fully-paid booking. Payment for confirmed arrangements is made in advance of sailing and includes a service fee.

The Silver Shore Concierge is also offered aboard ship, where the shore concierge manager and team, together with the destination specialist, are available to assist guests with suggestions, planning and coordination of all their independent touring needs.

The Concierge service is the centerpiece of an array of new Silver Shore tour and hotel offerings designed to make the destination experience more personal and authentic, including:

  • Silver Shore Privato -- lets guests experience the destination at their own pace on full or half-day excursions by private car or van service that can be reserved on board or in advance of sailing via
  • Silver Shore Expedition -- adventurous and educational tours for the active explorer.
  • Silver Shore Collection -- unique and exclusive in-depth explorations of local history and culture.
  • Silver Shore Excursions -- intimate and rewarding small-group touring.
  • Silver Shore Land Adventures -- multi-day excursions that head inland to explore the region in depth. Offered before, after or during select voyages, they include accommodations, porterage, all transfers, sightseeing and some meals.
  • Silver Shore Simply Hotel -- single-night programs that feature a 4.5- or 5-star hotel stay before or after the cruise at such properties as the InterContinental Athenaeum in Athens, the Park Tower in Buenos Aires or Rome's Bernini Bristol. These flexible overnight stays offer guests the option to add transfers, additional nights or upgrades, if desired.
  • Silver Shore Grande Hotel -- two-night programs that enable guests to extend their vacation at Claridge's in London, the Peninsula in Bangkok and other landmark hotel or boutique properties across the globe. Full breakfast and private transfer between the pier and hotel are included.

"The new Silver Shore Concierge desk has been created to provide our guests with one-to-one consultations and creative assistance," said Darius Mehta, Silversea's director of land programs. "Our team of destination experts are happy to set up arrangements to meet a guest's specific requirements, tailored to their personal interests, or help guests design their own one-of-a-kind onshore experience."

All Silver Shore tours are available for guests to pre-book online as early as 120 days prior to sailing. Silver Shore Land Adventures and hotel options can be booked as add-ons to the cruise vacation through Silversea reservations.

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6-23-09 Royal Princess Loses Two Engines - Cruises Canceled The engine room fire that took place near Alexandria, Egypt, on Royal Princess took out two engines and will require the ship to have extensive repair work done before it can resume it regularly scheduled itineraries.

The fire occured last last and although no one was injured it did require that all of the passengers offload Alexandria, Egypt and endure a 3 1/2 hour bus ride into Cairo where they were put up in hotels before they could be flown home. Obviously, while it was disconcerting to lose your vacation in sauch a manner, guests reported that they were treated very well by the cruise who has issued all of them a voucher for a free cruise. The cruise line also made all arrangements and covered all costs to get the guests home.

The ship, the former 30,000-ton 684 passenger R8 (Renaissance Cruises) is one of the eight identical ships built by Renaissance but now sailed by Oceania, Azamara and Princess under various new names. It will leave from Egypt on Wednesday and and take three days to sail to Greece (Piraeus) where the repairs will take place starting this weekend.

Unfortunately, the time for the repairs is up in the air and the June 25 cruise has already been canceled. Guests on the July 7 cruise are on standby to see if the cruise will go forward.

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6-22-09 Cruise Lines Aid in Capture of Land-based Sex Offenders Take this as a warning to all convicted sex offenders - especially those on the "lam," a cruise vacation is definitely NOT a good idea.

In the last two weeks, two convicted sex offenders, one of them currently wanted by police and the other rearrested on new charges, were arrested by customs agents upon disembarking cruise ships and going through Customs and Border Protection control systems. Neither of them were arrested in connection to any crime that involved the cruise ships, but the ships aided in their arrests in non-cruise ship related charges.

Joseph Rosales, 52, was arrested when the border patrol flagged him boarding a cruise ship (believed to be Carnival) in Florida. The agent realized he was a convicted sex offender who was supposed to report his whereabouts at all times. Known for being especially "slippery" a local Albuquerque detective commented after his arrest, "Since February of 2008, he has been nothing but a problem for me. He knows the law so well that he plays it against us".

Well, he wasn't able to get away with anything on the cruise ship - and in reality it confirms that thinking sex offenders probably would not cruise in order to commit a sex crime. Neither of these convicted offenders appear to have been onboard to commit a crime. A cruise ship is a closed community with high surveillance. Rosales was followed during the entire cruise by a customs agent allowed onboard by the cruise line. The agent followed Rosales and took pictures of him during the cruise and then arrested him for leaving his New Mexico jurisdiction upon leaving the ship.

The other offender, David Anthony Webb, 32, had been convicted previously but was on the ship legally. He just happened to be flagged for further search of his laptop upom disembarkation where child pornography was discovered. He was arrested on the spot once the pornography was found, but the reason for his in-depth search was not revealed in the arrest report. Any person entering the U.S. is subject to indepth search on any electronic equipment in their possession.

Cruise lines have had the practice of sending a copy of their entire passenger list to a federal agency database to search for criminals of all kinds at least 24-hours before the cruise leaves for a few years now. This is not the first time criminals have been discovered and arrested either embarking or leaving cruise ships. In an odd twist, the ACLU has now challenged the arrest of Webb, saying the search was unconstitutional.

We say "keep doing what you're doing, cruise lines." It keeps criminals in check before they board the ship and it gets them off the street permanently. Frankly, we are surprised a criminal would not already know about this procedure. And if you know anyone who has been on a few cruises - you can be pretty sure he/she has already been "checked out."

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6-19-09 Phildelphia Summer Cruise Season Details Philadelphia is one of our favorite U.S. cities for kicking off a cruise, especially if you are from the West Coast and have not experienced U.S. history. It is well worth your time to fly into the city early and take in all the tourist sites on tap.

This summer, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will return to Philadelphia for the seventh straight year with Norwegian Majesty. Philly is turning the cruising season upside down in 2009, offering expanded cruises to Canada throughout September and closing with fall trips to Bermuda.

NCL will make eight sailings from the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal in 2009. The season will kick off on August 29th when the Norwegian Majesty makes a five-day sail to Canada and New England. That trip will be followed by three consecutive 10-day sailings to Canada and New England - the longest Canadian cruises from Philadelphia to date. These 10-day cruises will call on Bay of Fundy/St. John, Sydney, Charlotte, Halifax and Portland, Maine. Beginning October 3, the Norwegian Majesty makes four consecutive seven-day sailings to the sunny pink beaches of St. George's, Bermuda. Norwegian Majesty's final sail to Bermuda, ending CruisePhilly's 2009 season, leaves Philadelphia on October 24th.

NCL's Norwegian Majesty accommodates 1,462 passengers and offers a broad array of amenities, including NCL's popular Freestyle dining program and a multitude of entertainment, spa, and fitness options. The Majesty also offers great nightlife from The Palace Theatre and Frame 52 Disco to the Monte Carlo Casino.

The Philadelphia Cruise Terminal is easily accessed by taxi from the downtown area or the train station. For information on cruising from Philadelphia or special pre- and post-cruise package, visit or call (856) 968-2052.

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6-18-09 Sam Donaldson, Kitty Kelley and Doc Severinsen on HAL World Cruise Famed television news anchor, Sam Donaldson, best-selling writer and biographer, Kitty Kelley, and Grammy award winner, Doc Severinsen are scheduled to headline the enrichment program on Holland America Line's 2010 Grand World Voyage aboard ms Amsterdam.

The 114-day cruise departs Jan. 6, 2010, taking an eastward route sailing from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Los Angeles, Calif., while exploring South America, Africa and Asia.

"Being a premium cruise line means offering our guests premium enrichment experiences, and the line-up for the Grand World Voyage is top-notch," said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "To have a journalist as respected as Sam Donaldson and entertainers as talented as Doc Severinsen puts our enrichment program at the top of the cruise industry."

Sam Donaldson is scheduled to sail March 28 through April 1 from Hong Kong to Shanghai. While on board he will present lectures to guests on a wide range of current events.

Donaldson joined ABC News in 1967, yet the turning point in his career came 10 years later when he was assigned to cover the incoming Carter Administration as ABC's chief white house correspondent. By 1981, he was anchor of "World News Sunday." Donaldson also has hosted "Prime Time Live" and "The Sam Donaldson Show � Live in America" on ABC radio. He is the recipient of three George Foster Peabody and four Emmy awards. Today, he hosts his own half-hour program, "Politics Live," on the high-definition digital network "ABC News Now."

Kitty Kelley is scheduled to sail Jan. 28 through Feb. 7 from Punta Arenas to Buenos Aires, Argentina. While on board, she will discuss her popular biographies and participate in question and answer sessions.

Kelley is an acclaimed writer and biographer whose last four books have each ranked first on the New York Times best-seller list. Kelly's book, "Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography" sold one million copies in hardback and became the fastest selling biography in U.S. publishing history. Her other biographies, "Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star," "His Way" about Frank Sinatra and "Jackie Oh!" also were New York Times best sellers. After four years as a press assistant to U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy, Kelley worked for two years as the editorial page researcher for The Washington Post. Since then, she has had a full-time career as a freelance writer.

Musicians Doc Severinsen and El Ritmo de la Vida are scheduled to sail Jan. 6 through 11 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Fuerte Amador, Panama, next year.

Severinsen, a long-time former music director of the Johnny Carson-hosted show, became a staff musician for the NBC television network in 1949. After years of playing with television studio bands, he was invited to play with the "Tonight Show" band. The conductor asked him to join that band in 1962, and five years later, Severinsen took over Carson's show, where he stayed until 1992. A Grammy award winner, Severinsen has more than 30 albums. After moving to Mexico in 2006, Severinsen created El Ritmo de la Vida with Mexican musicians Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) is scheduled to sail April 1 through 5 from Shanghai to Xingang (Beijing), China.

CMS is one of 12 resident organizations of Lincoln Center, the world's leading performing arts complex. Through its performances, education, and recording and broadcast activities, it draws more people to chamber music than any other organization of its kind. Its annual activities include concerts, national and international tours, nationally televised broadcasts on "Live From Lincoln Center," and a nationwide radio show, and National Public Radio's "Performance Today" appearances.

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6-17-09 Declaration of Independence, Original Copy, to Tour Princess Ships A rare, original copy of the United States of America's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, will make an exclusive appearance aboard Princess Cruises' Alaska-based ships the week of July 4th, 2009. This will give passengers the unique opportunity to see the only traveling copy of the Declaration of Independence � just as the country celebrates Independence Day. The historic exhibit will be showcased aboard all Princess ships calling in Juneau between July 1-8, 2009.

Hosted in partnership with Declare Yourself, a non-profit organization founded by legendary television producer Norman Lear, this unique opportunity marks the first time a copy of the Declaration has visited Alaska, and the first time a cruise line has shown the famous document.

The Declaration will be on display aboard the vessels for about two hours while each ship is docked in Juneau. The document will be shown aboard Diamond Princess and Star Princess on July 1; Coral Princess on July 2; Island Princess on July 3; Pacific Princess and Golden Princess on July 6, and Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess on July 8.

"This is an amazing opportunity for our passengers to get a first-hand look at history, which is especially poignant at a time of year when our country celebrates its independence," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "It's a rare occasion when we can bring such a unique attraction right on board � this document has never been shown on a cruise ship before. It will be a memorable way to mark the week of Independence Day as well as Alaska's 50th anniversary of statehood."

The only touring copy of the Declaration of Independence, Declare Yourself's historic document is one of an estimated 200 original broadside copies (about the size of a sheet of newspaper) printed by John Dunlap in Philadelphia in 1776 after it was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, to distribute across the colonies and to King George in England. This copy's current journey began in 1989 when a Pennsylvania shopper bought a frame at a flea market for $4.00. Later, while inspecting a tear in the back of the painting, he discovered a piece of paper wedged between the frame and painting. He pulled it out and uncovered what would soon be authenticated as the 25th remaining copy of the Declaration of Independence. The document changed hands several times and was purchased in 2000 by Lyn and Norman Lear for $8.14 million, with the goal of bringing the document directly to the American people.

Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign that was founded in 2003 to empower and encourage every eligible 18-year-old in America to register to vote. For more information about Declare Yourself, visit

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6-16-09 Two-day Norwegian Sale Starts Today Tuesday, June 16, Norwegian Cruise Line launches its three-day NOW Sale for a limited time through June 19, 2009 offering unbelievable cruise deals and special booking offers for a range of popular cruise destinations including Alaska; Bermuda; Bahamas & Florida; Caribbean; Canada & New England; Mexican Riviera and South America. In addition to great cruise fares, Norwegian is offering up to $250 in on-board spending credit, fifty percent off cruise deposits and third through eighth guests from $99 per person. Union members and those in the military are eligible to receive up to an additional ten percent savings on the cruise fare.

Norwegian's NOW sale is offered on nine of its 11 Freestyle Cruising ships from three to 29-day sailings with departures from Miami, New York, Seattle, Vancouver, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santiago, Chile. The deposit required at time of booking is now half off and depending on the length of the cruise ranges from just $25 to $200 per person (excluding suites and villas). For cruises to Alaska, Caribbean, Bahamas & Florida and Canada & New England, third to eighth guests in the same stateroom are from $99 per person. For cruises to Bermuda and the Mexican Riviera, additional guests in the same stateroom are from $199 per person.

The on-board credit can be used to purchase anything from shore excursions and spa treatments; to specialty fitness classes like yoga and spinning; gifts in the duty free shop and can even be used in the casino. The amount is based on the length of the cruise and the category of stateroom booked. Guests who book sailings of up to five days in a Garden Villa receive $100 per stateroom in spending credit; $75 for suites; $50 for mini-suites; $40 for balcony staterooms; $20 for oceanview and $15 for inside staterooms. For sailings of six days and longer, guests sailing in a Garden Villa receive $250 per stateroom in on-board spending credit; $150 for suites; $100 for mini-suites and deluxe balcony staterooms; $75 for balcony staterooms; $50 for oceanview and $25 for inside staterooms.

To book a sailing NOW, guests should contact a travel professional or NCL at 866-234-7350. Further information, including specific sailing dates, can be found online at

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6-15-09 Oasis of the Seas Starts Sea Trials The soon to be inaugurated next World's Largest Cruise Ship, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, just started what will be four or five days of sea trials, taking the ship out for a test run to see how she responds to the open sea. Sea trials are important for any ship, but extremely important for a brand new class of ship and ultimately important when a ship is not only the biggest cruise ship ever, but a radically new design in terms of superstructure.

Oasis is almost 30% larger than today's world's largest cruise ship, and at 220,000-tons it is getting fairly close to the largest ship ever to be built, a tanker that has not been in service for many years. Naturally, a cruise ship is a vastly different design than a tanker, with far more area above the water line. In addition, Oasis has two six-story tall structures containing inward facing balcony cabins looking down on open air public space running lengthwise along the the top of the ship. It also has a huge open stern with a tall stage structure you can see in the picture above. These structures will catch the wind, like most very tall mega-ships do, but it will be interesting to see if the sheer mass of the ship makes her even more stable than the average cruise ship which is about half her size.

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6-14-09 No Swine Flu (Scare) Can Stop John Travolta The Miami New Times reported that John Travolta was cruising upon Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas when a swine flu scare upon cruise ships broke out. Another Royal Caribbean ship, Adventure of the Seas, had reported some three passengers had flu-like symptoms. That ship was not allowed to dock in three ports of call.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's "Enchantment of the Sea" left port in Miami on June 8th, but by the time the ship reached Belize yesterday an H1N1 scare had broken out causing Belize's Health Ministry to temporarily quarantine passengers on the ship, including actor John Travolta.

Enchantment with Travolta onboard, also reported that six of the ship's crew began showing flu-like symptoms, so passengers were kept on the ship for four hours. Finally passengers were allowed on to land around Noon.

As for Travolta, he was previously scheduled to leave the Cruise at the stop and fly home on his private jet. Those plans apparently went ahead as scheduled.

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6-12-09 Royal Caribbean Ship Lands in St Thomas After being refused entry into three different island ports, the Royal caribbean ship Adventure of the Seas was finally given permission to dock at St Thomas, a United States Virgin Island territory.

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6-11-09 Islands Bar Royal Caribbean Ship with Flu Victims Due to reported flu-like symptoms of three people aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Adventure of the Seas, the ship has been refused entry into two cruise ports on its seven-day itinerary.

The ship has been stopped from docking as scheduled at Castries, St Lucia yesterday and St John's Antigua this morning. Two members of the ship's crew, and one passenger - among 3,100 aboard - are reported to have been showing flu-like symptoms even though the symptoms have not been confirmed to be from the H1N1 virus, also known as "Swine Flu."

The ship left San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sunday and has made just one port of call, at Bridgetown, Barbados. It is not yet clear whether the authorities at Phillipsburg St Maarten or St Croix, US Virgin Islands, will allow the ship to make its scheduled stops.

Although the WHO is said to be close to declaring H1N1 a world pandemic, so far out of a reported 27,737 cases only 141 deaths have occured. It is said 100 people die each day from regular flu symptoms in the U.S. alone every day. Most cases of H1N1 are mild and require no treatment.

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6-10-09 NCL to Offer Free Pepsi on Cruises Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Pepsi are offering up to two complimentary soda packages per stateroom on any seven-night sailing or longer. Guests who book a cruise on one of Norwegian Cruise Line's eleven Freestyle cruise ships between now and October 15, 2009, for sailings through 2010, can request the Pepsi Summer Cup promotion at the time of booking. Guests should reference promotion code PGPOP.

Once on board, guests will be given a special Norwegian and Pepsi branded souvenir cup and have access to unlimited complimentary fountain soda refills at any bar, lounge or restaurant throughout the duration of the cruise and have the choice of selecting Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew or Sierra Mist.

Pepsi fans can also try their luck with the "Sip. Save. Refresh" sweepstakes for a chance to win one of three Norwegian seven-day Alaska or European cruises for two in an oceanview stateroom with round-trip airfare. More information on the contest can be found at The sweepstakes ends on August 31, 2009. Pepsi "Sip. Save. Refresh" codes are available on more than 20 million specially marked Pepsi fountain cups and scratch-off cards at participating restaurants in nearly all 50 states.

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6-8-09 FBI Issues Final Report on George Smith Disappearance The FBI just issued its final report on George Smith disappearance on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Istanbul, Turkey according to the Hartford (CT) Chronicle, in what has become one of the most famous cruise ship disappearance cases ever.

Bottom line, the FBI had nothing new to say about this case and since there was no evidence that any foul play occured the immensely complicated case will remain unsolved. Still, the people who are closest to the details of the case, George's widow Jennifer Hagel Smith, the FBI and the cruise line officials have all said they believe it is most likely that George Smith was highly intoxicated and either fell over by accident or he took his own life.

According to the report, indications are that Smith was alone in his stateroom just moments before he disappeared although there were other passengers in his room just before he disappeared. A neighbor called passenger services and complained of noise coming from the cabin next door. Security guards came to investigate the noise but left without entering the room when they did not hear anyone inside.

The neighbor later told the FBI that he had heard a group of men in the cabin when he made the call, but that he heard all but one leave before security arrived. He reported noises that sounded like one person in the cabin for a little while after that, including a loud thump or banging sound. Then all was quiet.

When the Turkish police entered the cabin to investigate the next day they found one small blood stain on a base board and the room was generally very messy with papers all over the desks and floor. Outside on the balcony a chair was propped up against the balcony railing. A very large bloodstain was outside the balcony two decks lower. It is not known whether Smith intentionally jumped or if he may have been smoking a cigar or cigarette on the balcony railing and lost his balance. In either case, there is no eveidence of foul play involving another person.

His newlywed wife was so intoxicated at the time that she had gotten lost on the way to her cabin and had fallen asleep in the same corridor but at the opposite end of the ship. Sometime around 4:30, not long after her husband disappeared, it is reported that security put her in a wheelchair and pushed her back to her stateroom. They placed her on her bed and left the room.

Jennifer Hagel Smith made the statement that to the Hartford (CT) Chronicle "this is where the ship's security fell down." She contends they should have started searching for her husband at this time. Security did not notice the small bloodstain on the wall, but then again neither did his wife the next morning. The timeline suggests George had already gone over the side of the ship by this time.

The next morning Jennifer woke up and went for a massage. A neighbor noticed the blood stain outside the Smith verandah and called security. Ship's officers began to search the ship for George and Jennifer Smith. They finally found Jennifer in the spa having a massage, but she did not know where her newlywed husband was or even that he was missing. This was about 10:00 am. She said she had guessed that he had been intoxicated and had slept in another cabin the night before.

During subsequent questioning Hagel Smith said her husband George had been prescribed and was taking strong antidepressant drugs. Furthermore, he had been drinking a very intoxicating liquor called absinthe that was illegal in the United States for many decades. She says the combination of the two would have made for a very dangerous combination in her opinion and she believes George was responsible for his own death, although she will not say whether she believes he did it on purpose.

Hagel Smith settled with the cruise line and insists there is no evidence to suggest foul play on the night her husband went missing. All indications are that he was in his room alone when he went over the side, and a chair was propped up against the veranda railing.

George Smith's parents, however, disagree with Hagel-Smith and have sued to have her setllement reversed (they lost that plea). The Smiths have become active in "cruise victims" groups wo want to make the cruise lines responsible for all acts by their 12,000,000 guests per year and want the ships to install higher railings, security cameras everywhere and place indepent international police agencies on cruise ships to investigate crimes, although such an independent international police agency does not exist.

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6-4-09 P&O's Princess Dawn Cleared for H1N1 Virus The cruise ship, Princess Dawn of P&O Cruises, which had created a huge controversy "down under" by being forbidden to dock in New Caledonia because of fear of swine flu, has now been cleared by the local health authorities and will be allowed to dock. Furthermore, it has been determioned that the ship does not have any cases of swine flu onboard after swabs of five suspected cases in passengers were returned as negative for H1N1.

Two days after it was turned away from New Caledonia, all 2000 passengers and 800 crew will be allowed to disembark the ship on Friday morning and continue their onward travel, as normal.

The ship's 13-day South Pacific journey was constant trial and tribulation. The ship left Sydney nine hours late on May 24 after two passengers on the previous cruise required testing for swine flu. Then it was forced to forego its first scheduled stop on Noumea, in New Caledonia, because of bad weather.

After four stops in Fiji and Vanuatu, New Caledonian authorities refused to allow the Dawn Princess to dock for its final stop on Tuesday morning after the ship's crew notified them of five passengers with flu-like symptoms.

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6-4-09 Oasis Itinerary Change; Costa Maya instead of Jamaica The proposed itinerary for Oasis of the Seas includes a stop in a new cruise ship stop in Falmouth, Jamaica that has not yet been developed for cruise ship stops. The Jamiacan port was chosen for it near access to a water park, zip lines and other interesting tourist attractions. This is especially important for Jamaica since the island is known to be less than tourist friendly for people who venture outside of structured resort areas.

Indications are that the planned development of Falmouth for Oasis of the Seas stops is behind schedule, as Royal Caribbean just announced that the first 16 cruises by Oasis of the Seas will stop in Costa Maya, Mexico rather than Falmouth. This is a good thing for Costa Maya, but not such a good thing for Jamaica. Take note that the line did not replace the stop with another port in Jamaica.

Oasis of the Seas' Western Caribbean itinerary also will include calls at Cozumel, Mexico, and Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach attraction on the northern coast of Haiti. By the time Oasis starts sailing Labadee is scheduled to have installed the longest zipline in the world.

Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Western Caribbean itinerary with an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, which will include calls at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship is now scheduled to resume the original Western Caribbean itinerary and make its maiden call at the historic port of Falmouth during the ship's December 11, 2010 sailing.

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6-3-09 Carnival Dream: Line's First Two-Story Adult's Only Retreat The new 130,000-ton Carnival Dream - Carnival Cruise Lines' largest ship set to debut Sept. 21 - will offer a host of innovations, including the largest adults-only retreat in the line's fleet.

Known as "Serenity," the Carnival Dream's 11,250-square-foot adults-only area will encompass two levels and accommodate up to 200 guests who can select from seven different styles of seating, from plush chaise lounges and chairs to shaded sun loungers and even hammocks.

Carnival Dream's Serenity will also feature a full bar on the lower level in a shaded area, while the upper level will offer two whirlpools providing magnificent sea views.

Design-wise, Serenity will feature decorative latticework, teak-style decking, and a series of custom windscreens specially created for this area. Spanning the forward section of Sun Deck 14 and Sky Deck 15, Serenity is accessible via a glass elevator within Carnival Dream's expansive 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, as well as by two staircases.

Carnival Dream is set to debut Sept. 21 with a series of 12-day Mediterranean cruises followed by a trans-Atlantic crossing and two eight-day voyages from New York. Carnival Dream will then reposition to Port Canaveral, Fla., for a special nine-day cruise then launch year-round seven-day Caribbean service Dec. 12.

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6-1-09 Norwegian Epic Breaks Booking Records Norwegian Cruise Line is reporting that demand for its largest ever Freestyle Cruising vessel, Norwegian Epic, skyrocketed in the first week that the ship's itineraries went on sale to the public, beginning Thursday, May 21, 2009. Norwegian Epic's first week of bookings far exceeded opening week sales for the company's last two new ships: Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Gem.

All categories of staterooms were in demand, from the innovative "Studios staterooms" for the value-conscious traveler to the ultra luxurious villas, penthouses and deluxe owner's suites. Prices start from $699 per person; however, based on high demand, NCL says prices increases are inevitable on some of the more popular sailings.

"We are thrilled to see the keen interest in Norwegian Epic this early on and we want our guests to know that we appreciate their excitement and support in helping to make Norwegian Epic's launch the most successful ever, said Norwegian's executive vice president, global sales and passenger services.

Members of Norwegian's past guest program, Latitudes, can take advantage of a special Norwegian Epic promotional offer from now through August 31, 2009, that includes up to a three category stateroom upgrade; additional discounts on the cruise fare of up to $100 per stateroom; and up to $500 in on-board credit for suites and villas.

Norwegian Epic is scheduled to enter service in late May 2010, and will take part in inaugural events before beginning her Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from her year-round homeport in Miami. The first Eastern Caribbean sailing from Miami is scheduled for July 17, 2010 and the ship's alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries are available through April 2011.

Norwegian Epic's Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes calls in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship's Western Caribbean itinerary includes calls in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roat�n, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. Guests can make a reservation by contacting their travel professional or Norwegian Cruise Line at 866-234-7350. More information about the ship, her itineraries and offerings can be found at

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