News Archive - June 2010

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06-30-10 Alaska Governor Signs Bill to Cut Cruise Ship Head Tax Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation lowering the state's tax on cruise passengers - settling an industry lawsuit over the fee, and hoping to bring more ships back to Alaska. With Parnell's signature, the head tax will drop from $46 to $34.50, with deeper offsets for ships stopping in at least one of two popular ports, Juneau and Ketchikan. The tax was created by a voter referendum in 2006, with supporters saying it would help to cover the cost of infrastructure needed for large ships coming to port.

The Alaska Cruise Association said the $46 head tax, and the state regulatory climate, contributed to the loss of interest by the cruise industry. Three fewer ships - an estimated 140,000 passengers - came to Alaska this season. The cruise lines said the tax was unconstitutional and sued the state. The legislation signed Thursday calls for the cruise association to drop the suit.

Cruise lines have already made their Alaska cruise schedules for 2011 and three lines have announced plans to bring in new ships. The 2012 schedule should be determined before the end of the year and it is believed the number of ships will increase, but another significant factor is the individual port fees charged by each stop most cruise ships make.

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06-30-10 Moody's Raises Carnival Outlook On Improved Demand, Pricing NOt all economic news is gloomy - even in thew travel sector.

Moody's Investors Service, the company in the business of assessing company's financial health and rating their corporate bonds for investment risk has raised the "ratings outlook" on Carnival Corp. (owner of Carnival Cruise Lines, Cumard, Costa, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and other lines) to "stable," saying it expects the cruise-ship company's credit profile to improve gradually due to better demand and higher prices.

Moody's said demand for cruises continues to improve, that they see evidence of "stronger booking volumes and slightly higher net revenue yields." Moody's expects higher cruise pricing to result in a gradual improvement in the company's credit profile over the next year to 18 months.

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06-29-10 Comedian Jeff Garlin to Star in Norwegian Epic Inaugural In celebration of the world-class entertainment on board Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship ever, the line has selected comedian and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Jeff Garlin, also a Second City alumnus, to host the ship's inaugural Christening Ceremony in New York on July 2, 2010. The ceremony will also be webcast live so that Norwegian Cruise Line fans around the world can view the Christening of the ship that has been named the hottest, most anticipated of 2010.

"Jeff Garlin is an extremely entertaining performer. It's very fitting that the host of our inaugural festivities is an alumnus of one of our on-board entertainment partners," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "And having such a great comedian will make it a fun and enjoyable event and set the stage for our spectacular inaugural festivities."

Garlin both co-stars and executive produces the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" starring "Seinfeld" creator Larry David. The unique comedy features Garlin as David's loyal manager. The critically acclaimed series, which returns for its eighth season this summer, has won the Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy, the Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award from the Producers Guild of America and the AFI Comedy Series of the Year Award. Garlin, a Chicago native, studied filmmaking and began performing stand-up comedy while at the University of Miami. A Second City Theatre alumnus, Jeff Garlin has toured the country as a stand-up comedian. Garlin's first film as a director, "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With."

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06-28-10 Windstar Cruises Includes Roundtrip Airfare On Select Caribbean Sailings Windstar Cruises' three-ship fleet will include roundtrip airfare from certain gateway cities on select fall and winter Caribbean sailings aboard Wind Surf on new bookings made now through July 23, 2010.

The applicable Wind Surf Caribbean sailings that include roundtrip airfare feature vibrant ports, pristine beaches, and lively island culture:

  • 7-day Barbados roundtrip cruise departing November 28, 2010, visits St. Kitts, St. Martin, St. Barts, lles des Saintes, and St. Lucia with rates from $1,999 per person, double occupancy.
  • 7-day Barbados roundtrip cruise departing December 12, 2010, visits St. Kitts, St. Martin, St. Barts, lles des Saintes, and St. Lucia with rates from $1,999 per person, double occupancy.
  • 7-day Barbados roundtrip cruise departing January 9, 2011, visits Bequia, Grenada, Mayreau, Dominica and St. Lucia with rates from $1,999 per person, double occupancy.

For the applicable Wind Surf Caribbean sailings, roundtrip airfare will be included from the following gateway cities: New York (JFK, EWR); Boston (BOS); and Miami (MIA). Air add-ons are also available to guests by request for $149 per person from Atlanta (ATL) and San Francisco (SFO); $199 per person from Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle (SEA); and $249 per person from Washington, D.C. (IAD). Ground transportation between the Barbados airport and the ship's pier is also included.

Windstar's airfare offer is valid on new bookings only through July 23, 2010. Offer is nonrefundable for all bookings made without purchasing TCP/TCIP. Offer is not combinable with any other promotions, programs, discounts, shipboard credits or package offers. Offer is capacity controlled and may be withdrawn or modified at the discretion of Windstar Cruises. Taxes additional.

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06-22-10 Norwegian Epic to be Fixed in Southampton and Sail On We at CruiseMates finally got an update from NCL about the Epic. The broken propellar shaft - described as a minor problem - will be replaced while the ship is in Southampton and word from NCL is that the ship will make all of its scheduled events.

Several press outlets in Europe, British newspapers, said the ship was sailing at half speed from Rotterdam after leaving almost eight hours late. Here at CruiseMates we clocked the ships speed at 13 knots - slightly better than half speed.

It appears they decided to take it slowly, despite the minor problem, to avoid any further damage and assure a smooth ride to Southampton, although we are just guessing as NCL's release of information about Epic since it embarked on its first cruise has been surprisingly sparse for a major cruise line attempting to launch an important new ship.

Information is so sparse that rumors are rampant - one of them is that the two-day orientation sailing from Southampton for press and travel agents will be canceled. According to the NCL spokesperson who contacted me the repair should only take a few hours.

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06-03-10 NORWEGIAN EPIC, ENGINE TROUBLE! DELAYED SEVERAL HOURS The southern U.K. newspaper, Daily Echo, is reporting that NORWEGIAN EPIC has been delayed for her arrival in Southampton to pick up a retinue of passengers, travel agents and press due to major engine trouble. The 19 deck ship was due to arrive at 10am tomorrow, but will now sail into Southampton at 5.30pm.

Another report says that thousands of people who had paid £149 each for the inaugural voyage were forced to wait in Rotterdam for hours while engineers inspected the bad engine and the passengers were further delayed when the security card system broke down and they had to be signed in by hand!

There were rumors of engine trouble before the ship even set sail, but NCL put those rumors to rest with pictures of a brand new engine alongside the ship, saying that the bad engine had been replaced. Well, if it was replaced this is just plain bad luck.

The editor of CruiseMates, Paul Motter, is scheduled to fly to Southamptom tomorrow to sail on this ship leaving June 24, across the Atlantic ocean to New York. I guess he will be standing by to see if his cruise will also be canceled.

Thousands of passengers are booked onto the first cruise from Rotterdam to Southampton and have been offered full refunds if they wish to leave the ship before she sails.

A a spokeswoman for NCL said Epic's inaugural voyage from Southampton was still due to start tomorrow evening. But she said plans for events marking the launch during the day tomorrow had been cancelled.

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06-15-10 Norwegian Epic Passes Final Sea Trials - Ready to Sail!

Epic's final sea trial near St. Nazaire, France.

SAINT-NAZAIRE, FRANCE - June 15, 2010 - Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date, returned from her final successful sea trials on Sunday, June 13, 2010, after three days of sailing the Atlantic Ocean before she is delivered on June 17. During the sea trials, technicians and engineers from STX FRANCE SA, along with Norwegian Cruise Line representatives, checked more than 60 different aspects of the ship's performance by running trials of the vessel's speed, maneuverability, hydrodynamics and propulsion, amongst others. Overall, the ship performed very well and exceeded expectations. Additional photos are posted to the cruise line's Facebook page at www.ncl.com/facebook.

On June 17, Norwegian Epic will depart the STX FRANCE shipyard and sail to Rotterdam for a two-day inaugural cruise. On June 21, the ship will sail a one-night preview cruise to Southampton, arriving on June 22 for a two-day inaugural sailing. On June 24, the ship will depart Southampton on a sold-out seven-day transatlantic crossing to New York arriving on July 1. The ship will be christened by legendary entertainer Reba McEntire on July 2 followed by a two-day inaugural cruise. Norwegian Epic will be the host venue for the 34th Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks event taking place on Sunday, July 4. The event includes a national, one-hour, live entertainment broadcast on NBC-TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Norwegian Epic arrives in Miami on Wednesday, July 7 where a welcome event will be held at Bicentennial Park from 2-4 pm. For more information on the event, head to http://epic.ncl.com/epicmiami. Inaugural festivities conclude with a two-day sailing on July 8.

Following inaugural activities, Norwegian Epic will sail alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami from July 10 through April 30, 2011. Ports of call on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. The Western Caribbean cruises visit Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. The 2011 cruise season from May-October will have Norwegian Epic sailing a series of seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona. When she returns to Miami on November 5, 2011, she will sail a series of seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises through April 7, 2012.

For more information on Norwegian Epic and to book a cruise, please call Norwegian at 888- NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), visit epic.ncl.com, or contact a travel professional.

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06-03-10 Silversea to Host: James Baker, Jehan Sadat and Bill Moyers

SILVERSEA'S SILVER WIND TO HOST 2011 WORLD LEADERS SYMPOSIUM IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Headlining this one-of-a-kind travel event are James A. Baker, III, Jehan Sadat and Bill Moyers

(Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- June 14, 2010) Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises today announced its collaboration with San Francisco-based World Leaders Travel to host the 2011 World Leaders Symposium, featuring a Middle East voyage aboard Silver Wind. Highlighting the program are such distinguished guest speakers as former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, former Egyptian first lady Jehan Sadat, veteran journalist Bill Moyers, and a team of other leading figures in Middle East politics, culture, history, religion, journalism and human rights.

This customized travel event, December 29, 2010 -- January 12, 2011, departs from Amman, Jordan, and ends in Dubai, U.A.E. An all-inclusive itinerary includes a comprehensive educational program, a Persian Gulf cruise aboard the exclusively chartered Silver Wind, five-star hotel accommodations, and specially arranged events and excursions in Jordan, U.A.E., Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Optional program extensions include Christmas in Bethlehem, as well as Iran and Oman.

"We're delighted to have the pleasure of hosting another World Leaders Symposium aboard our elegant Silver Wind," said Steve Tucker, Silversea's vice president of field sales for North America. "Through our collaboration with World Leaders Travel, we're able to offer inquisitive travelers an unmatched educational experience featuring some of the world's most sought-after speakers."

Tucker further noted that travel agents will be able to book through World Leaders Travel at their usual Silversea commission level -- just as if the agent booked directly with Silversea -- and the commission level will be applicable to the entire program starting in Amman and ending in Dubai.

Symposium participants will go beyond the headlines as they engage in dynamic intellectual discussions with keynote speakers, special guests, local experts, and fellow travelers who offer a range of perspectives and personal insights. A seven-night Gulf cruise from Dubai offers opportunities for further exploration in exotic Kuwait City, Dammam, and Doha. Travelers will enjoy the freedom to customize their experience by choosing from a menu of optional, small-group excursions.

Among the highlights are a special New Year's Eve celebration on the shore of the Dead Sea; the rare opportunity to experience the magic of Petra by candlelight; an engaging discussion with female students at Dubai's Zayed University; a private visit to the impressive Arab Organizations Headquarters Building in Kuwait; behind-the-scenes access at the Al Jazeera media complex, the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Arts, and the Al Shaqab Arabian horse stables in Qatar; and a meeting with Aramco executives during an excursion to the source of Saudi Arabia's oil wealth, the famous Well #7.

In addition to Baker, Sadat, and Moyers, the educational team also includes Karen Armstrong, best-selling author and expert on world religions; Joan Brown Campbell, director of the department of religion at the Chautauqua Institution; Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Afghanistan and Iraq; Aaron David Miller, Middle East policy expert and advisor to six U.S. secretaries of state; and Crocker Snow, Jr., director of the Edward R. Murrow Center for Public Diplomacy. Special guests will join the Symposium for various lengths of time. Other notable experts and scholars, including a lineup of local speakers, will be confirmed prior to departure.

Aboard the award-winning Silver Wind, guests will enjoy a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly one to one, an all-inclusive policy that includes a premium assortment of wines and spirits, impeccable service from a courteous and efficient staff, and luxurious onboard amenities. The ship's all-suite accommodations include ocean views, butler service, 24-hour room service; and fine dining features signature dishes by Relais & Châteaux. Of the ship's 149 suites, 115 feature private verandas. There are eight suite categories, ranging in size from the 240 square-foot Vista Suites to the 1,314 square-foot Grand Suites.

Symposium sponsors include the Association of Rice Alumni, Chautauqua Institution, Foreign Affairs magazine, Smithsonian Journeys, Tufts Travel-Learn, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and World Affairs Council.

For all-inclusive pricing information, a detailed brochure, or to book today, please contact your professional travel advisor, sponsoring organization, or World Leaders Travel at (800) 395-3288, or visit WorldLeadersTravel.com/Silversea.

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06-11-10 Senate Passes Cruise Vessel Safety Legislation The International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) applauds Senate passage today of a measure ensuring the safety of cruise ship passengers on the high seas. ICV, with members and friends in more than 20 countries, represents victims of crime on cruise ships, their families and friends, and individuals concerned about the problems of victimization and disappearances on cruise ships.

“Without Congresswoman Matsui's efforts in the House and Sen. Kerry's efforts in the U.S. Senate, this legislation would not have moved forward.”

The Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009 requires cruise lines to report all crimes aboard cruise ships plus take other actions to protect the victims of crimes on cruise ships. The first measure of its kind, the approval of this legislation represents a historic step toward securing all passengers the safety and security they need and deserve.

ICV has been advocating for these measures to be adopted since 2006, participating in countless meetings with Members of Congress, and three Congressional hearings. The hearings were held at the urging of Rep. Matsui (D-Calif.), with the support of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced corresponding legislation in the U.S. Senate.

We are thrilled that through the efforts of Sen. John Kerry the Senate has passed this major legislation. "When the cruise safety legislation is signed into law, it will serve to protect Americans across the nation during what ought to be relaxing vacations," said International Cruise Victims Association Chairman Kendall Carver. "Without Congresswoman Matsui's efforts in the House and Sen. Kerry's efforts in the U.S. Senate, this legislation would not have moved forward.

Because of minor differences between the House and Senate bill, the next stage will be for the House to reconcile these differences. It is anticipated that this will be done within the next couple of weeks. "I look for the necessary final steps to be taken so that the legislation can be forwarded for the President's signature as soon as humanly possible," Carver added.

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06-09-10 Oceania Announces Fleet Updates and Enhancements Oceania Cruises has launched a multi-million dollar initiative to update and enhance its award-winning fleet. The comprehensive "Pillars of Distinction" program - the most significant product investment in the company's history - centers on the three hallmarks of the Oceania Cruises experience: comfort, cuisine and service.

The 684-guest Nautica, the first Oceania Cruises ship to undergo its Pillars of Distinction update, re-entered service June 4. Sister ship Insignia will incorporate Pillars of Distinction this November and Regatta in January 2011. All work will occur during regularly scheduled dry-docks.

Pillars of Distinction amenities and design highlights will be incorporated on Oceania's two new ships, currently under construction in Italy. The 1,258-guest Marina joins the fleet in January 2011 and a sister ship, Riviera, is scheduled for delivery in April 2012.

"Oceania Cruises has set new industry standards since we launched the line nearly eight years ago," said Frank Del Rio, the line's founder and chairman/CEO of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings. "With our new Pillars of Distinction initiative we have raised the bar in upper-premium cruising to ensure that the Oceania Cruises experience remains unmatched."

Stylish Staterooms and Suites

Under the new program, Oceania Cruises' elegant and well-appointed staterooms and Penthouse Suites will be enhanced with even more luxurious amenities and stylish new décor highlights. Custom, tufted headboards with nail-head trim mounted on floor-to-ceiling Wenge walnut panels provide the dramatic focal point.

Oceania Cruises pioneered the luxury bedding trend at sea in 2003 and the new Prestige Tranquility Beds raise the standard even higher. The bed is composed of 400 encapsulated springs in seven zones that are covered by two inches of memory foam; a two-inch thick cushion filled with gel and wrapped in Chamomile-infused fiber tops the mattress. In addition, all beds will be dressed with 1,000-thread-count, Egyptian cotton linens and duvets and a plush down comforter.

All accommodations will also be outfitted with refrigerated mini bars, wall sconces and bedside reading lamps, as well as updated furnishings and bath amenities.

Sophisticated Steakhouse, Spa Cuisine

Acclaimed for its gourmet cuisine and no-charge specialty restaurants, Oceania Cruises will refine its culinary offerings with new décor in Polo Grill, enhanced menus in Terrace Café and Toscana, and the introduction of sublime Canyon Ranch Spa Cuisine.

Polo Grill is Oceania Cruises' most popular alternative restaurant. Here, guests enjoy the finest dry-aged prime beef, chops and poultry, plus succulent seafood, including Maine lobster. Pillars of Distinction enhancements include new leather chairs, carpeting and drapes in hues of crimson, claret, gold and hunter, which evoke the glamour of a sophisticated, yet classic American steakhouse.

Terrace Café, a casual venue with both indoor and al fresco seating will expand its lavish breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. Sushi, sashimi and made-to-order pasta dishes will be complemented with regional delicacies in selected destinations.

Toscana, the line's upscale Italian venue, will enhance its menu with the addition of a gourmet olive oil menu and new favorite family recipes from staff and crew.

In the second phase of its proud partnership, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in both the Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café will feature "Spa Cuisine" selections developed by the culinary team at Canyon Ranch Health Resorts, the number one healthy living company in the world. Canyon Ranch opened the onboard spas in 2009.

Enrichment - Aboard and Ashore

In order to provide guests with new and unique experiences, Oceania Cruises will expand its onboard enrichment program as part of the Pillars of Distinction initiative. On select sailings Canyon Ranch Healthy Living Experts will offer classes and workshops addressing lifestyle change, healthy living, stress management and a variety of other topics.

To maintain its leadership position in destination cruising, Oceania Cruises' award-winning itineraries will be enhanced with one-of-a-kind shore experiences in many ports. New tours and excursions include visits to the Pope's private place of worship at the Vatican, an "Alaskan Chef's Table," and photo safaris in Kenya, among others.

Pillars of Distinction is an ongoing initiative, with more updates and enhancements to be announced. For reservations or to order a brochure, contact a travel professional, visit OceaniaCruises.com or call toll-free at 800-531-5658.

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06-08-10 Search for Allure 150 Central Park Executive Chef The sister-ship to Oasis, Allure will share the highly acclaimed signature restaurant 150 Central Park. Continuing the tradition that was set onboard Oasis, Royal Caribbean will once again select an up-and-coming culinary superstar to lead the kitchen of 150 Central Park on Allure, and this time has the distinct privilege of partnering with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the world's premier culinary college, to find the perfect candidate.

Today through June 20, 2010, graduates of The Culinary Institute of America with either a bachelor's or associate degree, can show off their culinary prowess and creativity by entering the "Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge" for a shot at the job of a lifetime - a one-year paid contract to be the Chef de Cuisine of 150 Central Park onboard Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Allure of the Seas. Entrants are required to create an original, signature recipe that could potentially be featured on the menu of 150 Central Park as well as submit a video entry to www.allureoftheseas.com/culinarychallenge demonstrating the preparation of the dish and explaining why they should be chosen as Chef de Cuisine.

At the conclusion of the entry period, judges will select 10 semi-finalists, whose videos will be posted to the contest website and open to consumers to vote for their favorite chef between June 28 and July 11. Consumers who register to vote will have the opportunity to win a trip for two onboard an Allure of the Seas preview sailing this November, including a dinner prepared by the winning chef. The five chefs with the highest number of votes, along with one "judges choice" entrant, will become finalists and will be invited to participate in a final culinary challenge held at The Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park campus in New York on August 5 and 6. During the final challenge the finalists will be required to conduct an interview with, as well prepare a three-course meal for, an esteemed panel of judges from Royal Caribbean and The Culinary Institute of America, who will ultimately select the Chef de Cuisine for 150 Central Park on Allure of the Seas. The culinary challenge will be documented in a series of webisodes on www.AllureOfTheSeas.com.

"We are extraordinarily honored to have support from, and access to the incomparable talent and resources of, The Culinary Institute of America," says Frank Weber, vice president, Food and Beverage Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "Similar to Oasis, rather than partner with a celebrity chef whose schedule would not allow for full time involvement onboard the ship, our objective was to give the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to an extremely talented rising star who would become the face and personality of our signature restaurant. There is no doubt we will find this among the CIA's alumni."

"The CIA is excited to work with Royal Caribbean and offer this unique opportunity to the CIA's 40,000 alumni. This pool of talent will provide Royal Caribbean with a chef who will delight the culinary senses of the ship's guests," says Ron DeSantis, Director of CIA Consulting.

Located in the lush and tropical grounds of the ship's Central Park neighborhood, 150 Central Park will feature décor that will embrace the mellow earth tones, unique textiles and fixtures inspired by nature's four seasons. Inspired by the simple elegance concept of trend-setting restaurants in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, each detail of 150 Central Park will be dedicated to enhancing the dining ambiance, from the tabletops to the service team uniforms. The restaurant menu and certain design aspects will be developed and determined by the winning chef of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge.

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06-04-10 Construction Begins on Oceania Riviera A keel-laying ceremony to mark the start of construction for Oceania Cruises' 1,258-guest m/s Riviera was held today at the Fincantieri shipyard near Genoa.

At the ceremony Frank Del Rio, the line's founder and chairman and CEO of its parent company, Prestige Cruise Holdings, and Oceania Cruises President Bob Binder, welded four U.S. silver coins onto the keel. The welding of coins into a ship's keel is an age-old maritime tradition believed to solicit good fortune for the ship, its crew and its passengers.

The four coins - dated 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2009 - represent the years when keels were laid for the four other vessels in Oceania Cruises' upper-premium fleet: Insignia, Regatta, Nautica and Marina, respectively.

Once the coins were welded, the first of 55 steel blocks that will eventually comprise Riviera was lowered into the dock, thus marking the official start of the building process. The ship is scheduled to debut in April 2012.

"Today is a special day for Oceania Cruises," stated Binder. "We are grateful to Fincantieri, our loyal guests and travel partners, and the entire Oceania Cruises team at sea and shore-side for all of their efforts to make this new ship come to fruition."

Riviera is a sister ship to Marina, which launches in February 2011. She will feature 10 dining venues - six of which are open-seating, gourmet restaurants - including one by Master Chef Jacques Pépin. Facilities will also include a Canyon Ranch SpaClub and gym, Bon Appétit Culinary Center, swimming pool and hot tubs. Interior design highlights include a Lalique-designed grand lobby, luxurious accommodations by Dakota Jackson as well as Owner's Suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home.

The preliminary cruise schedule for Riviera will be released in the coming months. For more information, call a travel professional or Oceania Cruises toll-free at 800-531-5658 or visit www.OceaniaCruises.com.

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06-04-10 NCL and Gibson Team to Provide Cruisers with Guitars First of all, I have to say that I NCL is tapping my phone. First they stole my suggestion to put Blue Man Group on a cruise ship, and now they have stolen yet another of my ideas - to allow cruising musicians to express themselves onboard. They are still a step away from making this idea perfect, but first the news from NCL;

Exclusive program with Gibson Guitar lets guests "Check in and Rock out"

In addition to offering guests world-class entertainment options on board Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a partnership with Gibson Guitar to let guests discover and explore their inner rock star - in the privacy of their stateroom. The "Check-In-Rock-Out" program gives guests the opportunity to borrow a Gibson guitar, companion pod, and a private amplifier with headphones to take to their staterooms and rock out without disturbing other guests.

Guitars, pods and accessories will be available to guests at a cost of $10 per day rental every day except on embarkation/disembarkation. The Check-In-Rock-Out program will be available in Norwegian Epic's Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club. Each pod includes controls and special effects so that guests can select the type of sound they want to create, from classic rock to heavy metal, blues, classic and country - and then choose their own song to play. The pods are supplied by Line 6 and the headphones and cables are supplied by Monster Cable.

"We are so excited about this program," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "We've brought world class performers to our guests on Norwegian Epic. Now, we're letting our guests be the superstars and play on world class Gibson guitars. Whether you're an expert guitarist or an air guitar fan like me, the 'Check-In-Rock-Out' program will let you play like a rock star, in the privacy of your stateroom."

"Our partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line will offer fans from around the world the opportunity to experience music like never before on the high seas," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. "We are delighted to be part of the global excitement surrounding the launch of Norwegian Epic and share in our mutual goals for world class entertainment."

Now - NCL, what you have to do to make this really matter to musicians is figure out a way to let them play together - set up controlled jam sessions. This would actually be far easier than you think. All you need is a controlled environment with a few guitars, a bass, keyboards and an elecctronic drumset. These can all be plugged into the same sound system and working all the time - each instrument set up at a reasonable volume.

Charge each person $10/hour for access to the insturment of their choice. (This is how you stop the eight-year-olds from not giving up a guitar when a real player wants to get in.) You can even reserve time slots ahead of time for people - so when a bass play and drummer are set to go a guitar player can see the schedule and opt to sign up as well. If a certain group of players wants to make sure a no-talent shredder doesn't ruin their jam session they will can book the unused instruments so no one will interfere.

You may be thinking it sounds unweildy - but I see it as a great way to use the "disco" during the day when it is otherwise empty. Even better, your customers will love the idea. It may be a modest money maker in itself, but it will give your cruisers a chance to do what they really love on your ship - play their own music and even have an audience for it.

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06-03-10 Royal Caribbean Enhancements to Crown & Anchor Society Royal Caribbean International announced new enhancements to the cruise line's Crown & Anchor Society that will better recognize and reward the cruise line's loyal member guests. The new Crown & Anchor Society enhancements will begin rolling out on June 1, 2010, offering members the exclusive privilege to book their next cruise onboard and receive an onboard credit for their future sailing. Members also can apply their Crown & Anchor Society Savings Certificates and receive the onboard credit for their future booking, receive more individual attention and service from additional onboard Loyalty Staff aboard each ship, have priority notification of exclusive member specials, and exclusively receive added-value offers in the Crown & Anchor Society Ultimate Value Booklet.

"We listened to our member guests and are launching program enhancements to reflect what they told us matter most to them," said Betsy O'Rourke, senior vice president of Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "The new exclusive benefits will add to those that members have enjoyed in the past and reflect Royal Caribbean's commitment to recognize and reward our loyal members who cruise with us again and again. There has never been a better time to be a Crown & Anchor Society member, and there is more to come."

Crown & Anchor Society members will now have the exclusive privilege to reserve their next cruise while onboard a Royal Caribbean vacation. The new and exclusive Onboard Booking Bonus offers members the exclusive privilege to book a future cruise onboard and receive an onboard credit to spend on the future sailing, which can now also be used with either a Crown & Anchor Savings Certificate or a Balcony and Suite Discount (the latter applicable for Platinum, Diamond or Diamond Plus members), offering member guests great savings for their next cruise. Travel agent partners will continue to earn commission for onboard bookings.

An additional Crown & Anchor Society Loyalty Staff member also has been appointed aboard each ship to offer more personalized service and deliver the Royal treatment to each member guest. The Loyalty Staff members can help answer member guests' questions and help them reserve future cruises to take advantage of the new and enhanced vacation offers, available only to members of the Crown & Anchor Society.

Crown & Anchor Society members also will notice the new program enhancements both at home and onboard. Members will continue to enjoy first-to-know priority notice and access to new developments, special events, and exclusive offers that reward members for their loyalty. Travel agent partners also will be notified simultaneously. Onboard, member guests will be recognized every time they advance to a new level; and enjoy new enhanced benefits in their Ultimate Value Booklet, filled with new onboard savings for beverages, internet packages, photo and logo merchandise, supplementing classic favorites such as casino and spa discounts, to name a few.

For more information and a new webisode about the loyalty program and its members, please visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com/CrownandAnchor.

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06-03-10 Disney Adds Final Building Block to New Disney Dream PAPENBURG, GERMANY (June 1, 2010) -- The final building block for the newest Disney Cruise Line ship, the Disney Dream, was placed today at the Meyer Werft shipyard signaling completion of a major milestone in the ship's overall construction. On January 26, 2011, the Disney Dream will set sail from Port Canaveral, Fla. on her maiden voyage and take family cruising to all-new heights, embracing the spirit of innovation, magical family entertainment and immersive experiences that have made Disney Cruise Line the preeminent choice for families since 1998.

The final block placed was a 260-ton portion of the ship's bow, complete with the signature Disney Cruise Line golden filigree. With all 80 building blocks for the Disney Dream now in place, the focus shifts to outfitting the interiors spaces that include the whimsical, Disney-infused children's spaces, dynamically chic adult nightclubs, spectacular restaurants and elaborate theatres.

Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz and Captain Mickey Mouse were at the Meyer Werft shipyard to commemorate this important milestone.

For more information, photos and videos, visit the Disney Cruise Line Public Relations website at www.dclnews.com

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