News Archive - March 2003

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013
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3-31-03 Cunard's New Queen Victoria Cunard Line has announced plans to build a third "Queen", the 85,000-ton Queen Victoria scheduled to enter service in 2005. The 1,968-passenger vessel will be marketed in Britain and will sail year-round from Southampton, UK to the Mediterranean, Canaries, Northern Europe and Caribbean. The ship will offer single-seating gourmet dining in the Queen Grill and have ten exterior glass elevators. The new Queen Victoria joins flagship Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2, scheduled to enter service in early 2004. Back to Top

3-28-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Seven Seas Voyager will be christened on Monday at Monte Carlo's new port facility. Barbara Carlson Gage, co-owner and director of Radisson's parent company, Carlson Companies Inc., will serve as Godmother. Crown Prince Albert of Monaco will be on hand for the naming ceremonies. The 49,000-ton Voyager is the world's second all balcony-suite vessel, a sister ship, but not an identical twin, of Seven Seas Mariner. The new ship features four dining venues, the Club Mariner Youth Program on selected summer voyages and butler service in 88 suites. Two new production shows headline in the showlounge with four lead singers and a cast of six presenting Broadway and light classical entertainment.

*** The Minerva will embark on her final voyage for Swan Hellenic tomorrow, March 29, sailing from Aqaba, Jordan through the Suez Canal ending in Malta. Travel advisories have not been issued for the ports along the route so the cruise is sailing as originally scheduled. Minerva will sail on a split deployment for the remainder of the year, first in the Med as Saga Pearl for Saga Holidays of the U.K. and from November, as the Explorer II for Abercrombie & Kent in Antarctica. Minerva will be replaced at Swan Hellenic by the Minerva II, the former R8 of Renaissance Cruises. Minerva II sets sail April 16, in the Mediterranean. The vessel's globetrotting adventures will take her to Western Europe, Baltic, transatlantic, th Panama Canal and South America over the next year.

*** Carnival Glory is set to debut earlier than expected. An additional five-night Mexico cruise has been added, departing from Port Canaveral, July 14, 2003. The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger vessel will call at Costa Maya and Cozumel on this inaugural sailing. Cruise fares begin at $549 per person based on double occupancy. Carnival Glory begins sailing every Saturday year-round commencing July 19, 2003 on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises to either Nassau, St. Thomas/St. John and St. Maarten, or Key West; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel and Progreso/Merida, Mexico. Carnival Glory replaces Carnival Pride on these routes.

Carnival Glory is the second Destiny-class II superliner - sister ship to Carnival Conquest which entered service last December. Carnival Glory boasts 22 different lounges and bars, ranging from Blue, an intimate piano bar, to The Amber Palace, a three-deck-high theater showcasing elaborate Vegas-style revues. Color is the theme of the vessel with public rooms enhanced by striking interiors offering dramatic interpretations of different colors.

*** Holland America Line was honored with two major awards at the First International Employers Awards (FIEA) in Manila by the Republic of the Philippines government. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presented the awards to Jeff Beattie, Holland America director of seagoing human resources, in a ceremony in Manila. HAL won the Presidential Award of Distinction and the International Employers Award, given by the Department of Labor and Employment. Both awards recognize Holland America for "being one of the top providers of employment to Filipinos with exemplary conditions for workers and for contributing to the well-being of Filipino seafarers." The Presidential Award of Distinction also specifically recognizes the contributions of a foreign employer that has employed Filipino seafarers aboard ships for the longest period. Holland America employs more than 9,000 shipboard staff, with nearly 3,000 coming from the Philippines. The premium cruise leader has hired seafarers from the Philippines since 1971 and currently operates training programs in the country to recruit and retain qualified staff as the line grows with the addition of four new ships by 2006.

*** Security has been stepped up at ports as part of "Operation Liberty Shield." Travelers should allow extra time for increased security checks when making travel plans. Be sure to have the correct travel documentation for proof of citizenship. These are the guidelines from the International Council of Cruises:

  • US Citizens — A passport or a birth certificate (original or certified copy) plus a picture ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency are required. A voter registration card or Social Security card are not considered to be proof of citizenship. Children under 16 years of age do not require a picture ID card.
  • Non-US Citizens — Valid passports and visas (except for waiver countries) are required in addition to Alien Registration Cards (ARC or "Green" cards) if an individual is a Resident Alien living in the United States. Certain Canadian and Mexican citizens may travel with alternative documentation depending on their alien status in the United States.
  • For customs and immigration purposes, guests are also required to have necessary visa, passport and other travel authorization documents based upon their nationality and country of residence.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line has canceled the April 10 Red Sea voyage of Seabourn Spirit and offered re-booking incentives to passengers. Those who re-book on a European cruise or on the November 21 Red Sea sailing will receive a cash refund of $500 and shipboard credit of $250 per person. Those who sail on other Seabourn voyages within one year will receive a cruise credit of 110 percent of the price paid for the canceled April 10 cruise.

*** Watch the Travel Channel for a behind the scenes look at Adventure of the Seas. The program is scheduled to air 8 pm Eastern, April 14, 2003. "Great Cruises: Adventure of the Seas" offers an in-depth look at the engineering, design and day-to-day operations of the 3,114-passenger ship as it sails the Southern Caribbean. Travel Channel interviewed on board staff about satisfying the needs of more than 3,000 guests and talked to industry experts about the ship's many innovations. Viewers will meet the Captain and crew and follow passengers as they explore the ship and sample the rock-climbing wall, ice skating rink, miniature golf course, inline skating track and Royal Promenade - a shopping, dining and entertainment street longer than a football field running down the center of the ship. The show also follows several shore excursions, exploring the bat-filled grottos of Curaçao's Hato Caves, enjoying Aruba's nightlife on the Kukoo Kunuku bar-hopping bus tour and working as crew aboard America's Cup racing yachts in St. Maarten.

*** The new line, Ocean Club Cruises launches in April with two and three-night cruises to the Bahamas and Key West. The 15,000-ton Mirage 1 carries 850 passengers. The ship has been fully refurbished to offer multiple entertainment and gambling options, duty-free shopping and flexible dining. Two-night cruises on Mondays call at Nassau, two-night cruises on Wednesdays call at Grand Bahama Island and three-night cruises on Fridays call at Key West and Grand Bahama. Cruise-only fares start at $349, early booking rates as low as $199. Ocean Club Cruises is a sister company of Magic Cruise Lines which has operated in the Eastern Mediterranean for many years.

*** Song of Flower will return to service later than expected. The vessel's South America season was canceled over the winter and she was expected to return in April. She will now sail from Rome to Lisbon on May 26, 2003 followed by Western Europe, British Isles and Baltic cruises, returning to the Med September 17.

*** Carnival Spirit will sail two Mexican Riviera cruises in October, round-trip from San Diego. A six-day Baja Mexico cruise departs Saturday, Oct. 18, 2003 returning Friday, Oct. 24. Ports of call include La Paz, Baja California's historic capital and Cabo San Lucas. An eight-day sailing departs San Diego Friday, Oct. 24, 2003, returning Saturday, Nov. 1. Featured ports are Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa and Manzanillo. Per person double occupancy fares begin at $449 for the six-night and $649 for the eight-night cruise.

*** Celebrity Cruises' Zenith will be the first ship to homeport in Jacksonville, Florida when it begins sailing from Jacksonville Port Authority's (JAXPORT's) Dames Point Marine Terminal this fall. Zenith will sail round-trip from Jacksonville on 11 to 14-night cruises from October 27, 2003 through April 22, 2004. Itineraries include Exotic Western Caribbean/Panama Canal and Southern Caribbean cruises. The Western Caribbean includes calls at Roatan, the largest of Honduras' Bay Islands, Panama Canal, and the private resort at Labadee, Hispanola. The Southern Caribbean itinerary includes an overnight stay in exotic Barbados and calls at Tortola and Grenada. Celebrity may deploy a ship year-round to Jacksonville if the first season goes well.

*** Princess and Royal Caribbean are the latest cruise lines to announce new shore excursions in Alaska this summer. Princess has 30 new land options while Royal Caribbean introduced 26. Cruise lines are designing a wide range of adventure and cultural excursions from flightseeing, dog sledding, kayaking, fishing and bear watching trips to excursions visiting historic sites and afternoon tea outings. For a round-up of new excursions offered by Carnival, Crystal, Princess and Royal Caribbean, see New Alaska Shore Excursions for 2003.

*** Rocky Mountaineer rail adventures are available in conjunction with Alaska cruises by Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises this year. Rocky Mountaineer Railtours offers more than 50 packaged tours ranging from four days to 17 days, taking travelers through the scenic beauty of Canada's West and the Canadian Rockies. Cruise lines have organized the addition of rail tours before or after sailings departing from, or arriving in Vancouver between early-May and mid-September 2003. See your travel agent for more details and visit the Rocky Mountaineer web site at www.rockymountaineer.com.

*** Orient Lines' Crown Odyssey has emerged from dry dock sporting a white hull with her new name - Norwegian Crown - in preparation for the transfer to Norwegian Cruise Line in September. On board changes made during refit are designed for NCL's 'freestyle cruising' concept. They include the addition of three restaurants - Le Bistro, an Italian pasta cafe and a covered al fresco dining cafe - a children's activity area, state-of-the-art fitness center and a number of cabins as well as an expansion of the spa and casino. For NCL, Norwegian Crown will sail Canada/New England cruises from Baltimore next fall before heading to South America. With the transfer of the vessel to Norwegian Cruise Line in September, Orient Lines returns to a one-ship operation. Marco Polo will continue sailing the lines' destination-focused voyages. Back to Top

3-21-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Royal Olympia is pulling Stella Solaris from service until summer 2004. The line is refurbishing the ship, which originally entered service in 1953. During her long career, the classic vessel gathered a loyal following as she was noted for a gracious, traditional cruise experience. The 14,155-ton Triton, the former Cunard Adventurer and Sunward II, will take over the Mediterranean and Baltic cruises of Stella Solaris for this year.

*** Shareholders will vote on the Carnival, P&O Princess merger in April. The Carnival vote takes place April 14 in New York with P&O Princess following on April 16 in London. Stock for the new company is expected to trade on April 22. The merger will create the world's largest ever cruise corporation controlling 65 ships in 2003.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is extending Radisson Diamond's Caribbean season with 13 new voyages April 23 to July 26. Itineraries are round-trip Fort Lauderdale or between Fort Lauderdale and San Juan and include seven, 10, 11 and 14-night sailings. On August 2, the Radisson Diamond will set sail on a nine-night Transatlantic crossing from San Juan to Madeira, repositioning in the Mediterranean for an abbreviated season. She will sail between Nice, Rome (Civitavecchia), Athens (Piraeus), and Istanbul until Nov. 10, then depart for San Juan and her fall Caribbean season. The new Caribbean sailings from April to July, are available at two-for-one savings. Seven-night cruises start at $1,598 per person (single supplements are only $400 to $800 and children sailing as thirds in staterooms sail free.) Gratuities, soft drinks and bottled water are included on every Radisson Seven Seas voyage and these voyages will feature an open bar arrangement. On these sailings leave formal wear at home - the dress code calls for relaxed, "country club casual" attire.

*** Expanded dining options are a prominent feature of new ships entering service this summer. The 68,000-ton, 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity debuts in July with seven dining venues including the Crystal Dining Room, Tastes casual poolside eatery and the Vintage Room for exclusive Wine & Champagne Makers Dinners. Prego, the specialty Italian dining room, features the cuisine of Valentino's Piero Selvaggio while Master Chef "Nobu" Matsuhisa has created dishes for The Sushi Bar and Silk Road Restaurant. Meals can also be served, course-by-course in-stateroom.

The new 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger Carnival Glory enters service July 19 in Port Canaveral. In addition to the Gold and Platinum main dining rooms, Glory has The Emerald Room, a reservations-only "steakhouse-style" supper club. Carnival's supper clubs are noted for offering U.S.D.A. prime steaks, seafood and other gourmet cuisine including crab claws from Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant in Miami. (The Emerald Room carries a $25 reservations fee.) The two-deck, 1,250-seat casual eatery, the Red Sail Restaurant features breakfast buffets and made-to-order omelette stations (both available until noon); a 24-hour pizzeria; a New York-style deli; "Taste of the Nation" featuring a different international cuisine each day; a rotisserie with broiled meats and chicken; Sur Mer, a specialty seafood area; a grille serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and grilled chicken and steak sandwiches; an elaborate buffet with various hot and cold items, and a 35-item salad bar. A dessert bar and complimentary 24-hour ice cream are also available. Other dining venues aboard Carnival Glory include the Sushi Salmon sushi bar and a patisserie. Complimentary 24-hour room service offers continental breakfast items and a variety of sandwiches, wraps, salads, chips and desserts.

*** Royal Olympia ships are taking on new roles. The movie Boat Trip, which opens in theaters soon, was filmed aboard Olympia Voyager in June, 2001. Described as a high-jinks tale of love and misadventure, the story follows the ship's actual itinerary to Athens, Mykonos, Istanbul, Santorini, and Alexandria, Egypt. The film stars Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Horatio Sanz, Vivica A. Fox and Roselyn Sanchez with a special cameo appearance by Olympia Voyager's Captain Georgios Apistolas.

Olympia Voyager, Olympia Explorer and Olympia Countess will be used as hotels during the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens. From August 10 to 31, 2004, the three ships will accommodate more than 2,500 guests in 1,700 luxury staterooms and suites. They will be docked in Piraeus, the port for Athens.

*** Crystal Cruises has added 12 new shore excursions to its Alaska program. Most of the new excursions are adventure activities. They include a glacier landing and the Mendenhall Glacier Native Canoe & Salmon Bake, both from Juneau; the Alaska Dog Sled Adventure and the Klondike Gold Dredge and Gold Panning excursion out of Skagway; the Guided Alaskan Fishing and Private Wilderness Dining land program and Neets Bay Bear Watch Expedition, available out of Ketchikan. The Ketchikan Explorer by Land & Sea will combine a walking tour of the town and all its quirks followed by a trip aboard a water-jet powered vessel for a tour of the glacier-etched George Inlet. Meanwhile, in Victoria, British Columbia, a Graveyards, Ghosts and Headstones excursion will explore the spooky side of the city, with visits to an array of allegedly haunted cemeteries. In all, 59 excursions are available on nine, 12-night Crystal Harmony cruises, round-trip from San Francisco beginning June 2. A 10-day itinerary begins May 23 from Vancouver to San Francisco. A shore excursions brochure is sent with your tickets. Passengers can also pre-register for excursions before sailing. Excursion descriptions are also being added to the Crystal Cruises' web site.

*** Silversea Cruises has released Silver Wind's revised schedule for winter, 2004. It includes Caribbean, Panama Canal and California Coast cruises with departures from Ft. Lauderdale, New Orleans, San Diego and Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica. The revised schedule begins with the 14-night sailing, January 20, 2004 from Rio de Janeiro to Barbados at the end of a series of South America cruises. Silver Wind takes over Silver Cloud's schedule, including the South America sailings, from October 25, when Cloud goes to drydock for refurbishment. Silver Cloud returns in April 2004 when both ships will sail in the Mediterranean.

*** Accommodation aboard The World of ResidenSea now includes meals and beverages for two. Previously, this option was available only on studio residence bookings. Now, travelers in apartment residences can enjoy the flexibility of dining in any restaurant at any time, and take advantage of the en-suite dining option without incurring additional charges. The all-inclusive fare covers food and beverages for two sharing the same apartment. The cost for additional guests sharing the residence is $150 per day. Fares do not include grocery purchases at Fredy's Deli or the rent-a-chef service. The change is part of a new five-tiered pricing fare structure for apartment rentals. The vessel now offers five categories instead of just two. For the remainder of 2003, all-inclusive apartment rental fares range from $1,800 to $2,400 per night in a two-bedroom apartment residence, and from $2,400 to $3,100 per night in a three-bedroom apartment residence. Fares vary depending on room size and sailing date.

*** Crystal Cruises has issued a statement regarding the release of treated wastewater off Monterey, California on October 9, 2002. The unfortunate incident took place approximately 14 miles off shore while Crystal Harmony was in transit. While this did not violate any maritime law, it did violate a pre-existing commitment made to the City of Monterey, as well as the line's corporate environmental policy, because it took place within a portion of the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Chief Officer in charge at the time of the incident has been let go and other have been reprimanded. For more details see the Crystal Cruises web site.

*** The March 23 sailing of P&O (Australia)'s Pacific Sky has now been canceled. The vessel returned to Auckland on March 15, one day into an 11-day South Pacific cruise after taking on 165 tonnes of water. The 46,000-ton Pacific Sky is the former Sky Princess, built in 1984 as the FairSky for Sitmar Cruises. Investigation of cracks in the ship's hull have shown extensive corrosion on both the port and starboard sides. The ship has been impounded and cannot sail until repair work is approved by the Maritime Safety Authority. Since Pacific Sky is too large for the Devonport drydock, the largest in New Zealand, repairs have become an engineering challenge. A special cacoon has been built under the waterline so the hull plating can be replaced while the ship is afloat. Work is expected to take between eight and ten days. Passengers on the canceled sailings are receiving a full refund and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.

*** Here are some recently announced theme cruises and special programs:

Royal Olympia - aboard Olympia Explorer, transatlantic, nine nights, April 3, 2003:

  • Music and special guests: Swing, Soul Jazz, Blues, and Rhythm and Blues during daily concerts. Classical music performances given by world-renowned pianists Massimiliano Facchini and Claudette Munne. The cultural enrichment program will feature former U.S. Ambassador Robert Fritts; Astronaut and Aquanaut Scott Carpenter; and Physicist Dr. James Trefil.

Crystal Cruises - aboard Crystal Serenity:

  • "The Best Young Chefs of Italy" is a new series to be held at Prego, the Italian specialty restaurant giving the most-promising chefs an opportunity to create their specialty dishes for Crystal's passengers.

Star Clippers - aboard Star Clipper, out of St. Maarten:

  • Health and Well-Being: November 30, December 7, 14, 21, 28, 2003. January 4 & 11, 2004.
  • Caribbean Discovery featuring the music, culture and cuisine of the Caribbean: November 2, 9, 16, 23, 2003, Feb. 29, March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 4, 2004.
  • Jazz & Blues: January 18, Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22, 2004.

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises - in the Caribbean:

  • Singles: Polynesia, April 21, December 1, 8, 2003. Yankee Clipper August 4, 11, 2003.
  • Caribbean Culinary & Spirits Cruises: Legacy, April 28 and December 1, 2003.
  • Photography: Legacy, April 28, 2003
  • Junior Jammer cruises for kids 6-12, June 2 to August 30, 2003 aboard Legacy and Polynesia.
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3-19-03 New Oceania Med Itinerary Oceania Cruises has announced changes in 2003 Mediterranean cruises of the new Insignia, deleting Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey. The Oct. 4 voyage will now be round-trip from Barcelona and the Oct. 18 cruise is scheduled between Barcelona and Rome. Insignia's sister ship, Regatta, will sail in the Baltic and also the Mediterranean. Back to Top

3-19-03 RCI Expands Rock-climbing Royal Caribbean International has announced plans to offer rock-climbing aboard all ships in its fleet by November 2003. First featured on Voyager of the Seas, the popular activity will added by retro-fitting ships launched before 1999, and be installed on three Royal Caribbean ships scheduled to debut in late 2003 and spring 2004. Lessons are offered on every sailing by trained ship staff. Fleetwide installations begin in late May with Monarch of the Seas, which will be refitted before arriving in her new homeport of Los Angeles. The remainder of the ships will be outfitted with rock-climbing walls by the end of the year: Majesty of the Seas (June); Sovereign of the Seas (July); Rhapsody of the Seas (August); Enchantment of the Seas (August); Grandeur of the Seas (October); Splendour of the Seas (October); Nordic Empress (November); and Legend of the Seas (November). Back to Top

3-14-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Holland America Line's Oosterdam has been delayed. The second Vista-class ship will now sail from Harwich, England on her maiden voyage August 3 instead of July 10. The 1,848 passenger Oosterdam will sail a total of four Baltic cruises between London and Copenhagen with departures through Sept. 8. Its 12-day itinerary includes Oslo, Norway; Arhus, Denmark; Warnemunde, Germany; Visby, Sweden; Estonia; St. Petersburg; Helsinki; and Stockholm. Passengers booked on the July 10 and 22 sailings who transfer to other departures will receive cabin upgrades and shipboard credits. Oosterdam is sister ship to Zuiderdam which entered service last December.

Oosterdam will feature the Golf Academy, operated by Elite Golf Cruises. The program has been offered aboard the ships of Carnival Cruise Lines for several seasons. The Academy features on board instruction from a pro, golf simulators with video as well as golf excursions ashore. The program is being added to the HAL fleet.

*** Carnival Conquest's first arrival in Gulfport, Mississippi was delayed by five hours due to fog. The vessel had to anchor and wait for the fog to lift before entering port. The ship is temporarily turning around in Gulfport in place of New Orleans on its weekly Western Caribbean cruises due to dangerous conditions on the lower Mississippi River. Conquest is sailing from the East Pier in Gulfport, about an hour and fifteen minutes drive from New Orleans. Complimentary shuttle service from New Orleans is being provided.

*** Three passengers from Cunard's Caronia were in court this week after 44 pounds of cocaine was found in their luggage. Security at the port of Southampton is being praised for the discovery which was made when the ship returned from a cruise to South America and the Caribbean.

*** Princess Cruises will once again hold special Academy Awards parties aboard its ships. On March 23, passengers will walk down a red carpet as they arrive at the festivities to view the awards show on big screens. Astute passenger film critics who pick the winners can win one of many prizes awarded throughout the evening, such as dinners in Sabatini's Italian trattoria or spa treatments.

*** Godmothers for two upcoming ships have been announced. Radisson Voyager will be christened by Barbara Carlson Gage, co-owner and director of Radisson's parent company, Carlson Companies Inc. Crown Prince Albert of Monaco will be on hand for the ceremonies which take place at Monte Carlo's new cruise terminal, March 31.

British TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson will be Godmother for Ocean Village, the first ship for the new, casual-adventure-style line. In keeping with the Ocean Village philosophy, the big naming night will be a ‘dress to party' affair with living statues, street entertainers and acrobats and a mix of music and dance. The party takes place in Southampton on April 28. Ocean Village, originally built as the Fair Majesty for Sitmar Cruises, sailed as the Star Princess for Princess Cruises from 1989 through 1997.

*** Carnival Liberty is the name of the fourth Conquest-class ship entering service for Carnival Cruise Lines in 2005. The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger vessel will be constructed by Italian shipyard Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani. Carnival Liberty's homeport and itinerary have yet to be announced. The 952-foot-long vessel will feature four restaurants, including two twin-level formal dining rooms, an expansive two-deck-high casual poolside eatery, and an upscale "steakhouse-style" supper club serving hand-cut U.S.D.A. prime beef and other gourmet cuisine. Carnival Liberty's 13 passenger decks will house 22 lounges and bars, including a sports bar, wine bar, a three-deck-high theater showcasing Vegas-style revues, a piano bar and various other live music venues. Other features include a conference center, Internet cafe, a comprehensive golf program, a duty-free shopping mall and a state-of-the-art 12,000-square-foot health club. Children's facilities, will include a 4,200-square-foot play area and a 1,800-square-foot teen club and video game room. Of the ship's 1,487 staterooms, 60 percent will offer either an ocean view or balcony. On board will be four swimming pools and a 214-foot-long water slide. Sister ship Carnival Conquest entered service last November. The largest in the Carnival fleet, she will be followed by Carnival Glory on July 19, 2003 and Carnival Valor in fall, 2004.

*** Holland America Line is offering special pricing aboard Zuiderdam this spring and summer. The newest ship in the HAL fleet has extensive facilities for kids and teens in the supervised Club HAL program, making it suitable for a family vacation. Special spring and summer savings fares start at US$499 (CAN$699) per person for an inside cabin, $699 (CAN$999) for an outside and $899 (CAN$1,289) for a Verandah cabin on the ms Zuiderdam. Rates apply to Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings, departing Saturdays from April 5 to August 16, 2003. In addition, third and fourth berth pricing in Verandah cabins is $199 (CAN$299) for children and $299 (CAN$449) per person for adults on ms Zuiderdam sailings departing April 26 and May 3-24, 2003. See your travel agent for more details.

*** Princess Cruises is offering more than 20 new Adventures Ashore excursions in European ports this year. The unique experiences offered include the opportunity to visit the Mercedes Benz factory in Germany, climb Mt. Vesuvius near Naples, meet the chieftain of a Scottish clan, fly to Moscow or attend the famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo. For descriptions of shore excursions and to book online visit the Princess web site at http://www.princess.com/planner/shorex/index.jsp.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line is launching "Star Seeker" on April 4. This new American Idol-style contest will be held aboard all NCL's ships on four-day and longer voyages to give passengers a chance to wow the crowd and possibly win a full-time entertainment contract on board an NCL ship. Contestants will perform a three-minute routine and a panel of judges will select the winners based on each performer's entertainment value and audience reaction. The judging panel will be comprised of the ship's hotel director and cruise director as well as a musician and a guest performer from the vessel's professional entertainment staff. Individual ship winners will receive a trophy, and a videotape of their winning performance will be sent to NCL's shore side headquarters for review by the entertainment department. NCL will then select a handful of winners to perform a 45-minute cabaret show as a featured entertainer aboard a future NCL cruise which may lead to a full time contract.

*** Small ship operator, Cruise West, is offering free air on Columbia and Snake River cruises from Portland, OR this spring and fall. On the eight-day voyage, the 84-passenger Spirit of Discovery or the 96-passenger Spirit of '98 sail along 400 miles from the Pacific Ocean to Hells Canyon. This is the same route used by explorers Lewis and Clark on their epic quest across the continent in 1805-1806. Prices range from $1,599 to $3,699 per person, double on 26 departures between March 20 and May 1and September 11 to October 30. Free air is offered from more than 50 gateways across the U.S.

*** Here's a round-up of this week's revised cancellation and insurance policies:

  • Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises: Passengers who, for any reason, choose to cancel their Mediterranean cruise prior to May 1, 2003, will receive a future cruise credit equal to 90 percent of the cancellation fees imposed by the company. The credits may be used on any sailing except for those during Christmas and New Years. The credits are valid for one year from issue date, are not transferable and have no cash value. This special offer is a cancellation policy only, not an insurance policy and does not provide any other coverage. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises strongly recommend that guests purchase the CruiseCare Vacation Protection Plan to cover their entire vacation, including coverage for trip cancellation and delay, medical, baggage and emergency assistance.
  • Silversea Cruises has reduced the cost of its Reassurance Program and enhanced the terms. Passengers who purchase the policy may still change travel plans 1-14 days before sailing without penalty on any 2003 voyage. They will receive a 100% Reassurance Cruise Credit toward a future cruise. The cruise credit may be used in conjunction with other special offers. The cost of the Reassurance Program has been reduced to $100 per passenger from $250, if purchased together with Silversea's GuestCare optional travel insurance, and $250 per person from $500 if purchased alone.
  • Star Clippers has recently introduced a "Sail Assured Program" to ease cancellation concerns for Mediterranean cruises. Passengers aboard Star Clipper, Star Flyer or the flagship, Royal Clipper, between May 17 and September 27, 2003 can cancel up to 72 hours prior to departure and receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) equal to applicable cancellation charges. There is no charge to the passenger for this service. However, a $100 per person administration fee will be applied to the Future Cruise Credit at the time of issue. Notification to Star Clippers must be made in writing at least 72 hours before the scheduled sailing date. The Future Cruise Credit will be valid for any sailing (except select holiday cruises) departing before September 30, 2004. Future Cruise Credits are not transferable and have no cash value. The program is available to North and Latin American residents only.
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3-7-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Silversea Cruises is pulling Silver Cloud from service next winter. Sister ship Silver Wind will take over Cloud's fall itineraries and sail a modified schedule of Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises from January 20, 2004. Both vessels will sail in Europe in April 2004. Silver Wind was out of service in 2002 due to low consumer demand. She returns this May. The vessel underwent a multi-million dollar refit which included the addition of an intimate new Wine Bar, similar to those aboard the newer Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper. Spa facilities were expanded to include a Tranquility Room and the Fitness Center relocated to the Observation Deck, providing a magnificent, panoramic view of the ocean. A new Computer Center, Silversea's first Internet Cafe, was also created. Silver Cloud will undergo the same refurbishment after entering drydock on October 25, 2003. She will return to service in mid-April 2004.

Silversea also announced an expansion of its 'Silver Sailings' program that features up to 50 percent savings off cruise-only fares. The savings program was initially promoted in the line's 2003 brochure with 30 applicable voyages, but has been recently expanded to more than double that number.

*** Carnival Spirit will offer a number of exciting new shore excursions in Alaska this year, including some "extreme" activities. The ten new excursions, are among the 95 different on-shore activities available in conjunction with Carnival Spirit's seven-day Glacier Bay and Glacier Route cruises sailing between Vancouver and Seward from May 14 to Sept. 17, 2003.

Included in the new excursions are:

  • Helicopter Adventure Hike & Whitepass Railway (Skagway)
  • Snowshoe Trek & White Pass Railway Adventure (Skagway)
  • Helicopter Flightseeing & Glacier Walkabout (Juneau)
  • Whale Quest & Salmon Bake Combo (Juneau)
  • Ketchikan Explorer by Land & Sea (Ketchikan)
  • Wilderness Adventure & Crab Boil (Ketchikan)
  • Scenic Grouse Mountain and Airport Transfer (Vancouver)

*** Crystal Cruises announced at the Seatrade convention in Miami, that it is introducing a number of changes aboard its fleet, starting with Crystal Harmony's Alaska sailings this year. There will be no charge for soft drinks, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and non-alcoholic bar drinks aboard Crystal Harmony, from late May. A later-risers' breakfast from 10am to noon and an elaborate Sunday Brunch will be available. The on board enrichment program will be expanded as Crystal's Creative Learning Institute offers courses by Berlitz, the Society of Wine Educators, the Tai Chi Cultural Center and Barnes& Noble.com. New courses for junior cruisers include understanding fine dining and ballroom dancing. Passengers will be able to pre-register for shore excursions through their travel agent or by mailing or faxing a form to Crystal.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line is planning to create a new division to handle its US-flagged Hawaii fleet, the first of which enters service in early summer, 2004. NCL will be the only line offering inter-island cruises in Hawaii. The line plans to continue calling at Fanning Island, Republic of Kiribati, on 10 and 11-night cruises. Also in the works is the possibility of shorter three and four-night cruises coupled with per and post-cruise hotel stays.

*** Royal Caribbean has launched a a new credit card that enables users to earn points toward free merchandise, on board amenities, upgrades, cruise discounts and free cruises.The Royal Caribbean Platinum Plus Visa is a no-annual-fee card issued through MBNA America Bank, N.A. and is being offered at a low introductory annual percentage rate. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar they charge to the card and double points when they use the card to book a Royal Caribbean cruise, or make purchases on board any Royal Caribbean ship. In addition, each user receives 2,500 bonus points after their first qualifying transaction. Points are good for cruise discounts on any Royal Caribbean ship and sail date: $150 (15,000 points) and $500 (50,000 points), a free three- to four-night Bahamas or Baja Mexico cruise for two, outside stateroom (50,000 points) or a free five- to seven-night Mexican Riviera or Caribbean cruise for two, outside stateroom (125,000 points). Benefits available with 5,000 points include a free upgrade from an inside stateroom to an outside window stateroom on three- to four-night Bahamas or Baja Mexico sailings, a Royal Caribbean travel pack containing two towels, two disposable cameras and two messenger bags or a romantic on board picnic for two. For more information or to apply for the Royal Caribbean Platinum Plus Visa card, go to www.royalcaribbean.com.

*** Holland America is again featuring its popular "Big Band" cruises on two special sailings during fall 2003. Experience the glamorous Swing era with the legendary Harry James Orchestra on Volendam's 10-day Southern Caribbean Wayfarer cruise, sailing round trip from Ft. Lauderdale Nov. 11, and the Sammy Kaye Orchestra on Oosterdam's 14-day transatlantic cruise departing Lisbon, Portugal Nov. 19 for Ft. Lauderdale. Both "Big Band" cruises feature evening performances and dancing nightly, plus a variety of other sessions ranging from tea dances to luncheons. Early in each cruise, the bands give a special performance of their greatest hits in the ship's show lounge. Passengers also have opportunities to socialize with the orchestra musicians and attend an interview/question-and-answer session with the bandleader during the cruise.

*** The next milestone in the construction of Cunard's Queen Mary 2 is the placement of the funnel on March 12. The vessel will be floated out five days later on March 17, cabins installed by September and sea trials will take place in September and October. The vessel's first voyage is scheduled for January, 2004. An addition to the previously announced amenities and programs on board the world's largest liner, is the formation of a company of actors for the ship. Actors from London's renowned Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, known as RADA, will perform and lead workshops during QM2's voyages.

*** Sailing from Vancouver's Canada Place or Ballantyne Pier to Alaska this summer? Check out the 2003 Alaska cruise schedule, now live at the Port of Vancouver web site. Princess, Holland America, Celebrity and Carnival are sailing from Canada Place pier in downtown Vancouver. Royal Caribbean's Legend, Radiance and Vision of the Seas are scheduled to sail from Ballantyne Pier, situated further east, out of the downtown area. Norwegian Wind moves to Canada Place for Sunday sailings - the ship has sailed on Mondays from Ballantyne for many years - . A printable version of the schedule is available online at www.portvancouver.com.

*** Carnival Glory will offer Carnival's golf program which features on board instruction from a pro and excursions to golf courses ashore. The 110,00-ton vessel enters service July 19, 2003 sailing year-round from Port Canaveral, every Saturday on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Prices for the Carnival Glory's all-inclusive golf packages ashore begin at $125 per person per 18-hole round, including professional on-site instruction. Shipboard lessons range in price from $25 for a "swing check" to $80 for a complete one-hour instructional video analysis with take-home video. Passengers can make advance reservations online at www.carnivalgolf.com.

*** The new line, Oceania Cruises, is adding state-of-the-art Pro-Giene technology throughout Oceania Cruises' two vessels Regatta and Insignia. Electronic, touch-free hand sanitizers and hand-wash stations will be installed in crew areas. Pro-Giene badges remind employees to wash their hands on a timed-interval basis. Each step is electronically validated, time-stamped and recorded, thus ensuring complete and total compliance with FDA and CDC guidelines. Touch-free hand sanitizers will also be added to passenger accommodation areas.

*** The luxury-adventure ships of Clipper Cruise Line are sailing to 18 sates on 14 different voyages in 2003. The small-ship fleet is U.S. registered with American crew. The line's "Close to Home Cruising" includes Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and the Inland Waterways of Northern California. On the East Coast, the 100-passenger ships visit the Atlantic Seaboard from Maine to Florida, St. Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes and Hudson River. Cruises feature a casual atmosphere and focus on the destination with naturalists, biologists and historians on board each sailing. For a brochure, contact your travel agent of visit the web site at www.clippercruise.com.

*** Abercrombie & Kent's Explorer will retire later this year. The vessel is the former Lindblad Explorer which began Antarctic cruising in 1970. The replacement is Explorer II, currently sailing as the Minerva for Swan Hellenic. The Explorer II will join A&K in the fall for the 2003-2004 Antarctica/South America season.

*** The historic King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua, Kona, Hawaii is organizing Hawaiian cultural events on the weekends when cruise ships call. Kupuna (revered elders) will share Hawaiian culture with visitors through demonstrations, workshops, craft exhibits, music and hula. The program will differ each time. The hotel is situated on the site of King Kamehameha the Great's, residence and administrative capital, established after he united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810. For more visit the hotel's web site at www.konabeachhotel.com. Back to Top

3-4-03 Carnival Conquest Repositioned Rising water levels in the Mississippi River have caused Carnival Cruise Line to reposition Carnival Conquest from its current homeport of New Orleans to Gulfport, Miss effective Sunday, March 9, 2003. The cruise line anticipates that Carnival Conquest will remain in Gulfport for at least the next six weeks. Overhanging power lines and a stronger current pose potential safety problems.

Gulfport is approximately an hour and 15 minutes from New Orleans. Guest embarkation and debarkation will take place at Gulfport beginning Sunday, March 9. Complimentary shuttle service from New Orleans will be provided. Information is available on the cruise line's web site at www.carnival.com. Back to Top

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