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News Archive - March 2006

3*31-06
Weekend News
*** MSC Cruises has announced revised itineraries and ship deployment. The cruise line's original plans to bring MSC Musica to Florida in the fall of 2006 and MSC Lirica to New York by spring 2007 has been cancelled. Instead, MSC will add additional 11-night Caribbean cruises from Florida and continue sailing MSC Musica in Europe for winter 2007. MSC Opera returns to Florida to join MSC Lirica for a revised season of 2007 winter Caribbean and Panama voyages. The new Caribbean deployment schedules for winter 2006-07 are as follows: MSC Opera departs Italy Dec. 2 on a 17-night transatlantic sailing to Fort Lauderdale, where she will do two 7-night holiday sailings before beginning a series of 11-night Deep Caribbean and Panama itineraries. MSC Opera then departs Florida May 9, 2007 for Copenhagen.

*** On April 6, 2006, Home Box Office will present All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise, a documentary feature film chronicling Rosie and Kelli's first-ever cruise for gay and lesbian families on board Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn. The documentary, which was shot on the 2004 maiden voyage, features a glimpse of society shaped by a truly diverse, inclusive network of families. All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise follows 500 gay and lesbian families from across the nation aboard Norwegian Dawn chartered by Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell. The documentary will also air on April 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24, 2006.

*** Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced renowned chef Jamie Gwen, host of "Chef Talk" from Talk Radio 790 KABC, will sail aboard Seven Seas Mariner on the Sept. 6, 2006 Alaska cruise as a special lecturer. The ship sails on a seven-day voyage from Anchorage cruising by Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm; with stops in Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. In other news, Regent's Paul Gauguin just emerged from a $6 million makeover. The ship received a new piano bar, new casino, and five additional balcony cabins. The Paul Gauguin is also sporting new carpets and seating. The updated ship will continue sailing seven-day Tahiti itineraries round-trip from Papeete.

*** Cunard Line has announced several new 2007 itineraries, including Queen Mary 2 weekend "Getaway" sailings. The ship will sail four round-trip cruises from New York to the Bahamas during Memorial Day and Fourth of July 2007, and President's Day and Easter 2008. Two other short sailings are scheduled for January 6, 2007, from Ft. Lauderdale and on Labor Day, 2007, from New York to Halifax. The ship will offer 22 six-day crossings between New York and Southampton next year. And, in December 2007, Cunard's newest ship, Queen Victoria, makes her debut.
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3-28-06
Five Star Princess Cruises Cancelled
Princess Cruises has cancelled five Star Princess voyages due to damage caused by fire last week including Caribbean cruises which depart on April 9, 16 and 23, along with the April 30 Transatlantic crossing. The ship will sail this week from the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, where she currently is located, to the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany for repair of the damaged cabins, returning to service in time to do its first Europe cruise as scheduled, which will depart from Copenhagen on May 15. Passengers booked on these cruises will receive a full refund of their cruise and non-refundable air charges. We will also provide passengers with a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the cruise fare paid on these sailings.
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3-26-06
Fire Star Princess - 4-2 Cruise Cancelled
The cruise ship Star Princess left Montego Bay, Jamaica, for Grand Bahama Island and a repair facility where the damage caused by a Thursday fire aboard the vessel has been partially assessed. Princess has just released (3-27-06, 1:30 EST) the following statement:

Following a preliminary assessment over the weekend of the damage to cabins aboard Star Princess resulting from last week's fire, it has been determined that additional out of service time is required. We are therefore regretfully cancelling the ship's April 2 voyage, a Caribbean sailing scheduled to depart from Fort Lauderdale. We sincerely apologize to passengers booked on this cruise for any disappointment and inconvenience this may cause.

Passengers booked on this sailing will receive a full refund of their cruise and air fare. We will also provide a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the cruise fare paid on this cruise.

We are continuing to evaluate the situation and will communicate any new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, we appreciate the patience and understanding from our passengers.

All of the passengers aboard the ship have been given other arrangements to return home, after Princess, a part of Carnival Cruise Lines, decided to send the ship to a repair facility instead of bring it back to Fort Lauderdale as originally planned. The cruise scheduled to begin today, 3-26.06, was cancelled.

No announcement has been made regarding cruise plans beyond the April 2 cruise as yet. The cruise line will release more information as it becomes available.
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3-24-06
Riverboat Goes Aground in Oregon River
American West Steamboat Company's 360-foot riverboat Empress of the North ran aground Friday on the Columbia River between Portland and Washougal, Wash. According to US Coast Guard, the vessel had 250 people on board. No injuries were reported, the vessel wasn't sinking and was not leaking fuel.

The 360-foot Empress of the North - a vessel modeled on the sternwheelers of the 1800s - is, according to the cruise line carrying 180 passengers and 80 crew members. Divers were inspecting the hull to determine whether the ship is floatable, authorities said. Passengers remained on board as officials tried to determine whether to remove them as the vessel rests on the sandbar or allow them to disembark when it returns to Washougal.
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3-24-06
Princess Updates Fire Investigation
Princess Cruises has said the investigation into the fire that occurred onboard Star Princess is currently underway and the cruise line is working in tandem with authorities in the UK, Bermuda and US to assess the damage to the cabins, and also to determine the cause. At this time the ship remains docked in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Executives said they plan to provide a more definitive update on the situation to passengers booked on upcoming cruises on Monday
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3-22-06
Fire Star Princess - Update
Fire Aboard Star Princess Results in Passenger Death
By Anne Campbell
A fire broke out aboard Princess Cruises' Star Princess in the early hours of Thursday, March 23 which resulted the death of a passenger and smoke inhalation injuries in two others.

See our latest feature article on the fire.

Star Princess in Montego Bay
Star Princess in Montego Bay - Courtesy NBC News

According to Princess the origin of the fire is still unknown and the cruise line is working with investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and other regulatory agencies to determine the cause and assess the damage.

Industry executives of other cruise lines have told CruiseMates that the origin of the fire -- so intense it melted steel balconies -- will probably turn out to be a lit cigarette tossed off the top of the ship. The fire spread nearly a quarter of the length of the ship and, because it was outside, did not activate smoke detectors.

The blaze broke out at 3 a.m. aboard the ship, en route from Grand Cayman to Jamaica and passengers were ordered to go don life jackets and go to muster stations. While the fire was put out quickly, a passenger reportedly died of cardiac arrest and other suffered from smoke inhalation.

When the ship arrived in Montego Bay Thursday morning, some 100 passengers in damaged cabins were moved into hotels in Jamaica when the ship reached port and the rest will be flown home. Reports from Jamaica indicate that 100 cabins on the port side of the ship were scorched.

A cruise line spokesperson said, "All passengers currently onboard will be flown home over the next two days, and will receive a full refund of their cruise and air fare. In addition Princess will cover any out-of-pocket travel expenses our passengers may incur for this change of plans. We will also provide passengers with a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the cruise fare paid on this voyage."

Princess has also announced that Star Princess' following cruise, scheduled to depart Fort Lauderdale on March 26, will also be canceled. Similarly, passengers booked on this sailing will receive a full refund, the same 25 percent credit towards a future cruise, and Princess will additionally cover out-of-pocket travel expenses as a result of the change.

Industry executives of other cruise lines have said the fire may have long reaching effects in the cruise industry and speculated on a possible ban of smoking in balcony cabins and other areas. An executive of Oceania Cruises told CruiseMates that the company immediately moved to a policy of "zero tolerance" of smoking in areas of their ships, including cabins and balconies. While previously passengers have been given several polite warnings if caught smoking in cabins and on balconies, they will be immediately put off the ship if caught. The cruise line is also considering imposing fines.


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3-22-06
12 Celebrity Passengers Killed in Accident
A private motorcoach excursion in Chile results in deaths.
By Anne Campbell
Twelve passengers died and two others were injured when their motorcoach crashed in Chile during the South America cruise of Celebrity Cruises' Millennium yesterday. The ship was in the port of Arica and the accident occurred about 28 miles northeast of the city.

In a press conference today, Celebrity Cruises' president, Dan Hanrahan, told journalists that the 14 guests who were involved in the accident were riding in a bus operated by an independent tour operator not affiliated with the cruise line. However, Hanrahan stated that Celebrity Cruises is doing "whatever we can to assist in the investigation now under way. And, we will continue to do so as that investigation continues to unfold."

The accident occurred when the group was returning from Lauca National Park to return the passengers to the ship in port. Millennium departed Valparaiso, Chile, March 19 on a 14-night sailing that is scheduled to conclude in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on April 2. Yesterday's accident occurred on the fourth day of the cruise and at the first port of call. Millennium was carrying, 536 passengers and 920 crew members on this particular sailing.

Celebrity's Hanrahan said the bus swerved to avoid an approaching truck and plunged 300 feet down a mountainside. The two surviving injured passengers were taken to the Arica Juan Noah Hospital where they are in intensive care. Upon learning of the accident, Millennium's captain dispatched a physician, nurse and concierge to the hospital to assist the injured and local medical personnel.

Hanrahan said the passengers involved in the accident are part of a larger, 64-person B'nai B'rith group. "Celebrity Cruises is consulting with a rabbi to advise us on how best to support the families," he said. Celebrity is also flying family members of those involved in the accident, and who choose to go, to Chile.

"We continue to work with Chilean authorities and the U.S. Consulate in Santiago to assist our injured guests and the family members of those who died in this tragic accident," said Hanrahan. "Our deepest sympathies go out to all of our guests impacted by this terrible event, as well as their family members."

Celebrity Cruises has established two toll-free telephone lines for family members of guests sailing on Millennium for this cruise. Hanrahan stated, "Please let me emphasize that these numbers are for family members ONLY. Callers in North America should dial 1-888-829-4050. Again, that number is 1-888-829-4050."

As of now, Celebrity Cruises has yet to announce how the accident will affect the remainder of this cruise or the following cruises of Millennium.

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3-21-06
Disney Heads For Europe
Disney Cruise Line has announced it is scheduling its first-ever Europe cruises when Disney Magic repositions to the port of Barcelona in 2007. From May 26 to Aug. 8, the ship will sail on ten- and 11-night Mediterranean voyages to ports in Italy and France. The ten-night voyages visit Palermo, Sicily; Naples; Olbia, Sardinia; Civitavecchia (port of Rome); La Spezia (port of Florence) plus the French ports of Marseille and Villefranche. The 11-night cruise includes many of the same ports, plus three days at sea. Bookings will open April 4, 2006 and per person, double occupancy rates range from $2,399 to $3,499. For reservations, contact a travel agent. Additional information may be obtained by visiting www.disneycruise.com.
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3-17-06
Weekend Cruise News
*** MSC Cruises has announced it will build another new ship, slated for delivery in March, 2008. The 2,500 passenger MSC Musica will enter the fleet July 1, 2006 followed by sister ship MSC Orchestra next year. The line has also contracted for two post-Panamax newbuilds, MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata. The addition of this fifth new order will increase the line's fleet to 12 ships by 2009.

*** Royal Caribbean will be the next cruise line to replace and upgrade mattresses on the fleet's vessels beginning in May, 2006 with the dubut of its newest ship, Freedom of the Seas. New bedding will be replaced on all ships by May 2007.

*** Holland America is launching an onboard exercise program that also benefits research on a cure for breast cancer. Starting April 1, HAL begins its "On Deck for the Cure" program, in which guests on approximately 500 sailings throughout the year will be encouraged to participate in a 5K onboard walk to benefit breast cancer research. Walkers will donate $15 or more to join in this noncompetitive event, and all participants will receive a T-shirt, pink-ribbon wristband, and an invitation to a pink lemonade reception. All proceeds will go to the Holland America Line Foundation, which will donate 75 percent of the money raised to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The Komen Foundation supports breast cancer research grants and community outreach programs.

*** The Da Vinci Code has inspired Regent Seven Seas Cruises (ex-Radisson Seven Seas Cruises) to offer passengers pre-and post-cruise packages on any of 17 Europe cruises beginning or ending in Nice or Monte Carlo in 2006. Priced at $1,895 per person, the package includes a two-night stay in the Hotel du Louvre in Paris, a a guided half-day Da Vinci Code tour of the Louvre, and a free copy of Fodor's Guide to The Da Vinci Code: On the Trail of the Bestselling Novel. Daily breakfast, a one-way flight between Paris and Nice, and transfers are also included.
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3-10-06
Weekend New 3-10-06
*** Costa Concordia will enter the Costa Cruises fleet in July, 2006. At 112,000 tons and a double occupancy of 3,000 passengers, Concordia will be the largest vessel in the cruise line. A spa/fitness center will stretch over the length of two decks, making it the largest of any ship at sea. The inaugural season of the Costa Concordia will begin with seven-night cruises to Italy/Spain/Tunisia/Malta sailing July 23 through November 19 from Civitavecchia (Rome) and to Egypt & Greece for 10 and 11 nights November 26 through December 27.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line pays tribute to the SS United States by naming the library aboard Pride of Hawaii after the famous liner. Pride of Hawaii will join NCL's fleet in April, 2006 and join Pride of America and Pride of Aloha in offering seven-day, inter-island cruises visiting Hawaii's four main islands. The SS UNITED STATES Library will feature original photography, vintage advertisements and original lithographs from renowned marine artists, as well as wall-hanging annotations from Conservancy experts to help educate passengers about the vessel's great significance and her place in maritime history.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line has created a European �Adventure Collection' of shore excursions. Examples include guided bicycle rides in a range of destinations, from Madeira to Athens, and mountain biking in settings as diverse as the French island of Corsica and the Greek isle of Corfu. For something more strenuous, Seabourn offers �canyoning,' in which participants swim, jump, climb, rappel and float down scenic river canyons, one located near Nice and another at the Alcantara Gorge on the island of Sicily. Guided walking tours are available in nearly 20 European ports, including cliff walks on the isle of Guernsey and volcano hiking on Santorini. Some Adventure Collection excursions feature specialized activities, such as a sea-kayaking tour of the waters around Dubrovnik, sailing on the Turkish coast and a truffle-hunting expedition near Rovinj on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast


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3-9-06
Radisson Seven Seas Name Change
The luxury cruise line has renamed itself Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Parent company Carlson Hospitality has merged Regent Hotels and Radisson Seven Seas Cruises and the new cruise line name now reflects this luxury division.
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3-6-06
Cruise Industry Crime Statistics
According to a report issued by The International Council of Cruise Lines, the odds of experiencing any crime aboard a cruise ship are remote. ICCL's report, based on 15 cruise lines' submissions during a three year period (2003-2005), says that there were 206 complains from passengers and crew when more than 31 million people sailed. These include 178 complains of sexual assault, four robberies and 24 missing persons. The report will be presented Tuesday, March 4, 2006 before the before the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations in Washington, D.C.
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3-3-06
Weekend News
*** Holland America's Noordam was the first ship to visit the new port facility in the British West Indies, the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Built and operated by Carnival Corp., the port facility will also welcome Carnival's Sensation, Princess' Crown Princess and a Costa Ship, all Carnival-owned cruise lines.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line continues investing in the State of Hawaii by purchasing locally-made food products for use on its ships. Partnerships have been formed with the Maui-based Roselani Ice Cream company, Kona Brewing and several other local companies. In April, the cruise line's newest vessel, Pride of Hawaii, will join Pride of Aloha and Pride of America in offering seven-day cruises around the islands. They are the only U.S.-flagged large cruise ships in the world.

*** Cunard Line has announced that Queen Victoria's inaugural voyage, Scandinavia voyage departing Dec. 11, 2007, is sold out. Those who want to sail on the new Cunarder's second voyage, a 16-night Christmas cruise in the Canary Islands will still find space, however. December 21 and will call at Vigo, Lisbon, Malaga, Funchal, Las Palmas, Arrecife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Casablanca and Gibraltar. Christmas Day will be spent at sea. Cunard is currently offering its past passengers an exclusive booking period for this voyage, which is scheduled to go on sale to the general public on April 3.
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