March 2007 Cruise News

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3-30-07: Norwegian Cruise Line to Offer Nintendo Wii Systems

Since its launch in November 2006, the Wii system from Nintendo has become one of the fastest-selling game systems in the world. With an easy-to-use motion-sensitive controller, Wii draws new players into the world of video games in a very 'real' way.

Wii systems are currently on NCL's newest ship - Norwegian Pearl - and all NCL America ships. Wii will be rolled out on the rest of the NCL fleet by next month. The systems are equipped with Wii Sports(tm), offering five distinct sports experiences: tennis, golf, baseball, boxing and bowling. Other games available on the ships include Wii Play(tm), WarioWare(tm): Smooth Moves and Excite Truck(tm).

On each ship, Wii systems/setups will be located in the atrium and other public rooms allowing guests to gather and play against each other while viewing the game on large video screens. Each ship's Kid's Crew facility will also feature two Wii kiosks providing kids-only fun. The ships will also host tournaments and other activities around the games.

"This partnership with Nintendo is an industry first and another innovation for NCL," Veitch said. "This continues our mission to dismantle the traditional cruise experience and deliver the most exciting and most customizable experience at sea."

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3-30-07: Weekend News March 30, 2007 *** Carnival Sensation Bomb Hoax. Follow up: Passengers and crew members evacuated the Sensation after yesterday afternoon's call. The port authority, Coast Guard and Brevard County Sheriff's Office spent two hours searching the ship. Officials eventually determined that the call was a hoax, and passengers were allowed back on the ship. They left port at about 8:15 last night.

*** MSC Cruises is announcing it will build a fourth "Musica" class Panamax ship, MSC Magnifica, thereby increasing the Company's fleet to 12 ships within the next three years. Since 2003 MSC Cruises is taking delivery of one vessel a year. This makes MSC Cruises today the cruise line with the newest fleet and the highest balcony ratio in the world.

The 89,600-ton vessel will join sister ships MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra (which debuts in May 2007) and MSC Poesia (scheduled to arrive in 2008). The Company will also take delivery of the largest two post-Panamax new vessels ever built by a European ship owner, MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata to be delivered in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Like its sister ships, the new build will feature cutting-edge technology and innovative design. The ship will carry 2,500 passengers and have more than 242,000 square feet of public area; 85 percent of the staterooms will be outside accommodations and 65 percent of the total number of staterooms will have balconies.

*** Carnival's Fantasy-class ships all to get major upgrades. Expansive children's water parks, a new design style and features for the pool areas, and the creation of the Serenity adults only deck area will be part of a dramatic transformation of the open decks of Carnival Cruise Lines' eight Fantasy-class ships.

The expanded outdoor recreation areas will initially be incorporated onto the 2,052-passenger Inspiration and Imagination during upcoming month-long dry docks this fall and added to other "Fantasy-class" ships in 2008 and 2009 during scheduled drydock periods.

The updated pool and deck areas on the Inspiration and Imagination are just one component of extensive ship-wide refurbishments to these vessels that initially began in 2005 and include renovations to virtually every guest area. Among the new features are fully remodeled staterooms and suites including new bathrooms, flat-screen televisions in staterooms and select public areas, atrium lobby bars, updated sound and lighting systems in various lounges and clubs, coffee bars, nine-hole miniature golf courses, new art and photo galleries, New York-style delis in the Lido restaurants, and purpose-built conference facilities.

With Carnival expected to carry a record 575,000 kids this year, particular emphasis is being placed on family friendly amenities, with new and expanded play areas, part of the line's top-rated "Camp Carnival" program, and new facilities for the "Club O2" teen program. Custom-designed spaces geared toward 12- to 14-year olds are also planned and more than 50 interconnecting staterooms are being added to several Fantasy-class ships � perfect for large families or family gatherings.

The addition of new sound and lighting systems in the main show lounges takes Carnival's legendary revues to another level, with several new dazzling productions that make maximum use of video projections, pyrotechnics, lasers and elaborate sets and costumes.

Fantasy-class Fleet Makeovers Well Underway: Many aspects of the "Evolutions of Fun" enhancements have already been completed on the Fantasy, Ecstasy and Fascination and partially executed on the Sensation, Elation and Paradise. By 2009, the entire Fantasy-class fleet will be completed including the fabulous new transformation of open deck areas.

Other upgrades, incorporated fleetwide, include the Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system, with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high-quality linens and pillows, a variety of cuisine enhancements, as well as "Wi-Fi" Internet access in virtually all public areas, and cellular phone service.

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3-29-07: Bomb Hoax Prompts Cruise Ship Evacuation A local television station in Port Canaveral is reporting that a hoax bomb threat prompted authorities to evacuate Carnival Sensation in Port Canaveral, Fla., Thursday afternoon. It was determined to be a hoax after the vessel was searched, according to authorities.

Passengers aboard the Carnival Sensation ship were told to leave the ship at about 3:30 p.m. after the threatening call was received. The Brevard County bomb squad was called to the scene and determined the threat to be a hoax. A statement from Carnival said, "All appropriate law enforcement agencies have been notified as a precautionary measure, all of the ship's guests and crew have been evacuated and an extensive, vessel-wide search is underway."

At approximately 5:10 p.m., the cruise line was given clearance by authorities to allow all passengers and crew to reboard the vessel. The cruise was scheduled to depart once the process was completed.

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3-29-07: Seabourn Posts 2008 through March, 2009 Schedules Ultra luxury cruise leader Seabourn Cruise Line has posted the sailing schedules for its three all-suite ships from January 2008 through March of 2009 on the company's website at . During the 15-month period, Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend will carry their guests to over 200 ports in 55 countries during 127 scheduled voyages. All cruises for 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 are now open for booking. Asia, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa will all be explored on cruises of seven to 18 days or longer.

Seabourn Pride will explore sea routes and landfalls from Cape Horn at South America's most southerly tip through Europe to its northernmost extension - the North Cape of Norway on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. Spring cruises of the Mediterranean include new calls at Genoa, Italy and Koper, Slovenia. Along with popular cruises in Scandinavia, Russia and Norwegian fjords, Seabourn Pride will introduce several new western European itineraries encompassing ports in France, the British Isles, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Seabourn Spirit explores Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and makes two 8-day voyages to China, including Xiamen, Zhanjiagang (for Wuxi), Nanjing and Shanghai, then threads her way through India, Oman, Dubai, Egypt and the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Several new 2008 itineraries concentrate on the Adriatic's beautiful Dalmatian coast, including Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar and Rovinj, Croatia and Kotor, Montenegro.

Seabourn Legend charts a course from Belize and Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal to the picturesque harbors and glittering resorts of Spain, Italy and the French Riviera. New ports planned for next year include Trapani, Sicily. Each destination is celebrated during its most advantageous season, and always in the exclusive and personalized style that is the hallmark of a Seabourn cruise vacation.

Early booking savings entice travelers to reserve well in advance. For guests who have sailed on Seabourn, or on other lines which are members of the World's Leading Cruise Lines (Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Princess and Holland America), a selection of voyages throughout the year features Signature Value Savings of up to 50 percent off brochure fares.

A complete, full-color brochure of Seabourn voyages for 2008 and early 2009 will be available in May, 2007. For information about 2008-09 Seabourn cruises, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit Seabourn's award-winning website at

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3-29-07: Costa Serena Passes Sea Trials Costa's newest flagship, the Costa Serena, arrived yesterday at Fincantieri's ship yard in Sestri Ponente (Genoa) at the end of her sea trials. The running tests on the ship's systems, machinery and engines, which were performed during the first open sea navigation of the ship, were completed successfully.

The delivery of the ship is scheduled for May 15, 2007 and will make her first official "public" appearance on May 19 with inaugural events in Marseille, France. The new cruise liner will depart from Venice on her maiden cruise on May 26, with a 7-night itinerary to Turkey and Greece. Every Sunday from June through November 2007 the Costa Serena will depart from the port of the "city of canals" on 7-night cruises calling in Bari (Italy), Olympia (Greece), Izmir and Istanbul (Turkey), and Dubrovnik (Croatia). In winter 2007/2008, she will offer 10- and 11-night cruise vacations to the Canary Islands.

Click on Pictures for Larger Images
leaving the dock for the first time   out to sea and full speed ahead

Like her sister ship, the Costa Concordia, the 112,000-ton Costa Serena will be the largest vessel flying the Italian flag. The ship is 290 meters in length with 1500 cabins and a total guest capacity of 3,780. She will also feature all the main innovations offered on her sister ship, such as the Samsara Spa, one of the largest spas at sea, two swimming pools with a sliding glass roof, an authentic Grand Prix race car driving simulator, the most accurate representation of Formula One racing ever, and menus created by the Italian culinary innovator Ettore Bocchia at "Club Bacco," the ship's specialty restaurant. The interiors of the Costa Serena are designed by the ingenious American architect Joe Farcus, with a central theme of Greek and Roman mythology.

In addition to the Costa Serena, Costa has commissioned three more ships - all from Fincantieri - for a total investment of 2 billion euros.

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3-28-07: Update to Couple Overboard Incident A video of the rescue of the two people who went overboard from the Grand Princess shown on the Today show this morning has revealed a few new possibilities based on the dialogue between the person, Laura Gilhouse, (whose husband shot the rescue video) and the Today Show host. Apparently, it was only an accident in the case of the woman, and it appears that she slipped, after putting herself in a precarious position, rather than jumped. The young couple; he 22, she 20, and not married to each other, were guests at a party when they decided to go out on the balcony together.

Gilhouse told the Today show that what she heard as "scuttlebutt" from other passengers was that as the couple was on the balcony others heard the girl scream, as if she were falling from the ship. Very soon afterwards they heard a commotion of sounds as if the young man had decided to jump in to probably try to rescue her.

The man was discovered with no clothes on, though he reportedly said he took them off in the water to increase his bouyancy. Very few details about the woman have been revealed at all. As the couple was rescued, shouts of joy could be heard from the passengers on the cruise ship. They were individually lifted into a ship's tender. Today Show Video

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3-27-07: Congressional Committee Hears Cruise Industry on Safety During an open hearing by congress today, which was viewable via streaming media over the Internet, a somewhat calm and relaxed discussion about "cruise ship crime" was held. Though it was referred to as a hearing, there was no formality to the meeting in terms of who was allowed to attend or speak, nor was there a formal agreement about what needed to be decided.

The two congressmen who seemed to have the most interest in breaking the cruise industry down were Doris Matsui of California, the congresswoman for the district of Laurie Dishman, a Sacramento woman who apparently was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean ship, though no charges were brought due to an FBI assertion of lack of evidence. The alleged perpetrator was a Royal Caribbean security guard who had just been promoted to the position from janitor, and the line says he broke rules regarding drinking and fraternizing with passengers.

Another congressmen was Chris Shays of Connecticut, of the district for George Allen Smith who disappeared on a Mediterranean cruise two years ago, also on Royal Caribbean, however in this incident no cruise line personnel were involved.

Two things stood out during these hearings. First, there did seem to be a pattern of the cruise line not trying hard enough to preserve evidence, especially in the Dishman case. It did show that some standardization of rules regarding crime scene preservation are in order, and that it should be done with the assistance and guidance of an outside legal entity other than the cruise line itself, such as the FBI.

Along those lines, an agreement between the cruise lines and the FBI to work together to come up with a system where all crimes that are reported will be recorded and and kept on file, regardless of whether or not charges are ever brought, was announced at the hearing. This is a step above the current system where only events in cases where charges are actually filed are currently kept in the record books.

The second thing that I couldn't help seeing about these hearings was the obviously uninformed opinion of the two congressmen mentioned above who are pressing hardest for reforms. It was vastly obvious neither of them had ever been on a cruise. It just strikes me that they would be astounded at the difference between what they appear to think a cruise is like and what a cruise is actually like. Representative Matsui said she was "afraid" to take her family on a cruise because of the things she has heard. While Shays said he was once on a boat where he "got so seasick he wanted to kill himself" left little doubt that he is among the group of Bostonites who still see ocean voyages as something akin to what the pilgrims encountered.

Now, I agree that some standardization of cruise line security would be a very good thing. Even oversight by independent U.S. Marshalls would be agreeable to me, I don't see how that could cause any harm. But what these hearings really pointed out to me was the level at which cruise misperception continues in this nation; that they are wild party ships where inbridaled alcohol abuse, and possibly drug use in some people's minds, leads to people getting so intoxicated they forget their names, lose all control over their actions and cannot remember what happened to them the night before.

Ross Klein, perveyor or cruise misinformation through misleading innuendo and questionable reporting, was in the hearing, though I am not sure what credentials he has to be invited other than the fact that he has two books that do little more than repeat unreliable stories, a reporting tactic that reminds me of the National Enquirer policy of "this person says this happened, and if someone said it, we can report that they said it whether it is true or not." He was tactfully told "that will be enough" by the congressman leading the proceedings after he told a few of his anecdotes.

Here is the bottom line. I am for independent policing of the cruise lines, it could only make the cruise experience safer. The vast, vast majority of people who go on a cruise are not interested in breaking any laws, so the presence of security could only enhance the experience for most people and lend a greater credibility factor to the cruise experience. The fact that the cruise lines want to do it voluntarily is only a reflection of the same desire most of us have not to be over regulated and inundated with bureacratic rigamarole.

So Congress, thank you for giving the cruise indusry a chance to do this their own way. I truly believe the industry wants the same thing you want. We don't have anything to hide.

On a side note, regarding Ross Klein: As I watch the House Committee on Cruise Ship Safety with people like Ross Klein testifying, I wonder why he was invited and I was not. After all, all he has done is write a two extremely biased books about what he perceives to be major problems with the cruise industry. Having read both of Mr. Klein's books, I can say they are some of the worst reporting I have ever read. For the most part, his entire first book is comprised of repeated "interviews" he did surreptitiously with crew members and other passengers where he asked them questions designed to support his own conclusions and twisted their interpretations until they fit his preconceived biased notions. The rest of the book is regurgitated press reports of every little wrong thing the industry has done or said in the last 30 years.

He tells a story about a female crew member crying on Christmas Eve because she misses her family as conclusive evidence that crewpeople are treated inhumanely. There is another long diatribe about a conspiracy between a Radisson bartender and a hotel manager to torture him by subjecting him to Rap music while he sat drinking at a bar. He claims he asked the bartender to turn the music down, which he would barely do, then when Klein wasn't looking he would turn it back up. So he took the matter to the hotel manager, whom he saw later in the cruise smiling at the same bartender, as he sat at the same bar drinking. In his book that became a conspiracy to intentionally ridicule and torture him. He still hasn't gotten over this experience, and is one of his favorite stories to tell about the "true" nature of cruise line's disregard for their passengers.

So, if having taken 30 cruises, and having your cruise writing published is the only requirement for being a "cruise expert" able to testify before Congress, why wasn't I invited? After all, not only do I write about cruising, I worked aboard cruise ships for years making me far more privy to crew living conditions and onboard life than Mr. Klein will ever be. So, for the record, I don't think Ross Klein is any kind of expert about cruising at all, especially when expertise requires "objectivity." I have never once heard Klein say anything good about cruise lines on the record, yet he has taken many of cruises as vacations over the years.

As they say in the hearings repeatedly, "it is worth noting" that a look at Ross Kein's credentials will reveal a person whose only qualification for being in this hearing is that he is a disgruntled cruise passenger who wrote the world's longest complaint letter in the form of two books. And he is still mad that Radisson, now Regent, didn't fire that bartender.

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3-26-07: Empress of the Seas to Leave Royal Caribbean Fleet Royal Caribbean International will soon be saying goodbye to the oldest ship in their fleet, Empress of the Seas, which entered service in 1990 as the Nordic Empress. The 48,563 ton, 2020 passenger, ship will be transferred to Pullmantur, the Madrid-based cruise and tour operator that parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. purchased in November 2006.

The last voyage of Empress as part of the Royal Caribbean International fleet will be March 7, 2008. Guests booked on all sailings after this date will be contacted by Royal Caribbean International representatives to transfer existing reservations to similar accommodations onboard other Royal Caribbean ships. Royal Caribbean International has established a toll-free number for travel agents and guests with questions regarding the re-accommodated sailings. The toll-free number is (888) 281-9344. Empress of the Seas joined the Royal Caribbean fleet in June 1990 and was built by Chantiers de L'Atlantique in St. Nazaire, France. She was refurbished in May 2004.

Two of the ships that Royal Caribbean acquired when they purchased Pullmantur were the significantly smaller former Renaissance R-ships (of which eight were built), in the neighborhood of 680 passengers. Those ships have been re-flagged to the Celebrity cruises fleet as Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest, and are currently being re-furbished.

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3-26-07: People falling from Ships, Oh My! Okay, it started last week with Mike Mankamyer taking the proverbial "flying leap" right off of his balcony and into the drink. At least he acknowledged that he did it on purpose and that he was drunk at the time. And it was a good thing for him that he was able to be rescued before he died. Unfortunately, he got far too much media attention, refusing to comment until Good Morning America gave him an "exclusive."

Yesterday, yet another story emerged about TWO people, a couple, who "fell off" of the Grand Princess 150 miles off the coast of Galveston, apparently by accident. There are very few details, except that it is not known how the couple, aged 22 and 20, fell off of the ship and that according to a cruise line spokesperson, "it appears to be an accident." They were both rescued by the coast guard four hours later, swimming in open water. Just as with Mankamyer, the ship had to turn around, delaying the cruise and wasting fuel. But they were rescued.

Maybe I shouldn't rush to judgement, but when was the last time you heard of anyone, including a toddler or an elderly person, anyone feeble or uninformed at all, "accidentally" falling off of a cruise ship? It is next to impossible, in much the same way it is next to impossible to fall out of a moving car. You have to do something that makes it possible for you to get past the safety features in place.

The truth is, when people go missing on cruise ships, it is almost always because they did something intentionally that put themselves in a dangerous position. These two recent incidents are no different. The problem is, what do you do to stop people from being a danger to themselves without ruining the experience for everyone else?

Do we need to put impassible barriers all around ships to stop them from getting over, making top decks of ships look like the observation deck on the Empire State Building, similar to the grated walls of prisons? Or do we put nets all around the ship like the Navy does on its aircraft carriers? I'm sorry, but that would be too ugly for words. Las Vegas has a big suicide rate, but that is because people often do things in that city that ruins their lives and families. That is why you see so few balconies in Las Vegas. I don't want to see ships become like that, just because a few people can't manage their own lives.

Plus, the cruise lines and Coast Guard always go through the motions, often successfully, of saving these people from themselves - something that isn't possible in other attempted suicide situations. The problem is that it isn't fair to the rest of us who have to be delayed and who actually end up paying the hugely expensive bills that occur when such rescue operations are needed. Such a rescue probably costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries and fuel. Who is responsible for that?

Of course, humanity demands that we try to save people. None of these recent jumpers really wanted to die, but they jumped anyway. Like other suicide attempts that end up failing, I think that if you ask these people if they would do it again the answer is always a resounding "no."

So, to put a stop to this foolishness I think we need to first make these people pay for what they have done, and second, stop giving them the attention the media wants to give them just to put fools in the spotlight. I applaud Princess for keeping the details to a mimimum. The less sensationalising there is about these idiot maneuvers the better off the vast majority of regular passengers will be. Why reward bad behavior with the very attention these people were seeking in the first place? It may have been an accident of some kind, but don't think that means the cruise line was in any way responsible any more than they were for Mankemyer or others before him. Is Good Morning America, who went out of its way to get the Mankamyer exclusive interview, thinking about the role it might have played in encouraging this young couple to "take the plunge" yesterday? I hope they are.

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3-24-07: Weekend Cruise News 3-24-07 *** Japanese design largest cruise ship in the world. Eclipsing the new Genesis class by Royal Caribbean, which is currently truly scheduled to debut in 2009 at 220,000 tons and 6400 passengers, a conglomerate of Japanese companies has designed a cruise ship that will weigh in at a jaw-dropping 370,000 tons and will have capacity for 8400 passengers, 4000 crew and will run at 20 knots. The ship design has had a feasibility study completed by shipbuilders, Akers, who says it is a perfectly feasible design though the ship would be limited in what ports it could visit.

The ship will house three 1,200-room hotels offering residential suites and offices, a total of 45 restaurants, a shopping mall, 6,000 ssquare meter convention hall, a 2,000-seat concert hall and an amusement park. The main point of the ship, however, seems to be what it can do in port rather than where it will sail. It is designed to be able to hold conventions and cater to up to 10,000 visitors staying on board, plus up to 20,000 additional visitors coming from on shore for the day. The idea would be to hold sporting events and exhibition and trade shows.

The company behind the project is Tokyo-based Japan Contents Network Inc whose ceo, 60-year-old Hajime Tanaka, designed and built three Japanese golf courses in the 1970s and a private driving circuit which hosted two Formula One Pacific Grand Prix in the '90s. As to whether the ship will ever be built or not is anyone's guess, this isn't the first time someone has designed a "city at sea." So far, all of this talek is very preliminary, except for the fact that Akers yard has signed off on the feasibility fo the vessel. More information can be found at:

Other "World's Biggest Ships" that never "got off the ground" include the Freedom Ship which was touted greatly in 2000. Said to be 1 mile long, 725 feet wide and hold 40,000 residents and 10,000 crew, the company claimed the ship was "60 to 90 days away from beginning construction in Honduras." It was the brainchild of the project director, Norman Nixon of Engineering Solutions, an engineer from Arkansas who has overseen the construction of chemical plants and office buildings from Saudi Arabia to Texas

  • Freedom Ship; 50,000 people

    And then there is the "Seven Wonders of the Sea" which is a plan to build a residential cruise ship that is 595,000 gross tons and 1488 feet long.

    In fact, a google of "world's biggest ship" will turn up all kinds of plans. The difference, of course, is that this Japanese ship has a real plan which has had a feasibility study signed off by a shipyard.

    *** Safety at Sea Hearings. Tuesday, March 27, will bring the third round of hearings the before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation, a House of Representatives subcommittee. Cruise industry executives, FBI and US Coast Guard officials, and members of the International Cruise Victims Association are among those scheduled to testify. Members of the International Association of Cruise Victims scheduled to testify are president and co-founder Kendall Carver, whose daughter disappeared from an Alaska cruise; and Laurie Dishman, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a cruise ship security guard.

    Others who will testify include Ross Klein, sociology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Jack Hickey, personal injury attorney with Hickey Law Firm in Miami.

    Those set to testify on behalf of the cruise industry are Terry Dale, president and ceo of the Cruise Lines International Association; Larry Kaye, maritime attorney with Kaye, Rose & Partners in Los Angeles; Charlie Mandigo, director of fleet security, Holland America Line (also representing Carnival Corp.); and Gary Bald, vp global security, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and a former senior FBI official.

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    3-20-07: Passport Request Deluge Causing Slowdown The Department of State, responsible for processing passports, is reporting that an influx of requests has already caused a slowdown in their ability to process passports. They say that the usual six week waiting period is now up to ten weeks, and that the two-week expedited program is now up to four weeks.

    The Web site ( states, "Americans are seeking passports in record numbers and the State Department is taking extraordinary action to ensure that this demand is met. Should they so desire, Americans who need passports within two weeks, to travel or to get a visa, may check the status of their application online at or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. We have assigned additional staff to our call center to answer urgent inquiries. The call center is open from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight, Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, except federal holidays."

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    3-19-07: Princess Offers Home to Stateroom Luggage Service With the new Princess Luggage Valet service, luggage is picked up right from a passenger's home and delivered straight to their stateroom onboard. The new service will first be available for travelers on European voyages, beginning aboard Grand Princess on May 14, Emerald Princess on May 17, Star Princess on May 22, and Royal Princess on June 1. The program will subsequently be expanded to other destinations later in the year. Shipping for Princess Luggage Valet will be provided by DHL Worldwide Express.

    "Luggage Valet represents the ultimate luxury for travelers who hate lugging their own suitcases through airport congestion and customs," said Jan Swartz, Princess senior vice president. "And it's a great option for passengers who're extending their pre- or post-voyage travels so they won't have to carry their cruise luggage with them on land."

    Reservations for the new Luggage Valet service will be available up to 30 days prior to the cruise sailing date. Princess Luggage Valet pick-up is available from residential addresses in the continental United States and Canada, and bags can be delivered to both domestic and international cruise ports.

    Prices for Princess Luggage Valet start at $90 per bag each way for domestic shipments, and vary depending on baggage weight and destination. All baggage is insured up to $2,000 with additional insurance available for purchase.

    Additional information about Princess Luggage Valet is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company's website at

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    3-17-07: Man Overboard Story Surprising Details Anyone who doubts how seriously cruise line security guards take their jobs needs to read this news item. As a follow-up to the story of a 35 year old man who took a diving leap over his balcony and into the deep, only to be rescued by the Coast Guard eight hours later, an Orlando television station is reporting further details.

    According to a WESH Television news story transcript, the man, Mike Mankamyer, jumped in the midst of an argument with his 16 year old godson. The argument ensued when the teen said he wanted to go and explore the ship and the elder passenger objected. According to the teen, his godfather started "hitting himself and punching me and I hit him back. I couldn't take it anymore and I held him down and security came."

    When the teen let the man go to answer the knock on the door by security, the 35 year old took a running leap out of the balcony window.

    "He jumped off the boat because; I don't know what was wrong with him. I was trying to pull him in and I cut my finger in the window," said the teen, according to the news report, and he added that security initially believed he pushed Mankamyer overboard.

    "They handcuffed me, they bumped my head -- I have a big bump on my head and they tried to accuse me of murder," he said.

    Mankamyer survived the fall and eight hours in the water, officials said, suffering only a mild case of hypothermia. Presumably, the teen was not held "for murder" for long once he was able to explain the situation to the security guards.

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    3-17-07: Weekend Cruise News 3-17-07 *** Caribbean Princess to Make New York Debut in Summer 2008. Princess cruises from New York will return for a third season in 2008, this time featuring Caribbean Princess. The vessel's debut in the Big Apple will offer two different nine-day Eastern Caribbean itineraries, including Bermuda and the Caribbean.

    "Caribbean Princess takes over for Crown Princess, which successfully debuted on this crowd-pleasing route last year," said Jan Swartz, Princess' senior vice president of customer service and sales. "Passengers have loved this opportunity to sail to the Caribbean from our convenient New York terminal in Brooklyn, and we're delighted to return for a third season. As you might guess from her name, Caribbean Princess was designed especially for Caribbean cruising and will help our New York-area passengers get in the island mood with a wealth of amenities perfect for the region, such as the poolside Movies Under the Stars and the local flavors of Café Caribe."

    Caribbean Princess' summer season from New York will include 11 departures between May 17 and August 15, 2008 on two Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Ports of call on eight of these nine-day roundtrip voyages include Bermuda (West End), San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. In addition, three sailings will feature calls in San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Grand Turk. Caribbean Princess will also offer one seven-day Exotic Eastern Caribbean sailing from New York to San Juan departing on October 26 and calling at St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Thomas along the way.

    Early booking fares for nine-day Caribbean Princess summer Caribbean cruises begin at $1,199 per person, based on double occupancy. Sailings open for booking on March 24, 2007.

    *** Seatrade, the Cruise Industry's largest trade convention, wrapped up in Miami Beach March 15th. Industry news announced at the convention included the new ship orders for Oceania and Silversea together worth $2 billion from Italy's Fincantieri shipyards, as well as new port development projects between Carnival Cruise Lines and Roatan, Honduras; and Royal Caribbean International and the island of Aruba.

    The convention had the strongest presence ever from Asia, with delegations from China, Japan, Korea and the Association of Southeast Asia Nations represented. The conference featured the third annual International Super Yacht Symposium with a two-day series of sessions held in conjunction with the convention. For the first time, the exhibition featured a pavilion dedicated to suppliers to the superyacht industry.

    Conference sessions covered such pertinent industry issues as shipbuilding and design, product development and distribution, shipboard management, technology and the future of the cruise industry.

    *** Oceania Cruises announces the new 2008 European Collection. With three ships positioned in Europe for the season, Oceania Cruises will offer 54 European voyages in 2008, introduce six new itineraries, and make maiden calls at several new ports. Sailing to the Western Mediterranean, the Greek Isles and Scandinavia, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica will sail to more than 70 ports throughout Europe.

    Oceania Cruises has added several new and exciting ports to its line up; Haifa, Israel; Pula, Croatia; Alghero, Italy; Tangier, Morocco; and Hamilton, Bermuda. The 30,000 ton vessels enable guests to experience smaller ports that many larger ships simply cannot access, such as Monte Carlo, Saint Tropez, Sarande, Portofino and Kotor. These are in addition to perennial favorites St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Venice and Rome.

    2008 European Collection voyages range from 10 to 16 days in length and feature an abundance of port time and a minimum number of sea days. On average, 10- and 12-day itineraries will feature no more than one sea day and 14-day itineraries will feature no more than two sea days.

    *** Costa Further Enhances Environmental Strategy. Under an agreement with the Italian National Consortium for the Recovery and Recycling of Aluminum, all 11 Costa ships calling on the Port of Savona during 2007 and 2008 will feature separate disposal and recycling for aluminum packaging. This includes all used food and drink cans, aluminum foil, spray cans and aluminum trays. As aluminum is 100% recyclable, it may then be reused to make household articles, garden furniture, window frames, automotive components and much more. The agreement currently involves vessels calling on Savona; however, Costa and CIAL are planning to extend the plan to other Italian ports.

    Costa will also issue its first "Sustainability Report" for the 2005 fiscal year, which is currently available on The report is created voluntarily on behalf of Costa and outlines the company's results in the fields of social accountability and environmental compliance for the headquarter offices and for all the ships in its fleet. These results go beyond the scope of mandatory requirements by laws and regulations. The introduction of the report presents the company profile (mission, history and values) and its management systems. This is followed by a description of performance, which is segregated into three macro-categories: economic, environmental and social performance. The report ends with an assessment of the objectives attained in 2005, and the identification of those to be achieved in the years to come, including the new aluminum recycling initiative.

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    3-17-07: Celebrity Solstice Keel Laying Ceremony. The new class of Celebrity cruise ships, the Solstice-class, went from concept to reality today in Papenburg Germany where they laid the keel in a ceremony at the Meyer Werft shipyard. Pictured below are Celebrity President Dan Hanrahan painting the keel, along with a representative from the ship yard. The new class of ships from Celebrity known as the Solstice Class will be emerging beginning in the Fall of 2008. Three vessels are ready to be delivered approximately one year apart. The sister ships; number one to be named Celebrity Solstice, number two; Celebrity Equinox, and number three; Celebrity Eclipse, will be 118,000 gross tons and will carry 2850 guests. They will be 1033 feet long and 121 feet wide. Their added size will allow for larger standard staterooms, a higher percentage of balconies and a range of new services and amenities.

    The ceremony includes a centuries-old tradition of laying coins permanently deep within the keel, for good luck. Newer traditions include ceremonially applying the first coat of paint. The reason for using the color green for the keel has not yet been identified, but reasons not given include the date being Saint Patick's day or environmental friendliness.

    click on pictures below for larger images:

    Box of Lucky Coins   Cross Section   Painting

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    3-16-07: Fred. Olsen Cruises Coming to U.S. in 2008 Well-known to Brits as a luxury cruise line, Fred. Olsen Cruises plans to base its latest acquisition, Balmoral, in the United States for the winter season during 2008/2009. The ship will sail from its British base port of Dover in October 2008 on a transatlantic voyage via Canada ending in New York. This will be followed by a 12-night 'fall foliage' itinerary to Boston, eastern Canada, and returning to New York via Portland, Nantucket, and Newport. Balmoral then proceeds to her winter home of Miami taking in Bermuda, Port Canaveral and Nassau en route.

    Balmoral's Caribbean program will consist of eleven cruises of 12, 14 and 16-nights' duration comprised of two standard 14-night eastern and western routes, with adjustments to allow for convenient air travel over the Christmas period. The range of ports goes from Guatemala and Cozumel in the west to Barbados in the east; and from The Bahamas in the north to Isla Margarita in the south of the region.

    Balmoral's smaller size � only 34,242 tons and 987 passengers � means that she is able to visit ports that larger ships miss completely, or have to anchor a long distance out. For instance the little island of Bequia is only a few minutes tender ride from Balmoral. In both Road Town in Tortola (British Virgin Islands) and Santo Thomas de Castilla (in Guatemala) Balmoral's neat size allows her to tie-up at the dock, thus avoiding a tender transfer completely. Back to Top

    3-16-07: Celebrity Quest Offers New Europe Itineraries: 2008 Celebrity Quest is one of the smaller vessels (the former Renaissance R-ships) acquired when Royal Caribbean International bought out Pulmantur Cruises of Spain. The re-christened and refurbished vessel will offer a 2008 European itinerary that the company describes as "a Europe Less Traveled." Celebrity Quest will singlehandedly introduce 25 new ports in Europe for the Celebrity brand, including a series of overnight stays.

    Celebrity Quest begins its inaugural Europe season with a 14-night transatlantic voyage that departs Miami on April 12, 2008, featuring Celebrity's first calls on Alicante and Gijon, Spain, and Bonifacio, Corsica. The ship then presents a 14-night "Best of Italy" cruise from Rome that holds true to the itinerary's name, with overnight stays in Sorrento, Venice, and Livorno (Florence/Pisa), and visits to Monopoli, Ravenna and Sardinia, Italy, as well as Split, Croatia, and Taormina, Sicily.

    An early-season, special-interest cruise allows film enthusiasts to pair the pleasure of the silver screen with the sheer beauty of the Mediterranean on Celebrity Quest's Cannes Film Festival cruise round-trip from Civitavecchia (Rome) on May 10, including three consecutive nights in Cannes when the city hosts what is widely considered the world's most prestigious film festival.

    At the height of her European season, Celebrity Quest's unparalleled 14-night Mediterranean sailings round-trip from Rome from May through September feature overnight stays in both Livorno and Barcelona, Spain; and visits to Sorrento, Portofino and Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy; Malta; Tunisia; Monte Carlo, Marseilles (Provence) and Sete, France.

    Alternative special sailings in Europe include journeys through the Black Sea on a 14-night cruise from Rome to Athens on July 5 and August 2, with overnight stays in both Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Istanbul, Turkey, and including visits to the fascinating coastal communities of Sinop, Turkey; Yalta, Sevastopol, and Odessa, Ukraine; and Varna, Bulgaria.

    "Ancient Empires" cruises include 14-night itineraries in June, October or November, with visits to five locations in Turkey, including an overnight stay in Istanbul; the Greek islands of Chios and Santorini; Limassol, Cyprus; Alexandria, Egypt, and Sorrento, Italy. Additionally, three 14-night sailings departing Athens on June 21, July 19 and August 16 feature a series of overnight stays in Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey, Sorrento, and Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy, and several visits to Greece's lesser-known island gems. Back to Top

    3-16-07: Carnival Reports Earnings Carnival Corp and PLC released its quarterly earnings statement today, and as expected they company made more money than a year ago due to its increase in capacity. The company carried over 1.75 million passengers, at an occupancy rate of 104.1% (they only count the berths, or beds on the floor, as 100% occupancy, hence 4.1% of passengers were in extra beds). Fuel prices are somewhat lower than a year ago ($301/metric ton vs $319), adding to the bottom line.

    The most interesting parts of a earnings reports are the current outlook statements and forward looking projections. CEO Micky Arison noted the first quarter continued the trend seen in recent quarters of strong growth in cruise revenue yields from the company's European cruise brands offsetting pricing weakness in the Caribbean.

    "The Caribbean remains the world's top cruising region, with excellent year-round weather, beautiful beaches, great shopping and a welcome hospitality - all within easy reach of millions of North American vacationers," Arison noted. "Despite a soft pricing environment in this segment, we'll carry a record number of guests to the Caribbean this year," he added.

    Arison further noted, "Booking trends for the Caribbean over the past few weeks indicate that consumers are recognizing the extraordinary value of warm water cruises." In mid-February, the company indicated that bookings since the beginning of January through February 4 were up over last year but less than its 2007 capacity increase. Since that time, the company has noted a significant increase in booking volumes over the prior year with the increase well above the 2007 capacity increase, especially for Carnival Cruise Lines' Caribbean programs, although pricing is below last year's levels. Back to Top

    3-15-07: Silversea Cruises Announces New Ship Silversea Cruises has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a new, 36,000-gross ton, 540-guest, cruise ship from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri with delivery scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2009. The line has also signed an option for a sister ship with Fincantieri.

    Describing the ship as "ultra-luxury" Silversea spokesperson told us that details about the ship will be forthcoming soon, but it is expected that it will offer several alternative dining venues, as well as a culinary demonstration kitchen. Food and especially fine wines will continue to be the focus on Silversea, as well as enrichment lectures to coincide with the expanding itineraries the line will be offering.

    "This is a very exciting time for our company as we are now poised to further develop our unique style of luxury travel with a new generation of ship design," said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea's chairman. "Fincantieri is the ideal shipbuilder to craft our new luxury vessel that will carry on our tradition of being an innovator and trendsetter in ultra-luxury cruising."

    Added Amerigo Perasso, Silversea's president, "This newbuild order shows great confidence in the luxury segment's potential for greater demand. Silversea will be well positioned to fully meet this future demand in North America and our international markets."

    The newbuild order is the first one for Silversea since 1998 when contracts for Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper were signed. The award-winning vessels entered into service in 2000 and 2001, respectively. With the newbuild, Silversea's overall fleet capacity grows from 1,356 berths to 1,896 berths, representing a 40% increase.

    The purchase price and design details about the new vessel will be forthcoming over the next few weeks. Back to Top

    3-15-07: New Ships Ordered for Oceania Oceania Cruises announced yesterday that right on the heels of its capital infusion from Apollo ($850 million) they have put on order two new ships to debut in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The sister ships will be 65,000 gross tons and carry 1,260 passengers. Each ship is priced at $500 million. There is also an option for a third ship for possible delivery in the second quarter of 2012.

    Frank Del Rio correctly characterized the new ships as an evolution, as the Oceania formula will remian the same, only enhanced by a availability of more space on board. There will six alternative dining restaurants on board, with no surcharge, just as today's fleet has four dining venues. The ships will still have a Polo Grill and Toscana's, but added to the mix are a French bistro and a pan Asian offering.

    Plans for added entertainment, expanded spa and fitness facilities, etc, will be announced shortly, but the with the exception of a new "culinary enrichment center," (a kitchen built for cooking demonstrations) the expectation is that Oceania will remain true to its current formula of offering port-intensive itineraries and great food for their adult clientele. Nothing was said about any children's or teen facilities, for example.

    The staterooms and suites will average 50% larger than the existing ships, with 96% offering ocean views and 93% of all cabins with teak verandahs. The two, top of the line, Owner's Suites will be two-story and 2500 square with a private elevator. There will be sevarl otrher suite and veranda category cabins coming in at over 500 and 300 square feet, respectively.

    As each new ship comes on line it is expected to take over Oceania's most popular itineraries. The older ships will then eventually be deployed to first the Australia area, and the second one to an Alaska (summer) and west coast (winter) deployment offering cruises to Hawaii and Mexico and South America. Back to Top

    3-9-07: Weekend Cruise News: 3-9-07 *** Royal Caribbean International announced its largest deployment in Europe yet, with seven ships visiting the continent in 2008. Choosing from four- through 14-night cruises, guests will be able to tour Europe aboard the new Independence of the Seas, the first Freedom-class ship in the region; two Voyager-class ships, Navigator of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas; and Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Legend of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas. Bookings for Royal Caribbean's 2008 Europe cruises will open on March 14, 2007.

    Some of Royal Caribbean's signature amenities to be brought to Europe: Independence of the Seas will feature the revolutionary FlowRider surf simulator and regulation-size boxing ring. Navigator and Voyager offer guests an ice-skating rink and the Royal Promenade. Jewel and Brilliance boast self-leveling pool tables and golf simulators and allow guests to relax in expansive, themed solariums while kids play in the ships' Adventure Beach water park. Legend and Splendour feature a 12-hole mini-golf course for families and a retractable glass roof.

    The highly anticipated Independence of the Seas will embark on her maiden voyage in mid-May 2008, offering 14-night Western Mediterranean sailings from Southampton, England to the Spanish, French and Italian Riviera. Independence also offers travelers four voyages to the Canary Islands on ten- and 11-night itineraries.

    *** MSC Orchestra, another jewel in MSC Cruises' will be christened in the port of Civitavecchia on May 14, rapidly expanding the modern fleet and featuring the elegance of the Italian-styled cruise company.

    MSC Orchestra is second of the line's 'Musica' class, and MSC says Orchestra sets the benchmark for the larger ships in the fleet and replicates the high standards of construction evident in other MSC Cruises' ships.

    Following her inaugural May 16 sailing, MSC Orchestra will embark on a mini-cruise to Venice, where she will be positioned all summer season. She will depart Venice on roundtrip 7-night itineraries every Saturday from June 2 till Oct. 27. The ship will call at Bari, Katakolon (where passengers can visit the archaeological site of Olympia or relax on the beautiful beaches), Izmir, Istanbul, Dubrovnik in Croatia (where guests can enjoy a walk on the famous 'stradun') and back to Venice.

    In winter 2007-2008, MSC Orchestra will be positioned in the Mediterranean, joining sister ship MSC Musica. The new flagship will depart Nov. 3 for 11- and 12-day cruises, departing Venice and calling at Dubrovnik, Athens, Rhodes, Iraklion, Tunis, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona and Marseille before arriving in Genoa on Nov. 14 to begin its winter itineraries.

    *** Regent Hotels & Resorts, part of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises corporate family, will reflag The Palms Turks & Caicos as The Regent Palms Turks and Caicos on April 2, 2007. This becomes Regent's first property in the Caribbean and first resort for the brand. Regent reflagging will include such enhancements as:

  • 20% staff increase and commitment to excellent service
  • new concierge services
  • spa enrichments
  • new culinary creations.

    *** MSC Cruises is bragging about its continued outstanding record of consistent high ratings from the U.S. Public Health (USPH), as MSC Lirica received a "Superior" score in its most recent inspection with a score of 98 out of a possible 100 on its March 8 USPH inspection in San Juan. This comes less than a month after MSC Opera received a score of 99 out of 100. Both ships have consistently earned "Superior" scores on USPH inspections since arriving in North American waters.

    As part of the voluntary inspection program, the CDC reviews the levels of sanitation on all passenger cruise ships arriving at U.S. ports. Ships are rated on whether the following items meet CDC standards: water, food preparation and holding, potential contamination of food, and general cleanliness, storage and repair. A score of 86 or higher is considered "Satisfactory."

    *** Carnival Freedom's inaugural 12-day European cruise program - set to kick off later this month - will include new "Family Fun Tours" in Turkey providing parents and children an opportunity to explore the fascinating region together as a family. All part more than 150 different shore excursion choices aboard Carnival Freedom in Europe.

    Also featured on Carnival Freedom's European voyages are several new shore excursions, including a wine cellar tour in Barcelona, and an exciting land/sea tour of magnificent Dubrovnik, a driving tour of France's Provencal villages, and a visit to Florence's famed Uffizi Museum.

    These new tours are among the more than 150 shore excursion options available in conjunction with Carnival Freedom's 12-day "Grand Mediterranean" and "Mediterranean & Greek Isles" itineraries featuring popular seaside destinations in Italy, Croatia, France, Spain, Greece, and Turkey.

    Carnival Freedom will operate 19 12-day "Grand Mediterranean" and "Mediterranean & Greek Isles" cruises March 14 - Oct. 16, 2007, round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia). The new 2,974-passenger SuperLiner will return to Europe to operate a similar program in 2008.

    *** Windstar Cruises and Steiner Leisure announced that it has entered into an agreement with to serve two additional vessels, the m/v Wind Star and the m/v Wind Spirit, in addition to the vessel Steiner is currently serving, the m/v Wind Surf. The term for all three vessels extends for a period through April 30, 2009.

    As a result of this amendment, Steiner will continue to be the exclusive provider of spa and beauty treatments and hairdressing services for this premier cruise line's fleet of three unique yacht-like sailing ships. Back to Top

    3-8-07: Final Season for Great Lakes Cruising Great Lakes' traveler favorite, MV Columbus ,will not be returning to the Great Lakes in 2008-and possibly not for many years to come. With a capacity of 420, the German-owned MV Columbus has been the largest cruise ship sailing the Great Lakes since 1998, with sailings offered exclusively through the Great Lakes Cruise Company headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    During her final season on the Great Lakes, three 10- and 11-night cruises will be offered aboard the MV Columbus in fall 2007: September 17 - 27; September 27 - October 8; October 8 - 18. Back to Top

    3-8-07: Norwegian Gem's Superstructure Shipyard Pictures Norwegian Gem's main superstructure was completed at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, where the ship is currently under construction. Once this section is welded to the ship's hull, the final outfitting work in the accommodations area will begin.

    On Thursday, March 8, the ship will be moved backwards in the dock so that the final block at the ship's nose and funnel can be installed. With these final blocks in place, Norwegian Gem, NCL's fourth Jewel-class ship, will have its complete form. Norwegian Gem is a sister ship to Norwegian Pearl, which debuted in late 2006.

    click image for full-sized picture (1.5 MB)

    Norwegian Gem is currently scheduled for delivery in October. She will sail five new Mediterranean itineraries. After a series of inaugural events on the east coast, Norwegian Gem will be home ported year-round in New York featuring a seven-day Bahamas & Florida itinerary in December 2007, February, March and April 2008. In January and February 2008, she will sail a series of 10- and 11-day Exotic Southern Caribbean itineraries roundtrip from New York. Back to Top

    3-7-07: Norwegian Coastal Voyages Announces World Cruise with Twist It is hard to say which is more interesting about this 66-day world cruise; The fact that it is the first ever to start in the Arctic and go down, "vertically" to Antarctica, or the lead price, which is as low as $9,999.

    The cruise comprises 66 days and 17 countries, beginning September 18, 2007, in Reykjavik, Iceland, and ending in Ushuaia, Argentina November 22. In between, you will visit Scotland, Ireland, UK, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, USA, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Columbia, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Drake's Passage, Antarctica and finally back to Argentina. Whew...

    We at CruiseMates think it is a great concept, and the prices on this small, brand new ship, the MS Fram (an ice-breaker) are so reasonable, they range as follows:

    Cabin I N P U Q M MG
    Price $9,999 $15,999 $18,799 $19,699 $27,499 $30,199 $37,799

    FOR MORE INFORMATION, go to or call 800-323-7436.

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    3-7-07: CLIA Predicts Record-Breaking Europe Season The Cruise Lines International Association's (CLIA), an association whose purpose is to dispense information about thwe cruise industry, says that this year's European cruising season is poised for a banner year. The strong outlook stems from the number of ships deployed in the region, the diversity and breadth of itineraries and ports, and the unprecedented number of passengers who recognize the incredible value European cruises offer.

    CLIA dispensed the following information today:

    Some cruise lines have extended the European sailing season to a full nine months, while others will have a presence in the region year-round. Many CLIA lines also are adding more overnight port visits, enabling guests more time to thoroughly explore ports on shore excursions that have become increasingly more diverse and adventuresome. Many of these ports are also ideally suited for exploring independently, by foot or rental car.

    "CLIA-member travel agents are reporting that Europe cruises are in high demand, with some of their customers already reserving space for 2008," said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA, the chief marketing organization for 21 cruise lines and 16,500 North American travel agencies. "All indicators point to a record-breaking season. Travelers who haven't made their Europe cruise booking yet this year are well advised to take action immediately."

    There is a style of ship and European itinerary to meet any prospective vacationer's desires. Travelers can choose between luxury yachts that carry as few as 100 passengers or contemporary mega ships that carry as many as 3,100.

    Following is a rundown of the diverse portfolio of Europe cruises CLIA-member lines are offering travelers this year:

    CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES Carnival Cruise Lines' new Carnival Freedom sails an inaugural schedule of 12-day voyages featuring the line's first visits to the Greek Isles and Turkey, and extended calls at a variety of Mediterranean ports March through October. Featured ports include Livorno, Naples, Messina and Venice; Barcelona; Cannes; Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey; Athens, Rhodes and Katakolon, Greece; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

    CELEBRITY CRUISES From Casablanca to Cornwall, from the Bosporus Strait to the best of ancient Greece, Celebrity Cruises' European itineraries aboard four ships take guests to a broad array of romantic, historic and exotic locations. From Amsterdam, the line will make its first calls on the Norwegian towns of Molde and Tromso, considered the gateway to the Arctic.

    COSTA CRUISES With 60 years of experience sailing the waters of Europe, Costa Cruises offers a robust and diverse cruise schedule, with 273 year-round departures, deploying 10 ships both seasonally and annually throughout the year. The line's cruising grounds include the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, Northern and Western Europe and the Baltics.

    CRYSTAL CRUISES Crystal Cruises' Crystal Symphony offers its guests voyages to Western Europe, the Baltic countries, Russia, the North Cape/Arctic and the British Isles. Crystal Serenity blankets Western Europe, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and Canary Islands. The line also launches its first-ever roundtrip cruise from France's Toulon with maiden calls at Sochi, Russia, and Eidfjord, Norway.

    CUNARD LINE Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 visits destinations in England, Norway, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy. Queen Elizabeth 2 ports in Italy, Norway, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, Greece and Malta. In December, Queen Victoria is unveiled on a 10-day "Maiden Christmas Markets Voyage" from Southampton, followed by a 16-day Canary Islands sailing.

    DISNEY CRUISE LINE Disney Cruise Line adds European flair to its itinerary roster, repositioning a ship in Europe for the first time ever this summer. The sailings, operating roundtrip from Barcelona and including eight ports of call, offer families a hassle-free way to experience the beauty and culture of Europe combined with the fun of a Disney cruise.

    HOLLAND AMERICA LINE This year marks Holland America Line's longest European season in recent history with sailings from March through November to Western and Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Black Sea. Itineraries range from 10- to 56-days with 136 ports of call, featuring 82 departure dates. Thirteen maiden ports include Jupivogur, Iceland; Sochi, Russia; and Koper, Slovenia.

    MSC CRUISES The entire MSC Cruises fleet of eight ships will be positioned in Europe for the majority of the year, with departures available from Genoa, Livorno, Naples, Rome, Venice, Bari and Barcelona. Three are positioned in Northern Europe, up from two in 2006. MSC Orchestra debuts this spring from Venice on a series of seven-night itineraries.

    NORWEGIAN COASTAL VOYAGE Norwegian Coastal Voyage features 11 ships that ply Norway's coast and two that cruise to Spitsbergen in the Arctic. New this year are 16-day escorted land/cruise packages that combine Sweden and Norway with a six-day voyage along Norway's coast; and itineraries to Greenland aboard Fram, a new expedition ship designed for cruising the country's iceberg-laden waters.

    NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE Norwegian Cruise Line deploys Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Jewel on seven- and 12-day itineraries that explore the Baltic capitals roundtrip from London; Egypt and Greek Islands sailings between Istanbul and Athens; and Mediterranean voyages between Istanbul and Barcelona. In October, Norwegian Gem, the line's newest ship, will offer three exclusive Mediterranean itineraries from Dover and Barcelona.

    OCEANIA CRUISES With three ships positioned in Europe seasonally, Oceania Cruises offers guests 53 departures with 20 distinct itineraries to the Western Mediterranean, the Greek Isles and Scandinavia. The line's ships visit more than 70 ports, including more than 80 overnight stays in such perennial favorites as Athens, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Sorrento, St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Venice.

    ORIENT LINES Orient Lines' Marco Polo embarks on a variety of European itineraries throughout the year, ranging from 10 to 37 days. The majority of sailings depart from April to June and feature fascinating tours that enable guests to discover the jewels of the Mediterranean and Western Europe, as well as the gems of Northern Europe and Scandinavia.

    PRINCESS CRUISES In its most dramatic Europe deployment ever, Princess Cruises positions five ships ranging from 680 to 3,100 passengers on itineraries ranging from seven to 24 days - and to destinations as varied as Iceland and Egypt. The line's season runs from April 11 to December 3, featuring 81 departures on 31 itineraries, calling at 110 ports.

    REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES Regent Seven Seas' Seven Seas Voyager sails Southern, Western and Northern Europe, while Seven Seas Navigator makes the Mediterranean her home for more than six months, canvassing nearly the entire region, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Greek Isles to the Aegean Sea. Maiden calls include ports in Croatia, England, Greece, Spain, Slovenia and Montenegro.

    ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL Six Royal Caribbean International vessels, including two that carry 3,100 passengers, ply a diverse array of European cruising grounds on itineraries that run the gamut - from three to 12 nights. Destinations include the Baltics, the British Isles, the Canary Islands and Spain, the Greek Isles, Italy, France, Malta, the Netherlands, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries.

    SEABOURN CRUISE LINE In 2007, Seabourn Cruise Line's fleet of three ships again explore Europe, from the fjords of Norway to the Crimean coast of the Black Sea, arriving in the Mediterranean in spring, where Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit remain through fall. Seabourn Pride departs the Mediterranean in May, heading northward to summer in Scandinavia, Russia and the Norwegian fjords.

    SEADREAM YACHT CLUB SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream I and SeaDream II call at ports in the Greek Islands, the Mediterranean and Croatia on itineraries of seven to 10 days, including the classic yachting ports of Nice, Monte Carlo, Cannes, St. Tropez, Santorini, Barcelona and Portofino. Its 2007 lineup offers guests more beaches, overnights and late evening in port.

    SILVERSEA CRUISES Silversea Cruises' entire fleet of four ships sail on itineraries of seven to 17 days, visiting Mediterranean, Baltic and Northern Europe ports. Highlights include an itinerary that explores the northern regions of Sweden and Finland around the Gulf of Bothnia; and another that spends six nights in Valencia during the America's Cup race in June.

    WINDSTAR CRUISES Windstar Cruises has increased the number of Greek Isles sailings along the popular Istanbul-Athens route. Wind Spirit and Wind Star sail the Greek Isles from May to September and also offer a sprinkling of Mediterranean itineraries in early spring and late fall. Wind Surf sails on voyages that explore the Western Mediterranean from April through November.

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