News Archive - March 2008

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3-31-08 Carnival Announces Voluntary Fuel Surcharge Refund Carnival Corporation & plc has announced a voluntary refund of the company's fuel supplement for applicable U.S. bookings that were made prior to November 7, 2007 under an agreement with the Florida Attorney General's Office. The fuel supplement, announced November 7, 2007, was applied to all U.S. bookings for voyages departing on or after February 1, 2008 for cruises on Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and The Yachts of Seabourn.

The company will now refund the fuel supplement for those guests who were already booked at the time the supplement was announced. Refunds for affected guests will be implemented based on cruise departure date according to the following schedule:

  • For cruises departing on or prior to April 4, 2008, guests will receive a refund in the same form they used to purchase their cruise;
  • For cruises departing from April 5, 2008 through June 23, 2008, guests will receive an on-board credit;
  • For cruises departing on or after June 24, 2008, guests' bookings will be adjusted to eliminate the fuel supplement.

The fuel supplement remains in effect for all bookings made on or after November 7, 2007. The $5 per person per day fuel supplement applies only to the first and second guests in a stateroom and will not exceed $70 per person per voyage. Also, at the time the fuel supplement was announced, travel agents whose clients had existing reservations were offered $10 per booking in administrative compensation for notifying those clients of the supplement and that compensation will continue to be provided.

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3-31-08 America's "First Bachelor" Joins Princess' Department of Romance More than 100 million viewers and 12 seasons later, ABC's "The Bachelor" remains one of the top reality television shows. And now the show's first season's bachelor, Alex Michel, is onboard at Princess Cruises' Department of Romance to share his views on love and dating.

Alex Michel, now 37, is still a bachelor since he made his appearance on the first show in 2002. On the show he courted 25 contestants who hoped to be his chosen partner. With Princess, his first assignment will be to help judge the line's "Are You The Greatest Romantic?" online video contest at the end of this month.

Princess' Department of Romance, a tribute to the company's decades-long legacy as the setting for the iconic TV show "The Love Boat," is made up of Princess-selected "experts" on a variety of romantic topics and includes actor Gavin MacLeod, The Love Boat's "Captain Stubing;" Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the always-provocative couples therapist; Trish McDermott, Vice President of Love at Engage.com; and Lisa Light, destination wedding expert and author.

Bachelor Alex Michel will join the other department members to help select the five finalists for Princess' "Greatest Romantic" contest, who will be announced on April 1. The public will then have the chance to vote for their favorite entry, with the winner joining the Department of Romance for one year and featured on the company's website offering their sage romantic advice through articles and a special podcast. The winning romantic will also receive a seven-day cruise for two to the Mexican Riviera or the Caribbean.

"I am thrilled to be joining Princess Cruises' Department of Romance," said Alex Michel. "As a single guy, I think I can bring a unique perspective to the group, especially with my experiences on The Bachelor. Not only do I feel I can offer some great tips and advice about the single person's search for love, I'm a huge Love Boat fan and an avid cruiser!"

After The Bachelor, Alex Michel served as a spokesperson for the well-known online dating service Match.com, providing commentary on romance and courtship through television and radio shows, newspaper and magazine articles and live appearances. Previously, Michel's love of film inspired him to produce travel documentaries in over 20 countries around the world and later short Internet films for a major technology firm. A graduate of Harvard University, with an MBA from Stanford, Michel is currently an executive at a media and technology company.

Michel will offer his advice and observations on Princess Cruises' special online home for romance, www.princess.com/romance. The site also features tips and articles from the other romance experts ranging from the best ways to reinvigorate your romance, to tips on planning a destination wedding. It also features a series of podcasts, inspiring quotations and romantic desktop downloads.

For more information about the "Are You the Greatest Romantic?" contest and to see which videos Michel and the other experts choose as the five finalists, log onto www.princess.com/romance.

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3-31-08 Regent Completes Major Entertainment Upgrades Regent Seven Seas Cruises has completed a multi-million dollar upgrade of entertainment programming aboard three of its ships, including the addition of professional ballroom dance teams, new productions featuring "The Regent Singers and Dancers," and the largest live orchestra aboard any luxury cruise line.

"Our dynamic new entertainment program offers exciting production shows featuring elegant ballroom dancing and pulse-pounding music with more energy, texture and variety," said Lyn Farmer, director of entertainment and special events for Regent Seven Seas. "Our guests are thrilled at this new entertainment lineup."

In celebration of the ballroom dance craze sweeping the nation thanks to "Dancing with the Stars" and other programs, several of the new shows feature professional ballroom couples performing original choreography showcasing Latin, swing, waltz and other dance styles. The dancers even offer complimentary lessons for guests on days at sea.

The nine-piece "Regent Signature Orchestra" performs aboard 700-guest all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager, and 490-guest, all-suite Seven Seas Navigator. This talented unit lends concert-quality musical support to production shows and breaks into smaller units for combo performances around the ships, allowing late-night cocktails or afternoon tea in one of the lounges to be complemented by the mellow sounds of a live jazz trio.

The new shows include new cabaret revues and five new feature productions for each ship, all with live music by the orchestra and a permanent cast of up to 10 singers and dancers (shorter cruises typically feature three production shows; longer cruises feature four or five). A new highlight aboard Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator this year is the musical "Breaking Up is Hard to Do," with music by legendary singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka, whose signature tenor voice produced a string of Billboard hits in the 1950s and 60s. Seven Seas Voyager features another show, "Romance Romance," for added variety and texture.

In addition to the new shows, Regent will continue to offer a roster of headline entertainers throughout the year, as well as specialty programs like "James Bond Martini Night," "Beatles Night," a live disco show and all-new production shows tailored to each ship.

The new entertainment offerings are produced by Peter Grey Terhune Productions, 20-year veterans of the cruise entertainment industry and among its foremost trendsetters. Please visit www.TheRegentExperience.com for details.

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3-20-08 Royal Caribbean Announces 2009 European season to be biggest yet Royal Caribbean will have a record eight ships in Europe for the 2009 summer and fall seasons. Itineraries range from four to 14 nights aboard: Independence of the Seas; two Voyager-class ships, Navigator of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas; Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas.

Totaling 70 distinct itineraries and 87 ports of call in 32 countries, Royal Caribbean will offer the Mediterranean Sea, Northern and Western Europe and a variety of transatlantic sailings in 2009. Bookings are available immediately for Royal Caribbean's 2009 Europe cruises and cruisetours aboard all ships except for Vision, which will be opened in April 2008.

Cruisetours are also available combining a cruise with land journeys, city tours and hotel stays ranging from three to five nights, featuring Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Stresa, Verona, Venice, Florence and Rome. Air and ground transfers, hotel reservations, tours and some meals are inclusive, and guests will have ample time for shopping and independent pursuits.

Independence of the Seas returns to Southampton, U.K., for her second Europe season, offering 14-night Western Mediterranean, 10- and 11-night Western Europe and Canary Islands, and four-night British Isles itineraries. Independence of the Seas features the FlowRider surf simulator, the H20 Zone water park, a boxing ring, cantilevered whirlpools, and the four-bedroom/four-bath Presidential Family Suite. There are eight restaurants and more than 15 bars and lounges.

Navigator of the Seas will feature homeports in Malaga, Spain, a new homeport for Royal Caribbean; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Barcelona. Voyager of the Seas, also homeporting through November 2009 in Barcelona, and Navigator, offer guests an ice-skating rink, the line's iconic rock-climbing wall, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and the Royal Promenade - a boulevard lined with shops, restaurants, bars and lounges that runs nearly the length of the ship.

Brilliance of the Seas will have her second consecutive year in Europe. In November and December, Brilliance will offer a new Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean itinerary sailing roundtrip from Barcelona, featuring the Greeks Isles and calls at Port Said and Alexandria, Egypt.

Vision of the Seas will homeport of Copenhagen, Denmark, another new homeport for the cruise line; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. Concurrently, Jewel of the Seas will specialize in 12-night Scandinavia and Baltic voyages, featuring an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. Jewel will also sail one 12-night itinerary that combines the British Isles and Norwegian Fjords, which includes a call at Geiranger, Norway, one of the highest rated ports by previous guests.

Special 10- and 11-night Holy Land itineraries aboard Vision of the Seas from the line's new homeports of Athens and Istanbul, will include Haifa and Ashdod, Israel, last called at by Royal Caribbean in 2000, and Port Said.

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3-20-08 Celebrity Announces 2009 European season to be biggest yet Celebrity Cruises is offering its largest European deployment ever in 2009. Five ships, including two new vessels, will sail in a single European season for the first time in the line's history, visiting 76 ports in 29 countries, five of which are brand-new to Celebrity Cruises.

Five Celebrity Cruises ships will sail in Europe in 2009, including two ships currently under construction, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox. Joining them are Celebrity Century, which underwent a $55-million makeover in 2006, Celebrity Constellation, built in 2002, and Celebrity Summit, which launched in 2001.

With six different homeports in Europe for the season, itineraries will include overnight, in-port stays in eight cities: Alexandria, Egypt; Copenhagen, Denmark; Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey; Rome, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; and Venice, Italy.

Celebrity will call on five new ports: Antwerp, Belgium, located on the River Scheldt, 50 miles from the sea. Ashdod, Israel's largest port, offering access to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and must-see sites such as Mount Zion, the Tomb of David, the Tomb of Judges and the Dead Sea. Haifa, Israel's third-largest city, nestled in a broad natural bay between the Mediterranean Sea and Carmel Mountain. La Spezia, Italy, one of Italy's major harbors and Portofino, Italy, considered to be among the most beautiful Mediterranean ports.

From August 18 through October 23, Celebrity Equinox will sail 13- and 14-night "Ancient Empires" itineraries out of Rome, featuring calls on Ashdod and Haifa, Israel, an overnight stay in Alexandria, Egypt, and ports throughout Greece, Turkey, and Italy.

Beginning May 4, Celebrity Solstice will sail 10- and 11-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries roundtrip out of Rome, calling on ports throughout Greece, Turkey, and Italy. The 11-night sailings include overnight stays in Istanbul, Turkey.

Celebrity Century will offer seven-night Western Mediterranean sailings roundtrip out of Barcelona from September 19-November 21, and one 13-night "Best of Europe" sailing September 6, that begins with an overnight stay in Amsterdam and the line's first call on Antwerp, Belgium.

Celebrity's 2009 Europe - Past Favorites

Celebrity Century has increased the number of "Scandinavia and Russia" cruises roundtrip out of Amsterdam, with nine of

these itineraries scheduled between May and August 2009 (in 2008, Celebrity Century will sail four Scandinavia and Russia itineraries). These voyages feature an overnight stay in St. Petersburg, Russia, and calls in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Denmark.

Celebrity Century's 12-night "Arctic Circle and North Cape" itinerary, offered June 26 and July 8 roundtrip out of Amsterdam, features calls on seven Norwegian ports, including the breathtaking Geiranger, which the line hasn't visited since 2006, back by popular demand.

Celebrity Constellation's 14-night transatlantic sailing from Harwich on September 5 will feature a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland, a country named by National Geographic magazine as one of the world's top destinations. This will be the first time Celebrity has called on an Icelandic port since 2004; the voyage, which ends in Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey, also features stops in France, Ireland, Scotland, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick.

Beginning May 10, Celebrity Summit will alternate 12- or 14-night "Classical Mediterranean" and "Mediterranean Legacies" sailings between Venice and Barcelona, calling on ports in France, Italy, Greece, Croatia and Turkey, collectively.

Celebrity's 2009 Europe - Captivating Cruisetours

In 2009, Celebrity offers a variety of options to guests who wish to make the most of their time in Europe through cruisetours, a combined cruise and pre-voyage multi-night land journey package. Cruisetours are available for guests sailing on the following ships:

Celebrity Century and Celebrity Summit out of Barcelona (Mediterranean sailings) Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Solstice out of Rome (Mediterranean sailings) Celebrity Summit out of Venice (Mediterranean sailings) Celebrity Equinox out of Southampton (Mediterranean sailings) Celebrity Constellation out of Harwich (Northern Europe sailings)

Mediterranean cruisetours include the following: New in 2009, a five-night "Venice, Florence and Rome" package featuring two nights in Venice, one night in Florence and two nights in Rome - a popular "highlights of Italy" tour that gives guests a true Italian experience. The three-night "Italian Lakes, Verona, and Venice" cruisetour, which includes two nights in Lago Maggiore's Stresa, one night in Verona, and touring in Venice prior to boarding the ship. Guests on this cruisetour enjoy a lake tour to the Borromean islands as well as the Shakespearean city of Verona.

A four-night "Madrid and Barcelona" cruisetour, offering two nights in Madrid, two nights in Barcelona, city tours in both locations, a visit to the ancient city of Toledo, and enough free time to experience the true Spanish flair of these iconic cities.

Northern Europe cruisetours include the following: A four-night "Paris and London" package, featuring two nights in each city and visits to major attractions such as Notre Dame and the Tower of London. A three-night "Brussels and Amsterdam" cruisetour, with one night in Brussels, two nights in Amsterdam, a visit to the gothic city of Bruges and a private canal cruise through the Amsterdam waterways.

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3-20-08 Carnival Reports Strong Revenue Growth Carnival Corp., parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines as well as several domestic, European and other brands totaling 84 cruise ships, reported that first quarter results were better than the company's January 2008 earnings per share guidance due primarily to lower than expected cruise costs.

2008 Q1 net income was $236 million, or $0.30 diluted EPS, on revenues of $3.2 billion for the quarter ended February 29, 2008. Net income for the first quarter of 2007 was $283 million, or $0.35 diluted EPS, on revenues of $2.7 billion.

"With the continued recovery of Caribbean business for our North American brands and our European brands performing well, bolstered by the strengthening euro and sterling, the company enjoyed strong revenue growth in the first quarter. However, this strong performance was more than offset by continually rising fuel prices, which cost the company $156 million, or $0.19 per share, during the quarter," CEO Micky Arison said.

"Consistent with their historical performance, our cruise brands continued to demonstrate resiliency despite a difficult economic environment," Arison noted. "This especially holds true in the Caribbean where there continues to be a strong rebound in pricing from last year. The favorable value proposition and high guest satisfaction levels versus land-based vacations, coupled with reduced supply -- as less inventory remains for sale than at this time in 2007 -- continues to work in our favor during this challenging economic climate," he added.

The report says for 2008, "On a cumulative basis, advance bookings for the remainder of 2008 are ahead of last year in terms of both occupancy and pricing. Since we entered the year with less inventory remaining for sale than last year, bookings taken since the start of the wave season have been less than prior year levels. However, pricing for those bookings was higher than last year."

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3-19-08 Ruling Could Limit Hawaii Cruises From Mainland A cruise industry newsletter, CruiseWeek, published by Michael Driscoll, is reporting that the cruise industry is talking about a decision that has been reached in the proposed changes to the Passenger Vessel Services Act. At issue was a proposed change that would have required non-U.S.-flagged vessels on itineraries that originated in US ports to spend at least 48 hours in a single foreign port.

The decision that has been reached, apparently, will only apply to US-cruising regions where there are "large" US-flagged passenger vessels on regular itineraries. Essentially, that boils down to just one cruising region - Hawaii - where the one remaining ship of the NCL-America fleet, Pride of America, sails on regular 7-day island itineraries roundtrip Honolulu.

The good news is that the proposed changes could have virtually eliminated most cruise ships in North America from cruising to US-based destinations like Alaska, and the East Coast ports of Newport RI and Portland ME. Those cruises will not be affected because there are no "large" US-flagged vessels sailing there.

Alaska also will not be affected, even though there are many US-flagged vessels sailing there, there are no "large" ones. What will definitely be affected, however, are cruises from the Mainland to Hawaii. Driscoll quotes cruise line estimates of about 73,000 passengers sailing on such cruises, typically from California, with four or five days at sea, and then touring the islands and dropping off in Honolulu. Some sail rountrip, which typically takes 15 days.

These cruises will end, it appears, although Ensenada, Mexico, still appears to be a viable port for such cruises. It has been used in the past and probably will be used more in the future. Obviously, the city that opposed this measure most fervently was San Diego, the embarkation point for most of these mainland cruises to Hawaii. These will likely come to a complete stop, though a timetable has not yet been set for when this rule will take effect. As of now there are still cruises scheduled for 2008 and 2009.

What this obviously brings up, however, are two questions:

  • What is the definition of large? It appears to be any vessel that carries more than about 250 passengers. Majestic America's Empress of th North carries 223 guests and it sails in Alaska.
  • What if a "large" US-flagged ship relocates to another cruising region? This is the bigger question. NCL has one U.S.-flagged ship right now, and up until just a few months ago had three "large" ships, all sailing in Hawaii. What if they decided to move one to Alaska? Does that mean all of the other non US-flagged vessels would have to move out?

No official announcement has yet been made, but it just goes to show you how such changes can have far-reaching implications beyond the original concern.

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3-19-08 Crystal Announces Unusual Tours in St. Petersburg Out of 30 total programs provided in St Petersburg, Crystal Cruises is announcing three brand new Crystal Adventures in St. Petersburg, Russia. The first will enable Crystal guests to bicycle through Krestovsky Island; The second is a visit to the more modest memorial apartment of author Fyodor Dostoevsky; the third is a journey to Moscow for two nights.

Crystal Symphony will make six Baltic cruises from June through August ranging in length from seven to 11 days. Five of the six cruises boast three-day stays in St Peteresburg (the other is two days).

Here is a list of the more unusual St. Petersburg tour options Crystal provides include:

  • *NEW* Krestovsky Island by Bicycle This invigorating excursion gives you the chance to experience Krestovsky Island. Surely, there could be no better way to explore this scenic area of the historic city than by bicycle.
  • *NEW* An Overnight in Moscow - Explore the imposing Kremlin and its Armory Chamber with its royal crowns, jewelry and priceless Fabergé eggs; and the Cathedral of the Assumption and Grand Kremlin Palace - which is typically off-limits to visitors. The world-famous State Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts are among the other wonders of the Russian capital you will visit.
  • Pushing the Envelope: Flight on a MiG Fighter - Literally zoom over Russia's landscape at over twice the speed of sound.
  • Concert and reception at Yusupov Palace- Feel like royalty when entering the palace's private theater for an exclusive classical music performance, followed by an extravagant dinner catered by Potel & Chabot, one of France's most respected culinary establishments.
  • St. Petersburg Sights & Hermitage Visit- Soak in the astounding collection of the Hermitage Museum, browsing among the works of Rembrandt, Gauguin, Da Vinci and Van Gogh on this full-day excursion.
  • Evening Performance at the Mariinsky Theatre - Home to Russian opera and ballet, the theater was immortalized by dancers Pavlova and Baryshnikov, as well as by the symphonies of Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

    Crystal Adventures range from less than $50 to as much as $38,695 for the ultra-exclusive MIG flight. Crystal Cruises' 2008 Baltic cruises depart from London, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Cruise fares begin at $3,395 per person, double occupancy.

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    3-19-08 Star Clippers Offers Free Air to Tahiti from Los Angeles Star Clippers is offering guests free air travel to Tahiti from Los Angeles, Calif., on seven departures in 2008. Guests flying from other select gateways are eligible for a savings of $800 off of the airfare, and those wishing to book cruise-only will receive a discount of $800 per person off the double-occupancy cruise rate.

    Eligible departure dates for the seven-night cruises are June 29, July 6, Aug. 10 and Dec. 14. The 10-night cruises with the special savings depart July 24 and Aug. 28. The 11-night cruise departing Aug. 17 also is included in the offer.

    Star Flyer sails round-trip Papeete, Tahiti, cruises year-round where guests can dive and snorkel in some of the most spectacular sites in the world. And shore excursions are designed to introduce guests to the fascinating culture and history of the Polynesian people.

    The seven-night itinerary calls at Huahine, Raiatea, Taha'a, Bora Bora, and Cook Bay and Opunohu Bay, Moorea, with an overnight in Papeete before disembarkation.

    The 10-night cruise takes Star Flyer to the Society Islands and Tuamotu Atolls, with special cruising in the Rangiroa Lagoon. The ship calls at Fakarava, Rangiroa, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Taha'a, Huahine and Moorea. The 11-night voyage adds an overnight call at Huahine.

    To request a brochure, call toll-free (800) 442-0556 or e-mail brochures. To make a reservation, contact a travel professional. For information, call Star Clippers at (800) 442-0551 or visit www.starclippers.com to view a video about the line or take a virtual tour of the Star Clippers ships.

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    3-12-08 Silversea's Newest All-suite Ship to be Named Silver Spirit Silversea Cruises announced that its newest all-suite ship will be named Silver Spirit. Currently under construction at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard, the 540-guest vessel is scheduled to join the fleet in late 2009. Renowned Italian architect Giacomo Mortola is overseeing the design of the 36,000-ton, ultra-luxury vessel. The company also revealed a number of architectural details.

    "Silver Spirit's design will mirror the distinctive silhouette of our existing ships and will offer the same standards of luxury that our guests have come to expect," said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea's chairman. "But there will also be several significant enhancements, including a new supper club, an Asian-themed restaurant and an expanded spa facility that will rival the best spas on land."

    Added Silversea president and CEO Amerigo Perasso, "Like our other ships, Silver Spirit will be a work of art for the most discerning eye. It will be a further testament to our chairman's vision of creating a travel experience of unsurpassed quality by melding together the finer elements of authentic luxury -- starting with the signature grace and elegance of our ships' Italian design."

    With a total of 270 all ocean-view suites, the new ship will maintain the line's reputation for intimate yet spacious ships and will increase the number of accommodations in the most popular suite categories. Silver Spirit will feature more of the quick-to-sell-out Silver Suites, with a total of 26, and more Veranda Suites, 222. There will also be six Grand Suites and two Owner's Suites. All but 12 suites will have verandas.

    When the newest addition to Silversea's fleet sets sail, the ship's privileged complement of guests will not only experience the line's hallmark easy-going luxury, warm Italian hospitality, highly personalized service and all-inclusive amenities, but also a few innovations that will raise the bar in luxury travel. Plans call for an exciting new supper club, offering sumptuous gourmet cuisine served in an intimate, club-like ambiance, and a new Asian restaurant.

    The new ship will also feature those dining venues that have become favorites of Silversea guests, such as The Restaurant, the elegant main dining room; The Wine Restaurant, where the menu celebrates the most rarefied vintages; and the Pool Grille, offering casual poolside dining.

    SPACIOUS NEW SPA

    The new Spa at Silversea, which premiered aboard Silver Shadow's World Cruise last year, will be rolled out aboard the new vessel in grand style with dramatically more space available to incorporate new design elements. Guests will enjoy an aesthetically pleasing sanctuary where they can relax, de-stress and detox with an expanded menu of treatment options.

    And Silver Spirit will feature many of the same public lounges found on the line's existing ships, including an Observation Lounge, Vista Lounge (similar to Panorama Lounge on current fleet), Show Lounge, Humidor and Pool Bar, plus a new Lobby Bar styled along the lines of a European hotel, featuring Italian coffees complemented by champagne, wine and spirits -- all served at no charge.

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    3-12-08 Celebrity Solstice Entertainment Options Revealed Eight months from its launch, Celebrity Cruises is revealing more first-in-the-industry features on Celebrity Solstice. This week they are showing the widely varied entertainment guests can experience on Celebrity Solstice, including three original theater productions through an exclusive partnership with Poet Theatricals.

    Led by Michael McPherson and Patrice Marques - whose backgrounds include both performance and production with Franco Dragone, Circo Luci, FOUR: Spirit of the Elements, and the creation and production of the first worldwide touring show of the Lido de Paris - Poet Theatricals is creating shows that can be seen only on Celebrity Solstice.

    "Our inspiration for the new shows stems extensively from the extraordinary style and design of the ship, not to mention its name," said Michael McPherson, Poet Theatricals. "Celebrity Solstice conjures up images of light and an alluring ancient mystique, so our shows are built around that theme."

    The three shows are:

    • "Solstice": This European-style theatrical circus is built around the clash of day and night, and includes vocalists, physical comedy, breathtaking group acrobatic and aerial performances and other specialty acts, in a celestial celebration.
    • "Ghost Light": On the eve of an old Broadway theater's closing, the cast performing the venue's final show reminisces about all the productions the theater has hosted, leading to the venue to illuminate once again, in celebration of Broadway favorites past and present.
    • "Pulse": Guests aren't likely to sit still when this show's central character, "Rhythm Man," ignites a motion and vocal spectacular driven by the widely varied music and instruments that create the beat. Complementing the three shows are a variety of specialty acts, also created with Poet Theatricals, including still performers, ring jugglers, fairy characters and a variety of acrobatic artists.

    The state-of-the-art theater on Celebrity Solstice seats 1,115 guests and has been expressly designed to optimize sight lines and bring guests closer to the entertainers. A curved stage creates an almost theater-in-the-round experience. The traditional orchestra pit was omitted to allow for more guest seating in the sought-after central area of the venue, with musicians' platforms instead positioned to the left and right of the stage.

    In addition to shows in the theater on Celebrity Solstice, the abundance of entertainment onboard will extend into multiple other venues, as well:

    Sky Observation Lounge The new signature lounge atop Celebrity Solstice will invite guests to participate in multiple styles of dance, with the entire venue transforming to reflect each nightly theme. From wild red for tango nights to midnight blue for ballroom dance, guests will have the opportunity to participate in lessons during the day, in preparation for dancing the night away.

    Celebrity Central Ideally-suited for late-night comedy shows, cooking demonstrations, enrichment lectures and feature films, this 200-guest venue also will present proprietary, must-see shows and events.

    Entertainment Court Located in the center of the ship and flanked by Celebrity Central and the hip Quasar nightclub, the Entertainment Court will serve as an entertainment hub on Celebrity Solstice. The Court's unique design and proximity to Quasar allows for opening up both venues to create a larger entertainment atmosphere at night. During daytime hours, the Court might bring such surprises as psychics and caricature artists to entertain guests of all ages.

    Quasar Guests who love the mod, futuristic designs of the ‘60s and ‘70s will find Quasar particularly captivating. Cocoon-shaped acrylic chairs suspended from the ceiling will enhance the drama of the space, as will state-of-the-art lighting and four large LED screens programmed to create a nightly light show synchronized with the music.

    The Pool Deck An unique series of animated water fountains that can be synchronized to music will serve as a constant source of surprise on the pool deck onboard Celebrity Solstice. Meanwhile, live music will be performed on the adjacent stage on days at sea, as well as during themed parties and other special events.

    Michael's Club A signature space across the Celebrity fleet, Michael's Club on Celebrity Solstice will invite privacy and intimacy, amidst a backdrop of soothing piano and jazz music, and rich, comfortable furnishings.

    Ensemble Lounge The ideal setting for a cocktail with live music prior to an extraordinary specialty dining experience, the Ensemble Lounge's aubergine accents and stylish, contemporary furnishings will reflect a period when jazz greats Duke Ellington and Count Basie reigned supreme.

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    3-12-08 Cunard QE 2 Farewell Season Marked by Special Final Calls As Cunard Line's famed Queen Elizabeth 2 continues her farewell season, her 40th year in service since her maiden voyage - a series of significant voyages and ports of call are on the schedule. Widely considered the most famous ship in the world, QE2 has logged more than 5.6 million nautical miles (equivalent to traveling to the moon and back 13 times), and has carried over 2.5 million passengers. The regal ship will complete her service for Cunard Line in November 2008 as the company's longest-serving liner.

    "Without question, QE2 is legendary. One of the most beloved ships in our 169-year history, we anticipate a good showing of QE2 enthusiasts in each of her final ports," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. "She has been a hostess to royalty, celebrities and the most noted personalities from all over the world. In addition, she has been a witness to history, serving magnificently as a troop carrier in the Falklands Conflict. Adored the world over, she is, quite simply, irreplaceable," Marlow added.

    Following her 26th and final World Cruise, which departed New York amid unprecedented fanfare on January 13, 2008, QE2 will embark on a series of 19 voyages, including stops in three favorite North American ports that are expected to draw an outpouring of well-wishers. Other scheduled stops for people wishing her farewell include the Mediterranean, Norway, Portugal and Canada.

    Her final visits to Los Angeles (March 30), Ft. Lauderdale (April 10) and New York (Oct. 16) will be duly celebrated by Cunarders, with her final New York departure marked by commemorative festivities. Cunard's historical North American connection is strongest in the Big Apple.

    "From 1847, when Cunard's Hibernia first sailed into New York, to today, the city has been an integral part of Cunard's history," says Cunard president Carol Marlow. In all, QE2 has already made 707 calls to New York City.

    Forty Years of History

    Her naming ceremony precided over by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 1967, QE2 immediately captured the upbeat mood of the era. Admired for her sleek, elegant lines and contemporary interiors, she was embraced on both sides of the Atlantic. Upon her launch, the Queen's sister, HRH Princess Margaret, viewed the ship as a symbol of change, noting "This new Cunarder will show that design in Britain is exciting and full of vigorous common sense." Lord Snowdon concurred, writing "what you have achieved with QE2 makes one proud to be British...the mood is breathtaking."

    Throughout her history, QE2 spent part of the year sailing Cunard's signature Transatlantic route and the rest in pursuit of the sun. Today, her sister ship Queen Mary 2 carries on the Line's Transatlantic tradition, sailing 24 Crossings this year.

    Historical Notes: Not surprisingly, in her four decades at sea, QE2 has garnered her fair share of "firsts," "onlys" and "only-on-Cunard" anecdotes. Among the fascinating facts:

    • With a top speed of 32.5 knots, QE2 is the fastest passenger ship in the world. She can sail backwards (full speed astern is 19 knots) faster than most cruise ships sail forward.
    • QE2 is the only luxury liner in the world to have transported cars and motorcycles.
    • In 1982, she became the world's largest hospital ship when transporting injured troops from the Falklands War.
    • In 1996, the first satellite transmission of a TV programme from a ship at sea went out from QE2.
    • The first seagoing branch of Harrods opened aboard QE2 in 1996.
    • QE2 has hosted more celebrities than any other ship. Early guests included Lord Mountbatten, Lynn Redgrave, Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, Count Basie and Gracie Fields; more recent regulars include David Bowie, Rod Stewart and Sir Jimmy Savile.

    Youngest Fleet, Oldest Traditions

    With the completion of QE2's service to Cunard Line, and with the upcoming debut of the company's new ship, Queen Elizabeth in 2010, Cunard is poised to become the youngest fleet in the industry. "Although 37 years passed between the launch of Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1967 and Queen Mary 2 in 2004, only three years passed before the launch of Queen Victoria last year. The Cunard lion is roaring again and in true Cunard fashion, it is doing so with unerring style," added Marlow.

    There is limited space available on QE2's final voyages. For more information about QE2 or Cunard Line, contact your travel professional, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or go to www.cunard.com.

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    3-11-08 Royal Caribbean Voluntarily Eliminates Fuel Supplement After working closely with the Florida Attorney General's office, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced it has voluntarily agreed to eliminate its fuel supplement on any bookings made prior to the announcement of the fuel supplement on November 16, 2007.

    NOTE: Some travel agents hav been emailing me to say they believe othr cruise lines will follow suit, soon.

    Royal Caribbean will eliminate the fuel supplement for any guests who had a booking made prior to November 16. Guests booked before November 16 who paid the fuel supplement and have taken their cruise will receive a refund through the form of payment used to purchase their sailing. Guests booked before November 16 who paid the fuel supplement and have not taken their cruise will receive their refund as an onboard credit during their sailing.

    As originally announced, the company did not charge the fuel supplement to guests with bookings made and paid in full before November 16. It will now eliminate the fuel supplement for guests with bookings made but not paid in full before that date. These latter guests were also provided with a three-week period in which to cancel their sailing without penalty.

    The company has been in discussions with the Florida Attorney General's office to ensure the fuel supplement was implemented in a fair and reasonable manner.

    The fuel supplement, which remains in place for North American bookings made on or after November 16, 2007, involves three Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises. The fuel supplement consists of a $5 per-guest, per-day charge for sailings that depart on or after February 1, 2008. The fuel supplement applies only to the first and second guests in each stateroom and does not exceed $70 per person per sailing.

    Today's announcement will have no impact on the company's revenue projections and the company reaffirms its previous yield guidance.

    The Florida Attorney General's office is expected to issue a press release regarding this matter Tuesday morning.

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    3-10-08 Search Called Off for Ship Jumper The Coast Guard suspended its search for the woman who jumped off the cruise ship Costa Mediterranea 20 miles southeast of Key Largo, Fla., at approximately 3 p.m. Monday.

    Indentified as Tina White, 39, a resident of Bonita Springs, Fla., the woman was reportedly with her boyfriend aboard the cruise ship when she became angry and agitated and unexpectedly jumped overboard. According to a Coast Guard press release, more than 3,000 square miles of ocean were searched by rescue crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., Coast Guard Air Station Miami and Coast Guard Cutters Farallon and Confidence.

    "We have suspended our active search pending further developments," said Lt. Eric Pare, a command duty officer at the Coast Guard Seventh District command center. "If new information comes to light we would consider resuming our search. We are confident that if White was in the area we searched, we would have found her."

    The Coast Guard Cutter Confidence is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homported at Port Canaveral, Fla. The Coast Guard Cutter Farallon is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Miami.

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    3-10-08 Norwegian Majesty to Sail From Charleston Next Winter Norwegian Majesty will sail a new seven-day Bahamas and Florida itinerary from Charleston, South Carolina, beginning this fall through April 2009. The itinerary will feature four diverse ports, in place of the existing three-port Western Caribbean itinerary.

    Starting November 15, 2008, the 1,462 passenger Norwegian Majesty will depart Charleston on Saturdays with stops in Grand Bahama Island; Nassau; Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island in the Bahamas; and Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida. This is similar to NCL's Bahamas and Florida itinerary from New York which stops in Port Canaveral and Nassau.

    A number of Freestyle 2.0 enhancements will be in place on Norwegian Majesty, specifically in regard to food and beverage. On embarkation day, guests will receive a bubbly welcome. Lobster Galore will be featured in the main dining rooms and lobster dishes will be available in the specialty restaurants every night of the cruise. Le Bistro, Norwegian Majesty's French restaurant, will introduce new specialty items, including Côte de Boeuf, a 32-ounce premium gold angus rib eye steak; Plateau de Fruits de Mar, a cold seafood platter including mussels, lobster tail, shrimp and raw oysters on the half shell; and Cardinal of the Seas, a braised Maine lobster. Nighttime entertainment on Norwegian Majesty will also be enhanced with the addition of two new themed parties.

    This new itinerary goes on sale today. Guests with existing reservations on Norwegian Majesty this fall will automatically be moved to the new itinerary or they will have the option to cancel. NCL Corporation Ltd. is the holding company for various subsidiary companies involved in owning and operating the ships of Norwegian Cruise Line.

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    3-10-08 Woman Jumps From Cruise Ship - Search Begins Several news sources this morning are reporting that 39-year old woman who was involved in an argument with her boyfriend on the Costa Mediterranea baceme "angry an agitated" and just climbed up and jumped off of a ship railing. The ship was beginning a 7-day cruise and was 20 miles southeast of Key Largo, Fla. when the incident occured.

    Her boyfriend reported the incident to the ship's officers. The Coast Guard was notified immediately, about 1:18 am Monday morning. It is believed the boyfriend was the only witness to the event and that he did report it the moment it happened. As yest, there is no further news.

    The Coast Guard launched a search with its Miami-based helicopter and two cutters. The cruise ship remain docked in the area where the woman disappeared as the search continued.

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    3-6-2008 America's Vacation Center Named Agency of the Year by Carnival America's Vacation Center and The Cruise Line Ltd. have been selected as Carnival Cruise Lines' "travel agencies of the year" for 2007.

    These two agencies were selected from among more than 30,000 cruise-selling travel agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Travel agencies that demonstrate exceptional professionalism, enthusiasm and innovation in sales and marketing techniques are nominated based on feedback from Carnival's business development managers who are based throughout North America and work in partnership with travel agents.

    Carnival's Senior Vice President of Sales and Guest Services Lynn C. Torrent noted the two award recipients have each achieved a high level of success by employing distinctly different business models. While each has developed a national network of home-based agents, America's Vacation Center focuses on developing a worldwide network of home-based independently owned and operated affiliates, while The Cruise Line Ltd. takes a more traditional agency approach by encouraging local agents to concentrate on their local communities from virtual home-based offices.

    "Regardless of their chosen business model, these two agencies share a common platform of providing superior customer service with extensive knowledge of the wide-ranging cruise styles and amenities available to consumers -- which is key to any successful travel agency," Torrent said. "America's Vacation Center and The Cruise Line Ltd. clearly demonstrate that there is more than one way to attract and retain clients in today's competitive marketplace," she added.

    America's Vacation Center has an intense focus on the overall customer experience and has re-invented itself over the past few years, particularly after Sept. 11, by offering travelers the service of specialized, home-based travel professionals who act as Personal Vacation Planners.

    A family-owned business, America's Vacation Center is one of the largest and fastest-growing travel companies in North America and beyond, and is deeply committed to personal, friendly service for travelers worldwide. Providing the best value, service, personal accountability, and more, America's Vacation Center's long-lasting relationship with American Express, elite network of experienced Personal Vacation Planners, patent-pending proprietary software, and unrivaled reputation have catapulted them to the forefront of the travel industry.

    "We are incredibly honored and humbled to be named Carnival Cruise Lines' 'Agency of the Year' for 2007, and we are elated that our preferred suppliers like Carnival are thrilled with our unique travel agency model and approach to providing exceptional customer service," said Van Anderson, co-president of America's Vacation Center.

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    3-5-08 Celebrity Galaxy to Receive Makeover Celebrity Cruises plans to give the Celebrity Galaxy (completed in 1997) an approximately $4-million makeover during its scheduled drydock in Freeport, Bahamas, from April 18 through May 2. Renovations scheduled to be completed during that time:

    • The ship's two-level main dining room will be completely refurbished, with new, contemporary carpeting, reupholstered and newly varnished chairs, new waiter stations, and entirely new floor-to-ceiling columns.
    • The adjacent RendezVous Lounge and the Martini Bar will be enhanced with entirely new upholstery.
    • The Celebrity Theater will be completely refurbished, with new carpeting and upholstery throughout.
    • The casual dining buffet areas will receive new chairs, carpeting, upholstery and lighting.
    • The pool area will receive new teak bolidt decking, and new glass tiles surrounding the pool.
    • The shopping area will be entirely refurbished; jewelry boutiques will receive brighter, more contemporary new product-display areas throughout.
    • The Stratosphere Lounge, observation area by day and dance club by night, will have entirely new carpets and lounge seating upholstery.
    • 250 staterooms will receive contemporary new carpeting, new sinks and new upholstery. This will complement the same work that already has been completed in the balance of the ship's staterooms.
    • Michael's Club jazz/piano bar has already been entirely refurbished.

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