Cruise News Archive - March 2011

| Tuesday, 01 Mar. 2011

 

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3-28-11 Freedom of the Seas Leaves Dry Dock with New Features! Freedom of the Seas returns into service this week after completing a week-long drydock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. As part of the Royal Advantage revitalization and enhancement program, Freedom of the Seas received new dining concepts, entertainment options, children's programming and technology advancements that were introduced to wide industry acclaim aboard Royal Caribbean's new Oasis-class ships. The Royal Advantage program comprises approximately $70 million of enhancements aboard five of the world's most innovative cruise ships in 2011 to expand unparalleled onboard experiences across the cruise line's fleet. Freedom of the Seas alternates an Eastern and a Western Caribbean seven-night, round-trip itinerary from Port Canaveral on Florida's Space Coast.

"Royal Caribbean is rooted in providing our guests with incredible vacation experiences across the fleet and around the world," said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "The outdoor video screen installed aboard Liberty of the Seas in January has already been so well received that we have decided to deploy it aboard all the ships scheduled to undergo the Royal Advantage revitalization in 2011. Making the investment on these ships as a way of extending the reach of the Oasis-class innovations to more of our guests is a natural progression for the fleet as a whole and how we are delivering the Royal Advantage to vacationers."

In drydock, Freedom of the Seas received new technology enhancements, such as enhanced Wi-Fi, interactive televisions, electronic waivers for sports activities, and electronic mustering (as well as ticketing for shows later in the year) that offer greater convenience to Royal Caribbean guests on their cruise vacation. The ship also offers a new BRITTO Gallery, featuring a variety of merchandise designed by pop-art icon Romero Britto.

Other newly acquired Oasis-class signatures aboard Freedom of the Seas include:

  • The DreamWorks Experience: The next generation of family programming is now available onboard Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas, as well as on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, with activities and shows including the DreamWorks parade down the Royal Promenade and interactive Character Breakfasts in the Rembrandt (Liberty of the Seas) and Leonardo (Freedom of the Seas) Dining Rooms with the animation movie studio's "celebrity" characters.
  • 3-D Movie Screens: The phenomenon of 3-D technology adds a new dimension to Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas' Platinum and Arcadia Theaters respectively, where guests can screen newly released and long-time favorite movies in 3-D, available starting next week.
  • Outdoor LED Video Walls: Measuring approximately 18.5 feet, the video screens - similar to those found in the Oasis-class AquaTheater - will overlook the main pool area, featuring movies and entertainment programs throughout the cruise for families, friends and couples to enjoy during the day and for an evening under the stars.
  • The Cupcake Cupboard: A runaway hit for sweet treats aboard Oasis of the Seas, the 1940's-style shop charms guests with a broad assortment of fresh gourmet cupcakes offered daily at a la carte pricing and memorable family experiences including hands-on decorating classes; specialty cupcakes and custom cupcakes cakes also are available. Beyond its tempting and innovative menu, the specialty bakery boutique, takes the place of A Clean Shave on Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas' Royal Promenade.
  • Vintages: The popular winelounge aboard Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas features a new trendier décor where patrons can enjoy a wide range of fine wines. A new automatedserving system, which will be stocked with 48 notable wine selections, offers a self-pour option for guests wanting to explore a variety of tastes and varietals.
  • Imaginocean! Puppet Show: Conceptualized and produced by Emmy and Tony Award nominee John Tartaglia, exclusively for Royal Caribbean, this family musical geared towards children stars glow-in-the-dark underwater puppet characters will debut next month aboard Freedom of the Seas.
  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery: A huge hit aboard Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the nursery care program (starting next week aboard Freedom of the Seas) is expanding across all four ships being revitalized this year. Designed for babies and tots six through 36 months old, it offers parents a safe, fun and interactive vacation environment for their toddler. Royal Caribbean's trained professionals carefully maintain an optimum staff to child ratio, offering various playgroups and activities developed exclusively for Royal Caribbean with partners Fisher Price and Crayola.
  • Digital Wayfinding system: Groundbreaking technology launched on the Oasis-class ships makes it easier than ever to navigate Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Onboard activities, real time updates, customized directions and routing, as well as ship factoids are at guests' fingertips with new plasma and LCD touch screen signs prominently placed throughout each of the ships.

The ships undergoing revitalizations in 2011 are Libertyof the Seasearlier this year,Freedom of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas inMay, andSplendour of the Seas inOctober. Each ship will come out of service and reemerge outfitted with the most highly guest-rated features introduced on Royal Caribbean's new Oasis-class ships. Even Oasis of the Seas, the first Oasis-class ship, now boasts new features with the recent addition of the DreamWorks Experience and 3-D movies which first debuted on Allure of the Seas.

Liberty of the Seas was the first to showcase the revitalization enhancement when she arrived to her homeport of Port of Miami on January 30. Liberty of the Seas is sailing six-night Western Caribbean and eight-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries before repositioning to Barcelona for the summer season where she will debut the energetic West End musical "Saturday Night Fever" in the Platinum Theater. Starting April 16, Liberty of the Seas will join sister-ship Independence of the Seas in Europe to offer four- and five-night short Western Mediterranean cruises.

 

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3-24-11 Uniworld Inaugurates S.S. Antoinette On March 19th Uniworld Boutique River Cruises inaugurated their new Super Ship, S.S. Antoinette. The inaugural weekend festivities were a special experience by the line's partner and sister company, Red Carnation Hotels.

Lead by Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, President and Founder of Red Carnation Hotels, and her daughter, Mrs. Antoinette Tollman, godmother and namesake to S.S. Antoinette, also a designer and the visionary behind the S.S. Antoinette's design and décor aong with lead designer Mr. Brian Brennan, who worked closely with the shipyard De Hoop to bring a new class of ships to the cruise industry.

Mrs. Antoinette Tollman explained the concept of the ship's design is based on 18th century France in the 21st century as it embodies the spirit of France's Château de Versailles with all of the conveniences of modern day living. "The design of the ship began with the spectacular blue sapphire 10-foot Baccarat chandelier that adorns the Antoinette's two-story lobby. This very chandelier once hung in New York's famous Tavern on the Green restaurant. My family and I dined many times under that chandelier, and when the restaurant closed, we purchased it for sentimental reasons, planning to use it somewhere."

Wanting to find the perfect home for the chandelier, they placed it in the lobby of the S.S. Antoinette and designed the ship around this beautiful focal point that reflects the sunlight so perfectly. "From there, we were inspired by Marie Antoinette and 18th-century Versailles to create the beautiful, rich, and opulent, yet classic style. The Salon du Grand Trianon is inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, and the Restaurant de Versailles by the ornamental gardens there. Above all, it was designed to take the guest on a journey and, as I learned from my mother, to give them the absolute best experience possible," furthered Mrs.Tollman.

Uniworld, the world's only river cruise line to have been acknowledged by Zagat Survey for "Top Dining," can certainly be attributed to Mrs. Beatrice Tollman's philosophy on food and her desire for ensuring both her hotel guests and her family were always treated to sumptuous cuisine using the finest ingredients. Mrs. Beatrice Tollman wrote her memoir, "A Life In Food," as a cookbook made up of recipes she has collected over the years during her travels and from people she has met. She has since refined and personalized the recipes and taught many chefs in her hotels and at Uniworld, including Bernhard Zorn, Uniworld's Global Master Chef. In the book, she recounts how she came to learn and love the recipes many of which have become Signature Comfort Dishes at the hotels and onboard Uniworld's ships. Uniworld's professionally trained culinary team creates these Signature Comfort Dishes, including the more traditional such as "Bea's chicken soup" to the more exotic "Black peppered prawns" to the sweeter side with "Honeycomb ice cream and Bea's cheese cake."

The S.S. Antoinette begins her inaugural season sailing on March 27, 2011 on Uniworld's popular Castles along the Rhine, and certainly guests traveling on this "Super Ship" will be in for a "Super Experience."

For more information, please contact your preferred Travel Professional, call Uniworld at (800) 733-7820 or visit uniworld.com. For images of the S.S. Antoinette Inaugural, please click here.

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3-23-11 Historic Port - Falmouth Jamaica - Officially Opens The Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. officially opened Historic Falmouth Port on Tuesday with the maiden call of Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas, one of the world's two largest cruise ships.

Situated between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, Falmouth is the first-ever thematic cruise port that provides a convenient gateway for guests to embark on more than 60 exhilarating land experiences along the north coast of Jamaica.

At a grand ribbon cutting ceremony, Hon. Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Hon. Michael Henry, Jamaica's Minister of Transport and Works, welcomed cruise guests to Jamaica and Historic Falmouth Port.

The revitalization of Historic Falmouth is amulti-phased development project, with the first phase offering a two-berth pier, retail and restaurant services, and a transportation center. Subsequent phases will include onsite attractions and experiences, hotel and residential developments, as well as additional retail and restaurant options.

The town of Falmouth also has many original prominent houses, shops and public buildings built in the 18th and 19th centuries that are still standing and are true historic gems. The restoration and preservation of several buildings in Falmouth is currently underway.

Falmouth was founded in 1790 from land owned by Edward Barrett. His granddaughter Elizabeth Barrett Browning would later be celebrated as one of the greatest poets in the English language. At that time Jamaica was the world's leading sugar producer, and this was most evident in Falmouth with more than 80 sugar estates nearby. The town was meticulously mapped out in the Colonial tradition, with streets named after British royalty and heroes—King Street, Queen Street, Rodney Street (after 18th century naval leader Admiral Lord George Rodney) and Wellington Street (after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington). The remarkable density of historic Georgian architectural buildings, which residents have lived in and maintained, is reflective of the town's rich heritage. Its public amenities included the first piped water supply system in the Western Hemisphere, established in 1799. The town prospered throughout the first half of the 19th century and was the birthplace of the abolition slavery movement. Falmouth was the site of many revolts, and many of the buildings in the town served as safe houses for those who had escaped. In fact, a prominent Falmouth reverend, William Knibb, whose house still stands in the town, was granted Jamaica's highest civil honor, the Order of Merit, in 1988, 150 years after the abolition of slavery.

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3-22-11 Crystal to go All-Inclusive in 2012 Effective spring 2012, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will include complimentary fine wines and premium spirits throughout the ship, open bar service in all lounges, and pre-paid gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff. The complimentary gratuity amenity also includes Penthouse butler service as well as service in all of Crystal's fine specialty restaurants and sushi bar.

"Our 'All Inclusive' is an evolution of Crystal's luxury services and responds to the desires of today's upscale cruise traveler," says Gregg Michel, president of Crystal Cruises. "As many lines throughout our industry have itemized their services for additional charges, Crystal is maximizing the guest experience by eliminating additional transactions - further enhancing the ease and luxury of a Crystal cruise. We believe this service will offer greater convenience, simplicity and comfort."

The new benefits begin with each ship's first Trans-Atlantic cruise next year: Crystal Symphony's "Beyond the Sea" sailing from Miami to Lisbon on March 19, 2012, and Crystal Serenity's "New World to Norway" voyage from New York to London on May 8, 2012.

A complete list of 2012 Crystal itineraries, with fares, for all cruises is now posted on Crystal's website, www.crystalcruises.com, and all cruises are now open for booking. Also included with all cruises is free round-trip air transportation from two dozen North American gateways (or a generous air credit), with airport/ship transfers included.

Since its inception, Crystal Cruises has added to its award-winning luxury vacation experience each year with more and more complimentary amenities, services, workshops and dining opportunities.

Always included at no additional cost are: all non-alcoholic beverages such as bottled water, specialty coffee drinks, soft drinks and fresh juices; all meals, including dining in specialty restaurants that feature the cuisine of Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio; high tea; ice cream and frozen yogurt bar; gym, steam, saunas and whirlpools; numerous fitness classes such as Spinning and group Pilates Reformer instruction; golf lessons with PGA pros; Walk-on-Water weighted vests and Nordic Pole walking equipment; Yamaha keyboard classes; Berlitz language classes; paddle tennis; dozens of computer/technology classes; art classes; Crystal Visions lecture series, featuring Crystal Visions lecture series featuring distinguished speakers; award-winning entertainment; in-stateroom movie and CD rentals; film screenings in the onboard cinema; dance lessons; dedicated junior cruiser facilities; early embarkation luncheon; welcome champagne; comfortable shuttles to town; pillow menus; self-service laundries; twice-daily housekeeping with nightly turndown service; and 24-hour room service.

Penthouse accommodations also include personal butler service, pressing, stocked bar, and other amenities and services.

All guests enjoy Six-Star service from gracious European-trained wait staff, concierges who belong to the prestigious "Les Clefs d'Or," and sommeliers certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Crystal's passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more "World's Best" awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history.

For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625 or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

 

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3-21-11 Viking River Cruises Announces Four New Builds for 2012

Viking's New Longship Class Features State-of-the-Art Engineering and Design, and Europe's Largest Real Suites and Staterooms

Viking River Cruises, the world's leading river cruise line, today announced the next phase of its $250 million fleet development program as it unveils details of four, state-of-the-art vessels set to launch at the start of its 2012 sailing season. This is the second time in a decade that Viking River Cruises has engaged in four new ship builds in one season-an accomplishment that no other river cruise company has matched since Viking did it in 2001.

Building on the company's reputation as the industry innovator-Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord and Viking Odin-are the first of Viking's Longships, a new class of vessel within the fleet that is marked by sophisticated and inviting design coupled with high-tech and patent-pending features. Designed by celebrated maritime architects Yran & Storbraaten-the team behind the Disney Dream and the Yachts of Seabourn-the new ships are characterized by the long and graceful design of ancient Scandinavian vessels and were named after key members of the Norse pantheon.

"Innovation has been a hallmark of how Viking River Cruises has grown its business from its inception, with our guests serving as our inspiration," says Torstein Hagen, Chairman and CEO of Viking River Cruises. "We were the first to introduce hotel-style beds in Russia, the first to design purpose-built ships to navigate the Elbe, the first to introduce hybrid engines that deliver a quieter and more peaceful experience to guests with Viking Legend and the first to operate Western-style ships on China's Yangtze, amongst many other firsts."

Integrating cutting-edge technology with amenities that reflect guest preferences and travel trends, Viking River Cruises is changing the industry once again with this class of vessels by setting a new standard in onboard amenities, energy efficiency and guest comfort. By shifting the corridor one meter and reorienting the staterooms to create additional space, the new Viking Longships will boast the largest real suites in Europe-featuring separate sleeping and living rooms in each of its Explorer Suites and Veranda Suites-as well as more full-size rooms and full-size verandas than other European river cruise vessels. Plus, three-quarters of staterooms will feature a veranda, French balcony or both.

"For our 2012 new builds, we have stretched ourselves creatively and technologically, evaluating every aspect of the guest's cruising experience and asking ourselves how we can surpass it," Hagen continues. "What has emerged are vessels that will deliver a peerless travel opportunity to aficionados of river cruising and those that have yet to try this unique way to see the world."

Scheduled to sail four of Viking's most popular European itineraries, including the 10-day Tulips & Windmills, 8-day Romantic Danube, 15-day Grand European Tour and 8-day Danube Waltz, each of the new Viking Longships will be 443 feet (135 meters) long, and feature 95 staterooms per ship. Representing a $120 million investment, each of the new ships will boast key innovations such as:

  • Two Explorer Suites, which will be the largest river cruise suites in Europe at 445 square feet, each featuring a separate living room, bedroom, bathroom and private wraparound veranda, offering 270-degree views.
  • Seven 270-square-foot Veranda Suites with full-size verandas in the living room and French balconies in the bedroom.
  • 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas at 205 square feet.
  • Sustainability upgrades such as energy-efficient hybrid engines, solar panels and an onboard organic herb garden.
  • A new all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the lounge by bringing the outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors.
  • Al fresco dining areas on the Upper deck, adjacent to the lounge to present more dining choices to guests.

The Viking Longships are currently available for booking. Dates and pricing as well as ship and itinerary information are available on the company's website at www.vikingrivercruises.com. Viking's all-inclusive pricing features accommodations, all onboard meals, daily guided shore excursions and more. Also, Viking is the only river cruise line to include port charges in the cruise fare. For additional details, contact your travel agent or Viking River Cruises toll-free at 1-877-66VIKING (1-877-668-4546).

 

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3-21-11 NCL to Celebrate Royal Wedding in British Style Norwegian Cruise Line will join in the world-wide celebration of the union between Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011. The highly-anticipated event will be broadcast across Norwegian's fleet of Freestyle Cruising ships, with the exception of Norwegian Sky in the Bahamas. Guests can watch the magic of the royal wedding on two-story big screens on Norwegian Pearl, Jewel, Jade, Gem and Epic, as well as in any of the line's bars and lounges.

Special dining events will be held throughout the sailing including the Prince and Princess Brunch, $15 per person, with eggs poached in champagne and served on English muffins, kippers, scrambled eggs with grilled lamb, toast with marmalade and fruit salad with clotted cream. Guests may also enjoy an afternoon Royal High Tea, $10 per person, which will include an assortment of sandwiches such as the classic cucumber, scones with jam and cream, lemon curd sponge and a selection of cakes. Fish and chips will be the special of the day in the pubs and 24-hour eateries, and guests can enjoy traditional English fare such as pie and mash, and bread and butter pudding in select dining venues. For dessert, wedding cake adorned with a Union Jack will be available in the ships' action-station restaurants.

After the royal couple say their 'I do's," guests can raise a toast to the newlyweds with champagne, gin and tonic or a pitcher of Pimm's and attend Street Parties held in true British style, complete with music playing tribute to the Beatles.

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3-11-11 Carnival Compensation for Bookings on Ships Leaving New Orleans and Mobile Carnival Cruise Lines today announced a unique and exciting new "Fun Ship" cruise program from Port Canaveral, Fla.

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will operate four- and five-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast beginning November 7, 2011. The move further bolsters Carnival's position as Port Canaveral's largest cruise operator with three year-round ships carrying approximately 600,000 guests annually.

"In addition to offering a convenient departure point for millions of consumers in the southeastern U.S., along with attractive port facilities and excellent flight options into nearby Orlando, Port Canaveral is an extremely popular homeport and we're excited to provide our guests with some fantastic new cruise choices from Central Florida," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. On the Carnival Ecstasy's new schedule, two different four-day itineraries will be offered, along with two different five-day itineraries.

Carnival Ecstasy will depart Thursdays on four-day 'long weekend' cruises visiting Nassau and Half Moon Cay or Freeport. Five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay or Key West.

With Carnival Ecstasy's new four- and five-day schedule, combined with year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises aboard Carnival Sensation and seven-day eastern and western Caribbean voyages on Carnival Dream, the line will offer an unprecedented array of cruise lengths and itineraries from Port Canaveral.

Prior to repositioning to Port Canaveral, the Carnival Ecstasy will continue to operate from Galveston, Texas through September 8, 2011 and then from New Orleans September 22 through November 5, 2011, as previously scheduled.

Carnival Elation from New Orleans

Carnival Elation will reposition from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans to operate year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises beginning November 5, 2011. On this route, four-day cruises will depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel, one of the Caribbean's most popular ports, while five-day voyages will call at both Cozumel and Progreso.

Carnival Elation's new schedule from New Orleans replaces the previously announced program from that port on the Carnival Ecstasy.

Carnival Elation will join the Carnival Conquest in New Orleans, marking the first time Carnival has operated two ships from New Orleans in six years. Carnival will be the only cruise line with two ships based year-round in New Orleans, carrying more than 350,000 passengers annually.

Guests with Current Reservations

As a result of these deployment changes, Carnival will no longer offer cruises from Mobile, Ala. Guests booked on those voyages will have the option of re-booking from an alternate homeport and receive a $25 per person onboard credit, or they can elect to receive a full refund.

Guests booked on cruises from New Orleans on the Carnival Ecstasy that will now be operated on the Carnival Elation are being automatically shifted to the Carnival Elation. Itineraries on the Carnival Elation will be identical to those that were scheduled for the Carnival Ecstasy. The two vessels are sister ships with largely similar features, amenities and staterooms. (Those guests who were booked in standard balcony staterooms on the Carnival Ecstasy - a cabin category not featured on the Carnival Elation - will be contacted individually to discuss their preferences.) The movement of bookings from Carnival Ecstasy to Carnival Elation will be completed by Friday, March 11, 2011.

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3-11-11 Crystal Cancels November Calls Planned for Libya Due to the recent turn of events in Libya, Crystal Cruises will cancel its call in Tripoli and revert to the original itinerary set for its November 16 "Italian Splendor" European cruise from Venice to Barcelona. The 11-day itinerary through the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas aboard Crystal Serenity will feature a maiden call in Koper, Slovenia, in addition to visits to Dubrovnik, Catania, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno and overnight stays in Venice and Barcelona.

"When Libya relaxed its visa restrictions, we were very excited to offer this exotic call to our fall cruise collection," said Gregg Michel, Crystal's president. "Fortunately, we can very easily replace the revised program with our original itinerary, which is rich in European culture, history and scenery."

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3-2-11 Holland America Announces Immediate Access to Staterooms Upon Boarding

New initiative allows guests immediate access to their stateroom upon embarkation.

Holland America Line has launched a new Stateroom Direct Service program that simplifies the boarding process by giving guests immediate access to their staterooms upon embarkation.

Under the program, staterooms will be ready as early as 11:30 a.m., and cruisers will no longer have to check their carry-on bags and wait in public areas while their staterooms are being prepared. Additionally, arriving guests will receive their luggage earlier, allowing them more time to unpack and settle into their rooms. Guests also will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch at their leisure in the line's Lido restaurant, which features a full-service buffet.

"Holland America Line is always seeking new ways to enhance our on-board cruise experience, and through this streamlined boarding process guests can now get into their staterooms earlier and begin enjoying their vacation sooner," said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "Stateroom Direct Service creates the best start to a cruise for our guests and sets the precedent for top-notch service to follow."

The early embarkation initiative is in place on all of the line's 15 vessels.

 

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3-2-11 NCL Will Increase Prices in April 1st Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that it plans to raise cruise fares up to ten percent on April 1, 2011. The company also announced it will extend its "Free Upgrades For All" Sales Event through March 31, 2011. This popular Wave Season promotion provides up to a four-category upgrade on select sailings, along with e-coupons in on-board savings of up to $400. This extension will give those planning to book a cruise extra time to take advantage of this offer prior to price increases which will take effect on April 1, 2011.

"We've seen exceptional demand spurred by our Wave Season promotion, particularly for the popular summer destinations. In fact, we surpassed our weekly booking record three times in the last eight weeks," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "Based on this demand, we will increase our fares on April 1. We wanted to give consumers and travel agents the opportunity to take advantage of these offers before the price increase."

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