News Archive - March 2012

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3-27-12 Oceania Cruises' New Riviera Completes Successful Sea TrialsOceania Cruises' 1,250-guest Riviera, scheduled to be christened in Barcelona on May 11, 2012, successfully completed her sea trials today, which included three days of sailing the Mediterranean.

During the sea trials, technicians and engineers from Fincantieri's Sestre shipyard along with Oceania Cruises' marine and technical teams performed a comprehensive evaluation of the vessel's functionality, including speed, maneuverability, hydrodynamics, propulsion and safety systems.

"Riviera exceeded all of my expectations. While underway the ship handled perfectly in all sea conditions and power settings" said Captain Luca Manzi, the ship's master. "Riviera cruised at more than 21 knots with ample reserve power." Now that sea trials are concluded, the 66,084 ton ship will dock at the outfitting berth, where workers will put the finishing touches on her interiors as well as exterior.

"Riviera's sea trials were a resounding success," stated Robin Lindsay, the line's executive vice president of vessel operations, who was on board during the sea trials. "With the sea trials behind us, we will turn our undivided attention to the final details of the interior. Guests on our May 16 maiden voyage are certainly in for a treat."

Poised to take its place as another "game-changer" for the upper-premium segment, much like its sister ship Marina which debuted in February 2011, Riviera is the second new ship launched by Oceania Cruises in under 18 months. Designed for epicureans, Riviera features 10 dining venues - six of which are gourmet restaurants, plus a Bon Appétit Culinary Center for hands-on learning and La Reserve by Wine Spectator, a professional facility for wine-tastings and wine-pairing dinners.

Riviera sets sail on May 16 on her 10-day maiden voyage from Venice to Pireaus that calls at Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Monemvasia, Crete, Santorini, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Delos and Mykonos.

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3-27-12 Norwegian Cruise Line Stars In New Reality Television Show: "Love For Sail" Series focused on finding love at sea premieres on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 10 pm on Lifetime

Norwegian Cruise Line stars in a new dating reality series, "Love for Sail," which premieres on Lifetime Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at 10 pm ET/PT. In each episode of "Love for Sail," four adventurous women will board a spectacular Norwegian Cruise Line ship and set sail to exotic locations surrounded by a group of equally-eager single men ready to embark on what they hope to be the voyage of their lives. The show is being produced by Studio Lambert ("Undercover Boss").

With the help of series' Cruise Directors Bucko and Carmen, the women meet their suitors at an opening mixer where the matchmaking begins. Throughout the cruise, the singles participate in a variety of romantic dates on board, mixer parties and adventurous excursions in beautiful ports of call such as Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Nassau, Bahamas. Some will make love connections, but for others, it's not always smooth sailing. Either way, viewers will enjoy the fun and drama behind the competitive courtship among the women and men, all of who are hoping to hook-in a mate on this once in a lifetime journey.

"We are thrilled to work with Lifetime and our friends at Studio Lambert on a unique series that showcases the many aspects of cruising from lavish suites and incredible dining options to innovative on board activities and exciting shore excursions," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "There is such romance in being at sea; this show will do a great job of showcasing that and sharing the stories of these guests who may find the love of their life aboard."

"Love for Sail" features three of Norwegian's Freestyle Cruising ships. Norwegian Epic, the line's newest and most innovative ship to date, hosted the women in The Haven by Norwegian, the line's exclusive suite complex on three private decks at the top of the ship. Viewers will catch an intimate glimpse of Posh, The Haven's luxurious beach club and The Haven Courtyard. Mandara Spa, the largest spa at sea; Bliss Ultra Lounge, Epic's hot nightclub; and Spice H20, the ship's adult-only pool area, will also be featured as the women search for love at sea. The women sailed on Norwegian Epic's cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, calling on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas from Miami, Florida. Norwegian Pearl also has a starring role in "Love for Sail," with the women staying in The Haven by Norwegian in the largest suite at sea ? the luxurious 5,000 square foot, three-bedroom Garden Villa, complete with a private living and dining room, sundeck and hot tub. Various aspects of the ship will be highlighted including the Great Outdoors bar; La Cucina, the ship's Italian restaurant; the pool deck; Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar; Summer Palace and Bliss Ultra Lounge, among others. Love was in the air as Norwegian Pearl sailed to the Western Caribbean from Miami, Florida, visiting Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. Norwegian Star also makes a cameo appearance. Four women board the ship in Los Angeles, California on a Mexican Riviera cruise that stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. A trailer for the show will be airing on board Norwegian vessels in the next week. More information on the series "Love for Sail" and Norwegian Cruise Line will be available beginning April 2, 2012 at www.ncl.com/loveforsail.

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3-23-12 Bermuda to Unveil Special Tribute to John Lennon on June 21, 2012 Memorable Journey to Bermuda Served as Inspiration for Final "Double Fantasy" Album

In June 1980, John Lennon sailed to Bermuda for a life-changing journey that helped unlock a five-year writer's block and provided the creative inspiration for his final album, "Double Fantasy" – named for a flower at the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Now Bermuda will honor Lennon's memory during the "Double Fantasy Bermuda Tribute," taking place June 21, 2012 at The Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. Lennon returned from a six-week vacation in Bermuda with dozens of demo tapes, eager to record. At the time he said of his trip, "I was so centered after the experience at sea. All these songs came, after five years of nothing, no inspiration, no thought, no anything – and suddenly Voom! Voom! Voom!" The resulting album, released in November of 1980, was met with international acclaim, returning Lennon to the top of the charts a final time before he was tragically killed a month later by a deranged fan. The "Double Fantasy Bermuda Tribute" will celebrate his legacy through a series of celebratory events and festivities, ranging from art installations and exhibits to book debuts and musical performances. Highlighted event activities include:
  • John Lennon Sculpture – Created by Bermudian contemporary surrealist artist and sculptor Graham Foster, the John Lennon Sculpture will be unveiled outside the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. The installation will feature a double image of Lennon's profile with his Rickenbacker guitar, peace doves and the Double Fantasy flower set in a circle.
  • John Lennon traveling art exhibit – The exhibit will be on display in the Rick Faries Gallery at the Masterworks Museum. Lennon's lithographs will be exhibited along with other artifacts and items connected with Lennon's stay in Bermuda.
  • Bermuda Fantasy: John Lennon's Island Story – Lennon's love for Bermuda will be captured in this book which will be released at the event, featuring the great story of his sail from Newport, R.I. along with Bermuda tales as captured by people John met in Bermuda. The book will also feature drawings by sculptor artist Graham Foster.
  • Double Fantasy Labyrinth – The event will unveil the Double Fantasy Labyrinth in the Botanical Gardens, featuring the freesia that captured Lennon's imagination and inspired the album title.
  • "Bermuda John Lennon Tribute" CD – In celebration, major international artists, including Maxi Priest, Paul Carrack, Nils Lofgren, Judie Tzuke, Rhino's Express (Status Quo) and Biggie Irie as well as Bermudian artists Heather Nova, Rebecca Faulkenberry, Nic Christopher, Chewstick, Mia Chambray, Christina Quinn, Jonathan Frith, Joy Barnum, Steve Easton, Rachel Brown and Paul Muggleton will pay homage to Lennon with a CD release covering some of his most famed songs.
  • Tribute Concert – The concert will feature live performances by some of the artists featured on the CD, including: UK artist Judie Tzuke, who has recorded Lennon's song "LOVE" for the CD and is best known for her song "Stay With Me 'Till Dawn"; Paul Muggleton, one of the founding members of Bermuda's first rock band, The Savages, and producer for several tracks for the Lennon CD in the UK; and Paul Carrack, known for hits such as "How Long" with ACE, "Tempted" with Squeeze and "Living Years" with Mike and The Mechanics. Tickets for the tribute concert will go on sale on April 21 on www.ptix.bm or by calling toll free 877-450-6412 or in Bermuda 441-278-1500.
For more information on the "Double Fantasy Bermuda Tribute," visit www.doublefantasybermuda.com. For information on travel to Bermuda, visit www.GoToBermuda.com. Just under two hours from East Coast gateway cities, Bermuda stretches for 21 miles along turquoise waters and is surrounded by a 200-square-mile coral reef plateau. The destination's accommodations range from luxury resorts to intimate guest cottages and family-run inns, all incorporating the sophistication and hospitality unique to the Bermuda experience. The island includes more than 150 restaurants to fit any traveler's budget, from simple and inexpensive to elegant and special dining. Bermuda's diverse activities offer an array of vacation options all year round, including more wreck dives than anywhere else in the world, more golf per square mile than anywhere else in the world, world-renowned deep sea fishing, world-class spas and smooth pink beaches. For more information on Bermuda or to book a trip, visit, www.GoToBermuda.com.

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3-20-12 Royal Caribbean to Send Monarch to Pullmantur MIAMI, Mar. 20, 2012 – Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced the transfer of Monarch of the Seas from its Royal Caribbean International cruise brand to its Pullmantur brand, a cruise and tour operator based in Madrid. Monarch of the Seas will transfer to Pullmantur on April 1, 2013, following its last sailing for Royal Caribbean International, which departs on March 29, 2013.

"We are very proud of Monarch of the Seas for delivering great service and outstanding destinations to vacationers since her maiden voyage," said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "She will go on creating wonderful travel memories through her final sailings for our brand through next March and then continue doing the same for Pullmantur's guests."

With the incorporation of Monarch of the Seas, Pullmantur will increase its total guest capacity by nearly 25 percent and meet a rising demand for the brand's distinctive All Inclusive-style cruise holidays. "The transfer of Monarch of the Seas will reinforce Pullmantur in our Latin American growth strategy, and help us become one of the most widely recognized brands," said Pullmantur's President and CEO, Gonzalo Chico Barbier. Monarch of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L'Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, France and sailed its maiden voyage on November 17, 1991. The ship is part of the Sovereign class of cruise ships, which were the world's largest and most innovative of their time. Pullmantur is the leading Spanish Tour Operator and Cruise Company, founded in 1971, and famous for introducing the 'All Inclusive' concept to cruising. Pullmantur is leader of the cruise market in Spain and Portugal, currently operating a modern fleet of four vessels, with a daily passenger capacity of 9,000, cruising worldwide, and calling on approximately 100 destinations. The company offers a unique door-to-door flight service, operated by its in-house air travel division with a fleet of four Boeing 747-400. Pullmantur Air provides charter flights to the European Cruise Port Embarkations and long-haul flights between Spain and the Caribbean Sea for the company's tour-operation division. Spain based Pullmantur, operates through satellite offices in Brasil, Mexico, Portugal and France. Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. Royal Caribbean provides a world-class vacation experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. The cruise line has a 40-year history of giving guests the Royal Advantage – the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Royal Caribbean has been voted "Best Cruise Line Overall" for nine consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers' Choice Awards. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit www.RoyalCaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow Royal Caribbean on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean or on Twitter, @RoyalCaribbean. Travel professionals should visit www.cruisingpower.com or call (800) 327-2056.

Royal Caribbean International and Pullmantur are part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSX: RCL), a global cruise vacation company that also operates Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, CDF Croisieres de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture with TUI AG. The company owns a combined total of 40 ships and has one under construction and two under agreement.

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3-19-12 Holland America Line Introduces Three New Alaska CruiseTours for 2012 Program Program to feature first-ever 'Triple Denali' overnight stay, round-trip Seattle and one-night Denali tour options

As part of its 2012 Alaska CruiseTour program, Holland America Line has introduced three new options, including the industry's only three-night Denali experience and CruiseTour departures featuring one-night Denali adventures.

Ranging in total length from 10 to 20 days, all CruiseTours combine a three-, four- or seven-day Inside Passage Holland America Line cruise with in-depth overland tours. CruiseTours are designed to highlight the best of Alaska's wilderness, wildlife, native culture and history. While nearly all offer a choice of one, two, or three nights at Denali, six tours also feature Canada's Yukon Territory with its Klondike Gold Rush heritage and pristine national parks such as Kluane National Park and Tombstone Park. Departures range from May through September.

"By expanding our CruiseTour program with three new experiences, we can now meet the desires of guests who want more time to see all that Denali has to offer, as well as guests who just want a quick visit," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. "Our CruiseTours continue to be a popular vacation choice because they merge the best of both worlds for guests who want to see Alaska by both land and sea."

The new tours provide unique opportunities to explore Denali with an emphasis on both value and convenience - including a direct, same-day connection between Denali and the ship and luxury travel aboard Holland America Line's McKinley Explorer dome train.

Express Tours U1 & U2 Holland America Line's first-ever round-trip Seattle CruiseTour offers guests a choice of one or two nights at Denali. The tours feature scenic cruising throughout Prince William Sound and Alaska's famed Inside Passage. Additionally, this itinerary includes sailing through the ice-studded fjords of Glacier Bay National Park for a full eight hours as a Park Service Ranger narrates. Guests also have the option to stay in Haines for a more intimate experience or travel to Skagway for a day of shopping or a shore excursion. Rates start at $1,399 per person based on double occupancy.

Express Tour U3 The line's first ever Triple Denali CruiseTour includes three nights and two full days in one of Alaska's top attractions. Guests board the McKinley Explorer train to Denali where they can spend the evening exploring the area on their own. On the second day in Denali, guests travel deep into Denali National Park during the Tundra Wilderness Tour. The tour, narrated by a naturalist, ventures 53 miles into Denali National Park to the Toklat River. Guest also will visit Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan - famous for its rich native culture, salmon fishing and scenic fjords - before returning to Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Rates start at $1,299 per person, double occupancy.

Denali Sampler Tour U4 The Denali Sampler Tour is the line's first ever one-night Direct to Denali Adventure, with just enough time to have the essential Denali experience. During this tour guests will sail from Vancouver and enjoy scenic cruising throughout Alaska's Inside Passage before calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay. Park Service Rangers narrate for a full eight hours as guests enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Glacier Bay. While in Denali, guests can spend the day exploring Denali National Park before boarding the McKinley Explorer train bound for Anchorage. Rates start at $899 per person based on double occupancy.

Unique to the Holland America Line cruise experience, highly trained and knowledgeable interpreters, Tour Concierges and Alaska travel guides are present on most CruiseTours and Alaska sailings, and National Park Rangers provide extensive commentary and guided programs at Glacier Bay National Park. Tour Concierges travel throughout the land portion on longer CruiseTour itineraries.

For more information on Holland America Line's cruises and CruiseTours, consult a professional travel seller, call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit www.hollandamerica.com or the Plan a Cruise tab at www.Facebook.com/HALcruises.

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3-8-12 His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales Visits Historic Falmouth, Jamaica His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, commonly known as Prince Harry, boards the Historic Falmouth Trolley Tour in Historic Falmouth Cruise Port on Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2012, as part of his four-day visit to Jamaica. Opened in March 2011, Historic Falmouth Cruise Port is the first thematic cruise port developed in partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and the Port Authority of Jamaica. Prince Harry is touring Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean as part of the Queen's Jubilee.

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3-6-12 Carnival Destiny to become Carnival Sunshine After $155 Million Refit Representing Carnival Cruise Lines' most ambitious refit and transformation project ever, Carnival Destiny will undergo a $155 million makeover next year that will incorporate all of the line's "Fun Ship 2.0" dining, bar and entertainment features, as well as a variety of exciting innovations unique to this vessel.

The refit will also include a reconfigured layout, the addition of a partial deck and the expansion of two other decks within the forward section of the ship, providing the opportunity to incorporate a number of new and exciting on-board spaces. One-hundred and eighty-two cabins will be added, as well.

The redesign will be so extensive and wide-ranging that the ship will be renamed Carnival Sunshine following the 49-day dry dock, which will take place from February to April 2013. The refit work will be completed by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

Following the dry dock, Carnival Sunshine will embark on a schedule of nine- and 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona and Venice from April to October 2013 then launch year-round seven-day Caribbean departures from New Orleans beginning November 2013.

"This is our most ambitious ship conversion project to date and it will radically transform the Carnival Destiny into essentially an entirely new ship offering a variety of exciting dining and beverage choices, spectacular outdoor spaces and entertainment options, and on-board innovations not available anywhere else," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.

Here's a look at some of Carnival Sunshine's many features:

Wide-Ranging On-Board Dining Choices

Guy's Burger Joint, a free-of-charge poolside venue developed in partnership with Food Network personality Guy Fieri serving hand-crafted burgers and fresh-cut fries in an atmosphere that celebrates the chef's California roots and love of car culture

BlueIguana Cantina, a complimentary poolside Mexican eatery where guests can enjoy authentic, freshly made burritos and tacos on homemade tortillas that can be personalized with a variety of salsas and toppings

Fahrenheit 555, a classic American steakhouse offering mouth-watering steaks and gourmet appetizers, entrees and desserts, all enhanced by understated ambiance and impeccable service (venue will carry a surcharge consistent with other steakhouses in the Carnival fleet)

Cucina del Capitano – or "The Captain's Kitchen" – with Italian favorites and new Carnival classics served family-style in a fun and engaging atmosphere reminiscent of a cozy Italian home (during the day, the venue will serve as a free casual lunch-time pasta bar with a nominal charge for dinner)

A stunning new full-service Asian restaurant inspired by the line's popular Mongolian wok casual eateries that will feature an extensive menu of delicious favorites from the Far East, along with a striking Asian-themed décor (no charge for lunch with a nominal fee for dinner)

An expansive casual poolside eatery, Lido Marketplace, offering a seemingly endless array of delectable favorites from around the world, from paninis and pizza to a deli offering piled-high sandwiches and just about everything in between

A new casual dining option, "The Comfort Kitchen," located within the Lido Marketplace and offering a tempting array of American-style "comfort food" entrees and side dishes

Completely renovated main dining rooms that will offer extensive menus and wine lists, with a tantalizing selection of salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts nightly, including Carnival's legendary chocolate melting cake

A newly designed coffee bar, serving a wide range of sweet and frothy concoctions such as cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and other caffeinated favorites, along with delicious pastries and other decadent confections

Innovative Bar and Beverage Concepts

RedFrog Pub where guests can enjoy the Caribbean's best rums and beers – along with Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red private label draft brew – and island-inspired pub fare while soaking up the distinct British-West-Indies-meets-Key-West ambiance

RedFrog Rum Bar, a poolside adaptation of the RedFrog Pub offering the quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe with refreshing Caribbean rum-based frozen drinks and beers, including Carnival's own ThirstyFrog Red

BlueIguana Tequila Bar, a fun and festive outdoor watering hole offering a laid-back Mexican-themed atmosphere and tequila-based frozen drinks and beers, perfect for chillin' by the pool

EA SPORTS Bar, a sports and video game lovers' paradise where guests can catch live sporting events, check out scores on the real-time 24/7 sports ticker, and play the latest EA SPORTS games on a 16-screen video wall

Alchemy Bar, a vintage-themed cocktail "pharmacy

" that's the go-to spot for guests seeking a unique experience with mixologists who "prescribe" concoctions from different elixirs and ingredients or guests' own custom-created cocktails

The Library Bar, a warm and cozy venue offering full bar service for those seeking a more intimate spot for before- or after-dinner drinks

An exciting new lounge, Havana Bar, a tropical-inspired nightspot located aft within Lido Marketplace featuring a panoramic ocean view from its floor to ceiling windows and offering a unique and memorable venue for cocktails, live Latin music and dancing

The new Sunshine Bar, an elegant lounge with sun-splashed interiors located at the lobby level of the ship's towering atrium where guests can enjoy a cocktail, dance and listen to live music

A new cigar bar concept, with plush, comfortable surroundings, along with fine cigars and a variety of brandies, cognacs and liqueurs, ideal for pre- or post-dinner drinks and conversation

Outdoor Fun and Relaxation

Carnival's first three-deck-high Serenity adults-only retreat, an oasis of tranquility offering plush chaise lounges and chairs, a whirlpool, a cascading waterfall, teak-planked decks, a pool, a complimentary dining area with freshly made salads that can be customized by guests, and, of course, magnificent sea views

SportSquare, Carnival Sunshine's new open-air recreation complex that includes such attractions as a ropes course, mini-golf course, a lighted half court for basketball and volleyball, jogging track, ping pong, pool, and foosball tables, and bar with a large flat-screen for those who want to check out the action on TV

WaterWorks, a "splash-tastic" top-deck attraction that's sure to be a hit with guests of all ages with wet 'n wild thrills such as the line's iconic "Twister" water slide, a Splash Zone kids water play area, an all-new thrill slide and other fun features

Carnival's Seaside Theatre, a poolside 270-square-foot high-tech LED screen offering nightly "Dive In Movies," along with a variety of concerts, sporting events and other programming, all of which are enjoyed in the fresh sea air

That's Entertainment!

Playlist Productions, which builds upon Carnival's reputation for high quality entertainment by combining captivating live performances and spectacular staging and special effects to create enthralling music revues produced by the top directors and choreographers in the industry

Hasbro, The Game Show, where guests are part of the show through a series of larger-than-life productions and entertainment activities based on the company's iconic and popular games and presented in the ship's remodeled main show lounge

Piano Bar 88, a new twist on Carnival's popular piano bar concept that will amp up the excitement with themed nights, an engaging new décor and opportunities for spontaneous sing-along fun

The Punchliner Comedy Club Presented by George Lopez, featuring a hilarious line-up of both established and up-and-coming talent evaluated and vetted by the popular TV personality who serves as Carnival's "curator of comedy"

The Punchliner Comedy Brunch, for those who want a little merriment in the morning, serving up laughter along with delicious cuisine

Staterooms, Shopping and More

All staterooms will be fully revamped and feature a new tropical décor that pays homage to the ship's Caribbean itineraries with a combination of bright colors and soothing pastels, with 182 new staterooms to be added across a broad range of accommodations from interior to balconies, including 96 new spa staterooms

Newly designed play areas catering to kids in three age groups, part of the line's top-rated children's programs – Camp Carnival (2-11), Circle "C" (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17), with enthusiastic counselors and fun supervised activities for each group, along with popular elements of Carnival's new partnership with Hasbro

The FunHub, featuring dozens of flat-panel stations for keeping up with the latest Carnival Sunshine happenings, surfing the Web, and staying in touch with friends and family back home

Cloud 9 Spa – Designed as the ultimate refuge for rest and relaxation, this newly constructed facility will set a new standard in oceangoing wellness with a sophisticated menu of exotic therapies, an elaborate thermal suite with varying degrees of soothing warmth, private treatment rooms, and the latest exercise equipment

Cherry On Top, which celebrates the joys of simple indulgences with bins of bulk candy, fun fanciful gifts and novelties, custom apparel and more

Ocean Plaza, a stunning café and entertainment venue where guests can meet new friends, listen to music, enjoy drinks and light snacks, participate in a wide range of activities and people watch

Exciting European and Caribbean Itineraries

Carnival Sunshine will launch a series of Mediterranean cruises beginning with a 14-day voyage departing from Venice April 12 and arriving in Barcelona April 26, 2013. The ship will then operate a series of 18 nine- and 12-day Mediterranean cruises either round-trip from Barcelona or sailing between Barcelona and Venice. These departures will visit a wide variety of the Mediterranean's most spectacular ports, including Marseilles, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Livorno (Pisa/Florence) and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Carnival Sunshine will then sail on a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing departing Barcelona Nov. 1 and arriving New Orleans Nov. 17, 2013, positioning the vessel for its year-round deployment from the Big Easy.

Following a special six-day cruise from New Orleans Nov. 18-24, 2013, Carnival Sunshine will launch its year-round seven-day cruise schedule from that port Nov. 24, 2013. Three different week-long itineraries will be offered – an exotic western Caribbean route to Belize City, Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, and Cozumel, Mexico; a Bahamas/Florida schedule to Key West, Fla., and Freeport and Nassau, The Bahamas; and western Caribbean departures to Montego Bay, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel.

Carnival Sunshine will replace Carnival Conquest, which is currently based in New Orleans. Additional details on the Carnival Conquest deployment will be announced in the near future.

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3-6-12 Priscilla Presley to be Godmother for Great American Queen Steamboat The Great American Steamboat Company announces Priscilla Presley as the godmother of the steamboat American Queen. Presley, who is synonymous with Graceland in the steamboat's homeport of Memphis, will name her in a christening ceremony at the revitalized Beale Street Landing on April 27. Highlights of the festivities will include performances by local musicians, a bottle of champagne crashing against the stern and the sounds of the American Queen Calliope as she steams off up the Mississippi River.

The Great American Steamboat Company has also entered into an exclusive partnership with Elvis Presley Enterprises. This collaboration will present the first Elvis Cruise on the American Queen from Memphis to New Orleans this December, as well as signature Graceland experiences for guests.

A daughter of an Air Force officer, Priscilla Presley attended high school in Germany, where she met her future husband, Elvis Presley. In 1979 she became co-executor of the Presley Estate growing it from a burgeoning entity into a phenomenally successful organization consisting of the famous Graceland Mansion, a worldwide licensing program, merchandising, music publishing, television and video projects.

In addition to being a savvy businesswoman, producer and actress, Presley is an ambassador of the Dream Foundation, helping to fulfill the dreams of adults battling terminal illnesses. She became aware of the organization after helping to grant recipients' wishes to visit Graceland. The organization is the only one of its kind working with adults as well as helping to create lasting memories for their family and friends. Priscilla has also joined Hollywood celebrities in an important fight against the overmedication of children. She is an advocate for Citizen's Commission on Human Rights and a percentage of all purchases on PriscillaPresley.com are donated to support these two worthy charities.

"It is quite a thrill for Memphis as steamboating returns once again with the arrival of the American Queen," explains Presley. "I look forward to her guests visiting Graceland and experiencing true Southern hospitality, which is why this city holds such a special place in my heart."

"Priscilla Presley's efforts leading Elvis Presley Enterprises exemplify both grace and dignity, two adjectives befitting the American Queen," explains Great American Steamboat Company CEO Jeff Krida. "Both are stunning ambassadors to Memphis and we are humbled to bring our steamboat family and the Presley family together."

The Great American Steamboat Company shares a common passion with Presley, which is its homeport of Memphis. Earlier this month the company hosted a job fair at the Memphis Cook Convention Center hiring 300+ new employees to work onboard the American Queen or at its downtown headquarters. An annual economic impact of $89 million for the region is expected with the largest and most opulent steamboat ever built returning to the heartland's iconic rivers.

After a sunset christening, the American Queen will depart for her inaugural voyage up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River with stops in Henderson, Ky., Louisville, Ky., and Madison, Ind., before arriving in her disembarkation city of Cincinnati. In Louisville she will take part in the wonderful tradition of the Kentucky Derby Festival's Great Steamboat Race with the Belle of Louisville and Belle of Cincinnati.

Steeped in history, nostalgia and tradition, the American Queen will offer an unrivaled All-American hospitality experience from its elegant staterooms to its palatial public spaces and celebrated Southern cuisine of famed Chef Regina Charboneau, the line's Culinary Director.

A variety of voyage lengths, ranging from three nights to ten nights, and fares beginning at $995 per guest, offers exceptional value and convenience, with little or no flying required. Pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, all bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at diner and complimentary shore adventures are included in each port of call.

For additional information and reservations, kindly contact the Great American Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online at www.GreatAmericanSteamboatCompany.com or call your professional travel agent.

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3-5-12 Oceania Cruises Returns to Alaska for Summer 2013 2-for-1 Shore Excursion Package Offers Substantial Savings

Oceania Cruises will return to the great state of Alaska from May through mid-August 2013 after a one-year hiatus. For the first time Seattle will provide the point of departure for many northern voyages.

In addition to two-for-one cruise fares, free air and bonus savings of up to $3,500 per stateroom, Oceania Cruises is offering two-for-one savings on its new Unlimited Passport Collection package. The special tour package promotion, which has a value of up to $999, will be available for those guests who book an Alaska cruise by June 30, 2012.

"Regatta is one of the smallest ships operating in Alaska providing our guests with a unique and intimate experience," said Kunal S. Kamlani, the line's president. "With two-for-one savings on our unlimited shore excursion package, these voyages offer great value for travelers who wish to truly explore the The Last Frontier."

Scenic highlights include cruising Alaska's Inside Passage, the awe-inspiring Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord. The destination experience can be further enhanced with excursions such as a sea kayaking adventure in Kachemak Bay State Park, a day of fishing followed by an outdoor salmon bake or an expedition aboard a sled pulled by a husky team through Alaska's rainforest.

Travelers can choose from seven itineraries:

  • Gateway to Alaska – 9 days between San Francisco and Vancouver, visiting Astoria, Oregon, Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Departure: May 9
  • Fjords & Frontiers – 7 days roundtrip from Vancouver. Ports include Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and Wrangell. Departure: May 19
  • Majesty of Alaska – 10 days between Vancouver and Seattle, a maiden port for Oceania Cruises, calling at Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Hoonah and Ketchikan. Departure: May 26
  • Alaskan Wonders – 7 days between Seattle and Vancouver, with visits to Sitka, Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Departures: June 5, June 12, June 29, Jul 6
  • Alaskan Wilderness – 10 days roundtrip from Seattle. Ports include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Hoonah, Sitka and Victoria, BC. Departures: June 19, Jul 13
  • Glacial Passage – 7 days between Seattle and Vancouver, calling at Sitka, Wrangell and Ketchikan. Departures: Jul 23, Jul 30, Aug 6
  • Alaskan Grandeur – 10 days between Vancouver and San Francisco, visiting Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Victoria, BC and Astoria, Oregon. Departure: Aug 13

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3-5-12 Argentina Turns Away Two British Cruise Ships Over Falklands Dispute Argentina's dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands and social protests in Chile prevent thousands of passengers from going ashore in Ushuaia, the world's southernmost city, which takes in 450 visits a year from ships that sail between Rio de Janeiro and Chile's main port city of Valparaiso, stopping in isolated ports and even Antarctica.

But a half-dozen ports of call have been canceled at the last minute in recent weeks, marring itineraries that include the islands, Ushuaia and Chile's scenic Aysen region.

The Star Princess missed stops on successive cruises in the Falklands and Ushuaia, the Balmoral missed its inaugural visit to Puerto Chacabuco, Chile, last month, and the Silver Explorer is likely to miss the same Chilean port on Tuesday, with anti-government protests there showing no signs of resolution. The Adonia's 710 passengers got it the worst, missing both Ushuaia and Chacabuco during their same premium cruise.

The Argentines said they would welcome any ship stopping in the Falklands except those flying flags of either Britain or its territories, but losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in income just as the southern summer's cruise season wraps up has been painful for the locals. In Ushuaia alone, each disembarking passenger spends on average between $1,200 and $1,600 on food, excursions and gifts.

The latest trouble began when the Falkland Islands government turned the Star Princess away last month, saying they feared some passengers suffering the stomach flu after stopping in Ushuaia would start a norovirus outbreak that the islands couldn't handle.

Princess Cruises called the cancellation unprecedented. Argentines saw it as a provocation. Edwards said Falklands officials made the only judgment call they could based on partial information they had.

Such health questions can be difficult to resolve without direct communication between governments, and relations between the two countries have suffered as tensions rise ahead of the April 2 anniversary of Argentina's failed 1982 war to wrestle the islands from Britain.

The Star Princess continued on to Brazil and then headed back south with another set of passengers, only to be turned away by Ushuaia's governor as it approached the dock. Tourist industry workers stood on the docks, trying to tally their losses as the Star Princess and the Adonia sailed silently past them. Both flew the flag of Bermuda, a British territory.

The three ships rounded the continent's southern tip, and Adonia and Balmoral passengers looked forward to their next stops in Chile, where day trips include rides on small boats up to the edge of glacial icebergs.

But Puerto Chacabuco, the gateway to Aysen's natural wonders, was suddenly closed for business due to local protests over high gas prices and low wages. Activists have blocked roads and cut electricity, clashing with police and looting the area's largest food warehouse.

Summers are brief in this part of the world, and February is the most important month for tourism in Aysen. This year, less than 20 percent of hotel beds were occupied, and Aysen regional tourism director Francisco Lazo told the AP that since the protests began, the isolated region has lost at least 80 percent of its tourists — as many as 3,800 people who would have been shopping, eating in restaurants and going on excursions.

Tourism officials in Chile Friday were trying to determine whether ongoing protests would prevent the Balmoral from docking in Puerto Chacabuco on Saturday en route to its final port of call in Valparaiso on March 6. Also in doubt is the March 6 Aysen stop of the Silver Explorer, formerly the Prince Albert II, which offers "unrivaled luxury" to just 132 guests each trip.

For Princess Cruises and Carnival Corp., whose British P&O Cruises subsidiary owns the Adonia, the damage has been done this cruise season. Julie Benson, vice president of public relations for Princess, said the main impact was "the disappointment to passengers at not being able to visit a port on the scheduled itinerary."

"We will monitor this issue in relationship to our next South America sailing, which departs in December of this year," she told the AP.

It's unclear whether Argentina will ban more ports of call by cruise ships of British provenance or flying "flags of convenience" from British territories. Britain said it would file a formal trade complaint with the European Union against Argentina over this week's missed ports of call.

Edwards said Falklanders would oppose anything that gets in the way of the cruises. "We here in the Falklands Islands welcome all cruise ships."

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