News Archive - May 2003

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5-30-03 NORWAY UPDATE Norwegian Cruise Line reports the death of a seventh crewmember from the accident involving a boiler onboard the S/S Norway this past Sunday, May 25. The crewmember was Ramon Villarais, an engine room stoker from Bulacan in the Philippines who had worked with NCL for eight years, always on the Norway. Villarais was 39 years old.

As of Friday afternoon, May 30, nine crewmembers remain hospitalized. Two crewmembers were discharged Thursday and the condition of another was changed from critical to serious but stable. One crewmember remains on the critical list.

The June 15 and 22 sailings of S/S Norway have been cancelled. Passengers needing more information about the cancellation should call 1-800-327-7030 or speak with their travel agents. Back to Top

5-30-03 Weekend Cruise News CostaMediterranea *** CostaMediterranea became the largest cruise ship to call at the ports of Hamburg and Dover this week. The 85,000-ton ship is on pre-inaugural sailings, being introduced to European media and travel agents before christening ceremonies, June 7, in Naples. CostaMediterranea received an important award on May 22, the day the vessel was delivered to Costa from Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland. RINA, the main Italian classification society, assigned her the "Green Star" logo, in recognition of Mediterranea's environmental standards. Siser ship CostaAtlantica was also awarded the Green Star from RINA in 2000. Mediterranea features a 10-deck atrium with glass ceiling. On board decor is inspired by Italian art and architecture and includes a multi-million dollar collection of original works of art. Fitness facilities include an extensive spa and gym plus a tennis court which can convert to a basketball or volleyball court. Sister ship to CostaAtlantica, the new vessel will sail from Ft. Lauderdale this winter on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries following summer Mediterranean sailings from Genoa.

*** Legend of the Seas will sail Hawaii and Panama Canal cruises next winter instead of heading for Australia and New Zealand as previously announced. The new deployment begins September 19, 2003, following Legend's Alaska sailings, and operates through April, 2004. Legend's 10- and 11-night Hawaiian itineraries depart alternatively from Honolulu and Ensenada, calling at Hilo and Kailua Kona, Hawaii; Nawiliwili, Kauai; and Lahaina, Maui. More than 60 shore excursions, including 15 brand new adventures, are available on these sailings. Legend's 14-night Panama Canal cruises depart on Sundays from Miami or San Diego and call at Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco Mexico; Puntarenas/Caldera, Costa Rica; Cristobal Pier or Fuerte Amador, Panama; and Oranjestad, Aruba. Through Royal Caribbean's shore excursions program, guests can chose from adventures ranging from watching Acapulco's famous cliff divers to river-rafting through the jungles of Costa Rica.

*** Cunard has sold the Caronia to Saga Holidays of the U.K. who specialize in vacations for seniors. Caronia will continue to sail for Cunard through November, 2004. She will be replaced by the new Queen Victoria scheduled to enter service in March, 2005, during Cunard's 165th anniversary year. Like Caronia, Queen Victoria will homeport in Southampton and will be geared to the British market with sterling the on board currency. Queen Victoria is being constructed by Fincantieri in Italy and was originally designed as one of the Vista-class ships for Holland America Line - sister ship to Zuiderdam and Oosterdam. Amendments to the original design include the addition of 60 cabins, including more deluxe cabins with balconies, a 16th deck with panoramic restaurant and bar and six engines instead of five.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines' Celebration now features two new high-energy Vegas-style revues - "X-Treme Country" and "SRO: Standing Room Only". The two new shows are presented in the multi-level Astoria Lounge. "X-Treme Country," is a 50-minute tribute to country music's greatest artists. "SRO: Standing Room Only," features production numbers from popular revivals such as Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Kate, and Gypsy, along with songs from current Broadway hits Mama Mia, The Lion King and Hairspray. The hour-long show concludes with a salute to the Broadway classic, West Side Story. The new shows complement the Celebration's recent multi-million-dollar refurbishment that included a redesigned purser's lobby, extensive cabin and dining room upgrades, various technical modifications and cosmetic enhancements to public areas.

*** Tumi, the American luggage manufacturer, will create document portfolios, luggage tags and cases for Seabourn Cruise Line. The custom designed travel accessories, manufactured exclusively for Seabourn passengers, will be embossed with the Seabourn shield insignia and the distinctive Tumi hallmark. They will be crafted in Tumi's patented Fusion Z nylon fabric accented with fine leather details. A limited supply of the luggage will be available for use as complimentary loaners for passengers utilizing Seabourn's exclusive Personal Valet luggage shipping service. Passengers can use the Tumi luggage for their homeward journey free of charge and then return the bag to Seabourn. Tumi's Seabourn items will be available later this year, in the boutiques aboard Seabourn's yachts, Seabourn Legend, Pride and Spirit.

*** Regal Cruises' ship, Regal Empress, sold at auction last Friday for $1.75 million to Celebration World Cruises. The new owners plan to lease the vessel. The 905-passenger Regal Empress may go to Imperial Majesty Cruise Line, to replace OceanBreeze on Bahamas mini-cruises, from Ft. Lauderdale. The deal has not yet been finalized. Bankrupt Regal Cruises ceased operations April 28.

*** Goldbelt Inc. is selling its Glacier Bay Cruiseline division which operates the Executive Explorer (49 passengers), Wilderness Adventurer (72 passengers), Wilderness Discoverer (88 passengers), Wilderness Explorer (34 passengers) on adventure cruises within Southeast Alaska. The line has suffered from a reduced number of visitors to Alaska since 9/11. Goldbelt, an Alaska Native corporation, will continue to operate Glacier Bay Lodge and the 150-passenger, sightseeing catamaran, Spirit of Adventure on day-cruises of Glacier Bay. Back to Top

5-29-03 NORWAY UPDATE A sixth crew member died Wednesday from injuries suffered during last Sunday's explosion. Winston Lewis, a steward from Jamaica, had worked with NCL for 31 years. Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL employees have established an aid and memorial fund for the badly injured and for the families of the deceased called the "S/S Norway Relief and Memorial Fund." The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation into the boiler explosion. It will take six months or more to determine the exact cause and circumstances of the incident. Back to Top

5-28-03 NORWAY UPDATE An additional crew member has succumbed to his injuries raising the fatality figure from the Norway fire to five.

NCL has announced the cancellation of additonal cruises for the Norway. The June 1 and 8 Caribbean cruises from Miami are cancelled as the investigation into Sunday's deadly boiler explosion continues. Passengers on the June 1 sailing will receive a full refund plus a 50% future cruise credit certificate. June 8 passengers will receive a refund plus a 25% credit. Contact your travel agent. Back to Top

5-25-03 Norway Fatal Fire Four crew members of the Norwegian Cruise Lines SS Norway died early this morning, (about 6:30 am EDT) in one of the worst cruise ship disasters to happen in decades. At least 16 other crew members were reportedly injured. The ship, which was tied up alongside its regular berth in the port of Miami, Florida, suffered a fire in its boiler room. A spokesperson for the Coast Guard said the fire was probably caused by a steam leak which may have caused an explosion. The SS Norway, formerly the ocean liner SS France, is one of the last remaining steam driven cruise ships in service to the major cruise lines.

No passengers were injured, and all were evacuated safely. They were asked to report to their muster stations where they waited an hour and a half before being led off the ship. The explosion shook the ship and extinguished all power including the lights on board. The fire was extinguished.

Nearly 50 Fire-Rescue units from Miami-Dade County, city of Miami, and Miami Beach responded to the explosion. The injured were carried off the ship swathed in sterile bandages. Back to Top

5-23-03 Weekend Cruise News

*** Serenade of the Seas enters service this August sailing Canada/New England cruises from New York. The third Radiance-class vessel for Royal Caribbean International, Serenade of the Seas was designed to bring the sea, sun and coastal scenery indoors with nearly three acres of exterior glass, including floor-to-ceiling windows in most lounges and public areas, the line's highest percentage of balcony staterooms and glass elevators facing the ocean. The 90,090-ton Serenade also features Royal Caribbean's signature rock-climbing wall, a sports deck with a golf simulator, nine-hole miniature golf course and basketball court, a billiards room with gyroscopic pool tables, the ShipShape Fitness Center and Spa, an adults-only Solarium with retractable glass canopy and expansive Adventure Ocean facilities for kids ages 3-17. Dining venues on board include the two-story, traditional main dining room plus two casual eateries, the Windjammer Cafe and Seaview Cafe and two specialty restaurants, Chops Grille steakhouse and Portofino.

*** Passengers of bankrupt Regal Cruises can download a refund form, or email to have one sent to them, at the line's website The line's only ship, Regal Empress, goes up for auction again today in Tampa without a minimum bid. At auction last Friday there were no buyers after a minimum bid of $2 million was set by the court.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines has launched a new discount program for U.S. Military personnel. For a limited time, savings of up to 50 percent off brochure fares are available on a wide variety of sailings throughout 2003. The discounted rates are for category 1A Inside and start at $169 per person for three-day cruises; $199 per person for four-day cruises; $219 per person for five-day cruises; and $299 per person for seven-day, on sailings to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and Canada/New England. Reservations can be made through any travel agent or by contacting Carnival Cruise Lines' Special Promotions Desk at 1-800-794-6225 and requesting fare code CPM1/CPM2. Valid military identification is required at the time of booking. Up to four staterooms may be booked at the discounted rate.

*** An investigation is continuing into the mysterious disappearance of a passenger from the Veendam. The vessel arrived back in Vancouver last Sunday for its weekly turnaround. Holland America Line staff entered the man's cabin when a 'do not disturb' sign was still on the door after all other passengers had left the ship. The man's belongings were still there but he was not on board. The Ontario resident was reportedly traveling alone. Veendam had sailed from Ketchikan on Friday and spent a day in the Inside Passage before arriving in Vancouver.

*** Both Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have responded to misinformation in the media this week:

  • Norwegian Cruise Line blasted the media in Seattle for issuing potentially alarming information after a figure of three passengers was inflated to more than 300. The passengers were staying at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's Marriott Hotel after leaving Norwegian Sky when three of them reported flu symptoms to the hotel. Media reports indicated more than 300 passengers had come down with the flu at the hotel. When NCL contacted the King County Health Department, they indicated that a total of 20 people had felt ill to some degree. Aboard Norwegian Sky, 55 passengers and five crew members had come down with intestinal flu on the May 11 cruise between Vancouver and Seattle followed by the cases at the hotel. The ship was thoroughly sanitized before sailing from Seattle May 18.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. issued a brief statement in response to a lawsuit filed late last Friday regarding the taxes and fees it charges passengers. Lynn Martenstein, vice president, Corporate Communications said "We are outraged by the actions of the attorneys filing this suit. Our figures show they are dead wrong in their facts and we feel they are hugely irresponsible in using the media to sensationalize a nonexistent case. We actually pay more in government taxes and fees than we charge our guests." Using actual figures paid by two of the plaintiffs as examples, the company said they were charged $26 and $40, respectively, for government taxes and fees. The company, in turn, paid approximately $45 and $58, respectively, to cover such taxes and fees.

*** As part of its commitment to pamper passengers, Oceania Cruises will introduce the Tranquility Bed aboard Regatta when it debuts in Europe this July. The Tranquility Bed is comprised of a custom designed mattress set, deluxe 350 thread count Egyptian cotton linens, a plush comforter, silk-cut duvet and exceptionally fluffy down pillows. Beds in the suites and staterooms will also feature bolster pillows and soft, cuddly, throws perfect for nap time or watching an in-stateroom movie. Frank Del Rio, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises commented "An outstanding night's sleep, like extraordinary cuisine and captivating ports, is essential for a truly sublime cruise experience."

*** Norwegian Dawn will add several 10 and 11-night Exotic Southern Caribbean sailings to her roster of year-round cruises round-trip from New York City. The 11-night cruises, January 4 and 25, 2004, January 2 and 23, 2005 will call at St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica and Tortola. The 10-night cruise, January 15, 2004 will call at San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua, Dominica and St. Maarten. The 10-night cruises on February 5, 2004, January 13 and February 3, 2005 will call at St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and Tortola.

*** New ship deployment for Alaska 2004 has been announced by Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises. For the first time, Celebrity will offer Alaska cruises from Seattle and San Francisco aboard Mercury while Summit and Infinity will return to Vancouver for Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage cruises. Regal Princess will once again return to San Francisco next summer to sail 10-night Alaska cruises. The new sister ships Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess will sail Inside Passage cruises from Seattle next year. At 113,000-tons they will be the largest cruise ships ever to have sailed in Alaskan waters. They enter service next March and June respectively. Coral, Island, Sun and Dawn Princesses will again sail between Vancouver and Seward on Gulf of Alaska cruises next summer.

*** Princess Cruises has also announced plans for its 2004/2005 Exotic itineraries. Starting April 21, 2004 and stretching through the winter, it will be the longest Exotics season ever offered by Princess. The new summer season will see Pacific Princess sailing through the South Pacific Islands, Australia, Asia, Hawaii/Tahiti, West Africa, South America and the Indian Ocean, areas previously associated with winter cruising. Pacific Princess, Tahitian Princess, Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Sapphire Princess will offer 80 sailings on nearly 30 unique itineraries, including seven new Princess itineraries (Orinoco River/Southern Caribbean, Southeast Asia/Far East, and five new Connoisseur Adventure Voyages). Ranging from 10 to 30 days, Princess' unique Exotics voyages travel to nearly 160 worldwide ports, including three new destinations for Princess - Puerto Ordaz in Venezuela, Reunion, and Pitcairn Island.

*** SeaDream Yacht Club will again send the twin, ultra-luxury mega yachts SeaDream I and II, to the Mediterranean and Caribbean in 2004. SeaDream's European season runs from May through October with sailings along the French and Italian Riviera, the Greek Isles, the Aegean Sea to Istanbul and ports in Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Home ports with turnarounds are Monaco, Nice, Rome (Civitavecchia) and Istanbul. The Caribbean sailings stretch from November to mid-April with St. Thomas and San Juan as homeports. Back to Top

5-20-03 New Hawaii Ships If a Hawaii cruise has always been a dream, Norwegian Cruise Line will make it feasible with two new ships scheduled to sail from Honolulu in 2004. The cruise line has created a new division, NCL America, for the two vessels scheduled to start service in July and October, 2004, respectively. The Norwegian Sky will be renamed Pride of Aloha and NCL will add a new vessel, the Pride of America. Back to Top

5-16-03 Weekend Cruise News

*** Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will serve as godmother to the new 110,000-ton Carnival Glory, the largest cruise ship to be based in Port Canaveral. Dr. Ride will break the ceremonial bottle of champagne across the hull of the 2,974-passenger vessel during a dockside ceremony on Monday, July, 14, 2003. Carnival Glory will sail a five-day pre-inaugural voyage before commencing year-round, alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral. A pioneer in space travel, Dr. Ride became the first American woman in space when she was part of the crew that piloted the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983. She was also part of the crew of the shuttle's 1984 spaceflight.

*** P&O's new sister ships, Adonia and Oceana, will be christened in Southampton next Wednesday May 21 by the Princess Royal, Princess Anne and her daughter, Zara Phillips. It is the first ever double cruise ship naming ceremony to be held in Britain. The 77,000-ton Adonia and Oceana sailed formerly for Princess Cruises as the Sea Princess and Ocean Princess respectively, sister ships of Sun Princess and Dawn Princess.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is the only luxury cruise line sending ships to Bermuda, Alaska and the Caribbean this summer. The twin-hulled, 350-guest Radisson Diamond sails the Eastern and Western Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale on seven-, 10- and 11- night voyages until July 26. The all-suite Seven Seas Navigator (90 percent with private balconies) sails on seven-night Bermuda voyages, round-trip from New York through September 17, and on a pair of seven-night Canada/New England cruises between New York and Montreal in July. Bermuda cruises call at Hamilton, Bermuda and St. George as well as Norfolk, Virginia where a complimentary tour of Colonial Williamsburg is offered. The all-balcony suite Seven Seas Mariner offers a full season of summer cruises May 23 to September 10, with seven- to 11-night voyages between Los Angeles and San Francisco and Vancouver, Vancouver and Seward and round-trip from Vancouver. Sailings include a "Club Mariner" program of age-graded events for children ages six to 11 and 12 to 17, focusing on Alaska's wildlife, typography, crafts and rich artistic heritage.

*** Holland America's golf excursions are available on ten Caribbean islands during sailings aboard Volendam, Zaandam, Veendam, Maasdam, Noordam, and Zuiderdam in 2003 and 2004. Golfers play on scenic championship courses designed by such renowned golf-course architects as Robert Trent Jones Sr. and George and Tom Fazio including Carambola Golf Course on St. Croix, the Dorado del Mar track on Puerto Rico, the Sandals course on St. Lucia, Martinique Country Club and Mahogany Run on St. Thomas. Golf excursions begin at just $59/golfer (not including clubs) for the St. Andrews Golf Club in Trinidad and top out at $174 for the Sandy Lane course on Barbados, with other courses falling in the $86-$135 range for 18 holes of play. Packages include the use of power carts, preferred tee times, round-trip transportation from the ship and at some courses, personal caddies. Nine-hole packages are available on some courses. Golf clubs are available for rental at every course, and balls and accessories are available for purchase at the pro shops of each course. In addition, Prinsendam and Zuiderdam have a golf simulator on board. Fees start from $30 per person for an hour of golf in a group of three or four. Private lessons are available through the on board golf pro, with packages starting at $45 for a 30-minute session. All clubs and balls are included; one person can complete 18 holes in about an hour.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line has introduced a flexible golf excursion program which allows passengers to select the course of their choice during their cruise. Greens fees, cart or caddie fees and transfers between the ship and golf course are included in the golf excursions which are available worldwide beginning with this year's Europe season. Travelers planning cruise vacations aboard Seabourn Legend, Pride and Spirit can arrange tee times using an internet link on the company's website at or by calling Elite Golf Cruises, the shoreside operator of the golf program, at 1-800-324-1106 from 9am to 5pm EST Monday through Friday and 9am to 2pm Saturday.

*** Crystal Cruises will transform Jade Garden aboard Crystal Symphony into Wolfgang Puck's most acclaimed restaurant, Santa Monica's Chinois on Main, during an 11-day Amsterdam to London voyage departing June 6, 2003. During the Baltic cruise, Jade Garden will be completely redesigned, gastronomically and decoratively, into Chinois at Sea, under the direction of Bella Lantsman, Chinois on Main's general manager, and its noted executive chef, Renee Mata, who has created a new menu for the occasion. Wolfgang Puck and Crystal Cruises have enjoyed a relationship since 1991 when the celebrity chef served as guest chef on the luxury line and, in 1999, shared the recipe for his famous Grilled Mongolian Lamb Chops in The Crystal Cruises' Cookbook.

*** Costa Cruises has a balcony give-away special for the winter Caribbean program from Ft. Lauderdale. Purchase a category 4 or 5 oceanview stateroom on most Caribbean sailings departing between November 2003 and April 2004 and receive an upgrade to a balcony stateroom (category 6 or 7 respectively). This early booking special must be booked by July 31, 2003. The new 86,000-ton CostMediterranea will be christened in Naples on June 7, 2003. She carries 2,114 passengers and is the sister ship of CostAtlantica. Aboard these ships, 70 percent of staterooms have balconies. CostaMediterranea sails round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale, Nov. 23, 2003 to April 4, 2004 calling at San Juan, St. Thomas/St. John, Catalina Island/Casa de Campo, (Costa's private resort)/Santo Domingo and Nassau, or, Key West, Progreso/Merida, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. Freeport replaces Grand Cayman on the April 4, 2004 sailing. CostaAtlantica sails round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale, alternate Sundays December 21, 2003 to April 11, 2004, on the same Eastern Caribbean route or to Key West, Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Grand Cayman.

*** Oceania Cruises is gearing up for the debut of its first ship, Regatta on July 5 sailing from Barcelona to London (Dover). The 684-passenger Regatta will home port in Miami for the winter starting with a 14-night sailing on November 25 to Port Antonio, the Panama Canal, San Blas, Puerto Limon, Roatan, Santo Tomas, Belize and Cozumel. This will be followed by 12-night sailings round-trip from Miami to Tortola, Nevis, Roseau, St. John's, St. Barts, Virgin Gorda and La Romana on December 9 and 21, 2003 and February 20, March 4, 2004. Two 14-night sailings between Miami and Puerto Caldera depart January 2, and February 6, 2004 calling at Tortola, Nevis, St. Barts, St. John's, Castries, Oranjestad, San Blas and the Panama Canal. Regatta is the former R1 of Renaissance Cruises.

*** Crystal Symphony returns to Canada/New England for the first time in six years this fall. The roster of 74 land programs offered in conjunction with these sailings includes 19 new shore excursions. The Lighthouse & Lobster excursion out of Halifax explores Peggy's Cove culminates with a lobster bake. In Newport, A Return to the Gilded Age tours Newport and its Mansions. Behind the Scenes at Lincoln Center provides an insider's tour of Lincoln Center with lunch at Manhattan's Ocean Club. The Norfolk, Overview & Naval Base, includes a visit to the largest naval installation in the world. The Kennedy Library & Boston Highlights transports visitors through a recreated world of the thousand-day John F. Kennedy presidency. Crystal is offering four sailings throughout the region, including two 11-day New York to Montreal voyages (Sept.4 and Sept. 26), Montreal to New York (11 days, Sept. 15) and Montreal to Fort Lauderdale (12 days, Oct. 7) which is a Yoga, Health & Fitness-themed cruise. In addition to overnight stays in Montreal and Quebec City, most of the cruises include visits to Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor and other New England and Canadian cities. Two maiden calls are scheduled in Norfolk, Va., and Sydney, Nova Scotia.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines has announced itineraries for the new Carnival Miracle and a number of ship re-deployments for 2004:

  • Carnival Miracle enters service March 1, 2004 sailing from Jacksonville, Florida on three to six-night cruises. She will sail round-trip from Baltimore on seven-night cruises from April 25 to May 30, 2004 and Sept. 5 to Oct. 24, 2004, calling at Key West, Nassau and Freeport. Carnival Miracle will commence year-round sailings from Tampa on November 7, 2004. The seven-night cruises will call at Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize. A two-night cruise sails from on Tampa November 5, 2004. The 88,500-ton 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle will be the fourth Spirit-class vessel, sister ship to Carnival Spirit, Pride and Legend.
  • Inspiration will continue to sail from Tampa after Carnival Miracle takes over the seven-night route. Inspiration will sail a six night cruise from Tampa on October 24, 2004 calling at Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel. Following this, she will commence four and five-night sailings, year-round. The four-night sailings on alternate Thursdays will call at Cozumel while the five-night cruises on alternate Monday and Saturdays will call at Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
  • Sensation will move from Tampa to New Orleans to sail four and five-night cruises from October 23, 2004. The four-night sailings on alternate Thursdays will call at Cozumel while the five-night cruises on alternate Monday and Saturdays will call at Cozumel and either Costa Maya or Calica. The 2,052-passenger Sensation will replace the 1,452-passenger Holiday on this itinerary. As reported last week, Holiday is being re-deployed to Jacksonville Florida for year-round cruising.
  • Carnival Victory will return to Charleston SC and Norfolk VA for cruises to the Bahamas in 2004. Two, five-night Bahamas cruises sail from Charleston on Monday, May 31, 2004 and Tuesday, October 19, 2004. From Norfolk, two-night Cruises-To-Nowhere depart Saturday June 12, 2004 and Saturday October 16, 2004 while six-night Bahamas Cruises sail Sundays, June 6, 2004 and October 10, 2004. Carnival Victory will resume alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises on Sundays from Miami starting with the western route on November 7, 2004.

*** American West Steamboat Company is offering a rail-cruise combo which features Amtrak's Coast Starlight and the luxury sternwheelers Queen of the West and newly-built Empress of the North. With departures throughout the year, passengers can hop on Amtrak's Coast Starlight at any one of its regular stops between San Diego and Sacramento and enjoy a scenic journey along the Pacific coast before arriving in Portland, Oregon, where they board the ship. The 10-night itinerary includes two nights onboard Amtrak's first class, round trip rail service between California and Portland, a city sightseeing tour and hotel overnight in Portland before boarding the Queen of the West or Empress of the North for a seven-night cruise on the Columbia, Willamette and Snake Rivers. The cruise includes all shore excursions, fine dining and live showboat-type entertainment. Rail-cruise rates in 2003 start at $2,674 per person. For more details see your travel agent or visit .

*** Star Cruises has announced two changes in ship deployment. The line has extended the Western-Australia cruises of SuperStar Virgo to mid-July due to the overwhelming success of the program which started April 24. The 1,974-passenger Virgo will sail 20 additional cruises, round-trip from Fremantle (Perth) calling at Broome, Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth and Darwin. Meanwhile, the 611-passenger SuperStar Aries will embark on new voyages from Singapore to Malaysia from 18 May 2003 to the end of June. Ports of call are Malacca, Kuantan, Kuala Lumpur, Pulau Tioman and Penang. SuperStar Aries, the former Europa, recently underwent refurbishment and upgrading of facilities during a month-long dry dock. Back to Top

5-9-03 Weekend Cruise News America logo *** Norwegian Cruise Line has announced plans for its 'Project America' deployment. Following the passage of a bill in Congress last February, NCL has exclusive rights to operate the 'Project America' ships on year-round, inter-island Hawaii service without having to call at a foreign port. In order to do this, the ships must sail under the U.S. Flag, with American crews and will be subject to all U.S. laws, including taxation and environmental regulations. The first 2,000-passenger ship, called PA1 until a name is decided, will be completed in Germany and enter service in Hawaii on July 4, 2004 sailing seven-night inter-island cruises. NCL has decided to re-flag the Norwegian Sky into the U.S. register as the second 'Project America' vessel (PA2) and send her to Hawaii in October 2004 for three and four-night Hawaii cruises from Honolulu. NCL's Hawaii program will be complete with Norwegian Wind sailing 10 and 11-night Hawaii/Fanning Island cruises from Honolulu, year-round beginning May 19, 2004. Norwegian Star will continue to operate its weekly Hawaii/Fanning Island cruises through April, 2004 when it will be re-deployed to Alaska.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines will kick off its largest ever New York cruise season when the 88,500-ton Carnival Legend departs Tuesday, May 13, 2003, on the inaugural sailing of a unique eight-day Caribbean schedule. From May 13 to Oct. 12, 2003, Carnival Legend sails round-trip from New York to San Juan, St. Thomas/St. John and Tortola/Virgin Gorda. Tuesday's sailing is the first of a record 50 departures from New York, making Carnival one of the largest users of the Port of New York this season. Also included in the line's 2003 New York cruises are seven-day Bermuda sailings, four- and five-day Canada cruises, seven-day "fall foliage" cruises, and two-day cruises.

*** The Alaska cruise season is well underway with new ships arriving daily in Vancouver. The 88,000-ton 1,974 passenger Coral Princess arrives in Vancouver for the first time tomorrow to begin her first season of Alaska cruises. Coral Princess sails Gulf of Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Seward to September 13. She will be joined by sister ship Island Princess on Saturday departures commencing July 12. The 77,000-ton 1,950-passenger sister ships Sun Princess and Dawn Princess begin their Monday Gulf of Alaska sailings on Monday May 12 and 19 respectively. Princess has announced that all four ships will return for the 2004 Alaska season. The line is expanding its Denali Park land options for 2004. Both the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge will undergo significant expansion and renovation to offer guests greater options and multiple night stays near Mt. McKinley, the largest mountain in North America.

*** Holland America has secured additional permits for entry to Glacier Bay National Park this season. The line will feature a full day of cruising Glacier Bay on nearly 80 percent (112 of 141) of its cruises that sail this summer. The Amsterdam will now visit Glacier Bay on 18 cruises from Seattle between May 3 and September 20. The final new visit has been added to the Veendam's August 24th departure from Vancouver to Seward. All of Holland America's Glacier Bay sailings offer two exclusive programs that provide passengers with an in-depth look at Alaskan native heritage and crafts. The "Artisans in Residence Program" features an Alaskan native on board demonstrating a traditional craft such as ivory or soapstone carving, basket weaving, or mask making. The "Huna Interpretive Program" provides rare cultural insight into Southeast Alaska's spectacular Glacier Bay through the eyes of a Huna Totem member, a tribe that has called the area home for centuries. A National Park Service ranger also joins each sailing in Glacier Bay.

*** A major cruise development has been unanimously approved by the city council of Ketchikan, Alaska. The $100 million project will include six 1,000 ft. cruise ship berths and a 400-ft. pier. A cruise terminal is not part of the plan but new sidewalks, public toilets and tour-dispatch facilities will be created. The city currently has three berths of 700-750 feet. Since Ketchikan has four or more cruise ships in port on 80 of the 147 cruise days of the season, some vessels are forced to anchor and tender passengers ashore. By the 2005 season, four of the six 1,000-foot berths and the 400-foot berth are expected to be operational.

*** After debuting the new Pinnacle Grill alternative restaurant concept on sister ships Statendam and Ryndam last October to excellent reviews and full capacity, Holland America Line has expanded the restaurant concept to nine of the line's vessels. The Pinnacle Grill restaurant features fine Pacific Northwest specialties and wines in a romantic, upscale atmosphere. There is a charge of $20 per person for the Grill and passengers must book in advance. Ships which already have a specialty restaurant on board will have these converted to Pacific Northwest cuisine. The Pinnacle Grill rollout began with the Volendam in February, Rotterdam, Zaandam and Amsterdam in April and continues with Prinsendam in May, Maasdam in October and Veendam in spring 2004. There is already a Pinnacle Grill aboard the Zuiderdam and it will be added to the Oosterdam during the ship's final phase of construction in summer 2003.

*** Crystal Cruises is continuing to expand its culinary program with the addition of Wine & Champagne Makers Dinners aboard Crystal Serenity, debuting in July. Crystal Serenity's intimate Vintage Room joins an elite collection of venues - from Miami's Norman's to South Africa's Stellenbosh - to offer the ultimate gourmet experience. Connoisseurs will have the opportunity to discover appellations not easily accessible in stores and restaurants, from a first-growth Bordeaux to a classic Spanish vega sicila. Crystal's award-winning culinary team is working in tandem with the line's expert sommeliers to create tasting menus designed to showcase the unique attributes of each vintage. Menus will reflect the ship's cruising region and will feature between four to eight different wines or champagnes. The Wine & Champagne Makers Dinners will be offered nightly and are by reservation only. Participation is limited to 14 and can be reserved in advance of sailing, or once onboard. The cost per person will vary depending on the menu of wines and may range from $50 to a few hundred dollars.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines will inaugurate year-round cruising from Jacksonville, Fla. in October, 2004 when the 1,452-passenger Holiday begins sailing four- and five-day voyages from the port. The Holiday, which currently sails from New Orleans, will be replaced by a larger vessel at that port. Holiday will sail an inaugural six-day cruise from Jacksonville to Cozumel, Calica and Freeport on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004. This will be followed by four-day weekend cruises departing alternate Thursdays for Freeport and Nassau, and five-day cruises departing alternate Mondays and Saturdays which call at Key West and Nassau. Prices for the Holiday's four- and five-day cruises begin at $299 per person. In addition, the new 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle debuts with a series of three-, five- and six-day cruises from Jacksonville in March 2004. Three-day cruises to Freeport, The Bahamas, will depart on Fridays, March 12 and 26, and April 9, 2004. Five-day Caribbean cruises will depart Mondays, March 1, 15 and 29 and April 12, 2004, and visit Key West, Fla., and Nassau, The Bahamas. Six-day Caribbean cruises will depart Saturdays, March 6 and 20, and April 3 and 17, for Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Freeport (the March 6 departure will call at Playa del Carmen, Mexico, instead of Costa Maya).

*** Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Coca-Cola Company are joining together to create an aqua park at CocoCay, the lines' private island in the Bahamas. Situated offshore, Caylana's Castle Cove is a new 20,000-square-foot aqua adventure park for adults and kids. Facilities include two 14-foot castles with one side for climbing and the other for sliding; two 25-foot floating trampolines; several "slidewalks" and aqua logs; and two water teeter totters. The separate children's section consists of similar equipment on a smaller scale. Adults pay $15 and children under 12 pay $10 for 50 minutes in the aqua park. Lifeguards monitor both areas. The 140-acre private island of CocoCay recently underwent a multi-million dollar investment in renovations and additions. In addition to the new aqua park, visitors can enjoy nature trails, traditional Bahamian straw market shopping, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, and WaveRunner excursions.

*** Crystal Cruises has reduced fares on fall voyages to the Panama Canal and South America, including 2-for-1 savings and sailings from just $1,995. Applicable sailings include six, 10-12 day Panama Canal sailings aboard the 940-passenger Crystal Harmony beginning October 5 and four South American voyages aboard the 940-guest Crystal Symphony October 9 to December 5, 2003. A $1,000 per couple "Best of Everything" savings is also offered aboard Crystal Symphony if the cruise is booked before July 31 2003. Crystal has also waived its single supplement for the October 19, 17-day Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires sailing. Additionally, all passengers aboard South American cruises will receive 50 per cent savings on a 2004 Crystal cruise of their choice, anywhere in the world, as part of the luxury line's Crystal Dividends Program. For more details and to book, see you travel agent.

*** Holland America has expanded its variety of flexible wedding packages. Couples can choose to tie the knot aboard ship, on an exotic Caribbean island, in Hawaii or atop an icy Alaskan glacier. The line offers everything from small ceremonies and private receptions to larger celebration cruises with family and friends. Packages for anniversaries, honeymoons and renewing of vows are also available. With the new "You May Now Dot Com" option ($375), a wedding video complete with photos and music is placed on a private Web page that remains accessible for the next 90 days, and the couple receives a copy of the Web page on CD-ROM. The on board Celebration, Renewal of Vows and Romantic Voyage Packages are booked through Holland America Line's Ship Services Department, (800) 541-1576. Wedding packages start at $1,295 per couple and are coordinated by Royal Ocean Events. Passengers should book the packages separately after confirming their cruise bookings. Royal Ocean Events can be reached toll-free at (888) 475-5511 or (604) 940-1181.

*** Radisson Seven Seas cruises will offer Antarctica cruises aboard the Explorer II next winter. The cruises are offered in partnership with destination specialists, Abercrombie & Kent. In November and December 2003, the Explorer II will sail from Ushuaia, Argentina, on 14- and 15-night voyages to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, and in January 2004, the vessel will embark on two 11-night roundtrip Ushuaia expeditions. All four voyages include all Zodiac explorations from the ship, complimentary hotel in Santiago or Buenos Aires, and the two January sailings also include free roundtrip economy air from 84 North American gateways. The Explorer II can carry up to 394 guests but on these four voyages, capacity has been limited to a maximum of just 198 guests. A highlight of the voyages will be Zodiac landings to visit rookeries of penguins, fur and elephant seals, and albatrosses. An expedition leader, naturalists and Antarctic specialists will be aboard every sailing. Radisson's previous Antarctica cruises were aboard the expedition vessel Hanseatic. Explorer II is the former Minerva of Swan Hellenic, a luxury vessel with all ocean view accommodations and an ice-strengthened hull.

*** Carnival Conquest will continue to sail from Gulfport, Mississippi in place of New Orleans through June 2. Carnival Conquest was moved to Gulfport after rising waters on the Mississippi combined with low hanging power lines made the river transit unsafe. The New Orleans power company, Entergy Corp. reports power lines across the Mississippi will be raised by 23.5 feet. Work begins in June and should be completed by October at a cost of $2.2 million. The company is developing a long term plan to bury the power lines.

*** The World of ResidenSea will sail to Antarctica, South America, the Mediterranean, Russia and Africa in 2004 spending three days in the ports of Valparaiso, Chile; Rome; Venice; Barcelona; St. Petersburg and four days in Cape Town, South Africa during her globetrotting adventures. The first condominium resort at sea has studio and apartment residences available for individual bookings for a minimum three-night cruise. Nightly fares for 2004 range from $450 to $3,100. Apartment rates include accommodations, meals, beverages, daily maid service, port charges and gratuities for two guests. To order a brochure, call 1-800-970-6601 in the U.S. and Canada. Call +1-305-779-3300 from outside the U.S. and Canada; or e-mail

*** The classic transatlantic liner S/S Rotterdam is going home to the shipyard where she was built in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The vessel has been purchased by Rotterdamse Droogdokmaatschappij for an undisclosed amount and following a two year refit, will become a floating hotel similar to the Queen Mary attraction in Long Beach. Built in 1958 for Holland America Line, the elegant ship gained a loyal following. Her international routes included numerous world cruises. Rotterdam was sold to Premier Cruises in 1997 to become the Rembrandt. She has been laid up in Freeport, Bahamas since fall, 2000 when Premier shut down. Back to Top

5-7-03 New Princess Mexico Cruises

Princess Cruises has announced new roundtrip sailings from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on the Star Princess beginning Sept. 27, 2003. The ship was originally slated to sail on Far East/Asia voyages which have been cancelled due to the SARS outbreak. The five Mexico cruises, scheduled through Nov. 1, 2003, will visit Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.

Star Princess' new itineraries begin September 20, 2003, with a four-day Alaska sampler cruise from Seattle to Vancouver, including a call in Ketchikan. A three-day coastal cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles follows, followed by the new seven-day Mexican Riviera sailings. On November 1, 2003 Star Princess embarks on a special 24-day cruise calling in Hawaii, French Polynesia, American Samoa, Fiji, and New Zealand, ending in Australia. Ports include Maui, Honolulu, Bora Bora, Papeete, Pago Pago, Fiji, Tauranga and Auckland. Back to Top

5-2-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Carnival Corporation announced changes to its roster of upcoming ship deliveries this week. Four of the company's cruise lines are affected by the changes:

  • Princess Cruises will build a sister ship to Caribbean Princess. The 116,000-ton 3,110-passengers vessel will be referred to as Caribbean Princess 2 until a name is chosen. She will debut in May 2006 for year-round Caribbean cruises.
  • Holland America Line will have four instead of five Vista-class ships in its fleet. The fourth has been delayed to January 2006 from October 2005. The 1,848-passenger, as yet unnamed vessel will join sister ships Zuiderdam, Oosterdam and Westerdam at HAL.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Valor will enter service for Carnival Cruise Lines in December 2004 instead of September 2004. Carnival Valor will be the third, 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger Destiny-class ship for the line, joining sister ships Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory.
  • Cunard Line's 1,968-passenger Queen Victoria is now scheduled to sail in March 2005 instead of January 2005.

    *** With the successful completion of the Carnival-Princess merger, Princess Cruises is now an official member of the World's Leading Cruise Lines (WLCL). Princess is the seventh cruise line to join the group which includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Windstar Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line and Seabourn Cruise Line. A major benefit of membership for travelers is the WLCL's guest loyalty program, "Vacation Interchange Privileges (VIP)," which allows passengers who sail on any WLCL-affiliated cruise line to access some of the past passenger benefits of the other lines.

    *** A 20-year old California woman has been arrested and charged with two counts of violating terrorism laws for writing and planting threatening notes aboard Legend of the Seas. It is reported that the woman hoped to cancel a family cruise so she could return home to her boyfriend. The threats led to a 120-man FBI investigation aboard the vessel and re-routing of the ship away from Hilo during her Hawaiian cruise from Ensenada last week. The threats each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

    *** CostaMediterranea will be christened on June 7 in Naples Italy by Spanish actress and model, Ines Sastre. A spectacular stage show called "Allegories of Air and Water" will follow the naming. It will be offered free of charge to the people of Naples on the quay at Molo Angioino. The magical performance will feature six tableaux that were inspired by the relationship between the earth, the sky and the water and will showcase the artwork on board the CostaMediterranea from Commedia dell'Arte to Dance to Baroque. The event, produced and directed by Valerio Festi, will be the closing event of the IX edition of the Neapolitan "Monumental May" festival. The 86,000-ton 2,114-passenger CostaMediterranea has an on board style inspired by Italian culture, art and architecture. The vessel is currently undergoing sea trials and will sail Mediterranean cruises form Genoa from June to November. Beginning November 23, 2003 through April 4, 2004, CostaMediterranea will sail seven-night alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Ft. Lauderdale on Sundays. The Eastern Caribbean ports are San Juan, St. Thomas/St. John, Catalina Island, Casa de Campo and Nassau while the Western route includes Key West, Progreso/Merida, Cozumel and Grand Cayman.

    *** Oceania Cruises has arranged as series of culinary experiences ashore to rival and complement those created on board. Passengers may choose from a wide variety of Epicurean tours including a private wine tasting and dinner at a Ch�teau Margeaux or Ch�teau Kirwin, an evening of flamenco music and dance accompanied by an authentic Mediterranean dinner in Spain, Greek cooking lessons at Spyros & Vassilis in Corfu, dinner at Palazzo Marziale in Sorrento, Italy or learn about Norwegian food traditions at Holmenkollen hill in Oslo, Norway. Tours are offered in conjunction with 14-night cruises aboard the 684-passenger Regatta in Europe this summer and fall.

    *** Plans for Crystal Cruises' new Creative Learning Institute are underway. The extensive series of interactive classes on a wide variety of topics will be presented by well-known organizations and schools such as Berlitz, The Cleveland Clinic, Society of Wine Educators, Pepperdine University, Tai Chi Cultural Center, BOOK magazine and Barnes& among others. The Institutde gets underway aboard the new Crystal Serenity this July and will expand to Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony in 2004. Crystal's newest ship, Crystal Serenity, will feature "The Studio" - a high-tech music teaching facility - for the Creative Learning Institute's Passport to Music program. It allows passengers to take piano lessons from certified Yamaha music teachers during their cruise. The Studio will be outfitted with 15 portable grand piano keyboards supported with the Clavinova digital piano. Depending on the length of the cruise, the average curriculum will feature six, 60-minute sessions and guests will receive a certificate of instruction at the program's completion. From Pachelbel's Canon to Billy Joel's Piano Man, students will learn nearly a dozen songs during the course of the cruise, as well as an overview of music reading, notation, theory, and ensemble playing. Additionally, ensemble music will be written exclusively for the Passport to Music program.

    *** Seven Seas Mariner's South Pacific cruise this fall is now available in two segments. The 26-day cruise round trip from San Francisco is being offered as an 11-night sailing, San Francisco to Papeete, Tahiti on September 21, 2003 calling at Nuku Hiva/Taiohae in the Marquesas Islands, Moorea and Tahiti. The return voyage, Papeete to San Francisco is a 15-night sailing via Bora Bora; Christmas Island; Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii and Honolulu on October 2, 2003. Radisson's Le Cordon Bleu cooking workshop will operate on the Oct. 2 voyage at a fee of $395 per person. The 700-passenger Seven Seas Mariner was the first all-suite, all-balcony cruise ship when she entered service in 2001. Fares start at $2,961 for the 11-night cruise and $3,999 for the 15-night voyage including shipboard gratuities, wine with dinner and an in-suite bar set-up. Low-cost air add-ons from 84 gateways are available from $269 per person.

    *** Windstar's 308-passenger Wind Surf sails in the Baltic and Northern Europe for the first time this year. A wide variety of shore excursions are being offered including everything from Roman ruins to Viking history - cognac tasting to Scottish castles. The 80 different shore excursions are offered in Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Scotland, and Spain. In Russia, 14 are offered including a full day exploration of St. Petersburg. Prices for these excursions range from $28 per person (for a two-hour walking tour of �rhus, Denmark's charming second city) to $1,640 per couple for the extravagant "Romance In the Baltics" excursion, a daylong voyage along the ravishing Helsinki Archipelago to a secluded island. A majority of the excursions cost less than $100 per person. Some excursions must be pre-booked, all others are booked on board the ship. For more information visit the "Shore Excursions" section at

    *** American West Steamboat Company has created the Very Best Buys discount program, on selected dates, for Columbia and Snake River cruises aboard its luxury sternwheelers Empress of the North and Queen of the West. Cruises sail round-trip from Portland, OR. Highlights of the nearly 1,000 mile long cruise include traversing eight locks and dams, a close up view of 620-foot high Multnomah Falls, visits to the Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Monument, Lewis & Clark's Fort Clatsop, a jet boat ride into Hells Canyon, a rodeo demonstration in Pendleton and excursions to Astoria and Cannon Beach, Oregon. All cruises include shore excursions, fine dining and live showboat-type entertainment. Book an 11-night cruise by September 30, 2003 on cruises departing September 21 and October 8, 2003 or April 2, May 9 and September 23, 2004 and save up to $1,200 per cabin. On selected seven-night cruises aboard the Queen of the West, eight-night CruiseTours aboard the Empress of the North, or 10-night Rail and Cruise tours featuring Amtrak's Coast Starlight, save up to $800 per cabin. For more details see your travel agent or visit

    *** Princess Cruises has released its expanded Canada/New England program for 2004. For the first time Grand Princess will sail in the region along with Regal Princess on cruises from September 11 through October 31, 2004. Grand Princess will sail round-trip from New York City with calls at Halifax (Nova Scotia), Saint John (New Brunswick), Bar Harbor (Maine), Boston and Newport (Rhode Island). The ship offers seven voyages between September 12 and October 24. Regal Princess will sail between New York and Montreal calling at Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax and Quebec, and will cruise Canada's scenic Saguenay River. The itinerary features an overnight stay in Montreal. Regal Princess offers five sailings, departing between September 11 and October 21, 2004. In addition, Regal Princess will offer a special 13-day Canada/Colonial America voyage between Montreal and Ft. Lauderdale on October 31. This extended journey adds Baltimore, Norfolk (Virginia) and Charleston to the itinerary, and visits six of the original 13 colonies.

    *** The new cruise line, Ocean Village, is promising to revolutionize cruising with its casual-adventure style sailings. The line's first ship, Ocean Village was christened this week at dramatic ceremonies in Southampton, England complete with abseiling percussionists and colorful fireworks display. Ocean Village's concept is to break cruising conventions and bring a new sense of fun to the industry. Inaugural Mediterranean cruises from Palma, Majorca get underway May 6. The vessel sailed formerly as the Arcadia for P&O Cruises, Star Princess for Princess Cruises and was originally built as the FairMajesty for Sitmar Cruises in 1989. For more on the new line visit the web site at

    *** Two other ships set sail for new lines this week. On May 3 the former Nieuw Amsterdam of Holland America, later Patriot for United States Lines, begins cruising from Majorca as the Thompson Spirit for Thompson Holidays of the U.K. Minerva, which left Swan Hellenic earlier this month, is now the Saga Pearl for Saga Holidays of the U.K. The positioning voyage from Rome to Southampton will be followed by Mediterranean, Baltic and Western Europe cruises. Also in Europe, Norwegian Coastal Voyages inaugurated a brand new cruise-ferry: The line's third Millennium-class ship, Midnatsol entered service April 15. Back to Top

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