News Archive - May 2004

5-28-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Norwegian Star has emerged from drydock in San Francisco sporting colorful hull art - a burst of stars and streamers representing the tradition of passengers throwing streamers as the vessel pulls away from the dock. Norwegian Star underwent a multi-million dollar renovation this month. Notable changes include the addition of a 1930's-style Cagney's Steakhouse, a very popular restaurant concept on sister ship, Norwegian Dawn, and a 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art casino. The Teen Club was transformed into the Pearl Martini Lounge and the adjoining Karaoke Circus became the Carousel Bar and Night Club where the existing private Karaoke rooms were removed to create an expanded space for the night club. Norwegian Star begins sailing this Sunday, May 30 through September 5, from Seattle to Alaska, calling at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska; Victoria, British Columbia and a cruise through scenic Glacier Bay. The ship will then reposition to Los Angeles for the winter season for eight-day Mexican Riviera cruises beginning September 26, 2004.

*** Sapphire Princess was delivered to Princess Cruises this week during ceremonies at the Mitsubishi Shipyard in Nagasaki, Japan. The 116,000-ton vessel will be christened June 10 in Seattle and start weekly Alaska service from Seattle on June 13. Sister ship Diamond Princess suffered damage to propeller tips when she slammed against a pier in Victoria BC last Friday during high winds. The vessel is sailing at reduced speed on this week's Alaska cruise from Seattle and missed port calls at Juneau and Victoria. Repairs to the propeller are expected to be completed in time for tomorrow's sailing. Passengers on the affected sailing received a $500 per cabin credit. Both Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess will return to Seattle in 2005 for Inside Passage cruises. Princess has increased the number of departures for next year. Regal Princess will again sail round-trip from San Francisco to Alaska in 2005 while Coral, Island, Sun and Dawn Princess will again sail the one-way Gulf of Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Whittier next year.

*** Royal Caribbean is returning to Labadee, the line's private resort on the north shore of Haiti. Despite Labadee's remote location, RCI decided to halt calls at Labadee during the recent unrest on the island. Three Voyager-class ships, Voyager, Mariner and Navigator of the Seas began calling at Labadee this week. In a statement RCI reported it has been advised that it is safe to return to Labadee, however, it will continue to implement a comprehensive security plan at the resort and concluded: "Please know we would not have made today's decision if we felt our guests or crew were at any risk. Their safety is our highest priority always."

*** A new port and new cruise terminal have opened for ships on the Alaska run. Icy Strait Point, near Hoonah, has been developed specifically for cruise ship calls. Only one cruise ship can visit at a time and passengers tender ashore. Last Sunday, Tlingit dancers and singers dressed in traditional costumes welcomed the Mercury, the first cruise ship to call. Excursions have been developed to take advantage of the area's fame as a center for whale watching and wildlife viewing. Sport fishing, a salmon cannery tour and a tour of Hoonah are also offered. RCI's Vision of the Seas and Celebrity's Summit will also call at Icy Strait this year. The new Northland Cruise Terminal has officially opened in Prince Rupert, BC. The city has started attracting cruise ships to call at the northern BC port instead of sailing by en route to Alaska. The year-round ice-free port is the deepest in North America and Canada's second-largest deep-sea port. Prince Rupert is a major base for whale watching, grizzly bear viewing, sport fishing, kayaking, adventure tours and photo safaris. Cruise ships Mercury, Norwegian Spirit, Spirit of Oceanus, Clipper Odyssey and Safari Quest will call at Princes Rupert this year.

*** NCL America's Pride of Aloha will be christened on Independence Day in Honolulu. Margaret Awamura Inouye will be the Godmother. "For all of the similarities our islands share, there are just as many differences which make island-hopping extraordinarily enticing," said Mrs. Inouye, wife of Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye who was instrumental in making NCL America's year-round, inter-Hawaiian island cruising a reality. Pride of Aloha will sail seven-day, round-trip Hawaii itineraries, visiting all four main islands and giving passengers up to 96 hours in port. Ports of call include: Honolulu, Oahu; an overnight in Nawiliwili, Kauai; Hilo, Hawaii; Kona, Hawaii; and an overnight in Kahului, Maui. Following a multimillion-dollar transformation, the 77,000-ton, 2,000-passenger Pride of Aloha will feature a "Best of Hawai'i" theme throughout with decor depicting the flora, fauna and waterfalls of the islands, the first Hawaiian cultural center at sea and a U.S. crew mostly hailing from Hawaii. NCL America is hosting an overnight fundraiser cruise aboard the ship on July 3, 2004 to benefit the Bishop Museum, Child and Family Service, Ready to Learn, The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial.

*** In conjunction with the launch of the first year-round cruise program from Mobile, Alabama, in October, Carnival Cruise Lines is offering pre- and post-cruise land packages at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in nearby Point Clear, Alabama. The new two- or three-night hotel packages can be combined with four- or five-day Mexico cruises aboard the Holiday which are set to begin October 16, 2004. On its new schedule, the 46,052-ton Holiday will depart the Port of Mobile Thursdays on four-day cruises to Cozumel, and Mondays and Saturdays on five-day voyages to Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen or Costa Maya. Prices for the two- and three-night pre-or post-cruise packages begin at $160 and $240 per person, respectively, based on double occupancy, and include rental car.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line has added Amtrak to its NCL's Freestyle Connection program. Amtrak offers discounts of 15 or 25 percent for rail travel between cities throughout the U.S. and Canada and the Homeland Cruising ports currently served by NCL. The NCL reservation number is required by Amtrak when booking. For fare codes, blackout dates and more details see NCL's Freestyle Connection program also offers motor coach service for cruises departing New York and Miami. A Limousine and Sedan service is available for all passengers sailing from any of NCL's Homeland Cruising ports. Guests should call 1-800-558-LIMO (5466) to make reservations. For more on these services visit

*** Silver Shadow will sail nine, consecutive "Silver Odyssey" cruises next winter. The complete voyage begins January 12, 2005 when the 382-passenger, all-suite ship departs San Diego on the 100-day journey. She will visit 60 destinations in 20 countries while circumnavigating South America, crossing the Atlantic then calling at Dakar, West Africa and ports in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Yugoslavia and Croatia. The voyage concludes with two full days in Venice before disembarkation on April 22, 2005. The nine segments of seven to 16-nights depart from San Diego, Acapulco, Callao (Peru), Valparaiso (Chile), Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Monte Carlo and Rome. They can be combined for longer sailings. Savings of up to 30% off brochure rates are available including Early Booking Incentive and Advance Payment Bonus savings, a 5% Venetian Society savings, plus a 5% combination-cruise savings are available. In addition shipboard credits are offered ranging from $500 per person for cruises from 30 to 49 days in length to $1,000 per person for 71 days or longer. Passengers who sail at least 50 consecutive days and purchase Silversea's optional Air and Hotel Program, receive a complimentary Business Class air upgrade.

*** Festival Cruises is closing down its offices in New York. The company and its parent, First European Cruises, have filed for bankruptcy following unsuccessful attempts to restructure financially. The line's European Vision has already been sold at auction to MSC Italian Cruises and its older ships were sold earlier this year. The remaining newer ships are Mistral, scheduled to go to auction in June and European Stars.

*** There are still spots available for the annual Carnival Charity Golf Classic in support of the United Way of Miami-Dade. The event will be held on Monday June 7, 2004 at the Weston Hills Country Club. More Than 20 Miami Dolphins Players and Coaches, including head coach Dave Wannstedt, All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor, quarterback A.J. Feeley and general manager Rick Spielman, are expected to participate in the sixth annual event. Silent auctions for a variety of items, including sports memorabilia, golf packages and equipment, cruises, and fine wine and jewelry will take place during the day. Complimentary breakfast and lunch, as well as an awards ceremony/cocktail reception, are included in the entry fee. The cost to participate is $2,000 per foursome with sponsorship opportunities available. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the tournament begins at 10 a.m. (shotgun start). An awards ceremony/cocktail reception will follow at 3 p.m. with prizes for the first, second and third place, straightest and longest drives, and closest to the pin. Participants can also win a new car lease from Martell Buick/GMC or $1,000 for making a hole in one. For additional information and registration contact the tournament organizer, Florida Team Golf, via phone at 305/255-3500, fax at 305/255-3532. The event is expected to generate more than $50,000 toward Carnival's annual United Way of Miami-Dade campaign. Last year, Carnival raised a record $1.6 million for its United Way campaign.

*** LeBron James and the U.S. Olympic basketball team will be living aboard the Queen Mary 2 during the Athens Olympics in August. Other cruise ships being used as hotels during the games include HAL's Westerdam and Rotterdam. Back to Top

5-21-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Alaska's first lady, Nancy Murkowski, will christen Princess' newest ship, Sapphire Princess, at ceremonies in Seattle on June 10. The event is Seattle's first cruise ship christening. Mrs. Murkowski, wife of Alaska governor Frank Murkowski, will christen the vessel in a ceremony paying tribute to both Alaska and the city of Seattle. The ship will sail on its inaugural seven-day Alaska voyage on June 13. Princess has expanded the dining options aboard the 116,000-ton, 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess. There are four themed dining rooms - Vivaldi (Italian cuisine), Sterling (steakhouse), Santa Fe (Southwestern) and Pacific Moon (Asian) in addition to the main dining room. Also on board Sapphire is a new Princess Concierge Service, the fleet's largest Internet Cafe, a brand-new Princess-operated Lotus Spa, and Club Fusion, a new high-tech dance lounge. Sapphire joins sister ship Diamond Princess on weekly Alaska sailings from Seattle. The two vessels are the largest passenger ships to ever sail to Alaska.

*** The 3,844-passenger Voyager of the Seas is now sailing from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne New Jersey, on alternating nine-night Caribbean and five-night Canada/New England cruises through October 22, 2004. Next year Voyager will offer five-night Bermuda sailings from Cape Liberty which will call at King's Wharf, Bermuda from May 15 to November 13, 2005, alternating with nine-night Caribbean sailings. The new Cape Liberty Cruise Port was officially opened last Friday after Voyager's arrival. Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain signaled the official opening of the port by ringing an authentic ship bell from one of the famed World War II Victory ships, which sailed from Bayonne's Military Ocean Terminal. The ceremony included remarks from New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey and other state and local dignitaries.

*** Holland America Line is on target with the introduction of its Signature of Excellence enhancements. All ships in the HAL fleet now offer four dining times - 5:45 p.m., 6:15 p.m., 8:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. - and one-to-one service in the main dining room, which allows one steward to stay with their assigned tables while an assistant steward delivers each course from the kitchen. The Pinnacle Grill, reservations-only restaurant featuring Pacific Northwest cuisine and wines is now available fleetwide. Stateroom amenities now include bathrobes, a complimentary fresh fruit basket on arrival, stainless steel ice buckets and serving trays for use with in-cabin beverages and massage shower heads in every bathroom. All staterooms aboard the Zaandam and the Volendam have been outfitted with Euro-top mattresses and new cotton bed linens. The rest of the fleet will be outfitted with the new mattresses and bed linens by fall of 2005. For Deluxe Verandah and Penthouse Suite passengers, concierge service is available in the Neptune Lounge, a private retreat where they can relax, read and socialize. By the end of May, every suite and penthouse across the fleet will be outfitted with new Euro-top mattresses, duvets and pillows. The price tag is $225 million for the Signature of Excellence initiative of product and service enhancements which are expected to be completed by the end of 2006.

*** Windstar Cruises has launched a new electronic version of its 2004 Sailing Atlas on its Web site, The brochure has been designed to open efficiently in all types of browsers no matter the connection speed and with no special software needed. Animated pages are easy to navigate with arrows that appear to turn the pages. A table of contents on the right hand side of the page allows users to sort by chapter and there is a print option at the bottom of each page. Windstar is currently working on the electronic version of the 2005 Voyage Planner and Sailing Atlas.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines has added a two-day Bahamas cruise from Miami aboard the new Carnival Valor December 15 to 17, 2004. The introductory cruise includes a day in Nassau. Rates for this voyage start at $219 per person, including gratuities, based on double occupancy. The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger Carnival Valor is a sister ship of Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory. Valor will become the largest cruise ship to be based in Miami when she begins seven-night Caribbean cruises from the port on December 19, 2004.

*** Star Clippers' luxury sailing ship Star Flyer will sail seven-night cruises in Thailand and Malaysia next winter. The line is offering low air and a free Bangkok stopover in conjunction with the sailings. From November 2004 to March 2005, passengers can spend four nights in Bangkok free at the five-star Montien Riverside Hotel including breakfast, some meals, sightseeing tours and transfers, before taking the cruise round-trip from Phuket. Cruise fares start at $1,545 per person for an outside cabin with air add-ons from $395 per person.

*** Looking ahead to 2005-2006, Princess Cruises will expand its Exotic itineraries. Pacific Princess, Tahitian Princess, Regal Princess, Island Princess and Diamond Princess will offer 83 sailings on 21 itineraries, including a new Brazilian Adventure cruise. Exotics voyages range from 10 to 30 nights, travel to more than 125 worldwide destinations. Regal Princess will take over South America sailings from Royal Princess, which leaves the fleet in May 2005. Regal also debuts a new Brazilian Adventure route, an 18-day voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Rio de Janeiro, sails a 12-day Amazon River adventure between Ft. Lauderdale and Manaus, a 16-night Andes/South America voyage from Santiago to Ft. Lauderdale and will call at Antarctica on the January 8, 2006 sailing from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago. Diamond Princess takes over an expanded season of 12-night Australia/New Zealand cruises from January 8 through April 8, 2006. Diamond will also offer Asia sailings featuring a variety of 11 to 19-night cruises as well as a 29-day Pacific crossing from Sydney to San Francisco. Pacific Princess will sail in Asia in the summer, with three 16-night itineraries between June 24 and July 26, visiting ports in Korea, Japan, China, Viet Nam, Singapore and Malaysia. Island Princess returns for a second season of 15-night cruises to Hawaii round-trip from Los Angeles between September 23, 2005 and April 21, 2006 including a special holiday voyage on December 22, 2005. Tahitian Princess will continue 10-night cruises from Tahiti to the Society Islands and either the Cook Islands or the Marquesas. Both Tahitian and Pacific Princess will offer Hawaii/Tahiti cruises on May 3 and 7, 2005 respectively. Back to Top

5-14-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Norwegian Cruise Line has several ship changes coming up this week. Norwegian Spirit starts weekly Alaska service from Seattle tomorrow. The 1,996-passenger vessel is the former SuperStar Leo which sailed in Asia for parent company Star Cruises. She has been transferred permanently to NCL, sailing to Alaska in the summer and to the Caribbean from Miami in the winter. Norwegian Sky enters drydock in San Francisco on Monday to be transformed into Pride of Aloha for year-round Hawaii sailings commencing July 4. Norwegian Wind begins year-round Hawaii sailings on 10 and 11-night itineraries commencing next Wednesday, May 19. Norwegian Wind is currently en route to Hawaii from Vancouver.

*** Costa Mediterranea scored a perfect 100 in its semi-annual sanitation inspection by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The inspection took place in Port Everglades, April 4. Costa Mediterranea scored 97 on her last inspection in November, 2003.

*** Concerns have been raised about large cruise ships sailing in Venice following the grounding of the Mona Lisa near St. Mark's Square last Wednesday. The Mayor of Venice, Paolo Costa, has suggested that large cruise ships should not be allowed to cross St Mark's Basin. The Mayor said in a statement that it would be safer for the city's historic landmarks and its citizens if ships anchor further out, near the Lido island. The 28,891-ton Mona Lisa was carrying 1,000 passengers and crew when she ran aground in thick fog. Two tug boats pulled her free. There was no serious damage and she was able to continue her cruise. It is the second incident involving Mona Lisa. She ran aground in Spitzbergen on July 25, 2003 and had to undergo repairs in Hamburg for damage to both propellers and ballast and oil tanks. Originally built as the Kungsholm in 1966, the vessel has sailed as the Victoria for P&O Cruises and Sea Princess for P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises. She left P&O in October, 2002 and is currently operated by the German Company, Holiday Kreuzfahrten.

*** Glacier Bay Cruiseline's Wilderness Adventurer suffered a three-inch break in her hull last Tuesday evening after brushing against ice in Tracy Arm fjord, about 50 miles south of Juneau. The tour vessel Adventure Bound picked up 19 passengers and three crew members and took them to Juneau. The remaining crew members shored the hull break on Wilderness Adventurer and the vessel was able to sail to Auke Bay. The cruise line expects the vessel to be repaired and ready to begin its regular Alaska cruise season tomorrow.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has extended its air special to August 7, 2004, for cruises aboard the Paul Gauguin . Free round-trip economy air is available from 86 North American gateways and Early Booking Savings have also been extended for summer sailings. Business class air upgrades from Los Angeles are available for $1,895. Applicable sailing depart Papeete, Tahiti, on June 5, 12, 26, July 3, 10, 17, 31 and August 7. Ports of call on the week-long voyages are Raiatea (the cultural heart of Polynesia), Tahaa (for a call at the ship's private islet of Motu Mahana), Bora Bora (for two full days on the island James Michener used as the model of his idyllic "Bali Hai") and two days in Moorea (the inspiration for Herman Melville's novel Omoo).

*** Royal Caribbean International's Grandeur of the Seas has arrived in Baltimore for a series of seven to 11-night Caribbean, Bahamas/Orlando and 11-night Canada/New England cruises until Oct. 25, 2004. Grandeur will return to Baltimore in May 2005 to sail alternating nine-night Caribbean and five-night Bermuda cruises through November 2005.

*** Carnival Cruise Line's Jubilee has begun four and five-night sailings from Jacksonville, Florida. Four-day cruises depart on Thursdays to Freeport and Nassau, The Bahamas, and return on Mondays while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays and feature Nassau and Key West. Carnival is offering special fares starting at $329 per person for the summer. The cruises operate to August 26, 2004 after which time Jubilee will be refitted and join P&O Cruises Australia as the Pacific Sun sailing from Sydney. Following the Jubilee's summer program, the 1,486-passenger Celebration will assume the Jubilee's four- and five-day itineraries and launch Jacksonville's first year-round sailings beginning Oct. 12, 2004.

*** Small ship adventure specialist Cruise West is offering a 10-night "Glacier Wonderland" cruise-tour package which explores the remote regions of Prince William Sound and Denali Park by way of ship, bush plane, wilderness van and luxury domed railcar. Included is a four-night Prince William Sound cruise on Cruise West's 78-passenger Spirit of Alaska, two-night stays at two of Alaska's native-owned wilderness lodges, Kantishna Lodge and Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, a night at the Sheraton Anchorage, all transportation, most meals, Cordova sightseeing, bush plane flight deep into Denali Park and two fjord country kayaking excursions. Weekly Tuesday departures run from May 25 to August 17, 2004 at prices from $3,699 to $4,849 per person, double.

*** Princess is launching a new rail program from Whittier for the 2005 Alaska season. The "Direct to the Wilderness" rail program will have trains meet passengers right at the Whittier dock. The rail service will take passengers to the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge or Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge via private direct-rail links. This will be the fastest way to the Denali area and every tour will offer at least two nights in the park area. This new service is offered in conjunction with Princess' 2005 Gulf of Alaska program, between Vancouver and Whittier aboard Coral Princess, Island Princess, Dawn Princess and Sun Princess from May 7 to September 12, 2005. All cruises call at Glacier Bay National Park.

*** Princess has completed $26 million in upgrades to both the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, including the addition of new guest rooms and dining and shopping venues. Both properties re-opened last Wednesday for the 2004 season.

*** Crystal Cruises has created new, low-carbohydrate menus which will roll out this month fleetwide on Crystal Symphony, Crystal Harmony and Crystal Serenity. The new offerings - including special pastas, ice creams and breakfast selections - will appear on Crystal's daily menus in addition to the line's Light & Healthy cuisine featuring selections low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. The three-course menus are based on recipes with carefully calculated carbohydrate counts and include an appetizer, entree and dessert. Low-carb selections will be available throughout each ship including special ice creams served at the Scoops Ice Cream Bar, low-carb fare at Palm Court for afternoon tea, and special selections on the poolside Trident Bar & Grill menu.

*** NCL America is holding an art contest for students in Hawaii, in celebration of the launch of Pride of Aloha, the U.S.-flagged cruise ship which begins year-round sailings from Honolulu on July 4. Participants are being asked to submit a crayon or colored pen drawing, reflecting the theme "What Aloha Means to Me." Entries will be judged in three categories: kindergarten through 4th grade, grades 5-8, and grades 9-12. The first-place winners in each category receive a seven-day inter-island cruise. Entry forms will be available on NCL America's Web site,, and will also be available at local schools. Entries must be submitted by June 1.

*** Star Clippers' 2005 Europe season aboard its fleet of luxury sailing ships will feature four new 10 and 11-night cruises round-trip from Cannes. The sailings aboard Star Clipper depart on July 2, 13, August 13 and 24, 2005 include a full day and night in St. Tropez, plus visits to St. Florent, Bonifacio and Calvi in Corsica, Sorrento, the Aeolian island of Lipari, the Isle of Capri, Portoferraio on the island of Elba as well as Palermo and Taormina Sicily. Star Clipper will also repeat her seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises round-trip from Cannes from May to mid-October, 2005. Royal Clipper will again sail 10 and 11-night cruises between Rome and Venice as well as seven-night cruises round-trip from Rome. Star Flyer will again be in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea sailing seven-night cruises round-trip from Athens with four departures between Athens and Istanbul on May 28, June 4, September 10 and 17, 2005.

*** Princess Cruises will send five ships to Europe in 2005 sailing in the Mediterranean, Baltic, Northern and Western Europe including the three 109,000-ton Grand-class ships, Grand, Golden and Star Princess. Grand Princess will return to the Mediterranean, offering an enhanced Grand Mediterranean itinerary between Barcelona and Venice now calling at Rome, Istanbul, Marseille (for Provence) and M�konos on every sailing as well as Livorno (for Florence/Pisa), Naples, Athens and Kusadasi. Grand Princess will also offer eight Greek Isles sailings, with two different 12-day itineraries between Rome and Venice. Star Princess will take over Princess' two Baltic routes, with two full days in St. Petersburg, and Golden Princess will break new ground for a ship of her class by offering cruises throughout Northern Europe, including a new Western European Capitals sailing. The 77,000-ton Sea Princess returns to the Princess fleet for a variety of unique 14- and seven-day sailings from Southampton, while Royal Princess will offer her final Princess voyage, a 14-day European Explorer cruise from Rome to London on May 12, 2005. Ports of call are Florence/Pisa, Cannes, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Casablanca, Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo, Le Havre, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. Together, these five vessels offer 57 departures between April 16 and November 10, 2005, sailing on 20 itineraries which feature more than 74 different ports of call or destinations.

*** The preliminary investigation into the cause of last November's shipyard accident involving the Queen Mary 2 has concluded that the gangway which collapsed did not have diagonal support beams. The number of people on the gangway was not a factor, public prosecutors in France stated. The accident killed 15 people and left 28 people injured November 15. Queen Mary 2 was in dry dock at the time of the incident. Workers and their families were visiting the vessel for an open house that day while work continued to prepare the vessel for delivery to Cunard Line. Back to Top

5-7-04 Weekend Cruise News *** Jewel of the Seas is being christened today in Southampton, England with Kathy Mellor, the National Teacher of the Year for 2004, acting as godmother. RCI's newest ship is the fourth and final in the 90,090-ton Radiance-class series. Jewel has been sailing several introductory cruises prior to today's events. For the summer she will sail a series of 12-night cruises from Harwich, England, to Scandinavia/Russia and the British Isles/Norwegian Fjords. In September, she repositions to Boston to cruise Canada and New England to November, when she moves to Ft. Lauderdale for Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises through April 2005. Godmother, Kathy Mellor, has taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for 19 years at Davisville Middle School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, received America's highest teaching honor last week at a White House ceremony. The christening of Jewel of the Seas, marks the culmination of National PTA Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-8.

*** Diamond Princess became the largest cruise ship to ever call at Vancouver, BC and Ketchikan, Alaska this week. The 116,000-ton ship was en route to Seattle where she will homeport for seven-night Alaska cruises starting tomorrow May 8, through September 12. Sister-ship, Sapphire Princess will be christened in Seattle in June and join Diamond on weekly Alaska sailings from the port. The Japanese built sister-ships become the largest cruise ships to ever sail to Alaska, eclipsing Star Princess (109,000-tons) which has held the record since 2002.

*** The new Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ opens this weekend with the arrival of Empress of the Seas. The vessel has just undergone a major renovation and is ready to commence six and eight-night Bermuda sailings for the summer from the new cruise port. Voyager of the Seas will arrive at Cape Liberty on May 14 and RCI is planning official ceremonies to open the port that day. Gov. James McGreevey, Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr. and other dignitaries have been invited to attend. Voyager will sail alternating Caribbean and Canada/New England cruises from Cape Liberty from May 16 to October 22, 2004.

*** Royal Caribbean will send Sovereign of the Seas into drydock for a major refit in November. The 73,192-ton ship is slated for an extreme makeover including the addition of the line's Latin lounge, Boleros, a sit-down coffee and ice cream scoop shop, and three teen-only areas. The most visible addition will be new balconies for 62 suites on Deck 10, creating the first balcony staterooms for the ship. Every stateroom and suite onboard the ship will be refurbished and new bathrooms added. New dining options include a pizza parlor, Sorrento's, as well as another new restaurant concept still under development. The Windjammer Cafe will be updated, as will the two main dining rooms, which will be completely refurbished and renamed. Sovereign of the Seas, will be the third Royal Caribbean ship to undergo extensive renovations. Monarch of the Seas, which cruises year-round from Los Angeles, was renovated in June 2003, and the newly revitalized Empress of the Seas makes her debut this weekend at Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. Sovereign was the first megaship to be built. She entered service in 1988.

*** Silversea Cruises has extended its Silver Sailing savings program to additional voyages between June 25 and December 28, 2004. The program offers up to 50% off the line's cruise-only fares. The newly discounted cruises sail in Alaska, the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South America, and the Far East including the following:

  • Silver Whisper's "Passage to Antiquity" seven-day cruise from Rome to Venice, July 28 - August 4, 2004 from $3,127 per person (40% savings).
  • Silver Shadow's "Alaska Reflections" seven-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver, September 1 - 8, 2004 from,$2,457 per person (40% savings).
  • Silver Wind's "Legendary Empires" nine-day cruise from Venice to Athens, September 2 - 11, 2004. Fares from $3,210 per person (50% savings).
  • Silver Shadow's "The Magic of Mexico" 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Puerto Caldera (Costa Rica), September 26 - October 7, 2004 from $2,560 per person (50% savings).
  • Silver Shadow's "Gems of the Caribbean" six-day cruise round-trip from Barbados November 8 - 14, 2004 from $1,548 per person (50% savings).
  • Silver Whisper's "Caribbean Celebrations" nine-day cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Colon (Panama), November 20 - 29, 2004 from $2,273 per person (50% savings).
  • Silver Whisper's "Tropical Tradewinds" seven-day cruise round-trip from Aruba from $1,748 per person (50% savings).
  • Silver Cloud's "Indochine Sojourn" 13-day cruise round-trip from Singapore to Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia from $4,048 per person (50% savings).
In addition, this is Silversea's 10th anniversary year and couples celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary on a 2004 sailing receive a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne and a $250 (per suite) shipboard credit if they book by July 31.

*** Small ship adventure specialist, Cruise West, is guaranteeing whale sightings on its eight-night "Wilderness Waterways" itinerary in Alaska. Passengers will receive a $250 refund if whales are not sighted during their cruise. The itinerary includes visits to both Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm port calls at Juneau and Sitka. Cruise West's 78-passenger Spirit of Columbia and 84-passenger Spirit of Discovery sail round-trip from Juneau, June 7 through August 30. Double-occupancy cruise rates range from $2,999 to $5,349, port charges, taxes and fees included. Single travelers can book a category "B" or "C" cabin for themselves on the Spirit of Columbia at the twin rate with no supplemental charges.

*** Disney Magic will be in Los Angeles for Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebrations and sail a series of Mexican Riviera cruises from the port. Magic will sail Saturdays on seven-night cruises to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan from May 28 through August 19, 2005. Two 14-night Panama Canal positioning cruises between Port Canaveral and Los Angeles depart on May 14 and August 20, 2005. The west coast cruises will also "test the waters" for the line which has for some time now been considering adding two more vessels to its fleet and expanding its cruising regions.

*** Holland America Line has added a new Hawaii, Tahiti and Marquesas Islands cruise to Statendam's 2005 schedule. The 30-night itinerary sails January 5, 2005, round-trip from San Diego, calling at Hilo, Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, and Kona, Hawaii; Christmas Island, Kiribati; Raiatea, Bora Bora, Papeete, Moorea in the Society Islands; Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands. Statendam sails 15-night Hawaii cruises round-trip from San Diego, February 4 to April 5, 2005 and October 3 to November 17, 2005 calling at Hilo, Hawaii; Honolulu, Oahu; Nawiliwili, Kauai; Lahaina, Maui; Kona, Hawaii and Ensenada, Mexico plus evening cruising of Kilauea volcano. Back to Top

5-7-04 Empress of the Seas Debuts Royal Caribbean International has made a major refurbishment on one of it's oldest ships, Nordic Empress, and renamed her Empress of the Seas. Most of the renovation is in the areas of dining, entertainment and spa. Plus, suite-level cabins have been enlarged. A rock-climbing wall has also been added. Empress of the seas has a new restaurant, Portofino and the Windjammer Cafe and main dining room have been enhanced. The ShipShape Fitness Center and Day Spa have been enlarged to two levels. The former High Society Lounge on Deck 6 is now Royal Caribbean's Latin-themed bar, Boleros, offering specialty tequilas and cocktails and live entertainment. Empress of the Seas also now features the line's popular Schooner Bar, a nautical-themed lounge with sing-along piano entertainment. Cabins have new and upgraded bathrooms. In addition, some staterooms, including the Royal Suite and Superior Ocean View staterooms, feature new decor. Empress of the Seas' Owner's Suites have been completely redesigned, with new furniture and finishings. Other refurbishments include general facelifts to the lobbies, elevators, landings, corridors and restrooms, and enhancements to the shopping areas and Pool Deck.

Beginning May 9, 2004, Empress of the Seas is making alternating six- and eight-night Bermuda itineraries from May through October from Bayonne, New Jersey. In late October, Empress of the Seas will reposition to San Juan, where she will offer a choice of four Southern Caribbean 11-night itineraries. Back to Top

5-6-04 HAL Raises Tips Holland America Cruises has changed its "no tipping required" policy to pre-paid gratuities of $10 per person, per day. When a passenger boards a Holland America ship, the amount will be automatically billed to his/her credit card. Gratuities may be adjusted upward or downward at the discretion of the passenger.

A HAL cruise director once told CruiseMates that with the "no tipping required" policy, passengers generally end up tipping half the normal amount found in the industry. The new tipping policy is roughly a 50% increase. Back to Top

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