News Archive - May 2005

5-27-05 Weekend Cruise News Bungee Trampoline Enchantment's Bungee Trampoline. Click image for full size *** The stretching and refurbishment of Enchantment of the Seas got underway at Rotterdam's giant drydock this week. A 73-foot midship section is being added to the ship which will emerge with 151 new staterooms. New additions onboard will be RCI's first bungee trampolines, seen above, the alternative restaurant Chops Grill, a conference facility, the Latin styled Boleros Lounge and Latte-tudes Coffee Shop. Enchantment of the Seas is a Vision-class ship, built in 1997. She will re-enter service July 7, 2005 sailing Canada New England cruises for the summer from Cape Liberty, Boston, Philadelphia and Quebec City. Year-round, four and five-night Western Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale commence October 10. For more on the stretch see Anne Campbell's article A Stretch in Time...

*** Royal Princess completed her final cruise for Princess yesterday, the same day the Sea Princess was christened in Southampton. The two ships are switching cruise lines: Sea Princess returned to Princess Cruises last month after sailing for P&O Cruises for two years as Adonia, while Royal begins sailing for P&O as the Artemis on June 17. British actress Joanna Lumley christened Sea Princess during ceremonies which included a gala dinner in aid of Barnardo's, the British children's charity, which Lumley has supported since 1983.

*** Radisson Diamond embarks on her final cruise for Radisson Seven Seas Cruises on Saturday, a seven-night sailing from Venice to Athens. The unique, twin-hulled vessel had sailed for Radisson since 1992. The move leaves Radisson with three ships sailing worldwide, Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager. Radisson also operates the Paul Gauguin, sailing in Tahiti.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway left Bremerhaven this week under tow, heading for Asia. Parent company, Star Cruises, indicated last month that they would send the Norway to Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia after plans to convert the vessel into an attraction in Europe failed. The Norway left service following the tragic boiler explosion in Miami in May, 2003. It was an historic sail out as Norway passed NCL's newest ship, Pride of America, which was returning from sea trials at the time. Pride of America is scheduled for delivery June 6.

*** Peter Deilmann Cruises has expanded the non-smoking policy onboard its European river ships and ocean liner, Deutschland. Smoke-free areas on its ships now include all cabins and corridors. The line has restricted smoking in the main lounges to designated areas on all the river ships and the Deutschland. Two other new smoke-free areas on the Deutschland are the Emperor's Ballroom and Lido Terrace. The restaurants on the river ships are smoke-free while the Deutschland continues to have designated areas for smoking in the restaurants. Deilmann offers more than 240 European river cruises each year ranging in length from seven to 14 nights from late March through October (through mid-November in France) that bring passengers right into the heart of Europe's cities, towns and villages. This year Deilmann is introducing new itineraries on the Seine River from Paris with stops in Le Havre, Rouen and Vernon (Giverny) and new cruises through the Rhine Main Canal. The 22,400-ton, 513-passenger Deutschland sails worldwide itineraries spending the summer in Europe.

*** Silversea's Silver Shadow and Silver Wind will sail six exotic voyages to Africa and the Indian Ocean between November 5, 2005 to January 14, 2006. Pre and post cruise packages are being offered in conjunction with these sailings in Cape Town, Port Said (Cairo), Mombasa and Singapore. In conjunction with Micato Safaris, the South African tours include a three-night visit to wineries at Paarl with accommodation at Relais & Ch�teaux boutique lodgings; a four-night package to view the wildlife of Londolozi; and a five-night tour to Victoria Falls & Chobe Game Reserve. Available as both a pre- and post-cruise option, the program ranges from $3,075 to $6,525 per person, based on double occupancy.

*** Disney Magic begins seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles tomorrow. The 1,754-passenger ship is participating in Disneyland's fiftieth birthday celebrations for the summer. Magic heads back to Port Canaveral on September 3. Disney has revitalized its cruise line web site at The new site features more photos and virtual ship tours. Passengers already booked on Disney can reserve their onboard activities and shore excursions prior to sailing.

*** Carnival has announced the first Presidential Wine Club cruise. The "Carnival Wine Cruise" aboard the Carnival Liberty is a six-night cruise, December 4, 2005, sailing round-trip from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. The event will be hosted by Carnival President and CEO Bob Dickinson, a noted wine collector and connoisseur who is the namesake behind the Presidential Wine Club. The cruise will feature a number of exclusive events, including gala wine tastings, informative seminars with wine experts, and wine-themed parties. All participants will also receive a gift bag of wine-related accessories from Wine Spectator magazine. Although participants need not be members of the Presidential Wine Club to participate in the cruise, club members will receive more than $200 in free merchandise and discounts, as well as access to several members-only events during the voyage including a seminar hosted by Riedel Crystal. Launched earlier this year, the Presidential Wine Club provides members with two bottles of select boutique wines each month from small wineries located in California, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina and Australia. The cost is $39.99 per month plus $9.99 shipping and handling. Members also have access to a Web site that serves as an on-line wine information and communication resource featuring interactive message boards and a monthly "Ask Bob" column by the cruise line's president. Members also qualify for discounts on special wine purchases and wine-related products and accessories sold through the Web site. Presidential Wine Club membership is available by visiting or calling toll-free 1-888-292-2582. The Carnival Wine Cruise can be booked through any travel agent.

*** In honor of Pride of America's debut June 17, NCL America has released the results of a national survey it commissioned to find out what makes Americans proud of their country. Nearly half of all U.S adult respondents said they are most proud of the freedoms granted by the Constitution (44%). Diversity of the American culture (14%) ranked second. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said they are proud of American military personnel while 21 percent said they are proud of U.S. educators, 16 percent acknowledge U.S. police and fire fighters, and 15 percent salute American parents. As for American culture, survey respondents take the most pride in sports (22%), music (21%) and literature (19%). The 2,002-passenger Pride of America is U.S. registered and U.S. crewed. Following inaugural cruises en route from New York to Honolulu, the vessel will sail year-round cruises in the Hawaiian islands. Pride of America salutes the United States with stars and stripes hull artwork and its public rooms: a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras Cabaret Lounge, Alaskan Gold Rush Saloon, Key West Grill and Napa Wine Bar. The Skyline Restaurant is inspired by the architecture and skyscrapers of the 1930's; the Liberty Restaurant features a Colonial design and paintings of important historic moments; and the Capitol Atrium is modeled after the Capitol Building. Firsts for NCL include an onboard tennis court, a new category of Family Suites, the Soho Art Gallery and a tropical Conservatory. Back to Top

5-26-05 Carnival To Bermuda in 2006, 07 *** Carnival Cruise Lines has announced it will operate a six-day Bermuda cruise in 2006 and a second in 2007 aboard the 88,500 Carnival Legend. Sailing from New York, the cruises will depart April 20, 2006 and April 19, 2007 with a overnight stay in King's Wharf, Bermuda plus a full-day port call in Newport, R.I. Fares start at $599 per person, double occupancy. For reservations, consult your travel agent. Back to Top

5-25-05 Celebrity cancels June 3 Summit cruise *** Celebrity Cruises canceled its June 3 seven-day Alaska cruise on Celebrity Summit out of Vancouver, and is cutting one day off the ship's May 27 sailing. Celebrity said it needs to replace a piece of the ship's propulsion system that's showing wear, so it will go into drydock in Victoria. The ship's regular schedule should resume June 10. Persons on the canceled cruise will get a full refund and a free future cruise; those on the shortened sailing will get a $300 per stateroom credit and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise. Back to Top

5-20-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Crystal Harmony will sail a series of Mexican Riviera cruises prior to leaving the Crystal fleet for the parent company in Japan this December. Four seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises depart September 28, October 15, and November 1 and 18, and three 10-night cruises sail on October 5, October 22 and November 8 round-trip from Los Angeles. Itineraries feature maiden calls at Loreto, Santa Rosal�a and La Paz in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico, as well as Cabo San Lucas, Mazatl�n, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Manzanillo, depending on itinerary and departure date. Every sailing is a theme cruise: September 28 - Health & Fitness; October 5 - Wine & Food Festival with Philadelphia's Jose Garces, executive chef at Alma de Cuba and El Vez restaurants together with Jeff Morgenthal, Wine Director at Santa Monica's Drago Restaurant; October 15 - Crystal's Comedy Club at Sea; October 22 - Health & Fitness focusing on Tai Chi with instruction by Dr. Martin and Emily Lee of Los Angeles' Tai Chi Cultural Center; November 1 - Health & Fitness with special yoga classes; November 8: a Nature & Wildlife cruise featuring UC Berkeley research fellow Gary Langham and Tom Logsdon, an award-winning rocket scientist from Seal Beach; November 18: The Creative Learning Institute provides progressive instruction in Spanish language by Berlitz and piano lessons by Yamaha. Crystal Harmony entered service in 1990 as the first ship in the Crystal fleet.

*** "Carnival's Seaside Theatre" will debut aboard Carnival Liberty, when the vessel enters service this July in Europe. The Seaside Theatre features a poolside screen for movies, concerts, sporting events and a morning show hosted by the Cruise Director. Programming will be shown on a 12-foot-high by 22-foot-wide LED (light-emitting diode) located poolside on Carnival Liberty's Lido deck. The 270-square-foot screen uses the same technology featured in large stadiums and New York's Times Square and can be seen during both the day and evening hours. A 70,000-watt sound system, provides concert quality sound, even outdoors. For national sporting events, various food and drink specials will be available. During deck parties, music videos, along with live shots of the band and party guests, will be displayed. Kids' favorite movies and cartoons will also be shown while Play Station 2 units will be connected to the system to provide a larger-than-life video game experience.

*** Radisson Seven Seas' Paul Gauguin is offering a special kids program in Tahiti this summer. Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society, will once again bring the "Ambassadors of the Environment" program onboard for children sailing the South Pacific June 11 to August 20. Space is still available on the August 13 and 20 seven-night sailings, roundtrip from Papeete, Tahiti, calling at Raiatea, Tahaa, Motu Mahana, Bora Bora and Moorea. The environmental program teaches junior cruisers aged nine to 15 about marine and island ecosystems and traditional Polynesian culture. Participants will explore coral reef habitats, hike rainforest trails, visit ancient temples (marae), learn how black pearls and vanilla are cultivated, come to see how volcanic islands become coral atolls, learn from Polynesian youth how to paddle an outrigger canoe, prepare traditional food, dance Polynesian style and play team-building games while enjoying the ways the practice of nature conservation contributes to daily life in French Polynesia. Children are supervised by qualified naturalist counselors who have a degree in natural or environment science, experience working with young people and are first aid/CPR and lifeguard-certified. Enrollment in the "Ambassadors of the Environment" program is $199 per child in addition to the cruise fare.

*** United States Senator Bob Graham will be featured as a guest speaker aboard Norwegian Sun for a seven-night Alaska cruise round-trip from Vancouver on July 31, 2005. In his lectures, Senator Graham will share recollections from his almost 40 years in public life serving as a Florida Legislator, Governor, United States Senator and recent Presidential candidate. Lecture topics are "Intelligence Matters," which is also the name of his critically acclaimed new book he will sign on board, and "Public Service Memoirs and The Challenges Facing America." His wife, Adele, will also serve as a guest lecturer, speaking on "Reflections on life in the Governor's Mansion and in Washington, DC." She will discuss the public and private challenges she faced in Tallahassee and Washington, DC and the excitement of being at the center of it all for three decades. The Grahams' four daughters and their families, including eleven grandchildren, will join them on the cruise. Norwegian Sun will call at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau and Skagway as well as the Sawyer Glaciers in Tracy Arm fjord on the Inside Passage cruise.

*** Star Clipper's luxury sailing ships will introduce some new routes in Europe in 2006. The 170-passenger Star Clipper sails new 10 and 11-night sailings between Cannes and Dubrovnik, Croatia calling at ports in France, Italy and Greece. Seven-night Western Mediterranean sailings, round-trip from Cannes, visit France, Monaco, the islands of Corsica and Elba as well as Italy. Sister ship Star Flyer sails round-trip from Piraeus (Athens) and between Athens and Istanbul on seven-night cruises calling at the Greek Isles and Turkey. The five-masted, 227-passenger Royal Clipper sails round-trip from Civitavecchia (Rome) on seven-night sailings to ports in Italy. 10 and 11-night cruises between Rome and Venice call at Greece, Italy and Croatia.

*** Crystal Cruises has released a 20-page Cruise Guide, a preview of the line's 100-page Cruise Atlas due out in June. Crystal will explore 168 ports in 79 countries next year, visiting 15 more countries than in 2005. Cruises range from new seven-night cruises on Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony in the Mediterranean, New England/Canada and the Baltic, to the 106-day World Cruise aboard Crystal Serenity. Complimentary copies of the 2006 Cruise Guide are available by calling 888-799-4625.

*** Costa Magica will sail two cruises to Bermuda in 2006. The seven-night sailings, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale, will depart April 21 and 28, 2006 and spend two days in both Hamilton Bermuda and Nassau, Bahamas. The cruises follow a winter season of seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale. Costa Magica is the flagship of Costa Cruises. The 105,000-ton, 2,720-passenger vessel has a wide array of facilities including two, split-level restaurants, self-service buffet, a specialty restaurant, pizzeria, a theater extending over three decks, a two story disco, 11 bars, an Internet cafe, casino, health and beauty center, four swimming pools (including a children's splash pool) and six Jacuzzis. The decorative theme onboard is fascinating destinations in Italy. Fares for the new Bermuda sailings start at $799. per person.

*** P&O Cruises Aurora went to the aid of a yachtsman in the English Channel last Saturday in heavy seas and a force seven gale. The rescue took place during the yacht race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Cherbourg, France. The yachtsman had fallen into the sea from his 51-foot boat, the Grandee. The man managed to get back onboard the yacht with the aid of his crew and the boat then headed to Weymouth for medical assistance. Two other people were injured during the race. A total of nine yachts in the region sent out distress calls last Saturday. Back to Top

5-13-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Reports from Bermuda indicate that Norwegian Majesty damaged three yachts at St. George's while sailing into port during strong winds on Wednesday. One yacht, the Serengeti, leaned at a 45 degree angle and looked to be nearly sucked under the cruise ship before bouncing back and sailing away. Onlookers reported the anchor chain of one yacht appeared to be caught by Norwegian Majesty's propeller. The incident is under investigation by the Marine Police. Adverse weather in the Atlantic also forced the cancelation of Norwegian Dawn's one night Mothers' Day cruise last Sunday as the vessel was delayed returning to New York from the Bahamas until 5:00 p.m. that day.

*** Carnival has added three new revues to its 35 different Vegas-style production shows already presented fleetwide. The new "Carnival Legends" show, which recently debuted on the Imagination, gives passengers the chance to perform their favorite singer's signature tunes backed by a 10-piece orchestra and full complement of dancers. "Carnival Legends" is open to all passengers regardless of their level of vocal talent. Passengers can select from such stars as Gloria Estefan, Britney Spears, or several other pop, rock, and country music artists. Also new is a "Welcome Aboard" show which introduces the shipboard entertainers. Hosted by the cruise director, the high-energy show encourages audience participation. The show is currently on five ships and will be introduced fleetwide later this year. "Once In My Lifetime" is a new revue centering on Christopher Alan Graves, whose appearances in Carnival's production shows over the years has made him an audience favorite. Debuting on Carnival Liberty this summer, "Once In My Lifetime" is a musical journey through Graves' life, which includes "Nessun Dorma", a nod to Graves' Italian heritage, standards from the Broadway musicals "Guys and Dolls" and "Phantom of the Opera" reflecting his early musical influences and several Caribbean numbers inspired by his years performing aboard Carnival ships. "Glory Days," recently debuted on Carnival Glory. The hour-long show features classic tunes from the 1950s and 60s, with costumes appropriate to each era. Staged in an alternative venue to the main show lounge, the more intimate space encourages audience participation and interaction with the performers. An adaptation of "Glory Days" is expected to be included in the entertainment line-up when the new Carnival Liberty debuts from Europe this summer.

*** Holland America Line has partnered with Food & Wine magazine to bring top chefs and wine experts onboard for its Culinary Arts Center program. Operating on all sailings, the program offers cooking demonstrations and wine tastings several times each cruise. Food & Wine will also provide recipe cards and wine tasting notes that passengers guests may take home along with copies of the magazine. Also planned are book signings, question and answer sessions, market tours in ports of call, specially designed on-board menus and more. Food and Wine's guest chefs already slated to participate are Michelle Bernstein, co-host of The Food Network's Melting Pot, Statendam to Alaska, September 9, 2005. Neal Gallagher, who received the Food & Wine Best New Chef honor in 2003, Westerdam, Caribbean, November 13, 2005. In addition, Holland America has lined up Beatrice Ojakangas, an expert on Scandinavian cuisine and a cookbook author, who will sail on the June 6, 2005, Prinsendam cruise to the Baltic, and Ying Chang Compestine, an internationally recognized Asian healthy cuisine author, who sails aboard the Amsterdam in Asia on October 26, 2005, and on the December 22, 2005, Hawaii holiday sailing.

*** With the 2005 Alaska season now underway, cruise lines are starting to open bookings for the 2006 season. Princess Cruises will move the largest cruise ships sailing in Alaska, Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess, to Vancouver from Seattle next year. The two vessels will sail the one-way Gulf of Alaska program between Vancouver and Whittier, along with Island Princess and Coral Princess. The smaller Sun Princess and Dawn Princess will take over the weekly Inside Passage sailings round-trip from Seattle. Regal Princess will be back to sail 10-night Alaska cruises from San Francisco some of which will include a call at Icy Strait Point at Hoonah, the new cruise port situated in a prime wildlife viewing area. Celebrity Cruises will repeat its program of sailings with Summit sailing between Vancouver and Seward while Infinity and Mercury will sail the Inside Passage round-trip from Vancouver and Seattle respectively. For the first time, Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas will homeport in Seattle for weekly Alaska sailings on Fridays. Radiance of the Seas takes over the Vancouver-Seward sailings while sister-ship Serenade of the Seas repeats her round-trip Vancouver cruises on Sundays. Crystal Cruises will be absent from the region next year however the luxury market gains Silversea's Silver Shadow, returning to after a one-season absence with sailings from Vancouver and San Francisco. The all suite, all balcony Seven Seas Mariner will also return for sailings from Vancouver.

*** Silversea has launched a new program of "Elegant Explorations" for 2006. The new program offers in-depth cultural experiences on nine extended voyages ranging in length from 34 to 123 days. These itineraries call at traditional ports as well as exotic destinations off the beaten path including Ilheus, Brazil; Kangaroo Island, Australia; and Kura Kura, Indonesia. More overnight stays in port give passengers the chance to experience the local culture and cuisine. The sailings depart from January to October focusing on Western Europe, the Mediterranean, South America, the Far East and South Pacific. Silversea is offering the extended sailings with onboard spending credits of $500 (per person) for passengers sailing 40 to 70 days and $750 for those sailing 71 to 100 days. Complimentary Business Class air upgrades are also available with the purchase of optional air and hotel program on voyages of 50 or more consecutive days. In addition, Early Booking Incentive savings of up to 30% off the published fare; an additional 5% Advance Payment Bonus savings when payment is made six months prior to sailing; Combination Cruise savings of 5%; and Venetian Society savings of 5% are available.

*** Crystal Cruises has 33 new shore excursions lined up for this year's Canada/New England sailings aboard Crystal Symphony. There are 72 excursions in all covering a wide range of interests and activities. They include a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge; a Broadway performance and private lunch with the cast of Wicked; Lessons in Charleston's Lowcountry cooking; bicycling tours through Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and along the Charles River; horseback riding in Quebec's Jacques Cartier Park; and coastal kayaking along Bar Harbor's Frenchman's Bay. In conjunction with new overnight calls at Boston, Crystal offers an evening theater outings to see Blue Man Group or Shear Madness; a land/sea tour of Boston aboard a WWII amphibious "Duck; a visit to TV-famous "Cheers," the neighborhood brewery of TV fame and a trip to Fenway Park. Three Wine & Food Festival cruises in the fall will feature guest chefs and special culinary excursions ashore. Crystal Symphony will sail three 11-night cruises between New York and Montreal (September 17 and 28; October 16), a seven-night round-trip from New York (October 9), and a 10-night colonial coast itinerary from Montreal to Ft. Lauderdale (October 27). Back to Top

5-12-05 Carnival Returns to Europe in 2006 *** Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that the 110,000-ton Carnival Liberty, which debuts in the Mediterranean this year, will return to Europe in May, 2006. The ship will operate a second series of 12-day "Grand Mediterranean" cruises round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia) May 7 - Oct. 22, 2006. The itinerary includes extended port calls in Naples, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Venice, Italy (two-day call); Messina, Sicily; Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; and Livorno, Italy. Prior to and following this program, Carnival Liberty will operate 14- and 16-day transatlantic voyages between Rome (Civitavecchia) and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in April and November 2006, respectively. Carnival will begin accepting reservations for Carnival Liberty's 2006 Mediterranean and transatlantic cruises on May 25, 2005. Prices for the Mediterranean cruises begin at $1,299 per person; the 14-day transatlantic voyage departing Apr. 23, 2006 starts at $799 per person; and the 16-day transatlantic voyage departing Nov. 3 begins at $1199 per person. All rates are based on double occupancy. For reservations contact your travel agent. Back to Top

5-6-05 Weekend Cruise News Freedom of the Seas Freedom of the Seas' Hot Tubs. Click for full size *** Freedom of the Seas' pool deck will introduce a water park for families, an adults-only solarium and a sports pool. Located on the top deck of the ship, the new aqua areas are a first for RCI. For more on Freedom of the Seas, click here.

*** MSC Cruises' Lirica scored a perfect 100 on its health inspection on April 22. The vessel was in Ft. Lauderdale preparing for her final Caribbean cruise of the season when the inspectors arrived. Passengers applauded when an announcement was made from the bridge reporting the perfect score. Lirica's crew members received T shirts and attended a party held in a passenger area in celebration of the achievement. The United States Public Health Service evaluates 42 items in the areas of proper food handling, preparation and storage procedures, overall galley cleanliness, and potable water supplies used in spas and pools. The unannounced inspections are conducted twice a year and are required for any cruise ship with an international itinerary calling at a U.S. port.

*** The Alaska season is underway with the arrival of Alaska bound cruise ships in Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco this week. Sun Princess, Radiance of the Seas, Island Princess, Ryndam and Norwegian Sun begin sailing from Vancouver this weekend. Diamond Princess and Oosterdam called at Vancouver earlier this week, en route to Seattle, their home port for the summer. Both vessels start their weekly Alaska sailings from Seattle tomorrow. Regal Princess sails from San Francisco to Alaska this Sunday. Crystal Harmony sails from Vancouver on Monday to begin her Alaska season which includes sailings from both Vancouver and San Francisco. The Alaska season operates through September. A total of 29 ships will sail this year from West Coast ports to Alaska.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has special offers on its October 22, 30 and November 6 Mediterranean cruises aboard Seven Seas Voyager. Cooler temperatures and fewer crowds make these dates a good time to visit the region. The October 22 and 30 sailings include either free economy air, $1,000 per person savings, or business class air at economy rates while the November 6 "Moorish Discoveries" sailing features 40% per person savings. Book the October 30 cruise by May 31 to receive a complimentary two-category suite upgrade. The October 22 cruise from Monte Carlo to Piraeus (Athens) calls at Livorno (Florence), Civitavecchia (Rome), Sorrento, Naxos (Taormina), Rhodes and Kusadasi. The October 30 cruise has an Antiques theme. "The Maltese Falcon" will be shown and a guest lecturer on antiques and valuables will be onboard for the sailing from Piraeus (Athens) to Monte Carlo via Kusadasi, Rhodes, Heraklion, Sorrento, and Civitavecchia (Rome). Hilary Kay of the Antiques Roadshow will escort passengers on excursions ashore and host the "Antiques Boatshow" on the last night of the cruise. Deep sea explorer, environmentalist, educator and film producer Jean-Michel Cousteau will also be aboard this sailing. The November 6 cruise from Monte Carlo to Funchal calls at Barcelona, Valencia, M�laga, Casablanca, Agadir, and Lanzarote. It is a Big Band cruise with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra onboard. The Le Cordon Bleu cooking workshops will be held on this sailing for 16 participants at a cost is $395 per person.

*** Crystal Serenity's 2006 World Cruise features 250 shore excursions including 83 new excursions and 11 safaris in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia and Botswana. Three of the new excursions are a walk on the ocean floor in Bora Bora, a four-wheeling safari along New Zealand's Seal Coast and a hike through the Black River Gorges in Mauritius. The 106-night cruise sails from Los Angeles to London visiting 41 ports in 25 countries. It is available in seven segments ranging from 11 to 19 days, each of which includes a complimentary shore event such as a pilgrimage to the tomb of an Old Testament prophet in Oman and an excursion through New Zealand's Taieri Gorge.

*** Cruise West will return to Costa Rica/Panama, the Sea of Cortez, California wine country, the Columbia River and British Columbia in 2006, as well as sailing in Alaska, the line's main destination. The "America's" itineraries aboard the line's 70 to 118-passenger ships are destination focused and visit places the larger ships can't reach. The onboard style is casual and each sailing has an enrichment program with onboard narrative and lectures, special local guests from a wide variety of backgrounds, plus a library provided on each vessel. All ships have forward lounges and outdoor deck space for viewing and photographing wildlife and scenery.

*** A Bill to allow slot machines, gaming tables and horse wagering on Mississippi River cruises is being considered by the Louisiana Legislature. Should the Bill pass, it would allow gambling aboard Delta Queen Steamboat Co.'s Mississippi Queen and American Queen riverboats as it applies to vessels with more than 400 berths sailing cruises of more than two days. Back to Top

5-06-05 Freedom of the Seas *** A family water park, dedicated sports pool and cantilevered whirlpools perched 14 decks above the sea are only a few new features to be found aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. When she debuts in May 2006 the vessel will be the largest cruise ship ever built, with a total passenger capacity of 4,370 people (3,600 double).

The 158,000-ton Freedom of the Seas has many of the Voyager-class features such as rock climbing wall, central promenade and ice skating rink. But Royal Caribbean is putting good use to the extra tonnage by enhancing pool deck features.

A designated pool area for families, H2O Zone, will feature large, brightly hued sculptures that spray water in every direction. A circular pool will shoot a current of water in a river around a central island and guests can float with the flow as they are misted by sculptures. In addition, there will be a wading pool for toddlers.

An adult-only pool area is the popular Solarium, boasting tropical foliage, towering sculpted palm trees, hammocks and two seven-foot parrots overlooking the secluded area. Music will be piped in underwater. Two large cantilevered whirlpools will extend 12 feet out from the sides of the ship overlooking the ocean from a height of 112 feet.

The central pool will be dedicated to sports buffs who challenge each other in water games such as pool volleyball and basketball, floating golf and pole jousting. At night the main pool area will become an open-air nightclub, with a large dance floor situation between two pools where RCI will schedule live music, themed parties and nightclub DJ.

Freedom of the Seas will also boast an enormous four-bedroom Presidential Suite with 1,215 sq. ft. of interior living space. The balcony will have a whirlpool, wet bar, eight lounge chairs and a 14-person table for dining al fresco. In addition, there will be five additional categories of family cabins ranging from six-person inside staterooms to eight-person Royal Suites and one accessible family stateroom. Royal Caribbean is adding flat-panel televisions to all cabins.

Freedom of the Seas will home port in Miami sailing on one-week cruises to the Western Caribbean ports of Cozumel; Grand Cayman; Jamaica and RCI's private island, Labadee.

For reservations, contact your travel agent. Additional information may be obtained by visiting -- posted by Anne Campbell Back to Top

5-3-05 NCL Announces New Ship *** Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has announced a new ship order for a 2,384-passenger ship scheduled for delivery in October, 2007. A sister ship to Norwegian Jewel, scheduled to enter service this August, the newbuild will be NCL's fifth new ship scheduled to enter the NCL fleet during the next 28 months. Back to Top

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