May 2007 Cruise News

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5-31-07: Carnival Splendour Construction Photos Carnival Cruise Lines' new 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor reached a significant milestone in the construction when the vessel's hull was lowered into place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Sestri, Italy.

Representing a new class of vessel for the line, Carnival Splendor will offer a host of innovations, including a luxurious 21,000-square-foot health and fitness center featuring a thalassotherapy pool and an elaborate thermal suite. Surrounding the facility will be 68 spa staterooms and suites - a first for the line. The ship's numerous family-friendly amenities will include a water spray park and a 5,500-square-foot children's play area - the largest in the Carnival fleet.

The 3,006-passenger SuperLiner - to be the largest in the "Fun Ship" fleet - is scheduled to enter service from London (Dover) July 13, 2008, inaugurating the line's first Northern Europe cruise program.

Following its 12-day Northern Europe cruise program running July 13 - Aug. 30, 2008, Carnival Splendor will operate 12-day voyages to the Mediterranean and Greek Isles, a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing and seven-day Caribbean voyages from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., beginning Nov. 22, 2008.

click on pictures below for larger images:

Guiding the Bow into Place   Final Positioning of the Bow

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5-31-07: Majestic America Line has Joined CLIA Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced today that Majestic America Line has joined its membership. Based in Seattle, Majestic America Line is America's largest river and coastal cruise company.

Majestic America Line, formed through the combination of American West Steamboat Company and the vessels of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company, is a division of Ambassadors Cruise Group, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ambassadors International, Inc. Together with Ambassadors International Cruise Group, Ambassadors Cruise Group operates both Majestic America Line and Windstar Cruises, a leader in luxury small ship cruising. The line operates seven U.S.-flagged vessels in three distinct regions of America - the Mississippi, Ohio and tributary rivers; Pacific Northwest's Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers; and Alaska's Inside Passage.

The cruise line membership of CLIA now totals 22 and represents more than 97 percent of the cruise capacity marketed in North America.

"We are particularly excited to provide this esteemed industry association with our unique perspective on small-ship and niche-cruising," commented David Giersdorf, president, Majestic America Line. "CLIA's tireless education and training efforts bring tremendous value to its travel agency members, and we look forward to strengthening those relationships and working together to promote the cruise industry."

The company's U.S.-crewed vessels provide guests with "the perfect setting to discover indigenous wildlife, natural wonders and engage in the stories, history and art that these legendary rivers have inspired over the years."

In 2007, Majestic America Line introduced a comprehensive onboard enrichment program that will bring more than 28 regional experts, including famed photographers, award-winning historians, compelling story tellers and wildlife experts aboard its more than 200 voyages. In addition, the line enhanced its culinary program to create a dining experience that celebrates the distinctive regional flavors of America.

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5-26-07: Weekend Cruise News 10-26-07 *** Oceania Cruises recently made its maiden call in Sarande, Albania. Regatta was the first major North American cruise ship to call in Sarande, affording guests a unique cultural opportunity. Albania, which is located at the southwestern end of the Adriatic Sea, has just recently become accessible to western tourists.

Oceania Cruises plans two more calls in Sarande during 2007; guests sailing on Insignia's September 3 and October 17 departures of the Path of the Phoenicians will have the opportunity to explore the region, including excursions to the ruins of Butrint, its Amphitheatre, Basilica, and the five-centuries-old settlement which has been excavated over the past fifty years. In 2008, Oceania Cruises plans eight calls in Sarande: Nautica's voyages departing on May 20, July 19, Sept 5 and, 17, Oct 13 and 25, and Insignia's August 20th voyage.

Guests on these voyages will also have the opportunity to visit Lekuresi Castle and Blue Eye, a natural deep-water lake with unusual coloring; the ancient city of Foenike, the church of Mesopotami, and the medieval village of Gjirokastra. Also, because of its proximity to Italy, shopping bargains abound on items such as Murano glass, marbled paper and Venetian masks.

*** Star Clippers has opened the books and is taking reservations for 2008 voyages aboard Star Clipper, Star Flyer and its flagship Royal Clipper. Come January 2008, Star Flyer's inaugural season in French Polynesia includes seven-, 10- and 11-night round-trip Papeete, Tahiti, cruises -- guests will enjoy several overnight calls, breathtaking scenery and numerous opportunities to snorkel and dive in some of the most spectacular sites in the world. And shore excursions are designed to introduce guests to the fascinating culture and history of the Polynesian people.

Ports of call on the year-round cruises include Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Cook Bay and Opunohu Bay (Moorea) in the Society Islands, and Fakarava and Tiputa (Rangiroa) in the Tuamotu Atolls.

Star Clipper will assume the Far East route with two different seven-night round-trip Phuket, Thailand, itineraries. The intimate ship, carrying just 170 passengers, visits tiny island jewels throughout Thailand and Malaysia. The Southern Route includes calls at Batong Group, Penang, Ko Lipe, Ko Khai Nok, Phang Nga/Ko Hong and Similan Islands, while the Northern Route includes Surin, Similan and Phi Phi Islands, Hin Daeng/Ko Rok Nok, Phang Nga/Ko Khai Nok and Langkawi. The ship also will sail two seven-night cruises between Singapore and Phuket.

Star Clipper also will sail Greece and Turkey routes in 2008. The ship sails two different seven-night round-trip Athens, Greece, voyages, including stops at passenger favorites such as Rhodes and Santorini, Greece, as well as Bodrum and Kusadasi in Turkey. The 10- and 11-night itineraries sail between Athens and Venice, Italy, and call at ports throughout Greece and Croatia, as well as Kotor, Montenegro.

Royal Clipper will be the only ship in the fleet to offer Caribbean itineraries in 2008. Carrying just 227 passengers, the size of the ship allows the vessel to visit smaller ports that larger cruise ships cannot reach, making its itineraries some of Star Clippers' most popular.

Royal Clipper sails two different seven-night, round-trip Barbados itineraries. The Windward Islands itinerary features calls at St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, St. Kitts, Iles des Saintes and Martinique. The Grenadine Islands itinerary includes calls at The Grenadines, Grenada, Tobago Cays, St. Vincent, Bequia, Martinique and St. Lucia.

During the summer, Royal Clipper will return to the Mediterranean with seven-, 10- and 11-night itineraries. The seven-night cruises sail round-trip Civitavecchia (Rome) and highlight the best of Italy, including an evening sail past the still-active Stromboli volcano. The 10- and 11-night journeys that sail between Civitavecchia and Venice call at ports in Italy, Sicily, Montenegro, Greece and Croatia.

Transatlantic journeys take Royal Clipper from Barbados to Malaga, Spain, and on to Rome, and from Lisbon to Barbados. Two 37-night Indian Ocean crossings transit the Suez Canal and take Star Clipper between Phuket and Athens, calling at ports in Greece, Egypt, India and Sri Lanka.

*** Carnival Ecstasy ship passengers were kept on board held and Galveston's cruise-ship terminal was evacuated after a police dog detected a suspicious package on the dock today. Galveston port director Steve Cernak says the dog alerted officers to an unidentified substance in a package inside the Texas Cruise Ship Terminal at the Port of Galveston Friday morning.

Cernak says the K-Nine team was doing a routine sweep of the terminal before the scheduled arrival of the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy when the package was detected. Cernak says he's unsure whether the dog was trained to detect explosives or other substances. But the terminal was evacuated and passengers kept aboard the Ecstasy as a precaution. The ship finally sailed on schedule.

*** NCL Corporation today announced it is the first cruise line to participate in the U.S. Army's Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) program. Representatives of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) and NCL signed an agreement at the company's Miami headquarters to provide priority hiring status on the company's U.S.-flagged NCL America ships to qualified soldiers participating in PaYS.

PaYS is a strategic partnership program between the Army and a cross section of approximately 500 U.S. corporations and public sector agencies across the country, including Pepsi, BellSouth, Citicorp, Dell and Sears. The program was developed to help the Army attract, train and deploy talented young people who want to serve their country, but also want to help secure their future success once their Army service is complete.

Under terms of the agreement between USAREC and NCL Corporation, enlistees interested in gaining specific job training and qualifications will receive that training while in the U.S. Army. As part of the enlistment process, recruits sign a statement of understanding of intent to interview for one of approximately 50 positions on NCL America ships upon completion of their term of service.

To date, close to 30 enlisted soldiers have expressed interest in working for NCL America once they finish their terms beginning in 2009. They have applied for a variety of on-board positions including cook, bar manager, bell person, deck steward, provision master, manifest administrator, printer and youth counselor.

*** Empress of the North left Juneau last Sunday evening accompanied by two tugboats. The 360-foot riverboat style ship was arrived at Ketchikan's shipyard, Alaska Ship and Dry Dock Inc., Wednesday morning. The ship underwent temporary repairs in Juneau before it was given U.S. Coast Guard approval for the approximately 280 mile voyage south.

An inspection will determine if the final repairs can be made in Ketchikan or if the vessel will need to proceed to the Lower 48 to finish the work. The ship ran aground May 7 about 45 nautical miles, or 25 miles as the crow flies, from Juneau forcing the evacuation of 206 passengers and a portion of the 75 member crew.

The impact ripped several holes in the ship's hull. The National Transportation Safety Board and Coast Guard are investigating. The ship, built in 2003, is owned by Majestic America Line. Company officials could not say when the ship would be back in service.

*** Princess Cruises today announced it will base Sun Princess in Australia full time. The 77,000-ton Sun Princess will be the largest cruise ship ever to be based in Australia when she debuts in Sydney in November 2007. Carrying 1950 passengers, the ship will offer cruises from three homeports - Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle - throughout 2008, including the longest ever round-trip voyage from Australia - a 75-night "Grand Pacific World Cruise".

Princess Cruises' acting managing director in Australia, Dean Brown, said Princess Cruises' decision to base a ship full time in Australia was a first for the US-based cruise line, and followed strong demand from Australians for a premium cruising experience. Brown said Sun Princess would be joined over the 2008-09 summer by her sister ship, Dawn Princess, which will operate a season of cruises from Sydney, while Sun Princess sails from Melbourne.

*** Crown Princess saved a British sailor nearly delirious after he was stranded at sea for two days. He was saved in a dramatic rescue in high winds by a cruise ship captain who turned out to be his neighbor from a town 4,000 miles away. Solo sailor John Fildes probably would not have survived his ordeal if the giant luxury cruise ship Crown Princess had not canceled a planned stop in Bermuda because of the same high winds that disabled the sailboat.

Fildes, 32, an experienced yachtsman, was sailing his boat, "Dangerous When Wet," alone from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten to Rhode Island battling stormy conditions at sea when his sails apparently collapsed. He became ill as he bobbed around in the water for two days unable to keep down any food.

According to Crown Princess Capt. Alistair Clark, Fildes had been making Mayday calls on his radio for two days, but no other ships were in range to hear his pleas for help. The Crown Princess would not have been there either, except for the fact that it canceled a planned port call in Bermuda because of high winds. So the ship headed a day early to San Juan and was in position to hear the distress call.

The 113,000-ton, 950-foot-long cruise ship raced to the aide of the addled 40-foot sailboat. The dramatic rescue in high winds was part skill and part luck, according to one of the ship's officers. Hundreds of passengers watched in awe from open decks and balconies as the cruise ship slowly approached the sailboat. The high winds and 12-foot swells made the rescue quite dangerous.

The ship's crew made a decision to let the sailboat drift over and come into contact with the side of the cruise ship to make the recovery a bit safer. The Crown Princess launched a small rescue boat to pluck Fildes from his damaged vessel as the rescue boat and the sailboat bounced up and down in the high waves.

After Fildes was taken aboard the rescue boat, his sailboat rocked back and forth, its mast hitting the side of the Crown Princess as surprised passengers looked on. Its mast snapped off as the boat drifted along the side of the cruise ship and was left behind. The crew believes the sailboat, said to be worth more than $100,000, took on water and soon sank.

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5-21-07: Liberty of the Seas Officially Named Liberty of the Seas, was officially named by travel agent godmother Donnalea Madeley at the Port of Miami. The naming ceremony included performances by the Miami Children`s Chorus, blessings by Rabbi Terry Bookman and Pastor Sverre Tofte and a tribute by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain.

Performing the prestigious role often reserved for dignitaries and celebrities, Donnalea Madeley is the first travel agent to be the godmother of a Royal Caribbean ship. Ms. Madeley, of Ontario-based Marlin Travel, was selected from among nearly 2,500 nominations of exemplary women travel agents who have demonstrated dedication to philanthropy and service in their communities.

At 160,000 gross registered tons, and a capacity of 3,634 guests (double- occupancy), Liberty of the Seas was built by Aker Yards, Finland, over the course of two years. Having just completed preview sailings from Southampton, England, Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the Port of Miami, she set sail on her maiden Caribbean voyage from Miami, and will continue to depart on Saturdays, with her sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, departing on Sundays.

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5-21-07: Celebrity Orders Fourth Solstice 122,000-ton Ship. Celebrity Cruises (Miami), a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., has placed a contract for a fourth ship in the 122,000-ton Solstice class with MEYER WERFT shipyards in Papenburg, Germany. After ordering the first ship of the Solstice class in the summer of 2005, and number two and three in February and July 2006, a contract for building the fourth cruise vessel has now been signed.

The fourth ship, yet to be named, is scheduled for delivery in the autumn of 2011. The first Solstice-calss ship, Celebrity Solstice, will be completed in the autumn of 2008, to be followed by Celebrity Equinox in 2009, and Celebrity Eclipse in 2010.

These Celebrity ships will have a length overall of 315 m, a width of 36.8 m, and a tonnage of 122,000 gt. They will be able to accommodate 2,850 passengers in 1,425 cabins. The standard cabins will be extremely spacious; more than 90 % will be outside cabins, 90 % of which will have their own balconies. The vessels will be equipped with diesel engines and pod propulsion systems. The overall output of the engines will be 67,000 kW (approx. 91,000 hp).

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5-18-07: Weekend Cruise news 5-18-07 *** MSC Orchestra was christened today in Civitavecchia, Italy, by Italian film icon Sophia Loren who officially welcomed her fourth "godchild," MSC Orchestra, to the MSC Cruises' fleet. Ms. Loren was escorted to the dock-side ceremony by Ferdinando Ponti, the ship's captain. The festivities - with a decidedly musical theme - featured a concert conducted by noted film score composer Ennio Morricone.

Like sister-ship MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra is 92,400 tons, 964 feet long, with 5 restaurants (including an upscale Italian restaurant and the only cruise ship restuarant dedicated solely to Chinese cuisine), 11 bars, a casino, a 12,400-square-foot-spacious spa and fitness area, 1,240-seat theater and capable of carrying 2,550 guests.

MSC Orchestra begins sailing 7-night Mediterranean itineraries roundtrip from Venice on June 2.

*** Norwegian Star had an engine malfunction that will be delaying its return to Seattle by a few hours. Originally , the story was reported as a fire in the engine room, but the report was subsequently amended.

*** Carnival Cruises is holding a contest to name Splendor's 21,000-square-foot spa, the largest and most elaborate in the "Fun Ship" fleet. The expansive facility features Carnival's first spa staterooms and suites, a thalassotherapy pool, thermal suite, and a diverse menu of Middle Eastern and Asian therapies administered in spacious, modern treatment rooms. Carnival's "Name Our Most Spectacular Spa Ever" contest asks consumers to help find a name befitting the truly exceptional elegance of this sophisticated haven of relaxation and rejuvenation.

The grand prize will be a cruise for two in a Carnival Splendor spa suite including complimentary spa services for the entire voyage.

Spanning the forward portion of two full decks with large picture windows providing panoramic sea vistas, Carnival Splendor's spa will also feature 68 exclusive spa staterooms and suites - Carnival's first - accessible by an exclusive stairway and private elevator. Including the spa cabins and suites, the Carnival Splendor's expansive health and wellness facility will encompass more than 40,000 total square feet.

Guests who book Carnival Splendor's spa accommodations will receive a number of exclusive amenities and privileges, including unlimited use of the facility, thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, priority spa appointments with a pre-cruise concierge consultation, complimentary fitness classes, and special Carnival Splendor spa logo towels, bathrobes, and slippers for use during the cruise. One-of-a-kind Carnival Splendor in-stateroom amenity items, along with personal yoga mats and fitness bands for use during the cruise, are also included.

*** Majestic America's Empress of the North crewmembers are taking responsibility for the accident that occured in Alaska last Monday. The ship hit a charted rock as they were trying to correct course when the bottom raked across a rocky shoal, federal investigators said. The Empress of the North then drifted about two miles from the shoal, called Rocky Island, to Hanus Reef, where the crew and passengers were evacuated, said Kitty Higgins, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The riverboat-style cruise ship struck the rock early Monday about 50 nautical miles - or 25 miles as the crow flies - southwest of Juneau as the ship was traveling from Skagway to Glacier Bay. It severely damaged the ship's hull and prompted the evacuation of all 206 passengers and a portion of the 75-member crew.

The NTSB interviewed the crew Wednesday. The third mate, who was navigating, and the helmsman, who was steering, were the only people on the bridge at the time of the accident. NTSB officials could not say why the crew could not make the turn. They said they would be able to piece together a clearer picture of events when they have analyzed the ship's voyage data recorder, a device similar to an aircraft's black box.

Higgins said divers have videotaped the ship's hull. The NTSB was documenting and reviewing a half-dozen areas of damage, including broken blades on a propeller used in steering the vessel.

The ship, which was built in 2002, was involved in two other groundings along the Columbia River in recent years. In November 2003, the ship developed steering problems near The Dalles, Ore., and ran aground, causing minor injuries to a passenger and two crew members. In March 2006, it again ran aground on a sandbar near Washougal, Wash., while trying to avoid a barge. Nearly 200 passengers were evacuated.

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5-18-07: Greeks to Sue Louis Cruises for One Billion Euros The government of Greece is going to claim up to 1 billion euros in damages from the company that owns the MV Sea Diamond cruise ship which sank off Santorini in April, it announced yesterday.

As Authorities on Santorini threatened legal action last week against the Merchant Marine Ministry and Louis Hellenic Cruises as they have yet to explain how some 400 tons of diesel still in the ship's fuel tanks will be removed, Merchant Marine Minister Michalis Kefaloyiannis said that the Greek state will file a civil lawsuit against the Cyprus-owned Louis Hellenic Cruises. He says he had already contacted nine ministries to asses what damage the sinking of the vessel had caused to the sectors of the economy that fall under their authority.

A four-member committee will be set up to compile a report by July 10 that will be forwarded to the Merchant Marine Ministry's legal advisers before they file the lawsuit. Kefaloyiannis said that any damages recovered from the company would be transferred to a special fund set up improve Greece's protection against sea pollution.

Experts are still analyzing information from the ship's data recorder to work out what led to the vessel's sinking.

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5-17-07: Tommy Dorsey to Swing Crystal Serenity Crossing The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, led by the inimitable Buddy Morrow, will be featured on a trans-Atlantic Big Band & Ballroom Dance theme cruise aboard Crystal Serenity this fall. The orchestra returns for its fourth cruise with Crystal to perform tunes of the 40s, from swing and Dixieland to jazz, rhythm and blues. In addition, they will set the beat for ballroom dance competitions.

Throughout the cruise, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra will perform nightly sets as well as host Big Band Afternoon Teatime. Guests will enjoy classic Big Band movies such as The Glenn Miller Story, afternoon dances, trivia contests, swing lessons and more. Extra Ambassador Hosts, skilled in all forms of ballroom dancing, will be aboard to serve as dance partners.

Two-time Grammy Award-winner Loren Schoenberg, a noted jazz historian, conductor, museum curator and Big Band saxophonist, will share anecdotal tales about big moments in Big Band history. His lectures range from Big Band theory and the evolution of jazz to stories about the lives and talents of Louis Armstrong and naturally, the fabulous Dorsey brothers.

In Big Band history, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra is recognized as one of the best all-around dance bands, especially renowned for its ballads. Today, the orchestra's repertoire embraces not only the classics of the original Dorsey Orchestra, but also the spectrum of popular music from Dixieland, rhythm and blues, progressive jazz and contemporary.

Traveling from Lisbon, Portugal to Miami, Florida, November 9-19, 2007, the 10-day itinerary includes Crystal's only calls to The Azores and Bermuda (for an overnight) this year. Fares begin at $2,995 per person, double occupancy.

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5-17-07: Costa Serena Delivered from Shipyard The Costa Serena, the new flagship of Costa Cruises, was delivered yesterday by Fincantieri at its Sestri Ponente shipyard in Genoa. Costa Cruises has invested around 450 million euros in the construction of the Costa Serena.

Like her sister ship Costa Concordia, which entered service in July 2006, the Costa Serena is the largest passenger ship flying the Italian flag and the largest European liner in terms of capacity: 114,000 gross tonnage, 292 metres in length and accommodation for up to 3780 Guests in 1500 cabins.

Costa is already nearing its one-year booking goal of one million cruises, in just five months in 2007 they have close to 880,000 bookings, equaling the entire volume of guests carried in 2006. With three more ships already ordered and all due for delivery by 2010, the next goal is to book 1.5 million guest reservations in 2010.

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5-15-07: Royal Caribbean Names First Female Cruise Ship Captain Ever Royal Caribbean International has named Swedish mariner, Karin Stahre-Janson, as captain of Monarch of the Seas, making her the first female captain in the line's 21-ship fleet and the first woman in the industry to command a major cruise ship. Captain Stahre-Janson recently completed her first tour of duty as captain of the Los Angeles-based ship, which is 880 feet long, 106 feet wide, has 14 guest decks and routinely carries 2,400 guests and 850 crew members and sails three- and four-night cruises to San Diego, Catalina and Ensenada, Mexico. She resumes her command in August.

Captain Stahre-Janson has been an officer on Royal Caribbean's ships since 1997, when she joined the company. Starting out as First Officer on Viking Serenade and Nordic Empress, she became Chief Officer while on Vision of the Seas and continued that role on Radiance of the Seas. Adding still another stripe, she was named Staff Captain on Brilliance of the Seas, and also served in that capacity on Serenade of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.

A native of Stromstad, Sweden, a town on the Nordic country's west coast, Captain Stahre-Janson learned to sail from her parents at the age of seven in a small boat given to her by her parents. Growing up, she attended sailing camp, taught sailing and competitively raced tall ships. A lifelong sailor, Captain Stahre-Janson graduated from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden with a bachelor's degree in Nautical Science. She subsequently obtained her Unlimited Masters License enabling her to command virtually any ship of any size.

"I hope my achievements can serve as an example to young women around the world and inspire them to work toward their dreams - no matter how unusual they may be," said Captain Stahre-Janson.

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5-15-07: Small Alaska Cruiser Runs Aground A riverboat-style cruise ship, Empress of the North of the Majestic America Line, ran aground off the Alaska coast about 12:30 a.m. Monday, when crew members aboard it sent out an emergency radio message to the Coast Guard.

When Coast Guard helicopters reached the area, the vessel was listing at the southern end of Icy Strait, about 15 miles southwest of Juneau, and it began taking on water, said Petty Officer Christopher D. McLaughlin at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak.

As the ship's pumps worked to remove the water, the passengers were transferred to fishing vessels and other cruise ships in the area. Those passengers and about 130 others who were taken aboard the Coast Guard cutter Liberty were to be transferred to the Alaska state ferry Columbia and taken to Juneau.Chief Petty Officer Barry Lane said all passengers had been evacuated from the Empress of the North by 7 a.m., and the vessel, with 29 crew members aboard, was heading toward Juneau. There were no reports of injuries.

Fishing boats, a barge and a Coast Guard cutter converged on the scene, eventually transferring all 206 passengers and 42 of 75 crew members onto an Alaska state ferry, the Columbia. Thirty-three crew members remained on the cruise ship, which was able to get off the reef and return to Juneau under its own power, said Dan Miller, a spokesman for Majestic America Lines, which owns the Portland-based Empress of the North.

Dan Miller, a spokesman for Majestic America, said the grounding occurred on the second day of a seven-day cruise.

The American-built ship is billed by the company as the only overnight paddlewheel vessel in use on Alaska cruises. It also is used on cruises on the Columbia River between Washington state and Oregon.

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5-11-07: Weekend Cruise News 5-11-07 *** Silversea Cruises expands wireless Internet access to 100% coverage on all four ships. Guests with Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and PDAs can now surf the Internet and check e-mails from the comfort of their suites as well as public areas.

"We're pleased to be able to offer this service upgrade to make it more convenient for our guests to stay connected," said Tim Rand, Silversea's vice president of information technology and chief information officer. "Today's luxury travelers are often working professionals who travel with laptops and PDAs in tow and they appreciate being able to access the Internet from anywhere on the ship. This expanded Wi-Fi coverage is the perfect complement to the cellular phone service we also offer to help our guests stay in touch using their own cell phones even when our ships are sailing miles away from land."

Through Silversea's global satellite system, guests have access to over 270 daily newspapers from a host of U.S. and international cities, offered at a nominal fee, and BBC, CNN, Fox News and ESPN (sports news and entertainment) are on the roster of complimentary in-suite TV channels available to keep guests up to speed with developments around the world and at home.

Each Silversea ship also features Internet centers with state-of-the-art desktop computers and 17-inch flat screen monitors. Pricing for Internet use on the ship's computers is the same as for using personal laptops and includes a variety of convenient rate plans.

Expanded wireless Internet access is the latest in a number of technology enhancements the line is introducing to ensure its guests continue to enjoy a luxury travel experience of unsurpassed quality. New flat screen TVs are also planned for all suites and will be installed aboard Silver Whisper in November, Silver Shadow in January, and the rest of the fleet in the following months.

*** Crystal Cruises offers $1,000 Per Person Ultimate Dinner Beginning with a 1996 Cristal Rose champagne and concluding with a 1983 Château d'Yquem, Sauternes, Crystal Cruises is introducing the Ultimate Vintage Room Dinner for connoisseurs.

During Crystal Symphony's May 17, 2007 cruise from Dubai to Rome, Crystal Cruises will debut a one-of-a-kind luxury dining experience featuring some of the rarest wines in the world. The first eight-course French dinner will be prepared by Master Chef André Soltner, former chef/owner of world-famous Lutèce, paired with, among others, a nearly impossible-to-get 1959 Château Lafite - Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux and a Screaming Eagle 1996 from Napa Valley, considered its dream year. Available for up to a maximum of 12 guests, the culinary event must be booked on board through the dining room maitre d'.

"We have noted an upward trend in the kinds of fine wines guests purchase to complement their dining experience," says Toni Neumeister, Crystal Cruises' vice president, food & beverage operations. "Luxury travelers treasure exceptional experiences - but that experience has to be authentically memorable."

Since 2003 and 2004, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, respectively, have been offering wine-makers dinners in their specially designed Vintage Rooms. The head sommelier or guest wine experts guide guests through the experience, providing insights on where the wines were made, the aging process and why it works with a particular dish.

The dinners are offered several times each cruise for approximately $180+ per person, depending on the wines chosen. The Ultimate Vintage Room Dinner will be scheduled just a few times each year on each ship, with different wines and a varying corresponding menu to be based on regional availability.

The May dinner features: Oeuf Surprise au Caviar Cristal Ros�, Louis Roederer, Brut, Reims, France 1996 Potage Cressonnière aux Huîtres Riesling, J.J. Prum, Bernkasteler Spaetlese, Mosel, Germany 1976 Feuilletés aux Fruits de Mer à L'Armoricaine Fumé Blanc "Pur Sang, Didier Dagueneau," Loire Valley, France 2001 Goujonnettes de Sole à l'Impérial Le Montrachet, Marquis de Laguiche, Grand Crû, Joseph Drouhin, Burgundy, France 1999 M�dallion de Veau Rossini au C�dre, Légumes glacés Ch�teau Lafite - Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux France 1959 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 1996 Fromages Assortis Grange, Penfolds, South Australia 2001 Madeira Bual, Broadbent, Madeira, Portugal, Vintage 1964 Poire pochée farcie au Pralin, Sauce Chocolat Château d'Yquem, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France 1983

*** Norwegian Coastal Debuts First 67-Day "Longitudinal". Norwegian Coastal Voyage's has introduced a 67-day "Longitudinal World Explorer Cruise" making its way from pole to pole. Guests aboard the company's new expedition ship, the 318-passenger MS Fram, begin their adventure in Iceland, take in the advent of the October Fall foliage season from the northern reaches of Canada to New England and down the U.S.'s eastern seaboard, spend time in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, transit the Panama Canal, and then skip to spring as the ship crosses the Equator and makes it way along the western shores of South America to Antarctica and the Chilean Fjords.

The 17-country, four-continent expedition takes in 44 ports of call, ranging from the smaller and more unusual such as Arica, Chile, to many firsts for the company, such as New York City and Boston, and offers 102 optional shore excursions. Departing Reykjavik, Sept. 18, The MS Fram arrives in Ushuaia, Argentina on Nov. 23. Full-cruise rates are $10,999 to $39,999 per person, double; segments from eight to 52 nights are offered at prices of $2,499 to $25,599, and include departures from New York and Port Canaveral to Peru, Chile or Argentina. Rates include selected cabin category, all meals on board and lectures by experts and naturalist guides. For more information, call 800-323-7436 or 212-319-1300, fax 212-319-1390; for brochures, call 800-666-2374. Visit

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5-10-07: Injunction Halts Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative A group of Southeast Alaska tour operators has gone to court over the state's cruise ship initiative passed last year which adds a $50 headtax to evert visitor arriving by cruise ship to Alaska, and puts state officals on ships to monitor their revenue fron shore tours and casinos while they are in the state. The initiative has been hotly contested ever since it was passed months ago.

The businesses claim the initiative violates their rights. It requires that cruise ship companies disclose commission received, or the percentage of the total sale, when a cruise line promotes a tour. A superior court judge Saturday granted a temporary restraining order halting the law. The businesses filing the lawsuit say they hope the ruling will provide the chance for a legislative solution.

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5-7-07: Carnival to Re-name and Give Facelift to Entire Fantasy Class. In conjunction with its recently announced $250 million "Evolutions of Fun" ship refurbishment program for the entire class of vessels of the Fantasy-class sister ships, Carnival will re-brand its of these eight ships by introducing an updated version of each ship's name as it appears on the vessel's hull, as well as in various marketing and collateral materials. As each ship goes into drydock for refurbishment, the name 'Carnival' and the company's logo will be combined with the vessel's name to provide an updated look and feel.

"The names of the majority of Carnival's ships which entered service starting in the latter 1990's begin with 'Carnival,' and those ships have become synonymous with expansive, high quality amenities and features," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. "As each of our Fantasy-class ships undergoes transformation to incorporate the wide-ranging enhancements under the 'Evolutions of Fun' initiative, it is only fitting that those vessels be re-branded to better align them with our other ships."

All marketing materials going forward will feature the new ship names Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Paradise and Carnival Elation.

As each ship goes into drydock to receive the "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades, signage on the ships' bow, stern and upper deck areas will be modified. Among the planned "Evolutions of Fun" enhancements are expansive children's water parks, a new design style and features for the pool areas, and the creation of the Serenity adults-only deck area.

Also being phased in and already in place on some ships are fully remodeled staterooms and suites, including new bathrooms, along with flat-screen televisions in staterooms and select public areas, atrium lobby bars, updated sound and lighting systems in various lounges and clubs, coffee bars, nine-hole miniature golf courses, new art and photo galleries, New York-style delis in the Lido restaurants, and purpose-built conference facilities. By 2009, upgrades to the entire Fantasy-class will be completed.

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5-10-07: Celebrity Introduces New Deluxe Cruise Line: "Azamara Cruises" Celebrity Cruises marked the launch of their new 710-guest ship which sets sail tomorrow, by introducing an entirely new, deluxe cruise brand: Azamara Cruises.

Designed to offer exotic destination-driven travel experiences, Azamara Cruises - consisting of Azamara Journey, which sets sail May 5, and sister ship, Azamara Quest, which enters service in October - will present a more intimate onboard experience, while allowing access to the less-traveled ports of call experienced travelers want to visit.

"We created Azamara Cruises to target an area of the market that we believe is underserved, and an area this product is ideally suited to fill," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, parent company of Azamara Cruises. "This new line falls into what we consider the deluxe category - a category between premium and luxury."

Complementing the exotic Caribbean and Europe itineraries for Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, previously announced under the former "Celebrity Expeditions" banner, Hanrahan today announced that Azamara Cruises' itineraries will not only take travelers to some of the most desirable locations in the Caribbean, but will immerse them in Asia, and even transport them around the world. Itinerary details for Azamara Cruises' Asia and world cruises are yet to be announced, but once finalized, the line expects to visit more than 200 ports - most of them new to cruise travelers - in over 70 countries.

Guests will enjoy a more exclusive guest experience. Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest offer butler service in every stateroom and suite, as well as concierge-style amenities, including fresh-cut flowers, fresh fruit, Elemis toiletries, complimentary use of Frette cotton robes, two complimentary pairs of slippers, plasma TVs and plush European bedding. Despite the ships' smaller size, each offers two specialty restaurants: On Azamara Journey, the Mediterranean-influenced "Aqualina" and the stylish steak and seafood restaurant, "Prime C." Guests staying in suites will receive two nights of complimentary dining in one of the two specialty restaurants, while guests in staterooms will receive one. The ships will not require formal attire for dining, and will feature open seating in the main dining room.

Azamara Cruises also presents a wine bar with a spectacular wine cellar offering wine and champagne tastings, seminars, and mini-pairings of food and wine, in addition to its standard menu of fine wines by the glass or bottle.

Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest offer an enhanced emphasis on spa and relaxation, with treatments many cruise travelers have never experienced. Guests in suites can enjoy certain spa services in the privacy of their room. Both ships also will offer an outdoor spa relaxation lounge and an aesthetics suite offering acupuncture, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion.

An onboard "excursion expert" will not only help guests select shore excursions based on their personal interests, but also will serve as a destination guide, offering information about the culture and history of each port of call. The Azamara retail experience onboard also will be enticing to most experienced travelers, with its focus on fine art, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and upscale resort wear.

Just prior to setting sail on its maiden voyage May 5, Azamara Journey completed a four-week, approximately $19-million makeover, highlighted by the conversion of 48 staterooms into 32 suites, a complete refurbishment of the dining areas to create the two new specialty restaurants, an expansion of the spa area to include an aesthetics suite, a new Sunset Bar on the aft deck, a new art collection, Cova Café, entirely new carpets and flooring throughout, new exterior decking, new paint schemes, new walls, and entirely new "soft goods," ranging from plush European bedding to cushions, drapes and table linens.

The name "Azamara" is a coined term, rooted in Romance language references to blue ("aza"), the sea ("mar"), and a lesser-known word, "acamar," which, in Classical times, was the southernmost bright star that could be seen from the latitude of Greece. Hanrahan said the company views the new brand as "a bright star on the deep blue sea."

Azamara Cruises presents the best of Bermuda and Panama Canal/South America in 2007, elite Asia and the most captivating Caribbean, South America and Europe in 2008, and around-the-world voyages in 2010. For more information, travel agents are encouraged to call 1-877-222-2526. Guests are invited to call 1-877-999-9553. Or, visit

UPDATE - Azamara Cruises delayed the departure of Azamara Journey's inaugural voyage by one day due to last minute work needed on the ship. The ship was scheduled to depart from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Saturday (May 5) for a weeklong Bermuda cruise. The ship will now depart on Sunday (May 6) and miss one day in Bermuda.

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5-4-07: Weekend Cruise News 5-4-07 *** Royal Caribbean International welcomed Liberty of the Seas, the line's 21st ship, to the United States Friday. Sharing the title of world's largest cruise ship with sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, she will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to roll out enhanced onboard programming in wellness, weddings, and family and teen activities.

The new programming includes the Vitality wellness program, promoting a healthier lifestyle with new, well-balanced fitness, spa, shore excursions and culinary offerings; Explorer Weddings, for couples looking to tie the knot in extreme style; and new family programming introducing Adventure Theater, Scratch DJ 101 classes, Chef's on Deck, and the Crown & Anchor Society Youth Program.

At 160,000 GRT with a capacity of 3,634 guests, double-occupancy, Liberty features cruise-industry innovations such as the FlowRider surf simulator, cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean, the H2O Zone water park and the Royal Promenade entertainment boulevard. The Presidential Family Suite, which sleeps up to 14 people, is another revolutionizing Freedom-class concept catering to multi-generational family-cruising. In addition, guests will enjoy more than 20 restaurants and lounges aboard Liberty, as well as the line's award-winning entertainment.

Godmother Donnalea Madeley will officially name the line's newest ship May 18, and Liberty will sail her maiden voyage May 19 from her home port of Miami. Liberty will depart on Saturdays and alternate between seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. Liberty's Western Caribbean itinerary will call at Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private destination in Haiti. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary will call at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Labadee, with a third day at sea to take advantage of all that the ship is offering.

The two Freedom-class ships will be joined by a third, Independence of the Seas, when she debuts in Europe in May 2008. Sailing from the United Kingdom, she will be the largest ship to be home-ported in Europe.

*** MSC Orchestra will leave Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France, tomorrow under the MSC Cruises flag to cruise to Civitavecchia for her May 14 christening. MSC Orchestra will be christened in Civitavecchia by Sophia Loren, godmother of the fleet, who will cut the ribbon to launch the traditional bottle of champagne. The christening ceremony also will include an exclusive concert conducted by Ennio Morricone.

MSC Orchestra is 92,400 grt, 196 feet high and 961 feet long, with 16 decks, 13 of which are passenger decks. The capacity is 2,550 passengers (double occupancy) in 1,275 cabins (80% outside cabins, most with a private balcony). The ship is able to reach a speed of 23 knots.

On board there is an electric station with five groups of diesel-generators built by Wartsila. Each one is 11.6 MW strength and produces the energy for the onboard facilities and propulsion. Two electric 20.2 MW engines transfer the energy produced to two enormous propellers, each 17 feet in diameter. The engines are connected to five alternators of the latest generation and manufactured by Leroy Somer. The whole is run by the latest automated system from Valmarine Norway.

MSC Orchestra is the only new ship entering service in 2007 completely designed and project-managed by Italian architects - a perfect combination of elegance and taste, personifying the "made in Italy" label.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines has created a special Web site,, that allows consumers to create custom-designed shirts to wear during or after their cruise. The site offers three shirt styles - T-shirt, polo shirt or tank top - which can be imprinted with images and information from templates for eight different affinity groups: Family Reunion, Friends and Family, Girlfriend Getaways, Anniversary, Birthday, Wedding, Honeymoon, and Corporate.

Once the shirt and template are selected, consumers can customize the message tailored to their particular event or occasion, with information such as their group's name, Carnival ship and cruise departure date. T-shirts can be customized with a design on both the front and back. Children's sizes are available, as well. A wide variety of colorful designs, from tropical Caribbean scenes with beaches and palm trees to images of Carnival's sleek ships and the line's signature winged funnel, provide consumers with a diversity of choices while creating a fun, interactive on-line experience.

The cost for the custom-designed shirts begins at $15 and can vary depending on the shirt style selected. Volume discounts are available. The custom-designed shirts can be created for cruises aboard any of Carnival's 22 ships, which operate three- to 16-day voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and the Greek Isles. The line currently has three new ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011.

After the christening the new ship will depart for Genoa on her inaugural 11-night cruise of the western Mediterranean. Beginning June 2, MSC Orchestra will depart from Venice every Saturday for 7-night cruises calling into Greece, Turkey and Croatia.

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4-10-07: Norwegian Sun Receives San Francisco's Cruise Ship Environmental Award Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced that Norwegian Sun received the Port of San Francisco's Cruise Ship Environmental Award, Monday, May 1st, 2007. The Port's program recognizes annually those cruise ships whose on-board environmental systems help decrease air and water pollution. The three categories evaluated are air emission reduction, wastewater treatment and recycling and disposal programs for solid waste.

"It's an honor for Norwegian Sun to be recognized by the Port of San Francisco for our exemplary environmental systems and practices," said Bill Hamlin, NCL's executive vice president of fleet operations. "With our clean fuel strategy using low-sulfur fuels while in port, along with reducing air emissions, advanced wastewater treatment and recycling and disposal of solid waste, we have demonstrated our commitment to maintaining the highest level of environmental protection standards."

The Cruise Ship Environmental Award was created by the Port of San Francisco's Cruise Terminal Environmental Advisory Committee (CTEAC). Established in 2003, CTEAC advises the Port Commission on cruise ship-related water and air quality issues. Committee members include regulatory agencies, environmental organizations, organized labor, community groups and maritime industry representatives.

"The Port of San Francisco commends NCL for its dedication to sustaining a clean environment," said Peter Dailey, maritime director for the Port of San Francisco. "NCL's commitment to environmental responsibility helps protect the San Francisco Bay and positively impacts the health and well-being of Bay Area citizens."

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5-2-07: Regent's Paul Gauguin Celebrates 10 Years of Service in Tahiti Regent Seven Seas Cruises' 330-guest luxury vessel, Paul Gauguin, makes her home year-round in Tahiti, and has now earned herself a spot in the history books for the longest continuous deployment of any luxury cruise ship in one region. Now having carried more than 100,000 guests to Tahiti and her sister Polynesian islands, Paul Gauguin enters her eleventh year of uninterrupted service in the region.

Paul Gauguin's 2008 voyages per person cruise prices start from $2,195 for seven-night roundtrip cruises of the Society Islands from Papeete, Tahiti. Cruise fares include all shipboard gratuities; complimentary beverages, including select wines and spirits served throughout the ship; complimentary 24-hour room service; refrigerator stocked with soft drinks, beer and bottled water replenished daily; and an in-suite bar setup in butler suites. Many sailings also offer a 'third guest sails free' option, available in select staterooms.

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5-2-07: Royal Caribbean International Creates First Teen Advisory Board's first Teen Advisory Board, Royal Caribbean hopes to involve teens in the programming development process to provide a dynamic, organic and authentic vacation experience for teens, created by teens. The Teen Advisory Board will be on hand to introduce recommendations already implemented aboard the line's new Liberty of the Seas when she debuts in New York on May 4. The enhancements will subsequently be rolled out fleet-wide.

New teen ice-breakers will include musical instruments onboard for jam sessions and two themed entertainment experiences. Popular socializing activities such as Dance Dance Revolution and competitive Nintendo Wii video gaming will be incorporated into the teen program. Throughout the cruise, teens can stay informed of special activities, network with other teens, and arrange their own get-togethers through relevant communication channels. Teen-only dining in the Windjammer Café will give young travelers a chance to make new friends and share the dining experience with their peers. Sure to be a hit, is the new 4,000 foot-long Dragon's Flight zip-line on Labadee, Haiti - the line's private destination - where they can soar 200 feet above the lush tropical landscape.

"As an industry leader in innovation, Royal Caribbean is thrilled to be working with this unique group of teens who have helped us better cater to the interests and preferences of youths ages 12 to 17," said Alice Norsworthy, senior vice president, Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "Teens are more travel-savvy than their parents were at their age and they actively participate in the planning of the family vacation. The Teen Advisory Board is a logical next step for us to enhance what already is widely recognized as the premier vacation for families."

The Teen Advisory Board grew out of a study commissioned by the line to analyze teens' vacation travel practices and preferences. Conducted in conjunction with Stone Mantel, the study revealed teens want to get out and explore the world, experience cultures and try new activities that help shape their long-term identity. Based on the research and recommendations from the Teen Advisory Board, Royal Caribbean will continue to evolve the teen cruise experience and plans to unveil major enhancements in the following months.

The research study began in September 2006 and involved observational studies and field surveys throughout major U.S. cities. This was followed by the formation of a series of targeted "friendship groups," which comprised of 36 teens, ages 15 to 17. Finally, ten teens - determined to be influencers amongst their peers, including a practicing journalist and two whose parents are travel agents - were selected to join the Royal Caribbean Teen Advisory Board. The Board convened regularly onboard or through virtual meetings on online bulletin boards to discuss their insights on teen cruising and evaluate proposed Royal Caribbean initiatives from the teen perspective.

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