- Seabourn Takes Delivery of Seabourn Sojourn
- Celebrity Mercury Leaving the Fleet
- Extremely Active 2010 Hurricane Season Predicted
- Norwegian Epic First 7-Day Cruise Sold Out
- Seabourn Sojourn Offers Tours to Berlin and Prague
- Princess Honored by San Francisco for Environmental Efforts
- Passengers Busted In Bermuda: Pot & Taser
- MSC Announces 2011 Sports & Music Cruises
- Fine Art Registry and Park West Share Barbs
- Seabourn Taps Twiggy to Christen Sojourn
- Royal Caribbean Drops Park West Gallery
- Reba McEntire to Christen Norwegian Epic
- Newest Carnival Ship to be Named Carnival Breeze
- Stock Market Meltdown Changes Cruise Picture
- Allure to Feature Broadway Musical Chicago
- Damage to Norwegian Epic May Delay Delivery
- Cunard and P & O Invoke Fuel Surcharges
- Fourth Annual John Heald Blogger's Cruise - Carnival Glory Feb. 2011
- Contracts Finalized for 141,000-ton Princess Ships
- Greek Protests Affecting Tourist Sites
- Carnival Spirit's New 5/9-day Cruise Schedule San Diego to Mexico
- Paul Gauguin Cruises 2011 sailing schedule + Free Air
- NCL: Kids sail for $99 and Get Free Soda Card
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05-28-10 Seabourn Takes Delivery of Seabourn Sojourn The Yachts of Seabourn took delivery of Seabourn Sojourn today at the T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Sojourn represents the company's fifth yacht and the second of three 450-guest vessels being added to Seabourn's fleet of intimate yachts. The line has won numerous awards and consistent acclaim for highly personalized service; sumptuous, all-suite accommodations; superb cuisine and exceptional delivery of the most desirable destinations worldwide.
British supermodel and fashion icon Twiggy will be godmother to Sojourn and officially name the yacht during an onboard ceremony on the River Thames at London on June 4, 2010. In addition, on the following day the company has donated Sojourn to the non-profit Breast Cancer Haven as the venue for a gala fundraising event to celebrate the charity's 10th anniversary on June 5.
"I am so proud to accept delivery of our newest yacht, Seabourn Sojourn," said Pamela C. Conover, Seabourn's President and CEO. "She is absolutely beautiful and luxurious. Sojourn is the second of three new yachts, with the first having already received rave reviews and praise from travel agents, the press and most of all, from our guests over the past year. I'm gratified that Seabourn's yachting style of cruising is more popular than ever."
Following the inaugural celebration, Sojourn will begin her maiden season on June 6 and operate 12- to 14-day voyages in the summer to the Baltic, Scandinavia, Russia, Norwegian Fjords, and Scotland, as well as several Mediterranean voyages in the fall. On Nov. 3, Sojourn will sail on a 12-day transatlantic cruise from Lisbon, Portugal, to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where it will operate a series of Caribbean voyages in the winter.
On Jan. 5, 2011, Sojourn will embark on a world cruise from Los Angeles to London via the South Pacific, New Zealand, around Western Australia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, India, Arabia and the Mediterranean. Rates for the full 111-day world cruise begin at $49,995 per person, based on double occupancy, and include many exciting benefits and amenities, such as a pre-cruise Bon Voyage event with dinner and luxury overnight in Los Angeles, special shoreside events and exclusive complimentary shore excursions, Personal Valet luggage shipping service, and shipboard credits of $1,000 per guest ($2,500 per person if booked by June 30). Onboard gala celebrations and special gifts will also be available for guests during the voyage.
Like its sister-ship, Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn will accommodate guests exclusively in spacious suites, 225 in total, 90 percent of which have private verandas. Top of the range suites include Wintergarden Suites with private solarium and veranda, and Signature Suites with sweeping verandas and unrivalled views facing forward. All suites will feature separate living areas and bedrooms, writing desks with personalized stationery, iPod and MP3 connections and spacious granite bathrooms with separate bath and shower and twin sinks.
The two-deck, state-of-the-art Spa at Seabourn will feature a Spa Villa that can be reserved for hours of pure indulgence and relaxation, as well as a Kneipp Walk, herbal bath facility and an aroma steam bath with salt inhalation. The new vessel will offer four dining venues, and six bars and lounges serving a full range of beverages, including fine wines and spirits with Seabourn's compliments.
For a limited time, Seabourn is offering two-for-one cruise fares with included round-trip air, or cruise-only fares featuring savings up to 65 percent. The promotion is valid for Seabourn voyages in Europe departing between June and November 2010. Nine-to-12-day voyages on the new Seabourn Sojourn in Northern Europe start from $4,999 per person, cruise-only or $6,400 with inclusive air. Inclusive air is available from 40 North American gateways. Certain other restrictions apply.
For more information, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com.
05-27-10 Celebrity Mercury Leaving the Fleet
Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Mercury will become the second ship in the fleet of TUI Cruises, a cruise brand established in 2008 through a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI AG, tailored for the German market. The new ship, to be named Mein Schiff 2, will become sister ship to Mein Schiff (the former Celebrity Galaxy), which set sail in May 2009.
"Celebrity Mercury has been a cherished member of the Celebrity family since she entered service in 1997, and has offered countless guests outstanding vacation experiences," said Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "We are dedicated to offering the same impeccable service our brand is known for right up until the ship transitions to TUI Cruises, and we are confident that the ship's future with TUI Cruises is very bright."
Hanrahan assured that the future for the crew on Celebrity Mercury is equally bright. "With the rapid growth and momentum of the Celebrity brand, and the fourth member of our five-ship Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Silhouette, launching in July 2011, we have abundant opportunities for the fine crew on Celebrity Mercury to transfer to another Celebrity ship."
Celebrity Mercury joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in November 1997, and was built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany - builder of Celebrity's widely heralded, new Solstice Class fleet. The 77,713-ton ship carries 1,898 guests (double occupancy) and 909 crew.
"The timing for expanding the TUI Cruises fleet could not be better," said TUI Cruises CEO Richard J. Vogel. "Mein Schiff has firmly established its place in the German market, and now, it is time to broaden and further develop the concept. The cruise industry has shown its resilience in the midst of the economic crisis, and we look forward to growing it further, with our expanded fleet and our unique 'premium all-inclusive' concept."
Celebrity Mercury will complete its scheduled sailings through the February 14, 2011, itinerary. Guests with individual bookings and named group bookings on Celebrity Mercury on or after February 26, 2011 have the option to either cancel their booking or move to any Celebrity Mercury sailing from Baltimore from October 18, 2010, through February 14, 2011, with the exception of the December 20, 2010 itinerary.
Guests who pursue this option will receive an onboard credit of $75 per stateroom for inside or ocean-view accommodations; $100 per stateroom for veranda or Concierge Class, and $200 per suite.
Guests with reservations affected by the transition will be proactively contacted by Celebrity Cruises. Guests with questions specific to impacted bookings are welcome to call 1-888-281-9343.
Celebrity Mercury will enter service with TUI Cruises in May 2011, as Mein Schiff 2, following an extensive refurbishment resulting in additional verandas, an expanded spa and fitness area, inclusion of a teen bar, and a host of design elements and other attributes consistent with those found on Mein Schiff.
Mein Schiff 2 will spend her first cruising season in the Baltic and Nordic regions. Full itinerary details will be published when bookings open June 1, 2010.
05-27-10 Extremely Active Hurricane Season Predicted The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an "active to extremely active" hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued today by its Climate Prediction Center - a division of the National Weather Service. NOAA says, "As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place."
The NOAA Prediction continues:
Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:
"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared."
The outlook ranges exceed the seasonal average of 11 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Expected factors supporting this outlook are:
"The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Niña develops this summer," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop."
"FEMA is working across the administration and with our state and local partners to ensure we're prepared for hurricane season," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. "But we can only be as prepared as the public, so it's important that families and businesses in coastal communities take steps now to be ready. These include developing a communications plan, putting together a kit, and staying informed of the latest forecasts and local emergency plans. You can't control when a hurricane or other emergency may happen, but you can make sure you're ready."
The president recently designated May 23-29, 2010, as National Hurricane Preparedness Week. NOAA and FEMA encourage those living in hurricane-prone states to use this time to review their overall preparedness. More information on individual and family preparedness can be found at www.Ready.gov and www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.
NOAA scientists will continue to monitor evolving conditions in the tropics and will issue an updated hurricane outlook in early August, just prior to what is historically the peak period for hurricane activity.
NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.
05-27-10 Norwegian Epic First 7-Day Cruise Sold Out Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that its largest and newest ship, Norwegian Epic, is sold out on its June 24, 2010 seven-day transatlantic sailing from Southampton, England to New York City. The line has launched a wait list for those interested in sailing on the transatlantic should cancelations occur.
The ship, the largest to berth in the Port of New York, will arrive at Manhattan Cruise Terminal's Pier 88 on Thursday, July 1. Country music legend Reba McEntire will christen the ship on Friday, July 2 followed by a two-day inaugural sailing. On Sunday, July 4, Norwegian Epic will serve as the host venue for the 34th Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks event. The event includes a national, one-hour, live entertainment broadcast on NBC-TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET and takes place on board Norwegian Epic where invited guests will have a front row view of the fireworks display.
"We are on the edge of our seats in anticipation of the debut of Norwegian Epic to the world in only a few short weeks," said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "Guests on the transatlantic sailing will be among the first to experience all of Norwegian Epic's innovative features including her more than 20 dining options and world-class entertainment."
The company released a sneak peak video of Norwegian Epic on its YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 25 showcasing the finishing touches being made. The video is viewable at www.ncl.com/youtube.
Norwegian Epic will sail alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Miami beginning July 10, 2010 through April 2011. Norwegian Epic's Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes calls in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship's Western Caribbean itinerary includes calls in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. From May through October 2011, Norwegian Epic will sail a seven-day Western Mediterranean itinerary from Barcelona, Spain with ports of call including: Florence/Pisa (Livorno); Rome (Civitavecchia); Naples, Italy; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.
For more information on Norwegian Epic and to book a cruise, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), visit http://epic.ncl.com, or contact a travel professional.
05-25-10 Seabourn Sojourn Offers Tours to Berlin and Prague During the maiden season of Seabourn Sojourn this summer, The Yachts of Seabourn is introducing new overnight shore excursions to Berlin, Germany, and Prague in the Czech Republic.
The fully-escorted excursions include round trip transportation from Seabourn Sojourn, deluxe overnight hotel accommodations, guided sightseeing and all meals. Both excursions depart from the port of Szczecin, Poland, and guests return to the yacht at the next port of call in Warnemuende, Germany. Participation is limited, and guests must purchase either excursion prior to the cruise departure.
Highlights of Seabourn's overnight shore excursions in Berlin and Prague include:
Berlin- Germany's thriving capital is a bustling, trendy metropolis offering a blend of history, arts and culture, nightlife and entertainment. An orientation on the first day visits many popular sites in the German capital, including the Berlin Wall, Tiergarten Park with the Victory Column, Checkpoint Charlie, and Museum Island. Guests enjoy a private organ concert inside the Berlin Cathedral, seated in the Emperor's Box. That evening's dinner is an exclusive affair atop the magnificent Reichstag building, which houses the German parliament and provides stunning views of Berlin.
Next day, the tour heads to nearby Potsdam to visit the beautiful Sanssouci, the summer palace built for Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. The ornate rococo palace, along with its numerous temples, follies and gardens, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. At their leisure, guests can explore Potsdam's historic Dutch Quarter, a collection of mid-18th-century red brick houses built by imported craftsmen in the Dutch style. They can also stroll through the quarter to discover its shops, cozy coffee houses and restaurants. The tour returns to Seabourn Sojourn in Warnemuende.
The excursion includes one-night accommodations at The Ritz Carlton, Berlin, a five-star luxury hotel located in the heart of Berlin and steps from Potsdamer Platz, one of the busiest and liveliest squares in Europe.
Prague - The capital and largest city of the Czech Republic, Prague is on everyone's list of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and its extensive collection of historic churches, bridges, and mansions has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of Europe's most charming cities, Prague is filled with excellent restaurants, opera and classical concerts, and nightlife.
Guests board a private chartered aircraft for a one-hour flight from Szczecin to Prague. The tour begins with a visit to the Estates Theatre, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted the world premiere of his opera, Don Giovanni, in 1787. Then, guests stroll through the popular and busy Old Town Square, surrounded by splendid examples of many different architectural styles including Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic, and witness the chiming of the 15th-century Prague Astronomical Clock. The excursion also takes guests to the world-famous Charles Bridge, the oldest stone bridge in Europe with pedestrian walkways flanked by a unique array of 30 baroque statues. That evening, they enjoy a dinner of esteemed local cuisine at Zvonice. Located on the seventh floor of the Jindrisska Tower, the restaurant provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Prague.
On the second day, the tour visits the Prague Castle, the largest castle complex in the world and one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. Constructed in the 9th century, the castle has been the official residence for past kings and emperors, and the seat of Czech presidents and rulers. After two enchanting days exploring Prague, guests board a flight to Warnemuende where Seabourn Sojourn awaits.
Guests overnight at the Prague Marriott Hotel, an upscale hotel evoking classic European charm with elegant accommodations and located steps from Old Town Square.
05-24-10 Princess Honored by San Francisco for Environmental Efforts Three Princess Cruises ships -- Sapphire Princess, Sea Princess and Star Princess -- have just been named as gold-level winners of the Port of San Francisco 2009 Cruise Ship Environmental Award. The awards honor the ships' "outstanding record in safeguarding the environment and protecting the air and water quality of San Francisco Bay during their port calls." This is the fifth year Princess ships have earned this prestigious distinction.
The annual award recognizes the vessel for demonstrating "the strong environmental commitment of Princess Cruises in the areas of air emission reduction, waste water treatment, and recycling and disposal programs for solid waste." The honors are determined by San Francisco's Cruise Terminal Environmental Advisory Committee (CTEAC), which operates a program to recognize cruise lines that are committed to environmentally responsible operations, include the deployment of ships using reduced emission system technology or cleaner-burning fuel.
The San Francisco awards follow on the heels of other environmental honors earned from ports where Princess ships call, including the Venice Blue Flag, recognizing the line's commitment to reducing polluting emissions by burning cleaner fuels, plus the Port of Los Angeles Vessel Speed Reduction Recognition Flag for actions to reduce air emissions.
"We are gratified that our environmental efforts are being recognized in many different ways in places around the world," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "We make our living taking people to beautiful destinations. We're committed to doing our part to make sure they stay that way."
Princess Cruises is committed to environmental practices which set a high standard for excellence and responsibility, and which help preserve the marine environment in which its ships operate. The company's environmental goals and policies go beyond what is required by law and include a zero solid waste discharge policy, state-of-the-art environmental technology and waste management equipment, programs to minimize waste generated, and recycling where possible. The company also pioneered the use of shore power programs in the cruise industry to reduce air emissions.
05-20-10 Passengers Busted In Bermuda: Pot & Taser The local Royal Gazette newspaper of Bermuda is reporting that two passengers onboard the Enchantment of the Seas admitted possessing drugs valuing $3,625 after cannabis and a Taser gun were found in their cabin.
Two female American tourists caught with cannabis and a Taser gun in their cruise ship cabin were let off with a fine yesterday in Magistrates' Court. They were both fined $500 for possessing the drugs. The women were subsequently arrested and charged. One admitted sole responsibility for the stun gun and received an additional $1,000 fine for bringing the Taser gun into the Island.
The court heard that the women were on-board the cruise ship while it was stationed in Dockyard on Monday when Police received information of drugs being in their cabin.
While searching the room around 3.20 p.m., officers found a plastic bag with 6.68 grams of cannabis and a five-inch plastic Taser gun, capable of outputting 500,000 volts of electric shock.
Both women wept in court and apologised to Magistrate Juan Wolffe with Taylor saying: "I apologise for our actions and for not being knowledgeable of the laws of Bermuda and it will never ever happen again."
Her lawyer said the stun gun was legally attained in the United States and was kept by Taylor for self-defence reasons.
05-17-10 MSC Announces Baseball, Big Band Theme Cruises MSC Poesia returns to the Caribbean for her second season with a line-up of five baseball and Big Band theme cruises during the 2010-11 Caribbean season. Cruise-only rates begin at $529 per person, double occupancy (government fees and taxes additional) and participation in the theme cruises is complimentary.
MSC Poesia's 2010-11 Caribbean cruises sail roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and feature the ever-popular Baseball Greats and Big Band theme cruises. Here is a review of what these theme cruises feature:
During the sailing, guests gain insight into the world of Major League Baseball as seen through the eyes of some of the greats of the game.
The Baseball Greats theme cruise includes free interactive guest/player activities, including a player-hosted trivia game in which guests can test their baseball knowledge, question-and-answer sessions with the players, a guest pitching contest and a story-telling session where players share candid revelations about their baseball experiences.
Players will also host pitching, hitting, fielding, and base running clinics. There's an extremely popular free autograph session at the end of the cruise.The following itineraries will be Baseball Greats theme cruises:
Big Band The 15-piece Les DeMerle Big Band features vocalist Bonnie Eisele. Dynamic drummer Les DeMerle has toured and recorded with the Harry James Big Band and Wayne Newton; the band has also accompanied many top singers, including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., The Manhattan Transfer, Mel Torme and Al Jarreau.
The Les DeMerle Big Band is sure to have toes tapping, bodies swaying and guests singing along to the sounds of Ellington, Basie, James and Miller, plus the biggest Broadway hits, rock 'n' roll classics, hot Latin grooves and show-stoppers from the '40s through today. In addition to their performances, the band will present a Big Band Jazz Concert and conduct a lecture on the Big Band Era.
The following itinerary features the Big Band theme:
For more information about MSC Cruises and its theme cruises in the Caribbean, visit www.MSCCRuisesUSA.com, call 877-665-4655, or contact a local travel professional.
05-14-10 Fine Art Registry and Park West Share Barbs
Two days ago Fine Art Registry Released this Statement:
PARK WEST GALLERY PROVED BY LAWSUIT LOSS TO BE SELLING FAKE DALI PRINTS AMONG OTHER FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION OF ART SALES ON CRUISE SHIPS - CRUISE LINES ARE TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY
(Detroit, MI, USA 12 May 2010) The recent loss of Park West Gallery's defamation case against Fine Art Registry and three individuals shows that the jury in Federal Court in Eastern Michigan had no doubt that the evidence they were shown proved that Park West Gallery has been selling and continues to sell inauthentic art, including Salvador Dali prints, using fraudulent misrepresentation at art auctions on cruise ships. And Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have stated that they will not be renewing their contract with the disgraced gallery.
Park West Gallery sued Fine Art Registry and the other defendants in the case for defamation. The main point Park West attempted and failed to prove through their witnesses and experts was that the Dalí prints they sell are genuine and bear genuine signatures and that the statements by Fine Art Registry that they were not genuine were defamatory. Fine Art Registry defended the defamation claim on the basis of TRUTH. According to Fine Art Registry there was no defamation because all of the statements the web based company made were truthful.
These statements included the following:
The jury found that there had been NO DEFAMATION because the statements were indeed factual.
The experts who testified for Fine Art Registry about the Salvador Dalí prints and signatures were Nicolas Descharnes, Frank Hunter and William Flynn. Nicolas Descharnes and his father Robert Descharnes, who worked with Dalí personally for 40 years, are acknowledged to be the only experts in the world trusted by the leading art auction houses to authenticate Dalí original work. Nicolas Descharnes testified as an expert on Dali and Dali signatures. He said of the results of the lawsuit, "It is a great historical victory for the preservation of the art of Salvador Dali. I'm proud of my contribution to the justice of United States which fulfilled its mission."
Frank Hunter, Director of the Salvador Dalí Archives in New York, who worked with Albert Field in the compilation of the well respected catalog of Dali's graphic works, testified as an expert on Salvador Dalí graphic works (prints) and on Salvador Dali's signature. After hearing the jury's verdict in the trial he said, "The opinions expressed by Nicolas Descharnes and myself are based on a firm foundation of knowledge, first-hand experience with the works of Dali and with Dali personally. Such opinions are considered expert opinions. Real experts cooperate with one another, and, as professionals, do not spew invectives at other experts. Someone whose opinions are based on speculation, conjecture, or guesswork is not, in anyone's opinion, an expert. Dali authentication should be left to the authentic experts." Frank Hunter was the only witness who testified in the court who had personally watched Salvador Dalí signing prints in series.
The eminent handwriting expert William Flynn, in his remarkably clear testimony which left the jury in no doubt that the so-called Dali signatures on the prints sold by Park West which he examined were fake, described the most commonly seen signature type as "a crude forgery" and another set as "practiced forgeries." He used science to demonstrate the basis for his opinion.
It is notable that Park West retained two handwriting experts in this case but neither one testified in court because they could not affirm that the signatures on the Park West prints were by the hand of Salvador Dalí and they had great respect for William Flynn and his expertise. The only expert witness on the subject of Salvador Dali signatures who appeared in court for Park West Gallery was their own retained appraiser and self-proclaimed Dali expert Bernard Ewell who never met Salvador Dali and is not recognized as an expert on Dalí by anyone other than Park West and himself. His testimony was therefore very unconvincing.
Having lost their defamation case in Michigan, Park West Gallery still faces six class action suits - four in Michigan, one in Washington and one in Florida - as well as individual cases against the gallery and its principals, with other cases on the way.
It is apparent that Park West Gallery has for some time been under investigation for criminal activities by several separate Federal agencies, including the US Postal Inspection Services (for mail fraud), the FBI, the IRS and Customs and Border Protection. Park West Gallery's defeat in their defamation case against Fine Art Registry should open the door for these Federal agencies to move ahead and bring their investigations to a rapid conclusion. Fine Art Registry has been helping these agencies by providing all available information to them and by putting them in contact with Park West Gallery customers/victims and with ex-employees who have much inside information to impart.
The jury's verdict, after a nearly six week trial in which a great deal of evidence was presented which is relevant to all the cases and investigations, will no doubt have great bearing in the other lawsuits and in the Federal investigations.
Also in the wake of the Michigan Federal Court case comes the decision on the part of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Park West's largest cruise line partner, not to renew the contract with Park West Gallery which terminates shortly. Tony Faso, Associate General Counsel for RCCL, told Fine Art Registry, "We are not renewing the contract with Park West."
The verdict of the Federal Court jury in Michigan has great significance for the Dali graphics market which has been inundated by very expensive forgeries sold by Park West, many of them coming from the Albaretto family in Turin who have for years been surrounded by controversy regarding the authenticity of their Dalí collection and the prints they have placed on the market. Park West's defeat in this lawsuit has now established in a court of law that this art is indeed inauthentic.
Theresa Franks, CEO of Fine Art Registry, said, "It is clear that the jury's recent verdict in the Federal Court case in Michigan is a landmark decision which will have wide impact on the Dali print market, the practices of cruise ship art auctions, and the future of Park West Gallery and its operating methods. This is an example of a SLAPP lawsuit which has backfired very heavily on the plaintiff and a lesson that should be learned by litigation-happy companies who feel they can silence their critics with frivolous lawsuits instead of paying attention to legitimate complaints and reforming their corrupt or criminal practices."
For more information please see the Fine Art Registry Web site www.fineartregistry.com. For an interview with Theresa Franks or additional information, contact David Phillips at (206) 420 8341 or email@example.com.
In response: Park West released this statement:
Fine Art Registry Misrepresents Outcome of Federal Trial in Continued Defamation Campaign Against Park West Gallery Park West counsel to file FAR "press release" with the US Federal District Court in Michigan
May 13, 2010-Southfield, MI-A press release posted May 13, 2010 by Fine Art Registry completely distorts the outcome of a recent Federal trial. The jury in Park West Gallery vs. Fine Art Registry made no findings whatsoever on the authenticity of artwork sold by Park West Gallery, including works by Salvador Dali.
On May 11, Park West Gallery filed a Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and For A New Trial requesting Judge Zatkoff overturn the jury's decision or grant a new trial based on misconduct on the part of Fine Art Registry and its counsel. During the trial, Judge Zatoff described it as "a total disaster and it's basically on the part of the defense." The Court further described the actions of the defense counsel as "ignoring my evidentiary rulings and acting, in my opinion, with disrespect toward the Court I believe that these violations are intentional. I have been on the bench thirty-two years and I have never seen anything like this."
The posting by FAR of this blatant misrepresentation in the form of a "press release" ignores this pending motion and is a further example of FAR's continuing defamation campaign against Park West Gallery.
Park West attorneys Young & Susser will be filing the FAR press release with the US Federal District Court in Michigan.
About the Trial
In April a jury found that there was no defamation on the part of either plaintiff or defendant in the case of Park West Gallery vs. Fine Art Registry. A jury decision related to a trademark infringement fine under the Lanham Act-which has nothing to do with authenticity-is under review and Park West is confident it will be overturned.
"Although not the central issue of this defamation case, this trial gave us the opportunity to reaffirm the authenticity of Park West's artwork, which was defended compellingly by our witnesses," said Rodger Young, lead counsel for Park West Gallery. The court accepted without reservation the qualifications of the three expert witnesses presented by Park West: Bernard Ewell, American Society of Appraisers and Daniel David, publisher and copyright holder of the Divine Comedy by Salvador Dali as well as retired FBI Art Crime Team agent Robert Wittman, who formed the FBI art crime team and presented expert testimony on art fraud as well as practices and procedures within the art industry.
During the trial, FAR attempted to present three experts on authenticity of art and signatures. None of the three had previously been accepted as experts in any court of law. Two of them-Nicholas Descharnes and Roy Saper-were totally rejected by the court as hand-writing experts and were determined to have no expertise in the authenticity of graphic art or signatures. The third, Frank Hunter, although accepted by the court subject to cross examination as an expert in graphic art, admitted at his deposition and at trial that he was not an expert on signatures. Their expert witnesses presented an uncompelling account, which the jury rejected, as FAR's defamation claims against Park West were rejected in totality.
During the trial FAR's attorneys and witnesses were cited twelve times for violating the court's rulings regarding the presentation of evidence. Seven of the violations were by the attorneys themselves. On the second violation, Donald Payton, lead counsel for FAR, was told by U.S. Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff that he believed that the violation was intentional. On the twelfth violation, Judge Zatkoff imposed a $5000 sanction against Jonathan Schwartz, another of FAR's attorneys. "Despite the best efforts by the court, the harm could not be undone," said Rodger Young, lead counsel for Park West Gallery, "Also, we believe the jury's award to FAR for a Lanham act violation had no basis in the evidence presented at trial. The jury incorrectly determined that Park West Gallery violated the trademark of FAR on a website allegedly owned by Park West, which Park West did not own and has never owned."
For more information on this and other FAR defamation activity, visit www.parkwestart.com
05-13-10 Seabourn Taps Twiggy to Christen Sojourn The Yachts of Seabourn has announced that Twiggy will be the Godmother of its newest yacht, Seabourn Sojourn, at a glamorous naming ceremony hosted on board on the River Thames Friday, June 4th, 2010. On Saturday, June 5th, The Yachts of Seabourn has donated Seabourn Sojourn to the non-profit Breast Cancer Haven as the venue for an exclusive fundraising gala event to celebrate the charity's 10th anniversary.
Twiggy exploded onto the international modelling scene as a London teenager in 1966. She went on to define the term "supermodel" and to become the icon of 1960s style worldwide. In the early 1970s she became an actress and singer, winning two coveted Golden Globe Awards for her first film "The Boyfriend". In the 1980s she took Broadway by storm in the Tony Award-winning Gershwin musical "My One & Only." More recently, she has been a judge on America's Next Top Model and fronted the phenomenally successful campaign for the British retail giant Marks & Spencer. Along with this she designs her own clothing and bed linen lines in the UK and has just launched her "Twiggy London" collection in the United States on the Home Shopping Channel.
She is an ardent campaigner for animal welfare and breast cancer support. Twiggy's renowned elegance and style perfectly complement the values of Seabourn, reflected in the gracious lines and sophistication of Seabourn Sojourn, which she is delighted to be naming in her home town of London.
"I am incredibly excited that Seabourn has asked me to be Godmother to Seabourn Sojourn." said Twiggy. "Her stylish interiors and sleek silhouette make her one of the most elegant yachts at sea. I am thrilled that Seabourn is combining their inaugural celebrations with Breast Cancer Haven's 10 year anniversary - it really is a wonderful organization."
Pamela Conover, president and CEO of The Yachts of Seabourn commented, "Seabourn enjoys a truly international clientele and welcomes a significant number of new and repeat British guests on nearly every sailing. As such, it is entirely appropriate that we should choose London to introduce our beautiful new vessel to the world. We are all very much looking forward to welcoming Twiggy on board Seabourn Sojourn on June 4th. She is the perfect choice to name our beautiful new yacht in London."
Following an early morning transit of the River Thames, Sojourn will position mid-river at Greenwich for two days of inaugural celebrations, and will sail from there on its maiden voyage on Sunday, June 6th.
Seabourn Sojourn is the second of the three new, ultra-luxurious vessels to be launched by the Yachts of Seabourn in a three-year period. The first, Seabourn Odyssey, launched in 2009, has already been hailed as a "game-changer" in the luxury cruise segment. Seabourn Sojourn departs on its Maiden Voyage from Greenwich on June 6th, 2010. Destinations on the 14-night 'Northern Star Sojourn' cruise include Scotland, Denmark, Iceland, the Norwegian Sea, Norway and the Netherlands. The voyage ends on June 20th in Dover, England.
Seabourn Sojourn will sail a series of 12- to 14-day voyages of Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic throughout the summer season of 2010. Fares start from $3,499 per person. All fares are based on double occupancy and are remarkably inclusive, including all tips and gratuities, fine dining, open bar and a fully stocked mini-bar.
05-11-10 Royal Caribbean Drops Park West Gallery
Park West Art Auctions, suffering from fraud allegations, loses a major customer in Royal Caribbean
As we have been reporting, Park West Gallery has been embroiled in a lawsuit with a Phoenix company called Fine Art Registry. Park West sued FAR when it published reports online that it had proof that Park West Gallery has been selling fraudulent Salvador Dali prints on several cruise ships, including Royal Caribbean.
In fact - Royal Caribbean is named as a co-defendant in at least one future class action lawsuit against Park West Gallery. These prints were sold to dozens of people for anywhere from $10,000 to over $500,000 in some cases where buyers bought what they were told were complete collections of authentic prints.
Before the advent of these class action lawsuits, Park West decided to proceed with a lawsuit against Fine Art Registry alleging defamation for the articles concerning the Dali prints. Park West sued in a Michigan federal court asking for an incredible $46 million in damages - an extraordinary sum.
The trial lasted five weeks. In the end the jury awarded Park West nothing in their case. The jury awarded Fine Art Registry damages of $500,000 for a trademark infringement by Park West who they believe used FAR's trademark to make a web site similar to the Fine Art Registry site but without the same Park West fraud allegations.
Terri Franks, president of Fine Art Registry, had this reaction to the announcement by Royal Caribbean, "It would be a shame for RCL to completely scrap the art program aboard its ships just because of Park West Gallery's bad business practices. Rather, a completely new program should be implemented that first educates the cruise passengers with regard to visual art, creating a complete experience for young and old alike, including sophisticated art buyers that would have never purchased from the likes of Park West simply because they knew better."
"A whole new revenue stream could be created for the cruise lines as a result of an overhauled art program. Good, solid education for cruise passengers presented by a variety of trusted professionals on how to purchase and appreciate visual art would necessarily translate into increased visual art sales (and preferably original works of art offered by emerging contemporary artists) so that the cruise experience transcends the ordinary and results in repeat cruisers who seek out the art program because of its EXCELLENCE above all which would resonate with the cruise passenger long after they return home and would ultimately translate into a savvy art buying public and at the same time very satisfied cruise passengers overall."
"This would result in renewed consumer trust in the RCL brand as it relates to the art program as well as other cruise brands that might be looking for a refreshing change in the tired art programs that now seem to plague the industry. I believe keen, watchful care and management is absolutely critical to a successful art program aboard cruise ships."
The cruise lines have made a lot of money from art auctions, but certainly less over the years as the economy and the allegations of fraud by Park West have become better known. Park West still has contracts with several other cruise lines, but as matters are only looking worse for Park West going forward with more lawsuits scheduled it seems inevitable that if Royal Caribbean will not renewed their contract then other cruise lines will follow suit.
05-11-10 Reba McEntire to Christen Norwegian Epic Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that Reba McEntire will christen the company's newest Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic. The christening ceremony will take place in New York on July 2, 2010 on board Norwegian Epic.
Reba McEntire has sold over 55 million albums worldwide; earning 34 #1 singles and 15 American Music Awards, 12 Academy of Country Music Awards, nine People's Choice Awards, seven Country Music Association Awards and two GRAMMY Awards. She is also an avid cruiser and has taken several family cruise vacations, most recently on Norwegian Gem in the Mediterranean.
Norwegian Epic is an innovator in cruise ship entertainment, featuring world-class entertainment on board such as Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams & Dinner, Legends in Concert, The Second City®, Howl at the Moon and NickelodeonTM at Sea. In keeping with its focus on exceptional entertainment, it is only fitting that an entertainer - particularly one as celebrated as Reba McEntire - christens the ship.
"I met Reba and her family on Norwegian Gem and saw how much they were enjoying the freedom and flexibility that Freestyle Cruising offers. Later, I discovered that they are frequent customers on our ships which is why I believe that Reba is the perfect choice to christen our largest and most innovative ship, Norwegian Epic," said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "We are more than thrilled that such a celebrated performer as Reba, who also has experienced our product firsthand, will serve as Norwegian Epic's Godmother."
"I am truly honored that Norwegian Cruise Line asked me to christen Norwegian Epic, a ship that is so focused on entertainment," said Reba McEntire. "As a fan of Norwegian and Freestyle Cruising, this is a very special honor; I'm so excited to serve as Norwegian Epic's godmother."
Inaugural festivities for Norwegian Epic will take place in New York at 2:00 p.m. ET on July 2. In addition, Norwegian Epic will serve as the host venue for the 34th Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks event taking place on Sunday, July 4, 2010. The event includes a national, one-hour, live entertainment broadcast on NBC-TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET and takes place on board Norwegian Epic where invited guests will have a front row view of the fireworks display.
For more information on Norwegian Epic and to book a cruise, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), visit http://epic.ncl.com, or contact a travel professional.
05-10-10 Newest Carnival Ship to be Named Carnival Breeze Carnival Breeze, scheduled to enter service in spring 2012, has been selected as the name for Carnival's new 130,000-ton sister ship to Carnival Dream.
Carnival Breeze, the 3,690-passenger to be constructed by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, will be the third in the line's Dream class. The series' namesake vessel, Carnival Dream, entered service in 2009 and a sister ship, Carnival Magic, is currently under construction at Fincantieri and is scheduled to debut in Europe in May 2011.
Carnival Breeze will offer many of the popular innovations featured on Carnival Dream as well as some exciting and unique new elements created just for this vessel that will be detailed at a later date, along with homeport and itinerary information.
"Carnival Breeze promises to be a spectacular addition to our fleet and its name reflects the continued evolution of our brand while conveying the fun and carefree spirit associated with a Carnival cruise," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.
Signature Dream-class elements featured on Carnival Breeze will include expansive facilities for children and teens, a 23,750-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa and The Lanai, an outdoor promenade featuring cantilevered whirlpools that extend over the ship's sides.
Other features will include a WaterWorks aqua park with a 300-foot-long corkscrew water slide, a stunning indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza and a wide range of staterooms including deluxe ocean views with two bathrooms, some of which feature five berths and hold particular appeal for families.
Carnival Breeze will be the 24th vessel in Carnival Cruise Lines' fleet, which operates three- to 15-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda and Europe.
05-07-10 Stock Market Meltdown Changes Cruise Picture Because of the changes in the stock market yesterday, if you were not in the market, but you are an avid cruiser, you actually stand to benefit from this downturn.
First of all, the price of oil dropped by $10/barrel to $75, where it was when most of the cruise lines revoked the fuel surcharges two years ago. Three cruise lines had just reinstated fuel surcharges in the last two weeks, but it would not be surprising to see them reverse that decision before it ever goes into effect.
Cruises to Europe might get much cheaper over the next month or two for two reasons. The main reason is that the demand for cruises by Europeans is likely to soften a great deal because Europeans are feeling the pain of their weakening economy - even worse than our own. Secondly, the currency exchange rate for the Euro vs. the Dollar has changed significantly slipping to one Euro worth $1.26 - last week it was at $1.35. The British pound has slipped from $1.65 to $1.47. So, cruises have just become relatively cheaper in the U.S. and more expensive overseas.
Whether or not the price changes actually materialize has to do with the number of booked cruises on the ships sailing in Europe already. If there is still a substantial amount of space the prices will likely go lower, but if they are already fairly full the prices will remain more stable.
This economic change means that cruises will be more expensive for Europeans going forward, however, which will lower demand for cruises, leaving more availability for U.S. cruisers. More importantly, they should be selling at much lower prices since your dollar is stronger, especially if demand is down. The cruise lines can afford to lower prices a bit since fuel is now cheaper.
The strongest market in Europe is still the U.K. - hurt relatively less, economically, than other European nations. But the Spanish, Portuguese and Greek markets are extremely hard-hit. Furthermore, Germany is being called upon to help restore the economies of these nations, another strong cruising market whose economy is going to be weakened by it s association with the weaker nations of the European Union.
05-06-10 Allure to Feature Broadway Musical Chicago Allure of the Seas, sister-ship to Oasis of the Seas, will features one of Broadway's longest-running and most recognizable theatric productions, Chicago: The Musical, which will headline in the ship's Amber Theater. The Broadway show has also played in the Ambassador Theater in New York City and the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End.
A new webisode about Chicago: The Musical aboard Allure of the Seas is now playing at www.AllureoftheSeas.com.
"Chicago: The Musical will become the second Tony Award-winning musical that Royal Caribbean debuts at sea and tops the list of award-winning caliber entertainment created by our own Royal Caribbean Productions team," said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International."
Chicago fans will find that Allure of the Seas' version of the popular production includes the same infamous cast of characters and one show-stopping-song after another, weaving together a universal tale of fame, fortune and 'all that jazz.' Slightly condensed to fit an approximate run time of 90 minutes, the musical will be brought to life on Allure of the Seas' Broadway-style proscenium stage in the ship's state-of-the-art, 1,380-seat Amber Theater.
"We're very excited at the opportunity to partner with Royal Caribbean, and we look forward to entertaining even more guests each week with the story of Chicago," said Barry Weissler, Producer of Chicago: The Musical on Broadway.
Other entertainment options for guests include a spectacle of music, dance and aerial acrobatics called Blue Planet that also will run in the Amber Theater; OceanAria, a signature aquatic production in the ship's open-air AquaTheater, fusing high dive thrills with dramatic aerial choreography; an ice show extravaganza planned for the ship's ice-skating rink, Studio B; spectacular and colorful parades in the Royal Promenade; and everything else in between, from jazz performances to comedy.
Auditions for the Royal Caribbean's production of Chicago, as well as the other shows on Allure of the Seas will begin June 3. Open casting calls will be held June 3 - 5 in Chicago, June 8 - 11 in London, and June 14 - 17 in New York. More details and a full schedule can be found at www.RoyalCaribbeanProductions.com.
05-06-10 Damage to Norwegian Epic May Delay Delivery
This is translated from a local French newspaper in St Nazaire where Norwegian Epic is under construction.
The fire that broke out on Norwegian Epic yesterday was originally reported to have been limited to a small area close to the bridge, but today shipyard management is saying the delivery date might be postponed. Throughout the day, STX management refined its diagnosis of the widespread damage caused by fire, smoke and water used by firefighters to save the ship.
The damage is considerable, extending to two corridors. It is at the intersection of a central corridor and another adjacent one that the fire started Monday night, probably a little before 11:00 pm. The fire spread over approximately 1200 square meters. Over several tens of meters, floor and ceiling, the structures are deformed. In the central corridor, wiring is devastated, being completely melted in places.
All day yesterday buckets filled with blackened waste were removed from the ship by workers who were not prepared for this new task: to remove all traces of a devastating fire.
"We do not have all the elements to undertake the work," says Eric Breux, shipyard spokesperson. Yesterday he was more optimistic, but today the statement seemed to foreshadow possible bad news.
"It might postpone the finish scheduled for June 15, but we do not know yet. But we think it could be done by the first cruise," scheduled for June 24 from Southampton.
Investigators from the local police station of Saint-Nazaire are said to be in a race against time. Work on the repairs started yesterday with nearly 200 employees working the night of the fire with a second group of workers boarding just after the start of the fire.
The lead investigator, Florence Lecoq, confirmed that the investigation is considering two hypotheses: a negligently discarded cigarette in a dumpster filled with plastic, or a malicious act. Finally, it is determined if the fire had long simmered in the dumpster before the sounding of the alarm.
An incompletely closed valve prevented the sprinkler system to function beyond one minute. It had been closed due to a leak in the system.
05-04-10 Cunard and P & O Invoke Fuel Surcharges
Cunard President Peter Shanks just sent this letter out to the cruise community (travel agents)...
Similarly to the recent Thomson announcement, the surcharges only apply to new bookings and will not be imposed retroactively. We consider this a good sign since the cruise lines had made it known that they reserved the right to impose fees on cruises that are already booked and even paid for.
05-04-10 Fourth Annual John Heald Blogger's Cruise - Carnival Glory Feb. 2011 Fans of the popular blog of John Heald (www.johnhealdsblog.com) will have an opportunity to sail with the fun-loving senior cruise director when he hosts his fourth annual Bloggers Cruise aboard the recently refurbished Carnival Glory in February 2011.
The seven-day eastern Caribbean voyage will operate round-trip from Miami Feb. 27 - March 6, 2011, calling at Nassau, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk.
The Bloggers Cruise provides readers of Heald's widely read blog - which has attracted more than 6.3 million visitors since its debut in 2007 - with an opportunity to interact with him and participate in a number of exclusive activities and events throughout the week-long voyage.
Signature Bloggers Cruise activities such as welcoming and closing receptions, trivia contests, question-and-answer sessions and the popular "Tea Time with John" will be held, along with a few surprises that are being developed just for this voyage. A bloggers-only shore excursion is also being planned and a variety of keepsakes and logo items will be provided to all participants. Heald will also be blogging daily throughout the cruise.
"The last three bloggers cruises have been brilliant and I intend to make this the best one yet. I am so honoured (spelt correctly) that over six million people have read the blog thingy and it has become a community of family and friends. The bloggers cruises give those friends a chance to meet and enjoy a fun for all Carnival cruise together. I invite everyone to come join me, especially Megan Fox," said Heald.
Heald's blog has attracted a loyal following by providing readers with a unique, behind-the-scenes look at shipboard life through humorous anecdotes and observations on the people he comes in contact with on a daily basis. In the blog, Heald also answers readers' questions and interviews his colleagues both at Carnival and the company's sister brands.
In addition to seven days of fun with Heald, Bloggers Cruise participants can enjoy the many resort-style facilities and features aboard the Carnival Glory which earlier this year underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation that added a Serenity adults-only retreat and a 270-square-foot LED screen displaying movies, concerts and other programming on Lido Deck.
Other features include 22 lounges, bars and nightspots, diverse entertainment options, including lavish production revues, a 14,500-square-foot health and wellness center, and full casino gambling. A wide range of delicious dining choices - including two two-level formal dining rooms, a two-deck-high casual poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria and a classic American-style steakhouse - are also available.
Carnival Glory also offers organized activities for children in three age groups - Camp Carnival (2-11), Circle "C" (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17) - with expansive facilities and enthusiastic counselors dedicated to each group. Four swimming pools, as well as a 214-foot-long Twister water slide, are featured, as well.
Of the Carnival Glory's 1487 staterooms, 60 percent offer either an ocean view or balcony. All accommodations offer the Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system with luxurious duvets, plush mattresses and high quality linens and pillows.
Reservations are currently being accepted for the fourth annual Bloggers Cruise. Prices begin at $479 per person based on double occupancy and include all Bloggers Cruise-related events and activities. Fare code PBL must be referenced during the reservations process.
05-04-10 Contracts Finalized for 141,000-ton Princess Ships Princess Cruisesannounced that contracts to build two 3,600-passenger ships have been finalized with Italy's Fincantieri shipyard.
The new ships - which each will have an all-in cost of approximately 558 million Euro, ($725,000,000 at today's Euro rate) are scheduled to enter service in spring 2013 and spring 2014. The size is now being reported as larger than previously announced at an estimated 141,000 tons.
The ships' design is being described by Princess as "evolutionary," which means in keeping with the themes of the line's newest vessels, but with some new features and innovations. All outside cabins will feature balconies, bringing the percentage of balconies on the ships to 80 percent of all staterooms.
The company's signature Piazza - the ship's central atrium featuring dining, entertainment and retail - will be expanded, as will the popular Sanctuary, spa, and restaurants.
"We're pleased that in this challenging economic environment, the order for these new ships is a testament to the confidence in the growth potential of the Princess brand," said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises. "These new ships will include the features from our newest ships that have been so well received, and take them to the next level," he added.
Giuseppe Bono, chief executive officer of Fincantieri, said, "We are grateful to the Carnival Group for this further vote of confidence in Fincantieri. We are proud to have met the requirements of Princess Cruises, one of Carnival's most prestigious brands, with an innovative design both from a technical and architectural point of view. This is a highly important order for us, especially as it comes in a period of economic crisis. We succeeded in securing these orders with assistance and support of the Italian export credit companies, in particular SACE S.p.A."
Specific amenities and design elements for the new ships will be revealed over the coming months.
05-04-10 Greek Protests Affecting Tourist Sites The economic crisis in Greece is starting to hit home as workers in the country start protesting in public places and workers, such as air traffic controllers, join general strikes. Last week dock workers in Piraeus, the port city for Athens, went on strike although the cruise lines were able to work around them.
Protesting Athenians, about 100 protesters from the Greek Communist Party cut through locks on the gates of the ancient Acropolis yesterday, the country's most famous monument, and hung banners in Greek and English reading: "Peoples of Europe - Rise Up." Police did not intervene as the protesters carrying red flags stood beside the ancient Parthenon, next to the two large banners. The demonstrators did not attempt to prevent tourists from visiting the site.
Striking air traffic controllers grounded all flights for 24 hours today (Wednesday, 5-4) and the national airlines, Greece's Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, had most domestic flights canceled.
Wednesday's strike is expected to shut down services across the country. Public transport will halt in the morning and evening, government offices will remain closed throughout the day and state hospitals will function with emergency staff.
Scuffles broke out near the Parliament building when demonstrators threw rocks at riot police, who responded with small bursts of pepper spray to keep the crowd back. They are protesting what they consider to be harsh new austerity measures imposed by the government after demands made by Germany and other European nations bailing out the Greek economy.
The Athens Traders Association recommended that stores in the city remain open during the strike, but shut down during demonstrations as a show of solidarity for the strikers.
The city center is largely centered on and around the Acropolis, with a large tourist area called the Plaka full of shops and restaurants. While protests will be noticeable, and the shops may shut down for a few hours, for the most part tourists should be able to visit the sites and shop in the Plaka without any danger.
Visiting the National Museum may be a different story, however, as it is located close to government buildings and depends on state workers for operation.
05-03-10 Carnival Spirit's New 5/9-day Cruise Schedule San Diego to Mexico Carnival Cruise Lines will introduce a new one-of-a-kind schedule from San Diego encompassing five- and nine-day Mexican Riviera voyages aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit beginning Dec. 10, 2010.
On this unique program, five-day cruises will visit the popular resort town of Cabo San Lucas for two full days, while nine-day cruises will also feature a two-day call in Cabo San Lucas in addition to visits to the stunning seaside destinations of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and La Paz, the first time this port has been featured as a regular stop on a Carnival itinerary.
The two-day visits to Cabo San Lucas were selected based on guest feedback requesting more time to enjoy this popular destination which is highlighted by its distinctive rock formations, lush landscape and aqua-blue waters teeming with tropical fish.
Nine-day cruises depart Friday and return Sunday so guests can enjoy a longer cruise with more time in the spectacular ports of call, all within a typical weekend-to-weekend vacation period. Five-day cruises depart Sunday and return Friday, offering the ideal short cruise vacation at an attractive price.
Nine-day cruises will also call at Puerto Vallarta, a charming city where guests can relax on gorgeous white-sand beaches or stroll along the famed Malecon, a seaside walkway lined with restaurants, art galleries, and shops. Also featured is Mazatlan, known as the Pearl of the Pacific for its beautiful beaches, abundant marine life, and myriad fishing and diving opportunities. Rounding out the itinerary is La Paz, a sun worshippers' paradise famous for its excellent sportfishing, snorkeling and scuba diving, with white-sand beaches stretching the length of its magnificent waterfront.
Carnival Spirit offers a variety of on-board facilities and features - an indoor wrap around promenade, an classic American-style steakhouse located at the top level of a soaring-nine-deck high atrium, extensive spa and children's facilities, and a two-level promenade lined with themed lounges, bars and nightspots. Four swimming pools, as well as Carnival's signature Twister Waterslide, are featured, as well.
Carnival Spirit also offers bow-to-stern Wi-Fi, full casino gambling, myriad entertainment choices, including lavish production shows, along with a wedding chapel and conference center. In addition to the steakhouse, dining options include a two-level formal restaurant and an expansive poolside eatery with a 24-hour pizzeria, New York-style deli, an Asian specialty venue and other casual choices.
Of the ship's 1,062 staterooms, 80 percent offer either an ocean view or balcony - ideal for viewing the beautiful scenery. All staterooms feature the Carnival Comfort Bed with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality linens and pillows.
Carnival Spirit will operate its new five- and nine-day Mexican Riviera schedule through April 1, 2011. The Carnival Spirit will then offer its previously scheduled 12-day Hawaii cruises (April 10 and 22, 2011) and a full season of seven-day Alaska cruises departing from Seattle (beginning May 10, 2011).
The new five- and nine-day cruises replace the Carnival Spirit's previous eight-day Mexican Riviera program. Guests scheduled to sail on the eight-day voyages have the following options: switch to a new nine-day Mexican Riviera cruise with their eight-day cruise fare protected; re-book an alternate Carnival sailing and receive a $50 per person on-board credit; or cancel and receive a full refund. Travel agent commissions will be protected.
Carnival is currently accepting reservations on the Carnival Spirit's new five- and nine-day Mexican Riviera cruises.
05-03-10 Paul Gauguin Cruises 2011 sailing schedule + Free Air Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the longest continually-sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, announces its 2011 sailing schedule. Paul Gauguin Cruises will continue to focus on the exotic regions of Tahiti, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, the Society Islands, the Marquesas and Tuamotus.
The line is adding another powerful incentive to come aboard: FREE airfare from Los Angeles, plus 2-for-1 cruise fares on all 2011 sailings.
The m/s Paul Gauguin's 2011 voyages - all 40 of which are currently open for booking - will highlight the beauty of the South Pacific from the luxurious and spacious accommodations aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin, which underwent a multi-million dollar enhancement in 2009. The ship's staterooms, public areas and restaurants have been upgraded to reflect the luxurious standard that is characteristic of Paul Gauguin Cruises. Onboard each cruise, marine biologists, environmentalists, naturalists, historians, and special guest lecturers reveal secrets of islands visited, sharing their knowledge and insight to enhance the travel experience.
The 2011 m/s Paul Gauguin sailing schedule will include:
With more than 25 years of experience in French Polynesia, the team at Pacific Beachcomber and Paul Gauguin Cruises offers a wealth of knowledge on what to see and do while cruising aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin. The ship provides a myriad of once-in-a-lifetime experiences coupled with a luxurious vessel from which to explore the islands.
05-03-10 NCL: Kids sail for $99 and Get Free Soda Card Norwegian Cruise Line continues its six-week long Summer Blockbuster Event which features kids from $99 when booked as third through eight guests on select 2010 sailings for new reservations made now through May 31, 2010. In addition to reduced cruise fare, each child will receive a complimentary soda package, offering unlimited sodas, on new reservations made from May 3 through May 16, 2010.
Kids will work up a thirst having fun on board Norwegian's Freestyle Cruising ships sailing to popular destinations such as: Alaska; Canada & New England; Bahamas & Florida; Bermuda; the Caribbean; Hawai'i and Europe.
Families can experience the ultimate summer vacation on Norwegian Jewel's seven-day Bahamas & Florida sailing from New York, which offers exclusive Nickelodeon at Sea activities and shows on board each and every cruise year-round, in addition to all the current on-board programming already offered. Hints of Nickelodeon will be discovered ship-wide with programs that include signature Nickelodeon activities, popular characters and interactive game shows, such as Slime Time Live!, which the entire family can enjoy together. This programming will also be available on Norwegian Epic when the ship launches this summer. There is no shortage of family fun on board Norwegian Epic with its expansive Aqua Park featuring the three-story Epic Plunge; two-deck sports complex; and interactive children's area, Recess.
For more information on Norwegian or to book a cruise, call 866-234-7350, visit www.ncl.com or phone a travel professional.