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11-29-05 4th Ship To Oceania *** While christening Oceania Cruises third ship, Nautica, in Istanbul, cruise line president Frank Del Rio announced that the cruise line is also taking on a fourth identical vessel, Marina. The ship will enter service July 7, 2007. Back to Top
11-25-05 Weekend Cruise News Fantasia and Serenata *** MSC Cruises has confirmed an order for two, 133,500-ton ships to be delivered in June 2008 and March 2009. MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata will be among the largest cruise ships in the world and will increase the MSC Cruises fleet to 11. The line is considering bringing one of the new ships to the Caribbean for winter cruises. They will be 1,092 feet long, 124 feet wide, and accommodate 3,300 passengers and 1,313 crew. Of the 1,650 staterooms, 1,260 will have private balconies. Cruising speed will be 23 knots. The ships will feature several restaurants, more than 21,000 square feet of spa facilities, and a magrodome for all-weather deck activities. A special two-deck section of VIP suites with butler service will feature an exclusive restaurant, pool and sun deck, as well as other amenities. The ships will be built by Alstom Marine at Chantiers de l'Atlantique at Saint-Nazaire, France where construction is underway on two other MSC vessels, MSC Musica, scheduled to debut in spring 2006, and MSC Orchestra, due to arrive in 2007.
*** Cozumel is open for business again following the devastation of Hurricane Wilma with 18 ships calling this week. Currently cruise calls are limited each day and passengers are tendered ashore. The San Miguel downtown area has been cleaned up with repairs to the sea wall, streets made passable and new palm trees and grass planted in the center median. Many shops have reopened while remodeling and tours are operating to other parts of the island. Coral reefs were damaged and some lost due to Wilma but natural recovery is underway and sea life is abundant around the island which is a noted destination for scuba divers.
*** Norwegian Cruise Line has amended the itinerary of eight-night cruises by Norwegian Spirit out of New York next summer. Spirit will spend a day in Bermuda in place of the originally scheduled La Samana in the Dominican Republic and call at St. Thomas and Tortola on the eight-night sailings scheduled to depart May 20, 2006 through September 30, 2006. This itinerary alternates with a six-night Bahamas and Florida route calling at Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.
*** Silversea Cruises is recognizing the work of Italian sculptor Francesco Messina by placing 38 bronze statues, figurines, and sculptural reliefs aboard the Silversea fleet. The line has just completed the first installation of 12 pieces aboard Silver Shadow. Silver Whisper will unveil its collection in mid-December, and the balance of the artwork will be rolled out aboard Silver Wind and Silver Cloud2006. Lillo Mazzetti, Silversea's director of brand management and global marketing said. "Messina's sculptures represent the cultural and artistic spirit of Italy. We are pleased to offer our guests a chance to experience this artist's personal vision and perspective, and provide a further product enhancement that gives our guests a deeper appreciation of our company's Italian heritage." Francesco Messina was born in Sicily in 1900, but spent most of his life in northern Italy. Described as a classicist and realist, his works rarely deviated from the natural human form. His sculpture is exhibited throughout the world. Among his more famous private commissions are the bust of Giacomo Puccini for La Scala Opera House and the statue of Pius XII in St. Peter's Basilica. His commitment and passion for his art kept him working into his nineties. Messina died in 1995.
*** Windstar Cruises' PADI-certified (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) dive program is available this winter in the Caribbean aboard the computerized sail vessels Wind Surf, Wind Star and Wind Spirit. Dive instructors lead a range of programs. In the 'Adventures in Diving' program, certified divers can improve their skills while diving with PADI instructors on more challenging excursions. By completing three adventure dives, participants will earn a PADI Adventure Diver certificate. Courses to choose from include wreck diving, deep diving, navigation diving and more. For beginners, the 'Discover Scuba Diving' program starts with a pool dive, graduating to 30- to 40-foot dives with an instructor. A number of specialty courses are also available. The 'Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty' course teaches divers to fine-tune their buoyancy to extend time spent underwater by reducing air consumption. A fish identification course teaches basic fish identification and characteristics of local fish families and species during two dives. Dive programs start at $80 for a one tank dive or avid divers can sign up for the "Dive the Five" package which includes any five dives for $350. An Advanced Open Water course includes five dives, instruction and certification for $495. The five dives include a Deep Adventure Dive, Underwater Navigation Adventure Dive and three other Adventure Dives.
*** The Ports of Stockholm, Sweden have recognized two cruise ships using low sulfur fuel, with the Environmental Life-Buoy Certificate. Royal Caribbean International's Jewel of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises' Constellation were honored for their use of a refined, distillate fuel, which virtually eliminates airborne emissions. Both vessels are equipped with smokeless gas-turbines which reduce the emission of nitrous oxides by some 80 percent and sulfur oxides by more than 90 percent. The LM2500+ gas turbines, manufactured by General Electric Marine Engines, are part of a propulsion and power system called COGES - Combined Gas turbine and steam turbine Electric-drive System. Two gas turbines and one steam turbine, each connected to generators producing 11,000 volts, are integrated to create electricity for propulsion, lighting, air conditioning and all other electrical needs. In 2004, Jewel of the Seas was the first international cruise ship to be honored by the Ports of Stockholm with its Environmental Life-Buoy Certificate. Since the mid-1980s, the Ports of Stockholm have worked to reduce emissions of sulfur oxides and nitrous oxides and to improve waste handling onboard commercial vessels. As certificate recipients, ships are entitled to reduced harbor fees at the Ports of Stockholm.
*** 'Carly Simon: A Moonlight Serenade on the Queen Mary 2' airs nationwide on more than 100 PBS stations starting December 1. Simon's performance was recorded in QM2's Queens Room, the largest ballroom at sea, and marks the first time that a television special was taped during a transatlantic crossing. The 90-minute program showcases Simon's album, Moonlight Serenade, as well as some of her greatest hits, and includes behind-the-scenes footage of Simon as she explores the QM2's Grand Lobby; rehearses in the Queens Room; visits the master of Queen Mary 2, Commodore Ronald Warwick, on the ship's Bridge; and goes shopping in the boutique, among other scenes. The full concert DVD on Columbia Records is now on sale. Jazz musician Dave Brubeck was also recently aboard the QM2 to celebrate his 85th birthday. Brubeck sailed on a transatlantic crossing between his back-to-back American-European concert schedule. Back to Top
11-18-05 Weekend Cruise News Crystal Harmony *** Crystal Harmony embarks on her final cruise today, a seven-night Mexican Riviera sailing from Los Angeles. The 49,400-ton, 940-passenger ship entered service in 1990 as Crystal Cruises' first vessel. Harmony will be transferred to parent company NYK in Japan to sail as the Asuka II. Plans are underway to design and build a new vessel to replace Crystal Harmony in the future. The transfer leaves Crystal Cruises with a two-ship fleet, the 940-passenger Crystal Symphony (1995) and the 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity(2003).
*** Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Spirit has become the line's second ship to sail year-round from New York City. Both Spirit and Norwegian Dawn now homeport in New York. "I am pleased to welcome the Norwegian Spirit to New York City," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The addition of Norwegian Spirit helps foster the tremendous growth the cruise industry is experiencing in the City, where last year alone the industry supported more than 3,000 jobs and contributed more than $600 million to the local economy." From New York, Norwegian Spirit will rotate 10- and 11-day Exotic Southern Caribbean itineraries beginning in December 2005. The 10-day itineraries call at St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten and Tortola. The 11-day itineraries call at St. Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica and Tortola. In early 2006, the ship begins rotating her itinerary to include year-round, seven-day itineraries from New York to the Bahamas and Florida. Ports of call include Miami and Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida and Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. From May through September 2006 Norwegian Spirit will rotate a six-day Bahamas and Florida Itinerary with an eight-day Bermuda and Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Ports of call on the six-day itinerary include Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida and Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. Stops on the eight-day itinerary include St. Thomas, Tortola and Bermuda. The recently renovated, 1,966-passenger Norwegian Spirit features eight restaurants, 12 bars and lounges, a state-of-the-art spa and fitness facility, a pirate-themed activity complex for kids, a teen center, basketball court, golf driving net, casino and conference center among other amenities.
*** Royal Caribbean International has revised Jewel of the Seas' 2006 itinerary to include a series of seven-night Canada/New England sailings roundtrip from Boston, Massachusetts. The 2,100-passenger Jewel of the Seas, previously scheduled to sail 10-night Bermuda/Caribbean itineraries, will be the only Royal Caribbean ship offering Canada/New England itineraries in the fall of 2006. Following a 12-night transatlantic cruise departing from Harwich, England, on September 11, 2006, Jewel of the Seas will sail roundtrip from Boston, with calls to Marthas Vineyard, Mass.; Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. On October 31, 2006, Jewel will sail her scheduled 12-night repositioning cruise from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where she will embark on a series of eight- and six-night Eastern/Western Caribbean itineraries.
*** Oceania Cruises' third vessel, Nautica, will be christened in Istanbul on November 22. The identical sister-ship of Oceania's Regatta and Insignia was built in 2000 and sailed formerly as the R5 for Renaissance Cruises. Oceania acquired the ship in April 2004 and she has sailed under charter since then. Nautica has undergone a major refit this fall. Following the christening and inaugural events, Nautica embarks on a 24-night sailing from Athens to Singapore departing November 28. Nautica will then sail in Asia for the winter, the first time Oceania has sailed in the region.
*** Wind Surf will sail Windstar's annual Monte Carlo Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival cruise in 2006. Next year's 14-night cruise sails round-trip from Nice on May 21, 2006. Wind Surf will call at St. Tropez before spending two days in Cannes during the Film Festival. A day is spent in Corsica before a three-day stay in Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix. Calls at Amalfi, Sorrento (overnight onboard), Pontevenere and Porfofino, Italy, plus two days at sea, round out the itinerary. The 14,745-ton computerized sailing ship carries 308 passengers.
*** Costa Magica has a unique transatlantic crossing planned for 2006. The 105,000-ton, 2,720-passenger flagship will sail from Ft. Lauderdale to Copenhagen, Denmark on a 16-night crossing, May 5, 2006 that calls at three major cities: New York, London and Paris. Costa Magica will spend three days in New York City before crossing the Atlantic and calling at Dover for London, and Le Havre for Paris. The crossing follows Costa Magica's inaugural season in the Caribbean, sailing from Ft. Lauderdale. After arriving in Copenhagen Magica will offer two seven-night itineraries, departing Sundays, to the Norwegian Fjords and Baltic & Russia for the summer. Back to Top
11-11-05 Weekend Cruise News ***In the wake of last week's pirate attack on Seabourn Spirit off the coast of Somalia, some details have emerged as to how cruise ships can protect themselves against such incidents. In the case of Spirit, the captain basically gunned the engines and outran the pirates. But according to subsequent press reports, the ship also used something called a Long Range Acoustic Device; non-lethal technology developed for the U.S. Navy. The device emits loud noise that can be directed in an intense beam at a specific target. It is not known whether other ships besides Seabourn's are equipped with such devices, but cruise lines are generally unwilling to discuss security matters. Fortunately, no passengers were injured aboard Spirit, even though the attackers let loose at the ship with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. Apparently the maritime community is well aware of the dangers off the Somali coast, and ships are warned to stay 200 miles offshore there. In the week after the attack on Seabourn Spirit, another five ships (non-cruise ships) faced similar attacks in the same region, according to press reports. ***Cozumel, the popular Mexican cruise port off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, apparently was able to recover from its recent Hurricane Wilma damage a lot sooner than anyone thought â or at least the cruise piers were. The Mexico Tourism Board said that Cozumel's cruise port facilities will be back in business on November 14, when ships from both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are due to call there. The board said that in Cancun, some 5,000 hotel rooms will be ready to receive guests by November 15, with that number increasing to 12,000 by December 15. Carnival, citing "extensive clean-up and restoration progress in Cozumel," said that it will resume visits to the island starting next week by the five ships that previously were calling there, including Carnival Triumph from Miami, Inspiration and Miracle from Tampa, Conquest from Galveston and Glory from Port Canaveral. ***The European operator called easyCruise will bring its unique brand of bargain-basement, island-hopping cruises to the Caribbean starting November 12. With basic cruise rates starting as low as $15 per person per night, the line is targeting "young and independent-minded vacationers." This is not like a traditional cruise: Passengers pay extra for almost everything, from food and drinks to cabin service. The 170-passenger ship is like a floating hotel that passengers can get on and off at whatever ports they want (the minimum stay onboard is two nights; maximum is 14), and the vessel stays in ports overnight "so that passengers can hit the town and enjoy the nightlife," easyCruise said. The ship's Caribbean schedule visits Barbados, St. Vincent, Martinique, The Grenadines, Grenada and St. Lucia. EasyCruise (www.easycruise.com) said its November Caribbean sailings are 90 percent booked already, but "there is more availability for December, the Christmas holidays and the rest of the season." *** Bermuda expects to welcome 170 cruise calls in the 2006. The new Crown Princess will carry 3,000 passengers on one-day visits during her inaugural season. Of the 170 total calls, 143 will be part of the regular Bermuda schedule while 27 will be occasional calls by ships on one-time Bermuda itineraries or transatlantic crossings. In 2005 Bermuda had 165 scheduled calls and 156 in 2004. Ships sailing to Bermuda next season include Zenith and Explorer of the Seas from Cape Liberty; Empress of the Seas from Philadelphia; Norwegian Crown from New York and Philadelphia; Norwegian Majesty from Boston; Grandeur of the Seas from Baltimore. Occasional call will be made by Jewel of the Seas, Golden Princess, Carnival Legend, Noordam, Seabourn Pride and Costa Magica.
*** Norwegian Sun will return to New Orleans November 12, 2006 for weekly Western Caribbean sailings departing Sunday through April 8, 2007. Ports of call will be Costa Maya, Mexico; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico. Norwegian Sun has been sailing from Houston in place of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina and will begin sailing from Miami on January 21, 2006 on weekly Eastern/Western itineraries every Saturday to April 8, 2006. Ports of call will be either Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic; Tortola; St. Thomas; Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas (Eastern); or, Costa Maya, Mexico; Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico (Western).
*** The 15 piece Les DeMerle Big Band with vocalist, Bonnie Eisele will be aboard MSC Lirica on the January 13, March 20 and April 22, 2006 sailings. Band leader Les DeMerle toured and recorded with the Harry James Big Band and Wayne Newton and has appeared with Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The 11-night cruises sail round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale to the Panama Canal (January 13 and March 20) and the South Eastern Caribbean (April 22).
*** Celebrity Cruises is bringing back culinary theme cruises by popular demand. The third annual Savor the Caribbean cruise series begins January 15, 2006 with five departures, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale aboard Infinity. The seven-night sailings call at Casa de Campo Dominican Republic; San Juan; St. Thomas; and Nassau. Each cruise has a featured chef onboard to present four cooking demonstrations. A rum tasting and lecture as well as a Caribbean theme party will be sponsored by the Bacardi rum company. In St. Thomas, a cooking class will take place by chef Brian Katz at the 215 year-old plantation turned restaurant named The Old Stone Farmhouse. Other culinary themed shore excursions are being planned. For more details see the Savor the Caribbean page on the Celebrity web site. Sailing dates and featured chefs are as follows:
- January 15 - January 22 , 2006 Featured Chef: Edgar Leal
- January 29 - February 5, 2006 Featured Chef:Giancarla Bodoni
- February 12- February 19, 2006 Featured Chef: Brian Katz
- February 26- March 5, 2006 Featured Chef: Wilo Benet
- March 12- March 19, 2006 Featured Chef: Allen Susser
*** Princess is adding some upgraded amenities to suites and mini suites. High end mattresses, linens, pillows and towels are being added to suites and mini suites fleetwide. Passengers in mini suites will now receive a complimentary glass of champagne and fresh fruit tray from the cabin steward upon embarkation, an amenity already enjoyed by suite passengers. Once these upgrades are complete, upgrades to standard cabins will be considered. Back to Top
11-04-05 Weekend Cruise News Norwegian Jewel. Click for full size *** NCL's newest vessel, Norwegian Jewel was christened last night at ceremonies in Miami by Melania Trump, former model and wife of Donald Trump. The 93,502-ton Norwegian Jewel entered service last summer in Europe, then sailed from New York for the fall. The vessel will sail from Miami for the winter on seven-day itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean calling at San Juan, Antigua, St. Thomas, and NCL's Private Island, Great Stirrup Cay (Eastern), or, Great Stirrup Cay, Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; and Roatan, Honduras (Western). Jewel returns to Europe next May to sail Mediterranean, Egypt and Greek Isles itineraries. The 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel has 76 more cabins than her sister ships, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Star. Ten penthouse suites share a private courtyard with swimming pool, Jacuzzi, small gym and private sundeck. All staterooms have a refrigerator and tea and coffee maker and many are interconnected to create larger quarters for families. Onboard are 10 restaurants, three swimming pools and a new concept for NCL, 'Bar Central', which includes a martini bar, a champagne and wine bar, and a beer and whisky pub.
*** The latest projection for the re-opening of Cozumel is November 14, considerably earlier than first expected. The island is working hard to repair damage from Hurricane Wilma including rebuilding the cruse piers. Meanwhile, cruise lines continue to make changes to itineraries on a weekly basis. Cozumel is being replaced by Belize and Roatan (NCL), Costa Maya, Playa del Carmen and/or Progreso (Carnival) and Costa Maya or a day at sea (RCI).
*** Two cruise lines have re-designed their web sites: Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) now has a booking engine online and a completely new look. 'Searchlight' is a new tool which finds a cruise based on four parameters, destination, date, ship and duration. Passengers can access further information about all aspects of their cruise and also reserve online through 'Searchlight'. New features at Silversea's site (www.silversea.com) include in-depth itinerary descriptions, Virtual Voyage movie downloads, interactive regional maps and deck plans with streaming video views of all suites and public areas, comprehensive descriptions of optional programs and up-to-the-minute special offers. With the 'My Voyage' feature, Passengers can book shore excursions, salon appointments and spa treatments online as early as 60 days prior to sailing. The cost for these services is charged to the guest's shipboard account during the voyage.
*** A competition is underway to find the person who will be Godmother of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, which enters service next May. Royal Caribbean has joined with NBC's 'Today' show for the 'Today Sets Sail' Search for Godmother who will christen the 160,000-ton 3,634-passenger vessel which will be the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuts. Freedom will feature the first-ever surfing simulator at sea, an interactive water park, two cantilevered whirlpools that extend 12 feet out from the sides of the ship and a pool deck with dedicated sports pool that transforms into an open-air nightclub each night. To enter, go to msnbc.msn.com/id/9085102 and complete an online application form and write an essay, no more than 500 words in explaining why you (or someone you would like to nominate) would be the perfect Godmother for Freedom of the Seas. All entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, December 2, 2005.
*** Cunard will begin sailing from its new terminal in Brooklyn on April 15, 2006. Embarking and disembarking a the new facility is expected to be more efficient convenient access and comfortable amenities. Also new for 2006: QM2's four eight-day transatlantic crossings to/from Hamburg and one seven-day voyage from Southampton to Ft. Lauderdale. On July 8 and August 17, the ship will depart New York and arrive six days later in Southampton. Passengers will have the opportunity to take in the local sights before leaving that evening as the ship makes her two-day journey to Hamburg. Westbound Hamburg sailings to New York depart on July 16 and August 25. On November 11, the 2006 transatlantic season concludes with QM2's only seven-day transatlantic crossing from Southampton to Ft. Lauderdale, arriving on November 18. Fares for the New York/Hamburg voyages start from $2,199, and fares for the Southampton/Ft. Lauderdale crossing start from $1,299. Voyages can be extended with Cunard's 'Connoisseur Collection', a variety of pre- or post-sailing adventures in the United Kingdom and Paris including hotel accommodations, one-way economy airfare and transfers. They include a tour of the English countryside, concluding with a train ride on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express to London; the 'Glimpses of Ireland' tour, featuring the best of Dublin, the city of poets and playwrights; a 'Royal Scotland' visit showcasing Edinburgh and Loch Lomond; and a four-night stay in Paris and London.
*** In response to the success of Carnival's new sleep system, the 'Carnival Comfort Bed' which was introduced earlier this year, a special web site, carnivalcomfortbed.com, has been created to provide consumers with an easy means of purchasing the sleep system for their homes. Items available through this interactive site include mattresses, duvets and duvet covers, two different styles of pillows, and high-quality cotton sheets, pillow shams and pillowcases.
*** A cast of Broadway and Hollywood greats will headline 'Theatre at Sea's' 30th birthday celebration on the all-suite Seven Seas Navigator next April 21, 2006. The transatlantic crossing sails from Ft. Lauderdale to Monte Carlo with seven nights of musical, comedic and dramatic theatre. Sponsored by The Theatre Guild, now in its 86th year, 'Theatre at Sea's' cast will include Emmy, Tony and Academy Award winners notably Ed Asner, Cliff Robertson, Gena Rowlands, John Tillinger, Leslie Uggams, Lee Roy Reams, and celebrated Patricia Neal.
*** Norwegian Cruise Line has released details of its next vessel, Pride of Hawaii which will be delivered in April and enter service on June 19, 2006. The 93,000-ton and close to 2,400-passenger Pride of Hawaii will employ over 1,000 crew. Together with Pride of Aloha and Pride of America, Pride of Hawaii will sail weekly around the Hawaiian Islands with Hawaii departing from Honolulu on Mondays. The vessel is the sister ship of Pride of America but will feature many of the innovations found aboard the new Norwegian Jewel including the Bar Central, 10 restaurants, the Freestyle Dining information system and the new Courtyard Villas with private sundeck with sun beds and hammocks. Ten of the Villas also share a private courtyard, complete with swim-against-the-current lap pool, Jacuzzi, male and female steam rooms and a small gym and a private sundeck with sun beds and hammocks. Back to Top
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