- Royal Caribbean Awards "Partner of the Year" to America's Vacation Center
- Crystal Symphony Emerges from Largest Dry Dock Yet
- New MSC Mascot Chosen by Children
- Liberty Cleaning Successful
- Weekend Update 11-25-06
- NCL Dawn Makes Virginia Pit Stop - Update
- Celebrity Canceling Dec.10 Millennium Cruise
- Carnival Delaying Liberty 11-19 Cruise to 11-21
- Crystal Symphony finishes $23,000,000 Makeover
- Carnival Triumph on new Exotic Itinerary
- Princess to hold Dual Naming Ceremony
- Weekend News, 11-11-06
- Cruise Ships Causes Pan-Euro Blackout
- Weekend News, 11-3-06
- Celebrity and Pullmantur to Swap Ships
- NCL Finalizes Mega-ship Contract
- World's Largest Cruise Night; 14,860 Bookings
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11-30-06 Royal Caribbean Awards "Partner of the Year" to America's Vacation Center Royal Caribbean International, parent company to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, has given the prestigious president's award, "Partner of the Year, 2006" to America's Vacation Center, of San Diego, California. The company was the only cruise agency, selected from a pool of 25,000+ agencies worldwide, to receive this award.
"As a pioneer in the travel agency sector, America's Vacation Center was the perfect partner to receive this year's President's Award," said Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International. "America's Vacation Center is setting the pace in travel distribution through its leadership, innovation, and reputation. We value their commitment to deliver an exceptional experience for our guests throughout their cruise vacation planning process."
Cruisemates is also very proud to have America's Vacation Center as a sponsor and as friends, and we congratulate them on this distinct honor. AVC is innovative in not only cruise sales, but also in creating new technoloy to allow customers to work directly with cruise agents through their web site. The company has been in business, beginning in the San Diego area and branching out nationwide through the Internet, for over 40 years and has served 1/2 million customers. They are one of the top-producing travel agencies in the American Express Travel Representative Network, and a leading seller of cruises from Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Royal Caribbean and more. Back to Top
11-29-06 Crystal Symphony Emerges from Largest Dry Dock Yet Following a $23 million dry dock, Crystal Symphony has emerged with a dazzling new nightclub, a complete redesign of its main entertainment deck and a decidedly sophisticated and contemporary style. Crystal Symphony's comprehensive refurbishment, its largest ever, has transformed all staterooms and bathrooms, completely reconstructed a social lounge and casino, refashioned boutiques, shops and its famed Bistro café, as well as dozens of behind the scenes improvements. Underscoring the company's commitment to quality, this major construction project follows a multi-million dollar renovation two years ago that debuted a brand-new Feng Shui-inspired spa, a new Vintage Room - today one of the ship's most popular features, an expanded Computer University@Sea, redesign of specialty restaurants, and complete refurbishment of all penthouse accommodations. Within the last two years Crystal Cruises has invested in excess of $35 million dollars in new construction projects on Crystal Symphony, expanding the stylish choices in dining, recreation and relaxation. Major projects on Crystal Symphony included:
Staterooms Completely redesigned with the look of a chic boutique hotel, the staterooms are elegant sanctuaries of refined style. Notable appointments such as new Murano glass bedside lamps, Rubelli fabrics and handsome leather headboard adorn a reconfigured space with state-of-the-art features including special LED reading lights and new 20" LCD flat screen televisions. Bathrooms are newly reconstructed with a contemporary style showcasing oval glass sinks atop granite countertops.
Tiffany Deck - Main Entertainment Area As the hub of social activity, shopping, entertainment and casually elegant dining, Tiffany Deck (deck six) was completely transformed from stem to stern with new color schemes, new construction and new contemporary lighting that will create different moods as day moves into night.
11-29-06 New MSC Mascot Chosen by Children MSC Cruises introduces DO RE MI, a new mascot for children whose name chosen by children who have cruised on MSC Cruises to mirror the musical names of the ships in the line's fleet. The DO RE MI character is in the shape of the compass logo (keeping in line with the line's logo) with a smiling face, arms and legs. But DO RE MI is not just a design but a life-sized character that will keep the younger guests onboard MSC Cruises' ships company throughout their magical journey on the Italian cruise line.
DO RE MI will be on hand to welcome the children at embarkation and bid good day at disembarkation points. DO RE MI will entertain younger guests and parents, too, adding to the fun of the swimming galas and parties in the disco. DO RE MI is debuting this month onboard MSC Armonia and MSC Sinfonia as they make their way to the coast of South America to spend the winter season cruising to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Soon after, DO RE MI will appear on all the other vessels in the fleet, including the flagship MSC Musica, during her inaugural winter season of 11-night cruises in the Mediterranean.
The character will also be featured in a collection of exclusive and dedicated products for children that will be available onboard MSC Cruises' ships.Back to Top
11-29-06 Liberty Cleaning Successful On the Carnival Liberty's previous 16-day transatlantic voyage, close to 700 people fell ill from the highly contagious norovirus, a stomach bug. The outbreak was one of the largest in recent memory, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is investigating the cause. The ship spent two full unscheduled days in cleanup and disinfecting in Ft Lauderdale before continuing on, and apparently the cleanup was a succes as only about a dozen people (out of 4000 approx.) fell ill on the following cruise. Back to Top
11-25-06 Weekend Update 11-25-06 *** The 4,500-ton Lyubov Orlova, a Malta-flagged cruise ship, was grounded in Antarctica and rescued by a Spanish Oceanographic Navy icebreaker and Research vessel on Monday night. One hundred and fifty passengers on board the Malta flagged cruise vessel, were visiting Deception Island in the south Shetlands when it run aground in Whalers' Bay. The captain immediately radioed for help and the distress call was picked up by Las Palmas anchored next to the Spanish Army base. Las Palmas sailed to the spot and, after making an assessment of the situation, waited for the high tide and begun towing activities that were successfully concluded eight hours later. Lyubov Orlova returned under its own steam to Ushuaia and passengers were flown back to Buenos Aires.
*** The "Norwegian Dawn" finally pulled out of port in Norfolk Thursday morning. The cruise ship left New York last weekend but had to detour to Norfolk because of engine problems.
*** Norwegian Coastal Voyage's air-inclusive 19-day "Antarctica and Chilean Fjords" and 21-day "Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands" expedition cruises just got easier to book with the company's decision to make more cabins available for sale to the North American market. A $300 per passenger discount and free cabin upgrade is also being offered on five January-February departures of the 19-day itinerary if booked by December 31; the discount can be combined with AARP member savings of $150 per cabin. Designed for active, experienced travelers, the sailings depart Buenos Aires and Santiago on the 490-passenger MS Nordkapp and MS Nordnorge, both rated Ice Class C and limited to 350 passengers for these voyages. Back to Top
11-22-06 NCL Dawn Makes Virginia Pit Stop - Update
UPDATE: Wed. Nov. 22: The ship is still in Norfolk, citing continuing poor weather conditions and mechanical issues. But you cannot fault NCL for the compensation they have provided. All passengers sitting on that ship and still about to sail tonight at 5:00 pm are getting a FULL refund, plus $100 shipboard credit and a discount on a second cruise. Nothing like getting paid to cruise, is there?
The cruise line also offered passengers wishing to leave the Dawn a free bus ride back to New York last night. Norfolk tourism officials say about 38 people took that trip. Some passengers took tours to Norfolk and Williamsburg, and others went shopping -- some for warmer clothing.Update: Below we reported that passengers were upset because there was no refund offered for the inconvenience. Now we are getting word the passengers will receive a $100 per cabin on-board credit and 25 percent discount on a future cruise. Norwegian Dawn was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Virginia to repair its port-side propulsion pod. The decision to do the repair now instead of later was forced by extreme weather on its route which was protracting a problem with the ship keeping to its scheduled itinerary. NCL has stated there is not a safety issue, but apparently that wasn't the number one concern for some passengers.
A local television station in Norfolk Virginia, Channel 3, has reported receiving a phone call reporting "a very large disturbance" on the ship by passengers complaining about the unscheduled stop and demanding a partial refund to compensate for the change in itinerary and the unscheduled stop. In addition, Norfolk police report that they have arrested one passenger from the ship because he was wanted in Florida. The information was passed on to the Norfolk police by another passenger.
The weather, combined with the technical issue, has prevented Norwegian Dawn's planned Tuesday morning arrival in Orlando (Port Canaveral). Weather permitting, the vessel will continue on to Orlando tonight (Port Canaveral) sailing a revised itinerary. Back to Top
11-17-06 Celebrity Canceling Dec.10 Millennium Cruise Celebrity Cruises is canceling one sailing on Millennium to replace the port thrust bearing in the ship's propulsion system. The ship must enter drydock to replace the bearing, which will result in the cancellation of its December 10 sailing. The ship is expected to return to its scheduled sailings on December 17. The cancelled sailing is a seven-night Caribbean cruise, roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.
Guests booked on the cancelled sailing will receive a full refund and a free Celebrity cruise of equal value from North America of up to seven nights, departing on or before December 31, 2007, excluding holiday and Celebrity Xpedition sailings. Travel agents will receive full commissions for the cancelled sailing, plus a $50 rebooking fee per stateroom when their clients reschedule their cruise.
"I sincerely apologize to our guests for the disruption this cancelled cruise will cause them," said Dan Hanrahan, president of Celebrity Cruises. "We will do everything we can to assist them onboard other sailings. Millennium continues to operate safely, however, this is a matter that can only be addressed through repairs in a drydock."
Celebrity has established a special help desk to assist guests and travel agents with rebooking, air transportation, land tours and other issues. That toll-free number is 1-888-281-9343. Back to Top
11-15-06 Carnival Delaying Liberty 12-19 Cruise to 12-21 Carnival Liberty, now on a 16-day transatlantic voyage from Rome to St Martin and eventually to land in Port Everglades was hit hard by a norovirus bug with some 556 guests and 154 crewmembers on board repoting symptoms lasting one to three days. The ship is carrying 2,804 paying passengers and 1,166 crewmembers.
The outbreak, which often spreads via hand-to-hand contact on contaminated surfaces, began within 24 hours of the departure and peaked during the first five days while the ship was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Forney said. Under CDC supervision, the ship's crew launched a program of cleaning equipment, isolating sick passengers and other steps aimed at containing the spread of the disease. The measures appear to have been worth while as since Monday, the number of passengers reporting symptoms fell dramatically, according to reports. Nobody had to be removed from the ship, Carnival said.
When the ship reaches St. Maarten today the CDC will put three environmental health specialists on the ship to oversee the cleaning operation and lead the hunt for the cause of the outbreak. Plus, the ship was originally scheduled to set sail again Sunday, but Carnival pushed the departure day back to next Tuesday so that the crew could have two days to disinfect the ship, Carnival officials said.
Passengers are being offered two options: Option #1: Take the 4-night cruise and receive:
Option #2 Cancel your cruise and receive:
11-14-06 Crystal Symphony finishes $23,000,000 Makeover The cruise ship Crystal Symphony departed for Miami ahead of schedule Friday morning from BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair after a $23 million makeover. The whirlwind nine-day overhaul, which Knut Aune, vice president of marine operations for ship owner Crystal Cruises, described as the ship's "busiest dry dock in the shortest time," included refurbishing 411 staterooms, building a nightclub and casino, reconstructing shops, and sprucing up the hull and rudders.
Using huge cranes, BAE Systems offloaded 105 20-foot containers stuffed with old carpet, furniture and other debris and lifted on 111 containers full of new furnishings. Workers aboard the Crystal Symphony labored on as the ship got under way. Final touches and tidying up might end minutes before passengers begin boarding at 3 p.m. Sunday in Miami for a cruise to Costa Rica.
Aune said the 11-year-old ship will be ready. Back to Top
11-14-06 Carnival Triumph on new Exotic Itinerary Carnival Cruise Lines' 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph will operate a unique new four-port seven-day "Exotic Eastern Caribbean" itinerary from Miami beginning April 2007 that features stops at Half Moon Cay, a stunning Bahamian private island; San Juan, Puerto Rico, known for its rich cultural heritage and fascinating historical sites; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., whose postcard perfect beaches, gorgeous mountain terrain and endless shopping make it a venerable favorite; and Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Caribbean's newest port of call, offering world-renowned snorkeling, diving and beaches. Back to Top
11-14-06 Princess to hold Dual Naming Ceremony Princess Cruises has plans to hold a historic ceremony in which two of their ships will be named and christened at the same time. The ceremony will bring out the new Emerald Princess (3100 passengers) and the new newly acquired and soon to be re-christened Royal Princess (710 passengers), originally the Renaissance R-8, and will be held in the beautiful waters of Santorini Island (Greece), voted by Travel & Leisure readers as Europe's most beautiful island.
Emerald Princess will include the many new design innovations introduced aboard Crown Princess earlier this year, including a dramatic piazza-style atrium and an adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary. The ship will also feature the many hallmark features that define the Princess experience, such as the dramatic Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, multiple dining and entertainment options, a Lotus Spa fitness center, an extensive children and teen's center, a wedding chapel and nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies.
Royal Princess will offer passengers the opportunity to add some interesting new destinations to their travels with a series of 12-day Elite Mediterranean cruises to a variety of unusual destinations. These five unique new itineraries, including Princess' first sailings to the Holy Land in more than five years, also feature the new ports of Ravenna, Italy; Split, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Canakkale (for Troy), Turkey. Other unique destinations include Corsica and Sardinia, and the Crimean coast. Back to Top
11-11-06 Weekend News, 11-11-06 *** A retired Los Angeles police sergeant and former TV reporter who was Los Angeless KTTV-TV's law enforcement specialist and helicopter reporter until he left the station in 2004 was indicted Thursday in connection with encounters he had with two 12-year-old boys aboard the Diamond Princess on a weeklong cruise to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
Roderick "Rod" Bernsen was arrested in October by FBI agents investigating a complaint by the mother of one of the boys. A grand jury hearing evidence of the allegations indicted Bernsen on two counts of abusive sexual contact. Bernsen, scheduled to be arraigned last Monday, was free on an $850,000 bond posted following his arrest when the cruise ship docked. The indictment alleged Bernsen, during an encounter in the ship's steam room, tried to talk with the boys about sex and then touched one boy's penis with his toe and spanked another's bare buttocks, according to an affidavit. Bersen was naked at the time, according to the indictment.
Bernsen was KTTV-TV's law enforcement specialist and helicopter reporter until he left the station in 2004. His broadcasting career followed service in the Los Angeles Police Department as a sergeant and LAPD police spokesman. From late last year until May, he filled in as a host on KFI-AM, Los Angeles' most popular talk radio station. Bernsen is the cousin of "L.A. Law" star Corbin Bernsen. He now lives in Monument, Colo.
*** Crystal Symphony departed for Miami ahead of schedule Friday morning, leaving BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair after a $23 million makeover. A whirlwind nine-day overhaul, which company officials described as the ship's "busiest dry dock in the shortest time," included refurbishing 411 staterooms, building a nightclub and casino, reconstructing shops, and sprucing up the hull and rudders.
Using huge cranes, BAE Systems offloaded 105 20-foot containers stuffed with old carpet, furniture and other debris and lifted on 111 containers full of new furnishings - one of the yard's big challenges, Chief Executive Officer Bill Clifford said. Workers aboard the Crystal Symphony labored on as the ship got under way. Final touches and tidying up might end minutes before passengers begin boarding at 3 p.m. Sunday in Miami for a cruise to Costa Rica.
Still, Crystal VP of ship operations for Crystal, Knut Aune said the 11-year-old ship will be ready. "Everything is fine," he said. "If you want to see how a ship should look, you should be in Miami on the 12th."
*** Coast Guard rescue crews from Air Station Miami and Great Inagua, Bahamas, medically evacuated a 17-year-old boy suffering from possible appendicitis from the cruise ship Freedom of the Seas in Labadee, Haiti. A Coast Guard aircraft arrived at the Coast Guard Air Station in Opa Locka, Florida, with the boy.
The boy and one of his parents were hoisted from the ship, by a Coast Guard helicopter crew while the cruise ship was in port on the northern side of Haiti. The pair were then flown to Georgetown, Bahamas, and met by a Miami-based Coast Guard Falcon jet. Local Emergency Medical Services were standing by when the Falcon jet arrived at the airport in Opa Locka.
*** The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 42-year-old Asian American man who was last seen falling off of the Carnival cruise ship Conquest, late Saturday night. At about 8 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard search that cover 520 sq. miles and 17 search patterns flights was suspended pending further developments. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Houston conducted a first-light search Monday morning and an HU-25 Falcon jet crew from Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, followed with searches in the late afternoon.
The Coast Guard was notified at about 11:20 p.m. Saturday night by the cruise ship stating that a passenger had witnessed another passenger going overboard. The cruise ship and three other vessels in the area searched for about three hours before being released from the search by the Coast Guard. Coast Guard searched for the man with helicopters from four different air stations, an 87-foot patrol boat and long-range jets. Back to Top
11-06-06 Cruise Ship Causes Pan-Euro Blackout As a 380,000-volt line was turned off to let the Norwegian Pearl, a newly built cruise ship, pass on its way from the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg to the North Sea some sort of electric chain reaction left millions of Europeans in the dark for as long as 90 minutes in some parts of Europe and beyond. The blackout happened just after 10pm on Saturday, and stretched across Western Europe from Northern Germany all the way to Morocco.
The Germany utility company, which is one of the biggest in Europe, said that the problem may have arisen when it switched off a power line over the river Ems, in the north of the country, to allow the ship to pass underneath safely.
The power cut swept through large parts of western Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands and Croatia. About 100 trains in Germany were brought to a standstill, causing nationwide delays to the rail network. In France, five million people were affected in the country's biggest blackout in 30 years. Firefighters in Paris responded to nearly 40 calls from people stuck in elevators. More than 100,000 people were affected in Italy, mainly in and around Turin. Back to Top
11-03-06 Weekend News, 10-3-06 *** Celebrity Cruises reported last Thursday that a 73-year old British man has gone missing from the Century while traveling near Madeira in the Canary Islands. A crew member reported the disappearance Wednesday, after it appeared James Ewan, of Fife, Scotland, had not used his cabin the previous night. The captain immediately began a search, reversed course to retrace the ship's path and began making public announcements, the cruise line said.
Ship logs indicate Ewan, who had been traveling alone, did not disembark in port, company spokeswoman Lynn Martenstein said, and the line was reviewing surveillance tapes and talking to people who may have seen Ewan. The ship was allowed to continue on its 14-night trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Miami, which began Oct. 27, the company said.*** Carnival Cruise Lines is launching San Diego's first year-round cruise program. While other ships, from Holland America and Carnival Spirit sail from San Diego seasonally, Carnival Elation is going to start sailing on 4 and 5-day cruises to Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada beginning in June of 2007. The Elation, which currently operates four- and five-day cruises from Port Canaveral, will continue that program through May 12, 2007, then embark on a special 15-Day Panama Canal Cruise visiing the Caribbean island of Aruba followed by calls at Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and Acapulco, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; starting May 12 and arriving San Diego May 27, 2007.
*** Berlitz Guide to Cruising,2007 in Berlitz annual cruising guide: Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2007, due in bookstores this month. These seventeen luxury ships scored high enough for the Berlitz' prestigious Five Stars Club. The top ships, in order, are as follows:
click for pic *** Regent Seven Seas' guests on last month's "President's Cruise" were treated to an evening of cocktails and canapés followed by a seven-piece orchestra serenade at the Celsus Library in Ephesus, built in the 2nd Century A.D. One of the world's largest and most important Greco-Roman archaeological sites, Ephesus is accessible via Kusadasi, Turkey, a featured port during select Mediterranean sailings. Hosted by Regent President Mark Conroy, this special 14-night Mediterranean cruise featured several exclusive, complimentary events for Seven Seas Society members, Regent's members-only rewards program for return guests.
*** Carnival Cruises, for the eighth year in a row, has topped the Porthole Magazine "Readers Choice Awards," taking lead honors in 11 categories -- more than any other cruise line. Since the awards program was established in 1999, Carnival has taken home an unprecedented 83 Readers Choice Awards. This year Carnival was the top vote-getter in a wide variety of categories including:
11-01-06 Celebrity and Pullmantur to Swap Ships With Royal Caribbean's acquisition of Spanish cruise line Pullmantur coming Nov. 15th, Celebrity will swap its oldest cruise ship for one of Pullmantur's newest. Celebrity Zenith, the last of its oldest and smallest Horizon-class ships built in 1992, will be transferred to Pullmantur in exchange for Pullmantur's Blue Dream, one of two former Renaissance cruise ships owned by Pullmantur (the former R-6 and R-7) built in 2000. That ship will be renamed Celebrity Journey and will become part of the boutique Celebrity Expeditions.
Celebrity Expeditions currently has just one ship, a 100-passenger yacht that sails to the Galapagos Islands, and the 718-passenger Celebrity Journey will enable it to offer other itineraries. However, because cruises on Zenith to Bermuda are already sold for next year, the Celebrity Journey will spend next summer sailing the Bermuda itineraries from Bayonne, NJ.
Before entering service, the Celebrity Journey will be taken out of service for one month for a re-design, adding specialty restaurants, expanded spa services, expanded concierge service and additional guest suites. There are no current plans for changes to the other former Renaissance ship in service by Pullmantur, the Blue Moon.
Zenith -- which is eight-years older but almost twice the size of Blue Dream -- will be redeployed to the Pullmantur fleet in June 2007. Once customized, Zenith will sail seven-night Mediterranean cruises between Athens and Venice. Back to Top
11-01-06 NCL Finalizes Mega-ship Contract Norwegian Cruise Lines has confirmed the contracts with Aker Yards of France to build two new 150,000-ton+ cruise ships, with an option for a third. The ships will each be approximately 150,000 Gross Tons and 4,200 passenger berths. The contract price for each of the first two ships is 735 million Euros, and for the optional third ship is 700 million Euros. All together, that is approximately $2.8 billion at today's exchange rate. The first two vessels will be delivered in 2009 and 2010, with the optional third sister ship set for delivery in the first quarter of 2011.
The project has been code-named "F3" to represent NCL's third generation of Freestyle Cruising ships. The cabin mix will be the richest of any NCL ship to date, with 100% of outside staterooms having private balconies. In total, each ship will have 1,415 balcony staterooms and suites. The new ship design will offer 60% more passenger space than the largest ships built so far by NCL. Back to Top
11-01-06 World's Largest Cruise Night; 14,860 Bookings The second annual World's Largest Cruise Night conducted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on Oct. 19, in New York City, resulted in 14,860 cruise bookings, which are expected to generate an estimated $18.5 million in sales.
More than 700 CLIA travel agencies across North America hosted 35,000 consumers at a wide array of one-day events, which included luncheons, cocktail parties, dinners, expos, cooking classes and other promotional activities. Tellingly, 89 percent of the agencies that hosted events said they plan to participate in 2007, according to the CLIA survey. Back to Top