News Archive - October 2007

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11-25-07: NCL Offering Two-Day Sale Wednesday and Thursday

Norwegian Cruise Lines is announcing that the line will be offering special offers on cruises booked today and tomorrow (Dec.5 & 6, 2007).

There are many different offers available at the NCL web site (which can also be booked through your travel agent), but here is a sampling below.

Some of the special offers include five-day cruises from as low as $299. They will also be accepting reduced deposits to hold the cruises. This week's special offer is a 5-day cruise on Norwegian Pearl with an oceanview cabin (category H) for just $299 - that is usually the SALE price for an inside cabin on this ship. Even better, a balcony cabin (category BE) on the 5-day Norwegian Pearl cruise can be had for just $399 per person. That is for the 12/9/07 cruise.

Norwegian Pearl alternates the 5-day cruises with 9-day cruises, an itinerary CruiseMates is partial to because it leaves Friday night and gets you to the dep Caribbean and back in time for work the following Monday morning. A balcony on this cruise (category BE) can be had for $1349 per person. That is for the 1/25/08 cruise.

7-day Caribbean cruises on Norwegian Majesty start at an amazing $349 per person on an inside cabin (cat. N) or $399 pp for an oceanview (Cat. H). That is on the 12/8/07 sailing.

Norwegian Jewel is offering 5-day Western Caribbean cruises on 12/16/07 for $299 inside (cat. H) or $399 balcony (cat. BE). On the 1/13/08 5-day Western Caribbean cruise the same categories are $329 and $449 respectively.

Contact your travel agent to book these cruises, or go to www.ncl.com

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11-25-07: Queen Victoria Cruise Ship to be Officially Handed Over to Cunard TOP Government leaders from Italy and Britain were set to witness the historic handover of Southampton's brand new Cunard vessel, Queen Victoria in Venice on Saturday.

As the Italian flag was ceremonially lowered on Queen Victoria and the distinctive Red Ensign was raised, it signalled the moment that Cunard officially took possession of the ship from the builders.

The Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, together with Britain's Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Jim Fitzpatrick, gave the ceremony a governmental stamp of approval as Cunard took delivery of the latest addition to its fleet.

This past Friday, November 30, Queen Victoria said her farewells to the Marghera shipyard, near Venice, where she was constructed over the past 18 months, and set a course for her home port of Southampton where she will arrive at the City Cruise Terminal on Friday, December 7, at about 9.30am.

Carol Marlow, Cunard's president and managing director, said: "This ceremony to mark the completion of the ship, and our acceptance of delivery, is just the first of a number of significant events over the next few weeks. I am sure the British will take this magnificent ship to their hearts, as they have all Cunard Queens." Ms Marlow also congratulated the shipyard workforce at Marghera on its skill and commitment in turning thousands of tons of bare steel into a luxurious passenger ship in such a relatively short time. To ensure the hand-over ceremony had an appropriate British sense of occasion the Band of the Scots Guards were flown out to Venice.

Queen Victoria will leave Southampton on her sell-out maiden voyage at 5pm on December 11 as a glittering firework display lights up the skies over her decks.

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11-25-07: Windjammer Cancels More Cruises - Fails to Tell Customers The December 8th cruise for the Legacy, the only ship Windjammer claims to still have in a usable state, has been canceled. Unstated is what is happening with the December 15 cruise, though implications are it is also canceled. The news was revealed deep within the non-affilated message board web site called the Flotilla which Windjammer Cruises uses as its main contact point for its customers.

Windjammer president Joey Burke says in a message entitled "Happy Thanksgiving" that "4 more crew members are leaving so I guess the sailing for the 8th is definitely off. [...] I have a 2 week charter on the Legacy on beginning 23rd, I guess that will be the official startup."

The Windjammer web site is still promoting cruises on all four ships Windjammer once had in its fleet, although none are currently in operation. Knowingly selling cruises on ships that cannot sail is illegal according the Florida Sellers of Travel statutes. The pattern to date (since November 3) has been to continue selling cruises on the Legacy and then cancel them at the last minute.

Even worse, many people scheduled on these cruises have reported that the company did not notify them directly, but that they only found out their cruises were canceled by reading the Flotilla message board where Joey Burke posts. Windjammer did not put out a press release about the canceled cruises, nor did they mention the cancelations on the official cruise line Web site www.windjammer.com.

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11-24-07: Antarctic Icebreaker Sinks - Passengers Safe The sinking of a cruise ship is actually a very rare event - and when they do go down, it is extremely rare that anyone is lost at sea. And so is the case today when the 2,400-ton liner, the MV Explorer, went down is ice-filled waters near the South Shetland Islands after the ice punched a hole in the double hull forcing passengers and crew to flee on life rafts. All passengers escaped safely.

An international rescue operation involving coastguards on three continents was launched as the stricken ship was left listing at an angle of 45 degrees in the Bransfield Strait off the remote King George Island. It was about 75 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Chilean coastguard confirmed the ship has now sunk. Passengers and crew were forced to flee on life rafts. The captain, who is European, and his first mate stayed on board in a desperate attempt to save the stricken Explorer by pumping out water but they too had to be rescued.

Talking to the BBC after his rescue, passenger John Cartwright said: "We were in a lifeboat in fairly rough seas, strong winds. We all got a little nervous when the ship began to list sharply and the lifeboats still hadn't been lowered. We feel very relieved now. We're all sort of unwinding and happy to be up here warm and dry."

Capt Arnvid Hansen, of the Norwegian rescue ship said: "We have taken all the crew members and passengers onboard. Total 154 persons. Among the passengers there were also four Irish people, 14 Americans, 12 Canadians and 10 Australians.

"They were a little bit cold and wet but in good condition. We brought them aboard, bringing them warm clothes, food and accommodation so they are in a good mood now."

The Norwegians were now preparing to leave the area for the King George Island, Maxwell Bay to await for further instructions.

The 38-year-old Liberian-flagged liner had set out from Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina on November 11 for a 19-day voyage through the Drake Passage.

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11-23-07: Antarctic Cruise Ship Hits Ice, Passengers Evacuated The cruise ship M/S Explorer on a summer cruise of Antarctica, hit heavy ice and starting to sink in the sea off the coast of Antarctica. The ship began taking on water after hitting ice. All onboard are now safe after being put on lifeboats then boarding another ship, 154 passengers and crew were evacuated said Susan Hayes, an executive at the ship's owner, Toronto-based tour operator G.A.P. Adventures.

The ship collided with the iceberg 26 miles from King George Island at 5.24am UK time. Forecasters said the temperature in the area was around minus 5C at the time and the sea temperature was around minus 1C. An international rescue operation involving coastguards on three continents was launched as the stricken ship was left listing at an angle of 45 degrees in the Bransfield Strait off the remote King George Island. It was about 75 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Explorer is a 2,400-ton Liberian-registered passenger explorer ship built in 1969. It has a strengthened hull, so "it wouldn't have been a small amount of ice" that pierced the structure, causing it to take on water, Sadler said.

The drifting passengers were picked up by the Norwegian ship the NordNorge. The company said 100 people -- 85 passengers and 15 crew -- were onboard, while the U.K. Coastguard put the figure at 154. The passengers included 24 Britons, 17 Dutch, 14 Americans, 12 Canadians and 10 Australians, G.A.P. Adventures said in an e-mailed statement, adding that their families were being contacted. The 54 crew were mostly Scandinavians and Filipinos.

Arnvid Hansen, the captain of the NordNorge, told Sky News in a telephone interview from the scene that his ship rescued 154 passengers and crew from the Explorer and that "everyone is in good condition."

Four US vessels were in the area and sailed to offer assistance, directed by the US naval base at Norfolk, Virginia. Falmouth coastguard in Cornwall were also involved because they hold search and rescue plans for the liner as part of an international co-operation programme.

Andy Cattrell, from Falmouth Coastguard, said: "It hit something significant certainly because this vessel is designed to operate in these areas.

It is an old vessel but it is a very well-constructed vessel designed to be down there." It is thought that the collision left a small hole about the size of a fist in one of the cabins and that water had gone elsewhere in the ship.

Marine and Coastguard Agency spokesman Mark Clark said: "There was a lot of ice in the area, but the vessel was built to withstand ice. It's in a poor way and it's listing is getting worse."

The line, which describes itself as Canada's largest adventure travel company and a specialist in small group adventures, safaris and expeditions, was offering a 10-day trip on the Explorer starting Nov. 29 from Ushuaia, Argentina, then winding through the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands. The cost was $4,895.

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11-20-07: NCL Gem "It Girl" Contest down to Five Contestants - Vote Now! Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced five finalists in its Search for the Latitudes "It" Girl contest, the winner of which will be named Godmother of its new ship, Norwegian Gem. Finalists were selected from more than 500 online video entries submitted by Latitudes members (past NCL guests) showcasing why they should be named the ship's Godmother and how they embody the qualities of an "It" Girl.

Finalist videos are now posted on www.gemitgirl.com and the public is invited to help NCL pick the winner by voting for their favorite "It" Girl finalist now through December 7, 2007. The five finalists will be whisked away to Norwegian Gem's christening ceremony on December 18, 2007 in New York City where the winner will be announced and will christen the ship. Additionally, she will receive the ultimate "It" Girl treatment on a fabulous seven-day cruise in Norwegian Gem's posh Garden Villa for her and five members of her entourage.

"We want to thank all of our Latitudes members who participated. We were impressed with the number of creative, funny and heartwarming videos we received from "It" Girls of all ages," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "These five finalists - in their own unique way - embody the free-spirited, sophisticated and confident qualities of our new 'It' Girl, Norwegian Gem. And in keeping with the spirit of NCL's Freestyle Cruising, we're asking the public to vote for their favorite finalist, so they can help us determine who should be Norwegian Gem's Godmother."

The contest finalists* are:

  • Lauren Kampf, 22, from Oakland, N.J.; her video takes a comedic look at all of the activities and adventures offered on an NCL cruise. Lauren is a recent Music and Theater graduate of Washington and Lee University and has sailed on four NCL cruises
  • Shannon Maxey, 29, from Virginia Beach, Va.; her video shows her versatility and exotic talents. Shannon is an artist and has a Master of Fine Arts from Old Dominion University. She recently sailed on Pride of Hawai`i
  • Cindy Cardella, 31, from Fairfield, N.J.; her video chronicles her NCL cruise experiences from childhood onwards, and highlights all of the places she has visited. Cindy has sailed with NCL on more than 30 cruises and is a stay at home mom with three boys, ages five, three and five months
  • Louise Strong, 44, from South Hero, Vt.; her video discusses and demonstrates her ebullient love for NCL. Louise is a high school administrator at Essex High School in Essex Junction, Vt. and has been married to her husband Ed for 22 years. Louise has sailed on 16 NCL cruises
  • Mary O'Dea, 75, from Milford, Pa.; her video illustrates how NCL, and NCL crew members, are a part of her life. Mary has four children and has sailed on eight NCL cruises.

In a video entry, entrants were encouraged to include how they embody the attributes of NCL's hottest, hippest new ship, Norwegian Gem, as well as the free spirit of NCL's Freestyle Cruising. These characteristics include sophistication, independence and confidence, eagerness to explore new destinations and learn new things, glamour, style and culture, along with a youthful and adventurous spirit regardless of age. The five finalists were selected on creativity and originality of their submission. Contest details, terms and conditions can be found online at www.gemitgirl.com.

In addition to the five finalists, NCL is recognizing the following five entrants as honorable mentions; and their videos will also be available for viewing at www.gemitgirl.com:

  • Leah Goodman, 23, of Radford, Va.
  • Meghan Hasselberg, 28, of Arlington Heights, Ill.
  • Kristin Mueller, 30, of Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Alane Aihara, 44, of Makawao, Hawai`i
  • Marlene Ebeo, 69, of Pearl City, Hawai`i

*All finalists are subject to the verification of eligibility.

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11-20-07: Hawaii Cruise Visits to Decrease Dramatically The Associated Press is reporting on how many fewer actual port calls will be made to the island of Hawaii by cruise ships in 2008. While the number in 2007 is as high as 469 port stops, in 2008 there are only 310 port calls scheduled.

The reason is felt to be that the market has become oversaturated with cruise ships forcing the price per cruise down. NCL, which has the only franchise allowed to operate solely within the island chain, already has one ship scheduled to leave the Hawaii islands market permanently early next year. NCL canceled 47 visits by Pride of Hawaii and about 35 calls by Norwegian Sun in 2008.

Other cruise lines, which have been sailing to Hawaii from the North America continent, typically leaving from Ensenada or Vancouver, are also cutting back on the number of visits. Celebrity Cruise Lines, for example, has canceled eight calls by its ship Summit.

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11-20-07: Cruise Ship Rape Verdict - Innocent The Bahamain Journal is reporting that a Royal Caribbean worker accused of rape by a passenger has been tries and found not guilty in the Supreme Court of Nassau Bahamas. The seven woman, five man jury returned the verdict voted 11 to one in favor of freeing Ruel Ellis Lockwood, 28.

The 20-year-old female Florida State University student earlier this year alleged that a cruise ship employee forced himself on her on March 7, 2007 aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship – Sovereign of the Seas – which was in the Port of Nassau at the time. According to Detective Hart – who was among those investigating the incident – Lockwood initially denied having any sexual contact with the female, saying the alleged victim repeatedly referred to him as "sexy and cute" throughout the cruise, and that the last time he saw her, she was passed out drunk on the bed in her cabin.

's idea. Reading Lockwood's statement to the police in court, the detective testified that Lockwood admitted going to the complainant's room between 9:30 and 10 o'clock that night and having a brief consensual sexual encounter with her.

According to Detective Hart, Lockwood said that after the encounter he returned to his cabin and about an hour later, he found himself being questioned by the ship's security personnel.

During his summation last Thursday, Lockwood's attorney, Dorsey McPhee, referred to the jurors as 'guardian angels' with the power to return Lockwood home to his native Nicaragua.

After deliberating for about two hours, the jury reached its decision.

Following the verdict, Mr. McPhee told The Bahama Journal on Monday Lockwood was only a pawn in a much larger game the complainant was playing.

"The jury was very astute to see through the lies and to decide for themselves that this was all a setup. Their real intention is to file a civil suit in the United States. But we're not concerned with that; we are just grateful that he has been vindicated and now he is a free man," Mr. McPhee said.

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11-17-07: NCL to implement Fuel Surcharge NCL Corporation announced today that it will begin assessing guests a fuel supplement in response to record high fuel prices. Effective on all new NCL and NCL America bookings made on or after December 1, 2007, the fuel supplement will be $7 per person per day for the first and second guests in a stateroom and $3 per person per day for any additional guests in the same stateroom.

"With oil prices skyrocketing, the fuel supplement is a necessary step for us," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO.

Prior to finalizing the details of the fuel supplement, the company sought input from members of its President's Club, those travel partners that do the largest volume of business with NCL.

"It was helpful to hear feedback from our travel partners. We value their opinions and took their input into consideration when setting the parameters for this supplement. Implementing it on new bookings only will enable travel partners to continue to focus on selling new customers on an NCL cruise versus servicing existing bookings," Veitch added. "Decisions like this are often difficult and, in this case, we hope we have found the right balance for NCL and our valued travel partners, as well as our guests."

NCL Corporation Ltd. is the holding company for various subsidiary companies involved in owning and operating the ships of Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America and Orient Lines.

NCL plans to build two new third generation Freestyle Cruising ships for delivery in 2010. NCL today has the youngest fleet in the industry, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of Freestyle Cruising on the newest, most contemporary ships at sea, and has recently added its latest new ship, the 2,400 passenger Norwegian Gem.

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11-14-07: Royal Caribbean Announces Fuel Supplement In an effort to deal with the sharp increase in fuel prices, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced the implementation of a fuel supplement of $5 per guest per day for sailings that depart on or after February 1, 2008.

"I thank our guests for understanding our need to implement this fuel supplement," said Brian Rice, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We have gone to great lengths to minimize the impact of rising fuel costs, for example, designing and building more fuel-efficient ships, installing energy-saving lighting, and using air conditioning more efficiently. Unfortunately, as fuel prices have reached record highs, we are forced to take this extraordinary step to offset those costs."

The company has taken measures to soften the impact of this decision. For example, the company will not apply the supplement on any bookings where the guest has already paid the full cost of the cruise. In addition, guests who were booked before November 16, and who do not agree to pay the supplement, may cancel their reservation prior to December 7, 2007, for a full refund of all monies they have paid to the company, and they will not be subject to any cancellation charges that would normally apply. Those guests who do not cancel their reservation and pay in full will receive one logo item per stateroom, onboard their cruise. Finally, the supplement will apply only to the first and second guests in each stateroom and will not exceed $70 per person, per sailing.

The supplement will assist the company in offsetting the widespread increases in fuel prices, which have more than doubled in recent years. The supplement will be periodically reviewed, with the intent of being temporary, and may be adjusted as fuel prices fluctuate.

The company will provide travel agents with an administrative fee of $12 per existing booking to help offset the costs associated with contacting guests with existing reservations and collecting payment of the supplement for each booking that sails on or after February 1, 2008.

The charge will involve three Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises. Pullmantur Cruises, the Madrid-based, wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd, has also implemented a fuel supplement of €50 for its tours and cruises that depart on or after January 1, 2008.

"We know the rising cost of fuel has affected everyone, and, unfortunately, our company is no different," Rice said. "We hope the options we are providing, including additional time for guests to finalize vacation plans, will underscore our commitment to our guests."

The supplement is effective for new and existing North American bookings. The company cannot predict the impact of the fuel supplement on its earnings, as it does not know the number of new or existing bookings that will accept the proposed supplement.

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11-14-07: Windjammer Cancels Next Three Cruises Admittedly, one of our biggest reporting blunders this year was in saying that Windjammer could be getting a little wind in its sails. For weeks now they have been scheduling and selling cruises on the final ship they have in service, the Legacy, only to end up cancelling those cruises at the last minute. Originally, the line sold cruises for the November 3 and 10 sailings, only to cancel both of those sailings as late as Nov. 1st.

They rescheduled previous customers, asking them to move their cruises to November 17. Just yesterday they announced that the next three cruise on Legacy are now also officialy cancelled, Nove 17, 24, and Dec 1st.

This time, while the company did once again encourage those booked to re-schedule for December 8th. This time it said it would NOT be repaying any airfare change fees or reimbursing anyone who had unusual expenses due to the company's lack of timeliness in warning people about these last minute changes.

The facts, which we subsequently found out were hidden from CruiseMates during our last interview with Susan Burke, is that this company has a huge amount of outstanding debt and there are hundreds if not thousands of people to whom they owe money. Some of them are vendors and creditors, but the majority are people who paid for cruises and have not received them.

CruiseMates editor, Paul Motter, has been tracking this story for the last two weeks and trying his best to document what happened. This has not been easy, but starting tomorrow (Friday, Nov 15) we will begin telling you the complete story about the demise of the Windjammer empire. And it is not a pretty picture.

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11-0-07: Carnival Corp to Implement Fuel Surcharge Carnival Corporation will implement a fuel supplement of $5 per person per day.

The fuel supplement, which only applies to the first and second guests in a stateroom and will not exceed $70 per person per voyage, is effective on all bookings for voyages departing on or after Feb. 1, 2008 on the following Carnival Corporation & plc brands – Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and The Yachts of Seabourn.

According to Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison, the recent spike in fuel prices has dramatically impacted the company's operating costs, thus necessitating the supplement. The price the company pays for fuel has increased 140 percent over the last three years, with a 50 percent increase occurring in just the last seven months.

"Earlier this year, we implemented a supplement for our European brands. We had hoped to avoid a similar supplement for our North American brands but with the price of oil approaching $100 a barrel this is no longer possible. The implementation of the fuel supplement beginning February 1 for our North American brands will result in consumers paying approximately one-third of our year-over-year fuel cost increases over the first six months of the fiscal year," he said.

Arison added that the company had been considering a supplement for some time but held off as long as it could. "We are hopeful fuel prices will someday return to a level that will enable us to eliminate this supplement. Until then, we believe that guests sailing on our North American brands will understand the dilemma that soaring fuel prices has caused for our company and industry and that a fuel supplement was needed to enable us to continue offering the high quality cruises our guests have come to expect," Arison explained.

The fuel supplement of $5 per person per day will be applied to all new and existing bookings for cruises on or after February 1, 2008. For existing reservations, travel agents will receive $10 per booking in administrative compensation for notifying their clients of the new fuel supplement and collecting the additional funds. Carnival Corporation & plc brands will provide additional information on the fuel supplement via their respective Web sites, as well as through various marketing and collateral materials.

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11-6-07: Seabourn Announces Second New Ship The Yachts of Seabourn announced that it would build two new, ultra luxury ships, advance booking activity for the first, Seabourn Odyssey, has led to the line's decision to exercise the option for another. The third sister ship will be built by T. Mariotti S.p.A. of Genoa, Italy for delivery in summer, 2011. Seabourn, a division of Miami-based Carnival Corporation & plc, has agreed to the project at an all in cost of approximately Euros 200 million.

Seabourn Odyssey will debut in June of 2009. Bookings for its maiden season are being accepted from the general public starting Tuesday, November 5, after a successful advance booking period reserved for past guests of the line. The second ship in the series is scheduled to enter service in the summer of 2010.

"Our decision to order a third new ship is based partly on the enthusiasm we have already seen for our new ship design," explained Seabourn's president & CEO, Pamela Conover. "That enthusiasm, combined with research indicating a continuing robust expansion in demand for ultra luxury cruising in general, convinces us that we have the right formula at the right time," she continued.

That formula is embodied in the new, 32,000-GRT ships, which will accommodate just 450 guests in 225 luxury suites, ninety percent of which will offer private verandas. The new ships will maintain the yacht-like onboard ambience and all-inclusive policies such as complimentary open bars, open-seating dining and a myriad of touches the company calls its Signature Delights.

The design specifications call for hulls 650 feet long, with a beam of 84 feet and a draft of 21 feet. The ships will be powered by diesel-generated electricity and operate with twin screw propellers, with a service speed of 19 knots. They will be equipped with two bow thrusters to enhance maneuverability and two stabilizers. The ships will also be "green ships" employing advanced wastewater treatment technology.

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11-5-07: Save the Delta Queen Rally - Chatanooga Tomorrow To further the cause to "Save the Delta Queen" (see related news items below) there will be an additional rally in Chatanooga Tennessee at noon tomorrow while the Delta Queen is docked there.

Even more exciting, it has been learned that Joe McCarthy and other officials of Delta Queen's new parent company, Majestic America Lines, will be riding the into town on the boat, having boarded in from Decatur and coming to Chattanooga to disembark on MOnday morning.

While the rally is scheduled for noon, it is believed the officials could disembark as early as 8:00 a.m. Organizers say they are doing their best to get media and other interested citizens there early to try to get a comment from the cruise line officials.

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11-2-07: NCL Adding Bahamas Cruises Norwegian Cruise Line and is increasing calls to The Bahamas beginning next month, adding a total of 32 cruises between 2007 and 2009. Twenty-eight of these calls will be made by NCL's new Norwegian Gem, which entered service on October 1, 2007. Norwegian Jewel will make the first stop in Grand Bahama, along with a stop in Nassau, during a three-day Bahamas Getaway cruise on November 15, 2007, sailing roundtrip from Miami.

Norwegian Gem, carrying approximately 2,400 passengers, will sail seven-day Bahamas and Florida itineraries roundtrip from New York in December 2007, February, March, April and December 2008, with stops in both Grand Bahama Island and Nassau, along with NCL's private island, Great Stirrup Cay and Port Canaveral, Florida. In 2009, the ship will sail the same itinerary from January through April.

Norwegian Jade, a Jewel-class ship built specifically for Freestyle Cruising, has three scheduled seven-day Bahamas and Florida sailings roundtrip from New York on December 14, 21 and 28, 2008 with stops in Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, along with Port Canaveral.

NCL decided to return to Grand Bahama Island after being invited by the Ministry of Tourism to experience all the island had to offer. NCL's development team toured the area for the new cruise port facility, visited with the dolphins at UNEXSO, enjoyed a rugged Safari Jeep Tour exploring the nature trails of Grand Bahama and took an air boat tour through the mangroves. NCL estimates that these calls will contribute approximately $9 million directly to the economy of the Bahamas, with $4 million going directly to Grand Bahama Island.

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11-2-07: Costa Focuses on South America The 86,000-ton Costa Mediterranea will be deployed to South America for the 2008/2009 winter cruise season. The ship will feature 44 new, exclusive spa accommodations. In addition, the Costa Magica and Costa Marina will also sail the region on routes throughout Brazil and Argentina.

The Costa Mediterranea will sail routes to Argentina and will feature a new spa program. Guests who book one of 44 exclusive accommodations will enjoy privileges including a personalized wellness consultation, three complimentary treatments, two fitness or meditation classes and complimentary access to the Wellness Restaurant, offering a wide array of spa-friendly cuisine. Spa cabins, available in ocean view, veranda and suite categories, will feature aromatherapy diffusers, special shower and air filters, and a mini bar stocked with healthy food and beverage selections. In addition, guests with these accommodations will be offered priority spa reservation times. The Costa Mediterranea, which has been operating since 2003, features décor inspired by 17th and 18th century Italian noble palazzos. It has a double occupancy capacity of 2,114.

The 105,000-ton Costa Magica will return to the region on itineraries out of Brazil with weekly routes to Bahia and cruises throughout the Southeastern coast while the intimate, 25,600-ton Costa Marina will sail routes out of Buenos Aires. The Costa Magica entered into service in 2004 and features an interior design that pays homage to the most beautiful and "magical" Italian places as well as the largest dance floor at sea. It has a double occupancy capacity of 2,720. The Costa Marina entered service in 1990 and was refurbished in 2002. It features wide windows, skylights and flawless glass atriums that reflect her contemporary design and has an intimate double occupancy capacity of 776.

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11-2-07: Regent Focusing on Food and Wine Regent Seven Seas Cruises has scheduled nine special interest classes, part of their Circles of Interest program, focusing on food and wine for 2008. These cruises feature onboard and shore-side experiences delivered by lecturers, instructors and authorities from the realms of art, cuisine, history, environmental conservation, photography and wellness.

Regent's food and wine Circles of Interest will be offered aboard select winter, spring, summer and fall voyages on Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator. Chefs from the French culinary institute Le Cordon Bleu will host "Classes Culinaires des Croiseres" programs on seven departures between January 16 and September 18. Walter Scheib, White House executive chef from 1994 to 2005, will share "Presidential Secrets under the Mediterranean Sun" during a cruise to Greece, Italy and Turkey departing June 6. Finally, Cindy Pawlcyn, chef and owner of Napa Valley hot spots Mustards Grill and Cindy's Backyard, will host a "Mediterranean Food Odyssey" departing June 21.

Regent's 2008 schedule of food and wine Circles of Interest cruises includes:

  • Le Cordon Bleu "Classes Culinaires des Croiseres" – Launched in Paris in 1895, Le Cordon Bleu has been dedicated to preserving and passing on the mastery and appreciation of the culinary arts. Together with Regent, the school created "Classes Culinaires des Croiseres" - programs of no more than 20 guests combined with shore-side market visits. Regent and Le Cordon Bleu have also partnered to offer Signatures, the first and only permanent Le Cordon Bleu restaurants at sea, aboard Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager. Dates include: January 16 (Callao to Buenos Aires, Seven Seas Mariner); April 7 (roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, Seven Seas Mariner); April 30 (Fort Lauderdale to Horta, Azores, Seven Seas Voyager); May 27 (Vancouver, B.C. to Seward, Alaska, Seven Seas Mariner); June 9 (Monte Carlo to Dover, Seven Seas Voyager); September 9 (Southampton to Monte Carlo, Seven Seas Voyager) and September 18 (Seward, Alaska to Osaka, Seven Seas Mariner).
  • "Presidential Culinary Secrets under the Mediterranean Sun" featuring Walter Scheib – Chef Scheib served America's first families for 11 years, conducting hundreds of state dinners. His tenure was highlighted by the creation of a distinctly American culinary repertoire at the White House. Chef Scheib will be joined by co-host Alan Tardi, former chef, current wine writer and winner of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Award for his book Romancing the Vine. Onboard activities include "Kitchen Table Chats" which demonstrate how Chef Scheib makes favorite presidential midnight snacks and popular items from state dinners. Chef Scheib will also host an exclusive luncheon at the Michelin-starred Torre del Saracino restaurant in Vico Equense. Departure date: June 7 (Piraeus, Greece to Monte Carlo, Seven Seas Navigator).
  • "Mediterranean Food Odyssey" featuring Cindy Pawlcyn – Chef Pawlcyn studied at Le Cordon Bleu and opened Mustards Grill after moving to California's Napa Valley in 1980. Today she also operates Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in Napa Valley. Pawlcyn has been inducted into Who's Who in Cooking in America and is currently working on her third cookbook. Chef Pawlcyn's co-host is wine authority Lyn Farmer, senior editor of The Wine News magazine and executive director of the Miami Wine and Food Festival. Onboard activities include a cooking demonstration of Mediterranean cuisine and a tasting of Italian and Corsican cheeses. Chef Pawlcyn will also host an exclusive dinner with Chef Vedet Basaran at his Feriye restaurant in Istanbul. Departure date: June 21 (Civitavecchia, Italy to Istanbul, Seven Seas Navigator).

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    11-02-07: Windjammer Cancels Sailings Just when we reported that Windjammer was starting to get a little wind in its sails there uis another setback, the plan for the one remaining ship, Legacy, to remain sailing has had to cancel its two upcoming cruises (Nov 3, Nov 10). The line now says it'll begin its comeback on Nov. 17.

    Customers were notified as of yesterday (Nov 1, Thurs) morning that the cruise was cancelled. The company did encourage those booked to re-schedule and said it would make up for any airfare differences.

    One of the things that has been upsetting the avid followers of this cruise has been the day by day changes in sentiment. Commenst we have been receiving say they are caught up in wondering what is happening and that the company is all too opague in disseminating information in a timely manner.

    Many refunds or re-schedulings for missed cruises still have not been processed. However, Joey Burke, who is the family member who has been currently placed in control of the company as of just two weeks ago, has told me that he has now paid all crewmembers from all ships that he is able to find. Those that left the ships and returned home are harder to locate, he says, but he is trying to track them down.

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