News Archive - October 2003

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013
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10-31-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Mariner of the Seas was delivered to Royal Caribbean International on Wednesday by Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Turku, Finland. The fifth Voyager-class ship, Mariner carries 3,114 passengers and will be the largest vessel to sail from Port Canaveral year-round. Pop artist Romero Britto was commissioned to create artwork for the 25,000-square-foot pool deck aboard Mariner. It took more than a year for Britto to complete the project which included hand-painting of pool deck pillars and installation of his designs on metal sheets, rubber flooring, canvas awnings and translucent plastic. The project is chronicled in a gallery adjacent to the poll area which features design sketches and photos at various phases of construction as well as a biography of Britto and his work. A video about the artist and the project will run in staterooms and beach towels and sun visors sporting Britto designs will be available in the gift shop on board. Britto has also created the cover for the Caribbean edition of Explore!, Royal Caribbean's in-stateroom magazine. Olympian and Paralympian Jean Driscoll will officially christen Mariner of the Seas at ceremonies on November 14. Mariner begins her regularly scheduled itineraries on November 16, sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral.

*** The World has been sold to the vessel's residence owners for an undisclosed sum. Suites aboard the only resort community at sea will continue to be available to the public for a minimum stay of three nights. Currently, daily rates start at $600 for two guests including food, beverages, gratuities and port charges. Some itinerary changes are expected in 2004 and will be announced shortly. Passengers affected by any changes will be able to rebook their vacation based on the new itinerary, or cancel and receive a full refund. The World features a one-to-one guest/staff ratio, two large swimming pools, a full-size tennis court, jogging track and a retractable marina for water sports and a health spa and fitness center operated by Clinique La Prairie. The golf club has a simulator, driving ranges and putting greens. Shops onboard include a clothing and accessories boutique and the House of Graff jewelry store. For more details call ResidenSea at 1-800-970-6601 in the U.S. or Canada or +1-305-779-3399 overseas. Visit ResidenSea's website at www.residensea.com .

*** Carnival has changed the turnaround port in Alaska for Carnival Spirit next summer. Spirit will sail between Vancouver and Whittier in place of Seward on Gulf of Alaska sailings from May 19 to September 1, 2004. Situated on Prince William Sound, Whittier is 65 miles from Anchorage. The motorcoach ride takes 1.5 hours, traveling alongside Turnagain Arm fjord between the Kenai and Chugach mountains and through the 2.6 mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America and the only dual use highway/rail tunnel in the world. Princess Cruises was the first to make the switch to Whittier from Seward for 2004. Coral, Island, Dawn and Sun Princess on Gulf of Alaska cruises from Vancouver.

*** Crystal Cruises' is expanding its program for the booking shore excursions in advance. The pre-registration program was launched last May for Crystal Harmony. It took effect on Crystal Symphony in September, and will be available for the Crystal Serenity's November 17 cruise. Descriptions of shore excursions and shore excursions Pre-Registration Forms are accessible on the line's website www.crystalcruises.com"Destinations" on the homepage, then choosing a destination and clicking on the voyage number. On the upper right hand corner of the page select "Shore Excursions" for descriptions of what's available. To reserve excursions, select "Shore Excursions Registration Form", to print a copy which can be faxed or mailed back to Crystal Cruises. Forms are on the site 90 days prior to sailing. Passengers will continue to receive pre-registration forms with their documents 90 days prior to sailing. Passengers or their travel agents can complete the form and fax or mail it back to Crystal Cruises. Once received, the line's Land Program department faxes or e-mails passengers or their travel agent a confirmation and the shore excursions will be charged to the passenger's shipboard account. Shore excursions can also be booked once on board.

*** Transatlantic crossings are amongst the best itineraries for those wanting several leisurely sea days. Holland America Line offers nine crossings in 2004, aboard four ships during the spring, summer and fall seasons. Itineraries range from 11 to 17 days and include calls at Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic Circle on northern crossings and stops in the Azores, Madeira and other islands on the southern. Highlighting the line's 2004 schedule is the first transatlantic voyage by the Westerdam, Holland America's newest Vista-class ship which concludes her inaugural summer in Europe with a 17-day crossing from Barcelona to Ft. Lauderdale, November 12, 2004. This crossing will feature Big Band entertainment. The flagship Rotterdam sails four, 16 and 17-night North Atlantic crossings next year: New York to Amsterdam June 6, 2004 and reverse June 23, 2004; New York to Copenhagen July 10 and Harwich to New York, September 14, 2004. Noordam sails Big Band crossings in 2004 including Tampa to Lisbon, 14 nights, April 15, 2004 with Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians on board and Lisbon to Ft. Lauderdale for 11 nights, November 12, 2004 with the Harry James Orchestra. The Prinsendam sails from Ft. Lauderdale or New York to Lisbon for 13 or 10 nights on May 4 or 7, 2004, calling at the Azores with five consecutive days at sea and an extended, overnight stay in Lisbon. On November 9, 2004 Prinsendam sails from Lisbon to Ft. Lauderdale for 11 nights, calling at Madeira and Half Moon Cay with seven days at sea.

*** Godiva Chocolatier, Jody Klocko, will lead tastings and demonstrations aboard Seven Seas Voyager's "Spotlight on Chocolate" cruise, December 7, 2003. Godiva has been creating Belgium chocolates for more than 75 years and is noted for its truffles and shell-molded chocolate pieces, European-style biscuits, gourmet coffees, and hot cocoa. Chocolatier Jody Klocko has won numerous awards including a Gold Medal in the Coupe de Monde World Pastry Cup in Lyon, France and has led a team to win both the Bronze Medal and Best Degustation Award at the 2003 National Pastry Chef Awards in Las Vegas. The seven-night Western Caribbean voyage sails round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale calling at Progreso, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Key West. A similar chocolate program will be repeated on the Seven Seas Voyager's December 6, 2004 seven-night cruise, following the same itinerary.

*** Celebrity Cruises will host four, adults only Celebrity Escape Cruises in 2004. The sailings are limited to passengers age 21 and over. A special Valentines night at sea is a highlight of the Escape cruises and an enhanced room service menu will be available throughout each voyage. Extended hours at the pool and AquaSpa, late-night comedy acts including an adult-themed show and dance classes are also featured. Upcoming Celebrity Escape departures are:

  • Dec. 29, 2003, 11-night Mexican Riviera, aboard Mercury
  • June 5, 2004, seven-night Bermuda, round-trip from New York aboard Zenith
  • June 5, 2004, seven-night Western Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale aboard Century
  • July 4, 2004, seven-night Alaska sailing, round-trip from Vancouver aboard Infinity
  • December 27, 2004, 11-night Mexican Riviera, round-trip from San Diego, aboard Mercury

*** Cruise West has made some changes to its 2004 Alaska cruises. The Spirit of '98 joins the Spirit of Endeavour and Spirit of Discovery on eight-night "Alaska's Inside Passage" sailings between Ketchikan and Juneau. For the first time, the ships will be outfitted with zodiacs and launches to enable better wildlife and sealife viewing and landings in remote areas. Cruise West is pioneering a special full-day excursion to Hyder, known as the friendliest ghost town in Alaska, on five "Alaska's Inside Passage" sailings departing in late July and early August, replacing visits to Metlakatla and Misty Fjords. After a journey up Portland Canal, passengers will be able to watch brown and black bears assemble in packs to feast at a chum salmon run at nearby Fish Creek. Spirit of Oceanus will once again offer the only Alaska cruises from Anchorage with 11-night sailings that combine the Inside Passage and Kenai Peninsula. Spirit of Oceanus sails between Vancouver and Anchorage from May 10 to August 20, 2004, calling at Prince Rupert, Misty Fjords, Petersburg, Juneau, Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glaciers, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Kenai Fjords, Homer. Next season Cruise West will not offer regular service between Seattle and Juneau. This route will only be available in May and September in 2004.

*** American West Steamboat Company will celebrate The Lewis & Clark Bicentennial with a special Columbia River cruise aboard the sternwheeler Empress of the North. The seven-night cruise will retrace the path of the explorers along the final 150 miles of their journey to the Pacific Ocean. Guest historian Rex Ziak will accompany the expedition. The Lewis & Clark cruise departs March 28, 2004 sailing round trip from Portland, Oregon with visits to Fort Clatsop, Astoria, Portland Art Museum, the Lelooska Cultural Center, Multnomah Falls, Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument and Cape Disappointment. Daily shore excursions, fine dining and live showboat-style entertainment are included and each guest will receive a signed copy of Rex Ziak's book "In Full View" detailing the last 30 days of Lewis & Clark's westward journey. Back to Top

10-30-03 Princess to Manage On Board Spa Operations Princess Cruises will be the first major cruise line to create and operate its own on board spas on the new Lotus Spa aboard Caribbean Princess and Sapphire Princess. As an added feature cruisers will be able to make advance reservations at the cruise line's web site.

The first new Lotus Spa will debut onboard Caribbean Princess in April 2004, and the second will launch on Sapphire Princess when the ship enters service in May. The Steiner Corporation will continue to operate the spas on the remainder of the Princess fleet.

The Princess- operated spas will feature a menu of special treatments, including the "rasul experience," an eastern combination of healing muds, steam and dry heat in a private sauna and steam suite for couples, plus new offerings especially designed for teens, and for men as well. On the menu for teens are a body polish and tanning, facials, manicures and pedicures. Golden Sun Kiss tanning treatment is designed for passengers who want a tan but are conscious about the harmful effects of the sun's rays. A special element of the new Lotus Spas will be the treatment products exclusive to Princess, supplied by Phytomer, a French company who provide marine-based cosmetics and the prestigious spa Carita Pari. Back to Top

10-24-03 Weekend Cruise News *** The Westerdam is still on schedule for delivery on April 15, 2004. Carnival Corporation has confirmed, the fire which broke out in a cabin area on deck 7 last Friday will not delay the delivery date. Deck 8 cabins and public space on Deck 9 were also damaged however the fire was put out within four hours and there were no injuries. Westerdam is the third Vista-class vessel for Holland America Line, a sister ship of Zuiderdam and Oosterdam. The fourth ship in the series is scheduled for 2006.

*** Costa Cruises' new flag ship, CostaFortuna, will be christened at ceremonies in Genoa on November 22. At 105,000-tons, CostaFortuna will be the largest ever Italian cruise ship, constructed at the historic yards in Sestri Ponente where the Michelangelo, the legendary Rex and the Andrea Doria were built. CostaFortuna's decor draws inspiration from these legendary Italian liners and architect Joe Farcus has incorporated these historic ships into the style and design of the CostaFortuna's restaurants and public areas. The christening event will also revolve around the Italian liner theme and will include the show ┬ĹTransatlantic Liners. The Art of Navigation in Italy' designed by artist Valerio Festi, who organized the stunning ceremonies for CostaMediterranea's christening last July. On November 24, CostaFortuna will be a part of the official opening of the new cruise terminal in nearby Savona. That facility will become the new home terminal for Costa ships. CostaFortuna sails 11-night cruises from Savona through April 4, 2004, to Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands and Madeira. From April to November, 2004, seven-night cruises from Savona call at Tunisia, Spain and France.

*** Princess Cruises is adding an "Antarctica Landing Expedition," to its roster of excursions for Antarctica and South America cruises this winter. Passengers on the line's first Antarctica cruise aboard Royal Princess in December will be the first to embark on the new, 12 hour excursion from Punta Arenas, Chile. Following a flight over Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica, participants visit the Villa Las Estrellas Research Station which is a leading meteorological station in Antarctica. A trek to the area's wildlife reserves, glaciers and colony of sea lions follows. Weather permitting, a hike along the beach to Ardley Island will be included. Wildlife in the area and surrounding waters include baleen and killer whales, Weddel and Antarctic seals and Papua and Adelie penguins. Royal Princess' Antarctica cruise sails from Cape Town, South Africa to Santiago, Chile for 24 nights, departing December 19, 2003. The "Antarctica Landing Expedition," will also be offered on Royal Princess' 14-night Cape Horn/Strait of Magellan cruises between Santiago and Buenos Aires in January and February, 2004. Cost of the excursion is $1,599 per person.

*** Cruise West is again offering a rail excursion to Mexico's Copper Canyon in conjunction with Sea of Cortes cruises this winter. The Copper Canyon railroad climbs from sea level to almost 8,000 feet in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Cruise West's 11-night land-sea package combines a week-long sailing aboard the 102-passenger Spirit of Endeavour in the Sea of Cortes with exploration of the Copper Canyon, which is deeper and narrower than the Grand Canyon. On the land portion, two nights are spent at the Hotel Posada Mirador Barrancas on the rim of Copper Canyon, one night at the 16th-century town of El Fuerte and one night in Chihuahua, principal city of Mexico's northern interior. Departures begin with the Christmas holiday season and run through March 2004. All-inclusive rates range from $3,749 to $5,398 per person, double, including all meals, flights from La Paz to El Fuerte, the jumping off point for the canyon, airport transfers, daily excursions and tours and first-class seating on the Copper Canyon train.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line will host its second annual Game Day promotion at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on November 9, 2003. At halftime, during the football game between the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, NLC will award one fan a seven-day cruise. NCL will also host pre- and post-game celebrations in the stadium's Touchdown Club for area travel agents, and offer fans a number of promotional gifts from kiosks set up around the stadium. NCL's sponsorship of the New York Giants continues the company's commitment to New York City, which the 2,224-passenger Norwegian Dawn calls home, year round. The line also sponsors the New York Philharmonic and the New York Aquarium.

*** Cruise ships will be on hand at a number of important events in 2004. At the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, 11 ships will serve as hotels while others will visit the Normandy Beaches to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. Cruise ships are also visiting The Edinburgh Tattoo, Cannes Film Festival, Monte Carlo Grand Prix and Carnival in Rio. On board enrichment programs continue to expand, with more educational classes available and celebrity guests sailing aboard many cruises. For a round-up of what's happening next year, visit CruiseMates' Theme Cruises, Special Programs and Events page.

*** CostaVictoria will undergo major reconstruction during a 30-day drydock in January. In addition to cosmetic upgrades throughout the vessel, balconies will be added to 242 oceanview cabins on decks 9 and 10 and to four mini-suites on deck 11. Currently, the vessel has no staterooms with balconies. The buffet terrace on deck 11 will be extended and panorama promenades will be added to both sides of deck 11. The work will take place at Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. Following the refit, in February, CostaVictoria will return to Savona, Italy for 11-night sailings to Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey and Greece followed by seven-night cruises round-trip from Venice, Monday April 5 to November, 2004, to Italy, Croatia and the Greek Isles. The 76,000-ton CostaVictoria entered service in July, 1996.

*** Ship movements this week included the departure of Song of Flower, which left Radisson Seven Seas Cruises on Wednesday. She will reemerge in the spring as Le Diamant for the French line, Compagnie des Iles du Diamant. Silver Cloud heads for a major refurbishment Saturday, returning to Silversea in April, 2004. Mariner of the Seas, the fifth Voyager-class ship, will be delivered to Royal Caribbean next Wednesday by the builder, Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland. Back to Top

10-22-03 Creditors seek to put Society Expeditions into Bankruptcy Officials of Seattle-based Society Expeditions said this week that the company 's cruises are operating normally despite an effort to force the company into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Patrician Cruises Ltd., a U.K. company that calls itself Society's major creditor, revealed that it recently filed a federal court petition to that effect in Washington State, where the company is based.

Patrician Cruises USA director Bruce Fisher told CruiseMates his firm holds a 50 percent stake in Society, and that it expects to take over the company and rebuild it over the next three to six months, adding a second vessel and creating a marketing group of small-ship and adventure lines. Society's fleet currently consists of one ship, the World Discoverer.

Society Expeditions charged that the involuntary bankruptcy petition represented an effort "to forcibly acquire" the company, and said it is disputing the debts that Patrician claims are unpaid. "The facts are that Society is a solvent operation that pays its obligations, and that the bankruptcy petition is groundless," Society said, adding that its attorneys will file to dismiss the Chapter 7 petition.

"Society is operating absolutely normally," the company said. "The World Discoverer is currently in the fall South Pacific season and will begin Antarctica mid-November." Back to Top

10-17-03 Weekend Cruise News *** It's official: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will christen Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 in Southampton on January 8, 2004. His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will accompany Queen Elizabeth during the ceremonies. Queen Mary 2 will be the third Cunard vessel to be christened by the Queen. Her Majesty previously named the QE2 in 1967 and the Caronia, the famous Green Goddess, in 1947. The tradition of British monarchs christening merchant ships began in 1934 when Queen Mary, wife of King George V, launched the first Queen Mary, which was named in her honor. Much of Queen Mary 2's design is a recreation of the first Queen Mary which became a hotel and attraction in Long Beach, California, following her illustrious career. The British-registered Queen Mary 2 will hold the record as the largest, longest, tallest, widest and the most expensive ($780 million) passenger liner ever built, when she enters service on January 12, 2004, on her Maiden Voyage from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale.

*** The JAXPORT Cruise Terminal in North Jacksonville, Florida is ready to receive cruise ships. The temporary facility is 63,000 sq.ft. and includes a passenger embarkation area with seating, baggage handling, federal inspection area, baggage screening and public bathrooms and utilities. A 20-acre, fenced, parking area is adjacent to the terminal which is a 15-minute drive from the Jacksonville International Airport. The first cruise ship to call will be Celebrity Cruises' Zenith, on October 27. Zenith will homeport in Jacksonville through April 2004 and again from October 2004 through April 2005 for 14-night Western/Southern and Eastern/Southern cruises. The new Carnival Miracle will sail from Jacksonville from late February through mid-April, 2004 while Carnival's Holiday sails four and five-night cruises year-round from Jacksonville, commencing October 2004.

*** Holland America has added scenic cruising of Tracy Arm and the twin Sawyer Glaciers to Inside Passage cruises from Vancouver in 2004. Both Volendam and Zaandam will cruise Tracy Arm in addition to Glacier Bay National Park on their seven-night cruises, round-trip from Vancouver, which include calls at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Travelers taking northbound cruisetours of Alaska and the Yukon will visit Tracy Arm on the cruise portion of their tour, which sails from Vancouver to Skagway. Next season, Holland America will offer 25 different tours of Alaska and the Yukon including new programs to Prudhoe Bay and the return of the popular Kluane National Park in the Yukon. Itineraries range from 11 to 19 days with fares starting from $1,699 to $2,399 per person, double occupancy.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line has added the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb to its roster of shore excursions. The tour is unique in that participants must pass a breath test for blood alcohol level before starting the climb. The morning half-day excursion, "Harbour Bridge Climb & Rocks Pubs" involves ascending a catwalk across the 1,650 arch to the summit of Sydney Harbour Bridge, 441 feet above the water. The climb is followed by a visit to a nearby pub in the historic Rocks area. Other South Pacific excursions this winter for Seabourn include swimming with dolphins, a visit to an isolated seal rookery near Akaroa, New Zealand, a behind-the-scenes tour of Sydney Opera House with a private performance by one of the Sydney Opera's singers and a helicopter tour of New Zealand's national parks which were depicted as Middle Earth in the film "Lord of the Rings." The all-suite, 208-passenger Seabourn Spirit will sail six cruises of 11 to 18 days in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea during January, February and March of 2004.

*** "Celebrity Science Journeys" is a new component of the line's Family Cruising Program which will be offered daily on every ship beginning November 27, 2003. The hands-on programs range from 30 minutes to one hour, and are age-appropriate for children from three to 12 years. Activities are intended to encourage children to learn about science and nature and to initiate conversation between child and parent. There are six segments of the program: Buccaneer's Bounty traces the history of pirates, sunken treasure and excavation; Earthworks includes lessons about biomes, pollination and the solar system; Environmentation Station explores natural phenomena and "man-made" disasters; Get Buggy offers encounters with insects and arachnids and traces the process of metamorphosis; Sounds of the Sea presents the opportunity to listen to sea-life communicate underwater, including dolphins and whales and Wacky Weather reviews everything from hurricanes to air pressure, tsunamis to thunder, and how weather patterns emerge and change.

*** Entertainers from Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Majesty and Norwegian Sea staged a fund-raising concert in Bermuda last week. The event, held in St. George's Town Square on Tuesday, October 7, raised more than $12,000 for the St. George's Preparatory School, which was heavily damaged last month by Hurricane Fabian.

*** Caye Chapel Golf Resort in Belize and the Cozumel Country Club, created by the renowned Nicklaus design team, are two courses featured as part of the golf program aboard Carnival's Elation. The new seven seven-day western Caribbean cruises from Galveston were launched last month aboard the 2,052-passenger Elation. The golf program features professional instruction both aboard ship and during golf excursions. All-inclusive packages including professional instruction, begin at $140 per person for 18 holes. Professional on board lessons range in price from $25 for a "swing check" to $80 for a complete one-hour video analysis with an instructor. Course information is available by visiting www.CarnivalGolf.com or calling 1-800-324-1106.

*** The library aboard NCL America's Pride of America, will be named the S.S. America Library, in honor of the historic United States Lines' ship which was known as the Queen of the American Merchant Marine. The line is working with ship historian Bill Lee to develop the library which will hold historic material and memorabilia from the S.S. America. Built in 1940, S.S.America served as America's symbolic Ship of State to 1964 when she was sold to the Greek line, Chandris. NCL America has also purchased two historic, American flagships, the S.S. United States and S.S. Independence as part of their fleet. Plans for the two vessels have not yet been announced. Back to Top

10-17-03 HAL Shipyard Fire Holland America Line has reported that the 82,000-ton Westerdam, presently under construction at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Marghera, Italy has experienced a fire. A fire erupted in the stern section of the ship and was extinguished four hours after it was first detected. The extent of damage to the ship cannot be fully determined at this time. The 1,848-passenger vessel is scheduled for delivery on April 15, 2004. Back to Top

10-13-03 New RCI 2004 Itineraries Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has announced new itineraries scheduled for 2004.

  • Voyager of the Seas will sail from New York City on alternating five-night Canada/New England and nine-night Western Caribbean itineraries from May through October, 2004.
  • Grandeur of the Seas will sail out of Baltimore from July through October. Grandeur will offer a seven-night itinerary including visits to Key West; Orlando; Freeport, Grand Bahamas; and Royal Caribbean's private island, CocoCay, as well as select 10- and 11-night Caribbean cruises and two special Canada/New England sailings in October.
  • Jewel of the Seas, a new RCI vessel, will make her U.S. debut in Boston in September/October 2004 to offer 10-night Canada/New England cruises.
  • Starting in March 2004, Splendour of the Seas will offer new short getaways from Galveston, sailing four -and five-night cruises through April to the Western Caribbean, with ports of call in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.
  • In November 2004, Splendour of the Seas will head to Tampa to offer seven-night Western Caribbean cruises with stops in George Town, Grand Cayman; Costa Maya; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel. From New Orleans, Grandeur of the Seas returns to offer Western Caribbean cruises throughout the 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 winter seasons.
  • In Alaska, three Royal Caribbean ships will sail seven-night Alaska voyages throughout the summer of 2004, including Radiance of the Seas, and the new Serenade of the Seas, which debuted in August 2003, are designed to bring the sea, sun and coastal scenery of Alaska indoors with nearly three acres of exterior glass. Both ships sail roundtrip Hubbard Glacier itineraries, while Vision of the Seas offers open-jaw cruises between Vancouver and Seward.
  • Royal Caribbean will return to Europe spring 2004 with three ships. The new Jewel of the Seas debuts in May 2004, when she begins sailing 12-night Scandinavia/Russia cruises, as well as two special British Isles/Norwegian Fjords sailings. Brilliance of the Seas will sail alternating 12-night Mediterranean and Mediterranean/Greek Isles itineraries. In addition, Splendour of the Seas will sail seven-night Mediterranean vacations from Barcelona.
  • West Coast cruisers will also find more itineraries: Legend of the Seas will sail a summer season of seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from San Diego, flanked by 10- and 11-night Hawaii and 14-night Panama Canal itineraries. Vision of the Seas will offer seven-night Mexican Riviera escapes from Los Angeles in the spring, fall and winter, while Monarch of the Seas sails three- and four-night Baja Mexico getaways year-round. From the East Coast, Brilliance of the Seas will offer 10-night, roundtrip Panama Canal cruises from Miami in the spring, fall and winter.
  • In the Caribbean, Royal Caribbean has scheduled 15 ships in the winter of 2003/04 departing from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Tampa, New Orleans, Galveston and San Juan, ranging from three to 11-nights. Nordic Empress will cruise from San Juan beginning in Nov. 2004 on 11-night Southern Caribbean voyages. Back to Top

10-10-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Carnival's 2,056-passenger Fantasy returned to service yesterday, following a multi-million-dollar refurbishment at the Freeport Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. The 70,000-ton Fantasy entered service in 1990 and operates year-round three and four-day Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral. The vessel now features a new look. The first level of the ship's seven-deck-high atrium is home to a new lobby bar. Each of the Fantasy's 1,028 staterooms has received a complete makeover with new wall coverings, furniture, bedding, linens and remodeled bathrooms. Via Marina, an enclosed double-width promenade, received new furniture and a decorative marble floor with carpet inlays, while The Forum, the Fantasy's conference facility, has been reconfigured as both a meeting space and entertainment venue. Windows on the Sea, the ship's poolside restaurant, was enhanced with new tile work, carpeting and additional salad and dessert bar stations. Numerous other areas throughout the ship, including Cleopatra's Bar, Electricity Dance Club, Cats Lounge, and Celebration and Jubilee dining rooms, have received cosmetic enhancements, with new carpeting and wall coverings throughout.

*** The "Chefs of Aloha" will be featured aboard Royal Olympia's upcoming Hawaii sailings. The cruises on Olympia Explorer and Olympia Voyager sail round-trip form the west coast to the Hawaiian Islands. The "Chefs of Aloha" is a group of Hawaii's award-winning chefs, formed in 1999, who visit cities worldwide to showcase Hawaiian cuisine. It will be the first time the group has appeared on board a cruise ship. The roster of sailings includes:

  • Chef Wilhem Pirngruber of the Hilton Waikoloa Village, aboard Olympia Explorer, 14 nights, roundtrip from Los Angeles or San Diego, December 8, 2003.
  • Chef Glenn Chu, the Hawaiian-born owner of Indigo Restaurant in Honolulu's Chinatown, aboard Olympia Explorer, 14 -night Christmas and New Year's cruise, roundtrip from Los Angeles, December 22, 2003
  • Chef Beverly Gannon, owner-chef of the Hali'imaile General Store and Joe's Bar & Grill restaurants in Maui, aboard Olympia Explorer, 13 nights, roundtrip from Los Angeles (or San Francisco) January 5 (or 6), 2004.
  • Chef Hiroshi Fukui, Japanese-born chef from L'Uraku Restaurant in downtown Honolulu, aboard Olympia Voyager, 13 nights, roundtrip from Los Angeles (or San Francisco), March 5 (or 6), 2004.

***Windstar Cruises has released its 2004 Sailing Atlas. The line's luxury sailing ships Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf will again sail in Tahiti, the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Baltic with spring and fall transatlantic crossings. New next year, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf's Caribbean cruises will sail round-trip from St. Thomas. The seven-night itineraries include calls at St. John, St. Martin, St. Barts, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, or Isles des Saintes, Nevis, St. Barts, Isla Culebra (Puerto Rico) and St. John. In Europe, Wind Surf will sail the Western Mediterranean in the spring and fall with June to August spent in Western Europe, the British Isles and Baltic. New St. Petersburg cruises on Wind Surf feature overnight in the Russian city. A special eight-night sailing on May 16th from Nice includes an overnight in Cannes for the Cannes Film Festival and two nights in Monte Carlo coinciding with the 2004 Grand Prix. Wind Spirit will repeat her seven-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises between Athens and Istanbul on Saturdays from April to October. Both ships sail 14-night transatlantic crossings in April and November. Wind Star continues her year-round, French Polynesia sailings from Papeete, Tahiti. Two 14-night sailings, June 18 and September 17 add the neighboring Marquesas Islands, and Rangiroa. For a copy of the new Atlas, contact your travel agent or call Windstar at 1-800-258-7245. Visit Windstar Cruises online at www.windstarcruises.com.

*** The new expedition-style cruise line, Discovery World Cruises, sets sail November 27 with the Discovery. Originally built as the Island Venture in 1972, the 20,216-ton, 650-passenger Discovery sailed for 17 years with Princess Cruises as the Island Princess. The new line offers destination-focused cruises at a moderate price with a full program of lectures and workshops at sea on all sailings. Discovery World Cruises' Chairman, Gerry Herrod, is well experienced in this style of cruising as he is the founder of Orient Lines, Pearl Cruises and Ocean Cruise Lines. Destinations include Europe, South America, Antarctica, the South Pacific and Panama Canal. For more, see www.discoveryworldcruises.com.

*** The success of Star Cruises' Australia sailings earlier this year, has prompted the line to send SuperStar Leo back to Australia from January to March 2004. The redeployment starts with a sailing from Hong Kong to Fremantle on January 4, 2004 followed by a variety of two to nine-night cruises from Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Ports of call include Tasmania, Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef as well as the South Pacific islands of Fiji, New Caledonia and the Isle of Pines in Noumea. The 76,800-ton, 2,000-passenger Superstar Leo returns from Darwin to her usual home port of Hong Kong, March 16, 2004, sailing via Singapore and Hue, Vietnam. Star Cruises is the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line.

*** The International Council of Cruise Lines announced its support of the recommendations put forth by the new American Association of Port Authorities' study. The report was released at the AAPA's annual convention in Cura├žao last week. The study's call for more efficient planning and consolidation of federal inspection agency facilities at U.S. ports was a major recommendation welcomed by the ICCL.

*** In other port news, Southampton's modernised, Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal has been officially opened. The newly expanded facility will be capable of handling the 50% increase in passengers, when Queen Mary 2 begins sailing from the terminal in January. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, Carnival reports the cruise terminal project at Xcaret, near Cancun, Mexico, is on hold, not canceled. The project received Federal approval and has passed environmental regulations, however, a municipal construction permit has not been issued. The four-berth facility is being opposed by a local hotel association. Also in the Caribbean, construction is well under way on the island of Grenada's new two-berth cruise terminal.

*** Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is offering two-for-one savings on select voyages between November 2003 and April 2004. The cruises aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator and Radisson Diamond, range from three- to 16-nights in the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama Canal with departures from Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Palm Beach, Los Angeles and San Juan. Several of the applicable sailings include Le Cordon Bleu cooking classes and the Club Mariner children's program. See your travel agent for more details.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced a weather guarantee for winter sailings from New York aboard Norwegian Dawn. Should weather delay departure from New York for longer than 12 hours, passengers will receive an onboard credit of $100 per person ($200 max per stateroom). Passengers who prefer to cancel the cruise receive a full cruise credit for the same grade stateroom on a future Norwegian Dawn sailing. Should NCL have to cancel the sailing, passengers will receive a full cruise credit for the same grade stateroom on a future Norwegian Dawn cruise. NCL will also reimburse passengers for reasonable incidental expenses incurred when rearranging their travel plans. NCL also announced a one-week Caribbean sale from Monday, October 13 to Sunday, October 19th. Cabins are best available staterooms within each category, including inside, outside and balcony staterooms. The sale applies to the following ships, seven-day itineraries and sail dates:

  • Norwegian Dawn, Florida and the Bahamas from New York, 10/26, 11/16, 11/19, 11/30-12/21; from $449
  • Norwegian Sky, Deep Southern Caribbean, Exotic Southern Caribbean, 10/19 - 12/21; from $399
  • Norwegian Sun, Western Caribbean, 10/26 - 12/21; from $399
  • Norwegian Wind, Exotic Western Caribbean, 11/15, 11/29-12/20, from $429
See your travel agent for more details. Back to Top

10-9-03 Low water levels threaten Rhine, Danube cruises According to press reports in Europe, both the Rhine and Danube rivers are facing record low water levels, posing potential problems for all shipping, including passenger vessels. Viking River Cruises, one of the largest passenger operators on the affected waterways, posted a notice on its Web site advising customers that "Should current weather conditions persist, there is a chance that some itineraries may require modification due to water levels." The line said if that becomes necessary, it will notify passengers directly. Lack of rainfall in central Europe this summer is being blamed for the shallow rivers. A Frankfurt newspaper reported this week that the Rhine River at Cologne was only 32 inches deep-- slightly under its previous low-water mark, recorded in 1947. Back to Top

10-3-03 Weekend Cruise News *** As Hurricane Juan pounded Atlantic Canada last Monday, Regal Princess spent the day in Bar Harbor, Maine while Grandeur of the Seas remained in the St. Lawrence River. Cruise ships have again started calling at Halifax, Nova Scotia and St. John, New Brunswick. Halifax was the hardest hit. The city is recovering from the Category 1 hurricane, which left two people dead. Thousands of trees were downed and many buildings damaged. Last month, Halifax and St. John gained several cruise calls as Hurricane Isobel forced cruise ships to call at the Canadian ports in place of Bermuda.

*** Tom Snyders, the "Bicycling Comedian," completed his 16-year quest to bicycle all 50 U.S. states when Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Spirit arrived at Maui, Hawaii, last Tuesday, September 30. During the five-day crossing from Vancouver, B.C. to Maui, Syders pedaled his bike on a stationary stand and performed his comedy act for passengers. During the past 16 years Snyders has ridden his bicycle to more than 200 engagements at comedy clubs and festivals. He has logged more than 121,000 miles - five times the circumference of the earth - and has traversed the 49 continental states, but until now, had never biked Hawaii.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line will use United for its Hawaii air program through December 2007. United has hubs in Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco from where passengers will fly to Honolulu. Next year NCL will launch its NCL America project which will see three ships sailing year-round in Hawaii including the new Pride of America, Pride of Aloha (ex Norwegian Sky) and Norwegian Wind.

*** On board airline check-in is a program Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises hope to offer in the near future. A 10-week pilot project called 'Onboard Check-in and Luggage Valet' was conducted aboard ships in Alaska this past summer. RCI and Celebrity worked with the Vancouver International Airport Authority, Air Canada and Alaska Airlines to create the project, which has been approved by both Canadian authorities and the US Transportation Administration. It is estimated that the on-board check-in saved passengers between 45 minutes and two hours compared to airport check-in. The pilot project is currently under review for future implementation.

*** Carnival Miracle will sail a three night, pre-inaugural cruise from Jacksonville, Florida, on March 27, 2004, featuring a call at Freeport, Bahamas. The 88,500-ton, 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle is Carnival's 20th vessel and the fourth Spirit-class ship. The additional sailing will be followed by three, five and six-night sailings from Jacksonville. As reported earlier, summer sailings will operate from New York City, June 7 to August 28, 2004 including a five-day Canada cruise and seven-day Florida/Bahamas sailings.

*** American West Steamboat Company's Empress of the North will sail new eight-day Alaska cruises, round-trip from Sitka next summer. The world's largest, ocean-going paddlewheeler, Empress of the North entered service last August, the first time a paddlewheeler had made regular sailings between Seattle and Alaska in over a century. She returns to Alaska, next season sailing eight-night cruises, round-trip from Sitka, from May 30 to September 6, 2004. Ports of call are Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Skagway, Petersburg, Misty Fjords, Tracy Arm, Glacier Bay and Le Conte Bay. Sailings between Seattle and Sitka are also available, from May 20 to September 12, 2004, calling at the same ports plus Victoria and Vancouver.

*** Marvin Hamlisch will host a "Concert at Sea" cruise aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride February 15, 2004. The week-long cruise sails round-trip from Long Beach, California with calls at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. During the cruise, Hamlisch will perform two exclusive, invitation-only, one-hour shows featuring many of his famous musical numbers from stage and screen, backed by a 10-piece orchestra. Participants will also have an opportunity to meet the artist during a private cocktail reception and a "coffee chat" on board. Composer for stage and screen, Hamlisch has won three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, one Tony, and three Golden Globes, as well as receiving a Pulitzer Prize for his long-running Broadway show, A Chorus Line. A portion of the proceeds from the voyage will be donated by Hamlisch to the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which provides funding for life-saving cardiac care to those with limited financial means. For additional information and reservations call 1-800-259-4145.

*** Pat Catanzarite of South Bend, Indiana and Anton Mallard of Denver, Colorado are the first round winners of Norwegian Cruise Line's "Star Seekers" passenger talent competition. Catanzarite, a barber, is cruising as a stand-up comic on this week's Bermuda cruise aboard Norwegian Majesty out of Boston, while Mallard, a shipping manager, will be sailing as a singer on the Nov. 1, 2003 Western Caribbean cruise aboard Norwegian Wind out of Miami. Star Seekers is offered on voyages aboard all NCL ships. Contestants deliver a three-minute routine showcasing their particular talent before an audience of fellow passengers. A panel of judges selects winners based on each performer's entertainment value and the crowd's reaction. Judges include the ship's hotel and cruise directors, plus a musician and a performer from the ship's professional entertainment staff. First-round winners receive a complimentary NCL cruise during which they serve as a featured entertainer in a 45-minute cabaret show. If they wow the crowd as guest entertainers, they will have the chance to become full-time featured performers onboard NCL ships with a professional contract.

*** Carnival Corporation has indicated that the planned Ultimate Caribbean Princess venture will be split into two projects. First mentioned in June and still in the preliminary stages, the Ultimate venture will create the world's largest ever cruise ship. An enlarged Caribbean Princess has been scaled back and is now estimated to be 135,000 to 140,000 tons, similar in size to Royal Caribbean's Voyager-class ships, currently the world's largest cruise ships. The second vessel in the Ultimate venture is a projected 170,000 to 180,000-ton ship, carrying 4,000 passengers. It will be built for Carnival Cruise Lines and will be the largest cruise ship ever built, superseding both Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 and Royal Caribbean's Ultra Voyager, announced last month. Delivery of the ultimate ships is expected in 2006 or 2007. Carnival Corporation is in discussion with several ship yards in Europe and Japan regarding the venture.

*** Le Diamant will be the new name for Song of Flower after she leaves Radisson Seven Seas Cruises on October 22. Following a major refit, which will include the addition of a new propulsion system, Le Diamant will enter service next spring, for the French company, Compagnie des Iles du Diamant. Cruises will be sold to the French market, however, the vessel is expected to be chartered by Americans for incentive and group travel. Back to Top

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