News Archive - October 2005

10-28-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Cruise lines are altering ship itineraries in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. Calls at Cozumel and Key West, which remain closed, are being replaced with a day at sea or a call at another port. Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Roatan, Honduras are among the ports replacing Cozumel and Key West. Rhapsody of the Seas was unable to call at Key West Thursday evening as projected. The vessel spent the day at Progreso, Mexico instead. Passengers booked to sail should monitor their cruise line's web site as specific details for each ship are being updated as changes are made.

*** Spanish fisherman blockaded the ports of Barcelona, Tarragona, Valencia and Alicante this week causing disruption to cruise schedules. The fisherman were protesting the price of diesel fuel. An agreement was reached with the Spanish government yesterday following 18 hours of negotiation and the strike has now ended. Brilliance of the Seas was at anchor off Barcelona Wednesday night and was able to turn around in the Port of Barcelona late yesterday. The Mediterranean cruise season is winding down and ships are starting to reposition for winter sailings. Carnival Liberty was scheduled to pick up supplies in Barcelona for her transatlantic crossing on Wednesday but the vessel was diverted to Palma de Mallorca instead. Costa Magica was also diverted to Palma. Crystal Serenity headed for Gibraltar in place of Barcelona. Passengers were flown from Barcelona to Gibraltar to catch the ship while disembarking passengers flew home from Malaga, Spain.

*** Cirque du Soleil is back in action aboard Constellation and will re-launch aboard Summit on November 20. The revised program features a 30-minute Cirque-style production show in the main theater with three acrobatic acts. The 'taste of Cirque du Soleil' show will be presented twice weekly. This is what passengers had expected when they first heard that Cirque was coming onboard the Celebrity ships and the response to the unusual Bar at the Edge of the Earth concept was lack luster from the time it appeared onboard Constellation last December. The Bar at the Edge of the Earth is once again being used as an observation lounge which converts to a disco at night.

*** Holland America has been experimenting with open-seating dining this week aboard Oosterdam. The new "Leisure Dining" is open-seating from 7:30 p.m. on both upper and lower levels of the dining room. There is also one set time for early dining at 5:30 p.m. on both dining room levels. Comments from passengers and staff regarding this week's experiment will play a key role in deciding if the new dining policy will be implemented. If it is, any groups that had already booked late seating dining would still have their confirmations honored.

*** Crystal Serenity's 2007 World Cruise will be a 109-night voyage from Miami to London departing January 12, 2007. The route is not a complete circumnavigation of the globe but takes Serenity to South America, Antarctica, Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean. Highlights are the extended port stays including three days in Cape Town, Dubai and overnights in Buenos Aires and Valparaiso. Serenity will also spend three days cruising Antarctica. Seven segments of 12 to 18 nights are available: Miami to Valparaiso, 15 nights, January 12, 2007; Valparaiso to Buenos Aires via Antarctica, 18 nights, January 27, 2007; Buenos Aires to Cape Town, 17 nights, February 14, 2007 with overnight onboard in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro (for Carnival) and Cape Town; Cape Town to Dubai, 17 nights, March 3, 2007; Dubai to Istanbul, 18 nights, March 20, 2007; Istanbul to Rome, 12 nights, April 6, 2007; Rome to London (Southampton), 12 nights, April 19, 2007.

*** Zaandam will again join Ryndam and Oosterdam on seven and 10-night cruises to Mexico from San Diego in 2007. The three ships will call at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on every cruise. The 10-night Mexican Riviera cruises add the ports of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa and Manzanillo while 10-night Sea of Cortez cruises add Topolobampo, Loreto and Le Paz. From Topolobampo, a full-day excursion to Mexico's Copper Canyon is offered and in Loreto passengers can visit historic San Javier Mission, founded in 1697 as Mexico's first Jesuit mission. Scenic cruising past the Sierra de la Giganta mountains is also part of the Sea of Cortez sailings. The 2007 Mexico cruises operate from January to April and late September to December.

*** Cunard Line has entered a partnership with The British Academy of Film and Television Arts/Los Angeles (BAFTA/LA). Cunard will contribute funding for BAFTA/LA programs and events, as well as donate luxury crossings aboard the Queen Mary 2 for BAFTA/LA's fundraising efforts. Cunard will be the title sponsor of the BAFTA/LA's hallmark annual awards ceremony, which have been renamed the BAFTA/LA Cunard Britannia Awards. This year, the awards will honor Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor, director Mike Newell and filmmaker Ronald Neame, and will take place on November 10, 2005 at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Back to Top

10-27-05 Hurricane Wilma Disrupts Port Operations - Updated *** Following the devastation of Hurricane Wilma, The Port of Miami re-opened yesterday and Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades opened to ship traffic this morning. Tampa was closed Monday due to the storm, but was not damaged. Royal Caribbean had 3,500 passengers and Carnival, 6,000 passengers at sea who were supposed to return to Miami, Port Everglades and Tampa. Their cruises had to be extended for an extra day or two.

Cruises that were to depart Monday and Tuesday had to be shortened and ships are sailing modified itineraries. Partial refunds and shipboard credits have been offered to passengers who chose to sail rather than re-book their cruise.

Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas' cruise which was delayed to Tuesday has been canceled. Instead, the vessel will take relief supplies to Mexico. Booked passengers are being given a full refund and a certificate for a 25 percent discount on a future Royal Caribbean International cruise.

The cruise piers at Cozumel are the most severely damaged. Cruise ships are not expected to dock at Cozumel before December. Currently, Cozumel, calls are being canceled or replaced with other ports. Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Dream are calling at Roatan, Honduras and Belize City, Belize in place of Mexican ports.

Key West is working to make their cruise piers operational and Royal Caribbean plans to have Rhapsody of the Seas call there Thursday evening.

Cruise lines are posting specific details for each ship on their web sites as changes are made. Back to Top

10-21-05 Weekend Cruise News Horizon Celebrity's Horizon. *** Horizon sails tomorrow on her final voyage for Celebrity Cruises. Following the seven-night Bermuda cruise from Philadelphia, the 1990-built Horizon will move to British based Island Cruises, a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and First Choice Holidays which offers informal Mediterranean cruising from Palma de Mallorca in the summer and cruises from Brazil in the winter. After a major refit Horizon will sail as the Island Star. New dining venues will be added bringing the total to five restaurants while the addition of new cabins will raise the passenger capacity to 1,875 from 1,354.

*** Hurricane Wilma has forced many itinerary changes this week as ships were diverted to avoid the storm. Calls at Cozumel, Key West and Grand Cayman were replaced with days at sea or calls at Jamaica, the Bahamas or Tampa. Cruise lines are closely monitoring the situation and will post updates on their web sites today regarding any changes in departure schedules for the weekend. Royal Caribbean has already announced that passengers canceling a cruise departing this weekend will receive a letter of credit for the full amount paid to RCI.

*** Norwegian Spirit will emerge from drydock next week sporting new hull art depicting a Sea Nymph chasing two dolphins through the surf. The new paint job was part of an extensive refurbishment following the ship's Alaska season from Seattle. Norwegian Spirit departs Vancouver on Tuesday en route to her new homeport of New York City from where she will sail year-round to the Caribbean, Florida and Bahamas commencing November 19, 2005. The colorful hull art on the NCL fleet is designed by graphic designer Keith Allan.

*** Royal Caribbean has confirmed that Grandeur of the Seas will return to New Orleans on December 2, 2006, sailing seven-night sailings to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Costa Maya through April 28, 2007. Until then, Grandeur of the Seas will sail from the Port of Tampa on a series of four- and five-night Western Caribbean itineraries from December 2005 through May 2006, then reposition to Baltimore for the summer season.

*** MSC Musica is now in the final stages of construction having 'floated out' from the Chantiers de l�Atlantique shipyard on October 15. The 89,600-ton 2,550-passenger vessel is scheduled to enter service July 1, 2006 sailing from Venice and is expected to sail from Ft. Lauderdale to the Caribbean for the 2006-2007 season. MSC's Italian style is emphasized throughout the new ship's design, cuisine and service. Onboard highlights include a three-deck waterfall in the central foyer with a piano 'suspended' by means of a transparent crystal floor above a pool of water; a 13,000-square-foot spa/beauty facility offering aerobics, yoga, aromatherapy, thalassotherapy, chromotherapeutic hydro-massage and a purifying Turkish bath; A 7,000 square-foot casino; two restaurants, a Sushi Bar, an a la carte restaurant and a pizza/grill; a Cigar Room, Wine Tasting Bar and Coffee Bar, as well as a 46-foot-long bar in the casino and a Well-being and Fitness Center Bar; a three-deck theatre that seats 1,240, and a panoramic disco at the ship�s stern.

*** Crystal Cruises is offering a wide range of shore excursions in South America and Antarctica in conjunction with Crystal Symphony sailings from February through April 2006. Among the season�s highlights are itineraries around Cape Horn offering excursions to Antarctica, overnight stays in Buenos Aires, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Rio de Janeiro and Manaus. Shore excursions include flightseeing over Antarctica, the Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego National Park and the Beagle Channel; an ice field trek of Antarctica's King George Island; a four-wheel-drive excursion through the heart of the Fuegian mountain range, followed by a hike through the glacier-carved Carbajal Valley (from Ushuaia, Argentina); a 40-minute dune buggy adventure along the high, white-sand dunes Cumbuco Beach (from Fortaleza, Brazil); a march with penguins on a journey through the Patagonian Plateau to the Punta Tombo Nature Reserve, home to the largest continental Magellan penguin colony. (Puerto Madryn, Argentina); the Eco-Train ride into Iguaz� Falls National Park (from Buenos Aires) and a concert at the Teatro Amazonas Opera House in Manuas, Brazil, where Brazilian conductor Rui Carvalho will lead the Amazon Jazz Band. A variety of pre and post-cruise land extensions are also available. For more on the Crystal's South America program visit their web site at

*** Costa Allegra will join Costa Magica and Costa Mediterranea in the Caribbean this winter and is now available for sale in North America. The 28,500-ton vessel carries 820 passengers with a higher percentage of Europeans than the other two ships. Costa Allegra will sail an 11-night itinerary round-trip from Miami to Panama, with tours to the Panama Canal available, from December 17, 2005 to March 15, 2006. Port calls include Cozumel; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and Grand Cayman. The highlight of the Caribbean season for Costa is the arrival of Costa Magica, the line's 105,000-ton flagship, which entered service in 2004, sailing Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries from Ft. Lauderdale. The 86,000-ton Costa Mediterranea joins Magica on the varied routes which range from two to seven nights. Costa Magica also sails round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda for seven nights on April 21, and 28, 2006.Back to Top

10-14-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Disney Magic returns to service tomorrow following a major refurbishment during a 10-day drydock in Norfolk, VA. Onboard changes include expansion of the spa and fitness area with the addition of three indoor/outdoor spa treatment rooms, new exercise equipment, a spinning class area and private consultation rooms. Three conference rooms have been converted into the Ocean Quest play area for kids. Here, a scaled down replica of the ship's bridge with live audio feed lets children simulate steering the vessel from a captain's chair. The new, giant screen on the ship's funnel will show movies and broadcasts around the pool area. Disney Magic sails seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral.

*** Royal Caribbean and Whodunit Productions will again present comedy murder mystery events during several cruises in 2006. The mystery 'play' unfolds onboard with participating passengers involved in the action. Participants must reserve second seating dining when booking their cruise. Fees to participate are $99 per person for a three-night cruise and $119 per person for a seven-night cruise. The murder mystery event will be held on the following sailings: Vision of the Seas, seven-night Mexican Riviera, February 26 and November 12, 2006; Mariner of the Seas, seven-night Eastern Caribbean, January 22 and September 3, 2006; Monarch of the Seas, three-night Mexican Baja March 24, October 27 and December 8, 2006; Vision of the Seas, seven-night Alaska, May 12, 2006. For more details visit the Whodunit web site at .

*** Silversea is rolling out the first-ever Relais & Chateaux wine-themed restaurants at sea which will offer a twist on the usual pairing of wine with cuisine. Instead, the new menu has been designed specifically to complement the wines. In Saletta, the alternative restaurant aboard Silver Cloud and Silver Wind, and Le Champagne (aboard Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper), award-winning wines will be the centerpiece of the dining experience. The new concept will debut aboard Silver Whisper in late November, followed by Silver Shadow in early December, and will be expanded to the line's other ships early next year. Saletta and Le Champagne are open for dinner only and reservations are recommended, as seating is limited. Since the featured wines are not included among the line's complimentary selections, a nominal fee will be charged to the passenger's shipboard account, which will vary depending on the evening's wines.

*** Clipper Cruise Line has lowered the stateroom rates for several itineraries in 2005 and 2006 and also reduced the single supplement for those departures. With this benefit, double occupancy rates are lowered up to $4,000 (combined) and single travelers can save as much as $5,145 on a sampling of worldwide adventures presented aboard Clipper's four small ships Nantucket Clipper, Yorktown Clipper, Clipper Adventurer, and Clipper Odyssey. Cruises in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, California, Colonial America and transatlantic are on sale. The "Fall Special 2005" is available up to November 30, 2005.

*** Discovery World Cruises has announced its team of experts for Antarctic expeditions in 2006. Polar explorers, research scientists, specialists in glaciology, geology, marine life, seabirds, and Antarctic politics and living conditions will give presentations aboard Discovery and lead excursions ashore. A limited number of cabins are still available on a 13-night Antarctica cruisetour, which departs January 21, 2006. Highlights include Deception, King George and Half Moon islands, as well as Antarctic Sound, Hope Bay, Gerlache Strait and the Lemaire Channel. Rates begin at $3,595 per person, double occupancy, and include a two-night hotel stay in Buenos Aires before embarkation in Ushuaia, Argentina, eight nights aboard Discovery, and one-night in Ushuaia before flying home. For more visit .

*** More than 1,200 employees from Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises will participate in several volunteer projects during G.I.V.E. Day, the largest annual community service event held by a South Florida-based company. Teams from Royal Caribbean facilities in Miami and Wichita, Kansas (where Royal Caribbean has a call center) will repair playground equipment, paint murals, remove trash as well as repair, beautify and create environments that enrich the lives of their fellow citizens.

*** A new residential community at sea is scheduled for completion in Fall, 2008. Named after the mythical city in Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet", The Orphalese will roam the globe attending major events including the Cannes Film Festival, the Olympics and Chinese New Year in Shanghai. Onboard are 200 permanent residences and 265 suites for cruise passengers. For more see the ship's web site at Back to Top

10-13-05 Carnival To Feature Master Chef Cuisine *** Carnival Cruise Lines is launching an appetizing culinary program, offering special menu options created by one of France's most renowned three star Michelin chefs, Georges Blanc. Georges Blanc has established his reputation as one of France's most renowned chefs by creating exquisite cuisine that blends old world tradition with vibrant innovation, served today in his Vonnas, France restaurant.

"Georges Blanc Signature Selections" include a wide variety of gourmet appetizers, entrees and desserts to be served in Carnival's main dining rooms and Lido restaurants fleetwide, as well as its reservations-only supper clubs featured on select vessels.The three star Michelin chef has worked with Carnival's culinary staff in creating 70 recipes such as Milk and Corn Fed Chicken With Caramelized Garlic and Asparagus; Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Ginger-Lemon Oil; Veal Foreshank Osso-Buco with Mushroom Polenta; and Broiled Sea Bass with Spring Vegetables and Eggplant Tapenade. Appetizers in the "Georges Blanc Signature Selection" series include Alaskan King Crab in a Fresh Asparagus Chartreuse; Feuillete of Escargots Bourguignonne with Herbs; and Bay Scallops in Truffle Butter.Carnival will be offering a "degustation menu," an elaborate six- to seven-course meal experience featuring samplings of "George Blanc Signature Selections," as part of its supper club menu choices. Back to Top

10-07-05 Weekend Cruise News *** Carnival Cruise Line's 2,056-passenger Fantasy has resumed three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Port Canaveral following a multi-million-dollar refurbishment. New onboard are the photo and art galleries, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and completely renovated health and fitness center. The 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival, now features 11 private treatment rooms, including two couples massage rooms, a new relaxation/waiting room as well as updated fitness equipment, new carpeting, tile work and decor. The upgrades were completed during a 21-day scheduled dry dock that took place in Norfolk, Virginia. Fantasy originally entered service in 1990.

*** Delta Queen Steamboat Company's American Queen is now on a 30-day charter to an undisclosed company in Texas. The riverboat sailed down the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico for a two day journey to Texas, the first time the vessel had sailed in the Gulf. Bruce Nierenberg, President of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company praised its parent company's relief efforts. "From even before the hurricane hit the area, Delaware North was mobilizing to help a city where it had approximately 1,000 employees. So far the company has donated in excess of half a million dollars to the relief effort. This latest opportunity allows us to keep one of our steamboats active, until it returns to service in the spring of 2006." The Delta Queen Steamboat Company, owned by Delaware North Companies, was located in New Orleans until the devastation of Hurricane Katrina forced it to relocate its headquarters and operations to its parent company's global headquarters in Buffalo, New York.

*** Reports indicate Celebrity's Cruises' Cirque du Soleil program is under revision. The program opened to mixed reviews last December aboard Constellation and was added to Summit in February. From the outset passengers were disappointed to find that a Cirque-style show was not part of the program. Instead a Masquerade Ball and 'The Bar at the Edge of the Earth' where Cirque characters mingled with passengers provided the entertainment. Aboard Summit, the Masquerade Ball has been canceled and The Bar at the Edge of the Earth is being used as it was prior to the addition of the Cirque program, as an observation room by day and disco by night. The same changes take effect on Constellation November 10. Discussions are underway to determine the future of the program which is part of six-year agreement signed in 2004.

*** Onboard Crystal Serenity for the 11th annual World Cruise will be more than 200 entertainers, chefs, Olympians and diplomats as part of the enrichment and entertainment programs. Among the prominent special guests are Actress Debbie Reynolds; Emmy-winner Art Linkletter; Olympians Dorothy Hamill, Shannon Miller and Janet Evans; Master Chefs Andre Soltner and Anton Mosimann; Ambassadors Hank Cohen and Marc Ginsberg; retired US Air Force Major General Perry Smith and General Nick Halley and experts from The Smithsonian Associates Sotheby's Institute. A variety of enrichment programs will operate during the sailing with seminars and classes focusing on everything from art lessons to world affairs. The 106-night World Cruise departs Los Angeles January 18, 2006 and is available in seven segments.

*** Windstar Cruises is launching a new initiative called Degrees of Difference, featuring added amenities and enhancements to the line's motor-sailing yachts, Wind Surf, Wind Star and Wind Spirit. The areas of Dining, accommodations, service, destinations and activities will see changes introduced in stages. Upgrades will be complete in 2007. Staterooms will receive upgraded soft goods, Shea Butter bathroom amenities from L'Occitane, flat screen TVs and DVD/CD players and Bose SoundDocks for use with iPods, which can be borrowed at no charge from reception. High tech upgrades include the availability of wireless connectivity in public areas on all three ships. (Wind Surf also features an onboard Internet Center with desktop computers.) Dining enhancements feature 100 new menu items in collaboration with celebrity chef Joachim Splichal; a new steak house menu in the Bistro of Wind Surf; the addition of an "Amuse Bouche," or "little bite" at dinner, compliments of the chef; a new wine list featuring more boutique labels plus the flexibility to purchase wine in ports along the ships' itineraries; a selection of cheeses served tableside, Petit-fours served with coffee at the end of dinner and new Riedel stemware and Rosenthal china.

*** Seabourn Cruise Line is adding a new casual dining room and the 'Vintage Seabourn' wine package to its fleet of luxury yachts, Seabourn Spirit, Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Legend:

  • The new casual dining room called '2' will be available fleetwide by next March. Situated in the ships' Veranda Cafes, the tasting menus feature samples of various dishes for each course. The restaurant will hold 50. Reservations are required but there will be no charge. Three different menus will be offered every seven days.
  • The Vintage Seabourn wine package will be available at two levels. For $150, the Silver collection has a menu of six premium white wines and six premium red wines, including one dessert wine selection, from which passengers select three bottles to enjoy on board. Vintage Seabourn Gold will be priced at $300, and offers the same menu, plus an additional four whites and four reds of higher priced vintages, from which passengers select six bottles. The premium wines included in the package normally sell for around $58 to $75 a bottle. Vintage Seabourn is available for purchase in advance or onboard, as well as on the advance Gift Order Form.

*** Cunard Line's maritime history is being recognized by several projects in Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of the line's founder Sir Samuel Cunard. A memorial project is underway to erect a commemorative monument to Sir Samuel on the Halifax Harbourfront in the fall of 2006. Originally spearheaded by the Master of Queen Mary 2, Commodore Ronald Warwick, Cunard Line has become a leading sponsor of the $275,000 project which honors the importance of Sir Samuel Cunard's contributions to commerce and shipping. Recognized as the most renowned businessman in the Atlantic Provinces, Cunard revolutionized commerce and communications between continents nearly two centuries ago. He was a visionary who foresaw the day when steam power would replace sailing on the North Atlantic, changing the course of maritime history and creating the "ocean railway." Cunard's ships were long associated with many maritime firsts including the first to use navigation lights and the first ship to be lit by electricity. Also in Halifax, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic honored Commodore Ronald Warwick and his extensive career by inducting him into the museum's Admiralty Circle. The museum also unveiled the fully restored ship model of the Franconia, which debuted for Cunard Line in 1923. The restoration of the model began in July 2003 with the complete dismantling and cataloging of all parts of the ship. Back to Top

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