News Archive - October 2008

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10-30-08 Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) to End Fuel Supplement Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today that the company's current fuel supplement will no longer apply to bookings made on or after November 10, 2008 for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010.

For guests booked prior to November 10, 2008 for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010, the company has established the following guidelines for the refund of fuel supplements paid:

  • The criteria for refund will be determined on a quarterly basis. Should the closing price on the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) of West Texas Intermediate fuel be below $65 per barrel two weeks prior to the beginning of the calendar quarter (dates specified below), the company will refund fuel supplements paid in the form of an on-board credit.

    For guests booked on sailings that depart in 2009 (on or after January 1, 2009 and that depart on or before December 31, 2009), regardless of booking date, the company has established the following guidelines for the refund of fuel supplements paid:

  • The criteria for refund will be determined on a quarterly basis. Should the closing price on the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) of West Texas Intermediate fuel be below $65 per barrel two weeks prior to the beginning of the calendar quarter (dates specified below), the company will refund fuel supplements paid in the form of an on-board credit.

    The dates on which the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel will be measured and the quarters during which refunds could apply are:

    Fuel Price Determination Date Quarter of Possible Fuel Supplement Refunds
    December 18, 2008 First Quarter 2009
    March 18, 2009 Second Quarter 2009
    June 17, 2009 Third Quarter 2009
    September 17, 2009 Fourth Quarter 2009
    December 18, 2009 First Quarter 2010
    March 18, 2010 Second Quarter 2010
    June 17, 2010 Third Quarter 2010
    September 17, 2010 Fourth Quarter 2010
    December 17, 2010 First Quarter 2011

    Determination of what quarter a sailing is in will be based solely on the sailing date. The entire cruise will be considered to be part of the quarter that the sailing date originates in.

    These new fuel supplement policies apply to guests booked through all NCL offices around the world.

    The company is implementing these changes in response to the recent decrease in global fuel prices. NCL will continue to closely monitor global fuel prices to assess whether a reinstatement of the fuel supplement will be necessary.

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    10-30-08 Carnival's British Line, Ocean Village, to be Phased Out Ocean Village, a cruise line created by Carnival for the 20-50 British Market, will be shut down in 2010 with its two ship being transferred to another Carnival brand, P&O Australia. Ocean Village One will go in late 2009 and Ocean Village Two will go a year later.

    The reason for the closure is said to be increased fuel costs rather than declining revenues. It is believed Carnival Corp. feels it can get a better return operating the ships in the Australian market.

    The line will still offer a single ship in the Caribbean in winter 2009-10 combining existing bookings to the one vessel. Ocean Village was launched five years ago as a casual cruise line for Brits who dislike fixed timetables and formal dress codes. It featured cruises in the Mediterranean in summer and Caribbean in winter with activity-based shore excursions. The line's motto was "cruises for people who don't do cruises."

    The closure of Ocean Village means the British cruise market, which just two years ago was the fastest growing in the world, is declining rapidly. By the end of 2010 four U.K.-based ships will leave the market – Ocean Village One and Two, Island Cruises' Island Star and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines' Black Prince, which is being retired in September 2009.

    Island Cruises, the UK's other cruise line with a similar casual approach, was taken over by TUI Travel which plans to transfer one ship next spring.

    There will still be plenty of U.K.-based cruises by Carnival Corp. despite the loss of these ships; P&O Cruises will take delivery of the 3,100-passenger Azura in March 2010 and the new 2,100-passenger Queen Elizabeth will join Cunard in October 2010.

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    10-30-08 Delta Queen's Majestic America Line Calling it Quits Delta Queen, American Queen, Columbia Queen and all the other vessels of Majestic America line will stop sailing sometime in the next three weeks, according to the CEO of the line's parent company Ambassador's International. All Majestic American Line vessels, also including Empress of the North and Queen of the West, will stop sailing so the company can preserve capital while it looks for buyer for the individual vessels.

    Empress of the North, a small vessel that spent summers in Alaska and winters on the Columbia River, and managed to get itself hung up on a sand bar in Glacier Bay two years ago, has already been put in receivership by the U.S. Maritime Administration to cover an unpaid debt. CEO Joe Ueberroth said it is also likely that the lines newest and largest vessel, American Queen, will also be taken to cover debt. This is the line's highest profit-potential boat.

    The five other boats the company owns debt-free, but they will all be pulled out of service as well and put in long-term docking facilities for maintainance until a new owner can be found.

    None of these actions have any effect on Windstar Cruises, which parent company Ambassadors International (Marine) also owns. Windstar is doing just fine financially relying on a base of enthusiastic return cruisers who still enjoy the sail cruise ships. The Windstar formula under Ambassador's International is largely unchanged since the days when it was owned by Holland America. That formula has always been successful, while the river boats have changed ownership four times since 2000.

    Ueberroth ruminated that the Majestic America vessels will likely sell individually, not as a cruise line. His obvious concern is the current economic climate, and interest in the vessels is on a one by one basis due to the tightening financial climate.

    The historic Delta Queen is currently on its final cruise anyway - due to its Congressional exemption expiring in November. There is still a big fight in Congress between Ohio Representative Steve Chabot (R) and Minnesota Representative James Oberstar (D) who has denied Delta Queen a new exemption that would allow it to continue sailing. But even if Delta Queen is rescued soon and the boat is sold to a new owner it still will not operate in 2009. Ueberroth said "It's just too late to try to put her back in service."

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    10-28-08 Royal Caribbean Also Offers Military Discount Rates Royal Caribbean International has a new special offer of up to $200 off per stateroom for active and retired military personnel. Veterans and servicemen who make a new cruise booking between now and November 30, 2008, for any upcoming sailings through the end of 2009, will receive $50 off per stateroom for three- to five-night cruises; $100 off per stateroom for six- to nine-night cruises; and $200 off per stateroom for 10-night cruises and longer.

    The special savings for members of the U.S. military can be extended up to two additional staterooms for family and friends to share in a memorable reunion and vacation.

    The special savings can be applied to the full range of Royal Caribbean International itineraries (except for Oasis of the Seas), from three and four-night cruises out of Florida to seven-night and longer cruises departing from ports around the world. For example, convenient short cruise getaways departing Miami on Majesty of the Seas are currently available for as low as $104 per person with the savings applied.

    Seven-night cruise vacations, such as Southern Caribbean itineraries departing San Juan, Puerto Rico, aboard Adventure of the Seas and Alaska itineraries departing Seward, Alaska, aboard Radiance of the Seas are available for as low as $349 and $549 per person, respectively. Or, 14-night Australia and New Zealand long cruises departing in January 2009 from Sydney aboard Rhapsody of the Seas are as low as $799 per person. All sample rates are based on double occupancy with the applicable savings applied. Fuel supplement also will apply.

    To take advantage of the savings for a Royal Caribbean International cruise vacation, veterans and current servicemen should contact their travel agent, call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN, or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.

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    10-28-08 Carnival Offers Special Military Discount Rates In honor of Veteran's Day, Carnival Cruise Lines is introducing a promotion throughout November that allows active and retired military personnel to book up to three "Fun Ship" staterooms at discounted rates for themselves and their friends and family members.

    Reservations must be made between Nov. 1-30, 2008, to qualify for this special offer, which is available in conjunction with a wide range of three- to 12-day "Fun Ship" departures through Dec. 31, 2009, including voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii.

    Rates start at $159 per person for three-day cruises from Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., and five-day cruises from New Orleans and Jacksonville, Fla.; from $189 for four-day cruises from Mobile, Ala., and Jacksonville; from $309 per person for seven-day cruises from Miami, Galveston, Texas, and Port Canaveral; and from $359 per person for six-day voyages from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

    The promotion is valid for individual bookings only, availability is capacity controlled and this promotion cannot be combined with any other discount offer. Fare code CPM1 must be requested during the reservations process and military personnel must provide proof of service. Certain other restrictions apply.

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    10-27-08 Carnival Liberty to Sail From Miami, Pride from Baltimore in 2009. Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that its Miami-based Carnival Liberty, which was originally scheduled to reposition to Europe in May 2009, will instead remain in Miami to operate year-round Caribbean cruises.

    The Carnival Liberty will continue to offer its existing schedule of seven-day Caribbean cruises through next spring and then introduce a new seven-day program from Miami beginning in April 2009.

    In turn, the Carnival Pride, currently based in Long Beach, Calif., and originally scheduled to shift to Miami for a five-month Caribbean deployment from April through August, will instead launch its Baltimore-based program on April 27, 2009.

    Prior to its Baltimore deployment, Carnival Pride will operate its previously scheduled Panama Canal cruise from Long Beach, Calif., to Miami March 22 - April 5, 2009, as well as a six-day cruise departing April 5 and two seven-day Caribbean cruises departing April 11 and 18, 2009, all operating from Miami.

    "Based on current market conditions, continued economic uncertainty and high air costs to Europe, we are shifting our focus to an even greater extent toward our core, close-to-home cruise options which are clearly the preference of the vast majority of the mainstream vacation market right now," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. "This change in deployment will enable us to bring the Carnival Pride to Baltimore four months earlier than originally planned to start up that city's first year-round cruise program, which is proving to be extremely popular based on advanced bookings so far," he added.

    Cahill noted that Carnival will still offer several European cruises next year when the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream - the line's newest and largest ship - debuts with a series of three 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises from Rome (Civitavecchia) in September and October 2009. Carnival Dream will also operate a 16-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to New York in late October 2009.

    Cahill said that the company will be offering assistance in finding vacation alternatives to Carnival Liberty guests who were scheduled to sail in Europe, including European cruises on Carnival's sister companies that have a strong presence in the region such as Holland America and Princess. "We understand that our guests who were scheduled to sail in Europe are going to be disappointed by this development and we sincerely apologize to them for this disruption to their vacation plans. Europe remains a desirable vacation choice for many and we will endeavor to help our guests find alternative plans to sail within the region," he said.

    Existing Bookings - Carnival Liberty and Carnival Pride Guests booked on the Carnival Liberty Europe cruises will be provided special onboard credit offers toward other 2009 Carnival cruises, including the Carnival Dream European departures. In addition, Carnival will assist guests with the cost of changes/cancellations for non-refundable air transportation.

    Guests who were booked on the Carnival Pride's Caribbean cruises from April 25, 2009 to August 29, 2009 from Miami will be automatically shifted to the same accommodations on the Carnival Liberty. The Carnival Liberty will also operate the same itineraries as previously scheduled on the Carnival Pride.

    Carnival Liberty's New Seven-Day Caribbean Cruises From Miami Carnival Liberty will continue its current program of seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami through April 18, 2009 then assume a new schedule of weeklong cruises to the Western and Exotic Eastern Caribbean beginning Saturday, April 25, 2009, through November 28, 2009. The new Exotic Eastern Caribbean cruise route will feature Half Moon Cay, a private Bahamian island; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands. The western route will visit Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico

    Carnival Pride's New Spring/Summer Departures From Baltimore Carnival Pride will launch Baltimore's first year-round cruise program beginning on April 27, 2009, four months ahead of the original schedule. From April 27, 2009 to September 6, 2009, the ship will operate a series of six-, seven- and eight-day cruises. These cruises will visit a wide variety of ports including Nassau, Freeport, Half Moon Cay (a private Bahamian island), Port Canaveral (Orlando) and Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos.

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    10-24-08 Royal Caribbean Ends Fuel Supplement for New Cruises October 24, 2008 - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that the company's fuel supplement will no longer apply to new Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises bookings made on or after November 10, 2008, anywhere in the world, for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010.

    This decision takes into consideration the recent reductions in global fuel prices. The company has also established specific guidelines that will determine whether fuel supplement refunds will be provided for sailings that begin in 2009 and later, which were booked prior to November 10, 2008, if fuel prices remain below a specific price threshold.

    For 2009 sailings and 2010 sailings booked before November 10, 2008, the company will determine on a quarterly basis whether fuel supplements will be refunded. Refunds, in the form of an onboard credit, will be provided if the closing price of West Texas Intermediate fuel is $65 or less, at the closing time of the New York Mercantile Exchange, two weeks prior to the beginning of the upcoming calendar quarter. When those conditions are met, an onboard credit will be provided to all guests on sailings that begin during the upcoming calendar quarter.

    The dates on which the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel will be measured, and the quarters during which refunds could apply are:

    Fuel Price Determination Date Quarter of Possible Fuel Supplement Refunds
    December 18, 2008 First quarter 2009
    March 18, 2009 Second quarter 2009
    June 17, 2009 Third quarter 2009
    September 17, 2009 Fourth quarter 2009
    December 18, 2009 First quarter 2010
    March 18, 2010 Second quarter 2010
    June 17, 2010 Third quarter 2010
    September 17, 2010 Fourth quarter 2010

    The company will continue to closely monitor the movement of global fuel prices and recognize that an upturn in those prices could necessitate the reinstatement of a fuel supplement.

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    10-24-08 Celebrity Takes Delivery of Solstice Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice, was delivered today at a ceremony in Emshaven, Netherlands, marking the formal transfer of the ship - the first in a class of five - from shipbuilder Meyer Werft to Celebrity Cruises. The ship will begin its transatlantic voyage October 25, with arrival in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., anticipated November 3.

    click on pictures below for larger images:

       
    Solstice at Sea   A Suite   Grand Epernay Dining Room

    "With its innovative, half-acre Lawn Club with real, growing grass; the Hot Glass Show offered through our alliance with The Corning Museum of Glass; 10 widely varied restaurants, including four in the specialty category; stylish, spacious staterooms whose design was influenced by a panel of five women with unique travel and hospitality insights; and, of course, the intangible attribute found on every Celebrity ship - extraordinary service - Celebrity Solstice is the perfect manifestation of what the Celebrity brand is all about," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

    click on pictures below for larger images:

       
    Solarium   Lawn Club   Theater

    Soon after its arrival in Fort Lauderdale on November 3, Celebrity Solstice will serve as the perfect platform for Celebrity Cruises' first Global Sales Meeting, followed by a series of exclusive, two-night preview cruises for invited travel agents, press and other dignitaries.

    Celebrity Solstice will be named in formal ceremonies on November 14, and will embark on its inaugural season November 23, on a series of seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In spring 2009, the stunning new ship will introduce a series of romantic 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Rome.

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    10-24-08 Dengue Fever Epidemic Threatens St Martin The St Martin Daily Herald is reporting that a very dangerous mosquito-borne disease has made its way to the island. Known as the dengue epidemic, authorities announced Thursday that 72 laboratory confirmed cases have been recorded between October 1 and 18.

    Dengue fever is manifested by a sudden onset of fever, rash, severe headache, muscle and joint pains (myalgia and arthralgia pain also give it the name break-bone fever or bonecrusher disease). The dengue rash is characteristically bright red petechiae and usually appears first on the lower limbs and the chest. In some patients, it spreads to cover most of the body. There may also be gastritis with some combination of associated abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

    Some cases develop much milder symptoms which can be misdiagnosed as influenza or other viral infection when no rash is present. Thus travelers from tropical areas may pass on dengue in their home countries inadvertently, having not been properly diagnosed at the height of their illness. Patients with dengue can pass on the infection only through mosquitoes or blood products and only while they are still febrile.

    The classic dengue fever lasts about six to seven days, with a smaller peak of fever at the trailing end of the disease (the so-called biphasic pattern). In cases where hemorrhagic fever may occur the disease can even be fatal. Otherwise, the platelet count will drop until the patient's temperature is normal.

    The three types of dengue circulating on the island are DEN-1, DEN-2 and DEN-4. This also increases the risk for Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) which is potentially deadly, and Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS), which if not treated correctly, can lead to profound shock and death.

    The disease can lead to long term syndromes of aches and pain. It is blood borne and spread by mosquitos or direct contact with contaminated blood. The mosquitos are most active at sunrise and sunset. Guests are advised to saty away from any areas where pools of water may be allowing mosquitos to lay eggs.

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    10-22-08 Carnival Ecstasy to Resume 4 and 5--Day Galveston Cruises Carnival Cruise Lines, the Port of Galveston's only year-round cruise operator, announced today that it will resume service from the Texas port on November 1, 2008 following a temporary seize in cruise operations due to Hurricane Ike last month. The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will resume year-round four- and five-day cruises from Galveston with a five-day voyage departing on Saturday, Nov. 1. The 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest will begin year-round seven-day service from Galveston Sunday, Nov. 2.

    Up until that time, the ships will continue to operate round-trip from the Port of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal where they were shifted temporarily following Hurricane Ike. The Carnival Ecstasy cruises on October 23 and October 27; and the Carnival Conquest cruise on October 26 will operate round-trip from Houston.

    "We are extremely pleased to be resuming service from the Port of Galveston and extend our congratulations and appreciation to the port and the Galveston community as a whole for enabling us to return so quickly," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival's president and CEO.

    "We would also like to express our gratitude to the Port of Houston for their tremendous efforts in accommodating our ships and being such exceptional partners. Their support enabled these ships to remain Texas based while Galveston worked through its recovery process," Cahill noted.

    Carnival launched the first year-round cruise program from Galveston in 2000 and has expanded its presence dramatically over the past eight years. With the return of its two year-round ships, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest, the line expects to carry an estimated 350,000 guests annually from Galveston.

    According to Steve Cernak, director of the Port of Galveston, "We took a hit however we rapidly rebounded. We had our first cargo ship in nine days after the storm. Now, six weeks after Hurricane Ike, we are fully operational. The Port, as well as all of Galveston Island, is excited to welcome home both Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest.

    Carnival Ecstasy's four- and five-day cruise schedule encompasses four-day voyages departing Thursdays to Cozumel, Mexico, and five-day cruises departing Mondays and Saturdays to Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico. Carnival Conquest's seven-day western Caribbean cruise program includes week-long voyages departing every Sunday to Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cozumel; and George Town, Grand Cayman as well as a new 2009 itinerary option that visits Key West, Freeport and Nassau.

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    10-21-08 Final Oasis Neighborhood Revealed is the Youth Zone Royal Caribbean just held their online event to announce the final neighborhood for Oasis of the seas. Ken Muscat, Vice President of Sales introduced Al Goldstein and Lynne Biggar who led us through the seventh and final neighborhood. The show was streamed through the Internet with Royal Caribbean taking control of our computers, just like the old Twilight Zone days.

    Lynne announced that a special Royal Caribbean sale will commence tomorrow, Wednesday October 22. All ships will be on sale, with reduced prices for the entire fleet except Oasis, which already has a price list published. Adam announced that Oasis will launch in November, 2009, although the first scheduled sailing is December 12, 2009. The ship will be homeported in Fort Lauderdale. The ship will sail the Eastern Caribbean only until May 2010, and then it will start alternating Eastern and Western itineraries.

    And the big news? The seventh neighborhood? First we had to listen to a review of the entire ship, all six neighborhoods that had been previously introduced. But the seventh neighborhood is....

    The Youth Zone - the last reveal was all about the features for families on Oasis of the Seas. Everything on Oasis, they said, is going to be simply a grand version of what has already been done so successfully on the previous ships.

    Possibly the one thing that is truly additive to the kids program on Oasis is a dedicated theater of kids to work out their own shows called "Youth Ocean Theater." It has curtains, a sound system and lighting to make the shows seem as professional as can be. The goal is to work out a new production every week, starring the kids of course.

    There is a science area with several art classes, based on the years-long partnership Royal Caribbean has with Crayola. There are workshops where kids can play with blocks and tools to "build" things - none of for permamnent use, of course.

    There will be an actual nursery onboard for the very young children, freeing up time for parents to enjoy the cruise. This is the first time Royal Caribbean will have a nursery on a ship. Right now it is not planned to charge for babysitting services, although that is not yet set in stone. The minimum age for children allowed onboard is six months.

    Teens get their own space with similar opportunities to what grownups have - although it is age appropriate. They have Internet access. The teen area is a deck above the rest of the children's facilities, with an outdoor area next to the inside area for the first time. It is also very close to the outdoor sports area shared by all passengers. There is a dedicated teen store on the Boardwalk.

    Adam explained that the most important aspect is the fact that activities will move from one room to another as the day goes on.

    "Venues, counselors and programming is the key to the youth program" Goldstein said.

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    10-21-08 Final Oasis Neighborhood Reveal Tonight Royal Caribbean has sent out an invitation to journalists, repeat cruisers belonging to the Crown and Anchor Society and travel agents to join them online for the final neighborhood reveal for the new "Oasis of the Seas" cruise ship tonight.

    Oasis of the Seas will be the next world's largest cruise ship when it is introduced in December of 2009. The ship will have over 220,000-tons of displacement, approximately 70,000 tons larger than the current world's larget cruise ships, the Freedom-class also of Royal Caribbean.

    Tonight will be the last of five different events Royal Caribbean has held to introduce Oasis of the Seas to the world. The ship is significantly different from other ships in design. It is the first cruise ship ever to have open air public spaces several decks deep with an open roof. Two previously announced neighborhoods, Central Park and the Boardwalk, both have pedestrian areas in the middle of the ship and are surrounded by several decks of staterooms on both sides, resembling a canyon effect.

    Other Oasis innovations include live grass and trees, the first AquaTheater at sea for the presentation of water-themed production shows. There is a carousel, an ice rink, two "Flowrider" surf machines, the first zipline at sea, two rock-climbing walls and a beach-style swimming pool.

    What will tonight's reveal show? It is hard to say since almost all of the deckplan has been filled in. It could be more details on the Spa and Vitality center. So far, all we have are a few rough renderings. I believe we will see one of the most extensive spas ever built at sea, that there will be lush public rooms and plenty of hot tub spas and thelasotherapy pools. But we will nto know for sure until tonight.

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    10-20-08 Carnival Fantasy Completes "Evolutions of Fun" Upgrades The 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy has resumed its popular four- and five-day cruise schedule from New Orleans following a 28-day dry dock that included the addition of an expansive new water park, exclusive adults-only area, redesigned main pool and a new "Circle C" facility for 12-to 14-year-olds.

    The ship's suites and dining venues were also renovated and new dining options such as a Mongolian wok and rotisserie were added. The new features are part of the line's $250 million "Evolutions of Fun" refurbishment program for its eight Fantasy-class ships.

    "The 'Evolutions of Fun' upgrades have truly transformed the Carnival Fantasy, adding a host of new features and an entirely new element of fun and relaxation to this spectacular ship," said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival's executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. "We are delighted to bring the Carnival Fantasy back to New Orleans - one of our most popular homeports - and honored to be a part of the local community," he added.

    In conjunction with the Carnival Fantasy's resumption of service from New Orleans, the company has partnered with five New Orleans-based radio stations on a promotion called "Give Fun Back," which kicks off Oct. 20 and is designed to reward deserving individuals with a "Fun Ship" cruise vacation. Based on nominations submitted by listeners, five winners will be selected, with each receiving a complimentary cruise on the Carnival Fantasy for up to four guests.

    Exciting New Top-Deck Enhancements A signature element of Carnival Fantasy's new "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades is Carnival WaterWorks, an expansive aqua park towering over Verandah Deck. Designed with all-ages appeal, the sprawling, open-air facility includes a 300-foot-long spiral water slide - the longest at sea - along with twin 82-foot-long racing slides and various water spray apparatus.

    Located aft on Promenade Deck and offering magnificent ocean views is "Serenity," an exclusive new adults-only retreat. Intended as an oasis for relaxation and comfort, "Serenity" offers plush chaise lounges and chairs, colorful oversized umbrellas, and two large whirlpools. Here, guests can sip a variety of icy cocktails and frozen drinks or enjoy a light meal or snack from the nearby Lido restaurant.

    The third element of the "Evolutions of Fun" top deck upgrades is a totally redesigned "resort-style" pool located mid-ship on Lido Deck featuring thatched roofing and large faux palm trees. Vibrant oversized umbrellas, comfortable deck chairs and a colorful tiled "beach" encircling the pool's edge enhance the decidedly tropical ambiance.

    New Dining Upgrades, 'Circle C' Center, Updated Suites The ship's Celebration and Jubilee main dining rooms, as well as the causal poolside Windows on the Sea Bar & Grill, have been renovated with striking new interiors, and updated carpeting, tile work and furniture. Windows on the Sea also features a new Mongolian wok where guests can select their choice of meat, vegetables, and noodles and have the dish prepared before their eyes. A rotisserie has been added, as well, with roasted chicken, beef, and lamb, along with a variety of side dishes and accompaniments.

    A new "Circle C" facility catering to the 12- to 14-year-olds has also been incorporated into Atlantic Deck forward. The center features a high-tech sound and lighting system, plasma-screen TVs displaying movies and music videos, a touch-screen jukebox, and gaming pods with the latest video games and consoles.

    Cosmetic enhancements were also made to other shipboard areas, including renovated guest corridors and public bathrooms, a brand new décor and technical enhancements to the Electricity dance club, a host of new artwork, and updated furniture and fixtures in many staterooms.

    Additionally, all of the ship's 54 suites were remodeled with updated wall coverings, carpeting, tile work and lighting fixtures, as well as new bathrooms. A number of connecting staterooms were incorporated, as well.

    Future Plans The namesake vessel of the 70,000-ton Fantasy-class, Carnival Fantasy currently operates four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans. On this route, four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Cozumel and Progreso.

    Carnival Fantasy will sail from New Orleans through Nov. 5, 2009, then reposition to Mobile, Ala., to operate a special six-day cruise departing Nov. 10 followed by the launch of year-round four- and five-day service from that port Nov. 16. Carnival Fantasy will be replaced in New Orleans by the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph in Nov. 2009.

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    10-17-08 Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2 Says "Goodbye New York!" October 16, 2008 - Cunard's QE2 bid farewell to America today in a poignant celebration befitting the company's longest serving liner, recognized as the most famous ship in the world.

    On her 710th and final call to New York, the iconic passenger vessel elegantly sailed through New York Harbor for the last time, escorted by the US Coast Guard and FDNY Fireboats, meeting her sister ship Queen Mary 2 for their final Royal Rendezvous at the Statue of Liberty before departing in tandem for Southampton, England.

    "It is most fitting that QE2's farewell to America be celebrated in New York, the city Cunard has called our North America homeport since 1847 and the setting for so much of the Line's history," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line.

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    10-17-08 Delta Queen Pays Final 2008 Visit to Cincinnati The Delta Queen will arrive in Cincinnati on Tuesday, October 21, for her final visit of the 2008 season. Majestic America Line will hold a "Farewell Tribute" beginning at 4:00 p.m.. Their invited guests will board the boat between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. The Queen is scheduled to arrive in Cincinnati at 9:00 a.m. and leave at 5:00 p.m., although most likely she will not depart until 6:00 p.m. or later.

    Among those attending the event will be Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), who on October 16, 2007, introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3852, to continue the boat's 40-year exemption from the Safety of Life at Sea Act. It remains in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure because Committee Chairman James Oberstar of Minnesota refuses to release it to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives. An identical Senate version, S. 3498, was introduced by Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) on September 16, 2008. It, too, remains in committee.

    The Delta Queen is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on America's inland waterways. For that reason she has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, she was inadvertently caught in the technical provisions of the Safety of Life at Sea Act—a piece of legislation that was intended to cover ocean-going ships, not riverboats. Recognizing the difference between boats that operate on rivers, within yards of the shore, and ships that sail the high seas, Congress established an exemption for the Delta Queen in 1968. Since then, the exemption has been renewed nine times, in virtually every case by near-unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate. The current exemption will expire at midnight on October 31, 2008, the day after the Queen is scheduled to arrive in Memphis.

    Vicki Webster, leader of the grassroots Save the Delta Queen Campaign, said, "We expect our supporters to turn out in full force on Tuesday in Cincinnati and at every stop the boat makes between here and Memphis. We are not bidding the Delta Queen goodbye. We are sending her off to rest for the winter, as she always does, while we continue the fight to have her exempted once and for all from a law that never should have involved her."

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    10-1-08 Tonight is "World's Largest Cruise Night" - Find an Event Near You October 16th is the date for the CLIA (Cruise Line Industry Association) "World's Largest Cruise Night". Travel agencies across North America will join together to promote cruising as the vacation option of choice - all in a single day. And this year, many agencies will conduct an online event.

    To find an event near you, go to this CLIA web site page: http://www.cruising.org/wlcn.cfm

    The World's Largest Cruise Night (WLCN) is in celebration of October's National Cruise Vacation Month (NCVM), a North American celebration of the cruise experience. CLIA member Travel agencies across the U.S. and Canada are focusing their promotional efforts to educate travelers on the value and diversity of today's cruise vacations through Cruise Nights, cocktail parties, luncheons and a myriad of cruise promotional events.

    After you get a list of agencies participating in World's Largest Cruise Night, we suggest you call them to see if they actually have an event scheduled. Many agencies are only promoting cruise special offers which they can tell you about over the telephone, while others may be having actually events at their locations.

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    10-17-08 Carnival Makes Web site to Promote "World's Largest Cruise Night" In conjunction with CLIA's "World's Largest Cruise Night" promotion taking place Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008, Carnival Cruise Lines has created a special micro-site to help travel agents promote the popular cruise-themed sales event.

    Additionally, complimentary upgrades are provided to all bookings made that evening. The free upgrades apply to virtually all 2009 "Fun Ship" departures, including a wide range of three- to five-day getaways to the Caribbean or Mexico, seven-day voyages to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera and Alaska, or longer length sailings to Europe.

    Available via a special "World's Largest Cruise Night" link within Carnival's travel agent Internet portal, BookCCL.com/wlcn, the new micro-site is designed as a "one-stop" shop where travel agents can fulfill all of their sales and marketing needs.

    Included within the site is a "Cruise Night Tool Kit" where travel agents can order "Fun Ship" postcards, letterhead, posters, brochures and balloons, as well as downloadable Carnival logos, including a specially designed "World's Largest Cruise Night" logo, and e-mail templates for travel agents to create custom marketing materials.

    There's also a section entitled "Planning Your Cruise Night," providing travel agents with tips on compiling an invitation list and establishing a theme for the evening, as well as proven techniques for generating publicity, and post-event follow up strategies.

    Travel agents can also host a "cyber cruise night" on-line at Carnival's Web-based group-planning tool, carnivalconnections.com, which offers agents the opportunity to create custom-designed "e-vites" to send to their clients.

    "Our comprehensive micro-site and special upgrade offer underscore the importance of CLIA's 'World's Largest Cruise Night,' which provides travel agents with an excellent platform for seeking new business while reinforcing the value of cruising to their existing clients," said Lynn Torrent, Carnival's senior vice president of sales and guest experience.

    Carnival Cruise Lines, a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 22 "Fun Ships" operating voyages ranging from three to 18 days in length to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, New England, Canada, Bermuda, Europe, and South America. The line currently has two ships scheduled to enter service between now and 2011.

    For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal, bookccl.com.

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    10-16-08 NCL Offers "Worlds's Largest Cruise Night" Incentives Taking part in Cruise Lines International Association's (CLIA) World's Largest Cruise Night (WLCN) on October 16, 2008, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is providing booking incentives and specially-designed collateral materials.

    Cruise enthusiasts looking to book a NCL vacation with a CLIA member travel agency from October 16-23 will receive up to a $500 on-board credit (depending on stateroom category booked) and a reduced deposit on NCL's 10 Freestyle Cruising ships sailing more than five days. NCL offers a multitude of cruises ranging from a 5-day Western Caribbean to a 7-day Bahamas & Florida and a 12-day Western Mediterranean.

    "This year, NCL has doubled the offer for this special event with higher on-board credits at every stateroom level and reduced deposits," said Terri Burke, NCL's vice president of industry relations. "We're giving our travel partners more incentives to pass on to the guest, as well as tools to help make this year's World's Largest Cruise Night the most successful yet."

    Travel partners who register for NCL's WLCN promotion, book and deposit at least one cruise with NCL during the promotional period will be entered into a drawing to win a 5, 7 or 9-day Caribbean cruise for two in a balcony stateroom. For more details on the contest, travel partners can log on to www.bookncl.com.

    For marketing purposes, NCL is providing travel partners with a customizable flyer promoting NCL's WLCN booking incentives. For those travel partners hosting a virtual cruise night, the company has produced a special video that highlights NCL's offerings.

    WLCN is part of a series of innovative initiatives launched in celebration of October's National Cruise Vacation Month, a North American celebration of the cruise experience. CLIA member travel agencies across the U.S. and Canada will focus their promotional efforts to educate travelers on the value and diversity of today's cruise vacations.

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    10-16-08 Carnival to Add Balconies to Three Ships During Dry Docks Underscoring the tremendous popularity of its balcony staterooms, Carnival Cruise Lines will add balconies to a number of cabins on three ships during upcoming dry docks over the next few months. Staterooms on the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty that currently feature floor-to-ceiling windows will be retrofitted with private balconies, creating a total of 48 additional 230-square-foot verandah staterooms on these vessels.

    Additionally, two new 750-square-foot "deluxe penthouse suites" - nearly double the size of the largest staterooms in the fleet - will be added to the Carnival Liberty.

    "Balcony staterooms continue to be in great demand - in fact, they're often the first cabin category to sell out," said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival's executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. "Therefore, we are pleased to incorporate additional balcony staterooms on Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty, which will offer guests their own private, relaxing venue for viewing magnificent ocean vistas and scenery," he added.

    Like all "Fun Ship" accommodations, the new balcony staterooms on the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty will offer a host of in-cabin amenities, including the popular Carnival Comfort Bed sleep system with plush mattresses, luxurious duvets and high quality linens and pillows.

    Carnival balcony accommodations also include soft terrycloth robes for guest use during their cruise, as well as satellite television, mini bars, hair dryers, ample closet space, and in-cabin amenity kits with a wide array of brand-name products.

    The two new 750-square-foot "deluxe penthouse suites" on the Carnival Liberty will be largest in the "Fun Ship" fleet by far and feature a new cabin configuration with a separate bedroom, expansive living area, and two full bathrooms, including one with a bathtub tub.

    Located on the ship's forward section on Deck 9, the deluxe penthouse suites can accommodate up to five guests - rare in cruise industry staterooms - and include two twin beds that convert to a king, a sofa bed and two pull-down upper beds.

    The 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny began a new program of year-round four- and five-day Caribbean cruises from Miami last week. The 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph will continue its seven-day Caribbean schedule from Miami through next summer then sail on a series of Canada/New England voyages from New York before repositioning to New Orleans to launch year-round four-, five-, and seven-day Caribbean service in November 2009.

    The 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty, which currently operates seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami, will reposition to Europe next summer to operate 12-day voyages to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. The ship will resume its weeklong Caribbean program from Miami in December 2009.

    The new balcony staterooms on these three vessels will be available for sale on October 3, 2008. Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty are part of the line's 22- vessel "Fun Ship" fleet which operates three- to 18-day voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and South America.

    The line has two new ships scheduled to enter service between now and 2011. For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal, bookccl.com.

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    10-13-08 Royal Caribbean to Sail Brilliance from Dubai in 2010 Royal Caribbean International announced its entry into Dubai with the deployment of Brilliance of the Seas in 2010. From January to April 2010, the cruise line will offer seven-night sailings from this increasingly popular United Arab Emirates destination. Itineraries for the new cruises from Dubai will be announced in the coming weeks.

    Dubai is becoming a tourist destination not only for Middle Eastern visitors, but Europeans and Asians as well. The city has embarked upon several distinctive building projects specifically to attract tourists. Among them is what has been voted the world's most beautiful hotel, the Burj Al Arab, and the next world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, scheduled to be finished in 2009. The building will have 160 habitable stories, 50 more than the Sears tower in Chicago.

    Brilliance of the Seas is a smaller (90,000-tons) but newer (2002) Royal Caribbean ship which features vast expanses of open space, mirrored surfaces and glass paneling with nearly three acres of exterior glass. The open Centrum has ten-deck high windows and ocean-facing glass elevators. Among the ship's unique features is a pair of ultra-high-tech, self-leveling pool tables in the Bombay Billiards Club.

    For Royal Caribbean's typically active guests, recreational amenities include a rock-climbing wall, jogging track, basketball and volleyball court, golf simulator and nine-hole miniature golf course, and a large gym with treadmills facing the sea.

    Five dining venues allow guests to enjoy a variety of choices, from Chops Grille steakhouse to Portofino Italian restaurant, Minstrel main dining room, or the casual Windjammer Café and Seaview Café. Freshly-brewed coffee, cappuccino or pastries can be found in Latté-tudes coffee bar.

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    10-10-08 Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn Drop Fuel Supplement The following message just came across from Bill Harbor, director of marketing for Carnival Corp. parent company of all the above mentioned cruise lines:

    "I am pleased to update you on some new and important information regarding the fuel supplement for Carnival Corporation & plc brands. Six of our brands, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and The Yachts of Seabourn have announced that effective October 31, 2008, the existing fuel supplement will be eliminated for all new bookings on 2010 departures."

    And now the bad news: "At the same time, a price increase on 2010 sailings will become effective."

    Additionally, the company has established specific guidelines under which the current fuel supplement may be reimbursed to consumers for 2008 and 2009 voyages. For 2008 and 2009 departures:

    • If the price of light sweet crude oil according to the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange Index) is $70 per barrel or less at the 2:30 p.m. close of business as reported by Reuters on each of the 25 consecutive trading days ending five trading days prior to the guest's cruise departure date, the fuel supplement will be refunded in the form of a shipboard credit.
    • Guests who book a 2010 cruise prior to Oct. 31, 2008, will still be charged the current fuel supplement but will also be eligible for a refund of the fuel supplement in accordance with the same fuel price conditions that are being implemented for current 2008 and 2009 departures.

    Carnival Corp. is implementing these initiatives due to recent trends in declining fuel prices in an effort to migrate away from charging a separate fuel supplement. If fuel prices stabilize below $70 a barrel, they will be able to effectively eliminate the fuel supplement.

    "However, there is still a risk that fuel prices could move higher which would require us to maintain or reinstate a fuel supplement but we are hopeful that the goal of eliminating the fuel supplement can be achieved," Carnival says. "These industry-leading initiatives clearly demonstrate our commitment to our guests and travel agents to make our brands the most attractive cruise vacations available. Most importantly, we want to thank you for your continued support."

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    10-10-08 Holland America Debuts New Pinnacle Grill Menu Fleetwide Pinnacle Grill, the reservations-only dining venue on all Holland America Line ships, debuts a tantalizing new menu this fall. Created by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin and introduced with rave reviews on ms Eurodam earlier this summer, the expanded menu introduces new Pacific Northwest specialty entrees and adds creations ranging from lobster "mac & cheese" to Colorado lamb chops.

    Seafood dishes include broiled, troll-caught salmon, broiled or poached lobster tail, cedar-planked black cod with shrimp scampi and the Master Chef's interpretation of surf-and-turf: filet mignon and jumbo prawns on whipped potatoes with garlic rosemary beurre blanc.

    Selected cuts of prime hand-selected beef continue to highlight the Pinnacle's menu in innovative preparations and presentation. Guests can select from five prime cuts of steak rubbed with special Holland America Culinary Collection seasoning, grilled and served with hand-crafted sauces such as Master Chef's green peppercorn classic hollandaise. They can also opt for the time-honored classic of Filet Steak Diane, a grilled veal chop marinated overnight in a savory blend of rosemary, garlic and pepper vinegar with scallions, or oven-baked chicken breast stuffed with spinach and garlic herb cheese.

    Appetizers include the Pinnacle Ocean Platter -- carpaccio of lightly smoked salmon, hot smoked salmon, sea scallops and wasabi cream; and Dungeness crab cakes with spiral shaved cucumber and sweet chili-mustard sauce. French onion soup King Louis XV, lobster bisque, jumbo shrimp cocktail, vine-ripened beefsteak tomato salad, baby arugula salad and Caesar salad prepared tableside are also offered.

    Desserts featuring Pacific Northwest ingredients include warm Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake, chocolate or vanilla velvet souffle, creamy homemade raspberry cheesecake and Not-so-Classic Baked Alaska. Chocolate and raisin bread pudding, creme brulee, fresh seasonal fruits and berries and a variety of ice creams, sorbets and international cheeses complete the dessert menu.

    The Pinnacle Grill's wine list features an extensive selection of premium Pacific Northwest wines, French champagnes, port and dessert wines. It also offers Wine Flights, which let guests sample four selected wines during their meal. A Harvest White Sangria featuring Northwest apples, cherries, peaches and lemons in Sauvignon Blanc wine is another new addition.

    The Pinnacle Grill is an elegantly appointed, alternative-dining venue on all Holland America Line ships. Featuring distinctive Bvlgari china, Frette linens and elegant Riedel stemware, the Pinnacle Grill is ideal for a romantic dinner for two or elegant dining for a group celebration. Guests need to make reservations and pay a modest surcharge of $20 per person for dinner and $15 for lunch.

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    10-9-08 Mexico Building a New Pacific Coast Resort Mexico President Felipe Calderon said Monday that Mexico is building a brand new Pacific coast resort destination from scratch. The resort will boast 7 miles of beach, a marina, golf courses, hotels and condominiums. The new development is in Escuinapa, Sinaloa, southeast of Mazatlan. he calls it the most important tourism project in 25 years.

    Calderon says the new resort will create 78,000 jobs, attract 3 million tourists a year and generate $2.8 billion annually. The government will provide about US$500 million to build the resort. Private investment is expected to come up with nearly US $7 billion.

    Being on the coast - it is possible this will become an attraction for cruise ships sailing the Mexican Riviera.

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    10-9-08 Orient Lines Slashing 2009 Prices Orient Lines (www.orientlines.com) is lowering its cruise prices for 2009 in response to the current financial crisis. Orient lines' new owner, Wayne Heller, has launched a new "Leadership Pricing" initiative, with 11-day Europe cruises priced starting from just $1,799 per person, based on double occupancy.

    "The economy is still in a very, very precarious place. Our new "Leadership Pricing" translates to savings of up to $5,000 per cabin off brochure rates," stated Heller.

    Under Orient Lines' new rate structure, two 11-day Mediterranean cruises are priced from $1,799 per person, double, reduced from $2,999. Two 16-day Baltic cruise-tours, which include an overnight hotel stay and sightseeing in Berlin, are priced from $2,999 per person, double, reduced from $4,649.

    Travelers can join an 11-day "Aegean Odyssey," departing April 29, from Port Said, Egypt, to the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes, plus Antalya, Didim and Kusadasi (gateway to ancient Ephesus) and Istanbul in Turkey. Overnights aboard ship allow guests to discover the many treasures of Cairo and Istanbul.

    "Black Sea Explorer" is an 11-day cruise, departing May 9. Ports of call include Trabzon, Turkey; Batumi, Georgia; Sochi, Russia; Yalta, Sevastopol and Odessa, Ukraine; and Nessebar, Bulgaria. The round-trip Istanbul voyage includes an overnight aboard ship before departure.

    The line's 16-day "Great Baltics I and II" cruise-tours operate between Dover (London) and Szcezin, Poland, and include a one-night hotel stay and city tour in Berlin. The highlight of the cruise is three full days in St. Petersburg, Russia, ample time to devour The Hermitage or join an optional air excursion to Moscow. Ports of call include Amsterdam; Travemunde (Lubeck), Germany; Copenhagen; Stockholm; Helsinki; Tallinn, Estonia; and Riga, Latvia.

    Sensational savings can also be realized come this fall. Orient Lines' "Passage to Rio," departing November 8, is a 20-day cruise from Barcelona to Rio de Janeiro, priced from $1,799 per person, double. Ports en route include Malaga and Cadiz (Seville) in Spain, Casablanca and Agadir, Morocco; Lanzarote, Canary Islands; Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands; and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. An overnight aboard ship in Rio de Janeiro lets guests savor the Samba capital.

    Orient has doubled the number of gateway airport cities from where guests can purchase air transportation to 40 North American gateways. Round-trip Economy Class air add-on fares to Europe are priced from as little as $695 from the East Coast, $795 from the Midwest and $895 from the West Coast.

    Orient Lines' Europe cruises are held aboard the classic 650-guest cruise liner Marco Polo II, which features four open-seating dining venues, six bars, a show lounge, cinema, casino, library and Internet center, card room, fitness center, spa with indoor pool and outdoor swimming pool. Marco Polo II was originally built in 1969 for the German Atlantic Line. She underwent multi-million-dollar refurbishments in 1988 and 1995 and will receive additional enhancements to be fully compliant with Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 2010 requirements. It was acquired by Orient Lines, which was just recently purchased from NCL, in August of 2008.

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    10-9-08 Carnival Grand Turk Cruise Center Re-opened The Grand Turk Cruise Center, which was closed after the passing of Hurricane Ike last month - welcomed its first cruise ship, the 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny, today, October 9th.

    Carnival Destiny guests were able to swim in the facility's massive swimming pool, relax on an 800-foot-long private beach, and dine at the on-site Margaritaville restaurant and lounge. The cruise center's various shops were all open, as well.

    Numerous shore excursions are once again available, including Gibbs Key tour, dune buggy rentals, swimming with horses, and fishing and snorkeling expeditions. The previously offered hop on/hop off bus tour is currently operating as a post-hurricane island tour. Guests are charged a nominal fee for the tour and provided with a pledge card should they wish to donate to the United Way's Grand Turk hurricane relief fund.

    Shipboard employees are also participating in a beach clean-up initiative to assist in the island's recovery.

    The $60 million Grand Turk Cruise Center opened in 2006 and soon became one of the cruise industry's most popular Caribbean cruise destinations. The 13-acre facility serves as a gateway to the pristine island of Grand Turk, which in addition to magnificent beaches, is world renowned for diving, snorkeling, fishing and other watersports.

    Princess Cruises' Crown Princess is the next cruise ship to call at the Grand Turk Cruise Center on Oct. 10.

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    10-8-08 Work on New NCL F3-class Ship Suspended Cruise Industry-related publications suchs Lloyd's list (Lloyds of London) are reporting that Akers shipyard of France has ordered a work stoppage on the first all new F3 class of cruise ship for Norwegian Cruise Lines. The new ship was scheduled for 2010 delivery and would come in at 150,000-tons and carry 4200 passenger berths.

    The ship is highly unusual in design - with no main dining room or theater, but with several smaller dining and entertainment venues, meant to carry the concept of NCL's "Free-style" cruising to the next level. Industry publication Cruise Week is reporting "Several sources tell Cruise Week that the cost of the F3 has spiralled" and they say that Lloyds confirms that statement.

    Lloyds also reports that Aker sent a letter to subcontractors ordering them to suspend work on the ship immediately for a period of at least six weeks at the request of Apollo Management, a 50% shareholder and managing partner in NCL. The report also says Apollo considers the project too expensive and costs have spiralled. However, due to the unusual design of the ship it may not be easy to sell to another cruise line.

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    10-7-08 Carnival's Cozumel Cruise Center Pier to Re-open Oct. 16 Carnival's pier at Puerta Maya in Cozumel, Mexico - closed since being damaged by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 - will officially re-open when the 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy and 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy visit the facility on Thursday, Oct. 16.

    With an overall investment of more than $50 million, the new two-berth pier has been specifically constructed to withstand a category-5 hurricane and accommodate any ship among Carnival Corporation's various cruise lines.

    The cruise center's nine-acre shopping center with a wide variety of shops and restaurants will also re-open. The new four-acre transportation hub will handle dozens of taxis and tour buses as well as four rental car facilities.

    The Oct. 16 calls by the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Ecstasy will be the first of 550 cruise-ship visits at Puerta Maya over the next year. Carnival Corp. vessels will also continue to utilize the other two piers in Cozumel. Collectively, Carnival Corp. ships will bring an estimated 1.5 million visitors annually to Cozumel, expected to spend $126 million on the island each year.

    Puerta Maya's cruise center houses 42 different outlets offering apparel, fine jewelry, artwork and other merchandise from such recognizable retailers as Goodmark Jewelers, Del Sol, Piranha Joe's, Dufry, and Diamonds International. There are 15 stand-alone carts where local merchants sell handmade crafts, costume jewelry and souvenirs.

    On-site dining options include the Tres Amigos Bar, a new theme restaurant inspired by the 1986 hit movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. The waterfront eatery offers traditional Mexican fare, along with an extensive beverage menu.

    Also featured is Pancho's Backyard, a new franchise from the popular downtown Cozumel eatery featuring magnificent ocean views, as well as Fat Tuesday, a waterfront bar offering frozen drinks and light snacks, along with a DJ and dance floor.

    Other retail outlets at Puerta Maya include a pharmacy, convenience store, and international pay phones. There is also a newly constructed shore excursion pier, separate from the main pier, which allows for quick and convenient access to all water-bound excursions, as well as water-based transportation to and from the facility.

    The Puerta Maya pier and cruise center is located on the southwestern part of Cozumel, approximately five miles south of San Miguel, the island's largest city.

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    10-6-08 Disney to Cruise Back to Europe in 2010 Disney announced it will send the 2,700-passenger Disney Magic cruise ship overseas for five months in 2010, for a series of sailings that will take it from Russia to Northern Africa. The April-through-September schedule will mark the longest stretch that a Disney cruise ship has ever spent away from its home port at Port Canaveral.

    Disney's schedule includes eight 10- and 11-night tours through the Mediterranean, where the Magic spent the summer of 2007. But it will also feature the company's first sailings in Northern Europe, with four 12-night voyages that will take the ship from Dover, England, to St. Petersburg, Russia, with stops in half a dozen other countries.

    In addition, while it has one ship overseas, Disney plans to shift its second ship, the Disney Wonder, to slightly longer sailings out of Port Canaveral. Instead of three- and four-night Caribbean trips, the Wonder will offer four- and five-night voyages with new stops in Key West and an extra stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas.

    McAlpin said the shift is designed to accommodate families clamoring for longer Caribbean cruises in the summer, when children are out of school.

    Disney's return trip to Europe comes as it is having two 4,000-passenger cruise ships built in Germany. While the company has committed to basing the new vessels at Port Canaveral for the first few years after they arrive in 2011 and 2012, Disney has been silent about where it plans to send the existing ships.

    Some analysts have speculated that California and Europe are the most likely destinations. And Disney's scheduling so far - it has twice sent the Magic to California, for the summers of 2005 and 2008, and has now announced its second stint in Europe -- suggests that both are strong possibilities.

    McAlpin said Disney expects to reveal its 2011 plans for the Magic and Wonder in the latter half of next year.

    Disney's 2010 schedule calls for the Magic to begin and end the season in the Mediterranean. Many of the ports Disney will visit remain the same from 2007 - including the gateways to Rome, Florence and Nice, France - but Disney has also added stops at the island nation of Malta; the French island of Corsica; and Tunis, the capital of Tunisia on the North African coast.

    The Northern European sailings will be sandwiched in between, in June and July. Sailing out of England, each voyage will include stops in Oslo, Copenhagen, and the gateway port to Berlin, as well as either Helsinki, Finland, or Tallinn, Estonia. Each trip will also include an overnight stop in St. Petersburg, Russia, giving passengers an extended window to explore the storied city or plan a day trip to Moscow.

    Disney will also offer a pair of 14-night, one-way "repositioning" cruises that will take the Magic from Port Canaveral to Barcelona and back. McAlpin said Disney is studying special themes for the transatlantic voyages in hopes of boosting their appeal.

    Beyond catering to Americans looking to visit Europe, the new overseas sailings will offer Disney a chance to begin marketing its cruise line directly to European travelers. Earlier this year, Disney Cruise Line opened an office in London with about 20 employees, in part to help the company better tap into the European cruise market.

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    10-6-08 Royal Caribbean to Sell its 50% Interest in Island Cruises Royal Caribbean Cruises has agreed to sell its 50 percent interest in Island Cruises to First Choice Holidays Ltd., the other 50 percent owner in the joint venture. First Choice is a subsidiary of British-based tour operator TUI Travel. As part of the transaction, RCL and TUI agreed to an early termination of the charter of Island Star, one of two ships in the Island Cruises fleet. RCL is the owner of Island Star and had chartered it to Island Cruises.

    The deal is subject to regulatory approval in Ireland. RCL will also recognize a small gain on the sale of its interest in Island Cruises and the early termination of the Island Star charter.

    "Island Cruises has been a rewarding investment for us, but over the past year our priorities have shifted," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We believe by focusing on developing and expanding the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises brands in the U.K. we will be better able to serve our customers and create value for our shareholders. This belief has been strengthened by the success of the inaugural season of Independence of the Seas, which has served the U.K. market from Southampton, U.K., since it entered service in May 2008," Fain added.

    Upon its return in April 2009, RCL plans to redeploy the Island Star to Pullmantur Cruises, its Spanish brand. "Redeploying the Island Star to our expanding Pullmantur fleet allows us to better serve the strategically important Spanish market," said Fain.

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    10-6-08 Oct. 16: World's Largest Cruise Night Offers You Savings October 16th is this year's "World's Largest Cruise Night" - a one-time chance to get valuable cruise bargains. Consumers may participate online or by attending special events and promotions at their nearest participating travel agency.

    Here is a preliminary list of "World's Largest Cruise Night" offers from participating cruise lines. These offers are only available through CLIA member travel agencies conducting a "World's Largest Cruise Night" event:

    • Disney Cruise Line: Onboard credits of up to $50 on cruises and land & sea packages through December 13, 2009 (booking window: October 16 - November 15)
    • Carnival Cruise Lines: Complimentary upgrades on all bookings made October 16
    • Celebrity Cruises: Onboard credits up to $200 per stateroom based on cruise length for seven Celebrity ships with sailings between January 1 and June 30, 2009, plus a 50 percent reduced deposit (booking window: October 16 - 18)
    • Costa Cruises: $50 per person onboard credit (up to $100 per stateroom) on Caribbean 2008/2009 and Winter Europe 2009 sailings (booking window: October 16 - October 21)
    • Crystal Cruises: $100 per person discounts on most 2008 sailings for bookings made during WLCN (booking window: October 14 - November 7)
    • Cunard Line: Onboard credits up to $300 and a waiver of deposit for second guest, for bookings on 2008 Holiday voyages and 2009 voyages aboard Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
    • Holland America Line: Special fares to be communicated to travel agents and reduced deposits up to $300 for bookings made during WLCN (booking window: October 15-17)
    • MSC Cruises: Special prices on a variety of sailings in the Caribbean and Europe with rates as low as $399 for a seven-day Caribbean cruise, plus shipboard credits of up to $200 (booking window: October 16 - November 3)
    • Norwegian Cruise Line: Double onboard credits up to $500, plus reduced deposit on sailings of five days or more (booking window: October 15 - 23)
    • Princess Cruises: Reduced deposit of $100, plus a Princess coupon booklet with more than $120 in onboard discounts Regent Seven Seas Cruises: $100 per person shipboard credit on departures of seven nights or longer (booking window: October 16 - November 16)
    • Royal Caribbean International: Up to $200 off per person on select cruises and cruise dates for bookings made on October 16 Uniworld Grand River Cruises: $100 savings per person on all 2009 cruises if purchased through an agent having a cruise night on October 16 (booking window: October 16 - 23)
    • Windstar Cruises: $50 in shipboard credits per person (maximum $100 per stateroom) on any Wind Spirit sailing between January 31 and March 28, 2009 and any Wind Surf sailing between January 4 and March 15, 2009 (booking window: October 16-November 9)
    For specific details and conditions of each offer, contact a participating CLIA member travel agency. For more information about World's Largest Cruise Night and an event near you, please visit http://www.cruising.org/. And, visit http://www.cruising.org/ to find a CLIA travel agency, Certified Cruise Counsellor or Luxury Cruise Specialist near you.

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    10-6-08 Carnival Creates New "Fun Ship Experience" Department Carnival Cruise Lines has created a new department focusing solely on developing innovative new on-board "product opportunities" and enhancing existing aspects of the "Fun Ship" vacation experience. Overseeing the new guest experience effort will be Christine Arnholt, a 17-year Carnival veteran who has served as the company's vice president of marketing services for the past eight years. Several new executives will join Arnholt.

    In her new role, Arnholt will assume the title of vice president of guest experience and business development. Arnholt will oversee a team of talented product development professionals, including Mike Hunssinger, a five-year veteran of Carnival's revenue management team, who will serve as director of guest experience and business development.

    Another key member of the department is Senior Director Sara Rosenberg, whose extensive experience includes leading branding and product development opportunities at Burger King and The Miami Herald. For the past five years, Rosenberg was also the owner and president of Skirt Smart, a branding and innovation consulting group which focused on branding, product development and consumer research for companies within the restaurant and hospitality industries.

    Additionally, Renata Ribeiro will be joining Carnival on Oct. 15, also as a senior director. Ribeiro has spent the past three years spearheading the strategic planning and commercial innovation efforts for Natura, Brazil's largest cosmetic company, and five years in the consumer goods and retail practice at The Boston Consulting Group.

    Until Carnival's current search for a new marketing chief is completed, Arnholt will continue in her current marketing responsibilities.

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    10-3-08 Holland America Broadens Onboard Programming Holland America Line has broadened its onboard programming as part of the line's ongoing Signature of Excellence initiative. Entitled the new "Explorations Team," it will be comprised of event staff with specific expertise ranging from technology to travel who will offer guests a menu of "edutainment" programs.

    The Explorations Team will include an onboard party planner, a travel guide, a "techspert" and dance directors. On cruises lasting 12 days or more, a book club leader will also join the team.

    The onboard party planner will schedule, implement and host events in the Culinary Arts Center, significantly expanding the program that already brings more than 70 culinary experts onboard each year for cooking demonstrations and seminars. The line has invested more than $14 million in the professional show kitchens found on each ship and will use the space for more activities such as wine tasting, craft classes, floral arranging, and table and lifestyle presentations such as creating the line's towel animals.

    The travel guide will host lectures and be a source for information on the ports of call. A destination expert, the travel guide will be available throughout the cruise to interact with guests on a one-on-one basis, answer questions, and give presentations on the destination's history, culture and geography. On Grand Voyages and on Prinsendam, rotating guest speakers fill the role of travel guide.

    The "techspert" will be on hand to teach guests how to take advantage of technology, whether helping guests make the most of their vacation photos, arranging a digital scrapbook, blogging, creating a slideshow or editing a movie. Classes and workshops will be available throughout the cruise. Novices can learn about Web 2.0 and how to work with digital photos. Dance directors show guests how to dance.

    Classes and dance events are available throughout each cruise.

    On cruises lasting 12 or more days, a book club leader will host book discussions in the Explorations Café. Book titles will be posted online before the cruise so guests will have time to read the chosen book. The book club leader will plan and facilitate two to three discussions for each book. Books chosen will relate to the sailing destination whether by author or topic.

    For more information, call 877-SAIL-HAL or visit www.hollandamerica.com.

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    10-1-08 Seabourn Partners With Venice Simplon-Orient Express The Yachts of Seabourn guests have a new partnership with Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Beginning in summer 2009, the all-inclusive train travel experience will offer top-of-the-line transfer from London to Venice and Venice to London for the Dalmatian Gems itinerary aboard Seabourn Spirit.

    The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from London to Venice runs from the Swiss and Austrian Alps to the Italian Dolomites. Upon boarding the carriages of a British Pullman at Victoria Station, passengers will tuck into reserved seating and a three-course lunch, complete with wine and champagne, as the train travels through the Kentish countryside before entering into the Chunnel on its way to France. A personal steward will attend to all needs throughout the journey, which includes private compartment accommodations upon arrival in France, when guests switch trains and board the blue and gold carriages of Continental Wagon-Lits of Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

    Pre-dinner cocktails lead to multi-course meals prepared fresh by creative French chefs in the train's restaurant cars. Afternoon tea arrives in time for passage through the Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy. When the train crosses the Venetian Lagoon and pulls into Santa Lucia station, a Seabourn representative will afford passage to the legendary Hotel Cipriani for a night before departure on Seabourn Spirit.

    The "post-cruise" rail itinerary is the same in reverse, with overnight accommodations at the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in the heart of London.

    The Dalmatian Gems itinerary takes in some of the hottest spots along the Mediterranean, many of them new ports of call for 2009. The 7-night itinerary includes Opatija, Split and Triluke Bay, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Koper, Slovenia; Trieste, Italy; and of course, Venice.

    The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express transfer will be available prior to Dalmatian Gems 7-day cruises departing on July 4, 2009, August 15, 2009, and September 26, 2009, as well as post-cruise following the September 5, 2009, itinerary. Cost of rail portion, one-way: $4,399 per person/double, $5,999 per person/single. Fares for the 7-day Dalmatian Gems cruise start at $4,598 per person, based on double occupancy of a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.

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