News Archive - September 2007

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9-29-06 Weekend News 9-29-06 *** AIDAdiva, the first of four new ships for German cruise line Aida, was flaoted today for the first time in the Meyer Werft's building dock in Papenburg today. An April delivery is scheduled for the 68,500-ton vessel, and AIDAdiva and her three sisters will each carry 2,050 passengers, double occupancy. Deliveries of the vessels will be one a year from 2007 into 2010. AIDA carried 233,000 passengers in 2005 and holds a 35% share of the German market. According to Meyer Werft, AIDA's operations, including shore excursions and employment generated at the shipyard and through other indirect channels, amounts to an impact of approximately 15 billion Euros/year for the German economy.

*** There is hope within the cruise industry that Congress will pass a bill containing language that will delay the passport requirement for travel within the Western Hemisphere before Saturday's recess. Currently legislation says passports will become mandatory at all sea borders as of Jan. 8. Cruise industry sources say language that would postpone the passport deadline has been inserted into the 2007 Homeland Security appropriations bill, and there is strong support in both the House and Senate to delay the passport requirement to June 2009.

*** Carnival Freedom, Carnival's new 2974-passenger, 110,000-ton mega-ship, will spend its first season doing 12-day cruises in the Mediterranean. There will be seven Med and Greek Isles trips and 12 "Grand Mediterranean" cruises, each operating round-trip from Rome. The Med-Isles itinerary will visit Naples, Rhodes, Izmir, Istanbul, Athens, Katakolon, and Livorno, with a night in Rome. The "Grand" itinerary goes to Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice, Messina, Barcelona, Cannes, and Livorno.

The new ship will have 22 lounges and bars, a 13,300 square foot spa, a jogging track, Internet cafe, four swimming pools, a 214-foot long water slide, a nine-deck-high atrium, twin two-level formal restaurants, a 1400-seat poolside eatery, a 24-hour pizzeria, a supper club, conference center, shopping mall, children's and teens centers, and more... Joining many other carriers, Carnival has rolled out a new past-passenger loyalty program. For 10-time customers, it features such perks as priority embarkation and debarkation, personalized stationery, logo items, complimentary laundry service, a concierge desk, and special baggage tags. Back to Top

9-28-06 Royal Caribbean Returns to Asia Royal Caribbean is once again about to offer cruises in Asia. Rhapsody of the Seas will begin a series of cruises December 10, 2007, from Singapore, calling in Malaysia and Thailand. A cruise from Hong Kong will arrive in time for the Chinese New Year holiday season, offering a series of itineraries calling in Taiwan, Japan, and Sanya, Hainan Island. Then moving to Shanghai, China, Rhapsody will call on ports in Japan and Korea. Additional details of Rhapsody's itineraries will be available by mid-October 2006. Rhapsody of the Seas, at 78,491 tons and with a total guest capacity of 2,435, will be one of the largest cruise ships to homeport in Asia. Back to Top

9-28-06 Carnival Promotes New Orleans Carnival Cruise Lines is out to give New Orleans a big boost with a return to cruising out of the renowned city at great rates. Starting Oct 26, the fares start at only $279 per person for Carnival Fantasy sailing four-day cruises to Cozumel (departing on a Thursday) and $279 per person sailing five-day cruises to Cozumel and Costa Maya (departing on either a Monday or Saturday). For those craving longer cruises, or bigger ships, starting next year (Sept. 2, 2007), Carnival Triumph will initiate seven-day cruises from New Orleans with fares starting at just at $429 per person. Together, the two Carnival ships are expected to carry some 320,000 passengers annually from New Orleans. Back to Top

9-23-06 Weekend News 9-23-06 *** Two people in need of urgent medical care had to be flown by the Coast Guard 195 miles from the Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas to Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The Guard had been notified by the ship's medical officer that the two patients were ill and needed to be flown off immediately. The ship changed course Thursday night to remain within range of Coast Guard rescue helicopters until late Friday morning. The reason and the names of the passengers were withheld pending notification of the family.

*** Another passenger was "Med-evaced" from the Radiance of the Seas in the Pacific just 30 miles off the coast of Humboldt, CA, Thursday night. The 80 year old woman had fallen in a stairwell, struck her head and suffered a stroke. At the time, the ship was facing 15 to 20 foot waves and 40-knot winds. The HH-65 Dolphin helicopter dispatched by Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay was airborne and to the ship within 40 minutes. The helicopter crew directed the ship to reposition into the wind and hoisted the woman from the bow.

*** Holland America is facing a class action lawsuit that alleges the cruise line defrauded passengers by charging them a fee to cover a penalty imposed by the Federal Government for infractions of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA). The 19th century law disallows foreign companies from transporting passengers between two U.S.-based destinations. The suit concerns a family that missed their embarkation date for an Alaska cruise and was asked to fly to Juneau to meet the ship. In Juneau, the suit alleges, the family was charged $300 apiece for the fine which the federal government has the right to impose at any time. The suit alleges the federal government did not impose the fine, and so the money should be returned. Holland America points out that the fee could still be imposed and that the money is being held in a fund for such an occurrence.

Another aspect of the same class action suit accuses Holland America of defrauding passengers by collecting fees from shore excursion providers when passengers could go on shore and get the same tours at cheaper prices. Holland America points out that offering shore excursions through local providers is a normal wholesale to retail transaction typical of all kinds of businesses.

*** Holland America is reporting that next years Alaska season will have the most staterooms, especially suites, ever offered in the region by the cruise line. There will be eight Holland America ships in Alaska next summer, including the newly introduced Noordam and two of the other Vista-class ships, the Oosterdam and the Zuiderdam.

Three different cruise itineraries will be offered:

Alaskan Explorer cruises, roundtrip Seattle, with port calls to Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC. The Amsterdam offers Friday departures, Oosterdam offers Saturday departures, and Noordam offers Sunday departures visiting Glacier Bay. The Amsterdam visits either Tracy Arm & Sawyer Glaciers or Glacier Bay (May 18, 25; June 29; July 13; August 24, 31; and September 14th). Oosterdam continues cruising to Hubbard Glacier.

Glacier Bay Inside Passage, roundtrip Vancouver cruises, include port calls at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan plus Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. Departures: Zuiderdam (Saturdays) or Zaandam (Wednesdays) or four departures during early and late season onboard Ryndam and Volendam, (Glacier Bay only).

Glacier Discovery Cruises, between Vancouver and Seward include port calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway or Haines plus Glacier Bay and College Fjord, which boasts sixteen tidewater glaciers. All departures onboard the Ryndam and Statendam (both ships depart Sundays) visit Glacier Bay.

Volendam, will be making one-way Friday departure sailings between Vancouver and Seward with port stops at authentic Icy Strait Point, Skagway or Sitka, Juneau and Ketchikan. The ship visits Hubbard Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

*** Carnival Ships to Feature Water Wars. Carnival will be the first cruise line to feature "Water Wars," a popular water balloon-themed attraction currently found in amusement parks in 22 countries throughout the world. The concept includes two custom-built "battle stations" in which participants propel water balloons through the air via catapults in an effort to splash their competitors.

Water Wars are already available on Carnival's Imagination and Fascination, and the units will be installed fleetwide by summer 2007. They are located on the ships' open decks adjacent to the main pool area.

*** Celebrity Mercury changing Alaska cruise embarkation point to Vancouver. Celebrity Cruises announced that Mercury will to not sail to Alaska from Seattle, as previously scheduled, but will sail from Vancouver, BC, instead, so that passengers will have more time in select ports of call and a better arrival time for viewing Hubbard Glacier. Guests currently holding reservations with deposits made for Celebrity's Mercury cruises from Seattle between May 4, 2007, and September 14, 2007, will receive a $100 per stateroom onboard credit. Celebrity's Air/Sea department will make the necessary changes for any Air/Sea guests whose air travel is impacted by the shift to Vancouver. The itinerary from Vancouver will feature the same ports of call: Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, and including cruises through the Inside Passage and several hours beside Hubbard Glacier. Back to Top

9-20-06 Disney Wonder to get Facelift Disney Cruises has scheduled a dry dock session for the Disney Wonder from October 5 through 18 for a sprinkling of "pixie dust" for all cruisers from toddlers to teens, adults and even business travelers according to the company.

Some of the changes include the Oceaneer Club (ages 3-7) will expand on its Neverland theme and revamp the Captain's Closet dress-up area, creating more space for hands-on, interactive activities for the children along with additional PlayStation and computer stations for individual play. At Oceaneer Lab (ages 8-12), a new computer simulator allows children to see what it's like to steer the Disney Wonder in and out of various ports of call. The simulator is built into a replica of the ship's bridge, complete with giant video screens that provide a panoramic view of the ports – similar to the view from the actual ship's bridge.

The Goofy Pool (for all ages, as opposed to the Mickey Pool which allows non-potty trained toddlers) will now sport a brand-new, state-of-the-art jumbo LED screen affixed to the forward funnel on deck 9 so families can gather and watch classic Disney animated or live-action movies on the giant 24-by-14-foot screen.

The Vista Spa and Salon, reserved exclusively for adults aboard the Disney Wonder, will receive three specifically designed spa villas, complete with an indoor spa treatment suite connected to a private outdoor verandah with personal hot tub, open-air shower and luxurious chaise lounge. The fitness center will double in size, for more exercise equipment, an area for spinning classes and private salons for Pilates instruction and one-on-one beauty and fitness consultations. The expansion adds an additional 1,700 square feet to the fitness center, bringing the total size of the Vista Spa to 10,700 square feet. The Quiet Cove adult pool is undergoing a makeover with waterfalls cascading from the two hot tubs, and teak deck and lounge chairs with plush cushions lining the pool.

Upgrades are also planned for the Peter Pan, Fantasia and Steamboat Willie conference rooms on deck 2. Each conference room will contain state-of-the-art business presentation tools, complete with LED flat-screen TVs. The meeting space will also host a business center, individual computer stations and a refreshment bar. Back to Top

9-16-06 Weekend News 9-16-06 *** California Port Cities to Update Facilities. The Port of San Francisco is embarking on a new strategy to develop berths for Voyager-class ships following the withdrawal this week of a developer that had been planning a major, mixed-use terminal facility for a number of years. San Diego plans to add a third cruise berth and Los Angeles has a blueprint to add two more berths for a total of four.

*** Grandeur of the Seas Repairs Accomplished. Grandeur of the Seas sailed out from Baltimore Monday night following the completion of repairs to the vessel's starboard rudder. The longer than expected delay only allowed for a three-night cruise to nowhere, returning Friday morning to Baltimore, instead of the scheduled five-night Bermuda itinerary. However, passengers were allowed to embark a day early and make full use of the ship as it remained in port in Baltimore.

Nearly 600 passengers canceled due to the itinerary change, and they did receive a 125% credit for a future cruise. The 1,393 passengers who took the three-day cruise to nowhere received a 50% refund and a 25% credit on a future cruise.

*** Bermuda Resumes Cruise Operations. Bermuda has completed surveys of its shipping lanes and cruise berths following Monday's close brush with Hurricane Florence, a category one hurricane by the time it hit. The island will resume its normal schedule for all cruise arrivals next week, as most of the island's facilities only sustained minimum damage. only King's Wharf at Dockyard sustained some damage to the water line. Hamilton No. 1 suffered significant gangway damage, but Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas passengers can be disembarked onto the dock. Hamilton No. 5 was not damaged.

*** Caribbean Prices Still Going Lower? According to the latest cruise booking and pricing survey by Wall Street analysts A. G. Edwards, Caribbean pricing continues to weaken for Caribbean cruises in the end quarter of 2006. Non-Caribbean itineraries continue to perform well, according to the report, but price competition between the major mass-market cruise lines is keeping prices lower for consumers in the Caribbean for now.

For the 2007, January to March cruise season, traditionally called "Wave Season," the current prediction is for lower prices, but as it is known for being the strongest sales period of the year for Caribbean Cruises, it may recover from the current low-price outlook and prices could rise. So, if you are thinking of booking a Caribbean cruise for next winter, do it early. Back to Top

9-13-06 NCL Not at Fault for Rogue Wave A group of passengers seekincertificationon for a class action lawsuit against NCL for their actions when the Norwegian Dawn was hit by a rogue wave in April 2005 while sailing back to New York from the Caribbean have found no relief.

U.S. District Court Judge Ceciolia M. Altonaga on Sept. 12th denied their motion for class certification, ruling in favor of NCL. While some passengers contended that the Norwegian Dawn, despite rough weather, was trying to hurry back to New York for a television taping, the NTSB said: "Rather than attempting to maintain the scheduled arrival time in New York, the master decided to lower the ship's speed and change its heading for the passengers' comfort."

None of the guests or crew members suffered serious injuries when the unusually large wave hit the ship, breaking windows and flooding some passenger cabins. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Bahamas Maritime Authority earlier had found no wrongdoing by either NCL or Norwegian Dawn's Captain.

In a report released in November 2005, the NTSB concluded that although the rough weather made the voyage unpleasant, "the safety and integrity of the ship was in no way compromised by this incident."

The Bahamas Maritime Authority concluded that the action of Norwegian Dawn's Captain was "prudent and appropriate throughout," and that "there is no evidence that any real or perceived urgency to arrive at New York earlier was a factor in the handling of the ship or that Norwegian Cruise Line did anything but support the captain's on-scene decisions." Back to Top

9-12-06 Woman Missing from Cruise Ship 35-year-old Tammy Grogan of Toledo was traveling aboard Imagination on a four-day cruise to Key West and Calica, Mexico. The cruise line said relatives last saw her at 1:30 a.m. Sunday but did not report her missing until Monday, when the ship returned to Miami. The FBI said the investigation into Grogan's disappearance is ongoing and that foul play is not suspected.

In a statement, Carnival said the Ohio woman had been traveling with family members, who last saw her early in the morning on Sunday, several hours after the ship had sailed from Calica, Mexico, which is near Playa del Carmen.

There were no planes or vessels launched to search for the woman because it had been nearly 36 hours since anyone had last seen her, said Petty Officer 1st Class Dana Warr, a Coast Guard spokesman.

"We did notify the Mexican Rescue Coordination Center," Warr said. The Coast Guard also sent a radio message to mariners in the area where Imagination sailed Sunday, Warr said.

The message asked fishing, cargo and other vessels to call the Coast Guard if they see anything unusual. The area is about 400 miles from Miami, Warr said. Back to Top

9-8-06 Weekend News 9-8-06 *** Princess Introduces New Transportation Option to Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. They are introducing pre- and post-cruise motorcoach transfer services from a variety of Northeast locations. The new service begins in May 2007 for passengers sailing aboard Crown Princess' summer Caribbean cruises from Brooklyn, and continues through the ship's Canada/New England fall cruises. Four unique roundtrip routes serve all the major metropolitan areas in the Northeast, including the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area; eastern Pennsylvania; Massachusetts; and the Connecticut/Providence, Rhode Island area.

Princess' Northeast Motorcoach program includes four routes. The first travels from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore; Wilmington, Delaware; Philadelphia and Burlington, New Jersey. Route two runs through Pennsylvania, departing from Harrisburg and traveling to Lancaster, Reading, Allentown and Easton. The third route begins in Boston, with subsequent stops in Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut. The fourth itinerary departs from Providence, RI and travels through Connecticut with stops in New London, New Haven and Bridgeport. All routes operate in reverse as well for the post-cruise return home.

Princess' Northeast Motorcoach Service is available from May 12 to October 13, 2007. All routes feature comfortable, air-conditioned motorcoaches and can accommodate wheelchair passengers with prior notification. Roundtrip fares for the Northeast Motorcoach Program range between $100 and $155 per person, depending on pickup location.

Additional information about the new motorcoach program is available through a professional travel agent or by calling 1-800-PRINCESS.

*** Crystal Cruises will showcase 12 different theme cruise topics on nearly half of its worldwide itineraries in 2007. Together, Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity will offer 64 destination rich cruises, of which 26 will feature dedicated theme programming. New topics such as ballroom dancing and cabaret performances join established favorites including golf, jazz, comedy, film and the line's renowned Crystal Wine & Food Festival.

Long renowned for its onboard enrichment programming, Crystal seeks to tap the interests of today's savvy traveler with a varied roster of themes emphasizing destination, culture, history and contemporary trends. The 2007 theme cruise line-up includes:

  • New Big Band & Ballroom Dance - plugging into the ballroom dance craze sweeping the nation, Crystal adds dance instruction to a Trans-Atlantic Big Band cruise, recalling the gilded days of oceanic crossings.
  • New Cabaret at Sea - the Mabel Mercer Foundation, so named for the legendary cabaret performer, celebrates great American composers.
  • New Mind, Body & Spirit - guest instructors focus on yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and overall wellness aboard and ashore.
  • Comprehensive Creative Learning Institute - expanded curriculums of progressive study offered in music, art and language; a computer course at the line's Computer University@Sea offers transferable college credit during Crystal Serenity's 2007 World Cruise.
  • Crystal Comedy Club at Sea - featuring talented comedians from the nation's top comedy clubs.
  • Film & Theatre Festival - guest speakers and film authorities salute films and theatre during a London to New York Trans-Atlantic crossing.
  • Golf - PGA instructors and golf celebrities host clinics and share stories on the PGA Tour. Optional Crystal Adventures shore excursions offer play at famous courses throughout the British Isles.
  • Jazz - ensembles perform soulful sounds and industry experts explore this art form on a cruise through the Caribbean.
  • President's Cruise - Company President Gregg L. Michel and his family host a special Canary Island sailing.
  • Smithsonian Journeys - destination-specific lectures from the cultural and educational arm of the Smithsonian Institution bring added enrichment to destinations steeped in centuries of history, from China and Southeast Asia to Turkey, Greece and Italy.
  • Tall Ships Cruise - an overnight stay in Stockholm spotlights the more than 80 ships measuring 325 feet during the world's largest sailing event.
  • Crystal Wine & Food Festival - world-renowned chefs and wine experts share their talents at lectures, special meals and tastings on board and ashore during the line's 11th annual festival offered on 10 different voyages.

Crystal's theme cruises are a vital component of the Crystal Visions Enrichment Program of renowned speakers and celebrity guest lecturers offered on every Crystal cruise.

*** NCL announced a new Family Plan today for families traveling on select NCL and NCL America ships this fall. Guests will receive 10% off the Cruise Fare for the second stateroom when booking a mini-suite (category AF). Mini-suites include a sitting area, private balcony, two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed, luxury bath and shower.

This family-friendly special is available on all sailings of the Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star and Pride of Hawaii. New individual reservations must be booked 180 days prior to sailing and blackout dates do apply. Guests requesting this promotion must be booked on the same sailing. For reservations, contact your local travel professional or call NCL at 1-800-327-7030.

*** Princess to Convert to All-Electronic Tickets Starting this week Princess passengers will receive their travel documents sooner and more conveniently with the company's new eTickets program. The line will be the first in the industry to convert completely to electronic ticketing, and will also provide the earliest cruise documents available to passengers.

Princess eTickets will give passengers 24/7 access to print out their cruise details and boarding passes whenever they wish, and will deliver final booking and travel information through the company's online Cruise Personalizer. Back to Top

9-07-06 NCL Orders Three 150,000-ton Ships In the largest ship-building order NCL has ever placed in its history, the company announced yesterday that it has just ordered for delivery between 2009 and 2011, three ships, each of them to be approximately 150,000 gross tons. These are the biggest ships NCL has ever ordered, and rival the size of the largest cruise ships in the world today. However, it is expected that ships from other cruise lines will exceed 200,000 gross tons by 2009.

The price of each ship is approximately $900 million apiece, and the new ships, with the project name "F3", to represent NCL's third generation of Freestyle Cruising ships. Details of the ships' design will be released closer to delivery, but it is said the cabin mix will be the richest of any NCL ship to date, and will include the feature that 100% of outside staterooms will have private balconies. In total, each ship will have 1,415 balcony staterooms and suites.

The new ship design will offer 60% more passenger space than the largest ships built so far by NCL, and will use that space to introduce a major leap forward in the flexibility and variety of the cruise experience, entirely in keeping with the Freestyle Cruising philosophy already established, according to NCL.

NCL is arguably the fastest growing cruise line for the U.S. market right now, and is currently undergoing a complete renewal of its fleet. These new orders, when delivered, are projected to take the combined Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America fleets, in 2010, to a position of being by far the youngest fleet amongst the major North American lines, with an average ship size, fleet wide, of over 2,500 passenger lower berths, and with over 50% of all staterooms fleet wide offering private balconies. Back to Top

9-06-06 Florence Ambles Along Weakly As of 5:00 A.M. EDT Wednesday, Tropical Storm Florence was near 18.4 north and 50.2 west, or about 845 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands. Florence is moving toward the west-northwest at 13 mph. Maximum-sustained winds are averaging 45 mph with gusts to 55 mph. Estimated central pressure is 1003, or 29.62 inches.

Hurricane Florence is, so far, not making much of a show to becoming a full-fledged hurricane. Currently, strong wind-shear conditions are blowing the thunderstorm activity away from the center of the storme and is not allowing for Florence to strengthen any further. Conditions are given a reasonable probablility of change allowing Florence to strengthen to as much as a category three hurricane, and those conditions imply the storm will head north to affect Bermuda. Other possible conditions include predictions for other weather systems to weaken the storm before she gets close to the US mainland. Back to Top

9-1-06 2006 Hurricane Season Downgraded Again Grab those Caribbean cruise bargains while you can, folks. Well-known hurricane forecasters, William Gray and his team, have downgraded their expectations for the 2006 Atlantic season today, for the second time this year. They are now calling for a slightly below-average season, with only five hurricanes instead of the seven previously forecast.

This is the second this month they have downgraded their forecast, and it was just last spring when Gray's team called for 17 named storms to form in the Atlantic basin during the June through November hurricane season. As of Friday, only five had formed, including Tropical Storm Ernesto, which was moving north through North Carolina on Friday.

The average for the Atlantic basin is 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 intense hurricanes per year. So, so far, this has been a below average year. According to Gray's team, two of five hurricanes that they are predictingfor 2006 will be intense. Back to Top

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