- MSC Tightens Smoking Rules on Its Ships
- John Heald named "Sea Going Employee of the Year"
- MSC Cruises Offers Special $1199 Air/Sea Rate on 10-night Cruise
- Silversea Cruises Buys Expedition Ship World Discoverer
- NCL's LEGO Cruise Ship Building Challenge
- New Celebrity Cabins Designed with Women's Touch
- Fun and Interactive Web site for Norwegian Gem
- Cunard's Queen Victoria Interior Pictures
- Royal Caribbean Floats Out Independence of the Seas
- "America's Next Top Model" on Royal Caribbean
- Cunard's Queen Victoria Completes Sea Trials With Success
- Camilla Parker Bowles to "Name" Queen Victoria
- Norwegian Coastal Voyage Name Changes to Hurtigruten
- Costa Maya Revises Recovery Estimate to 12 Months
- Historic 40th Anniversary Voyage For QE2
- Celebrity Cuts Steel for Celebrity Equinox
- First Queen Victoria Pictures Arrive
- Silversea Signs John Cleese for World Cruise
- Royal Caribbean Itinerary Updates
- Carnival Storm Itinerary Updates
- Star Clippers to Build World's Largest Sail Ship
- Royal Caribbean Itinerary Changes - Hurricane Felix
- Carnival Hurricane Itinerary Changes
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9-28-07: MSC Tightens Smoking Rules on Its Ships MSC Cruises has introduced a "Clean Air" smoking policy throughout its fleet, designed to allow both smokers and non-smokers to enjoy their cruise in mutual respect.
"We have eliminated smoking in all areas where non-smokers and smokers would have shared the same spaces," General Manager Emilio La Scala said. "We assigned a few rooms where smokers are welcome, but the majority of indoor spaces are now non-smoking."
On each MSC Cruises vessel, smoking is only allowed indoors in the Cigar Room, the Casino and in one dedicated lounge. Passengers can also smoke outside, on one side of the sun deck, but no smoking is allowed in staterooms or on stateroom balconies.
The remaining areas of the ships are, therefore, totally smoke-free, for the benefit of non-smokers.
The introduction of the "Clean Air" policy and its extensive smoke-free zones has received the general approval of passengers.
"Thanks to the 'Clean Air Policy,' MSC Cruises has managed to satisfy both smokers and non-smokers by having 90% smoke-free ships," La Scala says.
9-27-07: John Heald named "Sea Going Employee of the Year" John Heald Carnival Freedom's senior cruise director whose blog has become a cruise industry sensation, with nearly 700,000 visitors since its debut in March has been named "Sea Going Employee of the Year" by Seatrade Insider, a leading on-line source for cruise industry news and information.
The award, which was presented earlier today at the Seatrade Europe opening party held at the Schmidt's Tivoli Theatre in Hamburg, recognizes the shipboard employee who has made a significant contribution to the cruise industry over the past year. The award was based on a survey of Seatrade Insider readers, with Heald receiving more votes among the six candidates vying for the honor.
"Thanks to everyone who voted for me - I am truly honoured (spelt correctly)," Heald said. "I would also like to thank my fellow nominees for their contributions to our industry, as well as all of my readers and the incredibly supportive Carnival staff both onboard and ashore. Most of all, I would like to thank my wife Heidi. There is nothing I wouldn't do for her and there is noting she wouldn't do for me. That's what makes us such a great team we do nothing for each other," he added.
Originally part of a micro-site created for the launch of the Carnival Freedom in March, Heald's blog has taken on a life of its own and has become the most popular cruise-related blog on the Internet.
Located within Carnival's web site (www.carnival.com) and that of its parent company (www.carnivalcorp.com), the blog serves as a forum for Heald to share interesting and colorful tales of daily life aboard the Carnival Freedom during its inaugural European cruise season. The blog has even spawned its own cruise, the John Heald Bloggers Cruise, a seven-day Caribbean voyage from Miami on the Carnival Freedom in January 2008.
Within the comprehensive site, Heald discusses various aspects of the Carnival vacation experience in an open and candid manner and also answers reader questions on a wide variety of topics, both cruise and non-cruise related.
Heald also provides travel tips for those sailing on Carnival vessels and occasionally interviews his fellow cruise line employees and executives. Most recently, Heald had the opportunity to interview John Cleese while the legendary British actor/comedian was sailing on a trans-Atlantic voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2. The interview was carried as a podcast with the audio recording uploaded to the site.
Heald's accolade was one of seven presented at the inaugural Seatrade Insider Cruise Awards 2007, including Port of the Year, Destination of the Year, Supplier of the Year, Environmental Initiative, F&B/Hotel Operations and Seatrade European Personality of the Year.
"The fact we received over 60 nominations from companies and individuals located around the world: from Australasia to North America, from the Middle East to South America and from Europe, reflects the truly global nature of today's cruise business and we are delighted that the scheme has generated such interest in its launch year," says Mary Bond, editor of Seatrade Insider and Seatrade Cruise Review.
The "Sea Going Employee of the Year" award attracted a significant number of votes across the six candidates, which justifies Seatrade's decision to include this category, as shipboard staff are often overlooked in industry award schemes, according to Bond.
Carnival is currently accepting reservations on the John Heald Bloggers Cruise. The week-long voyage will operate round-trip from Miami Jan. 19-26, 2008, and will visit three of Heald's favorite ports Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. Prices start at $599 per person based on double occupancy.
9-27-07: MSC Cruises Offers Special $1199 Air/Sea Rate on 10-night Cruise MSC Cruises is offering travelers flying from selected Midwest gateway cities a special air/sea rate on the Jan. 9, 2008 10-night roundtrip Deep Caribbean sailing of MSC Lirica from Fort Lauderdale.
Rates begin at $1,199 per person, double occupancy for an interior stateroom, including airfare from the following gateway cities: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville and St. Louis. Transfers, government fees and taxes are additional. Ocean view staterooms begin at $1,399.
Rates are USD for residents of the U.S. and Canada. Offer is capacity controlled and subject to availability. Restrictions apply. The Midwest Air/Sea offer expires Oct. 30.
MSC Lirica's Jan. 9 sailing calls at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Port Castries, St. Lucia; St. John, Antigua; Roadtown, Tortola; and Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic (where guests can enjoy the line's private paradise). The itinerary also includes three days at sea.
9-27-07: Silversea Cruises Buys Expedition Ship World Discoverer Silversea Cruises' parent company, Silversea Cruises Group Ltd., announced today that it has purchased the expedition ship World Discoverer. The company took delivery of the vessel in Singapore on September 17. The ship will undergo a multi-million dollar refurbishment before it begins service in spring 2008.
"We're very excited about this acquisition, as it means we'll be able to further tap that segment of the luxury travel market that is adventure driven," said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea's chairman. "We have been looking into this segment for quite some time. When we were informed about the opportunity to buy World Discoverer, we took immediate action in a matter of days. We believe that exploration cruises can combine extremely well with an utterly exclusive product. With the addition of World Discoverer, our current fleet increases to five ships and to six in 2009, offering a more-expansive cruise schedule that encompasses all seven continents."
Amerigo Perasso, Silversea president, added, "We will be unveiling more details about World Discoverer, including the new name, in the next few weeks, when all the elements of the project will be finalized. However, at this time, I can advise that the refurbishment will extend to virtually every area of the ship. Although we will maintain much of the vessel's current configuration, which features all ocean-view accommodations, we will dramatically enhance and redesign a number of public spaces, as well as some of the accommodations, and even some aspects of the ship's external appearance. This will bring World Discoverer in line with our usual high standards, but with some modifications to better adapt the ship for the special needs of expedition cruises."
Perasso further elaborated, "The mix of innovative land programs, top-quality lecturers, enrichment programs and exotic destinations will enable us to offer a very special experience that will appeal to the most discerning world travelers. It just made good sense to grow our company with the addition of a vessel purpose-built for in-depth exploration and adventure in places far off the beaten path. World Discoverer is well suited to become the "best in class" for this type of operation."
After the planned refurbishment, World Discoverer will accommodate around 140 guests (reduced from current 175) in ocean-view staterooms, including Owner's Suites, Grand Suites, and 12 yet-unnamed suites that will be similar to the line's popular Silver Suites -- offering an intimate club-like ambiance that will deliver an expedition cruise experience consistent with Silversea's award-winning luxury standards.
Guests will also enjoy many amenities found on larger ships, such as an elegant single-seating main dining room, a specialty restaurant, library (with desktop computers and Internet access), boutique, beauty salon, fitness center, sauna and whirlpools. The ship will also feature several lounges for enjoying drinks, music and entertainment, including a cigar lounge like the Humidor on the line's other ships.
World Discoverer will be equipped with state-of-the-art satellite communication systems, providing bow-to-stern wireless Internet access, enabling guests with Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and PDAs to surf the Internet and check e-mails from the comfort of their suites as well as public areas. Cellular phone service will also allow guests to stay in touch using their own cell phones even when the ship is miles away from land. The vessel will also feature flat screen TVs in all suites and staterooms. In the ship's lounges, the latest audio-visual equipment, complete with high-definition video screens, will display live lectures hosted by visiting destination experts.
The ship will maintain the line's reputation for intimate yet spacious ships. And the vessel's crew complement of 106 will continue to ensure the highest level of service with a crew-to-guest ratio that will equal or exceed that of Silver Cloud and Silver Wind , thus being among the highest in this niche market.
The 6,072-ton vessel also boasts a strengthened hull with the highest Lloyd's Register ice-class notation (1A), appropriate for navigating waters, without an escort, in some of the world's most remote regions, including Antarctica.
9-22-07: NCL's LEGO Cruise Ship Building Challenge Calling all LEGO lovers! Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and the LEGO Group have teamed up to present NCL's LEGO Cruise Ship Building Challenge exclusively for LEGO Club Members. Young builders are invited to create the ship of their dreams with LEGO bricks, all for a chance to win a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise for four aboard Norwegian Sun, sailing out of Miami.
"NCL has always encouraged guests to 'go their own way,' so we're excited to partner with LEGO Group and invite kids to construct their vision of the ultimate cruise ship," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL Corporation. "We look forward to seeing how contestants bring their imaginations to life and rewarding the winners with a Freestyle Cruising family vacation."
After building their LEGO cruise ship, kids can enter the contest by submitting a photo of their creation along with a 500-word essay describing their masterpiece. One winner will be selected from each of three age groups: six to nine, 10 to 14 and 15 and older.
Official entry details can be found in the September/October issue of LEGO Magazine, at www.ncl.com/LEGO or at LEGOClub.com: CRUISE. NCL guests can also visit any ship's Kid's Crew for additional details and sign up to join LEGO Club. Kids sailing on Norwegian Pearl will be able to build their creation on board while participating in the Kid's Crew and take a photo home with them to submit via the contest rules.
The LEGO Cruise Ship Building Challenge begins September 14 and ends November 9, 2007.
9-22-07: New Celebrity Cabins Designed with Women's Touch Some things just need a woman's touch. To design a larger stateroom that is also intuitive and stylish on its extraordinary new ship, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruises has gone right to the source: ladies who cruise.
"First, we decided to make the staterooms larger - an average of 15 percent larger, in our deluxe ocean view verandas - and then, we decided to make them better," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "To do that, we enlisted the expertise, intuition and wish lists of five exceptional women."
Celebrity engaged a panel of five boomer women, identified by the line as "Celebrity's Leading Ladies," specially selected for their distinct points of view - a frequent cruiser, a travel agent, a travel writer, a hotelier and a cruise considerer. The women participated in an immersive, four-month process led by Synectics, a world-renowned innovation consultancy firm, to make the staterooms onboard Celebrity Solstice among the most spacious and inviting at sea.
"Our goal was to understand cruisers' real needs and interests, so that our new generation stateroom design would be grounded in genuine consumer insights," said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Dan Hanrahan. "Thanks to our Leading Ladies and our Celebrity teams, we've created a larger and more intuitive stateroom space that is significantly more conducive to our guests' overall cruise experience."
Why women? "Women are not only the primary cruise planners; they are the most discerning guests when it comes to the stateroom," said Celebrity's Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ellen Taaffe. "Their standards are high and Celebrity is committed to exceeding them, while also creating a great experience for the spouse, family or friends with whom they may be traveling."
Give me space and tone down the colors! Celebrity's Leading Ladies offered many insights and desires relative to the stateroom design; chief among them, suggestions for improved stateroom flow, made possible by a larger stateroom size and Celebrity's new interlocking technology. Also, in an industry first, Celebrity Solstice will feature an adjoining stateroom design with a double set of doors, allowing guests to open up the space for families or friends traveling together or close the doors for a more private environment. Verandas of adjoining staterooms can also be opened up to create a veranda that spans both rooms. Clear sight lines and walkways to sea views are found in nearly every stateroom; modular furniture design and vestibule areas facilitate a more spacious flow; and additional storage - generous hooks, shelves and nooks - ensures a clean and clutter-free look.
Celebrity and Miami-based design partner RTKL Associates Inc. have taken additional design cues from the Leading Ladies, including their recommendations on color scheme. As a result, Celebrity Solstice will steer away from bright colors and patterns, in favor of neutral colors and elegant textures, for a more sophisticated and timeless look.Key stateroom innovations include:
Distinctive interlocking stateroom floor plan for better and more efficient space utilization, resulting in deluxe veranda staterooms that are 15 percent larger than comparable accommodations on the balance of the fleet.
First-in-industry adjoining stateroom design with double set of doors, allowing guests to open up space for families or friends traveling together, or close doors for a more private environment. Verandas of adjoining staterooms also can be opened up to create a veranda spanning both rooms.
More spacious bathrooms with glass showers equipped with a foot rail for easy leg shaving in every stateroom, and large fog-free mirrors, which are being introduced in Celebrity's suites and new AquaClass staterooms.
Individual reading lights at each nightstand, including a shelf for personal items such as reading glasses, books, etc.
Expanded and "smarter" storage, including increased clearance beneath the bed for larger luggage, and storage units over the bed for personal items such as handbags, shopping bags, etc.
Modular closets for varied clothing length and additional flexible storage areas.
32-inch flat-screen TVs in every stateroom, and larger flat-screen TVs featured in suites.
"While the increased space was helpful, we wanted to do something really special to capitalize on that space," said Hanrahan, "and our Leading Ladies really helped make that happen."
AquaClassTM Another key insight provided by Celebrity's Leading Ladies was the desire for a more relaxed, intimate shipboard stateroom experience connected to the sea and linked to highly personalized spa elements. The result? A unique class of veranda staterooms called AquaClass, an oceanside retreat created for guests who are most passionate about pampering and "getting away from it all."
Simplicity and comfort are evident throughout the room, from the bathroom's fog-free mirror and tall jetted bodywash shower, to the robust pillow menu. Aroma scent selections tied to specific vacation goals (relax, revive, re-energize, etc.) provide guests with a multi-sensory experience, while lavish AquaClass toiletries and refreshing daily teas, juices and bottled water round out the offering.
AquaClass will comprise 130 of the ship's 1,425 staterooms, each double-occupancy only, creating the perfect grown-up getaway. Guests in AquaClass will receive unlimited access to Celebrity Solstice's new AquaSpa relaxation room on the same deck, and the Persian Garden, an exotic aromatherapy and steam room. AquaClass guests also will have an exclusive dining room, Blu, an intimate, 130-seat specialty restaurant with menus developed by Celebrity Cruises' culinary consultant, Blau & Associates, which operates upscale eateries for high-end hotels such as Las Vegas' Bellagio, Miami's Setai and Cabo San Lucas' One & Only Palmilla.
Celebrity Solstice Celebrity Solstice will be the line's first in a class of four 2,850-passenger vessels with an exceptional range of guest-inspired services and amenities. German shipbuilder Meyer Werft, who constructed the line's Century-class fleet - Celebrity Century, Celebrity Mercury, and Celebrity Galaxy - is building the 122,000-ton ship.
Following several weeks of inaugural activities, Celebrity Solstice will make its maiden voyage December 14, 2008, on a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. The itinerary will be offered on Sundays through April 5, 2009, with an alternating itinerary calling on San Juan, Puerto Rico; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Tortola, B.V.I; and Labadee, Haiti, through April 12, 2009. Fares for veranda staterooms begin at $1,099 per person, based on double occupancy.
9-20-07: Fun and Interactive Web site for Norwegian Gem Norwegian Cruise Line has launched gemitgirl.com), an online site dedicated exclusively to the company's newest cruise ship, Norwegian Gem, which they are nicknaming the "It" Girl. The site features fun, engaging features including a blog from the "It" Girl herself, a create-your-own avatar tool, weekly polls, virtual bowling in the Bliss Ultra Lounge, a calendar of events, contests and more.
The site gives information on the "glamorous life" of Norwegian Gem, the "It" Girl, according to NCL, including a list of her vital stats and favorite things, including her favorite color: leopard and her favorite food: escargot from Le Bistro. In addition, there are deck plans and detailed information on her staterooms, public rooms and itineraries.
With a look akin to MySpace, visitors can join Norwegian Gem's circle of friends by creating their own avatar, a virtual representation of themselves that lives on line. After doing so, they are automatically entered into a drawing to win a seven-day cruise on Norwegian Gem. They are also entered into a weekly drawing to be the "It" Girl's BFF of the week. The weekly prize is a $50 American Express gift card and the winning avatar is displayed prominently on the site.
In the "It" Girl's blog, the ship and her assistant, Marli, will post entries chronicling noteworthy happenings in Norwegian Gem's progression from the shipyard to welcoming her first guests and visiting exotic locales around the globe. An RSS feed is available for those who want to be notified of the latest blog entries as they are posted.
In the virtual Bliss Ultra Lounge, an online version of the lounge found on board Norwegian Gem, visitors can bowl and compete against others for a spot on the leader board where the highest scores are posted. All those participating in the bowling game can enter a monthly drawing to win a Nintendo Wii game system.
Dancing is one of Norwegian Gem's favorite activities, so visitors can get into the "It" Girl groove by perusing a list of her favorite tunes. Her musical taste runs the gamut from dance music and pop to jazz and hip hop. Through a partnership with iTunes, visitors can instantly purchase the songs and add them to their own iTunes playlist.
Like any globe-trotting "It" Girl, Norwegian Gem's social calendar is filled with a bevy of fabulous, A-list activities. An events section gives an insider's glimpse into these activities. A "Share the Love" feature allows visitors to send e-postcards to their BFFs, inviting them to visit the site.
9-20-07: Cunard's Queen Victoria Interior Pictures Piece by piece, the detail of Cunard Line's Queen Victoria continues to evolve revealing her magnificent public spaces. The ship's much-anticipated Queens Room - where guests will dance the night away to the sounds of a live orchestra is seeing a near complete dance floor. It's also the setting for Cunard's signature white-gloved afternoon English tea service. Other hallmark Cunard activities to take place here include formal balls, the traditional Captain's cocktail parties and Cunard World Club events.
The dramatic double-height Queens Room, a loggia-style venue, is reminiscent of a grand ballroom in a large country house, with cantilevered balconies overlooking the ballroom paying homage to the line's iconic and much-loved QE2. The room's stunning ceilings feature a pair of gleaming crystal chandeliers as well as specially commissioned murals - by British artists - reinforcing the line's British heritage.
Stay tuned for additional previews of Queen Victoria's progress.
9-17-07: Royal Caribbean Floats Out Independence of the Seas With her hull now complete, Independence of the Seas, under construction at Aker Yards in Turku, Finland, reached an important maritime milestone today when she was "floated out" - moved from dry dock to wet dock - for the final months of finishing work leading up to her May 2008 debut. In less than a year, Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas will make her debut in Southampton, England where she will be the largest ship ever to be home-ported in Europe.
At official ceremonies held at the shipyard, Royal Caribbean executives, Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, Maritime; Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Sales, and Captain Hernan Zini were joined by Juha Heikinheimo, president, Aker Yards Cruise and Ferries, and Jykri Heinamaa, Turku Yard Director, Aker Yards, as well as an exclusive group of Royal Caribbean's travel partners, to turn the valve releasing 87 million gallons of water into the wet dock area.
Independence of the Seas will share the title of worlds largest cruise ship with her sister-ships, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, weighing in at 160,000 GRT and holding 3,634 guests, double-occupancy. In addition to new programs and onboard embellishments yet to be announced, amenities on Independence will include the popular innovations already found on her sister-ships, including the FlowRider surf simulator; the wet and wild H20 Zone aqua park; cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean; an ice-skating rink; a boxing ring; and the 1,215-square-foot Presidential Family Suite, which sleeps up to 14.
9-17-07: "America's Next Top Model" on Royal Caribbean Who says cruise ships are all play and no work? Certainly not for the 33 contestants on Cycle 9 of the hit CW network show "America's Next Top Model."
For this season of "Top Model," Tyra Banks -- the show's creator, producer and host puts this season's pretty faces through fierce tasks on board Royal Caribbean International's Adventure of the Seas. For the first time in "Top Model" history, the show took to the seas for a twist on the series' premiere episode. The cast of aspiring models flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico to board Adventure for a 7-night Southern Caribbean sailing. While onboard, ANTM shot various challenges throughout the ship and shore side in Puerto Rico and Antigua. Those who were eliminated during the sailing checked out of their staterooms early and disembarked at the next port of call. The group was ultimately narrowed down to 13 -- the lucky 13 who move into the ANTM house in the Hollywood Hills.
To find out who goes, who stays and what life was like on a cruise ship for these up-and-coming models, tune into the CW Wednesday, September 19 at 8 p.m. for the premiere of "America's Next Top Model Cycle 9."
9-13-07: Cunard's Queen Victoria Completes Sea Trials With Success Queen Victoria has successfully completed her sea trials. She is seen here being put through her paces in her first photograph at sea.
Sea trials are undertaken to ensure that ships operate safely and efficiently and as such, the performance is tested in order to identify and correct any equipment issues before the vessel enters service.
The various trials test the maximum speed achievable and maneuverability to evaluate the ship's capabilities, putting stress on the major engine components to ensure they work under the most extreme conditions.
"Queen Victoria has successfully completed her first venture out to sea and now, back at the yard, her magnificent public spaces, luxurious suites and staterooms are coming to life with the addition of intriguing art work, elegant features and classical furnishings," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line.
Queen Victoria is scheduled to arrive in Southampton for the first time on Friday, December 7, this year, where she will be named by Her Royal Highness Camilla Duchess of Cornwall at a regal ceremony on Monday, December 10, which will also be attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
9-11-07: Camilla Parker Bowles to "Name" Queen Victoria In an unusual act of modesty when it comes to anything related to the Royal Family, Cunard announced that "The Duchess of Cornwall" will name the new Cunard ship, Queen Victoria. What the press release didn't mention, for those of us who are not regular readers of British tabloids, is that the same is Camilla Parker Bowles. The press release also mentions that the "Prince of Wales" shall be at the ceremony, but it does not use the name Prince Charles, who is Camilla's husband and, of course, formerly married to Diana.
There has been speculation that the Duchess prefers not to use the specific royal title "Princess of Wales" because of its association in the public's mind with Princess Diana, yet, as the wife of Charles, she could rightfully claim the title.
Upon Charles's eventual claim to the throne of U.K., the Duchess of Cornwall will be technically Queen Camilla, though it is said to be already decided that she will become Her Royal Highness "The Princess Consort," rather than Queen Consort or Queen Camilla, if or when Prince Charles becomes King.
Which leaves us to wonder, what will Cunard call their next ship? Every ship they have ever named after royalty has had the title "Queen." Will they break tradition and call the next one Prince, or possible King Charles? Or might they use "Grandmum" instead? We rather like the name King Charles, it has a certain ring to it.
Below are excerpts from the official press release:
Cunard Line is delightedly announcing that Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, will attend a ceremony in Southampton on December 10, 2007, to mark the introduction of Cunard's new 90,000-ton liner Queen Victoria. At this ceremony, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall will perform the naming of the ship. This naming will be a milestone in both Cunard and British maritime history, and will be a major event of worldwide interest, with over 2,000 VIP guests from around the globe in attendance at the prestigious ceremony.
"This will be an historic occasion. We are most honoured that Their Royal Highnesses have accepted our invitation and that Her Royal Highness will name our newest Cunarder," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. "Every one of our Cunard Queens has been named by a member of the Royal Family and we are therefore delighted that Queen Victoria will follow in that tradition. In addition, this particular ceremony will mark the beginning of a new era, as it will be the first time in our 168-year history that we will have three Cunard Queens in service at the same time," added Marlow.
Queen Victoria will not only be a classic Cunard ocean liner, offering the very best of Cunard heritage and traditions, but will also be the second largest Cunarder the company has ever built. She will be in Southampton for four days, during which time over 7,000 guests from around the world will visit the ship. She will depart on her Maiden Voyage on Tuesday December 11, 2007.
9-10-07: Norwegian Coastal Voyage Name Changes to Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Voyage has announced its name change to Hurtigruten (Her te grew ten), adopting the official name of the parent company as it's known throughout the world. The change of name is just one of several steps Hurtigruten has taken over the past few years as it works hard establishing itself as the leading player in the explorer cruise market, adding many of the world's most remote and intriguing destinations such as Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen to its Norwegian product line. This year the company launched a new 318-berth deluxe exploration ship, the MS Fram, built especially for polar waters.
Hurtigruten is one of the world's oldest cruise lines - started 115 year ago operating coastal steamers along the fjord-filled west coast of Norway in the 1890s. The recent merger of its two partner companies has created a more powerful player in the global market.Hans Rood, president of Hurtigruten Inc., explains "This is one of several advancements taken in our evolution as a leader in exploration cruising to the most pristine regions in the world with 16 ships and an extensive variety of voyages. The exploration cruise market is thriving and we are well positioned to set the standard by offering authentic exploration experiences with state of the art cruise ships and offering lectures and exploration expertise for an experienced travelling clientele..."
Over the coming months, the North American market will become accustomed to seeing "Hurtigruten" and the new logo as the campaign continues to build its share of the Norwegian cruise market and promote new destinations and itineraries.
9-10-07: Costa Maya Revises Recovery Estimate to 12 Months After a thorough evaluation of the damages caused to the destination and port facilities following the recent passing of Hurricane Dean. Costa Maya officials have determined that twelve months are necessary for rebuilding, and providing an enhanced experience to its guests. Costa Maya has confirmed it will resume operations by September 2008. The announcement was made by Cesar Lizarraga, Costa Maya's director of sales and marketing
According to Lizarraga, Costa Maya has been working closely with all pertinent government agencies to secure the necessary permits to immediately begin the reconstruction process. Starting Monday, September 17, 2007, the first phase of reconstruction and cleanup of the port facilities and pier will begin, and will focus on returning ship berthing positions one and two to full operational mode by September 2008. Reconstruction of the port's third berthing position will follow with an expected completion by early 2009.
Costa Maya officials are currently meeting with its cruise industry partners to reevaluate ship schedules and to discuss their timely return to the destination.
"We are excited to start discussing our return to Costa Maya's shores," said Vicki Freed, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Carnival Cruise Lines. "Carnival is very supportive of Costa Maya's rebuilding, and our guests will be happy to see it back on our itineraries as soon as possible. Temporarily, we are adjusting our scheduled Costa Maya visits to other ports in the region."
In addition, the rehabilitation and improvement of Mahahual, the beachside town that surrounds Costa Maya, has already begun. Presently, one hundred workers are conducting clean-up of the beach and small fishing village. Restoration of services, including phone lines and electricity, are already underway. The rehabilitation project, funded with 18 million Mexican pesos or more than 1.5 million U.S. dollars by Fonatur, Sectur and the Government of Quintana Roo, also includes the creation of a new boardwalk along Mahahual's beach. Fonatur's announcement with specific development plans is expected by the end of the month.
Since developing Costa Maya in 2001, the Hamui family has collaborated with the local government to improve Mahahual's infrastructure. Together, they have paved roads, brought electricity and phone services to the area, and have constructed hundreds of homes for those who live and work in the region.
Located on the southern Yucatan Peninsula near the border of Belize, Costa Maya is sheltered by the world's second largest coral reef and currently attracts all the major cruise lines to its shores. Costa Maya features a hotel, a wide variety of land and sea excursions, and port facilities consisting of three berthing spaces and a 70,000 square foot state-of-the-art Mayan entertainment complex that showcases the region's colonial heritage with all of today's modern conveniences. To learn more about Costa Maya, its many excursions and unmatched beauty, please visit www.costamaya-mexico.com or call 011 52 (998) 267 7700.
9-10-07: Historic 40th Anniversary Voyage For QE2 Next week, on September 15, QE2 sets off on an historic "lap-of-honour" around Britain to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of her launch by Her Majesty The Queen on September 20, 1967.
While the primary purpose of the voyage is to celebrate the anniversary of QE2's launch, two other significant Cunard anniversaries will be marked: the 100th anniversary of Mauretania's departure from the Tyne for her first sea trials on September 17 (the day QE2 will also be on the Tyne) and the 40th anniversary of Queen Mary's final departure from New York (September 22).
Since she came into service, QE2 has had a spectacular career and is now simply the most famous ship afloat - quite probably the most successful liner ever. She has hosted every senior member of the Royal Family at least once; has welcomed Prime Ministers and Presidents, including Nelson Mandela - around the world; and has been host to a multitude of celebrities and film stars.
So far, she has traveled 5.6 million nautical miles, which is further than any ship ever. That has included 25 circumnavigations of the globe, 801 transatlantic crossings, 705 calls at New York and 697 at her homeport of Southampton, and the welcoming aboard of 2.5 million passengers. In September 2005 she became the longest-serving Cunarder ever.
But, of course, in addition to exotic voyages and ecstatic welcomes, QE2 has had her share of adventures - not least in 1982 when she was requisitioned to carry 3,000 troops to the Falklands War. She returned bearing the survivors of HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry.
The 40th Anniversary Voyage, which sold out soon after going on sale in 2005, begins in Southampton next Saturday with a farewell lunch on board for 350 invited guests. When QE2 sails at 5:00 p.m., she will be played off by the Band of the Royal Marines and escorted down Southampton Water by two tugs firing water jets.
The following day will see her move close to the coast at Flamborough Head at 11:00 a.m., and she will be clearly visible from the shore (weather permitting) all the way to the Tyne. Thousands are expected to turn out to see her pass in coastal towns on the way, including Scarborough, Whitby, Sunderland and Hartelepool - where small boats are expected to sail out to greet her.
The maiden arrival at the Tyne promises to be spectacular, with QE2 being escorted by a flotilla of boats and a concerto of Northumbrian pipes to the accompaniment of daytime pyrotechnics. As the ship progresses up river, the Tyne will be turned into a "virtual" red carpet by the use of aqua flares.
On September 18 the ship will be on the Firth of Forth, where she will welcome on board the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and she then sails round the north of Scotland to arrive on the Clyde on September 20, exactly 40 years to the day of her launch.
There, in Greenock, the guests of honour at a celebratory lunch will be 100 workers who helped build the ship. They, and Cunard guests on board, will be treated to a 23-minute display by the Red Arrows.
The exact moment of her launch - 2:28 p.m. - will be marked by the sounding of the ship's whistle and a recording of Her Majesty The Queen launching the ship will be played over the tannoy.
The following day, September 21, sees the ship in Cunard's spiritual home, Liverpool, where the company was based from 1839 to 1967. QE2 will be one of the first ships to tie up at Liverpool's new cruise ship terminal, due to be opened that day by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent - who will come on board after the ceremony for lunch on QE2.
A spectacular highlight takes place that afternoon when there will be a magnificent Celebration Concert at the Anglican Cathedral, to be attended by all QE2 guests and local civic leaders. The concert, starring soprano Lesley Garrett, Scottish tenor Nicky Spence, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, the Liverpool Cathedral Choir and the Band of the Scots Guards, will be a rousing mixture of patriotic and popular music guaranteed to stir the emotions. Tributes will be paid to QE2 by regular guests Sir Jimmy Savile and Carol Thatcher.
That night, QE2, her guests and well-wishers will witness the spectacle of a splendid midriver firework display.
On her final day at sea (September 22), en route back to Southampton, activities on board will mark the last sailing of Queen Mary and, after dinner, QE2 will pass her newer sister Queen Mary 2 outward bound for New York - the first time two Queen liners have passed at sea since Queen Mary passed Queen Elizabeth in mid-Atlantic for the last time 40 years ago on 25 September 1967. Guests on both ships are expected to be out on deck for this historic occasion.
The eventful voyage ends in Southampton on September 23.
9-10-07: Celebrity Cuts Steel for Celebrity Equinox Celebrity Cruises has officially launched the production of Celebrity Equinox, the second 122,000-ton ship in the line's four-ship Solstice-class fleet. Richard Fain, CEO of Celebrity's parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., last week pressed the button of the plasma torch at shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany.
Like its sister ships, Celebrity Equinox will have larger standard staterooms, 90 percent of which will be outside, and 85 percent of all staterooms will have verandas. The 2,850-guest vessels each will have an exceptional range of guest-inspired services and amenities, 1,425 staterooms, and will measure 1,033 feet in length and 121 feet in width.
9-7-07: First Queen Victoria Pictures Arrive With a little more than three months to go before her much-anticipated December 10 Naming Ceremony, Cunard Line's Queen Victoria is taking shape and coming to life.
Currently under construction at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Marghera, Italy, Queen Victoria's elegant and sophisticated style is gradually coming together day by day.
Pictured: The Grand Lobby, sure to be one of the ship's most popular meeting places, will boast triple-height ceilings, a double sweeping staircase and sculpted balconies. Highlighting the dramatic space will be a signature piece of artwork, anchoring the staircase landing and setting the stage for a dramatic sense of arrival.
click on pictures below for larger images:
Details about the signature art piece for the Grand Lobby are coming soon. Stay tuned for additional previews of Queen Victoria's progress.
9-05-07: Silversea Signs John Cleese for World Cruise Actor and comedic legend John Cleese is the latest celebrity speaker to sign on for a starring role in the expansive enrichment program Silversea is planning for Silver Shadow's World Cruise 2008. He is set to join a stellar mix of guest speakers and enrichment specialists that includes actress Polly Bergen, film critic Rex Reed, TV chef Cat Cora, cookbook author and TV personality Ted Allen, photojournalist Steve McCurry, and fashion and celebrity photographer Stephanie Pfriender Stylander.
"The enrichment program is an integral part of our World Cruise experience and is designed to appeal to one of luxury travel's most discerning clientele," said Joseph Proto, Silversea's director of world cruise and business development. "We searched the globe to find fascinating personalities and some of the most distinguished and stimulating speakers. Engaging experts from an array of fields, such as exploration, literature, film, photography, gourmet living and academia, will be on hand to share their talents and perspectives."
John Cleese will entertain Silversea guests with his famous British wit as he hosts the January 16 segment (#3802) from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. One of television and cinema's most gifted artists, he will offer Silversea guests a grand -- and possibly rowdy -- look at some of his best works, including the Emmy-nominated BBC documentary The Human Face, the movie A Fish Called Wanda, and favorite episodes from the television comedy classics Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers. Cleese will share insights and anecdotes from a fascinating career that goes well beyond television and cinema. The multi-talented actor has also co-authored two best-selling books on psychology, taught at Cornell University, and spent twenty years helping to run Video Arts, a highly successful producer of management and sales training films. Most recently, Cleese was the voice of God in the Broadway smash hit Spamalot.
The same January 16 segment will also welcome famed cookbook author Ted Allen, whose food and wine advice is featured regularly on NBC and Bravo television networks and in articles for Esquire, Bon Appétit and Epicurious.com.
George Losey, professor of zoology and marine biology at the University of Hawaii, will join the January 30, San Diego-to-Honolulu segment (#3803). His talks will illustrate both the natural and cultural history of the Hawaiian Islands.
Norma and Maurice Joseph, acclaimed travel photographers and fellows of Britain's Royal Geographic Society, will host the Honolulu-to-Hong Kong voyage (#3804), departing February 8. Their colorful presentations bring to life the diverse lands and cultures visited during a career of exploration and adventure in over 100 countries. Highlights include traveling by jeep through Tibet and traversing Burma's Irrawaddy River by log raft and riverboat.
The March 1, Hong Kong-to-Singapore segment (#3805) will feature destination expert and art historian Denise Heywood, offering illustrated talks on Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Heywood has lived in Paris, New York and, most recently, in Cambodia where she worked as a journalist for three years. She has just completed a book on the Buddhist temples of Laos, titled Ancient Luang Prabang.
On the March 15, Singapore-to-Mumbai segment (#3806), two of the world's hottest photographers will step out from behind the camera to share their talents and insights. Guests will enjoy presentations hosted by Stephanie Pfriender Stylander, best known for her illuminating celebrity portraits of such icons as Nicole Kidman, Antonio Banderas, and Aretha Franklin; and Steve McCurry, the award-winning photojournalist whose haunting photograph of an Afghan refugee girl has been described by many as the most recognizable photograph in the world today.
Also tapped to add regional and cultural perspectives on the same voyage is Royston Ellis, a British-born novelist and guidebook writer who has lived for the past 28 years in Sri Lanka. The author of bestselling historical novels set in the Caribbean, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, he began his career as a pop poet in England in 1960 performing with John, Paul, George and Stuart who later became the Beatles. Joining Ellis is acclaimed Associated Press photographer Gemunu Amarasinghe.
Cat Cora, renowned television personality and Bon Appétit executive chef, is slated to host a culinary program on the March 26, Mumbai-to-Athens segment (#3807), sailing to some of the world's most exotic destinations in Oman, Egypt and Jordan. Chef Cora will present Greek-inspired specialties -- prepared with her trademark brand of fresh inventiveness and style -- as guests traverse the history-rich waters of the Aegean.
Scheduled to add historical insights on the same voyage is Robert Brier, one of the world's leading Egyptologists. The author of several books including The Murder of Tutankhamen: A True Story and The Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians, Professor Brier will be joined by his wife, Patricia Remler, an accomplished author, photographer and art historian.
And rounding out the enrichment roster on this segment is Stephen F. Dachi, a foreign policy specialist who served for 30 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. He is an expert on the history, culture, religions and politics of India and the Middle East and is in charge of educational seminars at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State.
Celebrity film critic Rex Reed, whose presentations scored a huge hit with guests aboard World Cruise 2007, is returning to host the second edition of his innovative Silver Screen Cinema program. A renowned author, actor, talk show host, and film historian, his name is synonymous with Hollywood. Reed will share anecdotes and insights as he hosts screenings of cinematic classics aboard the April 19 segment (#3809) from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale. Guests will enjoy an insider's view of Hollywood with Reed and the program's guest entertainer, Emmy winner Polly Bergen, a star of both film and television. Their lively interview and intimate coffee-and-conversation session will offer fascinating glimpses into the lives and careers of these distinguished film professionals.
Departing January 16, 2008 from Fort Lauderdale, Silver Shadow's World Cruise 2008, appropriately themed "The Rhythms of the World," will host no more than 382 privileged and pampered guests on a wondrous odyssey, encircling the world and embracing the cultures of more than 25 countries and over 50 different destinations. Fares for the full 110-day voyage start at $62,400 per person, based on double occupancy.
9-05-07: Royal Caribbean Itinerary Updates Royal Caribbean reported as of 2:00 pm yesterday: We continue to closely monitor the path and progress of Hurricane Felix to ensure our guests enjoy safe and comfortable cruises, and to make certain our ships steer clear of the storm.
Our foremost concern is the safety of our guests and crew members.
Given Hurricane Felix's location and projected path, Royal Caribbean is altering the itineraries of two ships.
Sailing from Port Everglades Enchantment of the Seas, which departed Port Everglades Saturday, September 1, is sailing a modified itinerary with a port call to Nassau, Bahamas, today, instead of its originally scheduled visit to George Town, Grand Cayman. Enchantment of the Seas will return to Port Everglades as scheduled Thursday.
Sailing from the Port of Galveston Rhapsody of the Seas, which departed the Port of Galveston Sunday, September 2, sailed a modified itinerary with a port call to Key West, Florida, yesterday, instead of Montego Bay, Jamaica. Rhapsody of the Seas continues its itinerary as scheduled, with calls to Cartagena, Colombia; through the Panama Canal; Punta Arenas, Costa Rica; Huatulco, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and concluding at Ensenada, Mexico.
At this time, no other Royal Caribbean ships are being adversely impacted by tropical weather. We will continue to closely monitor weather conditions and update this information at 2 p.m. E.S.T. Tuesday.
9-05-07: Carnival Storm Itinerary Updates SEPTEMBER 5, 2007 - 11:00 AM
Due to the impact from the two recent storms, Carnival made some itinerary changes in order to provide guests with an enjoyable shore experience, while operating these ships in the safest and most comfortable conditions possible.