- NCL to be Featured on Tonight's "Opportunity Knocks"
- Sale of Norwegian Dream Cancelled
- Windjammer Cruises - the Final Chapter
- Celebrity Solstices Sails Out in Germany
- Imperial Majesty Lends Regal Empress to Texas Disaster Relief
- Carnival Destiny Launches Short Cruises from Miami
- Celebrity Announces New Itineraries for Millennium and Mercury
- Royal Caribbean Names Company Chief Medical Officer
- Carnival Triumph to Cruise St. Lawrence River to Quebec
- Speculation Over New NCL F3-Class of Ships
- Senators Introduce Bill to Save Delta Queen
- Carnival Galveston Ships Moving to Houston this Weekend
- Oasis of the Seas Entertainment "Neighborhood" Revealed
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises Announces $40-Million Fleet Enhancement
- Grand Turk Cruise Center Closed Until Early October
- UK National Cruise Week Wraps Up Today
- Holland America Commits $200 Million to Upgrade Five Ships
- MSC Orders Two New Ships
- Park West offers New Limited Return Policy for Art Auctions
- Delta Queen Rally, Tuesday, 9-9, 11:00 Maysville, Kentucky
- Carnival Itinerary Updates for Hurricanes Monday 9-08
- Storm Itinerary Change Updates - Sept 5
- Ruby Princess to Offer Tours of Ship Operations
- Disney Magic to get Dry Dock Upgrades
9-30-08 NCL to be Featured on Tonight's "Opportunity Knocks" Norwegian Cruise Line hopes to make a family's dreams come true tonight on ABC's new primetime game show, "Opportunity Knocks." The show airs at 8 pm EST (7 pm CT). One California family of five will have the opportunity to win a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera aboard one of NCL's Freestyle Cruising ships, Norwegian Star, as part of the game shows "dream-of-a-lifetime" prize package.
In "Opportunity Knocks" host and executive producer JD Roth knocks on a family's front door in "Anywhere, America," to host a family game night where they can win hundreds of thousands of dollars and prizes. Each week, the mobile "Opportunity Knocks" team literally sets up shop on a family's front lawn, where an audience made up of neighbors and friends cheers them on.
In tonight's episode, the Lakewood, California Laut family with parents Don and Rebecca, along with their three children: Aaron, 12; Cody, 10; and Megan, 8; are asked trivia questions based directly on their lives, each other and articles in and around their home. Highlights include mother Rebecca identifying which umpires she is known to heckle at Aaron's Pony League games; Megan is asked if she can remember her brother's slogan from his run for student body president; and Aaron tries to remember the score of a big televised football game that caused his father, Don, to run out into the street whooping and hollering -- while wearing his pajamas. For that answer, legendary ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson provides some humorous play-by-play.
If they prove they know their family inside and out -- in front of all their friends and neighbors they could win thousands of dollars and amazing prizes, including the NCL cruise to the Mexican Riviera. One of Rebecca Laut's dreams is to take her family on a cruise, and she will have the opportunity to win the cruise tonight.
NCL will be featured on future episodes of the nationally-aired family game show.
Executive producers for "Opportunity Knocks" are Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, Karey Burke, JD Roth and Todd A. Nelson.
9-30-08 Sale of Norwegian Dream Cancelled Star Cruises, Asia's biggest cruise operator and partner in ownership of Norwegian Cruise Lines with Apollo Management, said it has called off the $218 million sale of its Norwegian Dream cruise ship after the buyer, Louis Ltd. (a cruise line and hotel operator in Cyprus and Greece) failed to take delivery of the vessel within the deadline.
Star Cruises said it is getting legal advice to enforce its rights against Louis after the agreement to sell the ship lapsed yesterday.Louis, had agreed to buy two cruise ships from Star Cruises for $380 million in April. The sale of the other vessel, Norwegian Majesty, was completed on July 29.
The failure to sell the Norwegian Dream "will not have a material adverse impact on the business or financial position of the group as a whole," said Star Cruises.
9-29-08 Windjammer Cruises - the Final Chapter One of the oddest stories ever in the cruise industry is the rise and fall of Windjammer Cruises. Last weekend the final remnants of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises' 60-year-old business went on the auction block.
Miami's Auction Co. of America auctioned some 10,000 items, many of them personal items of Captain Burke, the founder and "captain" of the cruise line which went from incredible fortune to miserable failure in the space of a few years. The cruise line ceased sailing last year after the captain became unable to handle operations and the Burke family began fighting over assets.
Among the items for sale: Windjammer memorabilia and souvenirs, paintings, office furniture, ship parts and wine glasses. The auction was held at the closed offices of the line at 1759 Bay Rd., Miami Beach.
Suppliers, ship agents and crew have filed liens on the three Windjammer vessels registered in Grenada. Unless the liens are satisfied, the vessels will likely be auctioned as well. The vessels -- the Polynesia in Aruba, the Mandalay in Panama and the Yankee Clipper in Trinidad -- have fallen into disrepair and don't have the required certificates to sail, said Anthony Bellmar, a maritime official in Grenada.
CruiseMates did an extensive story on this company when the drama was unfolding, and it is well worth reading. "Windjammer - End of an Empire."
9-29-08 Celebrity Solstices sails out in Germany
The brand new Celebrity Solstice, the first of a new generation of new-build ships, sailed out of it ship yard in Papenburg, Germany yesterday. Celebrity says the ship is 98% complete as pictures from the media attest.
So far, the parts of Solstice I like best are the beautiful pool and Solarium areas. The Solarium is a spacious water area with extensive glass walls for a wintergarden effect in any weather. There is a beautiful fountain and a huge thelassotherapy pool for soothing aching muscles. The pool area features spacious sunning areas with plenty of room to walk around the deck chairs interspersed with tall private cabanas. Another beautiful fountain offsets the decor.
In fact the decor of Solstice may be the most impressive aspect of the ship. Soothing light tones abound, white, cream and beige fabrics are offset by silver railings (not copper or bronze) with glass partitions everywhere. The overall impression is space and harmony. This is a very tasteful and relaxing decor, just opulent enough, without being the least bit garish.
The first "what's that?" aspect of the ship in my mind is the extensive lawn area. Okay, it's an interesting idea to have grass on a cruise ship, but it is it a "draw?" I mean, I have yet to hear anyone say "I sure am looking forward to seeing a lawn on a cruise ship and a rousing game of bocce ball." The grass area looks nice, but I wonder how much attraction it will have to passengers in terms of spending time there.
This is also the location of the glass-blowing museum. I have been to Corning Museum of Glass in upstate new York and it is a fascinating place. I hope the shipboard version on Solstice does it justice. It is great fun to watch a glass blower create a crystal vase, but once you have seen it - perhap an hour of diversion, you have seen it. I suspect a big part of this museum will be the sales that accompany the demonstrations. There will be people taking orders for custom-blown table settings at dear prices, I predict.
A similar Solstice exclusive will be the "Solstice Diamond." This is said to be a diamond with a new cut that features even more facets than the traditional "ideal" cut for round diamonds that is said to be the most brilliant of all. The cut is a patented design by Harding brothers of London who will operate some 6500 square feet of retail space aboard the ship. The diamonds will be available for earings, pendents and of course, rings. Costs start at $2000.
My other "what's that?" is the design of the cabins. Celebrity extolled the fact that five "leading ladies" led the design of the cabins focusing on storage space and a way to shave your legs on the shower. One thing the ladies obviously didn't care for is watching television from the bed. Every stateroom design I have seen has the TV on the wall opposite the couch and way off-center if you are in bed, something like a 45 degree angle for the person nearest the set, and worse for the other person. I see this as a major faux pas, but I admit I love watching movies in bed on ships. Perhaps the ladies would rather be shopping?
9-26-08 Imperial Majesty Lends Regal Empress to Texas Disaster Relief Imperial Majesty Cruise Line 21,909-ton Regal Empress, which can accommodate 1,068 guests, will be putting its regular operation on hold to help with disaster relief efforts for several Texas Gulf Coast communities damaged by Hurricane Ike.
The line will provide accommodations for engineers, analysts and other relief personnel in the Galveston area. "This decision was not made easily as we balanced it against the cruises that have already been booked by our valued customers," said Imperial Majesty Cruise Line President Martin Salzedo. "In the end, we have decided to make the decision to support those people with the greatest needs. We truly do apologize for any inconvenience to our customers."
Port Everglades officials commended Salzedo and Imperial Majesty on their willingness to assist with relief efforts in Texas. "We value your longtime patronage of Port Everglades and can certainly appreciate your decision to provide disaster relief for the unfortunate victims of Hurricane Ike in Texas," said Deputy Port Director Glenn Wiltshire, during a bon voyage farewell ceremony held today aboard the Regal Empress. "We look forward to their return to the port."
Imperial Majesty has been the longest-running short cruise client at Port Everglades, offering two-night cruises since 1999. In the past decade, approximately 2.4 million passengers have sailed with Imperial Majesty. It is the only Port Everglades cruise line to offer regularly scheduled two-night cruises. Passengers booked on an upcoming Imperial Majesty cruise should call 877-772-4625 or visit www.imperialmajesty.com.
9-26-08 Carnival Destiny Launches Short Cruises from Miami Carnival Cruise Lines' 2,642-passenger Carnival Destiny will begin a new schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Miami on Sept. 27. Carnival said the Destiny's deployment will also further solidify Carnival's position as a leader in the short-cruise market, with 29 such options from 12 U.S. homeports.
On its new schedule, Carnival Destiny departs Thursdays on four-day cruises to Key West and Cozumel; Mondays on five-day cruises to Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay; and Saturdays on five-day voyages to Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios.
In total, Carnival's ships will operate nearly 850 departures of five days or less with roughly half of its 22-vessel fleet offering short cruise itineraries. Next year, Carnival will expand capacity on its short cruise programs from Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans when the 2,052-passenger Carnival Fantasy and the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph, respectively, launch new programs from those ports in November 2009.
9-23-08 Celebrity Announces New Itineraries for Millennium and Mercury Celebrity Cruises today announced new itinerary options for Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Mercury from Baltimore, Maryland, and Charleston, South Carolina, along with Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Correspondingly, the line announced plans to discontinue its Australia and New Zealand cruises previously scheduled for late-2009 and 2010 on Celebrity Millennium.
"Australia and New Zealand are charming and beautiful destinations, and we're confident we'll return again as our brand and fleet grows," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "Currently, though, our travel agent partners and guests have repeatedly said they want more options to sail with Celebrity from the Eastern seaboard, where our brand was founded, and still has a very large and loyal base of cruisers. So, we're pleased to present some very attractive new cruise vacations from that region."
CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM TAKES ON CELEBRITY MERCURY'S TERRITORY The 2,038-guest Celebrity Millennium will cap its 2009 season in Alaska with cruises previously scheduled for the 1,898-guest Celebrity Mercury, offering more capacity on the popular sailings. The itineraries will reflect those previously announced for Celebrity Mercury, with the addition of a 12-night wine-themed cruise departing from Vancouver on September 28, 2009, followed by an eastbound, 16-night Panama Canal cruise on October 10, 2009, from San Diego to San Juan, where Celebrity Millennium will offer a series of 10- and 11-night Southern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from San Juan, beginning October 26, 2009. Ports of call on the Southern Caribbean itineraries include Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Curacao, Aruba, St. Croix, St. Kitts and Dominica, with slight variations between the 10- and 11-night sailings.
Guests with reservations on the sailings previously scheduled for Celebrity Mercury will be contacted and re-accommodated on the same sailing dates on Celebrity Millennium, at the rates paid.
CELEBRITY MERCURY OFFERS NEW OPTIONS ON THE EASTERN SEABOARD Celebrity Mercury will sail a 17-night Panama Canal cruise from San Diego on October 23, 2009, ending in Baltimore. There, from November 2009 to February 2010, the ship will present a series of new 12-night Eastern Caribbean cruises visiting St. Thomas; St. Kitts; Antigua; St. Maarten, and Tortola, as well as four 9-night cruises visiting Charleston; Key West, Fla., and Cococay and Nassau, Bahamas.
Celebrity Mercury then will present a series of 10- and 11-night Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages from Charleston from February through April 2010, with visits to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Tortola on the eastern series, and Key West; Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico, and Nassau on the western lineup.
The new itineraries on Celebrity Mercury replace the Southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan previously scheduled from November 2009 to April 2010. Guests with affected bookings will be contacted and offered the option to be reaccommodated in like accommodations on identical Southern Caribbean itineraries on Celebrity Millennium at the rate paid.
Guests holding either individual or group reservations on Celebrity Millennium's previously scheduled Australia and New Zealand cruises between October 9, 2009 and March 22, 2010, will be offered the option to either re-book on Celebrity Millennium's Australia and New Zealand cruises between October 17, 2008 and April 12, 2009, subject to availability, at the prevailing rate, and will receive a $600 per-stateroom or $800 per-suite onboard credit. Alternatively, these guests may re-book Celebrity Millennium's new Panama Canal or Southern Caribbean sailings between October 10, 2009 and April 16, 2010, and receive a $200 per stateroom and $400 per suite onboard credit.
All guests and travel agent partners with affected bookings will be contacted by Celebrity Cruises. A special toll-free line also has been established to answer questions: 1-888-281-9343. The number is the same for both individual and group bookings.
Any reservations on the late-2009 and early-2010 Celebrity Millennium sailings in Australia and New Zealand that have not been moved or cancelled by Friday, October 3, 2008, will be cancelled automatically.
9-23-08 Royal Caribbean Names Company Chief Medical Officer Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has named Dr. Arthur L. Diskin as its vice president and global chief medical officer for its Medical and Public Health Department.
In his position, which is new to the company, Dr. Diskin is responsible for managing the medical facilities and staff that provide daily care for the company's guests, as well as the medical care of more than 40,000 crew members. This includes the company's new Crew Wellness Program and the management of all public health issues, working in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Diskin also oversees the company's Guest Care Team, which provides one-on-one assistance to guests and their families involved in medical or other emergencies.
"We are delighted to have Art join our team," said Gary M. Bald, senior vice president of Safety, Security, Environment, Medical and Public Health for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Art is a pioneer in the field of cruise ship medicine. His expertise and experience in emergency medicine and medical services onboard cruise ships will be an invaluable asset to our company. We look forward to his assistance with one of our top priorities, the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew members."
Dr. Diskin attended college and medical school at the University of Miami, and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the Los Angeles County Medical Center/University of Southern California. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Dr. Diskin is the past president of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians, former Chief of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital and Chair of the Section on Cruise Ship and Maritime Medicine of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Dr. Diskin assisted in creating the Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center. This program, affiliated with Nova Southeastern School of Medicine, is currently one of only seven Emergency Medicine residency programs in Florida.
Dr. Diskin was a consultant to Carnival Cruise Lines since 1990, most recently serving as Medical Director. In that role he was responsible for guest and crew care, medical facilities and staff, developing medical, evacuation and disaster management policies and advising the ships' physicians. He also has served as a physician onboard cruise ships since the 1980s.
9-23-08 Carnival Triumph to Cruise St. Lawrence River to Quebec Carnival Cruise Lines will operate a series of nine-day voyages along the historic St. Lawrence River to Quebec aboard the 102,000-ton Carnival Triumph in summer 2009. The cruises are Carnival's first of its kind in the region and will operate round-trip from New York on June 25, July 23 and August 20, 2009.
In addition to visits to the French-Canadian cities of Quebec City, Baie-Comeau, and Havre St. Pierre, the new nine-day cruises called "Quebec - After the Glaciers" include an daylong cruise along the St. Lawrence River, home to numerous whales and other marine life and awe-inspiring landscapes carved out of glaciers.
Guests can also visit Quebec's breathtaking nature and wildlife preserves where they can get an up close and personal look at the Canadian wilderness and view unique rock formations and native plant, sea and animal life.
The new nine-day Quebec departures are the latest additions to Carnival's popular New York cruise schedule, which also includes four- and five-day eastern Canada voyages and seven-day fall foliage cruises aboard the Carnival Triumph June-August, and eight-day Caribbean sailings aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle, operating April-October.
9-22-08 Speculation Over New NCL F3-Class of Ships Various industry sources are speculating on the future of the newest class of ships Norwegian Cruise Lines has (or had) scheduled to be built and to debut in 2010.
Some sources, such as Seatrade and CruiseWeek, have reported that NCL's parent company, Apollo Management, has cancelled the order with Akers Shipyard to build the first of two F3 ships. There are no specific reasons cited for this report, just that the rumor is going around.
If the rumor is true - let's look at some of the reasons why.
First of all, Apollo Management is a big company. Technically, they only own 1/2 of NCL, the other half still belonging to Star Cruises of Malaysia. Apollo is in the driver's seat, however, by having the majority of seats on the board of directors. Apollo is in many different businesses, most of them related to the "leisure and gaming" industry. They own Caeser's Palace in Las Vegas, for example, as well several other Vegas properties. They also own all of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
As a real-estate focused money management company, it is possible they have untidy exposure to the recent mortgage backed securities (MBS) crisis, but that is pure speculation and somewhat negative, so I am not going there. My guess is that they are merely being strategic. What has happened in the last few months? The dollar has gained nicely against the Euro and all indications are that it will continue to get stronger as Europe heads into an economic slowdown. New ship orders are made in Euros, not dollars.
Apollo can't just say to Akers "we don't want to pay that much for our ship." That would not be negotiating in good faith. But they can cancel the ship order and keep the door open to re-negotiations. What is the possible damage? Well, they will have to get to the back of the line to have the ship built, but in today's market that may not be such a bad thing.
This election season, plus being on the cusp of a whole new era of newbuilds based on ideas that are still relatively unproven, has put the cruise industry on the back burner in the public consciousness. The cruise industry couldn't break into the headlines right now if they shot Freedom of the Seas to the moon. This news cycle is completely dominated by the elections and Wall Street problems.
The truth is - no one knows definitively how well the next generation of ships will do, although I believe they will be do very well, but we will have a much visibility in a year. By this month, 2009, we will be close to the debut of Oasis of the Seas. As Oasis nears completion and there will be plenty of media coverage about its innovative aspects. There will also be much better clarity on how well it is selling.
3 is a radically different ship design in many ways; see our articles on F3 Nightlife and the new NCL F3 Staterooms. The ship was scheduled not to have a main dining room or showroom. Well, maybe NCL wants to think that over a little, and why not? This is the perfect time to sit back and just see what happens.
9-17-08 Senators Introduce Companion Bill to Save Delta Queen Ohio Republican senator George Voinovich and Democratic Party senator Sherrod Brown have introduced legislation to allow the historic Delta Queen steamboat to continue to operate as an overnight passenger vessel. The bill introduced in the Senate is identical to legislation U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, introduced last October in the House.
"As I have said many times before, the Delta Queen is an American treasure that needs to be saved," Chabot said. "I appreciate Senator Voinovich and Senator Brown joining this fight, and I look forward to working with them to protect the Delta Queen."
The Delta Queen is currently operating under a congressional exemption that is set to expire on Nov. 1. The Delta Queen began operating as a stern-wheel river steamboat in 1926 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. For the last 40 years, the Delta Queen has operated on the rivers of the U.S. under a congressional exemption, because the paddle-wheeler's wooden superstructure did not meet certain regulations under the 1966 Safety at Sea Act.
Minnesota Representative (Dem) James Oberstar has been singlehandedly trying to scuttle the Delta Queen by not allowing the exemption out of the House Transportation Committee he chairs for a vote on the floor. He claims it is because of safety concerns, but he has personally voted for the boat several times in the past, and the only thing that has changed is that it is no longer a union-controlled vessel.
"This legislation is a necessary step towards preserving the legacy of the Delta Queen," Sen. Voinovich said. "The Delta Queen continues to be a source of historic preservation and economic benefit to Ohio and many other states. I have many fond memories of spending time as a passenger on the Delta Queen and I am pleased to have this opportunity to help preserve its wonderful heritage for our children and grandchildren."
Chabot said Congress originally intended the law to apply to ocean-going vessels, but the Delta Queen, which is never far from shore, was unexpectedly caught up in the regulations. Recognizing the difference between boats operating on inland waterways and those operating at sea, Congress established the exemption in 1968 and has renewed it on nine separate occasions to allow the Delta Queen to continue overnight passenger cruises. For more information, visit www.save-the-delta-queen.com.
9-16-08 Carnival Galveston Ships Moving to Houston this Weekend As a result of the closure of the Port of Galveston due to damage from Hurricane Ike, Carnival Cruise Lines' two Galveston-based ships, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, are scheduled to operate their regular cruise programs from the Port of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal effective with this weekend's departures.
The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will resume its four- and five-day Mexico schedule from the Port of Houston starting with a five-day cruise departing Saturday, Sept. 20. Beginning with the departure of Sunday, Sept. 21, the 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest will depart Houston on seven-day cruises to the western Caribbean.
Both vessels are currently docked in New Orleans where they were deployed following the closure of the Port of Galveston. Carnival Conquest will arrive at the Port of Houston on Thursday, Sept. 18, and Carnival Ecstasy on Friday, Sept. 19, to disembark those guests who opted to remain aboard the vessels following their previous voyages.
Carnival's two Houston-based ships will operate the same itineraries as they did from Galveston. Carnival Conquest will sail seven-day western Caribbean voyages departing Sundays to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Carnival Ecstasy will depart Thursdays on four-day cruises to Cozumel, and on Mondays and Saturdays on five-day voyages to Cozumel and Progreso.
The Port of Houston's newly opened Bayport Terminal is an $81 million state-of-the-art facility with 96,000 square feet of space. It is conveniently accessed from both of the city's airports, and a variety of fine restaurants and shops are located nearby. The Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy will be the first cruise ships to utilize the new facility.
9-16-08 Oasis of the Seas Entertainment "Neighborhood" Revealed Entertainment Complex On World's Most Revolutionary Ship Introduces New Venues, Giving Guests More Choices
The curtain has been raised on another neighborhood aboard Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International's newest and highly anticipated ship set to launch in November 2009. Entertainment Place, a complex of diverse entertainment venues, is one of seven neighborhoods on the world's largest and most revolutionary cruise ship a unique concept providing vacationers with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood. Previously announced neighborhoods include, Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, and the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center.
Details of Entertainment Place and other entertainment offerings onboard Oasis of the Seas were unveiled last night at the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. National Conference held on a cruise to Alaska this week. A contemporary night club district, Entertainment Place will introduce new signature after-dark spaces in more intimate venues that offer a variety of entertainment experiences. The new collection of venues will include Blaze, the hottest nightclub at sea; Jazz on 4, an intimate lounge filled with live jazz and blues; and Comedy Live, featuring side-splitting comedy. Dance enthusiasts also will be able to enjoy an elegant evening in Dazzles, a dance lounge featuring musically themed evenings, dance lessons and competitions. A video showing a preview of Entertainment Place with interviews from Royal Caribbean's executives can be viewed on www.OasisoftheSeas.com.
Whether guests are looking for a mellow low-key evening or an exhilarating high-energy 'night on the town,' Entertainment Place will have an experience to suit any mood. Those in need of a good belly laugh will be drawn to Comedy Live, the comedy club where headline acts will interact with the audience and provide engaging and customized performances each evening. The festive space with décor inspired by a New York subway station, features an underground theme with bright casual furnishings, glazed tiling and a ceiling map of the subway system.
Inspired by prohibition-era Chicago, Jazz on 4, with its warm tones of rich walnut paneling, plush sofas and chairs and velvety drapes accented with hand-stitched Swarovski crystals, will provide an intimate experience as guests enjoy soulful rhythms. Blaze, with its dramatic entrance of doors 'burning' with hot flames and a 'charred' threshold, delivers the quintessential nightclub experience where guests can dance the night away to pulsating music in a hip and trendy atmosphere.
Oasis of the Seas also will offer guests some of the most captivating theatrical productions ever created by the cruise line's award-winning Royal Caribbean Productions team. The Opal Theater, Oasis of the Seas' state-of-the-art 1,380-seat main theater, will feature a thrust stage and proscenium extending into the audience space to create a more intimate and interactive environment. Entertainers will make their entrances from unexpected locations around the venue and perform aerial acrobatics enveloping audience members in an experience which unfolds around and above them. The popular Studio B with its ice skating rink will continue to awe guests with spectacular and vibrant ice shows and serve as the locale for a variety of themed events.
The late-night energy of Entertainment Place will center around Casino Royale, the largest and most sophisticated casino at sea. Guests will enter through two themed walkway entrances - the first showcasing the 40-year legacy of Royal Caribbean International and the second, the Museum of Gaming, which immerses guests in the history of gaming. The elegant and stylish casino, reminiscent of the classic casinos found on the French Riviera, features dramatic sculptured architecture, sparkling crystal chandeliers and décor in jewel-toned hues of amethyst, aquamarine and ruby. Casino Royale will feature 450 slot machines; extensive table games including Blackjack, roulette, craps, and Caribbean Stud Poker; and a bar and lounge area from which to take in the casino action. Other amenities include a poker room and players club.
Sure to be popular with guests, Dazzles is a spectacular venue - spanning two decks - with an expansive floor-to-ceiling window offering breathtaking views of the Boardwalk below. The new dance lounge will offer a variety of musical experiences ranging from 1940's big band to disco to ballroom evenings. In the evenings, the elegant space is theatrically illuminated with dazzling constellations of small twinkling lights reflecting off glass and mirrored surfaces above and below. During the day, Dazzles will be open for guests to enjoy the view of the bustling activity on the Boardwalk over a drink or to learn a new dance move with a professional dance instructor.
A multitude of entertainment experiences will be found in all of the seven neighborhoods on Oasis of the Seas whereguests will be engaged throughout their cruise vacation. From musical and theatrical street performances in the tranquil gardens of Central Park or on the festive Boardwalk, to daring aerial acrobatic performances in the Royal Promenade, which will introduce a new dimension to Royal Caribbean's signature street parades. AquaTheater will deliver a complete sensory experience playing on the element of surprise as audience members witness the venue come alive with heart-pounding aerial and aquatic acrobatics, as well as elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights.
The On Air Club, located in the Royal Promenade, will radiate energy day and night with television monitors featuring news, sporting events and music. In addition, guests can put on a performance of their own on stage singing karaoke or create their own music video in a private video booth. Also in Royal Promenade, are other popular Royal Caribbean venues, Bolero's Latin club and the Schooner Bar, featuring sing-along entertainment. Club 20, a high-energy late night dance club experience under the stars, will transform the adults-only Solarium into an evening hot spot.
When she launches in late 2009, Oasis of the Seas will be the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship in the world. An architectural marvel at sea, she will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. Oasis of the Seas will be the first ship to tout the cruise line's new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center and Entertainment Place. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Additional information is available at www.oasisoftheseas.com.
9-15-08 Regent Seven Seas Cruises Announces $40-Million Fleet Enhancement Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced that it will invest approximately $40 million dollars to implement an extensive refurbishment and enhancement of the line's all-suite vessels: Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Navigator. This investment is in addition to the $20 million that was spent on the fleet over the past two years as the line re-branded under the Regent moniker.
The refurbishments will commence in December 2008 with the dry-dock of Seven Seas Voyager, followed by Seven Seas Mariner in January 2009, and Seven Seas Navigator in the first half of 2010, and result in a new look that is fresh, elegant and luxurious yet retains the familial warmth and charm for which Regent Seven Seas Cruises is lauded.
In addition to the scheduled technical work, almost every area of the ships will be refurbished, with public rooms being substantially re-designed with new furniture, using sumptuous materials like imported leathers, suede, and mahogany, along with warm color schemes and rich fabrics offset by lustrous marble and granite accents. The marine architectural firm of Yran and Storbraaten of Oslo, Norway, is overseeing the design work along with Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Vessel Operations team. Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner will be refurbished at the Grand Bahama shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. Final details and the location of Seven Seas Navigator's 2010 dry dock will be announced at a later date.
Highlights of the refurbishment program for Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner include:
9-13-08 Grand Turk Cruise Center Closed Until Early October The Grand Turk Cruise Center, operated by Carnival Corp,, has scheduled an Oct. 8, 2008 re-opening date, following the passage of Hurricane Ike.
An engineering survey has confirmed that no damage was sustained to the cruise ship pier, which can accommodate up to two ships at one time. Minimal damage occurred to the facility's retail and restaurant complex.
"We believe we can complete repairs to the cruise center within a 30-day period and bring cruise ships back to Grand Turk," said Giora Israel, Carnival's vice president of strategic planning and port development. "We will be able to provide many of the wonderful, beach, snorkeling and watersports experiences that Grand Turk is famous for, along with the oversized pool and food and shopping opportunities at the cruise center, including the extremely popular Margaritaville restaurant."
Israel added that returning cruise ships quickly will provide important economic benefits to Grand Turk while the island moves forward with its recovery efforts. In addition to its existing staff on the island, Carnival Corp. & plc will bring in a number of additional skilled workers who will be housed and fed by the company. Those individuals will not only repair the cruise center complex, but also assist in the repair of some of the island's key attractions.
"We will be investing millions of dollars in the coming months to help Grand Turk quickly re-build its cruise-focused tourism. Bringing tourists back to the island as quickly as possible will play a major role in driving the island's overall recovery," said Israel. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is the largest private employer on the island and the cruise center staff, combined with shore excursion operators, comprises approximately 80 percent of non-government jobs in Grand Turk.
Carnival will also provide financial and logistical assistance to enable shore excursion operators to resume their businesses. Cruise passengers and crew members will be provided the opportunity to participate in volunteer-oriented excursions for those who wish to assist in the island's recovery effort.
The Grand Turk Cruise Center, which opened in 2006, is a $60 million, 13-acre complex featuring an 800-foot-long private beach, swimming pool and FlowRider attraction, which offers body boarding and stand-up board surfing, in addition to multiple retail outlets. The FlowRider, which was not damaged, will re-open pending the status of power supply on the island. The cruise center's lush landscaping, much of which was lost as a result of the storm, will be replaced on a gradual basis over the next several months.
The island of Grand Turk is world-renowned for diving and snorkeling, and also features magnificent beaches, aqua-blue waters, and a variety of fishing and watersports activities. The first cruise ship scheduled to call at Grand Turk will be Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Destiny on Oct. 8. Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest cruise-line user of the Grand Turk facility. Several other cruise lines, both from within the Carnival Corp. & plc family of brands and from other cruise operators, also regularly call at Grand Turk.
Additional information on the Grand Turk Cruise Center can be viewed at www.grandturkcc.com.
9-12-08 UK National Cruise Week Wraps Up Today The first annual "U.K. National Cruise Week" is wrapping up today; the first time Brits have celebrated the highest rated form of travel. More than 2,000 travel agencies in Britain, organised by the Association of Cruise Experts (ACE), have been holding events to highlight the world of cruising, and the U.K. Telegraph newspaper has been running a series of "Britain Cruises" articles about the event.
A record one-and-a-half million Britons are expected to take a cruise this year, according the British "Association of Cruise Experts." They present the following list of facts about British-based cruising:
9-10-08 Holland America Commits $200 Million to Upgrade Five Ships Holland America Line plans to spend $200 million for upgrades, enhancements and new features on five of the line's most popular ships. The company said that the ms Statendam, ms Ryndam, ms Maasdam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam will undergo extensive renovations during dry dock stays to create new venues, new staterooms, new decor and more over the next two years.
The company has planned to begin the 18-month, $200 million program when Veendam enters an extended dock in spring 2009, and the last ship is slated for completion in late 2010.
The enhancements will include a new resort pool concept, innovative lanai staterooms, new entertainment and enrichment options, all new stateroom decor and more. With this new announcement, Holland America Line's commitment to enhancing its premium fleet now exceeds $525 million.
The company said that all staterooms in the ships will receive new decor, carpeting and soft goods. Each ship will have an additional 44 to 46 staterooms, 32 with verandahs and the remaining will be inside staterooms. The company has planned to create 46 new lanai staterooms in the five ships by replacing existing windows of 42 staterooms with lanai doors that open directly onto the walk-around promenade, and adding 4 additional staterooms.
The program also involves enhancements to several of the public rooms. The Casino and Piano bars will be reconfigured into a multi-themed area called Mix with three separate bars-Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales.
In related news, Holland America also announced their new build scheduled for 2010, a sister ship to the just launched Eurodam, will be named "Nieuw Amsterdam." Holland America has a history of recycling its titles for ships. For example, the current Rotterdam in service is the fifth vessel to have that name.
9-10-08 MSC Orders Two New Ships MSC Cruises has announced the expansion of its fleet with the order of two additional ships from the Aker Yards France at St. Nazaire. The announcement was made at a press conference September 10 in Milan.
The new ships due for delivery in 2011 and 2012 - will be named MSC Meraviglia ("marvelous/amazing") and MSC Favolosa ("fabulous") and will be the fifth and sixth sister ships in the "Musica" class, at 93,000 tons and with 1,275 staterooms and a capacity of 2,550 passengers, double occupancy.
MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa will join the current fleet for a total of 14 ships and more than 1.4 million passengers carried by 2012. These two ships will complete the development plan that has allowed the company to achieve a series of records (according to MSC Cruises):
Construction will start on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa under the guidance of the Korean STX Shipbuilding at the Aker Yards France.
9-10-08 Park West offers New Limited Return Policy for Art Auctions Cruise ship art auction purveyor, Park West, announced a new return policy, effective as of September 1st, 2008, for purchasers of art on cruise ships. The return policy is called the "40-40-40" policy. Park West is the provider of art auctions for Carnival, Disney, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas and Royal Caribbean. The policy also applies to Park West land auctions.
The policy offers buyers a refund of the purchase price for any piece they buy in a cruise ship art auction for up to 40 days beyond the receipt of purchase. The refund is limited, however, to a maximum of $1000 per piece including the 15% buyer's premium. It does not include a refund on any shipping or handling costs.
Optionally, the buyer can request an exchange for another work of art in the Park West collection for up to 40 months after the receipt of the original purchase. The exchanges do not have a maximum price limit. The item can be exchanged for another item of equal or lesser value, or of greater value if the customer pays the difference in price. Shipping and handling is still charged separately.
Cruisemates recently did an extensive article on the controversy around these art auctions. You can read that here: Cruise Art Auction Controversy.
9-9-08 Delta Queen Rally, Tuesday, 9-9, 11:00 Maysville, Kentucky Maysville, KY A Save the Delta Queen steamboat rally will take place Tuesday, September 9th beginning at 11:00 a.m. at Limestone Landing in downtown Maysville, Kentucky.
The Delta Queen is the last traditional steamboat carrying overnight passengers on America's inland waterways and for that reason has been designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1966, she was inadvertently caught in the technical provisions of the Safety at Sea Act, which 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.
Without congressional action, the current exemption will expire at midnight on October 31, 2008. Bipartisan legislation to extend the exemption (H.R. 3852) was introduced by Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio on October 16 of last year. 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 full House of Representatives.
Senator George Voinovich of Ohio has announced that when Congress reconvenes after the August recess, he will introduce an exemption bill in the Senate.
The September 9th rally will feature speakers from the Save the Delta Queen Campaign, state and local government representatives, Bill Wiemuth, Delta Queen Historian, and a representative from the office of Congressman Geoff Davis, who is a cosponsor of H.R. 3852. Music will be provided by Saint Patrick's Elementary and High School choirs.
9-8-08 Carnival Itinerary Updates for Hurricanes Monday 9-08 HURRICANE IKE
9-5-08 Storm Itinerary Change Updates - Sept 5 Disney Cruises - Tropical Weather Update As of Thursday, September 4, 2008, The safety of our guests and crew is always our first priority at Disney Cruise Line and we are closely monitoring the current weather conditions in the Caribbean through the National Weather Service.
At this time, we have not made any changes to the September 7th voyage of the Disney Wonder.
Should weather conditions change, our Captain can alter the ship's course or itinerary for the safety and well being of our guests.
Carnival Cruise Lines (SEPTEMBER 4, 2008 - 12:30 PM) We are closely monitoring the progress of Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike. All of Carnival's ships will continue to operate at a safe distance from these storms. Our number one priority is the safety of our guests and crew.
We have made itinerary changes for several departures in order to provide our guests with an enjoyable shore experience, while operating the ships in the safest and most comfortable conditions:
We are looking forward to welcoming our guests aboard all of the Carnival "Fun Ships." The officers, staff and crew on each of our ships
Norwegian Cruise Line - Miami - Sep 5, 2008 Norwegian Cruise Line is closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Hanna as the safety and security of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance.
Depending on the projected paths of the storms, NCL may be required to modify some additional itineraries, including Norwegian Sky's itinerary for Monday, September 8, 2008.
NCL will continue to closely monitor the weather conditions and will update this information as necessary.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
9-2-08 Ruby Princess to Offer Tours of Ship Operations Most cruise ship passengers are aware that behind the scenes of their relaxing cruise vacation there's a bustle of activity to deliver an excellent experience, but few have gotten an up-close look at these inner workings. This will change in November with the debut of Ruby Princess as Princess Cruises introduces an industry first, The Ultimate Ship Tour, an exclusive opportunity to experience an array of "back of house" areas that are key to a ship's daily operations.
This pioneering concept will give passengers the unique opportunity to explore beyond the public areas with visits to the ship's engine control room, medical center, print shop, laundry, photo lab, bridge and other spaces for a rare insider's view of many areas typically seen only by the ship's crew. Participants will also receive a variety of themed mementos at many of the stops along the route.
"This tour is really the ultimate opportunity for some of our passengers to get a very unique view of the new Ruby Princess, and meet some of the ship's senior officers in their working environment," said Jan Swartz, Princess senior vice president. "I'm sure people will be amazed at what goes into running a city at sea, particularly since our onboard staff makes it appear so easy."
The Ultimate Ship Tour lasts approximately three hours, and will be offered once or twice per cruise on a sea day. Space is limited for the tour, which will be available for $150 per person, and can be reserved onboard at the Passenger Services Desk. Following its debut aboard Ruby Princess, the program will be introduced aboard all Princess ships.
The innovative tour will feature:
Back Stage Area - Passengers start the tour with a glimpse behind the glitz in the Princess Theater, home to Princess' sparkling stage productions. They'll meet the cast and production staff, who will show them all that goes into making sure the show goes on night after night - including costumes and dressing areas, scenery and technical operations such as lighting and sound.
Galley and Food Production Areas - In the galley, guests will meet the executive chef, learn about the process of providing thousands of passengers meals each day, and see the inner workings of the ship's kitchen areas while enjoying a glass of French champagne, caviar and canapés. In addition, passengers will get a peek into some of Ruby Princess' vast food storage and production areas, each specially equipped and temperature-controlled for a specific type of food. Each guest will also be presented with an official chef's jacket.
Engine Control Room - At the center of the vessel's mechanical and electrical systems, the engine control room is where the ship's technical team monitors everything from the operation of the ship's propellers to the water supply in each stateroom. Participants will meet the chief technical offer and his staff who will explain the numerous functions overseen by the control room, including the vast amount of power generated to operate Ruby Princess.
Print Shop - Passengers will see where their daily Princess Patter, among other things, is produced. The ship's printer will meet the group and demonstrate the printing equipment and explain which materials passengers see each day are printed right onboard Ruby Princess. To mark their visit, each passenger will receive their own set of personalized stationery printed on board.
Photo Laboratory - Princess was the first cruise line to go completely digital, and each ship operates a full photo lab with the latest in digital printing equipment. The group will meet the Ruby Princess photo staff and learn how they manage the thousands of pictures taken and printed each day. Participants might even see their own smiling faces print out during their visit.
Medical Center - The ship's doctor will meet the group to show them the state-of-the-art medical facilities, including treatment rooms, laboratory facilities, intensive care unit, and digital x-ray system. Participants will learn how the ship's doctors and nurses - all full-time maritime medicine specialists - keep both passengers and crew healthy and handle medical emergencies. They'll also learn about the most common reasons passengers visit the medical center.
Main Laundry - Ruby Princess' onboard laundries operate 24 hours a day to wash tons of passenger and crew linens, towels, and clothing - including more than 20,000 towels a day alone. Here visitors will meet the laundry master and will see this impressive operation in action. Participants will also receive a luxurious bath robe usually reserved for suite passengers.
Funnel - The group will then travel to the upper most deck of the ship to join the staff captain for the opportunity to peek inside the ship's funnel area high atop Ruby Princess, where they will be treated to spectacular views of the ship and the surrounding ocean.
Bridge - The tour concludes at the ship's command center, where passengers will meet the captain and his bridge team and learn about the state-of-the-art navigational equipment and safety systems aboard Ruby Princess. Passengers will also take in the dramatic front-of-ship views from the bridge's wraparound windows, while they enjoy special refreshments and pose with the captain at the ship's wheel for a complimentary photo. The framed photo and a tour completion certificate signed by the captain will later be delivered to each participant's stateroom.
Ruby Princess, a sister ship to Emerald Princess and Crown Princess, will debut on November 8. Ship features include a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing array of performing street entertainers, Princess' signature adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary, an Italian restaurant, a seafood and steak house, and "Movies Under the Stars," a giant outdoor movie screen. The 113,000-ton vessel will feature an inaugural season of Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a program of Mediterranean voyages in summer 2009.
9-2-08 Disney Magic to get Dry Dock Upgrades A number of enhancements awaits the Disney Magic as the ship heads into dry dock Sept. 6-24, 2008. The 2,700 passenger cruise ship will undergo a series of upgrades:
Quiet Cove, the serene pool retreat reserved for the enjoyment of adults, will undergo a makeover including upgrades to Cove Café, the pool and the deck area. Cove Café, the ship's sophisticated coffee lounge, will incorporate a new seating area with plush, comfortable chairs. The adult pool will be outfitted with cascading waterfalls from the two hot tubs. Teak deck and lounge chairs with plush cushions will line the pool.
The Oceaneer Club, a Neverland-themed play space for 3-7 year olds, and the Oceaneer Lab, an interactive laboratory exclusively for 8-12 year olds, will be enhanced with new registration areas that make the check-in process more efficient. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology will ne implemented in the youth activity areas later this year to further enhance and streamline the check-in process. The technology uses RFID tags embedded on wristbands, allowing children to simply tap a sensor to check in and out of the clubs.
The youngest cruisers will enjoy "Mickey's Splash Zone," a new toddler water playground inspired by Fantasia's Sorcerer's Apprentice. This 385-square-foot extension to the Mickey Pool on deck 9 will feature star- and moon-shaped interactive fountains, a soft play surface and whimsical splash zones; creating an inviting environment for children not yet toilet trained and in swim diapers.
The guest staterooms onboard the Disney Magic will receive flat-screen LCD television sets. The new 22-inch units will be mounted on a swivel arm to allow easy viewing from multiple locations within the stateroom.
9-1-08 Royal Caribbean Tropical Weather Update
Tropical Weather Update September 1, 2008 - 10:30 a.m.
Royal Caribbean International continues to closely monitor the path and progress of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna to ensure our guests enjoy safe and comfortable cruises, and to make certain our ships steer clear of the storms. The safety of our guests and crew members is always our foremost concern. Given the locations and projected paths of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna, we are altering the itinerary of four ships:
Ships sailing from Port Canaveral UPDATE -- Sovereign of the Seas, which departs Port Canaveral Monday, September 1, will sail a revised itinerary. The ship will visit Nassau, Bahamas, Tuesday; and Key West, Florida, Wednesday, spending the night and departing Thursday morning.
Mariner of the Seas, which departs Port Canaveral Sunday, August 31, will sail a modified itinerary. The ship will not visit Coco Cay, Bahamas, Monday, but will makes its scheduled port calls in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Wednesday; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Thursday.
Ships sailing from the Port of Miami UPDATE -- Majesty of the Seas, which departs the Port of Miami Monday, September 1, will sail a revised itinerary. The ship will visit Nassau, Bahamas, Tuesday; be at sea Wednesday and visit Key West, Florida, Thursday.
Liberty of the Seas, which departs the Port of Miami Saturday, August 30, will sail a revised itinerary, with its ports of call simply reordered. The ship will visit Labadee, Haiti, Monday; San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten, Wednesday.