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TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA FOR 10 NIGHTS FROM JUST $899
You’ll get to visit more cities, see more sites including the Great Barrier Reef and only unpack once! Explore even more of Australia by adding a cruisetour to your trip, with this 100% fully escorted land tour you will stay Down Under longer and visit famous sites like Ayers Rock.

American Express Travel Celebrity Cruises® reveals new worlds to you.
Book today and receive up to a $100 onboard credit per stateroom on select 2009 and 2010 sailings when you book an Ocean View or above stateroom. Hurry, offers expire July 31st, 2009.

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07.02.2009


  MSC Splendida to Debut This Week!

MSC Splendida Coming
I left early this morning for St Nazaire, France, and by the time you are reading this I will be on my way to the STX shipyard, where I will witness the handover ceremony from the shipyard to MSC cruises of the brand new MSC Splendida. The ship is 133,500-tons and carries 3300 passengers. The target market is Italy first followed by Germany, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. This will be my first visit to an MSC cruise ship, and I am looking forward to giving you my impressions.

Building a cruise ship is a complicated project, not only for the technical challenges, but also for the financial ones. You may not know this, but a cruise line does not pay for a cruise ship until construction is completed. At that point, after the sea trials and inspections, there is an official ceremony where the ship's flag is turned over to the cruise line.

Actually paying for the ship is the aftermath of placing a huge bet. The cost of the ship and the final price to be paid is negotiated before construction begins. But when the payment is made, often two to three years later, the ship is either a bargain or a burden. This depends upon currency fluctuations and the possible effect of inflation.

Inflation has been low lately, and the dollar has gotten stronger. Most US-based lines acquiring new ships have received the benefit of that. The problem is most ships run into cost overruns these days and can end up costing more than the originally agreed-upon price. Each of those changes has to be negotiated separately

I have been to shipyards before, the first time to see the Silversea Silver Whisper and the second time to see Cunard's Queen Victoria in the building process. But this will be the first time I will be onboard a ship as it sails out of the shipyard under the possession of the cruise line for the very first time.

I will be blogging and Twittering about this event as it unfolds. My Twitter name is @CruiseMates and here is the link for the daily updates. I will also be onboard the inaugural cruise, most likely with a ship full of European revelers. If anybody knows how to christen a cruise ship it is the Europeans. This particular ceremony will feature Sophia Loren as the godmother. Need I say more?


American Express Travel
Celebrity Cruises® reveals new worlds to you.

Book today and receive up to a $100 onboard credit per stateroom on select 2009 and 2010 sailings when you book an Ocean View or above stateroom. Hurry, offers expire July 31st, 2009.
American Express Travel

Alaska Cruise Season

I just wanted to give a "shout out" to all the people going to Alaska this year. I have to say that while I am in Europe I plan on being an ambassador for Alaska, especially to the European cruisers I encounter. Why? Because I just returned from a remote European Arctic archipelago chain called Svalbard, and I now know that there is nothing close near the European continent that compares to the beauty and diversity of Alaska.

Europe has a completely different climate from the west coast of North America. It would seem that Norway should be teeming with glaciers, whales and bears if you look at comparable latitudes. Norway has very similar topological features with a series of inter-coastal islands with deep, glacier-carved inlets and cold, peaceful waters. But where are the whales? Where are the glaciers?

The closest thing to an Alaska experience you can get in Europe is a trip to the uber-isolated Arctic north. The island we just visited, Spitsbergen (part of the Svalbard group) is deathly cold. The glaciers there are magnitudes larger than those in Alaska, but they aren't any fun. It's just too cold! Not only is this bad for people, even the glaciers don't want to move.

In Alaska you can be fairly certain that if you watch any glacier for 30 minutes you are likely to see excellent calving action with tons of ice crashing into the sea below. If you take an excursion to Auke Bay, just 20 minutes outside of Juneau, you are sure to see humpback whales in droves.

Last year we saw a large group of humpbacks in the wild doing a rarely witnessed activity called bubble-feeding. They use underwater audio signals, which we could hear with a special microphone, to coordinate the surrounding of schools of fish with bubbles. As the fish are trapped inside the rising circle of bubbles the whales swim below them towards the surface and all break through at the same time with their mouths wide open. To see the wide open baleen jaws of a dozen humpbacks all breaking the surface in unison is an unforgettable experience.

Sorry Europe, you just don't have anything to compare to our Alaska, so you had better come to America to experience it. Like the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, it is one of the wonders of our continent that you just can't compete with. And the prices are unbelievably low. It isn't too late to book an Alaska cruise, so let's get started!


TRAVEL TO AUSTRALIA FOR 10 NIGHTS FROM JUST $899
You’ll get to visit more cities, see more sites including the Great Barrier Reef and only unpack once! Explore even more of Australia by adding a cruisetour to your trip, with this 100% fully escorted land tour you will stay Down Under longer and visit famous sites like Ayers Rock.
Royal Caribbean: 1-800-Royal Caribbean

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new feature articles

Does the Term "Cruisewear" Still Apply
The first in a new wave in luxury ships debuts today in beautiful Venice, Italy. The 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey, the first new luxury ship in six years. blue arrows

Cruise Crime Act 2009 Questions
What you may not know about the Cruise Crime Bill of 2009 - and why you need to follow this issueblue arrows

Capital Jazz Fest at Sea
This jazz cruise boasts a solid lineup of well-known players from Dave Sanborn to Joe Sample. blue arrows

Seabourn Odyssey: New Luxury Standards
The first in a new wave in luxury ships debuts today in beautiful Venice, Italy. The 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey, the first new luxury ship in six years. blue arrows

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Reader Contributed Cruise Reviews!
We have thousands of cruise reviews written by people like you. This week's review:
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines: Explorer of the Seas
by Todd De haven
The staff and crew I found, without exception mind you, were "over the top" when it came to courtesy, graciousness, helpfulness, honesty, etc.

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