News Archive - April 2003

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4-28-03 Regal Cruises Closes Regal Cruises has announced that it is ceasing all cruise operations as of Monday, April 28, 2003. The company has canceled all future sailings on its ship, the Regal Empress, beginning with Thursday's four-day cruise to Mexico. Regal has advised passengers who have paid for future cruises that their money is protected by Federal Maritime Commission bond and will provide information on obtaining a refund.

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4-25-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Holland America Line's Amsterdam arrives in Vancouver today, marking the start of the city's 2003 cruise season. Amsterdam will sail two Pacific Northwest cruises from Vancouver before starting weekly Alaska sailings from Seattle on Saturday May 3. Holland America leads the way in Alaska cruising this year with six ships sailing from Vancouver, one from Seattle and one from San Francisco. A total of 33 cruise ships will call at the Port of Vancouver from now through September.

*** In conjunction with the arrival of Amsterdam the B.C. Ports and Destinations Group launched the Cruise British Columbia Initiative during a Press Conference at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver this morning. The initiative aims to build a world-class cruise industry in British Columbia. Members include the Vancouver Port Authority, the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the Campbell River Port of Call Partnership, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and the Nanaimo Port Authority. It is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Province of British Columbia.

*** Regal Empress was arrested by federal officials last Friday afternoon at Port Manatee after a lien was placed on the vessel by Motor-Services Hugo Stamp due to an unpaid $730,000 bill. The action caught Regal Cruises by surprise as the payment is an insurance matter - the four engines repaired by Motor-Services last February had broken down due to bad fuel. Regal Cruises has appealed the lien. The Easter weekend cruise was canceled after more than 800 people had already boarded Regal Empress. The disappointed passengers were served drinks while bags were unloaded then tour buses took them back to Tampa International Airport and their hotels. Passengers were offered transportation home and a full refund or credit on a future cruise. A 10-night cruise scheduled to sail last Monday was also canceled. Regal Cruises hopes to resolve the issue in time for the May 1 cruise. The line also met with officials from Port Manatee this week to discuss $300,000 owed for services. The port is not considering legal action at this time.

*** The new Pacific Princess sails her first voyage for Princess Cruises on Sunday - a 15 night cruise from Sydney to Papeete, Tahiti. She continues to San Francisco for summer Alaska sailings then returns to Tahiti and Australia for fall and winter cruises. Pacific Princess is on a split deployment sailing half the year for Princess Cruises and half for P&O Cruises Australia. The 30,200-ton, 684-passenger vessel is the former R3 of Renaissance Cruises.

*** Cruise lines are altering itineraries after a travel advisory for Turkey raised security concerns. Crystal Cruises is eliminating visits to Turkey and ports of call in the Black Sea on two Crystal Serenity sailings, August 26 and October 1, and is offering reduced fares on the ship's inaugural Mediterranean season. Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has replaced Istanbul with Venice on Radisson Diamond, Seven Seas Voyager and Song of Flower cruises between August 20 and November 2, 2003. CostaAtlantica's sailings from Venice have been modified through June 8 to avoid Turkey. Atlantica will call at ports in Italy, Croatia and the Greek Isles. As well, Costa has extended the Atlantic islands sailings of CostaEuropa and CostaAllegra through May and delayed Eastern Mediterranean sailings for both vessels. Costa has various promotions in place for its Mediterranean cruises this year.

*** Carnival Cruise Lines has seen a four fold increase in the number of families sailing aboard its fleet in the last eight years. The line is continually developing its family-friendly amenities. The new Carnival Glory, debuting this July, features a 4,200-square-foot play area, "kid-friendly" dining selections, fun morning-til-night activities, stroller rentals and more, all part of the line's top-rated "Camp Carnival" program. Particular emphasis has been placed on teens, who can enjoy a high-tech game room/dance club, exclusive just-for-teens shore excursions and various other activities. Beginning July 19, 2003, Carnival Glory will sail year-round, every Saturday from Port Canaveral on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. The eastern route calls at Nassau, St. Thomas/St. John, and St. Maarten, while the western includes Key West; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel and Progreso/Merida, Mexico.

*** Crystal Cruises 2004 Cruise Atlas is now available. The 160-page publication is Crystal's largest ever. It outlines voyages for the line's first year with a three-ship fleet, the 940-passenger Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony and the 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity which debuts July 3, 2003. Crystal will sail 89 itineraries to 178 destinations in 56 countries in 2004. For a complimentary copy of the 2004 Cruise Atlas, call 800.820.6663 or, visit the luxury line's web site at It features an online version of the 2004 Cruise Atlas that can be downloaded, printed, or e-mailed.

*** Oceania Cruises has announced itineraries for its first winter season. Regatta will sail from Lisbon to Miami for 14 nights, November 10, 2003 returning, March 15, 2004. In between, she will sail her inaugural season of 10-, 12- and 14-day sailings to the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and the Panama Canal commencing November 25, 2003. Itineraries include Eastern Caribbean cruises, round-trip from Miami for 12 nights on December 9, 21, 2003 and February 20, March 3, 2004, calling at Tortola, Nevis, Dominica, Antigua, St. Barts, Virgin Gorda and La Romana, Dominican Republic. Three 14-night cruises transit the Panama Canal - round-trip from Miami on November 10, 2003 and between Miami and Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, January 2, 2004 and February 6, 2004. Two Mexican Riviera cruises sail between Puerto Caldera and Los Angeles for 10 nights, January 16, 2004 January 27, 2004 calling at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas. Savings up to 45% are available with per person fares starting at 1,295 per person. Staterooms with private teak verandas start at $2,995 and suite accommodations with Butler service at $2,295.

*** Norwegian Cruise Line has announced Alaska and Bermuda deployment for 2004. NCL will increase its capacity in Alaska next year. The Norwegian Star will reposition from Honolulu to Seattle for weekly Alaska cruises from May 23, 2004 through Sept. 12, 2004. Ports of call are Juneau, Skagway Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and Victoria, B.C.. Once Norwegian Star leaves Hawaii, a state-of-the-art casino will be added in Dazzles nightclub according to the ship's original design. Since casinos cannot operate in Hawaiian waters, the casino was replaced with the nightclub for the ship's year-round Hawaii program. NCL will be announcing its new Hawaii deployment for 2004 in the next few weeks. Norwegian Sky will once again sail from Seattle to Alaska in 2004 while the 1,936 passenger Norwegian Sun will replace the 1,748 passenger Norwegian Wind on sailings from Vancouver next season.

NCL will also expand its Bermuda program, sailing from four homeports. Norwegian Crown will call at the three Bermuda ports - Hamilton, St. George's and King's Wharf - on Sunday sailings round-trip from Philadelphia April 18 to May 30, 2004; round-trip from New York June 6 to Sept. 5, 2004 and round-trip from Baltimore Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2004. Norwegian Majesty will repeat her Bermuda sailings from Boston from May 2 to Oct. 24, 2004. Back to Top

4-18-03 Weekend Cruise News Sophia Loren at left in red and MSC Lirica CLICK FOR PIC *** Screen star Sophia Loren christened the Lirica in Naples, Italy during a glittering ceremony last Saturday. The 58,600-ton, 1,600 passenger vessel is the new flagship for MSC Italian Cruises. Lirica is the fourth and largest ship in the MSC fleet joining Melody, Monterey and Rhapsody. She departed Sunday on her maiden voyage, a seven-night cruise to the Western Mediterranean, round trip from Genoa. Lirica is scheduled to sail Caribbean cruises, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale from January to June, 2004. Sister ship Opera enters service next year.

*** The SARS situation continues to keep cruise lines on the alert. Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises have announced ship redeployments, listed below. Cruise lines are screening passengers before boarding ship to ensure they have not been in contact with the SARS virus. Passengers who have visited a SARS infected area within 10 days of the cruise may not be allowed to board. Cruise passengers should check with their cruise line for exact details before leaving home.

  • Crystal Cruises has canceled the remaining Asia sailings of Crystal Harmony. The line cited a high rate of cancelations due to the SARS outbreak in China as the reason. Crystal Harmony will reposition to Los Angeles to sail two Mexican Riviera cruises and a coastal cruise to Vancouver before starting her Alaska season. The new cruises include a nine-night cruise May 1, and seven-night cruise May 10 both calling at Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. The May 1 cruise also calls at San Diego and is available as a seven-night cruise originating in that port. The Pacific Coastal cruise departs May 17 for six nights from Los Angeles to Vancouver calling at San Francisco, Seattle and Victoria. Fares on the three new cruises start as low as $795 per person including port charges.
  • Star Cruises is repositioning SuperStar Virgo from Singapore to Perth, Australia and SuperStar Leo from Hong Kong to Sydney. The 76,800-ton 1,980 passenger ships will sail Australia and South Pacific cruises for at least the next three months. Two crewmen from SuperStar Virgo were released from hospitals in Malaysia and Singapore this week after being diagnosed with bronchitis, not SARS. They are being kept in quarantine for a further 10 days as a precaution.

*** Windstar's Wind Surf achieved a perfect score on her latest health inspection on April 6 at St. Thomas. She is the first ship to earn a perfect score of 100 in two U.S. Public Health Inspections in both 2002 and 2003. The first took place on March 3, 2002 at Ft. Lauderdale.

*** A fire broke out last Monday afternoon on board the 105,000-ton Costa Fortuna at Fincantieri's shipyard in Genoa. It took firefighters over three hours to extinguish the blaze which started on deck 8 and also damaged decks 7 and 9. The vessel is currently being fitted out for its November delivery. No serious injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

*** Diamond Princess was floated out in a ceremony at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan, last Saturday. The ship's horn sounded as the traditional bottle of champagne broke against the bow and a shower of colorful streamers was released. The 113,000-ton 2,600-passenger Diamond Princess is scheduled to debut in March, 2004 sailing Mexican Riviera cruises from Los Angeles followed by Alaska sailings from Seattle.

*** Small ship adventure specialist, Clipper Cruise Line, will send the 128-passenger Clipper Odyssey to French Polynesia for the first time this year. "Exploring the Polynesian Paradises of the Pacific" is a 16-day adventure sailing from Honolulu to Papeete, Tahiti September, 4, 2003. It includes Zodiac cruising of Molokai's North Shore cliffs, tours to Maui's historic whaling village of Lahaina, and exploration of the world-famous Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, calls at Christmas, Starbuck, and Caroline islands in the rarely visited Line Island chain; an expeditionary call at Rangiroa Atoll; and calls at Bora-Bora, Tahaa and Moorea in the Society Islands. "Exploring Melanesia" is a 17-day sailing from Fiji to Noumea, New Caledonia on November 13 and 22, 2003. It combines stops in the Fiji Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and New Caledonia with two post cruise nights at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney. For more details see your travel agent of visit the Clipper Cruise Line web site at

*** Crystal Cruises has released details of its etiquette training for junior cruises in Alaska this summer. Offered as part of the Junior Activities Program aboard Crystal Harmony, the etiquette classes train youngsters the art of fine dining with prizes and games as part of the fun - these classes are not lectures. A variety of dance nights - Swing, Salsa, Latin and Ballroom - with contemporary music, will also be offered. Kids 12 and under sail free on Crystal Harmony's, 12-night Alaska cruises round-trip from San Francisco this summer. The line saw a 12 percent increase in the number of cruisers under age 17 during its 2002 Alaska season prompting an expansion of the on board Junior Activities Program.

*** The port of Norfolk, Virginia will welcome a record 34 cruise ships and approximately 50,000 passengers in 2003, nearly an eight percent increase over 2002. Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is including Norfolk in its Bermuda sailings aboard Seven Seas Navigator this season. Other lines calling include Regal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Silverseas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America and Carnival Cruise Lines. Ships dock at Nauticus, the National Maritime Center pier from which passengers walk into the heart of Norfolk. The city is continuing to investigate the feasibility of a cruise terminal adjacent to the existing facility.

*** The sailing ship Star Clipper will be in Monaco for the Formula One Grad Prix in May. Star Clippers has acquired a limited number of tickets for passengers wanting to attend the world class event. Reserved seats are in the Grandstand area near the swimming pool by the harbor in Monte Carlo and standing tickets are for the area on the "Rock" overlooking the famous Hairpin Turn near the Palais du Prince. Star Clippers is selling the tickets as a service and is not marking up the cost which is 250 Euros for the reserved seats and 50 Euros for standing seats (one Euro is roughly equal to one U.S. dollar.) Star Clipper's seven-night cruise sails from Cannes, May 31, arriving in Monte Carlo on Sunday, June 1, 2003 for the race. She then sails on to Corsica, Elba, Portofino and back to Cannes. For more details, see your travel agent or contact Star Clippers at (800) 442-0551.

*** A special culinary cruise featuring Parisian cuisine with Polynesian accents will be featured aboard Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Paul Gauguin in Tahiti, departing May 31, 2003. Special guests will be Jean-Pierre Vigato, the Michelin two-star chef and owner of the exclusive Apicius restaurant in Paris; Gilles Tournadres, Michelin-starred chef, owner of Restaurant Gill in Rouen, near Paris and John Sarich, culinary director of Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in Washington, owner of Seattle's Adriatica Restaurant and Dalmacija Ristoran and host of TV's "Best of Taste" cooking show. Together they will present spectacular meals in the ship's L'Etoile and La Veranda Restaurants and conduct cooking demonstrations and wine tastings during the cruise. Paul Gauguin's seven-night cruises sail round-trip from Papeete, Tahiti to Raiatea, Tahaa (Motu Mahana), Bora Bora and Moorea with an overnight on board the ship in Bora Bora, Moorea and Papeete.

*** Windjammer Barefoot Cruises has announced the week of October 27, 2003 as "Pirate Week" aboard its fleet of sailing ships in the Caribbean. The six-day party cruises beginning October 27th will feature "swashbuckling fun" including buccaneer costume parties. Standard fares begin at $800 per person "Pirate Week" and include on board accommodations, all meals, on board entertainment and select drinks including early morning Bloody Mary's, afternoon rum swizzles, various wines, coffee and tea. Back to Top

4-16-03 Carnival/Princess Merger a "GO" The final step in the process of marrying P&O Princess into the Carnival Corp. family took place in London earlier this morning as the P&O shareholders gave approval to the merger. Carnival and Princess will soon become dual listed companies on the NYSE and the London FTSE.

This merger will create the world's largest cruise company.

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4-15-03 Carnival Opens Long Beach Pier
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 14, 2003: Carnival Cruise Lines' Ecstasy arrives at its new Long Beach, Calif., terminal Monday, April 14, 2003. Carnival Corporation, the Miami-based parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines and five other brands, expended $40 million to transform the geodesic dome into a modern cruise facility, construct a new docking pier and a multi-level parking garage. The terminal is to the left of the Queen Mary and once housed Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose plane. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Corporation Back to Top

4-15-03 Oceania Delays Second Ship Citing "severe and continuing affects of the Iraqi War", Oceania Cruises has announced it will delay taking delivery of its second ship, Insignia, until April 10, 2004. Oceania's other vessel, Regatta, scheduled to enter service July 5, 2003 on Mediterranean and Baltic itineraries, is scheduled to make Mediterranean and Baltic cruises this summer. Last week the company announced two-for-one pricing and free airfare on the first six Regatta voyages. Oceania Cruises' web site is Back to Top

4-14-03 NCL Purchases SS United States It's the biggest news we've seen in a while: Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it has purchased the S/S United States, one of the most famous transatlantic liners of all time. NCL is now evaluating options for use of the ship under U.S. flag and plans to convert her to a modern cruise ship. NCL says it plans to offer mainland U.S. itineraries where cruise products are not currently available. The refurbishment of the hull and superstructure will be done at U.S. shipyards with the outfitting completed overseas. On her maiden voyage, the S/S United States set an unbroken record by crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. Her service speed exceeded 35 knots and she was rumored to be capable of 50 knots. Designed by William Francis Gibbs, the ship is the longest passenger vessel ever built in the United States, at 990' 6", was considered an engineering marvel at the time, and held a near perfect operating schedule. Back to Top

4-11-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Carnival's Celebration has undergone a multi-million dollar refit which included an overhaul of the purser's lobby, redesigned dining rooms and cabins, and cosmetic enhancements to most public rooms and areas. The work was undertaken during a 70-day drydock in Freeport, Bahamas. Celebration returned to Galveston last Monday April 7 to continue her schedule of four and five-day Mexico cruises. The 47,262-ton, 1,486-passenger ship originally entered service in March 1987.

*** Cruise Lines continue to be on alert for the SARS virus. Star Cruises has canceled the next two cruises of SuperStar Virgo from Singapore as two crewmen are under observation at hospitals in Malyasia and Singapore and another 13 have been quarantined. Other vessels in the high risk areas of Asia have altered their routes in response to the outbreak. Prinsendam will call at ports in Japan, South Korea, Russia and Alaska in place of Hong Kong and Chinese ports on the April 11 and 25 sailings. Regal Princess is avoiding Singapore and Hong Kong. The World of ResidenSea has now canceled Asia sailings this spring. The World will sail from Australia to North America for Pacific Coast cruises including Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. The original schedule will be picked up July 11 in Anchorage.

*** Minerva II sets sail next Wednesday, April 16 on her inaugural voyage for Swan Hellenic Cruises. The vessel was built in 2001 as the R8 for Renaissance Cruises. At 30,277-tons and carrying 698 passengers she is the largest ship to have sailed Swan Hellenic's destination focused voyages. Following the 11-night cruise from Malta to Kusadasi, Turkey, Minerva II will continue to sail in the Mediterranean as well as Northern Europe followed by winter Caribbean, Panama Canal and South America sailings.

*** Oceania Cruises is offering 2-for-1 fares and free round-trip air from U.S. and Canadian gateways on the first six cruises aboard Regatta this summer. This includes the July 5 and September 13 sailings between London and Barcelona and the July 19, August 2, August 16, August 30 sailings between London and Stockholm. The special is offered on category C Deluxe Outside staterooms ($2,995 per guest), Category A veranda staterooms ($3,495 per guest) and Category B veranda staterooms ($3,395 per guest). See your travel agent for more details or visit the Oceania Cruises web site at .

*** After 27 years of service, British Airways has announced it will discontinue its supersonic Concorde program at the end of October. The airline cited a combination of low demand and rising maintenance costs for the decision. Cunard Line has expressed disappointment at the news. The line created the biggest market for the Concorde with its program of a Concorde flight in conjunction with a QE2 transatlantic crossing. It is the end of an era as QE2 will also retire from transatlantic service this year. The new Queen Mary 2 is taking over the transatlantic route in 2004. Air France, the only other airline to offer Concorde service, will also discontinue the supersonic service with the last flight scheduled for May 31, 2003.

*** Princess has re-designed their web site for those seeking a land-only Alaska vacation. Princess Tours is prominent in Alaska tourism owning five wilderness lodges and offering the 'Midnight Sun Express' rail packages as well as complete land vacations. The Princess Tours site now contains a booking engine with instant confirmations and virtual 360-degree photo tours of the Princess Wilderness Lodges - Copper River, Denali, Mt. McKinley and Kenai - and the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge. Readers can sign up to receive specials by email. Visit the web site at

*** Carnival Cruise Lines estimates that nearly 1.5 million passengers will use its health and fitness facilities aboard the line's 19 ships in 2003. On board the new Carnival Glory, debuting July 14 in Port Canaveral, the 13,300-square-feet Spa Carnival is designed with a Polynesian theme incorporating lush foliage, teak decking, and a two-deck waterfall cascading down a stone wall. The health and fitness center will include large picture windows providing panoramic views of the sea, along with the latest in weight and exercise technology. Instructor-led fitness classes, include low- and high-impact aerobics, yoga, kickboxing and spinning. The facility will house complete locker rooms, steam rooms, saunas and massage rooms, including a couples-only massage room and two deluxe treatment suites offering dry float beds. The health center will also feature a full-service beauty salon. Spa cuisine will be offered on menus in the two formal dining rooms. Beginning July 19, 2003, Carnival Glory will operate year-round seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral departing every Saturday. A special five-day Mexico cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel departs July 14.

*** Children's fares are discounted up to 50 percent on Cruise West's six-night summer family Costa Rica sailings, departing July 12, 19, 26 and August 2, 9 from San Jose. The cruises aboard the 100-passenger Pacific Explorer call at islands, national parks, wildlife preserves and a pre-Columbian archaeological site, with activities and learning experiences added for children. A special children's activities coordinator is on board to lead a variety of special activities tailored to specific age levels: short hikes in the forest to look for monkeys, Spanish lessons, horseback riding, water skiing and ´┐Żbanana-boat' rides. Activities shared with parents include jungle wildlife walks, Zodiac river trips, snorkeling, kayaking, and beach barbecues. Fares include all shore excursions and are priced from $1,545 to $2,445 per person, double. Children ages 12 and under and sharing a cabin with an adult save 50 percent; ages 13 through 21 save 25 percent. For additional information and brochures contact your travel agent or visit the Cruise West web site

*** Norwegian Cruise Line will send the Norwegian Dream to Europe in 2004. NCL is offering 'Europe Plus' to those booking more than 180 days ahead of sailing. The pre- or post-cruise program is available in Rome or London and includes two free nights in a first-class hotel, a private hospitality desk at the hotel for assistance with sightseeing, shopping and/or dining and a private check-in for those staying pre-cruise. Norwegian Dream will position from Miami to Rome on a 16-night transatlantic crossing followed by a 12-night cruise from Rome to Dover, England on April 17, 2004. The 12-night Baltic cruises sail round-trip from Dover, England, from April 19 to September 10, 2004, sailing through the Kiel Canal and calling at Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia (two days); Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen (overnight) Warnemunde, Germany where an optional tour to Berlin is available. Norwegian Dream will then return to Miami sailing a 15-night crossing from Dover on October 7, 2004.

*** Wedgwood has created an exclusive pattern for Cunard's Queen Mary 2. The Connaught bone china table setting is decorated with borders of platinum and gold. It will be featured in the Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants and will be available in the on board boutique. Wedgwood has also created china with the Cunard logo in gold which will be used in the Todd English specialty restaurant. Waterford Wedgwood will supply the glassware for the new vessel which enters service next January. With the creation of a specially designed china of its own, the Queen Mary 2 is upholding a tradition of the great transatlantic liners of the past. Back to Top

4-9-03 New Carnival Teen Excursions Teens can have more fun ashore when traveling on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship with a new program showcasing teen shore excursions for children aged 12-15. Currently available on 15 ships in the Carnival fleet, activates range from cave tubing and mountain biking to swimming with dolphins.

Teens sailing on a particular voyage vote on the tour of their choice; the excursion with the highest number of votes is then selected as the group's chosen activity for that port. A member of the ship's youth staff accompanies teens on all excursions and shore excursion prices are 20% below adult fares. Among the special tours available are Mayan horseback riding (Cozumel); Stingray Safari (Grand Cayman); Atlantis Submarine (St. Thomas); Key West bike tour; America's Cup Regatta; Dolphin Encounter (Honduras); Cave Tubing and Rainforest Tour (Belize). Back to Top

4-4-03 Weekend Cruise News *** Sea Princess embarks on her final voyage for Princess Cruises tomorrow, Saturday April 5. Following the seven-night cruise, round-trip from San Juan, the vessel will be transferred to P&O Cruises and sail as the Adonia on voyages that include a World Cruise in 2004. The vessel joins sister ship Ocean Princess, now sailing as the Oceana for P&O Cruises. Sea Princess and Ocean Princess were built in 1998 and 2000 respectively as part of the 77,000-ton, 1,950-passenger Sun-class ships. The other two sisters Sun and Dawn Princess continue to sail for Princess Cruises.

*** Carnival Corporation's new Long Beach Cruise Terminal at the Queen Mary will open April 14 with Ecstasy being the first ship to sail from the $40 million facility. The new cruise terminal is the first to be built in the U.S. by a cruise line. The 1,110-foot long, 28-foot-deep berth is capable of accommodating one mega-ship. The new facility is situated beside the Queen Mary hotel and attraction, the historic 1936 ocean liner that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 30,000-square-foot terminal/embarkation area takes up nearly half of the existing Geodesic Dome adjacent to the Queen Mary, which once served as the home of the Spruce Goose seaplane owned by Howard Hughes. A 300-foot long, 35-foot-high passenger gangway extends from the second floor of the cruise terminal directly to the Empress Deck of the Elation and Ecstasy. A 1,450-vehicle parking garage is within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal via covered walkway. An outdoor plaza leads to The Carnival Lounge aboard the Queen Mary. Passengers can explore the historic ocean liner after checking in for their cruise or book one- to three-night pre- and post-cruise hotel packages at the Queen Mary hotel through Carnival.

Ships sailing from the new facility include the 70,000-ton, 2,052-passenger Ecstasy, departing Mondays on four-day cruises to Ensenada and Catalina Island and Fridays on three-day voyages to Ensenada. Sister ship Elation will depart Sundays on seven-day voyages to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. The 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride will take over this route in September 2003.

*** Cruise lines are closely monitoring the atypical pneumonia (SARS) outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for disease Control (CDC) are in touch with cruise lines which have ships in the affected countries. The World of ResidenSea is extending her stay in Australia for a month due to concerns about SARS. The World was scheduled to visit Singapore and Vietnam in April. Both countries have confirmed cases of SARS and are on high alert. The new Australia itinerary includes calls at the Great Barrier Reef, the Sunshine Coast and New South Wales and the ports of Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney. ResidenSea is hopeful that the situation will soon be remedied and plans to resume The World's original itinerary on May 14 in Hong Kong.

Star Cruises, which operates ships throughout Asia, announced increased health precautions Thursday. In addition to the screening of embarking passengers, shipboard crew are wearing face masks and passengers may obtain a mask from the front desk. Public areas are being cleaned more often. Crew leave in affected countries has been suspended and no visitors are allowed aboard ship.

*** The Cruise Line International Association reports Alaska sailings are up 4% in 2003. A total of 460 departures are scheduled this year, up from 431 in 2002. Alaska bookings are going well for this summer. Traditionally, Alaska is the third busiest cruise destination in the world after the Caribbean and Europe. Meanwhile, in Alaska, proposals to cope with the state's budget shortfall are under discussion. One proposal calls for a $100 head tax on cruise ship tourists. Similar proposals in the past have not been passed into legislation. Other ideas being considered to increase revenue include a state lottery and summertime sales tax.

*** Monarch of the Seas will undergo a major refit before embarking on three and four-night cruises from Los Angeles, June 6. Royal Caribbean researched passenger preferences and designed the changes to suit West Coast tastes. Renovations will extend to every area of the ship, from expanded spa and fitness facilities to additional dining options to refurbished guest staterooms, public areas and lounges. Work begins on board in mid-April with the rebuilding work starting in mid-May at the Freeport, Bahamas shipyard.

Many major changes will be seen on board the ship. The expanded ShipShape Fitness Center and Spa will move to Deck 9, have a contemporary look and feature a bigger gym with additional cardio equipment. Monarch will be the first Royal Caribbean ship outside the Voyager and Radiance classes to sport a rock-climbing wall. Dining changes include the reconfiguration of the Windjammer Cafe. On the lower level an Asian-fusion restaurant called Jade will be added to the extensive buffet area. Upstairs a gourmet pizza station and upscale sushi bar will be located. The main dining rooms will be refurbished and renamed Claude's and Vincent's after the painters Monet and Van Gogh. A Seattle's Best Coffee house and a Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor will also be on board. The theater will be refurbished and two lounges redesigned to create Boleros, a Latin -themed bar and The Circuit disco. The children's area will triple in size and feature a new video arcade and three teens-only areas - The Living Room coffee bar with Internet center, Fuel nightclub and The Back Deck, a private outdoor area. A new conference center is being added and all staterooms will be upgraded.

*** Princess Cruises will send sister ships Grand Princess and Star Princess to Europe next summer along with the Royal Princess. Grand Princess will be the largest cruise ship to sail Baltic itineraries while Star Princess will make her European debut sailing in the Mediterranean. Royal Princess continues her 'Connoisseur' cruises including Iceland, North Cape, Norwegian Fjords, British Isles and Western Europe. Here's an overview of the 2004 sailings:

  • Grand Princess - 10-night Baltic cruises: round-trip from Copenhagen, May 19 to August 17, 2004, calling at Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg (two days), Tallinn (Estonia), Gdansk (Poland) and either Oslo and a day at sea or Warnemunde/Berlin and an afternoon and overnight on board in Copenhagen.
  • Star Princess - 12-night Med cruises: between Barcelona and Venice, May 16 to July 27 2004 and September 1, 2004 calling at Cannes or Monte Carlo, Livorno (for Florence and Pisa), Naples, Athens, Kusadasi and Istanbul with overnight on board in both Barcelona and Venice eastbound, overnight on board in Venice westbound. Venice to Rome, April 10, May 4, 2004. Rome to Venice, April 22, September 25, 2004. Venice to Barcelona, August 8, 2004. Barcelona to Venice, August 20, 2004. Barcelona to Rome, September 13, 2004.
  • Royal Princess - 12-night cruises: Rome to London, May 7, August 11, 2004. London to Rome, July 30, September 4, 2004. Round-trip from Southampton, 12 nights, to the British Isles with Falmouth, June 12, July 6, 2004; British Isles/Iberia, May 31, 2004; British Isles/Western Europe, May 19, August 23, 2004; Norwegian Fjords/Iceland, June 28, 2003 and June 24, 2004, calling at Bergen, Hellesylt, Geiranger and Trondheim in Norway plus the Icelandic ports of Reykjavik and Akureyri and Belfast, Northern Ireland; Norwegian Fjords/North Cape, July 22, 2003 and July 18, 2004.

*** Celebrity Cruises is adding special amenities and priority services called "Celebrity ConciergeClass". The new program is for passengers in staterooms on deck nine of Constellation, Infinity, Millennium and Summit. Formerly classified as category one, "premium ocean-view with veranda", ConciergeClass staterooms are 191 square feet with a 41-square-foot veranda. Celebrity ConciergeClass passengers are welcomed to their stateroom with a bottle of chilled champagne, fresh flowers and a selection of fruits, afternoon canapes, a leather key holder, personalized stationery and an oversized tote bag. An umbrella and high powered binoculars are available for use throughout the cruise. Upgraded mattresses and bedding are featured in the staterooms along with plush bath rugs, oversized Egyptian cotton towels, double-thick Frette bathrobes, two hair dryers, a Hansgrohe showerhead, and a selection of fine shampoos, body lotions, soaps, shower caps, breath mints and a sewing kit. A special room service breakfast menu with new selections is available. The veranda features a table large enough for dining al fresco and cushioned chairs. Priority services include priority luggage delivery, dining time and seating preferences, shoe shine service, VIP invitations to exclusive shipboard events, priority shore excursion bookings, early embarkation and debarkation privileges, and a one-touch button on the phone to reach a ConciergeClass desk representative directly. Celebrity ConciergeClass will be implemented on Infinity, April 3; Millennium, April 27; Summit, May 9; and Constellation, May 10. Fares for ConciergeClass accommodations vary, depending on the ship and itinerary selected.

*** Seven Seas Navigator's first ever Bermuda sailings, round-trip from New York, include a number of perks and additional on board entertainment. Highlights include free pre-cruise nights at the Waldorf Astoria and Broadway show tickets to 42nd Street, Aida or Beauty and the Beast. While the ship is in Norfolk, a complimentary tour of Williamsburg is offered. Passengers who live in a 50-mile radius of New York will receive a complimentary private car service to transfer them to and from the ship. On every Bermuda voyage an on board Golf Pro will present clinics and assist with onshore arrangements. Each cruise will feature two Enrichment Lecturers, a Bridge Lecturer, Computer Instructor and Gentlemen Hosts. Recording star Maureen McGovern will perform during the May 7 cruise. The May 14 sailing is a culinary theme cruise entitled "Great Chefs of New York" during which Stephen Lewandowski of Tribeca Grill, John Mooney of Heartbeat and Brian Wieler of Icon at the W New York, The Court will be on board. Interactive cooking classes, a galley tour and special dinners are planned. On other sailings a guest chef will host cooking demonstrations and create signature dishes. The June 11 sailing is a New York Jazz cruise. April through June sailings will also feature the "Club Mariner" children's program for ages 6-11 and 12-17. The all-suite Seven Seas Navigator is the only luxury ship sailing the New York-Bermuda route. Seven-night sailings feature two days and nights in Hamilton, calls at St. George, Bermuda and Norfolk, Virginia plus two days at sea. Fares start from $2,695 per person with departures from May 7 to July 2, and August 27 to September 17, 2003.

*** Repairs have been completed on Pacific Sky. The vessel sailed fro Auckland on April 2 after receiving clearance from New Zealand's Maritime Safety Authority, Lloyds Register of Shipping and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the U.K. Pacific Sky returned to Auckland, March 15, after taking on 165 tonnes of water en route to Tonga. The vessel was detained by authorities while hull plating was replaced to repair cracks on both the port and starboard sides. The 46,000-ton Pacific Sky is the former Sky Princess, built in 1984 as the FairSky for Sitmar Cruises. Back to Top

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