News Archive - July 2010

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07-28-10 Obama Signs Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act into Law

Here is the official CLIA comment on the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act

President Barack Obama today signed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act into law. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) fully supports the law and worked closely with lawmakers in Congress on the legislation, sponsored by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA).

"The Cruise Lines International Association supports the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act signed by the President today as we share Congress' efforts to ensure that cruising remains safe," said CLIA president and CEO Terry Dale. "The safety and security of our guests and crew is CLIA's number one priority. Although millions of guests each year enjoy a safe cruise vacation, we welcome the opportunity to ensure consistency across our member line fleets."

For example, while many ships in the CLIA fleet may already feature 42-inch railings, peepholes in all cabins, onboard video surveillance systems, and employ medical personnel who meet guidelines established by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the new law will make these and other new provisions consistent across the fleet.

"We appreciate the work Congress and the Administration have done to bring consistency and clarity to the security and safety laws and regulations for our industry. We look forward to continuing our longstanding work with the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI, and law enforcement both here and around the world to ensure the bill's provisions are implemented appropriately," added Dale.

The cruise industry is committed to providing guests and crew with a safe environment. CLIA members maintain a rigorous set of policies and procedures designed both to prevent onboard incidents and to ensure an immediate and effective response when such incidents occur. This includes meeting a previous federal requirement to report to the FBI allegations of serious crimes occurring in U.S. waters or on a vessel operating to and from a U.S. port.

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07-27-10 New Video Highlights Entertainment on Allure of the Seas From water to ice, stage to screen Allure offer something for all audiences with world-class entertainment ranging from Broadway favorite Chicago: The Musical to DreamWorks inspired events with characters from hits like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.

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07-23-10 MSC Finalizes Deal 12th New Ship in 2012: Fantastica! MSC Cruises announced the conclusion of the legal process that finalizes the order and confirms construction of a new "Fantasia" class cruise ship, MSC Fantastica, U32, by STX France making it the 12th ship in its fleet.

An important factor in the success of the project was the financial backing provided by French financial institutions, and especially by Coface, the French Export Credit Agency, making it possible for the vessel to be delivered as required by MSC Cruises by the end of spring 2012.

According to Jacques Hardelay, General Manager of STX France, he's pleased with the contract being confirmed. "We look forward to continuing the long-standing relationship between the teams of MSC Cruises and STX France for the successful delivery of this magnificent vessel," said Hardelay.

MSC Fantastica will build upon the success of the �Fantasia' prototype, offering a unique experience for guests in its class thanks to innovative features such as the MSC Yacht Club, exclusive ship-within-a-ship area onboard, for unprecedented levels of privacy and personalized service.

Pierfrancesco Vago, worldwide chief-executive-officer for MSC Cruises, said, "We are delighted at the confirmation of this important investment--a sign of the success of our ambitious growth strategy. Together with STX France, we are focused on further enhancing MSC Cruises' leading positioning within the world's cruise industry.

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07-21-10 Celebrity Century 2011 Baltimore Sailings Cancelled Celebrity Cruise Lines has cancelled its 2011-2012 winter sailings out of the Port of Baltimore. Instead the Celebrity Century ship will head for Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and French Polynesia. This does not mean the end of Baltimore cruising, however. Port officials say even with Celebrity's departure there will still be 112 cruises out of Baltimore in 2011, up from 91 in 2010. This winter season's Celebrity Mercury sailings are not affected. The Mercury will sail through February, 2011 but after that it will be leaving the celebrity fleet. If you have already booked and put a deposit down on a winter sailing out of Baltimore on the Celebrity Century, the cruise line is offering several options including cancellation.

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07-19-10 Carnival Adds Dedicated Comedy Clubs to All Ships Carnival Cruise Lines is adding more laughs and upping the fun quotient at sea with the introduction of Carnival Punchliner Comedy Clubs -- dedicated comedy lounges rolling out fleetwide on all 22 "Fun Ships" by the end of the year. Building on the tremendous success of its first comedy club, which debuted on the new Carnival Dream last fall, Punchliner Comedy Clubs will feature a wide variety of side-splitting comics.

Located in the ship's aft lounge, each Punchliner Comedy Club will offer guests loads of laughs with five 35-minute shows on multiple nights during each voyage, with at least two comedians performing each night. The two early-evening shows offer fun for the whole family while the later performances will feature adult-oriented comedy.

Carnival Punchliner Comedy Clubs will feature hilarious, laugh-out-loud performances from established comedians as well as rising stars, with approximately 10 shows per voyage offered on short cruise itineraries and approximately 20 shows per cruise on longer length departures.

"Laughter is the most public, most infectious expression of fun, so we're excited to provide our guests with an expanded offering in comedy with our new Punchliner Comedy Clubs," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO. "Given that laughter has been shown to have a positive effect on mood, stress reduction and overall happiness, our new clubs and performance line-up will only further enhance the spirited fun of a Carnival vacation."

While comedy shows have always been part of Carnival's diverse entertainment lineup, the concept was taken to another level aboard the Carnival Dream, which offered the line's first dedicated comedy club last fall. Comedy clubs are currently also featured on Carnival Glory, Carnival Pride and Carnival Sensation -- with the concept being incorporated into the remainder of the fleet over the next several months. When Carnival Magic enters service in May 2011, a Punchliner Comedy Club will also be featured on the line's newest "Fun Ship."

All of Carnival's aft show lounges will be converted to comedy clubs with a special stage and branded glassware, menus, employee uniforms and other items featuring the Punchliner Comedy Club logo. Guests can learn about the performer lineups and schedules in the ship's Fun Times newsletter.

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07-18-10 Uniworld Launches the River Victoria in Russia 2011 Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will be reentering the Russian market in 2011 with the launch of the completely refurbished River Victoria, projected to be one of the most beautiful and comfortable ships to sail the Volga River.

Uniworld has a long history of operating in Russia, but the company exited the Russian market in 2010 because the quality of the ship and the onboard services did not meet Uniworld's high internal standards. "Pulling out of Russia in 2010 was a very difficult decision for the company. Uniworld was the first North American river cruise company to offer Russia river cruises catering to North American clientele and Russia has always been a very profitable venture for us," states Guy Young, President of Uniworld. "Our goal is to have the highest standard of service and product delivery in every region we operate and we were only prepared to reenter Russia when we could meet these criteria."

With that in mind, Uniworld will deliver in 2011 the River Victoria. This will be a totally refurbished ship that will incorporate the planning and design themes from Uniworld's sister company, the award-winning Red Carnation Hotel Collection. "I am delighted for us to be back in Russia. This is a very exciting destination, and we certainly expect to have a product that is at the top end for the Russian market," furthers Young. The River Victoria's river view staterooms and suites offer individual climate-control thermostats, telephones, flat-screen televisions with satellite, and bathrooms stocked with high-quality bath and body products. Staterooms and suites on the Neva and Volga decks have full private balconies to view Russia's many gems along the Volga River.

The River Victoria's common areas are being designed for their guests' comfort and enjoyment. The Chagall Lounge offers a full-service bar and dance floor, the Katarina Bar features an outdoor patio, and the Pushkin Restaurant has stunning panoramic views. The ship also offers a sun deck patio with lounge chairs, a fitness room and massage room, a boutique, a library/reading room, a complimentary 24-hour specialty coffee and tea bar, and wireless Internet access in public areas.

Guests can experience all the comfort and elegance of the River Victoria on Uniworld's exciting Imperial Waterways of Russia itinerary. This 13-day journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg uncovers some of the world's finest art and distinctive architecture, as well as tucked-away villages with Old World charm and warm, friendly people. From Red Square, the Kremlin, St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Hermitage Museum to the white stone churches of Uglich and Yaroslavl, this cruise brings guests up close to the rich traditions and royal history of Russia.

Prices start from $3,299 per person, cruise only, and by booking and paying in full at the time of reservation by October 31, 2010, travelers can enjoy savings of $500 per person off their cruise.

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07-13-10 Ted Koppel and Mary Higgins Clark Cruise With Silversea Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises has landed two renowned celebrities from the worlds of journalism and literature to guest lecture aboard two Silver Whisper voyages. ABC News veteran Ted Koppel will host the 10-day, Stockholm-to-Southampton voyage (#4025) departing August 23, 2010, and bestselling suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark will be the featured speaker on the 16-day, Buenos Aires-to-Santiago cruise (#4102) departing January 20, 2011.

Ted Koppel is the managing editor for the Discovery Channel, the largest cable network in the United States. In this role, he anchors Koppel on Discovery, a series of programs examining major global topics and events. The Emmy Award-winning journalist spent 42 years at ABC News. From 1980 until 2005, he was the anchor and managing editor of ABC News Nightline, one of the most honored broadcasts in television history.

Mary Higgins Clark is known as America's Queen of Suspense. The worldwide bestselling author -- whose books have sold over one hundred million copies in the U.S. alone -- has penned dozens of suspense thrillers, including one set on the high seas, Santa Cruise, co-authored with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark. Her latest novel, The Shadow of Your Smile, published in April, is already a New York Times bestseller.

"It's a special honor for us to welcome Mr. Koppel and Ms. Clark on these two voyages," said Steve Tucker, Silversea's vice president of field sales for North America. "We know our guests will be intrigued by their stories and insights."

On their respective Silver Whisper voyages, Koppel and Clark will host lectures and a Q&A session.

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07-12-10 Norwegian Epic Breaks NCL Booking Records Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line's newest and largest Freestyle Cruising ship ever, has set record-breaking booking levels for the past two weeks on the heels of its successful inaugural activities in Europe, New York and Miami. The booking volume for the week ended July 10, 2010 is the highest this year, second only to the previous week ended July 3, 2010. Media exposure during the inaugural activities and positive reviews from both travel partners and the press are helping to fuel the demand.

"Now that we have shown Norwegian Epic to the world and she has been so well received by all, we are more than pleased with the record-breaking booking volumes for this incredible new ship," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "Given the trends so far this week, we expect the booking volumes to continue and we may even break another record this week."

The 153,000 gross tons, 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic, billed as the world's largest floating entertainment venue with world-class entertainment unlike anything before seen at sea, was christened by country music superstar Reba McEntire on July 2 in a Christening Ceremony hosted by Curb Your Enthusiasm star and comedian Jeff Garlin. The ship served as the venue for the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks� Spectacular broadcast live on NBC television. The hour-long broadcast was the #1 program across all networks for the evening, hitting a three year high in ratings. The Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular show also won the coveted 18-49 demo and had a significant +82% gain in women, ages 25-54, versus last year.

Norwegian Epic is currently sailing her first Eastern Caribbean cruise which departed Miami on July 10, 2010. The ship is sail alternating 7-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries every Saturday from Miami through April 2011. This week, Norwegian Epic will make stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas. On her Western Caribbean sailings, Norwegian Epic will visit Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico and Roatan, Honduras.

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07-06-10 Congress Moves to Change Death on High Seas Act - Affect on Cruise Lines Greater Than Oil Rigs The U.S. House of Representatives passed a major U.S. bill related to the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion, voting to allow families of those killed and injured workers to be compensated far more generously than current law allows. The only problem is that the new bill will likely result in far more consequences for the cruise lines than it does for the oil rig industry.

While families of the 11 killed and the 17 injured would benefit under the legislation, the bill also would apply to all companies operating on the high seas.

In the House on Thursday, with family members of the victims looking on, Democrats argued that current laws inadequately compensate victims and their families.

"The unfairness of these laws is grossly apparent and makes no sense," said Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "The laws are ancient. They're out of date."

Some Republicans argued that the bill was too broad, though they did not act to block its passage.

"This bill changes maritime law for everyone, not just those involved in the oil spill," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "Clearly, we should have explored the consequences of that."

The House passed the bill on a voice vote, with no recorded vote for individual lawmakers. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Everyone agreed that companies directly responsible for the Gulf spill should not be allowed to limit damages under "outdated" laws.

But the key here is the phrase "directly responsible." This law, commonly known as the Death on the High Seas Act, was passed to protect what was considered a vital business to several nations, the building and operation of sea-going vessels, from going bankrupt due to accidents at sea where large numbers of people die. It limits the liability of operators of sea-going vessels to loss of income (based on what the person would have earned over their lifetime) and funeral expenses.

There are lawyers waiting for this bill to be passed who have already mapped out "contributory negligence" strategies to sue any cruise line where any person "disappears" (where the vast majority of cases have ultimately been ruled as suicides). The phrase "directly responsible" is not in this new legislation. It opens the door for lawsuits of all kinds against the cruise industry.

The bill would change two laws from 1920 and a third from 1851, all applying to deaths and legal liability on the high seas. Key provisions would:

  • Permit recovery of non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, loss of care, comfort and companionship -- not just lost income and funeral expenses.
  • Repeal an 1851 limitation on liability, which caps company damages to the post-accident value of a vessel (including an oil rig) and its cargo. Transocean, which owns the Deepwater Horizon platform now at the bottom of the Gulf, has sought to limit its liability to $27 million under this law.
  • Prevent parties responsible for oil spills from using bankruptcy to leave victims without adequate legal recourse.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote lawmakers that the bill should not expose industries unrelated to the spill to new damage claims or additional liability. Thousands of claims, including maritime lawsuits related to asbestos, would come under the new legislation, the Chamber said.

Democrats portrayed the controversy as a fight between supporters of BP victims and backers of the oil industry and large companies.

President Barack Obama emphasized his party's theme at a meeting in Racine, Wisconsin, reminding the crowd that a leading Republican, Rep. Joe Barton, apologized to the blown-out well's principal owner, British-based BP PLC, because the oil company was pressured by the president to establish a $20 billion victims' compensation fund.

A cruise ship trade group, on the other hand, urged Florida lawmakers to oppose the bill and pointedly reminded them of the industry's spending and employment in the state. Terry Dale, president and chief executive officer of the Cruise Lines International Association, wrote that his industry spent $5.8 billion in the state in 2010 and employed more than 115,000 Florida workers.

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07-01-10 Carnival Spirit 15-Day Round-Trip Cruises to Hawaii from Los Angeles, San Diego Carnival Cruise Lines � the West Coast's number one cruise operator � will return to the Port of Los Angeles when the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit launches a series of five- and nine-day Mexican Riviera voyages in fall 2011. This marks the first time the line has offered a regular program from the San Pedro cruise terminal in eight years.

Carnival Spirit will also offer two 15-day Hawaii sailings round-trip from Los Angeles and San Diego in 2011 and 2012, marking the first time the line has offered round-trip voyages to the Aloha State.

New Five- and Nine-Day Sailings from L.A.

Carnival Spirit's new Los Angeles-based schedule will encompass 12 departures between September 2011 and January 2012.

Carnival also operates two ships year-round from nearby Long Beach, Calif. -- the 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise, operating three- and four-day Baja cruises, and the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor, sailing week-long Mexican Riviera cruises. Carnival will be the only cruise operator to homeport three ships in the Los Angeles area, providing consumers with a wide variety of affordable cruise options in Southern California and the surrounding region.

Carnival Spirit's five-day voyages will spend two days at the popular resort town of Cabo San Lucas, distinguished by its distinctive rock formations, lush landscape and gorgeous white-sand beaches, while nine-day departures will also feature a two-day call in Cabo San Lucas, as well as visits to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and La Paz.

Puerto Vallarta is a popular resort destination offering magnificent beaches and a host of shopping and dining experiences. Known as the Pearl of the Pacific, Mazatlan is famous for white-sand beaches, and myriad fishing and diving opportunities. La Paz offers an awe-inspiring waterfront with excellent beaches and an abundance of snorkeling and diving experiences.

New 15-Day Hawaii Voyages For the first time, Carnival will offer 15-day Hawaii voyages round-trip from either Los Angeles or San Diego, providing consumers with a more convenient and cost-effective means for visiting the breathtaking island chain. Both departures include day-long stops at five spectacular ports: Hilo, Maui (Kahului), Honolulu, Kauai (Nawiliwili), and Kona.

Hawaii is home to a diverse array of landside experiences, offering guests an opportunity to visit interesting historical sites, explore volcanoes and other natural landmarks, and soak up the sun on some of the world's best beaches.

Voyages operate round-trip from Los Angeles Dec. 2, 2011 and from San Diego April 13, 2012.

Signature 'Fun Ship' Amenities The namesake vessel in the line's Spirit-class, Carnival Spirit offers a host of guest-pleasing facilities and features, including a two-level promenade lined with themed bars, lounges, and nightspots, along with a 13,500-square-foot spa, indoor and outdoor promenades, and supervised programs for children in three age groups. Eighty percent of the ship's staterooms offer either an ocean view or private balcony � perfect for viewing the passing scenery.

Carnival Spirit will continue to offer seasonal Alaska cruises as well as five- and nine-day Mexico cruises from San Diego this fall/winter and in 2012.

Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Spirit's new five- and nine-day voyages from Los Angeles as well as the 15-day Hawaii voyages.

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