News Archive - October 2007

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10-31-07: Windjammer Update: We Need a Hero I just spoke to a member of the Burke family regarding the current Windjammer situation. Susie, sister of Joey who is now in charge of the company, called me to respond to the newsletter we posted yesterday about our concern for Windjammer.

Joey Burke is her brother, and he just recently took the reins of the company. Yesterday, Cruisemates posted a newsletter in which we said we were doubtful the cruise line would be able to come out of its current crisis, and we had to recommend that people not buy Windjammer cruise tickets. While I still cannot recommend it yet, I will say that I find their prospects for recovery much better than I had previously considered, IF (and "if" is a big word) they can find the right financial solution to their problems.

To summarize what Susie tells me, Windjammer does have a plan of execution for bringing the campany back. What they do not have is a lot of cash, but they are actively seeking someone who can come to the table with a cash infusion, and also bring cruise ship operations skills to the table.

"The last six months have been devastating for the family," says Susie. "We lost our dear brother Danny last March (07), and at age 47 he was the one family member who was most actively involved in running Windjammer." Since Danny passed away, we lost our focus and didn't pay enough attention to the company, until now."

The father of the family, Michael Burke, started Windjammer Barefoot Cruises 60 years ago. He ran the operation himself until he passed away. The company was left to all of his children in the form of a trust, but most of them did not take an active interest.

The trustee is a David Harris who resides in the Isle of Mann (U.K.). Susie says that the family knows and trusts David, but that David was never the operations manager for Windjammer, and he isn't qualified to be one. Since the loss of Danny, mangerial duties were being done by a board whom Susie suggests had the wrong focus. Trustee Harris just changed that, and put her brother Joey in control of the Cruise Line.

Joey Burke has now come forward with public statements on his plans to turn the company around, and though the task appears somewhat daunting right now, the family claims their first priority is a renewed committment to their customers first.

Right now just one of the four cruise ships the company owns, the Legacy, is in service. Reservations are being taken for that ship now, the next sail date being November 3rd. The ship sails out of Costa Rica. The other three ships have been out of action since late September.

According to Susie, all of the upcoming Legacy cruises are being filled mostly with "make-up" cruises for people who paid and did not receive their cruise. Reservations are not being taken for the other ships, yet, though Susie says the company is working hard on needed maintenance and hopes to have all four sailing by April at the latest. She even said "optimistically, we think February is possible, but we do not want to make any promises we cannot keep."

As for promises, Susie says, "Joey is serious about making sure every person who paid for a cruise will get their cruise, it is just a matter of when we can accomodate them." She is upset that the company has been plagued by "rumors" posted online, and that a few disgruntled passengers have been making a lot of noise in several places about not getting a requested refund. The idea she wants to impart is that "Windjammer is not trying to rip anyone off. We care about making good to all of our passengers, all we are asking for right now is their patience."

So, how good are the prospects? One thing Susie mentioned for the first time is that Windjammer is actively seeking a new "partnership". They would welcome the sort of cash and management experience infusion that was recently given to NCL, for example, though they do not need nearly as much money. In addition, all four ships are fully paid for, unencumbered, and the company does not have any other outstanding financial liabilities. According to Susie, the only financial obligations they now have are "the advance bookings that haven't sailed yet, and a few vendors, but so far the vendors are being very understanding." Joey has made statements that the crew has been paid.

While I did not get the impression that Windjammer currently has the necessary cash flow to weather this storm alone, I was encouraged to hear Susie say that they have renewed efforts to find the "right" partner. I am also encouraged that the hole is not as deep as it could be.

Susie says that rumors that the ships were dark and bare were overblown. "All four ships were fully provisioned as recently as September -- they were ready to cruise." When I asked why they didn't sail she said the answer was "complicated, but lets just say it had more to do operational problems than cash flow." Then, with the recent cancelled sailings and lack of incoming revenue, the situation deteriorated more rapidly than anyone thought it would, which has been "devastating" to the entire family.

As for how thing s got so bad so quickly, Susie said, "Once again, the family was too devasted to think, and I guess we set our hopes on the "wrong" people to fix this mess. When those people did not come through it was a "wake-up call" to all of us Burke children that we need to give the matter more serious attention right away. What we need is an investor with ship operations experience, someone who can get our ships in shape and make sure we deliver what we promise."

As editor of CruiseMates, I have to say that while yesterday I had my doubts, today I believe it is possible they can turn the company situation around IF we hear news soon that they have partnered with someone who truly knows cruise operations, and has the financial assets to pull them out of this hole.

I did not get the impression they have the deep pockets within the family itself to fix the problem. As of yet, they still cannot sell airfare which requires posting a bond. But the good thing is that all four ships are paid for, unencumbered, and the company has no other outstanding debt, according to Susie.

So, what does CruiseMates recommend now? A "wait 'n see approach." If I had purchased a cruise and lost my money, I would try to reschedule it and see what happens. Maybe I would get a cruise on Legacy after all. I still can't say "buy those Windjammer tickets now while they are on sale!" but if I hear they have the right new partner, then I might say that.

Cruise lines have gone under due to mismanagement before, and they have come back. Renaissance Cruises tanked when Ed Rudner was at the helm, but when Oceania Cruises emerged with almost the same management (minus Rudner) and leased back the same ships, they were an unbridaled success. Operations is key.

The Burkes have been through some very tough times lately, losing their beloved brother in March and now coming close to losing a business that has been in the family for 60 years.

I wish Windjammer and the Burkes the best.

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10-31-07: Tropical Storm Updates - Noel Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean continues to closely monitor the path and progress of Tropical Storm Noel to ensure our guests enjoy safe and comfortable cruises, and to make certain our ships steer clear of the storm. Given Tropical Storm Noel's location and projected path, Royal Caribbean is currently providing itinerary updates regarding three ships:

Ships sailing from Port Canaveral; Sovereign of the Seas will not make its scheduled port call in Nassau, Bahamas, Wednesday. Instead, the ship will visit Key West, Florida, Wednesday; will be at sea, Thursday; and return to Port Canaveral as scheduled, Friday.

Ships sailing from the Port of Miami; Freedom of the Seas reversed the order of its ports of call, and will now visit George Town, Cayman Islands, Wednesday; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Thursday. The ship will not visit Labadee, Haiti, Friday, due to a berthing conflict. Instead, it will spend two days at sea, Friday and Saturday, before returning to the Port of Miami as scheduled, Sunday.

Majesty of the Seas will not make its scheduled port call in Coco Cay, Bahamas, Wednesday. Instead, the ship will visit Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday; will be at sea, Thursday; and return to the Port of Miami as scheduled, Friday.

At this time, no other Royal Caribbean International ships are being adversely impacted by tropical weather. Royal Caribbean will continue to closely monitor weather conditions and update this information at 12 p.m. Thursday.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Given Tropical Storm Noel's location and projected path, NCL has made the following itinerary modifications at this time.

Norwegian Majesty from Charleston, SC; Norwegian Majesty arrived in St. George's, Bermuda yesterday as scheduled, but changed docking position and moved to Hamilton this morning. The vessel will depart Hamilton at 5:00 pm today to avoid the storm and keep guests as comfortable as possible on the return to Charleston.

Norwegian Sun from Miami; Norwegian Sun will cancel its call to Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas on Friday, November 2 and instead call at Key West, Florida.

Should there be any update to the above, it will be immediately posted on; regular updates can also be received by calling the team in the call center at 1-800-327-7030.

Azamara Cruises.

Given Tropical Storm Noel's location and projected path, Azamara Cruises is currently providing itinerary updates regarding one ship:

Ships Sailing from the Port of Miami; The October 26, sailing of Azamara Quest did not return to Miami as scheduled, October 31. Instead, the ship sailed to the Port of Tampa where it concluded its cruise this morning. Azamara Cruises is providing complimentary motor coach transportation for debarking guests to return to South Florida.

Guests scheduled on the October 31, sailing of Azamara Quest should still come to the Port of Miami for check-in as planned, Wednesday. After checking-in, complimentary motor coach transportation will be provided to take guests to the Port of Tampa.

Azamara Quest will not make its scheduled port call in Port Antonio, Jamaica, Thursday; instead, the ship will visit George Town, Cayman Islands, Thursday; and continue its itinerary as scheduled, Friday. The October 31, sailing of Azamara Quest will conclude at the Port of Miami as scheduled, November 12, 2007.

At this time, no other Azamara Cruises' ships are being adversely impacted by tropical weather. Azamara Cruises will continue to closely monitor weather conditions and update this information at 12 p.m. Thursday.

Disney Cruise Line

Based upon the current projections of the storm's path, we do not anticipate a need to alter our departure from Port Canaveral, FL.

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10-29-07: Tough Week in Hawaii for Radiance of the Seas Honolulu is reporting that the Royal Caribbean ship, Radiance of the Seas, has had a less than radiant week in Hawaii the last few days.

The ship set sail from Los Angeles on Oct 21 and last Wednesday, on the way to the islands, the Honolulu coast guard had to helicopter emergency medical supplies to the ship as it was still 1000 miles north of Oahu.

The ship first landed in Honolulu on Friday, and then in Kona (big island) the next day. There were no problems clearing passengers at either port. 50 knot winds prevented the ship from tying up at Hilo (also on the big island, but on the other side) the third day so the ship returned to give passengers another day in Honolulu.

Radiance was barred from landing in Lahaina, Maui, this morning due to what the state government described as a staffing shortage in the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. The department is responsible for screening crew and passengers, clearing them for entrance upon the island. The ship is registered in the Bahamas, is carrying primarily United States citizens as passengers, and has a number of crewmembers from throughout the world.

This morning, setting sail for Maui, the ship could not get inside the small harbor so they requested the use of tenders to get their passengers on shore, but they were told the department had just hired several new recruits for the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and they needed this day (Monday) for training. The ship was told they could disembark passengers later in the day, but the report from the Honolulu Advertiser was posted at 12:48 p.m. and there was still no mention of any landings.

The ship is scheduled to go to back to the mainland after Lahaina, with four days at sea and a stop in Ensenada, Mexico, before returnig to Los Angeles.

Reports say the passengers are not upset at the cruise line, and that the captain is doing a good job of keeping all informed as developments occur, but as the Hawaii is one large state, and this is a state department, it is an unprecedented event (as far as CruiseMates knows) that any cruise ship has ever been admitted to the state capitol but denied the right to access one of the smaller islands.

Those of us who have been watching the Delta Queen saga knows that Hawaii Senator Dan Inouye has been playing a little fast and loose with the rules for cruise lines lately. While he has granted countless favors to NCL-America so they could sail in Hawaii practically unfettered by competition, he has not been so kind to other cruise lines, especially non US-crewed ships. NCL-America has been complaining lately about competition in Hawaii from foreign registered cruise ships.

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10-25-07: MSC Splendida Keel Laying Ceremony Today another important step was taken in the development of MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, two of the largest cruise liners to be built for a European ship owner. The positioning of the keel for MSC Splendida was celebrated at the Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France. This new class of ship � a giant of the seas � will be 133,500 gross tons and delivered in June 2009.

MSC Splendida is a name that represents elegance and a gentle personality -- feminine qualities well represented by the many women who make up the workforce on this project.

In total, four coins were part of the ceremony. Three were minted in collaboration with the city of Sorrento and one from Aker Yards. Following in the steps of shipbuilding tradition, two gold coins were welded to the keel. One coin came from the city of Sorrento and one from the yard. This timeless and ancient tradition goes back to Roman times and consolidates the relationship between ship owner and ship builder.

One side of each of the three coins minted in collaboration with the city of Sorrento is embossed with an image of the port of Sorrento (the emblem of the city). The other side features the MSC Cruises' logo. Sorrento is the headquarters of the technical department of MSC Cruises and the birthplace of the owner. These three coins are made of gold � the first was placed in the keel, one was kept as a memento by the Mayor of Sorrento and the third will remain at the MSC Cruises technical department office in Sorrento.

The coin donated by Aker Yards France, was minted in Naples, where MSC Cruises has its headquarters, in the year 1847 and is embossed with the image of the King of the two Sicilies - Ferdinando II, the pioneer of industrialization in Italy. He worked to create the first railway in 1839 which connected Naples to Portici. Even on that occasion, the project was carried out by a French and Italian collaboration. Godmothers for this ceremony will be Carla Gotta of MSC Cruises and Elise Bodin of Aker Yards France. Carla has been part of the MSC team since 1968 and today is Port Operation Manager for MSC Crociere in Genoa. Elise is responsible for the steel works at the shipyard.

"This ceremony represents yet another significant step as we continue the expansion strategy that we began in 2000 when we placed the order for MSC Lirica. We are the only company in the world with a single brand that has been successfully opening offices around the world in 31 countries," declared Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO MSC Crociere. "MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida will herald a new concept for cruise ships. Both ships introduce a new philosophy with regards to public areas, starting with an exclusive VIP area and furnished with the most prestigious materials and avante guard technology to safeguard the environment."

"Just like her sister ship MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida will have luxurious interiors, the best quality materials and spacious cabins," added Jacques Hardelay, Managing Director Aker Yards France. "We are proud and delighted to be part of the expansion of the MSC Cruises fleet as we further consolidate our long standing relationship and look to more interesting projects in the future."

After the coin ceremony for MSC Splendida, guests were able to visit three mock-up staterooms of MSC Fantasia. MSC Cruises currently has a fleet of eight ships: MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera, MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica, MSC Melody and MSC Rhapsody, cruising in the Mediterranean year round and seasonally in Northern Europe, Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and South America. The fleet will increase to 12 ships by 2010. In the spring of 2008 MSC Poesia, the third ship in the "Musica" class, will join the fleet, followed in the autumn of 2008 and spring 2009 by MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida. These will be two of the largest ships built by a European ship owner. Then in 2010 MSC Magnifica, the fourth ship in the Musica class, will enter service.

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10-25-07: MSC Cruises Air-Inclusive Cruise Rates From West Coast MSC Cruises is offering travelers flying from select West Coast gateway cities air-inclusive cruise rates on the Dec. 4, 2007 and Jan. 9, 2008 10-night Deep Caribbean sailings of MSC Lirica roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.

Rates begin at $949 per person, double occupancy for an interior stateroom ($1,099 for oceanview), including airfare on the Jan. 10 sailing and from $999 for an ocean view stateroom on the Dec. 4 sailing from the following gateway cities: Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. Transfers, government fees and taxes are additional.

Rates are USD for residents of the U.S. and Canada. Offer is capacity controlled and subject to availability. Restrictions apply. The West Coast Air/Sea offer expires Nov. 15.

MSC Lirica's Dec. 4 and Jan. 9 sailings call at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Port Castries, St. Lucia; St. John, Antigua; Roadtown, Tortola; and Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic (where guests can enjoy the line's private paradise). The itinerary also includes three days at sea.

For more information about MSC Cruises, visit a local travel professional or

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10-0-07: Delta Queen Rally in Cincinatti Tomorrow The most authentic American paddle wheel steamboat, Delta Queen, is scheduled to leave service forever in 2008. This boat has true American history behind her, even named in the National Registry of Historic Places - the only floating entry in the U.S.

After Congress passed the SOLAS (the Safety of Life at Sea ) Act in 1966, a herculean effort by regular citizens got Delta Queen an exemption from this law. This required an act of Congress, and the exemption has been renewed every two years for the last 36 years, until suddenly this year. Now two congressmen refuse to let it out of committee -- for reasons unknown.

The good news is that a grass roots effort by ordinary citizens is close to saving the Delta Queen once again.

Vicki Webster is a member of the Save the Delta Queen Task Force and a veteran of the successful 1970 effort to save the boat. She was a young White House staff member at the time and worked closely with Bill Muster (founder of the SATW travel photography award). John Lewis is the mayor of Bridgeport Alabama. Between them they have convinced several important congressional representatives to re-examine the issue.

Due to Lewis' and Webster's efforts, Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio has introduced a bill, H.R. 3852, that would exempt the Delta Queen from the provisions of the 1966 Safety at Sea Law for another 10 years! She can continue in operation as an overnight passenger vessel on America's inland waterways. Co-sponsors of the bill are Representatives W. Todd Akin (MO), Richard H. Baker (LA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Kenny C. Hulshof (MO), Ron Kind (WI), Jean Schmidt (OH), Timothy J. Waltz (MN), Zach Wamp (TN), and Ed Whitfield (KY).

What You Can Do to Help!

If you can, please attend the following event: Friday, October 26, a press conference will be held in Cincinatti at 12:30 PM at the National Steamboat Monument, (by the big paddlewheel). That is on Mehring Way at the end of Broadway.

People are invited to arrive as early as 11:00 and bring signs and banners to "Save the Delta Queen." Mayors from nearby towns and other people are especially encouraged to attend and show their support.

Websites for background and additional information: go to: or, which has a Save the Delta Queen petition you can sign.

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10-23-07: Cunard Line Ranked #1 - 2008 Berlitz Guide Cunard Line has been named #1 among the top ten largest cruise lines in the new 2008 Berlitz Guide to Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships. The Line also received top honors for Best Overall Food and Best Overall Service in the independent guide, which was written by renowned cruise authority Douglas Ward, whose expertise spans 960 sailings and over 5,400 days at sea on virtually every cruise line in the world.

"It is especially gratifying to receive this recognition for our flagship Queen Mary 2 and beloved QE2 as we prepare to launch our newest ship, Queen Victoria in December of this year," said Carol Marlow, Cunard's president & managing director. "It is a very exciting time for Cunard, particularly with our recent announcement to build the new 2092-passenger Queen Elizabeth, which will debut in 2010."

Douglas Ward, the world's top authority on cruising and cruise ships, is president of the Maritime Evaluations Group, an independent international agency that rates cruise ships worldwide. With over 40 years of experience, he spends more than 250 days a year aboard cruise ships, inspecting and evaluating their facilities.

Cunard Line has long been synonymous with the quest for new discoveries and the epitome of British refinement since the company's first paddle-wheeled steamer, Britannia, crossed the Atlantic in 1840. Cunard voyages bring together like-minded travelers who relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star ServiceSM, fine dining, sophisticated adventure, the legacy of historic voyages and transatlantic travel.

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10-23-07: Silversea Cruises to showcase China's Olympics With the 2008 Olympic Games less than a year away, China is abuzz with excitement and activity as the country prepares to welcome the world. The host city of Beijing is already dressing itself up with brand new stadiums, hotels, restaurants, galleries and upscale shops that will accommodate the needs of an unprecedented influx of visitors -- meaning the months leading up to the Summer Olympics offer a unique opportunity for savvy travelers to explore China's greatest cultural and historic attractions amid the growing fanfare, but without the crowds.

Recognizing the destination's special allure, ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises is offering guests aboard Silver Shadow's World Cruise 2008 a collection of optional overland adventures carefully tailored to showcase China's rich history and fascinating culture, while offering a glimpse of new attractions like Beijing's stunning new National Stadium and the iridescent National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, both specially constructed for the Summer Olympics.

"Our new overland programs to Beijing blend together the ancient traditions and splendors of this legendary city with all the excitement and anticipation of a country revitalizing itself as it prepares to host one of the most important global competitions in sporting history. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the past, present and future all converging on one great city," said Joseph Proto, Silversea's director of world cruise and business development.

The programs are available on Silver Shadow's 21-day "Ode to a Peaceful Sea" segment (#3804), departing February 8, 2008 from Honolulu to Hong Kong, and "Harmonies of Legend and Legacy," a 14-day journey (#3805) from Hong Kong to Singapore that departs on March 1, 2008. Highlights include:


** Wonders of Beijing and the Great Wall: This four-day, three-night program departs February 28 from Keelung, Taiwan, to explore the many traditional must-see landmarks found in Beijing's exciting metropolis including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Participants also get a sneak preview of the 2008 Olympics with a photo stop near fascinating new structures like the National Stadium and National Aquatics Center. Package includes three nights at the award-winning China World Hotel, a Shangri-La property located in the heart of Beijing. Guests rejoin Silver Shadow in Hong Kong. Package price is $2,495 per guest, double occupancy.


** Splendors of Beijing and Shanghai: Enjoy a comprehensive exploration of Beijing's Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and Temple of Heaven. See the famed Great Wall of China and Summer Palace. Glimpse intriguing new Olympics-inspired architecture like the new National Stadium and National Aquatics Center. In Shanghai, visit the Jin Mao Building, walk along the Bund, experience the peaceful Yu Garden and tour the Shanghai Museum. This five-day program includes three nights at Beijing's China World Hotel and one night at the Portman Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai. Guests depart from Hong Kong on March 2 and rejoin Silver Shadow in Ho Chi Minh City.) Package price is $3,295 per guest, double occupancy.

** The Xi'an Warriors and Beijing Treasures: Spend a day exploring the Terracotta Army Museum in Xi'an. Discovered in 1974, the 2000-year-old army of terracotta warriors is an amazing sight, not to be missed. Enjoy a dynamic dinner show with performances of traditional music and dance. In Beijing, discover its most famous attractions: the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, The Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Preview the Summer Olympics with a photo stop near the main Olympic Green, home of the new National Stadium and National Aquatics center. This five-day package includes two nights at the Shangri-La Golden Flower Hotel in Xi'an and two nights at Beijing's China World Hotel. Guests depart from Hong Kong on March 2 and rejoin Silver Shadow in Ho Chi Minh City. Package price is $3,985 per guest, double occupancy.

Silversea land programs feature deluxe accommodations, all transportation, transfers, guided sightseeing and some meals. (Specified hotels may be substituted with similar properties, based on availability.)

Additional overland packages are available for World Cruise 2008 guests, including multiple-day adventures through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Egypt and Jordan.

Departing January 16, 2008 from Fort Lauderdale, Silver Shadow's World Cruise 2008, appropriately themed "The Rhythms of the World," will host no more than 382 privileged and pampered guests on a wondrous odyssey, encircling the world and embracing the cultures of more than 25 countries and over 50 different destinations. Fares for the full 110-day voyage start at $62,400 per person, based on double occupancy.

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10-23-07: MSC Offers Well-Being Cruises Wellbeing Cruises on board MSC Opera, MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica or MSC Orchestra in 2008 will help you experience a journey totally dedicated to your senses. Experts will be on hand on each of these cruises to offer advice for your wellbeing. Special menus and healthy non-alcoholic cocktails will be featured as well as specific fitness programs. Relaxation packages will include a selection of Balinese and Thai massages, reflexology and pressotherapy.

All prices quoted reflect interior accommodations and are USD, cruise only, per person, double occupancy; government fees and taxes are additional.

  • MSC Opera will depart Feb. 9 from Santos for a 7-night sailing in Brazil, calling at Buzios, Salvador, Ilheus and Ilha Grande. Prices from $1,319 (Catagory 7).
  • MSC Armonia will depart March 2 from Rio De Janeiro on a 9-night cruise to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Ports of call include Santos, Punta del Este, Buenos Aires, Ilhabela, and then Santos once again before returning to Rio de Janeiro. Prices from $1,269 (Category 4).
  • MSC Lirica will depart Copenhagen on May 17 a 7-night cruise to Germany, Norway and Denmark. Ports of call include Kiel, Oslo, Stavanger, Flam, Hellesylt and Geiranger, returning to Copenhagen. Prices from $1,099 (Category 1).
  • MSC Opera will also depart from Copenhagen on Aug. 24 on a 12-night cruise to England, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Malta, and Montenegro. Ports of call include Harwich, La Coruna, Lisbon, Gibraltar, Malaga, Valletta and Kotor before arriving in Venice. Prices from $1,299 (Category 1).
  • MSC Orchestra will depart Sept. 21 from Genoa on a classic 7-night cruise to Tunisia, the Balearics, Spain and France, calling at Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona and Marseille before returning to Genoa. Prices from $1,149 (Category 1).
  • If sport is your passion, join MSC Sinfonia or MSC Opera and give yourself a week of intense fitness training to get back in perfect shape.
  • MSC Sinfonia will depart Dec. 9, 2007 from Buenos Aires for an 8-night fitness cruise, traveling to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Ports of call include Punta del Este, Ilhabela, Buzios and Rio de Janeiro before returning to Buenos Aires. Prices from $1,419 (Category 7).
  • MSC Opera will depart Feb. 24 from Santos also on a fitness cruise, this time for a 6-night Brazilian itinerary. Ports of call include Ilheus, Salvador and Buzios before returning to Santos. Prices from $1,129 (Category 7).

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10-20-07: Efforts to Save Delta Queen Picking Up Steam River cruising is alive and well in this country, as it deserves to be, but distinct from river cruising in other continents.

Delta Queen, for example, is an original paddle wheel steamboat -- so authentic it is actually designated as a U.S. Historic Monument. Not only does the boat carry overnight passengers on cruises up to 12-nights long, it does so in the traditional style as when this nation ran on its rivers and waterways. Delta Queen features fantastic, all-American cuisine, and some of the finest authentic American entertainers the cruise industry has to offer, such as New Orleans all-star jazz bands.

Unfortunately, 2008 is currently slated to be Delta Queen's last year in operation. Why? Ask our U.S. Congress. The boat's Congressional exemption from SOLAS, which has been granted every two years since 1970, is for the first time not being renewed, and without it the boat must stop carrying passengers on overnight voyages just as it has since 1926. As far as I know, that makes it the oldest vessel in a CLIA cruise line.

Delta Queen is the last true steam-powered paddle-wheel steamer in the U.S. It is as authentic as jumbalaya and Dixieland Jazz. To see its demise would break the hearts of a significant number of people who grew up watching her ply the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. A grassroots movement hopes to change all that, however. And most interestingly, much of the effort is being done by the daughter of the man who saved the boat back in 1970, Bill Muster. His daughter, Nori, is on the board of the "Save the Delta Queen" Organization, which can be contacted here:

There is some good news, last week Representative Steve Chabot of the first Ohio District introduced a bill, H.R. 3852, that would exempt the Delta Queen from the provisions of the 1966 Safety at Sea Law and allow her to continue in operation as an overnight passenger vessel on America's inland waterways, for about another 10 years, in any case. As of this writing, co-sponsors of the bill are Representatives W. Todd Akin (MO), Richard H. Baker (LA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Kenny C. Hulshof (MO), Ron Kind (WI), Jean Schmidt (OH), Timothy J. Waltz (MN), Zach Wamp (TN), Ed Whitfield (KY).

Those congresspeople are backing the bill, thanks to several citizens who are making the "Save the Delta Queen - Again" movement a priority. These people include New Orleans jazz musicians, U.S. historians and riverlorians, museum curators and even steamboat enthusiasts from as far away as Germany. It required an act of Congress to save her the first time, and that is what it will require again. If you have any interest at all we urge you to go to the following web sites and get involved.

To read Nori Muster's own story about how her father saved the Delta Queen, go to Losing the Delta Queen.

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10-19-07: Carnival Veteran's Day Promotion Carnival Cruise Lines is offering a promotion throughout the month of November that allows active and retired military personnel to book up to three "Fun Ship" staterooms for themselves and their friends and family members at special discounted rates, starting at low as $189 per person.

Reservations must be made between Nov. 1-30, 2007, to qualify for this promotion, which is available in conjunction with a wide range of 3-day to 12-day "Fun Ship" departures through Dec. 31, 2008.

Rates start at $189 per person for three-day cruises from Miami, Fla., and four-day cruises from Long Beach, Calif.; $249 per person for five-day cruises from Mobile, Ala., and Jacksonville, Fla.; $279 per person for four and five day cruises from San Diego, Calif.; and $399 per person for seven-day cruises from Miami.

The promotion is valid for individual bookings only, capacity controlled and not applicable with any other discount offer. Fare code CPM1 must be requested during the reservations process and military personnel must provide proof of service. Certain other restrictions apply.

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10-19-07: Costa Orders Two New Ships Costa Crociere, the largest cruise line in Europe and a subsidiary of Carnival Corp. & PLC, has ordered two new 114,147-ton ships to be delivered in 2011 and 2012 by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. The construction of the two new vessels will cost approximately €1 billion (€510 million for each ship). The two new ships will be built at Fincantieri's Marghera ship yard and be sister ships to the Costa Concordia, Costa Serena and Costa Pacifica, the last of which is currently being built at Sestri Ponente ship yard. Both new ships will be able to accommodate 3,780 total guests each.

The two new ships ordered will offer the same elements as the other 'Concordia' class ships, including the 23,000 square-foot Samsara Spa - one of the largest spas at sea, complete with exclusive cabins featuring direct access to the spa. The ships will also feature two swimming pools with retractable magrodomes, and authentic Grand Prix race car driving simulators, which provide the most accurate representation of Formula One driving available. In addition, the new ships will boast 16 additional veranda cabins and an overall total of 1,506 cabins, six more than the other 'Concordia' class ships.

Costa's total capacity will increase by 20% (based on double occupancy cabins) with the addition of the two new vessels, confirming the Italian cruise line as the market leader in Europe. The two new orders bring Costa's fleet expansion program, which began in 2000, to a total cost of �5.5 billion euros and the total number of vessels introduced between 2000 and 2012 to 13. By 2012, when the last of the new orders is completed, the Costa fleet will be 17 strong and have a total guest capacity of approximately 36,700 double occupancy cabins.

Costa, Europe and South America's Number One Cruise Line, is based in Italy and boasts 60 years of rich history. In 2006, Costa carried a total of 880,000 guests, a figure which topped the historic 1 million mark in 2007. Its fleet is Europe's largest and most advanced with 12 ships in service and three under construction. By 2012, the Costa fleet will be 17 strong with a total guest capacity of approximately 36,700. All of the vessels fly the Italian flag and are deployed in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Dubai, the Far East and the Indian Ocean.

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10-19-07: Princess Highlights Holiday Activities This holiday season passengers on most Princess ships will find themselves in a winter wonderland as snow magically falls in the ships' atriums on December cruises. This daily snow flurry is one of several new onboard holiday activities added to celebrate the spirit of the season.

Also new this year, passengers can participate in a "gingerbread challenge" housebuilding competition, test their craft skills by creating a personalized photo ornament, or just relax in front of a traditional burning yule log on their stateroom television. And for those who can't get enough of Christmas carols, the ships' Princess Pop Star talent show will feature a holiday edition where competitors can croon their favorite seasonal songs.

The innovative snow-making process will create falling flakes that vanish on contact, letting passengers enjoy the romance of a winter snowfall without the need to bundle up. Princess' daily snowfall will occur on all ships except for the line's three small vessels - Pacific Princess, Tahitian Princess and Royal Princess -- which do not have large, multi-story atriums.

Even when the snow isn't coming down, Princess ships will feature a merry atmosphere. Trimmed from stem to stern in holiday décor - even including a Christmas tree on the vessels' masts -- the ships reflect the season in a variety of ways. Special events also include a reading of "The Night Before Christmas" by either the captain or cruise director, and strolling carolers fill the air with the sounds of the season. Passengers will additionally enjoy a holiday card from the captain, a stocking turndown gift, and classic holiday films.

Christmas activities include a spectacular display from the ship's culinary team to delight the senses, and a holiday variety show adds a seasonal element to the ship's entertainment offerings. Religious services are held as well, and passengers can attend midnight mass or an inter-denominational church service performed by onboard clergy.

On Christmas Eve, passengers will sit down to a dinner of traditional holiday fare, and on Christmas Day passengers can enjoy a cup of eggnog, plus a sumptuous brunch including roast turkey and all the trimmings. This year's holiday feast will begin with a special Christmas cocktail, and continues with a bang, as each place setting will include a traditional English Christmas cracker. Freshly prepared stolen and Christmas cookies with milk (even some for Santa) round out the seasonal treats.

Christmas For Kids - Christmas is especially festive for junior cruisers. Santa Claus makes an appearance with his sack full of toys, and a fun-filled holiday fair in the atrium offers youngsters the opportunity to try their hand at Christmas cookie decorating, balloon making, face painting, games and other competitions. The youth centers will host holiday parties for each age group, and kids can make decorations to display on the center's Christmas tree. Youngsters can get creative with other holiday-themed arts and crafts projects throughout the cruise, and they will have an opportunity to sing Christmas carols for passengers. For parents who want to stay up later to celebrate the holidays, free late-night group kid sitting sessions will be available on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Hanukkah - Passengers celebrating the Festival of Lights, which runs from December 4-12, will also have the opportunity to celebrate and participate in onboard religious services conducted by a rabbi who sails during the holiday period. A special area of the ship is reserved for those participating in these events and ships display menorahs and fresh flower arrangements decorated in the Hanukkah colors of blue, silver and white. Children will enjoy themed arts and crafts pertinent to the holiday.

Ringing in the New Year -- Princess ships will welcome 2008 with fun-filled New Year's Eve parties where passengers can count down to the new year with music, confetti, noise-makers and a balloon drop. Earlier in the evening, passengers will enjoy a special New Year's Eve menu. And once the new year arrives, football fans will be pleased to know they won't miss the day's traditional college bowl games, as the telecasts will be shown (as available by satellite) in a shipboard lounge or on some vessels' giant Movies Under the Stars screen.

This season, Princess' 16-ship fleet offers worldwide holiday sailings including festive voyages to the Caribbean, Mexico, the Panama Canal, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, South America, Hawaii and the South Pacific.

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10-16-07: Norwegian Majesty Leaves Boston Majesty made her final visit to the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal in South Boston last Friday, then headed for drydock at the Boston Ship Repair. She is now receiving a refurbishment before moving to her new home in Charleston, S.C. for regular Western caribbean cruise visits to the Cayman Islands, Cozumel and Key West.

The 680-foot long cruise ship made its Port of Boston debut in 1994 as the Royal Majesty. Norwegian Cruise Lines purchased the ship in 1997 and changed its name ot the Norwegian Majesty. She was "stretched" and upgraded in 1999, when a 112-foot midsection was added.

Starting next May, the 1,700-seat Norwegian Dream will replace the Majesty. At 754 feet long, the dream is 20 percent larger and boasts two pools, a driving range and a basketball court.

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10-16-07: Gay Cruise Companies Consolidate: Atlantis and RSVP Atlantis Events, Inc., the world's largest company specializing in all-gay and lesbian cruises and resort vacations, today announced that it will acquire RSVP Vacations, the originator of the gay and lesbian cruise concept. The company also announced that it will appoint Charlie Rounds president of RSVP.

Atlantis charters entire cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts for the exclusive use of its gay and lesbian guests. In 2007, Atlantis has hosted approximately 20,000 guests on 11 different events. Established in 1985, RSVP Vacations was the originator of the gay and lesbian cruise concept. Destinations in 2007 have included the Caribbean, Barbados, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and an historic trans-Atlantis crossing on the Queen Mary 2.

"This move is a great step forward for guests of both RSVP and Atlantis, who will now benefit from the largest and most diverse collection of all-gay vacations in the world," Campbell said.

The company plans to grow and build RSVP, while maintaining it as a separate and distinct brand from Atlantis. RSVP will stay true to its heritage of providing high quality gay vacations that emphasize community, personal growth, learning and cultural experiences.

"We are extremely pleased that RSVP will become part of the Atlantis family," said Karen Magee, chief executive officer, PlanetOut Inc. "Preserving RSVP's distinct brand will enable Atlantis to expand the audience it serves by taking advantage of RSVP's unique positioning within the LGBT community. We believe this combination will be a real positive for RSVP's customers and business partners. It really is a perfect match and we're looking forward to expanding and extending our marketing relationship with Atlantis."

As part of this strategy, Atlantis will appoint Charlie Rounds president of RSVP. Rounds, an original employee and one-time co-owner of RSVP Vacations, will be responsible for all sales, marketing, production, administration and operational issues at RSVP.

RSVP will operate all of its scheduled programs in 2008 -- including its Exotic Caribbean cruise in February, its Barbados Bliss cruise in March, and its Tahitian Treasure cruise in November. The company also plans to announce new vacations and destinations in the very near future. RSVP will keep its office in Minneapolis, the longtime home of RSVP Vacations. The company will continue to market its vacations through a network of more than 7,500 of travel agencies worldwide, as well as through direct sales.

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10-10-07: Keel Laid for Costa Luminosa Costa, Europe's Number One Cruise Line, laid the keel for the thirteenth ship in its fleet late last week at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard. Due for delivery in Spring 2009, the Costa Luminosa will be 92,700-tons, 292 meters long and offer a double occupancy of 2,260. The ship will boast a new design concept combining the very best of the brand including wellness, entertainment, food and wine, exclusive itineraries, and fine art. In addition, it will feature the highest number of veranda accommodations (68%) in the fleet. In particular, 772 of 1,130 cabins will be in this category, making the ship especially well suited for scenic itineraries.

Onboard, the ship will showcase the latest innovations from Costa, including the Samsara Spa, which is one of the largest wellness centers at sea, complete with accommodations featuring direct access to the spa. It will also feature a pool deck with a retractable magrodome extending over two pools and a Grand Prix race car driving simulator. In addition, the Costa Luminosa will feature an 18-hole championship golf course simulator.

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Keel for Costa Luminosa

Costa will also build a sister ship to the Costa Luminosa, scheduled to enter service in March 2010. Both ships will be created at a total cost of over 800 million Euros. Costa's fleet expansion program includes the addition of a third ship, the Costa Pacifica, which will leave the Genoa-Sestri Ponente yard in Spring 2009 along with the Costa Luminosa. By 2010, the Costa fleet will have 15 members, all flying the Italian flag, confirming Costa's European leadership.

The two new builds commissioned from Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard also confirm Costa's role as a major player in the economy of Veneto Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In addition to the 800 million Euro investment for the construction of the Costa Luminosa and her sister ship, in 2007 the Italian company's ships have been making regular stopovers in Venice and Trieste, with more than 280,000 guest visits and generating income of 12 million Euros* for local allied industries and businesses.

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10-10-07: Crystal Cruises to Feature Hank Aaron on 1-4-08 Cruise Hall of Fame baseball legend Hank Aaron will be a featured guest lecturer aboard Crystal Serenity's first cruise of 2008. On Crystal Cruises' January 4 Panama Canal cruise from Miami to Los Angeles, Mr. Aaron will share his inspiring achievements, professional milestones and life experiences. During the cruise, guests will have the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with the homerun champion of 33 years, as well as receive an autographed photo taken with him.

The 15-day cruise aboard the award-winning Crystal Serenity begins in Miami on January 4 and features calls in Grand Cayman/George Town, British West Indies; Cartagena, Colombia; Caldera, Costa Rica; Puerto Chiapas (maiden call), Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; ultimately arriving in Los Angeles on January 19. Fares begin at $4,495 per person, double occupancy.

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10-10-07: Cunard to Build New "Queen Elizabeth" Cunard Line announces that it has ordered a new 92,000-ton liner, to be named "Queen Elizabeth," scheduled to enter service in the autumn of 2010. Cunard, a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE CUK) signed an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of the new 2092-passenger ocean liner, which will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard at an all-in cost of approximately $700 million. The vessel will be the second largest Cunarder the company has ever built.

"Cunard already owns and operates the two most famous ocean liners in the world, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2, and a third - Queen Victoria - is due to be named by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, in December of this year," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line. "The decision to order another ship for Cunard Line has been taken as a result of the strong booking response to the new Queen Victoria, and we are extremely pleased that Cunard will once again become a three-ship fleet so soon after the departure of the much-celebrated Queen Elizabeth 2 in November next year. Furthermore, we are delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has given her blessing to our calling this new Cunarder 'Queen Elizabeth', after our first vessel of that name."

The new ship follows a long line of famous Cunard liners stretching back to the company's inception as the first operator of a timetabled transatlantic service 167 years ago.

"It is a particularly special moment for Fincantieri to have secured a second order from Cunard at a time when we are nearing the completion of Queen Victoria," said Mr. Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer. "Cunard is the most famous name in passenger shipping and we are honoured to have been chosen to build Queen Elizabeth and to continue the tradition and heritage of that great company."

Queen Elizabeth will offer the very best of Cunard's values and traditions, blended with every conceivable modern luxury that today's discerning travellers expect. Through her opulent public rooms and impeccable service, the new ship will reflect the grandeur which has been associated with Cunard ships since the introduction of the Mauretania in 1907; and from the outside, her black hull, gleaming white superstructure and distinctive red funnel will echo the classic characteristics of the company's distinctive liner heritage.

Queen Elizabeth will fly the Red Ensign with her home-port Southampton, as is the case with the other ships in the Cunard fleet.

The agreement is subject to approval by the board of directors of Carnival Corporation & plc. Design details and initial itineraries will be announced in due course.

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10-4-07: Rumors of Windjammer Demise Rumors are out in the press and online that Windjammer cruises is in deep financial trouble, cruises passengers are not allowed to board the ships, and that crewmembers, who have not been paid, are stuck living on ships with no power or air conditioning.

The situation has deteriorasted to the point where there are reports of passengers arriving to find ships left empty by the crew because the fuel had run out. Why something was not done sooner to protect the company, and to prevent the continued sales of tickets when it was becoming obvious the cruises would not be taking place cannot be said. In any case, a survey of travel agents showed that they were all well aware of the situation months ago and had stopped selling Windjammer cruise already.

Windjammer Cruises is a cruise line that honestly never got much coverge by the mainstream cruise press, although the line had a core following of advocates who loved the extreme free-style nature of their cruises, of which one aspect soon became synonymous with their name - barefoot cruising.

Windjammer has a fleet of four small sail-ships. Their program appealed to young singles with no singles supplements, and beer and wine included with the cruise fare. If you didn't like your assigned roommate you were welcome to grab a blanket and sleep out on the deck. The ships also never docked in the U.S. presumably because they weren't like to pass the Coast Guard and CDC inspections.

Still, if you were to go to the Windjammer devoted message board site, where you used to see all kinds free-spirited people making plans for future voyages on these escapist ships, the messages are all about people asking each other if they have heard anything new, and wondering if their plans are falling through. Unfortunately, many cruise and travel insurance providrers stopped covering them months ago.

A visit to now leads you to a holding page by the web services provider NetworkSolutions. The second most visitied page after a Google on Windjammer leads you to - full of messages from people reporting they bought tickets but are being denied boarding because the crew is on strike for not having been paid.

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10-4-07: NCL in Search for Godmother of Norwegian Gem Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced the search for the godmother of its new ship, Norwegian Gem. The company is inviting its Latitudes members to discover their inner "It" Girl and submit a video at explaining why they should be named Godmother of Norwegian Gem. The call for entries begins October 8, 2007 and ends on November 12, 2007. Five finalists will be revealed on November 15, 2007. The grand prize winner will be announced during the christening ceremony of Norwegian Gem on December 18, 2007 in New York City and will christen the ship during an on-board ceremony.

"Norwegian Gem represents the ultimate in Freestyle Cruising and is the ultimate "It" Girl," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "In looking for her Godmother, we wanted to reflect her hip personality while rewarding one of our past guests with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

In addition to being named Norwegian Gem's Godmother, the grand prize winner will also receive a seven-day cruise in the ultra luxurious Garden Villa on Norwegian Gem for her and five of her entourage.

NCL is also giving those who have not sailed on an NCL cruise the opportunity to enter the video contest and become the Latitudes "It" Girl's BFF. While non-Latitudes members aren't eligible to win the grand prize, they will be entered to win a seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruise for two aboard Norwegian Gem during the 2008 sailing season.

The Latitudes "It" Girl should embody the attributes of NCL's hottest, hippest new ship, Norwegian Gem, as well as the free spirit of NCL's Freestyle Cruising. These characteristics include sophistication, independence and confidence, eagerness to explore new destinations and learn new things, glamorous, stylish and cultured, along with a youthful and adventurous spirit regardless of age.

In their video submissions, entrants are encouraged to include how many times they've cruised with NCL and why they think they should be the Latitudes "It" Girl. In addition, entrants are invited to include their own unique talent (if they have one) that exemplifies the freestyle spirit of NCL cruising. Entries will be judged on creativity and originality of the submission.

Second City Provides Video Examples

NCL has enlisted the help of Second City, the famed improvisational group that is also featured on NCL ships, to provide video examples. Several Second City cast members have created videos that will be posted on showing what's "it" and what isn't "it".

All of the submissions meeting the contest criteria will be posted at, where visitors can rank the videos and view them by a variety of categories including featured, most viewed, hottest, new, all videos and by traits including funny, glamorous, freestyle, chic, glamorous and too hot.

NCL is also giving guests sailing on its ships during the call for entries the opportunity to create their videos on board. All NCL* and NCL America ships will offer scheduled complimentary videotaping sessions for those guests wanting to enter the contest. Guests will be given a DVD of their entry that they can submit online when they return home.

On November 15, when the five finalists are announced, the public can vote for their favorite entry through December 7, 2007. The public vote will assist NCL in determining the grand prize winner.

The five finalists will be whisked away to Norwegian Gem's christening ceremony on December 18, 2007 in New York City. Each will receive roundtrip air transportation to New York and accommodations for two on the ship's two-night inaugural sailing.

Further details, including the contest terms and conditions, can be found online at starting on Monday, October 8, 2007.

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10-4-07: Queen Victoria's Stunning Two-Storey Library With just over eight weeks remaining before Cunard's Queen Victoria makes her December 10 debut in Southampton, England, the ship's distinctive public spaces continue to evolve, showcasing the elegant design and signature features for which the 168-year old ocean liner company is known.

Without exception will be the new Cunarder's two-storey library, distinguished by a spiral staircase and rich wood paneling, providing a tranquil and stimulating respite for the line's literary-minded guests. Situated on Deck Two and Three, the multi-language library will feature more than 6,000 volumes, a broad selection of newspapers, periodicals and reference materials. Yet to be completed is the wooden coffered backlit ceiling highlighted by dramatic leaded glass with elegant geometrical and classical patterns, creating a rich contrast between the room's golden, green, and cream tones and the mahogany wooden cabinetry below.

The inclusion of a shipboard library is a longtime Cunard tradition, as the company was the first to install such a venue on the Bothnia in 1874. Queen Victoria's library will be the second-largest at sea, next to the library aboard her sister ship, Queen Mary 2.

Queen Victoria's Princess Library

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10-02-07: Disney Contest to Give Away Castaway Cay - for a Day Today, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort announced an extension on the popular Year of a Million Dreams celebration. For this extension, a "Dream Catalog" of money-can't-buy prizes were developed and will be granted to guests throughout the celebration. Headlining the "Dream Catalog" -- a Disney Cruise Line vacation unlike an other, where the lucky winner and guests will be granted exclusive use of Castaway Cay for an entire day!

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disney service   Castaway Cay in Times Square   Minnie and Mickie

The special Disney Cruise Line prize element was announced this morning on Good Morning America. Disney recreated its island paradise in the heart of Times Square for the announcement. Imagine, a tropical oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of New York City -- complete with Mickey and Minnie in island wear!

The prize is truly unique. . .the winner and guests will board the Disney Wonder in Port Canaveral. Halfway through the cruise, they will be dropped off at Disney Cruise Line's private island, Castaway Cay. For one day, everything on the island will be at their disposal -- private meet and greets with Disney characters, an opportunity to parasail over the island, gourmet lunch prepared on the beach, kayaking excursion through the mangroves, beachside cabana massage, snorkeling with tropical marine life -- everything and anything a normal guest could experience on Castaway Cay with a few special surprises tossed in. And, it's all arranged exclusively for the winner and their guests!

This will be truly a vacation of a lifetime -- a Disney Cruise Line experience unlike any other.

To see all the other unique prizes in the "Dream Catalog" visit

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10-02-07: Cozumel Now Leading Caribbean Port Many cruise lines, affected by the temporary closure of Costa Maya, have chosen Cozumel as the preferred port of substitution. Cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have announced temporary changes to their Western Caribbean itineraries to include the popular port of Cozumel.

With several ships being rerouted from Costa Maya to Cozumel, the number of cruise ships setting sail to Cozumel stands to increase significantly. More than a dozen additional ships are now scheduled to stop in Cozumel periodically throughout the remainder of 2007.

Some of the ships that are currently planning to replace Costa Maya calls with stops in Cozumel include:

  • Carnival Freedom
  • Carnival Glory
  • Carnival Liberty (Western Caribbean)
  • Carnival Valor
  • Carnival Victory
  • Holland America Veendam (Winter Western Caribbean)
  • Holland America Westerdam (Winter Western Caribbean)
  • Holland America Amsterdam (Christmas cruise)
  • Norwegian Sun
  • Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas

Travelers should check with travel agents or cruise lines to obtain the latest updates regarding cruise itineraries for the Western Caribbean.

More than 1,100 cruise ships arrive to the island of Cozumel each year, making it the leading port of call in the Caribbean.

"The island's extensive facilities can easily accommodate the additional ships that are scheduled to arrive in Cozumel," said Raul Marrufo, director of the Cozumel Tourism Promotion Board. "We are glad that we are able to help at this time and support the continued demand for cruise travel to the Yucatan region."

A key entry point for travelers interested in exploring the Mexican Caribbean, Cozumel is world-famous for its diving, snorkeling and other ocean adventures. In addition, the island boasts an exciting array of land activities and attractions for cruise-goers to enjoy while ashore. Guests can visit two national parks, take a ATV or jeep tour through the jungle, go horseback riding, play a round of golf, swim with the dolphins, explore Mayan archaeological sites or enjoy a tequila tour and tasting. Cozumel also offers a wide variety of shopping and dining in downtown San Miguel.

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10-02-07: NCL Accepts Completed Gem, Cuts Steel on New F3 Class

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) took delivery of its new "It" Girl, Norwegian Gem, from Meyer Werft in a handover ceremony yesterday in Eemshaven, Netherlands. Norwegian Gem is the fourth and final ship in the company's Jewel-class series and solidifies NCL's status as the youngest, most modern fleet in the industry.

"Outfitted with top-of-the-line amenities including opulent suites and villas, a four-lane ten-pin bowling alley and rock climbing wall, Norwegian Gem epitomizes Freestyle Cruising and what it means to be an 'It' Girl," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL Corporation. "We look forward to welcoming her to her new home in New York this December."

Upon delivery, Norwegian Gem will head to Rotterdam, Netherlands and then to Dover, UK where she will arrive on Oct. 5. After a series of seven-day Western Mediterranean itineraries, the ship will make her U.S. debut in Boston on Dec. 12 followed by a christening ceremony in New York City on Dec. 18.

Norwegian Gem will spend spring 2008 on seven-day Bahamas and Florida itineraries and on 10- and 11-day Exotic Southern Caribbean itineraries out of New York. She'll then summer in Europe on seven-day Western Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona. The ship will also offer a 15-day transatlantic sailing in April 2008 and a 13-day transatlantic sailing in November 2008.

For more about Norwegian Gem including her blog, visit the ship's "HerSpace" page at

NCL Corporation Ltd. is an innovative cruise company headquartered in Miami, Florida, with a fleet of 15 ships in service and under construction. The corporation oversees the operations of Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America and Orient Lines. NCL is the Official Cruise Line of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.

NCL plans to build up to three new third generation Freestyle Cruising ships for delivery between 2010 and 2011. NCL is on target to have the youngest fleet in the industry by the end of 2007 with the introduction of Norwegian Gem, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of Freestyle Cruising on the newest, most contemporary ships at sea.


The steel cutting for the first of NCL's third generation of new Freestyle Cruising ships, project name "F3," took place yesterday at Aker Yards S.A. in Saint Nazaire, France. Andy Stuart, NCL's executive vice president of marketing, sales and passenger services, was assisted by representatives from America's Vacation Center and Direct Line Cruises in pushing the button that began the historic steel cutting. In addition, nearly 50 of NCL's President's Club members, representatives from the company's top travel partners, witnessed the event.

"Today's steel cutting marks a major milestone in NCL's history as we begin the construction of our first F3 ship in conjunction with Aker Yards," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL Corporation. "Travel partners have been instrumental to our success over the past 40 years, so we invited our President's Club members to join us in this historic event. We are pleased that they could be in attendance to witness the beginnings of the first ship which will further signify NCL's progressive dismantling of the structure, regimentation and constraints of the traditional cruise experience."

The F3 ships are the next phase in NCL's unique Freestyle Cruising, which offers vacationers a less structured, more relaxed, more resort-style experience than traditional cruising and is characterized by no fixed dining times, no formal dress codes and up to 10 different restaurants.

The 150,000-ton ships will each total 4,200 passenger berths, representing the largest ships in NCL's fleet. The first ship is scheduled for delivery in January 2010.

The new ship design will offer 60 percent more guest space than NCL's largest ships to date, which will be used to provide guests an even wider range of on-board activities, amenities and stateroom options. The ships' cabin mix will be the richest of any NCL ship with 100 percent of outside staterooms featuring private balconies. In total, each ship will have 1,415 balcony staterooms. Details of the ships' design will be released closer to delivery.

"Aker Yards is honored to join NCL in the evolution of the cruise ship experience with the building of the first F3 Freestyle Cruising ship, and we look forward to a continued partnership in the years ahead," said Jacques Hardelay, general manager of Aker Yards, France.

NCL Corporation Ltd. is an innovative cruise company headquartered in Miami, Florida, with a fleet of 15 ships in service and under construction. The corporation oversees the operations of Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America and Orient Lines. NCL is the Official Cruise Line of the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.

NCL plans to build up to three new third generation Freestyle Cruising ships for delivery between 2010 and 2011. NCL is on target to have the youngest fleet in the industry by the end of 2007 with the introduction of Norwegian Gem, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of Freestyle Cruising on the newest, most contemporary ships at sea.

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