CruiseMates Cruise News http://www.cruisemates.com/ The latest in information for cruisers and the cruise industry en-us Wed, 28 Jan 2009 18:23:02 PST Wed, 28 Jan 2009 18:23:02 editor@cruisemates.com webmaster@cruisemates.com 60 Royal Caribbean CEO Invests in Own Company http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story23 Royal Caribbean's chairman of the board and CEO, Richard Fain, put almost 1/2 million dollars of his personal money into the cruise line "for investment purchases" today. He purchased some $471,635 of the company's corporate bonds according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The bonds, rated as "junk bonds" (not an atypical rating for a corporate bond) are trading at a deep discount to face value. "I already own a lot of stock in our company, and I bought these bonds because I thought they were ridiculously undervalued," Fain said in a statement. Moody's downgraded the bond rating from Ba1 to Ba2 on Friday, Jan 30. Fain bought $200,000 of 8 percent bonds due May 15, 2010; $200,000 of 8.75 percent bonds due Feb. 2, 2011; $150,000 of 7 percent bonds due June 15, 2013, and $100,000 of the company's 6.875 percent bonds due Dec. 1, 2013. This adds up to over $550,000 face value for the bonds upon maturity for which he paid $471,635. For those not familiar with bonds, this is not a "CEO discount." It means the trading value of the bonds is currently below their face value, but that they will pay the per annum interest in quarterly payouts as well as the face value when they mature. Not a bad investment assuming Royal Caribbean is still "afloat." CEO Fain does not appear to be worried about that. Thu, 05 Feb 2009 Paul Motter Royal Caribbean CEO Invests in Own Company http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story24 One Week Sale Feb 9-16 for Yachts of Seabourn The Yachts of Seabourn will offer a one-week sale of selected voyages in Europe with savings of 60% off the brochure fares for 14 voyages of seven to 14 days aboard the Seabourn Pride, Spirit, Legend and Seabourn Odyssey between March and August of 2009. To qualify, bookings must be made from Monday, February 9 until close of business on Monday February 16, 2009. The offer, which is in lieu of any other promotional offer or savings, is valid for new bookings on 14 voyages in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, and features lead-in fares from $2,840 per person, based on double occupancy of a 277-square foot ocean-view suite. The special sale savings are valid for all categories of suites on Seabourn Pride, Spirit and Legend and on suite categories up to and including PH on Seabourn Odyssey. The list of included voyages is: Seabourn Pride March 18 Portugal Passage I - Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon 13 days March 31 Grand Mediterranean - Lisbon to Athens (Piraeus) 14 days April 14 Mediterranean Panorama - Athens (Piraeus) to Lisbon 14 days May 12 Grand Harbors of Europe - Dover to Copenhagen 11 days June 13 Norwegian Fjords - Round Trip Copenhagen 9 days June 22 Scandinavia & Russia - Round Trip Copenhagen 12 days Seabourn Spirit June 20 or July 11 Italian Idyll - Venice to Rome (Civitavecchia) 7 days Seabourn Legend Apr 16 Iberian Spring - Lisbon to Barcelona 10 days June 20 Cote d� Azur & Spanish Isles - Monte Carlo to Barcelona 7 days June 27 The Yachtsman�s Riviera - Barcelona to Monte Carlo 7 days July 11 Sardinia, Corsica & Cote d�Azur - Rome (Civitavecchia) to Monte Carlo 7 days Seabourn Odyssey July 18 Aegean Odyssey- Istanbul to Athens (Piraeus) 7 days July 25 Greece & Dalmatian Delights - Athens (Piraeus) to Venice 7 days For details, or to take advantage of this special one-week sale, contact your travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com. Thu, 05 Feb 2009 Paul Motter James Taylor to Play on Queen Mary 2 Crossing http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story21 The Irish Herald newspaper is reporting that folk music legend James Taylor has found a novel way of getting his entourage across the Atlantic to play Ireland and Britain this summer -- singing for his supper on a Queen Mary 2 Atlantic crossing. Multi-Grammy winning James Taylor, whose hits include You Got A Friend, performed alongside Beyonce and Stevie Wonder at President Obama's inauguration celebrations last month. Taylor will record a DVD of his performances aboard the liner. This was also done by Taylor's ex-wife, Carly Simon, who recorded one in 2005. "To bring all those people over to Europe and to bring all the equipment is a big hump to get over. So we have made a deal with Cunard Line to bring everybody over on the Queen Mary," Taylor said. Cunard said it continues a grand tradition aboard the transatlantic liner dating back to the times of Noel Coward, when stars would make impromptu performances for their fellow seafarers. Back to Top Wed, 04 Feb 2009 Paul Motter NCL Offers New Discounts - Kids $99, $250 Onboard Credit http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story20 Norwegian Cruise Line is extending its Freestyle Resolution promotion. Families who book a cruise from now through March 15, 2009 on many of NCL's sailings can take their kids for as low as $99 each, and also receive up to $250 in on-board credit to be used on anything from shore excursions and specialty dinners to spa treatments, the casino or otherwise. Says Kevin Sheehan, NCL's president and CEO, "Family cruises on NCL have great activities for kids of all ages, from our expanded Kid's Crew program allowing parents to take the night off for a romantic dinner, to the two-story Nintendo Wii, four-lane bowling, rock climbing wall, teen disco, and arcade." NCL notes its most popular summer sailings include a seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruise round-trip from Vancouver to Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, Alaska, from $599 per person. Norwegian Spirit sails a seven-day Bermuda cruise round-trip from Boston, from $599 per person; and Norwegian Gem features a seven-day Western Mediterranean sailing round-trip from Barcelona, Spain to Valletta, Malta; Naples, Rome and Florence, Italy; and Cannes, France; from $599 per person. Pride of America offers a seven-day inter-island Hawaii cruise departing from Honolulu and visiting Hilo and Kona, Hawaii; along with overnights in Kahului, Maui and Nawiliwili, Kaui from $999 per person. Families sailing with NCL can also save with half price dinners for children three to 12 years old in its numerous specialty restaurants. Unlimited soda package for kids 12 and under are $39.50 which includes a Kid's Crew backpack, t-shirt and baseball cap. For teens, the Teen Passport Program is just $34.50 and includes a booklet with 20 tickets for non-alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic smoothies; and admission to an afternoon dance party with DJ, pizza and unlimited soft drinks. With NCL's new Groups 2.0 program, families looking to host reunions onboard can save. When booking eight or more staterooms via a travel agent, amenities offered range from the ability to make advance Freestyle Dining reservations in any restaurant prior to sailing, to a group cocktail party, on-board credits which can be used throughout the ship, and Freestyle Bowling in the Bliss Ultra Lounge, amongst others. Tue, 03 Feb 2009 Paul Motter Alaska Cruising Beginning to Suffer http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story14 The Alaska cruise economy is taking a beating right with plenty of controversy about the reasons why. Royal Caribbean has already announced that it will reduce the number of sailings there in 2009 and that they are taking one ship out of the market completely in 2010. Cruise West, a small-ship cruise line that specializes in Alaska cruising, has already taken three ships out the Alaska area for 2009, including the namesake Spirit of Alaska. While Cruise West ships only carry about 200 passengers apiece, it is an important referendum on certain government policies that Alaska tourism officials say are contributing to the downturn. In 2006 the state imposed a $50 per head tax on all cruise passengers. This was opposed by Governor Sarah Palin but was passed by the legislature. The economic impact on the state just for the loss of the one Royal Caribbean ship, Seranade of the Seas, is estimated anywhere from 40 to $57 million dollars for the season in total revenue. According to certain estimates, the cost of an Alaska cruise is roughly half the price what it was last year, especially on the larger cruise lines. The smaller Cruise West is relocating its small ships to the Columbia River where the decison to halt operations by Majestic America Line has left a void. Majestic America is the owner of several steamboats such as Delta Queen, Columbia Queen and Empress of the North. All of the ships have been taken out of service and the cruise line is for sale. Mon, 02 Feb 2009 Paul Motter Caribbean Princess Receives Signature Upgrades in Drydock http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story13 Caribbean Princess has just emerged from an extensive three-week drydock to add many of Princess Cruises' signature features that have proven so popular on its newest ships. The vessel now offers passengers the engaging street-café atmosphere of the piazza-style atrium with its International Café and Vines, the wine, seafood and cheese bar; the adults-only Sanctuary, seven new suites, and a more centrally located casino. Work is also nearly complete on a new Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant. These amenities became passenger favorites when they debuted aboard Crown Princess, Emerald Princess and Ruby Princess over the last three years, and are being added to a number of ships, including Golden Princess in May. The company has already introduced many of these features on Star Princess and Grand Princess. "We want to give passengers who sail aboard any of our large ships the opportunity to enjoy the innovative amenities that have become hallmarks of the Princess cruise experience," said Jan Swartz, executive vice president of Princess Cruises. Caribbean Princess' new atrium now features the specialty coffees, fresh baked cookies and pastries, paninis and tapas of the International Café. Also new is the Vines wine bar offering a selection of more than 30 wines by the glass, plus a selection of seafood, artisan meats and cheeses, and a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle. Adult passengers looking to get away from it all will be able to relax in the tranquility of The Sanctuary, Princess' signature retreat featuring plush padded lounge chairs and the services of dedicated Serenity Stewards. Visitors to this exclusive space can enjoy refreshing beverages and light snacks, or receive a massage in one of two private cabanas. Caribbean Princess will soon debut a brand new Crown Grill restaurant featuring an open kitchen where passengers can enjoy watching as chefs prepare chops, steaks and seafood, including live lobsters. As part of the renovation, the 3,080-passenger ship � which debuted in 2004 � also received seven new suites with ocean-view picture windows, and a relocated casino on deck 7, bringing it into the ship's central entertainment area. Other changes include a new location for the sports court, a new Limelight boutique, new shore excursions and Captain's Circle desks, new Internet café and library, and the addition of flat-screen televisions in all staterooms. The dramatic makeover took place at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas, where more than 1,500 workers and contractors worked around the clock to complete the impressive project. Mon, 02 Feb 2009 Paul Motter Grand Turk Cruise Center Projects 500,000 Visits in 2009 http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story15 Grand Turk Cruise Center Projects 500,000 Visits in 2009 With 229 cruise ship calls scheduled for 2009, the Caribbean island-based Grand Turk Cruise Center built and basically owned by Carnival Corp. is on track to host a record 500,000 passengers in the coming year. The unprecedented half-million passenger mark is a 25% increase over 2008, during which the center was closed for 30 days following Hurricane Ike. Most of the visits to the cruise center are made by Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Princess and Costa ships (all owned by Carnival Corp.) although Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Crystal and Regent Seven Seas also have stops scheduled there in 2009. Grand Turk has successfully developed a wide array of organized excursion opportunities for visitors, from horseback riding and kayaking to world-class diving, snorkeling and fishing. A recent addition is the new Grand Turk Grace Bay Car Rentals recently opened at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Guests can now self-drive to the island's historical sites, gorgeous white-sand beaches, quaint Bermudian-influenced architecture and friendly locals at their own pace. The Grand Turk Cruise Center, which can accommodate up to 6,000 passengers per day, consists of a 13-acre complex including an 800-foot-long private beach, swimming pool, expansive recreation area with a diversity of retail shops, FlowRider® surfing adventure and the Caribbean's largest "Margaritaville"-themed bar and restaurant. For more information about the island, the Grand Turk Cruise Center, as well as the 2009 cruise ship schedule, shore excursion offerings visit grandturkcc.com. For information on Grand Turk Grace Bay Car Rentals visit their web site at gracebaycarrentals.com. Fri, 30 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Royal Caribbean Reports Quarterly Results http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story16 Royal Caribbean International, the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara Cruises, as well as smaller European brands, announced the results of their most recent quarter this morning. This report is significant because it is the first report by a major cruise line encompassing a full quarter of sales after the sudden economic downturn. The company had predicted earnings would come in somewhere between five to 10-cents per share. Actual earnings were $.01 per share - one penny per share. Fourth quarter 2008 net income was $1.5 million, or $0.01 per share, compared to $70.8 million or $0.33 per share in 2007. For the full year 2008, net income was $573.7 million, or $2.68 per share. Bookings began to suffer a substantial downturn in September resulting in a Net Yield decline of 5.9% for the quarter. This is lower than the company's previous guidance of down 4% - 5% due to foreign currency changes during the quarter. During the quarter, substantial cost containment and other actions largely offset higher than anticipated fuel and insurance expenses. Fuel expense was higher than the company's last calculations mainly due to higher at-the-pump pricing than anticipated. Looking forward, the revenue outlook for 2009 remains weak. Both ticket sales and onboard revenue have been impacted by the general economic conditions. It has required substantial discounts to generate the requisite volume and consumers are making their vacation decisions later than previously. Increased cost containment programs are expected to result in a 5% - 7% decline in Net Cruise Costs per APCD excluding fuel in 2009. The company expects Net Yields for 2009 will be down 9% - 13% from 2008 and that EPS will be in a range around $1.40 per share. Early indications from the "WAVE Period" are encouraging and suggest that the booking situation may have begun to stabilize although pricing remains extremely challenging. "The fourth quarter was an extremely difficult operating environment and we expect even more challenges in 2009," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Nevertheless, I am pleased by our success in reducing costs without compromising the guest experience. Although the WAVE Period has only just started, we are encouraged by what we have seen so far; pricing is still very difficult, but booking patterns have begun to stabilize." It is important to note that much of this quarter, Oct. through Dec. 2008, showed erratic pricing patterns and indecision about how to react to the economic changes. It was not until December that most of the cruise lines had readjusted to the new mood of their customers and created buying incentives to appeal to the new financial mindset. What's Changed in the Booking Environment? The report says that as soon as the January WAVE season arrived bookings were as robust as last year, albeit at lower prices. Royal Caribbean sees people delaying their vacation purchase decisions but choosing to cruise as their vacation date gets closer. The company also disclosed that its core Caribbean products are seeing stronger demand than its premium seasonal products such as Europe and Alaska. Onboard revenue, which until the fourth quarter of 2008 had remained resilient, has also been reduced in the company's guidance. The company continues to successfully expand the proportion of its business that comes from outside the United States, which also makes currency issues more relevant to the company's results. Thu, 29 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Names New F3 ship: Norwegian Epic http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story15 Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced that it has selected the name for its new F3 ship: Norwegian Epic. Just as the name implies, the ship will be the largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date. The 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic is scheduled to sail year-round to the Caribbean from Miami, beginning in summer 2010. Following a series of inaugural events in Europe and the U.S., the ship will homeport in Miami and will sail year-round to the Caribbean offering alternating seven-day Western and Eastern Caribbean voyages through April 2011. These cruises are scheduled to go on sale to the public later this spring. NCL will open Norwegian Epic�s sailings for group block bookings exclusively for travel partners in mid-March 2009. The ship's Western Caribbean itinerary includes stops in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. Norwegian Epic's Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Epic represents the next generation of Freestyle Cruising - a ship that incorporates a wide range of new features and amenities, including curved New Wave staterooms and unique nightlife options. To date, the company has revealed five unique nightlife venues that rival the experiences of Las Vegas, Ibiza, the Riviera and South Beach. The five venues include the industry's first true Ice Bar; POSH Beach Club, a first of its kind beach club at sea that offers an exclusive, adults-only setting at the top of the ship; Halo, the Uber Bar, a private bar and lounge in the ship-within-a-ship villa complex; Bliss Ultra Lounge, NCL's all-day entertainment and nightclub complex with four-lane bowling alley; and Spice H20, an adults-only aft pool deck experience. In addition, the ship will feature the New Wave standard, New Wave balcony and New Wave deluxe staterooms that represent a giant leap forward in cruise ship accommodations with a completely fresh take on bathroom design, contemporary curved architecture and open living space. The New Wave stateroom's most distinctive design element is its curved walls and lines creating a modern and chic experience. NCL has maximized the living space with a bathroom that is completely unique with a separate shower stall, separate water closet and a modern vanity top sink. The staterooms feature a sophisticated earth-tone palette accented with a splash of color and rich, dark wood. Concealed contour LED lighting and back-lit domed ceilings set a relaxing vibe. Tue, 27 Jan 2009 Paul Motter, Phoenix, AZ NCL to Sail Two Ships from New York Year 'Round http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story14 NCL to Sail Two Ships from New York Year 'Round Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced the addition of Norwegian Jewel, joining Norwegian Gem, sailing from New York year 'round, giving guests a choice between two of NCL's newest ships, purpose-built for Freestyle Cruising. They also announced continued year-round commitment to Europe with Norwegian Jade sailing from Barcelona. NCL will continue sailings to the Caribbean from New Orleans on the newly refurbished Norwegian Spirit and to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles on Norwegian Star. In addition, NCL has also released its 2010-2011 repositioning voyages which include the Panama Canal, Pacific Coastal and Transatlantic. These cruises go on sale January 22, 2009. "Having Norwegian Jade homeported in Barcelona for the winter gives guests another option for exploring the many different ports in Europe, during a time of the year when it is less crowded and the weather is mild," said Kevin Sheehan, NCL's president and CEO. "By bringing Norwegian Jewel to New York, along with our newest ship, Norwegian Gem, we are giving guests more choice and more ways to escape the cold Northeast winters without the hassle of air travel." In Europe year-round, the 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade will sail alternating 12- and nine-day cruises from its homeport of Barcelona, Spain. The 12-day Eastern Mediterranean sailings include the following ports of call: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Izmir), Turkey; an overnight in Alexandria, Egypt; and Valletta, Malta. The nine-day Canary Islands & Morocco sailings include stops in Casablanca and Agadir, Morocco; Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands: Funchal, Madeira; and Granada (M�laga), Spain. Since there is no port repetition between the two itineraries, they can be easily combined to create a port-rich 21-day European tour. The 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel homeports for the first time in New York, along with the 2,380-passenger Norwegian Gem; both ships will sail a series of 10-day Eastern Caribbean cruises with stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; St. John's, Antigua; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruises with stops in Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida; Great Stirrup Cay (NCL's private island) and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Spirit, which underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2008, returns to New Orleans sailing a series of 24 seven-day Exotic Western Caribbean cruises. Ports of call include: Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Santo Tom�s de Castilla, Guatemala; and Belize City, Belize. Norwegian Star sails back to Los Angeles for a series of 24 seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatl�n and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Repositioning cruises in the 2010-2011 deployment include: On April 10 (New York to Venice) and October 30 (Venice to New York), 2010, Norwegian Gem sails a 14-day Transatlantic with stops in Ponta Delgada, Azores; Lisbon, Portugal; Seville (C�diz) and Granada (M�laga), Spain. On April 10, 2010, Norwegian Pearl will sail a 14-day Panama Canal from Miami to Los Angeles. Ports of call include: Cartagena, Columbia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and a daylight transit through the Panama Canal. On April 11, 2010, Norwegian Jewel sails a 15-day Transatlantic from Miami to London (Dover), England. Ports of call include: Ponta Delgada, Azores; Lisbon Portugal; Vigo and La Coruna, Spain; Waterford, Ireland; and Guernsey, Channel Islands. On April 11, 2010, Norwegian Spirit embarks on a 12-day Caribbean Escape from New Orleans to Boston. Ports of call include: Costa Maya, Mexico; Santo Tomás de Castilla, Guatemala; Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstand, Curacao; and Hamilton, Bermuda. On April 24, 2010, Norwegian Pearl sails from Los Angeles to Vancouver with stops in San Francisco, California; Astoria, Oregon; Victoria and Campbell River, British Columbia. On May 1, 2010, Norwegian Star repositions on a seven-day cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver, British Columbia with stops in Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska through the Inside Passage. On September 8, 2010, Norwegian Jewel sails from London (Dover), England, to New York. Ports of call include: Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Thorshavn, Faroe Islands; Reykjavik, Iceland; St. John, Newfoundland; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. On October 2, 2010, Norwegian Star sails on a seven-day British Colombia and U.S. West Coast cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Ports of call include: Campbell River and Victoria, British Columbia; Astoria, Oregon; and San Francisco, California. On October 10, 2010, Norwegian Dawn departs from New York to Miami on a 12-day Caribbean Escape with stops in Samana, Dominican Republic; Willemstad, Curacao; Oranjestad, Aruba; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Belize City, Belize. On October 23, 2010, Norwegian Spirit sails a 15-day Caribbean Escape from Boston to New Orleans. Ports of call include: Samaná, Dominican Republic; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Bridgetown, Barbados; Willemstad, Curacao; Oranjestad, Aruba; Roat�n, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. On September 19, 2010, Norwegian Pearl sails a five-day Pacific Coastal from Vancouver to Los Angeles with stops in Astoria, Oregon and San Francisco, California. Norwegian Star will sail four 14-day Panama Canal sailings from Miami to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Miami on November 20 and December 4, 2010 and January 1 and January 15, 2011. Ports of call include: Cartagena, Columbia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and a daylight transit through the Panama Canal. To book one of these new itineraries, guests should contact a travel professional or NCL at 866-234-0292. Further information can be found online at www.ncl.com. Sun, 25 Jan 2009 Paul Motter, Phoenix, AZ NCL Launches Online Booking and Cruise Planning http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story13 Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has launched online check-in via its new "My NCL" portal. The online gateway enables guests to update and track pre-cruise activity through a quick three step process. "By checking in online with �My NCL,'" guests will speed up the boarding process allowing them to start enjoying their Freestyle Cruising vacation sooner," said Vivian Ewart, vice president of passenger services. Booked guests can log onto www.ncl.com, from reservation inception up until 24-hours prior to departure, and click on the online check-in icon to begin the process. Guests will be asked to enter their name, ship, sailing date and reservation number in order to create a username and password. Once a profile is created, all guest preferences including reservation details, important required pre-cruise information including the guest check-in form, shore excursion reservations, and printable cruise ticket are stored on their "My NCL" account. The guest check-in form on "My NCL" is intuitive based on the guest's nationality and itinerary and will automatically alert the guest of the appropriate documentation needed to sail. Travel agents can access the "My NCL" portal through NCL's travel partner web site, www.bookncl.com, to check the status of their client's pre-cruise activity and to assist in the process. Guests can also log into their "My NCL" account at any time to update their profile and cruise vacation preferences, as well as check on their Latitudes (past guest program) status. Tue, 20 Jan 2009 Paul Motter, Phoenix, AZ Paul Gauguin Cruises: 45% Off, Free Air to Tahiti http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story10 <p><b>1-15-09</b><br> <img border="0" align="left" src="http://www.cruisemates.com/images/news.gif"> <b>Paul Gauguin Cruises: 45% Off, Free Air to Tahiti</b></span><br> Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest longest continually-sailing ship in the South Pacific, announced voyages for the m/s Paul Gauguin's 2010 season, along with Early Booking Savings of up to 45 percent plus Free Roundtrip Air between Los Angeles and Tahiti when booked by March 31, 2009.</p> <p>Reservations are now open for 38 itineraries ranging from 7 to 15 nights, highlighting Tahiti, the Society Islands, Tuamotus, the Cook Islands, Marquesas, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand.</p> <p><b>m/s Paul Gauguin's 2010 Sailing Season</b></p> <p>The intimate 332-guest ship will add two new itineraries in 2010, including five 11-night adventures amidst the Cook Islands, and two exclusive 14-night cruises featuring New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook and Society Islands. </p> <p>Highlights of the 2010 sailing season include:</p> <ul> <li class="LiText">Sixteen classic 7-night departures featuring Tahiti and Society Islands;<br> <li class="LiText">Six 10-night and two 9-night voyages of Tuamotus and Society Islands; <br> <li class="LiText">Five 11-night Cook Islands adventures; <br> <li class="LiText">Four 14-night sailings featuring the Marquesas Islands; <br> <li class="LiText">In-depth 13- and 15-night discoveries of Fiji, Tonga and the Cook and Society Islands; <br> <li class="LiText">Two exclusive 14-night cruises featuring New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook and Society Islands</ul> <p><b>Special Departures accenting the 2010 schedule include: </b></p> <ul> <li class="LiText">The President's Cruise on January 6, 2010, where guests can sail with Paul Gauguin Cruises President David A. Giersdorf; <br> <li class="LiText">The Jean-Michel Cousteau Cruise, featuring environmental advocate and son of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, on May 22, 2010; <br> <li class="LiText">Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program is available on all departures June through August, as well as December 18 and 27, 2010, introducing young travelers to the breathtaking natural wonders of French Polynesia – perfect for families traveling during these months;<br> <li class="LiText">December 18 and 27, 2010, where guests will savor a different kind of “White Christmas” on the white sand beaches of the Society Islands and Tuamotu Atolls. <br><BR> </ul> <p><b>Aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin</b></p> <p>Having a recent multi-million dollar enhancement, the Polynesian-themed m/s Paul Gauguin features world-class cruise ship appointments, including private balconies in nearly 70 percent of suites and staterooms and an expanded al fresco dining experience. The spacious and elegantly adorned staterooms feature deluxe European linens, feather-down duvets, robes and cotton slippers as well as other amenities found only in the most luxurious of travel destinations</p>. <p><b>Early Booking Ensures the Best Deals</b></p> <p>Guests planning a vacation with Paul Gauguin Cruises can currently take advantage of several opportunities to save, including Early Booking Savings of up to 45 percent, representing savings from $2,500 to $18,650 per person, when booked by specified Early Booking Date. Further savings of $1,250 to $2,500 per couple are available on select sailings when booked by March 31, 2009 as a result of Free or Two-for-One Roundtrip Airfare between Los Angeles and Tahiti. Also, families planning a voyage on m/s Paul Gauguin may take advantage of the third person in stateroom sails free promotion when booked by March 31, 2009. All Early Booking Promotional Savings are capacity-controlled, and subject to availability at time of booking.</p> <p>Additionally, recognizing the value of experienced and loyal travelers, Paul Gauguin Cruises welcomes all past guests of an elite collection of luxury small ship cruise lines into the m/s Paul Gauguin Society. Any past guest of Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, The Yachts of Seabourn, Crystal Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club or Windstar Cruises will receive an additional 5 percent off any m/s Paul Gauguin cruise fare.</p> <p>Reservations are being accepted now and guests are encouraged to book early for the best values, choices of departures and accommodations. Reservations must be made by March 31, 2009 to receive special air promotions from Los Angeles or the third person in stateroom sails free promotion. A new 68-page catalog detailing the m/s Paul Gauguin's superb collection of experiences is also now available. Guests should contact their Professional Travel Agent or call 1-800-848-6172 to reserve a cruise or request a brochure. For additional information, please visit www.pgcruises.com.</p> Thu, 15 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Princess: Convenient Alaska Cruisetours from Seattle http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story8 Princess Cruise Lines is offering an innovative Alaska Wilderness Sale promotion. The line is introducing an innovative lineup of cruisetours that offer passengers the extra convenience of roundtrip travel from Seattle at unprecedented low fares. These new options make planning an Alaska land/sea vacation easier than ever by including all travel once the passenger gets to Seattle, including airfare between Seattle and Anchorage, as well as a free stateroom upgrade. The Alaska Wilderness Sale runs through February 28, 2009, and features four new Seattle-based cruisetour options. Offering both northbound and southbound travel, the 11- or 12-night cruisetours feature a seven-night Voyage of the Glaciers cruise plus Direct to the Wilderness rail transportation and stays at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. Air travel between Seattle and Anchorage, as well as motorcoach transfers between Seattle and Vancouver are included in the package. Free stateroom category upgrades are included as well. Fares start at $1,099 for an 11-night land/sea vacation. The new Alaska Wilderness Sale cruisetours include the line's famed Voyage of the Glaciers sailings between Vancouver and Whittier -- featuring calls at Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway with daylight cruising of Glacier Bay National Park and the 16 glaciers of College Fjord. Passengers can choose departures on either the 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess or the 1,970-passenger Coral Princess and Island Princess. In the rail tour portion, passengers will enjoy Direct to the Wilderness rail transportation right from their ship to the Denali area, giving them extra time in the heart of Alaska's wilderness. Cruisetour options include two nights at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge and one or two nights at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. The packages also include an overnight stay in Seattle. Princess' 2009 Alaska season runs from May 9 to September 14, and features a total of 130 Alaska sailings including the signature Voyage of the Glaciers sailings, Inside Passage routes from Seattle and San Francisco, and a small ship experience on 14-day Connoisseur voyages to some of the state's less-visited ports. In addition, Princess will again take more passengers to the ice-filled wonder of Glacier Bay National Park than any other line, with 81 visits (all Gulf and Connoisseur voyages). Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company's website at www.princess.com. Tue, 13 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Silversea Reveals Silver Spirit's Inaugural Details http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story9 Silversea revealed the detials of the inaugural voyages for the brand new luxury vessel the line will reveal in December 2009. the 36,000-ton vessel will have 270 stateroom, including 26 of the popular silver suites and 222 verandah suites. Silver Spirit will start with an 11-day "Holiday Spirit" maiden voyage sailing from Barcelona on Dec. 23, 2009, to Lisbon, and a 16-day "Maiden Crossing" departing Lisbon on Jan. 3 to Fort Lauderdale. The third voyage will be a 91-day "Grand Inaugural Voyage" departing on Jan. 21, 2010. The "Grand Inaugural Voyage" will sail from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles and end in New York. The ship will stay in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval, transit Cape Horn up the west coast of South America to the Mexican Riviera. Next it will transit the Panama Canal and conclude with a Statue of Liberty event in New York Harbor. The voyage will visit more than 45 ports in over 20 countries and island destinations across two continents, with overnight stays in Fort Lauderdale, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Punta Arenas, Lima, Acapulco and Los Angeles. Guests on the full voyage will be invited to attend the naming ceremony, a gala dinner event on the eve of departure with accommodations aboard ship, exclusive shoreside events, and a VIP evening at the Rio Carnaval. Also included are commemorative gifts and a $2,000-per-suite onboard spending credit. A complimentary business-class air upgrade is also available for guests who purchase Silversea's optional air program. Silversea began accepting reservations on Jan. 12. An area of the company's website is now dedicated to Silver Spirit. Fares for the full Grand Inaugural Voyage start at $39,187 per person, double occupancy, and include "Extended Voyage Savings" of 5 percent, plus enhanced "Early Booking Incentive" and new "Extended Advance Payment Bonus" discounts applicable to voyages in 2010. The 36,000-ton Silver Spirit will accommodate 540 guests. Ninety-five percent of the suites will feature a private veranda. The ship will boast one of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea today, 67. The onboard décor will lend a sophisticated 1930s Art Deco ambience to the public spaces, highlights of which include an indoor/outdoor spa measuring 8,300 square feet, three whirlpools, and six dining venues including Seishin, a Japanese restaurant, and the Stars Supper Club, featuring live music, dancing and nightclub-style entertainment. A new full-color, 36-page brochure showcasing Silver Spirit's inaugural season will be available in the coming weeks. For more information, call 877-215-9986 or visit www.silversea.com. Tue, 13 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Carnival Implements New Price Protection Policy http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story7 1-9-09 Carnival Implements New Price Protection Policy Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a new cruise pricing option called "Early Saver" which offers fares as much as 25 percent lower than the best generally available rates and provides rate protection if rates later drop below what the consumer originally paid. Early Saver rates will be available beginning January 12, 2009 and offered up to three months prior to sailing date for cruises of five days or less and up to five months prior to sailing date for longer length voyages, subject to availability. Early Saver fares include all stateroom types, including suites. The Early Saver rate protection feature provides that if a lower Carnival advertised rate becomes available after the booking is made, a rate adjustment can be requested and the cruise line will issue the difference in the form of a non-refundable shipboard credit. The lower fare must be for the same ship, sailing date, stateroom category and number of guests. "Early Saver is a fantastic savings opportunity for those who are able to plan ahead and book early," said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival's EVP of marketing. "It is designed to provide consumers with complete confidence that [if] they find a lower fare later ... we will provide a shipboard credit equal to the difference." When booking an Early Saver fare, consumers are able to choose a specific stateroom. The standard required deposit is immediately non-refundable at time of booking. Any changes in ship or sailing date outside of Carnival's standard penalty period require a $50 change fee. For changes inside the penalty period, normal penalties apply. To request a price adjustment, a rate protection form must be completed and emailed to Carnival. Consumers can access the form via the cruise line's web site at carnival.com or their travel agent may complete the form via the cruise line's travel agent web portal. The lower rate must be available at the time the form is submitted and rate adjustments will be processed within two business days. Rate adjustment requests can be submitted up to two business days prior to the cruise departure date. Early Saver fares are available for both individual and group reservations. The Early Saver fare program will be available on virtually all Carnival ships and itineraries, which include voyages ranging from three to 18 days in length to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Europe, Bermuda and South America. The fares are subject to availability and certain restrictions apply. To book an Early Saver rate, consumers may contact a travel agent, call 800-CARNIVAL or visit carnival.com. Fri, 09 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Larry Pimentel Resigns as CEO of SeaDream Yacht Club http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story6 A letter is circulating the cruise industry that says Larry Pimentel has resigned as CEO of SeaDream Yacht Club effective immediately. In a note addressed to his friends and family, Pimentel said he no longer could be reached at his SeaDream email address or telephone number. Pimentel did not give any indication why he left the small-ship cruise line or what he plans to do now. Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad, SeaDream's owner and chairman, has assumed the position of CEO. Brynestad founded Seabourn Cruise Line in 1987 and served as it chairman for 10 years. He also was chairman of Cunard Line and a board member at Carnival Cruise Lines. Pimentel co-launched SeaDream in 2002 with Brynestad, not long after Pimentel stepped down as president and CEO of Cunard Line, citing personal reasons. Pimentel had been at Cunard since 1998, when it was bought by Carnival Corp. At the time, Carnival merged the operations of Cunard and Seabourn, where Pimentel had spent six years as president and CEO. Mon, 05 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Oceania Cruises Offers Special Savings http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story5 1-5-09 Oceania Cruises Offers Special Savings Oceania Cruises says it will launch its largest promotion ever on January 7th with "unprecedented price reductions on more than 40 voyages." To celebration five years in business, the line is offering exceptional savings on its "most alluring voyages in Europe, Asia, Australia & New Zealand, South America, and the Caribbean." With savings of up to 72%, travelers can enjoy the Oceania Cruises Experience for as little as $1,249 per guest. Adding savings for singles and additional guests in staterooms, solo travelers may enjoy the Oceania Cruises Experience for a single supplement of only 25%! 3rd and 4th guests in a stateroom will receive an additional 50% reduction off of their cruise fare. 2009 European Collection On select 2009 European Collection voyages, guests will receive Free Airfare, 2 For 1 Cruise Fares and an additional Price Reduction of $2,000 per stateroom on accommodation in categories G through A. Applicable Sailings: April 4, 2009 - Barcelona to Istanbul, 14 Days May 31, 2009 - Rome to Istanbul, 12 Days June 5, 2009 - Athens to Rome, 12 Days July 23, 2009 - Athens to Istanbul, 12 Days July 26, 2009 - Venice to Barcelona, 14 Days August 4, 2009 - Istanbul to Rome, 12 Days August 16, 2009 - Rome to Athens, 12 Days August 23, 2009 - Istanbul to Athens, 12 Days September 4, 2009 - Athens to Rome, 12 Days September 9, 2009 - Istanbul to Athens, 12 Days September 28, 2009 - Venice to Barcelona, 14 Days October 12, 2009 - Barcelona to Athens, 10 Days October 17, 2009 - Athens to Venice, 12 Days October 17, 2009 - Venice to Istanbul, 14 Days October 22, 2009 - Athens to Venice, 12 Days October 29, 2009 - Athens to Istanbul 12 Days November 3, 2009 - Venice to Rome, 12 Days November 15, 2009 - Rome to Barcelona, 10 Days 2009-2010 Winter Collection For the 2009-2010 Winter Collection, guests will receive the following Price Reductions in addition to Free Airfare and 2 For 1 Cruise Fares along with amenities valued at up to $1,500 per stateroom. 10 Day Voyages: $500 per Stateroom Price Reduction, $500 Per Stateroom Shipboard Credit and FREE Prepaid Gratuities. 12-24 Day Voyages: $1,000 per Stateroom Price Reduction, $500 Per Stateroom Shipboard Credit and FREE Prepaid Gratuities. 25-40 Day Voyages: $1,500 per Stateroom Price Reduction, $500 Per Stateroom Shipboard Credit and FREE Prepaid Gratuities. Applicable Sailings: All Winter 2009-2010 Collection voyages to Australia and New Zealand, Asia, South America and the Caribbean and Panama Canal. With Free Airfare from 20 North American Gateways and Bonus Savings on top of 2 For 1 Cruise Fares, the Oceania Cruises Experience represents the greatest vacation value ever. The Celebration of Savings officially kicks off on Wednesday, January 7th and these historic savings are certain to generate extraordinary demand. Be certain to call your travel agent or Oceania Cruises to reserve your preferred voyage and accommodations. For additional information on the Oceania Cruises Experience or to order a brochure on the 2009 European Collection or 2009-2010 Winter Collection, call your Travel Agent or Oceania Cruises at 800-531-5658 or visit us online at OceaniaCruises.com. Fares quoted are per guest based on double occupancy, are subject to availability and are capacity controlled. Fifth Anniversary Fares are available only on select sailings and in select grades of accommodations. Certain sailings may be excluded or withdrawn at any time without prior notice. For full terms and conditions, please visit the Oceania web site. Mon, 05 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Carnival Sensation Crewmember Falls - Update http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story2 1-2-09 We know a little more from new reports about the Sensation crewmember who "fell" overboard from the ship. Various TV and radio web sites in Florida say he was either standing on or near the railing and taking pictures. We now know they mean he was shooting pictures, not posing for them. He was off duty, and being very early after midnight on New Years Day (Eve) there is a good chance he had been drinking although this has not been made clear. Some passengers said he was either standing on a tall place close to the railing and that when the wind came up he lost his balance control. Another report says he was standing "on the railing" but that could mean on a lower crossbar, not the top of the railing. Exactly where he was standing is really not clear, yet. The man was singer is the stage show on board, and he did have friends and relative aboard, many of whom saw him tumble over. They through life jackets to him and started yelling at other crewmember to sound the alarm. The alarm did go out "Bravo, Bravo, Portside." over the PA system. He was identified by the Coast Guard late Friday as 26-year-old Antonio Matabang from California. He never surfaced after falling 82 feet into rough, 72-degree waters about 12:30 a.m., officials said. Despite the precarious position he was in - it was clearly an accident in the sense that he didn't jump, but it also has to be said that it was improper procedure to be standing anyplace where a loss of balance could mean going over the edge. So, the young man is not without some responsibility for what happened. We are sorry for the young man and never mean to take these stories lightly. This is actually one of the first cases of a person "accidentally" going overboard who was not necessarily doing something flagrantly wrong he should not have been doing. It is possible the seas were fairly rough and he normally would have felt fairly secure wherever he was standing under normal conditions. But conditions were not normal, neither the seas, where he was standing or likely what he was doing and under what phsical condition. In any case, we will know more soon and we are sad it happened, but we are also relieved it did not happen to a passenger. Even with the shared responsibility that would have led to assumptions about cruise ship safety that really are not warranted. The safety is there, it is just up to people to use common sense. Fri, 02 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Crewmember Falls from Carnival Sensation - Search On http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story1 1-1-09 Reports are out that a crewmember aboard Carnival Sensation fell into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Vero Beach, Florida, early this morning. Reports say we was seen falling a distance of 82 feet by friends, and that the friends threw him a life ring. The ship stopped immediately and notified the coast guard of the spot. He has not yet been found. The search is still on, battling 25 mph winds and 7-foot seas. What the crewmember was doing at the time he fell has not been reported yet. This is the time when we at CruiseMates wish the English language had different words for people descending through the atmosphere. Without intent to diminish the importance of these events, we just find it very frustrating that no one distinguishes the difference between someone jumping from a cruise ship, being pushed or dropped overboard maliciously (which has never been proven in any case, and even only suggested in two cases in the entire history of cruising) and someone who intentionally bypasses the more than suitable safety measures in place and subsequently loses hold and falls down. The latter being one of the possible causes of people "falling" but proven to be not the most common reason by far. Equally frustrating to us, is that in a case like this where people saw the young man falling, why are they not reporting how he happened to fall? Was he on or off duty? Our concern here is that there are so many uninformed non-cruisers out there who have come to the widely mistaken conclusion that it is actually possible to just fall from a cruise if you "let go". The absolute truth is that it is impossible to fall from a cruise ship without putting yourself outside of the safety apparatus in place first. We at CruiseMates think this should be mentioned in every story about people "falling" from ships, because without this knowledge, a huge misconception about the very nature of cruise ships has been allowed to fester to the detriment of the industry. We predict it will be revealed that this young man was either on duty on a job where safety equipment to keep him tethered to the ship was being used, and it was somehow bypassed, or that he was off-duty, likely drinking and put himself in a position of danger that was outside the rules of the ship. It was 1:20 am on the morning of New Years Day. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that alcohol was involved. Fri, 02 Jan 2009 Paul Motter Jennifer Seitz: High Seas Mystery or Media Hype? http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/dec2008.cfm#story34 12-30-08 Jennifer Seitz: High Seas Mystery or Media Hype? Mystery on the High Seas? What do you do when a suicide happens on a cruise ship? If you are the national media don't just theorize, sensationalize! Word of a missing-person tragedy on a cruise ship came in over the weekend, and despite the lack of any evidence to the contrary, over 1000 news reports are ready to make a "federal case" out it - literally. Jennifer Seitz was cruising with her husband, Ray, and her mother who lives with them. Described as "loud and wild" by passengers who also participated in a "not-so-newlywed" game onboard - broadcast on the ship's closed circuit television - Jennifer was also described as "excitable." A news report says a witness in an adjacent cabin heard an argument at 8:00 on Thursday night from stateroom 11112, a mini-suite far astern on one of the top decks of Norwegian Pearl. The words "stop hitting me," were reported, but not who said them. The events for the rest of the night are unclear, but no one saw Jennifer after 8:00. Ray and her mother apparently enjoyed the ship and then went to bed, expecting Jennifer to show up when she had cooled down. At 3:30 Ray awoke and realized Jennifer was not in the room and notified the ship's officers. A surveillance tape pointed at the side of the ship was accessed and revealed a grainy image suggesting a person dressed all in white went overboard at 8:00 pm from the stateroom balcony. The stateroom was sealed but Ray was not arrested. Ray and Jennifer's mother were relocated until the cruise ended Sunday morning. When the ship arrived in Miami the FBI boarded immediately and interviewed Ray, other witnesses and inspected the stateroom. A picture of the FBI measuring a chair placed right against the ship's railing was shown in an video during a 7-minute Monday morning NBC Today Show segment. The fact that Ray was never arrested by the ship's staff or the FBI, that the chair was placed in a step-up position on the deck next to the railing and that the person on the videotape was described as "falling" from deck 11 all point to a suicide. There were no reported signs of a struggle. Only one news report said the FBI has eliminated Ray as a suspect. Several web sites and major news organizations led this story down the oh-so typical path of "danger on the high seas" trying to turn an apparent suicide into a crime as they always do when a cruise ship is involved. Most of these news reports note that at least six people have "disappeared" from cruise ships this year, but not one of them mentions suicide as the reason, that some 12,000,000 people took a cruise in 2008 or that no charges were ever brought forth in any of the cases. 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Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and STX France Cruise SA, the French shipyard charged with the building contract for the F3 project for NCL, announced today that they have reached an agreement and are moving forward. NCL and STX Europe have agreed to revise the original F3 order. STX France Cruise is now building one F3 ship at 150,000-tons with a total of 4,200 passenger berths, representing the largest ship in NCL's fleet. This will mean a continuation of the original hull which is currently in the early phases of construction, with delivery set for late May 2010, as originally scheduled. The planned second vessel, currently only in the preparatory stages, will not be built. Further terms of the agreement were not disclosed. "With this agreement, we can all focus on completing the new vessel successfully," said Kevin Sheehan, NCL's president and CEO. "We are looking forward to the arrival of our much-anticipated F3 ship as it represents a major step forward for NCL in terms of ship size, design and innovation." "We are pleased that the ongoing construction of the ship for NCL will continue. We, along with our subcontractors, will now make the necessary adjustments to our plans for this project," said Jacques Hardelay, president of STX France Cruise SA. To date, information has only been revealed regarding F3's staterooms and nightlife. NCL plans to unveil the full F3 story in the near future. Further information can be found online at www.f3.ncl.com. Thu, 18 Dec 2008 Paul Motter Silversea Completes Multimillion-Dollar Silver Wind Upgrade http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story21 Silversea Cruises has just put the finishing touches on a multimillion-dollar renovation of Silver Wind, involving virtually every aspect of the ultra-luxury ship. Undertaken over the past month during a dry dock at the San Giorgio shipyard in Genoa, Italy, the comprehensive refurbishment of Silver Wind features a new décor the line describes as a "sophisticated contemporary style that is warm and inviting with touches of natural cherry wood, russet and golden tones." A centerpiece of the project is a brand new Observation Lounge seating 60 guests, as well as a refurbished Spa, Beauty Salon and Fitness Center on the forward section of Deck 9, altering the ship's exterior appearance with floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the new space. A new two-floor, glass-enclosed elevator was also installed connecting Decks 8 and 9. Silversea's president and CEO, Amerigo Perasso says "Silver Wind has a refreshed look and feel, yet the ship retains her elegance and charm throughout. The company has made an important investment to bring this vessel in line with the style and design themes that are planned for our new ship, Silver Spirit, currently under construction. With these enhancements, our guests are sure to enjoy a renewed sense of luxury and comfort aboard Silver Wind." SUITE ENHANCEMENTS Accommodating 298 guests, Silver Wind's 149 ocean-view suites range in size from 240 to 1,314 square feet (22 - 122 square meters), with eighty percent now featuring a private veranda. Suite modifications include the following: Four of the always-in-demand Silver Suites added on Deck 8. One Owner's Suite with a connecting second-bedroom suite added on Deck 7. One Medallion Suite added on Deck 7. One Vista Suite added on Deck 7. Fixed queen beds in larger suites have been replaced with convertible twin-to-queen beds. Custom-built TV cabinets added to all Vista and Veranda Suites. New flat screen TVs. New sofa, armchair, desk, vanity, night tables and headboard. New carpets, drapes and bed coverings. Updated bathroom fixtures and bathtubs, including new marble countertops, walls and flooring. THE SPA The new Spa, which encompasses the Beauty Salon and Fitness Center, occupies over 650 additional square feet (60 square meters) following the renovation. The expanded Spa features an inviting reception area, four massage rooms, one body treatment room, one dry sauna and one steam sauna. The new Fitness Center includes a body-building room and separate aerobics room, both offering spectacular panoramic ocean views. Other ship enhancements include new upholstery, curtains, wall treatments, carpets and/or flooring in the restaurants, public lounges, lobbies, stairs and corridors. The first guests to experience the Silver Wind enhancements are sailing on a December 2, Las Palmas-to-Cape Town cruise, an exotic 18-day voyage calling in the Cape Verde Islands, Dakar, Banjul, Bom Bom Island and Walvis Bay. Company president Perasso also added, "Despite the challenging economic environment, our company is showing a strong commitment with this important investment. This is clearly a difficult and unpredictable time and while our business is not immune, we have the strength of our assets, brand and management team that position us well in the long term." Thu, 11 Dec 2008 Paul Motter Disney Cruises' Kids Sail Free Offer in Early 2009 http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story20 Disney Cruise Line, a leader in the family cruise segment, is making it easier than ever for families who have dreamt of taking a Disney cruise vacation to sail the most magical ship afloat with a "Kids Free" special offer on three-night cruises this winter and spring. Guests 12 and under can sail free on three-night voyages aboard the Disney Wonder when accompanied by two full-fare paying guests within the same stateroom. This offer is valid for most sailings from Jan. 22 to May 28, 2009, and covers a variety yet limited number of stateroom categories, ranging from deluxe family staterooms with verandahs to standard inside staterooms. While the cruise fare with this special offer is free for guests 12 and under, guests who book will be responsible for Government Taxes and Fees for all stateroom occupants, including those 12 and under. A whole host of new offerings on the Disney Wonder include the recently launched 3-D cinematic experience in both the Walt Disney and Buena Vista Theatres where guests can enjoy first-run, full-length 3-D films such as Walt Disney Pictures' "Bolt" and the upcoming "Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience." This past spring the Disney Wonder premiered a lavish theatrical production, "Toy Story-The Musical." Additionally, young cruisers will find new activities at the Oceaneer Club and Lab featuring characters and storylines from popular Disney Channel movies, such as "High School Musical," and Disney-Pixar films. Disney Wonder departs from Port Canaveral, Fla. To book a vacation or to get complete details on the "Kids Free" special offer, guests can contact their travel agent, visit disneycruise.com/kidsfree or call Disney Cruise Line at 888/DCL-2500. Guests should mention or input booking code "FREE" when making the reservation. Wed, 10 Dec 2008 Paul Motter Cruise Ship to Evacuate and Fly Passengers Around Somali Pirate Zone http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story18 Respected German cruise line, Hapag-Lloyd, is planning to disembark its passengers currently sailing a world cruise on its MS Columbus cruise ship and put them all on a charter flight from a port stop in Yemen (Hodeidah) to Dubai. The ship will then sail - without passengers - through the "danger zone" where several pirate attacks have already taken place. The company reports that it the German government denied the company's request for a security escort through the zone. This is despite the fact the same government's German Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning to all shipping companies not to travel through the area. The passengers will take a charter flight to Dubai and spend three days at a five-star hotel waiting to rejoin the 150-meter (490-foot) vessel in the southern Oman port of Salalah for the remainder of a round-the-world tour that began in Italy. The Gulf of Aden is an extremely strategic zone for shipping due to its proximity to the Suez Canal, the main canal connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea for access to the East Coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean. Without sailing through the canal a ship must sail around the continent of Africa to get to the same destinations. While the German Foreign Ministry issued the travel warning and other nations agree the danger is significant, The U.S. Navy has not fully advised ships to completely avoid the area. They are advising them to stay within the "international traffic corridor" along the Gulf of Aden which is being supervised and protected by an international coalition of armed ships. The coalition consists of the "Nato Anti-piracy mission" which mostly helps world food aid vessels and about a dozen ships from the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet based in India. Russia and Malaysia are already patrolling the area and Russia is planning to replace its current ship with a bigger one from a different fleet. Britain, France, Greece, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands will contribute at least 10 warships and three aircraft, with contingents rotated every three months. Still, with some 50 ships transiting the area per day, it is impossible to protect each and every one of them. The pirates tend to hit quickly, darting in from their own waters and then dashing out once they are thwarted or accomplish their mission. Pirates have attacked 32 vessels and hijacked 12 of them since NATO deployed a four-vessel flotilla on Oct. 24 to escort cargo ships and conduct anti-piracy patrols. Tue, 09 Dec 2008 Paul Motter Pink Floyd Theme Cruise to Sail to Bahamas May, 2009 http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story19 Think Floyd USA, the number one touring production of Pink Floyd in the country, will perform upon the first Pink Floyd themed cruise aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship to the Bahamas. Dubbed "Great Gig in the Sea", the cruise will allow Pink Floyd music fans to combine sun and sea with an amazing concert experience. The one-of a kind voyage, hosted by Kiqstart Music of New York, will feature Think Floyd USA: The American Pink Floyd Show, offering material from Pink Floyd's earliest days through the present. Think Floyd USA will perform all of Pink Floyd's classic hits from legendary albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and the all time classic, The Wall. Think Floyd USA: The American Pink Floyd Show features an unparalleled performance and light show, having received personal acclaim from David Gilmour himself. The band has been performing to packed houses at numerous arenas, theaters and festivals around the country, and will be the first tribute band to headline a stage at Milwaukee's famed Summerfest this summer. There will be special shows each night, including Dark Side of the Moon performed in its entirety. Dark Side has held the record for the longest duration of any album on the Billboard 200 and has sold over 40 Million copies worldwide. Other unique events will feature "special guests", Pink Floyd trivia, parties and games. Tickets for Great Gig in the Sea are onsale now at www.GreatGigintheSea.com or contact Kiqstart Music at 718-302-9800. Space is very limited and pricing depends upon availability. Tue, 09 Dec 2008 Paul Motter NCL Suspending Fuel Supplement Effective Immediately http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story13 In response to the current continued decline of fuel prices, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today that it is suspending the company's fuel supplement effective immediately for all voyages departing in 2009. NCL will refund the fuel supplement in the form of an on-board credit for all 2009 bookings within the final payment period. All existing 2009 bookings outside of the final payment period will be adjusted to remove the fuel supplement and NCL will revise the final payment amount. "Global fuel prices have dropped to a level where we can now suspend the fuel supplement, making an NCL Freestyle Cruising vacation an even greater value,� said Andy Stuart, NCL's executive vice president, global sales and passenger services. NCL will continue to closely monitor global fuel prices to assess whether a reinstatement of the fuel supplement will be necessary in the future. The company reserves the right to re-instate the fuel supplement for all guests should the price of light sweet crude oil according to the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange Index) increase above $65 per barrel. Fri, 05 Dec 2008 Paul Motter Oceania Nautica Eludes Somali Pirates http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story10 Oceania Cruises has just reported that while its 30,000-ton, 700-passenger cruise ship, Nautica, was transiting through the Gulf of Aden it was approached by two small skiffs attempting to intercept the ship with criminal intent. On November 30, 2008, at approximately 9:28 a.m. local time, as the ship was within the prescribed Maritime Safety Protection Area patrolled by international anti-piracy task forces, two small skiffs were sighted by the Officer on Duty and deemed potentially hostile. The skiffs, approaching from a range of approximately 1000 meters, attempted to intercept the vessel's course. Captain Jurica Brajcic and his officers immediately began evasive maneuvers, taking all prescribed precautions. NAUTICA was immediately brought to full speed and was able to outrun the two skiffs. One of the skiffs managed to get close enough in the range of approximately 300 yards and fired eight rifle shots in the direction of the vessel before trailing off. No one aboard NAUTICA was harmed and no damage was sustained. The vessel, sailing in the protected zone, had sailed past several groups of non-hostile fishing vessels. They had no reason to believe they were in any danger although they were maintaining a vigilent watch, which enabled them to outrun the potential attackers. All guests and crew onboard are safe and there were no injuries. All requisite international authorities have been notified and all anti-piracy precautions were in place prior to the event and all necessary measures were taken during the event. Tue, 02 Dec 2008 Paul Motter Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 Completes Final Cruise to Dubai http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story9 The QE2, short for Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2, has arrived in her final destination where she will be permanently moored and repurposed as a floating hotel. The grand ocean liner, built in 1969 and which crossed the Atlantic over 800 times and sailed around the world 25 times, was purchased by the Emirate for the grand price of $100,000,000. Her permamnently moor will be inside the famous "Dubai World" land reclamation real estate development. The ship was greeted with great fanfare, including a flyover by one of the world's largest jets, the Airjet A380. There were fireworks, the police band and of course, bagpipes. The ship actually pulled into the citiy's main cruise terminal, Port Rashid, as she had a full compliment of passengers onboard. When the ship sailed past her new home, The World islands, she was greeted by a flotilla of local yachts, boats and leisure-craft led by a Royal Navy Frigate. The flotilla was also joined by My Dubai, the yacht owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Onshore, some 70,000 bottles of champagne were on hand, quite a hefty number for an Islamic nation whose main populace chooses not to drink alcohol. Those cases were there for the guests and tourists Dubai is courting so relentlessly. The final refit into her permanent moor will take two to three years. Undoubtedly there will much more to her facility than a docking place and a gangway. One can't help recalling the Queen Mary facility in Long Beach, CA, which, although it is alive and well, was never owned by a company that sought to make her the spectacular destination that Dubai has planned for QE2. Fri, 28 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Royal Caribbean Floats Out Oasis of the Seas http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story5 Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas will make her long awaited debut in just over one year. The ship, under construction in Turku, Finland, reached an important maritime milestone today when she was "floated out" - moved from dry dock to wet dock - to begin the final stages of interior work. At official ceremonies held at the shipyard, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. executives, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO and Harri Kulovaara, executive vice president, Maritime were joined by Martin Landtman, president, STX Finland Cruise Oy, and Toivo Ilvonen, project director, Oasis-class, to turn the valve releasing 87 million gallons of water into the wet dock area. "This is a historic day for our company. After more than three years of intense planning and collaboration and with 65 percent of the ship already complete, it's exciting to see Oasis entering its final stages," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Oasis of the Seas truly represents the innovative spirit that our company is known for and to see that come to fruition is wonderful." The line chose this important milestone to announce that Oasis of the Seas will enter service under the command of Captain William S. Wright and Captain Tor Olsen. Wright, a 15-year veteran of Royal Caribbean International, was also the start up Captain for Freedom of the Seas, currently the largest ship in the world with sister-ships Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, and 40 percent smaller than Oasis of the Seas. Wright also is one of the few American captains in international cruising and currently serves as the senior vice president of Marine Operations for the cruise line. Born in Norway, Captain Tor Olsen has been on the high seas since the age of 16. He joined Royal Caribbean International in 1987 working on Song of America and has served as Captain on five Royal Caribbean ships from the Voyager-class to the Vision-class. When Oasis launches in December 2009, she will feature the unique neighborhood concept that will provide guests with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood in seven distinct areas of the ship. This unique concept, which also creates a vast array of accommodation choices for guests never before found at sea, is the result of a quantum leap forward in revolutionary cruise ship design. An architectural marvel at sea, Oasis of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. She will be the first ship to tout the cruise line's new neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. The ship will sail from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Additional information is available at www.oasisoftheseas.com. Fri, 21 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Playboy Jazz Cruise - Cruise Now Pay Later http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story6 In the interest of saving you some money (and aren't we all looking to do that) the sponsors of the Playboy Jazz Cruise are offering a "cruise now, pay later option." You can purchase a cabin at their special "no-frills" pricing, pay a small fee, take the cruise and PAY LATER. Here is how it works: Upon your reservation, you will pay 40% of the total cabin price, plus your port charges, gratuities and other fees. The remaining balance will be debited against your credit card as follows: * 20% on February 1, 2009 * 20% on May 1, 2009; and * 20% on July 1, 2009 * All payments are non-refundable. It is just that simple. For just a few dollars now, you can be on the Playboy Jazz Cruise this January in the Caribbean !!! Fri, 21 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Queen Mary 2 Dry Dock Adds Stateroom Wireless and Cellular Service at Sea http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story1 Following Queen Mary 2's recently completed refurbishment, there is now increased wireless Interact connectivity throughout the ship. Guests have the convenience of using their laptop computers in the privacy and comfort of their staterooms with the addition of in-room wireless connectivity. In addition, mobile phone and handheld service while the ship is at sea is now available. The upgrades enhance the ship's already existing high technology services, which include WiFi accessibility found in public rooms throughout the ship. Sister ship Queen Victoria already offers these services. To use mobile phones at sea, guests must have a device capable of roaming internationally and their service provider must have a roaming agreement with Maritime Communications Partner AS, as does AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Cunard encourages guests to contact their mobile phone/handheld service provider in advance of the voyage's departure date to verify their plan for pricing and international roaming capabilities. All mobile phone/handheld data charges will be conveniently billed by the service provider. Charges generated by guests using their laptop computers who register onboard for wireless access packages will be billed to their stateroom folios - standard shipboard Internet charges apply. This is available in most areas around the ship except the Royal Court Theatre, Illuminations, the Queens Room or in the ship's dining rooms. Queen Mary 2's dry dock has the ship looking pristine for her fifth anniversary year with new refurbishment of the nautically themed Chart Room, featuring a new colour scheme and layout, carpet, drapes and furniture; the installation of a canopy providing a wonderful al fresco dining option for our Todd English Restaurant guests; and the replacement of some stateroom corridor carpets as well as French polishing and upholstery work in the Britannia restaurant, Royal Court Theatre and Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Queen Mary 2 is now sailing westbound, en route to New York, arriving on November 21. She will then commence her Caribbean season, followed in January by her second World Cruise. Cunard's flagship will celebrate her fifth anniversary that month, having been christened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in January 2004. Wed, 19 Nov 2008 Paul Motter NCL offers Musical Acts Barenaked Ladies and Indigo Girls http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story2 Norwegian Cruise Line joins with Sixthman, the leaders in affinity travel, to offer unique concert cruises with the opportunity to hear top musical acts in an exclusive, interactive and intimate environment onboard Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Dawn. Norwegian Jewel hosts Ships and Dip V from February 1-7, 2009 featuring the Barenaked Ladies, Great Big Sea, The New Odds, Boothby Graffoe, and The Weakerthans on a five-day Western Caribbean itinerary sailing round-trip from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island. For more information, log on to www.shipsanddip.com. Norwegian Dawn hosts Cayamo: A Journey Through Song from February 28-March 7, 2009 featuring Indigo Girls, Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Shawn Colvin, Brandi Carlile, and a full lineup of other amazing performers on a seven-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary sailing round-trip from Miami to Samana, Dominica Republic; St. Thomas and Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay. For more information, log on to www.cayamo.com. Wed, 19 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Independence of the Seas Debuts in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Today http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story3 Royal Caribbean International's newest Freedom-class ship, Independence of the Seas, made her US debut today at Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Sharing the title of world's largest cruise ship with her sister-ships, Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas, Independence will be the line's first Freedom-class ship to sail from Port Everglades. At 160,000 GRT and a capacity of 3,634 guests, Independence of the Seas features all of the industry-first amenities which are trademarks of the Freedom-class ships: a FlowRider surf simulator; the H20 Zone water park with its interactive sculpture garden for families and toddler pool; cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 ft. above the ocean in the adults-only Solarium; a full-size boxing ring and a 14-person family suite. Independence also features some of the other distinctive offerings the global cruise line is known for including, an ice-skating rink; a rock-climbing wall; an award-winning youth program; fine to casual dining venues; Broadway-style entertainment and the Royal Promenade - an entertainment boulevard stretching the length of the ship with shops, restaurants, bars and lounges, which provides guests with an endless variety of choices and experiences to suit their taste and preference. Independencev will sail from Ft. Lauderdale and alternate between eight-night Eastern Caribbean and six-night Western Caribbean itineraries. Independence's Eastern Caribbean itinerary will call at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten and Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private beach destination in Haiti. The Western Caribbean itinerary will call at Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico. Wed, 19 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Orient Lines Cancels Cruise Line Re-launch http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story4 Orient Lines has announced that due to the current world economic climate, it will delay the launch of the cruises it currently scheduled to commence in April 2009. Orient Lines' President and CEO Wayne Heller stated that, "All guests that have booked a cruise with Orient Lines shall be given a full and prompt refund and, if requested, we will endeavor to offer them assistance with making alternate cruise vacation arrangements." If you booked a cruise through a travel agent you should contact the agent about getting a refund. Heller added, "Even though the launch of Orient Lines is delayed, we are exploring possible options to re-launch our cruise program at a more favorable time in the near future." Wed, 19 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Deilmann Cruises Announces Immediate Cancellation of Fuel Surcharges fuel surcharges for cruises after April, 2009 http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story40 Peter Deilmann Cruises has announced the immediate cancellation of fuel surcharges on its flagship, the MS Deutschland. The company will also be refunding any fuel surcharges paid for Deutschland sailings yet to depart. Deilmann also announced that fuel surcharges will not be charged on its fleet of eight luxury river ships for cruises beginning in 2010. The river surcharge is currently $10 per night per passenger. The five-star MS Deutschland, with accommodations for 520 passengers, is offering deluxe voyages for 2009-10 consisting of 7 to 23-night cruises to Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe, Russia, North and South America, the Caribbean and Antarctica. Deilmann's eight four- and five-star river ships provide relaxing travel through the heart of Europe on a deluxe European floating hotel with exceptional passenger-to-crew ratios of 2.5 to 1. 255 deluxe European river sailings are scheduled between March 22 and November 8, 2009 -- sailing the classic rivers of Europe on 7- to 14-night cruises with the vast majority running seven nights. Tue, 18 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Disney Cruise Line Premieres First 3-D Film at Sea http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story39 Disney Cruise Line is revolutionizing movie entertainment at sea with the debut of Disney Digital 3-D, a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience premiering exclusively onboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder. Guests will see first-run Disney films take on a whole new dimension with Disney Digital 3-D technology being added to both the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder movie theaters. Disney Digital 3-D will premiere onboard the Disney Wonder during the Nov. 20 sailing and on the Disney Magic during the Dec. 6 sailing. Disney Cruise Line premier original 3-D movies onboard the ships in early 2009 with the debut of a full length Disney Digital 3-D film with in-theater effects. Tridimensional images will combine with lasers, fog, streamers, and special lighting effects to create an immersive movie-going experience. During these once-a-cruise special engagements, guests will feel a part of the hottest show in town as in-theater effects enhance 3-D films featuring popular Disney popstars in concert. Disney Cruise Line will celebrate the debut of Disney Digital 3-D by hosting a special screening event for Walt Disney Animation Studios' newest animated feature, "Bolt," onboard the Nov. 20 three-night Disney Wonder cruise. As the calendar turns from Nov. 20 to Nov. 21, guests will be invited to a special midnight screening of "Bolt" at the Walt Disney Theatre - complete with meet-and-greet opportunities with lovable walk-around characters from the film. The film features super-dog Bolt (voice of John Travolta), whose every day is filled with adventure, danger and intrigue - at least until the cameras stop rolling. When the star of a hit TV show is accidentally shipped from his Hollywood soundstage to New York City, he begins his biggest adventure yet - a cross-country journey through the real world to get back to his owner and co-star, Penny (voice of Miley Cyrus). Armed only with the delusions that all his amazing feats and powers are real, and the help of two unlikely traveling companions - a jaded, abandoned housecat named Mittens (voice of Susie Essman) and a TV-obsessed hamster named Rhino (voice of Mark Walton) - Bolt discovers he doesn't need superpowers to be a hero. Disney Digital 3-D is the latest enhancement to join the robust menu of premium guest experiences and amenities included with a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Dazzling Broadway-style musical spectaculars, over-the-top deck parties with the only fireworks display at sea, a unique rotational dining concept, first-run movie releases and fantastic kids programming are just some of the advantages of cruising with Disney. Mon, 17 Nov 2008 Paul Motter MSC Cruises eliminates fuel surcharges for cruises after April, 2009 http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story40 MSC Cruises has eliminated the fuel surcharge for all its cruises departing on or after April 1, 2009. The surcharge will not be levied on any new bookings for cruises sailing from that date on, and the accounts of guests already booked on these cruises will be adjusted to remove the surcharge from their balances. The line also has announced that it plans to drop the fuel surcharge for new bookings on sailings departing from January 1 through March 31, 2009, if fuel prices remain stable going into the new year. Guests booked on these cruises will receive a refund of the fuel surcharge in the form of an onboard credit if the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel is at or below $65 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on December 18, 2008. Although MSC Cruises can not rule out the possibility that a future substantial increase in fuel costs might require re-implementing the fuel surcharge at a later date, the company reiterated its commitment that all reservations booked with a deposit prior to such a decision would be protected from any additional charge. Mon, 17 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Norwegian Spirit to Receive $Multi-Million Makeover http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story38 Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that Norwegian Spirit is undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment focused on enhancing the total guest experience. The 2,376 passenger Freestyle Cruising ship is receiving a total renovation to its public areas, staterooms and suites. These refurbishments are in addition to the enhancements already made as part of Freestyle 2.0, the company's fleet-wide initiative to further improve the guest experience across all guest touch points from food and beverage to staterooms. "Norwegian Spirit's multi-million dollar renovation will enrich the overall guest experience by making significant enhancements to the ship overall," said Andy Stuart, NCL's executive vice president and chief product officer. "With the combination of our recent Freestyle 2.0 enhancements and all of the refurbishments being made, Norwegian Spirit will emerge refreshed and revitalized for her winter season sailing seven-day Exotic Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans." Norwegian Spirit's total refurbishment includes: # 11 new staterooms are being added, eight of which are balconies # one diesel engine is being replaced # the Stardust Theater, with a capacity of approximately 700, is receiving all new seating and chairs # seating throughout the ship is being reupholstered # more than 21,000 sq meters of carpet is being replaced in public areas, stairwells, suites and staterooms # new wallpaper is being installed in suites, corridors and public areas # new curtains are being added to all suites # tile in 300 bathrooms throughout the ship is being replaced # all open decks including the main pool, kid's pool and four hot tubs are undergoing refurbishment # the Roman Spa & Fitness Center is being upgraded with new doors, panels and seats # more than 60 windows are being replaced # the onboard phone system is being upgraded to a state of the art wireless system. Following the completion of the refurbishment, Norwegian Spirit will re-enter service on November 23, 2008 and begin a series of 21 seven-day Exotic Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, her homeport for the winter season, with calls in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; and Belize City, Belize. Norwegian Spirit offers Freestyle Cruising with the flexibility of 11 restaurants, seven bars and lounges, multiple entertainment venues, two pools, extensive children's facilities, a sports deck, casino, spa, and a variety of spacious public rooms. The ship joined the NCL fleet in 2004 and underwent a previous dry dock in 2005. For more information or to book a sailing on Norwegian Spirit, call your travel professional, go to www.ncl.com or contact NCL at 866-234-0292 Tue, 11 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Royal Caribbean Offers First-time Cruisers Sale http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story36 ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL CELEBRATES SECOND ANNUAL FIRST-TIME CRUISERS MONTH Royal Caribbean International has marked November as sale month for first-time cruisers, although veteran cruisers are welcome as well. First-Time Cruisers Month offers reduced thresholds for complimentary group leader staterooms (TC cabins) and bonus points for groups and dollars off and onboard credit for customers booking a cruise or cruisetour. "Now is the best time to book a cruise vacation to anywhere in the world aboard a Royal Caribbean ship," said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Services, Royal Caribbean International. "Whether for short-cruise getaways or extended cruisetours, our research shows that first-time cruisers with Royal Caribbean have the highest satisfaction rate compared to any other segment. Travel agent partners can take advantage of the offers during the second annual First-Time Cruisers Month to grow their customer base, add value to their customers' vacations, and help ensure repeat business." Royal Caribbean is giving a wide array of incentives for customers every week during First-Time Cruisers Month. Each new offer will feature a different region or destination coupled with savings of up to $200 per stateroom for new bookings. The First-Time Cruisers Month weekly offers are: * Week 1 - $75 off or onboard credit per stateroom on all cruises through 2009 for bookings made on November 7 and 8, 2008 only * Week 2 - Up to $200 off per stateroom on select sailings in 2009 for Crown & Anchor Society members - Royal Caribbean's loyalty rewards program for past guests - which can be extended to a second stateroom for their friends or family for bookings made between November 10 and November 30 * Week 3 - Up to $200 off per stateroom on select Europe or Alaska sailings in 2009 for bookings made between November 17 and November 23 * Week 4 - Up to $100 off per stateroom on select Caribbean or Mexico sailings in 2009 made between November 24 and November 30 * Throughout November, active and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces can enjoy savings of up to $200 per stateroom, up to three staterooms, for any sailing (except for Oasis of the Seas) through 2009. The military savings offer may not be combined with other offers or promotions. First-time and veteran cruisers also can take advantage of some of the industry's best pricing for a cruise this holiday season. Majesty of the Seas special Christmas short cruise to the Bahamas, departing Miami on December 22, starts at $319 per person; Adventure of the Seas' December 21 sailing to the Southern Caribbean over Hanukkah and Christmas starts at $699 per person; or guests can herald in the New Year on the Mexican Riviera aboard Vision of the Seas' December 28 departure, which starts at $949 per person. Guests aboard Royal Caribbean's holiday sailings feature a breadth of special festive programming that reflects the traditions of each holiday, including traditional religious services for Hanukkah and Christmas, onboard holiday shows, festive decorations and extended New Years parties in every onboard lounge. All prices are based on double occupancy. Royal Caribbean has created a special First-Time Cruisers Month microsite to help travel agents plan ahead for the month of savings and rewards. Travel agent partners can access the calendar of savings for the Second Annual First-Time Cruisers Month through CruisingPower.com, Royal Caribbean's dedicated online site catering to the needs of travel agents, or at: www.creative.rccl.com/e-lite/RCI/2008/sales/ftc_month/calendar.html. Fri, 07 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Princess Cruises Inaugurates Ruby Princess with Tristan and Ryan of "Bachelorette" http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story37 In a "ruby red" themed ceremony celebrating romance, Princess Cruises today named its newest ship, Ruby Princess. America's reigning reality couple, Trista and Ryan Sutter of The Bachelorette did the honors, breaking the traditional bottle of champagne to mark the ship's launch, and their own fifth anniversary. The new godparents were surrounded by hundreds of guests decked out in ruby red-tie formal attire, and a ruby-haired singer serenaded the crowd. As befitting the most romantic cruise line, and an event celebrating "romantic moments and milestones," the official naming was followed by the ultimate romantic milestone - a wedding in the midst of the festivities. The California couple joined in matrimony not only had Trista and Ryan as wedding attendants, but the Love Boat captain himself, Gavin MacLeod, gave away the bride. See a VIDEO of the naming ceremony here: Ruby Ceremony Champagne Breaking Tonight the ship hosts a "Ruby Red Tie" gala and sets sail on a two-night cruise for hundreds of VIP guests who will enjoy a special preview of Princess' newest vessel. During the mini sailing, the ship will host an array of romantic activities, including a massive renewal of vows for all couples tomorrow while the ship is at sea. Ruby Princess then returns to Port Everglades on November 8 for its inaugural seven-day sailing to the Western Caribbean. "It's only fitting that as the most romantic cruise line in the industry, we celebrate the naming of our newest ship with a tribute to 'romantic milestones,'" said Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises president and chief executive officer. "It was exciting to have Trista and Ryan Sutter serve as godparents of Ruby Princess and of course the wedding during the ceremony added an appropriate touch to the festivities." Princess Cruises has long been associated with romance on the high seas, dating back to its days as the setting for the now-iconic TV show The Love Boat. Cementing that connection, Princess was just named the "Best Cruise Line for Romance" and "Best Cruise Line for Weddings" in the 2008 Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards. The Ruby Princess naming ceremony continued the line's tradition of romance with godparents Trista and Ryan, who were introduced to America in 2003 on the television hit The Bachelorette. Trista and Ryan Sutter became America's reigning romantic couple as millions of viewers followed their courtship and witnessed their nationally televised wedding. To this day they are the only couple from the Bachelor or The Bachelorette shows to actually get married. The ceremony fulfilled the dream of yet another couple as Kip Hickman and Danielle Vurpillat tied the knot as part of the ship's naming ceremony. The couple, from Dunsmuir, Calif., met on a blind date and expressed their desire to be married onboard Ruby Princess during a recent contest held with national newspaper, USA Today. The minister who officiated the nuptials, Phil Roberts, is also a member of Princess Cruises' Department of Romance. The 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess includes a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing line-up of street performers. Passengers will also enjoy Princess' other array of dining venues including the signature Sabatini's Italian restaurant and the Crown Grill steak house, plus a relaxing oasis just for adults called The Sanctuary. The new ship will also offer the many other innovations that define the Princess experience, including the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, Personal Choice Dining featuring traditional or Anytime seating, multiple entertainment venues, a relaxing Asian-style Lotus Spa with fitness center, an extensive children and teen's center, and a wedding chapel. During Ruby Princess' inaugural season she will make seven-day weekly sailings from Fort Lauderdale to the Western Caribbean. Calls include Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico and Princess Cays in the Bahamas. Next spring the ship will move to Europe for 12-day sailings in the Mediterranean and Greek Islands. Fri, 07 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cut Fuel Supplements http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story35 The parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Prestige Cruise Holdings, has announced that effective November 10, 2008, fuel supplement charges will be eliminated from all voyages departing in 2010. The company has also established specific guidelines under which the fuel supplement may be reimbursed to guests sailing on voyages departing in 2009. For voyages departing in 2010, no fuel supplement will be charged on new reservations. For existing reservations on voyages departing in 2010, the fuel supplement charge will automatically be removed from the guests' final payment balance. For voyages departing in 2009, the company will continue to apply a $15 per guest per day fuel supplement. Fuel supplement charge adjustments, if any, will be determined on a quarterly basis. Refunds, in the form of shipboard credits, will be applied to all reservations to which a fuel supplement had previously been charged if the quarterly closing price on the New York Mercantile Exchange of West Texas Intermediate fuel is below $65 per barrel two weeks prior to the beginning of the upcoming calendar quarter. Frank Del Rio, Chairman of Prestige Cruise Holdings, stated that the company was implementing these changes due to the recent decline in fuel prices. "If oil stabilizes below $65 per barrel, we are confident that we can effectively eliminate the need to charge our guests a separate fuel supplement. However, we must see stability in fuel pricing on a mid- to long-term basis as there could still be significant volatility in the marketplace," stated Del Rio. Tue, 04 Nov 2008 Paul Motter Celebrity Solstice Arrives in Ft Lauderdale http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/news/#story34 The first of as new class of contemporay premium cruise ships to enter the market for years, Celebrity Solstice, will arrive in Fort Lauderdale, FL on November 3. Soon after its arrival in Fort Lauderdale on November 3, Celebrity Solstice will serve as the venue for Celebrity Cruises' first Global Sales Meeting, followed by a series of exclusive, two-night preview cruises for invited travel agents, press and other dignitaries. "With its innovative, half-acre Lawn Club with real, growing grass; the Hot Glass Show with The Corning Museum of Glass; 10 widely varied restaurants and spacious staterooms; Celebrity Solstice is the perfect manifestation of what the Celebrity brand is all about," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. Celebrity Solstice will be named in formal ceremonies on November 14, and will embark on its inaugural season November 23, on a series of seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In spring 2009, the ship will offer a series of 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Rome. Mon, 03 Nov 2008 Paul Motter