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Linda Coffman


The Newsletter for Cruise Travelers

January 31, 2002

Welcome aboard Cruise Diva's SEA VIEWS newsletter and thank you for subscribing. SEA VIEWS is a twice-monthly email publication containing the latest news afloat and the cruise travel information you want.

So many ships, so little time...

Windstar Cruises' Wind SurfLet's go to sea, come sail with me.

What could be more invigorating than standing on a sun-warmed teak deck with billowing sails overhead and the sea rushing by?

On any given weekend, Port Everglades is a beehive of cruise ship activity. Surely the best vantage point for ship spotting is the observation deck atop Pier 66 and that's where we headed for our first glimpse of Windstar Cruises' elegant Wind Surf. Making her first time call at Fort Lauderdale, her five masts towered over even the mega-size cruise liners berthed nearby. Dock-side, the sleek "masted sail-yacht" MSY Wind Surf appeared much larger than we expected. Even so, she is diminutive in comparison to other cruise ships. Think royal yacht and come aboard. Join on a Wind Surf Preview and take the Photo Tour. Wind Surf will sail weekly Florida Keys/Bahamas cruises from Fort Lauderdale through March 31st.

To the delight of veteran and new passengers alike, Windstar Cruises is set to return to Tahiti with Wind Song sailings set to begin in May 2002. After a four-and-a-half year hiatus, Wind Song will sail a total of 34 newly announced cruises in 2002. According to Tom Russell, vice president of marketing and sales for Windstar Cruises, "Historically, Tahiti has been one of our most popular destinations—it's the perfect match for Windstar's luxury sailing ships. We anticipate that these cruises will fill up quickly. Many of our past guests have been eagerly awaiting our return to Tahiti and her islands." See Updated News from Windstar Cruises.

Cruise News Briefs

More Royal Caribbean/Princess/Carnival merger machinations. Carnival Corporation maintains they are the better value for Princess stockholders, while Royal Caribbean claims that Carnival fails to address the central issues of making an offer of superior value and deliverability. Examine those Proposals & Responses and the reaction to the announcement by the UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry that the proposed Royal Caribbean/P&O Princess deal has been referred to the UK Competition Commission.

Hawaii's weather and untenable tendering conditions have wreaked havoc with Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star port calls. As a result, NCL announced that Norwegian Star will call at Hilo instead of Kona, Hawaii through March 31, 2002. "Hilo offers us the opportunity to dock at the Big Island of Hawaii instead of tendering to it, which allows passengers to spend more time on the Big Island and more time overall experiencing the beautiful Hawaiian Islands," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. Look for the schedule to change further if dockings in Kahului replace tendering to Lahaina. All-in-all, those are positive changes that will lessen passenger disappointment. After all, who wants to SEE the Hawaiian Islands without setting foot ashore?

Princess Cruises has taken the guesswork out of tipping by expanding its automatic gratuity program to cover all service staff with a convenient daily charge of $10 per person, which is placed on the passenger's shipboard account. If you don't like the idea, according to Dean Brown, Princess' executive vice president of customer service and sales, "Passengers who choose to tip in the traditional manner can continue to do so. This program is an addition to our onboard service. We are not taking anything away from our customers' choices."

Smoke on the water... Holland America Line will begin implementing a new onboard smoking policy on February 1, 2002. Smoking no longer will be permitted in any of the dining areas, including main dining rooms and the enclosed portion of Lido restaurants.  All ships will continue to have designated smoking areas. And, this just in... Holland America Line unveils its 2003 deployment, featuring the inaugural seasons of three ships--the ms Prinsendam, ms Zuiderdam, and ms Oosterdam. The 12-ship HAL fleet will offer 449 five-star cruises ranging in length from three to 108 days and visiting all seven continents. Holland America's 2003 cruises will sail from 12 North American home ports: eight with 10 to more than 100 sailings, and four with occasional departures. Check out the updated news from Holland America—2003 Deployment.

Full news stories & more in the Cruise News  

Who's cruising? Check the latest New Cruise Reviews! 

  • Costa Atlantica - Jim MacQueen examines CostaAtlantica from a unique perspective—"... I am also writing about Carnival Cruise Lines' Spirit, Pride, and Legend which were built (or are being built) by Kvaerner Shipyards at 88,500 tons. But the important reason to write about the CostaAtlantica is that she is operated by Carnival subsidiary Costa Cruise Lines, which makes sailing on her a unique experience. Uniquely different, uniquely the same, these ships are a lesson in market positioning."

  • Celebrity Mercury - Christmas and New Year's at sea with a Latin beat. Bruce Baldwin shares the experience of his South America itinerary and the trials, tribulations, and enjoyment of holidays afloat.

  • Royal Princess British Isles, Rotterdam Mediterranean Medley, & Norwegian Dream Baltic Capitals, all  by Bruce Baldwin! Wow... four truly fascinating cruises in a single year. Bruce has generously shared his reviews with readers. Pour a cup of tea and snuggle up to your computer to dream of far-away ports of call.

JOIN US... we've got some Royal Caribbean coming! 

Enchantment of the Seas Group CruiseAn Enchanted Group Cruise - Have you ever fantasized about being treated like royalty? As a little girl, I daydreamed of being a princess. I'd have settled for Queen for a Day, but an enchanting week at sea is even better! No cooking... no cleaning... and the camaraderie of a wonderful group of cruise-loving Internet friends! Plus, all that royal pampering!! Join your Cruise Critic Host and Cruise Diva on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas as our floating castle sets sail on Sunday, October 13, 2002. Staterooms are limited, act now.

Cruise Diva's Book Selection for January

100 Best Cruise Vacations100 Best Cruise Vacations: The Top Cruises Throughout 
the World for All Interests & Budgets
, by Theodore W. Scull

Cruise Diva's comments: Explore 100 top rated cruise vacations selected by distinguished maritime author Ted Scull. Beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched, this book is a real treasure for the discriminating cruise traveler.

Elsewhere on the Internet:

Liner & Cruise Ship Screen Saver - Over 250 ship images! Designed by Cruise Director Rich Joseph, based on his popular on board lecture and slide show, "Ships, Where Are They Now?"

Renaissance Cruises' Bankruptcy - Note—The deadline for filing Proof of Claim Forms with the Clerk of Court is February 12, 2002. See the web site for details.

In the Next issue of SEA VIEWS

Get ready for some COOL Cruising through Alaska and the Land of the Midnight Sun. Watch for new wardrobe planning and packing suggestions.

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Photos Courtesy of Windstar Cruises & Royal Caribbean Intl.