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News from the world of cruise travel ~
January 1-15, 2004

For schedule changes & departure information on a specific cruise line or port of call, please select Latest Updates by Cruise Line

Important Travel Safety Information letter from Jack Williams, President and Chief Operating Officer, Royal Caribbean International

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Miami, FL, Jan. 14, 2004 - Lloyd Werft has informed Norwegian Cruise Line that at approximately 12:30 a.m. in Germany in stormy weather with high winds, Pride of America took on water up to deck three and experienced a list of approximately 15 degrees. The ship, which is under construction and docked at the shipyard, is resting on the bottom and is now secure.

The ship should be refloated in the next few days. Until this refloating has taken place, Lloyd Werft will not be able to assess the extent of the damage or any potential delay in the delivery schedule. NCL will provide updates as soon as further information is available.

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Carnival Miracle: Fun For the Entire Family
Carnival's Newest 'Fun Ship' Boasts Expansive Children's Facilities, 'Family Friendly' Amenities

MIAMI (01/14/04) - From an expansive children's play area featuring a computer lab, "video wall" and variety of toys and games to organized teen shore excursions and "kid friendly" dining options, Carnival Cruise Lines' new 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle has definite all-ages appeal. The 88,500-ton SuperLiner, currently under construction in Helsinki, Finland, is slated to debut from Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 27, 2004. The amenities featured aboard Carnival Miracle are the latest additions to "Camp Carnival," the line's fleetwide children's program that will cater to the estimated 450,000 kids expected to sail aboard the "Fun Ships" this year. That translates to roughly half of the children carried by the entire North American cruise industry (CLIA member lines).

"Families are an important and growing market for Carnival, which has experienced a 350 percent increase in the number of children sailing aboard the 'Fun Ships' over the past decade. And Carnival Miracle, with its enthusiastic youth staff, fun-filled activities and state-of-the-art facilities is a perfect example of the direction we have taken in catering to the unique vacation needs of our younger guests," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

Expansive Children's Play Areas 
The focal point of many "Camp Carnival" activities is Pinocchio's Club, a 2,400-square-foot play area that is among the largest in the "Fun Ship" fleet. Divided into three specific areas - all connected via a series of tunnels - Pinocchio's Club features a computer lab with the latest educational games, an arts and crafts center with spin and sand art and candy-making machines and other hands-on activities, and an all-ages play room with an array of toys and games. There's also a 16-monitor "video wall" continually displaying kids' favorite movies and cartoons. Pinocchio's Club will also serve as the venue for the line's nightly babysitting services, which are available from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The cost is $6 for the first child and $4 for each additional child in the same family. An outdoor play area with mini-basketball hoops and other playground equipment, along with four swimming pools and a two-deck-high corkscrew water slide, are also featured.

Family-Friendly Dining Options
Dining is considered a highlight of any "Fun Ship" cruise and kids sailing aboard Carnival Miracle are provided with a wide range of delectable kid-friendly culinary choices. These include an expansive Lido restaurant featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries and 24-hour pizza and ice cream/frozen yogurt, along with a two-level main dining room offering extensive children's menus with choices such as chicken nuggets, pepperoni pizza, macaroni and cheese and "daily junior special" promising something new each evening. A new kids dining program, during which children can dine with the youth counselors nightly in the poolside Lido restaurant, is also available. Featured items include roasted chicken drumsticks, grilled salmon steak, chicken quesadillas and a 35-item salad bar. Kids also enjoy a turn-down service offering freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the first and last night of the voyage, as well as the "Fountain Fun Card," which, for a one-time fee, provides unlimited soft drinks throughout the duration of the cruise.

Spacious Accommodations, Stroller Rentals, and More
The "Fun Ships" are known for having the most spacious staterooms in contemporary cruising and Carnival Miracle continues that tradition. Interior staterooms measure 185 square feet, standard balcony staterooms 240 square feet and penthouse suites 430 square feet, all with ample closet and storage space. Many cabins can accommodate up to four guests and there are 52 interconnecting cabins - perfect for large families or gatherings.

Carnival Miracle will also offer stroller rentals for use both aboard ship and during port calls. Single and double strollers are available at a cost of $7 per day and $25 per week. Other kid-friendly features include "Wizards," a high-tech game room featuring the latest video and arcade games, along with several "just for teens" activities, including teen shore excursions in which teens get together and select their favorite shore tour and then visit the destination accompanied by a member of the youth staff.

Exciting Three- to Seven-Day Itineraries
Carnival Miracle is slated to debut from Jacksonville Feb. 27, 2004, with a series of 12 three- to six-day voyages through April 17, 2004, marking the first time that Carnival has ever operated from that port. The ship will also operate seven-day departures from Baltimore and New York before repositioning to Tampa for year-round seven-day western Caribbean cruises from that port beginning Nov. 7, 2004. For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

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Celebrity Cruises Introduces 'Celebrity Xpeditions'; Announces Exotic Itineraries, Once-In-A-Lifetime Excursions
New Ship Purchased to Take Guests to Galapagos Islands Beginning June 11, 2004

MIAMI, Jan. 14 -- Celebrity Cruises is taking guests to the farthest corners of the world, and treating them famously all the way. The launch of Celebrity Xpeditions, a series of exotic experiences and exceptional excursions, was announced today by Celebrity Cruises President and COO, Jack Williams, at a press event in New York. Subject to closing of a pending acquisition, including regulatory approvals, the first in the Celebrity Xpeditions program will begin June 11, 2004, with a series of seven- to 10-night journeys in the Galapagos Islands, on a ship to be aptly named Celebrity Xpedition. The 296-foot vessel, which resembles a luxurious private yacht, accommodates 100 guests, and with 64 crew members, exceeds Celebrity's fleetwide 2-to-1 guest-to-staff ratio. Celebrity Xpedition will take guests on a series of seven- to 10-night journeys in the Galapagos. Additional 'over-the-top' Celebrity Xpeditions in Antarctica, the Arctic, Alaska, Florida, and elsewhere will be announced later this year.

"This is a major new program for our brand," said Williams. "Celebrity Xpeditions are highly unique events and excursions that give savvy travelers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be treated famously in new environments. This is a one-of-a-kind program that gives our guests the premium experiences they have come to expect of Celebrity -- in entirely new and different venues."

After guests snorkel, hike and explore the pristine Galapagos Islands, they will return to one of the 47 staterooms and suites on Celebrity Xpedition. They can dine in the outdoor grill or the elegant main restaurant serving Celebrity's five-star cuisine, enjoy enrichment lectures, or visit the gym and spa, library, and lounge area featuring live music. In the Galapagos, guests can mingle with sea lions, chat with environmental experts and enjoy dinner and dancing under the stars, all in one day. On future Celebrity Xpeditions, guests might scale glaciers on an ice- breaking ship in Antarctica, drive Hummers through the Alaskan woodlands, sport-fish in British Columbia, and rev up their engines at a racecar driving school in Florida. Each Celebrity Xpedition will be offered in addition to current Celebrity itineraries, or as individual journeys.

"Our goal is to ultimately offer a Celebrity Xpedition on every cruise itinerary, from our year-round seven-night Caribbean product to our long, exotic European product," said Williams.The announcement of Celebrity Xpeditions coincides with the launch of a new ad campaign introducing Xpeditions to consumers. In a few months, readers of Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler will see two-page color ads creatively blending the new Xpeditions on land with the luxurious experience onboard. For example, a photo of a jagged rock in the Galapagos meets a photo of the smooth back of a woman getting a massage. The tagline reads, "Where the unspoiled meets the spoiled."

Celebrity Cruises is the industry's highest rated premium cruise brand with a taste of luxury. The cruise line has nine ships in its fleet, which is the youngest of any major line. Celebrity sails in Alaska, Bermuda, California, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, the Panama Canal and South America. For more information, call your travel agent, dial 1-800-437-3111, or visit the Celebrity web site at

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Ultra Luxury Ships Visit 115 Different Ports in Europe/Mediterranean

MIAMI, Jan 14, 2004 -- The fortunate guests cruising Europe aboard the all-suite Yachts of Seabourn in 2004 will visit a variety of ports that other ships never visit. The yacht-like, 208-guest ships visit 115 different ports of call in Europe and the Mediterranean. And at one port on every cruise, all of Seabourn's guests are invited to a complimentary "Exclusively Seabourn" shoreside experience created just for them. 

"Because our Exclusively Seabourn experiences help set our cruises apart from other travel options, they aren't a "sometimes" thing or just on a few selected cruises," said Richard Meadows, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Seabourn. "Guests on every Seabourn cruise know they'll not only enjoy an exceptional onboard experience, but an exceptional experience ashore as well. And if they stay for more than one cruise, they'll have more than one Exclusively Seabourn experience," he continued.

Exclusively Seabourn experiences combine creativity with local expertise, ensuring that Seabourn guests gain a privileged insight into the port of call and enjoy a memorable event that very few travelers will ever duplicate. The events often include private guided visits to museums, historic sites or private homes, along with performances by cultural groups and samplings of local cuisines and beverage specialties.

The array of Exclusively Seabourn experiences arranged for 2004 in Europe are:

Amsterdam: A picturesque Dutch countryside tour and visit to a cheese-making village

Barcelona: A guided visit to the art treasures of the little-known Monastery of Pedralbes

Casablanca: An evening of Moroccan music, cuisine and culture including belly dancing

Corfu: Greek food, lively music and folk dancing in the gardens of Mon Repos Palace 

Funchal: Traditional afternoon tea and Madeira wine at the regal Reid's Palace hotel

Halifax: A rare glimpse behind the scenes at the city's historic Citadel Hill garrison

Korcula: A Moreska saber dance and Klapa serenade in the island's medieval town

Kusadasi: A romantic private evening of classical music in the torch-lit ruins of Ephesus

La Goulette: Roman treasures in the Bardo Museum and a private reception at Carthage

Lanzarote: A botanical garden and an art gallery illustrate the genius of Cesar Manrique

Leith: An exclusive private reception aboard the retired Royal Yacht Britannia

Limassol: Sample Cypriot vintages during an exclusive afternoon wine tasting ashore

Navplion: Beautiful Bourtzi Castle is the setting for lively Greek dancing, food and drink

Oostende: Guests create their own Belgian chocolates in the fairytale town of Bruges 

Portovenere: The dramatic cliff-side villages of Cinque Terre, approached from the sea

Sorrento: Once a monastery, Teatro Tasso is the venue for a private musical revue

St. Tropez: Guests enjoy a private fashion show in this most fashionable Riviera enclave

Tallin: Some of Estonia's best musicians play in period costume, at Kadriorg Palace

Valencia: Cocktails and music in the medieval Monastery of Santa Maria de El Puig 

Exclusively Seabourn complimentary shoreside experiences are one of Seabourn's Signature Delights, a continuing series of enhancements aboard The Yachts of Seabourn. Complimentary open bars, free Massage Moments on deck and Pure Pampering in-suite bathing experiences by Molton Brown add sumptuous touches to the Yachts' club-like atmosphere. Each ship's 208 fortunate guests receive a level of nearly clairvoyant, personalized service that has set the line apart since its inception. Superb cuisine designed by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer graces the open-seating Restaurant for dinners. From the elegant Tumi document portfolios and baggage tags, to sumptuous Frette bed linens and Heidsieck French champagne that adds sparkle to special moments on board-every detail of a Seabourn cruise bespeaks a privileged, exclusive style of travel that is simply unavailable by any other means. 

The Yachts of Seabourn provides the ultimate in small-ship, ultra-luxury cruise vacations to the most desirable destinations on earth. The Seabourn fleet comprises three identical sister-ships: Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend. For information on The Yachts of Seabourn, contact a professional travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit 

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Holland America Line Announces ms Noordam's Europe 2004 as Farewell Sailing Season

SEATTLE, Jan. 14 -- Holland America Line Inc., a unit of Carnival Corporation & plc, today announced the signing of a long-term agreement to charter the cruise ship ms Noordam to UK-based Thomson Holidays, who will market the vessel from the U.K. as the Thomson Celebration. Holland America Line will continue to operate the Noordam through November 12, 2004, on her currently published itineraries. The charter agreement also provides Thomson Holidays with an option to purchase the vessel during the charter period.

Since her launch in 1984, the Noordam has sailed on nearly 800 voyages, carrying approximately one million satisfied guests. "The Noordam is a wonderful, classic vessel. She has provided our loyal guests with many happy memories, and she will be fondly remembered," said A. Kirk Lanterman, Chairman and CEO of Holland America Line. "Beginning on April 15, 2004 we will celebrate the ms Noordam's Farewell Season featuring 20 special sailings."

The 20-sailing Noordam "Farewell Season" begins with a special transatlantic departure on April 15, 2004 from Tampa, her long-time U.S. homeport, to Lisbon. The Noordam will then sail a total of seven Mediterranean sailings; eight Baltic sailings; two European Capitals cruises; a special D-Day Anniversary sailing and a Norwegian Fjords sailing. The final cruise sails on November 3 from Rome, arriving Lisbon on November 12. Each sailing will feature special on-board events as well as offers for past Noordam and Nieuw Amsterdam guests.

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World's Largest and Grandest Ocean Liner Sets Off on Maiden Voyage

SOUTHAMPTON, England, January 12, 2004 - Cunard Line's spectacular Queen Mary 2 left Southampton today at around 6:30 pm (local time) on her Maiden Voyage amid fireworks, cheering well wishers and fireboats spewing water into the sky. The 14-day voyage to North America will call at Madeira, Tenerife and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and Barbados and St. Thomas in the Caribbean before arriving at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on January 26.

Queen Mary 2 is the largest (151,400 tons), longest (1,132 feet/345 metres), tallest (236 feet/72 metres), widest (135 feet/41 metres) and most expensive ($800 million) passenger vessel ever built. She is the first true transatlantic liner to have been built since the line's famous QE2 entered service in May 1969.

Queen Elizabeth II formally named the ship on January 8 during a gala quayside ceremony. "I name this ship Queen Mary 2. May God bless her and all who sail in her," Her Majesty said. Upon her signal, a jeroboam of Veuve Cliquot Champagne crashed against the ship's starboard bow and the 2,000 invited guests broke into celebration as ticker tape fell from the rafters of a specially constructed, weather-proof grandstand.

Inaugural festivities are also planned for Fort Lauderdale, January 26-31, where Governor Jeb Bush and other dignitaries will welcome the ship to America, and April 22-25 when she first calls at New York, homeport for her traditional transatlantic crossings. Sunday, April 25, will be an historic day for Cunard as it marks the first time that Queen Mary 2 and QE2 will be in port together. The Queens will sail transatlantic in tandem with QE2 leading the way for her younger sibling. The last two Cunard Line Queens to have been berthed in the port of New York together were their legendary namesakes, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, in the 1940s. 

In her inaugural year Queen Mary 2 will sail 13 crossings between Europe and North America as she takes over the role currently operated by QE2 as Cunard's transatlantic flagship. On April 16, Queen Mary 2 will make her inaugural westbound transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York. The vessel will also introduce a series of Caribbean cruises from New York and Fort Lauderdale; a voyage to Rio de Janeiro and back, timed for Carnival; five European itineraries and two fall foliage cruises to ports in Canada and New England. Meanwhile, QE2 will continue to operate Cunard's annual World Cruise and will offer an exciting new series of Europe cruises from Southampton.

Queen Mary 2 features 10 dining venues with acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud serving as Cunard's culinary advisor and Chef Todd English operating a Mediterranean specialty restaurant of the same name. The liner also has the only Canyon Ranch SpaClub® at sea, the world's first planetarium at sea, the largest ballroom at sea, the largest library at sea, and the largest wine collection at sea, as well as a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, a two-story theatre, a casino, five indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs, boutiques and children's facilities complete with British nannies. 

For more information, consult a travel agent, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or visit the website at

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MIAMI (01/09/04) - The 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle, set to be the first new cruise ship inaugurated at Jacksonville, FL, Feb. 27, 2004, offers an array of dining options that is sure to meet the expectations of even the most discriminating vacationer. From traditional sit-down meals in the main restaurant to the elegance of a classic steakhouse to a casual poolside meal, Carnival Miracle offers a dining venue and menu for every taste and mood.

For those who prefer to take their meals in a more formal atmosphere, the décor of the main restaurant could be interpreted as an invitation to excess. The main dining room is named for Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, while the restaurant annex is named after his wife, Ariadne. Breakfast, lunch and dinner - early and late seating - are served daily in the Bacchus Restaurant. The bacchanalian theme is carried throughout the décor, with giant silver goblets adorning the walls, grape lights with antiqued copper-finish leaves hanging in garlands on the walls and ceiling, and artwork of various depictions of Bacchus and Ariadne from classical paintings throughout the two-tiered room. Each evening, the Bacchus' menu features eight different soups, salads and appetizers, seven entrees and four desserts. In addition to the regular menu items, a SpaCarnival menu of healthful selections also is offered at each meal. These dishes feature reduced calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol. Special children's menus and vegetarian selections also are offered nightly.

For guests seeking a more upscale dining experience aboard the Carnival Miracle, the reservations-only Nick and Nora's Supper Club, located at the top of the Miracle's 11-deck-high atrium and housed under a red tinted glass dome that forms the front portion of the ship's funnel, provides a classy ambiance. Named after detectives Nick and Nora Charles, characters created by novelist Dashiell Hammett, the room has a sophisticated look with ebony paneling and black-and-white photos of New York from the 1930s. Modeled after New York's upscale steakhouses, Nick and Nora's serves the finest aged prime beef, along with double-cut lamb chops, lobster tail, Chilean sea bass and Alaska king crab claws. The menu includes a selection of 17 appetizers, salads, soups and side dishes, and is complemented by a wine list hand-selected by Carnival's chefs to accompany the entrees. Desserts include warm flourless cake, a symphony of mousses, trio of crème brulée or fresh fruits and cheeses. A full menu of dessert wines and after-dinner drinks provide an apt close to a special dining experience. Completing the atmosphere of the great supper clubs of the past, Nick and Nora's features a dance floor and live entertainment. The restaurant carries a $25 per person reservation fee.

Guests who prefer a more casual style of dining will enjoy the diverse choices available at the Miracle's poolside restaurant on Lido Deck. Named Horatio's Restaurant, after the C.S. Forester stories about the Napoleon-era British naval captain Horatio Hornblower, the room has a decided nautical feel. Large three-dimensional Horatio figureheads that look like carved ivory sculptures are scattered around the restaurant. Between the banquettes large models of 18th- and 19th-century sailing ships are on display. Wooden beams, arches trimmed in brass and anchor motifs complete the nautical ambiance.

Horatio's self-service offerings include full breakfast and lunch buffets, Asian and American specialty areas, pasta and meat-carving stations, extensive salad and dessert bars, and 24-hour pizzeria and ice cream/frozen yogurt. The eatery also is home to Carnival's casual Seaview Bistro dinnertime service, offering a variety of delectable menu items served in a relaxed, café-style atmosphere. For those with a late-night sweet tooth, Horatio's also will serve as the venue for Carnival's Chocolate Extravaganza, served at 11:30 p.m. Cakes, mousses, puddings, toppings, cookies and every conceivable delectation in chocolate are served in a seemingly never-ending display of decadent desserts.

Guests who prefer to dine in the comfort of their stateroom can order complimentary 24-hour room service featuring a selection of freshly made sandwiches, desserts, fruits and other items. The Carnival Miracle also houses a patisserie serving specialty coffees, sweets and confections. These options, which compose Carnival's Total Choice Dining (SM), cruising's most comprehensive dining program offering the widest variety of culinary choices at sea, complement Carnival Miracle's wide range of entertainment and activity choices, all of which add up to a truly unique "Fun Ship" vacation experience.

Carnival Miracle is slated to debut from Jacksonville Feb. 27, 2004, with a series of 12 three- to six-day voyages through April 17, 2004, marking the first time that Carnival has ever operated from that port. The ship will also operate seven-day departures from Baltimore and New York before repositioning to Tampa for year-round seven-day western Caribbean cruises from that port beginning Nov. 7, 2004. For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal, 

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All New! Princess Destination Guides

Princess Destination Guides take you to all the great places Princess travels. Now, you can learn more about all the places you want to go in a single convenient place.

Stand at the base of the Temple of Poseidon and it's as if you were at the threshold of modern civilization. But look beyond the hilltops of Athens, to the intricate canals of Venice or the gothic cathedrals of Spain; gaze northward to the shores of Normandy or the cliffs of Edinburgh; reach for the great Viking waters of Norway or the virgin tundra of North Cape. Only then will you begin to comprehend the scope and history of this most wondrous continent.


  • European Experience

  • Europe Cruises

  • Europe Cruisetours

  • Shore Excursions

  • Museums

  • Ruins & Relics

  • Architectural Highlights

  • Food & Shopping

  • Ports of Call

Visit today and explore Europe and other great cruise destinations in the new section of Princess Cruises' website.

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Chosen Voyage Upcoming Cruise Highlights

We enjoyed wonderful December sailings, and have some updates to our January programs and to our website that we want to share with you.

Incredible cuisine and dining experiences, excellent programming, the elegant yet casual surroundings on the Wind Surf and the best Caribbean itinerary are the hallmarks of our winter program. Our guests in December called it “the best vacation ever”.

January features two cruises that promise to be even better than last month:

January 18-25: Susie Fishbein, author of Artscroll’s smash bestseller Kosher by Design, will host cooking demonstrations; the improv troupe ComedySportz will host evening shows and improv workshops, and YU’s Dr. Jeffrey Gurock will lecture on Jews in American Sports.

January 25- February 1: Three of the world’s top Judaica artists – Piet Cohen, Amsterdam-based designer of silver Judaica; Neil Folberg, Jerusalem-based photographer and award-winning author; and Yehudit Shadur, Jerusalem-based master of the art of papercutting and publisher author. Evening entertainment will be provided by the very funny Marc Weiner.

Our website has been updated with new menus, new articles and reviews on Chosen Voyage, and video from a TV interview with our CEO, Matthew Shollar. Please visit us at We're filling up rapidly! Please call us to make your reservations: Toll-free (USA) 866-462-4673 or 412-521-8202.

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Her Majesty the Queen Names Queen Mary 2
World's Largest Liner Named in Homeport of Southampton

SOUTHAMPTON, England, Jan. 8 -- Today in Southampton Her Majesty The Queen formally named Queen Mary 2, the first transatlantic liner to enter service since Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969. The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, arrived at the ship where she was greeted by Commodore Ronald Warwick, Master of Queen Mary 2, and Pamela Conover, President of Cunard Line.

After individual guided tours of the 151,400-ton flagship of the Cunard fleet, during which they met both officers and crew members, the Royal couple joined more than 2,000 invited guests -- including prominent figures from politics, the services, entertainment and the arts -- for the quayside naming ceremony. Hosted by British broadcaster Michael Buerk, the ceremony included music from the massed bands of the Royal Marines, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Heather Small singing "Proud" and opera diva Lesley Garrett.

The christening of Queen Mary 2 by the Queen follows an established tradition of Cunard flagships being named by a senior female member of the Royal family. The original Queen Mary was named by Her Majesty Queen Mary, wife of King George V, in 1934; Queen Elizabeth was launched by the late Queen Mother, then Queen Elizabeth and wife of George Vl in 1938; and Queen Elizabeth 2 was named by the current Queen in 1967.

In her welcome remarks, Cunard's President, Pamela Conover, said: "Queen Mary 2 is a transatlantic liner with all the dignity and grace of the liners of the past; but she is also a transatlantic liner of the future with comforts and technology undreamt of when Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched." She continued: "Just as the original Queen Mary was the herald of an earlier golden age of ocean travel, so this ship heralds the new golden age; she represents no less than the triumph of a great tradition."

Queen Mary 2 sets off on her 14-day maiden voyage to Fort Lauderdale from Southampton on January 12. In her inaugural year she will sail 13 transatlantic crossings between England and New York as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister ship, QE2, as Cunard's transatlantic liner. Her maiden eastbound crossing on April 25 will be historic for Cunard as both Queen Mary 2 and QE2 will depart New York together. The day in New York will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port together since March 1940.

Queen Mary 2 features 10 dining venues with acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud serving as Cunard's culinary advisor and Chef Todd English operating a Mediterranean speciality restaurant of the same name. The liner also has the only Canyon Ranch SpaClub(R) at sea, the world's first planetarium at sea, as well as a Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, a two-story theatre, a casino, five indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs, boutiques and children's facilities complete with British nannies.

For more information, consult a travel agent, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or visit the website at 

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R Family Vacations Gears Up for First Ever 
Gay & Lesbian Family Cruise

Norwegian Dawn Luxury Cruise Liner Sets Sail From New York City July 11, 2004

NEW YORK, Jan. 8 -- Rosie O'Donnell, along with her partner Kelli O'Donnell and former Atlantis travel director Gregg Kaminsky, are the principals of R Family Vacations, the first travel company devoted to gay and lesbian family vacations. R Family Vacations inaugural trip will be a weeklong cruise on the luxury cruise liner, Norwegian Dawn. Departing from New York City on July 11th 2004, ports of call will include Port Canaveral, Key West, Nassau and Norwegian Cruise Line's own private Bahamian island.

R Family vacations fill an important niche -- it's truly the first of its kind. "We are the gay cruise with family values. We're creating vacations for gay and lesbian travelers and their family of choice -- children, parents, relatives, friends, couples, and individuals," said Kelli O'Donnell and Gregg Kaminsky. "R Family Vacations creates an instant community where everyone is welcome. You don't have to compromise your lifestyle to go on a vacation."

R Family Vacations are specially designed so children can meet other children from families just like theirs, and parents can relax and pamper themselves. "There are already some great kids' programs on the ship," Kelli adds. "For adults, there will be world-class entertainment and a lot of pampering and relaxation opportunities. Retired NFL star Esera Tuaolo will lead motivational talks, and we're working with the Family Pride Coalition to help us host discussion groups on adoption, insemination, surrogacy, and anything else that would be helpful and interesting to gay parents or gay parents to be." Rosie adds, "We welcome all families -- however you define them -- to join us on this cruise. I'm excited to share this experience with my friends and family."

"The world is changing, and cruises represent the most noticeable change for the gay and lesbian travel market," said the owner of an upscale travel agency serving the gay community in a travel industry trade publication. Gay and lesbian travelers take an average of 11% more leisure trips per year than heterosexual travelers. In the last decade, the number of cruises of any kind departing from New York City has more than tripled. Travelers today want more choices, and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) wants the choice to be yours. That's why they have introduced "Freestyle Cruising" and "Freestyle Dining." Choose what (if any) activities or excursions to participate in, and when and where to eat from ten exclusive restaurants offering everything from Asian to French to Italian cuisine. "Charters are a very important business segment for NCL and we are pleased that R Family Vacations has chosen Norwegian Dawn for its inaugural charter cruise," said Mitch Schlesinger, vice president of North America sales for NCL. "We look forward to welcoming R Family guests onboard this historic cruise to enjoy Freestyle Cruising out of New York."

For more information go to or call 1-866-R-FAM-VAC.

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Holland America Line Raises the Bar in Premium Cruise Accommodations
Unparalleled Investment Continues a Tradition of Excellence and Provides the Most Spacious and Elegant Staterooms in Class

SEATTLE, Jan. 7 -- Holland America Line announced recently that, as part of its $225 million Signature of Excellence initiative, it will enhance all staterooms with even more luxurious appointments to ensure every guest is pampered while aboard Holland America Line's fleet of 13 five-star ships. Holland America Line, already offering the most spacious and elegant staterooms in the premium cruising category, will now add enhancements such as plush Euro-Top mattresses, high quality cotton bed linens, large fluffy towels and complimentary fruit baskets. With the Signature of Excellence enhancements, Holland America Line will continue to innovate with new standards and further solidify its leadership position in the premium cruise category.

"Our guests will now find their staterooms even more elegant and more luxurious than ever," said Stein Kruse, president and chief operating officer. "These significant enhancements demonstrate our continued commitment to providing the best accommodations in the premium cruise category -- and we offer these fine appointments in every cabin category across our fleet. At Holland America Line, all of our guests, not just a few, benefit from these premium amenities. We have spent months listening to our guests' suggestions, evaluating every aspect of our accommodations and making decisions on details that will continue to ensure our guests' ultimate comfort." Kruse added, "Each enhancement is the result of deliberate and diligent efforts made to continue to set the standard in delivering a superior premium cruise experience for our guests into the future."

With a long history of luxury at sea, Holland America Line provides guests with the most distinctive ships at sea and the most spacious accommodations in the premium category. Compared with other major cruise lines, Holland America Line ships carry on average 33 percent fewer guests, have the largest verandahs and offer more suites than any other premium line. Under this new initiative, all staterooms will be outfitted with Sealy Posturepedic Premium Plush Euro-Top mattresses designed especially for Holland America Line with guests' comfort in mind. The beds will be triple-sheeted for a luxurious touch with high quality crisp, white cotton bed linens. Guests will also enjoy thick 100 percent Egyptian cotton towels and deluxe waffle and terry cloth bathrobes. New amenities will include premium massage showerheads, 5x magnifying make-up mirrors with halo lighting and stylish, quiet, salon-quality hair dryers. Guests will be welcomed with a polished stainless steel basket filled with complimentary fresh fruit including a variety of apples, oranges, grapes and pears. Each room will also have an elegant stainless-steel ice bucket and serving tray for use with in-cabin beverages.

In addition, all Penthouse and Deluxe Verandah suites will be outfitted with comfortable off-white duvets on the beds; fully-stocked mini-bars; VCRs or DVD players and access to a well-stocked video/DVD library; and personalized stationery. All suite guests will have access to a new one-touch 24-hour concierge service. The luxurious Euro-Top mattresses will first be added to Holland America Line's suite accommodations (categories PH and S) by the end of March 2004, and in all staterooms fleetwide by January 2006. All other stateroom enhancements will be added fleetwide by the end of March 2004.

As part of the accommodation upgrades, Holland America Line will further enhance the "suite life" with the expansion of the Neptune Lounge. Currently available on seven Holland America Line ships, this industry-leading concierge lounge will be extended to all the ships in the fleet. The exclusive Neptune Lounge is a private retreat for Deluxe Verandah Suite and Penthouse Suite guests, where they can relax, read and socialize, as well as take advantage of the personalized services from the Neptune Lounge's concierge.

About Signature of Excellence
As the premium cruise leader, Holland America Line is investing $225 million in the Signature of Excellence initiative to provide unparalleled product and service enhancements to its fleet of five-star ships. Signature of Excellence will build on Holland America Line's renowned tradition of excellence by significantly raising the standard in premium cruising. The comprehensive enhancements will focus on five areas central to the Holland America Line guest experience: spacious, elegant ships and accommodations; sophisticated five-star dining; gracious, unobtrusive service; extensive enrichment programs and activities; and compelling worldwide itineraries. Enhancements, and in some cases construction build-outs, have been started and are expected to be completed by the end of 2005.

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Star-Gazers Can See Rare Bright Comet On Ultra-Luxury Med Cruise

MIAMI, January 7, 2004 -Passengers who book a Mediterranean cruise on the ultra luxury Seabourn Legend next May can share the unique opportunity to view a comet more than 2.5 times brighter than Halley's Comet, last seen in 1986. According to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory the comet, designated Q4 (NEAT), may brighten to first magnitude as the most brilliant seen since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1996, the brightest in a generation. Astronomers know of none other likely to appear as bright in our lifetime.

The all-suite, 208-guest Seabourn Legend is scheduled to sail from Rome on
May 9, 2004, on a seven-day itinerary expected to provide ideal conditions for viewing Q4 (NEAT). The comet is predicted to be of the first magnitude only between May 5 and 15.
As part of Seabourn's "Dress Circle" enrichment series, on board will be astro-journalist Dan Benedict, a contributor to ABC, CBS and CNN and founder of the Eye On The Sky astronomical news service. Benedict will provide expert commentary on comet viewing,  star-watching and the night sky in general during shipboard seminars.

"One of the biggest problems for land-based stargazers is light pollution
that can mask the dimmer sights in the night skies," Benedict explained.
He pointed out that "…a ship can be many miles from most light and air pollution sources, so views of the sky found nowhere else are possible."

The special May comet-viewing cruise will encompass a period of a waning (darkening) moon and Seabourn officials have planned the itinerary to allow generous hours of darkness for enjoying the rare experience. Daylight hours will include visits to Sardinia; Tunis; Sicily; Sorrento, Italy; Corsica and Monte Carlo.

With Early Booking Savings up to 35 percent, fares start from $3,981 per person, based on double occupancy of a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.
For more information, contact a professional travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit

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Pre- and Post-Cruise "Beach Resort" Packages Available in Conjunction with "Fun Ship" Cruises from Jacksonville

MIAMI (01/05/04) - Carnival Cruise Lines is offering two- to three-night pre- and post-cruise "beach resort" land packages at the oceanfront Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club in conjunction with its new "Fun Ship" departures from Jacksonville, Fla., set to kick off Feb. 27, 2004. The hotel packages can be combined with the following "Fun Ship" departures from Jacksonville:

  • Feb. 27 - April 17, 2004 - three- to six-day voyages aboard the new 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle. Three-day cruises visit Freeport, five-day cruises feature Key West and Nassau, and six-day voyages include Cozumel, Freeport, and Costa Maya or Playa del Carmen

  • May 11 - Aug. 26, 2004 - four- and five-day cruises aboard the 1,486-passenger Jubilee. Four-day cruises visit Freeport and Nassau, while five-day voyages feature Key West and Nassau

  • Year-round beginning Oct. 12, 2004 - four- and five-day cruises aboard the 1,486-passenger Celebration. Four-day cruises visit Freeport and Nassau, while five-day voyages feature Key West and Nassau 

"We're very excited about bringing 'Fun Ship' cruising to Jacksonville and these new two- to three-night packages at the stunning Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club enable consumers to create the ultimate cruise/land getaway," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. 

Located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club features 508 guest rooms, six restaurants and lounges, three outdoor pools, a Cabana Beach Club, health club, tennis courts, horseback riding and five 18-hole championship golf courses, one of which is the site of the PGA Players Championship. The two- and three-night packages begin at $205 and $310 per person, respectively, based on double occupancy. The packages include Alamo rental car or round-trip ground transfers.

Carnival is currently accepting reservations on both the new two- and three-night land packages and "Fun Ship" cruises from Jacksonville. For additional information and reservations on Carnival's new Jacksonville departures or any other "Fun Ship" cruise program, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal at Additional information on the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club, including a 360-degree "virtual tour," is available at

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Thrilling Voyages Follow Route of Famed Captains and Literary Masters


FORT LAUDERDALE - Discovery World Cruises' MV Discovery will explore the islands and the cultures of the South Pacific this season on two voyages that recall the legendary journeys of Captains Cook and Bligh, important battle sites of World War II, as well as the inspirational retreats of noted literary giants including Robert Louis Stevenson and Daniel Defoe. Embracing the charm of Polynesia, the mysteries of Easter Island, the beauty of New Zealand and the magnificent sunsets of Hawaii's islands, the cruises will be enhanced with an enrichment program led by noted authorities and distinguished explorers, including noted explorer Sir Edmund Hillary.


Discovery's 14- to 27-night South Pacific sailings include "In The Wake of the Bounty," a month-long itinerary, departing January 27, that sails from Valparaiso, Chile, to Robinson Crusoe Island, made famous by author Daniel Defoe; Easter Island, with its ancient giant Tiki statues; Pitcairn Island, where passengers will meet a direct descendant of legendary Fletcher Christian of Mutiny on the Bounty fame; the seldom-visited Society Islands and Auckland, New Zealand. The cruise-tour also includes a three-night hotel stay in Santiago, Chile, and a two-night hotel stay in Auckland before and after the cruise. Rates start at $5,995 per person, double occupancy.


Passengers will experience the Pacific on a sojourn from Auckland to Honolulu, February 26-March 21, on the grand 24-night "Pacific Journey" cruise-tour, which will journey to Norfolk Island and Isle des Pins, both Captain Cook's discoveries; two of the Vanuatu islands, where James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific was set; Yasawa and Suva in Fiji, where Captain Bligh was chased by cannibals; Samoa and the remote Tin Can, Rakahanga, Manikiki and Christmas islands before calling at Maui, Kauai and Honolulu in Hawaii.


Bob Reynolds, a member of Discovery World Cruises group of distinguished lecturers, will be conducting a series of lectures while the ship visits islands in Fiji and Hawaii that were important battle sites during World War II. The unique itinerary also  includes two-night hotel stays in Auckland and Honolulu. Rates start at $4,995 per person, double occupancy. Passengers may choose to extend their trip with a three-night stay in Sydney, Australia when booking either of the South Pacific cruise-tours. An array of on-board guest lecturers will be aboard each voyage to ensure that passengers appreciate the region's history, cultures, reefs, atolls, beaches, mountains and fjordlands. Among them are Honorable Jim McLay, a former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and expert on the Pacific Basin, and Sir Edmund Hillary, best known as one of the first two men to climb Mt. Everest. Sir Edmund, who has explored the Antarctic and the Himalayas, will help Discovery passengers discover New Zealand, his native land.


Following the Pacific voyages, MV Discovery will sail to Mexico, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal. Low airfare add-ons are available from 25 U.S. gateway cities, Toronto and Vancouver, Canada.


Travelers on MV Discovery explore the world in luxury and style. The ship is resplendent with every modern comfort and convenience including 351 cabins and suites, equipped with televisions and built-in hairdryers; three restaurants; five elegant lounges; a well-stocked library; casino; modern health club and beauty center; two swimming pools, including one with a retractable dome; two Jacuzzis; and duty-free boutiques. The ship's senior officers are from Scandinavia, the cruise staff is American and European, while the service staff - perhaps the ship's biggest asset - is from The Philippines.


Founded in 2002 by Gerry Herrod, a noted travel industry entrepreneur and adventure cruise specialist, Discovery World Cruises is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with an operations center in London. For more information visit Discovery World Cruises at To make a reservation, see a travel professional or contact Discovery World Cruises toll-free at 866-623-2689.

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Carnival Earns 'Best Value' Honors from Ocean and Cruise News

MIAMI (01/05/04) - For the 10th consecutive year, the "Fun Ships" of Carnival Cruise Lines have been named a "Best Overall Value" by the World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society (WOCLS), a 23-year-old organization comprised of leading travel agents and highly experienced cruisers. Carnival earned "best value" honors in the "High-Superior Four-Star-Plus" category. The awards, which were published in a recent issue of the organization's monthly magazine, Ocean & Cruise News, are divided into 10 categories and recognize those cruise lines, which provide the greatest satisfaction to guests at the best prices. The WOCLS lauded Carnival for its high quality food and entertainment, as well as its diverse activities and festive on-board ambiance. 

"All Carnival ships stress fun and high-spirited activity, both in the design of the public rooms and in the overall product. The dining is on par with, and in many cases exceeds that of others in this category. The entertainment is some of the best afloat," said Ocean & Cruise News Editorial Advisor George Devol. Carnival was also recognized for its innovative shipboard layout and design, stating that the vessels are "very spacious and very 'Las Vegas' in their style and ambiance." 

Commented Carnival President & CEO Bob Dickinson, "Earning the 'best value' award for 10 consecutive years is very gratifying and speaks volumes to the high quality of Carnival's 'Fun Ship' cruise vacations, which are rated higher than any other brand in the contemporary market. It is truly an honor and reaffirms our position as the world's number one cruise vacation choice."  

Carnival is the most popular cruise line in the world, with 19 "Fun Ships" operating three- to 16-day voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England and Bermuda from homeports throughout North America. The line currently has three new ships with an estimated value of $1.8 billion scheduled for delivery between now and 2005. The first of these, the 88,500-ton Carnival Miracle, is slated to debut from Jacksonville, FL, Feb. 27, 2004.

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Queen Mary 2 Inaugural Festivities to be Featured
on "Entertainment Tonight"

"Entertainment Tonight" will be broadcasting from the Inaugural Festivities of Cunard Line's new luxury liner Queen Mary 2 in Southampton, England. They plan to feature the ship on January 6, 7 and 8. Mary Hart will be bringing viewers behind the scenes for what is sure to be the most magnificent new ship launch ever. 

Queen Mary 2 is the largest (151,400 tons), longest (1,132 feet/345 metres), tallest (236 feet/72 metres), widest (135 feet/41 metres) and most expensive ($800 million) ocean liner ever built. Queen Mary 2 is the first true transatlantic liner to have been built since the line's legendary Queen Elizabeth 2 entered service in May 1969.

Check your local listings for "Entertainment Tonight" broadcast times.

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Las Vegas, Caribbean Cruising are Top Destinations: Carlson Wagonlit Travel 2004 Travel Trends Survey
Punta Cana Vaults to the Top 5; England, Europe Remain in Demand
Authoritative Survey of 287 Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate Agencies Also Reveals Healthy Bookings, Lengthening Booking Windows, Increased International Travel and Optimism to Match

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 2 -- Las Vegas vacations and Caribbean cruises are hot, hot, hot -- and business is heating up, too, at Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate agencies throughout the U.S. -- according to a recent "2004 Travel Trends" survey of 287 Carlson Wagonlit Travel experts. The survey results, released by Carlson Wagonlit Travel's Associate Division today, indicate that Las Vegas and Caribbean cruises are the most popular domestic and international vacation "destinations," respectively, for 2004. They also reveal promising news about the health of the agencies' business: 83% of the respondents said their bookings for the year ahead are even or up over this time in 2003, and 85% said they are "fairly optimistic" or "very optimistic" about their business for 2004.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates' 2004 Travel Trends Survey, the travel agency powerhouse's most comprehensive survey to date, also offers insight into current leisure travel trends, such as the increasing popularity of cruising. The survey, conducted October 20 - November 19, 2003, was completed by 287 Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate owners, managers and front-line agents, representing nearly one in three Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate agency locations throughout the United States.

Top Vacation Destinations: U.S. and International
When asked to forecast the five most popular U.S. destinations for 2004 based on their actual bookings to date, 85% of the respondents named Las Vegas, securing the city's number-one ranking in the survey once again this year. Caribbean cruising was the most popular international destination, named by 77% of the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate experts.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel's 2004 Travel Trends Survey asked respondents to identify key 2004 travel trends and to forecast their outlook for business in the year ahead. The results indicate good news for the travel industry: a lengthening booking window, rebounding international travel, healthy 2004 bookings, increasing popularity of cruising and even a slight upward trend in travelers' amount spent per vacation.

Carlson Travel Group, Inc. is a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies, Inc. Brands include: Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Cruise Holidays, Results Travel, Carlson Leisure Travel Services and Carlson Destination Marketing Services. In 2003, for the seventh consecutive year, the Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associate program was named the top travel business franchise by Entrepreneur's Franchise 500(R); Franchise Times ranked the program as the 3rd top franchise overall in 2003 for the third year in a row. For more information about Carlson Wagonlit Travel, call 1-800-CARLSON or visit 

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    Unless otherwise noted, all news items are sourced by individual cruise lines, cruise-related industries, and their agents.

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