Cruise Planner & Industry News from Cruise Diva
Discover the world of cruise travel

Subscribe Now!
Cruise Diva's FREE Newsletter

Make the most of your cruise vacation with
 information from 

~ Site Map & Search
~ Cruise Lines
~ Articles & Advice
~ Cruise News
~ Planning Tips
~ Packing & Lists
~ Ports of Call

~ Cruise Reviews

~ HOT Tips Archive
~ About CruiseDiva
~ Cruise Links
~ Cruise Diary
~ CruiseDiva Home

Insure My Trip
Insure your cruise ~ Use the automated quote form to compare plans

Cruise Bon Voyage Gifts from Well Wishers -- CLICK HERE!!!
Bon Voyage gifts & more delivered worldwide by Well Wishers

Get cruise gear & more
The Cruise Shop

 Cruising by the Book ~ Top Picks in 
Cruise Guidebooks

The favorite of serious cruise travelers:
Cruise Travel Magazine
Cruise Travel

Have a question or a review to submit?

Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman

News from the world of cruise travel ~
March 16-31, 2003

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

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

Back to Cruise News Weekly Index & Archive

Radisson Seven Seas Voyager Christened in Monaco March 31 By Barbara Carlson Gage, Co-Owner of Carlson Companies

MONTE CARLO, Monaco, March 31 -- The 700-guest Seven Seas Voyager, the world's second all-balcony suite cruise ship, was christened here today by Barbara Carlson Gage, co-owner and director of Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies Inc., owners of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.

Mrs. Gage, daughter of late founder Curtis Carlson, broke the traditional bottle of champagne across the Seven Seas Voyager's gleaming bow while invited guests looked on. His Serene Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco was among the dignitaries who attended the christening ceremony, held at Monaco's expanded new pier facilities.

The $200 million luxury ship, boasting the cruise line's second exclusive shipboard restaurant to be directed by prestigious French culinary institute Le Cordon Bleu®, is the newest addition to a fleet that reaches 300 destinations on six continents (including Antarctica). Radisson Seven Seas, whose distinctive teal logo of a lyre emblazons the new ship, is a part of Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, one of the major operating groups of the Carlson Companies, Inc.

In addition to serving on the board of Carlson Companies Inc., one of the world's largest privately owned companies, Mrs. Gage is extremely active in philanthropic organizations. She is president of the Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation, one of Minnesota's largest non-corporate charitable foundations, and is a founding supporter and a global board director of the World Childhood Foundation.

"I'm truly honored to serve as the godmother of the Seven Seas Voyager, and to christen this spectacular new ship," said Mrs. Gage. "She represents the next generation in luxury cruising and the commitment of the Carlson Companies and Radisson Seven Seas to being 'best in class' in the luxury cruise industry."

Others in attendance included Curtis Nelson, president and COO of the Carlson Companies, Mark Conroy, president and CEO of Radisson Seven Seas, and several hundred of the line's most frequent cruisers, who prepared to join the Seven Seas Voyager's inaugural voyage from Monaco to Venice the following day, April 1.

With the launch of the Seven Seas Voyager, the line boasts the largest lead-in suites in the industry. At a minimum of 356 square feet of living space, expansive suites allow guests to enjoy exceptional privacy combined with luxurious amenities including private ocean view balconies, walk-in closets and large marble-appointed bathrooms featuring separate glass shower stalls and full bathtubs.

The Seven Seas Voyager sails her maiden voyage April 1 from Monte Carlo to Venice, followed by Mediterranean, Western Europe, British Isles and Baltic cruises. For further information, contact Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, 600 Corporate Drive, Suite 410, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 33334; or toll-free 800- 477-7500; for brochures and reservation information toll-free 800-285-1835; or visit the Web site To make reservations contact your travel professional.

Back to  the top of the news list

Carnival Corp's New Long Beach Cruise Terminal at Queen Mary Set to Open April 14

MIAMI (03/31/03) - Carnival Corporation's new Long Beach Cruise Terminal at the Queen Mary will welcome its first cruise ship when Carnival Cruise Lines' 70,000-ton Ecstasy sails from the $40 million facility April 14, 2003. The new terminal will initially serve as the homeport to two 2,052-passenger Carnival "Fun Ships" - the Ecstasy, which will depart Fridays on three-day voyages to Ensenada, and Mondays on four-day cruises to Ensenada and Catalina Island, and the Elation, sailing Sundays on seven-day voyages to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas (the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride will assume this route in September 2003). 

According to Carnival President Bob Dickinson, the new Long Beach facility, the first in the U.S. to be built by a cruise operator, will usher in a new era in the company's West Coast cruise operations while serving as an economic catalyst to the Long Beach community. "The new Long Beach Cruise Terminal at the Queen Mary is among the most technically advanced cruise facilities in the world, setting new standards in terms of convenience, efficiency and spaciousness," he said. "Carnival is very proud to be a part of the Long Beach community and this new terminal will not only provide guests with an unparalleled level of service but also contribute significantly to the local economy," he added. 

Adjacent to the terminal is the Queen Mary hotel and attraction, the historic 1936 ocean liner that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a variety of exquisite dining, entertainment and shopping opportunities. One- to three-night pre- and post-cruise hotel packages at the Queen Mary are available for Ecstasy and Elation guests. The new facility takes up nearly half of the existing Geodesic Dome, which once served as the home of the Spruce Goose seaplane owned by Howard Hughes, and offers easy access to nearby tourist attractions such as The Aquarium of the Pacific, Shoreline Village, and Rainbow Harbor. 

Other highlights include: 

  • A single, 1,110-foot long, 28-foot-deep berth capable of accommodating today's massive mega-liners 

  • A 30,000-square-foot terminal/embarkation facility housing staff offices, luggage collection areas, and U.S. Immigration and Customs check-in stations 

  • 300-foot long, 35-foot-high passenger gangway that extends from the second floor of the cruise terminal directly to the Empress Deck of the Elation and Ecstasy 

  • 1,450-vehicle parking garage within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal via covered walkway 

  • An intermodal area with separate car, bus and taxi drop off and pick up areas, and X-ray screening area for checked luggage, which is carried to the ship via a tram system 

  • An outdoor plaza leading to The Carnival Lounge aboard the Queen Mary, offering guests an opportunity to check in prior to their cruise and then explore the many features aboard the historic ocean liner.

Back to  the top of the news list


MIAMI, March 31, 2003 - Cunard Line announced today that its new 85,000-ton cruise ship, which is scheduled to enter service in 2005, will be named Queen Victoria. Dedicated to the British cruise market, Queen Victoria will be the second largest Cunarder ever built carrying 1,968 passengers. Together with the current flagship, Queen Elizabeth 2, and Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger ship ever, the Cunard fleet will include three Queens for the first time - truly the most famous ocean liners in the world.

Currently being built at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard, Queen Victoria will enter service in the company's 165th anniversary and will operate round-trip Southampton cruises to the Mediterranean, Canaries, Northern Europe as well as cruises to the Caribbean. The vessel will feature a covered wrap-around promenade deck, a forward-facing observation lounge, and a large Lido pool with a retractable magrodome. Innovative "exterior elevators" with glass walls will uniquely tower 10 decks high on both sides of the vessel. Like QE2 and QM2, the liner will have a Queens Grill offering single-seating gourmet dining.

"Cunard Line was founded just after Queen Victoria came to the throne, and her reign saw the company develop hugely in every sense," said Pamela Conover, president and COO of Cunard Line. "Today, with more capacity than we have had for 40 years, Cunard is entering a new phase of expansion commensurate with that experienced under Queen Victoria, so it seems entirely appropriate for the new ship to bear the name."

The on-board menus, entertainment and lecture programming will be geared toward British tastes and the currency will be sterling. In design terms Queen Victoria will have an undeniably British feel with two British design teams being responsible for her interiors. Queen Victoria will offer a wide range of accommodations including large standard outside cabins (170 sq ft) and a high percentage of balcony cabins (67%) - bringing new levels of luxury and choice to the British passenger.

Yet Cunard fully expects Queen Victoria to have world-wide appeal, especially in the American market. Cunard guests value the superior White Star Servicesm and amenities the line has always offered. Queen Victoria will be a ship that's both modern and sophisticated, extending the Cunard lineage into the 21st century, and providing a full complement of comforts for vacationers with high expectations. The new liner's inaugural voyage will be in early 2005, approximately one year after the launch of Queen Mary 2.

Back to  the top of the news list

Cruise Lines Heat Up Alaska Travel With New Ships, More Sailings and Expanded Shore Packages

NEW YORK, March 28 -- Alaska, America's "coolest" state, is still a favorite cruise destination, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Cruise lines are adding voyages, expanding shore excursion and land package offerings, and extending enrichment programs available to passengers visiting Alaska, the third most popular cruise destination.

"The number of cruises to Alaska has been rising steadily," notes Bob Sharak, executive director of CLIA, a non-profit marketing organization that represents 25 North American cruise lines. "In 2002 there were 431 Alaska cruises; we anticipate 460 this year. For 2003, we project growth will continue, and capacity will increase 4 percent over last year."

Ships that spent the winter traveling the warm waters of the Caribbean make their way north every spring to begin sailing the waters of the Gulf of Alaska and the Inside Passage. From mega-ships to more intimate vessels, these ships combine the cruise industry's signature entertainment, cuisine and service with the visual, natural panorama of North America's last, great frontier.

"The cruise lines have created cruise experiences that truly give passengers a once-in-a-lifetime look at both the cultural heritage and natural beauty of Alaska," says Sharak. "Itineraries encompass breathtaking national parks, vibrant North American cities, modern luxury rail travel and even a chance to walk on an ancient glacier."

Following is a sample of Alaska itineraries and programs offered by CLIA-member cruise lines:

Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Spirit's Alaska season consists of 16 seven-day Glacier Route and three Glacier Bay voyages. Glacier Route cruises depart May 21 to Sept. 3, either northbound from Vancouver or southbound from Seward/Anchorage. Cruises in both directions feature Prince William Sound, College Fjord, Lynn Canal, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka and the Inside Passage. The three Glacier Bay cruises operate roundtrip from Vancouver May 14, Sept. 10 and 17, featuring full days cruising Glacier Bay National Park and the Inside Passage.

Celebrity Cruises pairs fully escorted land packages, ranging from two to six nights, with seven-night Glacier Cruises aboard the Summit. Available before or after the cruise, the packages visit such diverse destinations as Anchorage, Alyeska, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, Seward, Homer and Fairbanks.

Crystal Cruises' Crystal Harmony offers a full season of Alaska cruises roundtrip from San Francisco. The nine 12-day cruises feature the Inside Passage and visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka; Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia; and cruise either Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier or Tracey Arm. Several itineraries offer a Wine & Food Festival, a Classical Music Cruise and an Opera Cruise, with enrichment programs featuring the cuisine of celebrity chefs, concerts by Juilliard musicians, and performances by operatic legends.

Holland America Line launches its Alaska cruisetour program for 2003 with 29 cruisetours featuring 16 new or revised itineraries, and four new tours featuring Canada's Kluane National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing five of the seven highest peaks in North America. Eight of the line's ships, including the flagship Amsterdam and the new Prinsendam, offer a record 144 cruises to Alaska, departing from Seattle, Vancouver, Seward and San Francisco.

Norwegian Cruise Line homeports two of its newest ships -- Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Sky -- in Seattle in 2003 for seven-day Alaska voyages. Ports of call for both ships include Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay (or Sawyer Glacier), Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia. A third ship, Norwegian Wind, offers seven-day sailings departing Sundays from Vancouver and stopping at Ketchikan, Juneau, Sawyer Glacier, Skagway and Wrangell.

Princess Cruises' season runs from May 10-Sept. 15, with 78 departures on six ships, including three new vessels. Making their Alaska debut are the new sister ships Coral Princess and Island Princess, offering Saturday departures, sailing between Vancouver and Seward. A new 680-passenger Pacific Princess offers 11-day roundtrip voyages from San Francisco and the Star Princess features 18 Inside Passage voyages departing from Seattle on Saturdays.

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Mariner sets sail June 5 to Aug. 27 on 11 seven-night voyages and an eight-night cruise between Seward and Vancouver, and vice versa. The all-suite, all-balcony Mariner stops at Sitka, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

Royal Caribbean International's Legend of the Seas offers seven-night Alaskan cruises with an expanded selection of 20 different land packages from two to six nights. Also available are Canadian Rockies cruise tours that combine a seven-night Inside Passage voyage on Radiance of the Seas or Vision of the Seas with four- or six-night land packages through the Canadian Rockies, with stops in Banff, Calgary, Kamloops and Vancouver.

For more information on Alaska cruises, visit CLIA's website at

Back to  the top of the news list

Star Princess Introduces New Greek Isles Cruises, 
Grand Princess to Sail on Baltic Sea Routes

Princess has announced its 2004 Europe program, and it is sure to be a "grand" one for passengers -- the line will bring both Grand and Star Princess to the region next summer, offering new options for passengers in both northern and southern Europe. Already established as a passenger favorite in the Mediterranean, Grand Princess will become the largest and most amenity-filled ship to sail on Baltic cruises to Scandinavia and Russia, while sister ship Star Princess will make her European debut with a series of the line's trademark Grand Mediterranean sailings. Following her introduction in the Mediterranean, Star Princess will offer an expanded series of Greek Isles itineraries designed specifically to showcase the birthplace of the Olympic Games in celebration of the 2004 Summer Olympics. Royal Princess will round out the schedule with a series of Connoisseur Cruises throughout Western Europe. In total, the three ships will offer 39 departures of 16 itineraries, and feature calls at 67 different ports.

"With a wide variety of unique itineraries that incorporate extra time in key ports such as Venice or St. Petersburg, Princess is offering passengers an outstanding selection of European vacation options in 2004," said Dean Brown, Princess' executive vice president of customer service and sales. "And with more than 1,500 balcony staterooms across the three ships -- the most of any fleet in Europe -- there will never be a better time to experience this region by sea." Royal Princess, which features all outside staterooms, introduced balconies as a standard cabin amenity in 1984, and since then this feature has become a trademark of the Princess fleet.

Star Princess in the Mediterranean

Star Princess' inaugural European season consists of 10 sailings offering Princess' popular 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary, departing between May 16 and September 1, 2004. This favorite route calls at some of the area's most renowned ports, including overnight stays in Barcelona and Venice, along with visits to Monte Carlo, Florence/Pisa, Naples, Athens, Kusadasi (for the ruins of Ephesus) and Istanbul.

In addition, the ship will debut five new itineraries, including three routes featuring the Greek Isles, plus a Mediterranean Mosaic sailing and a transatlantic cruise. The Greek Isles sailings, between Venice and Rome departing April 10 and September 25, feature calls at the islands of Santorini, Rhodes, Mykonos, and Corfu, plus visits to Katakolon (for Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games), Athens, Kusadasi, Dubrovnik and Naples. On April 22 the ship will sail on a Mediterranean/Aegean itinerary beginning in Rome and ending in Venice. May 4 Star Princess will leave Venice, embarking on a Mediterranean/Greek Isles voyage to Barcelona. The ship will also offer a Mediterranean Mosaic cruise from Barcelona to Rome on September 13. At the end of the season, Star Princess will cross the Atlantic for the very first time, as part of a 16-day voyage from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale on October 7.

Grand Princess in the Baltic

Grand Princess will be the first 109,000-ton vessel to premiere such a full range of choices and amenities in Northern Europe in 2004. The ship's May 2 to August 27 season features 10 Scandinavia/Russia sailings on two itineraries that showcase the best of the Baltic seacoast. The 10-day Scandinavia/Russia sailings roundtrip from Copenhagen include calls at Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn (Estonia), Gdansk (Poland), and Oslo, with an overnight stay for two full days in St. Petersburg. An alternate Baltic Heratige itinerary replaces Oslo with Warnemunde, Germany, offering visits to the exciting German capital of Berlin. Grand Princess will also offer two transatlantic crossings, one between Ft. Lauderdale and Copenhagen on May 2 and a Copenhagen to New York voyage on August 27, featuring visits to Iceland and Greenland.

Royal Princess Connoisseur Cruises

Royal Princess once again will offer a series of Connoisseur cruises featuring Western Europe, Iceland, the Norwegian Fjords and the British Isles, plus four European Explorer sailings. The May 7 to September 4 season features wide array of cruise options. The European Explorer itinerary includes calls to a wide range of ports between London and Rome, including Le Havre (for Paris), Vigo (Spain), Lisbon, Cadiz, Casablanca, Girbraltar, Barcelona, Cannes/Monte Carlo, and Livorno (for Florence and Pisa), making this cruise the perfect opportunity to sample the region's diversity.

Passengers also have the option of enhancing their European travels with a series of Princess cruisetour options, combining a cruise with a number of tour choices that take guests to many of the area's favorite inland destinations. These comprehensive land/sea vacations include travels to places such as Tuscany, London, Paris, Provence, the Swiss Alps, the Danube region, and other world-renowned spots. Love Boat Savers Fares for Europe sailings begin at $2,390. Additional Early Booking Discounts of $800 to $1,200 are available for a limited time.

Back to  the top of the news list

Norwegian Cruise Line Renovates Crown Odyssey And Changes Name To Norwegian Crown During Dry Dock
NCL adds three new restaurants to Freestyle Cruising ship

MIAMI, FL, March 27, 2003 -- Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today that it has changed the name of Crown Odyssey to Norwegian Crown during a multi-million dollar refurbishment to convert the ship into a Freestyle Cruising vessel and added three new restaurants. Norwegian Crown will enter into service under the NCL fleet this fall and begin sailing from Baltimore as part of the company's expansive Homeland Cruising program. The series will mark NCL's first regular sailings from Baltimore.

Beginning September 15, 2003, Norwegian Crown will offer 11-day Canada/New England cruises departing roundtrip from Baltimore and visiting ports in Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Massachusetts. Following a 15-day repositioning cruise from Miami to Santiago, Chile on Nov. 1, 2003, Norwegian Crown concludes 2003 with four 14-day South America cruises between Santiago and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In May 2004, she will take over Norwegian Sea's Philadelphia and New York based 7-day sailings to Bermuda through October before heading to South America again for the winter.

"We are excited to add Norwegian Crown to the NCL fleet allowing us to expand our Homeland Cruising program for our travel partners and guests in the mid-Atlantic region," said Andy Stuart, senior vice president marketing and sales for NCL. "The renovation to make Norwegian Crown NCL's newest Freestyle Cruising ship offers guests all the flexibility and choice synonymous with Freestyle Cruising."

Dramatic changes for Norwegian Crown
Norwegian Crown underwent dramatic changes during her February dry dock including the addition of three new restaurants bringing the number of restaurants to six.  NCL added its popular signature alternative restaurant, Le Bistro. The restaurant seats 70 guests and is decorated in coral, green and gold colors. Large, comfortable wood banquettes ensure intimate dining spaces while gold sconces along the walls provide a romantic atmosphere. Classic chairs from France and etched glass complete the addition.  

NCL also added The Pasta Café and an Asian themed restaurant, Chopsticks, will open when the ship begins its NCL service in September. The Pasta Café seats 40 and has been decorated with modern Italian influences with cobalt blue and cherry wood accents. A blue granite top has been added on the bar where Norwegian Crown guests can sit and watch the chef prepare traditional Italian cuisine. 

The vessel's popular Top of the Crown Lounge features striking enhancements including a new bar topped with blue-pearl granite. The stools, tables and chairs have been removed to create an open space. Pull-up cocktail tables are attached to a railing that encircles the room and light beach wood accents put the last touches on the transformation.

The Lido Bar was expanded to include the original outside area. Expansive solarium windows with high-tech stainless steel support systems make for an airy but modern space. The teak deck has been restored and large, plush chairs are perfect for lounging.  The Monte Carlo Court Casino received a complete renovation adding glass walls around the perimeter, new upholstery and carpets in rich maroon and gold.

NCL is completely rebuilding the ship's Mandara Spa, Beauty Salon and Fitness Center. Aqua, mint green and creamy white colors set the tone for a serene experience. Mosaic tiles of the same colors and lightwood accents adorn the walls. Guests can work out in separate aerobic and weight rooms plus enjoy an array of fitness equipment. The spa has nine treatment rooms while the salon features four stations all facing an expanse of floor to ceiling windows.

A new teen and children's center is being added. The new dynamic teen center features bold colors such as metallic purples, greens and oranges. A dance floor with state-of-the-art sound and light system, juice bar and large, multi-colored banquettes for comfortable corners is perfect for this age group. A video arcade separates the teen center from the children's center, which will feature a space splashed with primary colors. Kid's Crew participants will enjoy an arts & crafts center, a theater featuring a plasma screen with beanbags for comfortable viewing, and a computer corner. 

Four new suites on the Penthouse deck are being added as well as nine new inside passenger staterooms. As a final touch, the outside of the ship has a new look--the hull was painted white.

Back to  the top of the news list

The World Returns to Australia

March 27, 2003 -- ResidenSea, Ltd. said The World will extend its stay in Australia through April 27, one month longer than originally scheduled, as a result of the health concerns raised by the atypical pneumonia virus outbreak in Asia. This week, Singapore has quarantined more than 800 people and closed schools until April 6. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State has issued an advisory to both leisure travelers and State Department officials to defer non-essential travel to Vietnam at this time, and it has authorized the departure of family members at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. The World was scheduled to visit both of these countries in the coming weeks.

"In view of these circumstances, we feel it is prudent to defer our visit to those countries at this time," said Robert Riley, president and chief executive officer of ResidenSea, Ltd. "We're disappointed to miss some of those incredible ports in southeastern Asia, but we're very excited to extend our time in Australia, which has been a fantastic destination for The World and a very strong sales market."

The new Australia itinerary allows guests to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef, the Sunshine Coast and New South Wales. Highlights include several Australian ports of call that the typical cruise ship often misses, including Hardy Reef, Hamilton Cove, Mackay and Fraser Island. The World will also re-visit Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney - destinations that were extremely popular with guests and residents during the ship's past month in Australia.

In the coming days, ResidenSea will continue to closely monitor reports of the atypical pneumonia virus outbreak by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and local health authorities in Asia. The company is hopeful that the situation will soon be remedied, with plans to resume The World's original itinerary on May 14 in Hong Kong.

Back to  the top of the news list

Carnival Glory To Operate Five-Day Mexico Voyage July 14-19, 2003
Inaugural Five-Day Voyage Precedes Launch of Year-Round Seven-Day Caribbean Service July 19 

MIAMI (03/27/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines has added a special five-day inaugural cruise to Mexico aboard the new 110,000-ton Carnival Glory, operating round-trip from Port Canaveral, Fla., July 14-19, 2003, prior to the start-up of the ship's year-round seven-day Caribbean program from that port. The new 2,974-passenger SuperLiner, the largest Carnival ship ever based at Port Canaveral, will replace the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride, representing a 40 percent capacity increase. 

"Port Canaveral is one of Carnival's fastest growing homeports and with the Carnival Glory, we're expected to carry some 400,000 passengers annually," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president. "This new five-day cruise provides consumers an opportunity to be among the first to experience the many 'resort-style' features of the Space Coast's newest cruise ship." 

The inaugural five-day Mexico voyage will feature visits to Costa Maya, which in addition to beautiful white-sand beaches and excellent diving and watersports, offers a diversity of interesting landmarks and historical attractions, including centuries-old Mayan ruins. The cruise will also visit Cozumel, one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations with gorgeous beaches, aqua-blue waters and myriad shopping, golfing and sightseeing opportunities. 

While aboard ship, guests can enjoy 22 different lounges and bars, ranging from Blue, an intimate piano bar, to The Amber Palace, a three-deck-high theater showcasing elaborate Vegas-style revues, all of which are enhanced by striking interiors that offer dramatic interpretations of different colors. Dining options include the two-level Golden and Platinum formal dining rooms offering delicious full-service meals, the Red Sail Restaurant, a sprawling 1,250-seat casual eatery offering breakfast, lunch and dinner alternatives and a 24-hour pizzeria, and The Emerald Room, an upscale "steakhouse-style" supper club serving U.S.D.A. prime beef and other gourmet cuisine.

The 952-foot-long vessel also houses four swimming pools, a 214-foot-long water slide, an Internet café, a 13,300-square-foot health spa and salon, a comprehensive golf program offering professional instruction both aboard ship and during excursions. A 4,200-square-foot children's play area, part of the top-rated "Camp Carnival" program, along with a teen club/game room, are also featured. 

Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Glory's new five-day Mexico cruise departing July 14, as well as the ship's year-round seven-day Caribbean voyages beginning July 19. Prices for Carnival Glory's five-day Mexico cruise begin at $549 per person based on double occupancy. If purchased through Carnival's "Fun Finance Plan," which allows consumers to extend their "Fun Ship" cruise payments over 24 monthly installments, prices begin at $26 per month. "Fun Finance Plan" rates are based on a 24-month payment term at the lowest annual percentage rate available. Actual "Fun Finance Plan" monthly payments and terms may vary according to the applicant's credit qualifications. Valid for U.S. individual bookings only. Certain other restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available. 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 at

Back to  the top of the news list

Silversea Cruises Takes Top Honors for Spa Services

In a recent survey conducted for Condè Nast Traveler magazine, the independent firm of Mark Clements Research, Inc. asked 4,000 readers to rate 224 cruise ship, destination, resort, and urban hotel spas in North America and the Caribbean that they have visited in the past three years. Silversea's Asian-themed Mandara Spa garnered top honors among cruise ships with its winning service and facilities.

How the Top Cruise Line Spas Compare:

Cruise Line Spa Overall Score Cabins Workout Facilities Treatments Staff & Service
Silversea Cruises 80.7 97.1 62.9 65.7 97.1
Crystal Cruises 79.3 88.4 76.8 68.1 84.1
Seabourn Cruise Line 75.6 89.7 59.0 59.0 94.9
Celebrity Cruises 74.7 81.1 72.8 66.3 78.7
Disney Cruise Line 74.5 77.1 66.7 70.8 83.3

Methodology:  Each spa was rated excellent, very good, fair, or poor on a variety of criteria. Final scores represent the percentage of excellent and very good ratings. Only spas that received the required minimum number of responses were deemed eligible to be included in these rankings.

Back to  the top of the news list

Rappelling, Glacier Trekking, Kayaking, Bear Watching...
This Is Way More Than a Cruise

Royal Caribbean Offers Even More Adventures in Alaska With New Shore Excursions

MIAMI, March 25 -- With three ships sailing Alaskan itineraries this summer and more than 100 different shore excursions, ranging from relaxed to outrageously wild, Royal Caribbean International is offering more ways to "get out there" in the great frontier. This year, the cruise line has added 26 new excursions, including a few not intended for the faint of heart.

"Coming from the company that put rock-climbing walls on cruise ships, it's only natural that many of our shore excursions would be adrenaline- boosters, too," said Craig Milan, senior vice president, Shore Excursions and Explorations, for Royal Caribbean International. "We offer guests a chance to fully experience the wild side of Alaska from getting up close and personal with a glacier, to taking on a sheer Klondike cliff, to spying on Alaskan black bears as they fish the salmon runs."

The shore excursions are offered in conjunction with Royal Caribbean's seven-night Hubbard Glacier sailings on Radiance of the Seas and Vision of the Seas, and seven-night Gulf of Alaska cruises on Legend of the Seas. The full lineup of excursions offers something for everyone, including outstanding experiences like mingling and "mushing" with the "top dogs" at a remote dog- sledding camp; soaring over the Juneau ice field on a personally guided floatplane trip; and soaking up the spectacular scenery and sipping a few suds on the Glacier View Bike and Brew.

Following is a sampling of the exciting, new additions in 2003:

  • Klondike Rock Climbing and Rappelling (Skagway): Climbers of all abilities -- even those with no experience -- can put their skills to the test on the granite cliffs off the Klondike Highway under the direction of professional mountain guides.
  • Extended Helicopter Glacier Trek (Juneau): This rigorous four-hour trek over rugged glacier terrain teaches techniques for climbing and descending ice walls.
  • Traitor's Cove Bear Adventure (Ketchikan): Open only to a limited number of visitors to minimize the impact on the wildlife population, this tour takes guests by floatplane to Margaret Creek Falls to see the state's famed black bears fish for salmon.
  • Helicopter Glacier Walkabout (Juneau): Equipped with trekking poles and crampons, guests explore one of the 36 Juneau Icefield glaciers on an hour- long hike.
  • Glacier Outback Adventure via Helicopter (Juneau): This excursion combines a helicopter tour over the massive Juneau Icefield with an extended glacier landing.
  • Mendenhall Lake Canoe & Salmon Bake (Juneau): After paddling near the face of the Mendenhall Glacier in traditional-style Tlingit canoes, guests enjoy a well-earned, all-you-can-eat Salmon Bake featuring Alaskan Salmon prepared over an open fire.
  • Pennock Island Kayaking (Ketchikan): Guests try out their paddling skills with a partner as they explore the waters surrounding pristine Pennock Island in two-person kayaks.
  • Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feed (Ketchikan): Killer whales, sea lions and seals are just some of the wildlife that could be spotted as guests take a seven-mile boat journey to a remote Dungeness crab fishery. Guests learn the ins and outs of the business before enjoying a crab feast in a nearby rustic lodge.
  • 60 Degrees North Yukon Golf (Skagway): One of the northernmost courses many golfers will ever play, these greens are also some of the most scenic and challenging.
  • Exclusive Guided Fishing & Wilderness Dining (Ketchikan): Outfitted from head-to-toe, guests will board an open skiff to take part in saltwater, bottom fishing and then enjoy their catch, prepared al fresco by the guide.

Cruisers headed to Alaska with Royal Caribbean can view the full selection of shore excursions available and book their desired adventures in advance on the company's web site, Excursion details are available by port city as well as by the specific ship and sail date. Royal Caribbean International also offers 20 different Alaskan cruisetour packages, giving guests the opportunity to extend their cruise with fully escorted, two- to six-night land packages into Alaska's interior.

Radiance of the Seas offers seven-night, Hubbard Glacier cruises from Vancouver, May 24 - Sept. 20, 2003, with stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Vision of the Seas sails seven-night Hubbard Glacier cruises from Vancouver, June 8 - Sept. 7, 2003, featuring stops in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as a visit to Misty Fjords. Legend of the Seas sails seven-night, open-jawed Vancouver to Seward and Seward to Vancouver cruises, May 30 - Sept. 12, 2003, with stops including Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Sitka.

Back to  the top of the news list

Celebrity Cruises Announces Industry’s First Cruises from JAXPORT
Ship to be based at Dames Point Marine Terminal

March 24, 2003 -- Celebrity Cruises announced today that it will offer cruise ship service from Jacksonville to the Southern and Western Caribbean beginning this fall from the Jacksonville Port Authority’s (JAXPORT’s) Dames Point Marine Terminal. The new series of 13 cruises scheduled aboard Celebrity’s 1,374-guest ship Zenith will range from 11 to 14 nights in length, and will depart Jacksonville on various dates from October 26, 2003 through April 22, 2004.

Among the highlights of the series are in-depth destination experiences, such as the opportunity to transit and explore the historic Panama Canal on Zenith’s Western Caribbean sailings, and to enjoy an overnight stay in port in exotic Barbados or the Southern Caribbean. Reservations may be made beginning March 26 by calling a travel agent, by contacting Celebrity Cruises Reservations department at 1-800-437-3111, or by visiting the Celebrity web site at

“This announcement is a defining moment for JAXPORT and the City of Jacksonville,” said Marty Fiorentino, JAXPORT’s Chairman of the Board. “Adding cruise ship service is another example of how our port is helping Jacksonville to realize its full potential as a great American city. In addition to the outstanding exposure Jacksonville will enjoy from homeporting cruise ships here, Celebrity’s service will generate new jobs and economic impact for Northeast Florida.”

Why Jacksonville?
Following the six-month season of cruising from Jacksonville, Celebrity will evaluate the strength and depth of the cruise market in this region. Celebrity confirmed the potential to permanently homeport a vessel in the city in 2004.

“We are thrilled to launch our industry’s first sailings from Jacksonville,” said Celebrity’s Senior Vice President of Fleet Operations, Dietmar Wertanzi. “The City is strategically located for capturing new business, the Southeastern United States offers a growing population base from which to attract guests, and Jacksonville has the highway and port connectivity to appeal to an expanding number of travelers interested in drive-market options.”

Over the last two years, JAXPORT has worked with cruise representatives to conduct market research which indicates that many people within a six-hour drive of Jacksonville – people as far north as Charlotte and Atlanta – either do not cruise now or do not cruise as much as they would like because of the expense and hassles of air travel, or because of the long driving distances to current cruise ports. Many of those same people said they would drive to Jacksonville if a cruise ship were based here, stimulating a currently untapped “drive to” market.

JAXPORT has flirted with attracting cruise ships to Jacksonville for years. Its most recent effort began in 1999 when it co-sponsored a cruise study with the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission (JEDC). The study revealed that Jacksonville had grown in the last 20 years to become a city with the basic criteria needed to attract cruise vessels, including good port facilities, population base, highway connections and airport capability. Less than three years after the study was completed, Celebrity has made its announcement.

About the Zenith
Celebrity’s Zenith currently is sailing in South America, and will reprise its long-running series of seven-night cruises from New York to Bermuda during the spring and summer months. The Zenith first entered service in April 1992 and was renovated – with addition of new décor, signature clubs and other new facilities – in 1999. The ship has an international crew of 670, creating a guest-to-crew ratio of 2:1. Zenith is 682 feet long, displaces 47,255 tons and draws 24 feet of water – far less than the 41 feet currently available at Dames Pont. The ship’s maximum cruising speed is 22 knots.

Celebrity Cruises’ nine-ship fleet is the youngest and most innovative fleet of any major line. Since Celebrity’s first sailing in 1990, it has been recognized as an industry leader, praised for providing friendly and engaging service, exotic AquaSpa™ by Elemis facilities, award-winning gourmet cuisine made fresh from scratch, amidst an overall atmosphere of easy elegance.

About the Temporary Cruise Terminal
Because JAXPORT only has six months to provide a fully-working cruise terminal to handle the Zenith and its passengers, the Port Authority will construct a 50,000-square foot temporary cruise facility near the Northwest corner of its Dames Point Marine Terminal, bordered by Heckscher Drive and State Road 9-A in Northeast Jacksonville. The facility will be ready for Celebrity by October. The site is ideal for a cruise terminal because JAXPORT owns the property and already has an existing 1,200-linear foot ship berth on the site (currently used for cargo ships), as well as 20 acres of recently-paved and fenced port property which will provide ample room for parking up to 500 passenger vehicles. The site has regulatory permits for additional development and is ideally located: the facility is near State Road 9-A and only 15 minutes from Jacksonville International Airport, and the ship berth is only 10 miles from the open sea – allowing the Zenith to get in and out of the harbor quickly.

The newly-formed Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, under the Department of Homeland Security, will operate from the facility, clearing arriving and departing passengers. If Celebrity or another cruise line makes a long-term commitment to base a ship in Jacksonville, then JAXPORT will build a permanent facility either at Dames Point or another location in Jacksonville. JAXPORT will then convert the temporary cruise building into a cargo storage facility to continue earning revenue from this asset. The temporary cruise facility is projected to cost about $2.7 million. JAXPORT will pay for the building from its cash reserves, eliminating the need for financing. JAXPORT projects the Zenith’s 6-month service will generate more than $1.1 million in revenue for JAXPORT – with the potential to increase this figure if Celebrity grows its service in Jacksonville.

Back to  the top of the news list

Travel Channel Goes Behind the Scenes of the World's Largest Cruise Ship, Royal Caribbean International's Adventure of the Seas
The 'Adventure' of a Lifetime

MIAMI, March 24 -- The secrets behind one of the world's most innovative and activity-packed cruise ships will be revealed at 8 p.m. EST, April 14, 2003, as viewers tune in to an hour-long Travel Channel special, "Great Cruises: Adventure of the Seas." The program takes viewers on a Royal Caribbean International cruise to the Southern Caribbean on Adventure of the Seas, one of the line's Voyager-class vessels, the largest cruise ships in the world.

"Great Cruises: Adventure of the Seas" offers an in-depth look at the engineering, design and day-to-day operations of the 3,114-passenger ship. For the behind-the-scenes show, Travel Channel interviewed onboard staff about satisfying the needs of more than 3,000 guests and talked to industry experts about the ship's many innovations.

Viewers who tune in will meet the Captain and crew and follow passengers as they explore the ship and sample onboard activities including the rock- climbing wall, ice skating rink, miniature golf course, inline skating track and Royal Promenade -- a shopping, dining and entertainment street longer than a football field running down the center of the ship.

Shore-side, Travel Channel takes viewers on a tour of the ship's Caribbean ports of call. The special follows cruise guests as they explore the bat- filled grottos of Curacao's Hato Caves, check out Aruba's nightlife on the Kukoo Kunuku bar-hopping bus tour, and learn the ropes as crew-for-the-day on the America's Cup racing yachts in St. Maarten.

"This winter, Royal Caribbean offers unparalleled Caribbean adventures on 14 ships, including Adventure of the Seas and her three, Voyager-class sister ships, the world's largest and most exciting cruise vessels," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, associate vice president, Sales, for Royal Caribbean. "The Travel Channel special gives a great introduction to what a Royal Caribbean vacation is all about -- outstanding service, activity-packed ships, and incredible excursions in exotic destinations."

Adventure of the Seas sails year-round, seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sundays with ports of call in Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados.

"Great Cruises: Adventure of the Seas" kicks off Travel Channel's Cruise Week on April 14. "Great Cruises: Radiance of the Seas," which first debuted in December, will cap off the week at 8 p.m. EST, Friday, April 18, giving viewers a taste of cruising Alaska's spectacular Inside Passage.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 16 ships in service and three more under construction or on firm order. The company also offers unique land tour packages in Alaska, Canada and Europe through its cruise tour division. For additional information about the cruise line, please visit the company's web site at or call 800-327-6700.

Back to  the top of the news list

Carnival Spirit to Operate Six- and Eight-Day Mexico Cruises from San Diego in October 2003

MIAMI (03/24/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines will operate two round-trip "Fun Ship" departures from San Diego this fall; a six-day Baja Mexico voyage departing Oct. 18 and an eight-day Mexican Riviera cruise departing Oct. 24, 2003. The special one-time voyages, which will be operated by the 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit, continue the line's strategy of deploying ships near large U.S. population bases, providing convenient, "close-to-home" departure points for consumers in these markets. The six- and eight-day sailings from San Diego, which will feature extended port calls at some of Mexico's most magnificent seaside destinations, following Carnival Spirit's Alaska and Hawaii cruise programs operating May - September 2003. 

"Mexico's Pacific Coast offers a delightful array of beaches, historical landmarks and attractions, and the Carnival Spirit, with its huge percentage of balcony staterooms, indoor and outdoor promenades and 'resort-style' features, provide an ideal way to explore this region 'Fun Ship' style," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president. 

Six-Day Baja Mexico Voyage 
Departing Oct. 18 Carnival Spirit will operate a six-day Baja Mexico cruise departing San Diego Saturday, Oct. 18 and returning Friday, Oct. 24. Ports of call include La Paz, Baja California's historic capital featuring outstanding beaches, centuries-old landmarks, and numerous sightseeing and shopping opportunities; and Cabo San Lucas, a popular resort destination with beautiful white-sand beaches and some of the world's best snorkeling, scuba diving and watersports. Prices for this cruise begin at $449 per person based on double occupancy. If purchased via Carnival's "Fun Finance Plan," which allows consumers to extend their "Fun Ship" cruise payments over 24 monthly installments, rates begin at $21 per month. 

Eight-Day Mexican Riviera Cruise 
Departing Oct. 24 Following the six-day Baja Mexico cruise, Carnival Spirit will operate an eight-day Mexican Riviera voyage departing the Port of San Diego Friday, Oct. 24 and returning Saturday, Nov. 1, 2003. Featured ports include Acapulco, known for its death-defying cliff divers, magnificent beaches and a diversity of fine restaurants, shops, boutiques and watering holes; Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, offering a wonderful contrast of styles - Zihuatanejo, a quaint fishing village with beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful tropical fish, and Ixtapa, a cosmopolitan resort area with excellent shopping and dining opportunities; and Manzanillo, site of the hit movie "10" where guests can soak up the sun along miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches and enjoy excellent sightseeing, as well as snorkeling and other watersports. Prices for the eight-day cruise begin at $649 per person based on double occupancy.
"Fun Finance Plan" rates begin at $30 per month. 

Signature 'Fun Ship' Amenities The namesake vessel of Carnival's "Spirit class," the 88,500-ton Carnival Spirit offers a wide range of on-board amenities and facilities, including dining options that range from a two-level formal restaurant and a reservations-only supper club to an expansive poolside eatery offering breakfast, lunch and dinner alternatives and a 24-hour pizzeria. The 960-foot-long ship also houses four swimming pools, a cascading water slide, a duty-free shopping mall, indoor and outdoor promenades, a comprehensive on-board golf program with professional instruction both aboard ship and during golf excursions, and 16 bars, lounges and nightspots, including a 1,100-seat theater showcasing elaborate Vegas-style productions. "Camp Carnival," a complimentary children's program featuring fun, supervised activities and a 2,400-square-foot play area, is also available. Additionally, 80 percent of the ship's staterooms offer either an ocean view or balcony. 

"Fun Finance Plan" rates are based on a 24-month payment term at the lowest annual percentage rate available. Actual "Fun Finance Plan" monthly payments and terms may vary according to the applicant's credit qualifications. Valid for U.S. individual bookings only. Certain other restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available. Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Spirit's six- and eight-day Mexico voyages from San Diego. For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

Back to  the top of the news list

Only Luxury Vessel to Sail in Caribbean, Summer 2003:
Wine & Spirits, Shipboard Gratuities Also Included

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL., March 21, 2003 - Radisson Seven Seas Cruises will extend the twin-hull Radisson Diamond's® Caribbean season with 13 new seven- to 14-night voyages April through July. The small-ship luxury program offers an ideal venue for first-time cruisers seeking a relaxing, casually elegant introduction to luxury cruising, as the acclaimed 350-guest vessel cruises conveniently close to home this spring and summer. 

Instead of crossing the Atlantic in April, en route to her traditional Mediterranean season, the Radisson Diamond will be the only luxury vessel to offer Caribbean cruises this summer, featuring attractive two-for-one savings with prices for seven-night cruises from $1,598 per person (single supplements are only $400-$800 and children sailing as thirds in staterooms sail free.) While gratuities, soft drinks and bottled water are included on every Radisson Seven Seas voyage, these roundtrip Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Lauderdale/San Juan voyages will feature an open bar arrangement. Plus, guests can leave their formal wear at home as the dress code calls for relaxed, "country club casual" attire.

The Radisson Diamond, whose restaurant is recognized as one of the most romantic at sea, combines only spacious ocean view accommodations (70% with private balconies), fine dining and highly personalized service with exciting shore excursions in exotic Caribbean ports of call (less crowded with tourists in spring and summer). With her innovative twin-hull design, the Radisson Diamond has always been one of the most stable ships afloat - making her ideal for first-time cruisers. From April 23 to July 26, the Radisson Diamond will sail between San Juan and Fort Lauderdale, and roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, on 13 seven-, 10-, 11- and 14-night Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages. Among her ports of call will be: St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, with its mix of Dutch and French cultures; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, a shopper's duty-free paradise; St. Kitts, British West Indies, aglow with pink and black sand; Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, known for The Baths' giant boulders, aves and salt-water pools; Grand Turk, Turks & Caïcos, a quiet island with spectacular offshore diving; Gustavia, St. Barts, renowned for its 14 white sand beaches; Cozumel, Mexico, where silver bargains abound; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, famed for Seven Mile Beach; and Key West, Florida, America's southernmost city and home to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.

Per person prices for the seven-, 10-, and 11-night luxury cruises start at $1,598, $2,198 and $2,398 respectively, including two-for-one savings, shipboard gratuities, liquor and wine, and an in-stateroom bar set-up. Low-cost air add-ons are available from 84 North American gateways from $199. Free roundtrip economy air is offered on the 10-night April 23 San Juan to Ft. Lauderdale cruise.

An enticing option allows guests to combine two seven-night Fort Lauderdale/San Juan voyages to create a 14-night roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Caribbean adventure, resulting in additional savings with prices from $2,898 per person. Shipboard & "Spotlight Programming" Each month the Radisson Diamond will also feature its "spotlight programming." May will be "de-stress" month, with fitness and well-being experts. In June, musical groups sing tunes from yesteryear, and July will feature guest chefs and wine tastings.

Guests on the May 24 and 31 cruises can groove to the sounds of the Fab Four with special shows by the Beatles tribute band "Revolution." And music fans on the June 7 and 18 voyages will enjoy concerts by Doo Wop legend Sonny Turner and The Platters. Back to the Mediterranean. On August 2, the Radisson Diamond will set sail on a nine-night Transatlantic crossing from San Juan to Madeira, repositioning in the Mediterranean for an abbreviated season. She will sail between Nice, Rome (Civitavecchia), Athens (Piraeus), and Istanbul until Nov. 10, then depart for San uan and her fall Caribbean season.

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises® is part of Carlson Hospitality Worldwide, a global  leader in hospitality services encompassing more than 1,530 hotel, resort, restaurant and cruise ship operations in 80 countries. Specific brands include: Regent International Hotels; Radisson Hotels & Resorts; Country Inns & Suites By Carlson; Park Plaza and Park Inn hotels in North America; Carlson Lifestyle Living (Carlson Park); Carlson Vacation Ownership; T.G.I. Friday's and other restaurant brands; and Provisions, a worldwide procurement division. Carlson Companies, Inc. was recently named one of Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For in America." For further information, contact Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, 600 Corporate Drive, Suite 410, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 33334; or toll-free 800-477-7500; for brochures and reservation information toll-free 800-285-1835; or visit the Web site: For reservations contact your travel professional.

Back to  the top of the news list

SeaDream Yacht Club Introduces War Fares For Individual Bookings
In combination with No Stress, No Strings, No Cancellation Penalties SeaDream Makes Freedom of Choice Easier

In these difficult times we all try to remain optimistic and do what we have to do. This is what SeaDream Yacht Club is doing:

Challenging a travel industry held hostage by war, terrorism and worldwide economic concerns, the entrepreneurial operator is adopting new, priced-to-move tariffs called “War Fares” for its 2003 European season. Effective immediately, individual bookings for the Mediterranean seven-day sailings of SeaDream I and II start at $1,699 per person, double occupancy, down from the published rate of $3,450--an amazing $243 per day, per person.

These prices are for Yacht Class Staterooms on the twin, ultra-luxury, mega yachts that accommodate only up to 55 couples, plus fine dining, wines with luncheon and dinner, an open bar throughout the yachts, water toys from the stern Marina and gratuities. Government fees, handling and service charges for seven-day Mediterranean sailings are an additional $235 per person. SeaDream has no intention of changing its itineraries or award-winning on board product. When combined with SeaDream’s previously announced “No Stress, No Strings” policy of no cancellation penalties, the value is extraordinary.

Larry Pimentel, CTC, President and CEO of SeaDream Yacht Club, the small yachting company that recently topped the 2003 Berlitz Guide Five Star Ratings, calls these new tariffs “War Fares.” But, he is quick to point out, “These are tremendously difficult times and travelers are unlikely to see such amazing rates again. I also believe that in times of stress the public yearns for freedom of choice and the act of traveling offers that.” He added: “We are confident that SeaDream I and II will at all times be sailing in secure areas. Ensuring the safety and well-being of our guests and the officers, staff and crew of our vessels at sea and ashore is our highest priority.”

The “No Stress, No Strings” policy allows booked guests to cancel without penalty for any reason, costs nothing and is generally regarded as the best in the business. Guests receive a 100 percent travel credit for the yacht tariff, including government fees, handing and service charges. These are applied to a future sailing within two years of the original booking.

Complete details of these new “Dream Fares” are on the company’s website at, which suggests that interested travelers book as soon as possible because the fares are capacity controlled and subject to change without notice. The exclusive, upscale operator expects fares to escalate as the geopolitical scenario begins to calm.

What are the best SeaDream prices? SeaDream I and II each have three passenger decks from two to four with two being the lowest location. Deck Two pricing for 195-square foot Yacht Class Staterooms range from $1,699 to $2,999 per person for seven-day Mediterranean voyages. Prices for Deck Three and Deck Four go up by either $50 or $70 per day, per person, with the lower prices earlier in the season which commences in May. Prices for the 390-square foot Commodore Club Staterooms (essentially, two Yacht Class Staterooms, ideal for families) are 200 percent of those for the Deck Three and Four Yacht Club Staterooms regardless of location on the vessel. Prices for the 447-square foot Owner’s Suite (one on each SeaDream yacht) is 2.5 times the Deck Three and Four rates.

What about Guests already booked? Upon guest contact, SeaDream will provide a cash refund, upgrade or a future sailing credit (for new bookings only) equal to the difference in price, plus 25 percent.

“While all businesses, including the travel industry, have been hit hard by war and other uncertainties, SeaDream seeks to jump-start the consumer’s right and desire to travel,” Pimentel concluded.

Back to  the top of the news list

Queen Mary 2 Feted at 'Float Out' Party

SAINT NAZAIRE, France, March 21 -- Cunard Line's new Queen Mary 2, the largest liner ever, entered the water for the first time today as she was floated from her building dock to a finishing basin at the Alstom Chantiers shipyard here. This milestone signifies the final stages of construction for the $800-million liner prior to her maiden voyage on January 12, 2004. (Photos)

To celebrate the event, more than 350 guests were invited to don hard hats and preview the ship. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive. According to the leading cruise industry trade journal, Cruise Week, "The word is that a lot of jaded reporters came away awestruck. It may live up to hype: the greatest ocean liner ever built." Travel agents were equally astounded. "I don't think I have ever been so impressed by a passenger liner before," stated Michael Wilson, managing director of the UK's Bolsover Cruise Club, "It's nice to see Cunard moving ahead of the game."

When she enters service, Cunard's new flagship will be the longest, tallest, widest and most expensive passenger liner ever built. QM2 features sweeping staircases, expansive promenades, luxurious staterooms and suites that are among the most lavish at sea; nearly three-quarters of accommodations have private balconies. Facilities include 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. QM2 will also feature 10 different dining venues, including the only shipboard restaurant by celebrity chef Todd English; a champagne bar; several other elegant lounges and showrooms; a two-story theatre; a casino; five indoor and outdoor swimming pools; hot tubs; boutiques; a pet kennel, and a children's facility, complete with British nannies.

During the shipyard festivities, Cunard observed a traditional "Mast Stepping Ceremony." Pamela Conover, president of Cunard Line, and Micky Arison, chairman and CEO of Cunard's parent Carnival Corporation, donned welders' vests and masks to solder two English pounds and a two-euro coin into place at the base of the ship's forward mast. The maritime custom of placing coins under the step of the mast when a ship is being built had its origin with the ancient Romans and is believed to ensure safe passage of a vessel's passengers and crew.

In her inaugural year, QM2 will sail 15 transatlantic crossings as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister ship, QE2, as Cunard's transatlantic liner. Her maiden westbound crossing from Southampton, England, to New York will depart on April 16. Her maiden east-bound crossing will be historic for Cunard as both QM2 and QE2 will depart New York on April 25 together. The day in New York will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port together since March 1940. 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.

Cunard Line has operated the most famous ocean liners in the world since 1840. The Cunard fleet has a classic British heritage and includes Queen Elizabeth 2 and Caronia. In December 2003 the line welcomes Queen Mary 2, destined to recapture the glamour of the original Queen Mary, currently a hotel and attraction in Long Beach, CA. An as yet-unnamed newbuild joins the fleet in 2005. For more information on Queen Mary 2, consult a travel agent, call 1-800- 7-CUNARD or visit the website at

Back to  the top of the news list

Crystal Cruises Publishes 2004 Cruise Guide
New Brochure Highlights 89 Itineraries To 178 Destinations in 56 Countries for Three-Ship Fleet
Luxury Line Debuts New 7-Day Cruises and 10-Day Hawaiian Islands Voyages

LOS ANGELES, March 20 -- Luxury cruise specialist Crystal Cruises has released its 2004 Cruise Guide, the line's first publication of next year's entire fleet-wide schedule, featuring new itineraries, new ports of call and the inaugural World Cruise aboard Crystal Serenity. At 24 pages, the full-color brochure is Crystal's most extensive Cruise Guide ever, incorporating the 89 worldwide itineraries, dates, fares and savings opportunities for Crystal Harmony, Crystal Symphony and the new Crystal Serenity. The award-winning line will explore the world's intriguing destinations--from Antwerp to Zadar--with itineraries featuring visits to 178 ports in 56 countries on six continents.

"2004 marks our first, full year with a three-ship fleet," says Adam Leavitt, Crystal's senior vice president, marketing. "With a wide range of domestic and international cruise itineraries from seven to 106 days, our guests will have more choices than ever before."

The new Cruise Guide provides a first-look at Crystal's 2004 program of cruises, a comprehensive roster of journeys ranging from a collection of brand new seven-day cruises on all three ships including destinations in the Mediterranean, New England/Canada and the Caribbean, to the celebrated 106-day World Cruise aboard the 1,080-guest Crystal Serenity.

Also new is a winter series of 10-day Hawaiian island cruises, roundtrip from Honolulu. In all, 28 cruises will sail roundtrip from domestic ports and 33 cruises will begin or end in domestic ports, convenient options for even the most seasoned travelers.

Also included is an easy-reference 2004 Cruise Calendar color-coded by destination: the Caribbean; South Pacific, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand; Asia and Trans-Pacific; Alaska and Canada; Trans-Atlantic and Europe; New England & Canada; South America; and the World Cruise. In pursuit of creating the richest land and sea travel experiences, the line will feature maiden calls at Christmas Island in the Republic of Kiribati, Nuuk in Greenland, Calvi on France's island of Corsica and Zadar in Croatia, and several itineraries feature exclusive overnight stays in some of the world's most fascinating cities such as Bordeaux, Venice, Cannes, Monaco, Villefranche, Istanbul, Barcelona, Acapulco, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Osaka, St. Petersburg, Edinburgh, Rouen, Quebec City, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

Complimentary copies of the 2004 Cruise Guide are available by calling 1.800.820.6663, and the line's user-friendly website provides detailed itinerary and program information. The brochure conveys Crystal's casually elegant style and is an ideal tool for advance travel planning. The line's annual cruise Atlas for 2004 will be published in April. Crystal Cruises is booked exclusively through professional travel agents.

Back to  the top of the news list

Crystal Cruises Raises the Bar on Alaska Shore Excursions
 for 2003 Season

12 New Land Programs - 59 In All - Highlight Summer of Fun

LOS ANGELES, March 20 -- Never one to rest on its laurels, Crystal Cruises has upped the ante in Alaska with 12 new shore excursions that are sure to exceed the expectations of seasoned and novice cruisers alike. The new excursions run the gamut from glacier landings, bear watching, and wilderness dining, to a ghostly graveyard exploration.

"We've observed that guests who have sailed on Crystal Harmony's Alaska itinerary in the past few years are re-booking for a second or third trip," says Craig Laforest, Crystal's director of land programs. "When we designed the new excursions, we wanted to appeal to those guests who had sampled a number of our existing land programs and we also wanted to illustrate to the novice cruiser how substantive -- and exciting -- an Alaska cruise can be aboard Crystal Harmony."

In all, guests can choose between 59 excursions on nine departures that sail, conveniently, roundtrip from San Francisco every 12 days beginning June 2. A 10-day itinerary begins May 23 from Vancouver to San Francisco.

The line is offering still more adventurous excursions for a clientele that is growing increasingly more active. For those willing to don crampons and use basic glacier climbing equipment, the Glacier Outback Adventure, from Juneau, is centered upon a glacier landing where guests can view gaping crevasses, crystal clear pools and emerald blue fissures. Another active excursion out of Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier Native Canoe & Salmon Bake, which will allow guests to paddle their way past icebergs to the face of the majestic Mendenhall Glacier in a Native canoe -- and then top off the day with a traditional Alaskan salmon bake. The Whiskey Cove Kayaking shore excursion will explore quirky Ketchikan and the shoreline along Pennock Island where majestic bald eagles soar overhead. On land, the Alaska Dog Sled Adventure out of Skagway will visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Park in a quintessentially Alaskan fashion--by dog sled.

The line has also developed two additional Signature excursions for the 2003 Alaska season. The Guided Alaskan Fishing and Private Wilderness Dining land program, available out of Ketchikan, lets guests catch their own fish, which is later prepared, beachside, over a roaring fire. The Neets Bay Bear Watch Expedition will transport guests by seaplane for an up-close-and- personal encounter with black bears while they fish for salmon.

Still other new excursions expand Crystal Harmony's roster of tours focusing on Alaska's history in the Last Frontier. For its part, Sitka's Russian Past and Dance will focus on the town's founding by Russian explorers and settlers -- and culminate in a lively Russian folk dance and demonstration by a local dance company. Out of Skagway, the Klondike Gold Dredge and Gold Panning excursion will visit the Klondike Gold Dredge and explore the inner workings of the myriad gold dredges that were used in the Klondike goldfields. The Ketchikan Explorer by Land & Sea will combine a walking tour of the town and all its quirks followed by a trip aboard a water-jet powered vessel for a tour of the glacier-etched George Inlet. Meanwhile, in Victoria, British Columbia, a Graveyards, Ghosts and Headstones excursion will explore the spooky side of the city, with visits to an array of allegedly haunted cemeteries.

Guests sailing aboard the 940-passenger, Six-Star rated Crystal Harmony can pre-register for any of the 59 wide-ranging land programs offered this summer. Long before stepping into the Last Frontier, guests can preview and complete a pre-registration form or visit Crystal's website at to preview their preferred shore excursion. Payments are not required before sailing but will be charged to the guests' shipboard folio.

The line's Alaska season kicks off May 23 with a 10-day itinerary departing from Vancouver and ending in San Francisco. The 10-day cruise will be followed by the nine 12-day departures: June 2, 14, 26; July 8, 20; August 1, 13, 25; and September 6. Fares begin at just $1,995 per person, based on double occupancy.

Children 12 and under will sail free on all 2003 voyages to Alaska when sharing the same stateroom with two adults. Junior cruisers will learn the nuances of social etiquette and receive education in ballroom dancing, poise, confidence and self-esteem during exclusive Cotillion lessons and parties as part of Crystal's expanded Junior Activities Program in Alaska this summer.

Crystal Cruises is booked exclusively through professional travel agents. For a complimentary brochure on the 2003 Alaska season, or any of Crystal's worldwide sailings, call 800.820.6663.

Back to  the top of the news list

Oceania Cruises Modifies Insignia's Initial Voyages
Dropping Istanbul, Insignia Concentrates on Western Mediterranean Ports

In response to the unprecedented demand for Regatta’s Western Mediterranean itineraries, Oceania Cruises has modified Insignia’s first two voyages to incorporate additional calls at such popular ports as Barcelona, Malta, Monte Carlo and Sorrento. Insignia’s first two voyages will sail as follows.

Insignia itinerary #1 changes:

Itinerary now from Barcelona to Barcelona, October 4–18, 2003 (14 days), instead of Barcelona to Istanbul









Cruising the French Riviera


















Cruising the Ionian Sea












Cruising the Ionian Sea






Cruising the Mediterranean Sea




Insignia itinerary #2 changes:

Itinerary now from Barcelona to Civitavecchia, October 18–30, 2003 (12 days), instead of Istanbul to Civitavecchia









Cruising the Mediterranean Sea






Cruising the Ionian Sea















ANCONA (Umbria, San Marino)



Cruising the Adratic Sea










All subsequent itineraries will sail as published.

Back to  the top of the news list

Important Information Concerning Heightened Security for Cruise Ships in Seaports
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Operation Liberty Shield
safeguards cruise ships sailing from U.S. ports

The cruise industry's highest priority has always been the safety and security of our guests and crew. Under normal circumstances our security programs are stringent, but since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and now with the Operation Liberty Shield campaign commencing, the cruise industry has heightened our level of security even further. 

International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) member lines are working closely with the agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, which include the U.S. Coast Guard and the Border and Transportation directorate, as well as state and local authorities to ensure passengers' safety and security. Member lines have security officers on every ship and security professionals in every company headquarters whose sole responsibility is to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

Understandably, some people may be cautious right now about leaving home for any reason. But the cruise industry wants to assure everyone that booking a cruise remains a safe and secure means of relaxing and enjoying a stress-free vacation away from home.

Cruise passengers should be very comfortable with the additional visible security measures the industry has taken. Additional security measures include increased inspections of luggage and carry-on articles, additional security personnel and controls, increased U.S. Coast Guard patrols at seaports and the use of canine inspections.

As an industry we will continue to focus on the business at hand: operating our ships with safety and security in mind, keeping them on schedule and offering passengers an exceptional cruising experience. For additional security and travel information, please visit the ICCL Web site at

Back to  the top of the news list

The World of ResidenSea Incorporates Meals in New Five-Tier Apartment Rental Rate Categories

March 13, 2003 - Vacationing guests in apartment residences can dine in style aboard The World of ResidenSea, with fares that now incorporate meals and beverages for two into the price of a vacation. Previously, this option was available only on studio residence bookings. The change is part of a new five-tiered pricing fare structure, also for apartment rentals.

"These convenient offerings make a vacation aboard The World an even more relaxed and enjoyable experience," said Robert Riley, president and chief executive officer. "These choices allow our guests to focus on themselves and each other, which is the most important aspect of any holiday."

Now, travelers in apartment residences can enjoy the flexibility of dining in any restaurant at any time, and take advantage of the en-suite dining option without incurring additional charges or having to sign a check. The all-inclusive fare covers food and beverages for two guests who share the same apartment. The cost for additional guests sharing the residence is $150 per day. Fares do not include grocery purchases at Fredy's Deli, and rent-a-chef service is available for an added fee.

The World's newly expanded apartment rental fare categories allow vacationers to better differentiate among the available accommodations. The vessel now offers five categories instead of just two, which helps travelers select accommodations that more specifically meet their needs and travel styles. For the remainder of 2003, all-inclusive apartment rental fares range from $1,800 to $2,400 per night in a two-bedroom apartment residence, and from $2,400 to $3,100 per night in a three-bedroom apartment residence. Fares vary depending on room size and seasonality.

About The World:
The World of ResidenSea, the only resort community circumnavigating the globe, offers travelers the choice of owning a home or enjoying a unique vacation experience at sea. This strikingly beautiful ship - elegant and intimate - promises gracious and personal service in a warm, inviting ambience much like that of a private yacht, seaside villa or exclusive country club. For vacationing guests, stays are booked at daily fares.

Back to  the top of the news list

Rock-Climbing Walls Coming Soon to a Cruise Ship Near You; Royal Caribbean Announces Plans to Outfit Entire Fleet With Signature Rock-Climbing Walls

MIAMI, Mar 18, 2003 - Royal Caribbean International, the cruise line that redefined traditional expectations of cruising by putting rock-climbing walls onboard its newest cruise ships, today announced plans to offer the popular feature fleetwide by November 2003. First introduced on Voyager of the Seas in 1999, the rock-climbing walls quickly captured national interest and became a star attraction on each new Royal Caribbean ship that followed. The line's current plans call for the walls to be retro-fitted on ships launched before 1999 and be installed on three Royal Caribbean ships scheduled to debut in late 2003 and spring 2004.

"Over the past few years, the rock-climbing walls have become a brand icon for us," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, Royal Caribbean International. "They reflect a new attitude toward cruising and epitomize the innovations and unexpected experiences guests enjoy on a Royal Caribbean vacation. We offer many different ways for travelers to 'get out there' whether it's snorkeling with stingrays or simply trying a new wine at Chops Grille steakhouse or a new regional Italian dish at Portofino's, but increasingly the rock-climbing walls have become the symbol of the active, adventurous spirit we are known for."

Perched on the top decks, the rock-climbing walls challenge guests to reach new heights and reward them with an unparalleled, bird's eye view of the ship, sea and sky. On Voyager-class vessels, the top of the walls are nearly 200 feet above the ocean. The walls are designed to suit both beginners and advanced climbers. Lessons are offered on every sailing by trained ship staff.

Fleetwide installations begin in late May with Monarch of the Seas, which will be refitted before arriving in her new homeport of Los Angeles. The remainder of the ships will be outfitted with rock-climbing walls by the end of the year: Majesty of the Seas (June); Sovereign of the Seas (July); Rhapsody of the Seas (August); Enchantment of the Seas (August); Vision of the Seas (October); Grandeur of the Seas (October); Splendour of the Seas (October); Nordic Empress (November); and Legend of the Seas (November).

Back to  the top of the news list

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

Cruise Diva Home | Site Map & Search