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News from the world of cruise travel ~
April 1-15, 2003

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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Norwegian Cruise Line Acquires U.S. Flagship S/S United States
Company to Build on New US-flag Operation

Miami, April 14 - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today it has purchased the S/S United States, one of the country's most venerable ships built in the glory days of trans-Atlantic sea travel. NCL intends to convert the vessel to a state-of-the art, modern cruise ship and to add her to NCL's planned US flagged fleet. A relaunched S/S United States will add more than 1,000 American maritime jobs and 5,000 shoreside jobs to the 3,000 maritime jobs and 17,000 shoreside jobs that NCL's US flag initiative with Project America is predicted to generate.

Widely considered to be the greatest superliner ever built in this country, the S/S United States was engineered to be faster, safer and more technologically advanced than anything else afloat when she was christened. To this day, her Atlantic crossing record has never been matched and she remains the holder of the fabled Blue Riband.

Knowing that S/S United States faced an uncertain future, NCL moved swiftly to purchase the vessel. NCL is now evaluating options for use of the ship under US flag and determining the extent of renovations needed to convert her to a state-of-the-art, modern cruise ship that will appeal to today's vacationer. The ship is expected to offer mainland US itineraries where cruise products are not currently available. The refurbishment of the hull and superstructure will be done at US shipyards with the outfitting completed overseas. NCL is no stranger to such conversions, having converted the fabled North Atlantic liner the S/S France into cruising's first Caribbean megaship, S/S Norway.

"When we discovered this American icon was in jeopardy, we saw a unique opportunity and acted immediately. The ship is a classic, she was built in America and is eligible to operate in domestic service under existing law and regulation," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "The S/S United States would be a phenomenal addition to our US flag operation down the road. We remain focused on completing Project America and successfully introducing our innovative US flag cruise ships in Hawaii, but we will now organize a project team to work with US yards, naval engineers and architects to develop plans for what should be the fourth vessel in our US flagged fleet."

The announcement comes on the heels of NCL's recent commitment to begin a US flag operation in Hawaii. A new federal law will allow NCL to complete the stalled Project America as a US flagged and US manned operation for inter-island Hawaii cruise service. NCL purchased the partially completed first Project America ship and substantial materials and related components for the second Project America ship from Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) in September 2002. The legislative initiative was designed to recover the US investment in Project America, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and tax receipts, and creating more than 20,000 US jobs.

On her maiden voyage, the S/S United States set an unbroken record by crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in 3 days, 10 hours and 42 minutes. Her service speed exceeded 35 knots and she was rumored to be capable of 50 knots. Designed by William Francis Gibbs, the ship is the longest passenger vessel ever built in the United States, at 990'6", was considered an engineering marvel at the time, and held a near perfect operating schedule.

NCL also announced today the purchase of another classic, American-built ship, the S/S Independence, which until October 2001 was sailing in the Hawaii trade but which was a victim of its owner's post-September 11th bankruptcy. NCL purchased the vessel at federal auction from the US Maritime Administration saving her from almost certain scrapping. The potential addition of the S/S Independence as a fifth vessel in NCL's US flag operation is being evaluated.

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the modern cruise industry beginning in 1966 with the first dedicated cruise ships in the Caribbean and is recognized for innovation in the industry, most recently with its popular Freestyle Cruising concept. NCL also has a history of developing creative itineraries as the first company to acquire its own Caribbean island, with the development of the 7-day Hawaii/Fanning Island itinerary, and now with its Homeland Cruising program, where 13 North American port cities host NCL ships.

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“Sail & Save” Rates on 10- & 12-Day Cruises from Copenhagen, London, & Lisbon 

Windstar Cruises is making preparations for its maiden season in the Baltic and Northern Europe this summer. The 308-passenger msy Wind Surf makes her maiden visit this summer to 22 new ports of call in 13 countries including Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Scotland, and Spain. Cruisers onboard these sailings will witness special arrival celebrations at the various ports as the striking yacht puts it’s best sail forward for the first season in these new destinations. 

“The excitement is building! We are all very energized by the approaching season in the Baltic and Northern Europe. When the Wind Surf’s compass points northward it will be another of Windstar’s trademark ‘180 degrees from ordinary’ experiences,” exclaimed Tom Russell, vice president of marketing and sales for Windstar Cruises. We anticipate that Great Britain, the fascinating fjords of Scandinavia and the Baltic, and the crown jewel of Russia – St. Petersburg will become lasting favorites for us.”

A total of eight cruises depart between June 29 and September 11, 2003. Three different itineraries are offered including two 10-day cruises between Lisbon, Portugal and London (Dover), England; two 12-day cruises between London (Dover), England and Copenhagen, Denmark; and four 10-day cruises roundtrip from Copenhagen, Denmark. All cruises offer days at sea that allows guests to enjoy the dramatic scenery of the region and indulge in the many first-class services offered by Wind Surf’s pampering and unpretentious staff.

The company has just launched new “Sail & Save” promotional rates effective March 1, 2003 on all Baltic and Northern Europe cruises with discounts starting from 53 to 60 percent off published brochure fares depending on the itinerary. “Sail & Save” promotional cruise rates start at $2,895 on the two 10-day London-Lisbon cruises; $3,595 on the four 10-day roundtrip Copenhagen sailings; and $3,995 on the two 12-day journeys between London and Copenhagen. All rates are per person, double-occupancy.

Four departures from Copenhagen, Denmark are offered on July 20 and 31, and August 10 and 20, 2003. The full itinerary for these 10-day odysseys includes Copenhagen, Denmark; Rostock, Germany; day at sea; Ventspils, Latvia; Tallin, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight); Helsinki, Finland; day at sea; and Bornholm (Rönne), Denmark.

The 10-day Baltic cruise features an entrancing overnight in St. Petersburg harbor with its 360 bridges connecting 42 islands. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St. Petersburg celebrates its tri-centennial in 2003 with an official kick-off on May 29. Accommodations in the city will be at a premium throughout the year while Wind Surf guests enjoy a prime location at the center of it all.Other attractions on this history-laden cruise include the famous Tivoli Gardens and the fabled “Little Mermaid,” in Copenhagen, Denmark. Helsinki, Finland charms visitors with magnificent gardens and parks. The cobblestone streets of medieval Tallinn, Estonia and 700-year old Ventspils, Latvia invite modern-day explorers to step back in time. One of the Baltic’s most important seaports, Rostock, Germany houses noteworthy 13th and 14th century architecture and acts as gateway for an optional tour to the storied city of Berlin.

Four “repositioning” itineraries allow guests intimate access to Northern Europe’s most majestic ports of call. On June 29 and September 11, 2003, two 10-day cruises between Lisbon, Portugal and London (Dover), England present an unmatched sailing adventure as it transports guests from the warmth and serenity of Lisbon to the stunning white cliffs of Dover, gateway to London.

These 10-day sailings visit the ports of Lisbon and Leixos (Oporto), Portugal; Villagarcia de Arosa and La Coruna, Spain; day at sea; St. Jean De Luz, La Pallice (La Rochelle), Belle Isle (Le Palais); day at sea; Le Havre, France and London (Dover), England. Days at sea allow guests to experience the therapeutic treatments of the full-service WindSpa or send a photo back home from the 24-hour Internet center.

Highlights of this voyage encompass a variety of Europe’s most inviting Atlantic seaside cities. Stops at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula feature the resort town of Villagarcia de Arosa, just a short distance from the holy shrine at Santiago de Compostela; and enchanting La Coruna, home to the Tower of Hercules, built by the Romans in A.D. 2.

The Wind Surf makes her homecoming during two calls to Le Havre, France, where she was built in 1990 as Club Med I, and in 1998 refit and renamed msy Wind Surf. One of France’s chief seaports, Le Havre is the gateway to the beaches of Normandy and the surrounding French countryside.

Two 12-day sailings between London (Dover), England and Copenhagen, Denmark depart July 9 and August 30, 2003, visiting 10 ports in Great Britain and Scandinavia with ample opportunity for viewing the stunning fjords and jagged coastlines.

The July 9, 2003 cruise begins in London (Dover), England continuing on to Zeebrugge, Belgium; then Amsterdam, The Netherlands, followed by a day at sea, and full day visits to Leith (Edinburgh), Invergordon (Inverness), and Kirkwall (Orkney Islands), Scotland. The following morning is spent cruising through the scenic fjords with a port call at Stavanger, Norway in the afternoon; then visiting Oslo, Norway the next day with more scenic fjord cruising that evening. A day at sea follows as the ship makes her way to Århus and then on to Copenhagen, Denmark.

The August 30, 2003 cruise offers the same ports of call and scenic cruising opportunities as listed above, but in reverse. Both cruises offer a chance to explore Amsterdam’s 60 miles of tree-lined canals and one of Europe’s finest museums, the renowned Vincent Van Gogh Museum. The charm and color of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, with its lively outdoor cafes and quayside restaurants is the perfect arrival or departure point for these serene sea journeys.

Windstar offers optional trip cancellation protection that provides cash back when canceling for any reason prior to 24-hours before departure. To receive a Europe brochure, for reservations or more information contact a professional travel agent or call Windstar at 1-800-258-7245. Sail over to Windstar Cruises online at

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Carnival Corporation and P&O Princess Cruises Plc: Result of Carnival Special Meeting

MIAMI, April 14 -- Carnival Corporation and P&O Princess Cruises plc announced that Carnival's shareholders have approved the proposed DLC transaction between the two companies. The vote was held at a special meeting of Carnival shareholders in New York City.

P&O Princess shareholders are scheduled to vote on the proposed DLC transaction at an Extraordinary General Meeting in London on 16 April 2003. Assuming the DLC transaction is approved by P&O Princess shareholders, P&O Princess will begin trading under the Carnival plc name on the London Stock Exchange, and its ADSs will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on 22 April 2003.

"We are very pleased that Carnival Corporation shareholders have approved the proposed DLC transaction," said Micky Arison, Chairman and CEO of Carnival. "The Carnival/P&O Princess combination will create one of the world's largest leisure travel companies, while providing enhanced value to the shareholders of both organizations and tremendous opportunities for employees of the cruise brands within the combined group. We trust that P&O Princess shareholders share our enthusiasm regarding the future prospects of the proposed combination and look forward to receiving their approval of the DLC transaction on 16 April."

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The World Returns to North America

ResidenSea, Ltd. has announced that The World's Asian itinerary planned for this spring has been cancelled, as a result of the health concerns raised by the persistent outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Asia. As reported by the World Health Organization this week, nearly 1,500 cases of SARS have been reported throughout Asia. Remaining in Australia through April 24, The World will then be redeployed to North America for voyages along the west coasts of the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

"In view of these circumstances, we feel it prudent to defer our visit to Asia at this time," said Robert Riley, president and chief executive officer of ResidenSea, Ltd. "We are very disappointed to miss Asia's incredible ports of call, but at the same time we're excited to have this opportunity to spend more time in North America. Our voyages along the west coast were very successful last year, and we expect the same in 2003."

The World's new itinerary in May, June and early July take guests and residents from Hawaii to Los Angeles, sailing down the coast for sun and surf throughout the Mexican Riviera; back up along the Californian coast and Oregon, visiting destinations such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Catalina Island, Monterey, Sausalito, San Francisco and Astoria; then north to Victoria and into British Columbia, with a round-trip voyage from Vancouver calling in Nanaimo, Campbell River and Tahsis. After calling in Sitka and Kodiak in early July, The World will resume its original 2003 itinerary on July 11 in Anchorage, Alaska. Fares for studio residences during this time start at $450 per night, per unit. Two-bedroom apartment residences begin at $1,800 per night, per unit (for up to four guests). Fares are based on double occupancy and are inclusive of dining, beverages, gratuities and port charges.

Guests who are currently booked on voyages between April 24 and July 11 have an opportunity to reschedule for a later date and receive a bonus voyage credit valued at 20% of their original voyage value, which may be used for cruising additional nights onboard The World. Voyages must be rescheduled by May 15, 2003, with all travel completed by December 30, 2003. Travel agent commissions will be protected on the original voyage; plus agents will receive an additional 2% bonus commission for the rescheduled voyage, including any additional nights which guests may book using their 20% bonus voyage credit. Guests also have the option of receiving a full refund on their original voyage. If guests choose this option, travel agent commissions will be protected on fully paid bookings.

About The World:
The World of ResidenSea, the only resort community circumnavigating the globe, offers you 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 ambiance much like that of a private yacht, seaside villa or exclusive country club. Residents and guests are offered the flexibility of embarking and disembarking in ports of their choice. For vacationing guests, stays are booked at daily fares. For more information about The World's residential purchase options, please call +1-305-264-9090; for inquiries regarding vacation stays onboard, contact a professional travel agent.

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2-For-1 Cruise Fares, Plus FREE Air to Europe

Miami, FL, April 9, 2003 – Oceania Cruises unveiled Your World. Your Way. savings featuring 2-for-1 cruise fares and free air from a wide array of North American air gateways on the Regatta’s inaugural Western Europe and Scandinavia cruises. These inaugural season voyages combine the most alluring ports in Europe with unprecedented cruise fare savings and the extraordinary value of FREE roundtrip economy class airfare from all US and select Canadian gateways.

“These air-inclusive cruise fares, combined with inaugural season 2-for-1 savings, starting at just $2,995 per guest, represent the foremost value in luxury cruising,” stated Jeff Drew, CTC, Senior Vice President of Sales for Oceania Cruises. “Travelers are unlikely to see such an amazing value again.”

Air Inclusive Fares From Just $2,995 Per Guest
Your World. Your Way
. Air-inclusive fares are available in category C Deluxe Outside staterooms ($2,995 per guest), Category A veranda staterooms ($3,495 per guest) and Category B veranda staterooms ($3,395 per guest) are available on the following sailings:

Scenic Splendors and Gilded Palaces: July 5, September 13
Regatta sets sail on her gala inaugural voyage from Barcelona to London on July 5, 2003 and along the way, she’ll call on some of the most spectacular and fabled ports of call in all of Europe including Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Seville (overnight), Lisbon, Oporto, Bordeaux (overnight), St Peter Port and London. September 13 sails from London to Barcelona.

Vikings, Castles and Kings: July 19, August 2, August 16, August 30
Timeless charm and endless beauty mark the scope of these cruises. On this journey, our guests will experience a land steeped in history and caressed by the midnight sun. Sailing between London and Stockholm (overnight), with ports of call in Bruges, Amsterdam, Oslo, Copenhagen (overnight), Tallinn, St Petersburg (overnight), Helsinki, and Mariehamn, you’ll be forever enchanted by this memorable journey.

Oceania Cruises features two intimate and luxurious 684 passenger ships, REGATTA and INSIGNIA. Oceania Cruises’ hallmarks are an unsurpassed culinary experience, a casually elegant atmosphere and unparalleled personal service coupled with extraordinary value. For additional information on Oceania Cruises or to make a reservation, please contact your Travel Agent. To request a brochure, call 800-531-5658 or visit

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New 'Teen Shore Tours' Now Available Aboard 'Fun Ships'
Special Discounted Excursions Include Cave Tubing, Mountain Biking, Among Others

MIAMI (04/09/03) – Carnival Cruise Lines has added a new teen shore excursion program, providing teenagers an opportunity to enjoy a variety of fun and exciting on-shore activities – everything from cave tubing and mountain biking to swimming with dolphins and stingrays – with other teens sailing aboard the “Fun Ships.” Currently available aboard 15 of the line’s 18 ships with fleetwide implementation expected by the end of the summer, the new program provides children ages 12-15 an opportunity to select from three different age-appropriate shore excursions per port – all at special discounts of up to 20 percent off the regular price. Teens sailing on a particular voyage, vote on the tour of their choice; the excursion with the highest number of votes is then selected as the group’s chosen activity for that port. A member of the ship’s youth staff accompanies teens on all excursions.

“Teens have their own unique vacation expectations and this new program not only provides them with a variety of fun, interesting landside tours but also an opportunity to select their own excursions and enjoy these activities with others their own age,” said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president. “Plus, by providing teens with an enjoyable shoreside experience, combined with the fun, high quality vacation that a Carnival cruise provides, we’re laying the groundwork for them to come back and sail aboard the ‘Fun Ships’ as they move into adulthood,” he added.

Sample teen excursions include:

Coral Reef and Stingray Safari (Grand Cayman) – On this three-hour excursion, guests have an opportunity to view colorful tropical fish while snorkeling in crystal-clear Caribbean waters, as well as swim with docile stingrays at Grand Cayman’s legendary “stingray sandbar.”
Mayan Horseback Riding (Cozumel) –
Following a scenic ride through the Mexican jungle, guests are taken to the Buena Vista Ranch, located at the heart of the “tropical savannah,” where guests enjoy a leisurely horseback ride through these low-lying lands. 
Atlantis Submarine (St. Thomas) –
This 48-passenger submarine will take guests 90 feet below the ocean’s surface to Turtle Cove Bay, where they can view the beautiful “sea garden” of coral and plant life. From there, the craft repositions to Snapper Valley, home to countless species of fish, dolphins, sharks and other marine life. 
America’s Cup Regatta (St. Maarten) –
On this excursion, guests experience the thrill of America’s Cup yacht racing as they pilot authentic 12-meter masted sailing vessels Stars & Stripes, Canada II and True North, which previously competed in the world famous event. 
Key West Bike Tour (Key West) –
This two-and-a-half-hour tour provides guests an “up close and personal” look at Key West’s colorful and exciting history, providing an opportunity to view stately mansions and small cottages while learning about the island’s legacy of pirates, sponging and treasure salvaging. 
Cave Tubing & Rainforest Tour (Belize) –
Following a motorcoach transfer through the Belizean countryside, guests will enjoy a relaxing 45-minute tubing excursion meandering down the Sibun River where they can observe craggy cave and rock formations, as well as the lush foliage and vegetation of the Belizean rain forest. Lunch is included. 
Mountain Bike & Snorkel Adventure (Cozumel) –
This excursion combines the best that Cozumel has to offer – a bike ride through Chankanaab, one of the Caribbean’s premier parks, with an opportunity to snorkel in the island’s crystal-clear waters and view rugged coral formations and schools of brightly hued fish. 
Dolphin Encounter (Honduras) –
Interaction with curious and friendly dolphins highlights this two-and-a-half hour excursion, which takes place at awe-inspiring Anthony’s Key. Following a brief orientation, guests enter waist-deep water and play, feed, touch and even give hand signals to these gentle marine mammals.

The new teen shore excursions are available to guests between the ages of 12-15 through Carnival’s popular “Camp Carnival” program, which caters to the 400,000 children who are expected to sail aboard the “Fun Ships” this year. Reservations must be made in advance with the “Camp Carnival” staff once on board. For additional information and reservations, contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, or visit

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Oooh, Aaaah... Spa on New Carnival Glory to Offer Wide Array of Decadent Treatments

MIAMI (04/08/03) - The Spa Carnival health and fitness facility aboard the new Carnival Glory is a stunning and contemporary venue offering the latest in high-tech exercise equipment, along with soothing and sophisticated spa treatments. Carnival Glory is scheduled to enter year-round seven-day service July 19, 2003, from Port Canaveral, Fla. 

The health and fitness facilities featured aboard each Carnival ship are a popular amenity. In fact, approximately half the guests on any given voyage use some facet of the facility, which typically includes a gym, spa, beauty salon, and various exercise classes and demonstrations. Fleetwide, the company estimates that nearly 1.5 million guests will use its health and fitness facilities aboard the line's 19 ships in 2003. 

On the Carnival Glory, the 13,300-square-feet Spa Carnival features an exotic Polynesian design theme that incorporates lush foliage, teak decking, and other elements such as a waterfall cascading down a stone-like wall from one deck to another below. The health and fitness center will include large picture windows providing panoramic views of the sea, along with the latest in weight and exercise technology. The facility will house complete locker rooms, steam rooms, saunas and massage rooms, including a couples-only massage room and two deluxe treatment suites offering dry float beds. Treatments include the Aroma Spa Float, which will be offered in the deluxe treatment suites. Combining the richness of sea plants and marine algae with aromatherapy, this treatment consists of a heated seaweed body mask with essential oils being applied to the body before guests relax in the unique dry float and receive soothing face and scalp massages. Other treatments include the "aroma stone therapy," which is based on an ancient ritual that combines heated and scented oils with a full body massage using warm basalt stones, creating a relaxing and rejuvenating sensation, and La Therapie Facial, a treatment that penetrates the deeper layers of the skin with active ingredients of organic gels and creams using high-frequency galvanic stimuli. 

The health center will also feature a full-service beauty salon offering hair services, manicures and pedicures, as well as a boutique where various spa products will be available for sale. State-of-the-art Lifefitness exercise equipment, such as rowing and stair-climbing machines, treadmills and exercise bikes, along with free weights, are available. Instructor-led fitness classes, including low- and high-impact aerobics, yoga, kickboxing and spinning, will also be offered in the aerobics studio. 

As part of Carnival's Total Choice Dining(SM), cruising's most comprehensive dining program offering the widest variety of formal and casual options at sea, menus in the Carnival Glory's two formal dining rooms will feature a selection of Spa Carnival Fare, dishes lower in fat, calories, sodium and cholesterol. Meats are broiled or roasted, salads prepared with low-fat or fat-free dressings and desserts with sugar substitutes. Vegetarian meals will also be available on all dining room menus, while the expansive two-level Red Sail Restaurant located poolside will offer a variety of healthy offerings, including an extensive salad bar and a 24-hour frozen yogurt station. 

Beginning July 19, 2003, Carnival Glory will operate year-round seven-day sailings from Port Canaveral encompassing alternating eastern and western Caribbean voyages departing every Saturday. Eastern Caribbean cruises call at Nassau, St. Thomas/St. John, and St. Maarten, while western Caribbean voyages include Key West, Fla.; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel and Progreso/Merida, Mexico. Prior to the start-up seven-day service, Carnival Glory will operate a special five-day Mexico cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel July 14-19. 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

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Wedgewood Designs Exclusive China Pattern for Cunard Line's New Queen Mary 2

NEW YORK, April 8, 2003 - Cunard Line announced that Wedgwood has designed a signature china pattern exclusively for the $800 million luxury liner Queen Mary 2, scheduled to debut in January 2004. The QM2 china will be used in the ship's top Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants and will be sold in an on-board boutique. Parent company Waterford Wedgwood plc will provide well over 90,000 pieces of porcelain and glassware for assorted venues on the ship. The announcement was made by Deborah L. Natansohn, Cunard's senior vice president of sales and marketing, during an afternoon tea at the New York residence of Sir Thomas Harris, consul-general of Great Britain. Lord Piers Wedgwood and Mark Mellor of the Waterford Wedgwood group and Moira Gavin, president of Wedgwood USA, were also in attendance.

"Like Cunard, Waterford Wedgwood is an illustrious and historic British brand with an eye on the future," said Natansohn. "The QM2 china pattern has both timelessness and contemporary flair, and will be in complete harmony with the ambiance and style of our new flagship."

According to Lord Wedgwood, "We are delighted to further our decades-long relationship with Cunard Line. As a world famous manufacturer of luxury goods, we are proud to have designed an exclusive pattern for the world's greatest new luxury liner."

The signature QM2 table setting is made from Connaught bone china decorated with borders of platinum and gold. The luxury home lifestyle company will also supply china featuring the Cunard logo in gold, a unique pattern for the ship's Todd English speciality restaurant, and a special show plate with several accent pieces to complement the main tableware. Among the Waterford glassware will be winetasting-style glasses in a light, contemporary design. With a combined history of over 600 years of heritage, tradition and craftsmanship, Waterford Wedgwood today is among the world's leading luxury lifestyle groups with world-class brands that include Waterford Crystal, Wedgwood, W C Designs, Rosenthal and All-Clad.

When she enters service, Cunard's QM2 will be the largest, longest, tallest, widest and most expensive passenger ship ever built. She will feature sweeping staircases, expansive promenades and luxurious accommodations for 2,620 guests; nearly three-quarters of which will have private balconies. World-famous chef Daniel Boulud will be the ship's culinary consultant. Among her extraordinary facilities are 10 dining venues, including the only shipboard restaurant by celebrity chef Todd English, 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. The ship will also feature a champagne bar, several other elegant bars 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.

In her inaugural year, QM2 will sail 17 transatlantic crossings as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister ship, Queen Elizabeth 2, as Cunard's transatlantic liner. Her maiden westbound crossing from Southampton, England, to New York will depart on April 16. Her maiden eastbound 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. For more information on Queen Mary 2, consult a travel agent, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or visit the website at

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Chosen Voyage Combines Luxury Amenities, Unmatched Itineraries, and the Most Extensive Kosher Fine Dining Options Ever Available on a Cruise
"Uncompromising. Kosher." Represents Brand Positioning

PITTSBURGH, PA -- Never before has an ultra-deluxe cruise experience been all Kosher. Today, CruiseBlue Partners LLC announced the launch of a new travel company which will market full-ship, all Kosher charters under the Chosen Voyage brand name. Meeting the needs of the growing cruise market for Kosher-observant Jews, Chosen Voyage will launch several new, and very distinctive, full-ship charters for this affluent and traditionally underserved group.

"We are taking a very new and exciting approach to Kosher travel," says Matthew Shollar, CEO of CruiseBlue Partners LLC. "Chosen Voyage will present some of the best travel experiences in the world to an audience that has not had ability to enjoy upscale travel without compromises."

Chosen Voyage has conducted extensive research into the Kosher-observant market, including a series of focus groups that allowed the team to develop travel packages that will draw consumer interest. With the global travel market undergoing constant changes, Chosen Voyage undertook a broad evaluation of current market opportunities. The group found rapidly expanding opportunities to provide premium travel packages to underserved Kosher-observant consumers. The demographics of this group, including a high propensity to travel multiple times each year and higher than average household incomes, as well as deep knowledge about the specific needs of the group, made it a perfect market segment for Chosen Voyage. 

Through intensive brand positioning Chosen Voyage intends to reach the goal of strong market penetration in the first year. Multiple travel options for consumers are being developed for the 2003-2004 season. The first travel opportunities will be focused on up-scale luxury cruises. Windstar Cruises' Wind Surf will host the first season of Chosen Voyage cruises. Chosen Voyage is currently in joint venture discussions with several luxury cruise operators for additional programs, and plans a comprehensive expansion into several different travel options.

CruiseBlue Partners LLC was founded in 2002 by group of investors and business professionals, some with decades of experience in the cruise market. The company's leadership and advisory board includes senior cruise line executives and professionals with strong business and marketing backgrounds. This represents the first time that a niche operator in the Kosher vertical market has been developed from inside the industry. "The Kosher-observing Jewish market is one of the most attractive possible verticals for the creation of new travel experiences," said Shollar, Chosen Voyage CEO. "This group boasts very high demographics, is well-educated, well-traveled, is underserved in their vacation options that serve their needs; historically, kosher hotels, cruises or tours are overpriced in comparison to market rates and offer only limited dining and activities options." 

By focusing solely on partnerships with luxury operators, and executing only multi-week, full ship charters, Chosen Voyage can offer an experience beyond anything the Kosher guest has experienced, while offering a rate that is competitive both with lesser Kosher vacations and discounted market rates for the very lines it works with. Company executives are already developing unique products in the European market that will allow Kosher observant Jews to discover and interact with Jewish communities throughout Europe, while enjoying a luxury vacation not available in a traditional land tour. Programs are also being developed in American home waters, which will highlight adventure cruises and personal enrichment.

Unlike many Kosher cruise and travel companies, the Chosen Voyage experience is being targeted to a much wider market. Research has shown that Kosher-keeping consumers are much more likely to travel and at younger ages than other consumers; the Chosen Voyage audience is expected to range from ages starting in the mid-20s. This means that families and singles trips will receive marketing attention just as corporate, communal, and seniors groups will be a focus of the company. For more information, please visit the Chosen Voyage website:

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Acclaimed Italian Mezzo-Soprano Planning Multiple Appearances Aboard Ultra-Luxury Silver Shadow

Ft. Lauderdale, FL, April 7, 2003 - Silversea Cruises today announced the return of vocal superstar Cecilia Bartoli for an exclusive series of recitals aboard the ultra-luxury line's Silver Shadow. Ms. Bartoli is scheduled for appearances during June and July 2003 aboard four Silversea voyages in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The acclaimed Italian mezzo-soprano, who first performed for Silversea guests during Silver Shadow's transatlantic crossing last September, will again demonstrate her distinctive vocal artistry during two Mediterranean voyages and one Black Sea cruise in June. The three recital cruises, ranging from eight to twelve days, will be followed by a nine-day voyage through the Mediterranean in July, during which the award-winning singer will be on board to provide guests with an illuminating discussion of music and opera.

"We are very thrilled and honored to have Cecilia Bartoli perform for our guests," said Bill Leiber, Silversea's Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. "Her enormous fame as both a singer and recording artist has made her very much in demand these days, so we feel truly privileged to be able to welcome her back to perform. Although she has appeared before sold-out audiences in some of the world's greatest opera houses, she usually prefers more intimate settings, so a Silversea cruise is the perfect venue for Ms. Bartoli's recitals." Added Leiber, "Ms. Bartoli is known for her commanding stage presence and delightful charm. When she performs, audiences are totally captivated and enthralled by her talents. I know our Silversea guests are in for an incredible musical experience."

With a capacity for just 382 guests, Silver Shadow provides a warm and intimate environment where the Grammy-Award-winning singer can easily connect with her audience and engage them in the beauty, passion and magic of her music. Accompanied by Oliver Widmer, the renowned Swiss baritone, CeciliaBartoli will appear on the following voyages of Silver Shadow: 

Voyage 3316 [Mediterranean Masters] - Cannes to Valletta, via Marseille, Livorno, Sorrento and Taormina (Sicily); June 2 - 10, 2003 (8 Days). Cruise-only fares start at $5,795 per guest, double occupancy. (Cruise features Ms. Bartoli's recital, plus a music and opera discussion.) Voyage 3317 [Aegean Sojourner] - Valletta to Istanbul, via Nafplion, Santorini, Chania (Crete), Antalya, Kas, Rhodes, Paros and Kusadasi; June 10 - 22, 2003 (12 Days). Cruise-only fares start at $8,595 per guest, double occupancy. (Cruise features Ms. Bartoli's recital, plus a music and opera discussion.) 

Voyage 3318 [Black Sea Harbors] - Istanbul to Istanbul, via Nesebur, Odessa, Sevastopol, Sochi and Yalta; June 22 - July 2, 2003 (10 Days). Cruise-only fares start at $7,195 per guest, double occupancy. (Cruise features Ms. Bartoli's recital, plus a music and opera discussion.) 

Voyage 3319 [Mediterranean Cachet] - Istanbul to Marseille, via Kusadasi, Santorini, Sorrento, Livorno and Portofino; July 2 - 11, 2003 (9 Days). Cruise-only fares start at $6,595 per guest, double occupancy. (Cruise features Ms. Bartoli's music and opera discussion only.)

Silversea Cruises is recognized as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard intimate vessels designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. The launch of all-suite luxury sister ships Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper continues Silversea's award-winning service excellence and sophistication with new features and amenities aboard vessels catering to just 382 guests. For the seventh consecutive year, Silversea Cruises was named best small-ship line in the 2002 readers' survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. For the fourth time, Silversea was selected "Number One" small-ship line in Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2002. For more information on Silversea Cruises, please contact a travel agent. For a complimentary brochure, please call toll-free (877) 215-9986 or visit

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Legendary Sophia Loren to Christen MSC Italian Cruises' newest flagship, the MSC Lirica

Famed actress Sophia Loren will christen MSC Italian Cruises' newest flagship, the MSC Lirica, in Italy on April 11. The 1580-passenger vessel will replace the MSC Melody in the 2003-2004 winter season, offering 47% more capacity for U.S. departures from Fort Lauderdale, FL to the Caribbean, West Indies and Panama Canal. The MSC Lirica features the same authentic Italian service and ambiance that have become synonymous with MSC Italian Cruises, as well as a host of technology and amenity improvements.

"We are very excited about the new ships joining the MSC fleet, the MSC Lirica this year, and her sistership, the MSC Opera, in 2004," said Steve Hirshan, Vice President of MSC Italian Cruises. "With this new tonnage available and a largely untapped U.S. cruise market, we anticipate bookings to quadruple over the next two years. But this can only be accomplished with an experienced, aggressive sales team, and we now have the right people in place to get the job done."

Known for its competent staff and customer-focused service, MSC Italian Cruises has positioned itself as the consummate Italian cruise line. MSC vessels have earned top honors for value and quality among cruise lines. MSC Italian Cruises, based in Naples, Italy, is a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Company, a privately-owned Swiss shipping group founded in 1970 and headquartered in Geneva. Specializing in ocean and intermodal transportation worldwide, MSC is the 2nd largest container carrier in the world, operating 214 container ships, 36 fast ferries as well as four cruise vessels. For further information and brochures, call 1-800-666-9333 or visit the company's website at

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Norwegian Cruise Line Announces 2004-2005 European Itineraries And Europe Plus Program
"Europe Plus" Program Offers Vacationers Two Free Nights in Rome or London

MIAMI - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced its 2004-2005 European itineraries for Norwegian Dream and details on its popular Europe Plus program. The European schedule features a series of 13 Scandinavian capitals cruises, NCL's longest season ever, highlighted by a full day and evening excursion to Berlin via train from the port of Warnemünde and overnight stays in St. Petersburg, Russia and Copenhagen, Denmark. Additionally, NCL guests are the only passengers on a major cruise line to transit the Kiel Canal. The line is also offering two free nights in a first-class hotel in either Rome or London as part of its early booking Europe Plus program with a private hospitality desk at the hotel for assistance with sightseeing, shopping and/or dining and a private cruise check-in for those guests staying pre-cruise.

"Our European schedule offers destination rich itineraries with an abundance of time in port," said Andy Stuart, senior vice president of marketing and sales, "plus NCL guests get the convenience of Freestyle Cruising so they don't have to rush back to the ship to make a scheduled dinner time. In addition, the Europe Plus program is a great value for guests who book early and will experience the beauty of London or Rome for free."

European Itineraries for 2004-2005 include:

Scandinavian Capitals
From April 19 to September 10, 2004, Norwegian Dream will depart round-trip from London (Dover) on a 12-day Scandinavian Capitals cruises calling at Warnemünde, Germany with an optional tour to Berlin; Tallinn, Estonia; 2 full days in St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and an overnight in Copenhagen, Denmark. The itinerary includes a transit of the 61-mile Kiel Canal from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea and scenic cruising in the Swedish Archipelagos. Prices start from $1,879 per person.

Transatlantic Mediterranean Combination
Norwegian Dream's transatlantic Mediterranean combination voyages offer the best of both worlds: the relaxed days at sea of a transatlantic voyage combined with the rich history of Europe's historic cities. The ship is offering a 16-day Transatlantic Mediterranean cruise from Miami to Rome departing March 22, 2004 and March 28, 2005. The cruise calls at Funchal, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Villefranche, France; and Genoa and Livorno, Italy for tours to Florence and Pisa. Prices for these itineraries start from $1,149 per person.

The fall transatlantic Mediterranean combination voyage departs from London on September 22, 2004 and calls in Le Havre, France; La Coruña, Spain; Lisbon and Funchal, Portugal before arriving in Miami on Oct. 7, 2004. Prices for this voyage start from $1,149 per person.

Mediterranean and Western Europe
From April 17 to April 29, 2004, Norwegian Dream will sail from Rome to London on a 12-day Springtime Western Europe cruise that visits Genoa and Livorno (for excursions to Florence and Pisa), Italy; Cannes, Le Havre and Marseille, France; Barcelona and Cadiz, Spain; and Lisbon, Portugal. These cruises also feature optional tours to Milan and Portofino in Italy and Nice, Monte Carlo and the Provence region of France. Cruise prices start from $1799 per person.

Europe Plus
NCL offers its early booking Europe Plus program to guests who book any of Norwegian Dream's European Itineraries. The program is available either pre- or post-cruise in Rome or London and offers the added value of two free nights in a first-class hotel, a private hospitality desk at the hotel for assistance with sightseeing, shopping and/or dining and a private check-in for those guests staying pre-cruise. To be eligible for the Europe Plus program passengers must book and deposit their European cruise more than 180 days (150 for groups) prior to sailing.

For further information on NCL, contact a travel agent or NCL in the U.S. and Canada at (800) 327-7030; or visit NCL's web site at

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Carnival's 'Fun Ship' Celebration Undergoes 
Multi-Million-Dollar Makeover

1,486-Passenger 'Fun Ship' Resumes Year-Round Four- and Five-Day Mexico Cruises From Galveston April 7

MIAMI, April 4 -- Carnival Cruise Lines' 1,486-passenger Celebration resumes year-round service from Galveston on Monday, April 7, 2003, following a multi-million-dollar refurbishment that included an overhaul of the purser's lobby, redesigned dining rooms and cabins, and cosmetic enhancements to virtually all public rooms and areas. The upgrades, completed during a recent 70-day drydock in Freeport, Bahamas, were overseen by Tillberg Design, which is also serving as the lead architect for Cunard Line's 150,000-ton Queen Mary 2, the world's largest ocean liner set to debut Jan. 12, 2004. The Celebration launched year-round four- and five-day Mexico cruises from Galveston in September 2000.

"The Celebration, a guest favorite for its distinctive interiors and convenient four- and five-day cruises, emerged from its recent drydock even more dazzling than before. We can't wait for our guests to see for themselves the incredible results of this extensive, multi-million-dollar makeover," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is when guests first step aboard the 48,000-ton SuperLiner, whose virtually all-new purser's lobby includes new carpeting, furniture, wall coverings and artwork, creating a more contemporary atmosphere. Another noticeable change is within the Vista and Horizon formal restaurants, which, in addition to a new pastel-hued decor, have been reconfigured to provide diners with a greater feeling of spaciousness, openness and comfort.

Each of the Celebration's 743 staterooms also received new curtains, carpeting and wallpaper, as well as upgraded bedding, linens, pillows and bedspreads. New leather-bound directories, similar to those found at high-end hotels, were placed in each cabin, while bathrooms are now equipped with in- shower soap and shampoo dispensers and re-tiled where necessary.

Other design highlights include new corridor carpeting, as well as upgraded elevator lobbies and stair landings. Various technical and mechanical upgrades were also completed. The ship's pool decks and public rooms, including the Red Hot piano bar, Endless Summer lounge, Admiral's library, Rainbow Club casino, and the multi- level Astoria Lounge, the site of Carnival's lavish Las Vegas-style revues, also underwent minor cosmetic enhancements.

Carnival is currently accepting reservations for the Celebration's four- and five-day Mexico cruises from Galveston. For additional information on the Celebration or any other Carnival "Fun Ship," contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL, or visit

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Century Casinos, Inc. Signs Agreement With Oceania Cruises for Two Casinos

CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo., April 4 -- Century Casinos, Inc. announced that the Company has signed a Casino Concession Agreement with Oceania Cruises, a new Miami based cruise line catering to the upper premium segment of the cruise market. Oceania Cruises features two luxurious 684 passenger ships, the Insignia and the Regatta. The Company entered into a casino concession agreement for Oceania's two ships, with a first right of refusal for any new ship brought into service.

"Century Casinos was the operator of choice," said Mr. Robin Lindsay, Senior Vice-President of Oceania Cruises. "The Company has earned an excellent reputation providing casino operations to the high-end cruise market."

"We are excited about our promising new relationship with Oceania Cruises," said Erwin Haitzmann, Chairman and CEO of the Company. "The alliance with Oceania Cruises is a natural addition to our casino operations aboard Silversea Cruises' luxury vessels and The World of ResidenSea's exclusive upscale resort at sea."

The casinos on each vessel will initially consist of approximately five gaming tables and thirty-six slot machines. The first vessel is scheduled to set sail in late April 2003, with the second vessel following in late summer. For more information about Oceania Cruises, visit their website at

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MIAMI (04/04/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines is introducing a new price guarantee on groups effective for all sailings departing August 15, 2003 and beyond. This new program guarantees that if an agent has a group within the final payment period and the best fares available through individual reservations fall below the group's quoted rate(s), Carnival will provide the difference to the guests in the form of a shipboard credit.

"Agents have been experiencing a lot of frustration in trying to sell groups, particularly during periods like the fall where pricing can be quite volatile," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president. "We've been listening and are very excited to roll out this new program which should allow agents to book group space with confidence, knowing that if the prices drop in individual reservations, we will protect their group business by providing shipboard credits equal to the price difference."  

Under the program, when rates go down and a group is protected with shipboard credits, the "frees" will also be protected at the standard one free berth for each 15 full fare guests. In order to have the group protected with the shipboard credit benefit, there must be sufficient inventory available to re-book the group and amenities will no longer be applicable. 

"We've got terrific group deals available for fall and beyond and, given the new measure of confidence this group price guarantee provides, there's never been a better time to start promoting group business," said Dickinson. For additional information on Carnival's new group pricing guarantee, contact Carnival's group sales department at 800-327-5782.

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Celebrity Cruises Launches 'ConciergeClass'

MIAMI, April 3 -- On the heels of launching a substantial new series of "tastes of luxury," Celebrity Cruises presents a new touch of class, with "Celebrity ConciergeClass," an enhanced level of accommodations featuring new amenities and priority services.

"Celebrity ConciergeClass presents an extensive series of little extras that make a big difference," said Senior Vice President of Fleet Operations Dietmar Wertanzl. "These are the types of amenities that make 'a true departure' truly extraordinary."

Celebrity ConciergeClass guests are welcomed to their stateroom with a bottle of chilled champagne; fresh flowers and a selection of fruits; afternoon canapes; a leather key holder; personalized stationery; an oversized tote bag, and an umbrella available for use throughout the cruise.

For extraordinary sleeping comfort, ConciergeClass presents tension absorbing pillow-top mattresses, plush duvets and a pillow menu whose selections include conformance, body, goose down or Isotonic. For guests who wish to linger in the comfort of their plush bedding and custom pillows, Celebrity has designed a room service breakfast menu offering delectable new selections exclusively for ConciergeClass guests. ConciergeClass bathroom amenities include plush bath rugs, oversized Egyptian cotton towels, double-thick Frette bathrobes, two hair dryers, a Hansgrohe showerhead, and a selection of fine shampoos, body lotions, soaps, shower caps, breath mints and a sewing kit.

Priority services associated with ConciergeClass include priority luggage delivery, dining time and seating preferences, shoe shine service, VIP invitations to exclusive shipboard events, priority shore excursion bookings, early embarkation and debarkation privileges, and a one-touch button on the phone to reach a ConciergeClass desk representative directly. ConciergeClass amenities also extend to the veranda, which features a table large enough for dining al fresco, cushioned chairs, and high-powered binoculars for zooming in on captivating scenery throughout the cruise. Celebrity's ConciergeClass staterooms are located on deck nine on Constellation, Infinity, Millennium and Summit. Formerly classified as category one, "premium ocean-view with veranda" accommodations, each ConciergeClass stateroom is 191 square feet with a 41-square-foot veranda.

Celebrity ConciergeClass will be implemented on Infinity, April 3; Millennium, April 27; Summit, May 9; and Constellation, May 10. Fares for ConciergeClass accommodations vary, depending on the ship and itinerary selected. The industry's highest-rated premium cruise line with a taste of luxury, Celebrity Cruises' nine-ship fleet 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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Etiquette Training on Alaska Sailings Features New Frontiers for Junior Cruisers
Kids 12 and Under Sail Free on Nine Crystal Cruises Voyages to Alaska

LOS ANGELES, April 3 -- By the time Junior and Janie disembark from the Six-Star Crystal Harmony they'll be able to elegantly navigate their way through a six-course dinner as if it were second nature. And, believe it or not, they'll have had the time of their lives learning the finer nuances of which fork to use first and the proper way to butter, and break, a dinner roll, thanks to an exclusive new Crystal Cruises program, Etiquette Training for Juniors. Available on Crystal Harmony's entire roster of 12-day Alaska itineraries, which conveniently sail roundtrip from San Francisco, young cruisers will not only learn the proper way to handle themselves in a variety of social situations they will also learn the ins and outs of social etiquette, poise, ballroom dancing and public speaking.

"Parents will greatly appreciate this opportunity for their children and, eventually, so too will the kids," says Kristin Turner, Crystal's manager, enrichment programs. "It's fun, stimulating, and there couldn't be a greater setting to help our young cruisers simultaneously boost their confidence and self-esteem."

The luxury line saw a 12 percent increase in its youngest cruisers, ages 17 and under, during its 2002 summer Alaska season. As a result, etiquette training and a host of additional activities for juniors have been added to Crystal's revamped junior activities program. Children 12 and under sail free on all 2003 voyages to Alaska when sharing the same stateroom with two adults. Although etiquette may be low on the roster of what children deem important, program instructors say they have seen a dramatic rise in the number of parents who wished they had received such training when they were younger and who now want their own children to receive such training.

"Parents in their 40s and 50s now have children of cruising age, and they want their kids to have the experience to learn to be polished," says program instructor Darcee Gollatz-Klapp, third generation owner of Gollatz Cotillion, a venerable 71-year-old California-based etiquette training school. "Parents believe etiquette will give their children that extra edge to get ahead in business, and for that matter, in life."

The classes, says Gollatz-Klapp, will be embraced, rather than dreaded, by young people and will vary depending on the mix of children on board. "We're going to have fun," she said. "These are not lecture classes." Furthermore, negative reinforcement is verboten. "We'll have prizes, games, and everything will be done in fun." A variety of dance nights (Swing, Salsa, Latin and Ballroom) will be offered, but the music will be contemporary, and kids can expect to dance to U2 rather than the Benny Goodman Band.

The line's Alaska season will kick off on May 23 with a 10-day itinerary departing from Vancouver and ending in San Francisco. The 10-day cruise will be followed by eight 12-day departures: June 2, 14; July 8, 20; August 1, 13, 25; and September 6. The itinerary will call at the Alaskan ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Vancouver and Victoria and British Columbia. Other highlights include cruising Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier or Tracy Arm, depending on itinerary selected.

The Gollatz Cotillion hosts 25 locations in California and Nevada. They have instructed children, schools, universities, businesses, major hotel firms and foreign countries in etiquette. 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.

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Tips for Planning the Perfect Cruise Vacation While Prices Are Low

NORWALK, Conn., April 3 -- Travelers Advantage has five tips for planning the perfect cruise this spring and summer plus a newly expanded cruise section on their website at

"Travelers are finding some great deals on cruises this spring and summer," Travelers Advantage Vice President Julia Ryan said. "Combining low prices with these planning tips will help consumers get the most out of their cruise." Cruise planning tips from Travelers Advantage include:

1. Arrive at the port the night before your ship sails. Especially if you are flying in, this is the best way to assure you will make it to the dock on time and won't be stressed before you even reach the ship.

2. Pack your swimsuit and any other essentials in your carry-on bag when you board the ship. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours for your luggage to reach your cabin. By planning ahead, you can spend a couple of quality hours around the pool before many people board.

3. Book your shore excursions in advance. Many of the cruise lines allow you to do this on-line. Many of the popular excursions fill up in advance and this will help insure you or your group space.

4. If cost is an issue, many cruise lines offer "guaranteed cabin" space at a reduced rate. You do not pick the exact cabin, but are assigned at least a guaranteed minimum category cabin.

5. To help you decide on a cabin category or location, at the Travelers Advantage site you can view a variety of cabin categories as well as the layout of the ship's decks.

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Royal Caribbean Tailors Ship To West Coast Cruisers' Tastes
Monarch of the Seas Renovations to Include Expanded Fitness, Dining
 and Entertainment Options

MIAMI, April 1 -- Royal Caribbean International announced Monarch of the Seas will undergo extensive renovations, including the addition of new amenities and activities to appeal to West Coast cruisers, before arriving in her new homeport of Los Angeles in June 2003 to sail year-round, three- and four-night Baja Mexico cruises. Renovations on the 2,350-passenger Monarch of the Seas will extend to every area of the ship, from expanded spa and fitness facilities to additional dining options to refurbished guest staterooms, public areas and lounges. Monarch also will be the first Royal Caribbean ship outside the Voyager and Radiance classes to sport one of the line's signature rock-climbing walls, which will appear fleetwide by the end of 2003.

"When we started looking at taking Monarch of the Seas to Los Angeles, we knew we wanted to offer the most amenity- and activity-packed ship sailing short cruises in that market," said Dan Hanrahan, senior vice president, Marketing and Sales, for Royal Caribbean International. "We conducted research and focus groups with experienced and non-experienced cruisers as well as corporate leaders on the West Coast to uncover what they wanted in a cruise ship on both the vacation and business fronts. We found they want a quality experience that offers a wide range of choices for activities and entertainment. And that's what Monarch will deliver."

In addition to trying their skills on the new rock-climbing wall, fitness- conscious travelers on Monarch of the Seas can maintain their workout regimen at the relocated and expanded ShipShape Fitness Center and Spa. Moving to Deck 9, the new ShipShape facilities will have a contemporary look and feature a bigger gym with additional cardio equipment. The full-service spa will have a hair and nails salon, as well as 11 treatment rooms, including a two-person room for couples.

California-style cuisine inspired the new additions to Monarch's two-story casual dining venue, the Windjammer Cafe. The first floor of the Windjammer will now include an Asian-fusion restaurant, Jade, in addition to its previous extensive buffet of contemporary entrees, salads, sandwiches, side dishes and desserts. The Windjammer also will be reconfigured with buffet "islands" to facilitate traffic flow. Upstairs, guests can try the exotic offerings at the upscale sushi bar, Jade Sushi, or check out the creative creations at the gourmet pizza station. In addition, the ship's main dining rooms are being renamed and refurbished with design modifications as well as new carpet, chairs, tables and decor. The dining rooms, now called Claude's and Vincent's, will feature color palettes inspired by the works of Monet and Van Gogh. Between meals, guests can enjoy specialty drinks from Seattle's Best Coffee or indulge their sweet tooth with 16 different flavors from Ben & Jerry's at the new, sit-down coffee and ice cream parlor.

Vacationers looking for high-quality entertainment will find plenty to choose from. The mid-ship lounge on Deck 7 now will be a Latin-themed bar, Boleros, offering specialty tequilas and cocktail favorites like mojitos, as well as outstanding live entertainment including jazz bands and dueling pianos. The secondary lounge on Deck 8 is being transformed into a disco hot spot with a new look and name - The Circuit. The main theater will also be updated with new carpet, upholstery and seating arrangements.

The renovations will triple the space dedicated to Monarch's Adventure Ocean Youth Program, giving younger guests additional amenities just for them. The new areas include a video arcade and three, teen-only concepts originally introduced on Royal Caribbean's newest Voyager-class ship, Navigator of the Seas: The Living Room coffee bar and hangout, complete with Club Cafe Internet center; Fuel nightclub; and The Back Deck, a private outdoor area.

For meetings and incentives groups, Royal Caribbean is adding a new conference center, featuring three individual meeting rooms, Voyager, Explorer and Adventure, which will accommodate a total of 240 people. The spacious center will be located on Deck 7, with large windows lining the outer rooms to allow meeting participants to enjoy the sun and sea views.

Other refurbishments will include updates to all staterooms -- new and upgraded bathrooms, carpets, linens, and artwork; general facelifts to the lobbies, elevators, landings, corridors and restrooms; and enhancements to the shopping areas and Pool Deck.

Renovations will begin in mid-April with limited, unobtrusive work being done while the ship is in service, followed by major demolition and rebuilding beginning mid-May in the Freeport, Bahamas, shipyard. Rebuilding will be completed in transit as Monarch relocates to Los Angeles with a crew-only Panama Canal passage.

Beginning June 6, Monarch of the Seas will depart Los Angeles on Fridays and Mondays, offering three-night, weekend cruises with a call in Ensenada, Mexico, and four-night, weekday cruises with stops in Ensenada, San Diego and Catalina Island. Fares currently start at $399 per person, double occupancy for summer sailings and $249 for fall cruises. Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 16 ships in service and three more under construction or on firm order. For additional information about the cruise line, please visit the company's web site at or call 800-327-6700.

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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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