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

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

Bon Voyage gifts 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 ~
August 1-15, 2003

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

SARS Updates from the cruise industry

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

Back to Cruise News Weekly Index & Archive

Holland America Offers Special Holiday Cruise Values For Educators

Seattle, August 12, 2003 - For the first time, Holland America Line is offering teachers special cruise values on winter holiday Caribbean and South America sailings, with savings up to 70 percent. From now until Sept. 30, 2003, currently employed and retired teachers can select from five, 7-day eastern and western Caribbean sailings departing on Dec. 20 and 21, 2003; a 12-day Caribbean and Panama Canal sailing departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 22; and a 21-day South America sailing departing from Valparaiso, Chile on Dec. 18.

"These sail dates are perfect for teachers because they fall within the usual holiday breaks of most schools," said David A. Giersdorf, senior vice president, marketing and sales.

The highlight of the Caribbean holiday season is the presence of Holland America's two Vista-Class ships and newest additions to the fleet-the ms Zuiderdam, introduced in December 2002, and her sister ship ms Oosterdam, being introduced now in Europe and offering a series of European and Baltic sailings before transitioning to the Caribbean in the fall. The Zuiderdam will sail an eastern Caribbean cruise on Dec. 20, and the Oosterdam will sail a western itinerary on Dec. 21. Additionally, the line's ms Zaandam sails an eastern Caribbean itinerary on Dec. 20, while the Maasdam and Volendam sail western Caribbean itineraries on Dec. 21. 

Eastern Caribbean holiday ports of call include Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Basseterre, St. Kitts; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. Western Caribbean holiday ports of call include Veracruz, Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico; Key West, Fla.; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Many holiday Caribbean cruises feature a visit to Half Moon Cay, the company's award-winning private island paradise. Guests may sail, swim and snorkel in the turquoise waters, bask on white sand beaches, have a beachside massage, and then enjoy an array of traditional barbecue fare. The island also offers a fun time for kids with a variety of age-appropriate activities and shore excursions through the company's Club HAL children and teen's program.

The special fares for seven-day Caribbean sailings start at just US$699 [$1009 CAD] per person, double occupancy, including port charges. 

12-day Caribbean and Panama Canal
Holland America's 12-day Caribbean and Panama Canal holiday sailing offers many singular events, including the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in the southern hemisphere and New Year's in the northern hemisphere. Departing from Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 22, the ms Rotterdam will sail directly to Half Moon Cay before setting course for San Andres Island, Columbia, celebrating Christmas on the way. Next the Rotterdam calls at Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, before sailing to the Panama Canal to spend an entire day sailing in the scenic Gatun Lake. Next the Rotterdam visits Willemstad, Curacao; and Oranjestad, Aruba, before heading toward Ft. Lauderdale, hosting a New Year's Eve party before arriving back in Fla. on Jan 3, 2004. Cruise fares for this 12-day Caribbean and Panama Canal sailing start at US$1,399 [$2029 CAD] per person, double occupancy, including port charges. 

21-day South America Sailing
The ms Amsterdam's 21-day South America & Antarctic Explorer sailing combines fascinating ports of call and breathtaking scenery, including a visit to the world's southernmost continent. Ports of call on this special voyage include Puerto Montt, Chile; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; and a special overnight stay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Scenic cruising areas include the Majestic Chilean fjords; the Darwin Channel; the Strait of Magellan; and three breathtaking days of scenic cruising in the channels around Antarctica. Cruise fares start at US$2,499 [$3619 CAD] per person, double occupancy, including port charges. 

Guests must show proof of employment as a teacher by faxing one of the following at the time of booking or with their deposit: Teacher's Certification certificate; Union Card; or Letter from Principal on school letterhead

Back to the top of the news list

Film Festival & Creative Learning Institute Enrich Crystal Serenity's Inaugural Transatlantic 
11-Day Lisbon to Ft. Lauderdale Voyage Features Launch of Book Magazine's Book Club 

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12 -- This fall, the newest member of Crystal's award-winning fleet, the luxurious 1,080-guest, 68,000-ton Crystal Serenity, will make her inaugural Transatlantic journey to the United States on an enrichment-filled cruise from Lisbon to Ft. Lauderdale, November 6 to 17, 2003. In addition to port calls in the Canary Islands and Bahamas, the 11-day "Voyage to the New World" features eight days at sea, providing the perfect venue for the line's highly regarded Film Festival -- a salute to motion pictures with a serious yet entertaining look at the history of cinema and the stars of the silver screen. Other enrichment pursuits include the debut of Book Magazine's Book Club as part of the line's new Creative Learning Institute. On this voyage, the Creative Learning Institute classes will include complimentary foreign language instruction, piano lessons, wine seminars, golf instruction by a PGA golf pro and more.

"The beauty of a transatlantic voyage is that the sea days allow the ship to be the destination. With eight days at sea, guests have the time to take a classic film class, learn a new language, study piano and participate in a book club," says Adam Leavitt, senior vice president, marketing. "We've created an enrichment program aboard Crystal Serenity that invites guests to immerse themselves in as much or as little learning as they please in a most luxurious, hassle-free environment."

Headlining the Film Festival is "A Tribute to the Kanin Family of Filmmakers," presented by Kanin-insider, Professor Josh Kanin. A full professor of Cinema at Santa Monica College who has also enjoyed a successful career as a film editor, Prof. Kanin was born into one of Hollywood's most prolific families. Son of Fay and Michael Kanin and nephew to Garson Kanin and wife, Ruth Gordon, Prof. Kanin will provide personal anecdotes and insights into the eight Kanin family films that will be showcased during the Film Festival including "Woman of the Year," "Harold and Maude," "Adam's Rib," "Tom, Dick & Harry," "Teacher's Pet," "Born Yesterday," "A Double Life," and "Friendly Fire." Whether collaborating as screenwriters or spotlighting their individual talents as actor, producer, or director, this dynamic Academy and Emmy award-winning foursome created some of Hollywood's most acclaimed films and romantic comedies.

The irreverent Bill Harris, long-time show business correspondent for Showtime whose style and personality have earned him the title of "America's #1 Hollywood Reporter," will join Prof. Kanin in hosting lectures and introducing the films which will be screened in Crystal Serenity's aptly named Hollywood Theater on every sea day. A true Hollywood insider, his "Harris in Hollywood" feature of show biz facts, fun and gossip is now heard on more than 320 radio stations around the country.

Writer/producer Paul Barber will host movie appreciation classes. Currently writing and producing the highest-rated show in syndication, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Barber has partnered with his brother Larry on numerous television shows and films, including writing films for Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone and Michael Mann.

The Crystal Visions Enrichment Program is renowned for its creativity and progressive content. With the launch of Crystal Serenity, Crystal's "Creative Learning Institute" debuted to rave reviews. Guests participate in a series of complimentary, interactive classes offered in partnership with some of the best names in art, entertainment, business, wellness and cuisine. The "Voyage to the New World" features a comprehensive roster of classes that will appeal to a variety of interests including:

-- The debut of Book Magazine's Book Club with discussion and Q&A of Philip Roth's The Human Stain lead by bestselling author and Hollywood screenwriter Nicholas Meyer. Meyer is currently at work writing the screen adaptation of The Human Stain, a movie being touted as 2004's The Hours which will star Nicole Kidman.
-- Berlitz language instruction in Spanish and French;
-- Piano lessons taught by Yamaha;
-- Cleveland Clinic wellness seminars lead by a physician from the Clinic's Heart Center, rated as best in America in the current U.S. News and World Report annual survey;
-- Essence of Wine seminars hosted by the Society of Wine Educators;
-- The Crystal/Callaway Golf Program with clinics lead by PGA Pro Joe Herbert;
-- And, Computer University@Sea, ACBL bridge play, dance instruction, fitness and yoga classes, personal training and Pilates instruction and Crystal's Culinary Class Series.

Fares for Crystal Serenity's Inaugural Transatlantic begin at only $3,970 per person, double occupancy. Guests wishing to extend their vacation with a pre-cruise stay in Lisbon may take advantage of the line's program with the Four Seasons Hotel, The Ritz Lisbon.

Upon arrival in the New World, Crystal Serenity will offer a Caribbean itinerary, conveniently round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. The 11-day "Caribbean Celebration" itinerary departs November 17, boasts a lavish Thanksgiving feast and explores the tranquil harbors of Tortola, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. John/St. Thomas. Fares begin at $3,795 per person, double occupancy.

With the launch of Crystal Serenity, Crystal expanded on its own award- winning formula for mid-sized luxury ship cruising. While similar in style and elegance to her two sister ships, Crystal Serenity offers more dining venues, more penthouse accommodations, more staterooms with verandahs, more entertainment lounges, and more fitness options (among other features), than Crystal Harmony and Crystal Symphony. At 1,080 guests and 68,000 tons, she is the largest ship in the Crystal fleet and boasts one of the highest space-per- guest ratios (63.0) in the industry offering 93,500 square feet of public space and 14 decks. Crystal Cruises is booked exclusively through professional travel agents. For a complimentary brochure, call 800.820.6663. Visit the web site at

Back to the top of the news list

Viking River Cruises Sets Sail into China
River Cruise Line Enters China Market with Launch of Brand-New Luxury Cruisetour Itineraries Along the Yangtze River 

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12, 2003--Viking River Cruises, the leader in European river cruising, announces its emergence into China's tourism market. Beginning in March 2004, Viking River Cruises will offer five different all-inclusive cruisetour itineraries, each centered upon a fixed seven-night river cruise along China's legendary Yangtze River. 

"The launch of our China product is the culmination of a dream; a dream to offer Viking River Cruises programs in China," said Jeff Dash, president, Viking River Cruises, Inc. "By implementing the consistent quality and outstanding service standards we have established in our European programs, we can ensure that our China cruisetours will exceed passenger expectations." 

Bringing luxury river cruising to the exotic and intriguing destination of China, Viking River Cruises will provide guests with a level of service and excellence equivalent to five-star hotels. With local offices in Beijing and Chongqing, the cruise line is the only company to oversee all program components, from ship operations and shore excursions to land programs, tours, hotel selections, meals and cultural performances. In addition to expertly planned and paced itineraries, each program will be accompanied by English-speaking escorts and guides throughout, reinforcing the on-site management and quality control. 

To provide accommodations for the river cruise portion of the itineraries, the company is currently building the 186-passenger Century Star, China's most deluxe river cruise vessel, which features all-outside cabins with balconies and a variety of public areas including an observation lounge, gym and massage room. To further accommodate its passengers, the company's Swiss hotel management staff will oversee ship operations, including all food and beverage, hotel management and service. English will be the primary language onboard as well as during all shore excursions and tours. There will be a variety of food served aboard, from the traditional family-style Chinese cuisine to selections from a western menu and even an on-deck barbecue. 

"China has become one of the most visited destinations in the world and its popularity is expected to rise during the next decade," added Dash. "Viking River Cruises believes that as a nation rich in culture and tradition, China will be the perfect addition to our baseline European programs." 

The featured 7-night cruise will take guests on a journey through this mysterious land, touring ports and villages seldom visited by Westerners and allowing more time to enjoy and absorb the ancient traditions and culture surrounding the Yangtze River region. Guests will get the unique experience of cruising during the last phase of the Three Gorges Dam project, including a rare and exciting adventure on a traditional Chinese sampan to the Lesser Three Gorges - formerly inaccessible to travelers. 

Each of the five itineraries will center on the 7-night cruise and highlight different areas of China, with one itinerary including a visit to Lhasa, Tibet and another touring Bangkok, Thailand. Passengers can add pre- and post-cruise land extension packages for stays in Shanghai, Hong Kong or Hong Kong and Guilin. The all-inclusive itineraries, ranging from 9-16 nights and featuring the 7-night deluxe river cruise, all shore excursions and tours, all meals aboard and on land, hotel nights in 5-star and deluxe properties, intra-Asia flights and an English-speaking escort throughout, are priced from $1,649 per person. Brochures will be available soon; call 1-877-66VIKING (1-877-668-4546) to pre-reserve your copy. 

Viking River Cruises is dedicated to contributing to the regions in which it sails. Extending this commitment to the community along the Yangtze River, Viking River Cruises is building a new elementary school in Jingzhou, located in the Hubei province. Once the school is open, passengers will have the opportunity to visit the school during an excursion. 

Viking River Cruises is the leader in European river cruising, offering fine food, quality service and comfortable scenic cruising along some of the world's most majestic rivers. Conde Nast Traveler ranked the company in the top 10 among the world's leading small cruise lines in its 2002 annual reader's choice awards issue. Since its 1997 inception, Viking River Cruises has grown its fleet to 25 vessels and expanded its itineraries to include sailings in Ukraine and China. Viking River Cruises continues to provide travelers with a unique and affordable vacation experience. For additional information, contact Viking River Cruises toll-free at 1-877-66VIKING (1-877-668-4546) or visit the company's website at

Back to the top of the news list

New Mascot Featured on Carnival 'Fun Ships'
'Fun Ship' Freddy To Interact With Guests, Pose for Photo Ops 

MIAMI (08/11/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines has introduced a new mascot, "Fun Ship" Freddy, who is now featured throughout the "Fun Ship" fleet. Modeled after the line's signature red, white and blue winged funnel, "Fun Ship" Freddy was created to entertain guests of all ages sailing aboard the "Fun Ships" and reinforce the Carnival brand, according to Carnival President & CEO Bob Dickinson. "Carnival is the family cruise leader - carrying upwards of 400,000 kids annually - and it seems only natural that the 'Fun Ships' feature a friendly, fun-loving mascot to entertain guests vacationing aboard our ships," he said. "A 'Fun Ship' cruise is like no other - offering a variety of amenities enjoyed in a relaxing, unpretentious atmosphere. The 'Freddy' character fits in perfectly with that philosophy, adding a new dimension of fun and excitement to the Carnival vacation experience," he added. 

Decked out in his customary cruise staff uniform, the six-foot-tall mascot features expressive eyes, a perpetual white-toothed grin, oversized white gloves and sneakers, and, of course, the requisite Carnival ID badge. "Fun Ship" Freddy also has a tux for formal night. In addition to greeting visitors as they arrive on the ship on embarkation day, "Fun Ship" Freddy interacts with guests and poses for photos throughout the voyage and is often found in the children's play area, the focal point of many "Camp Carnival" activities. Thus far, more than 20 people have been hired to portray the "Fun Ship" Freddy character. The "actors," mostly former drama students, must undergo an intensive shoreside training session followed by a four-day "test run" in full costume aboard ship before being hired. 

"At Carnival, we take fun seriously and only those individuals with friendly, outgoing personalities can wear the 'Fun Ship' Freddy costume," Dickinson said. In conjunction with the debut of "Fun Ship" Freddy, a series of plush toys have been created and are available for purchase aboard the new Carnival Glory. The toys will be available on other Carnival ships in the near future. "Fun Ship" Freddy is currently featured on 17 of 19 Carnival "Fun Ships," with fleetwide implementation by the end of the year.

Carnival's "Fun Ships" operate voyages of three to 16 days in length to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, New England, Canada and Bermuda from homeports throughout North America. The line currently has three new ships with an estimated $1.3 billion value scheduled for delivery between now and 2005. The first of those, the 88,500-ton Carnival Miracle, is slated to enter service from Jacksonville, Fla., March 1, 2004. For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal,

Back to the top of the news list

Celebrity Cruises Files Suit Against Rolls Royce, 
Alstom Power Conversion

MIAMI, Aug. 7  -- After repeated attempts to resolve issues satisfactorily, Celebrity Cruises filed a $300 million lawsuit today against Rolls Royce and Alstom Power Conversion, co-producers of a ship pod-propulsion system, to recover lost revenue and costs associated with failing pods. The lawsuit was filed in state court in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The lawsuit charges that the Rolls Royce and Alstom Power Conversion pods, brand-named Mermaid, have failed repeatedly, resulting in cancelled cruises and thousands of disappointed guests. These recurring failures cost the company hundreds of million of dollars, for which the lawsuit seeks restitution. 

The lawsuit further claims that Rolls Royce and Alstom Power Conversion misrepresented their product, which was "defectively designed" and "deceptively and fraudulently marketed." Mermaid pods are installed on four Celebrity ships -- Millennium, Summit, Infinity and Constellation. All four had one or more mechanical or electrical problems with the pods, which caused the ships to be taken out of water and out of service to repair.

"Unfortunately, the Mermaid pods have not lived up to the manufacturers' promise or to Celebrity's high operating standards," said Jack Williams, president and chief operating officer of Celebrity. "This has created intolerable consequences for our guests, and imposed unacceptable conditions on our company. Guests and travel agents should continue to have full confidence in the Celebrity brand. We have modified the more troublesome components, and we are working on a permanent solution. In the meantime, guests should know that any cruise we have to cancel, as a result of any issue with these pods, we will back with a full refund and a free cruise."

There are, and have been, no safety issues with any of these ships. All have been given clearance to sail by the U.S. Coast Guard and the ships' classification society. Even with the problems, safety was never compromised. Propulsion pods consist of an electrical motor and a propeller. They are typically favored by cruise operators because the pod's design, a 360 degree rotating unit, provides a number of advantages, including greater maneuverability.

Celebrity Cruises is the industry's highest-rated premium cruise line. Its nine ships comprise the youngest fleet of any major line. For more information, visit Celebrity's web site at

Back to the top of the news list

Guarantee Rates on Pre-Holiday Departures from Fort Lauderdale, Barbados

MIAMI, August 7, 2003-Small ship specialist The Yachts of Seabourn announced value-priced Guarantee Rates of $1,995 per person for seven-day cruises of Seabourn's "Uncommon Caribbean" during November and December, 2003 aboard the 208-guest, all-suite Seabourn Pride. The fares guarantee cruise accommodation in a 277-square foot, ocean-view Seabourn Suite. Specific suites are assigned 30 days prior to departure. Guarantee Rates of $2,495 per person are also offered for Seabourn Balcony Suites on the same sailings.

Travelers taking advantage of these rates will enjoy the full array of Seabourn's Signature Delights, including complimentary open bars, contemporary gourmet cuisine designed by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, free Massage Moments on deck, an included Exclusively Seabourn shore experience, Pure Pampering therapeutic baths by Molton Brown and a fabulous "Champagne and Caviar in the Surf" party on a private beach.

The rates apply to five different one-week cruises departing from Ft. Lauderdale or Barbados.  The itineraries, which focus on the un-crowded yacht harbors of the Grenadines and Venezuela's exotic Orinoco River, provide excellent opportunities to combine two weeks of Caribbean cruising with different ports of call, to extend your warm-weather cruise vacation at great rates. The dates and itineraries of the cruises are:
  • November 8, 2003 -- 7 days Fort Lauderdale to Barbados including St. John, USVI; Virgin Gorda, BVI and Gustavia, St. Barts.
  • November 22 and December 6, 2003 -- 7 days Roundtrip Barbados including Charlestown, Nevis; Gustavia, St. Barts; Marigot, St. Martin; Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe; Bequia, Grenadines.
  • November 29, 2003 -- 7 days Roundtrip Barbados including Charlotteville, Tobago; Orinoco River, Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela; St. George's Grenada and Mayreau, Grenadines.
  • December 13, 2003 -- 7 days Barbados to Ft. Lauderdale including Gustavia, St. Barts; Virgin Gorda, BVI and St. Thomas USVI.
For more information on The Yachts of Seabourn, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit

Back to the top of the news list

Star Clippers Launches New Itineraries from Rome to Venice 
in July 2004

Coral Gables, Florida – July 7, 2003 - Star Clippers, the mega-yacht Tall Ship cruise line, has announced two new itineraries out of Rome’s port of Civitavecchia. Beginning on July 17, 2004, the 227-passenger, Royal Clipper, will traverse the Mediterranean’s last unsung paradise in a new, alternating format offering ten and eleven night cruises that will include popular anchorages in Italy, Sicily and Greece as well as the idyllic ports and myth-making islands along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and the Adriatic Sea. Cruises will begin in either Rome or Venice with alternating one-way itineraries that can be combined for a once-in-a-lifetime twenty-one night voyage around the southern “boot” of Italy and throughout the alluring archipelagos and enchanting coastal landscapes of Croatia. Cruising rates for the Venice to Rome itineraries start at just $2295 per person, based on double occupancy. Airfare, port charges, transfers and miscellaneous charges are extra.

Star Clippers has always sought out the most unspoiled and appealing cruising areas in the world”, says Jack Chatham, Vice President for Sales and Marketing. “These new itineraries are a perfect addition to our existing routes offered in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and the Far East and, for the very first time, we will offer passengers a longer one-way cruise, Rome to Venice or visa- versa, with the option to make the return trip on alternating weeks or to continue a vacation on land from either city.”

The outbound itinerary from Rome to Venice over eleven nights includes stops in Capri, Lipari and Taormina followed by a day at sea where Royal Clipper’s speed and stability offer a thrilling voyage under sail to Corfu, the most lush, and some say, the loveliest of all the Greek Islands. Following a day on Corfu, where legend says Odysseus was washed ashore to be rescued by Nausicaa, the ship journeys on through dancing waters dotted with thousands of islands appearing like green jewels across the sea. On to Croatia, where passengers will visit the beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik and the coastal villages of Korcula, Marco Polo’s birthplace, Hvar, perfumed with the sweet smell of lavender, Losinj, hosting 30 kilometers of beachfront and Pula, with it’s huge amphitheater and extensive Roman ruins including the Temple of Augustus and the Gate of Hercules, which date from the 1st Century BC. The journey ends in Venice, the heart and soul of romance where Royal Clipper will prepare for the return voyage.

The cruise from Venice to Rome, covering just 10 nights, makes ports-of-call in Croatia including Pula, Losinj, Hvar, Korcula, and Dubrovnik followed by a day at sea to reach Taormina, then on to Lipari, and Sorrento, on Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast overlooking the beautiful Bay of Naples and back to the Eternal City of Rome where pre and post cruise land tours are available through Star Clippers land/sea packages.

The new itineraries out of Rome and Venice commence on July 17, 2004. Prior to that date, Royal Clipper will offer two alternating seven-night Western Mediterranean routes through Sicily, Malta, The Aeolian Islands and along the Amalfi Coast. For more information on these cruises out of Rome, May 15 through July 10, 2004, as well as Star Clippers itineraries in the Caribbean, Greek and Turkish Isles and the Far East, contact your travel agent.

Back to the top of the news list

Holland America Completes 10-Day Introduction
 & Naming of ms Oosterdam
Nearly 20,000 Agents, Past Guests and Friends Visit Ship 

SEATTLE, Aug. 4 -- To celebrate its 130th Anniversary and dedicate its newest vessel, the 1,848-passenger ms Oosterdam, Holland America Line recently completed a ten-day introduction of the vessel in Europe, showcasing the vessel to nearly 20,000 agents, past guests, and potential guests. A highlight of the inaugural festivities was the three-day special celebration in the company's original homeport of Rotterdam with Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands naming the ship. The company's flagship, ms Rotterdam, stood bow-to-bow with the Oosterdam for the celebration. Later, more than 150,000 watched as fireworks lit up the night sky over both ships.

"These past days have been among the most memorable moments in the 130-year history of Holland America," said Lanterman. "Seeing hundreds of thousands of people watch as the ships arrived and then welcoming thousands more aboard to visit the ships was a great experience. It has been a magnificent introduction."

The ms Oosterdam introduction events began with activities in Southampton, United Kingdom, on July 25 and 26, including a travel agent open house, Mariner (past guest) luncheon and overnight gala with travel agents, media and local VIPs. Nearly 3,000 visited the ship in Southampton, generating a flood of interest and bookings at SeaVacations, Holland America's United Kingdom sales office. The ship then sailed to the city of Rotterdam to meet up with the company's flagship ms Rotterdam.

Creating a dramatic backdrop, the Rotterdam and the new ms Oosterdam stood bow-to-bow on the famed Wilhelminakade, just a stone's throw from the company's original headquarters. Over the course of the three days, events included an open house and luncheons for past employees, retirees and friends of the company; a Mariner past guest luncheon; and a centennial celebration of the FWZ Maritime Officers Union of the Netherlands. In addition travel agents from throughout Europe toured the ships and attended special open houses, seminars, luncheons and an overnight stay. Thousands more gathered near the quayside to view the vessels.

In the company's most elaborate naming ceremony ever, thousands watched as Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet arrived via a red carpet lined with hundreds of officers and crew to a stage framed by the five house flags flown on the fleet throughout its rich history. As Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet cut the traditional ribbon, the flags ascended to the bridge of the Rotterdam and 130 white doves were released commemorating the company's anniversary. Next a 6-liter mathusalem of champagne began its nearly 300-foot decent breaking against the Oosterdam's name on the ship's hull. This was followed by the release of a 20- by 30-foot Dutch flag from the bow of the Oosterdam and a similar US flag from the Rotterdam, clearly representing the company's name.

Following the naming ceremony, nearly 1,000 participated in a Royal Maritime Gala at which A. Kirk Lanterman, Chairman and CEO, Holland America Line, became an Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau, an honor bestowed by Her Royal Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The highly coveted decoration was presented to Lanterman by Ivo Opstelton, Lord Mayor of Rotterdam, aboard the Oosterdam during inaugural festivities. After the presentation and dinner, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet blew the ship's whistle to begin an elaborate fireworks show that lit up the evening sky.

According to local officials, more than 150,000 people lined the banks of the Maas River to view the fireworks. As the Oosterdam and Rotterdam departed separately on Wednesday, July 30, on a two-hour journey from Rotterdam to the Atlantic Ocean a flotilla of vessels accompanied each ship and included escorts from the coast guard, navy and police. In addition, the Netherlands Royal Air Force escorted the Oosterdam for the first several miles on her itinerary to Hamburg, Germany, for further introduction activities.

The Oosterdam spent two days in Hamburg, the first visit by a Holland America ship to the river port. In Hamburg, German TV carried the arrival live, while later a 30-minute show broadcast live from the atrium of the ms Oosterdam to millions of viewers throughout Germany. Thousands visited the ship in Hamburg.

On August 3, the Oosterdam arrived at Harwich for her maiden voyage and a luncheon with 700 past guests. As they arrived, the first cruise guests of the Oosterdam were welcomed aboard with a concert by the renowned Royal Marine Band. The Oosterdam's sold-out "Vikings & Czars" maiden voyage sailed from London to Copenhagen Aug. 3 and calls at Oslo with scenic cruising of Oslofjord; Arhus, Denmark; Warnemunde, Germany; Visby, Sweden; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, cruising the Stockholm Archipelago.

Back to the top of the news list

Celebrity Cruises' Concierges Receive Elite Les Clefs D'Or

MIAMI, Aug. 1 -- Celebrity Cruises' concierges have become the first hoteliers in the premium cruise sector to receive the prestigious "Les Clefs D'Or" -- the crossed golden keys signifying a provider of extraordinary service, as recognized by the Union Internationale Des Concierges D'Hotels. As a result of this affiliation, Celebrity's honorees have become members of Les Clefs D'Or, a society of hospitality professionals founded in 1952 with elite members from around the world. Members today are selected according to the same strict criteria of professionalism and dedication to top quality service that they were when the organization was founded.

Consistent with the organization's motto, "service through friendship," members regularly exchange information with one another to improve their skills, solve problems and expand the number of resources available to assist guests around the world.

"There is an interesting history behind the role of concierge, evolving from serving as gatekeepers of ancient palaces and castles, to offering a host of luxury services in today's finest hotels and, most recently, cruise ships," said Senior Vice President of Fleet Operations, Dietmar Wertanzl. "We are thrilled that the commitment and high standards exhibited by our concierges have been recognized by such a prestigious organization, which further validates the 'taste of luxury' that guests will find on every Celebrity ship."

In addition to concierge services, Celebrity's tastes of luxury include cold towels for guests upon return from shore excursions; fresh sorbet served by a parade of waiters at poolside; sunset yoga and Pilates classes; poolside massages; a Casual Dining Boulevard complete with a Pasta/Pizza Bar and Sushi Cafe; sunset happy hours with live music and light refreshments; Michael's Club piano bar; Cova Cafe and wine bar; the exotic AquaSpa(SM) by Elemis; a guest-to-staff ratio of 2:1, and 24-hour butler service in every suite.

Along with the vast array of personalized services provided by its professional concierges, Celebrity also offers "ConciergeClass," a new category of accommodations with a host of special amenities -- including a one-touch phone button to reach the concierge directly -- to offer guests the perfect compromise between Celebrity's stylish staterooms and plush luxury suites.

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

Back to the top of the news list

Norwegian Cruise Line Features a Wider Range of Caribbean Itineraries From More Homeland Cruising Ports Than Ever Before For 2004-05
Norwegian Dawn to Sail 10 and 11-Day Cruises throughout the Winter

MIAMI, FL, July 29, 2003 - Sailing to the Caribbean has never been easier with Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) 2004-2005 Caribbean schedule, the line's widest ranging lineup ever. Passengers can visit the world's most popular cruise destination from six close-to-home ports aboard seven NCL Freestyle Cruising ships. NCL's Caribbean deployment will be highlighted by a series of unique aspects, including an extended slate of 10- and 11-day itineraries on Norwegian Dawn from New York in the winter; longer port calls in the exotic Southern Caribbean and the only Western Caribbean itinerary offering Roatan, Honduras and Belize. Under NCL's innovative Homeland Cruising program, the company will offer Caribbean departures from Charleston, S.C., Houston, New Orleans, Miami, New York and San Juan.

"NCL's reputation for innovation began more than 30 years ago when our company launched its first Caribbean cruises," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "We continue to pioneer intriguing Caribbean itineraries but now we offer them from six Homeland Cruising cities. Our guests can now drive to the port and begin their vacation almost immediately instead of spending the first day of their vacation flying across the country."

NCL's Caribbean deployment for 2004-2005 will feature:

  • The only cruise ship sailing year-round from Houston;
  • The only cruise line offering regularly scheduled, seven-day cruises from Charleston;
  • The only four-port, seven-day itinerary departing from New Orleans;
  • The only exotic Western Caribbean itinerary from Miami offering Roatan and Belize;
  • A seven-day deep Southern Caribbean itinerary offering full port days in Dominica and St. Kitts;
  • The only cruise ship sailing year-round from New York;
  • The only 10- and 11-day exotic Southern Caribbean cruises departing from New York in the winter.

In all, NCL will offer 277 Caribbean departures on seven ships - Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Dream, Norwegian Majesty, Norwegian Sea, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Wind - between Dec. 28, 2003 and April 30, 2005. NCL 's Caribbean fleet will offer one of the industry's most flexible, far-ranging schedules, with 14 separate itineraries sailing to the Eastern, Western and Southern Caribbean. Voyages are now open for sale.

Below are details of the 2004-05 Caribbean itineraries:

Norwegian Dawn - In response to the strong demand for more winter Caribbean itineraries from travel agents and passengers, NCL's newest Freestyle Cruising ship will now offer an extended season of 10- and 11-day cruises departing roundtrip from New York in the winter from Jan 4 through Feb. 5, 2004 and again from November 7, 2004 through February 10, 2005.

The 10-day cruises call at St. Thomas (U.S.V.I.); St. John's, Antigua; Bridgetown, Barbados; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Tortola (B.V.I.) all with four relaxing days at sea. A special 10-day itinerary will be offered on the Jan. 15, 2004 cruise, featuring calls in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas (U.S.V.I.); St. John's, Antigua; Roseau, Dominica, Philipsburg, St. Maarten and four days at sea. The 11-day cruises feature relaxing calls in beautiful St. Thomas, (U.S.V.I.); St. John's, Antigua; Bridgetown, Barbados; St. George's, Grenada; Roseau, Dominica; and Tortola (B.V.I.) and also offer four sea days. Pricing for these itineraries start from $1,099.

In addition to these longer Southern Caribbean cruises, Norwegian Dawn will continue to offer her innovative 7-day Bahamas & Florida itinerary throughout the rest of the year. Departing from New York on Sundays, Norwegian Dawn will take guests to Orlando (Port Canaveral) and Miami, Florida and Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Norwegian Dream - From New Orleans, Norwegian Dream will offer weekly Western Caribbean cruises from Jan. 4, 2004 through March 7, 2004 and again from Oct. 24, 2004 through March 20, 2005. The itinerary visits Cozumel and Cancun, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Belize City, Belize. Prices start from $479. Norwegian Dream will also offer two eight-day cruises from New Orleans to Miami on March 14, 2004 and March 27, 2005; both sailings will call at Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize and San Andres, Colombia. Pricing on these itineraries start from $749 per person.

Norwegian Majesty - Sailing weekly from Charleston, S.C. from Jan. 3 to April 10, 2004 and Nov. 13, 2004 to April 9, 2005, Norwegian Majesty will call at George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico and Key West, Fla. The January-April 2004 voyages are priced from $599 and the November 2004 - April 2005 sailings are priced from $499.

Norwegian Sea - NCL will continue its innovative "Texaribbean" itinerary, with roundtrip departures from Houston to Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize and Cancun, Mexico with two days at sea, departing from Jan. 3, 2004 to April 24, 2004. Prices begin from $529. Norwegian Sea will offer a new Texaribbean itinerary beginning May 1, 2004, with port calls at Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras and George Town, Grand Cayman. The itinerary is available through April 30, 2005. Prices begin from $449.

Norwegian Sky - Norwegian Sky will offer weekly, alternating Deep Southern Caribbean and Exotic Southern Caribbean itineraries departing roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico. From Jan. 11 to April 18, 2004, Norwegian Sky's Deep Caribbean cruises will call at St. Thomas, (U.S.V.I); Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St. Lucia; and Basseterre, St. Kitts with one day at sea. Exotic Southern Caribbean cruises will sail to St. Thomas (U.S.V.I.); St. John's, Antigua; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Tortola (B.V.I.) with a day at sea. Deep Southern Caribbean sailings and Exotic Southern Caribbean voyages are both priced from $599.

Norwegian Sun - Sailing roundtrip from Miami, Norwegian Sun will offer Western Caribbean cruises from Jan. 4 through March 21, 2004 featuring Ocho Rios (or Montego Bay), Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico with two days at sea. From Oct. 16, 2004 through April 9, 2005, Norwegian Sun will offer an Exotic Western Caribbean itinerary visiting George Town, Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico with two sea days. Pricing begins at $549.

Norwegian Wind - Exotic Western Caribbean cruises sailing roundtrip from Miami are on tap for Norwegian Wind, with weekly departures from Jan. 3 through April 10, 2004, featuring port calls at George Town, Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico. Prices begin at $449.

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line is an industry innovator and the leader in roundtrip seven-day cruising from U.S. and Canadian ports, offering its popular Homeland Cruising program seasonally from Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Orlando (Port Canaveral), San Juan, Seattle and Vancouver, and year round from New York, Miami, Houston and Honolulu. For further information on NCL, agents in the U.S. and Canada may contact NCL at (800) 327-7030; visit NCL's website at

Back to the top of the news list

Norwegian Crown to offer Freestyle Cruising to the diverse ports of exotic South America

MIAMI, FL, August 1, 2003 - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)'s Norwegian Crown will continue the company's exotic journeys to South America in 2004 and 2005, with a series of 14-day sailings between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, Chile highlighted by optional flyovers of Antarctica and scenic cruising through Chile's stunning fjords. The 1,104-passenger Norwegian Crown will offer five 14-day Chilean Fjords/Strait of Magellan voyages from Dec. 28, 2003 to Feb. 8, 2004. The series resumes on Dec. 19, 2004 when Norwegian Crown launches the first of six 14-day South America departures through Feb. 27, 2005.

"Norwegian Crown is the ideal ship for cruising to South America's diverse ports of call, from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires to smaller more intimate ports of call like Puerto Madryn," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "Norwegian Crown combines the freedom and flexibility of Freestyle Cruising with a mid-sized scale, allowing her to visit ports too small to comfortably accommodate other ships."

Norwegian Crown's 14-day voyages will alternate between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, with Buenos Aires departures visiting Montevideo, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia, Argentina; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; and Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco and Puerto Montt, Chile; before docking in Valparaiso (Santiago). Along the route, guests will enjoy scenic cruising through Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel (featuring the Channel's majestic glaciers), the Strait of Magellan, the Chilean fjords, the Patagonic Channel and Canal Moraleda. Passengers can opt for an Antarctica flyover while in Punta Arenas, and the itinerary also features three relaxing days at sea.

Norwegian Crown's sailings from Valparaiso call at Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Port Stanley, Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. The route features scenic cruising in the Darwin Canal, Patagonic Channels, Chilean fjords, Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel and Cape Horn, with three days at sea.

Back to the top of the news list

Guests will enjoy scenic cruising amidst brilliant fall foliage aboard this Freestyle Cruising ship

MIAMI (July 30, 2003) - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today announced it would resume Norwegian Crown's popular Canada/New England cruises in the fall of 2004. The 1,104-passenger Freestyle Cruising ship will sail a series of 11- and 12-day fall foliage cruises between Sept. 13 and Oct. 17, 2004 departing from Baltimore, one of the line's new Homeland Cruising ports. Additionally, because of Norwegian Crown's intimate size, she will be able to visit charming, less crowded ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships, including Martha's Vineyard, Mass. and Bar Harbor, Maine.

"For nearly a decade, the beauty and charm of New England and Canada have proven extremely popular with our guests," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "Combining the newly refurbished Norwegian Crown with the convenient roundtrip departures from one of our new Homeland Cruising ports, is an unbeatable vacation experience for those who appreciate the beauty of fall foliage."

Norwegian Crown's 11-day voyages depart from Baltimore on Sept. 13 and 24, 2004 and feature port calls at Bar Harbor; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Quebec City, Quebec and Boston. Along the route, guests will enjoy scenic cruising of the Cape Cod Canal and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The itinerary also includes five full relaxing days at sea. Norwegian Crown's 12-day Canada/New England voyage departs Oct. 5, 2004 and sails roundtrip from Baltimore to Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Quebec City, Boston and Martha's Vineyard. This sailing also includes scenic cruising of the Cape Cod Canal and the Gulf of St. Lawrence with five days at sea.

The voyages are on sale now with prices beginning from $1,449. During her February refurbishment, Norwegian Crown underwent dramatic changes that transformed the vessel into a Freestyle Cruising ship offering guests all the flexibility and choice synonymous with the concept. The changes include the addition of three new restaurants: NCL's signature Le Bistro; Café Italia, an Italian pasta café; and Chopsticks, an Asian-themed restaurant, bringing the number of restaurants on board the ship to six.

Norwegian Crown's Monte Carlo Casino was completely rebuilt, and a new center for children and teens was added. Also new is the Mandara Spa, Beauty Salon and Fitness Center, which offers a separate aerobic area, a weight room with an array of fitness equipment and nine treatment rooms. The salon features four stations all facing a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows.

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line is an international industry innovator and the leader in roundtrip seven-day cruising from U.S. and Canadian ports, offering its popular Homeland Cruising program seasonally from Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Orlando (Port Canaveral), San Juan, Seattle and Vancouver, and year round from New York, Miami, Houston and Honolulu. For further information on NCL, agents in the U.S. and Canada may contact NCL at (800) 327-7030; visit NCL's website at

Back to the top of the news list

NCL Announces Local Hawaii Team

MIAMI, FL, July 25, 2003 -Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today it will open its Hawaii office in Honolulu next month, and that Miami-based NCL executive Robert Kritzman will move to Hawaii to head up the new operation. In addition, the company has hired three Honolulu-based executives to the positions of Director of Marine and Port Operations, Director of Hawaii Land Operations and Director of Human Resources and Administration. All three positions will report to Kritzman, as will several others yet to be filled. The new office is being established in advance of NCL's major expansion in Hawaii in 2004, including the introduction of two new U.S. Flagged, U.S. crewed ships that will sail inter-island Hawaii cruises under the NCL America brand.

"By the year 2006, we will have 30 percent of our fleet capacity in Hawaii," according to Veitch. "Robert has the background and experience to run a successful operation in this very important market for us. Transferring such a senior executive to take care of a single market illustrates the importance of Hawaii in NCL's business mix and our commitment to the success of our new U.S. Flag operation."

A 12-year veteran at NCL's headquarters in Miami, Kritzman is currently Senior Vice President and General Counsel, overseeing NCL's human resources department, legal department, risk management department and its corporate affairs program. He also serves on the company's executive committee and sits on the boards of the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, the International Council of Cruise Lines and the North West Cruiseship Association. He will continue to work closely with the Miami office reporting to NCL's President and CEO Colin Veitch.

The appointment of Kritzman comes in advance of a deployment in 2004 that sees four NCL ships serving the Hawaii market: two U.S. flagged ships sailing inter-island year-round under the NCL America brand - Pride of America and Pride of Aloha; and two foreign flagged ships offering Hawaii/Fanning Island itineraries - Norwegian Wind sailing year round and Norwegian Star sailing through April 2004.

Company hires three key Hawaii executives
NCL has hired William ("Bill") Anonsen as Director of Marine and Port Operations. Anonsen has more than 30 years experience in Hawaii's maritime industry. He most recently worked for the State of Hawaii's Department of Transportation where he was the maritime operations specialist. While he was there, he oversaw the development of cruise ship terminals and infrastructure improvements, and developed immediate and long-term statewide port security measures after Sept. 11th.
Previously, Anonsen worked for American Classic Voyages for seven years where he held various roles including Director of Marine Operations and Vice President of Maritime Affairs and Training. He is involved with numerous organizations including the Chamber of Commerce's maritime affairs committee, the Board of Governors, U.S. Navy League, the Hawaii Operational Safety Team, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and he is an advisory board member of the Travel Industry Management School at the University of Hawaii.

Lei Fountain joins NCL as Director of Hawaii Land Operations. Fountain most recently worked for American Classic Voyages where she worked first as Revenue Manager, then Director of Land Operations and Shore Excursions and finally as Vice President of Destination Services. She will be responsible for operating all land based passenger operations in Hawaii including hotel programs, sightseeing, embarkation, shore excursions and transfers. Fountain has a Master's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Hawaii. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from the University of Redlands in California.

Dale Chikuami Hahn joins NCL as Director of Human Resources and Administration - Hawaii. She will be responsible for all human resources and administration activities. Prior to joining NCL, Hahn was a consultant to Pacific Management Consultants, Inc., a Hawaii based government affairs and public relations consulting company, and was for several years the Chief Operating Officer of Pearl City Nursing Home and Oahu Care Facility. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

"We are very pleased to have Bill, Lei and Dale joining our Hawaii operation," Robert Kritzman said. "They each bring a wealth of local knowledge and cruise industry experience that combine to make an exceptional team."

For further information on NCL and NCL America, agents in the U.S. and Canada may contact NCL at (800) 327-7030; visit NCL's website at

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