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News from the world of cruise travel ~
December 10-31, 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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From 'Out to Sea' to 'Growing Pains,' Celebrity Cruises Taps More Entertainers for 'Discoveries'

MIAMI, Dec. 30 -- An impressive array of actors, athletes, entrepreneurs and heroes will set sail with Celebrity Cruises as part of its ongoing "Celebrity Discoveries" enrichment lecture series. The initial lineup for 2004 includes:

Mariano Rivera -- January 4 departure on Millennium
After bringing the Yankees to four World Series titles and six American League pennants, Rivera has established himself as one the greatest players in the history of baseball. The Panamanian pitcher will do two Q&A and autograph sessions onboard.

Howard Putnam -- January 4 departure on Infinity
As a 20-year veteran of United Airlines and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, Putnam is a giant in the travel industry, as well as an author and advisor on business issues, leadership and ethics.

Beverly Garland -- January 4 departure on Infinity
From starring as "Mom" on "My Three Sons" to television's first policewoman in "Decoy" in 1957, Garland has spent more than 50 years in show business. She received one of acting's highest honors in 1983, when she was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dick Morris -- January 18 departure on Infinity
A prominent political consultant to Bill Clinton, Morris handled winning campaigns for more than 30 senators and governors. Currently a commentator for the FOX News Channel, Morris offers objective commentary about the U.S. political scene.

Ernest Borgnine -- February 1 departure on Infinity
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in "Marty" (1955), and star of the former television series, "McHale's Navy" and "Airwolf," Borgnine is recognized as a great comedic actor. He also is actively involved in charitable organizations benefiting U.S. veterans.

Gloria De Haven -- February 21 departure on Century
An actress, singer and dancer, De Haven has starred in feature films opposite legendary actors, including Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, June Allyson and Lionel Barrymore, and held recurring roles on "Ryan's Hope" and "Murder She Wrote." She returned to feature films in 1997 opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the comedy, "Out to Sea."

Alan Thicke -- March 27 departure on Century
Known for his role as "Dad" on the '80's sitcom "Growing Pains," Thicke also is an accomplished singer/songwriter who has worked with artists such as Marc Anthony, Christina Aguilera, and Brian McKnight.

Arlene Dahl -- June 19 departure on Constellation
One of the most beautiful actresses to grace the screen during the post- war period, Dahl is known for her work in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Reign of Terror." More recently, she established herself as a businesswoman marketing lingerie and cosmetics.

Michael Learned -- June 19 departure on Zenith
Winner of four Emmy Awards for her work on hit TV show "The Waltons," Learned also has appeared as a guest star on more than 12 shows, including "Law & Order" and "Profiler."

Dick Rutan -- June 25 departure on Mercury
Pilot Dick Rutan flew around the globe on one tank of gas, without refueling. Taking off from Edwards Air Force Base in California on December 14, 1986, and landing nine days, three minutes and 44 seconds later on December 23, 1986, Rutan and his flight set world records that remain unchallenged today.

Leonard Maltin -- July 31 departure on Constellation
"The man behind the microphone," Leonard Maltin has been dishing with celebrities since 1981 as the movie critic for "Entertainment Tonight."

Anand Amritraj -- dates to be confirmed
A tennis world legend, Amritraj was India's national singles champion in 1974 but perhaps best known as partner with his brother, Vijay, in doubles matches. The pair reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1976, and helped India make it to the finals of the Davis Cup in 1987. Amritraj still plays tennis actively, and owns a health and racquet club in Long Island, NY.

Celebrity's expanded enrichment lecture program is only one component of the line's recent series of brand enhancements, including such amenities as frosty towels, sorbet and fashion shows poolside; a Sushi Café and made-to- order pasta and pizza bar; sunset yoga and Pilates classes, and an entirely new category of plush accommodations, "ConciergeClass."

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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Sports Fans Get Football 'Fix' From Celebrity Cruises

MIAMI, Dec. 29 -- Sports enthusiasts sailing with Celebrity Cruises in January will find that the line's poolside sorbet service and sunset happy hours aren't the only antidotes for the winter blues. Via an agreement with ESPN, Celebrity will carry the following series of post-season NFL games live, fleetwide:

  * Wild Card Weekend, January 3 and 4
  * Divisional Playoffs, January 10 and 11
  * Conference Championships, January 18
  * Super Bowl XXXVIII, February 1

The games will be broadcast in public spaces onboard, as well as on the in-stateroom Celebrity television system.

For guests interested in actually participating in athletic activities, every Celebrity ship features basketball, volleyball and shuffleboard courts; sunset yoga and Pilates classes; fitness centers, swimming pools, whirlpools and Thalassotherapy (sea water) pools. Meanwhile, Celebrity's Elemis-operated AquaSpa facilities present exotic, rejuvenating treatments on par with many of the world's finest land-based spas.

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

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Berlitz Announces Top 25 Rated Five-Star Cruise Ships From Eagerly-Awaited 'Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004'

MASPETH, N.Y., Dec. 23 -- For the fourth year running, Europa, the luxury Hapag-Lloyd ship, captures the proverbial maritime Oscar, reveals Berlitz Publishing's annual definitive cruising guide: "Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004," which is due in bookstores next month. So exclusive and high-scoring in all possible criteria is Europa, that author Douglas Ward, world-renowned authority on cruise ships, created a new class for her: Five-Stars Plus. Ward describes Europa as "the very best and most luxurious cruise ship and cruise experience available today - unless you have your own private motor yacht."

While "Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004" delivers the most comprehensive analyses and ratings systems for the 256 cruise ships that sail today's seas, Ward says there is "no best cruise line in the world." Cruise lines - he points out - are like the stock market. Their standards go up and down each year, due to competition, the introduction of new ships, and other factors. This year, only 24 ships earned "membership" into the Five-Stars Club. See below for the top 25 Five Star Ships in the world, according to "Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004."

"Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004" has a suggested retail price of $23.95 and can be found soon at most bookstores, travel stores, and online outlets. For further information, contact: Berlitz Publishing, 46-35 54th Road, Maspeth, NY 11378; or call: 800-432-3294. Berlitz on the Web:  

         Berlitz Publishing's Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004

                           FIVE-STARS PLUS CLUB

      1.  Europa

                             FIVE-STARS CLUB

      1.  Sea Dream I
      2.  Sea Dream II
      3.  Seabourn Legend
      4.  Seabourn Pride
      5.  Seabourn Spirit
      6.  Crystal Serenity
      7.  Crystal Symphony
      8.  Queen Elizabeth 2 (Grill Class)
      9.  Silver Shadow
      10. Silver Whisper
      11. Hanseatic
      12. Crystal Harmony
      13. Silver Cloud
      14. Silver Wind
      15. Sea Cloud II
      16. Hebridean Spirit
      17. Sea Cloud
      18. Seven Seas Voyager
      19. Seven Seas Mariner
      20. Constellation
      21. Hebridean Princess
      22. Infinity
      23. Millennium
      24. Summit

See Berlitz Publishing's "Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004" for the points these ships received, as well as explanations for why these ships scored as highly as they did.

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Royal Olympic Cruise Lines Update

PIRAEUS, Greece, Dec. 22 -- Royal Olympic Cruise Lines, Inc. issued the following status report on the vessels Olympia Explorer and Olympia Voyager:

Both ship owning companies continue the Chapter 11 reorganization filed in Honolulu, and subject to further discussions with lenders and further action by the District Court are restricted to calls at US Ports. As a result of this limitation, the December 22 sailing of the Olympia Explorer to Ensenada, Mexico and the Hawaiian Islands has been cancelled and the Olympia Voyager has been held at St Thomas USVI, and is expected to return to Port Everglades with passengers on January 2nd.

Future plans for both ships must await the outcome of current discussions between owners and lenders and further action by the Court. No other Royal Olympic related company has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization.

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New Carnival Miracle Features Wedding Chapel & Packages for Couples to Say 'I Do'

MIAMI (12/22/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines will offer a wide variety of affordable and convenient wedding packages for couples seeking to tie the knot aboard the new 88,500-ton Carnival Miracle, the line's newest "Fun Ship" set to enter service from Jacksonville, Fla., Feb. 27, 2004. The ship will also feature an intimate and elegant on-board wedding chapel, an ideal venue for couples to exchange vows. Wedding packages offer a ceremony aboard ship during embarkation day or at various on-island locations, and complement the line's existing fleetwide wedding program, which is expected to attract some 2,200 couples in 2004.  

The Chapel aboard Carnival Miracle will feature stained-glass windows and Old Testament scenes, along with a central aisle leading to the stage and a private dressing area for the bride. The Gothic-style facility will serve as the venue for weddings held during embarkation day while the ship is docked at Jacksonville. The wedding packages will also be available at the ship's three other homeports - Baltimore, New York and Tampa. The "Just for the Bride & Groom" package starts at $750 and includes an official civil ceremony, a champagne toast with keepsake flutes, flowers for both bride and groom, a wedding cake with cake topper, pre-recorded wedding music, a decorated bridal aisle and photographic services. 

The "Welcome Aboard" package begins at $1,350 and offers all the amenities of "Just for the Bride & Groom," as well as a reception with one-hour open bar and hot-and-cold hors d'oeuvres, a traditional two-tiered wedding cake and coffee service. Couples may also select the "Deluxe Romance" package, which starts at $1,450 and includes a one-and-a-half hour reception and an ice carving, as well as all the features of the other programs. A wide variety of options such as videography services, live music and tuxedo rental are also available at additional cost. 

Shoreside ceremonies featuring a romantic tropical setting will also be available in Key West, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Carnival Miracle is slated to debut from Jacksonville with a series of 12 three- to six-day voyages through April 17, 2004, marking the first time that Carnival has ever operated from that port. The ship will also offer seven-day departures from Baltimore and New York before repositioning to Tampa for year-round seven-day western Caribbean cruises from that port beginning Nov. 7, 2004. For additional information on Carnival's wedding packages, call the line's Bon Voyage Department at 1-800-933-4968. For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal 

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Cunard Line Takes Delivery of Queen Mary 2, the World's Largest & Grandest Liner Ever

SAINT NAZAIRE, France, Dec. 22 -- Cunard officially took delivery of Queen Mary 2, the largest (151,400 tons), longest (1,132 feet/345 metres), tallest (236 feet/72 metres), widest (135 feet/41 metres) and most expensive ($800 million) ocean liner ever built. Queen Mary 2 is the first true transatlantic liner to have been built since the line's legendary Queen Elizabeth 2 entered service in May 1969.

The historic ceremony at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard included the symbolic changing of the flag where the Blue ensign and the Cunard house flag, a gold lion rampant on a red background, were raised. Queen Mary 2 then officially became a Cunarder, carrying the Cunard name, with its associated heritage and traditions, into the future. The ceremony also included a celebratory lunch on board for 600 guests.

According to Pamela Conover, Cunard Line's president and chief operating officer, "Queen Mary 2 is the most extraordinary passenger liner ever built and is destined to be the most famous ship in the world. The superb quality and exacting care with which she was built will ensure that she is the ultimate in ocean travel for years to come."

Patrick Boissier, chairman and CEO of Chantiers de l'Atlantique, said: "Today is a proud day for all of our employees and partners associated with this magnificent vessel. Without question, Queen Mary 2 is the new benchmark for shipbuilding excellence. She will be our best ambassador on the seas."

After several days of maneuvers the new flagship of the Cunard fleet will arrive in her homeport of Southampton, England, on Boxing Day, December 26. The vessel will be met by fireboats and is expected to receive a tumultuous welcome. Her Majesty The Queen will name Queen Mary 2 at a gala ceremony in Southampton on January 8, 2004. The ship enters service on January 12 with a Maiden Voyage from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In her inaugural year Queen Mary 2 will sail 13 transatlantic crossings between England and New York as she takes over the role currently operated by her sister ship, QE2, as Cunard's transatlantic liner. On April 16, she will make her maiden westbound transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York. The vessel will also introduce a series of Caribbean cruises from New York and Fort Lauderdale; a voyage to Rio de Janeiro and back, timed for Carnival; five European itineraries and two fall foliage cruises to ports in Canada and New England. Her maiden eastbound crossing on April 25 will be historic for Cunard as both Queen Mary 2 and QE2 will depart New York together. The day in New York will be the first time two Cunard Queens have been berthed in the port together since March 1940.

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

Cunard Line has operated the most famous ocean liners in the world since 1840. Cunard vessels have a classic British heritage and include QE2 and Caronia. In 2004 the line welcomes Queen Mary 2, destined to recapture the glamour of the original Queen Mary, currently a hotel and attraction in Long Beach, CA. In 2005, another newbuild, Queen Victoria, joins the fleet. For more information, consult a travel agent, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or visit the website at 

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Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo and Other Rockers on Board for Entertainment Industry Foundation's Benefit Cruise
Event Supports Hunger Relief in America

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 22 -- Rock stars Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, along with a lineup of classic rock legends, join the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and Cruising for a Cause (CFAC) for a weeklong Caribbean cruise to raise much-needed awareness and funds to combat childhood hunger in America. This cruise brings together an amazing line-up of performances by classic rock artists. Scheduled to perform during six nights of concerts are: Kansas, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company, Grand Funk Railroad, Mickey Thomas of Starship and Friends, featuring Mike Reno of Loverboy, Bobby Kimball of Toto and Jimi Jamison of Survivor. In addition to the nightly performances, many of the musicians have recorded public service announcements to bring attention to this hidden crisis.

Hunger threatens the health, education and future of more than 13 million children in America. Compelling evidence shows that even brief periods of hunger for a child can permanently retard physical growth and brain development.

"As parents, it is difficult to imagine that so many children in our own country are not getting the basic nutrition they need to feed their bodies and minds," says Pat Benatar who, along with husband Neil Giraldo, serve as EIF ambassadors for the cruise.

"We're thrilled to join so many of our friends in the music industry for this special cruise event," says Giraldo. "With Cruising for a Cause, the Entertainment Industry Foundation wants to create an experience where people can enjoy themselves while feeling good about making a difference for children."

In total, CFAC hopes to raise $750,000 for EIF's Hunger Free America program which is dedicated to making childhood hunger a national priority, focusing on school meal programs within the public school system, and raising necessary funds to feed at-risk families. CFAC will donate $400 from each purchased cruise fare to the hunger initiative.

To Order Tickets
The 8 day/7 night Caribbean voyage aboard Holland America's new vista class ship, the Zuiderdam will launch on May 15, 2004 from Ft. Lauderdale, cruising to Key West, Cozumel, Georgetown and Half Moon Cay. Cruising for a Cause tickets are available for purchase at or by calling (800) 538-0203. For more information about EIF's hunger initiative, visit 

Enter Caribbean Cruise Giveaway to Win
As a way to generate excitement for the cruise, CFAC is offering adults a chance to win two free tickets aboard the cruise through the Caribbean Cruise Giveaway sweepstakes. People can enter to win by visiting As part of the on-line entry form, there is an interactive Q&A to challenge your understanding about childhood hunger.

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SeaDream Yacht Club Achieves Amazing Ratings
 by Authoritative Publication

For Second Straight Year Berlitz Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships Gives SeaDream I & II Five-Star Club Ratings 
SeaDream Outscores All Contenders in Food and Service Categories

SeaDream Yacht Club’s twin, ultra-luxury, mega yacht cruisers, SeaDream I and II, have been rated the number two and three finest passenger vessels in the world and have outscored all ships rated (regardless of size) in the food and service categories. The singular honor was awarded by the authoritative Berlitz Guide to Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships 2004. It was the second year in a row that the SeaDream twins received this Berlitz accolade; all the more unusual since SeaDream Yacht Club is a mere two years old. SeaDream’s mega yacht cruisers topped the publication’s Five Star-Club with only one vessel scoring marginally higher at Five Stars Plus--Europa, a German language vessel, operated largely for the German market.

A delighted Larry Pimentel, CTC, President and CEO of SeaDream Yacht Club, pointed out: “The objective evaluations of the Berlitz guide are determined from criteria that includes cumulative scores for the quality of the ship, its accommodations, cuisine, service, entertainment and overall cruise experience. But for the entertainment (modest on yachts; elaborate on cruise vessels) SeaDream I and II might well have outscored all of 25 of the Five Star rated ships. “SeaDream I and II were not rated in the entertainment category since yacht class vessels do not stress elaborate entertainment but choose to emphasize a more active, free-form, seagoing holiday. In spite of the absence of a score for entertainment the SeaDream yachts achieved amazing scores,” Pimentel said. “All SeaDream colleagues are to be congratulated in this outstanding achievement; especially the incredible staff aboard SeaDream I and II,” he added.

SeaDream Yacht Club is the yachting venture by Norwegian entrepreneur Atle Brynestad who founded Seabourn Cruise Line, and Larry Pimentel who was president of Seabourn under Brynestad and later president and CEO of the merged Cunard and Seabourn. Pimentel is President and CEO of the Coconut Grove, Florida-headquartered SeaDream Yacht Club and a co-owner. Brynestad is Chairman. The company operates SeaDream I and SeaDream II, twin, ultra luxury, mega yachts that operate on seven-day sailings in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. The yachts are not only ideal for discerning travelers seeking an unstructured and casual holiday experience but also for small meetings and incentive groups or individual private family gatherings. They are available for full charter. SeaDream I and II share the top Five-Star Club award in the Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships 2003 guidebook and recently in the 2004 guidebook. In the Americas the SeaDream Yacht Club reservations number is 1 800 707-4911. In Europe it is +47 23 28 96 60. The website is

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Noted Explorers & Lecturers Lead MV Discovery's 
Inaugural Antarctic Season

FORT LAUDERDALE - When MV Discovery makes three journeys to Antarctica this winter, passengers will have the benefit of the expertise and wisdom of a noted team of polar explorers and lecturers, including Dr. Jerri Nielsen whose harrowing experience of self-diagnosis and treatment of cancer while in Antarctica was captured in her best-selling book "Icebound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival" gained her national recognition.

Led by Dr. Peter Carey, director of the Sub Antarctic Foundation for Ecosystems Research (SAFER), the expedition team includes specialists in glaciology and geology, marine life, seabirds, human history and Antarctic politics, living conditions and science. The cruise schedule includes three exciting voyages: a 16-night itinerary from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, departing December 26, which combines ports in Argentina and the Falkland Islands with Antarctica's Deception, Cuverville and Half Moon islands; Lemaire Channel; Paradise Harbor and the Port Lockroy area; a 13-night itinerary departing January 6 that puts all the emphasis on Antarctica, and a three-week trip departing January 13 that adds the Chilean Fjords. Prices start at $3,595 per person, double occupancy, and include free round-trip air from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Chicago. 

  • Expedition Leader Dr. Peter Carey has made fifty trips to the continent of Antarctica as a research scientist and continues to visit on a yearly basis. In addition to his role as director of SAFER, he also works to preserve the delicate ecology of a group of small islands that he purchased from the Falklands and is an expert on seals, penguins and the region. Passengers will have the opportunity to witness a first-hand account of Dr. Jerri Nielsen's experiences on the White Continent that were recently recounted in the CBS original movie starring Susan Sarandon based on her best-selling book Icebound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival (December 26 sailing only).
  • Dr. Sean Fitzsimons is a glaciologist and geomorphologist who has led 14 expeditions to Antarctica with the New Zealand Antarctic Program and the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition. Author of numerous scientific publications and a senior lecturer at the University of Otago, New Zealand, he will share his knowledge of polar glaciers and other ice formations with passengers.
  • Dr. Craig Franklin is an evolutionary and environmental physiologist with particular interest in how animals function in extreme environments. He has participated in 10 research expeditions to Antarctica with the New Zealand Antarctic Program where he has discovered how fish survive and thrive under the sea ice. He is currently an associate professor at the University of Queensland, Australia where he runs a large laboratory and studies such diverse species as crocodiles, sharks, burrowing frogs and turtles.
  • Malcolm MacFarlane has visited Antarctica over 40 times and has held many distinguished positions with the New Zealand government. He will share his experience as the leader of the Vanda Station in Antarctica as well as operations manager and senior scientific officer for the New Zealand Antarctic Research Program. MacFarlane Bluff on the edge of the Antarctic Plateau is named in his honor.
  • Gabriela Roldan, an authority on Antarctica, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and the Falklands, lives in Ushuaia and is active in developing environmental education programs for Argentine children focusing on the delicate ecosystems of the area. She will share her first-hand knowledge and experiences with passengers during their voyage.
  • Paul Sagar is a biologist with a long association with Antarctica and the subantarctic islands. An expert on seabirds, his current research focuses on the impacts of fisheries on albatross populations and the causes of penguin population declines. Author of more than 50 scientific publications about the Antarctic region's birds, he will follow his time on MV Discovery with studies of the threatened Buller's albatross on the Snares Islands. William Costa has been involved with boats all his life. The former Commodore and Race Committee Chairman of the Provincetown (MA) Yacht Club, he has been driving landing crafts in Antarctica for the past six years and will perform that function for the Discovery expeditions.
  • John Parsloe, a New Zealander with over 30 years professional nautical experience, has worked on Antarctic ships and research vessels and, on shore, at the Scott Base and as a research officer with the New Zealand Antarctic Program. In addition to working with the Antarctic Heritage Trust to preserve and restore the historic huts in Antarctica, he is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, having been nominated for this honor by the late Lord Shackleton in recognition for his polar work.
  • Celebrated Wyland marine life artist Scott Hanson will also be aboard ship to conduct a series of "Sculpture at Sea" workshops. Hanson, based in Hawaii, is best known for his series of bronze art sculptures of whales, dolphins, mantas and various other sea creatures. An avid dive traveler and underwater photographer, Hanson has spent countless hours observing these animals in the natural habitat, which has provided him with an extensive familiarity with his subjects and allows him to capture in his work a feeling of the fluid motion and free spirited nature.

MV Discovery is the flagship of Discovery World Cruises, founded in 2002 by noted travel industry entrepreneur and adventure cruise specialist Gerry Herrod. During its inaugural season, the line will offer voyages throughout the Southern Hemisphere journeying to the islands of the South Pacific, New Zealand, Hawaii, much of South America, Mexico, the Bahamas Bermuda and the Panama Canal as well. All itineraries, ranging from 13 to 27 nights, include extended stays and sightseeing in embarkation and/or disembarkation cities, detailed briefings on each port of call, enhancement lectures by noted experts and local cultural performances on board. 

MV Discovery entered service in 2003 after an extensive, multi-million dollar refit.  Carrying 500-600 passengers on Antarctic trips, the ship offers 351 cabins and suites, equipped with televisions and built-in hairdryers; three restaurants; five elegant lounges; a well-stocked library; modest casino; modern health club and beauty center; two swimming pools, including one with a retractable dome; two Jacuzzis; and duty-free boutiques. Senior officers are from Scandinavia, the cruise staff is American and European, while the service staff - perhaps the ship's biggest asset - is from The Philippines. For more information and to make a reservation, see a travel professional or contact Discovery World Cruises toll-free at 866-623-2689.

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Royal Caribbean Signs Agreement To Develop New Jersey Cruise Port 
Cruise Line to Sail Two Ships from Bayonne Site in Spring/Summer 2004

MIAMI, Dec. 19 -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has signed a letter agreement with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority (BLRA) to construct and operate a new cruise port facility at the former Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal in New Jersey. The new facility will serve as a seasonal homeport to two Royal Caribbean International ships, including one of the world's largest cruise ships, the 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas, which makes her New York metro area debut in May 2004.

"We are extremely pleased to cement this new relationship as we expand our presence in the Northeast next year," said Adam Goldstein, executive vice president, for Royal Caribbean. "We've found an ideal site on New York Harbor, which provides the space to comfortably and efficiently handle one of our largest ships. It is also easily accessible and very convenient for guests coming in from throughout the New York metro area and the extended drive- market region, as well as for those arriving by air. All of this allows us to provide an outstanding embarkation experience for our guests."

The former Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal, now renamed The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, is a 430-acre, man-made peninsula that extends into New York Harbor. Future plans for The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor call for a vibrant mixed-use waterfront development comprised of residential, light industrial and office space, film studios, a riverwalk and extensive recreational and park areas.

The new cruise port will be located at the northeast corner of the peninsula, offering unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Royal Caribbean will operate out of existing structures for the immediate future. Long-term plans call for construction of a new cruise terminal and supporting facilities. The cruise port will be named in early 2004. The peninsula is located just off the New Jersey Turnpike, approximately 15 minutes from the Newark airport. A nearby Light Rail service connects to both PATH and Amtrak train lines. In addition, Royal Caribbean is looking into offering ferry service from Manhattan to the cruise port.

Royal Caribbean will base two ships from the Royal Caribbean brand at the new port from May through October 2004. Voyager of the Seas offers an alternating schedule of five-night Canada and nine-night Caribbean cruises. Nordic Empress offers alternating six-night and eight-night Bermuda itineraries. The company's Celebrity Cruises brand also will return to the area, with two ships sailing from the New York City Passenger Ship Terminal in Manhattan. Bookings on all ships are open for sale.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, with a combined total of 27 ships in service and two under construction or on firm order. The company also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Canada and Europe. Additional information can be found on,

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Carnival Spirit To Operate Unique 8-Day Mexico Cruise Program From San Diego In Fall 2004

MIAMI, Dec. 18 -- A new one-of-a-kind eight-day cruise program from San Diego featuring an exciting array of stunning Mexican resort destinations will be offered on Carnival Cruise Lines' 2,124-passenger "Fun Ship" Carnival Spirit beginning in fall 2004. The program marks the first time that Carnival has operated an extended series of voyages from the Southern California port. From Oct. 16, 2004 - April 2, 2005, Carnival will offer 22 eight-day voyages featuring stops at three magnificent Mexican ports of call -- Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa and Manzanillo.

"This new itinerary features three enchanting Mexican resort areas offering a mix of charm and rich cultural heritage with striking Pacific coastal beauty, combined with the convenience of departing from San Diego," said Bob Dickinson. He added the Carnival Spirit, which is from the cruise line's most recently designed class of ships, features the latest advances in guest facilities and amenities, along with a wide array of balconied staterooms.

Unique 8-Day Mexican Riviera Itineraries
From Oct. 16, 2004 to April 2, 2005, Carnival Spirit will operate a program of eight-day Mexican Riviera cruises from San Diego. Featured ports include Acapulco, known for its death-defying cliff divers, magnificent beaches and a diversity of fine restaurants, boutiques and watering holes; Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, offering a wonderful contrast of styles -- Zihuatanejo, a quaint fishing village with beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful tropical fish, and Ixtapa, a cosmopolitan resort area with excellent shopping and dining opportunities; and Manzanillo, site of the hit movie "10" where guests can soak up the sun along miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches and enjoy excellent sightseeing, as well as snorkeling and other watersports.

"Carnival pioneered eight-day voyages, which are particularly well-suited to newer, faster vessels such as the Carnival Spirit that can visit far-off destinations and return to homeport in just over a week's time. Plus, with an eight-day rotation, departure days vary from week to week, offering guests the opportunity to visit destinations when fewer ships are in port," Dickinson said.

Special One-Time 7-day Cruise
After the eight-day series concludes, the Carnival Spirit will operate a special one-time seven-day cruise to Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, Mexico, departing on April 10, 2005.

Myriad 'Resort-Style' Features
Carnival Spirit, the namesake vessel in the line's widely popular Spirit- class, offers a diversity of resort-style facilities and features, including expansive spa and children's facilities, four swimming pools, a cascading water slide, a wedding chapel, an Internet café and a comprehensive golf program offering professional instruction both aboard ship and during golf excursions. 

Among the ship's many highlights is an elegant steakhouse-style supper club located at the uppermost level of an 11-deck-high glass-enclosed atrium, one of three restaurants on board. Other dining venues include a two-level main dining room, along with a poolside restaurant featuring a 24-hour pizzeria, extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, a New York-style deli and Asian and American specialty areas. Sixteen lounges and bars, including a three-deck-high theater showcasing lavish Vegas-style production shows, a piano bar, a sports bar, a wine bar and a two-level dance club, are featured, as well. Additionally, 80 percent of the ship's staterooms offer an ocean view with 80 percent of those featuring a private balcony.

Pricing and Reservations
Carnival expects to begin accepting reservations for the Carnival Spirit's 2004-2005 departures from San Diego tomorrow. Prices for the eight-day voyages begin at $649 per person, based on double occupancy. Prices for the one-time seven-day cruise departing April 10, 2005 begin at $699 per person, based on double occupancy. The cruises can also be purchased through Carnival's "Fun Finance Plan (SM)," which enables consumers to extend their cruise payments over 24 monthly installments. Certain restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available. For additional information and reservations contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

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Windstar Cruises Awarded Best Overall Value
Windstar Remains a Leader in the 5-Star+, Small-Ship Category

Seattle, WA, December 18, 2003 - Windstar Cruises has earned recognition as the "Best Overall Cruise Value" in the "High-Deluxe", 5-Star+, Small-Ship category from the prestigious World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society (WOCLS). George Devol, editor of Ocean & Cruise News, a publication by WOCLS, says Windstar provides a level of comfort and amenities not duplicated on other ships in the 5-star+ category. Devol calls Windstar a "refreshing change from today's mega-ships," and praises Windstar's unique atmosphere of casual comfort at a more upscale level.

"We are honored to be recognized for our unique, luxury cruises and strive to offer our guests the best cruise value possible matched with our renowned service, amenities and exotic destinations," says Tom Russell, Windstar Cruises vice president of marketing and sales. "Our commitment to maintaining the integrity of Windstar's unique niche in the cruise industry continues with the recent $6 million investment in these three sailing ships."

Guests sailing in 2004 will benefit from the investment in the Windstar fleet. All three ships have received extensive improvements to public spaces, soft goods, pool and deck areas and more. Enhancements range from new flat screen TV's and DVD players in staterooms to new fabrics, décor and window treatments throughout the ship.

WOCLS is a 23-year-old organization comprised of approximately 8,000 travel agents and experienced cruisers. The society reviews all cruise lines annually and chooses cruise lines they believe provide the greatest sense of value to their passengers. Windstar is consistently the leader in its category.

About Windstar Cruises
Seattle-based Windstar Cruises operates three sailing yachts known for their casually elegant atmosphere. A high-percentage of return guests attests to the appeal of Windstar's casual ambiance of resort-style attire, innovative cuisine and wine selections, open restaurant-style seating, attentive service, exotic destinations and complimentary water sports. Carrying just 148 to 308 guests, the luxurious ships of Windstar cruise to nearly 50 nations, calling at more than 100 ports throughout Europe, the Caribbean and Tahiti.

Rates are quoted per person, double occupancy including non-discountable amounts and taxes. Windstar offers optional trip cancellation protection that provides cash back when you cancel for any reason prior to 24-hours before departure. For more information including brochures, rates and itineraries contact a professional travel agent or call Windstar at 1-800-258-7245. Visit Windstar Cruises online at

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New 110,000-Ton Carnival Valor To Operate 7-Day Caribbean Cruises From Miami Beginning December 2004
2,974-Passenger SuperLiner, Largest 'Fun Ship' Ever Based in Miami, Solidifies Carnival's Position as 'Number One Choice for Caribbean Cruising'

MIAMI, Dec. 18 -- Carnival Cruise Lines will deploy its new 110,000-ton Carnival Valor on year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning in December 2004. The 2,974-passenger SuperLiner, the third in Carnival's Conquest-class, will be the largest Carnival "Fun Ship" based at the Port of Miami. According to Carnival President and CEO Bob Dickinson, the addition of Carnival Valor, combined with the line's five other 100,000-plus-ton Destiny- and Conquest-class vessels, which operate Caribbean departures from four North American homeports, further strengthens Carnival's distinction as the "Number One Choice for Caribbean Cruising."

"Carnival owns the Caribbean--no one else even comes close--with more ships operating more voyages to sunny, tropical destinations than any other cruise line by far," Dickinson said. "And Carnival Valor builds upon our leadership position, offering two exciting itineraries, along with an unprecedented variety of 'resort-style' facilities and features to create the ultimate Caribbean cruise vacation," he added.

Wide Variety of "Fun Ship" Amenities
Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, Carnival Valor will offer vacationers an exciting array of dining, activity and entertainment options. Housed within its 13 passenger decks will be twin two-level main dining rooms, as well as an expansive poolside restaurant with Asian and American specialty areas, New York-style deli, 24-hour pizzeria, extensive salad and dessert bars, and a specialty seafood venue serving ceviche, bouillabaisse and other delicacies. A sushi bar, a patisserie, and a reservations-only steakhouse-style supper club will also be included.

Twenty-two lounges and bars will be featured, including a three-deck-high theater showcasing lavish Vegas-style productions, a wine bar, a sports bar, a two-level dance club, a piano bar and numerous other live music venues. Other features will include a full gambling casino, a comprehensive golf program with professional instruction aboard ship and during golf excursions, an Internet café and a duty-free shopping mall.

"Number One Caribbean Cruise Choice"
Carnival Valor will join the 100,000-plus-ton Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Victory, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Glory as the most successful ships ever introduced to the Caribbean cruise market, achieving the highest occupancy levels in the industry and expected to carry upwards of 900,000 passengers annually.

"Our Destiny- and Conquest-class ships have set a new standard for Caribbean cruising, earning accolades for their superior on-board amenities, state-of-the-art facilities and user-friendly layout," Dickinson said.

Myriad "Family Friendly" Amenities
Carnival Valor continues the line's increased emphasis on the family cruise market and will feature an enclosed 4,200-square-foot play area, as well as a variety of fun supervised activities for kids ages 2-15, all part of the line's fleetwide "Camp Carnival" program catering to the estimated 450,000 kids expected to sail next year. Teens will have their own space, as well, with Action Alley, featuring a dance club, coffee/soda bar, game room and high-tech sound and lighting system. Just-for-teens shore excursions are available, as well. Carnival Valor will also feature four swimming pools, one with a 214- foot-long water slide.

Exciting 7-Day Caribbean Itineraries
Carnival Valor will depart the Port of Miami every Sunday on seven-day cruises, alternating weekly to the eastern and western Caribbean, beginning with a Christmas cruise departing Dec. 19, 2004. Eastern Caribbean cruises call at Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, while western Caribbean cruises visit Belize City, Belize; Isla Roatan, Honduras; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Pricing and Reservations
Carnival expects to begin accepting reservations for all Carnival Valor departures tomorrow. Prices for Carnival Valor's seven-day eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Miami start at $599 per person, based on double occupancy. The cruises can also be purchased through Carnival's "Fun Finance Plan (SM)," which enables consumers to extend their cruise payments over 24 monthly installments. Certain restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available. For additional information and reservations contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit 

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Carnival's 'Fun Ship' Holiday To Launch Mobile's First Year-Round Cruise Program In Fall 2004

MIAMI, Dec. 16 -- Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest cruise operator, will launch the first year-round cruise program from the Port of Mobile when the 1,452-passenger Holiday begins four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises in October 2004. On this new program, the 46,052-ton "Fun Ship," which operated a series of voyages from Mobile in spring 2002, will sail on four-day cruises to Cozumel and five-day cruises to Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen or Costa Maya beginning Oct. 16, 2004. Including the Holiday's new schedule from Mobile, Carnival will operate from 19 different North American homeports -- the most in the cruise industry.

"When we inaugurated 'Fun Ship' cruising from Mobile aboard the Holiday in 2002, the response was simply overwhelming. We anticipate the same level of success when the Holiday returns to Mobile to operate the port's first year- round cruise program," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

"The Port of Mobile is an ideal cruise departure point, offering a convenient location that is within a day's drive of thousands of southeastern U.S. residents. That, combined with the tremendous support and enthusiasm from port, city and community officials, particularly Mayor Mike Dow, Director of Waterfront, Cruise Development and Special Projects Al St. Clair, Chairman of the Cruise Task Force Mike Lee, and Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO Dr. David Bronner, solidified our decision to deploy the Holiday from Mobile," he added.

Mobile's First Year-Round Cruise Program
On Oct. 16, 2004, the Holiday will kick off Mobile's first year-round cruise program, consisting of four- and five-day cruises to the western Caribbean.

Four-day cruises provide the ideal weekend getaway, departing Thursdays and returning Mondays. Voyages call at Cozumel, a tropical island known for its excellent shopping, gorgeous white-sand beaches, and legendary watering holes. Two different five-day cruises will also be offered, each offering guests the opportunity to visit two sunny, tropical Caribbean destinations in less than a week's time.

The five-day itinerary departing Mondays and returning Saturdays will feature Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen; while five-day cruises departing Saturdays and returning Thursdays visit Cozumel and Costa Maya. In addition to beautiful beaches, both Calica/Playa del Carmen and Costa Maya offer a diversity of watersports opportunities, including scuba diving, snorkeling and kayaking.

Signature "Fun Ship" Amenities
The Holiday offers a wide range of "resort-style" facilities and features. Housed within the ship's eight passenger decks are three swimming pools, a cascading water slide, an Internet cafe, and a comprehensive golf program offering professional instruction both aboard ship and during golf excursions. A children's play area, part of the line's top-rated "Camp Carnival" program, is featured, as well.

Three restaurants, including two main dining rooms, a casual poolside eatery offering breakfast, lunch and dinner alternatives and a 24-hour pizzeria, and complimentary 24-hour stateroom service are also available. Ten lounges, bars and nightspots, including a piano bar and a multi-level theater showcasing lavish Vegas-style productions are also featured.

Pricing and Reservations
Carnival is currently accepting reservations on the Holiday's 2004 departures from Mobile. Prices for the four- and five-day cruises start at $329 per person. These cruises can also be purchased through Carnival's "Fun Finance Plan(SM)," which enables consumers to extend their cruise payments over 24 monthly installments. Certain restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available. For additional information and reservations contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit

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‘Fun Ship’ Celebration to Replace Holiday on Year-Round 4- & 5-Day Cruises from Jacksonville

MIAMI (12/16/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that the 1,486-passenger “Fun Ship” Celebration, which recently underwent a multi-million-dollar refurbishment, will replace the Holiday on a previously announced schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Jacksonville, Fla., in October 2004. It will be the first year-round program ever operated from the Port of Jacksonville.

The Celebration will join the new 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle and 1,486-passenger Jubilee, both of which will operate from Jacksonville next year. Carnival Miracle will make its inaugural voyage from Jacksonville with a three-day cruise departing Feb. 27, 2004 - the first in a series of 12 three- to six-day departures from that port. The Jubilee, a sister ship to the Celebration, will operate a summer schedule of four- and five-day cruises from Jacksonville May 11 - Aug. 26, 2004.

“Consumer response to ‘Fun Ship’ cruising from Jacksonville has been nothing short of sensational and we’re delighted to deploy the Celebration, simply dazzling following its recent multi-million-dollar makeover, to this fast-growing market,” said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

Jacksonville’s First Year-Round Cruise Program
The 1,486-passenger Celebration will assume the Holiday’s previously announced program of four- and five-day cruises from Jacksonville beginning Oct. 23, 2004. On its new program, four-day cruises will depart on Thursdays and call at Freeport and Nassau, while five-day cruises will depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Key West and Nassau.

Prior to the start-up of its year-round deployment, the Celebration will operate two special one-time cruises - a five-day cruise to Freeport and Nassau departing Oct. 12 and a six-day voyage to Cozumel, Calica/Playa del Carmen, and Freeport Oct. 17, 2004.

The 47,262-ton “Fun Ship” recently underwent a 70-day refurbishment and emerged with a newly designed purser’s lobby and promenade featuring new wall coverings, furniture and artwork, creating a more contemporary atmosphere. Each of the ship’s 743 staterooms also received a complete facelift with new curtains, carpeting and wallpaper, upgraded bedding, and remodeled bathrooms. Cosmetic enhancements to various lounges, bars and restaurants, as well as elevator lobbies, corridors and stair landings, were also completed. “This extensive, multi-million-dollar makeover made a terrific ‘Fun Ship’ even better and we can’t wait to show off this spectacular SuperLiner to Jacksonville,” Dickinson said.

Signature ‘Fun Ship’ Amenities
In addition to newly refurbished interiors, the Celebration offers a wide range of “resort-style” facilities and features. Housed within the ship’s nine passenger decks are 10 lounges and bars, three swimming pools - one with a cascading 115-foot-long water slide - as well as a health and fitness facility, an Internet café, and a children’s play area, part of the line’s top-rated “Camp Carnival” program.

A variety of fine and casual dining venues are also featured, including two main dining rooms and a casual poolside eatery offering breakfast, lunch and dinner alternatives, and a 24-hour pizzeria.

A comprehensive golf program offering professional instruction both aboard ship and during golf excursions is available, as well.

Pricing and Reservations
Carnival is accepting reservations on the Celebration’s new program from Jacksonville. Existing reservations for guests who booked cruises on the Holiday from Jacksonville will be switched to the Celebration. Prices for the Celebration’s four- and five-day cruises from Jacksonville start at $329 per person. These cruises can also be purchased through Carnival’s “Fun Finance Plan (SM),” which enables consumers to extend their cruise payments over 24 monthly installments. Certain restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available.

For additional information and reservations contact any travel agent, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit 

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Holland America Line Unveils Redesigned Consumer Web Site That Reflects Premium Cruise Leader's Tradition of Excellence™
Redesign and Enhancements Create an Online Experience as Stylish and Elegant as Holland America Line's Five-star Fleet

SEATTLE, Dec. 16 -- Holland America Line, the leader in the premium cruise category, today unveiled its newly redesigned and enhanced consumer Web site at The new Web site includes comprehensive changes to the visual design, structure, navigation system and content. Site visitors will experience enhanced usability, more detailed information on destinations and activities and easy access to innovative cruise planning tools. Designed with a more sophisticated and elegant look and feel, the Web site provides visitors with a glimpse into the premium cruise experience before they embark on their cruise travels.

The redesigned Web site is part of Holland America Line's Signature of Excellence initiative, which was announced in November and is an unprecedented investment in enhancing Holland America Line's products and services. One of the goals of the Web site redesign was to create a premium online experience that is reflective of the Holland America Line guests' experience. Holland America Line is renowned for its distinctive ships and the most spacious accommodations in the premium cruise category and the new Web site's evocative imagery and engaging text make this come alive.

Visitors to the Web site will also get a feel for Holland America Line's extraordinary five-star dining experience and its tradition of old-world hospitality and service. They will find details on enriching and entertaining activities such as the extensive program of shore excursions and can explore the cruise line's compelling worldwide itineraries including unique destinations such as Antarctica and the Amazon.

"Holland America Line is very proud of its leadership position in the premium cruise category," said David A. Giersdorf, executive vice president, marketing and sales. "We've taken great measures to ensure that the new Web site matches the excellence of our premium cruise experience and that visitors to the site have a similar premium experience online."

Guests have always been able find important information at the Holland America Line Web site such as the documents necessary for cruise travel, identification requirements and helpful packing suggestions. The new site goes one step further to clearly demonstrate Holland America Line's reputation for superior service with more information and tools to help guests choose and plan their cruise vacation. For example, enhanced sections devoted to each sailing destination will engage site visitors with beautiful, destination-themed photography while supplying detailed information on ports of call and excursions. Improved navigation tools will help guests browse this information easily and guide them toward options for making a reservation.

Special Features for Mariner Society Members
Holland America Line's past guests, the Mariner Society Members, now enjoy expanded access to important cruise information. Using the new web site, Mariner Society members can:

  • Look up their Mariner Society number to help plan their next voyage
  • Find detailed information on member benefits and award levels
  • Find out what's new with Holland America Line
  • Check pricing and availability
  • Book shore excursions
  • View ships and deck plans
  • Order a brochure

About Signature of Excellence

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

About Holland America Line
In 2004, Holland America Line's fleet of 13 five-star, premium ships will offer nearly 500 sailings from 15 North American home ports, including new departures from Norfolk, VA; Baltimore, MD; and Boston, Mass. Recent additions to the fleet include the 1,848-passenger Vista ships, ms Zuiderdam and ms Oosterdam. In April 2004, the third Vista sister, ms Westerdam joins the fleet. The fleet will visit all seven continents in 2004, while increasing the number of cruises to popular destinations such as Alaska (139 cruises scheduled), the Caribbean (191), Europe (58) and Canada/New England (26).

Holland America Line excels in service, amenities and special programs
Known for consistent and attentive service, its ships have one of the highest staff-members-to-guest ratios. Spacious staterooms average 25 percent larger and verandahs twice as large as those on other lines' ships. Menus are among the most extensive at-sea. Dining choices include formal elegance, alternative specialty dining in the Pacific Northwest-themed Pinnacle Grill, casual fare and complimentary 24-hour room service.

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Carnival Deploys Ecstasy to Galveston, Paradise to Long Beach

MIAMI (12/12/03) - Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest cruise operator, will increase capacity by 38 percent from Galveston when the 2,052-passenger "Fun Ship" Ecstasy replaces the 1,486-passenger Celebration on year-round four- and five-day Mexico cruises in October 2004. The Celebration will be deployed to another homeport. In turn, the 2,052-passenger Paradise will assume the Ecstasy's popular three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach, Calif., beginning in September 2004, becoming the newest cruise ship ever to operate short cruises from the West Coast. 

"Just three years ago Carnival established Galveston as cruising's newest homeport. The addition of the Ecstasy next year, combined with the Elation's year-round cruises from Galveston, will result in an estimated 300,000 'Fun Ship' passengers cruising annually from that port," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. "Carnival is Texas' leading cruise line and this latest capacity increase just further solidifies that position." He added, "We are also very enthused to introduce the Paradise to the West Coast market on three and four-day Baja cruises. This is a truly elegant, beautifully appointed vessel offering a wide variety of on-board facilities and features, along with stunning interiors that pay homage to the world's most famous ocean liners. The Paradise certainly represents an enticing option for consumers seeking an affordable, quality cruise vacation option from the West Coast." 

Dickinson indicated that the Paradise, which has operated since its introduction in 1998 as a smoke-free vessel, will no longer retain that designation. "When we analyzed our redeployment strategy, the Paradise, based on its size and attributes, was the obvious choice to offer a fresh new short cruise alternative from California. And, with only one ship operating that program, we could not limit it to non-smokers," he said.  

Four- and Five-Day Mexico Cruises from Galveston on Ecstasy 
Beginning Oct. 23, 2004, the 70,000-ton SuperLiner Ecstasy will launch year-round four- and five-day service from Galveston, becoming the only year-round ship to operate short cruises from that port. On this route, four-day cruises depart the historic Port of Galveston on Thursdays and call at Cozumel, offering the ideal long weekend getaway. Five-day cruises, departing Mondays and Saturdays, are particularly noteworthy as they offer guests the opportunity to visit two of the Caribbean's most popular destinations, Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen, in less than a week's time. Guests can also combine their cruise with a pre- or post-cruise land stay during which they can visit Galveston's many historic sites and museums, or shop and dine along the Strand, the city's renowned entertainment district. 

Three- and Four-Day Baja Cruises on Paradise 
Beginning Sept. 20, 2004, the 70,000-ton Paradise will begin year-round three- and four-day cruises from Long Beach, becoming the newest ship to ever operate short cruises from the West Coast. On this route, three-day cruises depart Long Beach on Fridays and call at Ensenada, Mexico, while four-day cruises depart Mondays and call at both Ensenada and Catalina Island. 

Special 15-Day Panama Canal Cruises 
Prior to the start-up of their new programs, the Paradise and Ecstasy will each operate special one-time 15-day Panama Canal repositioning cruises. On Sept. 5, the Paradise will depart Miami, arriving in Long Beach on Sept. 20, 2004. Featured ports will include Aruba, prior to the Panama Canal transit, along with Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and Acapulco, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This will be the last cruise the Paradise will offer as a non-smoking vessel. 

On its 15-day Panama Canal cruise, the Ecstasy will depart Long Beach on Sept. 17 and arrive in Miami Oct. 2, 2004. Ports of call on this voyage will include Acapulco and Puntarenas, prior to the Panama Canal transit, as well as Aruba, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. After arriving in Miami, the Ecstasy will undergo a 20-day drydock then launch year-round service from Galveston Oct. 23, 2004. 

Prices for the Ecstasy's four- and five-day Mexico cruises from Galveston start at $349 and $449 per person, respectively, based on double occupancy. Rates for the Paradise's three- and four-day Baja cruises from Long Beach start at $299 per person. The ships' 15-day Panama Canal cruises begin at $1,099 per person. The cruises can also be purchased through Carnival's "Fun Finance Plan (SM)," which enables consumers to extend their cruise payments over 24 monthly installments. Certain restrictions apply. Round-trip air transportation supplements from a variety of North American gateways and special rates for third and fourth guests sailing in the same stateroom are also available. For additional information and reservations, call 1-800-327-9501 (individual) or 1-800-327-5782 (groups) or visit the line's travel agent Internet portal, 

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"Gentlemen, Start Your Spinnakers!" 
Celebrity Cruises Launches Exclusive Maxicat Excursion

MIAMI - Dec 12, 2003 - Cruise enthusiasts with a "need for speed" are likely to be drawn to an exclusive new excursion from Celebrity Cruises in Grand Cayman: a race from the pier to Cayman's Seven Mile Beach on one of the most extreme racing yachts in the world.

The platform for the excursion is the former "Lodka Sport," now named "Celebrity Cruises," with branding from stem to stern. The 80-foot Maxi-class yacht was built with the former Whitbread Race in mind, and ranked third in the world's largest transoceanic race from Las Palmas Gran Canaria to St. Lucia just last week. Celebrity's contender in the exclusive new racing excursion will be none other than sister brand Royal Caribbean International, which has secured a nearly identical yacht in order to offer the same excursion to Royal Caribbean guests.

Constructed of carbon, Kevlar and titanium, the virtually indestructible Maxicat yachts are purpose-built for speed, but are safe for experienced sailors and novices alike. Each vessel will accommodate approximately 20 guests per 3.5-hour race, at a cost of $105 per person. Reservations for the "Seven Mile Beach Maxi Regatta" can be made online beginning December 19 via the Celebrity web site at The new excursions begin January 3.

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

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New Luxury Liner Queen Mary 2 to Offer Two 'Carnival in Rio' Cruises

MIAMI - The spectacular annual revelry at the Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro will take a decidedly British turn in 2004 when Cunard's brand new 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2 serves as a five-star floating hotel for the festivities. The largest, longest, tallest, widest, and - at $780 million - the most expensive luxury liner in the world will call at the heady Brazilian resort city as part of its inaugural cruise season.

The ship's "Rio Queen of Carnival" voyages depart February 11 from Fort Lauderdale and February 23 from Rio. The two sailings combined will allow 5,240 fortunate travelers the luxury of staying aboard this new icon while at the same time experiencing the thrill of Carnival ashore. As a highlight, Cunard Line includes hard-to-come-by reserved grandstand seats (a $245 value) at the Sambadrome - the open-air pavilion where the Samba parade is held. More of a contest than a parade, Samba schools traditionally spend up to eight months rehearsing for the big event. The schools are judged on energy, enthusiasm, the quality of the floats and costumes, the theme, the Samba song, and how it all comes together.

According to Deborah Natansohn, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Cunard Line, "When mapping out itineraries for Queen Mary 2, we thought it made perfect sense to have the grandest luxury liner of our time at the most extraordinary celebration in the world."

Rates for the 12-day voyage start from $1,999 per person, double occupancy. Southbound guests depart Fort Lauderdale calling at St. Thomas and Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, before arriving in Rio for an overnight aboard ship. The northbound itinerary begins with an overnight on board prior to QM2 leaving Rio. Ports of call include Barbados, Martinique, St. Maarten and St. Thomas before disembarkation in Fort Lauderdale. Passengers can sail round-trip from Fort Lauderdale and save 30 percent with fares starting at $3,499 per person, double occupancy.

Depending on the departure date, passengers will visit Salvador de Bahia. Brazil's first capital offers a fascinating melange of cultures, menus and music that reflect its African, Indian and European influences. Often regarded as the most Brazilian city in the country, Bahia is also the home of voodoo and the Black Magic "candomble" religion. Other ports of call include British-flavored Barbados is the easternmost of the Caribbean islands. This beach resort also brims with interesting attractions, including Andromeda Gardens, Harrison's Cave and Sam Lord's Castle, an estate built with the spoils of wrecked ships.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Queen Mary 2 will visit St. Thomas, what has become a requisite stop in this region because of its incredible duty-free shops in Charlotte Amalie. Guests can also seek out beautiful beaches at Magens Bay, Coki Point, or Turtle Cove, which is also a nesting ground of the endangered hawksbill sea turtle. When visiting St. Maarten - an island under two flags - visitors can sample the Dutch treats of Philipsburg: chocolate, cheese, delftware. However, on the French side, it is derigeur to linger over pain chocolat in a quaint café or shop for Parisian perfumes.

French (and Creole) shops, restaurants, cafés and bars abound in neighboring Martinique. QM2 calls at Fort-de-France, set in a large bay on the leeward side of the island looking out onto the Caribbean Sea. The town has mushroomed from less than 10,000 inhabitants at the time of the eruption of the volcano Montagne Pelée in 1902 to its current level of nearly 100,000 people.

Among the extraordinary facilities to be found on Queen Mary 2 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, the largest wine collection at sea and the only Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar at sea. There are several other bars and lounges, a two-story theatre, casino, five indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot tubs, boutiques and an extensive children's facility. For more information or to reserve a voyage, contact a professional travel agent, call Cunard at 1-800-7-CUNARD or visit the website

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Royal Caribbean International Launches New Web Site
New Offers Expanded Information, Tools for Both New & Experienced Cruisers

MIAMI, Dec. 11 -- Royal Caribbean International has launched a new web site with more information and tools designed for both new and experienced cruisers researching their next vacation.

"With today's faster Internet connection speeds, surfers are no longer looking for overview sites, they want in-depth information at their fingertips," said Barbara Shrut, vice president, Customer Loyalty and eMarketing, for Royal Caribbean International. "We wanted to provide the most comprehensive and user-friendly site to ensure our guests have everything they need to put together their dream vacation. The new is easy to navigate and rich with information on all aspects of the cruise experience, from our outstanding ships and onboard programs to the exciting ports of call we visit."

The new site is broken into five main areas. "All About Cruising" gives visitors the information they need to start planning their cruise. It includes a "New to Cruising" section for first-timers that shares the inside scoop on what's included on a cruise and what they can expect onboard. Visitors are invited to download a sample of Royal Caribbean's daily onboard schedule to get an idea of the wide variety of entertainment and activities offered. The "All About Cruising" area also contains a dedicated section for experienced cruisers, as well as full details on Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean, Adventure Family, Royal Reunions, Royal Romance and Accessible Seas programs.

The "Find a Cruise" area of the site includes information on Royal Caribbean's innovative fleet of 18 ships, worldwide ports of call, and convenient departure points. The "Quick Vacation Search" allows visitors to search for a cruise by date, departure port, destination and ship, while a more advanced search engine adds fields for number of nights and price. Visitors can book their cruise immediately online, request a follow up call from a Guest Vacation specialist, or find a travel agent in their area. If they aren't quite ready to book, site visitors can save the information they find through the new "My Cruises" feature, which holds the information in a personal, password-protected account. The "Find a Cruise" area also includes details on how travelers can extend their vacations back on land through pre- and post-cruise hotel packages and Royal Caribbean's outstanding lineup of cruisetour vacations, which pairs cruises with exclusive land packages in Alaska, Canada and Europe.

The "Ships" section outlines the features of Royal Caribbean's ship families and gives in-depth information on each of the line's 18 ships, including enlarged deck plans. The "Staterooms" section includes photos and 360-degree visual tours of the various categories of staterooms offered, from interior to ocean view to suites. Under the "Activities" section, future cruisers can learn about the wide variety of entertainment, dining, sporting, and other recreation options that awaits them on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

For the latest hot deals, contests and sweepstakes, as well as information on weekend getaways, short cruises and specialty cruises, visitors can head to the "Deals & More" area of Visitors also can sign up here to receive e-mail news alerts and offers from Royal Caribbean, or to apply for the Royal Caribbean Visa® Credit Card, which allows cruisers to earn points that add up to onboard credits, stateroom upgrades and even free cruise vacations.

The "Customer Support" area provides answers to frequently asked questions, lists full contact information for Royal Caribbean International, and has a travel agent locator that helps travelers connect with one of the line's valued travel partners in their city or state. Site visitors also can request a brochure or download a free screensaver that features a selection of the exciting destinations guests can explore on Royal Caribbean cruises.

Guests can visit the "Before You Board" area to find out everything they need to know before they go on their cruise. This section also allows cruisers to research, select and book their Explorations! shore excursions in advance; fill out their boarding documents online; or download a form to purchase gifts to be delivered onboard.

The site also features an advanced search engine that allows guests to go straight to whatever information they're after by simply typing in a question. Responses pop up in an easy-to-browse format.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 18 ships in service, and two more under construction or on firm order. The company also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Canada and Europe. For additional information about the cruise line, please visit the company's web site or call 800-327-6700.

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Savor the Caribbean with Celebrity Cruises

"Bon Appetit" magazine and Celebrity Cruises invite you to experience a cruise that is sure to delight both food and wine connoisseurs. Join us on Celebrity's "Savor the Caribbean" cruises - food & wine themed cruises where you will enjoy renowned chef demonstrations, author/expert lecturers, wine and rum tastings and even have the option of purchasing daily culinary-themed shore excursions. 

Celebrity's "Savor the Caribbean" cruises begin February 7, 2004 on Constellation's 7-Night Southern Caribbean cruises and continue until March 28th, 2004. Complete details of this exciting and delectable cruise offering are available at Or, call a Guest Vacation Specialist at 888-305-9153 ext 80877.

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Berlitz® Cruise Guidebook Awards Crystal Cruises Fleet its Highest Ratings For Medium- & Large-Sized Ships

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 10 -- Crystal Cruises' luxury ships have captured the top ratings for their categories in the newest edition of the "Berlitz® Ocean Cruising & Cruise Ships 2004." For the eighth consecutive year, cruise ship authority author Douglas Ward has awarded the 940-guest Crystal Symphony and Crystal Harmony the highest ratings in their category (ships carrying between 500 and 1,000 passengers). The new 1,080-guest Crystal Serenity, which debuted in July 2003, was awarded the highest rating in its category (ships carrying over 1,000 passengers).

In the comprehensive guidebook, Ward states that the Crystal ships are "best suited to sophisticated travelers that seek contemporary ship surroundings, with fine-quality fittings and furnishings, a wide range of public rooms and facilities, and excellent food and service from a well trained staff."

"We are very pleased that Crystal Cruises' unique combination of quality, friendly and professional service, choices and spaciousness distinguished us in these competitive categories," says Gregg Michel, president, Crystal Cruises. "Our ships' record ratings from our guests and industry critics continue to validate Crystal Cruises' winning formula."

For the 2004 edition, the Crystal ships were three of only 24 that achieved membership in Ward's prestigious five-star club. Ward's ratings are based on points allocated to the evaluation of the ships' hardware and maintenance, accommodation design, cuisine at all possible dining venues, service throughout, the overall entertainment and cruise experience, including the quality of the cruise as an overall vacation experience.

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Discovery Offers Free Cruises to Florida Military Personnel in 
Iraq and Afghanistan

MIAMI, Dec. 10 -- Discovery Cruise Line, in conjunction with Clear Channel Communications, announced a special program for residents of Florida serving in the military overseas. Hanns J. Hahn, General Manager of Discovery, said, "We are proud of our Florida military serving our country and would like to extend to all of them our best wishes during this holiday season and a speedy and safe return. To thank them for their service, Discovery and Clear Channel are offering those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan at any time during 2003 a free cruise to Grand Bahama."

The offer, which is valid until December 31, 2005, is for a free roundtrip cruise to Grand Bahama, including the cost of all meals on board, all service charges, taxes, and Bahamian departure fees. There are no additional costs involved.

To register a family member, friend or loved one for the free cruise, simply register that person's name online and Discovery will mail a receipt and a holiday card for them to pass on to the serviceman or woman. The receipt will entitle the person to his or her complimentary Discovery cruise. The receipt should be presented at the pier at the time of sailing, together with a Military ID and a letter from their unit confirming the places of service during 2003. Advanced reservations are required.

Discovery sails daily from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Bahama Island, departing at 7:45 am and arriving back at the pier at 10 pm. Each year Discovery carries over 200,000 passengers between the two destinations. The cruise features all the amenities of a longer cruise in one fun-filled day, including three lavish buffet meals on board, exciting casino action, live entertainment, outdoor games and activities, contests, spacious sun decks, a swimming pool, duty-free shopping, and more. For more information and reservations call 1-800-93-SHIPS or visit Discovery's web site at

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International Council of Cruise Lines & Conservation International Announce Joint Initiative

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 -- The International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) and Conservation International (CI) today announced a joint initiative to protect biodiversity in top cruise destinations and promote industry practices that minimize the cruise industry's environmental impact.

The Ocean Conservation and Tourism Alliance sets up four initial priority areas including:

  • Best Practices for Wastewater Management: improved shipboard technology, specifically accelerating and adopting Advanced Wastewater Purification (AWP) systems.
  • Establishing Destination Partnerships: working with local governments and communities to maintain high-quality travel experiences by protecting the natural and cultural assets of cruise destinations.
  • Promoting Environmental Education: raising guest and crew awareness of and support for critical conservation issues.
  • Promoting Vendor Environmental Education: lessening the environmental impacts of suppliers.

The initiative's first step will be to establish a science panel of experts in conservation, environmental technologies, and cruise industry environmental practices. The science panel will independently review core environmental issues facing the cruise industry and provide advice as to the best course of action to deal with those critical challenges. The ICCL and CI have committed to having the science panel established and initial assessments ready for presentation at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in March 2004.

"We could not have a better partner. Conservation International has a long history of working with business to pioneer conservation solutions that are scientifically, economically and culturally sound," said Michael Crye, president of ICCL.

"Our vision is to work with leaders in the tourism industry and demonstrate how the industry and conservation community can work together to produce mutually beneficial results. The goal is to not only protect the places tourists visit but also maximize positive contributions to conservation in high biodiversity areas where the cruise industry operates," said Glenn Prickett, senior vice president of Conservation International and executive director of the Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. "We are encouraged the industry shares our vision."

The ICCL, which represents fifteen of the world's leading cruise lines, has committed $850,000 to the initiative and its supporting projects. Conservation International has matched this contribution with an investment of $250,000.

Of the initial areas of work, AWP research and development has been a strong focus for the industry for several years. Combined efforts have resulted in rapid technological advancements and the installation of several prototypes on more than 20 ships -- at a cost of $50 million. These systems, while capable of meeting high standards for treatment, are still in the early stages of application for general use. The industry is committed to continuing to invest in improved AWP systems, and installing those systems on its ships. CI will work with the industry and system manufacturers to expedite the process.

The Alliance's focus on tourism and biodiversity issues is important because approximately 70 percent of cruise destinations are in the biodiversity hotspots, including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Mexico, the Panama Canal Zone, and the South Pacific. A preponderance of species diversity is found exclusively within the earth's 25 biodiversity hotspots, which combined cover a very small percentage of the Earth's land surface. Each biodiversity hotspot has already lost the majority of its original species habitat, and the remainder faces imminent threat of further destruction.

Today's partnership formalizes a relationship that began two years ago. In 2001, CI began working with member lines when it was researching the industry's overall performance and its past and future challenges. CI released its interim report, A Shifting Tide: Environmental Challenges and Cruise Industry Responses, in 2003.

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    Radisson Seven Seas Cruises to Offer New Spa Option

    Ft. Lauderdale, FL., Dec 10, 2003 -- In an industry long dominated by a handful of operators, the ocean-going spa business is about to grow larger by one. Building on its six-year success with the legendary Carita of Paris on the Paul Gauguin in Tahiti, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has signed an exclusive agreement to launch Carita spas throughout the fleet. The deal, which will make Radisson Seven Seas the only cruise line to feature the famously high-end Carita spa, will give the line's guests access to one of the most exclusive land-based spa operations in the world, known since it founding in 1950 for its unrivalled approach to spa and beauty services tailored uniquely to the needs of each individual.

    Partnering with Carita for Spa Alternative
    "We're delighted to partner with Carita of Paris in rolling out a new choice for luxury cruise guests. Based on our very successful, ongoing operation with Carita aboard our ship in French Polynesia, we're thrilled to bring the distinctively different Carita spa experience to the rest of our fleet," said Christian Sauleau, executive vice president of operations for Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.

    Under the terms of the exclusive agreement, Carita of Paris' celebrated House of Beauty will make its exclusive shipboard homes on the Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator, and Radisson Diamond. The upscale spa, whose patented techniques flow from its Parisian heritage, created its first shipboard Carita Spa on the Paul Gauguin in 1997. The changeovers from Judith Jackson Spas will take place on the Seven Seas Mariner December 15, Seven Seas Navigator December 18 and Seven Seas Voyager December 20. The Radisson Diamond changeover from Steiner will be in March 2004.

    Renowned in European high society of their day as "magicians of beauty," sisters Rosy and Maria Carita founded Carita with a single aim: to unveil "the touch of charm inside everyone with made-to-measure solutions." The Carita approach couples pleasure with effectiveness, sophistication with simplicity and research with the expertise of highly trained beauty therapists.

    Carita: Art & Science
    An artful fusing of science and nature is at the heart of Carita's exclusive Pro-Lift skin care therapiesm, combining a therapist's sensitive touch with the spa's revolutionary Pro-Lift technology. This ultra-effective process cleanses deep down and makes skin visibly firmer and more radiant. Carita is also famous for treatments designed for superior relaxation and rejuvenation. RenovateurÒ, a unique exfoliating process, has been a Carita secret since 1960. It is a blend of sunflower seeds and essential oils that when combined with specific "sculpting" techniques, delivers exceptional results. Among the many exclusive treatments to be offered in the shipboard Caritas will be a Renovator Lift Fermete, which repairs mature skin's signs of aging. The treatment, which firms fine facial lines and wrinkles, has been called a non-surgical face-lift.

    Pampering for Rejuvenation
    Designed as the perfect complement to cruising and as a luxurious refuge from everyday stresses, the Carita Spas will combine the art of gentle pampering with renewal and rejuvenation. Under the supervision of Carita-trained staff, guests will enjoy an extensive range of physical regimens including health and revitalization therapies. With the flair that makes Carita the favored retreat of celebrities like Catherine Deneuve, Isabel Adjani, Anita Eckberg and others, massage (anti-stress or therapeutic), thalassotherapy, reflexology, aromatherapy, stone therapy, body wraps, facials, steam room and beauty treatments will also be available. Throughout the fleet, the Carita Spas will also include Beauty Salons with teams of hairdressers from renowned Parisian salons. Cutting, coloring and styling will be offered. Guests may also indulge themselves with manicures and pedicures.

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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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