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Cruise News
December 1-31, 2005

Return to's Cruise News Weekly Index & Archive features thoughts & insights on things seen & heard around the internet & the cruise industry.

CDC Inspection Scores for all ships inspected--updated monthly

National Transportation Safety Board Issues Report on Norwegian Dawn Freak Wave Incident

MIAMI, Dec 2005 - The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its report on the large wave that struck Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Norwegian Dawn on April 16, 2005, which concurs with earlier finding in May 2005 by the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA). After experiencing extremely rough weather, the ship was hit by an unpredictable, large wave near South Carolina on its return trip to New York from Miami during a Bahamas/Florida cruise. 

The NTSB determined that NCL acted appropriately during the severe weather and tried to accommodate and comfort its passengers. The report notes that: "Rather than attempting to maintain the scheduled arrival time in New York, the master decided to lower the ship's speed and change its heading for the passengers' comfort." Moreover, "the hotel staff tried to accommodate the passengers' needs and make them comfortable." NCL's officers and crew are trained to handle situations at sea like the one that faced Norwegian Dawn and the NTSB praised the crew for having "properly prepared the vessel for heavy weather" and noted that NCL kept its passengers apprised of the developments by continually providing "advisory announcements to the passengers." 

"We are pleased with the report from the NTSB and that it further clarifies the Bahamas Maritime Authority's (BMA) report that the company, the Captain of Norwegian Dawn and his officers and crew acted appropriately in this rare large wave incident," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL Corporation. 

The NTSB report notes that the winds and seas experienced by the ship became "heavier than expected" and recognized the unpredictability of the incident by concluding that "the probable cause of the damage to Norwegian Dawn and of the injuries suffered by its passengers was waves breaking over the bow during the ship's unavoidable encounter with severe weather and heavy seas." Similarly, after a thorough investigation immediately following the incident, the BMA previously issued its findings and found that the action of Norwegian Dawn's Captain was "prudent and appropriate throughout." In addition, the BMA determined that "there is no evidence that any real or perceived urgency to arrive at New York earlier was a factor in the handling of the ship or that Norwegian Cruise Line did anything but support the captain's on-scene decisions."  

The NTSB's report regarding this incident is at: 

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Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises Introduce Remote Airline Luggage Check-in

Miami, Dec 28, 2005 - Royal Caribbean Intl and Celebrity Cruises' guests can now complete the dreaded airline and luggage check-in process for their flights home even before they step off the ship. The new service enables guests to bypass the traditional airport check-in process, adding convenience and reducing wait time by an estimated 45 minutes to two hours. The service is being rolled out at ports across the United States, based on approval by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, as well as seaport, airport and airline security personnel. Called "Onboard Check-in and Luggage Valet," the service is now available to Celebrity Cruises' guests whose cruises conclude in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Miami; San Diego; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Seattle. The service is available for Royal Caribbean guests whose cruises end in San Juan and Seattle. Both lines also offer the service for arrivals in Vancouver, British Columbia. To qualify, guests must fly to a U.S. city on an expanding list of airlines on the same day their cruise ends.

Before leaving the ship, guests confirm with cruise staff their flight information and the number of bags to be checked. Based on that information, which also is electronically forwarded to the airlines, boarding passes, luggage tags and claim checks are printed and given to guests. Guests with afternoon flights can take advantage of shopping or city tours before going to the airport directly to security checkpoints and on to their gates and flights. While guests take in the sites, their luggage is securely transported to the airport, processed and moved directly to their aircraft. There is a nominal fee for the service, ranging from $10 to $20 per guest, which varies by port and service offering. 

The service was first piloted at the port of Vancouver during the 2003 Alaska cruise season. The 10-week test program involved two airlines and approximately 2,000 guests. In 2004 and 2005, the Vancouver service was expanded to include eight airlines and about 52,000 guests. Up to 75 percent of eligible guests used the service, averaging more than 500 guests per sailing and nearly 65,000 pieces of luggage this year. 

"The luggage valet service makes returning home easier than ever," said Nick Hafner, vice president of Air, Sea and Hotel for Royal Caribbean Intl and Celebrity Cruises. "Our guests don't have to locate their luggage, transport it to the airport or stand in long lines, waiting to check in. Our goal is to provide an improved guest experience and an enhanced security process. We have accomplished both."

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Celebrity Cruises Leaps Toward New Century 

MIAMI -- Celebrity Cruises has made a giant leap toward transforming a century into a millennium in just five weeks. The line has signed with Fincantieri in Palermo, Italy, to handle the significant revitalization of its 77,713-ton Century cruise ship in 2006. The approximately $55-million makeover designed to incorporate on Century a variety of Celebrity's most popular Millennium-class attributes marks the line's most extensive refurbishment to-date, and the first time the company has worked directly with Fincantieri. The Century project will be the largest cruise ship modification to-date for the Palermo yard.

Century will emerge on June 2, 2006, from a five-week drydock period at Fincantieri with 314 new verandas, 14 new suites, 10 new staterooms ranging from inside to veranda category, an expanded number of ConciergeClass category staterooms, a new specialty restaurant, and a series of features and amenities that typify the line's acclaimed Millennium-class fleet. The contract with Fincantieri involves Century's major structural modifications, new verandas and associated stateroom interiors, new staterooms on deck 12, and regular drydock work. Other interior outfitting contractors also will handle portions of the work.

"This is an absolutely phenomenal project," said Celebrity's President Dan Hanrahan. "Century already is an incredible ship, ranked among the top 10 in the world. Our goal now is to align the ship even more with our Millennium- class ships, to offer every Celebrity guest a consistently extraordinary experience across the fleet."

Among the highlights of Celebrity's "new" Century are:

New Culinary Delights
A new specialty restaurant will present the elegant dining experience praised by guests on Celebrity's four Millennium-class ships, with a menu designed by Celebrity's longtime culinary and wine consultant, Master Chef Michel Roux. The venue, yet to be themed, will follow the style of Celebrity's "Olympic," "SS United States," "Normandie" and "Ocean Liners" restaurants, which presented the industry's first tableside cooking, carving and flambe.

The "Casual Dining Boulevard" on the lido deck will be expanded to include a Sushi Cafe, made-to-order Pasta and Pizza Bar, and small ice cream parlor, along with buffet breakfasts, themed lunches, and dinner service with a casual dress code. Fans of light, healthy spa cuisine will find what they're seeking in a new Spa Cafe inspired by the venue of the same name on Celebrity's Millennium- class ships.

For evening cocktails, a sophisticated new Martini Bar will offer Celebrity's famed menu of more than 30 versions of the popular libation, while outside on the aft deck, a new bandstand and bar complete with tapas carts will offer the ultimate setting for romantic sailaways at sunset, complete with live music.

Enhanced Enrichment Opportunities
"High Seas Computing" will find a home in a newly dedicated space offering Internet access and courses ranging from basic computer use to web site creation to digital photography.

As on the Millennium-class fleet, Century's new art gallery will join the array of trendy boutiques in "The Boulevard," allowing art aficionados to purchase one-of-a-kind works.

Century's "Fun Factory" children's area will be expanded, with a new teen room added to offer a variety of new activities geared exclusively toward that age group.

Celebrity's exclusive "Acupuncture at Sea" program will have a permanent home on Century as it does on the four Millennium-class ships, offering guests acupuncture treatments, therapies and enrichment lectures by licensed doctors of Oriental Medicine. Century's AquaSpa operated by the elite Elemis Ltd. will be expanded significantly to allow for a number of new features yet to be announced.

Enticing Itineraries
Following its revitalization, Celebrity's "new" Century will set sail on a series of 12-night Baltic and 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings, a 13-night "Best of Europe" voyage, and a seven-night Norwegian Fjords cruise. Century also will be one of the first Celebrity ships to offer short cruises from the cruise capital of the world, the Port of Miami, beginning in November 2006. The ship will present four- and five-night roundtrip Caribbean cruises through April 2007, offering travelers with more limited vacation time the opportunity to experience what the award-winning Celebrity brand has to offer. For more information, call your travel agent, dial 1-800-437-3111, or visit the Celebrity web site at

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Silversea Welcomes Acclaimed Egyptologist as an Enruchment Lecturer for World Cruise 2007

Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- Renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass is set to join Silversea's World Cruise 2007 as an enrichment lecturer. Hawass is Egypt's secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the man most responsible for bringing the King Tut exhibition to the United States this year. He is slated to host a series of presentations aboard Silver Shadow as the ship journeys from Dubai to Alexandria from April 12 to 27, 2007.

"With the successful launch of the King Tut tour in the U.S., there's enormous excitement and interest in Egyptian archaeology right now," said Joseph Proto, Silversea's director of World Cruise and business development. "We're honored and thrilled to be able to welcome Dr. Hawass aboard our World Cruise in 2007. He is famous for his ability to captivate an audience with tales of his discoveries and passion for Egypt's archaeological treasures, so we know our guests will be treated to a truly once-in-a-lifetime learning experience."  

For over 30 years, Hawass has dedicated himself to the excavation and conservation of many of Egypt's most important monuments and antiquities. Included among his many discoveries are the tombs of the pyramid builders found at the Giza Plateau, in the shadow of the great pyramids, and the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya Oasis. He has received numerous international awards for his work, including a First Class Award of Art and Science, one of Egypt's highest awards, presented to Hawass by President Hosni Mubarak to honor the archaeologist's work on the Sphinx restoration project. 

Departing January 15, 2007 from Fort Lauderdale, Silver Shadow's World Cruise 2007 will cross three oceans, seven seas and six continents, visiting 61 different ports, and conclude on the originating coast, in New York City, on May 22. Additional guest lecturers will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on the World Cruise, visit

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Golf at Five World-Class Courses on a Single Crystal Cruise

LOS ANGELES -- Golf enthusiasts participating in one of Crystal Cruises' newly expanded Golf Theme Cruises next year will have the rare opportunity to tee off on as many as six world-renowned courses on a single voyage. In addition to enjoying 18-hole championship golf ashore and enhanced special events on board, golfers can compete in Hole-in-One competitions for a chance to win a free Crystal cruise. Hosted by a visiting PGA instructor, two dedicated Golf Theme Cruises explore some of the best courses in the British Isles and Mediterranean. On May 25, 2006, the ultra-luxurious Crystal Serenity departs London for a 10-day round-trip journey showcasing play at:

* Gleneagles King's Course (Edinburgh);
* Dornoch (Invergordon);
* Royal County Down (Belfast);
* Royal Dublin (Dublin);
* Mount Juliet (Waterford); and
* St. Mellion (Plymouth).

Later in the year on August 19, the award-winning Crystal Symphony travels from Rome to London on a 12-day cruise with golf offered at:

* Golf Club Dell'Ugolino (Florence);
* Monte Carlo Golf Club (Monte Carlo);
* Ste. Maxime Golf Club (St. Tropez);
* Real Club de Golf el Prat (Barcelona); and
* Penha Longa Golf Course (Lisbon).

"We have expanded our golf cruise programming to provide guests with more access to exclusive courses and more onboard enrichment to fine-tune their golfing skills," says John Stoll, Crystal's director of land programs. "On destination rich itineraries, golfers can indulge the passion of their favorite sport amidst the elegant surroundings and pampering service of Crystal's award-winning ships."

At each course, golfers will enjoy 18-holes of championship golf in organized foursomes, 45-minute warm-up session on driving range or putting green, caddy or motorized cart, 9th hole refreshments, use of locker room facilities, and transfers to and from the ship. On board, participating golfers attend special parties and private clinics hosted by the visiting PGA instructor, and enjoy complimentary club and golf shoe cleaning after each course, as well as complimentary club storage. Golfers playing all courses during either cruise are eligible to receive awards for competitions including: Best Overall Score for Putting Contest (team and individual); Best Overall Average Score (team and individual); Longest Drive; Closest to the Pin; and the ultimate: a Hole-in-One, which rewards the winner with a free Crystal cruise for two. 

Golfers may confirm their participation at each desired course in advance of their trip by reserving online at Exclusively with these two golf cruises, guests can ship their golf clubs from the U.S. through Virtual Bellhop for only $100 each way, a savings of 50%. In fact, for added convenience, all luggage can be shipped through the service. For more information and arrangements on golf club and luggage shipping, contact Virtual Bellhop at or call 877-Bellhop. Crystal recommends that golfers bring their own clubs, as their rental at the courses is based on availability.

Crystal's two Golf Theme Cruises showcase the best of golf on itineraries rich in culture and natural beauty:

  • "Castles & Kilts" aboard Crystal Serenity; May 25 - June 4; 10 days round-trip from London; ports of call include: Edinburgh and Invergordon, Scotland; Belfast, Dublin and Waterford, Ireland; and, Plymouth and Guernsey, England. 

  • "Epicurean Odyssey" aboard Crystal Symphony; August 19 - 31; 12 days from Rome to London; ports of call include: Florence, Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; St. Tropez and Bordeaux (overnight), France; Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; and Guernsey, England.

Cruise fares for the 10- and 12-day cruises start at $4,250 and $3,990, respectively, based on per person, double occupancy accommodations. As an additional value, Crystal Cruises is introducing reduced business class air upgrade fares with all 2006 European cruises booked by March 31, 2006. The special one way business class air upgrade fares of $1,099 to $1,299 are in addition to Crystal Cruises' published coach class add-on fares. Available from selected major gateways in the U.S., the upgraded airfares are approximately 50% lower than unrestricted business class airfares to Europe.

In addition to Crystal's Golf Theme Cruises, the luxury line also features a comprehensive onboard golf program in conjunction with TaylorMade. The alliance showcases TaylorMade's acclaimed 2005 RAC OS irons, the prestigious r7 quad driver, the Mezza Monza putter, and the r5 dual Type N -- the most forgiving driver TaylorMade has ever engineered. Also offered are men's and women's right- and left-handed clubs for onboard practice, a putting green, and golf driving ranges aboard each ship.

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Crystal Cruises Announces 2007 Itineraries

LOS ANGELES, Dec 19 -- Maintaining its commitment to rich destination experiences, Crystal Cruises is introducing its 2007 collection of ultra-luxury worldwide cruises for Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. Featuring 152 different ports, the rich 2007 roster of 63 exotic, romantic, historic and tropical itineraries, range in length from seven to 109 days for the line's 12th annual World Cruise. New for 2007 will be a return to a season cruising Asia, a call in Israel for the first time since 1999, Antarctica, more seven-day cruises than ever before, more overnight stays, an emphasis on more ports per cruise and eight maiden calls in Chile, Norway, Vietnam, Tunisia, Lithuania, Mozambique, Mexico and Russia. 
Recognizing that its luxury travelers are seeking grand experiences of the destinations, the line has planned cruises around Carnaval in Rio, the Tall Ships regatta in Stockholm, and the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, in addition to several days in Beijing, St. Petersburg, and Cape Town, among others.

"Ashore, Crystal will maximize the experience of a destination with hundreds of fascinating cultural, active and highly specialized Crystal Adventures, including safaris and one-of-a-kind tailored experiences," says William Smith, senior vice president, sales & marketing. "On board Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, guests will continue to find incomparable service, space, choices and quality with a continued focus on spa, fitness and stimulating, sophisticated learning opportunities."

Crystal Serenity kicks off January 2007 with an easy seven-day Caribbean cruise before setting off for her grandest voyage, the World Cruise. Available in seven segments, the cruise begins in Miami and circles around South America and Antarctica across to Cape Town and up the eastern coast of Africa to Dubai, followed by calls in the Middle East and Europe. The acclaimed vessel spends the late spring through fall cruising on several different eastern and western Mediterranean itineraries, as well as Black Sea and Canary Islands cruises. A southern Trans-Atlantic crossing via Bermuda repositions Crystal Serenity for late fall cruising in the warm waters of the Panama Canal and Caribbean, including a tropical Caribbean holiday cruise.

Crystal Symphony will begin 2007 with four prime season Panama Canal and two Mexican Riviera cruises, followed by a Trans-Pacific cruise that repositions the ship to Asia. Spring Asia itineraries include two China and Japan cruises with three-day overland stays in Beijing and two exotic Southeast Asia cruises offering Vietnam, Thailand, India and Myanmar. Crystal Symphony travels from Dubai through the Suez Canal for a Middle Eastern voyage, followed by a Western Europe cruise from Rome. The ultra-luxury vessels spends the summer in northern Europe on a series of Baltic cruises (with three days in St. Petersburg); a British Isles cruise; a northern Europe cruise including Hamburg, Amsterdam and Bordeaux; and a Norwegian fjords cruise across the Arctic Circle to Spitsbergen. Crystal Symphony's grand Trans-Atlantic cruise, featuring stops in Iceland and Greenland, repositions the ship for New England/Canada fall foliage cruises. Panama Canal and Caribbean cruises take the chill off late fall. Crystal Symphony celebrates the Christmas holidays and the New Year with a festive Mexican Riviera voyage.

Complete day-by-day itineraries will be posted on Crystal's website by December 30, 2005. For additional information, please contact a travel agent or call 888-799-4625. Visit the luxury line's website at

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Hometown Heroes Shine Brightly in the Princess Spotlight

SANTA CLARITA, CA - In a survey commissioned by Princess Cruises earlier this year to mark its 40th anniversary, the line found that homemakers, nurses and teachers rank among the most over-worked professions in America. But that was only part of it. The survey inspired an unusual contest in which respondents were asked to nominate someone they felt most deserved an escape. Surprisingly, the contest generated a record 12,000 entries - more than any previous contest - and offered an opportunity to showcase and celebrate a group of hometown heroes who work tirelessly to comfort and console, inspire and engage.

"Naturally, teachers, nurses and homemakers factored prominently among the winners, but the heartening, and sometimes heart-wrenching, stories of dozens of selfless individuals kept entry-readers enthralled," said Jan Swartz, senior vice president of customer service and sales, who devised the contest to complement Princess's "Escape Completely" tagline while celebrating the line's 40 years of pioneering innovation. "The contest gave us an opportunity to recognize some truly remarkable individuals and mark our anniversary in a compelling and memorable way," said Swartz.

No doubt the winners will not soon forget the commendation - or the cruise that will follow. Gavin MacLeod, The Love Boat's beloved Captain Stubing, was on hand to surprise selected winners at their homes with a seven-night cruise vacation for two to the Caribbean or Mexican Rivera. The 40 winners came from around the U.S., in professions ranging from law and law enforcement to medicine and social work. Winners included:

  • Mary H. of Florida - A "military mom" who saw four of her own children and one son-in-law off to Iraq and, ever since, has been sending shoebox care packages to troops overseas. With the help of her community and nearly 500 volunteers, she has shipped more than 100,000 shoebox care packages to overseas troops to date. 

  • Brad W. of Missouri - A father of three adopted, learning-disabled children and full-time teacher who started an interactive art program for children at risk within the community. 

  • Patricia J. of Michigan - A housecleaner and personal assistant who donated a portion of her liver to her boss after just a few months on the job and saved his life. 

  • Debbie C. of Arizona - A patient service representative at the Mayo Clinic who has been a long term, single foster parent to seven girls in the past 15 years, in addition to raising her own daughter. 

  • Eric M. of Washington - A teacher who has developed a non-for-profit program offered in collaboration with the local police department and school district, which educates kids and teens on the dangers of drunk driving and the importance of making good choices. 

  • Amy M. of Massachusetts - A mom with a knack for fund raising who has raised nearly $50,000 to fund a trip for local school kids to NYC, and more than $10,000 for Hurricane Katrina victims in the last year alone.

Princess launched the "Help Someone Escape Completely" contest with a national consumer survey in May asking U.S. adult consumer opinions about people's need to "escape." Topics covered in the survey ranged from ways people most escape to the celebrity they'd most often like to accompany on an escape. More than 12,000 people took time to nominate someone they felt deserved a well-earned vacation. Winners are posted at, and site visitors can view video footage of Gavin MacLeod surprising several of the winners with their awards at their homes and offices.

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Holland America Line Names Actress Marlee Matlin as Godmother to ms Noordam 

SEATTLE -- Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin will be godmother to Holland America Line's new Vista-class ship, the ms Noordam, in a ceremony dedicating the ship in New York City on February 22, 2006.

"Marlee Matlin is an accomplished actress, a generous woman in support of those in need, and a driven advocate for causes that benefit our society," said Stein Kruse, president and chief executive officer, Holland America Line. "We are honored to have her as the godmother for the ms Noordam and launch this Vista-class vessel into service."

ms Noordam Newest in Series of Exclusive Vista-class Premium Vessels
The ms Noordam is the fourth in a series of 81,769-ton Vista class ships. The ms Noordam will showcase all the service and product enhancements of the line's $225 million Signature of Excellence initiative, including the addition of an Explorations Cafe -- a cyber-coffee house powered by The New York Times -- expanded Pinnacle Grill, and a new Pinnacle Bar.

Other major Signature of Excellence attributes will include the innovative Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine Magazine, where culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and intimate classes in the new state-of-the- art onboard show kitchen; an expanded Greenhouse Spa and Salon; and upgraded youth facility that includes the teens-only Loft. Also new -- and unique to the Noordam -- will be the Pinnacle Grill Bar, offering a wide selection of worldwide wines. Special amenities add to the ambience of the Noordam and feature plush Euro-top Mariner Beds, deluxe waffle/terry cloth robes, flat panel TVs, dvd players, make-up mirrors with halo lighting, massage shower heads, professional hair dryers, and complimentary fruit basket.

The Noordam will sail on its maiden cruising season from homeport New York City to the Southern and Eastern Caribbean. Eleven Caribbean sailings will depart New York, beginning on February 22, 2006. Fares start at US$1,199 per person, double occupancy.

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Seabourn Schedules More Scandanavia in 2006: 
Fewer Days, More Ports, Greater Variety & Value

MIAMI, Dec 14, 2005 - For the summer of 2006, the intimate, all-suite Seabourn Pride is offering a menu of two new cruise itineraries sailing round trip from Copenhagen to the most popular ports in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. This summer's 12-day "Scandinavia & Russia" cruises, as well as the 9-day "Norwegian Fjords" voyages are the shortest itineraries that Seabourn has ever offered in northern Europe. Yet they provide more ports, and plenty of time in ports, with the advantage of a lower overall cruise fare.

"Sailing in Scandinavia with Seabourn is especially satisfying," according to Seabourn's president Deborah L. Natansohn, "because so many of our officers and crew come from Scandinavia and the Baltic. They have a special feeling for the places where they grew up and spent their childhood summers. It's like a homecoming celebration."

The 12-day "Scandinavia & Russia" cruises visit Tallin, Estonia and spend three full days at St. Petersburg, then continue to Helsinki, overnight in Stockholm and call at Warnemuende, Germany, from where guests can visit Berlin, Prague or Krakow and Auschwitz in Poland. New this year is a call at the bucolic Danish isle of Bornholm, where guests will enjoy an Exclusively Seabourn visit to a traditional glass works, to create their own glass and then enjoy wine served in it. There are departures on June 17, July 8 and 29 and August 19. With Early Booking savings from 25%, fares start from $7,969 per person, based on double occupancy of a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.

Nine-day "Norwegian Fjords" cruises visit Gudvangen and Flaam, Aalesund, Bergen, Ulvik, Eidfjord and Oslo, plus an Exclusively Seabourn visit to Skagen, where the Baltic and North Seas meet, on the northern tip of Denmark. Departures are June 29 and July 20. With 25% Early Booking Savings, fares start at $5,996 per person, double.

Grand Voyage Savings
The two cruise itineraries can be booked back-to-back for a complete exploration of Northern Europe in 21 days, at Grand Voyage Savings of 50% off the brochure fares, with fares starting from $9,310 per person, double. 

Guests on any of these cruises will enjoy a wealth of enhancements and upgrades to Seabourn's Signature Delights: a myriad of thoughtful touches and pampering plusses that have earned the line the highest scores awarded to any cruise line by readers of Departures and Travel + Leisure magazines. Recent additions include Vintage Seabourn, a premium wines pre-purchase package; Seabourn to a Tea, an upgraded menu of rare estate teas, unique blends and herbal tisanes being served on board; Seabourn's Personal Shopper service providing luxury cars and specialized shopping guides in various ports worldwide; WorldPhone global cell and satellite telephone rental services, and Seabourn's innovative Personal Valet luggage shipping service.

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Carnival Corp Announces 4-Ship Deal Worth More Than $2 Billion

MIAMI, Dec. 14 - Carnival Corporation & plc announced it has reached an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of four new cruise ships worth more than $2 billion. The agreement calls for the construction of four new vessels, one each for Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Costa Crociere, along with options for two additional vessels, one each for Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America Line. The four new ships will add a collective 11,756 lower berths to the cruise operator's fleet. Two of the orders have been placed in U.S. dollars and two others are in euros.

According to Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison, the agreement extends Carnival Corporation & plc's newbuilding program through 2009 while enabling the company to execute its strategy of expanding its North American and European brands. "Fincantieri constructs some of the world's most beautiful and technically advanced ships and this agreement enables us to expand our core North American and European brands at very competitive prices considering today's unfavorable U.S. dollar/euro ratio," he said.

The new ships and options include:

  • A 2,044-passenger ship which will be the largest ever constructed for North American premium operator Holland America Line. With an estimated all-in cost of $450 million, the 86,000-ton Panamax vessel will be built at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard. The ship is expected to enter service in summer 2008. There is also an option for a sister ship scheduled to debut in spring 2010.

  • A 3,100-passenger ship for North American premium brand Princess Cruises set to debut in fall 2008. A sister to the Emerald Princess, the 116,000-ton vessel will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard at an approximate all-in cost of $570 million.

  • A 3,608-passenger cruise ship for Carnival Cruise Lines representing the largest vessel ever constructed for the contemporary North American operator. The 130,000-ton vessel, to be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard at an estimated all-in cost of 560 million euro, is expected to enter service in fall 2009. There is also an option for a sister ship scheduled to enter service in summer 2010.

  • A 3,004-passenger ship for Genoa, Italy-based Costa Crociere expected to debut in summer 2009. A sister ship to the Costa Concordia, the 112,000-ton vessel will have an estimated all-in cost of 485 million euro and will be built at Fincantieri's Sestri shipyard.

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Now Available On, Princess Cruises' Cookbook Shares 
Priceless Culinary Knowledge

SANTA CLARITA, CA - The chefs aboard Princess Cruises cook for more than 30,000 passengers per day, so who better to tap for tempting, time-honored recipes and helpful culinary techniques? Princess' popular cookbook, Courses, A Culinary Journey, a collective work of recipes from 20 of its talented chefs-at-sea, has sold more than 100,000 copies on board its ships and is now available online for the first time at This 224-page coffee-table cookbook is a perfect holiday gift for the kitchen apprentice, consummate chef or world traveler with a taste for culinary adventure.

"In Courses, we have included the most frequently requested dishes along with our special signature delicacies, and have shared our time-tested personal secrets on preparation and presentation," said Franz Rom, Princess' vice president of fleet operations. "So many of our passengers tell us they want to bring their culinary experience home with them and with this book, they can."

Princess, already well-known for culinary excellence and innovation, designed the book to complement its seven-continent itineraries. Pairing specific journeys with strikingly original menus, the cookbook highlights 10 intriguing destinations in a colorful travelogue format. Dramatic, full-page photography illustrates each of the 86 featured recipes. Black and white action shots, interspersed throughout the book, attest to the round-the-clock efforts of a culinary team consistently delivering delicious meals. 

Many dishes reflect the culinary sensibilities of the destinations Princess serves. Included are: 

  • Poached Weave of Halibut and Salmon with a Delicate Spring Leek Sauce

  • Tequila Prawns, Flamed with Mexican Tequila and Serrano Chiles over Dirty Rice

  • Vanilla Cognac Soufflé with Warm Grand Marnier Sauce 

Helpful tips on technique, ingredients and regional culinary traditions are addressed in an engaging and accessible manner. Rom points out that the cookbook is unique in the cruise industry for its oversized, coffee-table-style format and engaging photography. "It's not just a cookbook," he says, "it's a beautiful presentation of food and cooking that makes interesting reading for cooks and armchair travelers alike." 

"With the holiday season ahead, we're thrilled to offer Courses conveniently on," said Rom. "Now, it's available not only to passengers who cruise with us, but to anyone inspired by the culinary flavors of the exotic ports and gourmet cuisine served by Princess Cruises." Courses is available at at

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MSC Cruises Brings European-Style Cruising Back to NYC

NEW YORK, NY -- Start spreading the news...  MSC Cruises is bringing sophisticated European-style cruising back to New York. When the Italian-owned MSC Cruises MSC Lirica begins year-round sailings from New York City in April 2007, it will mark the first time in several decades that a European-owned cruise line will homeport year-round in the Big Apple.

“It has been decades since vacationers have been able to sail from New York on a European-owned cruise line with the classic style and elegance that only the Italians know how to present,” says Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), who added the line will offer Bermuda, Canada/New England and Caribbean itineraries.

"This is an exciting day for New York City and our booming cruise industry," said Andrew M. Alper, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. "MSC Cruises’ decision to come to New York City is the latest evidence that the investments we are making in our cruise terminals are helping transform the City into an even more attractive place for cruise lines. “On behalf of Mayor Bloomberg and all of New York City, I welcome MSC Cruises to the Big Apple."

“Homeporting a ship in New York makes MSC Cruises ‘True Italian Signature’ style of cruising readily accessible to residents of the Northeast. MSC Cruises’ Italian/European style will be right at home in this, the crosswords of the world,” says Sasso.

With seven ships currently in service and newbuilds MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra joining the fleet in 2006 and 2007, respectively, MSC Cruises announced plans to add more and signed for its two largest ships this past week. MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra will be followed by the 133,500-ton MSC Fantasia in 2008 and MSC Serenata in 2009, bringing the number of ships in the line’s fleet to 11 by 2009.

“This is a very exciting time for MSC Cruises,” says Sasso. “With grand new ships on the horizon and year-round sailings from what is unquestionably the capital of the world, MSC Cruises reaffirms its position as a global player in the cruise industry.”

MSC Cruises offers itineraries in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America and the Caribbean, as well as transatlantic sailings. Each itinerary features the out-of-the-ordinary port calls for which MSC Cruises has become known. No matter what the sailing region, MSC Cruises offers guests an authentic Italian/European cruise experience, from the superb cuisine featuring regional Italian specialties (as well as perennial All-American favorites) to the warmth and generosity of the Italian officers and international crew and the European-style entertainment that is suitable for the entire family. Onboard, guests enjoy swimming pools, mini-golf, casino, disco, theatre, health center (complete with beauty salon, gym, steam room, sauna and relaxation area), children’s area, video game room, and Internet center. 

MSC Cruises is no stranger to New York City. The U.S. headquarters of the cruise line’s parent company, Mediterranean Shipping Company, are based in New York City and recently marked the 20th year serving the U.S. trade market. For more information about MSC Cruises, visit

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Carnival Cruise Lines Signs Contract Extension with JAXPORT Through 2007

Jacksonville, FL – Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest cruise operator, has signed a two-year contract extension with the Jacksonville Port Authority to continue the company’s year-round service from Jacksonville through November 2007. Carnival has offered cruises from JAXPORT since February 2004. The line now provides year-round service aboard the 1,486-passenger Celebration, which sails four and five-night voyages to Key West and the Bahamas. Carnival is the only cruise line currently operating from JAXPORT.

“Since launching 'Fun Ship' cruising from Jacksonville in February 2004, we've received extremely positive feedback from consumers, who appreciate the port's convenient location and outstanding, high quality service,” said Bob Dickinson, Carnival Cruise Lines president and CEO. “The Celebration's value-packed four- and five-day cruises have been very well received by consumers and we're delighted that we will continue operating the only year-round cruise schedule from Jacksonville.”

More than 138,000 passengers boarded cruise ships at JAXPORT in fiscal year 2005 (ending September 30), a 78 percent increase over the 85,382 embarkations in FY 2004, the first full year of cruise service from JAXPORT. Passengers travel from throughout the Southeastern United States – and as far away as Canada – to board the Celebration in Jacksonville. Carnival customers report a high level of satisfaction cruising from Jacksonville. In its first year of operation in 2004, Carnival’s embarkation team at the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal was rated No. 1 in the company’s annual guest comment card survey, beating out embarkation teams in the line’s eight other year-round U.S. homeports. The award is based on guest comment cards, which ranks embarkation teams in a variety of customer service areas, including professionalism, efficiency and friendliness.

Rick Ferrin, JAXPORT’s Executive Director, said Carnival and JAXPORT have established a strong partnership over the last two years. “Carnival has an outstanding reputation for providing top-notch cruise vacations, and we are very pleased that vacationers from throughout North America will continue to enjoy cruising from JAXPORT," Ferrin said.

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Holiday Cruises are Pixie Dusted With Magic Aboard Disney Cruise Line

CELEBRATION, FL -- A magical tree lighting ceremony with Disney characters, festive holiday decor, carolers, gingerbread house building and even "snow" that magically falls, await all those who board a Disney Cruise during the month of December. Just in time for the holiday season, both Disney ships -- Disney Magic and Disney Wonder -- are decked with boughs of holly and filled with holiday themed entertainment and activities for the entire family.

It all starts at Disney's private cruise terminal at Port Canaveral, Florida, where holiday decorations and Disney characters dressed in their season's best await all who board a Magical Holidays sailing. Onboard, guests find highlights including:

* A nearly three-deck-tall tree-lighting ceremony in the atrium lobby, where "snow" falls magically
* A Christmas Day visit from Santa Goofy, with surprises for all the kids
* International holiday caroling by crew members from around the globe
* Special family time, when families join together to design and decorate their own gingerbread houses
* A reading of T'was the Night Before Christmas by Mrs. Claus
* Traditional holiday feasts in Disney's three themed dining rooms
* Multiple faith and inter-denominational holiday services
* A ship-wide party to ring in 2006 and a New Year's Day tailgate party

The last stop for all Disney Cruises is the line's private island -- Castaway Cay -- where guests are treated to a "Magical Wonderland," a themed decor package that has transformed the sandy Bahamian island into a "snowy" holiday hideaway. In addition to "snow" flurries, guests enjoy seeing Christmas trees, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman (with shell noses and tropical shirts), carolers and a sleigh full of presents in the middle of the Bahamas. Even the island's tram that transports guests across the 1,000-acre island has been decorated to resemble a reindeer, complete with antlers and tail. At the beach, families learn the art of sand sculpting, while kids try their hand at holiday themed children's activities including making candy cane reindeers, paper plate angels and snowflake-mobiles.

Whether aboard or ashore, Disney Cruise Line guests will find the first class cruise experience that Disney is known for -- now with a touch of the holidays -- for every member of the family.

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SeaDream Enhances South America Yachting Collection

SeaDream Yacht Club has enhanced its series of ten South America sailing in the winter of 2006-2007 by modifying its previously announced voyages to include two Buenos Aires, Argentina roundtrip sailings it has dubbed South America Adventure Voyages. This move comes on the heels of SeaDream’s South America announcement in November and separates the ultra-luxury yacht operator’s South America voyages into two diverse offerings: the South America Riviera Collection (which includes vibrant and sophisticated cities like Rio and Buenos Aires as well as chic resorts such a Buzios) and the new South America Adventure Collection. 

Larry Pimentel, President and CEO for SeaDream said “This revision was due to a recent change in Brazilian customs regulations that require a 30 day maximum stay in Brazil or be subject to labor laws requiring 33 per cent of our onboard staff to be Brazilian nationals. This change came into effect after we complied with local laws in place at the time when we planned our original schedules and itineraries. In this case challenge was the mother of invention. We knew there was high demand for some sailings that emphasized a more adventurous side of this region and we found a good solution. We will exit Brazil after the 30 days for a required period of 15 days in order to maintain our international maritime status. During this time we will operate Buenos Aires roundtrips with these new adventurous itineraries.

“We simply have included two nine-night, ten-day sailings embarking and disembarking in Buenos Aires, Argentina. These will feature such experiences as eco-tourism, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking and canoeing, hiking and the exploring of National Heritage Sites,” he said.

The itinerary for the two Buenos Aires-Buenos Aires includes:

  • Exploring the Parana River---Small boat trips, fishing and birding. 
  • Nueva Palmira (for Carmelo), Uruguay---Outdoor eco-activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking and canoeing, hiking.
  • Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay---UNESCO Heritage Site.
  • Montevideo, Uruguay---Two full days in this historic sites, shopping, cafes and culture. Charter flight to famed Iguacu Falls.
  • Punta del Este, Uruguay---A prime yachting Resort. SeaDream overnights here. Sea lion viewing, beaches, shopping, fine restaurants and cafes, art museum, nightlife.

Following this series of South America sailings SeaDream I will sail back to the Caribbean. The plan is for SeaDream II to do the South America itineraries the following year.

These sailings are open for bookings now. Prices for individual bookings for most of the nine-night, ten-day sailings, based on double occupancy of staterooms are from $3,999.00 per person, based on SeaDream’s “Book Now and save Plan.” Prices for the new Buenos Aires roundtrip sailings are from $4,599.00.The Iguacu Falls excursion is included in this price. Similarly, prices for the individual bookings for the December 20 Christmas voyage are from $4,999.00. Prices for the December 29 New Year’s voyage are from $4,999.00. Prices for the Rio Carnaval voyage are from $5,499.00. Complete details of the South America Collection, including schedules, itineraries and pricing, are available on SeaDream’s website at 

The revised itineraries, to be sailed by SeaDream I in the winter 2006-2007 are:

  • #1647 Nov 23 Rio-Buenos Aires (U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday onboard in Rio and includes a visit to Iguacu Falls)
  • #1648 Dec 2 Buenos Aires- Rio 
  • #1649 Dec 11 Rio-Buenos Aires
  • #1650 Dec 20 Buenos Aires-Buenos Aires (Christmas Holiday Sailing. Includes Iguacu Falls)
  • #1701 Dec 29 Buenos Aires-Rio (New Year’s Eve Punta del Este, Uruguay)
  • #1702 Jan 7 Rio-Buenos Aires (Includes Iguacu Falls)
  • #1703 Jan16 Buenos Aires-Rio 
  • #1704 Jan 25 Rio-Buenos Aires (Includes Iguacu Falls) 
  • #1705 Feb 3 Buenos Aires-Buenos Aires (Includes Iguacu Falls)
  • #1706 Feb 12 Buenos Aires-Rio (Carnaval in Rio Feb 17-20)

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Upgrades & Refurbishments Refresh Star Clippers Fleet

MIAMI -- The three tall ships that compose the Star Clippers fleet recently received a series of upgrades and enhancements. Public rooms, passenger areas and all cabins throughout sister ships Star Clipper and Star Flyer have been refurbished. Aboard Royal Clipper, the line's flagship, the public rooms were the primary focus. 

Cabins on Star Clipper and Star Flyer received a complete facelift with new carpet, wall paneling, bedspreads and furniture upholstery. Cabin bathroom refurbishments included upgraded fittings, mirrors, lighting and new hairdryers. For guests who like to spend time relaxing in their cabin, new DVD players were added to all cabins and flat-screen televisions were added to Deck Cabins. All Star Clippers ships offer a library of complimentary DVDs. In the public areas, new paneling adorns the corridors and staircases. Carpets, upholstery and varnishing also were renovated throughout the vessel.

Royal Clipper's public rooms received the royal treatment with new carpet, upholsteries and varnishing. New DVD players also were added to all cabins. Travelers need not bring a hairdryer, as new ones have been installed in the bathrooms.

"A Star Clippers priority is to update and refresh the ships on a regular basis in order to maintain our standards of excellence and provide a high-quality cruising environment," said Jack Chatham, vice president of sales and marketing for Star Clippers. "A beautiful ship enhances the passenger experience, and we always strive to have our ships in top condition."

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Strong 3rd Quarter Passenger Growth Extends 2005 Trend for CLIA-Member Cruise Lines

NEW YORK – The cruise industry’s robust passenger growth continued in the third quarter of 2005, as the member fleets of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) carried 3.04 million worldwide guests, a 6 percent increase over the same period in 2004. North American passenger totals grew by 8.6 percent during the same period, to 2.55 million guests, up from 2.35 million in the third quarter of 2004. The 2005 third-quarter passenger figures are new statistics released by CLIA, whose 19 member cruise lines represent over 97 percent of the cruise capacity marketed in North America. In addition to the growing passenger totals, the CLIA-member cruise lines also maintained high utilization rates, posting a 106 percent occupancy factor in the third quarter, compared with 106.3 percent for the same period in 2004. 

“More and more consumers are enjoying the pleasures of cruise vacationing, which extend beyond the diverse amenities, facilities and services found aboard today’s ships, ” said Terry L. Dale, CLIA’s president and CEO. “Cruises also offer the travel industry’s best values, plus the convenience of 30 North American embarkation ports. Most importantly, CLIA-member travel agency professionals are available across the U.S. and Canada to guide vacationers through the array of choices.” 

Overall, statistics for the first three quarters of 2005 show a 5.7 percent increase in worldwide passengers to 8.35 million guests, up from 7.90 million for the same period in 2004. North American guest totals for the period grew 9.1 percent to 7.29 million, up from 6.68 million in 2004. 

CLIA’s passenger carryings statistics for the first three quarters of 2005 also include:

  • Itineraries of 1 to 5 days accounted for a 33.6 percent share of the cruise market; itineraries of 6 to 8 days accounted for 53.8 percent; 9 to 17-day itineraries accounted for 12.4 percent and itineraries of 18 days or longer accounted for 0.4 percent of the market.
  • The average length of a cruise in the first three quarters was 6.97 days versus 6.90 days for the same period in 2004.
  • Average industry occupancies through October totaled 103.2 percent versus 103.5 percent during the same period in 2004.

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Miss Italia World Candidates to Sail on MSC Opera

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL -- More than 40 American and Caribbean women of Italian ancestry will be special guests onboard MSC Cruises’ March 11, 2006 sailing of MSC Opera as part of the Miss Italia World 2006 competition. They will be competing for the right to represent the United States and the Caribbean in the international Miss Italia World 2006 competition to be held in Italy at the end of June.

Now in its 16th year, the Miss Italia World competition celebrates the beauty of women of Italian heritage from around the world; women of Italian ancestry from 52 countries outside of Italy will be competing for cash and prizes and the title of Miss Italia World 2006.

“What better place to showcase the candidates’ Italian heritage than on MSC Cruises?” says Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises USA. “As an Italian-owned company, we at MSC Cruises pride ourselves in our Italian heritage. It is an integral part of every cruise, from the design to the Italian officers, chefs and waiters and, of course, authentic Italian cuisine.”

During the seven-night cruise, 21 women representing such Caribbean countries as Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Colombia and the Dominican Republic and 20 candidates representing such U.S. cities as Chicago and New York will participate in pageant activities and performances, while being filmed by Italian television Rai Uno.
MSC opera departs Fort Lauderdale on its roundtrip journey March 11, calling at San Juan, St. Maarten, La Romana and Cayo Levantado. The itinerary also includes two days at sea. At the end of the cruise, pageant participants will travel to Miami to compete in the March 18 finale. For more information about MSC Cruises and the March 11 sailing, visit or contact a travel agent.

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Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Begins Sailing from Tampa

MIAMI -- December 2, 2005 -- Royal Caribbean International’s Grandeur of the Seas began sailing from the Port of Tampa for the first time on Saturday, December 3rd. Grandeur of the Seas was originally scheduled to sail from the Port of New Orleans during this winter season, but was redeployed to Tampa in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and its damage to the Gulf Coast. The ship will make 32 sailings from Tampa between December 3 and April 29, 2006. 

“We are thankful for the warm welcome the Tampa Bay area has provided us on short notice,” said Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International. “The redeployment of Grandeur of the Seas was a difficult decision for our company in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We appreciate the understanding of our guests who were affected. We are encouraged by the recovery efforts in New Orleans and look forward to resuming service there a year from now. In the short term, we look forward to a successful winter of four- and five-night sailings from Tampa.” 

Grandeur of the Seas will sail four- and five-night cruises from Tampa. The four- night sailings will make a port of call in Cozumel, Mexico. The five-night sailings will alternate, making port calls in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; or in Cozumel, Mexico, and Georgetown, Cayman Islands. The ship will sail one seven-night cruises on April 22, with port calls in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Georgetown, Cayman Islands. The ships will depart Tampa on April 29, with a seven-night sailing to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with port calls in Cozumel, Mexico, Georgetown, Cayman Islands, and Oranjestad, Aruba. 

Grandeur of the Seas joins another Royal Caribbean ship, Legend of the Seas, sailing from Tampa this winter. Legend of the Seas is sailing seven-night Caribbean cruises from November 5 to April 15, 2006, with port calls in Georgetown, Cayman Islands, Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Belize City, Belize. 

Grandeur of the Seas made its maiden voyage on December 14, 1996. The ship is 74,140 gross registered tons, 916 feet long and 105.6 feet wide. It has a 25-foot draft and a cruising speed of 22 knots. The ship has 11 passenger decks and accommodates 1,950 guests (double occupancy) and 760 crew members. It has a total of 975 staterooms, 576 of which have ocean views (212 with balconies) and 399 of which are interior. Fourteen staterooms are wheelchair accessible. Additional information can be found on the Royal Caribbean web site at or by calling 800-327-6700. 

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Tommy Dorsey Orchestra Headlines Spring Transatlantic Crossing Aboard Crystal Symphony

LOS ANGELES – Fans of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra will enjoy an extra swing in their step with a special limited-time 15% savings offered on Crystal Symphony’s Big Band theme cruise next spring. Led by the inimitable Buddy Morrow, the orchestra will regale guests with the irreplaceable tunes of the 40’s with swing, Dixieland, jazz, and rhythm and blues. For reservations made by December 31, 2005, guests can save up to $1,100 per person on all categories, or 15% off the cruise fares. With the special offer, cruise fares begin at only $1,929 per person, double occupancy.

On April 29, 2006, Crystal Symphony will travel from Miami to Lisbon on a true Trans-Atlantic crossing offering active and engaging programs as well as the opportunity for quiet rejuvenation. Adding even more reason to dance, guests choosing to combine their Trans-Atlantic experience with the subsequent 10-day Mediterranean cruise from Lisbon to Athens will receive an additional 10% savings.

Special guest lecturer Loren Schoenberg, conductor, saxophonist, scholar and engaging storyteller, will share colorful anecdotal tales about big moments in big band history. Just recently, Schoenberg received the Grammy for the Best Liner Notes: "The Complete Columbia Recordings of Woody Herman and His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (1945-1947).” A historian by nature, Schoenberg is today the Executive Director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem. He became a fixture in the jazz world with his encyclopedic knowledge about the genre and passion for preserving its past while making it eminently contemporary. 

“A Trans-Atlantic itinerary is ideally suited for a Big Band theme, allowing for late nights of dancing, swinging, and camaraderie followed by relaxing days of enrichment, fun, and naturally, luxurious comfort and pampering service from our award-winning staff,” says Bill Smith, Crystal’s senior vice president, sales and marketing.

Crystal’s theme cruises are an integral component of the line’s renowned Crystal Visions® Enrichment Program. The luxury line’s Big Band cruise features daily activities such as afternoon dances, trivia contests, swing lessons, special lectures, presentations, and more. 

In Big Band history, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra is recognized as one of the best all-around dance bands, especially renowned for its ballads. Today, the orchestra’s repertoire embraces not only the classics of the original Dorsey Orchestra, but also the spectrum of popular music from Dixieland, rhythm and blues, progressive jazz, and contemporary. 

Guests extending their Trans-Atlantic journey can explore Lisbon, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Sorrento, Taormina, Santorini and Athens on Crystal Symphony’s May 8th cruise. For additional information, contact a travel agent or call 888-799-4625. Visit the luxury line's website at

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Celebrity Cruises and Cirque du Soleil Introduce 'A Taste of Cirque du Soleil©' 

MIAMI, Dec. 1 -- When the curtain rises in the theaters of Celebrity Cruises' Constellation and Summit today, the audience will be treated to the official debut of "A Taste of Cirque du Soleil©," a new entertainment showcase featuring the magic and wizardry of Cirque du Soleil, created exclusively for Celebrity Cruises.

"A Taste of Cirque du Soleil is the result of positive dialogue with our partners at Cirque, combined with valuable feedback from our guests and trade partners," said Celebrity's President Dan Hanrahan. "We are extremely pleased with the outcome, and judging by the standing ovation when we first presented this new concept, we're confident our guests will be thrilled, as well."

The result of an exclusive partnership with the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil, the new 30-minute performances will be offered exclusively onboard Celebrity's Constellation and Summit, and feature three acrobatic performances and characters from Cirque du Soleil.

"A Taste of Cirque du Soleil focuses on the human element; the simplicity of individual artists' talent, creativity and agility," said Cirque du Soleil President & COO Daniel Lamarre. "It is the true essence, and at the core of, what Cirque du Soleil was founded on." A Taste of Cirque du Soleil is presented twice per cruise on Celebrity's Constellation and Summit in the Celebrity Theatre. There is no charge for the performances. The two ships also house "The Bar at the Edge of the Earth," a lounge designed exclusively for Celebrity by Cirque du Soleil, as well as Cirque du Soleil boutiques -- the only such shops in existence other than those operated solely by Cirque.

Cirque du Soleil is recognized worldwide for its elaborate and creative productions. Cirque's wish is to offer creators from all backgrounds and origins the freedom to dream the wildest dreams and the platform to make them come true. Cirque du Soleil is a creative content provider for a wide variety of unique projects. The heart of Cirque du Soleil's activity is creating live shows and presenting them under Grand Chapiteaus or theaters. Since 1984, more than 60 creators from the four corners of the globe have contributed their talents to this end. Cirque du Soleil always seeks to imbue each new project with the energy and spirit that are the hallmark of its shows.

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Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 to Wow the West Coast on February 2006 Historic Call 

VALENCIA, CA -- Queen Mary 2, the grandest ocean liner ever built, will make her Los Angeles debut in February 2006, on a trio of journeys ranging in length from three to 38 days. The diverse itineraries afford the area's residents in and around the City of Angels their first opportunity to sail aboard Queen Mary 2, conveniently from the Port of Los Angeles. 
The Los Angeles departures include two round-trip journeys, the four-day West Coast Break, departing on February 22, and the 11-day Royal Hawaiian Liner, departing on February 25. In addition, on March 8 the ship will depart Los Angeles for New York on her 38-day South American Odyssey that includes a trip around legendary Cape Horn. Those with limited time may book the shorter Andes & the Americas portion of the itinerary, which disembarks in Valparaiso, Chile.

"When Queen Mary 2 visits a port for the first time she is welcomed with a great deal of flourish and fanfare," said Carol Marlow, president and managing director for Cunard Line. "In Los Angeles, we plan a stellar celebration to mark our maiden call on the West Coast."

An unparalleled shipboard experience awaits Golden Staters. Long regarded as the trend-setter in glamorous ocean travel, Cunard voyages are famous for their sumptuous surroundings, fine dining and renowned White Star Service(SM). These signature services, paired with an intriguing preview of Hawaii's rich history and contemporary culture, or the enduring mystique of South and Central America, afford travelers an unforgettable voyage, one that will surely be counted as a pinnacle travel experience. Scheduled February 22-25, 2006, the West Coast Break is a three-night voyage designed to showcase the myriad delights of Queen Mary 2. The round-trip journey makes a full-day call in Ensenada on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Prices start at $709 per person, double occupancy.

On February 25, QM2 departs for Hawaii. The Royal Hawaiian Liner is an 11-day cruise sailing round-trip from Los Angeles to the Hawaiian Islands of Maui, Honolulu and Kailua-Kona. Whatever their interests, passengers will have a range of opportunities ashore. From horseback riding to hiking to historic walking tours, the voyage features more than 40 different in-depth shore excursions. For example, passengers with a passion for all things Polynesian can book the Ali'i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which has been awarded the coveted Kahili Award for preserving Hawaiian culture and is considered the most authentic of luaus on Oahu. Other opportunities include surf lessons and whale watching tours. Prices start at $2,709 per person, double occupancy.

Departing March 8, the South American Odyssey is a 38-day trip from Los Angeles to New York, making stops in 12 countries. A shorter segment, Andes & the Americas, journeys from Los Angeles to Valparaiso over a two-week period, calling at Callao, Peru (gateway to Lima); Esmeraldas, Ecuador (for Quito); Fuerte Amador, Panama; Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica; and Acapulco. Prices start at $3,259 per person, double occupancy.

Cunard has an illustrious history of hosting royalty, society luminaries and famed entertainers with peerless cachet on transatlantic crossings. Queen Mary 2 is the grandest ocean liner ever built. There are a wide variety of suites and staterooms available in degrees of style and comfort ranging from pampered elegance to almost unimaginable luxury in the ship's famed Grill-level accommodations. Queen Mary 2 brings together like-minded travelers who relish the Cunard hallmarks of impeccable White Star Service(SM), fine dining, sophisticated adventure and legacy of historic voyages and transatlantic travel. For more information about Cunard Line's new 2006 voyages aboard Queen Mary 2, contact a travel professional, call 1-800-7-CUNARD or go to

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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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