Thursday, April 30, 2009

Royal Caribbean Bases Independence of the Seas in the UK

Royal Caribbean announced that the world's biggest cruise ship, the 160,000-ton Independence of the Seas, will be based year-round at Southampton starting in April 2010. Basing the ship in the UK is expect to contribute more than £50 million to the local economy.

The 4,300-passenger Independence of the Seas, launched in 2007 and has sailed seasonally from the UK.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Premium Cruise Line Azamara Cruise Announces Caribbean, Panama Canal and Sea of Cortez Cruises

April 7, 2009 – Travelers with easy access to Miami and San Diego and a desire to explore unique destinations in relaxed, luxurious style will delight in Azamara Cruises' 2010-11 winter offerings on Azamara Journey. The 694-guest ship, which features Azamara butler service in every stateroom, complimentary specialty dining, a laid-back, no-formal-nights elegance, and a variety of available in-depth shore excursions, will sail a variety of first-time-ever Sea of Cortez voyages as well as its popular Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises, between November 2010 and April 2011. The cruises in Azamara Journey’s 2010-11 winter season features visits to 23 ports in 13 different countries during her 2010-11 winter season; Azamara opened these cruises for sale today.

Not only are Miami and San Diego easily accessible drive-market ports for travelers living within easy reach, they are also attractive tourist destinations for out-of-town visitors.

Azamara Journey’s 2010-11 Caribbean season will begin earlier than it will at the end of 2009, making the crossing from Europe on November 15, 2010. Upon arriving in Miami, Azamara Journey will sail several 12-night Caribbean itineraries roundtrip out of Miami, visiting ports such as St. John and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Marigot, Saint Martin; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Pointe A Pitre, Guadeloupe; Gustavia, St. Barts; and Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands; Castries, St. Lucia; and Roseau, Dominica. The ship will also offer 12-night Caribbean voyages between February and April of 2011.

Numerous available shore excursions make the Azamara Caribbean experience especially memorable. During “Historical Plantation Ruins of St. John,” guests have the opportunity to experience the unspoiled natural beauty of the Virgin Islands National Park through an exclusive historical and cultural island tour conducted by a leading local expert in Virgin Islands history. “Caribbean Scenic Rail and Brimstone Hill” in St. Kitts give guests the chance to experience a unique rail/highway excursion that circles the entire island and visits the “Gibraltar of the West Indies” at Brimstone Hill Fortress.

Azamara will offer two 16-night Panama Canal voyages, sailing from Miami to San Diego on December 23, 2010 and from San Diego to Miami on January 30, 2011, include stops at numerous culture-rich central American destinations rife with tropical foliage and other breathtaking scenery. These include Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua; and Huatulco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Throughout these cruises, optional shore excursions such as “Scarlet Macaw Sanctuary and Mangrove Boat Tour” in Puntarenas can enhance the in-port experience. During this excursion, guests visit the bird sanctuary and learn about scarlet macaws, one of the most endangered species in the American tropics.

The Panama Canal sailings will bookend two “Sea of Cortez” cruises roundtrip out of San Diego, marking the first time that Azamara Cruises or its sister lines Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International have sailed such itineraries. Taking place on January 8 and 19, the two 11-night voyages will visit five ports new to Azamara: Mazatlán, Topolobampo, Loreto, Guaymas and La Paz, Mexico, in addition to the previously visited Cabo San Lucas.

The new ports offer travelers the opportunity to experience lesser-known areas in Mexico. Topolobampo, a beachfront town overlooking one of the largest bays in the Americas, is close to the Copper Canyon, Farrallon Island and Mayo tribe villages. Loreto, located on the northern tip of the Baja California Sur state, was the first Spanish settlement in the California peninsula, and is located near the Sierra la Gigante Bahia de Loreto Marine Park, the Our Lady of Loreto Mission and several beaches. La Paz, Baja California Sur’s capital, features several natural and historical attractions such as beaches, churches, museums, whale watching, fishing and water sports. La Paz is close to Los Islotes in the Pichilinque Bay, where guests can see the area’s large sea lion population. Mazatlán, located among Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountain range along the Golden Coast, has been a major seaport since the 800s, and today, is a popular tourist destination for locals and international visitors alike. Guaymas, one of the oldest and largest seaports on Mexico’s Pacific coast, was founded in 1701 by Jesuit missionaries. Cruise tourism is new to Guaymas, as its first cruise ship visit occurred in 2008; this untouched gem is an ideal complement to Azamara’s exotic-destination-focused itineraries.

Shore excursions available in the new ports include “Copper Canyon by Train” in Topolobampo, during which guests will enjoy a rugged, full-day adventure that includes an early-morning motorcoach ride and a privately chartered train ride through the Sierra Madres on the Chihuahua Pacifico railway before arrival at the Copper Canyon, which is accessible only by train. Winding through tunnels and bridges, guests will be transported from sea level to 7,200 feet before enjoying lunch, stunning vistas and a leisurely journey back to the ship. In La Paz, “Snorkeling with the Sea Lions” offers a taste of the region’s popular eco-tourism offerings. The Sea of Cortez is home to marine creatures including sea lions, whales, dolphins, Cortez angel fish and parrot fish, and this excursion offers multiple photo opportunities. The highlight of the excursion is a boat ride to the Los Islotes sea lion colony, and the snorkeling and swimming with sea lions that follow.

Click Here to read a review on the Azamara Journey

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MSC Melody - Fends Off Pirates.

ROME – An Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people on board fended off a pirate attack far off the coast of Somalia when its Israeli private security forces exchanged fire with the bandits.
Six men in a small, white Zodiac-type boat approached the Msc Melody at about 1730 GMT Saturday and opened fire with automatic weapons, Msc Cruises director Domenico Pellegrino said. They retreated after the security officers returned fire and sprayed them with water hoses. The ship continued its journey with its windows darkened.

"It felt like we were in war," the ships commander, Ciro Pinto, told Italian state radio.
None of the roughly 1,000 passengers and 500 crew members was hurt, Pellegrino said. The passengers were asked to return to their cabins and the external lights on board turned off.
Pellegrino said all Msc cruise ships around the world are staffed with Israeli security agents because they are the best trained.

The attack occurred about 200 miles (325 kilometers) north of the Seychelles, and about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of Somalia, according to the anti-piracy flotilla headquarters of the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa.

Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet, said that last fall after the attack on a Saudi tanker more than 400 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia there had been "a definite shift in (the pirates) tactical capabilities."

"It's not unheard of to have attacks off the coast of the Seychelles, we've even had some in the past month," he said. "But at the same time, it is a sign that they are moving further and further off the Somali coast."

Separately Sunday, four Yemeni tankers escorted by a Yemeni coast guard boat on their way to Aden were attacked by pirates. Three of the ships escaped and coast guards captured five pirates and wounded two others, said Mohammed Abdul-Rahman, a senior official at the Overseas Shipping and Stevedoring Company. Pirates could only seize one of the tankers, the Qana. The Yemeni Interior Ministry said coast guards were trying to free it.

And the Turkish cruiser Ariva 3, with two British and four Japanese crew aboard, survived a pirate attack near the Yemeni island of Jabal Zuqar, said Ali el-Awlaqi, head of the Yemeni El-Awlaqi Marine company said.

"Pirates opened fire at the cruise ship for 15 minutes then stopped for no reason," he said, adding that the cruiser was heading to Aden, Yemen, to fix a broken engine.It was not the first attack on a cruise liner. In November, pirates opened fire on a U.S.-operated ship, the M/S Nautica, which was taking 650 passengers and 400 crew members on a monthlong luxury cruise from Rome to Singapore. The cruise liner was able to outrun the pirates. In early April a tourist yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates near the Seychelles just after having dropped off its cargo of tourists.


The Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa, Italy, when the pirates attacked late Saturday, slightly damaging the liner, Pinto said.


"After about four or five minutes, they tried to put a ladder up," Pinto told Sky TG24. "They were starting to climb up but we reacted, we started to fire ourselves. When they saw our fire, and also the water from the water hoses that we started to spray toward the Zodiac, they left and went away."


"They followed us for a bit, about 20 minutes, and continued to fire," he said.
Cruise line security work is a popular job for young Israelis who have recently been discharged from mandatory army service, as it is a good chance to save money and travel.


"We have always had great faith in their capacity, they have always been very qualified," Pellegrino said of the Israelis, though he declined to give the name of the firm.


The Spanish warship SPS Marques de Ensenada met up with the Melody to escort her through the pirate-infested northern Gulf of Aden, the Maritime Security Center said. The cruise ship was headed as scheduled to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, returning to the Mediterranean for spring and summer season cruises. - Source - Associated Press

Monday, April 27, 2009

Royal Caribbean's 2010-11 Short Cruises


April 22, 2009 – Royal Caribbean International today announced its 2010-11 Short Caribbean cruises – a total of 331 sailings, comprised of 20 distinctive itineraries and 15 unique ports of call – presenting a variety of convenient getaways to enthusiasts and compelling vacation values to those who are new to cruising. The cruise line will enhance and expand its deployment in Tampa with Radiance of the Seas from autumn 2010 through spring 2011, while Majesty of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas will continue their year-round Bahamas getaway sailings from their respective homeports of Miami and Port Canaveral. Grandeur of the Seas will reposition to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale for summer and autumn 2010, after which Navigator of the Seas will take over as the largest, most innovative and amenity-filled ship to offer short Caribbean itineraries for its fourth consecutive season. Bookings for the line’s 2010-11 short cruises are now open.

Guests on the cruise line’s short Caribbean cruises also can purchase a wide array of exciting shore excursions for an action-packed day in port. In Mexico, Dolphin Push, Pull & Swim offers guests the once-in-a-lifetime, up-close experience to swim with the graceful and intelligent mammals in Cozumel; or Bike & Clear Kayak Adventure can delight guests in Costa Maya with its beautiful beaches and local flavors from different vantage points. On itineraries that include a call at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island paradise in the Bahamas, guests can select a guided high-energy adventure, touring the neighboring Berry Islands atop their own personal watercrafts.

With more berths and an expanded season, Radiance of the Seas will increase Royal Caribbean’s capacity in Tampa compared to Grandeur of the Seas’ previous seasonal deployments. Radiance of the Seas’ itineraries will include a four-night sailing, calling at Cozumel, Mexico, and a five-night sailing that adds Costa Maya. The ship’s 2010 season will kick-off with a seven-night Western Caribbean sailing on October 9, calling at George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; and Belize City, Belize.

Grandeur of the Seas will reposition from Tampa and continue sailing four- and five-night Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades in April 2010. Ports of call will include Key West, Cozumel, Costa Maya, George Town and CocoCay.

In November 2010, Navigator of the Seas will replace Grandeur of the Seas at Port Everglades, also offering four- and five-night itineraries. On one of its five-night itineraries that depart Mondays, Navigator of the Seas will call at the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica, and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise on the north Haitian coast. Other ports of call will include George Town, Cozumel, Belize City, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Among the ten largest cruise ships in the world, Voyager-class Navigator of the Seas offers guests many onboard diversions exclusive to Royal Caribbean, including innovative onboard amenities as an ice-skating rink, in-line skate track, the cruise line’s iconic rock-climbing wall, a nine-hole mini-golf course, and the Royal Promenade – lined with shops, restaurants, bars and lounges that run nearly the length of the ship.

Majesty of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas will continue year-round three- and four-night Bahamas itineraries, departing Mondays and Fridays from Miami and Port Canaveral. Ports of call will include Nassau, CocoCay, and Costa Maya.

Onboard every Royal Caribbean ship, guests enjoy the cruise line’s award-winning Broadway-style musical revues from Royal Caribbean Productions, acclaimed Adventure Ocean kids and teen programming, world-class gaming in the Casino Royale, and Royal Caribbean’s renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service from every staff and crew member.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Carnival Splendor Begins Cruises From Long Beach California

(April 6, 2009) – Carnival Cruise Lines’ 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor – the line’s newest and largest ship offering a host of innovations – embarked yesterday on its inaugural seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise from Long Beach, Calif., building upon the company’s distinction as California’s number one cruise operator.

On its new schedule, Carnival Splendor departs the Long Beach Cruise Terminal every Sunday on weeklong voyages to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas.
Including Carnival Splendor, the company operates four ships from the West Coast which collectively will carry a record 620,000 guests annually from California ports – more than any other cruise line.
In anticipation of the Carnival Splendor’s arrival, the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, owned and operated by Carnival’s parent company Carnival Corporation & plc since 2003, has undergone an $8 million upgrade.
Based on information collected by the Office of Economic Research at California State University, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Long Beach operations have a significant impact on the local economy, with $82.4 million in direct expenditures generating an employment impact of 525 jobs with an annual payroll of $18.2 million. The arrival of Carnival Splendor is expected to generate an additional $14 million in direct annual expenditures – this impact will be immediate.
“Carnival has earned its distinction as the West Coast’s number one cruise operator by offering fun, affordable vacations from two convenient homeports and Carnival Splendor – with its many innovations and features – provides guests with yet another exciting choice for Southern California cruising,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival’s executive vice president of marketing and guest experience. “We are also very pleased with the renovations to the Long Beach Cruise Terminal, which provides our guests with a comfortable, state-of-the-art venue for embarking and debarking on their cruise,” he added.
Steve Goodling, president & CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, “The size, capacity and appeal of the Carnival Splendor will give us the opportunity to showcase the revitalization of Long Beach and our beautiful skyline to the many thousands of passengers who will set sail on this incredible ship. We believe that this experience will generate repeat visits by many of these passengers.”
A new class of vessel for the line, the 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor offers a wide range of on-board facilities and features, highlighted by a two-level 21,000-square foot health spa – the largest in the fleet – featuring a thalassotherapy pool, an elaborate thermal suite and 17 private treatment rooms. Adjacent to the facility are 68 spa staterooms and suites – a first for Carnival.

Carnival Splendor also offers the most elaborate children’s facilities of any “Fun Ship,” including a 5,500-square-foot children’s play area – the largest in the fleet – along with a water spray park and dedicated facilities for ’tweens and teens. Also featured on Lido Deck is Carnival’s Seaside Theatre, a massive 270-square-foot LED screen displaying movies, concerts, and other programming.
Dining options include four restaurants – two two-level main dining rooms, a 1,400-seat casual poolside eatery featuring a 24-hour pizzeria, and an elegant reservations-only restaurant. Rounding out the Carnival Splendor’s many diverse features are 22 lounges and bars, a duty-free shopping mall, full casino gambling, and ship-wide Internet access and cell phone service. Reservations are currently being accepted for all of Carnival Cruise Lines’ West Coast departures.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quail Cruises Introduces the Gemini.

Spanish operator Quail Cruises has announced that they have long term chartered the Gemini (ex SuperStar Gemini) from the Clipper Group.

Quail Cruises is offering discounts on ‘Treasures of the Mediterranean’ cruises sailing round-trip from Valencia starting at €499 (April 20), at €359 (April 27) and at €399 (May 4, 11 and 18).
Ports of calls on the 7-day cruise include Villefranche, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Olbia and Mahón.

The 7-night ‘Treasures of the Adriatic and Turkey’ cruises between Piraeus and Venice in June, July, August and September start at €799. Port of call include Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini and Dubrovnik.

The Gemini previously operated as Star Cruise SuperStar Gemini and was originally build as the Crown Jewel for Crown Cruise Line in 1995.
The Gemini replaces the Pacifica, which previously sailed as the Pacific Princess (the Love Boat), No further plans have been announced by Pullmantur, the owners of the ship.

Friday, April 24, 2009

All Leisure Group Purchases Hebridean Princess

All Leisure group plc ("All Leisure" or "Company") is pleased to announce that the group has signed an agreement with Ernst & Young, acting as administrators for Hebridean International Cruises Ltd. and Leisure and Marine Holdings Ltd., for the acquisition of the cruise ship Hebridean Princess and other related assets for a cash consideration of £1.4m, payable today from the Company's existing resources ("the Acquisition").

All Leisure group plc, which operates Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery is pleased to announce that continue to operate the Hebridean Princess on distinctive cruises around the Scottish Highlands and islands and through the Norwegian fjords. The company will continue to operate from its head office in Skipton.

The Hebridean Princess carries 49 passengers and 37 crew offers luxury cruises from March through to November and operates principally from Oban in Scotland around the Scottish Highlands and Islands and Norwegian Fjords.

In the year to 30 November 2008 the Hebridean Princess generated revenue of c.£7.0m and profit before taxation of c£1.2m. The provisional fair value of net assets being acquired is £4.1m and on this basis management expect the overall contribution to profits in the current financial year to be broadly neutral.

Roger Allard, Group Executive Chairman said "This Acquisition is our first investment of the funds raised on flotation and represents, as promised, a continuation of All Leisure's strategy to acquire established niche destination-led brands. Hebridean Princess justifiably enjoys the exceptionally high levels of both passenger loyalty (historically enjoying over 50% repeat passenger business) and customer support that a product of this quality and profile should demand."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mediterranean Classic Cruises Scales Back

Today I spoke with a representative of Mediterranean Classic Cruises.

They informed me that they had just signed a share agreement with EasyCruise to share space on the EasyLife.

They stated that this will be the only ship they will be selling space on in 2009.

She will sail 3 and 4 day cruises.

This is quite a scaled back plan from their 2009 plans to operate the Athena,Gemini and their website even showed the Arion as sailing for them in 2009.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Luxury Operator Crystal Cruises Offers Cruise Discounts

April 7, 2009 – To celebrate its 20 years as a leader in luxury cruising, Crystal Cruises is launching its 2010 fares with its most dramatic and compelling promotional savings ever. Crystal’s gifts to guests offer special anniversary pricing in advance of the vacation, spending credits during the cruise, and birthday programs for big savings in the future.

Guests sailing in 2010 will enjoy:
  • “All Inclusive – As You Wish” shipboard credits on every individual voyage in 2010. Most cruises offer $2,000 per couple, all the way up to $10,000 per couple for the full World Cruise;

  • 20th Anniversary Fares with up to $3,000 per couple savings on all Mediterranean and Northern Europe voyages booked by December 31, 2009 ;

  • Birthday Bonus! Book your 2010 birthday cruise by December 31, 2009 and save 50% on a future Crystal cruise taken before your next birthday;

  • 20th Anniversary events and activities on every 2010 cruise;

  • Exclusive events added to four special sailings: the 20th Anniversary President’s cruise,the Crystal Society (repeat guest) Reunion cruise, and the cruises aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity that occur during July 20, 2010, which commemorates the anniversary of Crystal’s first ship christening.

  • Crystal Family Memories program offers a free cruise incentive to celebrate one’s own anniversary, birthday or reunion with friends and family.

  • Value Collection Fares, Crystal Society Savings and Early Full Payment Savings!

“The sheer amount of fares savings, plus the scope of applicable voyages – even during prime seasons – plus a spending credit on every sailing, makes this the most significant collection of savings we’ve ever offered,” says Gregg Michel, Crystal’s president.

“Our All Inclusive – As You Wish spending credit on every cruise is the ultimate luxury anniversary gift– to have what you want, when you want. Our guests have the freedom to choose whatever is meaningful to them, from soothing spa treatments to boutique shore excursions to rare wine vintages.”Sailing to 174 ports in 70 countries on 62 voyages, Crystal Cruises’ 2010 program will feature a continued emphasis on distinctive destinations and port intensive itineraries including many overnight calls.

New offerings include maiden calls in Iran, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia on the World Cruise to new North American cruises to the Sea of Cortez and Hawaii.

While most voyages are 11-13 days in length, Crystal has set 15 cruises at 10 days or fewer. Several combination cruises sail from 15 to 115 days without ever repeating a port.

Crystal’s 2010 cruise fares begin at $2,165 per person, double occupancy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MSC Cruises Offers European Balcony Discounts

(APRIL 8, 2009) - Now is the ideal time to book a European vacation with MSC Cruises to enjoy a balcony stateroom and take advantage of savings of up to 60 percent on balcony staterooms and the line’s kids 17 and younger sail free program.

“Balcony Blowout” rates begin at $999 per person for a balcony stateroom on a 7-night cruise to some of Europe's most exotic locales and on two of the world’s newest ships, The special rates are available for new bookings made by April 30, 2009 while space lasts on select 7-night sailings of:·
  • MSC Poesia: Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey and Croatia) roundtrip from Venice or Bari· MSC Orchestra: Baltic (Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Russia) or Norwegian Fjords (Denmark, Germany, Norway) roundtrip from Copenhagen; Western Mediterranean (Italy, Spain, Portugal) roundtrip from Barcelona or Genoa·

  • MSC Splendida (which debuts in July 2009): Western Mediterranean (Spain, Tunisia, Malta, Italy, France) roundtrip from Barcelona, Genoa, Civitavecchia, or Marseille·

  • MSC Fantasia (which debuted in December 2008): Western Mediterranean (Italy, Tunisia, Spain, France) roundtrip from Genoa, Barcelona, Naples or Marseille·

  • MSC Musica: Eastern Mediterranean (Greece and Croatia) roundtrip from Venice or Bari MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida are the largest ships ever ordered by a European ship owner.

In addition to elegant décor, international cuisine as well as regional Italian specialties and an alternative restaurant, European-style entertainment, and a spacious spa, they introduce a new concept in VIP cruising – MSC Yacht Club, complete with butler service. Cruise-only rates begin at $999 per person for a balcony, based on double occupancy (government fees and taxes for all guests are additional) and cannot be combined with any other discount or promotion.

Children ages 17 and younger sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hurtigruten Offers 25% Off Fram 22 day Antarctica Adventure.

April 2009 -- Hurtigruten’s 22-Day Falklands/ Malvinas South Georgia & Antarctica cruise-tour, departing October 31, explores some of the world's most remote destinations at the southernmost tip of the world, with stunning vistas, fascinating lectures and numerous excursions designed to enhance the experience; and to entice travelers further, Hurtigruten has extended until July 31 the deadline for their 25% suite savings and free air offer on this sailing as well as four 13-day Argentina & Antarctica departures in 2009. Reduced suite rates on the 22-day sailing are $8,564 to $11,534 per person, double; while on the 13-day, $6,577 to $8,902; translating to savings of $3,041 to $4,694 per person compared with normal brochure prices – not counting the additional savings provided by free roundtrip air from NY or Miami. Suite purchases also include a variety of perks – two optional excursions; wine, beer or soda at meals; a bottle of champagne from the Captain; and more. This offer cannot be combined with others but can be booked using Hurtigruten's interest-free "Layaway Getaway" monthly payment plan. Air add-ons, available from dozens of North American gateways, range from $50 to $500 with the vast majority costing below $300.

Sailing aboard the 318-berth MS Fram, the world’s newest expedition ship, guests are privy to rare views of the vast and mysterious wilderness of the White Continent, replete with gleaming icebergs, blue whales and orcas feeding mere feet from the ships, and penguin populations whose individual rookeries number in the tens of thousands. The 22-day itinerary departs Argentina’s lively capital of Buenos Aires to explore the Falklands – an archipelago consisting of more than 740 islands and a breeding ground for millions of seabirds, as well as home to King and other penguin species. Moving on to the isolated island of South Georgia, passengers disembark at the abandoned whaling station of Grytviken, and visit the South Georgia Museum, a stronghold for all aspects of the island’s culture; Cooper Bay, known for its Macaroni and Chinstrap penguins; and the cemetery, where young Elephant seal pups, King and Gentoo penguins and timid Pintail ducks are likely to be spotted.

Both the 22- and 13-day sailings share a similar Antarctica experience -- with the MS Fram makings its way across the Drake Passage and offering extensive landfall opportunities on the White Continent -- Whaler's Bay with its warm springs and black volcanic sand; Half Moon Island, a rookery for Chinstrap penguins; Yankee Harbor, home to seals and 4,000 Gentoo penguin pairs; Almirante Brown, with its stunning views of snowy peaks, ice cliffs and sculpted bergs; Port Lockroy, where postcards postmarked "Antarctica" can be purchased; Wilhelmina Bay, a feeding ground for whales and seals; and numerous others. The ship disembarks at Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, before passengers proceed to Buenos Aires, where they are free to explore or take optional excursions such as the Dinner & Tango in the classical surroundings of Esquine Carlos Gardel.

Fares include all meals onboard, the services of expert naturalist guides, noted guest lecturers, PolarCirkel boat landings, and pre- and post-cruise nights in Buenos Aires. Airline fuel surcharges and taxes, ticketing fees of $229 and gratuities are additional. For those interested in a similar cruise at a later date, Hurtigruten also offers the 22-Day Antarctica/ South Georgia Falklands & Malvinas cruise departing in February.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic’s Spitsbergen.
Click here to read a review of the Fram.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Azamara Announces 2010/11 Asia Cruises

April 8, 2009 – Travelers on a “quest” to spend time exploring Asia’s unique, enchanting culture in relaxed, luxurious style and convenience need look no further than Azamara Cruises' 2010-11 offerings in the region. Beginning in late November of 2010 and continuing through April of 2011, the 694-guest Azamara Quest, which features Azamara butler service in every stateroom, complimentary specialty dining and a laid-back, no-formal-nights elegance, will present her third consecutive Asia season. Rounding out Azamara Quest’s shipboard offerings are a variety of available in-port shore excursions and an in-depth, fully escorted land tour program that can be combined with a cruise to create a cruisetour vacation for even richer exploration of this region. Azamara’s 2010-11 Asia sailings opened for sale today.

Known for visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations, Azamara will visit 21 ports in 10 different countries during its 2010-11 Asia sailing. These countries are Egypt, United Arab Emirates, India, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan, and South Korea. Fully escorted pre- and post-cruise land-based tours that can extend a cruise into a “cruisetour” are offered from Beijing and Hong Kong, China.

Azamara Quest’s first Asia offering in the winter of 2010-11 is a 24-night repositioning cruise from Athens to Singapore, departing on November 27. Featuring visits to Alexandria, Egypt; Cochin, India; and Phuket, Thailand; the sailing also features in-port overnight stays in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Bombay (Mumbai), India, as well as passage through the Suez Canal.

Just before the Christmas holiday, Azamara Quest will set sail on the first of the season’s six Southeast Asia voyages between Singapore and Hong Kong, beginning with an 18-night Southeast Asia cruise from Singapore on December 21, 2010, followed by four consecutive 14-night voyages between the two cities. Azamara Quest will sail her last Southeast Asia voyage of the 2010-11 winter season with a 14-night offering from Hong Kong to Singapore on March 29, 2011, before embarking on a 24-night repositioning cruise from Singapore back to Athens on April 12.

The Southeast Asia voyages each include at least four in-port overnight stays, allowing guests the opportunity to further explore the region’s culture and history. Overnights are offered in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi (Halong Bay) and Ho Chi Minh City. A voyage taking place during Chinese New Year, departing Singapore for Hong Kong on January 22, 2011, offers overnights in all but one of the ports it visits during the cruise.

Available shore excursions expand the in-port experience. Azamara offers a variety of excursions of different lengths and activity levels. Examples include the two-day, one-night “Essence of Cambodia Overland” excursion out of Bangkok. The highlight of this excursion is a visit to Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. In Ho Chi Minh City, the “Cu Chi Tunnels” excursion takes guests into the tunnels where Vietnamese fighters lived and fought from. Only a few feet wide and five feet high but capable of withstanding the weight of tanks and bombs, the tunnel complex includes underground meeting rooms, kitchens, hospital and sleeping areas.

Two 12-night Northeast Asia cruises, sailing from Hong Kong to Shanghai on March 5, 2011 and from Shanghai to Hong Kong on March 17, will offer completely different itineraries from one another, creating a 24-night back-to-back sailing option for guests who wish to experience mainland China, Japan and South Korea in one trip. The northbound itinerary on March 5 visits Kagoshima, Nagasaki and the stunningly romantic city of Kyoto (Osaka), Japan, as well as Xiamen, China, and Busan, South Korea. Available shore excursions include “Best of Shanghai,” which takes guests into China’s most cosmopolitan city, also known as “Paris of the East.” The excursion includes visits to Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai Museum and the Jade Buddha Temple, with a stop at a silk factory, where guests learn how silk is collected and woven into a carpet.

The southbound itinerary on March 17 features an overnight call in Beijing (Tianjin) as well as calls to Seoul (Incheon), South Korea, and two ports new to Azamara: Qingdao, China and Jeju Island, South Korea. Qingdao is located in eastern Shandong province on the Yellow Sea. Host to the sailing regatta during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Qingdao is most famous internationally for its Tsingdao Brewery and its mix of German and Chinese architecture. Jeju Island is a volcanic island to the south of the Korean Peninsula. A popular vacation spot for Korean and Japanese travelers, the island offers a variety of outdoor activities set against a beautiful natural landscape and must-see attractions such as Mt. Hallasan and the Cheonjeyeon and Cheonjiyeon waterfalls.

Azamara’s cruisetours, a combination of a cruise and a fully escorted land-based tour, offer guests the opportunity to deepen their Asia experience. Six different eight-day, seven-night land-based tour packages are available. The pre-cruise package begins in Beijing and ends in Hong Kong; guests board Azamara Quest on the last day of the land package. The post-cruise package begins in Hong Kong and ends in Beijing; after disembarking the ship, guests will be met by their tour director at the pier. Both packages feature multiple opportunities for travelers to engage firsthand with some of China’s most breathtaking sights, scenes and tastes. Some of the most widely known spots that guests on Azamara Cruises’ pre- and post-cruise tours will visit include the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall at Mutianyue, and Victoria Peak. All of these visits – as well as all planned activities in the tours – are fully escorted and guided by knowledgeable escorts who will share a great deal of information about each place. Throughout the eight-day tours, guests will overnight in multiple cities, including Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Hong Kong. Some meals are included, most notably a traditional Peking duck dinner in Beijing, a Chinese dumpling dinner followed by dumpling-making and noodle-throwing demonstrations in Xian, and lunch during a scenic cruise along the River Li in Guilin.

The tours also include visits to museums such as the famed Terracotta Warriors Museum, the Bronze Chariots Museum, Yangling Museum, and Shaanxi Provincial Museum. There, guests will have the opportunity to learn about important historical and cultural milestones in China, while browsing unforgettable collections of artifacts. Guests will also experience several temples, including the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Great Mosque of Xian, and Hong Kong’s Man Mo Temple.

Each package includes ground transportation, deluxe hotel accommodations, some meals, and ample time for independent dining, shopping and sightseeing.

All shore excursions, tours and packages are available for an additional charge.

Azamara Cruises unlocks the hidden corners of the world for those who desire to immerse themselves in the rich details of every voyage. The deluxe ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – offer an intimate experience, while allowing access to exotic destinations experienced travelers long to reach. For the 694 guests on each Azamara Cruises ship, every moment at sea embodies the pinnacle of luxury, and each footstep on shore accentuates the difference between visiting a place and getting a true sense of place. This year, Azamara Cruises presents the best of enchanting Europe, elite Asia, and the most captivating Caribbean and the Panama Canal.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Norwegian Epic Gets A Bow

April 13, 2009 – Norwegian Epic’s construction, underway at STX Europe in St. Nazaire, France, celebrated a milestone in the early morning hours last Wednesday, April 9, when the ship’s bow was lowered into place. The bow, known as block 642, weighed 445 tons and measured 85 feet long, 108 feet wide and almost 30 feet high. The process of putting the bow in place took 100 workers about two hours. This significant step represents the completion of the lower part of the steel hull, those areas that come in contact with the sea, and indicates that only the superstructures, or topsides, remain to be finalized.

“Embarking the bow is a symbolic and strong step in the building of Norwegian Epic. She is taking shape beautifully,” said Roberto Martinoli , Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief operating officer. “STX Europe is doing an incredible job of constructing our largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date.”
The 153,000-gross ton, 4,200-passenger ship is scheduled for delivery at the end of May 2010.

Norwegian Epic’s next and final chapter reveal is scheduled for May 20, 2009, in New York City . Also that day, the ship’s 2010-2011 sailings open for sale to the general public. These include seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Miami . To date, the company has revealed the ship’s accommodations, night life, restaurants, aqua park, sports deck and family activities.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Swan Hellenic Introduces US Website

(Apr. 9, 2009)—Small-ship cruising specialist Swan Hellenic has launched a North American website, http://www.swanhellenic.us/, featuring exclusive promotions for the U.S. and Canadian market, complete details on the line’s ocean and river programs and pricing in US dollars.

Swan Hellenic, reborn in May 2008, features culturally enriching cruise programs aboard the 394-guest Minerva and the 199-guest A-Rosa Riva. Fares include shipboard gratuities and shore excursions in each port of call.

Savings up to 70% are available on selected departures and categories. Rates start at $1,995 per person, double occupancy, on the 14-night Eastern Mediterranean & Black Sea, May 12-26 itinerary. Air departure from North America on May 11, 2009.

Sailing from Piraeus (Athens) to Istanbul, the Minerva calls at Reythymno, Crete; Delos and Tinos, Greece; Dikili and Canakkale, Turkey; Nessebur, Bulgaria; Odessa (overnight), Sevastopol and Yalta, Ukraine, and includes an overnight on board in Piraeus and Istanbul. Oceanview cabins are priced at $3,195 per person.

The May 26-June 10 Grecian Odyssey cruise features an overnight in Istanbul and includes Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; Santorini, Nauplia, Katakolon and Gythion, Greece; and Catania, Lipari, Sorrento, and Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy. Guests disembark after an overnight in Livorno on June 10. Fares for the 15-night cruise start at $1,995 per person; oceanview, $3,195. North American air departure is May 25.

The 16-night June 9, 2009, Journey from the Mediterranean begins in Livorno after an overnight on board and departs for Elba, Italy; Ajaccio, France; Mahón, and Mortil, Spain; Gibraltar; Seville (overnight); Leixóes, Portugal; La Coruna, Spain; Alderney, Channel Islands; and ends in Dover, England. Fares for minimum inside accommodations are $1,795 per person; oceanview, $2,795.

Air add-ons and transfers are available from 21 US and Canadian gateway cities from $1,107 to $1,627 per person.

Substantial savings also are available on selected voyages of Swan Hellenic’s Danube river cruises. Fares for the 10-night cruises aboard the A-Rosa Riva are priced at $2,195 per-person (river view) and $2,595 (balcony).

The cruises sail round-trip from Vienna May 10 and 30, 2009, with calls at Esztergom, Budapest, Bratislava, Duernstein, Melk, Linz (Salzburg) and Passau (Munich). Air add-ons are available from $205 to $655 depending on cruise and gateway. North American air departure – May 9 and May 29. Cruise-only guests may deduct $400 from the cruise fare.

Swan Hellenic successfully relaunched in May 2008. Each cruise itinerary is a unique cultural travel experience, blending world-class sites with smaller, off the beaten track destinations. A program of tailor-made shore excursions is included in the cruise fare, with excursions accompanied by experienced Swan Hellenic staff. Both vessels feature open-seating dining.
To book or to request a brochure, contact your travel professional or Swan Hellenic at (866) 923 9182 or visit http://www.swanhellenic.us/

Swan Hellenic is a trading division of UK-based All Leisure Group, which also operates Voyages of Discovery cruise line and tour operator Discover Egypt.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

MSC Cruise MSC Poesia Short Cruise Discounts

(APRIL 13, 2009) – Don’t have a lot of time but still yearning for a Caribbean escape? Don’t worry – MSC Cruises has the solution. MSC Cruises features several short (3- and 5-night) cruises scheduled on the luxurious MSC Poesia as she sails her inaugural season in North American waters (sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale) during the 2009-10 Caribbean season:

5-night “Caribbean Escape”: calling at Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Georgetown, Grand Cayman, with two days at sea; departing Nov. 10 and Nov. 15, 2009; rates begin at $399;

  • 5-night “Mayan Discovery”: calling at Belize City, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico, with two sea days; departing Jan. 3, 2010; rates begin at $399;

  • and 3-night “Tropical Getaway”: calling at Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida; departing April 24, 2010; rates begin at $239

All rates are cruise-only, per person, double occupancy; government fees and taxes are additional.

As on all MSC Cruises’ sailings, children ages 17 and younger sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults.

“Even on a 3- or 5-night itinerary, guests can enjoy the ambiance of an MSC Cruises sailing, from the elegant décor and unparalleled service to the highly acclaimed international entertainment and cuisine, which includes many authentic Italian dishes,” says Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc.

MSC Poesia’s season will also include a variety of 7- and 10-night itineraries, as well as special Christmas and New Year’s sailings. MSC Poesia features 1,275 staterooms, of which 80 percent are outside staterooms and 65 percent have a balcony.

The ship has a generous 236,000 square feet of public spaces, 2 pools and 4 hot tubs, plus a 13,000-square-foot spa. Guests can select from four restaurants, including a Sushi Bar alternative dining restaurant.

Like her sister ships (MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra), MSC Poesia features sophisticated and elegant decor, attention to detail, the finest in international entertainment and Italian hospitality.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Millions of Brochures Published Describing MSC Cruises 2009/10 Itineraries

MSC Cruises just announced the deployment of their 11 ships for 2009-2010. Highlights include the introduction of the MSC Splendida arriving in July 2009 and the MSC Magnifica in March 2010.

MSC Cruises will be offer 136 different itineraries including new New England/Canada Cruises from NY, cruises from Brazil, in additional to an extensive European deployment.
The new brochure has just been released covering these cruises. In total MSC Cruises publishes 2 million brochures annually, in various languages and some with destination specific.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Antigua - Island Paradise

Antigua with it's great beaches, lush Forrest and natural beauty is a great stop on any cruise. Antigua, the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles.

To learn more about the island and what there is to do. Click here Take me to Antigua

Monday, April 13, 2009

Carnival Cruise Line Introduces New "Your Choice Dining" Program

Guests to be Offered Choice of Three Different Seating Options, Including “Your Time” Open Seating, Fleetwide MIAMI (April 1, 2009) – Carnival Cruise Lines has launched “Your Choice Dining” which provides a selection of three different dinner seating options for guests aboard the line’s 22-ship fleet. In addition to Early or Late assigned seating, the cruise line is rolling out “Your Time” open seating to accommodate individual guest preferences. Also, under the new Your Choice Dining program, dining assignments will be confirmed at the time of booking.

“We have been experimenting with an open seating dinner option on a few ships since the latter part of 2008,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations. “Exceptional guest feedback to the pilot program and an indication from the vast majority of those participating that they would choose that option again has prompted the decision to extend open seating fleetwide. At the same time, we felt it was important to also enhance the dining program overall by confirming dining assignments at the time of booking. We believe that our new Your Choice Dining Program will prove to be an extremely popular enhancement to the Carnival vacation experience,” Jacoby added.
Your Time open seating, currently available on five ships, will be implemented one vessel at a time over the next several months as modifications in dining room table configurations are completed on each ship.
“In making the decision to introduce Your Time dining, we felt it was imperative that we be able to offer guests the option to sit only with those individuals they prefer and that requires reconfiguring a section of the dining rooms on each ship to incorporate smaller table arrangements,” said Jacoby. “This is an important distinction as some lines still group people together under their open seating programs.”

An additional eight ships are scheduled to be converted by the end of year and the balance of the fleet by summer 2010. Confirmed dining assignments are now being offered fleetwide.
At the time of booking, guests will be asked to choose from among Early dining at 6pm, Late dining at 8:15 pm or Your Time dining which allows guests to dine at any time between 5:45pm and 9:30pm (if applicable depending on ship and sailing date). Dining assignments will be accommodated on a first-come, first-serve basis according to when guests made their reservation. If the preferred dining choice is not available, guests may confirm an alternate choice and be placed on a waitlist for their first preference. Waitlists will be cleared prior to sailing and guests will be notified via email of their confirmed seating assignment.As Your Time dining is implemented on each ship, guests already booked will be contacted via email or through their travel agent and provided the opportunity to switch to Your Time dining or retain their original choice.
Your Time guests are able to request any table size or waiter and are typically seated immediately when arriving at the dining room. However, if a modest wait time is required, guests are given a pager so they are free to relax elsewhere on the ship until their table is ready.

Additional options available under Your Choice Dining include extensive poolside eateries offering a wide variety of cuisine choices in a casual environment and, on a number of ships, elegant, reservations-only restaurants serving fine quality dry-aged U.S.D.A. prime steaks and other dishes in an intimate, upscale atmosphere.

Below is a timetable for the introduction of Your Time open seating throughout the Carnival fleet:
• Already implemented: Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Miracle

• End of April: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Elation, Carnival Pride

• Mid-June: Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Spirit

• Late September: Carnival Dream

• Mid-October: Carnival Ecstasy

• Mid-December: Carnival Glory

• February 2010: Carnival Fascination

• By summer 2010: Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Victory
Carnival is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 22 “Fun Ships” operating voyages ranging from three to 16 days in length to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Europe and Bermuda. The line currently has two new ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011. The first of those, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, is set to debut Sept. 21, 2009.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Disney Wonder to Sail From California in 2011

LOS ANGELES, Calif., (March 30, 2009) – Disney Cruise Line announced today that it plans to reposition the Disney Wonder from its Florida base in Port Canaveral to the West Coast in 2011. The company is working with the Port of Los Angeles to finalize a two-year agreement with a three-year extension option. The contract will be considered by the Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners on April 2, 2009.

If approved, the new Disney Wonder sailings could generate more than 250,000 guests passing through the Port of Los Angeles over a five-year period.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he is pleased to welcome the renowned family cruise line back to the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro.

Having Disney Cruise Line operating out of the Port of Los Angeles will provide a great boost to the local economy by generating business and tourism revenue in San Pedro and throughout the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “The return of Disney Cruise Line to our port speaks volumes about our ability to attract world-class cruise lines to the area.”

The addition of a new homeport for Disney Cruise Line is part of the overall expansion plan for The Walt Disney Company. Two new ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, will arrive in Florida’s Port Canaveral in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

“We are looking forward to returning to the Port of Los Angeles and offering our special brand of family cruises on the West Coast,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo. “Having a Disney Cruise Line ship based in this region is something families on the West Coast have wanted for a long time, and we’re pleased to bring the Disney Wonder to Southern California in 2011.”

Disney Cruise Line has successfully tested the West Coast market with two summer seasons of Mexican Riviera itineraries from the Port of Los Angeles. The Disney Magic cruise ship first called on the West Coast during the summer of 2005 as part of Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and returned again during the summer of 2008. Disney Cruise Line has not yet announced the details of its itineraries for 2011.

Known for establishing family travel in the cruise market Disney Cruise Line continues to be a leader in the industry. The Disney Wonder was recently named the top large cruise ship experience by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the 9th annual “Reader’s Cruise Poll.” The Disney Magic, which was also ranked in the top five cruise experiences in the poll, will embark on a season of limited itineraries exploring Northern Europe and the Mediterranean in 2010. Additionally, the line continues to move forward on the construction of its two new ocean liners at the Meyer Werft yard in Germany

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Royal Caribbean Announces 2010 Cruise Deployment From the Northeast.

MIAMI, March 25, 2009 – From the pastel pink beaches of Bermuda, to the balmy breezes and crystalline waters of the Caribbean, to Canada and New England’s palate of multi-colored fall foliage, Royal Caribbean International’s 2010 sailings from the Northeast will offer a wide array of itineraries suited to virtually any vacationer. Explorer of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas will sail from Baltimore; Boston; Norfolk, Va.; and Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J. In total, the ships will offer 84 sailings – 16 more than last year – on 14 itineraries, calling at 22 ports on five- to nine-night cruises. Bookings for cruises opened today.

Unveiled to an audience of more than 400 travel professionals at a special Royal Caribbean agent appreciation event at the Port of Baltimore, Enchantment of the Seas’ debut in the Northeast will mark the cruise line’s first year-round deployment in the Maryland port. The 2,252-guest Enchantment of Seas will replace the 1,950-guest Grandeur of the Seas and increase Royal Caribbean’s capacity in the region by 302 berths, comprising an additional 36 balcony and 87 oceanview staterooms. The ship also will offer more family-friendly onboard amenities, including expanded youth programming spaces, and Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse, Chops Grille.

Enchantment of the Seas’ initial Baltimore deployment will include a five-night Bermuda and nine-night Eastern Caribbean roundtrip itinerary in the summer and autumn seasons. The ship will first sail the same itineraries in May and June from the Port of Norfolk, exclusively offering Bermuda cruises from the Virginian port. The winter and spring season itineraries will be announced at a later date.

Explorer of the Seas will continue its year-round service from Cape Liberty in April 2010. The ship’s fourth consecutive year of service in the New York metropolitan area will feature a five-night Bermuda cruise and two alternating nine-night “Bermuda and Caribbean” and “Bermuda and Bahamas” itineraries. In addition, Explorer of the Seas’ season will kick off with a special 13-night Southern Caribbean sailing departing March 28.

Both Explorer of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas’ short Bermuda cruises will feature a two-day call at Kings Wharf, from where guests can explore the island’s pink beaches, quaint shops and night life at their leisure. Guests on Explorer of the Seas’ Bermuda and Bahamas itineraries will enjoy a day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island paradise in the Bahamas, while guests on Enchantment of the Seas’ Eastern Caribbean itinerary will call at Labadee, the cruise line’s private beach destination on the northern coast of Haiti.

Royal Caribbean also will return to Canada and New England in autumn 2010 with convenient sailings from Baltimore, Boston, and Cape Liberty, offering 14 itineraries ranging from seven to nine nights, including ports of call at Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine; and Canada’s Saint John, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Jewel of the Seas will sail seven-night roundtrip voyages from Boston, while Explorer of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas will each offer four nine-night cruises from Cape Liberty and Baltimore, respectively. Enchantment of the Seas also will offer a special eight-night roundtrip itinerary on June 18, which will add extended port time in Halifax and Bar Harbor.

Guests will have a multitude of shore excursion options designed to provide guests one-of-kind experiences. They can test the trade winds on Labadee’s Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, the longest flight line in the world over water, zipping over the bay at speeds of up to 50 miles an hour. In Bermuda, travelers can snorkel at night, viewing sea creatures rarely seen during the day. During a call in Bar Harbor, guests can embark on a bike tour that crisscrosses some of the most scenic areas of Acadia National Park.

Voyager-class Explorer of the Seas boasts innovative onboard amenities, such as a full-size basketball court, in-line skating track, ice-skating rink, and the Royal Promenade, a boulevard that spans nearly the length of the ship, lined with shops, restaurants, bars and lounges. Jewel of the Seas features a 10-story glass Centrum, glass elevators facing the sea and the highest percentage of outside staterooms of any Royal Caribbean ship. Onboard every Royal Caribbean ship, guests enjoy award-winning Broadway-style musical revues from Royal Caribbean Productions, top-rated Adventure Ocean and teen programming, and Royal Caribbean’s renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service from every staff and crew member.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Royal Caribbean Opens Bookings for the New Allure of the Seas

MIAMI, March 30, 2009 – Royal Caribbean International today announced the inaugural season of Allure of the Seas, 42 sailings to the Eastern and Western Caribbean on seven-night voyages every Sunday beginning December 12, 2010. Allure of the Seas, and sister-ship Oasis of the Seas, constitute the Oasis class of ships and will be the world’s two largest and most revolutionary cruise ships when they debut in November 2010 and 2009, respectively. With the arrival of Allure of the Seas, vacationers will have a choice of a Saturday (Oasis of the Seas) and Sunday departure for an Oasis-class cruise vacation. Bookings for Allure of the Seas’ inaugural season will open on April 2, 2009 for Diamond and Diamond Plus level members of the Crown & Anchor Society and April 8 for all Crown & Anchor Society members. General bookings will open on and April 13.

“Through the last four decades, Royal Caribbean has earned a history of innovation and redefined cruising with each new class of ships we launched,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Allure of the Seas and sister-ship Oasis of the Seas represent the ultimate expression of our vision and determination to provide an experience unlike anything found on land and sea. With Allure of the Seas, we will offer family and adventurous vacationers two spectacular ships from which to choose for an unforgettable cruise.”

Allure of the Seas will depart from her homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and alternate a seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary. Both itineraries will feature three days at sea for guests to enjoy all the revolutionary onboard amenities found in the seven “neighborhoods” that comprise an Oasis-class ship. On the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, Allure of the Seas will call at St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie), St. Maarten (Philipsburg), and Nassau, Bahamas. The ship will call at Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise on the northern coast of Haiti, for the Western Caribbean itinerary.

Architectural marvels at sea, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 220,000 gross registered tons (GRT), and host 5,400 guests at double occupancy with 2,700 staterooms.

Each ship will feature the cruise line’s new neighborhood concept, seven themed areas throughout the ship that offer different experiences for guests to choose, based on their personal styles, preferences or moods. Inspired by seaside entertainment esplanades, Boardwalk will engage the entire family – whether young or young at heart – with eateries, retail outlets, carnival games, and an original, handcrafted carousel – a first at sea. Nine decks above, the first zip-line at sea will whisk guests from end to end on a thrilling aerial adventure. Boardwalk will lead to the AquaTheater at the stern of the ship, where the amphitheater – another first at sea – will offer a guest pool area by day and a performance venue at night, featuring dramatic acrobatics, synchronized swimming, water ballet, professional high-diving, and elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights.

Enhancements to the cruise line’s signature Royal Promenade, the heart of the ship, will include a mezzanine level that overlooks the main promenade below. Natural light will cascade into the Royal Promenade through the overhead Crystal Canopy sculptured-glass domes, and illuminate the boulevard of boutiques, restaurants, bars and entertainment lounges. The Rising Tide bar, the first moving bar at sea, will offer guests the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail as it slowly ascends into Central Park, the neighborhood above.

Central Park, a revolutionary design in which the center of the ship opens to the sky, will feature lush, tropical grounds spanning the length of a football field. With its serene pathways, seasonal flower gardens and canopy trees, Central Park will evolve from a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere during the day to a gathering space for alfresco dining and entertainment in the evenings.

The Pool and Sports Zone will feature a sloped-entry beach pool (exclusive to the Oasis-class) and two larger FlowRider surf simulators. Building on the Royal Caribbean’s popular Vitality wellness program, guests will be able to soothe mind, body and soul in the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, which also includes a dedicated spa area just for teens. Entertainment Place will include the cruise line’s signature after-dark spaces in more intimate venues that offer a variety of entertainment options. And the Youth Zone will offer a wealth of kid- and teen-friendly adventures, featuring the cruise line’s first nursery for infants and toddlers (six months or older).

The Oasis class of ships also will debut a new portfolio of 37 categories of accommodations, many with views unique to the ship. Park View and Boardwalk View balcony staterooms offer inward facing accommodations overlooking the two open-air neighborhoods. Another industry-first, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas will introduce 28 contemporary bi-level loft suites with double-height, floor-to-ceiling windows for incomparable vistas of the sea. The lofts will feature LCD televisions, separate vanity areas, a guest bathroom downstairs and an upstairs master bathroom featuring his and hers shower heads, fog-free mirrors, and limestone mosaic tile accents.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 20 ships currently in service and two under construction. The line also offers unique cruisetour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, South America and New Zealand.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Carnival Ecstasy Scheduled for Major Refit.

(March 30, 2009) – The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will undergo an extensive, multi-million-dollar refurbishment this fall that will include the addition of an expansive new water park, an exclusive adults-only retreat, a Circle “C” facility for 12- to 14-year olds, and a redesigned resort-style main pool area.

Additionally, 98 balconies will be added to existing ocean view staterooms.
The refurbishment, which will take place during a 28-day dry dock from September 19 to October 17, 2009, continues a series of major upgrades to the line’s eight Fantasy-class vessels.
Carnival Ecstasy will be the second ship to have additional balconies added following the success of a similar implementation on the Carnival Sensation earlier this year.
Carnival Ecstasy operates year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from the Port of Galveston. On this route, four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel while five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays and call at Cozumel and Progreso.
“With a host of new open deck attractions and 98 new balcony staterooms, we’re providing Carnival Ecstasy guests with opportunities for even more memorable vacation experiences,” said Roberta Jacoby, Carnival’s senior vice president of hotel operations.
“Plus with today’s consumers seeking more affordable, close-to-home vacations, adding these exciting new features makes a four- and five-day cruise on Carnival Ecstasy from Galveston an even greater value,” she added.
Exciting Open Deck Features
A signature element of the Fantasy-class upgrades is Carnival WaterWorks, a fun-filled aqua park located on Verandah Deck. Designed with an all-ages appeal, WaterWorks encompasses a 300-foot-long twisting, turning water slide – the longest and most elaborate at sea – along with dual-lane 82-foot-long racing slides, and a wide variety of water spray toys.
In addition, Carnival Ecstasy’s main pool on Lido Deck – which includes a swimming pool and two large whirlpools - will be totally transformed to feature a distinct resort-style ambiance. Vibrant oversized umbrellas, thatched roofing and colorful tile work will create a decidedly tropical feel.
Exclusive Adults-Only Retreat
Another new feature on the Carnival Ecstasy will be Serenity, the line’s popular adults-only retreat located aft on Promenade Deck. With design elements that include teak decking, large umbrellas and thatched roofing, Serenity provides an ocean-going oasis for relaxation and comfort. Guests can enjoy icy cocktails and frozen drinks while relaxing in plush chaise lounges and chairs. Food service is available in the casual Panorama Bar & Grill located nearby.
Ninety-Eight More Balconies Private balconies will be added to 98 existing ocean view staterooms on the Carnival Ecstasy to create spacious new 230-square-foot accommodations. Sixty-two of the staterooms will be located aft – with several of these featuring extended balconies – while 24 others will be located mid-ship and 12 near the stern. Several of the Carnival Ecstasy’s suites will be modified to feature larger, extended balconies.
Other Enhancements
Also included in the Carnival Ecstasy’s refurbishment will be the addition of a new Circle “C” center aimed at the 12- to 14-year-old set. Located on Atlantic Deck 8, the facility will include plasma screen televisions displaying movies and music videos, a high-tech sound and lighting system, gaming consoles and a touch-screen jukebox.
Additionally, all of the ship’s 1,026 staterooms will be upgraded with new plasma screen TVs as well as updated wall coverings, tile work, carpeting and light fixtures. Extensive cosmetic enhancements will be made to virtually all public rooms and areas, with new upholstery, furniture, and wall coverings incorporated into the Blue Sapphire main show lounge, Neon Bar piano bar, Stripes dance club, the poolside Panorama Bar & Grill and Wind Song and Wind Star main dining rooms.
In addition to refurbished elevators and elevator lobbies as well as new lighting and carpeting in the atrium, Carnival Ecstasy’s Internet café will be relocated to Empress Deck and new workstations will be included. Public restrooms and guest corridors will be renovated, as well.
Reservations are currently being accepted for the Carnival Ecstasy’s four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from Galveston.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

German Operator Peter Deilmann Cruises Offers Fall Cruises From Baltimore

New York, March 2009 – Peter Deilmann Cruises is bringing deluxe cruising to Baltimore with the announcement of two distinct Fall itineraries, aboard its luxury flagship MS Deutschland, and offering special fare savings of up to 32% with $99 air and complimentary excursions. The 520-guest floating grand hotel offers guests the elegant style of the Edwardian and 1920 eras and highly personalized service thanks to a guest-to-crew ratio of two-to-one when it departs Nov. 5 on a 12-night exploration of the southeast coast of the U.S and a longer 16-night cruise departing on Nov. 17 to the Gulf and Caribbean. A portfolio of savings opportunities is being offered with these departures: $1,500 per person discounts on all stateroom/suite categories; $99 economy roundtrip air fare from dozens of North American gateways or for those booking their own air, an additional $750 fare reduction; and a complimentary excursions package worth $600. The 12-night roundtrip cruise from Baltimore explores the 'old South,' stopping in Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, Jacksonville, Key West, Miami and Port Canaveral, as well as Freeport in the Grand Bahamas. The 16-night sailing ends in Jamaica's Montego Bay after calling at Philadelphia, New York, Miami, New Orleans and Mexico's Progreso and Cozumel. Group bookings enjoy the same savings benefits, as well as one free tour conductor berth for every nine paid guests. The reduced fares are $3,943 to $14,034 per person, double for the 12-night sailing and $4,820 to $17,510 for 16 nights. Original fares ranged from $5,740 to $19,010.

The 12-night itinerary will take in the Southern hospitality of three southeast coastal cities: historic Savannah, brimming with Victorian homes, antebellum mansions and oak trees dripping in Spanish moss; Charleston, where travelers can tour the old city by horse-drawn carriage; and Norfolk, a primary 18th-century trading port, where guests can opt to visit Nauticus, The National Maritime Center that boasts superb oceanography exhibits, and, for history buffs, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the Douglas MacArthur Memorial. Four Florida ports collectively provide a rich view of the state’s offerings and include: the former homes of writer Ernest Hemmingway and President Harry Truman in laid-back Key West; an array of bars and restaurants at the Jacksonville Landing and Southbank Riverwalk in Jacksonsville; the very popular NASA Space Center in Port Canaveral; and the sizzling South Beach nightlife, magnificent beaches and museum offerings of multi-cultural Miami. Freeport offers sunbathers a near endless supply of deserted stretches of sun-drenched beaches – as well as terrific shopping opportunities at Port Lucaya Marketplace, with its picturesque waterfront, and at Count Basie Square with live entertainment.

The 16-night sailing showcases some of the very best in cosmopolitan ports of call -- New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Miami. In New York, guests can visit the Statute of Liberty, take a carriage ride in Central Park, or catch a Broadway show followed by dinner on Restaurant Row. Philadelphia, the nation's one-time capital, is brimming with early American landmarks, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, and such cultural landmarks as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute Science Museum, while New Orleans offers the birthplace of Jazz, the sultry ambiance of the city’s French Quarter and its Bourbon Street. Two Mexican destinations add a Latin element with the Mayan town of Progreso, 30 minutes from the colonial city of Merida and the Mayan archaeological site of Dzibilchaltun, and Cozumel, where guests can enjoy Chankanaab National Park, a refuge for flora and marine fauna, or snorkel or dive the island's world-famous reefs.

The MS Deutschland, with 286 staterooms, provides travelers with a more intimate cruising experience. Features of the nine-deck ship include: three deluxe restaurants, an outdoor dining terrace plus seven diverse bars and cafes, a spacious library lounge, outdoor and indoor pools, three sun decks and an open-air promenade deck, grand ballroom for nightly entertainment and dancing, and a wellness center equipped with fitness and spa facilities. Smoking is not permitted onboard except in open deck areas, the Old Fritz Pub and one section of the Lili Marleen Bar.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

UK Cruise Ship Reduction

Economic slowdown has hit the UK hard. The number of cruise ships marketed to UK passengers are taking a hit due to the economic slowdown. So far this year we have seen:


  • The Hibridean Spirit pulled from service.
  • The reduction of Ocean Village Cruise Line - to a one ship operation

  • The departure of Island Cruises, their incorporation into Thompson Cruises and the transfer of the Island Star to Spanish operator Pullantur.

  • Carnival's decision to not sail the Carnival Splendor from the UK.

  • Fred Olsen Cruises retirement of the Black Prince later this year.

  • Page and Moy's announcement that this will be the last year for them operating the Ocean Majesty. Page and Moy may have another ship in 2010 - but it has not been announced yet.

Further reductions are expected should the economic situation not improve.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Aranui 3 Offers Passenger Freighter Cruises in the Marquesas

The "Aranui 3" is a mixed passenger/cargo vessel that operates between Tahiti and the Marquesas.

She offers comfortable, air-conditioned accommodations for about two hundred passengers. Passengers can sunbathe on deck, swim in the pool, or enjoy exotic tropical drinks while the Aranui 3 sails her way among the islands of the Marquesas.
Accommodations classes are Suites, Deluxe, Standard and C Class. Standard C Class are shared accommodations. The ship offers comfortable accommodations, but passengers should not expect a standard cruise ship experience, the ship is a combination passenger ship and freighter, one should expect clean, comfortable accommodations, adequate friendly service, good local cooking and fewer entertainment options than larger ships.
The ship sails on 14 days adventure cruise in the French Polynesia, Marquesas islands. The journey begins at Tahiti to Fakarava, Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata, Ua Huka, Rangiroa and back to Papeete.
The vessel operates under the French flag, and her crew are all Polynesian, primarily Marquesans.
"Aranui 3" is operated by Compagnie Polynesienne de Transport Maritime.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More Norwegian Epic Details Revealed.

April 3, 2009 – Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) today revealed another industry first to debut on its next generation of Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic, which will include an expansive Aqua Park with the only tube slide and largest bowl slide at sea -- The Epic Plunge. The line also unveiled seven decks of Freestyle Family Fun with highlights including a 33-foot high, 64-foot wide extreme rock climbing wall and the first ever repelling wall at sea; the most bowling lanes at sea with six in two venues; a mixed-use sports deck with the ability for guests to engage in eight different athletic activities; as well as three separate kids’ and teen activity areas and the first squash court at sea. In addition, Norwegian revealed the next generation of Freestyle Dining with 14 restaurant choices – the most at sea – and 18 bars and lounges.

“From the Aqua Park to the expanded sports deck and largest Kid’s Crew facility to the most dining outlets at sea, Norwegian Epic is truly taking Freestyle Cruising to the next level by offering our guests so many choices in dining and on-board activities,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Our largest Freestyle Cruising vessel to date represents the culmination of our 43 years of innovation in the cruise industry. Norwegian Epic will delight and amaze our guests.”

Norwegian’s First Aqua Park
Norwegian Epic, set for delivery in late May 2010, takes Freestyle Family Fun to the extreme with an expansive Aqua Park that includes three water slides of varying thrill factors, including one specifically designed for children that zips straight through the rock climbing wall; a more adventurous slide twisting and turning down three stories; and The Epic Plunge, the only tube slide at sea that puts the blast of inner-tubing into the core of a bowl slide with a thrilling drop through a 200-foot long tube. Riders are then launched into the vortex of The Epic Plunge where centrifugal forces keep them high on the wall for several turns, ending in an exciting transition into a splashdown lane.

The Aqua Park also includes two main pools with arching water effects which illuminate at night; five whirlpools; a wading pool and a kid’s pool in the children’s Splash and Play Zone which features whimsical sculptures, water sprays and effects, along with a kiddy slide.

Scaling New Heights in Freestyle Fun
In an industry first, Norwegian Epic will scale new heights with the first ever repelling wall at sea and a 33-foot high extreme rock climbing wall, accessible on two levels with varying degrees of difficulty, rated according to official U.S. climbing grades.

Expanding its innovative concept of bowling at sea, Norwegian Epic will offer the most bowling lanes with a total of six located in two venues: Bliss Ultra Lounge and O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. The multi-use sports deck will include a full size basketball court, volleyball, soccer, dodge ball, batting cage, bungee trampoline, rope adventure course and a 24-foot tall enclosed climbing cage called the spider web. Norwegian Epic will also feature the first squash court at sea, located in the fitness center.

Our Largest Kid’s Crew Facility and Exclusive Teen Lounge
Recess is Norwegian Epic’s Kid’s Crew facility that is centrally located on Deck 14 adjacent and easily accessible to the family-friendly staterooms. Two separate areas are specifically designed for kids ages two through nine and tweens, ages 10 through 12. The Kid’s area includes a space-themed play area, air hockey table, an interactive light up dance floor; WiiTM gaming areas; an arts and crafts area; along with a state-of-the-art surround sound cinema. The Tween Zone has a futuristic feel that includes multiple WiiTM and PlayStation® areas; along with a private karaoke performance stage which doubles as a cinema.

Entourage is Norwegian Epic’s high energy, exclusive teen zone for ages 13 through 17, located at the top of the ship on Deck 16. This funky space includes air hockey; pinball; foosball; a video jukebox; and nine large flat screen televisions, five of which are located around a central video game console featuring PlayStation® 3. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a hip nightclub with a space for dancing or just hanging out on comfy couches. Directly below is the video arcade which features number of the most challenging and interactive video games.
The Most Dining Choices at Sea

Norwegian Epic’s wide range of dining choices will wow even the most discerning cruiser with 14 Freestyle Dining restaurants and 18 bars and lounges. Each restaurant features unique and sensational culinary delights from around the world.

Norwegian Epic’s dining establishments will include:
Taste: Located in the ship’s atrium on Deck 5, Taste’s décor blends off-white, free-form plastered walls with European retro-chic mixed with brick details and floor to ceiling velvet curtains. Taste will serve a selection of traditional and contemporary cuisine.
The Manhattan Room: Reminiscent of an elegant art deco supper club, The Manhattan Room features a dance floor as its focal point and will offer live music and dancing in the evening. The two-story high restaurant on Deck 6 features floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows looking aft. The cuisine reflects the elegant and romantic nature of the room.

· Café Jardin & The Great Outdoors: Café Jardin’s décor is modeled after a traditional English country garden conservatory. This is Norwegian’s signature action station casual restaurant where chefs cook fresh, prepared-to-order food as guests watch, featuring seafood, pizza, fruit, soups, pasta, ethnic specialties, burgers and desserts; offering extensive and varied selections. The Café includes a Kid’s Café with child-friendly seats and tables. At the Great Outdoors, guests can enjoy fresh air and a view of the Aqua Park with their meal.

Cagney’s Steakhouse & Churrascaria: Norwegian’s traditional American steakhouse takes on a new twist with the addition of Argentinean churrasco. In addition to mouth-watering steaks, guests will be able to sample a variety of skewered meats presented by tableside passadors. Another new addition is a large, centrally located salad bar.

La Cucina: This Tuscan-style eatery will serve regional Italian specialties including pizza, pasta and steak, chicken and fish dishes. The traditional Italian décor reflects two distinct areas: a Tuscan farm home and an Italian courtyard, where a large olive tree with hanging lanterns is the centerpiece, open to Café Jardin above.

Le Bistro: Norwegian’s upscale bistro will serve classic French cuisine with an American flair. This elegant dining establishment surrounds guests with contemporary and traditional paintings and sculptures, making guests feel as if they were dining in an art museum.

Shanghai’s: This new addition to Norwegian’s specialty dining options will serve a delicious mix of Chinese dishes and noodle bar specialties. The décor reflects Old Shanghai in the 1930s and is reminiscent of the China Club in Hong Kong . There will be an open kitchen preparing traditional Chinese cuisine, noodles, wok fried dishes and dim sum.

Wasabi: This expansive sushi and sake bar will serve the freshest sushi, sashimi and Japanese Yakitori dishes. Featuring modern décor and clean lines, Wasabi is located outside the Teppanyaki restaurant.

Teppanyaki: As the largest Teppanyaki restaurant at sea with 115 seats, this expanded restaurant will feature up to 24 knife-wielding chefs cooking exhibition-style Japanese cuisine on flat top grills. Guests will be amazed by the masterful chefs who demonstrate their skills slicing and dicing while creating an appetizing meal.

O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill: This classic neighborhood sports bar and restaurant will serve American favorites and comfort food and is open 24 hours. The atrium’s two-story high screen will be visible from inside the restaurant and additional flat screen televisions will show sporting events, while guests enjoy their own activities, including three lanes of bowling, dart boards, pool tables, foosball and arcade games.

The Epic Club and Courtyard Grill: Located high atop the ship in The Villas complex, this modern and elegant restaurant is reserved exclusively for Norwegian Epic’s suite and villa guests. The décor reflects a private club ambiance with contemporary and modern furnishings, and a large wine display, dotted with glass sculptures and pearl drapes. The Courtyard Grill is the more casual, outdoor area of the restaurant serving Villas guests for breakfast and lunch.
To Be Announced: In addition to the above, there is also one more Norwegian Epic restaurant which will be announced at the next reveal in May.

Also, 24-hour room service will be available for all guests on board Norwegian Epic.
Throughout the ship, there will also be a total of 18 bars and lounges, which include: Atrium Bar; O’Sheehan’s; Cascades, the casino bar; Bliss Ultra Lounge; Cagney’s Bar; the Ice Bar; Sake Bar; Malting’s Whiskey Bar; Shaker’s Martini Bar; Humidor Cigar Lounge; The Living Room, exclusively for The Studios’ guests; Waves Bar; Spice H20; the Epic Club; and Posh Beach Club. The final three bars will be announced in May.

In order to showcase all of Norwegian Epic’s features, the company launched a new version of Norwegian Epic’s microsite last night. The online site is an interactive representation of Norwegian’s newest and largest Freestyle Cruising ship to date featuring renderings, downloads and screen savers. The enhanced site can be accessed at http://epic.ncl.com/.

The final chapter reveal of Norwegian Epic will take place in New York City on May 20 and will focus on the ship’s innovative entertainment. The ship will also go on sale to the general public on that date. The first Eastern Caribbean sailing is scheduled for July 17, 2010 and its alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries will be available for booking through April 2011.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cunard's New Queen Elizabeth Maiden Voyage Sold Out

April 1, 2009 -- The October 2010 Maiden Voyage for Cunard’s new ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, which was placed on worldwide sale to past guests at 8:00 a.m. today, sold out in a record 29 minutes – easily making this the fastest selling voyage in Cunard’s 170-year history. In fact, this voyage sold out quicker involving more guests than QE2’s Final Voyage when it set a previous Cunard sell-out record of 36 minutes in June 2007.

More than half of Queen Elizabeth’s remaining Maiden Season, comprising six voyages from October to December 2010, was sold within the first two hours.

"This is an impressive record set by what will be an impressive ship and speaks volumes about the Cunard brand as well as for the resilience of the cruise sector as a whole in these challenging times," said Carol Marlow, president and managing director of Cunard Line. "It is also very encouraging to see the level of interest in Queen Elizabeth coming from all our international markets, with bookings in the UK, US and Germany particularly strong. I urge our travel partners and those guests who have not yet booked to move fast in order to secure their place in history on Queen Elizabeth during her maiden season," added Marlow.

One of the youngest fleets in the industry, Cunard’s famous state-of-the-art award-winning vessels Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will be joined by Queen Elizabeth, and all three will take Cunard’s 170 years of history, heritage, impeccable service and tradition far into the 21st Century. This is a legacy recognized by Cunard guests, with up to 97% saying they will recommend Cunard to a friend and 98% saying they will return.

Queen Elizabeth will feature the unique Cunard traditions linking her with her sisters Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria and their predecessors, along with some exciting features that will give the vessel her own style and personality, plus all the modern day luxuries Cunard’s guests have come to expect.

Named after the first Queen Elizabeth, one of Cunard’s greatest ships, the new Queen Elizabeth will reflect her predecessor in interior grandeur, décor and style, but with a modern twist. From the outside, her distinctive black and red livery will hint at an experience that differentiates a Cunard liner from a modern-day cruise ship. This will be most evident in the ship’s adherence to liner traditions, with elegant double and triple height public rooms on a grand scale, luxuriously endowed with rich wood paneling, intricate mosaics, gleaming chandeliers and cool marbles. Art Deco features will pay homage to the original Queen Elizabeth and will allow the new ship to reflect a more civilized era of travel.

Queen Elizabeth’s maiden 2010 season will consist of six voyages, calling on 32 distinct ports in 18 countries. Her Maiden Voyage, now sold out, will depart from Cunard’s homeport of Southampton on October 12, 2010, en route to the Atlantic Isles.

The ship will then embark on five celebratory inaugural voyages, for which space is still available but selling fast:

Mediterranean Premiere – A 14-day voyage departing Southampton on 25 October 2010 with maiden calls to Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples (for Capri and Pompeii), Cartagena and Gibraltar. Fares start from $2,795 per person.

Aegean Introduction – An 18-day voyage departing Southampton on 8 November 2010 calling on Malaga (for Granada), Malta (Valletta), Venice, Dubrovnik, Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Athens (Piraeus) and Alicante. Fares from $3,295 per person.

Gallic Debut – A five-day voyage departing Southampton on 26 November 2010 with maiden calls to Rotterdam (for Amsterdam), Brussels/Bruges (for Zeebrugge) and Cherbourg. Fares start from $1,195 per person.

Iberian Discovery – A 13-day voyage departing Southampton on 1 December 2010 with calls to Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Lisbon, Seville (Cadiz), Gran Canaria (Las Palmas), Tenerife (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), La Palma (Santa Cruz de La Palma) and Madeira. Fares start from $2,395 per person.

Festive Debut – A 22-day holiday voyage departing Southampton on 14 December 2010 with calls in the Caribbean, including Madeira (Funchal), Tortola, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and Azores Islands (Ponta Delgada). Fares start from $4,795 per person.