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Global Cruise Industry to Adopt New Emergency Drill Policy

The global cruise industry today announced a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory muster for embarking passengers prior to departure from port. The new policy follows the industry’s announcement on 27 January of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review in response to the Concordia incident and as part of the industry’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures.

The Passenger Shipping Association, Cruise Lines International Association and European Cruise Council, put forward the new policy with the support of their member cruise lines.The new muster policy, which has been voluntarily initiated by the associations’ members and is effective immediately, exceeds existing legal requirements by calling for the mandatory muster of all embarking passengers prior to departure from port.

On rare occasions when passengers arrive after the muster has been completed, passengers will be promptly provided with individual or group safety briefings that meet the requirements for musters applicable under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The formal policy is designed to help ensure that any mandatory musters or briefings are conducted for the benefit of all newly embarked passengers at the earliest practical opportunity.

Musters are mandatory exercises conducted on cruise ships to ensure passengers are informed of safety protocols while onboard the ship, including emergency evacuation procedures. Current legal requirements for conducting a muster of passengers can be found in SOLAS and mandate that a muster occur within 24 hours of passenger embarkation.

The Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review includes a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety. As best practices are identified, they will be shared among cruise industry association members and any appropriate recommendations will be shared with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), European Union and other governmental authorities as appropriate.

The industry’s efforts also are consistent with the framework and spirit of the International Safety Management Code. Recommendations resulting from the Review will be made on an ongoing basis.

A copy of the new muster policy can be viewed athttp://www.cruising.org/regulatory/cruise-industry-policies

U.S. cruise lines move forward with interporting strategies

By Donna Tunney
Two U.S.-based cruise lines are poised to test the waters of interporting, a practice historically offered by European lines that enables passengers to choose from multiple embarkation ports.

Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International will soon offer this option on certain ships, and Italy-based MSC Cruises will expand the practice to the Caribbean.

Their plans would be less noteworthy had it not been for the Costa Concordia accident, which occurred after more than 600 passengers boarded the 3,200-passenger ship in Civitavecchia, Italy, the port for Rome. Others had boarded earlier in Barcelona.

That double embarkation cast a spotlight on interporting because none of the 600 had participated in a muster drill prior to the Concordia’s grounding on Jan. 13, which happened within a few hours of departing Civitavecchia.

Under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas), cruise ships must hold their safety briefings within 24 hours of setting sail.

The Concordia officers were operating within the framework of the rule, but some have pointed out that the evacuation of the ship, which struck rocks off Italy’s coast and became half-submerged, would have been less chaotic, and perhaps less deadly, if everyone onboard had been primed for an emergency.

Sixteen Concordia passengers were confirmed dead after the grounding, and 16 remain missing.

Generally, interport options are seen as a convenience to cruise passengers and sometimes are offered as an incentive to attract certain source markets.

In light of the Concordia accident, cruise lines that plan to begin interporting are citing their safety procedures that require muster drills or evacuation briefings on any day that new passengers board their ships.

Royal Caribbean International’s 2,100-passenger Brilliance of the Seas will embark passengers in San Juan and Guadeloupe on a series of seven-night Southern Caribbean cruises during the 2012-13 winter season.

According to Royal Caribbean spokesman Harry Liu, the choice is meant to appeal to South American customers, who might prefer joining the ship in Guadeloupe rather than San Juan. Most Americans and Canadians will board in San Juan, he added.

Passengers joining the ship at either port must participate in a mandatory group or personal muster drill on embarkation day.

The ship will alternate two seven-night Southern Caribbean itineraries, sailing roundtrip from San Juan every Saturday.

On one itinerary, the ship will call at St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Croix. On the other itinerary, calls will be made at Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and Barbados, Liu said.

“On both itineraries, the Brilliance of the Seas will call at Guadeloupe on Wednesday, where the ship will offer interporting,” he said. “Passengers must remain onboard for the full seven days, regardless of where they embark.”

Following the Concordia accident, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) tightened its safety policy
to require that all safety drills must be held on the day of departure. RCCL brands include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara.

Starting in April, Norwegian Cruise Line will offer three embarkation ports when the 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic begins its Europe season.

Passengers will be able to board the ship in Barcelona, Civitavecchia or Marseille, France, during the Epic’s seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises.

As with Royal Caribbean, passengers must complete a full seven-day cruise; they can’t use the interport option to book a shorter, Marseille-to-
Barcelona sailing, for instance.

“In all ports where we embark passengers, we hold a safety drill prior to the ship’s departure,” said AnneMarie Matthews, Norwegian’s vice president of public relations. “This includes Norwegian Epic’s Western Mediterranean itinerary. All guests are required to attend the safety drill and report to their lifeboat assembly stations.”

For MSC, a longtime option in Europe

MSC Cruises began hinting last year that the line was exploring whether to bring an interport option to its Caribbean deployments. It’s been offering the option in Europe for years.

By late 2011, it had rolled out a plan to enable passengers to board its 1,560-passenger Lirica in either Martinique or Guadeloupe on seven-day cruises. The option will be in effect for the 2012-13 season.

MSC categorizes its embarkation points into main ports, where the majority of passengers will board, and secondary ports, where fewer passengers board. In the Lirica’s case, Martinique will be the main port, said Gail Nicolaus, the line’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

“When embarking an MSC Cruises ship in one of the main ports, all guests are requested to participate in a one-hour safety drill conducted in the six official languages and any other language spoken by our guests onboard,” she said.

The drill involves the full crew and simulates the evacuation process; passengers muster at their lifeboat station with life jackets.

In secondary ports, she explained, a “detailed safety briefing” is held before departure for all newly embarked passengers.

“The safety briefing is normally held in a dedicated area, usually the theater or at a muster station, and does not involve the whole crew,” Nicolaus said. “[It is] conducted by a group of social hostesses and [other crew members] who help guests to familiarize themselves with the safety equipment and procedures.”

MSC’s drills are held, she added, “as soon as possible after embarkation time and always within the Solas 24-hour limit.”

On MSC ships in Europe, Nicolaus said, the main port for Eastern Mediterranean cruises is Venice, and for the Western Mediterranean, it’s Genoa, Italy.

MSC said the interport option in Martinique and Guadeloupe was primarily geared to the line’s French customers, with air-inclusive packages on France-based Corsair Airlines.

Veteran cruise agent Amber Blecker, who owns a CruiseOne franchise in Aurora, Colo., said she applauds the lines for offering additional flexibility for passengers.

“However, I doubt it will be an attractive choice in the Caribbean for American cruisers,” Blecker said. “I do see it as more of a benefit to international passengers who may find the alternative embarkation ports more convenient or less expensive to access.”

It’s another story entirely in Europe for the Norwegian Epic, said the agent.

“There, I could easily see American passengers utilizing the alternatives to take advantage of pre- or post-cruise touring options available with a different origination point,” Blecker said.

Follow Donna Tunney on Twitter@dttravelweekly.

Source: travelweekly.com/Cruise-Travel/U-S--cruise-lines-move-forward-with-interporting-strategies

Cruise ship study urges teamwork, fees, oversight

by Schuyler Kropf

A study commissioned by one of Charleston's leading preservation voices warns the city could kill "the goose that lays the golden eggs" unless more is done to manage the cruise ship industry.

But the report, done for the Historic Charleston Foundation and released Wednesday, did not present any new or hard estimates about the economic impact of the ships, pro or con.

Instead, researcher Harry Miley recommended all the stakeholders in the cruise industry's future here -- including local government, longshoremen, port officials and environmentalists -- should band together for a real-time look at what the ships are doing.

"The perspective of the cruise industry in South Carolina really depends on who you are," Miley said during a press conference at the foundation's offices.

The study represents another entry in the continuing battle over the cruise ship industry in Charleston where supporters say the boats represent an economic and tourism boost, while detractors say they potentially threaten the city's charm and livability.

Miley, of Miley Associates in Columbia, said he thinks the current estimate used by cruise-line supporters of a $37 million impact in South Carolina is probably greater than the actual amount, though he did not present any alternative figures or supporting data. Instead, he said he based some of his research on what the ships have done in other cities, including Key West, Fla.

One Charleston City Council member who was at the foundation's press conference when the study was released said it added little in terms of guidance or insight.

"Frankly, I don't see anything new at all," said Councilman Dean C. Riegel, also the city's mayor pro tem.

Historic Charleston Foundation declined to disclose how much the group paid for the study, calling it proprietary information.

Among the recommendations:
The city negotiate with the State Ports Authority and the cruise industry to impose a "reasonable passenger fee" to help offset costs the city incurs, such as for infrastructure.
The city create a separate citizens monitoring board to oversee and provide advice to City Council on cruise industry issues.
City leaders ensure the cruise industry is managed and controlled like virtually all other attractions and activities in Charleston.

Miley said there are various ways to look at the ship visits' impact, saying that if one visitor who plans to spend $700 during a Charleston stay is displaced by a ship visitor who spends only $60, "is that really a positive impact for the city?"

A lawsuit targeting Carnival Cruise Lines, which offers round-trip cruises from Charleston on the Fantasy, is in the state Supreme Court. The Coastal Conservation League, Charleston Preservation Society and the Charles Towne and Ansonborough neighborhood associations are seeking to prevent the use of Union Pier as a passenger terminal. The city and the SPA have intervened on Carnival's behalf.

Editor's note: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly characterized the study's author's opinion about the cruise-line supporters' estimate of cruise ships' economic impact. The Post and Courier regrets the error.

Source: postandcourier.com/news

Survey Says: A Cruise Vacation Heats Up Romance for Couples

Royal Caribbean International Shares “Romance at Sea” Survey Results and Discovers Couples Have Better, More Frequent Intimate Moments Onboard

MIAMI, Feb. 10, 2012 – For couples looking to rekindle the spark in their romance, the sea is calling with a million ways to fall in love again. According to a recent survey commissioned by Royal Caribbean International*, most Americans (90%) astoundingly ranked sex as the top activity on their cruise itinerary. Respondents also consider cruises to be the most romantic type of vacation while offering a better value for their dollar (84%). More than four out of five respondents also say that a cruise with their partner is more romantic than a land-based vacation, with a whopping 98% opting for an exotic cruise – to Bermuda or Europe, perhaps – as a special way to celebrate a special moment or occasion, such as Valentine’s Day or an anniversary.

Royal Caribbean offers an endless array of options for keeping the passion alive. With 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents, there is something for every couple – whether they envision a romantic epicurean experience with their significant other, exploring a port of call or simply sharing an intimate moment in the privacy of their stateroom. Based on the survey results, other reasons why couples should consider a cruise vacation with Royal Caribbean include:

Love Liner: The vast majority of survey respondents say they left their last cruise feeling more “connected” with their partner (80%), being more in love with their partner (67%) and feeling more attracted to their partner (65%). Royal Caribbean can supply the ship – all you need is your mate.

Relationship Rx: Is it possible to cruise your way to a better relationship? Perhaps. Nearly three-quarters of respondents say that spending time with their significant other on their most recent cruise improved their relationship.

Port of Love: Respondents indicated that they are more likely to enjoy a number of romantic activities on a cruise than on a land-based vacation, including watching the sunset (72%), strolling in the moonlight (58%), stargazing (56%) and sharing a romantic dinner à deux (55%).

The Motion of the Ocean: Half of the respondents say they are more likely to be intimate on a cruise than on a land-based vacation. And not only is sex more frequent on a cruise vacation, but many (62%) report that the sex on their last cruise was better than normal. Perhaps not surprisingly, night time is the right time, or most popular time of day to be amorous on a cruise (31%), while 28% prefer any time of day – morning, noon or night.

Nautical Naughtiness: 24% cite their balcony as the place onboard where they would most like to be intimate – other than their stateroom, of course, and 58% are more likely to pack lingerie or sexy underwear for a cruise than a land-based vacation. For an astounding 90%, sex ranks as the top activity on their cruise itinerary, ahead of sitting by the pool (84%), enjoying nightlife options (83%) and shopping (70%).

For a limited time, there is one more reason why Royal Caribbean should rank high as a vacation choice for couples. During the “Month of Love,” lovebirds who book a cruise to Bermuda or Europe by Feb. 29 will receive a free “Romance Package” onboard – including roses, chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine. Ships visiting Bermuda stay overnight in port, so couples can enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences like sunset glass-bottom boat tours and snorkeling by moonlight. For guests booking a European cruise, no other part of the world has more memorable moments for two such as visits to legendary landmarks, gorgeous coastlines and charming towns. Royal Caribbean offers more than 100 itineraries for every romantic possibility.

Royal Caribbean has been committed to answering the call of the sea for the past 40 years, sailing every major sea in the world. With its history of creativity and innovation – delivering many at-sea industry firsts such as ice rinks, rock-climbing walls, zip lines, surfing simulators and Broadway shows – the cruise line continues to strive to deliver to guests an unforgettable and rejuvenating experience that appeals to vacationers of all ages.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Royal Caribbean provides a world-class vacation experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment and award-winning family programming. The cruise line has a 40-year history of giving guests the Royal Advantage – the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for nine consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit RoyalCaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow Royal Caribbean on Facebook at Facebook.com/RoyalCaribbean or on Twitter, @RoyalCaribbean. Travel professionals should visit cruisingpower.com or call (800) 327-2056.

Royal Caribbean International is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSX: RCL), a global cruise vacation company that also operates Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Pullmantur, CDF Croisieres de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture with TUI AG. The company owns a combined total of 40 ships and has one under construction and one under agreement.

* Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online between Jan. 27th and Feb. 1st, 2012, among a national probability sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age or older who live in the continental United States. Half the sample was respondents who have previously taken a cruise, and the other half was respondents who have not taken a cruise but are interested in taking a future cruise. All respondents indicated that they are currently in a relationship (either married or dating).

Back-to-Back Cruise Dockings for Gibdock

Back-to-back cruise ship projects at Gibdock’s No. 1 dock have seen the return of the 37,584gt, 1,575-passenger capacity Thomson Destiny for its fourth visit since a first refit in Gibraltar in 2006.

The Thomson Destiny arrived at the yard on November 13 to undertake works afloat and then docked on November 21 one day after the Pullmantur Zenith had left the 260m x 38m x 10m dock after a 12-day stay.

“In many ways this was a routine dry docking, but with two large cruise ships docking one after the other we had to make doubly sure we managed the time pressures very carefully,” says Gibdock Commercial Director, Richard Beards.

“Both vessels had to be completed by very specific dates in order to be able to maintain their cruise schedules and we once again demonstrated our reliability by delivering both ships within the time scales set by the owners.”

The 214m long, 1982-built Thomson Destiny is owned by Louis Cruises and is on long term charter with Thomson Cruises. During the two week stay at Gibdock the yard carried out a variety of tasks including high pressure washing and painting of the vessel’s hull, refurbishment of the anchor chain, sea valves and bow thruster, pipe work and steel repairs in the tanks. Before entering drydock the yard carried out afloat repairs alongside.

Mr Beards says: “We have developed a close working relationship with Louis Cruises and the fact that we have been able to secure repeat business of this type shows we are gaining the trust of leading regional cruise operators.”

Gibdock’s long-time Greek agent, Hellenic Industrial and Marine Agencies, was closely involved in this project, liaising with the owner to ensure the yard fully met its requirements.

“Gibdock has an excellent reputation among local owners, due to a combination of reliability, on-time delivery and high quality,” says Alkis Koukis, managing director. “This latest docking of Thomson Destiny went very well and Louis Cruises was extremely pleased with the outcome.

“There was a very tight schedule but Gibdock got the job done to time and the feedback we have had from the owner was once again very positive.”

Louis Cruises’ superintendant, Chrysanthos Chrysanthou adds: “Gibdock’s project management has been very successful as the yard was able to handle multiple activities, and adapt to changes and additional requirements, and still complete all works ahead of time.

“Cruise ships have tight schedules while on dry docking and each activity has to be planned and processed to ensure that all deadlines are met, while maintaining accuracy and high quality standards.

“Gibdock is one of the most convenient locations for ship repair with facilities close to the vessel’s operating routes. We have built a shared understanding and successful cooperation over the years and we look forward to continuing in the future.”

Fantasy Sneak Peek: Get an Early Look at Disney's Newest Cruise Ship

Disney Fantasy - CruiseCritic
With its christening less than a month away,Disney Fantasy is getting its finishing touches, and Cruise Critic recently got a sneak peak of the 128,690-ton, 2,500-passenger ship.

We were invited to see the ship -- which will be based in Port Canaveral and offer seven-night Caribbean cruises -- when it was "floated out" amid traditional Disney hoopla (i.e., fireworks and adults dressed in mice costumes) for the first time at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

Though it shares many similarities with Disney Dream, its year-old sibling, Fantasy adds a little more zippity do da to its well-received counterpart (81 percent of the Cruise Critic member reviews give it the thumbs-up). So what's new? Art-minded passengers will recognize that while Dream is adorned in art nouveau flourishes (think more colorful and decorative), Fantasy goes the art deco route, so expect understated elegance and glamour.

Kids get the lion's share of the attention on Disney ships, and the cruise line has ramped up the outdoor fun with Fantasy's AquaLab, a water play area featuring a leaky wall with squirting pipes, geysers and a dinghy that drenches those beneath when it fills with water. Don't worry -- Dream's already-iconic AquaDuck water coaster makes a return appearance on Fantasy.

Many of the other changes are reflected in the entertainment, with more shows being produced to fill the week-long voyages. (Dream, by comparison, has specialized in three- and four-night jaunts.) While the addition of a Muppets interactive game has garnered the most headlines in recent months, new shows will include "Wishes," a musical interweaving numerous Disney characters, and "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular." They'll join Dream favorites like the stage spectacular "Disney's Believe" and "Buccaneer Blast," the line's unique at-sea fireworks show.

Want more fireworks? See what happens when you try to keep kids away from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where beaucoup bucks turn your kids into little pirates and princesses. It's the first time the Disney theme park staple makes an appearance on a DCL ship.

"Animation Magic" is a dining experience in the Animator's Palate restaurant that will probably top the popularity chart. Passengers' placemats become animation templates for drawings, to which they can add details with color crayons. The works are then collected and, at the end of the meal, the dining artists will see their works animated on the 130 screens scattered throughout the restaurant. (At other meals, diners can interact with a talking animated Crush from "Finding Nemo," as they do on Disney Dream.)

At the end of the show, naturally, Mickey will make an appearance and thank the passengers -- just before the credit crawl that will include the names of the dining artists who signed their masterpieces. 

For more on Disney Fantasy, check out our behind-the-scenes slideshow.

--by Alan Lam, Cruise Critic Contributor

P&O Cruises Launches Four Day ‘Balcony Giveaway’

For a special Valentines treat this weekend, P&O Cruises is offering free balcony cabin upgrades for new bookings made on a selection of cruises departing between April and September 2012.

The Balcony Giveaway is available for bookings made between February 10 – 13, on a selection of 22 cruise holidays on board Aurora, Azura, Oceana and Ventura.

All cruises in the promotion depart from Southampton and are between three and 17 nights in duration, to a choice of destinations such as the Central Mediterranean, Baltic, Iceland, Greenland, Western Mediterranean and the Canary Islands.

Savings are available of up to £1,267 per person for a 14 night Norway, Greenland and Iceland cruise on Aurora (R207) departing June 19, 2012, and prices start from £349 per person for a three night cruise break on board Ventura, departing July 20 (N217N).

A Taste Of France - Rhône River Cruise with Tauck Cruising

Tauck Cruises Brochure

 2012 Prices From $5,390 for 10 Days - Tauck Cruising

A Taste of France was crafted by Tauck and Churchill and Turen Ltd., named "World's Best Culinary Tour Specialist" by Condé Nast Traveler. Focusing on French cuisine and village life, the trip features a 7-night Rhône River cruise aboard ms Swiss Emerald through vineyard country that's home to some of the world’s most exceptional wines. Tauck's epicurean delights begin with dinner at Fouquet’s, the celebrity hotspot in Paris. From there, you'll enjoy a gourmet cooking class at École de Cuisine, the school founded by world-class chef Alain Ducasse... riding the high-speed TGV through the French countryside to Lyon... tasting your way through Les Halles, Lyon's famed covered food market with its eye-popping vertical garden... cruising in search of culinary adventures in medieval villages along the Rhône... sipping Beaujolais in Beaujolais... sampling Provençal specialties in picturesque Viviers... and dining al fresco at the Pont du Gard. Add the Provençal pleasures of Avignon, Arles and Roussillon, and you have the ultimate Rhône River cruise on which to discover the soul of French haute cuisine!

Source:   tauck.com

AmaWaterways Introduces New Wine Cruises on Rhone River

By Theresa Norton Masek

AmaWaterways will launch a new series of wine cruises on March 25 on the AmaDagio on the Rhone River. AmaWaterways President Rudi Schreiner and Executive Vice President Kristin Karst will host the maiden wine cruise. Also sailing will be Carissa Chappellet, owner and managing director of Chappellet Winery, and Archie McLaren, founder and chairman of Central Coast Wine Classic.

Each wine cruise will features excursions to vineyards and cellars, complimentary wine lectures with the hosts, wine tastings onboard and on shore, and wine pairings with dinner.

The seven-night March 25 “In Celebration of Wine” cruise is part of the 15-day “Provence and Spain” itinerary, which begins with three nights in Paris before embarking the cruise in Lyon. The cruise will explore the Beaujolais wine region, Roman ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Avignon and Arles. After the cruise, guests will visit the medieval town of Perpignan, France, before ending the trip in Barcelona.

In all, AmaWaterways offers eight wine-themed cruises that also showcase wine regions along the Rhine and the Danube rivers. The “Provence and Spain” trip also departs Nov. 4 and Nov. 11. Other options include the “The Romantic Danube that departs Nov. 3 and Nov. 13, “The Legendary Danube” departing Oct. 31, and “The Enchanting Rhine” departing Nov. 7 and Nov. 10.

Each cruise offers complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner, accommodations with French balconies, complimentary in-room Hollywood movies and Internet, onboard entertainment every evening, shore excursions daily with headsets, and use of bicycles.

For more information, visit Sell River Cruises.

Source:  travelpulse.com

Queen Mary 2 hit by power cuts on way to Australia

By Kate Schneider

ONE of the world's largest ocean liners the Queen Mary 2 has been hit with two power failures on its way to Australia.

The 345m long and 40m wide ship arrived in Fremantle yesterday to begin her maiden circumnavigation around the country. However its journey wasn't all smooth sailing.

The 151,400 tonne ship was travelling from Port Louis, Mauritius, to Fremantle, Western Australia when the power outages struck on Saturday and again on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Carnival - the ship's owner - said the outages were part of routine maintenance.

A passenger, who wishes to be unnamed, said he was stuck in a lift for approximately 10 minutes and had to be rescued during the first incident.

He said electricity was lost to the ship for about 25 minutes with lights going out briefly and the engine stopping.

He added fellow passengers peered over the side of the ship wondering what was going on when the engines turned off.

“We were stuck in the middle of the ocean without any power,” he said.

“It was an extraordinary series of events for a ship known as the queen of the seas."

He said the second incident occurred at 2am on Tuesday during moderately rough seas and strong winds.

The vessel “stopped dead” in the water for up to 10 minutes with the lights and TV going off momentarily and the engine failed to kick back in for up to eight minutes, according to the passenger.

Carnival spokesman David Jones confirmed there were “brief power outages” on the ship during routine maintenance.

"There was a brief power interruption and as expected would normally happen backup systems kicked in so at all times there was full lighting, and all controls were effective and operating normally," Mr Jones said.

“I believe there may have been a couple of occasions (of power interruptions)."

Mr Jones said passenger safety was not at risk and they would have barely noticed the interruption.

The Maritime Safety Authority confirmed it had received reports of a power outage from passengers on board the ship during the first incident.

A power failure hit the Queen Mary 2 as it approached Barcelona in September 2010 with a loud explosion and a blackout.

The largest ship ever to visit Australia, it will travel to Sydney before going north to Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and then back to Fremantle on February 28.

Source:  perthnow.com.au






Royal Caribbean Reducing South America Capacity

Royal Caribbean International is set to just have one ship in South America for winter 2012/2013 at press time, according to deployment from the Miami-based cruise line. The 2,074-passenger Splendour of the Seas will sail next winter from Santos on a variety of itineraries.

The recently refurbished ship is sailing in Brazil this winter along with the Vision of the Seas, which will not return to the region, but instead sail next winter on 10- and 11-day voyages from Port Everglades.

While the Vision had deployment outside of Brazil next winter announced, it was rumored Royal Caribbean would send in more tonnage, but that appears not to be the case.

Update on Crown Princess

Due to the increased incidence of gastrointestinal illness that occurred during the previous two Crown Princess cruises, the ship returned two days early to Fort Lauderdale this morning to undergo an extensive two-day sanitization.

In consultation with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who has informed us that there are widespread outbreaks of Norovirus occurring in the US, it was agreed that this was the best course of action to stop the spread of the illness. The cause has been confirmed to be Norovirus, which is extremely contagious and easily transmitted from person-to-person.

We sincerely regret having to cut short our passengers' cruise vacations because of this highly-unusual situation. We will, of course, be refunding their cruise fare, arranging flights home, including covering change fees if air was not booked through Princess, providing hotel accommodations if necessary, and offering a 25% future cruise credit.

Crown Princess departed February 4 on its scheduled Southern Caribbean cruise after a comprehensive sanitization of all cabins and public areas, which was overseen by the CDC together with our public health, medical and onboard departments. The seven-day cruise was scheduled to visit Curacao and Aruba, returning on February 11, and we regret that the early return to Fort Lauderdale necessitated cancellation of these calls.

On the February 4 sailing 226 passengers (7.34% out of 3,078) and 63 crew (5.35% of 1,178) reported gastrointestinal illness. On the previous cruise that departed January 28, 364 passengers (11.73% of 3,103) and 30 crew (2.57% of 1,168) were affected.

At the first sign of increased cases of gastrointestinal illness, we immediately initiated additional enhanced sanitation procedures to interrupt the spread of illness for both passengers and crew members. Our sanitation program has been developed in coordination with the CDC and includes such measures as disinfection of high-touch surfaces; encouraging correct hand washing procedures and enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship; isolating ill passengers and crew in cabins until non-contagious; encouraging passengers to use their own cabin's bathroom facilities; and providing regular verbal and written communication to passengers about steps they can take to stay well while onboard.

The enhanced disinfection of the ship in Fort Lauderdale will include bringing aboard additional cleaning crew to assist with a thorough sanitization of all public spaces and surfaces including soft furnishing and carpets, railings, door handles and the like. The staterooms will be sanitized multiple times before making up the rooms with fresh linens and towels on Saturday morning, just prior to passenger embarkation.

Following this additional sanitization of Crown Princess, we expect that the next cruise on February 11 will depart as scheduled.

# # #

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is so widespread that only the common cold is reported more frequently. The CDC estimates that there are 23 million land-based Norovirus cases each year in the U.S., affecting one in 12 people, or 8% of the population. In contrast, the number of cruise passengers affected is .028% of the 8 million cruising population, or 1 in 3,600 of those who vacation aboard ships. Symptoms of Norovirus include mild stomach upset with vomiting and diarrhea, usually lasting between one and three days. The illness generally resolves without treatment or long-term consequences.

Health officials recommend that the best way cruise passengers can protect themselves from getting ill is to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Further information about Norovirus is available through the below links to the CDC and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/pub/norovirus/Norovirus.htm

http://www.cruising.org/regulatory/cruise-industry-policies/vessel-sanitation

Source:  princess.com

Disney Fantasy Officially Delivered

Disney Cruise Line took possession of its newest ship – Disney Fantasy – today from the Meyer Werft shipyard in a traditional maritime ceremony aboard the ship. The Meyer Werft flag was lowered, while the Disney Cruise Line flag was raised, transferring ownership from the shipbuilder to Disney.

This final milestone closes the book on the ship’s construction journey and signals her readiness to welcome guests on her maiden voyage, set for March 31, 2012, from Port Canaveral, Florida. The Disney Fantasy is the second of two newly designed Disney ships that take the family cruise experience to new heights and features many of the innovations found on her sister ship, Disney Dream.

“Today we celebrate the culmination of a wonderful partnership, as we take possession of the Disney Fantasy and prepare for the journey home to Florida. This ship is the result of the superb craftsmanship from the master shipbuilders at Meyer Werft and the innovation, imagination and ingenuity of the Disney team, who have partnered together so beautifully to bring this ship to life,” said Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line. “We are eagerly anticipating our guests, who will experience storytelling in enchanting new ways onboard the Disney Fantasy while making magical memories that will last a lifetime.”

Known for establishing the family cruise market when the business launched in 1998, Disney Cruise Line continues to build upon this success with a focus on the legacy and heritage of The Walt Disney Company’s most known assets – master storytelling, world-class entertainment and legendary guest service.

“The Disney Fantasy, along with her sister ship, the Disney Dream, are the largest ships that Meyer Werft has ever built,” said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft. “Over the last five years we have developed an outstanding partnership working with Disney, and together, we have seen two magnificent ships become reality. The collaboration among Disney Cruise Line, Meyer Werft and its suppliers has been exemplary.”

Meyer Werft and Disney first signed a contract to build two new ships in April of 2007. Shortly thereafter, planning for the design of the ships began and construction started on the Disney Dream, the first of the two new ships, with the first steel cutting on March 2, 2009. Since the recent completion of the ship’s float out and conveyance on the River Ems, the test-and-adjust period has been in full swing. The ship will remain in Bremerhaven for another week while additional crew members board, and supplies and provisions are loaded. The Disney Fantasy is scheduled to depart on Feb. 16 for its transatlantic voyage to the U.S., with an expected arrival to its homeport in Port Canaveral, Florida on March 6.

Captain Tom Forberg will officially take the helm of the Disney Fantasy for Disney Cruise Line. As part of the Disney Cruise Line ship construction team, Captain Forberg has been with the company for more than 15 years and was responsible for launching Disney’s first three ships, the Disney Dream, the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder.

For Valentine's Day, Norwegian Celebrates Romance At Sea

Surprises Boston Couple Who Met On Norwegian Spirit With A Dream Honeymoon

Miami - Feb 8, 2012 ---

This Valentine's Day, Norwegian Cruise Line is celebrating romance at sea by surprising a very special couple, Erin Picard and Todd O'Neil of Peabody, Mass., who fell in love on board Norwegian Spirit in 2010, with a dream honeymoon following their wedding this summer.

In 2010, Erin Picard was going through a very difficult time. She had just endured an extremely painful breakup and was caring for a sick grandparent, all while working tirelessly at three separate jobs as a registered nurse. Erin dedicated her life to making sure others were happy and comfortable, while silently she suffered through her own very emotional situations. To break free from it all, she and her best friend decided to take a cruise vacation on board Norwegian Spirit from Boston to Bermuda on September 10, 2010. Seven days after boarding Norwegian Spirit, Erin excitedly called her mother, Lee Bryant of New Hampshire, and exclaimed, "I met the man of her dreams on this cruise!"

Bryant recalls the phone call, "She went on to tell me how the accommodations were spectacular, and the food was amazing. She told me that the Norwegian staff was some of the nicest people she had ever met. She had had the time of her life and met her true love. Erin sounded more excited and happy than she had been her in a very long time."

Coincidentally, it was one of Norwegian's amazing team members that made this love connection happen. At the start of the cruise, O'Neil jokingly asked Bar Waiter Reynaldo "Rey" Atizado from the Philippines if he knew of any nice women on board. Rey, not skipping a beat, walked directly to Erin and her friend and introduced them to Todd and his friend, and that's where their love story began.

Two years later, Picard is marrying O'Neil, the man of her dreams and the couple couldn't be happier about it. To celebrate their incredible love story, Norwegian is sending Erin and Todd on a dream honeymoon to Europe on board Norwegian Spirit, the ship on which they met. They will visit five different countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey on Norwegian Spirit's unrivaled 12-Day Grand Mediterranean voyage from Barcelona to Venice, following their July 6, 2012 nuptials.

"We are so excited to be going back on board the ship where we met and to visit such romantic destinations in Europe," said Picard. "We wouldn't have been able to take a honeymoon right now, so we are so thankful and thrilled."

For others looking to find love on the high seas, Norwegian offers cruises to Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Panama Canal and more on board 11 Freestyle Cruising ships. Guests who make a new cruise reservation from now through March 31, 2012 on any of Norwegian's sailings will receive up to a 4-category upgrade fleet-wide, reduced deposits and electronic e-coupons with on-board savings of up to $400. Between February 14, 2012 and February 17, 2012, as part of Norwegian's DASH sale, guests will also receive up to a $250 on board credit, based on stateroom category booked.

For those sailing with their sweetheart, there are many ways to spoil your special someone on board. From Romantic dinners in Norwegian's signature French restaurant, Le Bistro, to a night of dancing in any of Norwegian's many bars and lounges, to intimate couples' massages in one of the line's relaxing spas, there is no better place to celebrate love than on board a Norwegian cruise.

Romance Packages to Fall in Love With
Norwegian takes the stress out of planning the perfect Valentine's Day celebration with two romance packages to choose from including:
The Romance Package: sparkling wine and strawberries in stateroom upon embarkation, a traditional spa pedicure and manicure for one, two 25-minute half-body Seven Seas Massages and tea service in stateroom. $249 per stateroom.
The Deluxe Romance Package: sparkling wine and strawberries in stateroom upon embarkation, choice of Exotic Frangipani Body Nourishing Wrap or Exotic Coconut and Milk Ritual Wrap for one, two 25-minute half-body Seven Seas Massages, tea service in stateroom, breakfast in bed, a keepsake portrait, and a romantic dinner for two with a complimentary bottle of wine in Norwegian's signature restaurant, Le Bistro. $329 per stateroom.

To celebrate romance at sea with a cruise for your Valentine, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit www.ncl.com.

Source:  ncl.com

Uniworld’s New River Saigon Starts Sailing on Mekong Rive

by Theresa Norton Masek

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ new ship, River Saigon, is now operating on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. Uniworld offers the 14-night “Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River” cruise and tour, which begins with two nights at the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The River Saigon offers 30 river-view staterooms for a maximum of 60 guests per sailing.

The itinerary includes Hanoi, Vietnam, and Cambodia’s Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, gateway to the legendary UNESCO Angkor Wat temples. The 13 included excursions are led by local experts, who guide groups of no more than 20 people. Excursions include viewing stone carvers at work and visits to local schools to learn about ancient customs such as Apsara dancing.

“The success of this program has been overwhelming, and we are so proud to be able to bring people to these amazing countries,” said Uniworld President Guy Young. “Because of the demand for travelers to want to experience these regions, we are going to launch another new ship, the River Orchid, in 2013.”

The 14-night cruise-tour operates includes a seven-night cruise between Kampong Cham in Cambodia and My Tho in Vietnam. For the land portion, guests spend seven nights in five-star hotels, including buffet breakfast, service charges, and porterage. Uniworld’s guests also receive private check-in with welcome drinks and in-room flowers and fruit platter. At the Victoria Angkor Hotel & Spa, each guest receives a monogrammed bathrobe to keep.

Source:  travelpulse.com

Cunard Royal Rendezvous to Celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee

Cunard Line will celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a unique Cunard Royal Rendezvous on June 5 2012, the final day of the Jubilee celebrations. Her Majesty has long been associated with Cunard, being the only person to have attended the naming of all three Cunard Elizabeths, beginning in 1938.

This will be the first time that the three ships of the Cunard fleet – the three largest Cunarders ever built – will have been seen arriving and departing together in formation at their home port of Southampton.

“Cunard is delighted to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in a way that will give everyone, especially our guests, a truly remarkable day that they will feel proud to talk about for years to come,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “We are thrilled to take part in such an historic occasion, marking the sixty glorious years of Her Majesty’s reign in a fitting, memorable and spectacular way,” Shanks continued.

Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 will approach the port soon after first light on Tuesday 5 June, sailing in single file up the Solent River, with a flotilla of small boats expected to welcome them in.

As Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria tie up at their berths, Queen Mary 2 will follow on, passing each ship in turn, with crew lining the foredeck of all three vessels, and the ships’ whistles sounding in salute of Her Majesty’s Jubilee.

Events will be happening throughout the day, to create both an outstanding guest experience and a fitting commemoration of Her Majesty’s reign. The celebrations will culminate in an evening spectacular where all three ships will be brought within close proximity of each other, and a fusillade of fireworks and special effects will light up the evening sky beyond them.

Queen Mary 2 will then lead Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria in single file down the Solent as all three ships set out on their celebratory Jubilee voyages.

Further details of the day’s events will be released in due course.

Source:  cunard.com

SS United States Redevelopment Project

SS United States Redevelopment Project, a division of Atlantic Logistics Agency, Inc.

The SS United States Redevelopment Project was established in September 2011 as a division of Atlantic Logistics Agency, Inc., the Philadelphia-based ship managers of the SS United States since 2003 and key consultants to the SS United States Conservancy since its founding. The Project is an historic effort to save and re-purpose one of America’s greatest maritime achievements.

SSUSRP is led by Managing Director Dan McSweeney, who departed as founding Executive Director of the Conservancy in order to focus on coordinating the business aspects of redeveloping the ship as a multi-purpose stationary attraction.

The SS United States is owned by the Conservancy, which has contracted SSUSRP to accomplish three key objectives: coordinate business development efforts, provide excellent ship management services, and assess remediation issues relevant to the vessel. In each of these important areas, SSUSRP will ensure the Conservancy’s mission, perspectives, and interests are protected and advanced.
SS United States: a unique, 21st century development opportunity

The effort to redevelop America’s great ship of state is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The project offers significant investment, development, and management prospects. As a major national and international icon, the SS United States has tremendous visitor allure. When placed on the waterfront of a major American city, the ship will become the perfect location for middle- and high-end hospitality amenities, conference and event space, retail shopping, and dining/entertainment offerings. The vessel offers 650,000 square feet of visitor space — roughly equivalent to the scale of the Chrysler Building — and additional footage for other uses.

This unique blend of attributes ensures the SS United States will become a profitable enterprise that creates several thousand jobs, generates tax revenues, and revitalizes the waterfront neighborhood in which it is sited.

Despite the ship’s outward appearance, recent feasibility studies have found her hull and superstructure to be in excellent condition, a testament to the care, materials, and craftsmanship that went into designing and constructing the vessel. She is stripped bare inside, a result of remediation work completed in the 1990s, and offers a blank slate for a designer/developer to refit the ship as a 21st century attraction that refers to a mid-20th century aesthetic.

The SS United States will lead a dignified and highly successful second life. Its unparalleled historical significance will blend seamlessly with current sensibilities to establish a one-of-a-kind, thoroughly contemporary travel destination and showcase for American leadership.

Celebrity Cruises' 2012 Transatlantic Sailings to Amplify Popular Activities Program

From Riedel comparative wine glass workshops to cooking competitions, from Rosetta Stone language lessons to iPhoto classes, from wellness workshops to pool volleyball with the ship’s officers, the popular Celebrity Life activity program offers a multitude of ways to enjoy a modern luxuryexperience on every Celebrity Cruises vacation. This year, the premium cruise brand is making its already rich Celebrity Life lineup even more robust on its transatlantic sailings and calling it “Celebrity Life Plus,” amplifying the “Taste,” “Learn,” “Revive” and “Play” themes known for exciting and entertaining vacationers year-round.

“Experienced cruisers know that transatlantic cruises offer an ideal opportunity to spend luxurious days at sea learning new things, exploring new tastes, recharging, or simply having fun,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations, Celebrity Cruises. “The introduction of Celebrity Life Plus takes everything our guests already love about these sailings and about Celebrity Life and marries the two, resulting in the most comprehensive, enriching, exciting and fun long cruises, offering incredible speakers and other exclusive activities. Never before have we had such a wide array of offerings and activities on one sailing.”

In a single transatlantic cruise, Celebrity Life Plus will offer cruisers as much immersion as a theme cruise, but while actual theme cruises focus on one area of interest, Celebrity Life Plus offers a robust breadth of activities focused on multiple themes.

Vacationers who wish to explore their love of food and wine will revel in the opportunity to hear from guest chefs and wine educators, who will present cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, book signings, food-and-wine pairing dinners and more, on each transatlantic cruise.

Those who wish to sharpen their mind will take pleasure in learning from dynamic speakers from Smithsonian Journeys, the program known for often unrivaled expertise that provides Celebrity’s destination lectures on many of its regular cruises throughout the year. Astronomy experts David Hughes and Steve Maran will be onboard select sailings, as will art history expert Allison Jessing and Mark Kaufman, an expert in the burgeoning science of life beyond Earth.

Additionally, former Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter and Hall of Fame professional basketball player Nancy Lieberman will share their experiences in the world of sports.

Additional special interest speakers will include naturalists, oceanographers and guest artists. The first of these will be the first at-sea appearance by the renowned palette knife artist Graham Denison, a master of contemporary impressionism whose work has been prominently featured by The Walt Disney Company and other leading consumer brands. Denison will be on the first 2012 spring transatlantic sailing painting live in a studio setting, offering guests an interactive class and hosting question-and-answer sessions. Guests with an interest in bringing out their own inner artist can participate in additional interactive classes led by master artists from Miami Beach’s ArtCenter / South Florida. Classes will include jewelry making, mosaics, drawing, Chinese brush painting and watercolor.

Vacationers who wish to use their time onboard to focus on their wellness will enjoy Celebrity Life’s special fitness programming; Celebrity will introduce the popular Latin and internationally inspired dance-fitness class “Zumba Fitness” into its Celebrity Life Plus line-up. The program has over 12 million followers in 125 countries. Celebrity Life Plus will offer two classes a day, led by Zumba instructors who are part of the ‘Zumba Instructor NetworkTM” and who hold licenses to teach specialty Zumba classes – Zumba Gold (for the active older adult) and Aqua Zumba, which Zumba calls “the ultimate pool party.”

The cruises that will feature Celebrity Life Plus are:
14-night voyage on Celebrity Solstice, departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida on April 15, 2012 and arriving in
     Barcelona, Spain on April 29
10-night cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, departing Miami, Florida on April 21, 2012 and arriving in
     Southampton, England on May 1
15-night cruise on Celebrity Constellation, departing Fort Lauderdale on May 5, 2012 and arriving in
     Amsterdam, Holland on May 20
14-night cruise on Celebrity Equinox, departing Fort Lauderdale on April 16, 2012 and arriving in Rome
     (Civitavecchia), Italy on April 30
 9-night cruise on Celebrity Silhouette, departing Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey on April 22, 2012
    and arriving in Rome (Civitavecchia) on May 1
13-night cruise on Celebrity Eclipse, departing Southampton on October 27, 2012 and arriving in Fort
    Lauderdale on November 9
14-night cruise on Celebrity Equinox, departing Rome (Civitavecchia) on November 26, 2012 and arriving
    in Fort Lauderdale on December 10
15-night cruise on Celebrity Constellation, departing Southampton on November 30, 2012 and arriving in
    Miami on December 16
15-night cruise on Celebrity Silhouette, departing Rome (Civitavecchia) on December 1, 2012 and arriving
     in Fort Lauderdale on December 16

Additional details are available at www.celebritycruises.com/celebritylifeplus. Select Celebrity Life Plus and Celebrity Life activities require a fee.

About Celebrity Cruises:
Celebrity Cruises’ iconic “X” is the mark of modern luxury, with its cool, contemporary design and warm spaces; dining experiences where the design of the venues is as important as the cuisine; and the amazing service that only Celebrity can provide, all created to provide an unmatchable experience for vacationers’ precious time. In addition to offering vacations visiting all continents, Celebrity also presents immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America. Celebrity's fleet of 10 ships represents the newest in the premium cruise category, with an additional Solstice Class ship, Celebrity Reflection, scheduled to join the fleet this fall. Celebrity Cruises is part of global vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL). For more information, dial 1-800-437-3111, visit www.celebritycruises.com, or call your travel agent. Follow the brand socially at www.facebook.com/celebritycruises.

Olympic medallist Sally Gunnell gives running a healthy boost

LONDON, 6 February 2012 –Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell is lending a hand – and her fast feet - to a new campaign spearheaded by Sport England to get more people involved in running.

Made possible by funding support from cruise line Royal Caribbean International and delivered in partnership with Run England, the new Royal Caribbean Runners groups are designed to encourage health and fitness in everyday life in this high profile year.

Sally Gunnell explains:

“There is simply no better time to get healthy than right now. Fitness has always played a key part in my life and I’m thrilled to be sharing this passion to help get people motivated and taking their first running steps. Getting involved is easy and whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a weekend warrior or a beginner looking to start your first run, the Royal Caribbean Runners groups are making now the time to do it.”

Supported by Royal Caribbean International and Sport England, the new running groups will see individuals take part in a 12 week programme designed to improve their health and fitness in a fun and supportive environment. Not just for hardcore fitness fanatics, the new running groups are all about growing grassroots participation in the sport and getting Londoners to see the many benefits that come from staying active in day-to-day life.

Anyone joining a new Royal Caribbean Runners group will receive goodies and incentives to aid motivation. Participants will receive a dedicated ‘Royal Caribbean Runners’ t-shirt on sign-up and those that complete the 12 week course will also receive a waterproof running jacket. Group leaders recruiting ten people or more into the new programme will receive an iPod Shuffle and, as an extra incentive, all leaders and runners will be entered into a prize draw to win a cruise for two people on board Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas in 2012, sailing directly out of Southampton.

Dominic Paul, Royal Caribbean International’s vice president and managing director, Northern Europe, UK and Ireland said:

“From sports courts to surf simulators, making investments that get people active has always been a key part of Royal Caribbean International’s business. Our ships are designed with fitness features in mind and because our guests have so much fun being active onboard we wanted to bring this to life - on land. After Sally enjoyed a cruise holiday with us, and raved about the fitness facilities onboard, we wanted to encourage more people to get active both onland and at sea. With Sally and Sport England’s help we’re taking our fitness focus one step further and hope to motivate both runners and those who have never run before to get and stay fit.”

Richard Lewis, Sport England’s Chair, added:

“Our aim is to build partnerships that will help us to grow and sustain participation in sport at the grassroots level. Royal Caribbean offers a huge range of sports activities on board their cruise ships and our relationship represents an extension of their commitment to encouraging active lifestyles. Royal Caribbean running groups are open to and can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of ability and we hope the support and motivation of others will inspire more people to take up the sport, building a lasting legacy beyond this year’s Games.”

The Royal Caribbean Runners groups are currently available inLondon. For more information and to find running groups in your area please visit www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/runners. All Royal Caribbean Runners groups are coordinated through Run England, the official England Athletics running project aimed to get the whole nation running. This includes training of leaders through UK Athletics for the Leadership in Running Fitness qualification, a fantastic benefit facilitated through the Run England programme.

Royal Caribbean International is the world’s most innovative cruise line and leads the way in the scope and range of facilities onboard its ships. Adrenalin filled onboard features include rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, running tracks, surf simulators, scuba diving pools and much, much more. Gyms onboard Royal Caribbean International ships are some of the best in the fitness world – on one ship alone there are over 158 fitness machines. Royal Caribbean International’s ships sail throughout the world, including fromUK ports of call.

Azamara Club Cruises shares the love with Valentine’s sale offer

Looking for the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift - but still want to save some money? Azamara Club Cruises has the answer.

Snap up one of 12 selected cruises aboard its shipsAzamara Quest and Azamara Journey between 13 February and 17 February 2012 and you’ll be in line for a host of on-board extras.

Additional goodies include $500 of on-board credit to spend how you like, a meal for two in one of the two speciality restaurants on the ship, plus a luxurious box of chocolate-covered strawberries.
Sailings featured in the promotion include:

· 10-night Adriatic cruise aboardAzamara Quest leading in at £2138 per person. Cruise departs Venice with ports of call including Kotor, Brindisi, Corfu and Capri. Departs August 2012

· 10-night Western Mediterranean cruise aboardAzamara Quest from £2032 per person from Barcelona. Ports of calls include Palma de Mallorca, Bonifacio, Rome (Civitavecchia) and Nice. Departs October 2012
· 16-night transatlantic cruise aboardAzamara Quest from £2131 per person, departing Malaga and calling at destinations including Lanzarote, Cape Verde, Recife and Rio de Janeiro. Departs December 2012.

All offers apply to selected sailings and selected departure points. All bookings must be made during the qualifying period (13 February – 17 February inclusive) and deposit paid by 20 February 2012.

For more information on Azamara Club Cruises, including the dedicated Valentine’s offers please visitwww.azamaraclubcruises.co.uk, call 0844 493 4016 or talk to your travel agent.

Azamara Club Cruises is a destination-immersive cruise line for travellers who want to not only see the places and cultures they visit, but to live them. The two intimate, 694-guest ships,Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, offer a boutique European hotel ambience with extraordinary service, fine cuisine and wines from around the world, while sailing to a host of destinations larger ships can't reach, with more overnight and late-night stays in every region.

Source:  azamaraclubcruises.co.uk

Fain: Concordia Won’t Affect Option for Second Newbuild

The dampening of cruise demand in the wake of the Jan. 13 Costa Concordia tragedy will not figure into the decision on whether Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.exercises an option for a second Project Sunshinenewbuild, said RCCL Chairman and CEO Richard Fain. The option expires at the end of this month.

In a conference call on earnings with cruise industry analysts, Fain reiterated that the negative impact from Concordia will most likely be short term. “It’s unlikely to play a significant factor in the decision in exercising the option. The long-term outlook is not different,” Fain said in response to a question from Robin Farley of UBS Investment Research.

The Project Sunshine order calls for one 158,000-ton, 4,100-passenger ship to be delivered in fall 2014 with an option for a second ship for spring 2015.

RCCL Chief Financial Officer Brian Rice said bookings fell by as much as 20 percent in the days after the Jan. 13 Concordia sinking, but in the past five days was down in the low to mid teens “with each day showing better performance.” Demand in North America “appears to be recovering steadily and was recently down in the high single digits.” In Europe—where the media coverage of Concordia remains high—demand remains more depressed, but “even there we’re seeing signs of recovery.”

Royal Caribbean International, which last month launched a major new advertising campaign, suspended activity following the incident but on Jan. 30 resumed full normal marketing efforts in the U.S.,” said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

During the call, Fain also noted a “milestone” for RCCL: “For the first time in our history, the majority of our business is now coming from customers outside the U.S. It is the culmination of a strategic shift started five years ago.” He said the U.S. market remains strong, but that “demand for our cruises and ships is growing at an even more dramatic rate abroad.”

New Greenland Whale Watching Tallship Voyages

led by Marine-life and Wildlife Polar Experts

What better way to encounter whales and explore the remote and spectacular Arctic wilderness of Western Greenland than on an expert-led Whale Safari?

From 7th – 14th June, Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist and polar expert Charlotte Caffrey, along with Biologist and Greenland wildlife expert, Thor Hjarsen, will be embarking on a new Disko Bay Whale Safari Sailing Voyage.

The emphasis of this voyage will be on searching for some of Greenland’s most fascinating marine species and in particular the Bowhead (Greenland Right) whale, which measures up to 20 metres in length and can be seen in large numbers in and around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Disko Bay.

Disko Bay is an area famed for harbouring the Jakobshavn Glacier - one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, moving up to 20 metres per day and producing around 10% of Greenland’s icebergs. Other whale species that one is likely to encounter in this area include minke, humpback, beluga and fin whales. With 24 hour sunlight at this time of year, the opportunities for whale and other wildlife encounters are greatly increased. The rich waters of Disko Bay attract an array of different Arctic birdlife, including long-tailed skuas, turnstones, grey phalaropes and a colony of over 10,000 breeding pairs of kittiwakes which can be observed both from on land and whilst cruising in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB).

On board a wonderful and newly-refurbished classic sailing vessel, passengers will be able to observe the prolific wildlife and magnificent glacial landscapes, explore Western Greenland’s Inuit culture and benefit from the knowledge of the expert onboard polar guides. Anchoring in remote locations will give passengers a true sense of what this wondrous Arctic region has to offer. Rigid inflatable boats will be used to access otherwise difficult to reach areas, whilst onshore treks will take passengers to the edge of beautiful lakes and welcoming hot springs and the summit of Avangnardlit, which promises breathtaking Arctic views over the Jakobshavn Fjord.

For further information about Aqua-Firma’s Greenland Voyages, please visit www.aqua-firma.com .
Source: expeditioncruising.com

Seabourn Takes Top Spots in Conde Nast Traveler Cruise Ship Rankings

Seabourn Odyssey Named Best Small Cruise Ship Two Years in a Row

SEATTLE, Feb. 6, 2012 For the second year in a row, Seabourn's intimate, luxury cruise ships sailed to the top of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious list of the world's 100 best cruise ships, based on scores achieved in the magazine's annual Readers' Choice poll. Seabourn's fleet dominated the survey, occupying five of the top seven spots. Once again, Seabourn Odyssey was the highest-rated small cruise ship, with Seabourn Pride coming in second. Seabourn Sojourn ranked fourth, and Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit rounded out the top seven. Seabourn Quest, which debuted to rave reviews in June of 2011, was not included in the poll but is a sister ship to the top rated Odyssey.

"These honors truly belong to Seabourn's hardworking crew," said Seabourn's president, Richard Meadows. "We're extremely proud of them, and we know that these rankings are a direct result of the exceptional way they care for our guests."

The list, published in the magazine's February issue, outlines the scores of each ship in a variety of categories, including service, itineraries, food and dining, activities, design and layout, and more. Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Legend received the highest scores in three categories: 97.1 for cabins, 98.8 for food/dining and 93.5 for design/layout, respectively.

In 2011, Seabourn completed a three-ship expansion, adding new vessels that garnered rave reviews and acclaim as "game-changers" for the luxury cruise segment. The expansion included the launch of Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009, Seabourn Sojourn in June 2010, and the new Seabourn Quest in June 2011. Each ship carries 450 guests, providing the highest ratio of space per guest in the industry and unmatched levels of personalized service from nearly one staff member per guest. Seabourn's fleet includes the line's original trio of 208-guest ships: Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend.

All six ships offer key elements that set Seabourn apart: spacious, thoughtfully appointed suites, many with verandas; superb dining in a choice of venues; open bars throughout the ship; fine wines poured at lunch and dinner; the aforementioned award-winning service and a relaxed, sociable atmosphere that makes guests feel right at home on board.

Seabourn's six-ship fleet circles the globe throughout the year, sailing to the world's most desirable destinations at their peak seasons. Cruises of seven days to World Cruises of more than 100 days visit hundreds of ports, including marquee cities and lesser-known yachting harbors and hideaways.

For more information on Seabourn's award-winning cruise vacations, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com.

Source:  prnewswire.com

MSC Cruises opens up new destinations in Guadeloupe and Martinique

With the introduction of the French Antilles as a new destination for the 2012-2013 winter season, and the prospect of a vast array of fascinating shore excursions, MSC Cruises has created a unique opportunity for guests to experience the very best of this idyllic region.

The 59,000-ton MSC Lirica features 780 cabins, a sophisticated and elegant decor, superb attention to detail in all areas, the finest Mediterranean and international cuisine and a dazzling selection of entertainment. The luxury cruise ship boasts 4 restaurants, 8 bars and lounges, the 1,000 m² MSC Aurea Spa, a running track, a mini golf course, numerous boutiques, a casino, a 700-seat theatre, a nightclub, and a children’s club.

On 30 November 2012 MSC Lirica will depart from Genoa, Italy for a 16-day/15-night cruise, arriving at her new homeport in Martinique just over two weeks later. MSC Lirica’s course will take her from the Mediterranean Sea through the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, with scheduled stops in Marseilles, France, Barcelona, Spain, Funchal, Portugal and, after five full days at sea, Bridgetown, Barbados. Scheduled stops then follow in Saint George in Grenada, Basseterre in Saint Kitts and Nevis and Castries in Saint Lucia, with MSC Lirica arriving in Fort-de-France in Martinique on 15 December 2012. With a total of 7 full days at sea, this cruise provides guests with the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the many impressive facilities on board the luxury ship.

From 15 December 2012 through to 16 February 2013, MSC Lirica has a full schedule of ten 7- day/8- night cruises, departing every Saturday from Fort-de-France, Martinique, and every Sunday from Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.

The French Antilles will say farewell to MSC Lirica on 23 February 2013, when she starts her 16-day/15-night return cruise from Fort-de-France in Martinique to Genoa in Italy. Sbreakingtravelnews.comcheduled stops are, Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, Castries, Saint Lucia, Funchal, Portugal, Malaga, Spain, Barcelona, Spain and Marseille, France.

Source: 

Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth Receives Regal Welcome in San Francisco

Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth was greeted by hundreds of fans during her inaugural visit to San Francisco yesterday. Coming from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on her 2012 World Cruise, her stop in the City by the Bay marked her first and only maiden call to the U.S. this year.

The youngest of Cunard’s renowned fleet, the newest Queen’s arrival was celebrated during a traditional maritime ceremony aboard, during which port officials and dignitaries exchanged decorative plaques with Captain Christopher Wells to commemorate the momentous visit.

Today marks a very special visit for Queen Elizabeth,” said Captain Christopher Wells. “This is the Queen’s only U.S. maiden call, and given Cunard’s storied history with San Francisco, we are pleased that now, our entire modern fleet has called on this treasured port.”Local executives who welcomed the ship included Doreen Woo Ho, president, San Francisco Port Commission; Tom Kiely, executive vice president, Tourism, San Francisco Travel; James R. Callahan, president & ceo, Nautilus International Holding Corporation; Captain Cynthia Stowe, U.S. Coast Guard; Catharine Hooper, port agent, Inchcape Shipping Services; and Kate McNally, communications officer, British Consulate General.

The city of San Francisco has long held historical significance for Cunard ships since 1942, when the original Queen Elizabeth visited as part of her war duties, and where she also underwent a refit. Later, in 1978, Queen Elizabeth 2 made her maiden call there, visiting a dozen times more in subsequent years. Five years ago, flagship Queen Mary 2 was enthusiastically received by hundreds who came out to welcome her during her 2007 inaugural visit; and Queen Victoria was also graciously embraced by the city during her 2010 maiden call.

“Cunard Line’s ships have long symbolized the special relationship between Britain and the U.S.,” said Kate McNally, communications officer, British Consulate General. “There are also deep ties and history between San Francisco and Cunard, and Queen Elizabeth’s visit marks another milestone in our 70-year rapport.”Named by Her Majesty The Queen in Southampton, England, in October 2010, Queen Elizabeth is the second largest Cunarder ever built, after Queen Mary 2. Cunard’s longtime relationship with Great Britain’s Royal Family is reflected throughout the ship, including a specially-commissioned portrait of Her Majesty The Queen.

“The Port of San Francisco is honored to welcome Queen Elizabeth to our waterfront, as we did for the other Cunard Line ships, Queen Mary 2 in 2007 and Queen Victoria in 2010,” said San Francisco Port Commission President Doreen Woo Ho. “Cunard is renowned for its impeccable service, fine dining and sophisticated adventure, and San Francisco is a world-class destination for cruise guests to enjoy . . . what a perfect combination!”

Continuing its enduring relationship with San Francisco, Cunard is pleased to be the Preferred Cruise Partner of the San Francisco Symphony’s 2012 Black & White Ball this June. As such, Cunard hosted San Francisco Symphony patrons at a private dinner in Queen Elizabeth’s acclaimed restaurant, The Verandah. Guests were treated to a special performance by two Symphony violinists during the evening.

From San Francisco, Queen Elizabeth continues on her 107-day World Cruise and will stop in Hawaii, cross the equator into American Samoa, then cruise the South Pacific to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. She will then sail the South China Sea to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and India, before crossing the Arabian Sea to stop in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt before heading back to Southampton, making stops in Greece, Italy, Monaco and Portugal along the way.
DOREEN WOO HO, PRESIDENT, SAN FRANCISCO PORT COMMISSION, PRESENTS A COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE TO CAPTAIN CHRISTOPHER WELLS DURING THE TRADITIONAL MAIDEN CALL CEREMONY IN THE YACHT CLUB ABOARD QUEEN ELIZABETH

Queen Elizabeth captured the world stage with her launch in 2010, quickly establishing her among the fleet. She also has been ranked among the top three “Best Large Resort Ships” in the 2012 Berlitz Complete Guide to Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships, sharing the honour alongside her sister ships. On board, guests savour a grand celebration which includes dressing up for glamourous evenings at Royal Nights themed balls, and enjoying Cunard’s signature amenities such as Champagne Afternoon Tea in the Garden Lounge, extraordinary dining experiences in the line’s renowned Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants, and in The Verandah, a French restaurant that pays tribute to the legendary Verandah Grills aboard the original Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary.
QUEEN ELIZABETH DEPARTS SAN FRANCISCO AFTER MAKING HER MAIDEN CALL LAST NIGHT, CONTINUING HER 107-DAY WORLD CRUISE EN ROUTE TO HAWAII.


For more information about Queen Elizabeth or to book a voyage, consult your Travel Agent, call toll-free 1-800-728-6273 or visit www.cunard.com.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral makes maiden call at the Port of Galveston

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 1,350-guest cruise ship Balmoral made her inaugural call at the Port of Galveston in the United States on 25th January 2012, during the first sector of her 89-night ‘Cruise to the New World’, which departed from Southampton on 5th January 2012.

Matt Grimes, Director of Planning for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:
“We are delighted to receive such a warm welcome at the Port of Galveston, on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ first voyage to the United States since February 2010. It is tremendously exciting for our guests to be able to visit such iconic attractions as Houston’s NASA Space Center, and this goes to show why we are renowned as one of the leading cruise lines for the breadth of our destinations and itineraries.”

After her first U.S. stop in Key West on 21st January 2012, Balmoral arrived at the ‘home of Jazz’, New Orleans – also a maiden call for Fred. Olsen – and then set sail for Galveston. During the visit, guests were able to take advantage of a wide range of evocative excursions, including an ‘Historic Galveston’ tour to explore Bishop’s Palace, the Railroad Museum, Moody Gardens, the Great Storm, the Ocean Star Off Shore Museum and NASA Space Center. Guests were also offered the opportunity to discover the many shopping and entertainment opportunities of the Historic Strand District.

Steve Cernak, Director for the Port of Galveston, said:
“The Port of Galveston is very pleased to welcome the M/V Balmoral to Galveston Island. This ship call provides the perfect opportunity to showcase our many sites and attractions.”
Balmoral’s ‘South America Grand Voyage’ has a different and novel itinerary, taking in parts of North America, as well as Central and South America. From Galveston, the ship is continuing to Montego Bay and Ocho Rios in Jamaica, before sailing to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador, and then onto Ecuador and Peru for a two-night stay in Callao (Lima). This cruise also visits several Chilean ports, the Falkland Islands, Uruguay, Argentina (Buenos Aires), and Brazil, a key focus of the cruise, which includes calls into Santos (for Sao Paolo), an overnight stay in Rio, then Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and Santarem in the Amazon. The return voyage is via the Cape Verde Islands and finally Madeira, returning to Southampton on 3rd April 2012.

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