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Azamara Quest Update

As the Azamara Quest sails on its way to Sandakan port, in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, information needed for family members on board:

A Foreign Office spokesperson, speaking about the Azamara Quest, said: "We are aware of the incident and our colleagues in Manila are liaising with the Philippines coastguard and RCI cruises.

"A consular team from the region will be sent to meet the ship when it docks to see what consular assistance we can provide."

Friends and family of passengers can find further information on the Azamara Quest Facebook page, their website or by contacting the Azamara Quest helpline in the US on +1 408 916 9001.

Carnival Triumph Briefly Held in Texas

As reported by journalist, Matt Curry of the Associated Press, a Carnival Cruise ship, The Carnival Triumph, was detained by local authorities. The ship with 2,700 passengers was allowed to sail on their five day cruise a few hours later when a private and mutual agreement had been reached.

A lawsuit filled on behalf of a German woman who lost her life in the recent Costa Concordia  accident is asking for changes in maritime law and the ship's safety procedures.

Where this will lead, I am not sure; however, all cruise lines immediately looked into their procedures to find possible flaws and are working over time to fill-in how they can implement changes to improve on their existing procedures.

Having been a crew member for over 27 years, I know well how our captains, officers and fellow crew members took the safety drills seriously while enforcing passengers to participate by getting their attention to take it seriously during the few minutes needed to demonstrate the ship's safety features.

Today, it goes without saying, the ships have gained momentum in size and offers a huge variety of options in order to give the public more and more choices in their vacation value.  Each of these new builds create circumstances to continuously keep up with safety procedures, of which I personally think they have done a good job with what they are working with.  The most difficult aspect that no one can predict, understand or know in advance is simply 'human error', which needs to be quickly dealt with when it happens.

The recent fires on both the Costa Allegra and Azamara Quest, shows that with calm, good communications and dedicated work by the crew, a situation can be addressed; but each and every situation will be different. Again, predictions cannot be done, each situation will be handled according to what is presented and how fast that situation will escalate. A well trained crew, indeed, is the key to be able to work fast no matter what  they face at any time, while calmness from the passengers will allow everyone to do their part.

To read more of the Carnival Triumph story in Galveston, Texas, click on:

Hebridean Island Cruises Becomes First Cruise Company to Raise Funds for Marine Conservation with New Charity Sea-Changers

In its 25th Anniversary year of cruises on the Hebridean Princess, Hebridean Island Cruises will be the first UK cruise company to provide their guests with the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards marine conservation.

A recommended donation of £20 for each booking will be requested as the booking is made (guests can donate more, if they prefer). Guests will not be under any obligation to make the donation, but all the donations made in this way will be collected by Hebridean Island Cruises and handed to Sea-Changers a new marine conservation charity specifically set up to establish partnerships of this kind.

100% of the money raised by Hebridean Island Cruises’ customers will be passed on to relevant marine conservation charities and projects, with no administration costs subtracted. Sea-Changers will distribute the money to a range of projects, within one of the following areas:
  • · Marine Reserves/Protected Marine Areas
  • · Direct Marine Clean Up Action
  • · Education, Campaigning and Awareness Raising
  • · Species Protection and Research
Ken Charleson, Sales and Marketing Director of Hebridean Island Cruises said:“The preservation of Hebridean Princess’ cruising environment and the marine life which it supports is of great importance to the company. We’re delighted to have formed this partnership in order to give our customers the opportunity to give something back to environment they enjoy aboard the Hebridean Princess.”

Helen Webb, Co-Founder of Sea-Changers said:“It’s great to be working with Hebridean and their customers to raise much needed funds. Our vision is to create a world where seas and shores are clean and healthy, marine species are protected and where, far from damaging the oceans, those who use the sea for travel or their leisure pursuits, positively contribute to the sustainability of the marine environment. Hebridean and their customers will be helping us to make that vision a reality.”

Highlights for more information as follows:
Specific to Hebridean Island Cruise:

1.   The agreement between Hebridean Island Cruises and Sea-Changers will initially stand for two years.
2.   The agreement has been announced in Hebridean Island Cruises 2013 brochure and donations will begin
      to be taken when booking starts for 2013 cruises.

About Sea-Changers:

1.   Sea-Changers is a charity with the mission of raising thousands of pounds for marine conservation charities, primarily in the UK. Registered Charity No. England and Wales No. 1142119.
2.   Sea-Changers seeks to achieve this through partnerships with commercial organisations that serve consumers who are accessing, enjoying or travelling via the sea.
3.   Our primary model is an opt-out donation, made as an addition to a customer’s bill. The business collects this money and hands it back to Sea-Changers, to be distributed to a range of marine conservation projects and charities.

About Hebridean island Cruises:

Featuring some fine tours ashore, the luxurious Hebridean Princess offers the highest standards of 5* accommodation, together with a level of service from an almost forgotten era.  Carrying just 50 guests and a dedicated crew of 38, Hebridean Princess has an enviable reputation for exceptional service. She has 30 spacious, elegant and well-appointed cabins, 10 designated especially for the single traveller.

Sea-Changers Contacts:

Further information about Sea-Changers can be found
For further information, please contact:
Helen Webb, Co-Founder
Tel:      07909 897867

Azamara Quest Puts Out Fire

On Saturday, March 31, 2012, the Azamara Quest sustained damages when a fire broke out in her engine room.  Five Crew members were reported as having suffered smoke inhalation while one crew member was in serious condition.

The Azamara Quest was sailing in Philippine waters sailing towards Malaysia with approximately 1000 passengers and crew.

No passengers were involved or injured in this incident.  Though the rest of the cruise has been canceled, the cruise line is giving a full refund and future cruise offers and vouchers for a new cruise.  To read detailed information concerning this incident, click on:

Firework display opens Kiel’s cruise shipping season -

Press Release

Kiel, March 29, 2012: The Port of Kiel opens its 2012 cruise shipping season on Saturday, March 31st.With a firework display to see her off, this year’s first guest, “AIDAcara” will leave the port’s Ostseekai Terminal around 1700 for the Norwegian fiords. Dr Dirk Claus, Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co.KG), said: “we are well prepared and looking forward to the new season, which will, once again, be longer than last year.It won’t be long before cruise ships are sailing in northern Europe the whole year round.” This year’s season will last until mid December and, during it, 26 different cruise ships are registered to call a total of 137 times. The most frequent guests will be the vessels of shipping companies AIDA, Costa, MSC and TUI Cruises, which, like the ships of many well-known classic German travel companies, regularly call at Kiel to exchange passengers. For the first time three ships in the MSC Crociere fleet – “MSC Magnifica”, “MSC Poesia” and “MSC Lirica” will call at Kiel. During the Kieler Woche between June 16th and 24th eleven cruise ships will visit Kiel fourteen times, along with the “Star Flyer” under full sail. This year no fewer than eight cruise ships will call at Kiel for the first time, among them Cunard’s “Queen Elizabeth” which is expected at the Ostseekai Terminal on July 24th.

Regular maintenance and overhaul work on gangways and operational areas was all completed punctually at the Ostseekai Terminal in time for the start of the new season. One new feature is that the terminal facility is now eco-powered – meaning that its electricity is 100% generated by water.In addition the waste disposal system has been adapted so that ships can now offload paper, plastic and residual waste separately.“This is a step in the right direction”, said Dirk Claus.“We are also working with our partners to provide the ships of the future with shore-based electric power.” As far as service is concerned Kiel has for many years set great store by the best handling quality available for ships and passengers.Efforts like these, made by all the companies involved in ship handling in the Port of Kiel, have just been acknowledged at the world’s biggest trade fair of its kind, Cruise Shipping Miami, with no fewer than three awards from the trade publication “Cruise-Inside”. The magazine voted Kiel the best in the categories “Most efficient Terminal Operation”, “Best customer-oriented Port” and “Most efficient Port Services”. Dirk Claus said “our efforts are winning national as well as international recognition. Kiel’s job now is to expand its capacities by creating a third terminal berth for big cruise ships”.

Berth No. 1 in Kiel’s Ostuferhafen will be extended to do just that, so that next year it will be ready to handle cruise ships of the 300 m category. The terminal facility has 395 m of quayside and has all the amenities required to process cruise ships including a handling building big enough to process passengers and luggage.Still primarily a start and end port for cruises, Kiel is also gaining importance as a port of call for day excursions.“The number of ships calling at Kiel with international passengers on board, will rise steeply this year”, said Dirk Claus. “Our efforts to market tourist destinations in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein are beginning to bear fruit.Among the ships calling at Kiel this year as part of ongoing cruises are, for example, Holland-America Line’s “Eurodam” and “Rotterdam” as well as “Saga Ruby”.New to Kiel is the “Thomson Spirit” while Fred Olsen’s “Black Watch”, although a regular visitor to the port, will call this year for the first time during an Advent cruise.This year’s cruise shipping season in Kiel ends later than in previous years – on December 15th to be exact - when the Phoenix Seereisen cruise ship “Amadea” leaves the Norwegenkai Terminal.


Holland America Line & Seabourn Named to 2012 World's Most Ethical Companies List

Cruise lines earn prestigious Ethics Inside® Certification for 2012-2013 from Ethisphere Institute

SEATTLE, March 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Holland America Line and Seabourn have both been recognized as one of 2012 World's Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute, the leading business ethics think-tank.

This is the first year that the companies have been honored for promoting the highest of ethical standards. Out of a record number of nominations for the award, Holland America Line and Seabourn secured their spots on the list by implementing and maintaining upright business practices and initiatives that are instrumental to each company's success, benefit the community and raise the bar for ethical standards within the industry.

The World's Most Ethical Company awards come on the heels of Holland America Line and Seabourn earning the coveted Ethics Inside® Certification from the Ethisphere Institute in December. Both cruise lines completed the certification process in 2011 and were awarded certification for 2012-2013. Holland America Line and Seabourn's leading compliance and ethics program and environmental stewardship were two of several noteworthy components of their Ethics Inside Certification.

Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer Kelly Clark accepted the 2012 World's Most Ethical Companies awards on behalf of Holland America Line and Seabourn at an event in New York on March 15. "This is an incredible honor," Clark said, "particularly because we're the first company in our industry to be named to the World's Most Ethical Companies list." Clark explained that Holland America Line and Seabourn were nominated for the award by Corpedia, a leader in governance, risk and compliance education that's a strategic partner of the Ethisphere Institute. "We received an extremely high score for a first-time submission when we applied for Ethics Inside Certification," Clark said. "Corpedia was impressed enough to submit our name for the World's Most Ethical Companies award. To be recognized with these back-to-back honors is a reflection of our commitment to ethics."

"This distinction is founded not only on the strength of Holland America Line and Seabourn's current ethics and compliance programs, but on the organization's continuing efforts to improve. Holland America Line and Seabourn are also recognized for their strong emphasis on workplace health and safety, community engagement and going beyond basic environmental compliance with active support of marine environment and biodiversity. A great example of industry leadership is a software package to prevent whale strikes by ships that Holland America Line developed and makes available to the entire shipping industry free of charge," said Robert Leffel, director of Compliance Advisory Services for Corpedia, a licensed Ethisphere Institute credentialing partner.

The method for selecting World's Most Ethical Company winners includes reviewing codes of ethics, litigation and regulatory infraction histories; evaluating the investment in innovation and sustainable business practices; looking at activities designed to improve corporate citizenship; and studying nominations from senior executives, industry peers, suppliers and customers.

This is the sixth year Ethisphere has published the World's Most Ethical Company rankings. Ethisphere reviewed hundreds of companies and evaluated a record number of applications utilizing its propriety methodology through in-depth research and multi-step analysis, naming the companies that surpassed their industry peers to this year's World's Most Ethical Companies list. The 2012 list features companies in more than three dozen industries, including 40 companies headquartered outside the United States.

Read about the methodology and view the complete list of the 2012 World's Most Ethical Companies at

Ethisphere, a provider of independent verification of corporate ethics and compliance programs, awards Ethics Inside Certification exclusively to companies that have implemented adequate standards, systems and programs to reasonably prevent compliance failures and ethical breakdowns, and can also demonstrate the existence of a superior employee and leadership culture that promoting ethical business practices.

Ethisphere's licensed credentialing partners look at more than 100 separate criteria during the Ethics Inside Certification process, including corporate citizenship and responsibility; overall compliance and ethics program; organizational health and culture of ethics; corporate governance; and regulatory history. No company is expected to excel in all criteria areas — yet the aggregate score must meet or exceed a level at which ethical behavior becomes the core expectation, fundamental compliance systems are in place, tone from the top is clear and the company's actions bear unmistakable signs of good corporate citizenship. More information about Ethics Inside Certification is available at

Information on Holland America's sustainability initiatives can be found at For information about Holland America's cruises and cruisetours, visit the website, contact a travel professional, or call 1-877-SAIL-HAL ( 1-877-724-5425 ). For more information on Seabourn's award-winning cruise vacations, contact a travel agent, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit .

Ethisphere Media Contact:
Jennifer Mitchell, Marketing & Media Director
800.369.7583 ext 7

About Ethisphere Institute
The research-based Ethisphere Institute is a leading international think tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability. Ethisphere Magazine, which publishes the globally-recognized World's Most Ethical Companies ranking, is the quarterly publication of the Institute. Ethisphere provides the only third-party verifications of compliance programs and ethical cultures that include: Ethics Inside Certification, Compliance Leader Verification and Anti-Corruption Program Verification. The Institute's premier membership group, the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance, is a business ethics forum that includes more than 100 leading corporations, universities and institutions that collectively leverage their experience, expertise and innovative ways to address emerging compliance challenges. More information on the Ethisphere Institute, including ranking projects and membership, can be found at

About Holland America Line and Seabourn
[divisions of Carnival Corporation and plc (NYSE: CCL and CUK)]
Holland America Line's fleet of 15 ships offers more than 500 cruises annually to 354 ports in 98 countries, territories or dependencies. Two- to 100-plus day itineraries visit all seven continents and highlights include Antarctica, South America,Australia/New Zealand, South Pacific and Asia voyages; a round-the-world Grand World Voyage and Grand Voyages that circumnavigate select continents; as well as popular sailings to ports in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, throughout Europe and Panama Canal.

Fleetwide, the company features Signature of Excellence enhancements, a commitment totaling more than $525 million, that showcase the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine — a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen where more than 60 celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes — Explorations Cafe powered by The New York Times, Digital Workshop powered by Windows, teens-only activity areas, Club HAL kids activity area, and all new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top Mariner's Dream Beds.

Seabourn is consistently ranked among the world's top travel choices by professional critics and the discerning readers of prestigious travel publications such as Departures, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. Its stylish, distinctive cruising vacations are renowned for: six intimate ships with just 104 or 225 suites; unique itineraries visiting must-see cities and hidden gems where larger ships cannot follow; Intuitive, gracious service provided by a staff passionate about pleasing our guests; spacious all-suite accommodations with sweeping ocean views - many with verandas; gourmet dining experiences as fine as the best restaurants anywhere; open bars throughout the ship and fine wines poured with lunch and dinner.

World's Leading Cruise Lines
Holland America Line and Seabourn are proud members of World's Leading Cruise Lines which supports the Ocean Conservation & Tourism Alliance, dedicated to education and promotion of best practices for protecting the marine environment. This exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World's Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at


Aurora Expeditions - Pushing the boundaries of Arctic Exploration

This year Aurora Expeditions will be visiting Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land on its 14 day 'Voyage to the End of the Earth' cruise, departing from Murmansk on 8th September. With only one other voyage being run to this region in 2012, Aurora Expeditions is the only 'small ship' tour operator visiting this undiscovered region of the Arctic in 2012.
An area shrouded in secrecy, the ability to visit the far reaches of the Russian Arctic is almost impossible to most. Aurora Expeditions Akademik Shokalskiy carries a maximum of 54 passengers, providing intimate exploration of this region. The Novaya Zemlya archipelago comprises one large island and many small, stretching 1000km in an elongated crescent between the Barents and Kara seas. A veritable feast of wildlife and history, it is the easternmost point in Europe and remains one of Russia's most restricted regions; which is why so few operators have permission to travel there. Whereas, Franz Josef Land is an archipelago of 191 ice covered islands, the planet's last major landmass to be discovered and the modern day realm of the polar bear.
The remote northerly location of these stunning archipelagos supports diverse and prolific wildlife, reinforced by the creation of national parks in 2009. The privileged few who take this voyage will explore the shore and Zodiac cruise around these islands of fascinating beauty and history, witnessing spectacular displays of bird and wildlife. Kayaking is also available.
Highlights of the Voyage 
  • · Exclusive photography mentoring led by acclaimed photographer Martin Bailey click here for more information.
  • · A true wildlife expedition: seek out the rarest bird species of the Arctic such as the Ross´gull and ivory gulls; Greenland whales, narwhals, polar bears and walruses.
  • · Explore rarely visited historic sites, explorers' and hunters' huts and camps.
  • · Encounter stunning sunsets and a chance of seeing the Northern Lights
Why travel with Aurora Expeditions?
  • · For nearly 21 years, Aurora Expeditions have pioneered small group adventures to remote coastlines.
  • · A passion for adventure – Each voyage aims to provide guests with the experience of a lifetime.
  • · Taking a maximum of 54 passengers, the expert team seek out the best landing opportunities to ensure passengers maximise their time in the wilderness.
  • · Flexible itineraries, numerous daily Zodiac landings, 24hr open bridge policy and fascinating educational lectures all contribute to ensuring the voyage of a lifetime.  
Prices start from US$8,890 per person. Voyage inclusions: Transfer from Murmansk airport to hotel, overnight accommodation in Murmansk, city tour and transfer to ship and transfer from ship to Murmansk airport
For more information on this spectacular voyage, please click here 

Navy Sinks Sydney’s Big Ship Dreams

Cruise Critic's Sue Bryant announces, quote . . ."Sydney's hopes to expand its cruise appeal by allowing large ships to share the city's Garden Island dock with the Australian Navy have been scuppered, to the disappointment of cruise liners.

According to newspaper The Australian, an independent review by former Defence Department Secretary Dr Allan Hawke has found the proposal for big ships to share the naval base is "essentially incompatible" with the future needs of the navy."

Read more of Sue Bryant's article and infomation at:

Silversea Announces New Appointment in Corporate and Incentive Sales

Silversea Cruises is pleased to announce the appointment of Cecilia S. Blevins to the position of corporate and incentive sales director.

Blevins will officially join Silversea on April 2, reporting to Sean J. Mahoney, global vice president of corporate and incentive sales. Based at the company's Fort Lauderdale office, she will be responsible for developing the line's corporate and incentive business and strengthening relationships with meeting and incentive travel partners throughout parts of the United States and all of Latin America.

"We're delighted to welcome Cecilia to our company," said Mahoney. "Her extensive corporate and incentive sales experience within the cruise industry makes her an excellent addition to the Silversea team."

Prior to joining Silversea, Blevins held management positions in corporate and incentive sales at Windstar Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line. Her career of over 25 years in the travel industry encompasses 17 years specializing in the meeting and incentive market. She received a bachelor of science degree in business management from the University of Tampa. She is an active member of MPI, FICP and SITE.

"I'm thrilled to be joining such a prestigious company," said Blevins. "I have long admired Silversea's commitment to excellence. I look forward to working with the corporate and incentive team and building on their achievements."


Cruise Update at Posidonia 2012 Greece

A Cruise Update at Posidonia 2012

March 30th, 2012

Following rapid developments in Greece regarding the country’s cruise policies and infrastructure, a Cruise Update Seminar will take place within the framework of Posidonia 2012.

The Cruise Update will evaluate what progress and policy improvements have taken place in Greece since the inaugural Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum of June 2011. In addition, a promising new trend for cruise home porting in regional Greek ports, such as Heraklion, Rhodes and Corfu will be examined, as well as port privatization as a vehicle for attracting cruise industry investments.

Greece is currently in the process of streamlining its legislation and procedures with regard to private sector involvement in port infrastructure projects, some of which have already been announced.

The Cruise Update will take place on Wednesday 6 June, during Posidonia 2012, within the Posidonia venue.

P and O Cruise UK to offer Four Day Balcony Giveaway

March 30th, 2012

P&O Cruises is offering free balcony cabin upgrades for new bookings made on a selection of 22 spring and summer sailings. The offer is available for four days from March 30 and can be booked until midnight on April 2, 2012.

All cruises in the promotion depart from Southampton and are between seven to 20 nights in duration. Destinations include the Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean, Baltic, Fjords, Spain and France, and cruises are on Adonia, Aurora, Azura, Oceana and Ventura.

In the promotion, balcony cabins are available from £709 per person (the normal price for an inside cabin) for a seven night cruise on board Azura to La Coruna, Bilbao, La Rochelle and St. Peter Port (A213), departing June 9, 2012.

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.
Terms and conditions
The upgrade offer is subject to availability on the stated cruises and confined to bookings for specific cabin grades: OD-OB on Adonia (with resulting upgrades to JF-JA cabins), OE-OA on Arcadia (with resulting upgrades to DG-DA cabins), OD, OB & OA on Aurora (with resulting upgrades to JA-IA cabins), OG-OA on Azura and Ventura (with resulting upgrades to JF-JA cabins) and OD & OB on Oceana (with resulting upgrades to JB-JA cabins). Terms of the upgrade for the fares above are as follows: Adonia – book a OD grade cabin, upgrade to JF grade Balcony cabin, Arcadia – book a OE grade cabin, upgrade to DG grade Balcony cabin, Azura and Ventura – book an OG grade inside cabin, upgrade to JF grade balcony cabin; Aurora – book a OD grade inside cabin, upgrade to a JA grade balcony cabin; Oceana – book a OD grade cabin, upgrade to JB balcony cabin.


IJmuiden's new terminal opens on May 4

Construction of IJmuiden’s 16,000m2 Felison Cruise Terminal is on target for completion for the opening ceremony on May 4.

MSC Cruises’ MSC Opera will be the first to call and the company’s chief executive officer Pierfrancesco Vago will officiate at the ceremony. Both MSC Opera nd MSC Lirica will be making frequent use of the new terminal.

The terminal will allow for a substantial increase in capacity. Larger vessels will be able to dock - 295m long - and more passengers - about 2,000 - can be handled than in the current Felison Terminal (handling cruise and ferry traffic) which is situated further inland.

With this addition the IJmond port will be able to handle two large ships simultaneously. Simulations show both docks are prepared for the trials of Dutch weather, enabling safe access and operations while undergoing wind speeds of up to 8 on the Beaufort scale.

The terminal is on two floors. The first houses a waiting room and the ground check-in and luggage handling facilities as well as an information desk and souvenir shop.

In front of the terminal there will be a ‘kiss & ride’ strip as well as a large square from which buses will shuttle to and from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam and other destinations. A large parking lot has been constructed for homeporting passengers.

More than 40 calls are scheduled at the new terminal this year.


Bluegrass Central Announces Inaugural Sailing of Mountain Song at Sea

As quoted from the Offical Bluegrass website . . .

"The Only Bluegrass Festival Experience on the Ocean

Opens for Pre-Sale Sign-ups March 27, 2002

The first ever Bluegrass Festival at sea will set sail on board the Norwegian Sky from Miami to the Bahamas on February 1, 2013. Mountain Song Productions and Steep Canyon Rangers have partnered with Sixthman to present the inaugural voyage of Mountain Song at Sea, the only bluegrass festival experience on the ocean.

Guests will experience Freestyle Cruising with more than a dozen bluegrass, folk and acoustic artists, including The David Grisman Sextet, Del McCoury Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Tim O’Brien & Bryan Sutton, The Kruger Brothers, Peter Rowan, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, The Travelin’ McCourys, Shannon Whitworth, Della Mae, Town Mountain and more.
“This floating festival is a whole new way to experience bluegrass,” said John Felty of Mountain Song Productions. “We are very excited to launch the inaugural sailing of Mountain Song at Sea and bring together great artists and like-minded fans for an unforgettable experience.”"

Find more details and information on how to book for this super adventure of fabulous entertainement while at sea onboard the Norwegian sky, go to Bluegrass Official website at: 


Paul Gauguin Cruises Offers Youth Program of Jacques Cousteau

Watersports Marina

Watersports are a highlight of the Paul Gauguin Cruises' experience. Our ships' small size allow for them to navigate in shallow lagoons and narrow channels where larger ships may not sail. On the m/s Paul Gauguin, with the specially designed retractable watersports platform, guests may descend to sea level where they can conveniently hop aboard a windsurfer, launch a kayak, or set out for a SCUBA diving expedition. A SCUBA certification program is offered on The Gauguin. The m/v Tere Moana offers a watersports platform for guest activities such as paddle boarding.
Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program
(m/s Paul Gauguin)
Explorer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau is committed to the belief that the survival of the world’s oceans depends on capturing the imagination at a young age. In order to ensure that conservation remains a priority among future generations, he created the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program under the auspices of the Ocean Futures Society.

This unique, groundbreaking program introduces young travelers (ages 9 to 17) to the extraordinary natural wonders of French Polynesia through direct, hands-on, interactive experiences with marine and island ecosystems. Young Ambassadors explore coral reefs, hike rainforest trails, and visit marae(ancient Polynesian temples). They also learn how black pearls and vanilla are cultivated, how volcanic islands become coral atolls, and how to paddle an outrigger canoe. Parents are encouraged to join children on eco-excursions and other activities aboard and ashore. The Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program is available on all cruises from June through August, as well as select holiday sailings for a nominal fee of $299 per child.

Jean-Michel Cousteau

The son of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, whose television program “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” brought an awareness of marine life to millions, Jean-Michel Cousteau has achieved a distinguished career as a respected oceanographer and environmentalist in his own right.

Mr. Cousteau was introduced to the wonders of the deep at the age of seven, when he was thrown overboard wearing new diving apparatus his father had helped to develop: SCUBA gear. Instead of being afraid, the younger Cousteau was fascinated by the majesty and mystery of what he saw.

He has since devoted his life to sharing that wonder with others. In addition to serving for 20 years as executive vice president of the Cousteau Society, his father’s nonprofit organization, Mr. Cousteau also struck out on his own to achieve these career milestones:  
  • · 1973: An architect by training, he founded Living Design, an architectural firm that      specialized in marine architecture.
  • · 1973: He established Project Ocean Search, an educational field-study program.
  • · 1977: He founded the nonprofit Jean-Michel Cousteau Institute, dedicated to oceanographic work.
  • · 1989: He began writing for the Los Angeles Times, a column that has since been syndicated in 60 newspapers around the world.
  • · 1993: Mr. Cousteau left the Cousteau Society to begin producing environmental films, a body of work that has since earned Emmy, Peabody, 7 d’Or, and the Cable Ace Awards.
  • · 1999: The Ocean Futures Society is established, with Mr. Cousteau as president and chairman of the board.
The m/s Paul Gauguin is honored to welcome Mr. Cousteau aboard our May 23 and July 11, 2012, cruises to the Society Islands & Tuamotus, the November 20, 2012, sailing to Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands, and the December 1, 2012, sailing to the Marquesas & Society Islands. As our special guest, he will offer a series of lectures with videos of his work in the world’s oceans, as well as accompany several dives from the ship.
Ocean Futures Society Program
The thread running throughout his astonishing career has been Mr. Cousteau’s passion for sharing with others an appreciation for the ocean and the importance of protecting it. In 1999, he founded the Ocean Futures Society, whose mission is to explore the world’s oceans, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean’s vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet. Mr. Cousteau serves as president and chairman of the board. The Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program is available on all cruises from June through August 2012 and select holiday sailings for a nominal fee of $299 per child.

Small Ship and Yacht Cruise Charters Can Save up to 50 Percent Off Regular Per Person Cruise Rates

I recently read this very interesting article about saving money on smaller adventure cruises rather than going on the mainstream vessels of today.   With the wide range of cruising available to passengers today from river cruises, expeditions, private and mega-ships, there are plenty of options and more than aple time to try them all.  

As quoted from Widness and Wiggins . . .

"The active travel company securing matches between adventure-seeking clients and a treasure trove of small, expedition ships, AdventureSmith Explorations (, also specializes in small ship and private yacht charters to such destinations as Alaska, Baja, Costa Rica, Panama, Galapagos, Mediterranean and Antarctica.

Todd Smith, founder, explained that on a private cruise charter groups select their own travel dates, traveling companions and itineraries, plus a full yacht charter (for 12 to 20 or 20 to 48 guests) can mean savings of up to 50 percent off of regular per person cruise rates. Larger small ships accommodate groups of between 48 and 148 passengers making them ideal for big family reunions and special celebrations.

Helpful information on chartering a small ship or yacht can be found online at:

Typically charters are planned and contracted at least one year in advance of the cruise departure date, but as long as space is available a small ship can still be chartered most anytime. Off season charters garner the greatest savings while high season dates should be secured a year or more in advance. . . "

To read more and learn about other options of cruising, go to:

Princess Cruises Brand to Enter Japanese Market with Largest Deployment Ever by a Global Cruise Line

More than 18,000 Passengers Expected to Cruise Aboard Sun Princess April to July 2013
Formation of Carnival Japan Underscores Commitment to Growing Local Cruise Market

Responding to the growing interest for cruising in Japan,Carnival Corporation & plc is introducing the largest deployment ever by a global cruise line in the Japanese market when it brings Sun Princess to Japan for a spring to summer season of cruising in April 2013.

One of the world's leading cruise line brands, Princess Cruises, is launching an 87-day program featuring a total of nine cruises on seven different itineraries operating April through July of next year from both Yokohama and Kobe. The cruises will be from nine to 12 days in length.

The unique itineraries have been customized for the Japanese vacation market, and will launch with the most significant national holiday of Golden Week, a nine-day cruise on April 27, 2013 which includes two days in Hakata during the renowned Dontaku Festival.

Underscoring the importance of Japan in the growing worldwide cruise market, Carnival Japan, Inc. has been formed to sell the Princess Cruises brand and certain other Carnival brands in Japan, withPrincess Cruises being the brand to launch this largest cruise season in the Japanese market. Carnival Japan, Inc. is part of Carnival Corporation & plc, a global cruise company and one of the largest vacation companies in the world. Carnival Japan will be based in Tokyo and overseen by Eiko Kijima, who will be on the board of directors of Carnival Japan.

"Our new Japan deployment is three times larger than that of any competitive international cruise program, with superior itineraries specifically designed for the Japanese market," said Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises president and chief executive officer. "It's the very first time a global cruise line is offering a full season of cruises from April to July designed specifically for passengers from Japan. We believe that our unique itineraries and onboard experience will prove extremely popular and will help to introduce cruise vacations to a growing number of Japanese vacationers."

Approximately 18,000 passengers are expected to be carried during this first season of cruising in Japan.

Highlights of other itineraries include overnight stays at cities with popular annual festivals, destinations known for their natural hot springs, northern ports of Japan and foreign ports in Korea and Taiwan, among others.

The 2013 Japan homeport program features the following cruises:

9-day Golden Week: Departs April 27, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Hiroshima (overnight); Nagasaki; Busan, South Korea, and Hakata (overnight).

12-day Round Japan with Festivals: Departs May 6, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Aomori, Busan, Kanazawa (overnight), Sakaiminato, Maizuru, and Nagoya.

9-day Korea & Taiwan: Departs May 18, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama and June 23, 2013 sailing from Yokohama to Kobe, with calls at Busan and Cheju, South Korea; and Kaohsiung and Taipei, Taiwan.

9-day Round Japan with Onsens: Departs May 27, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Nagoya, Kobe, scenic cruising of Japan Inland Sea, Matsuyama, Busan, Kagoshima and Beppu.

9-day Kyushu & Korea: Departs June 5, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Koshi, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Cheju, Busan and Hiroshima.

9-day Hokkaido & Russia: Departs June 14 and July 14, 2013 sailing roundtrip from Yokohama with calls at Kushiro, scenic cruising of Shiretoko Peninsula; Korsakov, Russia; Otaru, Hakodate and Aomori.

12-day Round Japan: Departs July 2, 2013 sailing from Kobe (overnight) to Yokohama with scenic cruising of Japan Inland Sea and calls at Hiroshima (overnight), Busan, Sakaiminato, Maizuru, Kanazawa, Aomori and Sapporo.

Pricing for these cruises starts at 124,000 yen per person, double occupancy for a nine-day sailing.

The cruise experience will be substantially the same as the Princess Cruises product offered around the world, providing an impressive array of dining and entertainment options in addition to the line's signature innovations such as its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat.

However modifications will be made including introducing key passenger-facing positions which will be filled by Japanese-speaking crew members. Dining room menus will offer international Princess cuisine while additional offerings will cater to Japanese tastes, and an a la carte sushi bar will be opened. A specially designed enrichment program will include an expert lecture series on art, culture and history. Other amenities such as the shopping selection and spa treatments will also be tailored to Japanese preferences, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information will be translated into Japanese.

An extensive array of shore excursions will be available to complement the itineraries so that Sun Princess passengers can experience all the ports have to offer.

The 77,000-ton Sun Princess carries 2,022 passengers and features a high number of staterooms with private balconies, Lotus Spa, steakhouse, wine bar, patisserie, pizzeria, boutiques, and internet cafe among other amenities.

This new season of cruises will open for sale on April 16, 2012 and the sailings, along with all other cruises sold in the Japan market for Princess' worldwide destinations, will be sold in Japanese Yen.

In conjunction with this new program, the Princess Cruises brand will also launch a Japanese language version of its travel agent booking tool called POLAR Online, enabling travel agents in Japan to book cruises easily and conveniently. The user-friendly 24/7 booking system, which is the number one booking tool for Princess cruises worldwide, is a real-time travel agent reservations portal featuring an easy-to-navigate program, rich with information and functionality.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS ( 1-800-774-6237 ), or by visiting the company's website at

About Princess Cruises:

One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 16 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service. A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess carries 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from seven to 107 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE:CCL; NYSE:CUK).

Princess Cruises is a proud member of World's Leading Cruise Lines. Our exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World's Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at

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Cruise Line Executives Discuss Prospects for the Year, Concordia

Marilyn Green from Travel Age West has written a very promising and positive article about the praise travel agents deserve in their efforts to keep the situation positive for the cruising industry.

There is no question that the industry has had their fair share of hits and misses; really no different than other forms of transportation whether it be planes, trains or buses; but there is a resilience the cruise industry has that works well with the general public. There will always be their curiosity of experiencing this kind of vacation, as well as, their need to get the best value for their money spent.

As quoted from Marilyn Green, the executives in the industry feel . . .

"At Cruise Shipping Miami’s State of the Industry roundtable, North American cruise executives were unanimous in seeing the end of 2011 and the start of 20012 as exceptionally promising for the industry, an excellent start that hasn’t completely vanished after the Costa Concordia tragedy.

Gerry Cahill, Carnival Cruise Lines president and CEO, said he has never seen business as strong in five years as in November, December and the first half of January. Cahill said that there was a dropoff after the Concordia incident, and that Carnival did no marketing for a month. Now, marketing efforts are back and “things are picking up.”"

Click here to read more of this interesting article of what is being talked about for the immediate future of the industry and how travel agents are helping.

Celebrity Solstice to Bring Solstice Class 'sizzle" to Alaska, Canada and California 2013

The sleek, 2,850-guest flagship of the Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Solstice – named "Best Premium Ship" in Travel Weekly'sannual Readers' Choice Awards (US) – will become the first of its class to offer vacations in Alaska in the summer of 2013, joining Celebrity Century and Celebrity Millennium in pairing Celebrity's chic style and design, signature cuisine, exciting activities and extraordinary service with the region's breathtaking, inspiring scenery.

Celebrity Solstice will present 7-night Tracy Arm Fjord sailings roundtrip from Seattle, with visits to the charming Alaskan towns of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, as well as Victoria, British Columbia, and transiting the scenic Inside Passage. Preceding the Alaska season will be a 9-night "West Coast Wine Cruise" from Ensenada, Mexico, to Seattle in May, and rounding out the season will be a 10-night "America's Cup Wine Cruise" in September, when guests on Celebrity Solsticewill have a commanding view of the boats participating in the finals of the world-famous sailing race in San Francisco Bay, complete with an overnight stay.

Celebrity Millennium – the fourth Millennium Class ship to complete Celebrity's Solsticizing initiative this year, adding AquaClass accommodations with exclusive access to the specialty restaurant, Blu, the Celebrity iLounge, CellarMasters wine bar, and Bistro on Five creperie, among other new venues – will reprise Celebrity's in-demand, alternating Northbound and Southbound 7-night Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Seward, highlighted by spending several hours near the picturesque, ice-blue Hubbard Glacier.

Celebrity Century – the first ship to debut the "icy-cool" Martini Bar – will reprise her summer series of 7-night Hubbard Glacier vacations roundtrip from Vancouver from May through August, 2013. The ship's Alaska season will be capped with an 11-night "Ultimate Alaska" voyage departing roundtrip from Vancouver September 15, 2013, including visits to Prince Rupert and Victoria, British Columbia. A special 11-night Wine Cruise will be offered September 26 from Vancouver, ending in San Diego.

Celebrity's 10- to 13-night Cruisetour packages in the summer of 2013 will include 16 tour patterns associated with Celebrity Millennium's Northbound and Southbound Alaska sailings. All Cruisetours – including the new "Alaska Family Style Cruisetour" designed to enthrall family members of every generation – visit famed Denali National Park, with six including a two-night stay in Denali, while 15 include travel on Celebrity's plush Wilderness Express domed railcars. All Celebrity Alaska Cruisetours are escorted by expert, personal Tour Directors.

Celebrity's Cruisetours in the Canadian Rockies and Whistler Mountain in 2013 include five tour patterns offered in association with sailings on Celebrity Century and Celebrity Millennium, and range from 10- to 13-nights, when combined with the cruise. Each is highlighted by the opportunity for guests to independently enjoy the sheer beauty of Banff, Calgary, Lake Louise,Jasper, Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler. The Canadian Rockies tours feature travel onboard VIA Rail train cars in sleeper touring class, with hotel accommodations at elegant Fairmont properties.

Celebrity's 2013 Alaska vacations open for booking March 14, 2012.

Rounding out Celebrity's 2013 summer season: the beauty of Bermuda and the enchanting Galapagos Islands

Celebrity Summit – which, in February 2012 became the third in Celebrity's Millennium Class fleet to complete the brand's noted Solsticizing initiative, adding Qsine, the Celebrity iLounge, AquaClass accommodations and exclusive access to Blu, CellarMasters wine bar, and more – will return to Cape Liberty, NJ, in 2013 to present its fourth season of Celebrity's in-demand 7-night vacation experiences to Bermuda, known for its exquisite, pink-sand beaches and turquoise waters. The ship will cap the season with three 14-night Canada & New England vacations beginning in September, featuring to two full days in Quebec City, Quebec. Celebrity's 2013 Bermuda bookings open April 11, 2012.
The intimate, 96-guest Celebrity Xpedition – ranked among the top small ships in the world in Conde Nast Traveler's"Best Ships in the World" readers' poll this year – will continue to offer the once-in-a-lifetime vacation experiences the brand has offered year-round since 2004 in the enchanting Galapagos Islands. Bookings are open.

Loyalty has its rewards
Celebrity will again reward the members of its Captain's Club loyalty program with an exclusive onboard credit offer ranging from $200-600 per stateroom/suite on voyages of 16 nights or longer; $150-500 per stateroom/suite on sailings of 10- to 15-nights, and $100-400 per stateroom/suite on cruises of six to nine nights, with the credit amount dependent upon the category of accommodations booked. This exclusive offer applies for 2013-14 bookings made from March 15 to May 18, 2012.

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, or call your travel agent. Follow the brand socially at


MSC Cruises Revamps Kid's Club to Guarantee Even More Fun On Board

Programmes packed with sports, crafts, theatre, Xbox, Wii and more

MSC Cruises is delighted to announce that its Kids’ Club programmes have been revamped and updated to satisfy different age groups, meaning that children and teens can now have even more fun on board an MSC cruise.

Family values lie firmly at the heart of MSC Cruises and the company is constantly looking for new ways to enhance the family experience on board. Since mid-January 2012 programme enhancements have been rolled out across the MSC fleet, with a focus on popular sporting activities, arts and crafts, theatre andtechnology. Programmes also feature a broader choice of family events, ranging from parades to scavenger hunts.

“Just under 15% of our guests during the year are children, with this percentage rising to 30% during the summer season. It’s our job to ensure that they have an unforgettable experience, which means keeping them entertained all day,” said Daniela Picco, MSC Cruises On Board Marketing Manager. “As 22% of the almost 200,000 under 18s who cruise with MSC every year are between 12 and 14, and 24% are between 15 and 17, it’s also a priority to keep programmes up to date for teens and make sure that ships contain the latest technology.”

Four age groups and nanny’s hour
Four separate Kids’ Club programmes are available, each tailored to a specific age group.

• The Mini Club sends three to six year old sailors on a magical voyage of discovery and amazing adventures through enchanted oceans.
• Seven to 11 year olds are invited to join the pirate crew of the Junior Club and set off in search of buried treasure on an action-packed adventure towards uncharted islands.
• The Y-Team is the perfect choice for 12 to 14 year olds. Why? Because they’ll meet new friends, do exciting new things and have a great time every day! That’s why!
• MSC Generation teen club makes it easy for 15 to 17 year olds to get connected with the coolest crew on board and spend time with other people their age.

Every morning from 09.00 to 10.00 MSC have introduced nanny’s hour, a special programme for babies and toddlers aged 10 to 36 months. Our staff are there to organize dedicated games and activities aimed specifically at our youngest guests and their parents, including playing with bricks, baby disco, puzzle games, and drawing.

Opening hours
On both days in port and days at sea the Mini Club and Junior clubsopening times have now been extended. From 09:00- 23:00, parents can leave their children in the safe hands of mini club staff while they enjoy shore excursions or simply relax on board.

For kids with bags of energy
Basketball and soccer tournaments, table soccer, carnival parades, volley ball, crazy ping pong, karaoke, treasure hunts, dance competitions, SMS parties, and Miss and Mr Teen are just some of the dynamic activities on offer for kids and teens with bags of energy.

For budding artists
Kids can channel their creativity into drawing, playing with plasticine, making mosaics, painting self-portraits, designing masks, carnival costumes and t-shirts, face-painting and much, much more.
Future journalists and cartoonists will be proud to see their work published in the new kids’ newspaper, and the Mini Club library has been enriched with books and comics for all those bookworms on board.

More activities, more space
Space on board dedicated to these programmes has also expanded and kids can now make better use of other areas of the ship, including the disco, the theatre and the sports courts. On Musica and Lirica class ships, a special dance floor has even been dedicated to kids and teens so they can show off their moves.

Expanded gaming with Microsoft Xbox Kinetic and Nintendo Wii
The choice of games has also been enhanced, and the teen area on board every ship in the MSC fleet, excluding MSC Melody, is now equipped with a Microsoft XBox Kinetic, a Nintendo Wii, and the following selection of games: Kinect Sport, Kinect Dance Central, Kinect Yoostar 2: in the movies, Wii Sport, Super Mario Galaxy and Animal Crossing.
The teen area really is the place to be: in addition to the play corner with X Box and Wii, a musical docking station for iPods, iPhones, iPads and USB readers, and a social corner connected to Net TV and with Bluetooth keyboards are also available.
MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and MSC Divina have expanded gaming even further. Each cabin in the exclusive MSC Yacht club is equipped with a Nintendo Wii and the game Wii Sport. The following games can also be requested through the concierge service: Wii Mario Kart, Wii Party, Wii Mario Sport Mix, Wii Fit Plus+ BB, Wii Mario Power Tennis, Wii Fifa 11, Wii Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii New Super Mario Bros. The sports bars and maxi screen by one of pools will also be equipped with Nintendo Wiis.

It’s show time!
On each ship, on one special afternoon during every cruise, Tarzan, Cinderella, Aladdin, Snow White and Pinocchio will dance and sing especially for children under 12 years and their families, in a dedicated performance in the theatre. It’s show time!, a special performance made by children, will also be put on in the theatre for kids to show off their theatrical skills to a large audience.

Peace of mind
MSC is also investing in its Kids’ Programmes by increasing the ratio of staff to children and establishing new criteria for the hiring of counsellors. This includes the requirement of a college degree in recreation or child care, or the equivalent experience.
New dedicated welcome desks for the handover of security bracelets have been set up, and pagers and beepers will be available for rent for the parents/supervising adults of children who are three to five years old, children with special medical conditions and children with special needs.
So sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that your children are in great hands and having a great time.

About MSC Cruises:

MSC Cruises is the world's leading cruise company in the Mediterranean, South African and Brazilian markets and operates across the globe. It's modern fleet comprises eleven ships: MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Melody. MSC Magnifica, launched in March 2010. The fleet will increase in size with the addition of the MSC Divina which will be christened on May 26th in Marseille in 2012, France. The fleet cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, theCaribbean & the Antilles, South America, the Indian Ocean, South and West Africa. MSC Cruises is the only company in the world to receive the "6 Golden Pearls" award from the Bureau Veritas in recognition of its high level of quality management and environmental responsibility. MSC has also achieved ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certification for the quality and food safety of all aspects of its catering, both onshore and onboard. MSC Cruises cares about the welfare of children, and as a responsible market leader believes in making a positive impact in the regions where it operates. To this end, the company recently forged a partnership with UNICEF to fund a community project aimed at providing disadvantaged children in Brazil with a quality education.

Rhapsody of the Seas Completes Revitalization


After a month-long $54 million dry dock, Royal Caribbean International’s Rhapsody of the Seas has emerged from Singapore’s Sembawang Shipyard (a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd.) as a virtually new ship. The newly revitalized Rhapsody of the Seas will deliver guests a host of exciting new dining options, visually stunning entertainment and unique amenities after the ship’s bow-to-stern transformation. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy all of Rhapsody of the Seas new signature features as they sail in the awe-inspiring Alaska this summer or vibrant Australia in the fall. To learn more about Rhapsody’s transformation visit

“Rhapsody of the Seas’ dry dock is part of Royal Caribbean’s multi-ship enhancement and revitalization strategy to deliver the world’s most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries and world-renowned Gold Anchored service to our guests, also known as the Royal Advantage” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president, Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. “With every inch of Rhapsody of the Seas renewed, five new dining restaurants added, the evolution of entertainment in our iconic Centrum, plus an array of new touches, guests will be wowed by what is virtually a new ship.”

The all-encompassing revitalization introduces a range of guest amenities and premium experiences that are sure to wow even the most experienced cruiser. From the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery designed for the cruise line’s youngest guests, 6 - 36 months old, a Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members, a Concierge Lounge for suite guests and top-tier loyalty guests and completely refreshed staterooms, the onboard revitalization was comprehensive. Guests also will find that staying connected at sea will be easier with Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship and enjoy a host of technology enhancements that include, flat-panel televisions in all staterooms, an outdoor LED movie screen on the pool deck, as well as a digital way-finding system all of which debut on Royal Caribbean’s latest and world’s most innovative sister ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

For guests looking to tickle their taste buds, Rhapsody of the Seas features an array of new dining options with the addition of five of the fleet’s most highly acclaimed dinning concepts, including Giovanni’s Table, Izumi Asian Cuisine restaurant, Park Café deli-style restaurant, Chop’s Grille steakhouse and the exclusive 14-guest Chef’s Table. Concept overviews and pricing are as follows:

  • · Giovanni’s Table: An Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family-style (open for lunch, $15, and dinner, $20)
  • · Izumi Asian Cuisine: Featuring mouthwatering flavors and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking, the pan Asian cuisine restaurant is a no-hassle, authentic dining experience (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner plus a la carte menu pricing) 
  • · Park Café: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary)
  • · Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse offering premium cuts and quality meats (open for dinner, $30 per person) 
  • · Chef’s Table: An exclusive and private experience co-hosted by the executive Chef and Sommelier for a wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 per person)
Guests looking for a jaw-dropping entertainment experience need to look no further than the reinvented Centrum, featuring enriching daytime activities, dazzling nighttime entertainment and a new high-flying entertainment experience where aerialists glide through the five-story atrium as guests enjoy a cocktail in the 60’s inspired R Bar, a new bar concept first introduced onboard Splendour of the Seas. Guests also can take in the newly re-imagined Viking Crown Lounge, which features a stunning new design concept as well as a new menu featuring bite size goodies.Rhapsody of the Seas will embark on a 15-night voyage from Singapore to Sydney, Australia. From there, she will sail across the Pacific via Hawaii to her Alaska season in May 2012. In Alaska, Rhapsody of the Seas will sail every Friday on seven-night, round-trip cruises from Seattle, calling at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, and Victoria, B.C. Guests also will transit Alaska’s Inside Passage, as well as venture up Tracy Arm Fjord to see Sawyer Glacier.
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, and 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 or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Follow Royal Caribbean on Facebook at or on Twitter, @RoyalCaribbean. Travel professionals should visit 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 two under agreement.


Warm, Exotic Places and Modern Luxury the Focus of Celebrity Cruises' 2013-13 Winter Destination Lineup

There’s no better time than winter to seek out sun-soaked, exotic destinations, and there’s no better way to experience them than immersed in modern luxury. That’s exactly what Celebrity Cruises is offering with its 2013-14 winter itinerary line-up, which will feature a multitude of ways to make the most of precious vacation time on its stunning, award-winning ships, six in the Caribbean and five around the globe in Australia and New Zealand, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, South America and the South Pacific. During the winter season, Celebrity Cruises’ guests will visit 170 ports in 42 countries from 20 different departure ports, while enjoying open and airy onboard spaces with careful attention to detail, luxurious accommodations, fresh and innovative cuisine, and genuine and personalized service. Celebrity also will offer a variety of cruisetour vacation options, pairing a land-based experience with a cruise to create the ultimate winter getaway.

Varied itineraries expand modern luxury getaway options

Unique elements of Celebrity’s 2013-14 winter destination offerings will include a 35-night circumnavigation cruise of Australia and New Zealand, departing from Auckland, New Zealand in February 2014 and ending in Sydney, Australia in March 2014. This trip of a lifetime will take place on Celebrity Solstice, the ship that introduced modern luxury style and design to the cruise industry when she debuted in 2008. Celebrity Solstice also will offer two Pacific Island cruises roundtrip from Sydney in October 2013 and April 2014, featuring stops at ports such as Lautoka and Suva, Fiji; Lifou, Loyalty Islands; and Noumea and Isles of Pines, New Caledonia.

A new offering will be four- and five-night Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida on Celebrity Constellation, which was “Solsticized” in drydock last year to include guest-favorite enhancements such as the Tuscan Grille specialty restaurant, CellarMasters wine bar and Café al Bacio and Gelateria, among other venues. Prior to the 2013-14 winter season, new AquaClass accommodations with exclusive access to the Mediterranean specialty restaurant, Blu, will be added to the ship. Celebrity Constellation will offer Bahamas cruises featuring stops in Key West, Florida and Nassau, Bahamas, and Western Caribbean itineraries featuring stops in Key West and Cozumel, Mexico, all roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale from December 2013 through April 2014.

Also new will be a series of cruises out of Los Angeles on Celebrity Century, for the first time since 2010. Hawaii departures and an entirely new Pacific Costal Wine Cruise itinerary which will visit the new port of Santa Barbara, California, and will include an overnight stay in San Francisco, are highlights of Celebrity Century’s October 2013 to May 2014 West Coast season. While in the region, Celebrity Century will offer 15-night Hawaii sailings out of San Diego and Los Angeles, California, and 15-night Panama Canal cruises between San Diego and Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Florida in December 2013 and January and February 2014.

Celebrity Century’s Hawaii and Panama Canal will open for booking on April 4, 2012.

Exotic destinations beckon; stylish, comfortable ships pamper

Celebrity’s 2013-14 winter season will be rife with opportunities for vacationers seeking experiences in trip-of-a-lifetime destinations. Cruises and cruisetours in South America will be offered on Celebrity Infinity, which was Solsticized last year as part of Celebrity’s $140-million initiative to incorporate iconic Solstice Class elements into its Millennium Class ships. From the eclectic Qsine specialty restaurant to Celebrity’s first AquaClass staterooms to be added to a Millennium Class ships, among other elements that were added, Celebrity Infinity will provide a luxurious setting from which to gaze upon the majestic landscapes of South America. There, she will offer 14-night cruises between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Valpraiso, Chile during December 2013 and January and March 2014. Two 14-night Antarctica sailings roundtrip from Buenos Aires in February 2014 will offer breathtaking views as the ship sails around and through Paradise Bay, the Gerlache Strait, and Elephant Island. Two Panama Canal sailings on each end of the season will also be offered, sailing eastbound between San Diego and Miami, Florida in November 2013 and April 2014, and westbound from Miami to San Diego in November 2013 and March 2014.
Celebrity’s South America cruisetours can extend a vacation, thereby offering an even richer opportunity to relax and recharge, by pairing a fully escorted land-based tour with a cruise.
  • A Buenos Aires-based three-night pre- or post-cruise land tour to Iguazu Falls features one night in Buenos Aires and two nights in Iguazu Falls
  • A Valparaiso-based five-night pre- or post-cruise land tour to Machu Picchu features two nights in Urubamba, located in the Sacred Valley in Peru, with access to Machu Picchu, as well as two nights in Lima, Peru and one night in Santiago, Chile.
Guests who wish to have the ultimate modern luxury South America vacation experience can book one of these cruisetours for the start of their vacation and the other to take place after their cruise.
Celebrity Solstice will sail a second consecutive Australia/New Zealand season consisting primarily of 12-night cruises between Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand, from October 2013 to April 2014. Four- and five-night fully escorted land tours can be paired with these to offer a more immersive Downunder experience; these feature destinations such as Ayers Rock, Port Douglas (with a visit to the Great Barrier Reef), and the cosmopolitan city of Sydney. The circumnavigation of Australia and cruises to the Pacific Islands will round out Celebrity Solstice’s Australia/New Zealand season.
Celebrity Millennium, being Solsticized in May of this year, will offer a second consecutive Asia season, sailing a southerly route across the Pacific Ocean to Australia at the start of the season, where she will offer a 17-night cruise between Sydney and Singapore in November 2013. This itinerary will offer overnight stays in Cairns (Yorkey’s Knob), Australia and Singapore. From there, Celebrity Millennium will present guests with 14-night cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong. Two 14-night Indonesia cruises roundtrip from Singapore will be offered in January 2014. These voyages will feature multiple in-port overnight stays in cities including Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hanoi (Halong Bay), Vietnam; Bali, Indonesia; Singapore; Hong Kong, China; Shanghai, China; Beijing, China; and Tokyo, Japan.
A more extensive Asia vacation can be enjoyed by combining a fully escorted land tour with the cruises sailing from or ending in Hong Kong. A five-night pre- or post-cruise out of Hong Kong features two nights in Xian, where guests will visit the famed Terra Cotta Warriors, and three nights in Beijing, where guests will access the Great Wall of China, among many other highlights.
The ever-popular 92-guest mega-yacht Celebrity Xpedition will continue to offer a variety of vacation options in the Galapagos Islands, each including naturalist-led explorations and excursions throughout the region.

Celebrity’s 2013-14 Australia and South America cruises will open for booking on April 4, 2012, and the Asia itineraries will open on April 18, 2012. The Galapagos Islands sailings opened for booking in March.
Easy-to-access Caribbean offers uncommon onboard luxury
In addition to Celebrity Constellation’s short Caribbean cruises, voyages through the region’s vibrant blue waters will be offered on four of Celebrity’s five Solstice Class ships and one additional Solsticized Millennium Class ship in the winter of 2013-14. Three of these ships will offer seven-night cruises:
  • Eastern Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami, Florida on Celebrity Reflection, currently under construction and debuting later this year with Celebrity’s first-ever AquaClass Suites and the ultra-luxurious Reflection Suite and Signature Suites
  • Alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises on Celebrity Silhouette – the ship that introduced the interactive Lawn Club Grill and private cabanas known as The Alcoves to vacationers – roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale
  • Port-rich Southern Caribbean cruises on the recently Solsticized Celebrity Summit, roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Two Solstice Class ships will offer longer cruises with even more ways to maximize vacation time by enjoying all that Celebrity offers onboard, along with the relaxing vibe of the Caribbean:
  • Celebrity Eclipse will offer a 14-night Exotic Southern Caribbean itinerary roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale from November 2013 to April 2014.
  • Celebrity Equinox will repeat her 2012-13 10- and 11-night “Ultimate Caribbean” cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale from December 2013 to April 2014.
Celebrity’s 2013-14 Caribbean cruises will open for booking on April 11, 2012.


Regent Seven Seas Unveils 2013 Med, Baltic, Alaska Schedule

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ has begun accepting reservations for cruises from April to December 2013 in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Alaska, New England/Canada and the Amazon River. Highlights include new ports of call, extended voyages of up to 43 nights, two-for-one fares, bonus savings of up to $13,000 per suite and business-class air for $999 each way when booked by June 30, 2012. Guests in Penthouse suites or higher will get free business-class upgrades on trans-Atlantic flights.

Among the highlights in summer 2013: Seven Seas Voyager begins the season in Iceland and the Norwegian fjords before heading to the Baltic for a series of seven- to 10-night sailings between Copenhagen and Stockholm, all offering two-night calls in St. Petersburg. Extended voyages from 19- to 36-nights combine the best of the British Isles, Norwegian fjords, and Western Europe.

Seven Seas Mariner plies the Mediterranean from April to November to the Costa del Sol, French Riviera, Tuscany, Provençe and Greece. Maiden calls are set for Ajaccio, Corsica; Genoa, Italy; and Lanzarote and St. Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Voyages of up to 30 nights cruise the Black Sea, Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic to South America in December 2013.

Seven Seas Navigator offers a full Alaska season, including two 12-night positioning cruises between San Francisco and Vancouver, a seven-night roundtrip Vancouver cruise and 12 sailings between Vancouver and Seward. In the fall, Seven Seas Navigator returns to New England and Canada with four cruises before embarking in Miami on a 24-night Amazon adventure.

SS United States Redevelopment Project announces partnership with New Canaan Advisors

Veterans of Grand Central Terminal and World Trade Center Join Redevelopment Effort

PHILADELPHIA, PA…March 26, 2012 – As momentum continues to build for the effort to save and repurpose the greatest American ocean liner ever built, the SS United States Redevelopment Project (SSUSRP) today announced that it has named New Canaan Advisors LLC (NCA) as real estate advisors to a growing team leading this exciting redevelopment program. New Canaan Advisors will assist the SSUSRP on a number of aspects related to transforming the historic ship into a stationary, multi-purpose waterfront destination.

The SS United States, which will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its maiden voyage this year, remains the largest passenger vessel ever constructed in the United States. At nearly 1,000 feet long, she remains the fastest ocean liner to cross the North Atlantic and one of the last surviving of the great 20th Century liners.

“We believe that New Canaan Advisors is the right firm to help us translate our vision for the future of the SS United States into a reality,” said Dan McSweeney, Managing Director of the SS United States Redevelopment Project. “They have the unique experience of handling both high-profile projects and historic properties, making them a great asset for our team.”

The overall concept is currently to invite a mixed-use commercial and public development with a range of proposed revenue-generating uses including, but not limited to, event space, restaurants, retail, and hotel.

The SSUSRP is a strategic initiative of the SS United States Conservancy, the national nonprofit organization that purchased the historic vessel last year. The Conservancy is also advancing plans for public use, including a museum and educational programs aboard the ship, which offers more than 650,000 square feet of usable space. "We are fully committed to restoring and redeveloping this great symbol of American pride and innovation. Like the Statue of Liberty, there is only one SS United States, and we are determined to save the ship for future generations," said Susan L Gibbs, the Conservancy's executive director and granddaughter of SS United States designer, William Francis Gibbs.

“We are excited about this unique opportunity to assure the preservation of America’s flagship, and help her usher in a new era of service to the public while generating revenue to support its ongoing use,” states NCA’s founder and Chief Advisor, Curtis C. Battles. “The role that NCA will play in the redevelopment of the SS United States is a great example of the way we seek to add value for all our clients. We are proud to be a part of this significant project.”

Prior to founding NCA, Battles worked on the redevelopment of two of New York City’s most visible commercial real estate icons – Grand Central Terminal and the World Trade Center.

NCA provides public and private organizations with unique resources for transforming underutilized assets and facilities into new opportunities. The firm specializes in helping public/private partnerships develop properties and assets into vibrant, exciting and financially feasible uses.

The growing SS United States redevelopment team will also include NCA strategic partner Charles Shorter as Senior Advisor. Shorter brings to the team more than 30 years of real estate experience in creating strategic approaches to large scale mixed-used projects including market and financial feasibility and structuring public/private development partnerships. Real Estate Solutions Group (RESGroup), LLC Founder Patricia Adell will also assist NCA on the SS United States project. RES Group, provides comprehensive real estate consulting services to all levels of government, universities, school districts, and private developers to structure public/private finance and development solutions to maximize value.

In July 2010, the SS United States Conservancy received a $5.8 million philanthropic pledge allowing for the ship’s outright purchase and ongoing funding for maintenance at her berth in Philadelphia, PA. The current concept is for the redeveloped multi-purpose ship to be located in a major East Coast metropolitan location.

For more information about the SS United States visit (
For more information about NCA visit (

Media Contact:
Thomas J. Basile, SS United States Redevelopment Project – 917-579-2216

Queen of the Mississippi Successfully Completes First Sea Trial

American Cruise Lines has announced that on March 18, a bright and sunny Sunday, the Queen of the Mississippi left the pier at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland, for its first sea trial. The vessel performed perfectly as the huge paddlewheel churned the water and onlookers lined the riverbanks to watch.

“The Queen of the Mississippi sets a new standard in river cruising and raises the bar for grand travel on the Mississippi River,” said Charles A. Robertson, President of American Cruise Lines. Robertson also revealed that the new riverboat is slightly faster than expected and is now nine weeks ahead of schedule.

The Queen of the Mississippi will be completed in May, with its inaugural cruise scheduled for August 11, 2012 from New Orleans to Memphis. Currently, the interior is well underway with carpeting being installed throughout the ship and furniture beginning to go onboard. All sliding glass doors leading to the private balconies are in place and painting is nearly complete.

Titanic drama prompts surge in memorial cruise bookings

Following the first episode of Julian Fellowes’ mini-series on ITV last night, the operator of the official Titanic Memorial Cruises reported that it had nearly 6,000 hits to its website in the few hours during and immediately after the programme was screened.

Demand for all things Titanic is set to peak with the centenary of the world’s most talked about ship sinking on her maiden voyage to New York coming in just two weeks’ time.

Miles Morgan, managing director of the Titanic Memorial Cruise, said: “We’ve had more traffic to the site in that last 24 hours than we have had over the last three weeks combined.   We always knew the programme would create demand for the memorial cruises but this has far exceeded our expectations.”

As well as last night’s Titanic drama, the Oscar-winning movie directed by James Cameron and starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio is coming back to cinemas throughout the UK in 3D on 6 April and television adverts have already started promoting it.

Miles Morgan added: “With the centenary just two weeks away, there have been lots of documentaries and stories in the media so that is also creating interest in the cruises.  Our website also has a click through to an online shop selling limited edition memorabilia and registrations to buy the goods have soared since Sunday night when the new ITV drama was shown.”

There are two official Titanic Memorial Cruises - one which leaves Southampton on 8 April and another which leaves New York on 10 April.  Both cruises will enable descendants of Titanic passengers, enthusiasts and cruise passengers to be part of history by being together at the site where the Titanic sank on its maiden and fateful voyage and  pay their respects at a special Memorial Service to take place at the exact time the Titanic sank 100 years before.

Every effort has been made to make the cruise authentic. The Balmoral Cruise Liner departing from Southampton is operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, whose parent company Harland and Wolff built the Titanic in Belfast.

The ship will leave from Southampton with 1,300 people, the same number of passengers which were on Titanic.

Emphasising the worldwide fascination with the Titanic nationalities covering every continent on the globe will be aboard the Titanic Memorial Cruise.

Passengers will be coming from the USA to New Zealand and from Bulgaria to Botswana and Brazil to make it a truly cosmopolitan cruise. As with the Titanic itself, the biggest representation will be from the USA, the UK and Ireland.

A line up of Titanic Experts and speakers will be on board include Philip Littlejohn, grandson of Titanic survivor Alexander James Littlejohn and the only Titanic relative to have made the dive to the wreck site.

 More information about the cruises at


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