Updates and cruise news about cruise lines, itineraries, ships, and more!
Cruise Updates for August 2003
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES guests should be on the lookout for the line's new mascot, "Fun Ship" Freddy. The fun-loving mascot won't be hard to miss: Fun Ship Freddy is tall and red, and he sort of resembles Carnival's distinctive winged funnel; plus, he has big eyes and a huge white smile passengers will be able to spot from anywhere on the ship. So far, about 20 Freddy actors have been hired to don the Freddy costume. Clients can even take Freddy home: Plush toys of the unique mascot already are available on the Carnival Glory.
ON THE HORIZON is a new Celebrity Cruises homeport for its annual
Bermuda cruises: Norfolk, Va. The 1,350-passenger Horizon will offer seven-day cruises to Bermuda between April and October next year. The Horizon and its twin, the Zenith, have traditionally sailed to Bermuda from New York; Celebrity will later this year offer its first non-New York-Bermuda departures -- from Philadelphia -- on the Horizon.
CELEBRITY CRUISES is the latest cruise line to announce plans for a Galveston, Texas, homeport. The line's Galaxy will sail 10- and 11-day Panama Canal cruises from the city beginning in November 2004. Galveston has become a busy cruise port since Carnival Cruise Lines began sailing there in 2000: Celebrity will join sister brand Royal Caribbean International as well as Carnival and Princess Cruises in town next fall. Norwegian Cruise Line, meanwhile, will base a ship right up the channel in Houston.
PRINCESS CRUISES' twin 2,670-passenger ships the Diamond Princess and the Sapphire Princess will sail Mexican Riviera itineraries in fall 2004. The Sapphire Princess next year will offer a new itinerary for Princess: 10-day cruises from San Francisco. The Diamond Princess, meanwhile, will offer seven-day roundtrip cruises from Long Beach, Calif., a new homeport for the line. The ships, both of which are still under construction in Japan, will debut next spring and sail in Alaska before repositioning down the coast in September 2004.
PRINCESS MARGRIET of the Netherlands christened the Oosterdam during a pier-side ceremony in Rotterdam Tuesday. The Oosterdam was docked bow-to-bow with Holland America Line's flagship the Rotterdam, which had arrived in town just for the festivities. The Oosterdam's champagne bottle was rigged next to the Rotterdam's bridge, and, as the princess named the ship, the champagne bottle slid down a wire and broke cleanly on the Oosterdam's hull. The 1,848-passenger Oosterdam is the second in HAL's 85,000-ton Vista series.
• Norwegian Cruise Line's newly renamed Norwegian Crown will resume fall foliage cruises next year and return to South America in 2004 and 2005. The 1,104-passenger Crown will sail 11- and 12-day fall foliage cruises between Sept. 13 and Oct. 17, 2004, from Baltimore. The ship also will offer a series of 14-day sailings between Buenos Aires and Valparaiso, Chile.
• Oceania Cruises signed a preferred sales and marketing agreement with National Leisure Group July 29.
• Star Cruises' SuperStar Leo and SuperStar Virgo are both back in their respective homeports of Hong Kong and Singapore. The two ships had temporarily been deployed to Australia after SARS broke out in parts of Asia.
• Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Navigator will conclude its first Bermuda season with four voyages -- on Aug. 27, Sept. 3, Sept. 10 and Sept. 17 -- featuring top New York chefs from the restaurants Zoe, the Four Seasons, and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar and Wallse.
Cruise Updates for July 2003
Silversea Cruises will begin cruises ranging from seven to 14 departing from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Anchorages, beginning next year with the Silver Shadow.
The luxury cruise line will add the three new ports to their itinerary as they sail move into the Alaskan market.
The Shadow also will chart new itineraries in Australia and Japan between January and May 2004 while the Silver Cloud, the Silver Wind and the Silver Whisper will summer in Europe.
Carnival Cruise Lines is serving up a new children's dining program that provides supervised meals for kids, giving parents the option to enjoy a night on their own.
The program includes will offer nightly dinners except the first and last evening on 7-day cruises from 6pm to 7pm in the ship's Lido deck restaurants on all ships and kids can then participate in Camp Carnival activities until 10 p.m.
Princess, HAL to give Caribbean more weight (7/22/2003)
By Rebecca Tobin
NEW YORK -- Galveston will become a three-line cruise port next year when Princess Cruises comes calling. n The line will base its 109,000-ton Grand Princess mega ship in the Texas port between Nov. 13, 2004, and April 9, 2005, and offer a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary to Belize, Costa Maya, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
Princess detailed its Caribbean presence in 2004, saying its capacity in the region will jump 75% over 2003. "This is an unprecedented expansion in the Caribbean for us," executive vice president Dean Brown said.
Among the plans, the line will introduce its 3,100-passenger Caribbean Princess in Fort Lauderdale next spring for year-round cruising.
Five other ships, including three 2,600-passenger Grand-class ships, will also make their way to the Caribbean next year.
If Princess is giving greater weight to the Caribbean, so is Holland America Line, which is also expanding there.
HAL said it will base 10 ships in the Caribbean next year for its 191 cruises there. The line will offer Caribbean departures from Norfolk, Va., Baltimore, Md. and Philadelphia -- all new ports for HAL.
In non-Caribbean developments for HAL, the line said It will use Athens, Greece, as a departure point for the first time; those cruises on the Westerdam will bookend with the ship's stint as a floating hotel in Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games.
Also, the newly introduced Oosterdam will sail to Alaska next summer and join the Amsterdam in Seattle for seven-day southeast Alaska cruises.
CELEBRITY CRUISES -- and parent Royal Caribbean Cruises -- announced that they cancelled the July 22nd sailing of Celebrity's Millennium on a Mediterranean itinerary. The ship's port-side, thrust-bearing unit needed to be replaced after it showed "premature wear," Celebrity president Jack Williams said. Passengers on the canceled cruise, which was to sail from Barcelona to Venice, will receive a full refund, plus a free future cruise. The ship is slated to be back in service Aug. 2.
IT IS "NO LONGER NECESSARY" for cruise lines to screen and monitor passengers for SARS symptoms, the International Council of Cruise Lines said. "The SARS virus appears to be presently contained," ICCL said in a statement. "We will however remain vigilant to any threats and take appropriate actions to ensure that cruising remains the safest vacation available to the traveling public." Guidelines adopted in April included requiring embarking passengers to fill out a questionnaire related to their recent travel history; and barred passengers from sailing if they had passed through SARS hot-spots like Hong Kong and mainland China.
THE NORWAY, Norwegian Cruise Line's damaged ocean liner, will not sail again until spring 2004 -- at the earliest. The ship, which suffered a boiler explosion in May, had been slated to return Oct. 5, but that timetable was too ambitious for any boiler manufacturer to meet, NCL said in a statement. All passengers booked and deposited on the Norway will receive a full refund and a $50 onboard credit per person to switch to other NCL ships if they rebook by Sept. 30. Passengers eager to sail on the Norway should hold off, at least for now: NCL will take the ship off sale, saying "it would not be fair or appropriate to announce a further launch date." The ship will lay up at the Lloyd Werft repair yard in Bremerhaven, Germany, until a final decision has been made on which yard
PRINCESS MARGRIET of the Netherlands will be the godmother to Holland America Line's Oosterdam, which was delivered to the cruise line last week. The naming ceremony will take place July 28 in Rotterdam, Holland -- where HAL was founded in 1873 -- on the company's original pier. HAL's ship, the Rotterdam, which the princess named in 1997, also will be on hand for the festivities. The Oosterdam begins service August 3 from Harwich, England, and will sail to the Baltic region.
GLORY DAYS: Carnival Glory's got a ticket to ride. Astronaut Sally Ride, the ship's godmother, officially named the ship July 14 at Port Canaveral, Fla. The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger vessel sailed into its new homeport on Friday, becoming the largest cruise ship based at Port Canaveral. Beginning July 19, the Carnival Glory will sail its year-round seven-day Caribbean program.
MEANWHILE, Italian shipbuilder Fincatieri in Genoa, Italy, Thursday laid the first in a series of about 50 building blocks for the 2,974-passenger Carnival Valor, the sister ship to the 110,000-ton Carnival Glory. It is expected to enter service in December 2004.
THE MARINER OF THE SEAS, Royal Caribbean Int'l's latest Voyager- class vessel, will arrive in the U.S. earlier than expected. The ship's maiden voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., was moved up a week, to Nov. 16. The first cruise will be a one-time-only voyage to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. On Nov. 23, the 3,114-passenger ship will begin sailing alternating eight-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE will use Norfolk, Va., as a homeport for the first time, providing a base for the Maasdam and a departure point for 16 Caribbean cruises in 2004. "Norfolk is conveniently situated within a few hours' drive of millions of people who will be able to drive to the Maasdam and spend more time cruising and less time traveling to and from a port," said senior vice president, marketing and sales David Giersdorf. The 10- and 11-day sailings will visit the eastern and southern Caribbean, respectively.
ACTRESS JULIE ANDREWS broke the bottle on the hull of the Crystal Serenity July 3 in Southampton, England. Guests, dressed in the black-and-white-themed affair, were doused with colored streamers and confetti at the ceremony, which was attended by Crystal president Gregg Michel and Jiro Nemoto, chairman of parent company NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha). The ship departed July 7 on its inaugural northern Europe cruise.
THE SERENITY was delivered to Crystal Cruises' parent company NYK from Alstom's Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard on schedule June 30. However, as previously reported, delays at the yard meant the ship's hotel operations aren't yet to Crystal's liking so its inaugural cruise was offered free to the passengers -- most of whom are longtime Crystal guests.
THE CARNIVAL CONQUEST will return to the Big Easy July 13. Confirming previously announced plans, Carnival Cruise Lines said the Mississippi River receded to the point that low-hanging power lines were no longer a danger, enabling a return to the Port of New Orleans. The Carnival Conquest had been pulled out of New Orleans for four months and had been based in Gulfport. The 2,974-passenger vessel was to make its final Gulfport sailing July 6 and was slated to rejoin the 1,452-guest Holiday in New Orleans a week later. The Conquest performs seven-day western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, one of Carnival's fastest-growing ports.
PRINCESS CRUISES WILL ... Begin calling in Belize on its Panama Canal itineraries next year. The Coral Princess -- between Oct. 11, 2004, and April 17, 2005 -- will make 19 stops in Belize City on its 10-day cruises. The new calls are part of Princess' 2004-2005 Panama Canal cruise schedule.
CRYSTAL SERENITY passengers on the vessel's July 7 inaugural cruise will sail for free because the ship won't be ready in time for its debut, according to Crystal Cruises. The line said last week that "unexpected delays" in the final construction phase of the Serenity at Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, pushed back the ship's timetable -- meaning, Crystal said, it may not have sufficient time to train the crew on board or add finishing touches to staterooms and public areas. "As a result," Crystal said, "the quality of our service and our onboard experience may not meet [our] uncompromising standards." In addition to offering the cruise gratis, Crystal will waive cancellation penalties for passengers who want to cancel.
THE NORWAY left the Port of Miami Friday, where it has been tied up for a month following a boiler explosion May 25, which disabled the Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The Norway, with 85 crew aboard, will be towed to Lands End in the western U.K. By the time the Norway reaches its destination -- the tow will take about three weeks -- the line likely will have decided where it will then go for repairs, a spokeswoman said. The Norway will be out of service at least until the beginning of October, according to NCL.
GLORY BE: Carnival Cruise Lines took delivery Friday of the 2,974-passenger Carnival Glory, the second ship in Carnival's 110,000-ton Conquest-class series. The Glory will be the largest vessel to homeport in Port Canaveral, Fla. The ship, which was built at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard, will be christened by astronaut Sally Ride before departing on its pre-inaugural cruise to Mexico July 14; it will begin its seven-day Caribbean cruises starting July 19.
MEANWHILE, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Miracle will serve as a floating hotel during Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla. The Miracle will be docked Feb. 2 to 7, 2005, and will provide 1,062 additional hotel rooms to the city for Super Bowl attendees. Super Bowl XXXIX will kick off Feb. 6 at ALLTEL Stadium.
Cruise Updates for June 2003
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES' Jubilee will undergo a refurbishment and be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia in fall 2004. The 1,486-passenger Jubilee, one of the smallest ships in the Carnival fleet, will become the largest ship based year-round in Australia and will more than double the size of the P&O Cruises operations in the region. The announcement was made during Carnival's first annual shareholders meeting with the former P&O Princess, held Monday in Southampton, England.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES appointed Luis Leon its executive vice president and CFO. Leon formerly was CFO for Graphic Packaging International Corp.
• The line plans to restore the reef surrounding its private Bahamian island, Coco Cay. Sovereign of the Seas crew will help place "reef balls," which resemble giant concrete whiffle balls, in the water to assist in coral growth.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE will add Antigua on two 2004 sailings and San Juan on three sailings of the Disney Magic. In addition, the Magic will offer the line's first 10-day itinerary on Dec. 18, 2004, which includes a new call in St. Lucia.
PODS WITH KA-POW: The Queen Mary 2 was fitted with four Rolls Royce Mermaid propulsion pods, which will propel the ship through the water at nearly 30 knots, Cunard said. The QM2's pods were in the spotlight earlier this year, when they were pulled and sent back to the manufacturer for additional testing.
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a new homeport for the Norwegian Star next fall. The homeport is Los Angeles to offer the line's first regularly scheduled Mexican Riviera cruises.
The eight-day itineraries feature an overnight stay in Acapulco, as well as calls in Zihuatanejo, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
The ship is scheduled to stay in the homeport of Los Angeles through April of 2005 and will not return to the present home in Hawaii.
After the Norwegian Star leaves Hawaii for Alaska in 2004, NCL stated a "state of the art" casino will be added in the nightclub Dazzles.
Royal Caribbean International has a ship even larger than its 3,114-passenger Voyager-class vessels on the drawing board, and it could be afloat by 2006. The newly designed "Ultra-Voyager" ship would be just under 160,000 tons, RCI said, 18,000 tons bigger than its Voyager cousins and about 10,000 tons bigger than the upcoming Queen Mary 2.
The vesselt would carry 2,600 guests, 500 more than the current Voyager ships. The cruise line signed an agreement with Finnish shipbuilder Kvaerner Masa-Yards that could lead to a firm order of an Ultra-Voyager ship by the end of August or, under certain conditions, by December -- provided that euro-dollar exchange rates move to a more favorable position, Royal Caribbean said. Another option is available for a delivery of a second ship in 2007 or 2008.
Norwegian Cruise Line will homeport the Norwegian Star in Los Angeles next fall to offer the line's first regularly scheduled Mexican Riviera cruises. The eight-day itineraries feature an overnight stay in Acapulco, as well as calls in Zihuatanejo, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. The Norwegian Star will not return to its original home in Hawaii any time soon: The ship is scheduled to stay in LA through April 2005. NCL said a "state of the art" casino will be added in Dazzles nightclub, as per the Norwegian Star's original design, after the ship leaves Hawaii for Alaska in April 2004.
PRINCESS CRUISES, meanwhile, said it will "dramatically" expand into the Hawaii market in 2004. The Island Princess will take over the 15-day roundtrip sailings from Los Angeles in place of the previously announced Regal Princess, and five additional sailings have been tacked on -- for a total of 15 Hawaii-bound departures. The Island Princess will offer sailings between Sept. 21, 2004, and April 19, 2005. The Regal Princess, meanwhile, moves to a series of Panama Canal cruises.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN AND CELEBRITY CRUISES revamped the price structure of their travel insurance to parallel the per-person price of the cruise. Previously, insurance was purchased based on the cruise length and destination.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE Monday cancelled another three months of cruises on the Norway, effective through the ship's Sept. 28 voyage. A boiler on the ship exploded during a turnaround in Miami on May 25, killing seven crew. "Although a detailed work specification has yet to be finalized," NCL said in a statement, "it is becoming clearer, with each additional day of inspections, that the repair work is likely to take months rather than weeks." Future Norway passengers will be given a full refund and a $50 credit, good for one year; agent commissions will be protected at 10% on bookings paid in full by June 8. Last week the line confirmed it was contacting shipyards regarding the Norway repairs. Meanwhile, five crew members who were being treated for injuries related to the explosion were discharged from the hospital. Four crew members remain hospitalized; one is in critical condition.
THE NUMBER of cruise passengers who cruised on Cruise Line Int'l Assn.-member lines jumped 23% over first-quarter 2002, to 2.2 million in first-quarter 2003. Of the total, 1.9 million were North Americans, which represented a 20% increase over the first three months of 2002. First-quarter industry occupancy was 101.3%, CLIA said. CLIA chairman Mark Conroy said the numbers were "an encouraging vote of confidence."
SILVERSEA CRUISES welcomed some high-profile guests onboard the Silver Whisper last weekend: Russian President Vladimir Putin had the ship chartered during the celebrations of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg. A summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States took place, as well as a Saturday night dinner in The Restaurant where President George W. Bush, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Putin were the honored guests. French President Jacques Chirac also put in an appearance. According to a Silversea spokesman, no advance press was done for security reasons. But he revealed that the heads of state overnighted in the ship's 701-square foot Silver Suites.
CUNARD LINE sold its 668-passenger Caronia to U.K.-headquartered Saga Group, and the ship will leave the fleet in November 2004 to join its sister ship, the former Sagafjord [now known as the Saga Rose], which is one of two ships the Saga Group currently operates. The Caronia, formerly known as the Vistafjord, was moved to a home base in Southampton, England, in 2002 and is positioned for the U.K. and European cruise markets where it will continue to sail for the foreseeable future.
SILVERSEA CRUISES said booking activity in "recent weeks" jumped 35% over the same period last year. The line said it recorded "robust demand" for bookings for its 2004 season.
Cruise Updates for May 2003
Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas will add additional Hawaii and Panama Canal cruises to its 2003 and 2004 lineup. Due to security issues and the recent SARS scare, RCI scraped the Legend's scheduled sailings to the South Pacific and Australia supporting the exotic destinations but staying closer the the USA.
The ship will sail six new 10- and 11-day Hawaii cruises and four additional 14-day Panama Canal cruises through May 2004.
REGAL CRUISES set up a facility to handle refund claims. Refund forms can be downloaded from Regal's Web site [www.regalcruises.com] and the claims center will be operational though the end of the year. Regal Cruises declared bankruptcy after 50 years and was forced out of business when its only cruise ship was seized by US Marshalls on April 18th because of debts.
Carnival Cruise Lines will shift ships around in 2004 to bring more tonnage to Tampa, Fla., and New Orleans. The Carnival Miracle, Carnival's yet-to-be completed 2,124-passenger ship, will homeport in Tampa beginning in November 2004, offering seven-day western Caribbean cruises. That route is now sailed by the Inspiration, which will shift to four- and five-day cruises to Grand Cayman and Cozumel in October 2004, taking over a route sailed by the Sensation. The 2,052-passenger Sensation will reposition to New Orleans in October 2004 and fill a berth left vacant by the Holiday by offering four- and five-day sailings to Mexico. The Holiday, as reported, is moving to Jacksonville, Fla.
THE SERENADE OF THE SEAS, Royal Caribbean Cruises' newest vessel, will debut in New York in August, making it the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail an inaugural season from the port, as well as the first to offer itineraries north of the border from the Big Apple. The Serenade will sail five- and six-day itineraries to Canada through Oct. 27 and will reposition to San Juan for its winter season.
PRINCESS CRUISES unveiled some new concepts on its next Grand-class ship, the Caribbean Princess, during its Caribbean Marketplace Seminar in New York. For instance, the cover above the forward pool will be removed and the mini-golf course relocated to provide more spots for sunbathing; a new al fresco restaurant, Cafe Caribe, will be created by extending the buffet restaurant; and a high-energy, hi-tech dance club called Club Fusion will be added to attract a younger clientele. The Caribbean Princess also will not use Steiner Leisure to operate its Lotus Spa as spa operations will be brought in-house, Princess said
PRINCESS extended its Canada/New England program for 2004 and will send the Regal Princess and the Grand Princess to the region. The two ships will offer 13 voyages, including seven roundtrip seven-day sailings from New York on the Grand Princess, five New York-Montreal sailings on the Regal Princess and one cruise on the Regal Princess from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale.
Carnival Cruise Lines president Bob Dickinson became its CEO as well. According to a company statement, the title change "more accurately reflects Dickinson's role."
CRYSTAL CRUISES' guests arriving from Toronto, Singapore and Vietnam will be allowed to sail with the line again, effective with cruises departing in June. The line had barred passengers from those regions due to fears about the spread of SARS. Guests who have transited through China, Hong Kong and Taiwan within 10 days of the sailing will not be permitted to board.
• Jacksonville is drawing attention from cruise execs, as Carnival Cruise Lines became the second major line to line up departures from the northern Florida port. Carnival will inaugurate service from Jacksonville in March 2004 with the debut of the 2,124- passenger Carnival Miracle. The line will begin year-round Jacksonville cruising in October 2004 when the Holiday will relocate from New Orleans. Carnival said a "larger vessel" will replace the 1,452- passenger Holiday in New Orleans, and it has not announced where the Miracle will sail following its inaugural Jacksonville cruises.
• Princess Cruises cancelled its fall 2003 Asia itineraries on the Star Princess because of lack of demand related to SARS. The vessel was reassigned to roundtrip Mexican Riviera itineraries departing from Los Angeles. But Princess is slated to return to Asia in 2004; the line released its catalog of "exotics" cruises last week.
• Holland America Line added 19 visits to Glacier Bay National Park to its 2003 Alaska cruise schedule. The line said nearly 80% of its Alaska-bound cruises will visit Glacier Bay.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will launch its interisland Hawaii cruises in summer 2004 with two U.S.-flagged ships under a new brand: NCL America. In addition to NCL's first U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed vessel--currently known as its Project America ship--the line will reflag the Norwegian Sky under a U.S. registry, rename it and sail it in Hawaii under the NCL America brand.
THE RENAMED NORWEGIAN SKY will begin NCL's first series of short cruises in Hawaii in October 2004. Andy Stuart, senior vp-sales and marketing, said the line would get "more creative" about selling the Sky's three- and four-day Hawaii cruises and will turn to tour operators to package the cruises with longer Hawaii vacations. The unnamed Project America ship, meanwhile, will begin cruising in Hawaii in July 2004. NCL will round out its 2004 Hawaii deployment with two foreign-flagged ships, the Norwegian Wind and the Norwegian Star; they will include stops at Fanning Island as part of their itineraries. The new deployment will increase NCL's projected passenger numbers in Hawaii by 40%, to almost 200,000 passengers in 2004, the line said.
Carnival's Holiday will relocate to Jacksonville from Galveston, Texas, in October to begin year-round Carnival sailings from the north Florida port.
Cruise Updates for April 2003
REGAL CRUISES ceased operations April 28 and canceled the future sailings of its only ship, the Regal Empress. The mid-century ocean liner, which operated cruises from New York and Port Manatee, Fla., had been idled in its berth at Port Manatee after a creditor was granted a lien against the ship April 18. In a statement from the cruise line, Regal said it sought a buyer for the line but was unsuccessful due to a worldwide decline in travel and "the short time frame within which the Company could conclude its ongoing sale negotiations necessitated by the arrest." A telephone message at the company's headquarters Palmetto, Fla., said information about how to apply for a refund will be made available "shortly." The message said Regal posted a bond with the Federal Maritime Commission, as is required for ships operating from U.S. ports. Visit www.regalcruises.com for updates.
Carnival adjusts fleets, delivery (4/28/2003)
By Rebecca Tobin
MIAMI -- Carnival Corp. added a new ship to its newly acquired Princess Cruises fleet and reduced the number of Vista-class vessels slated for Holland America Line from five to four.
The company also extended the delivery dates on three ships under construction at Italy's Fincantieri yard: Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Valor will be delivered in December 2004 instead of September 2004; HAL's fourth and final Vista-class ship will be delivered in January 2006 instead of October 2005; and Cunard Line's Queen Victoria will be delivered in March 2005 instead of January 2005.
CEO Micky Arison said slowing the delivery schedule gives the group a "more rational and efficient timetable" to absorb the upcoming capacity increases.
"It is also a testament to our excellent relationship with Fincantieri," he added.
Princess' new ship will be slated for a Caribbean-based itinerary when it is delivered in May 2006.
The ship, a sister to the 116,000-ton Caribbean Princess, is part of Princess' aggressive strategy to increase its presence in the Caribbean -- and target what it termed its "primary rival," Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The working name for the ship is the Caribbean Princess 2.
By 2006, the line said it will have about 50% of its total capacity in the Caribbean.
The new vessel will be constructed by Fincantieri at an all-in cost of $500 million. rnival Glory in Mexico - Carnival Cruise Lines has added a special 5-day Inaugural Cruise to Mexico on July 14, 2003 aboard their newest oceanliner, Carnival Glory, a 110,000 ton ship. The cruise will originate in Port Canaveral prior to her year-round 7-day cruises to the Caribbean from the same port.
This cruise ship will be the largest Carnival ship ever based in the Canaveral port and will replace the Carnival Pride on the Caribbean route increasing the cruise capacity by 40%.
The Inaugural cruise will sail to Costa Maya beaches along with a stop at Cozumel. Prices begin at $549 pp. For more information, contact your UNIGLOBE cruise specialist.
Crystal bans Toronto arrivals in May (4/22/2003)
MIAMI -- Crystal Cruises barred passengers arriving from the Toronto metro area, or anyone who has passed through Toronto within the previous 10 days, from boarding a Crystal cruise. The new policy affects cruises in May.
Those passengers booked on the cruises in May coming from Toronto will receive a full refund. There were less than 20 cruisers booked on Crystal from the Toronto destination. Crystal has already denied boarding to passengers arriving from Singapore, China, Vietnam and Hong Kong as other cruise lines have done.
Crystal Cruises sold out the three rescheduled cruises that were moved from Asia to Los Angeles within a week.
COSTA CRUISES said a fire on the Costa Fortuna, which is under construction, will not delay the work schedule or the vessel's delivery. The fire broke out on the aft section of deck 8, which will house passenger cabins. The fire was extinguished after three-and-a-half hours and there were no serious injuries. The cause of the fire was under investigation. The 2,720-passenger ship -- Costa's largest -- is under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, and is scheduled for a November delivery, Costa said.
THE CARNIVAL CONQUEST, Carnival Cruise Lines' largest vessel, will remain in Gulfport, Miss., through the week of June 1. The ship was pulled from its homeport in New Orleans in March after the Mississippi River rose too high for the ship to safely pass underneath a low-hanging power line owned by Entergy Corp. Passengers with air booked to New Orleans will be transferred to the ship by coach. The ship will have spent 12 weeks in Gulfport waiting out the high waters before it returns to the Crescent City.
CRYSTAL may have the answer for clients who want to book close and stay close. After it cut short the remainder of its Asia program due to SARS-related cancellations, the line hastily arranged a May 1 and a May 10 cruise to Mexico from Los Angeles. Rates are going for less than $130 per day. The Harmony will sail from Los Angeles to Vancouver on May 17 to start its Alaska season.
CARNIVAL CORP. and P&O PRINCESS -- the latter now is known as Carnival plc -- closed their merger transaction Thursday, bringing to an end the 16-month saga that began with a merger agreement between P&O Princess and Royal Caribbean Cruises and ended with a marriage to Carnival -- the biggest cruise line combination in history. Micky Arison is CEO and chairman of the combined group, and former P&O Princess CEO Peter Ratcliffe became an executive director. Carnival Corp. remains the world's largest cruise conglomerate, with 13 lines, 66 ships and about 100,000 berths. The two companies had a combined net income last year of $1.33 billion.
P&O Princess voters seal the merger (4/16/2003)
By Rebecca Tobin
LONDON -- It's official: P&O Princess Cruises will become part of the Carnival Corp family. The deal was sealed today (April 16) here when a majority of P&O Princess shareholders voted in favor of a merger between P&O Princess and Carnival Corp. A majority of Carnival Corp. shareholders voted in favor of the deal Monday.
The newly formed cruise conglomerate will be the world's largest and will include 13 cruise lines, 66 ships and 100,000 berths.
The company will remain Carnival Corp. in the U.S.; P&O Princess will be renamed Carnival plc in the U.K. The deal is expected to close tomorrow (April 17).
Carnival shareholders approve merger (4/14/2003)
NEW YORK -- Carnival's shareholders April 14 approved the merger with P&O Princess Cruises at a special meeting here. Carnival declined to reveal the vote totals. The final step in bringing the combination into being is a vote by P&O Princess shareholders in London April 16. If that is approved, then the new company's shares will begin trading in London and New York on April 22.
CRUISE BRIEFS - Week of April 14, 2003
• Cunard Line picked its china pattern for its blushing bride, the Queen Mary 2. To be more precise, Wedgwood designed a signature pattern exclusively for the ship, which will be used in its exclusive Queens Grill and Princess Grill restaurants.
• Kosher-only cruises will begin in December on board Windstar Cruises' Wind Surf. The cruises, slated for December and January, will be offered under charter by Chosen Voyage, a new enterprise, and will be the first kosher-only cruises, the company said. Wind Surf's galleys will be rendered into kosher facilities, with new utensils and dishes brought in for the charters in the Eastern Caribbean. The spokesman said Jewish-oriented activities will be an on-board focus.
• Carnival Cruise Lines added a new teen shore-excursions program to its cruises. Kids ages 12 through 15 vote on the tours of their choice and the excursion with the highest number of votes is then selected as the group's chosen activity for that port.
• Crystal Cruises canceled its April 15 Crystal Harmony cruise from Yokohama, Japan, to Beijing, citing a high rate of passenger cancellations for that itinerary. The cruise had previously been modified to avoid a Hong Kong embarkation.
• ResidenSea canceled the remainder of the World's Asia season and will bring the ship to Hawaii, Mexico and the western U.S. after its revised Australian season finishes April 24. The ship resumes its published schedule on July 11 in Anchorage, Alaska.
• China river cruise operators are taking a hit. A spokesman for Victoria Cruises reported "loads of cancellations" and said the line was operating only four ships. A China Regal Cruises representative said business was down by at least 60% to 70%.
• Several cruise lines stepped up efforts to prevent SARS from appearing on board their ships. For example, passengers checking in on all Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises ships are now required to fill out a SARS-related questionnaire on embarkation--passengers will be denied boarding if they have visited or passed through China, Singapore or Vietnam in the past 10 days.
ALASKA is growing in popularity among cruise passengers: the Cruise Lines Int'l Assn. said cruise capacity in the 49th state will increase by 4% this year. "The number of cruises to Alaska has been rising steadily," said Bob Sharak, executive director of CLIA. "In 2002 there were 431 Alaska cruises; we anticipate 460 this year."
Cunard Line's new 85,000-ton vessel, scheduled to enter service in 2005, will be named the Queen Victoria. Dedicated to the British cruise market, the Queen Victoria will be the second largest Cunard liner, carrying 1,968 passengers. The Queen Victoria is under construction at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard and will operate roundtrip Southampton cruises to the Mediterranean, Canaries and Northern Europe as well as cruises to the Caribbean.
Carnival Cruise Lines moved up the debut day of the Carnival Glory and added one five-day inaugural cruise to Mexico. The newly created cruise will sail July 14 from Port Canaveral, Fla., to Costa Maya and Cozumel. The 110,000-ton Glory begins its year-round seven-day Caribbean program from the port July 19.
CARNIVAL'S CELEBRATION emerged from drydock with a multimillion-dollar facelift. The 15-year-old ship's lobby, dining rooms and cabins were refurbished, and "cosmetic enhancements" were made to the public rooms. Carnival Cruise Lines noted that new carpeting, furniture and wall hangings in the purser's lobby will create a more contemporary atmosphere. The Celebration resumed its four- and five-day sailings from Galveston, Texas.
Princess Cruises will send three vessels, including two of its largest ships, to Europe next year. The 2,600-passenger Grand Princess will offer Baltic itineraries; Princess said it would be the largest ship to sail in the region. Sister ship Star Princess will take over Princess' 12-day Grand Mediterranean route, as well as three new Greek Isles cruises. The 1,200-passenger Royal Princess, meanwhile, will offer a series of western European cruises.
Cruise Updates for March 2003
SECURITY AT CRUISE PORTS was ratcheted up last week following the start of the war in Iraq with the introduction of the Dept. of Homeland Security's "Liberty Shield," a nationwide security initiative that includes increased water patrols and cruise ship escorts, and armed Coast Guard sea marshals on some "high interest" vessels. The ports and cruise industry have operated at a Level III security alert, its highest, since 9/11; a spokeswoman for the International Council of Cruise Lines described the security additions as "Level III-plus." Additional security measures that were visible to the public included increased inspections of luggage and carry-on articles, additional security personnel and controls, and canine inspections.
THE CARNIVAL SPIRIT added two roundtrip departures from San Diego: A six-day Baja Mexico voyage on Oct. 18 and an eight-day Mexico Riviera cruise on Oct. 24. The two new cruises replace a 14-day roundtrip cruise to Hawaii.
THE ROCK-CLIMBING WALLS affixed to the smokestacks of Royal Caribbean International's newest ships will be installed on the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet by the end of this year, the company said last week. The walls were an industry first when introduced on the line's first Voyager-class vessel in 1999. The retrofit will start with the Monarch of the Seas in late May and is scheduled to be completed by November with the Legend of the Seas. Dan Hanrahan, Royal's senior vp-marketing and sales, said the rock-climbing walls, which are featured in the line's ad campaign, have become a brand icon. "Increasingly," he said, "the rock-climbing walls have become the symbol of the active ... spirit we are known for."
Seabourn’s 24-Hour Cancellation Policy - Seabourn offers their passengers a new supplemental insurance option that will allow guests to cancel their cruise booking regardless of the reason.
With the SeabournShield Plus coverage, guests have the option to cancel up to 24 hours before the departure date. The terms of the new policy offer the guests who have booked cruises from June 1 to December 31, 2003 and cancel before their cruise, a cruise credit equal to 90% of the paid fare that can be used on any of Seabourn’s cruise departing within one year from the original departure date.
The premium for the coverage is $295 per person and is non-refundable. The supplemental option must be purchased with the comprehensive SeabournShield travel policy covering cancellation or interruption for medical, emergency medical transportation, baggage damage, delays and other standard contingencies.
Guests that had existing bookings had the opportunity to purchase the additional option by March 7th.
CUNARD LINE showed off its partially completed flagship, the Queen Mary 2, still resting in its drydock basin at Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France. The QM2 is to be delivered to Cunard in December; yard CEO Patrick Boissier said the ship is on schedule despite some problems with its propulsion pods. Guests donned hard hats and were invited to tour the unfurnished interiors of the 150,000-ton ship, ending up on the top deck of the ship where Boissier, Carnival Corp.
Carnival Liberty will be the name of Carnival Cruise Lines' fourth Conquest-class ship. The Liberty is Carnival's final ship on order and is scheduled to enter service in fall 2005. The 2,974-passenger vessel will be constructed at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. Itineraries have not yet been set.
MIAMI -- Windstar unveiled a 2004 cruise schedule that includes expanded options in Tahiti and a dedicated homeport in St. Thomas for the Wind Surf's 16 Caribbean voyages.
The Wind Star, which is offering Windstar's Tahitian Island cruises, will sail two 14-day cruises from Tahiti roundtrip to the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotu and the islands of Bora Bora and Moorea in Tahiti. The two new cruises are in addition to the Wind Star's weekly lineup of seven-day Tahiti cruises.
The Wind Surf, meanwhile, will spend its winters in the Caribbean offering seven-day sailings from St. Thomas; the Wind Spirit will make 12 roundtrip sailings from St. Thomas to the Virgin Islands; and six between St. Thomas and Barbados.
In Europe the line will offer Baltic cruises for a second year, as well as Mediterranean and Greek Isles voyages
Windstar Cruises launches its first-ever season in the Baltic in 2003, featuring an overnight stay in St. Petersburg, Russia. Guests will be able to enjoy the many celebrations taking place in honor of St. Petersburg’s 300th anniversary.
The 308-passenger luxury sailing yacht Wind Surf will journey to the Baltic and Northern Europe on a total of eight cruises from June 29 to September 11, 2003. Three different itineraries are offered including two 10-day cruises between Lisbon, Portugal and London, England; two 12-day cruises between London and Copenhagen, Denmark; and four 10-day cruises roundtrip from Copenhagen.
The countries she will call on include Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Norway, England, Scotland, France, Spain, and Portugal, many of those for the first time ever. All cruises also have days at sea that allows guests to indulge in the many first-class services offered by a pampering, yet unpretentious staff.
OVER THE RAINBOW: Carnival Cruise Lines' interior designer Joe Farcus has picked his latest design theme-rainbow hues--for Carnival's upcoming ship, the Carnival Glory. From the Colors Atrium to the Amber Palace show lounge, the Blue Bar jazz club and the "Liberace-like" White Heat Dance Club, each room will play off a different color theme. The Glory will be Farcus' 22nd design for Carnival. He said it will be "spectacular in a quiet, unassuming way."
SEVERAL CRUISE LINES caught the cancellation protection bug last week:
• Costa Cruises waived cancellation penalties on all spring transatlantic and 2003 Europe cruises. Guests can receive a full refund on their cruise-only fare, as long as they make the decision to cancel by April 30.
• Radisson Seven Seas Cruises president Mark Conroy said the line will refund the penalty portion of a canceled cruise as a cruise credit good for one year, less a $200 administrative fee.
ALOHA! Clients will be able to sail interisland Hawaii cruises on Norwegian Cruise Line by summer 2004, the line said. An appropriations bill, signed by president George W. Bush, includes a provision that gives the line an exemption from the century-old Passenger Services Act, which prevents foreign-flagged vessels from operating directly between two U.S. ports. The provision allows NCL to complete the construction, in a foreign yard, of two unfinished "Project America" ships that were being built with federal subsidies for the bankrupt American Classic Voyages, and register them under the U.S. flag. It also allows NCL to re-flag a current foreign-flagged ship under the U.S. flag.
Cruise Updates for February 2003
THE GOLDEN PRINCESS will show up in the Caribbean in summer 2004, along with a yet-to-be-completed ship, which has been renamed the Caribbean Princess from the Crown Princess. As its name suggests, the Caribbean Princess will sail in the destination year-round beginning with its maiden cruise May 17, 2004. This will be the first time Princess has two ships sailing summer Caribbean routes.
CREDIT FOR CANCELLATIONS Crystal Cruises revised its travel insurance program for last-minute cancellations. With the program, travelers on voyages between May 15 and Dec. 31 can cancel their cruise for any reason up to three days before departure and receive 90% of the fare as a future cruise credit. The program costs $200 per person for cruises costing under $8,000 or 3% of the cruise fare for voyages more than $8,000.
CELEBRITY CRUISES is rolling out some of the onboard improvements it talked about last year as part of its "brand transformation" program: expanded hours and added options in the spas; additional cuisine choices; frosty towels and sorbet service at poolside; and increased opportunities for guests to interact with the ship's officers (with or without sorbet in hand).
Grand Princess Pulled From Mediterranean Itinerary - In the first major redeployment of 2003, Grand Princess will shift from its planned 12-day Mediterranean cruises to seven-day Caribbean voyages, P&O Princess said today. ....
Passengers will be rebooked on the Med sailings of Golden Princess.
Instead of the 11 Med cruises and two Atlantic crossings in the period May 4 to October 5, Grand Princess will now offer 22 seven-day Caribbean cruises. The company does not expect the change to significantly impact earnings.
This summer was the first that Princess planned to operate two of its 109,000gt Grand-class vessels in the Mediterranean, but in recent financial briefings to analysts, P&O Princess ceo Peter Ratcliffe noted sales were lagging behind expectations.
CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL WELCOMES 14 NEW SHIPS - Fourteen new vessels—as well as three re-launched ships and several others that were introduced in late 2002 but which will have their inaugural sailing seasons in the new year—will make 2003 another record year in the cruise industry, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The ships range from intimate vessels carrying 74 passengers to 3,000-passenger megaships. CLIA member lines introducing new ships this month and during 2003 include Bora Bora Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Holland America Line; MSC Italian Cruises, Norwegian Coastal Voyage Inc./Bergen Line Services, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Swan Hellenic.