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December 30, 2004

ALASKA With Cruise West

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This is Your Year For Alaska

Alaska. The very name means Great Land. And within her borders, encompassing more than half a million square miles, lies a world so vast, so wild, so rich, that you can visit a hundred times and never grasp her scope.

From the deep fjords and hidden coves of the Inside Passage, to the towering peaks of Denali National Park, this is a land of extremes. Majestic mountains. Thundering glaciers. Ancient cultures. Picturesque ports. Vast, sweeping tundra.

Small-ship voyages on Cruise West will share Alaska's secret with you. You'll dance with native children . . . thrill to the crash of calving glaciers . . let your spirits rise with soaring eagles. Each of their eight distinctive Alaska voyages offers unique insights, from the whales in the Inside Passage to the seal and bird rookeries of the Aleutians.

To know all of Alaska is a lifelong journey. To experience the best of Alaska's wonders is the gift of your Cruise West voyage. Begin your adventure now!

DID YOU KNOW . . .

  • That Alaska has more space and fewer people than any of the other 49 states in the U.S. 656,425 square miles and 648,818 people (less than one person per square mile). Compare that to New York: only 47,214 square miles and more than 19 million people (more than 400 people per square mile!).

  • That nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.

  • That 17 of the North America's 20 highest mountains are located in Alaska.

  • That Alaska extends across four time zones, a distance equal to the span from Maine to Washington.

  • That U.S. Secetary of State William H. Seward purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for less than two cents an acre.

  • That the brown bears found along Alaska's coast are the largest living carnivorous land mammals in the world.

  • That Alaska's waters are home to 17 species of whales: including Pacific gray, humpback, beluga, bowhead, and minke.

View more information about Alaska Cruises and Cruisetours!

Taken From Cruise West's 2005 Alaska Brochure

Posted by Denise at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2004

WEDDING'S AT SEA

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WEDDING'S AT SEA

Up until the time Princess Cruises launched its weddings program at sea in 1998, no such ceremonies has been conducted...in more than 100 years! Princess captains (providing the ship has a Bermuda registry) are the only captains authorized for weddings at sea. And Princess Cruises is the only cruise line that offers this!

Hundreds of couples get married each year by Princess captains. It is offers in such waters around the globe as the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Alaska and more! Harborside ceremonies in embarkation ports or onshore weddings are also available in select ports of call.

Every wedding ceremony package at sea with Princess Cruises includes: live music, champagne, bridal bouquet and matching boutonniere, a photo package with album, wedding cake, souvenir wedding certificate, and the services of the ships onboard wedding coordinators. They make sure everything runs smoothly!

The couple can customize their wedding with a variety of items. They can add a reception with food and beverages, floral, photography and even video. Plus, pre- and post-ceremony spa packages are also available.

Couples who don't particularly want to spend their honeymoon with friends and family can tell their loved one's to view the ceremony online at www.princess.com Here on Princess Cruises website they are the first cruise line offering live wedding cams located in the chapel onboard. The image refreshes once per minute enabling viewers to follow the proceedings as they happen. This camera is optional and is only used with the couples permission.

Prices and details of Princess Cruises wedding packages at sea are:

Pearl Package $1400 US*
-Traditional wedding music (taped)
-Photo package including two 8x10 colour prints and four 5x7 colour prints
-VHS video recording of ceremony (1 copy)
-Lithograph of your Princess ship signed by the Captain
-A framed wedding photo taken with the Captain
-Souvenir parchment Wedding Certificate

Emerald Package $1800 US*
-Traditional wedding music performed live by a pianist
-A fabulous photo package including four 8x10 colour prints and ten 5x7 colour prints
-VHS video recording of ceremony (2 copies)
-Lithograph of your Princess ship signed by the Captain
-A framed wedding photo taken with the Captain
-Souvenir parchment Wedding Certificate

Diamond Package $2400 US*
-Traditional wedding music performed live by a string quartet
-A deluxe photo package including a Wedding Album, eight 8x10 colour prints and ten 5x7 colour prints
-VHS video recording of ceremony (4 copies)
-Lithograph of your Princess ship signed by the Captain
-A framed wedding photo taken with the Captain
-Souvenir parchment Wedding Certificate

*Fees for ceremony, registration & offical marriage certificate included

Starting in June 2004 Princess Cruises will have eight ships with wedding chapels onboard!

Written By Denise Blackmore
For More Information About Wedding Packages At Sea Click Here!

Posted by Denise at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2004

Romantic Wedding Packages

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ROMANTIC SHIPBOARD AND SHORESIDE WEDDING PACKAGES ABOARD NEW CARNIVAL VALOR

MIAMI ‚?? Carnival Cruise Lines‚?? new Carnival Valor will offer a variety of all-inclusive and affordable wedding packages for couples seeking a romantic, unforgettable way to begin their lives together.

Carnival Valor‚??s wedding packages will feature a shipboard ceremony during embarkation day or at various on-island locations in the eastern and western Caribbean. Wedding vows renewal packages are also available. The wedding and vows renewal packages are part of the line‚??s popular fleetwide wedding program, which is expected to host 2,200 couples in 2005.

Shipboard wedding options include the popular ‚??Just for the Bride & Groom‚?Ě package, which starts at $750 and includes an official civil ceremony, a champagne toast with keepsake flutes, flowers for both bride and groom, a wedding cake with cake topper, pre-recorded wedding music, a decorated bridal aisle and photographic services.

The more elaborate ‚??Welcome Aboard‚?Ě package starts at $1,350 and offers all the amenities of ‚??Just for the Bride & Groom‚?Ě as well as a reception with one-hour open bar and hot-and-cold hors d‚??oeuvres, a traditional two-tiered wedding cake and coffee service. Couples may also select the ‚??Deluxe Romance‚?Ě package, which includes a one-and-a-half hour reception and an ice carving, as well as all the features of the other programs. Prices for this package begin at $1,450.

Also available is the ‚??Ceremony and Wedding Luncheon,‚?Ě which includes the amenities offered in the ‚??Just for the Bride and Groom‚?Ě package, as well as a full-service luncheon in the ship‚??s main dining room. The package includes a five-course meal, wine, champagne and other beverages. Prices begin at $1,050.

Shoreside ceremonies combining a variety of all-inclusive amenities with a romantic tropical setting are also available in St. Thomas on eastern Caribbean cruises and Grand Cayman and Cozumel on the western route.

A wide variety of options such as videography services, live music and tuxedo rental are also available at additional cost.

Carnival Valor is slated to enter service from Miami Dec. 15, 2004 with a special two-day introductory voyage to Nassau, The Bahamas. The ship is scheduled to begin year-round seven-day service from Miami Dec. 19, operating alternating week-long voyages to the eastern and western Caribbean. Eastern Caribbean cruises call at Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, while western Caribbean cruises visit Belize City, Belize; Isla Roatan, Honduras; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Press Release By Carnival

Additional information about Alaska Cruises
Additional information about Tahiti Cruises
Additional information about Mexico Cruises

Posted by Denise at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2004

Finding The Perfect Cruise

Finding The Perfect Cruise!

1) Find the perfect ship that's right for you!

When you are looking at booking a cruise vacation most people focus on the destination and overlook many aspects of the ship itself. Which ship you choose can affect your entire vacation. Cruise lines and individual cruise ships vary greatly in terms of atmosphere, facilities and value. Some ships cater to the adventure-oriented, nightclub/party-all-the-time ambience, some are more pampering offer a great spa, and others are ideal for curling up on deck with a good book. We suggest you work with one of our Cruise Specialists to find the right cruise for you. We'll discuss your budget, what you're looking for out of the holiday and help you decide on the perfect ship for you!

2) Book early!

There is only one way to get the best price on a cruise: book early. When you book early you'll receive the best choice of staterooms (not only stateroom type, but choice of location), you'll have the best choice of dining times (in many destinations a specific dining time is sold out quickly), and you'll receive an early booking price. If your cruise price is reduced prior to the final payment date (usually 75 days prior to sailing) our Cruise Specialist will reduce your rate so you'll pay the best rate!

3) Get the best stateroom you can afford!

Some people say that it doesn't matter what your stateroom is like, since you'll only sleep there. Not so! If this is your honeymoon, a special anniversary or birthday, you'll want every detail to be perfect. When you have a nicer stateroom you spent more time in it. Sleep in a little later, order room service for breakfast, watch a DVD or relax with a book on your balcony. Don't assume anything: a king or queen-size bed and bathtubs are not in every stateroom on a ship. While some suites do have oversized beds, most other staterooms have single beds that are pushed together for couples. Most cabins have small (single-occupancy) showers, not bathtubs, so if you like to soak ask for a room with a bathtub. Most important, a nice stateroom makes you more inclined to enjoy things like room service and sipping morning coffee in your plush bathrobe. The ultimate luxury: a private veranda so you can leave your sliding-glass doors open and fall asleep to the sounds of the sea.

4) Take care of business!

A bit of preparation pays off in a carefree trip. Whether you've been busy with work, the kids or just finished planning your wedding, it's easy to forget that life will go on while you're away. Such as the mail (stop it). And bills (pay them). I suggest taping a "To Do" list to your fridge and check things off as you go. Remember while packing to include film, extra batteries, sunscreen and travel-size toiletries. You'll find these items are more expensive to buy on the ship, and you may not find your favourite products.

5) Pack light, pack right!

Be prepared for the off chance your luggage gets misplaced by the airline or takes a little longer to find your stateroom on the ship. Take a small carry-on bag and fill it with some essentials: medication, sunglasses, make-up and even something to wear for dinner. As added protection, buy travel insurance that covers you for lost, stolen, damaged or delayed luggage.

6) Beat the rush!

On most cruises, you'll want to schedule all kinds of activities on and off the ship. So will everyone else on board and usually at the same time. Shore excursions on many cruise lines can be pre-booked, but still allow you to change your mind. Spa packages on many lines can be pre- booked, however spa treatments are best to book the first day when you board as certain days are more popular and will book up quickly. For example, if you want to get anything done on the first day at sea, which is also the Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party and Dinner, you'll find appointments are booked up quickly. It's also a good idea to make your specialty restaurant reservations on the first day of the cruise so you don't lose out.

7) Be shore-savvy!

Some shore excursions are worth taking and others not so much. How do you know the difference? Just looking a the shore excursions guide you'll find activities that interest you. Stick to tours that offer something different! Take a helicopter flight over a glacier, scuba dive at night, go white water rafting or take a spectacular scenic train trip. A car and driver can be a more personal (and less costly) way to sightsee than on a motor coach. To make it more fun (and affordable), put a group together with some new friends you've met on board. Just make sure you're back to ship at least an hour before sailing.you don't want to miss the boat.

8) Get the royal treatment!

Ask our Cruise Specialist which ships offer their passengers more on board. Some ships and certain staterooms or suites include extras like terry cloth bathrobes, fruit baskets, complimentary champagne, etc. Our Cruise Specialist will make sure the ship is aware of your special occasion and we'll include a special Bon Voyage gift just for you! In addition, ask about honeymoon and anniversary packages that include special extras like a formal portrait in an engraved frame, a champagne breakfast in bed or side-by-side massages.

9) Gratuities!

The last night of the cruise is a bittersweet time. You've had fun. You're going home. And then there's that little business of tipping to take care of. Many cruise lines now have an automatic gratuity charged to your shipboard account each day. This is great because it means you don't have to sit in your stateroom and decide how much to leave, which people do I tip and whether you have enough small bills. The amount is deducted off your credit card or however else you decide to payoff your stateroom account. Plus, if you feel the service wasn't up to par just contact the front desk and they'll adjust the amount for you.

10) Cruising for romance!

On most cruises, you'll be assigned a dinner table (usually with other passengers) and time (6pm or 8pm) for the entire trip. If you prefer to dine alone our Cruise Specialist will arrange this for you. We recommend you take one night to dine in the specialty restaurant(s) on board. These restaurants usually offer a 5+ course meal that far exceeds that of most restaurants on land and that takes approx. 3 hours. After dinner take a dip in the hot tubs (since they never close) and you'll probably find yourselves alone under the stars. For more alone time, stay on the ship when everyone else goes ashore.

Written By Denise Blackmore, ACC

Additional information about Alaska Cruises
Additional information about Tahiti Cruises
Additional information about Mexico Cruises

Posted by Denise at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2004

Cruise Ship Fine Dining

CRUISE SHIP DINING CONTINUES TO SURPASS EXPECTATIONS

New York - Cruise ship dining is as good as people say it is. Actually, it‚??s better! Passengers aboard the ships of the Cruise Lines International Association‚??s (CLIA) member-line fleets will find extraordinary cuisine and a choice of dining experiences unparalleled at any land-based resort.

‚??With the variety of cuisine and experiences available onboard, a cruise is a great opportunity to have your fill of your favorite tastes or sample something new,‚?Ě says Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA, the non-profit association representing the North American cruise industry and nearly 16,000 travel agencies. ‚??Cruise lines pride themselves on being able to cater to each guest‚??s individual tastes and that includes the dining experience.‚?Ě

Dining on cruise ships has changed over the years, so even experienced cruisers who have not been onboard recently will find many ways to enjoy fine dining at sea. Here are some common questions asked about cruise ship dining by both first-time and experienced cruisers:

Do I have to eat at the same table every night?
Many ships offer a choice of seating times with traditional assigned seating in the main restaurant while others offer open seating ‚?? the option to dine at a time when it is most convenient for you. While some enjoy the experience of assigned seating and meeting people who may become friends for a lifetime, others prefer a cozy table for two. The cruise lines make every effort to accommodate individual preferences.

Is the main dining room the only place to eat?
Actually, the dining room is only one of many dining venues available onboard. A cruise ship can have as many as 10 different restaurants onboard. Often, each venue reflects a different theme, atmosphere or cuisine. Guests can select from traditional American favorites to French, Italian and Asian menus as well as specialties from part of the world the ship is visiting and menus prepared by some of the world‚??s most renowned chefs. Since there are no prices on cruise ship menus, it‚??s a great opportunity to sample something new or order second helpings of your favorites. Many ships also feature alternative dining options in the form of supper clubs, bistros or upscale restaurants featuring specialty cuisine. Some of these alternative dining options carry nightly reservation fees per person while others only require reservations.

Do I have to dress formally for dinner?
Dinner does not have to be a formal affair. While most ships include ‚??formal nights‚?Ě as part of the cruise ship atmosphere, tuxedos are generally not required ‚?? jacket and tie suffice. And for those who opt not to ‚??get dressed up,‚?Ě most ships feature a variety of options, such as informal buffets on deck or poolside, pizza bars, grills and coffee shops. Some lines even feature such unique dining experiences as a beach barbecue, dinner under the stars or dining in the surf ‚?? the choice is yours!

What if I am hungry in the middle of the night?
You can eat 24 hours a day. Guests can grab a bite to eat from pizzerias, ice cream/frozen yogurt stations, and even restaurants that are open 24 hours a day. And those who prefer the comfort of dining in their stateroom or on their verandah can order from room service at any time of the day or night.

With all this food, isn‚??t it hard to eat healthy or maintain a diet?
While there is definitely an abundance of food, there is also an abundance of healthy options. From salads and vegetables to chicken, beef and fish, a variety of choices are available on each menu.

What if my youngster doesn‚??t want a gourmet meal or if I have special dietary needs?
Whether it‚??s youngsters who prefer kid-sized favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken fingers to five-course gourmet meals or those following specific diets, cruise ship galleys can accommodate preferences and dietary needs.

‚??With more than 150 ships in the CLIA fleet, it is important to select the cruise that meets your culinary expectations and can satisfy your dining needs. A CLIA-member travel agency can help you do just that,‚?Ě says Dale. ‚??These agents are the recognized experts when it comes to sharing the good word about cruise vacations. They have taken advantage of CLIA‚??s extensive ongoing education program, including personal cruise ship inspections and actual cruise experience.‚?Ě

Press Release By CLIA

Additional information about Alaska Cruises
Additional information about Europe Cruises
Additional information about Tahiti Cruises
Additional information about Mexico Cruises

Posted by Denise at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2004

Holland America Line Comes Home To New York In 2006

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Holland America Line Comes Home To New York In 2006

Premium Line Plans Caribbean Cruises From Former Headquarters

Seattle, December 9, 2004 ‚?? Holland America Line announced that in 2006 it will deploy the 1,848-passenger ms Noordam for its inaugural Caribbean season sailing from New York City, the line‚??s former headquarters. The premium cruise line will sail 13 Caribbean cruises from its new North American homeport beginning with the Noordam‚??s inaugural cruise on February 22. Two transatlantic sailings also include New York as a gateway.


‚??We have wanted to return to New York for some time now and the Noordam presents a wonderful opportunity to introduce our premium product and a new ship to another North American homeport,‚?Ě said Rick Meadows, CTC, senior vice president, marketing and sales. ‚??As our fleet expands, we capitalize on attractive new homeports and new deployment.

‚??We are thrilled to return to New York. We operated from Pier 40 in the sixties and early seventies and our company headquarters was in New York from 1978 to 1983,‚?Ě added Meadows. ‚??And, following the company‚??s founding in 1873, the original Rotterdam made the journey from Rotterdam to New York, the first of many during the great period of immigration to the United States.‚?Ě

The addition of New York completes Holland America Line‚??s Caribbean homeports in 2006 with Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Norfolk, and, now, New York.

New York Caribbean cruises feature a 10-day Eastern Caribbean program that visits Grand Turk, Turk and Caicos; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Departures sail on February 22, March 15, April 5, October 25, November 15, and December 6 and 27, 2006.

An 11-day Southern Caribbean itinerary calls at Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Roseau, Dominica; Bridgetown, Barbados; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sailings depart Mr. 4 and 25; Oct. 14; Nov. 4 and 25; and Dec. 16, 2006.

In addition, two 16-day transatlantic cruises sail between New York and Rome, departing New York on April 5 for Rome and returning on September 28. Ports of call feature Bermuda; the Azores; Cadiz, Valencia and Barcelona, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Livorno, Italy.

Holland America Line features a shore excursion program with more than 500 Caribbean offerings. Optional activities for cruise passengers feature such tours as the America‚??s Cup Regatta experience at Philipsburg, Tortola Dolphin Swim at Road Town, Tortola, and the Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel to St. John at St. Thomas. The latter offering is part of the Medallion Collection shore excursions, designed by Holland America Line to provide discerning guests with unique experiences and in-depth perspectives.

Pricing for Holland America Line‚??s new 2006 New York-based Caribbean cruises start at US$1,199 per person, double occupancy, and can be booked starting December 20, 2004.

Scheduled for delivery in January 2006, the ms Noordam is the fourth and last in a series of 81,769-ton Vista class ships. Eighty-five percent of its staterooms will offer ocean views, with 67 percent of all staterooms sporting verandahs. The ship will be delivered with Signature of excellence amenities in place, including plush Euro-top mattresses and flat panel TVs and dvd players in all cabins, new dining options, and the pampering Greenhouse Spa and Salon.

Press Release By Holland America

Alaska Cruise Information
Tahiti Cruise Information
Mexico Cruise Information

Posted by Denise at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2004

LORETO, Mexico

LORETO

Loreto is tucked away on the coast of Baja California peninsula. It is a village unspoiled. Surrounded by craggy mountains and the beautiful deep blue Sea of Cortez. It's the perfect getaway for those looking to truly get away from it all!

Loreto is three centuries old. It's a thriving town, steeped in history and stepping boldly into the future. This area is the birthplace of the Californias. It was the starting point for the trail of missions that extends north over a thousand miles. Plus, it's home to the brandnew seaside community of The Villages of Loreto Bay.

This community is located just 10 minutes down the beach in Nopolo. Offering a pedestrian-friendly environment with custom-built beachfront and golf courses villas, condos, courtyard casita homes, hill town and hacienda properties...all inspired by Spanish Colonial architecture.

Sport fishing is the main draw in Loreto and you can try your luck at catching some yellowtail, dorado, marlin or sailfish.

There's so much to do in Loreto. Golfers can tee off with the Sea of Cortez in the background at the Fonatur Golf Course. Charming shopping is offered with excellent restaurants, quaint plazas and topiary arches. The rugged Sierra La Giganta mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for the quaint fishing village and are also ideal for hiking and mountain biking. But, the greatest charms of Loreto lies in the Sea or Cortez. This pristine sea is the prime destination for divers, fishermen, eco-tourists and whale watchers! Go sailing, waterskiing or windsurfing or check out some of Mexico's finest tennis courts.

Information about Alaska Cruises
Information about Tahiti Cruises
Information about Mexico Cruises

Posted by Denise at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2004

NCL ORDERS TWO NEW SHIPS

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NCL ORDERS TWO NEW SHIPS FOR DELIVERY IN 2007

NCL announced today that it will build two new 2,400-berth Freestyle Cruising ships with delivery dates in time for the summer season of 2007. One ship will be built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany and will be delivered in February 2007. The other ship will be built at the Helsinki, Finland yard of Aker Finnyards and will be delivered in May 2007.

The orders are subject to documentation and certain conditions being fulfilled before becoming effective, including inter alia, the securing of specified financing packages. The aggregate effective all-up cost of the two ships is estimated to be ‚?¨770 million, or approximately $1 billion at today‚??s exchange rates.

The Meyer ship will be an exact repeat of the Norwegian Jewel, currently under construction at that yard and due for delivery in August 2005. It will have 2,384 lower berths, 10 restaurants, an expansive top-of-ship complex of Garden Villas and Courtyard Villas, multiple lounges, bars, and entertainment venues, and some 540 staterooms and suites with private balconies.

The Aker Finnyards ship will be a new design, incorporating all of the features of the series of purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships that NCL has introduced since 2001. Slightly larger in capacity than the Meyer ship, it will have around 2,430 berths. Additionally, it will have over 840 staterooms and suites with private balconies. In a first for the industry, every outside stateroom on this huge ship will have its own private balcony.

The Aker Finnyard‚??s order will include an option for a second ship, for delivery in early 2008, with exercise of the option by end of August 2005.

Commenting on the new orders, Star Cruises chairman Tan Sri K T Lim said: ‚??These new orders confirm our strong confidence in this business and our commitment to rapidly renewing the NCL fleet and putting ourselves in the position very soon of having the youngest fleet in the industry.‚?Ě

The two new ships will be the eighth and ninth new ships introduced to the NCL fleet since Star took control of the company in early 2000, bringing the investment in new ships since that time to over $3.75 billion.

According to Colin Veitch, President and CEO of NCL, ‚??We are very pleased to have been able to strike these deals at prices that make sense for us in spite of the weak dollar exchange rate. We will be building with two excellent shipyards and we know that these will be top quality, high-earning ships and strong additions to our Freestyle Cruising fleet.

‚??We are very pleased indeed to be continuing our relationship with Meyer Werft, a relationship that has spanned almost a decade and that has resulted in the delivery already of four world class ships to our group, and now a total of three more on order. With Meyer we know what we are getting and we are very satisfied with that.‚?Ě

Since 1998, Meyer has delivered Superstar Leo (now Norwegian Spirit), Superstar Virgo, Norwegian Star, and Norwegian Dawn, and is building Norwegian Jewel, Pride of Hawai`i, and now this additional repeat of Norwegian Jewel.

‚??We are equally pleased‚?Ě, Veitch said, ‚??to be re-opening our relationship with Aker Finnyards after an interval of roughly 16 years since the same shipyard delivered the NCL ship Seaward in 1988. And we are excited at the design solution we and the yard have been able to arrive at that gives an unprecedented number of balcony cabins on a Panamax ship. It will be the ‚??richest‚?Ě ship in the NCL fleet in terms of revenue potential.‚?Ě

NCL has a program in place to transfer to Star Cruises, all six of the mid-size middle-aged ships that constitute the core NCL fleet from pre-Star days. Between 2005 and 2009 over 8,000 berths will leave the NCL fleet, and therefore a major new building program is under way not only to replace those transferred berths but also to continue to grow the fleet at the same time. By expanding its building activities beyond its traditional one yard, NCL will access greater capacity to meet these needs.

‚??We wanted two new ships in time for the summer of 2007,‚?Ě Veitch said, ‚??and no one yard could do that for us so we are now at the point where it makes sense for us to start working with more than one yard.‚?Ě

NCL Corporation ("NCL") is an innovative cruise company headquartered in Miami, Florida, with a fleet of 14 ships in service and under construction. The corporation oversees the operations of Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America, and Orient Lines. On July 4, 2004, NCL made U.S. maritime history when it introduced the reflagged Pride of Aloha, the first modern U.S.-flagged cruise ship in nearly 50 years. The 2,002 passenger ship is 100% U.S.-crewed, and sails year-round in Hawaii under the NCL America brand alongside Norwegian Wind from sister brand, Norwegian Cruise Line. The company is currently building three ships, including two more for the NCL America brand in Hawai`i - Pride of America (delivery in June 2005) and Pride of Hawai`i (delivery in April 2006). Norwegian Jewel will join the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet in August 2005.

Press Release By NCL

Additional information about cruises are available through our website:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com

Posted by Denise at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2004

NEW FUN SHIP LAUNCH DEC. 19

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New 110,000-ton ‚??Fun Ship‚?? Set to Launch Year-Round Caribbean Service from Miami Dec. 19

MIAMI ‚?? With expansive facilities as a 4,200-square-foot play area and a teen dance club/recreation area, as well as a variety of new and exciting activities, including an a such rt program, a music program, a youth spa program, and hands-on science experiments, Carnival Valor will offer the ultimate family vacation experience.

Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, the new 110,000-ton ‚??Fun Ship‚?Ě is scheduled to begin year-round seven-day Caribbean service from Miami Dec. 19.

‚??Families are one of the fastest growing markets in travel ‚?? Carnival alone is expected to host 500,000 kids this year, a 300 percent increase versus 10 years ago. The new Carnival Valor, with its full schedule of activities and spacious kid-friendly facilities, offers a fun and affordable vacation for the entire family,‚?Ě said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

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Expansive Facilities, Fun-Filled Activities
The focal point of the Carnival Valor‚??s ‚??Camp Carnival‚?Ě program is an expansive 4,200-square-foot enclosed play area that includes a 16-monitor video wall continuously displaying movies and cartoons; an arts-and-crafts center with spin and sand art and candy-making machines; a ‚??soft play area‚?Ě with padded play equipment for the under-two set; a computer lab with educational computer games and PlayStation 2 game consoles; and a children‚??s library with youth-oriented books and magazines.

The play area is also the site for several new ‚??Camp Carnival‚?Ě activities, including an art program, ‚??WaterColors,‚?Ě debuting on Carnival Valor. With the new program, which will eventually be expanded fleetwide, kids can create their own artistic masterpieces ‚?? paper mache, oil paintings, and watercolors, for example ‚?? while learning techniques employed by professional artists. Also debuting on Carnival Valor is ‚??SeaNotes,‚?Ě a new music program that introduces kids to different musical instruments and genres.

There‚??s also ‚??H2Ocean,‚?Ě a new science program with hands-on projects where kids can make their own ice cream and create custom-made helicopters and miniature hovercrafts; ‚??EduCruise,‚?Ě with fun, interactive projects focusing on the cultures, landmarks, history and geography of Carnival Valor‚??s Caribbean destinations; and ‚??ExerSeas,‚?Ě a recreational fitness program that encourages kids to ‚??get out and play‚?Ě through intense physical activity.

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Kid-Friendly Dining Options
Dining is considered a highlight of the ‚??Fun Ship‚?Ě vacation experience and kids sailing aboard Carnival Valor will enjoy a wide variety of delectable dining options from which to choose.

In addition to Rosie‚??s, an expansive Lido restaurant offering hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries, and 24-hour pizza and ice cream, the two-level Washington and Lincoln dining rooms feature children‚??s menus with such favorites as chicken nuggets, pepperoni pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with a ‚??daily junior special‚?Ě promising something new and different each day.

There‚??s also a program where kids can dine with the youth counselors each evening. Also available is the ‚??Fountain Fun Card,‚?Ě which, for a one-time fee of $28, provides unlimited soft drinks throughout the Carnival Valor‚??s seven-day Caribbean cruises (an adult version is available, as well).

Kids are also provided with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies one night during the voyage, as part of the line‚??s popular children‚??s turndown service.

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Special Amenities Just For Teens
Teens have their own unique vacation expectations and on Carnival Valor older kids can enjoy a variety of ‚??just-for-teens‚?Ě facilities and activities.

These include a 1,800-square-foot teen club, ‚??The Caboose,‚?Ě which in addition to a distinctive railroad d√©cor, includes a dance club with a DJ and state-of-the-art sound and lighting system, along with a ‚??mocktail lounge,‚?Ě where kids ages 15-17 can enjoy a variety of non-alcoholic specialty drinks. ‚??The Caboose‚?Ě will also include a video game room with more than 60 of the latest video and arcade games, as well as a library with popular teen-oriented books and magazines, video game units and computers loaded with gaming software.

And with Carnival‚??s new fleetwide youth spa program, children ages 12-14 and their parents can also enjoy soothing body and beauty treatments together on port days. Packages are available in mother/daughter and father/son combinations and include hair and nail treatments, health evaluations, and foot and scalp massages.

There‚??s also a teen shore excursion program where kids ages 12-17 can partake in ‚??just for teens‚?Ě shoreside experiences during the Carnival Valor‚??s seven-day Caribbean cruises.

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Other ‚??Family Friendly‚?? Features
Carnival Valor also features four swimming pools -- a children‚??s wading pool, a more secluded pool located aft that is covered by a retractable dome, a main pool on Lido Deck, and another on Panorama Deck featuring a 214-foot-long corkscrew water slide full of exhilarating twists and turns.

The line‚??s popular fleetwide stroller rental program, where parents can rent single and double strollers by week for $25, will also be featured on Carnival Valor. ‚??Bouncy seats,‚?Ě travel swings and GameBoy Advance gaming units are available for rent, as well.

Babysitting, which takes place in the children‚??s play room, is also available at a cost of $6 per hour for the first child and $4 per hour for each additional child in the same family.

‚??Multi-generational‚?Ě activities where parents and kids can enjoy their ‚??Fun Ship‚?Ě cruise together as a family with games and activities such as arts and crafts sessions, family water play and ‚??make-your-own-sundae‚?Ě sessions are also offered. A new reading program in which youth counselors read popular children‚??s books aloud to parents and kids in the ships‚?? libraries and then present creative interpretations of the stories through puppet shows and skits will be featured, as well.

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Exciting Seven-Day Caribbean Itineraries
The third in Carnival‚??s highly successful 110,000-ton Conquest-class, Carnival Valor is slated to begin year-round seven-day cruises from Miami, alternating weekly to the eastern and western Caribbean, Dec. 19.

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On this route, eastern Caribbean cruises call at Nassau, The Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, while western Caribbean cruises visit Belize City, Belize; Isla Roatan, Honduras; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Press Release By Carnival

Additional information about cruises are available through our website:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com

Posted by Denise at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2004

NCL PRIDE OF ALOHA UPDATE

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NCL - The Turnaround Masters

PART I:
When NCLA's Pride of Aloha was launched this year in Hawaii, it got off to a rocky start reminiscent of the one Norwegian Star had a couple of years earlier in the Fiftieth State. NCL turned that one around within a few months to make it the top-rated ship in the fleet. NCLA has already seen a massive improvement in customer satisfaction on Pride of Aloha, bringing it within the satisfaction range of the rest of the NCL fleet, and they appear on track to have it to that top-rated status Norwegian Star achieved.

We talked with NCL's Andy Stuart (EVP of Marketing, Sales and Passenger Service) late last week about how they did it, and what to expect for this summer's launch of Pride of America.

When we sailed on Pride of Aloha's inaugural, we reported things weren't perfect, but they weren't bad either. The service was the main problem that we saw. All that appeared necessary to us was just to let the crew get a little experience, because it seemed like it was everyone's first day on the job.

The ship's hotel director, James Deering, saw the experience as a problem (of course there was nowhere to go to hire the number of experienced American crew members necessary), but beyond that, he said there were a lot of crew members who had decided that working on a ship wasn't for them, and it would still be three or four months before they cycled off the ship and the rest of the crew was hitting its stride where ratings would start to improve.

Former AMCV CEO Rod MacLeod told CND that based on his experience starting up their United States Line brand in Hawaii, he wouldn't be surprised if it took six months to get their ratings to where a line would feel comfortable with them.

Things were bad at the beginning from a ratings standpoint. Stuart told CND that at their lowest, the ship was scoring just 64% satisfaction, meaning 64% of the passengers were scoring their experience as "good,""very good," or "excellent" on their comment sheets. Of course that means 64% were satisfied, but it also means more than a third (36%) were not.

(Note: Those comment sheets are reviewed and tabulated very carefully, as cruise lines see that as the most accurate barometer they have of customer satisfaction in the short-term, so do take the time to make your views known. Feedback goes to the ship both the next day, and the following week from those sheets, and they take action based on them.)

To demonstrate the dramatic turnaround, Pride of Aloha's ratings today are running 90-93%. The rest of the fleet averages 93%-97%. Stuart is pleased (and relieved) at the improvement and is "very confident Pride of Aloha will be operating in the middle or upper end of [the fleet's satisfaction rating] in very short order, and moving up that range at a very rapid pace. We are now delivering a high quality product that is in the range of the fleet, and we genuinely believe it can be at the top of the fleet."

How did they do it? The big factor he says was getting the crew more experience. From there it was just tweaking and focusing their attention on "finding every opportunity for improvements."

The buffet received a lot of negative comments, for example. Stuart said they sent key people to the ship to see what was wrong, and they just needed to make small changes such as watching the food's serving temperature more carefully and fine tuning the menu slightly.

Another source of complaints was the waiting time for tables in the main dining rooms. Again, Stuart said the key was getting the crew more experience so they could do their jobs more efficiently. He said as they did the job more, they got more comfortable, and they felt less pressured and that in turn made them able to do the job even better. (In turn, the passengers were more pleased, and that took pressure of the staff, also making them happier and more efficient. It's all a vicious cycle.) Getting their turnover under control also helped. He said that having enough staff to operate both restaurants efficiently also reduced pressure on those in the dining room.

Half of the crew on Pride of Aloha now has more than six months' experience, and they've reduced turnover by 50%. Crew members are now completing one contract, going home for a few weeks, and returning for another contract, just as the international crews do on other ships. He said they now have many crew members on their third contracts, indicating that they have found a core of people who do like the job and want to stay.

Stuart said they have learned a lot about hiring American crew members, and in particular they've learned about the type of people to hire who will love the job.

With Pride of America on the road to having ratings consistent with the rest of the fleet, what about Pride of America? Its launch is looming just about six months away. Are they going to have the same problems trying to staff it?

In the conclusion of this article, Stuart talks about staffing Pride of American and why things will be vastly different in that launch.

PART II:
In the first part of this article, we talked with Andy Stuart, NCL's EVP of Marketing, Sales and Passenger Service about the positive turnaround of customer satisfaction on Pride of Aloha. In the conclusion of the article he discussed how they are using what they have learned about staffing Pride of Aloha in in regard to bringing out Pride of America next summer.

Stuart said even though Pride of America won't have the fist passenger aboard for another six months, they have already started hiring, and are over budget (people not dollars) on the crew members on Pride of Aloha now as they start building up for Pride of America. "We are using all the hiring lessons that we have learned over the last year, to make sure that we (a) hire efficient people, (b) hire the right people, and (c) have a pipeline in place for the turnover that we may experience at the beginning of the Pride of America launch."

He said the training now is also different. Before arriving at the ship, all crew members train at the seafarers' union facility in Maryland for three weeks when they are hired. They have a week of safety training, a week of training about NCL's way of doing things, and a week of job-specific training.

Pride of America won't be starting with a basically inexperienced crew, as Pride of Aloha was required to do.

"We are going to be bringing some of our experienced people from Pride of Aloha, making sure that we don't take too many. But we are going to take enough that we can put an experienced base on Pride of America," Stuart said.
NCL also has another advantage with Pride of America that is unusual in the shipbuilding game. When Pride of America sank in the shipyard, the ship was well along to completion, and most of the damage was in the technical areas on the lower decks. There was little damage to the nearly-complete hotel facilities on the upper decks, therefore they will now be complete by March, but work will continue in the technical areas. This is backwards from the way ships are usually completed.

It will give NCLA the opportunity to have most of the crew members on the ship for two months before it sails, giving them time to unpack all the supplies themselves and be intimately familiar with where everything is and how everything operates.

"We are doing that to insure that the ship comes out of the yard at the very highest possible quality, and the benchmark we are using is Norwegian Dawn, which is the finest ship delivery we have ever had," Stuart told CND.

"That ship came out of the yard as an absolutely top- quality product, and since that's our benchmark for delivery of Pride of America, we are investing a lot of money in taking the crew over well in advance of [Pride of America's] delivery. The majority of them will arrive in March, and from then on we are going to be completely focused on making sure all of the routine that we need to establish for our crew, and all of the training that we need to assure the absolutely top-quality product that is our objective, is delivered. Compare that to the challenge we had with Pride of Aloha, where all of that had to be achieved during a three-week extremely challenging drydock, where we were converting the ship over from Norwegian Sky to Pride of Aloha, with an awful lot of work needing to be completed during a three-week period and we had no ability to do all of the things we are going to be able to do with the crew from Pride of America. So it is a unique, very unusual opportunity for us, and we have undertaken that huge investment to make sure we deliver it in absolutely the right way."

In other words, NCL doesn't want to have to turn around ratings on another ship. They are going to have this one right from the beginning.

Press Release By NCL

Additional information about cruises are available through our website:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com

Posted by Denise at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2004

ALASKA LAND PACKAGE

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ALASKA LAND PACKAGE

In early September I travelled by land from Fairbanks to Denali and then on to Anchorage. It was a 5 night land tour escorted and packaged by Princess Tours (aka Princess Cruises).

I can not say enough about the weather we received on the land portion. It was the first week of September and it was sunny almost everyday. Plus, it was Alaska's fall and so the leaves were changing colours. Flying into Anchorage I viewed beautiful greens, red and yellows!

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I really recommend taking the flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks (or reverse). It offers an excellent view of Mt. McKinley! It looks so big peeking through the clouds as we flew by. You don't notice how high it really is viewing it on land because it is surrounded by many other mountains quite large as well.

Travelling with Princess Cruises on land in Alaska was fabulous. I stayed 2 nights in Fairbanks at the Fairbanks Princess Hotel, 2 nights at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, and 1 night in Anchorage, at the Captain Cook Hotel.

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Spending 2 nights in Fairbanks is the way to go. This gives you one full day to take both of the tours (Riverboat Discovery Cruise & El Dorado Gold Mine Tour). The Riverboat Cruise was nice, but very long...I was shocked that 900 people fit on this paddlewheeler and it was full!

No matter how many nights you spend at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge or the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge a tour of Denali National Park is included. We took the 3 hour Natural History Tour. It takes you into Denali National Park where you learn about the flora and fauna. Wildlife is not always spotted on this tour, but the day we were there we saw dall sheep, moose and had a clear view of Mt McKinley.

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If you want to spend more time in Denali National Park a longer 6 to 7 hour tour is also available. It is called the Tundra Wildlife Search and takes you much further into the park with a better opportunity to view wildlife.

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The Midnight Sun Express Ultra Dome Railcars (Train) is fabulous. The dome windows are huge...much larger than Holland America's. Their wilderness lodges were excellent, especially the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. When we arrived the sun was shining and we had a clear view of Mt. McKinley...this is the closest lodge facing Mt. McKinley (Princess built the road to the lodge!). The hotels and lodges Princess uses are excellent and truly first class.

I felt there were more tours/activities offered from this lodge and they were more nature-oriented. During my two-night stay at the Mt McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge I took a jet-boat safari cruise (where we saw bald eagles) took at Kayaking trip on a lake nearby (where I saw a beaver up-close) and went horse-back riding on nature trails (this I'd recommend for more experienced riders as the trails are hilly and sometimes hard to maneuver.

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The restaurants in their hotels and lodges are much similar to what you can expect on board one of their ships. Lots of selection from casual to fine dining. It's great.

The only thing I didn't like was that by the end of the 5 nights I didn't want to see another bus again! We bused to and from hotels, were taken on buses for the tours, etc. I was sure glad we took the train from Fairbanks to Denali and then again to Anchorage and would highly recommend taking the train as much as possible. Its the perfect way to see this great land!

Written By Denise Blackmore, ACC

Additional information about Alaska Cruises and Land Tour Packages are available through our website:
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2004

FIRST CRUISE SHIP TO OFFER ‚??100 PERCENT BOW TO STERN‚?? WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

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NEW CARNIVAL VALOR FIRST CRUISE SHIP TO OFFER ‚??100 PERCENT BOW TO STERN‚?? WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

Vessel Features Ship-Wide Wi-Fi ‚??Hotspots‚?? Providing High-Speed Internet Access From Anywhere Aboard New 110,000-Ton ‚??Fun Ship‚??

MIAMI December 13, 2004 - Carnival Cruise Lines' new cruise ship, Carnival Valor, which is making its U.S. debut in Miami today, is the first cruise ship to
offer "100 percent bow to stern" wireless Internet access, providing guests unparalleled opportunities to surf the Web, check e-mail, and obtain stock quotes and news updates from anywhere aboard the massive 2,974-passenger SuperLiner. Carnival Valor sails on its inaugural voyage Dec. 15.

Unlike other cruise ships that have designated Wi-Fi hotspot areas, Carnival Valor will feature ship-wide wireless Internet capability, enabling guests to use laptop computers to access the Internet from every public area, including all lounges, bars and pool decks, as well as any of the ship‚??s 1,487 staterooms.

‚??Wi-Fi is a huge consumer trend, appearing in more places than ever and Carnival Valor‚??s new ship-wide wireless Internet service offers our guests unprecedented convenience and connectivity at sea. This multi-million-dollar investment places Carnival at the forefront of this new technology,‚?Ě said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO.

Carnival Valor‚??s new Wi-Fi system complements the ship‚??s Internet caf√©, ‚??The Web,‚?Ě which provides guests with high-speed Internet connectivity via private flat-panel workstations.

The new system works with any Wi-Fi-enabled laptop. Laptops and Wi-Fi cards are also available for rent on board for a nominal fee; charges apply for Wi-Fi connectivity.

Carnival Valor‚??s new ‚??bow to stern‚?Ě Wi-Fi system is part of a pilot program that may be expanded to other Carnival ships, all of which currently feature Internet cafes and wireless Internet access in select areas.

The new system, which was installed during construction by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, was designed by Carnival‚??s in-house network engineers and San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. The capability to provide highly secure Wi-Fi access throughout Carnival Valor was accomplished with Cisco Aironet 1230G Series IEEE 802.11b/g Access Points (AP) compliant with the 802.11g 54 mb/s standard. For the ship-wide Wi-Fi Hotspots, Cisco Catalyst¬ģ 6509 Series Switches provide switching capability at the core while Catalyst¬ģ 3750 Series
Switch with Power over Ethernet connect the Cisco Aironet APs to the network.

Carnival Valor debuts with a two-day Bahamas cruise Dec. 15-17, 2004, then begins year-round seven-day cruises from Miami, alternating weekly to the eastern and western Caribbean, Dec. 19.

Press Release By Carnival

Additional information about cruises are available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2004

Carnival Liberty On Schedule

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Ship Is On Schedule To Launch Carnival's First Mediterranean Program In July 2005

MIAMI (December, 2005) - Carnival Cruise Lines' new 110,000-ton Carnival Liberty was floated out of its outfitting dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, earlier this week.

The initial stages of a cruise ship's construction take place in a drydock facility. Once exterior outfitting is completed, the drydock is filled with water and the ship is "floated out" and moved to a wetdock facility where construction continues.

Following this significant milestone in Carnival Liberty's construction, interior outfitting has begun in preparation for the line's first-ever Mediterranean cruises beginning July 20, 2005. The 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty will be the largest ship in the contemporary market sailing in Europe.

"Carnival Liberty promises to be a spectacular addition to our fleet," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. "To showcase our newest 'Fun Ship,' we've created an inaugural schedule that includes port calls at historic and charming European cities, an unforgettable transatlantic crossing and visits to tropical destinations throughout the Caribbean."

Carnival Liberty's Mediterranean cruises will run through October 2005, after which the vessel will sail on a 16-day transatlantic crossing then launch year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., beginning in November 2005.

12-Day Mediterranean Cruises, 16-Day Transatlantic Crossing
Carnival Liberty's Mediterranean program will encompass eight 12-day cruises operating round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia) July 20 - Oct. 12, 2005. Featured ports include Naples, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Venice, Italy (two-day call); Messina, Sicily; Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; and Livorno, Italy.

Following the 12-day Mediterranean cruises, Carnival Liberty will operate a 16-day transatlantic voyage departing Rome (Civitavecchia) Oct. 24, and arriving at Fort Lauderdale Nov. 9, 2005. Ports of call include Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Funchal (Madeira), Portugal; and St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles.

Six- and Eight-Day Caribbean Cruises from Fort Lauderdale
The transatlantic voyage will position Carnival Liberty for an innovative schedule of year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale beginning Nov. 12, 2005. This marks the first time that Carnival has deployed a ship from Fort Lauderdale year-round.

On this route, six-day cruises will depart Sundays and visit three ports: George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Freeport, Bahamas; eight-day voyages will depart Saturdays and alternate to the eastern and "exotic" western Caribbean.

Eight-day eastern Caribbean voyages will feature five ports: San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas/St. John, U.S.V.I.; Antigua, Lesser Antilles; Tortola/Virgin Gorda, B.V.I.; and Nassau, Bahamas. "Exotic" western Caribbean cruises will include Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Signature 'Fun Ship' Amenities
Among the largest passenger vessels at sea, Carnival Liberty will encompass 13 passenger decks housing 22 lounges and bars, a 13,300-square-foot health club, duty-free shopping mall, nine-deck-high atrium, four swimming pools, a 214-foot-long cascading water slide, an Internet café and a comprehensive golf program.

Dining options will include two formal restaurants, a casual poolside eatery, an upscale reservations-only supper club, a patisserie and complimentary 24-hour room service.

Of the ship's 1,487 staterooms, 60 percent will offer an ocean view with 60 percent of those featuring a private balcony.

Press Release By Carnival

Additional information about cruises are available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2004

The Royal Treatment At Sea

THE ROYAL TREATMENT ON CRUISES

New York - Few are born into royalty, but anyone can enjoy the royal treatment when they‚??re on a cruise.

The cruise line members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) treat guests to special touches designed to make each and every passenger feel like the most important person in the world.

Whether in an inside stateroom or the top-of-the-line suite, guests can dine in elegant surroundings on fine china, relax at a full-service spa, have a midnight snack delivered to their cabins and rest on fine linens, all while visiting the world‚??s most desirable places.

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‚??Since the first ocean liners crossed the Atlantic, luxury and pampering have been the standard in cruise travel,‚?Ě says Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA, the non-profit marketing and training association representing the North American cruise industry and nearly 16,000 travel agencies. ‚??Today‚??s travelers have high expectations when they take a cruise and the lines are consistently striving to not only meet but surpass those expectations.‚?Ě For those seeking luxury at its highest level, some lines offer additional special luxuries, such as butler service, waiters serving caviar in the surf, frosty towels poolside, personalized statio ‚??Cruise guests receive a level of attention and luxury that is unparalleled in the travel industry, easily surpassing that found at land-based resorts,‚?Ě says Dale.

Following are some of the special touches the CLIA member lines offer to make guests feel like royalty:

In addition to Carnival Cruise Lines‚?? attentive stateroom stewards and friendly assistance in the line‚??s many lounges, bars and restaurants, guests can enjoy soothing European-style treatments available in Spa Carnival, the line‚??s fleetwide health and fitness centers. From seaweed wraps and facials to mud packs and slimming treatments, these ‚??floating health clubs‚?Ě rival the best spas on land.

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Celebrity Cruises‚?? Celebrity ConciergeClass features chilled champagne, fresh flowers and fruits in the stateroom; afternoon canap√©s; personalized stationery; tension-absorbing pillow-top mattresses and plush duvets; a pillow menu; and special room service breakfast menu. Other special touches include priority service for luggage delivery, dining preferences and shore excursion bookings as well as early embarkation and debarkation. Poolside, all guests can enjoy frosty towels and sorbet service.

Suites on Costa Cruises‚?? ships feature spacious marble bathrooms with whirlpool tubs. Suite guests receive such special amenities as VIP check-in and disembarkation; fresh flowers, sparkling wine and cold canap√©s upon arrival; personalized butler service; a fresh fruit basket each day; full-course in-suite dining; and terry cloth robes, plush slippers and toiletries.

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Crystal Cruises‚?? guests enjoy 24-hour butler service and such luxuries as Reidel crystal wine glasses; Aveda bathroom products; Villery & Boch dinner china; Wedgewood bone china for tea service; Frette linens in the restaurants and dining rooms; Frette bathrobes; Egyptian cotton sheets; and Scandinavian comforters and goose down pillows.

Suites and junior suites aboard Cunard Line‚??s new Queen Mary 2 feature Frette linens, Microsoft Xbox entertainment systems, marble bathrooms, personalized stationery, bathrobes and slippers and a staffed concierge lounge. Passengers in Queens Grill suites have additional amenities, including a personal butler, restricted-access sundeck and private cocktail lounge.

Disney Cruise Line‚??s onboard concierge host/hostess works with concierge guests to create individualized itineraries that include spa treatments, dining reservations, shore excursions, and baby-sitting. The full-service restaurant menus are available as room service. Concierge level rooms feature a queen-size bed, whirlpool tub, wet bar, private verandah and robe and slippers to use during the cruise.

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Holland America Line‚??s Signature of Excellence includes such luxurious appointments as plush Euro-Top mattresses, high quality cotton bed linens, large fluffy towels and complimentary fruit baskets ‚?? in every cabin. Other features include premium massage showerheads, 100 percent Egyptian cotton towels and deluxe bathrobes for the guests‚?? use.

MSC Cruises has built its reputation upon Italian-style ambiance and service. The attentive, courteous staff assures every guest experiences a taste of Italy while onboard, and the state-of-the-art spa offers the latest in massage and aroma therapies for that final touch of relaxation.

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All Norwegian Cruise Line ships offer the services of Mandara Spa, which emphasizes wellness, relaxation and pampering. Among the features are luxurious private hydrotherapy baths incorporating milk and honey, mineral salts or black moor, simultaneous in-spa treatments for couples, in-stateroom spa treatments, poolside and on-deck massages during port days, and massage and de-stress treatments on secluded beaches during private island visits in the Caribbean and South Pacific.

Oceania Cruises‚?? vessels offer the Tranquility Bed, complete with pillow-top mattresses, plus silk-cut duvets, fluffy goose-down pillows and 350-thread count Egyptian cotton linens. Butler service is available in the suites and penthouses. A concierge staff is onboard each vessel to attend to guests‚?? needs, such as packing and unpacking luggage and arranging restaurant reservations.

Princess Cruises‚?? new computerized reservation system known as Princess Concierge Service enables passengers to easily plan dining choices through a special telephone number or in person at each dining venue. Princess‚?? new in-house Lotus Spa¬ģ aboard Caribbean Princess and Sapphire Princess features an array of treatments, including special services for men, teen offerings and the ‚??rasul experience,‚?Ě an Eastern combination of healing muds, steam and dry heat in a private sauna and steam suite for couples.

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Radisson Seven Seas Cruises serves complimentary wine with dinner (and lunch on the Paul Gauguin), as well as an in-stateroom/suite bar set-up. All soft drinks, juice, mineral water and specialty coffees are included. Butler service is available in the top suites, and bathrobes are provided for every guest.

Guests on Royal Caribbean International‚??s vessels receive complimentary room service onboard any time of day or night. Guests staying in suites receive concierge service which includes a welcome bottle of champagne, evening hors d‚??oeuvres, fluffy duvet covers and bathrobes, fresh fruit and flowers in the room, early debarkation, as well as priority seating for dining.

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Seabourn Cruise Line boasts a ratio of nearly one staff member per guest. French champagne, fresh flowers and fruit await guests in their staterooms, along with soaps from Hermes, Bijan, Bronnley and Chanel; a selection of Pure Pampering health and beauty aids from Molton Brown, London; an in-suite bar stocked with complimentary wines, spirits, soft drinks and bottled waters; and Frette linens.

Because Silversea Cruises believes the most precious luxury is time, an emphasis is placed on flexibility and convenience. With Personalized Voyages, guests can decide when and where they will embark and disembark, so they can customize their vacation experience to fit their own needs. Also, a flexible embarkation and debarkation program allows guests to check in and out with ease.

Passengers aboard Swan Hellenic‚??s Minerva II can reward themselves with indulgence in the new Spa and Beauty Salon. The menu includes aromatherapy, therapeutic body massage and wraps, facial, manicure, hairdressing and a full range of health and beauty treatments designed to pamper from head to toe. Guests can also visit the Fitness Center or enjoy a peaceful afternoon lounging in the sun or enjoying a dip in the blue water pools and bubbling Jacuzzis.

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Windstar Cruises‚?? crew takes pride in learning guests‚?? names and preferences. Guests find a bowl of fresh fruit and plush white bathrobes in their stateroom. Room service features a variety of items 24 hours a day. All guests receive a Windstar tote bag. In Wind Surf‚??s WindSpa, a full range of pampering and luxurious treatments are available, including a Latherapie Facial and Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap.

Press Release By CLIA

Additional information about cruises are available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2004

CROWN PRINCESS

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Princess Cruises to Crown a New Ship Crown Princess, debuting in 2006, is name of sister ship to Caribbean Princess Innovative vessel will feature new dining opportunities and design features

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (December 6, 2004) - Reprising the name of a former Princess ship, the line will name the next new vessel to join its fleet Crown Princess. A sister ship to the highly praised Caribbean Princess, it will debut in May 2006. Like her sibling, Crown Princess will also offer a year-round Caribbean deployment.

But Crown Princess will not be an identical twin. Similar to Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess will feature a number of innovations designed for cruising in the balmy Caribbean waters, but the ship will also offer a number of new design evolutions to create additional options for passengers, including a piazza-style atrium, even more dining venues and redesigned public spaces.

New choices include several new eateries -- an International Café, Wine and Seafood Bar, pub fare in the Wheelhouse Bar, and a Steak and Seafood House -- as well as a redesigned Skywalkers nightclub and larger space on the top deck for the line's trademark Italian trattoria, Sabatini's.

Among the ship's signature spaces will be the ship's atrium area, which will take on a new flare and offer some tasty added options with an open piazza-style design. Within this street café environment, passengers will find a new International Café serving up fresh pastries and baked goods in the morning and assorted other offerings throughout the day, as well as a wine and seafood bar to tempt passengers with an assortment of fine wine and a bar featuring chilled seafood "cocktails." The ship's Internet Café will be housed in the atrium as well as the Travel Café -- a place to plan future travels.

The 113,000-ton ship takes over the name of a Princess vessel that left the fleet in 2002. The original Crown Princess , which debuted in 1990, was the first ship built for Princess by the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, and construction of her successor ship is soon to be underway at the same yard. The first Crown Princess became the A'Rosa Blu for sister company Aida Cruises, a brand serving the German market.

"Crown Princess is clearly the perfect name for a Princess ship, and this seemed like the appropriate opportunity to bring this moniker back into our fleet," said Jan Swartz, Princess' senior vice president of customer service and sales. "More importantly, her debut will further our growth in the region and our goal of providing one of the best cruise experiences in the Caribbean."

Crown Princess' public areas on decks six and seven will also offer new or redesigned spaces. Meeting planners will appreciate the new conference center, available to the many onboard groups. The ship's casino will now feature a private cocktail lounge for those who want to indulge in cigars and spirits. Princess' signature Wheelhouse bar will be expanded and moved forward (as on Diamond Princess), offering a club-like atmosphere with the addition of a menu of traditional pub fare and draft ale. The line's popular martini bar, Crooners will move its menu of 50 specialty martinis to an intimate location on the port side of the vessel.

An evolution from previous ships' Sterling Steakhouse concept, a new Steak and Seafood house will move into the area traditionally held by Sabatini's and the Wheelhouse Bar. This showplace eatery will feature an open, theater-style kitchen where chefs will custom-prepare steamed shellfish-- such as lobster, scallops, clams and mussels -- and cooked-to-order steaks and chops. Passengers can choose to sit at the kitchen's eat-up counter and watch the show as they dine. Larger than the Sterling Steakhouse venues, this 180-seat restaurant will feature the privacy of booths as well as tables and counter seating.

Up on the top decks other changes are afoot. The ship's profile will more resemble that of Diamond Princess with the signature Skywalkers nightclub moved forward towards the ship's funnel. A sports court will crown the top of this trademark disco and observation lounge. And the company's Lotus Spa will grow to a two-story space.

New to the top decks is Trattoria Sabatini, which will offer additional space for diners to enjoy this eight-course Italian extravaganza. The space will also offer a lounge area where Sabatini diners can enjoy a convenient pre-dinner cocktail. The stunning venue offers views on three sides with dramatic vistas over the ship.

Of course Crown Princess will offer many of the special features than passengers have come to love on her sister ship. The vessel will sport the dramatic "Movies Under the Stars" poolside screen, featuring outdoor viewing of first run movies and special events complete with reserved padded lounge chairs, drink specials and movie nibbles. Café Caribe will continue to serve up tasty Caribbean specialties in a deluxe buffet setting, with a focus on a different island or region each night.

Princess passengers will also enjoy the many Personal Choice options they know from the line's other vessels. Princess continues to be the only line offering a choice in the ships' main dining rooms between Traditional seating and the restaurant-style Anytime Dining. Crown Princess will offer multiple show lounges and main dining rooms, as well as a variety of intimately designed public spaces for the "big ship choice, small ship feel" atmosphere that defines the line. Other ship features include a wedding chapel with Internet wedding cam, and an extensive children and teen's center with splash pool and outdoor play area, sports and fitness facilities, a wide array of educational ScholarShip@Sea classes, and a Princess trademark -- nearly 900 staterooms with private balconies.

Additional information about Crown Princess is available through our websites:
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2004

HALF MOON CAY

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The highest rated port of call on Holland America Line‚??s Caribbean itineraries, Half Moon Cay is located on 55 acres of the 2,400-acre Little San Salvador Island, an international bird sanctuary in the Bahamas. The island paradise is accessible only to guests of Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises. It is a destination on most Caribbean itineraries and on Panama Canal cruises sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. For the past five years, Half Moon Cay has won the annual Editor-in-Chief Award for "Best Private Island" from Porthole Cruise Magazine.

"Our goal with Half Moon Cay is to provide our guests with the very best Caribbean private island experience," said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Holland America Line. "And now we‚??re proud to offer guests several new activities that deliver a sense of exploration, discovery and adventure that help bring our exclusive, unforgettable destination to life."

The cruise line worked directly with the Bahamian government to ensure that new facilities were designed to minimize their environmental impact and preserve this island paradise in a manner consistent with its natural beauty. As a result, Half Moon Cay is listed with the Bahamian National Trust as a site of environmentally sustainable tourism.

New Excursions Provide More Ways to Enjoy Island Paradise

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Horseback Riding by Land and Sea
The new Horseback Riding by Land and Sea excursion provides guests an unforgettable way to explore the island‚??s natural beauty and experience the thrill of riding a horse while it swims in the ocean. Guests travel by tram to a corral where they receive a brief orientation before saddling up on these specially-trained horses. Winding trails, accessible only on horseback, lead to a panoramic vista at one of the highest points in the Bahamas, overlooking the breathtaking shores of Half Moon Cay and the surrounding islands. During the ride, guides share insight into Bahamian history, people and culture. Once back at the corral, horses are "dressed" for swimming in special saddle pad and halter. Riders then venture into the ocean for the amazing experience of riding a horse while it's swimming.

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Stingray Adventure
For those who prefer to get a closer look at the incredible sea life, the new Stingray Adventure offers guests the opportunity to swim or snorkel with these gentle and mysterious creatures in a secluded cove, which is part of a beautiful 700-acre lagoon. The program starts with a fascinating session from an expert lecturer on the Southern Stingrays and some of the other marine life living in the lagoon. Guests learn about the habits, behavior, feeding and breeding of these amazing creatures. Under the direction of guides, guests get the chance to interact with the stingrays, touching their silky wings and, if they wish, hand feeding the beautiful stingrays.

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AquaTrax Watercraft Adventure
The new AquaTrax Watercraft Adventure allows guests to experience Half Moon Cay from the natural inner saltwater lagoon aboard a personal watercraft. The guided tour takes guests along the island‚??s picturesque shoreline, navigating around natural reef formations, inlets, islands and sand spits; with interesting stops at the tidal outlet, the Bahamian village and Stingray Cove. A highlight of the adventure is a buoyed course that allows guests to test their watercraft skills.

Holland America Line has carefully selected special four-stroke watercraft machines for this excursion that have low emissions and consume 50 percent less fuel than two-stroke machines. Additionally, the course is located near an area of the beach that is away from the island‚??s other activities.

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Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park Opens November 21
The new Half Moon Lagoon aqua park, opening November 21, is conveniently located on the shore of Half Moon Cay‚??s main beach and provides island-themed action and adventure in the sun. Guests of all ages can have fun climbing on 21 large water "toys" in the shapes of marine life such as whales, octopi, sharks and dolphins. A pirate ship in the aqua park shoots water from cannons to the delight of children and adults alike. Floating pads offer a relaxing way to enjoy the sun or the cooling "raindrops" from a fountain. A boardwalk leads guests to a large sundeck and the palapa-covered Half Moon Saloon, where, following some refreshments, guests can use a slide to get right back into the water.

Other features for guests to enjoy on Half Moon Cay include an aqua-sports center, a fully-equipped Club HAL children's playground, beach chairs, volleyball, shuffleboard, basketball, a network of nature trails and a designated wild bird reserve. Guests can also rent an air-conditioned, private beach-front cabana for the day, have a beachside massage, and then enjoy traditional barbecue fare.

For further information and brochures visit one of our websites:
www.Cruising2Mexico.com
www.Cruising2Tahiti.com
www.Cruising2Alaska.com

Posted by Denise at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)