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Carnival Liberty Undergoing Sea Trials

Carnival Cruise Lines' new 110,000-ton Carnival Liberty sailed into the Adriatic Sea last weekend during sea trials prior to its launch on July 20. The 2,974-passenger ship will operate Carnival's first-ever Mediterranean cruise program. Following these voyages, the vessel will reposition to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to launch a six- and eight-day Bahamas/Caribbean cruise schedule. Fourth in Carnival's Conquest-class, Carnival Liberty will feature 22 lounges and bars, a 13,300-square-foot spa, four swimming pools, a 214-foot-long water slide, an Internet café, and four restaurants, including twin two-level main dining rooms, a 1,200-seat casual poolside eatery and an upscale reservations-only supper club.

Enchantment’s New Midsection En Route

Enchantment of the Seas’ new midsection is en route to Keppel Verolme Shipyard in Rotterdam with an ETA of May 5, weather permitting, Seatrade Insider has learned. On that same day, Enchantment of the Seas will set sail from Fort Lauderdale, arriving at Keppel Verolme on May 14. The 73-foot (22.2-meter) midbody was built at Aker Finnyards’ Turku facility and took to the seas last Sunday on a barge. The section will add 151 cabins and a number of indoor and outdoor public areas. Enchantment’s length will increase to 990 feet (301.8 meters) and its tonnage from 74,140 to 80,700. The ship will resume service on July 7 with a four-night cruise to Halifax from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J.

Crystal’s Extreme Adventures

Guests traveling on Crystal Cruises' 2005 European season have new extreme adventures to book. For $13,500 per person, for example, Crystal guests can book a shore excursion that allows them to travel at twice the speed of sound in a MiG fighter jet over Moscow. Exploration of the underwater ancient Roman ruins of Baia starts at $500 per person. Among numerous other new adventures are a Lapland excursion from Helsinki, a two-night overland adventure to Krakow and Auschwitz, and a chance to soar above the Dolomite Mountains outside Venice. Participation is extremely limited and, in most cases, must be pre-reserved. Visit www.crystalcruises.com for the complete line-up.

QE2 Celebrates 36th Birthday

On May 2 when she arrives in her homeport of Southampton, Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2 will mark her anniversary 36 years to the day that she left the same port for New York on her 1969 maiden voyage. A special birthday party will be held onboard to honor the ship. Guests will include nine former and current QE2 captains and John Whitworth OBE, now 80, who was the managing director of Cunard Line at the time of the ship's construction. QE2 has sailed more than 5.3 million nautical miles, more than any ship in history; that's the equivalent of traveling to the moon and back more than 11 times. Over the years, QE2 has carried almost three million passengers, and her arrival in Southampton on Monday will be her 641st visit there. The QE2 has sailed at an average speed of 24.75 knots over the last 36 years, and can, in fact, sail backwards faster than most ships can sail forward. She has made 795 Atlantic crossings and completed 23 full world voyages. Launched by Her Majesty the Queen in 1967, QE2 even had a stint of being requisitioned by the British Government in 1982 to carry troops for the Falkland Islands war. On September 4, QE2 will become the longest sailing Cunard ship ever, passing the 36 years 4 months and 2 days' record of Scythia, which sailed between 1921 and 1957.

Carnival: Prices Half of What They Were in 1980

Despite reports that cruise prices are at their highest level in several years due to increased demand, a cruise vacation is a much better bargain than it was 25 years ago, Carnival Cruise Lines said. The current minimum price of a seven-day Carnival Caribbean cruise from Miami is $599 -- just as it was 25 years ago. But when adjusted for inflation, a seven-day Carnival cruise that sold for $599 in 1980 would cost $1,373 today. ‘Price is not the story -- it's value,’ said Carnival president and ceo Bob Dickinson. ‘And when comparing today's ultra-modern floating resorts to cruise ships of 25 years ago, your $599 buys so much more.’ Dickinson cited features that didn’t exist a quarter century ago, such as numerous dining options, expansive spa and children's facilities, and a high percentage of balcony cabins.

RSSC Promotes Explorer II in Antarctica

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is promoting two 11-night Antarctica programs aboard the Explorer II in January. Both sailings operate roundtrip from Ushuaia. The promotion includes roundtrip economy air on a capacity-controlled basis from 86 North American gateways and up to $1,000 per person bonus savings for bookings made by Aug. 31. With the savings, fares start at $7,995 per person. Explorer II, which can carry up to 394 passengers, will limit capacity to 198 on the two voyages.

MSC Cruises to Debut the Sound of Musica in 06

The Musica, which will be MSC Cruises’ largest ship when it debuts next spring, will sail from Port Everglades during the fall and winter 2006-2007 season, the line said. The 89,000-ton Musica will carry 2,550 passengers, nearly a thousand passengers more than the line’s current North American-based products, the Lirica and the Opera. The Musica is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France and will be delivered in spring 2006. It will sail in the Mediterranean before crossing to Fort Lauderdale in fall 2006.

Celebrity Plans New Challenger Series

Celebrity Cruises is in the final design phases for a new ship concept dubbed the ‘Challenger’ series, Jack Williams disclosed at today’s State of the Industry panel at Seatrade Miami. ‘It’s going to be an incredibly profitable ship,’ added Williams, the president and coo of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Citing Celebrity’s rebranding and improved financials over the past two years, Williams told Seatrade delegates: ‘Celebrity is clearly going to be a brand we’re going to grow in the very near future.’

Radisson Makes Some Upgrades

Rain Showers and new CD players are some of the items Radisson Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) plans to install on its ships this year. The line will put Bose Wave Music Systems in the top three suite categories on the Seven Seas Voyager, the Seven Seas Mariner and the Seven Seas Navigator and DVD players in all Mariner and Navigator cabins. Bathtubs in 47 suites on the Mariner will be rebuilt as rain showers with tile seats. RSSC also created a new pan-Asian menu in the Latitudes restaurant on its Voyager and Mariner vessels and updated the Italian menu in the Navigator's Portofino restaurant.

Zaandam, Prinsendam Complete Upgrades

Holland America Line’s Zaandam began its winter Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral featuring all of the company’s $225m ‘Signature of Excellence’ enhancements, including a new Culinary Arts Center, Explorations Café – powered by The New York Times, expanded Greenhouse Spa and upgraded youth facilities. The Prinsendam also recently completed its Signature of Excellence upgrade, adding the Culinary Arts Center, flat panel TVs and more. The ship already operates a full Greenhouse Spa, Neptune Lounge for suite guests and Pinnacle Grill, featuring Pacific Northwest dishes. Since the Prinsendam sails longer voyages attracting a mature audience, it will not receive expanded youth facilities. Due to space limitations, the 793-passenger vessel also will not offer the Explorations Café. The upgrades of the two ships follow the Ryndam, which last October became the first in the Holland America fleet to acquire all the Signature of Excellence elements. Six more vessels will gain enhancements this year with the remainder completed in Autumn 2006, said HAL president and ceo Stein Kruse.

Seabourn Debuts Personal Shopper

Seabourn Cruise Line introduced ‘Personal Shopper’ services, providing expert local guidance to quality merchandise in ports around the world. Personal Shopper services can be booked in advance and are commissionable to travel agents. The program combines transportation by luxury private car with local shopping savvy. It is not designed for garden-variety souvenir shopping, Seabourn said, but rather for those seeking the finest local designers, craftsmen and artists. The service is available by half day or full day, with full day including reservations for lunch. Locations now offered are Florence, Rome, several ports on the Cote D'Azur including Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo, in Athens, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Bangkok, Hong Kong and St. Petersburg. Others are planned. Prices range from $295 to $895, depending on the location and duration.

Pride of America Sets Sea Trials

Pride of America has left the drydock at Lloyd Werft and is now alongside the outfitting pier at the Bremerhaven yard. Sea trials are scheduled from May 19 through May 22 and NCL America is due to take delivery of the ship on June 6. After a series of inaugural events and cruises in the U.K. and the U.S. mainland, Pride of America will sail to Honolulu where she will be based year-round from July 23. She joins NCL America's first U.S.-flagged ship, Pride of Aloha, which introduced seven-day roundtrip Hawaii voyages last July.

Celebrity teams with National Geographic

In a new partnership, National Geographic Traveler will bring noted photojournalists to Celebrity Cruises for the line’s ‘Celebrity Discoveries’ enrichment series. The series features up to four lectures on every cruise with topics ranging from world affairs and finance to art and music. Scheduled National Geographic Traveler photojournalists so far include Daisann McLane, whose ‘Real Travel’ column appears in every issue (Infinity, Feb. 13 sailing); Pablo Corral, the author of five photographic books (Infinity Feb. 27); and Michael Melford, whose recent work includes a book for National Geographic titled Treasures of Alaska (Infinity, March 13). Celebrity also will introduce a National Geographic channel on its in-room TV system, and passengers will receive an exclusive subscription offer to National Geographic Traveler, plus the opportunity to win a framed, limited edition National Geographic print.

Royal Caribbean International Gives Generation Y a Taste of Things to Come

Generation Y is getting a taste of adult treats -- and treatments -- with the introduction of Royal Caribbean's Y spa, a menu of teen spa treatments and services specifically tailored to the line's younger guests. "Y Spa provides the perfect opportunity for our teen guests to forget about school stress and return from vacation refreshed and ready to go," said David Stanley, vice president, Fleet Operations Revenue, for Royal Caribbean International. "It is also a chance for mothers and daughters or fathers and sons to share some quality time while being pampered by our spa staff." Offered fleetwide to male and female guests ages 13 to 17, Y Spa features treatments including massages, facials, hair and nail treatments, and fitness classes. To melt muscle tension away, teens can choose a 25-minute aromatherapy massage or a Surfers Scrub. The Scrub, an invigorating sea salt scrub with seaweed, is perfect for tired muscles after a day of rock climbing onboard or exploring shore. Moms and dads can get in on the special treats and spend time with their teens with a 25-minute Mother and Daughter Paradise Massage or a Father and Son Chill Out Massage. Teen cruisers can tackle skin problems with a 50-minute Acne Attack facial, featuring an advanced oxygen treatment, or enjoy the sweet scents of a Fabulous Fruity facial that deep cleans skin with a mixture of organic, fresh fruits. Teens looking for a safe tanning alternative can take advantage of the Fake Bake -- an invigorating body scrub followed by an application of self- tanning cream to the face and body. For special evenings out at the teen disco, Royal Caribbean's salons offer styling sessions with a personalized consultation followed by color and a cut, as well as 25-minute manicures or 45-minute pedicures. At the gym, fitness buffs wanting to stay in shape on vacation can sign up for the Fitness Frenzy package. Participants sweat it out in three specialized boot-camp style classes run by the ships' fitness staff and also receive a personalized metabolism test. Teen guests must receive parental consent to receive treatment from the Y Spa menu. Only teens 16 years or older will be able to participate in the Fitness Frenzy classes. Prices range from $23 for a manicure to $100 for a Stylin' Session, which includes a personal consultation, color and cut. The Y Spa treatments were developed by Elemis for the Royal Caribbean day spas, which are operated by Steiner Leisure Management.

MSC Adds Baseball Theme Dates

MSC Cruises added baseball theme sailings in February and March on the MSC Opera. Each date will feature at least six of the game’s all-time greats, the company said. Activities include a player-hosted trivia game, question-and-answer sessions and opportunities for autographs. Players will also host pitching, hitting and defensive strategy clinics. In addition to the previously announced Jan. 22 date, MSC added baseball themes for three Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Among those participating in the Feb. 12 cruise will be Tony Oliva, Fritz Peterson, Juan Marichal, Bill Russell, Willie Horton and Hector Lopez, while Don Larsen, Gorman Thomas, Glenn Beckert, Ron Swoboda, Gary Peters and Earl Williams will be on the Feb. 26 sailing. The March 12 cruise will include Earl Weaver, Tom Tresh, Cito Gaston and Lee May.

Carnival Rolls Out Online Shore Excursion Booking System

Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest cruise operator, has introduced a new on-line shore excursion booking system that provides guests the opportunity to purchase shore excursions prior to their cruise utilizing the line’s user-friendly Web site, carnival.com. With the new system, guests are able to book shore excursions in conjunction with all Carnival “Fun Ships” sailing to 65 different ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England and Europe. More than 1,000 different shore excursion choices are available. Snorkeling and scuba expeditions, horseback riding, helicopter flightseeing, shopping and city tours are among the excursions that can be booked via this new dynamic shore excursion booking engine. In-depth information such as excursion description, activity level, duration, and pricing are included in each listing. The new on-line shore excursion system is just the latest enhancement to Carnival’s popular carnival.com Internet site, which encompasses more than 2,000 Web pages and offers a host of new and expanded features, including enhanced site navigation, streaming video, personalized content tailored to each visitor, and more 360-degree “virtual tours” of the “Fun Ship” fleet.

New for Radisson Seven Seas in 2005

For Radisson Seven Seas and a select company of the luxury line’s guests, 2005 will be the year of the long cruise. From a 108-night full globe circumnavigation to a 56-night roundtrip New York “Top of the World” adventure to a 93-night Grand Circle South Pacific voyage, the acclaimed cruise line is offering its most comprehensive set of extended itineraries to date. Rounding out the program, the Paul Gauguin will offer an expanded series of 10- to 14-night sailings in French Polynesia. In addition, new onboard programs will abound fleet wide including distinguished learning opportunities through a joint venture program with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. New ports of call and shore excursions will also be introduced. In June 2005, the Paul Gauguin’s “Ambassadors of the Environment” program officially launches, in partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society. The program aims to give youngsters aged nine to 15 direct interactive experience with and knowledge of marine and island ecosystems, emphasizing the critical importance of coral reefs, sustainable lifestyles and traditional Polynesian culture.

Holland America Unveils New Activities at Private Island

Holland America Line announced that, as part of the comprehensive Signature of Excellence initiative, guests now have several new and exciting activities to choose from while visiting the exclusive, private island paradise of Half Moon Cay. Enhancements include a horseback riding and swimming excursion, a stingray adventure, a guided personal watercraft tour and a fun-filled aqua park. These new activities provide more ways for guests to enjoy themselves while experiencing the warm sun, white sandy beach and turquoise waters of this Caribbean island retreat. These new activities augment Half Moon Cay's extensive array of existing excursions including scuba diving tours to explore the marine life, catch-and-release deep sea fishing trips in the island’s beautiful waters, eco tours by glass-bottom boat, kayak trips and parasailing.

Longer Cruises with Star Clippers

Following the success this summer of 10- and 11-night voyages in addition to regular seven-night sailings, Star Clippers is increasing the number of longer holidays next summer on Royal Clipper and is introducing them on Star Clipper’s schedules for next summer too. Royal Clipper will spend the summer based in Civitavecchia with four seven-night cruises, followed by 10- and 11-night sailings to Venice and back through to October. Star Clipper will mix seven- and 10- and 11-night sailings out of Cannes from May to October. On longer voyages the ship will go beyond its regular calls in Corsica and Sardinia to add Sicily, the Aeloian islands, Sorrento and Capri. The line’s third ship, Star Flyer, will sail seven-night cruises alternating routes around the Greek islands and Turkish mainland but feature two sailings from Athens to Istanbul and back in May and September, each of seven or 14 nights duration. For this winter and next, Star Clippers’ three ships will sail the same schedules as last year: Royal Clipper out of Barbados, Star Clipper from St. Maarten and Star Flyer from Phuket.

US Troops Win Celebrity Cruises

US television host Ellen DeGeneres surprised her studio audience with the gift of a cruise. All audience members at 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' had a military connection. According to the Associated Press, Celebrity Cruises provided 250 seven-day voyages for four, available at any time for troops serving overseas to take on their return.

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