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Carnival Taps Actress Mira Sorvino to Christen Liberty

Cruise ship christenings are a very weird thing, half tradition and half marketing stunt. Ditto for the choice of godmothers -- the official honorary poobah personages tapped to rap champagne against the hull. The past year has seen a whole range of dignitaries, from the truly dignified (Queen Elizabeth for Queen Mary 2) to the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time (former POW Jessica Lynch for Carnival Miracle). Actresses, too, have a long history in the role, from Julie Andrews and Sophia Loren (Crystal Serenity and MSC's Lirica and Opera, respectively) to Spanish star Paz Vega and Love Boat star Jill Whelan (Costa Magica and Caribbean Princess). In picking a godmother for the soon-to-be-launched Carnival Liberty, Carnival (tel. 800/CARNIVAL; www.carnival.com) went the latter route, naming Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino.

Daughter of veteran character actor Paul Sorvino, Ms. Sorvino gained early fame for her award-winning role in Woody Allen's 1995 Mighty Aphrodite. In addition to her acting, she's also the official ambassador for Amnesty International's Stop Violence Against Women program. This past April her work for Amnesty was recognized at the Artivist Film Festival, which acknowledges socially conscious filmmakers, activist celebrities, and charitable organizations. She's also a past recipient of the National Italian American Foundation's Achievement Award.

"It is an esteemed maritime tradition that a ship's godmother is a woman of honor and distinction whose name will be forever linked with that vessel," said Carnival president and CEO Bob Dickinson. "Mira Sorvino's wide-ranging achievements as an actress and activist make her the ideal candidate."

Carnival Liberty is currently in the final stages of construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. Following her July 19 christening in Civitavecchia (the port of Rome), she'll sail a series of 12-day Mediterranean cruises from Civitavecchia, beginning July 20.

The Bronx Is Up, the Battery's Down, and Noordam's in the Middle

Once the passenger-shipping capital of the western world, New York fell into a cruise funk for a couple decades while its Florida rivals thrived. How things have changed. Today New York Harbor has two major cruise ports and a third on the way, and a full schedule of sailings north, east, and south, and if that pesky mainland United States weren't in the way we'd go west too, dammit.

Newest kid on the block? That's Holland America (tel. 877/724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com), which will position the new 1,848-passenger, 81,769-ton Noordam in the city following her January delivery. The fourth and last of HAL's Vista-class ships (following Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, and Westerdam), Noordam will offer ocean views from 85% of her staterooms, with balconies in 67%.

Noordam will offer eleven 10- and 11-night eastern and southern Caribbean cruises beginning February 22. Her 10-night eastern Caribbean program visits Grand Turk in the Turk and Caicos (a new destination for HAL); Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, departing February 22, March 15, and April 5, then resuming in the fall with departures on October 25, November 15, and December 6 and 27, 2006.

The ship's 11-night southern Caribbean itinerary calls at Tortola, St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Maarten, and San Juan, departing March 4 and 25, October 14, November 4 and 25, and December 16, 2006.

New York served as Holland America's headquarters from 1978 to 1983, preceded by more than a century during which the city served as the western terminus of HAL's transatlantic crossings.

Pricing starts at $1,199 per person, double occupancy.

Got Cruisewear? Cunard and Lilly Pulitzer Collaborate on Clothes

Well, why not? Last week Cunard announced a new line of cruisewear "inspired by Queen Mary 2." Called ""Hail to the Queen," the clothing line was created by Lilly Pulitzer fashions to, quote, "embody the timeless elegance of ocean travel."

The signature print is a tribute to vintage travel trunks, featuring nautical details, images from exotic ports of call, and tropical flowers in the bright colors made popular in the original Lilly Pulitzer line from the 1960s and 70s.

The collection, which includes cotton dresses, skirts, and capri pants, is available in stores. See www.lillypulitzer.com for more info.

American Pastime, Italian Line: MSC to Offer More Baseball Cruises in 2006

Is the answer to "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" MSC Cruises?

The Italian line, which introduced three new ships in 2004 and just completed its first two-ship Caribbean season, has just announced an expansion of its popular series of baseball-themed cruises, which debuted this past winter. The series kicks off with the 58,600-ton Lirica's December 10th cruise, sailing round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale in the company of Hall-of-Famers Bob Feller, Ralph Kiner, and Earl Weaver, as well as Amos Otis, Bert Campaneris, and Stan Bahnsen. Scheduled activities include question-and-answer sessions; a player story-telling session; player-hosted pitching, hitting, and defensive strategy clinics; an autograph session; and a player-hosted trivia game in which guests can test their baseball knowledge.

Baseball theme cruises are also scheduled for the January 28, February 18, and March 11 aboard MSC Opera (7-night eastern Caribbean) and April 22 aboard Lirica (11-night Caribbean). Participating players will be announced at a later date. Ditto for the line's other themed 2006 sailings: Big Band cruises scheduled for January 13, March 20, and April 22, and a jazz cruise scheduled for February 15.

MSC Cruises: tel. 800-666-9333; www.msccruises.com

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