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Micky Arison and His Trophy: A Tale of Transglobal Corporate Synergy Spanning 18,000 Frequent-Flyer Miles, Seven Cruise Ships, 55,000 Chinese Vacationers, One Supermodel, and One Glowing Mogul

When you're Micky Arison, and you own both the Miami Heat basketball team and the chairmanship of Carnival Corporation (which owns Carnival, Costa, Princess, P&O, Holland America, Cunard, Seabourn, Windstar, Swan Hellenic, Aida, and Ocean Village, and who knows what all else), you're almost obliged to celebrate largely and publicly when your team wins.

Thus, this story: On June 25, four days after the Miami Heat wrapped up the NBA championship with a victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Arison packed up the NBA Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy and set off on an 18,000-mile world tour, visiting Carnival Corp. ships and operations in Florida, Italy, and China.

The tour kicked off Sunday, June 25, with Arison displaying the trophy to guests, officers, and crew aboard Carnival Cruise Lines' 2,794-passenger Carnival Valor at the Port of Miami. From there, Arison and trophy flew transatlantic to Italy, where they toured Costa Cruises' new 3,000-passenger Costa Serena and Costa Concordia and Carnival's 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor, all under construction at the Fincantieri shipyards.

Next stop was Hong Kong for a two-day June 30 cruise to Shanghai aboard the 1,000-passenger Costa Allegra. The trip marked Costa's inauguration as the first international cruise company to operate locally in the Chinese market, serving Chinese passengers. The ship is scheduled to sail 5-night itineraries from Shanghai through October (visiting Nagasaki, Japan, and Cheju, Korea), then move to Hong Kong for the winter, offering 5-night cruises to Sanya, China, and Halong Bay, Vietnam. Costa's goal is to eventually entertain some 55,000 Chinese guests per year.

From China, Arison and trophy returned to Genoa, Italy, for four days of celebration attending the christening of Costa's newest vessel, the 3,000-passenger Costa Concordia. Following a one-night showcase cruise July 4-5 and an onboard performance by Italian pop-tenor Andrea Bocelli, the trophy is scheduled to attend the ship's christening ceremony, in which Czech-born supermodel Eva Herzigova will serve as godmother, thwacking the traditional bottle of champagne into Concordia's 112,000-ton hull.

Arison's trophy tour will likely continue and include ship-stops beyond those currently scheduled, though eventually the trophy will make its way back to Miami for long-term display at the city's AmericanAirlines Arena.

Cunard's Commodore Warwick to Captain Final Voyage July 24

It's the end of an era at Cunard, where Commodore Ronald W. Warwick, a 36-year company veteran, is set to make his last transatlantic run on July 24, from New York aboard Queen Mary 2. Warwick first joined Cunard as a third officer in 1970 -- the same year his father, Commodore William E. Warwick C.B.E., became the first captain of the then-new QE2, toward the end of his own career.

Commodore Warwick got his first captaincy in 1986 aboard Cunard Princess, and also commanded the Cunard Countess and Crown Dynasty before becoming master of QE2 himself in August 1990. From April 1996 he sailed permanently as senior Master on board Queen Elizabeth 2 until his appointment as Master-designate of the new Queen Mary 2 in 2002. In December 2003 he was promoted to the rank of Commodore of the Cunard fleet, and in June 2005 he received the Order of the British Empire for service to the Merchant Navy.

The Commodore and his wife, Kim, will host a variety of functions -- including a special "Commodore's Dinner" for all passengers -- during the six-day voyage, which arrives in Southampton July 30, one day before Warwick's official retirement date.

Regent Seven Seas Announced All-Inclusive Liquor Policy

As part of the corporate rebranding that's turning Radisson Seven Seas Cruises into Regent Seven Seas Cruises (tel. 800/477-7500; www.rssc.com), the luxe line recently announced that, beginning in 2007, select wines and spirits will be complimentary at all bars and restaurants fleetwide on every sailing beginning in 2007.

"As part of our re-branding to Regent in March, we're instituting an inclusive liquor policy across the fleet for all 2007 cruises," said Mark Conroy, Regent's president. "Our World Cruises already have this inclusive liquor policy, and our guests have told us how much they like it. In fact, we've noticed how the policy has contributed to the air of conviviality aboard, with more people getting out of their suites socializing. It's this open, intimate spirit of camaraderie we wish to foster on all Regent voyages."

Competitor luxe lines Seabourn, SeaDream, and Silversea Cruises already offer complimentary liquor aboard all sailings.

Pirates of the Caribbean Ghost Ship to Anchor at Disney's Private Island

This is what corporate synergy is all about: Starting this month, Disney Cruise Line (tel. 888/DCL-2500; www.disneycruise.com) will have a timely new prop on display at Castaway Cay, its private island in the Bahamas: the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship that figures prominently in Disney's hit film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The ship will be "anchored" just offshore, providing a cinematic photo op. On shore, actors portraying Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp's Keith-Richards-influenced pirate character, will interact with visitors.

All Disney sailings in the Caribbean visit Castaway Cay, and starting this summer, alternate western Caribbean sailings aboard Disney Magic (departing every fourth week, through December) will feature two stops at the island.

Royal Caribbean Reaches Settlement with Jennifer Hagel Smith

Putting some measure of closure to the past year's most sensational cruise story, Royal Caribbean this week entered into a settlement with Jennifer Hagel Smith, whose husband George disappeared from the Brilliance of the Seas one year ago this week, on July 5, 2005. The Smiths were sailing the Mediterranean on their honeymoon, en route to Turkey, when Smith went missing following a night that allegedly included heavy drinking. Blood stains on a lifeboat canopy below the Smiths' balcony suggest Smith went overboard.

Terms of the settlement were not available, and at this writing were still subject to approval by a Connecticut probate court.

SeaDream Yacht Club Schedules New Ports for 2007

Being a cruise line (or a guidebook writer...) means always living in the future, planning for the next season even though the current one's still only halfway through. So it is with small-ship luxe line SeaDream Yacht Club (tel. 800/707-4911; www.seadreamyachtclub.com), which just announced plans for new port calls during its 2007 Europe, South America, and Caribbean seasons.

Among new ports on Greek Isles itineraries include:

  • Molyvos on the Isle of Lesvos, with picturesque streets bordered by stone houses and exciting shops, restaurants and cafes
  • Phytagorion, a yachting port on the island of Samos
  • Naousa, a former fishing village on the island of Paros, and now a chic destination
  • Paxoi, a quiet, upmarket island with numerous beaches, small coves, and sea caves

SeaDream will also visit the medieval town of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro, along the longest and deepest fjord in Southern Europe.

In the Caribbean, SeaDream will add:

  • Anegada, a small coral island in the British Virgin Islands, surrounded by an incredible reef and offering some of the best beaches in the Caribbean
  • Barbuda, a flat coral island with wonderful beaches and an amazing frigate bird colony
  • Vieques, off Puerto Rico, with spectacular beaches, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and the opportunity to visit a bio-luminescent bay, where tiny dinoflagellates glow like fireflies in response to any activity in the water
  • Culebrita, an uninhabited wildlife refuge and sea turtle nesting ground along Puerto Rico's Culebra Archipelago

SeaDream will also schedule more calls at the volcanic island of Montserrat (whose Soufriere Hills volcano blew in 1995, burying the southern half of the island in lava) and Franco-Caribbean hot spot St. Barts.

Most 2007 sailings are seven and ten nights, and plans call for more overnights and late evenings in various ports, allowing guests to explore restaurants and nightlife.

Princess Expands Wedding Program Fleetwide

Princess's wedding program -- the only one in the cruise world in which the captain performs the ceremony -- has just expanded fleetwide, giving couples the opportunity to tie the knot on itineraries virtually worldwide.

Originally offered only on the line's larger megaships, which have dedicated onboard wedding chapels, the option is now also available aboard Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess, Regal Princess, and even the much smaller, 670-passenger Pacific Princess and Tahitian Princess. The ships have all been reflagged to a Bermuda registry, the authority under which Princess's onboard marriages are legally certified.

"We joined about 1,000 couples in matrimony last year with only part of our fleet involved in the program," said Jan Swartz, Princess's senior VP of customer service and sales. "Now, every ship in our fleet can offer weddings -- including those that sail some very exotic worldwide destinations."

Every onboard wedding includes live music, champagne, bridal bouquet and groom's boutonniere, a photo package with portrait, a wedding cake, a souvenir wedding certificate, and the services of Princess' onboard wedding coordinators. Weddings can be customized with a variety of options, including food and beverage, floral, photography, and video choices; reception size; pre-ceremony spa treatments; tuxedo rental; and others. Packages start at $1,800 for the ceremony plus $450 for registration and license fees.

Wedding packages can be arranged by calling 866/444-8820 or 305/421-1050.

Cruise West Puts Ex-Clipper Ships to Work for 2007

In January, Cruise West (tel. 800/426-7702; www.cruisewest.com) purchased two small coastal cruisers -- the 102-passenger Nantucket Clipper and 138-passenger Yorktown Clipper -- from rival Clipper Cruise Lines, as the latter began to make the transition to more long-range expeditionary cruising.

Last week Cruise West announced its deployments for 2007, which include the line's first-ever east coast and Caribbean itineraries, mirroring the destination regions Nantucket and Yorktown (now renamed Spirit of Nantucket and Spirit of Yorktown) sailed in their Clipper days, with some new ports thrown in for good measure:

  • Cape Cod & the Islands of New England: Sailing between New York and Boston, cruises visit the lighthouses and Victorian homes of Greenport, Long Island; the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket; and Newport, R.I., known for its nautical history and gilded-era mansions. Sails: June and September 2007, with rates starting at $2,899 per person, double occupancy.
  • Cradle of Colonial America: This 9-night sailing between Charleston and Alexandria features stops in  Morehead City, NC; Yorktown, VA (with optional excursions to Williamsburg and Jamestown); St. Mary's City, MD, for visits to recreated plantations, inns, and public buildings; and Annapolis, MD, the first peacetime capital of the United States. Sails: May and November 2007, with rates starting at $3,499.
  • Historic Chesapeake Bay: A 7-night itinerary between Alexandria and New York City, sailing through the Potomac River into the Chesapeake, with visits to the colonial history of St. Michaels, MD; Victorian Cape May, NJ; and Wilmington, DE, where guests will visit the gardens and mansions of the Brandywine Valley. Sails: June October, with rates starting at $3,099.
  • Coastal Maine: This 7-night sailing visits Portland, Boothbay Harbor, Penobscot Bay, and Bar Harbor on the Maine coast, then heads north to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, site of Franklin Roosevelt's onetime summer home.  Sails: June and September, with rates starting at $2,899.
  • Fall Foliage on the Hudson River: A 7-night round-trip voyage from New York City, including visits to Catskill and Tarrytown, NY, with excursions to Kykuit, the hilltop home to the Rockefeller family, and Sunnyside, the riverside home of Washington Irving. Sails: September and October, with rates starting at $2,899.
  • Yachtsman's Caribbean: Sailing seven nights round-trip from St. Thomas, visiting islands in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, including Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Christmas Cove, Norman Island, and St. John. Sails: January, February, and December, with rates starting at $2,699.
  • Antebellum South along the Intracoastal Waterway: A 7-night itinerary sailing between Jacksonville and Charleston on the Intracoastal Waterway. Sails: April, with prices starting at $2,699.
  • St. Lawrence Seaway & Thousand Islands: A 7-night journey between Buffalo and Quebec City, cruising the Seaway's canals, dams, and locks; exploring Niagara Falls and Ontario's Thousand Islands region; and stopping in Quebec City, Montreal, and Toronto. Sails: July, August, and September, with prices starting at $2,899.
  • French Canada & the Great Lakes: Fourteen-night sailings between Quebec City and Chicago include cruising in Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Michigan, plus visits to the beautiful gardens of Windsor, Ontario; the World War II naval production facilities in Manitowoc, Wisconsin; and the Welland Canal to Niagara Falls. Sails: July and August, with prices starting at $5,499.

The new itineraries are offered in addition to Cruise West's usual program, which includes itineraries in Costa Rica and Panama, Mexico's Sea of Cortez, the California wine country, the Pacific Northwest's Columbia and Snake Rivers, British Columbia, and especially Alaska, where the company has been the small-ship leader for more than two decades, offering cruises in the Inside Passage, the Gulf of Alaska, Prince William Sound, and the Bering Sea.

Guests will save $300 per person on all "Americas" itineraries (the above, plus Costa Rica/Panama, Sea of Cortez, California wine country, Pacific Northwest, and British Columbia) that departs through April 2007 if they book and pay in full by July 28, 2006. The discount goes down to $175 if they book and pay in full by October 27, 2006. For Americas itineraries departing June 2007 through December 2007, guests save $300 if they book and pay in full by September 1, 2006, and $175 if they book and pay in full by December 15, 2006.

Carnival Goes Cellular, Like Almost Everybody Else

The triumph of cell phones over the traditional restful cruise vacation came one step closer to completion this week with the news that Carnival Cruise Lines will have its whole fleet wired up by early 2007.

"Consumers view cell phones as a necessity in today's world," said Carnival president and CEO Bob Dickinson. "We've been exploring cellular phone service for some time and have developed a capability that provides unparalleled connectivity and convenience to allow guests to keep in touch with friends, family members, and business associates back home."

Calgon, take me away . . .

The service is being offered through an agreement between Carnival Cruise Lines and Wireless Maritime Services (WMS), a joint venture of Cingular Wireless and Maritime Telecommunications Network. It is compatible with any cellular phone, requires no additional phone software or special dialing procedures, and lets guests make and receive calls or text messages while at sea in any part of the world.

International roaming fees apply to all shipboard cell phone calls. Information on pricing is available at www.cingular.com/cingularworld or www.cellularatsea.com.

The technology is currently available aboard Carnival Triumph and is scheduled to be rolled out across Carnival's 21-vessel fleet by early next year.

In related news, Norwegian Cruise Line (tel. 800/327-7030; www.ncl.com) has just announced that it has completed cellular implementation aboard its entire fleet (minus its dedicated Hawaii ships, which sail so close to shore they don't need special technology to provide passengers access).

Stay tuned to the next Frommer's Cruise Newsletter for a complete cruise industry communications breakdown, with info on how every ship rates in terms of cell phone connectivity, Wi-Fi hot spots, and in-cabin dataports.

Norwegian Coastal Voyage Announces Winter Arctic Sailings

Norwegian Coastal Voyage (tel. 800/323-7436; www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.us), which has been offering combination passenger/cargo cruises up the Norwegian coast for decades, has recently expanded into expeditionary cruising, sending vessels to Antarctica and Greenland. This year, the line will offer its first winter sailings to Norway's Lofoten Islands and remote Spitsbergen in the far northern reaches of Norway, across the Arctic Circle.

"Most people don't realize this time of year offers a completely different perspective on this stunning landscape. The colors in the sky, the twinkling lights of villages, the luminescence coming off the snow, and the warm-hearted greetings from the locals all contribute to a vacation unlike any taken in the past," said Hans Rood, NCV's president.

Watching the hundreds of local killer whales will be one focus of six trips to the Lofoten Islands between October 22 to December 26, which include the coastal voyage from Tromso through the Vesteralen Islands and Raftsund Strait to the Lofotens, where participants stay in comfortable restored fishermen's cottages with modern facilities. A one-day whale-watching excursion in the Tysfjord can be enhanced by up-close viewing from an inflatable Zodiac boat or even snorkeling, and another day of whale-watching can be arranged for those extra interested. Rates range from $2,300 to $2,795 per person.

Two itineraries focus on sparsely populated Norwegian Lapland, home of the indigenous, reindeer-herding Sami people. The 7-night North Cape and Ice Hotel Adventure ($2,505) combines one night at the Alta Igloo Ice Hotel, built of snow and ice; a visit to North Cape Plateau, a cliff rising 1,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean; and the coastal voyage from Honningsvag to Kirkenes. Nine-night Sami Encounters ($2,800 to $3,130) feature the coastal voyage from Tromso to Kirkenes and Karasjok, capital of Lapland, plus visits to a reindeer farm, Sapmi Cultural Park, and the wilderness. Optional excursions include a horse-drawn sleigh ride, snowmobiling, dog sledging and a meal in a Sami home, King Crab Safaris by snowmobile or inflatable boat, and swimming in the Barents Sea in special survival suits.

The Arctic island of Spitsbergen, a place of massive glaciers, mountains, and polar bears midway between Norway and the North Pole, is the setting for four 7- and 9-night trips ($2,400 to $3,870). Polar bears are likely to be seen on snowmobile and dog sledge safaris.

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