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Holland America Gets Keys to MS Eurodam

On June 16, at a ceremony near Venice, Italy, Fincantieri shipyard officially delivered the 2,104-passenger, 86,000-ton Eurodam to Holland America Line (www.hollandamerica.com). The first ship of the new Signature-class series, Eurodam is Holland America's largest ship to date and the 14th ship in the HAL fleet.

Larger than HAL's earlier Vista-class ships (Zuiderdam, Oosterdam, Noordam, and Westerdam), Eurodam carries an additional 256 passengers and offers a new 144-seat Pan-Asian restaurant, a new Italian specialty restaurant, an expanded Greenhouse Spa and Salon with thermal suites and a hydro-pool, and the largest gym ever built for HAL. Among her cabins are 56 "Spa Staterooms," located on the two highest decks of the ship (close to the Greenhouse Spa and Salon) and offering a special in-room experience that includes "nature themed" decor, a water feature to create a meditative soundscape, organic cotton bathrobes and slippers, a Burmese teak mat for bath and shower, aromatherapy bath salts, an iPod docking station, a yoga mat, a pedometer for use aboard ship, a minibar stocked with specialty waters, a cut-fruit tray at embarkation, a spa concierge to book treatments, and even organic chocolate truffles at turn-down.

"The Eurodam is a gorgeous ship," said Stein Kruse, HAL's president and CEO. "We are proud to be the industry's leading premium experience and the addition of this new ship allows us to offer our Signature of Excellence to even more cruisers."

Eurodam will be officially named by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on July 1 in Rotterdam, and will begin her 10-night inaugural voyage on July 5, sailing round-trip from Copenhagen, Denmark, and calling at Oslo, Alesund, Vik, Flam, and Stavanger (Norway), Newcastle Upon Tyne (England), and Edinburgh and Invergordon (Scotland). Following her inaugural season in the Baltic, Eurodam will cross the Atlantic and sail Canada/New England itineraries in the fall, then sail Caribbean cruises for the remainder of 2008.

Silversea's Prince Albert II to Feature Resident Artist/Photographer Program

As part of the enrichment program for its new expedition ship, luxe line Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com) is instituting an artist-in-residence program, with onboard artists conducting photography workshops and lectures, share tips on nature photographic during excursions, photograph and record life under the ship using a camera and hydrophone, and create photo and video diaries of each cruise.

Aboard Prince Albert II's June 12 inaugural sailing from London to Tromso, Norway, the first artist in residence was Sharon K. Schafer, a painter/photographer whose background also includes work as a designer, wildlife biologist, naturalist, and writer. Photographer Camille Seaman does the honors for the next cruise, starting from Tromso on June 30 and concluding in New York on August 25. Seaman is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in museums, galleries, and magazines internationally, and who is best known for her polar images.

All guests will receive a complimentary photo CD featuring a selection of the artists' photos from their voyage. A special DVD will also be available containing a digital slide show, interactive map, and video footage of the voyage. All proceeds from the sale of the DVDs will be contributed to the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation to support its work in environmental conservation.

Royal Caribbean's Biggest-in-World Oasis to Feature Outdoor "AquaTheater," Carousel, and Indoor Balconies

When Royal Caribbean International (www.royalcaribbean.com) debuted its 142,000-ton Voyager-class of ships in 1999, we said, "Wow, it looks like a city." When the line debuted its 160,000-ton Freedom class in 2006, we thought the vessels pushed the line, coming off as part mall, part theme park. Now Royal Caribbean has started to reveal plans for its 220,000-ton Oasis-class ships, and it looks like while the theme park/mall concept will continue, it's been supersized and spiced with spaces and concepts no one would have imagined could be translated to a cruise ship.

When she launches in December 2009, the first of the Oasis vessels, Oasis of the Seas, will offer seven "neighborhoods" that, according to the line, "will provide vacationers with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences in various locales based on their personal style, preference, or mood." To date, three of those neighborhoods have been revealed, all of them extensions of the "Royal Promenade" concept aboard the line's Voyager and Freedom-class ships. And they go like this:

  • Central Park will offer a central space that's open to the sky, featuring pathways, seasonal flower gardens, and a canopy of trees. A central piazza will act as the ship's "town square," while six decks of balcony staterooms will line its canyon walls, offering views of the park below and sky above. Restaurants opening to the space will range from an elegant specialty restaurant to an al fresco cafe, an Italian restaurant, a steakhouse, and a wine bar. Among the several bars planned for the "park" is one that moves among three decks while you drink -- which is not something I necessarily want my bar to do while I'm drinking, but what the heck.
  • Boardwalk will be another open-air space modeled after seaside resorts like Coney Island. Positioned in Oasis's stern, the boulevard is hemmed to port and starboard by six decks of cabins, each of which sports a rounded balcony with views of the action below: restaurants (including a malt shop), shops, and carnival games. An original, handcrafted carousel -- the first at sea -- will be positioned at the forward end of the Boardwalk, while the stern will be taken up with the first amphitheater at sea, called the AquaTheater. The largest freshwater pool ever put on a cruise ship, the AquaTheater will offer passengers the chance to swim, take SCUBA lessons, and sun themselves on the surrounding tiered platforms during the day, but at night it transforms into a performance space for shows of acrobatics, synchronized swimming, water ballet, and professional high-diving, as well as "dancing fountain" shows synchronized to music and lights. Topping the Boardwalk space (literally) will be the first zip-line at sea, sending passengers soaring nine decks above.
  • The Royal Promenade will appear on Oasis as aboard the Voyager and Freedom ships -- a strip of restaurants, bars, and other attractions opening onto a central, Main StreetÂ?like promenade. On Oasis, though, the Promenade will be sunlit, with the central section of its roof opening up to the upper Central Park neighborhood, and will also feature a mezzanine level that overlooks the main promenade below.

"With our history of introducing game-changing amenities, we're pleased to be able to answer the question of 'what could possibly come next?'" said Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean's chairman and CEO. "We are particularly excited about the neighborhood concept which gives guests compelling choices and the ability to flow seamlessly throughout the ship to meet their individual desires and preferences."

Oasis's other "neighborhoods" are yet to be revealed, but RCI has given a few o hints about what else the ship will offer, including two rock-climbing walls and the first loft suites at sea, offering luxury amenities and huge ocean views through floor-to-ceiling, double-height windows.

When she launches in December 2009, Oasis of the Seas will be by far the largest cruise ship in the world, carrying 5,400 guests at double occupancy. For her inaugural season, the ship will sail from Fort Lauderdale on 19 consecutive 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruises, visiting St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau. Starting on May 1, 2010, Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Eastern Caribbean itinerary with a Western Caribbean itinerary, calling at Labadee (Royal Caribbean's private beach in Haiti), the new port of Falmouth (Jamaica), and Cozumel (Mexico). The cruise line is working with the government of Haiti to construct a dock at Labadee, and with Jamaica and Cozumel to improve port facilities there to accommodate the huge number of passengers aboard Oasis.

NCL's New F3 Ships to Feature Ice Bars, Outdoor Entertainment Complexes

Royal Caribbean isn't the only line working on a big new ship. In 2010, Norwegian Cruise Line (www.ncl.com) is set to debut the first of its "F3" ships -- short for "Freestyle 3.0" -- 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger ships that will not only be by far the largest the line has ever built, but among the largest ever built by anyone.

This week, NCL revealed some of the entertainment highlights that the first F3 ship will offer:

  • The Cruise World's First Ice Bar: Inspired by the ice bars and ice hotels in Scandinavia, NCL's will feature a bar, walls, tables, stools, glasses, and life-size sculptures all made from ice. Located on deck seven, the Ice Bar will be kept at a about 17 degrees Fahrenheit and will accommodate 25 guests, who will be given fur coats, gloves, and hats to keep warm. Blue, green, and purple LED lighting will simulate the Northern Lights. Guests will pay a cover charge that will include a drink or drinks.
  • POSH Beach Club: Adult guests can purchase a POSH day-pass and ride a private glass elevator to this outdoor entertainment complex, which mixes the styles of South Beach and the Riviera. Four different experiences are offered throughout the day. From 6-9am, the area is used for yoga classes and body-and-soul treatments in private cabanas. From 9am-noon, "POSH Rehab" offers recovery from the night before with Salty Dogs, Bloody Mary's, and mimosas, and a soundtrack of chill-out tunes. From noon-6pm, "POSH Sol" allows guests to lounge on the white-cushioned day beds and in private cabanas, or cool off in the 35-foot cascading waterfall while eating spiked snow cones. Finally, "Pure POSH" goes from 8pm till "late" as the areas transforms into an open-air nightclub with DJ entertainment and VIP bottle service.
  • Spice H20 Adults-Only Pool: Located in the stern on top decks 15 and 16, this adults-only area features tiers of day beds and a pool, behind which is a huge video screen. As at POSH, days will be divided into four moods: "Sunny Spice" (8-11am) offers spicy Bloody Mary's and Spicitinis and breakfast food. "Aqua Spice" (11am-4pm) is prime sunning time, guests able to order Asian margaritas, an international selection of beer, and "Asian-inspired food" served in Chinese to-go containers. "Sunset Spice" (4-9pm) offers live entertainment, flowing champagne, and a food menu that isn't available anywhere else on the ship. As the sun sets, it becomes a more intimate environment with Spanish guitars and dancers setting the vibe. In the evening, "All Spice" (9am-late) features a dance and acrobatics performance, followed by general dancing on a floor that rises from the pool.
  • Halo, the Uber Bar: As aboard NCL's current crop of vessels, the F3 ships will feature top-level "Garden Villa" and "Courtyard Villa" accommodations, with their own private sundecks, courtyards, and other perks. On the F3s, though, there will also be Halo, a private bar located on deck 16 and offering what the line calls "the best of the best: from the best liquors around the world to the best art featured and available for purchase with jewelry-clad servers displaying the best jewelry onboard for purchase." When you got it, flaunt it? Guess that's the idea. The bar will also feature private gaming tables, including baccarat and blackjack.

Guests will be able to purchase a 'Beyond the Velvet Rope" package to gain access to F3's exclusive clubs.

"There is nothing ordinary about these ships," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "Every experience on board will be unique and like no other. F3 won't have massive void spaces and rooms only used for one thing. What's particularly unique about these spaces is they will have multiple uses Â? sunning, bowling, dining, and, of course, party playgrounds. But this is just the beginning. We have a lot more to reveal in the upcoming months, so stay tuned."

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Seabourn Names Captain for New Odyssey

Luxury line Seabourn (www.seabourn.com) announced this week that it has appointed Captain Karlo Buer as master of Seabourn Odyssey, the first new Seabourn ship the line has launched in sixteen years. Currently under construction at the Mariotti shipyard in Genoa, Italy, Odyssey will carry 450 guests and feature five dining alternatives, five lounges and bars, a large pool and sunbathing area, and a two-deck, indoor/outdoor spa facility.

A native of Oslo, Norway, Caot. Buer first went to sea on freighters in 1970 at the age of 16, then attended the Norwegian Merchant Marine Academy, from which he received a Master's license in 1980. He has worked for various cruise lines since, including Royal Viking Line and Exploration Cruise Line, and came to Seabourn in 1989 as the supervising captain on the construction of the fleet's second vessel, Seabourn Spirit. In the years since, he has captained all three of Seabourn's existing vessels, Pride, Spirit, and Legend. As part of his duties as captain of Odyssey, Capt. Buer will transfer to the shipyard in early 2009, where he will supervise his senior officers as they familiarize themselves with the vessel during its completion.On delivery, he will assume command and captain Odyssey through her launch and into her maiden season.

"We are delighted to place Seabourn's newest vessel in the hands of such a talented and experienced master, and anticipate smooth yachting for the Odyssey under Captain Buer's command," said Pamela C. Conover, Seabourn's president and CEO. "Captain Buer brings to Odyssey's helm close to 20 years of experience with Seabourn, including overseeing the construction and launch of our second vessel, and so we are pleased to have him managing this important new venture."

Costa Breaks World's Record for Longest Line of Pizzas

Yes, you read that right: "line of pizzas." Why is there a world record for something like that? Is there one for "line of wristwatches" too?

Nevertheless, Costa (www.costa.com) did it. On June 8 in Sydney, Australia, as part of the company's 60th birthday celebration, chefs whipped up 826 pizzas and lined them up along a 221-meter stretch of Norton Street, in Sydney's Italian neighborhood. The length of the pizza line was designed to match the length of Costa's Costa Classica, which will be based in Australia and the Asia Pacific region beginning in May 2009.

As soon as the Guinness World Record adjudicator deemed the record broken, the pizzas were collected by the food rescue organization OzHarvest and delivered to local charities to feed the homeless and disadvantaged.