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Carnival Corp. Imposes Fuel Supplement for All North American Brands

Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Carnival Cruises Lines, Holland America, Princess, Costa Cruises, Cunard, and Seabourn, this week announced that it will impose a $5 per person, per day surcharge for all passengers sailing on or after February 1, 2008, to help offset the rapidly rising cost of oil.

That means a weeklong cruise for the average couple will cost $70 more.

The supplement is based on double occupancy of a cabin and is capped at $70 per person, per voyage. Children and other third or fourth passengers in a cabin will not be charged.

"Earlier this year, we implemented a supplement for our European brands," said Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison. "We had hoped to avoid a similar supplement for our North American brands but with the price of oil approaching $100 a barrel this is no longer possible."

NCL Announces Long-Term Bermuda Agreement

Bermuda has always kept a pretty tight lid on tourism, recognizing that the island's appeal to vacationers hinges partially on the fact that it's not overwhelmed by crowds. Consequently, the Bermuda government has for years limited the number of cruise ships that are able to visit on any given day, and rival cruise lines have competed to secure permits to make regular calls at the country's two major ports.

This week, Norwegian Cruise Line (tel. 866/625-1166; www.ncl.com) reached agreement with the government of Bermuda that will secure the line's presence on the island until 2018. Beginning in 2009, NCL will reposition the 1,966-passenger Norwegian Spirit and the 2,224-passenger Norwegian Dawn to Bermuda itineraries, the former sailing from Boston and the latter from New York. Both ships will spend three nights docked at Bermuda's Royal Naval Dockyard, which plans to open a second cruise pier in 2009. In addition, the 1,462-passenger Norwegian Majesty (which has sailed summer Bermuda cruises from Boston for the past 15 years) will sail from Charleston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore to the UNESCO World Heritage town of St. George's, at the island's east end.

"Since NCL first began sailing to Bermuda, it has been one of our most popular itineraries, and we have developed a truly unique relationship with the community and government of our host destination," said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. "Our new 10-year agreement with Bermuda confirms NCL's position as the leader in Bermuda cruising, plus we now have a solid basis on which to commit two of our fleet of brand new purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships long term -- a significant upgrade from our perspective and from Bermuda's."

As part of the agreement, NCL will partner with Bermuda's Department of Tourism and Chamber of Commerce to become a sponsor for the annual Bermuda Music Festival, support the St. George's Foundation and the Bermudian Heritage Association, and develop a new program to continue encouraging cruise guests to dine in restaurants ashore.

All told, NCL's Bermuda commitment -- a total of some 44 weeklong cruises -- will represent a full fifth of its summer deployment in 2009.

Meanwhile, down in the other "B" country, NCL has also announced that it's upping its calls to The Bahamas for 2007-2009, planning a total of 32 cruises that will stop at both Nassau and Grand Bahama Island (Freeport/Lucaya). Twenty-eight of those cruises will be aboard the newest NCL vessel, the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Gem.

"This deployment reaffirms NCL's long standing commitment to its relationship with The Bahamas which began some forty years ago," said Andy Stuart, NCL's executive VP of marketing, sales, and passenger services, who also noted that NCL was the first major cruise line to call at the Bahamas.

Costa Gives Passengers a 1 in 1,500 Chance at Diamonds

To celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2008, Costa Cruises (tel. 800/GO-COSTA; www.costacruises.com) will be giving away a diamond necklace on each of its 2007-2008 Caribbean sailings departing from Ft. Lauderdale.

Originally started in 1854 as a small company trading in olive oil and fabrics, Costa expanded into shipping in 1924 when it purchased a steamer to secure raw materials for its new olive oil production business. In 1947 it launched a freighter with the capacity to carry 50 passengers in addition to cargo, then in 1948 it launched full-scale transatlantic liner service aboard the ship Anna C., which carried 768 guests.

During the diamond anniversary celebration (Nov. 2007 through April 2008), Costa's captains will select a winner each week, by cabin number, during the "Roman Bacchanal" toga parties aboard Costa Fortuna and Costa Mediterranea. The prize is a custom Costa necklace set with six small diamonds totaling one-half carat, set in white gold and valued around $1,000. Winners must be present at the party to get the award.

Best of luck!

Seabourn Orders Third New Vessel, Launches Micro-Website to Tout Them

We're still more than a year and a half out from the launch of Seabourn Cruise Line's first new vessel since 1992, but that hasn't stopped the ultra-luxe line from upping the ante. On November 5, Seabourn announced that it had exercised its option with T. Mariotti S.p.A. shipyards of Genoa, Italy, for another vessel on the same design, to be delivered in summer 2011. That makes the line's newbuild order a threesome and matches the size of its current fleet.

The first of the new 32,000-ton, 450-passenger ships, Seabourn Odyssey, is set to debut in June 2009. As of now, interested parties can click over to www.seabournodyssey.com and see artists' renderings of the ship and its cabins and public rooms; see construction photos taken at the shipyard; and view the vessel's complete inaugural-year schedule, which includes a 108-day World Cruise set to depart in January 2010. The second ship in the series is scheduled to enter service in summer 2010.

Outside, the new Seabourn vessels will be very similar their much smaller old cousins, with long, sleek, yacht-like bows and bellybands of steel rising from the hulls upward and wrapping around the superstructure at the ships' funnels. Inside, their layout will also be similar to that of the current Seabourn ships, while adding additional facilities and amenities. The ships' passenger space ratio will be one of the highest in the industry, and thirteen categories of suites will be available to suit any budget -- from just "rich" to "very, very rich," that is. Options will include 277-square-foot oceanview suites, 450-square-foot penthouses, and 1,300-square-foot Grand Suites. Like the current Seabourn ships, the new vessels will offer four dining options: an open-seating main restaurant; an intimate specialty restaurant called Restaurant 2; the casual indoor/outdoor Veranda Cafe, serving regional specialties; and a simple pizzeria and grill. Six bars will operate on Seabourn's standard open-bar policy, while other features -- some carry-overs from the current fleet, some new -- include a fold-out watersports marina; a terraced top-deck enclave furnished with large sun beds; and a large spa with thallassotherapy pool, his-and-hers Finnish saunas, a selection of aromatic steam rooms, and outdoor relaxation decks.

Cunard Plans "Cunardia" Museum for New Queen Victoria, New Loyalty Program for Everyone Else

When Cunard (tel. 800/7-CUNARD; www.cunard.com) launches its new 90,000-ton, 1,980-passenger Queen Victoria in early December, her passengers will be able to get a healthy dram of Cunard history at Cunardia, which the line is touting as the first permanent museum of Cunard history at sea.

Created by the Open Agency (the same team responsible for several other popular Cunard exhibits, including QM2's "Maritime Quest" storyboard exhibit), QV's collection will include historical artifacts such as Queen Mary's first log book; the "Zig Zag clock" that told her when to zig and zag to evade German U-Boats during World War II; and a section of her deck rail carved with the initials of returning American GIs. Various exhibits will detail the history of Queen Mary (1936), Queen Elizabeth (1940), and QE2 (1969); show a typical day at sea on the old liners; and delve into Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth's history as troopships during WWII.

Retired Commodore Ronald Warwick, former Master of QE2 and QM2 (and son of Captain William E. Warwick, captain of the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and QE2) will serve as the museum's honorary curator.

"I am delighted to accept the invitation to become Cunardia's first honorary curator," said Warwick. "particularly as the exhibit focuses on Cunard's Queens. I look forward to sharing the illustrious history of these renowned ocean liners with Cunard enthusiasts sailing aboard Queen Victoria."

Queen Victoria is scheduled to make her official debut on Friday, December 7, in Southampton, UK. On December 10 she'll be named by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at a ceremony that will also be attended by Camilla's husband Charles, the Prince of Wales.

In other Cunard news, the line has just made some changes to its World Club loyalty program, adding a new "Diamond" level of benefits for passengers who've completed at least 15 voyages or 150 days at sea.

Holland America to Debut Eurodam in Rotterdam

Word is that ms Eurodam, the first vessel in Holland America's (tel. 877/724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com) new Signature-class line of 2,104-passenger, 86,000-ton ships, will make its official debut on July 1, 2008, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where the formerly Dutch company was founded in 1873. Official naming ceremonies will be held near the company's original headquarters, which now operates as the Hotel New York.

"We are planning a very special celebration in our founding city," said Stein Kruse, Holland America's president and chief executive officer. "For us, it's a homecoming and we expect tens of thousands Holland America Line supporters to be on hand as we proudly welcome Eurodam into service."

A 3-night preview cruise departs July 2 from Rotterdam, with calls at Copenhagen (Denmark) and Hamburg (Germany). The ship's first full voyage, a 10-night round-trip from Copenhagen, Denmark, departs July 5 and calls at Oslo, Alesund, Vik, Flam, and Stavanger (Norway), Newcastle Upon Tyne (England), and Edinburgh/South Queensbury and Invergordon (Scotland). Cruise fares for the preview cruise start from $599, while fares for the 10-night maiden voyage begin at $2,474 per person, double occupancy.

Eurodam will sail Norway and Baltic itineraries until mid-August, when she heads across the Atlantic to begin a series of Canada/New England sailings in the fall and Caribbean itineraries for winter 2007/2008.

SeaDream Plans Great Black Sea Voyage, Introduces Cookbook

One of the drawbacks of cruising is that, all in all, you're restricted in terms of the places you can go by ship: Inland cities and regions are generally off the table, and for all their desire to keep things fresh, most cruise lines are restricted as to the ports they can visit too, due to considerations of docking facilities and infrastructure.

Except small ships, of course -- among which few are smaller than SeaDream I and SeaDream II, the twin 110-passenger mega-yachts of SeaDream Yacht Club (tel. 800/707-4911; www.seadream.com). And from August 23 to 30, 2008, that little luxe line will be offering one of the more interesting itineraries we've seen in a while.

Sailing round-trip from Istanbul, SeaDream I will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nessebar, Bulgaria, known for its medieval architecture; the prominent Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania, a center of winemaking; Odessa, Ukraine, home to the Leo Tolstoy mansion; Sevastopol, Ukraine, a Medieval-style seaside resort; and Yalta, Ukraine, summer residence of the Russian Czars and site of the 1945 conference between Allied leaders Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin.

Prices start from $5,399 per person, double occupancy.

In other SeaDream news, the line has just published Dream Cuisine: An Adventure for the Senses, a cookbook featuring recipes by the chefs aboard SeaDream I and II, led by executive chef Robert van Rijsbergen. More than 90 recipes are detailed, from welcome-aboard hors d' oeuvres to signature main dishes and desserts, spa cuisine, and vegetarian choices.

"We have received so many wonderful compliments from our guests about their dining experiences with us that it just made perfect sense for us to publish this Dream Cuisine cookbook," said Larry Pimentel, SeaDream's president and CEO. "It was a labor of love and I hope it not only reminds our guests of one of the great joys of sailing with us, but also sends them into their home kitchens to try some of these recipes."

The cookbook is available on board as well as through the "Boutique" section of SeaDream's website, for $30 plus shipping.

Princess to Introduce Cruise Rewards Credit Card

On November 6, Princess Cruises (tel. 800/PRINCESS; www.princess.com) and Barclays announced the new co-branded Princess Rewards Visa Signature card, which offers Joe Consumer the opportunity to earn points toward cruises, discounts, onboard credits, air travel, and various amenities. Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent with Princess (whether for cruise fares or onboard purchases) and one point for each dollar spent with everybody else. Rack up 150,000 points and you'll get yourself a free cruise, with no blackout dates or capacity limits.

New cardholders get 10,000 bonus points after the first qualifying transaction, including 5,000 points for signing up and up to 5,000 more points for balance transfers within the first 30 days. Princess Captain's Circle members are also eligible for an additional 5,000 bonus points when they use the card to book a cruise by January 31, 2008.

Want one? You can apply starting December 10 at www.princessvisa.com.

Deilmann Plans Classical Music Cruise for Late 2008

If you're going to do a classical music cruise, best to do it aboard a vessel that matches -- and the 513-passenger Deutschland of German line Peter Deilmann Cruises (tel. 800/348-8287; www.deilmann-cruises.com) might just be the most classically styled cruise ship in the world.

From Sept. 18 to Oct. 1, 2008, Deutschland will become a floating concert hall as Deilmann and the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn join to offer a 14-day "Music Gala at Sea" cruise, departing Hamburg, Germany, and with stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Portugal, Monaco, and Spain. Throughout the voyage, the orchestra and its guest soloists will offer a varied program of classical and modern compositions during recitals, concerts, special themed evenings, and discussion sessions.

Cruise fares start at $5,636 per person, double occupancy, and include round-trip air from dozens of US gateways.

Regent Presents Menu of Food and Wine Cruises for '08

Nine: That's how many food- and wine-themed voyages ultra-luxe Regent Seven Seas Cruises (tel. 866/284-4079; www.theregentexperience.com) has scheduled for 2008. Offered as part of its Circles of Interest enrichment program, the cruises will bring aboard world-class chefs to share insights into their cooking techniques; host cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and shore-side trips to local markets; and lead informative discussions on the cuisines of the regions sailed.

Regent's 2008 schedule of food and wine Circles of Interest cruises includes:

  • Le Cordon Bleu "Classes Culinaires des Croiseres": Since 1895, Paris's Le Cordon Bleu has been dedicated to preserving and passing on the mastery and appreciation of the culinary arts. This onboard program, which accepts no more than 20 guests, combined onboard cooking programs with Le Cordon Bleu chefs with shore-side market visits. It's available on Seven Seas Mariner's January 16 (Callao to Buenos Aires), April 7 (round-trip Fort Lauderdale), May 27 (Vancouver, B.C., to Seward, Alaska), and September 18 (Seward, Alaska, to Osaka, Japan) voyages, and Seven Seas Voyager's April 30 (Fort Lauderdale to Horta, Azores), June 9 (Monte Carlo to Dover), and September 9 (Southampton to Monte Carlo) trips.
  • "Presidential Culinary Secrets under the Mediterranean Sun" featuring Walter Scheib: Walter Scheib served as White House Executive Chef from 1994 to 2005, conducting hundreds of state dinners. Aboard Seven Seas Navigator's June 7 cruise (Piraeus, Greecem to Monte Carlo), he'll be joined by wine writer Alan Tardi (winner of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Award for his book Romancing the Vine) for onboard activities that include demos of favorite presidential midnight snacks and popular state dinner dishes, and a luncheon at the Michelin-starred Torre del Saracino restaurant in Vico Equense.
  • "Mediterranean Food Odyssey" featuring Cindy Pawlcyn: Chef Pawlcyn studied at Le Cordon Bleu and opened Mustards Grill after moving to California's Napa Valley in 1980. Today she also operates Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in Napa Valley. Chef Pawlcyn will co-host Seven Seas Navigator's June 21 cruise (Civitavecchia, Italy, to Istanbul) with wine authority Lyn Farmer, senior editor of The Wine News magazine and executive director of the Miami Wine and Food Festival. Onboard activities include a cooking demonstration of Mediterranean cuisine and a tasting of Italian and Corsican cheeses, while shore-side activities include dinner with Chef Vedet Basaran at his Feriye restaurant in Istanbul.

Regent's 2008 food and wine programs are available at rates ranging from $255 to $450 per person, in addition to your cruise fare.

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