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Norwegian Coastal Voyage Plans "Pole-to-Pole" World Cruise

Most world cruises meander in a left-right or right-left direction across the globe, occasionally angling north-south when the mood strikes. For 2007, though, the MS Fram of recently world-ranging Norwegian Coastal Voyage (tel. 800/323-7436; www.norwegiancoastalvoyage.us) is turning that model on its ear, beginning its big journey in Reykjavik, Iceland, and ending up 66 days and 44 ports later in Ushuaia, Argentina, by way of Antarctica.

The 12,700-ton, 318-passenger MS Fram is currently in the last few months of construction. She begins service in May as the first ship built specifically for Greenland cruises. Her world cruise will commence September 18, 2007, at the end of her first Greenland season. Her route will take her through the British Isles, stopping in Stornoway and Oban (Scotland), Londonderry, Cobh, and Galway (Ireland), the Isle of Man (UK); cross over to the Canadian ports of St. John's, St-Pierre, Sydney, and Halifax; then follow the fall foliage along the American coast from Bar Harbor, (Maine), Gloucester and Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts), Newport (Rhode Island), and New York City south to Charleston (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia), and Port Canaveral and Key West (Florida). Stops in Belize City (Belize), Santo Tomas de Castilla (Guatemala), Roatan, (Honduras), the San Andres Island (Colombia), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), and Bocas del Toro and the San Blas Islands (Panama) follow before the ship transits the Panama Canal and heads south for stops in Quito, (Ecuador), Salaverry, Lima, and General San Martin (Peru), Arica, Iquique, Coquimbo, Valparaiso, Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabucco, Puerto Natales, and Punta Arenas (Chile). Several days are spent cruising the Chilean Fjords before heading to Antarctica for three days and then onto Ushuaia for the end of the trip.

Rates for the 66-day voyage are $9,999 to $37,799 per person, double occupancy.

Celebrity to Add Third Ship to Expeditions Sub-Brand

Just one month after announcing plans to add a 30,277-ton, 710-passenger vessel to its Expeditions sub-brand in May 2007, Celebrity Cruises (tel. 800/437-3111; www.celebritycruises.com) has doubled up, acquiring an identical sister-ship that will join the Expeditions fleet in October.

Both vessels, to be named Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest, currently sail for Pullmantur S.A., Spain's largest cruise operator, whose purchased was announced by Celebrity parent-company Royal Caribbean in September. Both vessels are also late of the eight-ship Renaissance Cruises fleet, having been built by the line before its 2001 bankruptcy. The remaining ex-Renaissance vessels now sail for Princess and Oceania Cruises.

"Rounding out the Celebrity brand has been a strong focus for our company," said Celebrity President Dan Hanrahan, "and the expansion of Celebrity Expeditions furthers that strategic objective."

Both Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest will undergo a combined $35-million revitalization during separate one-month drydocks to incorporate 32 new suites on each ship and add new bedding, soft goods, and a variety of Celebrity's most popular signature elements, including the Michael's Club jazz/piano bar, AquaSpa by Elemis, Acupuncture at Sea and Sushi Cafe.

Journey's initial season will offer Bermuda itineraries from Bayonne, NJ, beginning May 5, 2007. Quest will debut in October with a series of 12- to 14-night Caribbean sailings, followed by a 14-night eastbound and westbound Panama Canal itineraries.

"These smaller, upscale ships are the perfect complements to the premium destinations they'll visit, while offering the best of what the Celebrity brand is all about," said Hanrahan.

Carnival Corp. Announces New Megaships for Carnival and Costa Fleets

New tonnage alert: Within a week, cruise overlord Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL) announced it was adding some 5,915 beds to the seas, exercising previously agreed construction options with Italy's Fincantieri Shipyards. The order includes one 130,000-ton, 3,652-passenger vessel for flagship Carnival Cruise Lines (tel. 800/327-9501; www.carnival.com) and a 92,700-ton, 2,260-passenger ship for Costa Cruises (tel. 800/GO-COSTA; www.costacruises.com), Carnival Corp.'s biggest brand in Europe.

The as-yet-unnamed Carnival vessel will be a sister-ship to a previously announced ship slated to enter service in fall 2009 as a new vessel class for the line. She'll be the largest Carnival ship ever. The new Costa ship will be a sister ship to a previously announced vessel scheduled to enter service in spring 2009.

The new Costa vessel is scheduled for delivery in March 2010, while the Carnival ship will debut several months later, in summer 2010.

Royal Caribbean Names Third Freedom-Class Ship

One Â?ber-huge, biggest-in-the-world ship wasn't enough, and neither was two, so of course Royal Caribbean International (tel. 800/327-6700; www.royalcaribbean.com) ordered three of its 160,000-ton, 3,634-passenger Freedom-class ships, the series that debuted with Freedom of the Seas just this year. The sequel, Liberty of the Seas, is set to debut in May, and now the third, which is currently under construction at Aker Yards in Turku, Finland, has won itself a name: Independence of the Seas -- which sounds a lot like "Dependency" when you say it fast.

The ship is set to debut in May 2008.

Stripped of Its Orange, easyCruiseOne Returns for Second Caribbean Season

Two years young, maverick little easyCruise (tel. 650/385-0563; www.easycruise.com) has already begun to mature, outgrowing some of its early "anti-cruise" posturing and beginning its second full season in cruising's ancestral homeland, the Caribbean.

The all-encompassing creamsickle-orange livery easyCruiseOne sported for its first 18 months? Gone, replaced by a much more traditional graphite grey hull, with orange trim and a white superstructure. The original plan to seal up all the cabin windows? Duh: gone. Bad idea from the start, thankfully remedied now in 60 of her 85 cabins. Other changes include the creation of a new cafe, bar, and restaurant.

EasyCruiseOne will sail the Caribbean from December 8 through April 12, 2007, operating a circular route that departs St. Maarten each Friday and calls at St. Barts (Sat.) and Anguilla (Sun.), then pays a return call to St. Maarten on Monday before visiting St. Kitts (Tues.), Antigua (Wed.), and Nevis (Thurs.). Travelers can begin their cruise in St. Maarten on Friday or Monday or in Antigua on Wednesday, and basically sail for as few or as many days as you choose, within some restrictions. Unlike other cruise lines, easyCruise's rates just include cabin and transportation; everything else -- including food -- costs extra. That explains why the line can get away with such low prices, with 7-night Caribbean cruises currently starting at just $132 per person, double occupancy (promotional code "carib73").

Two Queens Go Cruising

On January 10, Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades will witness a true rarity as the grande dame Queen Elizabeth 2 and her younger, burlier sibling Queen Mary 2 depart simultaneously on their individual 2007 world cruises -- QM2 for her first and QE2 for her 25th.

Views of the event will be available from several vantage points, including the 17th Street Causeway Bridge. At 5pm, viewers can also watch the ships from Fort Lauderdale Beach, at either the pier or beach at John U. Lloyd Beach State Park.

"The start of any Cunard World Cruise is cause for celebration so we are doubly excited about this first-ever simultaneous departure from Ft. Lauderdale," said Carol Marlow, Cunard's president and managing director.

Next year will be a particularly resonant one for QE2. In September she hits the big 4-0, celebrating with a visit to Greenock, Scotland, on the 40th anniversary of her christening there by Queen Elizabeth II.

Though a lot has changed in those four decades (including the once inconceivable change from British to American ownership), some things never do -- including tea. Just this month, Cunard announced introduction of a new Wedgewood tea menu aboard both its vessels, with 23 premium teas including old favorites like Darjeeling and Earl Grey, as well as new specialty flavors like Forrest Berries and Lemon Grass.

The full line is available at QM2's daily tea service in the Queens Grill Lounge, as well as in the Queens Grill and Princess Grill staterooms and restaurants and the Grills Concierge Lounge, as well as in other cocktail lounges upon request. Aboard QE2, the teas are available in Queens, Princess, and Britannia Grill accommodations and restaurants, as well as in the Queens Grill Lounge and in cocktail lounges upon request.

Cunard (tel. 800/7-CUNARD; www.cunard.com).

New York Woman Celebrates 100th Carnival Cruise

Let the facts speak for themselves: On December 8, Ms. Alzoria Jones of New York City stepped aboard Carnival's Fascination for her 100th cruise since 1991.

As a Carnival press release noted, that constitutes "roughly a cruise every other month for 15 years."

"I keep cruising with Carnival because they treat me the way I like to be treated. I feel at home and the staff on board remember me, which means a lot," said Jones, an 83-year-old grandmother of 13.

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