We take a look at tsunami-related cancellations, new ship orders, new routes for existing ships, teen spa programs and more in this round-up.
Seabourn Spirit Cancels Planned Calls to Sri Lanka, Phuket
Due to devastation wrought by last month's tsunami, Seabourn Cruise Line (tel. 800/929-9391; www.seabourn.com) announced last week that it would cancel upcoming calls to Sri Lanka and Phuket, Thailand.
The line's 208-passenger Seabourn Spirit had been scheduled to visit Phuket on January 18 as part of a round-trip cruise from Singapore. The ship will sail as scheduled, substituting a call at Penang, Malaysia. At present, the line expects to be back in Phuket as planned on March 1.
Seabourn Spirit was scheduled to call in Sri Lanka in April 2005 as part of a cruise from Singapore to Dubai, departing April 10. The ship will sail as scheduled, but substitute a call at Ko Ngai, Thailand.
Costa Orders Twin for Costa Concordia, Sends Costa Tropicale Down Under
Carnival subsidiary Costa Cruises (tel. 800/GO-COSTA; www.costacruises.com) has already launched three ships in 16 months -- Costa Mediterranea, christened June 2003; Costa Fortuna, christened November 2003; and Costa Magica, christened in November 2004 -- with the 112,000-ton Costa Concordia on deck for summer 2006. But why stop there? On January 4, the line announced an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of yet another 112,000-ton, 3,000-passenger vessel, scheduled for Spring 2007.
"Continuing to invest in the Costa brand and introduce new vessels to its fleet is key to maintaining Costa's preeminent position as Europe's number one cruise line," said Carnival Corporation and plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison.
To accommodate the new ship's construction schedule at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente shipyard, minor adjustments were made to the delivery dates for two other Carnival Corporation ships: Carnival's new 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom, originally scheduled for spring 2007, will be moved up three months to February 2007. The delivery date Cunard's new Queen Victoria has been moved back from July 2007 to December 2007.
Concurrent with these announcements, Carnival Corporation also announced plans to transfer the 1,022-passenger Costa Tropicale (formerly Carnival's Tropicale, which entered service in 1982) to its P&O Cruises Australia unit in October 2005, where she'll be renamed Pacific Star.
Regal Empress Is Top Port Everglades Revenue Producer for 2004
Hail the little engine that could: Hot on the heels of our recent Frommer's Cruise Spotlight of Imperial Majesty Cruises (tel. 954/956-9505; www.imperialmajesty.com), we've learned that the line's plucky little Regal Empress has been named top revenue producing ship at Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades for fiscal year 2004.
According to the Port Everglades Passenger Ship Revenue and Volume Report, the 1,190-passenger ship generated $2.8 million in revenues for the fiscal year ending in September. Regal Empress -- launched in 1953 and currently the oldest cruise ship in the North American market -- offers Florida's only two-night cruise to Nassau, sailing from Port Everglades every other day year-round.
Celebrity Cruises Deploys Fourth Ship to Europe
Europe is hot for '05, so hot that Celebrity Cruises (tel. 800/437-3111; www.celebrity.com) has just announced that it's pulling the 1,750-passenger Century off her planned year-round Caribbean itineraries and redeploying her to the region this summer, along with Constellation, Galaxy, and Millennium.
Launched in 1995, Century was Celebrity's first megaship, following launch of the smaller Horizon (which will be leaving the Celebrity fleet in October) and Zenith.
"We've enjoyed offering a year-round option in the Caribbean with Century, but our guests' demand for more Celebrity vacation options in Europe can't be ignored," said Celebrity Cruises president and COO Jack Williams.
Following a 14-night transatlantic cruise departing from Fort Lauderdale on May 7, Century will offer a series of mostly 10-, 11-, and 12-night cruises in the Baltic and Mediterranean:
- 12-night Baltic, round-trip from Amsterdam, May 21; June 2, 14, and 26; and July 8 and 20, visiting Copenhagen (Denmark, overnight), Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland), St. Petersburg (Russia, overnight), and Tallinn (Estonia).
- 7-night Norwegian Fjords, round-trip from Amsterdam, Aug. 13, visiting Bergen, Olden, Alesund, and Flam.
- 13-night repositioning cruise, Amsterdam to Barcelona, Aug. 20, visiting Zeebrugge/Brussels (Belgium), LeHavre/Paris (France), Vigo, Cadiz, and Malaga (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Civitavecchia/Rome and Livorno/Florence/Pisa (Italy), and Villefranche/Nice/Monte Carlo (France).
- 10-night Mediterranean/Balearic Islands, round-trip from Barcelona, Sept. 2 and 23, visiting Ibiza, Valencia, and Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Marseilles/Provence and Villefranche/Nice/Monte Carlo (France), and Livorno/Florence/Pisa and Civitavecchia/Rome (Italy).
- 11-night Mediterranean/Tyrrhenian Sea, round-trip from Barcelona, Sept. 12 and Oct. 3, visiting Palermo and Messina (Sicily), Cartagena (Spain), Ajaccio (Corsica), Civitavecchia/Rome and Naples (Italy), and Valletta (Malta).
Century heads departs Barcelona October 14 on a 15-night voyage to Fort Lauderdale, where she'll resume her round-trip 9- and 10-night Caribbean routes.
Oceanview fares for 12-night Northern European cruises begin at $2,140 per person, double occupancy. Oceanview fares for Mediterranean sailings start at $1,690.
Celebrity has established special toll-free numbers to re-accommodate guests booked on Caribbean cruises affected by Century's new European sailings. Guests with individual bookings are asked to call 888/837-5676. Groups are asked to call 888/305-4549.
Get 'Em While They're Young: Royal Caribbean Intoduces Teen Spa Program
In the age of Britney Spears, Extreme Makeover-type reality shows, and teen breast implants, why is it not surprising that cruise lines are looking to tap the youth market? This week, Royal Caribbean (tel. 800/398-9819; www.royalcaribbean.com) opened a new front in that campaign with "Y Spa," a fleetwide menu of spa treatments targeted to ages 13 to 17.
The program features a range of facials (including the 50-minute Acne Attack facial), hair and nail treatments, fitness classes, massages, and something called the "Fake Bake," a body scrub followed by an application of self- tanning cream. Parents can sign up for a 25-minute "Mother and Daughter Paradise Massage" or a "Father and Son Chill Out Massage."
"Y Spa provides the perfect opportunity for our teen guests to forget about school stress and return from vacation refreshed and ready to go," said David Stanley, RCI's vice president of Fleet Operations Revenue (emphasis added).
Teens must have parental consent before signing up for Y Spa treatments. Only teens 16 years or older may participate in the boot-camp-style Fitness Frenzy classes. Prices range from $23 for a manicure to $100 for personal styling, which includes a consultation, color, and cut.
Don't Mess with Texas: NCL Extends Norwegian Sea's Houston Deployment
The 1,518-passenger Norwegian Sea has been given a two-month reprieve with Norwegian Cruise Line (tel. 800/327-7030; www.ncl.com). Originally scheduled to depart in May for a new posting with NCL's Asia-based parent company, Star Cruises, the dowager 1988 vessel will instead remain in the Texas market till July, allowing NCL to add 11 additional Exotic Western Caribbean sailings and one Panama Canal sailing.
The first 10 additional Western Caribbean sailings will depart Houston each Saturday and call in Cozumel and Cancun (Mexico), Roatan (Honduras), and Belize City (Belize), through July 16. The ship will then sail an abbreviated Western Caribbean itinerary offering all ports except Roatan, preparatory to the ship's two-week Panama Canal cruise departing Houston July 22, and visiting Cozumel, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), Cartagena (Columbia), and Puntarenas (Costa Rica) en route to Los Angeles.
Fares for the new Caribbean sailings start at $529 per person, double occupancy. Fares for the Panama Canal voyage start at $1,049 per person.
Carnival Rolls Out Online Booking for Shore Excursions
No more waiting in line the day your cruise starts: As of now, Carnival is accepting reservations for shore excursions through its website, www.carnival.com.
With the new system, guests are able to book shore excursions from 180 days up to five days prior to departure on any of Carnival's vessels sailing to 65 ports throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England, and Europe. More than 1,000 different shore excursion choices are available.
To access the new on-line shore excursion booking engine, guests must be registered on carnival.com and have a fully deposited cruise booking. After accessing their cruise booking through the "View Cruise Details" link, guests are prompted with the "Add Shore Excursions" option, which lists all excursion choices associated with the ports of call on their particular cruise. After paying by credit card through a secure link, guests receive a printable shore excursion confirmation. Tickets are delivered to guests' staterooms on embarkation day.
Other cruise lines currently offering prebooking or pre-reservation of shore excursions include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, NCL, Disney, Holland America, Silversea, Radisson Seven Seas, and Crystal Cruises, to one degree or another.
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