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All the Cruise News That's Fit to Float

We'll take a look at the return to normal in Florida, plus you can learn about getting married at sea, how to cook and what to drink in our cruise news compendium.

October 13, 2004 -- We'll take a look at the return to normal in Florida, plus you can learn about getting married at sea, how to cook and what to drink in our cruise news compendium.

Port Canaveral's Back in Business

On October 1, the port authority of Port Canaveral, Florida, announced all cruise ships could return after dredging opened the channel that had been closed due to the fury of hurricanes Frances and Jeanne last month.

"We are quite pleased that once again Port Canaveral can now accommodate all of our cruise vessels, including the Mariner of the Seas, and an overwhelming percentage of our cargo vessels," says Stan Payne, Chief Executive Officer of the Canaveral Port Authority. "This monumental task was made easier and accomplished safely and quickly because of the unprecedented cooperation of the Port's partners -- the Canaveral Pilots Association, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, cruise lines, and cargo companies. That cooperation continues."

All Port businesses, including restaurants, charter boats, and gaming vessels have re-opened and are back in operation.

Carnival Goes Ship Crazy

Carnival Corporation (tel. 800/327-9501; www.carnival.com), which boasts a portfolio of 12 cruise brands including Carnival, Cunard and P&O Cruises, just announced a big fat multi-billion-dollar cooperation agreement with Italian shipyard Fincantieri to build four new cruise ships. The deal, which is a combination of orders in U.S. dollars and Euros, also includes a redesign of the previously announced Queen Victoria newbuild for its Cunard brand. The U.S. dollar agreement calls for the construction of a 110,000-ton "Conquest-class" ship for Carnival Cruise Lines at Fincantieri's Sestri yard, at a cost of about $500 million, and a 116,000-ton "Caribbean Princess-class" ship for Princess Cruises at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard, estimated at about $525 million. Delivery of both ships is expected in spring 2007. The euro-based agreement includes two similar-sized vessels built at the same two shipyards, for some 475 and 490 million euros, respectively. Carnival has a one-year option to designate which of the company's brands will take delivery of the vessels, though it's likely the ships will go to Carnival Corp's European brands. Both are scheduled for delivery in spring 2008.

The deal with Fincantieri also includes a significant redesign of the Queen Victoria; the vessel will be lengthened by 11 meters, its tonnage increased to 90,000, and its passenger capacity (double occupancy) increased to 2,000. The ship will be built at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard and is now expected to be delivered in summer 2007. "With these extensive modifications, Queen Victoria will incorporate the 'grand ocean liner' style of the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2, as well as the signature design elements and culinary experiences that have earned Cunard its position as the preeminent luxury cruise operator," Carnival Chairman and CEO Micky Arison said. "At the same time, the reengineered Queen Victoria will serve as Cunard's SuperLiner of the future," he added. Further down the road, Carnival continues to work with Fincantieri on new projects, including the "Pinnacle Project" which is a large prototype vessel for the Carnival Cruise Lines brand. In the meantime, the cruise powerhouse and its brands operate some 77 ships, with 12 new ships scheduled for delivery between November 2004 and spring 2008.

Silversea Serves Up New Partnerships

To perk up its Italian connection (the line was founded by Italians, the ships were built by Italians, and officers are Italian), last week ultra-luxe cruise operator Silversea Cruises (tel. 800/437-3111; www.silverseacruises.com)announced a partnership with the actress and model Isabella Rossellini. Calling her their first-ever Ambassador, Rossellini will appear in Silversea's print ads and brochures, photographed by Fabrizio Ferri, who has worked for Vanity Fair and Vogue.

"We asked Isabella because she is the ideal personification of Silversea's exclusive standard of elegance, glamour and sophistication," said Barbara Muckermann, Silversea's Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Communications. "Being Swedish and Italian -- and living in New York -- she is especially qualified to represent Silversea's international flavor and Italian heritage."

From December through 2005, Rossellini will sail on about 5 or 6 cruises and will mingle with guests. A suite on each ship will be renamed in her honor.

Other alliances announced include one with Acqua di Parma, a renowned Italian fragrance house, to produce in-suite bath amenities (bye bye Bulgari). By mid-2005, there will be a Loro Piana boutique on each ship in the fleet, featuring high-end Italian clothes and accessories in merino wools, cashmere and vicuna. The ships will also soon offer an Italian art collection (for show and for sale), from a company called Italian Factory, which represents new Italian artists. Finally, enhancing the line's partnership with Relais & Ch?aux -- Relais Gourmands chefs, who host Silversea's popular Culinary Cruises, is an alliance with Viking Range, the maker of luxury kitchen appliances. A new Viking Cooking School on the ships will feature Viking cooking stations so that guests can cook along with the guest chefs.

Carnival Captains Say "I Do"

If you're aboard to celebrate a special anniversary, Carnival is offering two new packages for guests wishing to renew their wedding vows. Both include group renewal ceremonies, performed by the ship captains in a public lounge or the wedding chapel (Spirit-class ships). The standard package starts at $385 and includes a shipboard ceremony performed by the captain, a "renewal of marriage vows" certificate, a champagne toast with two keepsake etched flutes, flowers for both bride and groom, a traditional two-tier wedding cake, pre-recorded wedding music and photographic services. The deluxe package starts at $785 and offers these amenities plus a reception with one-hour open bar and hot-and-cold canap├ęs. Ceremonies include aisle runner and decorative floral arrangements. And add-on options include videography services, live music and tuxedo rental. For more info, contact Carnival's Bon Voyage Department at 800/933-4968 or online at www.carnival.com.

Radisson Sevens Seas Shore Excursions Get Wired

You can now pre-book shore excursions for all itineraries and ships online at www.rssc.com/excursions. Requests can be made online within 60 days of sailing, and shore excursion tickets will be waiting in your stateroom at embarkation. Charges for the excursions will be put on shipboard accounts.

Celebrity's Got Taste

For the second year in a row, Celebrity Cruises (tel. 800/437-3111; www.celebritycruises.com) will team up with Bon Appetit magazine to offer a series of culinary cruise onboard the Millennium from February 6 through March 27, 2005. The 7-night cruises sail roundtrip out of Ft. Lauderdale and call on Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Nassau, Bahamas. Guest chefs will conduct cooking demonstrations and enjoy daily culinary activities, Caribbean-themed deck parties, rum tastings and lectures. They also will receive a recipe booklet from Bon Appetit. Some of the chefs featured include Allen Susser, whose namesake restaurant, Chef Allen's, has been called the best restaurant south of New York; Carmen Gonzalez, owner and chef of Carmen the Restaurant, recently named "one of the best new restaurants in America" by Esquire magazine; and Robbin Haas, chef of Coral Gables, Florida hotspot, Chispa, In addition to the onboard activities, there are also culinary shore excursions offered, giving guests the opportunity to take cooking lessons and enjoy meals made by some of the islands' most famous chefs. For example, in St. Thomas, guests can join a cooking class with Chef Brian Katz, named Best Chef in the Virgin Islands in 2004, at his 215-year-old plantation-turned-restaurant.

Celebrity & Crystal Introduce Lines of Wines

Celebrity is now offering a wine line called the Celebrity Cruises Cellarmaster SelectionTM.

"With our Cellarmaster Selection, we have not simply placed our name on an existing wine; we have created proprietary wines that meet the same exacting standards as our food," said Celebrity's Vice President of Food and Beverage Operations Othmar Hehli.

The first two selections, to be offered aboard the fleet this month, are a 2002 Russian River Valley Chardonnay and a 2001 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. You can also purchase the wines online, at www.celebrityvineyards.com or by calling 888/969-WINE (9463). Past guests and travel agents will be offered special pricing, and additional wines will be offered in soon.

Meanwhile, luxe operator Crystal Cruises (tel. 800/446-6620; www.crystalcruise.com) has created its own proprietary label called C Wines, which will debut on the line's three ships this month. The C Wines feature three reserve -- 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley; 2002 Merlot, Napa Valley; and 2003 Chardonnay, Arroyo Seco/Santa Lucia Highlands -- and three premium selections -- 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, California; 2003 Chardonnay, California; and 2003 Merlot, California. C Wines will be offered by the glass or by the bottle.

The Monterey Wine Company will manage the growing and production of C Wines.

Liberty in Lauderdale

Starting in fall 2005, the new 110,000-ton Carnival Liberty will be based year-round in Fort Lauderdale to do 6- and 8-night Caribbean runs. The 2,974-passenger ship is the fourth in Carnival's Conquest class. The six-night cruises will depart Sundays and visit Freeport, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, while eight-night sailings will depart Saturdays and alternate to the eastern and western Caribbean. The six-night cruises call on Juan, St. Thomas, St. John, Antigua, Tortola and Nassau, while the 8 nighters visit just three ports, Cozumel; Limon, Costa Rica; and Colon, Panama. But who needs ports when the ship offers 22 lounges and bars, four restaurants and four pools, plus a huge gym and spa and extensive kids' facilities.


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