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Got it! Thank you! Cruise News Roundup for the Week of July 12, 2007

Carnival heads to South America for the first time in history, Costa sets sail for Mauritius, NCL announces an Amex-only deal for NYC, and more updates from the world of cruising.

Carnival Goes South of the Border & Loses Its Head

For all its size and market strength, Carnival Cruise Lines (tel. 800/327-9501; has always been a remarkably stay-at-home cruise line, sailing the vast majority of its itineraries in the Caribbean, many of them from its Miami home-base. But occasionally they venture out. Case in point: January 2009, when the new Carnival Splendor will offer a short series of 14- to 18-night South America cruises -- the line's very first in its 35-year history. On tap:

  • One 17-night, six-port cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Buenos Aires, Argentina (Jan 31-Feb 17), visiting the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Barbados as well as day-long calls at Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador, and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • One 14-night, six-port voyage from Buenos Aires to Santiago/Valparaiso, Chile (Feb 17-Mar 3), beginning with an overnight in Buenos Aires and then visiting Montevideo (Uruguay), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Montt (Chile), with cruising time at Cape Horn, Beagle Island, and the Chilean fjords
  • One 18-night, six-port South America/Mexican Riviera cruise from Santiago/Valparaiso to San Francisco (Mar 3-21), visiting Arica (Chile), Lima/Callao (Peru), Quito/Manta (Ecuador), Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), and Long Beach (California)

Due to debut in July 2008, the 113,300-ton, 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor will sail European itineraries through mid-November 2008, then reposition to Florida for two months of 7-night Caribbean itineraries before heading South American way. After arriving in San Francisco, she'll begin offering year-round Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach, CA.

In other Carnival news, longtime president and CEO Bob Dickinson has announced he will retire from both positions at the end of 2007 while remaining on Carnival's board of directors. Normally we wouldn't report executive reshufflings, but this one's a little different simply because of Dickinson's longevity and influence. He joined Carnival in its very first year, 1972, as executive vice president, then became senior VP of sales and marketing in 1979, president in 1993, and CEO in 2005. Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation's chairman and CEO (and son of founder Ted Arison, who originally hired Dickinson), calls him, "one of the most influential people in the development of the modern-day cruise industry."

"I have been blessed to have had a long, fun-filled career helping to build Carnival and the cruise industry," said Dickinson in announcing his departure. "I'm still having fun so giving all of that up has been a very difficult decision, but I'll be 65 next month and have been pondering this with my family for some time."

Dickinson will be replaced by Gerry Cahill, who currently holds the title of executive vice president and CFO at Carnival Corporation & plc.

It Rhymes with "Delicious"

Mauritius is a 720-square-mile island located in the Indian Ocean, about 500 miles east of Madagascar and about 1,000 miles from the coast of continental Africa. Known for its natural beauty, turquoise waters, gorgeous beaches, and cultural diversity, it's a place where tourism has been playing an increasing role in the economy, and now cruising will figure more heavily into that mix too.

Beginning in December 2007, Costa Cruises (tel. 800/GO-COSTA; will become the first cruise line to offer a regular

season of departures from the island nation, aboard Costa Marina. The 25,600-ton, 1,000-passenger vessel will offer six 14-night cruises total, sailing each Saturday between December 22, 2007, and March 1, 2008, and visiting Mahe (Seychelles, for two days), Mombasa (Kenya), Nosy Be and Toamasina (Madagascar), and the French islands of Mayotte and Reunion. Prices for the 14-night cruises begin at $1,879 per person.

Two 27-night repositioning cruises to and from Mauritius will depart on November 27, 2007 and March 14, 2008, both with stops in Egypt, Jordan, the Seychelles, Kenya, Mayotte, and Madagascar.

NCL Plans Cruises to Nowhere for American Express Members Only

One- and two-night cruises to nowhere were once a staple of the cruise biz, a cheap way to get good and goofy over a weekend while leaving your vacation days intact. Hardly any lines offer them now, but on December 20 and 21 Norwegian Cruise Line ( will offer a pair of them from New York aboard its new, 2,376-passenger Norwegian Gem, with featured two concerts per cruise from Grammy Award winning R&B artist John Legend and special tasting menus "inspired by" some of the country's top chefs, including the Food Network's Bobby Flay.

But here's the caveat: You have to be an American Express card-member to sail.

"This is yet another example of the elite access that comes with American Express Cardmembership," said Rocco Laterzo, AmEx's senior VP and general manager of travel and entertainment industries. "Together with NCL, we have created an exceptional dining, entertainment and cruising experience -- all in one night!"

Elite access? Maybe. A bargain? Not exactly. Overnight prices start at $250 per person and range upward for "premium access," which gets you into events like a late-night dinner prepared by Bobby Flay and a chance to meet John Legend.

The cruises depart the port of New York at 7pm on Thursday, December 20, and at 6pm on Friday, December 21, returning the following day at approximately 8am. Cardmembers can book their berths by calling American Express Travel (tel. 866/273-6254).

Millennium Propeller Pops Blades off Villefranche, Scuttling Cruises

On July 2, while at anchor off the coast of Villefranche on the French Riviera, the 1,950-passenger Millennium of Celebrity Cruises (tel. 800/437-3111; struck a submerged rock, damaging three out of four blades on her starboard propeller and one on her port. As repairs required dry-docking, the 12-night sailing in progress (begun just two days before) was cancelled, as was the following cruise, set to begin July 12.

Celebrity is fully refunding the cruise fare paid by all guests on the cancelled sailings. Millennium's next cruise is currently scheduled to begin July 24, as scheduled.

Regent Completes $20 Million Fleetwide Refurbishment

Three of the four ships operated by Regent Seven Seas Cruises (tel. 866/284-4079; were launched within the past eight years, but even white-shoed luxury passengers inflict a little wear-and-tear on a vessel. And besides, you gotta keep up on the gizmos if you wanna keep up with the Joneses. Thus the $20 million Regent poured into its vessels during their recent dry-docks, updating many aspects of the passenger experience and adding a few new ones while they were at it. The 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner and the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator all received:

  • Communications upgrades, including wireless service for laptop computers, faster Internet connectivity overall, and onboard cell phone service
  • iPods with Bose speakers in the Butler suites
  • Improved bed linens, duvets, cashmere throws, and bathrobes; new towels and slippers; and new Regent-brand bathroom amenities
  • New carpeting in public areas
  • Nespresso coffee machines in each of the ships' Master and Grand Suites; a new espresso bar in the ships' computer lounges; and a new Deck Six coffee and snack bar aboard Seven Seas Mariner
  • An a la carte butler menu in suites with butler service
  • Improved gym facilities aboard Seven Seas Navigator
  • New entertainment programming aboard the Mariner, Voyager, and Navigator, including a new nine-piece band

The line's fourth ship, the 330-passenger Paul Gauguin, completed extensive refurbishments in 2006.

Crystal Details Themed Sailings for 2008

Theme cruises were once the domain of Elvis impersonators, second-run rock bands, and sports hall-of-famers, but lately it seems like those most venerable of cruise themes are giving way to the same kind of gentrification that birthed Whole Foods, HGTV, and Starbucks. Across the spectrum, from Carnival's Presidential Wine Club Cruises to Silversea's America's Cup sailing, themes have gone high end. Ditto for those released this week at luxe line Crystal Cruises (tel. 888/799-4625;, which, like Silversea, at least has the pedigree to make it work.

For 2008, the line plans to offer a whole raft of themed sailings, mostly emphasizing destination, culture, history, and contemporary trends. The line-up includes:

  • 12-night Mediterranean Arts & Antiquities: Arts and antiquities experts lecture on board and ashore, with explorations of archeological sites and calls in architecturally significant cities of the Mediterranean. Sails October 6, Athens to Rome, aboard Crystal Serenity.
  • 11-night Northern Europe Classical Music: Guest lecturers and live performances highlight the music of Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart aboard a voyage of the Baltic's imperial cities. Famed mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade headlines the entertainment lineup. Sails June 7, London to Stockholm, aboard Crystal Symphony.
  • 11- and 12-night Golf Cruises: Three diverse itineraries feature instruction by top PGA pros, celebrity lectures, and shore excursions offering play at prestigious clubs. 11-night Mediterranean & Northern Europe sails April 26, Rome to London, aboard Crystal Serenity. The 11-night New England & Canada cruise sails September 27, MontrĂ©al to New York, aboard Crystal Symphony and the 12-night Canary Islands cruise sails October 30, Barcelona to Lisbon, aboard Crystal Serenity.
  • 10-night Trans-Atlantic Big Band & Ballroom Dancing: Features live music, lectures, guest entertainers, and ballroom dance competitions and instruction. Sails November 21, Lisbon to Miami, aboard Crystal Serenity.
  • World Cruise Comprehensive Creative Learning Institute: Music, art, language, and computer study (the latter with transferable college credit) are all offered during different legs of Crystal Serenity's 2008 World Cruise, which sails from Los Angeles to London, January 19 to May 6 aboard Crystal Serenity.
  • 14-night Transatlantic Film & Theatre Festival: Film authorities and guest lecturers salute film and theater. Sails September 2, London to New York, aboard Crystal Symphony.
  • 7-night Mexican Riviera Jazz Cruise: Guest performances and industry experts bring out the music, history, and culture of jazz. Sails November 30, round-trip from Los Angeles aboard Crystal Symphony.
  • 11- and 15-night Mind, Body & Spirit Cruises: Experts in Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates focus on rejuvenation and wellness aboard two December voyages. The 15-night South America cruise sails December 7, Los Angeles to Valparaiso, aboard Crystal Symphony. The 11-night Panama Canal cruise sails December 12, Caldera (Costa Rica) to Miami, aboard Crystal Serenity.
  • 15-night Panama Canal Smithsonian Journey: Features historical and cultural insights from lecturers at the Smithsonian Institute. Sails January 4, Miami to Los Angeles, aboard Crystal Serenity.
  • 11-night British Isles/Northern Europe Tall Ships Cruise: Experience and learn about the world's largest sailing event, featuring a regatta of more than 80 tall ships. Sails July 13, round-trip London aboard Crystal Symphony.
  • Crystal Wine & Food Festival: Renowned chefs and wine experts offer lectures, demonstrations, special menus, and tastings aboard and ashore, during five voyages to Asia, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and New England and Canada:
    16-night Asia: Sails April 25, Singapore to Dubai, aboard Crystal Symphony
    12-night Western Europe: Sails May 7, London to Rome, aboard Crystal Serenity
    13-night Western Europe: Sails May 25, Athens to London, aboard Crystal Symphony
    12-night Mediterranean: Sails July 31, Monte Carlo to Venice, aboard Crystal Serenity
    12-night Mediterranean: Sails October 18, Rome to Barcelona, aboard Crystal Serenity
    10-night New England & Canada: Sails October 19, Montréal to New York, aboard Crystal Symphony

Majestic America Embraces Americana Theme for 2008

OK, OK, so Americana is pretty much the theme for every voyage aboard Majestic America Line (tel. 800/434-1232;, which operates five stern-wheel river boats on the Mississippi River system and on the Pacific Northwest's Columbia and Snake Rivers. But that doesn't mean they can't add another layer or two to the mix -- which is just what they're doing in these theme cruises scheduled for 2008:

  • Rediscover New Orleans: A 7-night round-trip journey from the Crescent City, including one full extra day in town with a choice of two included shore tours. Special enrichment presenters will share insights into NOLA's history, culture, and significance. Seven sailings in January and February 2008, with rates from $1,799 per person, double occupancy.
  • Southern-Style Spring Pilgrimage: A 7-night cruise highlighting the history and culture of the Plantation South, with an exclusive tour of rarely open antebellum mansions, and (on some sailings) a community performance reliving the history of Natchez, Mississippi, featuring 200 local performers. Ten sailings depart between March and April aboard American Queen or Mississippi Queen, with rates from $1,799 per person.
  • Three Steamboat Race Cruise: Offered aboard the 174-passenger landmark vessel Delta Queen, which races the steamboat Natchez in New Orleans; the American Queen between Natchez and Vicksburg, Mississippi; and the Belle of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. Fares for the 14-night cruise (departing New Orleans on April 18) start at $3,999 per person, double occupancy.
  • Remembering the Civil War: Aboard this Delta Queen sailing, experts highlight major battle sites along the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers. In the evening, guest musicians perform Civil War era music. Four 7-night departures are scheduled between May and August, with fares starting from $2,299 per person, double occupancy.
  • Music of America Independence Day Celebration: This 7-night Fourth of July cruise highlights Big Band music, with Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians performing aboard American Queen as she sails from Memphis to St. Louis for a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks show. Meanwhile, the Mississippi Queen sails from St. Louis to St. Paul, Minnesota, with the Russ Morgan Orchestra providing the sounds. The latter cruise includes a visit to Hannibal, Missouri, childhood home of Mark Twain. American Queen departs June 28 and Mississippi Queen departs June 29. Fares start at $1,999 per person, double occupancy.
  • Cajun-Style Season's Greetings: American Queen and Mississippi Queen will both be dressed for the season come December, with a local Cajun storyteller along to bring traditional Louisiana holiday customs to life. Ten 7-night cruises are available on the Lower Mississippi River, with fares starting from $1,799 per person, double occupancy.

Guests who book a Majestic America Line cruise of seven nights or longer on the Mississippi or Ohio Rivers before October 31, 2007, will receive a choice of free airfare or a $300 per person round-trip airfare credit.

Norwegian Coastal Voyage Offers U.S. Departures on "Longitudinal" 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. Later this year, though, the MS Fram of recently world-ranging Norwegian Coastal Voyage (tel. 800/323-7436; 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. Like a traditional latitudinal world cruise, this one will be sold either whole or in segments, and U.S. passengers will have the option of embarking for 23-, 31-, and 44-night segments in New York and 19-, 27-, and 40-night segments from Pt. Canaveral, Florida.

Confused? It goes like this:

  • October 9: Fram arrives in New York from Newport, Rhode Island, and takes on passengers.
  • October 12: Fram arrives at Port Canaveral, Florida, and takes on more passengers.
  • November 1: Fram arrives in Callao/Lima, Peru, where guests who signed on for the 23-night sailing from New York or the 19-night sailing from Port Canaveral debark.
  • November 9: Fram arrives in Valparaiso, Chile, where guests who signed on for the 31-night sailing from New York or the 27-night sailing from Port Canaveral debark.
  • November 23: Fram arrives in Ushuaia, Argentina, after spending three days in Antarctica. Guests who signed on for the 44-night sailing from New York or the 40-night sailing from Port Canaveral debark here (along with everyone else, as it's the end of the cruise).

Fares range from $3,799 to $15,899 per person for staterooms and $8,499 to $30,199 for suites, double occupancy.

The 12,700-ton, 318-passenger MS Fram entered service in May 2007 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 whole 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), and 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.

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