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Got it! Thank you! Cruise News Roundup for the Week of September 27, 2007

Silversea gets bigger, Princess passengers praise Alaskan ports of call, NCL raids the toy box for tons of LEGOs, and more news from the seven seas.

Silversea Buys Adventure Ship World Discoverer

In a surprise move, ultra-luxe operator Silversea Cruises (tel. 877/215-9986; has just announced its purchase of the expedition ship World Discoverer, launched in 2001 for now-defunct Society Expeditions. Silversea took possession of the vessel in Singapore on September 17 and will put her through a multi-million dollar refurbishment before re-launching her in spring 2008. "We're very excited about this acquisition, as it means we'll be able to further tap that segment of the luxury travel market that is adventure driven," said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea's chairman. "We have been looking into this segment for quite some time. When we were informed about the opportunity to buy World Discoverer, we took immediate action in a matter of days. We believe that exploration cruises can combine extremely well with an utterly exclusive product. With the addition of World Discoverer, our current fleet increases to five ships and to six in 2009, offering a more-expansive cruise schedule that encompasses all seven continents."

After the planned refurbishment, World Discoverer will accommodate approximately 140 guests, down from its current 175. "The refurbishment will extend to virtually every area of the ship," noted Amerigo Perasso, Silversea's president. "Although we will maintain much of the vessel's current configuration, which features all ocean-view accommodations, we will dramatically enhance and redesign a number of public spaces, as well as some of the accommodations, and even some aspects of the ship's external appearance." The 6,072-ton vessel was built for luxury expedition cruising in tough environments, boasting a strengthened hull with the highest Lloyd's Register ice-class notation (1A). Inside, she's got a dining room large enough for all passengers at a single seating, a specialty restaurant, several lounges, a beauty salon and fitness center, and a library. Silversea plans to outfit her with bow-to-stern WiFi access, cellular phone service, and flat-screen TVs in all suites and staterooms.

Details of the ship's planned itineraries will be coming soon.

Princess Passengers Vote Best Alaska Shore Excursions

Every year since 1999, Princess Cruises (tel. 800/PRINCESS; has surveyed its Alaska passengers regarding the best shore excursion experiences they've had on their trips, then uses those results to award tour companies, individual guides, and dock representatives at the end of the season. The results for this summer are in, and among the winners are:

Juneau, Best Shore Excursions: Glacier & Dog Sled Adventure by Helicopter (ERA Helicopters, LLC), Photo Safari by Land & Sea (Gastineau Guiding Company), and Whale Watching & Wildlife Quest (Allen Marine Tours).

A full list of all winners in Juneau, as well as Ketchikan, Seattle, Sitka, Vancouver, Victoria, Skagway, and Whittier is available on Princess' website.

"We had so much wonderful feedback from customers this year that we had a tough time narrowing down our winners," said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. "Our Alaska tour operators continue to outdo themselves to provide a continuation of the Princess experience our passengers expect, even on shore."

Princess Partners with Hawaiian Cultural Organizations for Onboard Program

More than any other state in the union, Hawaii can boast that its native culture remains an inextricable part of its modern, everyday life, for native and non-native people alike. That culture will soon be on display on Princess's 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess and 670-passenger Pacific Princess, which between them will sail more than 20 Hawaiian cruises between now and April.

A new onboard program, offered in partnership with a variety of local Hawaiian organizations, will include demonstrations by local artisans, a hula show, guest lecturers speaking about the islands' natural history and traditions, regional Hawaiian cuisine, and culturally oriented shore excursions.

"We wanted to give our passengers an array of opportunities to connect with the rich culture of the islands, whether they're on shore or aboard our ships," said Jan Swartz, Princess' senior vice president of customer service. "We're delighted that after more than 30 years of sailing to Hawaii, we've created new ways to showcase the special Hawaiian experience."

Highlights of the new program include:

  • Demonstrations by Artisans from Ni"hau: The island of Ni'ihau is inhabited solely by native Hawaiians and is largely closed to the rest of the world. For these cruises, some of Ni'ihau's skilled artisans will come onboard to demonstrate the art of making shell leis. Passengers are invited to meet the artists and watch as they demonstrate the intricate process and share the history of the craft.
  • Demonstrations of Hawaiian Bone Carving: In another demonstration, native bone carver Dean Kaahanui will come aboard during calls at the Big Island to present a workshop on the history of his craft and demonstrate the art of bone carving. During the workshop, he'll explain the inspiration for his work, which is often based on Hawaiian legends.
  • Traditional Hula Shows: In Honolulu, childrenfrom the award-winning Halau Hula Olana, one of the islands' most respected hula schools, will perform on board, presenting a show that highlights the children's commitment to learning their school's unique hula tradition, the Hawaiian language, and the stories of Hawaii.
  • Workshops and Guest Lecturers: Onboard instructors will teach traditional skills such as orchid lei making and ukulele playing, while a variety of guest lecturers and naturalists will provide insight into the islands' marine biology, unusual endemic species, Hawaiian storytelling, and whale migration patterns.
  • Hawaiian TV Programming: On cabins TVs, guests can view a National Park Service video about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as well as films themed on or set in Hawaii, including classics such as From Here to Eternity; surfing documentaries such as Riding Giants; and National Geographic presentations on Hawaii's unique species, Pearl Harbor, and Hawaiian culture.
  • Cultural Shore Excursions: On O'ahu, passengers can explore the Polynesian Cultural Center, which preserves the customs and cultures of old Polynesia. On Maui, they can travel along the "forbidden road" around the West Maui Mountains to Kahakuloa Valley to experience a part of ancient Hawaii. On the Big Island, guests can take a 4WD van into the Waipi'o Valley, the island's longest valley and once home to many Hawaiian rulers. In Hilo, the Tsunami Museum documents how tsunamis have reshaped the land and the history of the area.
  • Regional Hawaiian Cuisine: Princess chefs have fashioned a large showcase of regional Hawaiian cuisine with new menu items for the dining room such as pupu starters and entrees such as Lehua Honey BBQ Pork Spareribs, Togarashi Seared Red Snapper, and Macadamia and Panko Crusted Mahimahi. A new Hawaiian Island Night is debuting as well, complete with a full buffet feast laden with local treats.

    For the 2007-08 season, Diamond Princess is offering 15-night round-trip Hawaii cruises from Los Angeles, visiting Hilo, Kona, Honolulu, Kaua'i (Nawiliwili), and Maui, with sailing time near the Kilauea Volcano. The ship sails 15 such cruises between now and April 16, 2008. The smaller Pacific Princess is sailing 11-night sailings between Honolulu and Papeete, Tahiti, calling at Kaua'i, Maui, Hilo, Christmas Island, Bora Bora, and Moorea, departing between now and December 4, 2007.

Seabourn Fleet to Undergo Multi-Mil Makeover

Luxe line Seabourn Cruise Line (tel. 800/929-9391; is in the early stages of building two new 450-passenger vessels for delivery in 2009 and 2010, but they're not letting their existing fleet go to seed. Between now and April 2008, Seabourn Pride, Spirit, and Legend will be going into drydock and undergoing their most extensive renovations since 2002, including:

  • Enlargement of the outdoor portion of the ships' stern-view Veranda Cafés, which are converted each evening into the casual Restaurant 2 specialty dining venue. The renovation will increase the restaurant's seating capacity and add a new awning for protection against the weather.
  • Enlargement of the ship's Sky Bars, which occasionally host Sky Grill casual dinners. For the renovation, twin staircases leading from the deck below will be replaced with a single stairway, allowing an increase in deck space. Existing fixed cocktail-type tables will be replaced with more versatile furniture, some of which can be removed to clear the deck for occasional entertainment and dancing.
  • An upgrade to all cabin bedding, plus new carpets in many public areas, upgrades to the treatment rooms in the ships' spas, and new furniture in the card rooms and internet centers.

Seabourn Pride just completed the process in Germany. Seabourn Spirit will go into drydock in Singapore in January 2008, and Seabourn Legend will follow in Lisbon in April 2008.

NCL Challenges Kids with Lego Ship Competition

Is your kid good at building with LEGOs? Time to put that skill to work. Over at Norwegian Cruise Line (tel. 800/327-7030;, the LEGO Cruise Ship Building Challenge encourages kids to build their vision of the ultimate cruise ship, with the winners getting to take their families on a real one -- the 2,002-passenger Norwegian Sun, -- sailing round-trip from Miami to the western Caribbean.

"NCL has always encouraged guests to 'go their own way,' so we're excited to partner with LEGO Group and invite kids to construct their vision of the ultimate cruise ship," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL Corporation. "We look forward to seeing how contestants bring their imaginations to life."

After building their LEGO ship, kids can enter the contest by submitting a photo of their creation along with a 500-word essay describing what they've created. One winner will be selected from each of three age groups: 6-9, 10-14, and over 15. Official entry details can be found at The contest begins September 14 and ends November 9, 2007.

Crystal News: Journeys to Bhutan, Faster E-mail, and a Really Expensive Meal

Three bits of news from luxe line Crystal Cruises(tel. 888/799-4625; this week . . .

1) Crystal 2008 World Cruise to Include Overland Excursion to Bhutan

Landlocked in the Himalayas about 300 miles from the nearest ocean, the Kingdom of Bhutan isn't much of a cruise destination, but that isn't stopping Crystal Cruises from scheduling two pre- or post-cruise excursions to the kingdom as part of its 2008 World Cruise aboard the 1,080-passenger Crystal Serenity.

The 6-night Kingdom of Bhutan adventure departs from the Indian port of Mumbai and explores the Indian capital, Delhi, before journeying to Bhutan and its imperial city of Thimphu. Nestled high in the eastern Himalayas between India and Tibet, Bhutan is the last Buddhist Himalayan state and only opened to tourism in 1974.

The Kingdom of Bhutan package is available as an optional pre- or post-cruise program departing from Mumbai during the 14-night "Indian Ocean Exploration" leg of Crystal Serenity's world cruise (sailing Singapore to Mumbai from March 27 to April 10, 2008) or the 16-night "Exquisite Empires" leg (sailing from Mumbai to Rome, April 10 to 26, 2008).

A separate trip, the 4-night "Journey to Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi," is also available on the same dates, taking guests to the Taj Mahal and other sites in the heart of India.

2) Crystal Speeds Up Onboard Internet with WebAccelerator

Frustration can kill a vacation, and there are few things more frustrating than sitting in a cruise ship's Internet center for ten minutes waiting for your e-mail server to load . . . at $1 or $2 per minute. The problem is, of course, that there are no handy wires connecting the ship to the Net, requiring all communications to be beamed to a satellite before your wish becomes a command.

To help alleviate this problem, Crystal has just installed WebAccelerator technology aboard Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. WebAccelerator compresses data before it's transmitted between the ship and satellite, optimizing communication and transmission time. It's also increased the bandwidth of its shipboard networks by 33 percent and upgraded components responsible for routing traffic within the ships' networks.

"Guests will notice an immediate benefit and significant improvements in the pace and performance of our shipboard networks," says Thomas Mazloum, Crystal's senior vice president of hotel operations. "While it was an expensive undertaking, our recent network upgrades and our decision to be the first and only cruise line to invest in the new WebAccelerator is in line with our commitment to provide guests with the best computer technology and performance at sea."

3) Want to Impress a Date? How About Taking Her for a $2,500 Dinner?

She'll either swoon or think you're nuts. Either way, you can do it now aboard Crystal, which has just introduced its most extravagant onboard specialty option ever. What makes it so pricey? That'd be the wine list, which includes seven distinctive vintages paired with a menu by chef and London restaurateur Anton Mosimann. The wine list, presented by Master Sommelier Fred Dame, includes:

  • Krug Vintage Brut (Reims, France; 1990)
  • J. J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling, Auslese (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany; 1961)
  • Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru (Burgundy, France; 1998)
  • Angelo Gaja Barbaresco (Piedmont, Italy; 1989)
  • Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Pauillac (Bordeaux, France; 1959)
  • Penfolds Grange Hermitage (South Australia, Australia; 1986)
  • Graham's Vintage Port (Portugal; 1955)

The wines complement a meal of warm Oriental duck salad; goutte d'or, coriander and ginger; steamed scallops; risotto ai funghi; mignon of angus beef, shallot sauce, and market vegetables; Vacherin cheese. and mille-feuilles with red berries and cardamom ice cream.

Price tag for the whole thing? $1,250 per person, available for a maximum of 14 guests in Crystal Serenity's intimate Vintage Room on the October 6 voyage from Istanbul to Athens. The event must be booked on board through the dining room maitre d'.

Crystal has been scheduling extravagant "Ultimate Vintage Room Dinners" aboard its two ships several times a year since 2003, so if this one isn't pricey enough for you, just wait; you may get to pay more later.

Golf Teacher Chuck Cook to Join MSC in Western Mediterranean

What do you do after you've been named 1996 PGA of America Teacher of the Year, made the list of America's best golf teachers in Golf and Town and Country magazines, and coached four U.S. Open champions? You sign on to teach passengers on a cruise ship, of course. On October 22, MSC Cruises (tel. 800/666-9333; will be hosting the great golf instructor Chuck Cook aboard MSC Sinfonia in the western Mediterranean, sailing from Genoa with calls in Monte Carlo, Spanish Valencia, Valletta (Malta), the Tunisian port of Tunis, and Civitavecchia/Rome.

On board, Cook and his assistant, American coach Andrea Ferlito, will be offering lessons for all levels, seminars on the theory of golf, evening tournaments, individual coaching, and sessions in which they'll share behind-the-scenes anecdotes and tips gleamed from years of experience coaching some of the best.

Three packages are available:

  • Basic ($650): For those looking for instruction at a rudimentary technical and practical level.
  • Advanced ($780): For those who can play and are looking to improve their swing and technical knowledge.
  • Chuck Cook Golf Academy ($1,020): Reserved for players with a handicap. There will be two groups -- one for those with a handicap 0-18, another for handicaps between 19 and 36. Both groups will be coached in rotation by Cook and his pool of experts to provide direction for the approaches, the putts, and getting out of a bunker.

In Civitavecchia, a final tournament will take place at the Querce di Sutri course, at a cost of $390 for the first participant and $180 for an additional.

Royal Caribbean Launches New Line for French Market

Last week, Royal Caribbean ( announced the formation of a new cruise line, CDF Croisieres de France, dedicated to the French market. The new line will begin sailing in May 2008 with one ship, the Bleu de France, which most recently sailed as Holiday Dream of Spain's Pullmantur Cruises (a Royal Caribbean subsidiary) and before that as Europa for German line Hapag-Lloyd. The onboard experience will be totally French, from the official language spoken aboard to the cuisine, entertainment, and decor. Following a € 30 million overhaul that will adapt the ship's public spaces, cabins, entertainment venues, and dining options for the French market, she'll begin offering Mediterranean itineraries from Marseille. In winter 2008-2009, Bleu de France will shift to a Caribbean routing, sailing out of La Romana in the Dominican Republic.

"We are thrilled with this opportunity to enter the French cruise market with a custom-tailored brand for French cruisers," said CDF Croisieres de France Managing Director Brigitte Tissier. "Our start-up efforts will clearly benefit from the global success and experience of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s family of brands, and we look forward to launching another stellar brand into that circle of excellence."

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