Friday, October 27, 2006

Of Valor & Vintages ...

Drink to thee only, with thine ...: Carnival Valor’s forthcoming wine-themed cruise provides prime opportunity to sample fine selections from Italy, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and New York, while soaking up knowledge via seminars and tastings. The week-long extravaganza, hosted by Carnival President and CEO Bob Dickinson, a noted connoisseur, sails r/t from Miami Dec. 3-10, calling in Nassau, St. Thomas/St. John and St. Maarten. Besides Bob, French master chef Georges Blanc, whose “Signature Selection” menu items are featured fleetwide, also will be on hand to shmooze. Wine-related activity includes a Welcome Aboard Reception and Gala Tasting and a Q&A hosted by Dickinson, sure to be one of his usual stand-out performances. A Grand Gala Tasting sponsored by Marquee Wines features its premium, hand-crafted Australians as well as a “Cigars Under the Stars” party hosted by Porthole mag. Fares are from $574 per person, double. For details, call 866-299-5862.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

CCL Reels In Another Kathy ...

This One Perhaps Less Chatty?: Carnival’s logbook embraces many a year with Kathy Lee (“If they Could See Me Now”) Gifford as official singing spokeswoman. Now the Fun Ship line has landed another Kathy. This time, Kathy Ireland, whose career morphed from modeling to her own billion-dollar biz. She'll be godmother for Carnival Freedom, launching in March 2007. In her g-role, this Kathy will break a champagne bottle across the bow in Venice on March 4. The word "forever" seems key to advance publicity, with Carnival president Bob Dickinson, allowing “we are proud and honored that Kathy will forever be associated with this spectacular SuperLiner.” For her part, Ireland declares, "My heart will forever cherish this ship and every one of its passengers on the maiden voyage and on each and every sailing in the future.” Ireland's KIWW design empire, according to Forbes, "grosses over one billion dollars annually in retail sales,” with products from flooring, rugs, furniture, lighting, accessories, window coverings, mattresses, and candles to apparel, jewelry with Dame Elizabeth Taylor, blankets, leather, porcelain, fire resistant products, and top of bed fashions. Active in the Special Olympics, Kathy also pioneered the first and only national wish-granting organization for terminally ill adults, the Dream Foundation. Post gala, Carnival Freedom sails the Med and Greek Isles. For details, call (800) CARNIVAL

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Seabourn President Dies at 53 ...

Heart Attack Claims Trailblazer: Deborah L. Natansohn, president and COO of Seabourn Cruise Line, and a highly respected pioneer for women aspiring to cruise industry leadership roles, died on Oct. 24 at Fort Lauderdale's Holy Cross Hospital, with family at her side. Natansohn, 53, had suffered a heart attack on Sunday, Oct. 22, after becoming Seabourn president in July, 2004, and guiding the ultra-luxury line to the most successful period in its history. Natansohn arrived at Seabourn from Cunard, where she'd been senior vp of sales/marketing. Earlier this year, Natansohn was honored with a Glass Ceiling Award by the Jewish Museum of Florida, and was named one of Florida's top 50 women biz leaders by The Center for Leadership at Florida International University. Well-known and immensely well-liked, Natansohn became the first female cruise line president in the United States when landing the top post at Orient Lines in 1998. A former editor with Travel Trade and a former AP staffer, Natansohn also spent five years in London with Arthur Frommer International, and directing marketing for Travellers International. She'll be missed ... -30-, Debbie, -30- .

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oceania Scratches Libya ...

On Second Thought: Oceania Cruises has revamped its April 17, 2007 itinerary for Regatta, scheduled to stop in Libya. But no more. Because of that nation's unpredictable visa requirements for U.S. passport holders, the line decided not to risk disappointing passengers, instead re-theming the 10-day adventure as "Greco-Roman Revelations." The 684-passenger country club casual Regatta sails from Barcelona on April 17, calling in Italy, Spain and Greece, ending in Piraeus. Ports include Mahon in Spain's Balearic Islands, Sardinia's Porto Cervo, La Spezia (for Cinque Terre), Civitavecchia, Amalfi/Positano, Sicily's Taormina, Katakolon (for Olympia), Monemvasia (for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Epidaurus) and Crete's Aghios Nikolaos. Jacques Pépin, executive culinary director, will design signature dinner menus for Regatta's four dining rooms. He'll also join pastry chef Jean-Claude Szurdak for culinary demos and epicurean excursions. With free air and cruise two-for-ones, fares start at equivalent of $2,299 per passenger. For details, call (800) 310-4983.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Seabourn Stretching Wings ...

Boomer Lures: Seabourn Cruise Line , division of Miami-based Carnival Corp. & plc, plans two more, ultra luxury ships, for delivery in spring 2009 and 2010, having signed a letter of intent with Genoa shipbuilder T. Mariotti S.p.A. The 32,000 GRT, 225-suite sisters (90% with private verandas) will cost $250 million each. Combined, they'll more than double Seabourn's current 634-berth fleet capacity. "Our brand has been experiencing more demand in the marketplace than we could fulfill for quite some time now," said Deborah L. Natansohn, Seabourn president. "The new ships will allow us to bring the unique Seabourn experience to [the] active baby boomer generation." The spacious, sleek vessels, she says, will have the feel of oversized yachts. Specs call for 650-feet hulls, 84-foot beams, and 21-foot drafts, powering by diesel-generated electricity, with twin screw props, and service speed of 19 knots. With pairs of bow thrusters and stabilizers, each ship also will be "green," with advanced wastewater treatment. For details, call 800-929-9391.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Carnival Hikes Dividend ...

Fun Up By 10%: Cruise juggernaut Carnival Corp. on 10/18 announced hiking the company's regular quarterly dividend by 10 percent to 27.5 cents per share. CCL will pay the dividend on Dec. 8 to shareholders of record Nov. 17.

Celebrity Touts Vow Renewals ...

With This Cruise, I Thee … : With stars like Celine Dion and Robert DeNiro among celebrities renewing wedding vows of late, Celebrity Cruises keeps pace by upgrading renewal options. “Vow renewals are the perfect romantic gift for spouses to give ...,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Fleet Operations VP. Celebrity, partnering with The Wedding Experience, now has two such packages: True Love Knot Renewal and Aisle to Isle Renewal. TLKR includes a ceremony aboard officiated by the ship's captain, bouquet, boutonniere, music, bottle of champagne, two engraved flutes, cake for two, and stateroom breakfast designed by Celebrity Master Chef Michel Roux, plus more. Aisle to Isle features a ceremony by a shipboard officiate, bottle of champagne, cake for two, long-stemmed rose, boutonniere, music, and more. Each can be customized, with a la cartes such as receptions and live music. For details, call 866-535-2352.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

CCL Freedom Yin & Yang ...

Women Warriors Head to Sea: Prior to Carnival Freedom's March debut in Venice, watercolors and pencil studies of nine murals commissioned for the spectacular 110,000-ton SuperLiner go on display at Manhattan's Flomenhaft Gallery. Works are part of a six-week exhibit of figurative oils and sculptures entitled “Women Warriors: The Yin and Yang” by Joan Barber, among talents creating the diverse multi-million-dollar art collection aboard. After a nine-day inaugural, the 2,974-passenger Carnival Freedom sails a summer of 12-day Med and Greek Isles itineraries, followed by a 14-day transatlantic to launch year-round seven-day Caribbean service from Miami on Nov. 17, 2007. Barber’s paintings will be at Flomenhaft Gallery (212-268-4952) from Nov. 2 to Dec. 20, 2006. For cruise details, call 800-CARNIVAL