Friday, July 23, 2004

HAILING MIAMI / HAITI BICENTENNIAL 2004: Cruising into History, a special pilgrimage to Haiti aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, honors Haitian Independence with onboard musical performances, plays, films and workshops. With Delta as the official airline into Miami for the event, prominent black leaders are booked to depart the Port of Miami on Aug. 14, joining some 1,750 African Americans and friends of Haiti from Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America and elsewhere. The historic voyage to Haiti also calls in Nassau, St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and San Juan, with welcome ceremonies and salutes at each port. The climactic call in Haiti includes tours of Sans Souci Palace and the Citadel, Cap Haitien (Haiti’s culturally rich second largest city), capital Port Au Prince and Jacmel, for a re-enactment of one of the world’s most renowned Carnival celebrations.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Ole! Ole! Ole! for Mexico: Holland America expands its Mexican cruise line-up for 2005, with 46 sailings including new seven-day itineraries and one five-day sailing aboard the Vista-class Oosterdam. The S-class Ryndam also heads to Mexico on 10-day Mexican Riviera and Sea of Cortez adventure. Both ships sail round-trip from San Diego, calling at Cabo San Lucas in Los Cabos on the Baja Peninsula, romantic Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, renowned for golden beaches. Some itineraries include Pichilingue (La Paz) while others cruise past the dramatic Sierra de la Giganta mountain range to Topolobampo for a Copper Canyon tour. For a carefree year’s end, two eight-day holiday cruises sail round-trip from San Diego on Dec. 22 and Dec. 30. To access ships, round-trip motorcoach or Amtrak rail service departs from several points within Orange and Riverside counties at $35 per person.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Italian Pulchritude: With actress Sophia Loren christening the bow in Genoa, MSC Opera has joined the MSC Cruises fleet sailing in the Mediterranean until starting a 17-night transatlantic cruise to homeport Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades on Nov. 15. The 1,756-passenger ship then sails Caribbean itineraries, offering luxury at sea amid two restaurants, a grill and pizzeria, two pools, an Internet café, pub and piano bar, casino, disco, theater and children’s club. The ship is the second newbuild in the line’s fleet, joining sister MSC Lirica. The line has two more panamax vessels on order for delivery in 2006 and 2007, with more under consideration.
LINER LEGACY KEEPS HEADING WEST: In a restructuring expected to save parent Carnival Corporation a tidy $20 million annually, Cunard Line (with roots stretching from the U.K. to New York to its most recent home in Miami) now hop-scotches cross-country to L.A. for a cozier relationship on the administrative, finance and IT front with sister brand Princess Cruises. The move also brings on an executive penthouse shuffle, with Peter Ratcliffe, top man at P&O Princess, adding the venerable line’s Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth 2, and forthcoming Queen Victoria responsibilities to his domain, and the line’s current president, Pam Conover, moving up to become the corporate umbrella’s senior vp of shared services. The line’s veteran marketing v.p., Deborah Natansohn (also former prexy of NCL’s upper tier Orient Lines) takes over the luxury Yachts of Seabourn, replacing Rick Meadows (also formerly of Holland America and Windstar) now heading back to HAL as senior vp of sales and marketing.

Monday, July 19, 2004

THREE’S A CHARM: NCL America plans a third U.S.-flagged ship for Hawaii, set for delivery in summer, 2006. Pride of Hawaii will join Pride of America and Pride of Aloha. The third vessel, with 1,188 staterooms, will be a twin of the recently announced Bahamas-flagged Norwegian Jewel, with 10 restaurants including Cagney’s Steak House, Blue Lagoon and NCL’s signature restaurant, Le Bistro, plus an Asian complex featuring a sushi bar, teppaynaki table and a Pacific Fusion restaurant. The Hawaii-bound ship also will have the line’s new “Bar Central” concept featuring a martini bar, a champagne / wine bar, and a beer and whisky pub -- connected, but with three distinct personalities. Interiors will highlight Hawaii's history and culture, and every cabin will have a refrigerator plus a tea and coffee maker. In balcony and suite cabins, much larger baths contain separate WC, shower, and sink compartments. A large number of cabins (including suites and junior suites) will interconnect to create a two, three, four, or five bedroom area suitable for families of assorted sizes. Other amenities include a spa and fitness center, an Internet café and a 1,000-seat theater.