Wednesday, November 30, 2011

American Cruise Lines to Feature Lewis & Clark Theme Cruises

American Cruise Lines is offering Lewis & Clark theme cruises next year on the 120-passenger Queen of the West paddlewheeler on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The cruises, which begin in April, operate between Portland, Ore., and Clarkston, Wash., following the footsteps of the legendary explorers. Guided tours explore Lewis & Clark National and State Historic Park, including Fort Clatsop, Salt Works and Netul Landing. Onboard lecturers and entertainers will share stories of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery. The featured guest speaker, Todd Weber, brings tales of the patriots, fur traders, Indians and explorers of America alive through his period clothing and colorful presentation. On one evening, Lewis & Clark impersonators will appear during an evening of dining, entertainment, trivia and more. Also scheduled is a screening of Ken Burns’ documentary "Lewis and Clark -- The Journey of the Corps of Discovery."
Queen of the West, an authentic paddlewheeler, was built in 1996 with a Victorian theme and recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. For more information, call 800-775-1884 or visit

Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship Set to Debut Muppets Interactive Adventure

Newly popular again after a hit movie ("The Muppets"), the Muppets will make their debut at sea on Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Fantasy, due out in March. The Muppets will be featured in an "interactive adventure quest" around the ship in search of Kermit’s missing banjo and other items. "The Case of the Stolen Show" is a self-paced adventure game designed for guests age nine and older. Other new features on the Disney Fantasy include be more than 20 pieces of "Enchanted Art," which seem to come alive. The Animator’s Palate restaurant will have a new show called "Animation Magic," in which guests can draw a character using a template on their placemat. Then, just before dinner, house lights dim, black-and-white drawings appear and then turn into color. In Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab youth areas, Disney characters making appearances on a 103-inch plasma screen include Crush, the animated sea turtle from the "Finding Nemo," and Stitch, from "Lilo & Stitch." The Disney Fantasy also features real-time video views in monitors in the 150 inside staterooms. Sometimes an animated Disney character will fly by. High-definition cameras on the exterior of the ship feed the video to the monitors. Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab will feature a Magic PlayFloor, which has 16 light pads on the perimeter that detect motion and location and trigger actions. There are 28 monitors integrated with one another to create a grid display 15-by-15-feet. The games are thematically tied to Disney stories and characters. The adults-only area on Disney Fantasy, Europa, features bars and lounges inspired by European travel. Skyline provides birds’-eye views of city skylines. The venue’s nine windows are actually 65-inch LCD screens that will show views of cities such as Paris, London, Barcelona, Florence, Athens, Budapest and St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Royal Caribbean International to get a new class of ship

Royal Caribbean International's parent company has signed a letter of intent with German shipyard Meyer Werft to build at least one 4,100-passenger, 158,000-ton ship for the line, with scheduled delivery in fall 2014. The order would also include an option for a second ship, with a spring 2015 delivery. "This next generation will not disappoint," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean's parent company Royal Caribbean' Cruises, Ltd., in a statement. Fain would not divulge any of the features that "Project Sunshine," as the class of ship is now code-named, might have, but he did say to expect "new activities and entertainment concepts." "It will offer features for everyone," Fain said. "From grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families." Fain also said the ships would take the leading-edge energy efficiencies and environmental technologies "one further step." The 158,000-ton ships are almost exactly the same size as Royal Caribbean's 160,000-ton, 3,600-passenger Freedom-class vessels, and significantly smaller than the line's last two new builds, the 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ships. Fain told Wall Street analysts in late January that "the time may be right" to order a new ship, and that the line had been working on a new design.

Passenger sentenced to 21 months for dealing drugs

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas arrives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Nov. 11, 2010.
Patrick Farrell, APA judge in the U.S. Virgin Islands yesterday sentenced a California man to 21 months in prison for dealing drugs to fellow passengers on the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas. Steven Barry Krumholz pleaded guilty to the charges in July. The West Hollywood man had been arrested in February when the ship docked in St. Thomas. The Allure of the Seas was at the time chartered by Atlantis Events, the sailing on the world's largest ship billed as the world's largest gay cruise. U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez said Krumholz used his cabin on the cruise ship "as if it was an apothecary for controlled substances," the Associated Press reports. Police at the time of his arrest said they found more than 142 ecstasy pills, methamphetamine, a small amount of ketamine, and about $51,000 in cash in Krumholz's cabin.
He had faced up to 20 years in prison. Royal Caribbean fully cooperated with authorities during the investigation.

isers left behind in St. Kitts after drug bust

Two Americans vacationing this week on a Celebrity Cruises ship were left behind in St. Kitts after they allegedly were caught with marijuana in their cabin, a local news outlet on the island reports. The St. Kitts Observer says William Donovan and Shari Hoffman of Los Angeles were not allowed back on board the Celebrity Eclipse on Wednesday after Donovan admitted to the drug possession in a local St. Kitts court and paid a fine. Local police had taken the couple into custody earlier in the day after being called to the Eclipse by the ship's security department, which had found what it believed to be cannabis in the couple's cabin, the news outlet says.
The Observer says Donovan paid a fine of 5,000 East Caribbean dollars (about $1,850 U.S. dollars), and the couple spent Wednesday night in St. Kitts before flying out on Thursday.

Royal Caribbean to Install iPads in Splendour of the Seas Stateroom

Royal Caribbean International will install iPad mobile digital devices in every stateroom onboard the newly revitalized Splendour of the Seas. The touch-screen tablet will let guests access the daily Cruise Compass of events and activities as well as personal daily itineraries, including shore excursions. They can also monitor their onboard account, order room service, view restaurant menus, access the Internet and watch movies. The iPads will be available beginning in mid-February on Splendour of the Seas before being extended to all Vision-class ships when each undergoes revitalization in the following two years. The iPads, which will feature English and Portuguese on Splendour of the Seas, can be used in staterooms but also through the pervasive Wi-Fi also being installed throughout the ship. When logging on for the first time, passengers will need to accept an agreement to pay for the unit in the event it goes missing or is damaged. In addition to the iPads, Splendour of the Seas, which emerges from dry dock on Nov. 25, also will have new stateroom amenities such as flat-screen televisions, refreshed bathrooms and completely remodeled interiors, including luxurious new linens and furniture, as well as an additional 124 balconies. The ship also will be outfitted with the digital way-finding technology found on the lines Oasis-class ships. The Splendour also will debut new dining options including the Asian Izumi restaurant, the steakhouse Chops Grille, the Boardwalk Dog House, the Park Café deli-style restaurant and the Chefs Table dining experience. Royal Caribbean also will introduce a new à la carte menu in the Viking Crown Lounge that will offer bite-sized portions of their favorite classics. Additional Royal Caribbean signature innovations debuting on the ship will be the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, a Diamond lounge, a Concierge Lounge, a Britto Gallery featuring works from Brazilian pop-artist Romero Britto, the new R-Bar as well as a reinvented Centrum experience. Upon completion of the refurbishments, Splendour of the Seas will sail a trans-Atlantic voyage on Nov. 25 from Lisbon, Portugal, to its seasonal homeport of Sao Paulo (Santos), Brazil. For more information, contact at 203-288-1884

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Repairs Force Carnival Magic to Alter Cruise Itinerary

It's not even a year old, and Carnival Magic is already experiencing technical problems that are forcing the ship to alter its itinerary. One of the ship's stern thrusters is in need of repair, says a Carnival company statement, and to complete the work, the ship must stay overnight in Progreso, Mexico, this Wednesday into Thursday, skipping a call on Costa Maya. The ship will visit Cozumel as scheduled on Friday. Passengers will receive a $25 per person onboard credit. Carnival apologizes for the itinerary change and states that "the technical problem does not compromise the ship's safety and all other systems and hotel services are functioning normally." The ship is currently sailing a six-night Mexico cruise out of Galveston, the first cruise from its new Texas homeport after an inaugural season in Europe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas Opens Starbucks Coffee Store

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas has opened a Starbucks coffee store, the second Starbucks at sea since sister ship Allure of the Seas launched with a Starbucks kiosk in December 2010. The stores offers Starbucks coffee drinks and seasonal beverages made by trained baristas, as well as food and a selection of Starbucks Via Ready Brew products. The Starbucks stores aboard both ships are open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are located at the forward end of the Royal Promenade. Pricing is a la carte. For more information, contact The Cruise Outlet at 800-775-1884

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holland America’s Oosterdam Delayed by Medical Evacuation

The current cruise of Holland America Line’s Oosterdam will arrive in San Diego a day late due to a medical evacuation of three guests near Hilo, Hawaii. The company said the ship was cruising to San Diego but had to turn around and sail back toward Hilo to rendezvous with U.S. Coast Guard helicopters for the evacuation. As a result, Oosterdam will now arrive in San Diego on Nov. 6 instead of Nov. 5. Guests on the current sailing have been informed of the change. "We are working closely with them to alter travel plans as needed due to the late disembarkation," the company said. The Oosterdam departed San Diego on Oct. 22 on a 14-day Hawaii sailing. Oosterdam’s next sailing to Mexico is now scheduled to depart one day late on Nov. 6. The revised itinerary is day at sea on Monday, scenic cruising on Tuesday, Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, Cabo San Lucas on Thursday, day at sea on Friday and return to San Diego on Nov. 12. Guests and travel agents impacted by this change are being notified. Embarkation on Nov. 6 will begin at 11:30 a.m. For local guests not flying into San Diego for the Nov. 6 cruise, Holland America is offering $150 onboard credit for the first and second guests in each stateroom, as well as a $75 credit for the third and fourth stateroom guests. For guests who are flying into San Diego and can change their flights to arrive on Sunday, Holland America will reimburse air change fees up to $100 per person and also will provide a $150-per-person onboard credit. For guests who cannot change their flights and are arriving on Saturday, Holland America has arranged for a limited number of complimentary hotel rooms in San Diego as well as complimentary shuttle service to the pier on Sunday morning from the hotel. They will also receive a $75-per-person onboard credit to help offset shoreside meal expenses on Saturday and Sunday morning. Each guest on the Nov. 6 sailing also will receive a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the base cruise fare paid for the sailing

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Norwegian Gem Rescues Five from Sailboat in North Atlantic

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem rescued five people from a sinking sailboat in the North Atlantic Ocean on Oct. 29. The cruise ship responded to a call from the U.S. Coast Guard, which had received a distress notification from Sanctuary, a 39-foot sailboat, stating that it had large breaking waves over the bow, had lost power and its life raft, and was taking on water. Sanctuary was located approximately 350 nautical miles from New York in the North Atlantic, two hours away from Norwegian Gem, the closest vessel in the area. Norwegian Gem Capt. Hakan Svedung immediately diverted course to rescue the four men and one woman aboard. Upon reaching the Sanctuary, Norwegian Gem encountered extreme weather conditions with wind force up to 40 knots and large swells, making it challenging to launch the ship’s rescue boat. Once in the water, the rescue boat made contact with the sailboat and quickly transferred the five occupants, who are Canadians. At approximately 2 p.m., the sailboat passengers and rescue team were all safely aboard Norwegian Gem. The ship, which was returning from Bermuda, continued on its route back to New York. "This rescue operation was conducted under extremely difficult circumstances," Svedung said. "I am proud of our crew who braved their lives to rescue the five people in distress." For more information contact