Thursday, May 23, 2013

CLIA adopts cruise passenger bill of rights

CLIA said its members have adopted a Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights with many of the provisions outlined in a Congressional proposal for the same thing.

The rights include:

The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master's concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port.
The right to a full refund for a trip that is canceled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures.
The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available.
The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures.
The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure.
The right to transportation to the ship's scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger's home city in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures.
The right to have included on each cruise line's website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations. The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line's website. CLIA said the provisions would take effect immediately for U.S. passengers buying tickets in North America on CLIA's North American member lines, regardless of itinerary. It will also recommend to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that they be given "formal global recognition and applicability" under the IMO's authority over the maritime industry. In March, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed a bill of rights be adopted by CLIA and the IMO as a way to "bring the cruise ship industry out of the wild west." "It's time to rein them in before anyone else gets hurt," Schumer said at the time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

American Queen Steamboat Company Buys Second Paddlewheeler

The American Queen Steamboat Company, which operates the U.S-flagged, 436-passenger American Queen paddlewheeler on the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, has purchased the Empress of the North paddlewheeler for an undisclosed sum from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), which has maintained the vessel since Majestic America Line shut down in 2008. The vessel will be rechristened as American Empress. The American Queen has ushered in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising, welcoming thousands to discover the heartland of the United States and its iconic port cities, said Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. Now the American Empress will continue that tradition as an ambassador to the Pacific Northwest, a region equally rich in American and natural history. A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories and will have 97 crewmembers. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore. and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash. American Empress is set to enter service in April 2014 and will offer cruises through November. It will sail seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore., and Clarkston, Wash., on the Columbia and Snake rivers. Ports of call include Astoria, Richland and Stevenson, Wash.; and The Dalles and Umatilla, Ore. The eight-day program will include a pre-cruise hotel night. Sailings have already been entered into the American Queen Steamboat system and are available for booking effective May 22. A new brochure is being published for all American Queen Steamboat itineraries and will be sent to travel agents and past customers in early June. Over the next several months, American Queen Steamboat will completely refurbish the ship and bring it up to the standards of its existing American Queen boat and work to staff the ship with existing crew members from American Queen and other staff hired from the Pacific Northwest. Cabin configurations will be changed and the total number of cabins will be reduced to 112 outside accommodations. Like American Queen, American Empress will offer a fully inclusive product, including hop-on, hop-off motorcoach tours of the ports visited using the company’s dedicated fleet, wine and beer with dinner, free Wi-Fi (with an upgraded satellite system as was just installed on American Queen). Also like American Queen, American Empress will offer premium shore excursions for a surcharge, which is commissionable at 10 percent to travel agents if pre-booked before the sailing. Dining will feature specialty cuisine from the Pacific Northwest with a menu designed by Regina Charboneau, who also is the culinary consultant on American Queen. A large show lounge will feature nightly entertainment with two shows a night geared to the region. Theme cruises will focus on such topics as Lewis & Clark and wine-focused sailings. Other attractions will include venues developed in concert with American Queen Steamboat’s new partner, the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Typical pricing for a nine-day, eight night sailing will be roughly $3,795, according to Sykes. A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 feet with five decks. It was originally built in 2002 for American West Steamboat Company and was later acquired by Majestic America Line, which operated it until 2008 on Alaska’s Inside Passage and the rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

For more information and to make reservations on the American Empress or American Queen contact at 203-288-1884 or


Explorer of the Seas to sail from Florida

Royal Caribbean said its Explorer of the Seas will move to Port Canaveral, Fla., from November 2014 to mid-January 2015 to do holiday cruises. The move will give Royal Caribbean three ships at Port Canaveral in that time frame. Explorer will do four- and five-day Caribbean and Bahamas cruises. Enchantment of the Seas will offer three- and four-day Bahamas getaways, and Freedom of the Seas will do seven-day itineraries. Explorer has spent the past several years cruising from Bayonne, N.J.. The ship will be replaced by Royal's new Quantum of the Seas in that role next year. For more information and to make a reservation contact at 203-288-1884 or

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Royal's Navigator to sail from Galveston

Royal Caribbean International has announced that it is basing the 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas year-round from Galveston when the ship emerges from drydock in February 2014. The Voyager-class ship, which introduced ice skating at sea, will sail seven-night western Caribbean itineraries with a variety of new features, including the FlowRider surf simulator and dining venues like Giovanni’s Table, Park Cafe and Izumi Asian Cuisine. In terms of accommodations, Navigator will have virtual balconies for select interior staterooms and new panoramic oceanview staterooms will feature full-length, floor-to-ceiling windows. New dining and entertainment concepts also will be introduced. For additional information and to make reservations, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Norwegian Breakaway "Rocks" New York During Christening Event

Norwegian Cruise Line, on a rainy May 8 in New York City, officially introduced its new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway, built by Germany's Meyer Werft shipyard. The New York-themed ship, which was christened by Radio City’s Rockettes, will begin Bermuda sailings on May 12, and then will offer cruises to the Bahamas and Florida starting in the fall. It is the largest vessel to homeport year-round in New York City. The christening ceremony, held in various venues throughout the ship and connected by large video monitors, showcased the ship’s New York-themed dining and entertainment venues, as well as the sports areas available onboard. Special guests and speakers included New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who blessed the ship. Other guests included the premier of Bermuda and the prime minister of the Bahamas, the two main destinations offered by Norwegian Breakaway for the coming year. The event culminated with a performance and christening by the Rockettes, as well as a segment of "Rock of Ages," the Broadway musical now being performed onboard the ship. Norwegian Breakaway features iconic hull art by artist Peter Max, reflecting New York's skyline. Dining venues include seafood restaurant Ocean Blue by New York Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian; a bakery by Buddy Valastro, star of the TLC series "Cake Boss"; and fitness classes and a retrospective display from the ship’s godmothers, the Rockettes. One of the most distinctive features of the vessel is Ocean 678, the atrium-like area that connects all the main dining venues of the ship on Decks 6, 7 and 8. In addition, the Waterfront, on Deck 7, offers both indoor and outdoor dining at several of the ship’s showcase restaurants. The ship’s entertainment lineup includes three Broadway shows: "Rock of Ages," "Burn the Floor" and "Cirque Dreams & Dinner: Jungle Fantasy." It also features Headliners Comedy Club, the Bliss Ultra Lounge night club, and FatCats Jazz & Blues Club, among other venues. The three-story sports complex in the ship's stern features the largest "ropes" course at sea, including a walk-the-plank experience, a nine-hole miniature golf course, basketball and rock climbing. The Haven features 42 suites at the top of the ship and an addition 22 suites onboard. New Studio staterooms, first introduced on Norwegian Epic, are designed for solo travelers. There are also unique multi-room family suites designed for multi-generational groups.

For more information on this ship and making reservations for the Bermuda or Bahamas sailing season, contact at 800-775-1884. They have exclusive rates and special promotions for every sailing in 2013 and 2014.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Royal Caribbean’s to Base Navigator of the Seas in Galveston

Royal Caribbean International will base the 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas year-round in Galveston, Texas, starting in November. The ship will operate seven-night Western Caribbean cruises on two itineraries—one to Jamaica’s Falmouth, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, the other to Roatan in Honduras, Belize City and Cozumel. In February, the ship will undergo an extensive renovation that will add new features, including virtual balconies for inside staterooms video walls that will project the ships exterior sea views live. The ship also will get the FlowRider surf simulator, dining venues such as Giovanni’s Table, Park CafĂ© and Izumi Asian Cuisine, new panoramic ocean-view staterooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor movie screen overlooking the main pool, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for guests six to 36 months old, and new Diamond Lounges for suite and Crown & Anchor Society guests. Technological improvements include Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship, flat-panel televisions in all staterooms and interactive signage. For more information and to make reservations for any of these sailings from Galveston, contact at 203-288-1884 or email at