MSC Divina headed to US
Disney to sail out of New York, Seattle and Galveston next year...
*photo provided by Disney Cruise Line.
Japan Cruise Update:
Princess Cancels Port Calls Through May, With One Exception (2:30 p.m. EST) -- More than a week after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's northern coast, Princess Cruises has decided to scrap port calls to the island nation through May.
There is one exception: The line's Ocean Princess, which departs Shanghai on April 13, will still visit Okinawa (the most southern prefecture) on April 15.
Sun Princess, set to arrive in Japan on March 28, is the first of the Princess ships affected by the changes. Calls in Nagasaki, Osaka, Yokohama and Iwo Jima have been replaced by extra sea days and calls in Tianjin, China, and Busan, South Korea. Similarly, Diamond Princess, which departed Singapore on March 19, will now stop in Busan rather than Nagasaki on April 1.
The line, which said in a statement on its Web site that it's notifying passengers of all impending itinerary changes, made the decision "after careful review of the evolving situation and guided by the U.S. Department of State and other authorities."
Oceania Cruises and Royal Caribbean had already canceled calls in Japan. Here's the rundown:
Royal Caribbean. Legend of the Seas -- Royal Caribbean's year-round, Asia-based ship -- skipped its scheduled call in Fukoka on March 16. The ship proceeded directly to Busan, its next scheduled call. Legend's following sailing, which departed Shanghai on March 19, was also altered. The ship called on Cheju Island, South Korea, on March 20 and will stay overnight in Hong Kong from 8 p.m. March 22 until midnight on March 23. Legend of the Seas will return to Shanghai on Saturday, March 26, as scheduled. Legend was originally set to visit three Japanese ports -- Kagoshima, Beppu and Fukuoka.
In a statement, the line said that it has "been closely monitoring the situation in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami, especially the status of the damaged nuclear reactors. We are aware that several countries have issued advisories discouraging travel to Japan, and many of our guests have expressed concern about whether it is safe to call there."
Passengers who chose to sail on the revised itinerary will receive an onboard credit. Guests who chose not to sail on March 19 will receive a full refund.
No additional announcements have been made about Legend's future cruises.
Oceania Cruises. Oceania's Nautica, which is currently in the middle of a 15-night Far East cruise, bypassed several Japanese calls. Spokesman Tim Rubacky called the decision the "prudent thing to do" in light of the "Japanese government focusing all available resources on the rescue and recovery effort." The new itinerary replaced stops in Hiroshima and Kobe with additional days in Shanghai and Kaohsiung and an overnight stay in Hong Kong at the tail end of the voyage. The ship's March 22 call in Okinawa remains unchanged.
Although cruise ports haven't sustained notable damage, the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning, which "strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing."
Royal Caribbean offers it's support to the People of Haiti
By now, most of us have seen and heard about the profound devastation and suffering wrought upon Haiti last week after a massive earthquake. So you'd probably think there's no way that cruising tourists could have returned to frolicking on Haiti's beaches mere miles from where people are trapped beneath the rubble of a decimated city. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.
On Sunday,it was reported that Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is docking ships at the "picturesque wooded peninsula" known as Labadee, which it leases on Haiti's northern coast. At Labadee, passengers "enjoy jetski rides, parasailing, and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks." The British paper also reported that passengers can spend their time "shopping for trinkets at a craft market" while armed guards stand at the entry to the complex to guarantee their safety.
Despite the fact that the ships have delivered relief supplies to the island, some passengers on the ships are reportedly "sickened" over the decision to dock there. One passenger took to an Internet message board to protest the idea of vacationing where "tens of thousands of dead people are being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water."
When Royal Caribbean announced its decision to resume stops at Labadee last week, a company executive cited the economic importance of the resort to the local citizens as well as the opportunity to deliver much-needed supplies.
"We also have tremendous opportunities to use our ships as transport vessels for relief supplies and personnel to Haiti," said associate vice president John Weis. "Simply put, we cannot abandon Haiti now that they need us most."
Still, Royal Caribbean, which recently raised eyebrows when it announced that it's organizing a "cougar cruise" for older single women, has been catching heat from all corners on their decision, prompting company CEO Adam Goldstein to post a defense of the company on their website. Saying that he is "proud of what our people and our ships are doing," Goldstein writes:
The ships going back to Labadee, including Navigator of the Seas today, are obviously making a very valuable contribution to the relief effort by offloading supplies at Labadee. The media understand this and generally have written and spoken about the relief effort in positive terms. But in the last 24 hours, sparked by an article in the Guardian in the UK, a different and more critical view has emerged that questions how our guests can justify having a good time in Labadee when there is such misery less than 100 miles away.
My view is this - it isn't better to replace a visit to Labadee (or for that matter, to stay on the ship while it's docked in Labadee) with a visit to another destination for a vacation. Why? Because being on the island and generating economic activity for the straw market vendors, the hair-braiders and our 230 employees helps with relief while being somewhere else does not help. These 500 people are going to need to support a much larger network of family and friends, including many who are in (or are missing in) the earthquake zone. Also, the north is going to bear a good part of the burden of the agony of the south, and the more economic support there is to the north, the better able the north will be to bear this burden. People enjoying themselves is what we do. People enjoying themselves in Labadee helps with relief. We support our guests who choose to help in this way which is consistent with our nearly 30 year history in Haiti.
- Brett Michael Dykes is a contributor to the Yahoo! News blog
New Ship! NORWEGIAN EPIC (Save the Date - Reservations open late May 2009 ...Sailings to the Caribbean begin summer 2010)
NCL Norwegian Epic NEWS: - Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has selected the name for its new F3 ship: Norwegian Epic. Just as the name implies, the ship will be the largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising ship to date. The Norwegian Epic is scheduled to sail year-round to the Caribbean from Miami, beginning in summer 2010.
Following a series of inaugural events in Europe and the U.S., the ship will homeport in Miami and will sail year-round to the Caribbean offering alternating seven-day Western and Eastern Caribbean voyages through April 2011. These cruises are scheduled to go on sale to the public later this spring 2009. 7-Day Western Caribbean roundtrips from Miami, Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Cozumel, Mexico. 7-Day Eastern Caribbean roundtrips from Miami : Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. - This 150,000-ton F3 ship will total 4,200 passenger berths, representing the largest ships in NCL's fleet.
The new ship design will offer 60 percent more guest space than NCL's largest ships to date, which will be used to provide guests an even wider range of on-board activities, amenities and stateroom options. The ships' cabin mix will be the richest of any NCL ship with 100 percent of outside staterooms featuring private balconies. In total, each ship will have 1,415 balcony staterooms. More details about the F3 ships including other innovative accommodations, public spaces, dining, entertainment/nightlife, cutting-edge technology and casino will be announced leading up to the launch of the first F3 ship in 2010. NCL Corporation revealed the cruise industry's most innovative living space at sea - New Wave Staterooms by NCL. Designed for its next generation of Freestyle Cruising ships, F3, the New Wave standard, New Wave balcony and New Wave deluxe staterooms represent a giant leap forward in cruise ship accommodations with a completely fresh take on bathroom design, contemporary curved architecture and open living space.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has revealed its vision for the future of nighttime experiences at sea designed specifically for its two next generation of Freestyle Cruising ships, F3, set to debut in 2010. From Riviera chic and Ibiza style to Miami trendy and Vegas flair, the nightclubs on NCL's new F3 ships will create never-before-seen experiences at sea and feature multiple uses for day or night, along with exclusive, adult-only venues. Five of the ships' distinct hotspots were revealed at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on June 17, 2008. The five venues include:
- Ice Bar, the industry's first true Ice Bar.
- POSH Beach Club, a first of its kind beach club at sea that offers an exclusive, adults-only setting at the top of the ship.
- Halo, the Uber Bar, a private bar and lounge in the ship-within-a-ship villa complex.
- Bliss Ultra Lounge, NCL's all-day entertainment and nightclub complex with four-lane bowling alley.
- Spice H20, an adults-only aft pool deck experience.
With these signature outlets, NCL's nightclub experience will rival even Vegas' energy and passion for nightlife.
NEW! MAHOGANY BAY CRUISE ENTER - Roatan, Honduras
More than five years in development, and two years under construction, Mahogany Bay Cruise Center encompasses 20 acres of waterfront property and includes a two-berth cruise terminal which can accommodate up to 8,000 passengers daily. It is a joint project of Carnival Corporation & plc and Roatan businessman Jerry Hynds. The Mahogany Bay Cruise Center offers a welcome center along with a variety of retail outlets, including two themed bars, a restaurant and several shops.
Unique to Mahogany Bay is a new chair lift system that takes cruise ship guests from the welcome center to beautiful Mahogany Beach, a 10-acre private island featuring an 825-foot-long white-sand beach with a beach volleyball court and a myriad of watersports opportunities. Eight exclusive cabanas are also available for rent.
The “Magical Flying Beach Chair” takes guests on a six-minute ride across nearly 1,200 feet of suspended cables, providing not only convenient beach access but views of the lush countryside as well. All-day passes for the beach chair lift are $5 per person. An elevated path is also available for those who prefer to walk.
A special message from Carnival Cruise Lines
To assist those affected by this tragedy, Carnival Cruise Lines is participating in a corporate-wide relief initiative that will contribute at least $5 million to the relief efforts. The $5 million donation includes a large contribution from parent company Carnival Corporation & plc, as well as fundraising drives at the individual brands, including Carnival Cruise Lines.
Carnival Corporation & plc’s donation has been earmarked for UNICEF, the University of Miami’s Project Medishare, American Red Cross, and Save the Children. The fundraising effort at Carnival Cruise Lines which involves employees both shoreside and shipboard is generating proceeds for the American Red Cross for Haitian Relief and Development fund.
We have also made it possible for our guests to assist in the relief efforts. Guests sailing on all 22 Carnival Cruise Lines ships can make a donation to the American Red Cross via their Sail & Sign shipboard accounts.
Additionally, in partnership with the Miami HEAT and the AmericanAirlines Arena, Carnival’s South Florida-based employees have begun collecting and donating emergency supplies which will be shipped and distributed to Haiti by the University of Miami’s Project Medishare. Collection boxes have been set up at Carnival’s Miami and Miramar, Fla., offices so that employees can donate water, blankets, diapers and other essential items.
We will continue to keep those affected by this catastrophe in our thoughts and prayers