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Crystal Cruises Hosts Agents, Announces Plans
Crystal Cruises has not yet inked a new deal to build a new ship, although it is still designing the new vessel behind the scenes. Gregg Michel, president of the luxury cruise line, which operates the Serenity and the Symphony, gave the news to his top-producing travel agents on the Crystal Serenity this week. Crystal is hosting its annual top-producers' gala on an itinerary that runs from Athens to Rome.
"We don't have a new ship to announce; we have a real challenge with the euro/dollar exchange rate right now," he told the 91 agents in attendance. "We don't want to make a bad deal. Crystal's owners have spoken to the shipyards and I have spoken to the shipyards. It's a matter of doing the right thing at the right time."
Michel says that Crystal has invested nearly $40 million over 24 months in its existing ships. The Serenity in November will have its Crystal Cove and Plaza lobby area redesigned and a new bar will replace the old. New decor will line the fifth- and sixth-floor walkways that lead to staterooms, and perhaps most importantly, 12 AA category staterooms will be turned into eight Penthouse Suites. These premium accommodations will be able to connect to existing staterooms. This latter piece of news drew applause from the travel agents in attendance, who, as a group, had generated $119 million in reveue for Crystal in 2007. That number is up from $91 million in 2006.
Marriott Exec Joins NCL
strong>Dennis Nau, formerly Marriott's vice president of global brand management-full service brands, has joined Norwegian Cruise Line as its senior vice president of hotel operations. While with Marriott, Nau served in many capacities, including as general manager of Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and general manager of the New York Marriott Marquis.
"The quality, consistency and distinctiveness of our onboard product is critical to our success," said Colin Veitch, NCL’s president and CEO. "The appointment of Dennis Nau to our most senior hotel position, taken together with the recent creation of the role of Chief Product Officer filled by Andy Stuart, underlines the importance we place on delivering our newly upgraded Freestyle 2.0 cruise experience consistently, to the highest standard, every day to every guest."
Five Specialty Cruises Highlight Cruise West's Whales and Wildlife Mexico Schedule
Cruise West has announced its eight-day Mexico's Sea of Cortes Whales and Wildlife schedule for 2008/2009, which will feature five specialty cruises, including a John Steinbeck-inspired cruise with onboard literary experts.
The cruises, aboard the 138-guest Spirit of Yorktown, will offer 14 departures. In addition to the Steinbeck cruise, there will be a PENTAX photography cruise and two holiday itineraries. Cruise West will also offer a new, optional post-cruise to benefit the La Paz Children's Home in Baja, Mexico.
Whales and Wildlife passengers experience the abundance of marine life that the Sea of Cortes offers, from dolphins to sea lions. Other highlights on the eight-day itinerary include guided nature walks, kayaking and snorkeling. Rates begin at $2,199 per person, but prospective guests can save up to $350 on December 2009 departures if they book and pay in full by March 27, 2009. Or, save up to $175 on departures from January through March 2009 if booked and paid in full by September 5.
MSC Cruises’ Caribbean Itinerary
MSC Cruises offers clients some interesting excursions in its 2008-2009 Caribbean itineraries. Several shore excursion options enable guests to explore the Caribbean on land (by motorcycle, bicycle, ATV or horseback), under the sea (snorkeling, scuba diving and glass-bottomed kayaking) and through the air (attached to a cable between 100-foot-high trees). Topping MSC’s most interesting Caribbean stops are Grand Cayman and St. Maarten. In Grand Cayman, clients can feed, interact and play with southern stingrays while others can horseback ride on the beach in St. Maarten.
For more details on the Caribbean cruises, visit www.msc.com.
California Government Approves Law to Regulate Ocean Vessel Emissions
The California Air Resources Board Thursday approved the toughest rules in the U.S. to reduce polluting emissions from ocean-going ships that use the state's ports, the Associated Press reports. The fuel mandate requires domestic and international cargo ships, tankers and cruise vessels that sail in and out of California ports to use cleaner fuel to power their engines and boilers.
The rule will apply to ships headed into and out of ports in the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, Sacramento and Stockton. Military, government and research vessels would be exempt as would ships that need modifications so they can use cleaner fuels until their equipment renovations were completed.
"The lives saved by the action we took today are significant," said Jerry Hill, a member of the California Air Resources Board.
The rules, adopted unanimously by the board, have already received disapproval from international shipping companies, who claim that California has no jurisdiction to regulate operations outside the state's coastal zone. The rule adopted by the state would cover ships within 24 nautical miles of the coast.
Citing the Submerged Lands Act, a federal law that states California may regulate ships within three nautical miles of its coast, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) said California can only regulate ships within state waters and that the new law goes beyond local jurisdiction.
"International ships running in international waters under international treaties should be handled under international laws," said T.L. Garrett, vice president of the PMSA.
The new California law defines the pollution standards as a fuel requirement, which state officials say does not require them to get federal permission. It would prohibit ships from using bunker fuel (a crude oil that must be heated onboard the ships for power) and require them to switch to a pricier, but cleaner, fuel to power the engines and auxiliary boilers that heat water on the ship. First-time offenders would be fined $44,500, and $227,500 for repeat offenses.
Early Advantage Cruise Fares
Holland America Line is offering a wide variety of savings on 2009 cruises when booked by September 15. With savings of up to $2,200 per person, the Early Advantage promotion encompasses cruises sailing to more than 320 ports of call including Alaska, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe.
Examples of an Early Advantage savings includes:
Guests can book a 10-day Mediterranean cruise with fares starting as low as $1,499 per person for an inside stateroom and $2,149 for a veranda. Additionally, third and fourth guests sail from only $299.
In the Caribbean, a seven-day cruise starts at $599 for inside rooms and $899 for verandas.
Weekend Signature Fam
Holland America Line is once again offering their information-packed Weekend Signature FAM in Fort Lauderdale, FL, October 24-26.
The FAM includes two nights hotel accommodations at the Fort Lauderdale Embassy Suites Hotel, and Inspection of MS Eurodam and MS Westerdam, welcome reception, two seminars on selling Holland America Line, two breakfasts, two lunches, one “surprise” dinner, and transfer from Port Everglades to either FLL or MIA airports at the conclusion of the trip.
Cost is USD $219 per person double, $329 single (singles limited and subject to availability). There is a $25 discount for graduates of the Holland America Academy.
Please contact Dave Fields, for more information and an application. Phone (206) 281-0519. Fax (206) 281-0620. Email [email protected].
$150 Credit on Alaska Cruise
Last-minute travelers to Alaska can get a break on higher airfares by taking advantage of American Safari Cruises' $150 per person travel credit on the August 22 and September 5 eight-day, seven-night departures of its newest yacht, the Safari Explorer. Booking deadline is August 1.
The cruise is roundtrip from Juneau on an itinerary that focuses on wildlife and glaciers, including up to two days in Glacier Bay National Park and a full day hugging the fjord walls of Endicott Arm to view the rarely visited Dawes Glacier. Among the yacht's amenities is an active spa environment with complimentary massages from the onboard masseuse, yoga classes, a sauna, dedicated fitness area and top-deck hot tub. Other new design features include a wine library, two large suites with Jacuzzi tubs and balconies, some triple accommodations and all outside or above-deck staterooms.
The yacht offers double and single sea kayaks, motorized shore boats for close-up exploration, complimentary fine wines and premium spirits, exceptional food served at a single seating, and a 2 to 1 guest-crew ratio. In addition to kayaking, Alaska guests hike in the Tongass National Forest and visit the tiny picturesque village of Elfin Cove and the small Norwegian fishing port of Petersburg. The yacht travels only during the day, spending the nights at anchor in small coves and bays or quaint harbors.
Discount River Cruises
Value World Tours provides savings of up to $600 per cabin on any of their 2009 international river cruises. Deposit by September 30 for a discount of $300 per person off the final payment. Deposit by October 30, and receive a discount of $200 per person. Or deposit by November 30 for a $100 discount per person.
The European cruise choices include the Eastern Danube, the Adriatic Sea, Russia, and Ukraine.
19-day China and Yangtze River packages are also available, as is a 15-day “Mekong Delta Cruise” in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Three Egypt programs, ranging from 10 to 14 days, begin in Cairo and combine land hotel nights and deluxe Nile cruise nights.
Every program includes all meals while on board, daily comprehensive sightseeing led by professional English speaking guides, cultural entertainment and lectures on board, and much more.