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Archive for February, 2009

Silversea floats its Spirit

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 28 - 2009

silverspiritfloatSilversea Cruises’ newest ship, Silver Spirit, has just been “floated out” from dry dock to wet dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy.

Still in its development phase, Silver Spirit’s first connection with the sea was marked by an official ceremony at the shipyard attended by senior management from Silversea and Fincantieri. Over the coming months, the newbuild will undergo its final outfitting works and be ready for delivery in December.

“This is the dawn of a new era of luxury cruising for Silversea and the industry at large”, declared Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea chairman. “Much planning and collaboration has gone into the design of our newborn, and it is exciting both as a company, and personally, to see Silver Spirit evolve through the final phases of her construction.”

On December 23, the all-suite luxury ship will embark on an 11-day “Holiday Spirit” maiden voyage, sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon, followed on January 3 by a 16-day “Maiden Crossing” from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale, where a formal naming ceremony will be held on January 21.

After the event, Silver Spirit will set a course for New York for a “Grand Inaugural Voyage.” During this 91-day “Spirit of South America” journey, guests will visit more than 45 ports in over 20 different countries and island destinations across two continents. Highlights include a visit to Rio de Janeiro in time for Carnivale, a journey around the end of the earth at Cape Horn, an in-depth exploration of the Mexican Riviera and a crossing of the Panama Canal.

After completing its inaugural season, Silver Spirit will spend the summer in the Mediterranean and then reposition to the Caribbean for fall and winter cruises.

The 36,000-ton vessel will welcome 540 guests who shall indulge not only in the spaciousness of their suites, the largest in the fleet, 95 percent of which feature a private veranda but also in one of the highest space-to-guest ratios at sea (namely 6,700 cubic feet of personal space per guest). The décor designed by Italian architect Giacomo Mortola will lend a sophisticated 1930s Art Deco ambience to the public areas, and new wellness and dining venues further enhance the shipboard experience: a new 8,300 square feet (770 square meters) indoor/outdoor spa with a whirlpool (and another three by the pool), and a choice of no less than six restaurants, including an alternative venue for Asian-inspired fusion cuisine and an innovative supper club offering contemporary foods and all-night entertainment.

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Update: Five Celebrity cruise passengers critical after Dominica bus crash

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 25 - 2009

Medical experts at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital are assessing and treating the injured guests from Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit who were involved in a bus crash on the Caribbean island of Dominica Monday.

The 14 tourists were transported from Dominica’s Princess Margaret Hospital to South Florida yesterday onboard three air ambulances and one additional aircraft chartered by Celebrity cruises. A hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday that five of the tourists were listed in critical condition, two in serious, four in fair and one in good condition. Miami television stations are reporting that the injuries range from broken bones to internal injuries to cuts and bruises.

In a statement issued after Tuesday’s bus crash, Celebrity Cruises said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with our injured guests and their families. We’ll continue to do our very best to assist them in the aftermath of this unfortunate incident.”

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Royal Caribbean’s 10-K filing shows big leak in Oasis of the Seas financing

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 25 - 2009

Cruise industry publication Lloyd’s List has an interesting article on the financial woes of Royal Caribbean’s financing for Oasis of the Seas. Yesterday, the cruise line filed its annual Form 10-K report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and it divulged that the company has been unsuccessful in attaining the full financing for the Oasis mega-ship set to be delivered in November of this year.

In the report Royal Caribbean stated that it is trying to convince the Finnish export credit agency to increase the guarantee level on the Oasis project from the existing 80%. The 10-K filing states “We are working with the relevant export credit agencies and various financial institutions to obtain committed financing for Oasis of the Seas. This includes exploring opportunities to increase the guarantee level and obtain partial funding support from the relevant export credit agencies.”

Currently, Royal Caribbean’s newbuild ship roster has six vessels. Two of them are for the 5,400-passenger Oasis-class vessels which are set to become the biggest ships ever built. The other four newbuilds are Solstice-class ships for Celebrity cruises. The total price of the six ships is $6.5 billion, of which Royal Caribbean had paid $540 million as of December 31, 2008. Anticipated capital expenditures will be $2.1 billion for 2009, $2.2 billion for 2010, $1 billion for 2011, and $1 billion in 2012.

There’s little doubt that Royal Caribbean won’t be able to get the financing to take delivery of Oasis of the Seas. The big question is: How high will the price of financing be? And ultimately how the high price of financing all these ships will affect Royal Caribbean’s customers?

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Lose your job? Norwegian Cruise Line has a solution

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 25 - 2009

In the footsteps of Hyundai and JetBlue Airways, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is offering a BookSafe Travel Protection Plan, which fully reimburses guests booked on a cruise if they lose their job.

“In this challenging economic environment, we are offering a safety net for guests who want to book a cruise, but are uncertain about what the future holds in terms of their employment,” said Andy Stuart, NCL’s executive vice president of global sales and passenger services. “Our BookSafe plan enables guests to book with confidence knowing that they will receive a full refund if they need to cancel their cruise because of job loss.”

NCL says it’s the first major cruise line to extend this service. Effective February 26, guests who purchase the BookSafe Travel Protection Plan for any NCL cruise departing on or after May 1 are eligible for reimbursement of any cancellation fees if an insured guest loses their job as long as the person has been an active employee at the same company for at least one year.

NCL’s enhanced travel protection plan is available starting at $29 per person, depending on the cruise fare paid. Visit NCL’s Web site for more details.

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Cruise West goes way down south to Antarctica

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 25 - 2009

Cruise West's OceanusCruise West announced yesterday that they are adding a 19-night Antarctica expedition to their 2010 voyage offerings. Cruise West will operate on the 114-passenger Corinthian II that will visit the Falkland, South Georgia and Orkney islands. The announcement follows the Seattle-based company’s entrance into European river cruises and the Galápagos in 2009.

“Cruise West is making a conscientious effort to keep itinerary offerings fresh and intriguing,” said president and CEO Dietmar Wertanzl. He added that Antarctica is a “natural progression” in a bid to create excitement for repeat customers while also appealing to new ones.

The Corinthian II is a sister ship of Cruise West’s Spirit of Oceanus. Wertanzl added that repeat guests will feel right at home because of the familiar surroundings. Corinthian II was previously operated by Travel Dynamics. The vessel is ice-strengthened for voyages into Antarctic waters, and is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac inflatable craft for forays ashore. Originally built in 1992 and refurbished in 2005.

Passengers will overnight in Buenos Aires before embarking the ship in Ushuaia. The February 2010 program is priced starting at $13,899, with savings of $1,000 if booked and paid in full by May 1, 2009. The voyage will go on sale March 5.

Visit Cruise West’s Web site for more details.

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Celebrity Cruises’ passengers critically hurt in Dominica bus accident

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On February - 24 - 2009

According to Celebrity Cruises, 16 passengers were injured when their bus apparently lost control and drove into a ditch while it was returning to the ship from a shore excursion. Fourteen of the 16 injured guests from Celebrity Summit who were involved in a bus accident Monday in Roseau, Dominica, will arrive at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami around midnight on Wednesday.

“We are working diligently to further assist our guests in their return to the U.S. and their transition to Jackson Memorial Hospital,” said Dan Hanrahan, president and chief executive officer of Celebrity Cruises. “Our care will be ongoing as we assist them during their time in South Florida and in the process of returning home.”

All 16 guests onboard the bus were immediately transported to the local Princess Margaret Hospital for care.

The passengers sustained injuries, including broken bones, bumps, bruises and lacerations, however, three people were more seriously injured, according to the cruise line. Five of the 16 injured were treated and released from the hospital Monday.

Five staff members from the ship, including a nurse, stayed with the remaining 11 passengers that were hospitalized overnight. Additional personnel, including specially trained members of Celebrity Cruises’ Guest Care Team and an additional nurse arrived in Roseau Tuesday morning to escort the injured passengers and their traveling companions during the flights to South Florida.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our injured guests and their families,” said Hanrahan in a prepared press release. “We’ll continue to do our very best to assist them in the aftermath of this unfortunate accident.”

The passengers were returning from a Caribbean Cooking Adventure shore excursion, in which they joined local culinary experts to learn how to prepare and present traditional Caribbean dishes. The three-and-a-half hour excursion concluded with a scenic drive through Roseau before returning to the pier.

Celebrity Summit is currently sailing a seven-night Caribbean cruise that departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, February 21, and concludes there on Saturday, February 28. The ships port calls include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Roseau, Dominica; St. Georges, Granada; Scarborough, Tobago; and Bridgetown, Barbados.

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