Seems the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can’t get their focus straight. Who are the terrorists to them? Would you believe travel bloggers?
Both the DHS and TSA have chosen the low road and have gone after travel journalists Christopher Elliott and Steven Frischling. Elliott a highly-regarded columnist for msnbc.com, National Geographic Traveler, and nationally syndicated “Travel Troubleshooter” column was subpoenaed yesterday by the TSA for publishing the official security directive in response to the attempted Christmas Day bombing. Frischling a self-employed photographer who writes the Flying With Fish and KLM blogs was also subpoenaed for publishing the same document and had his computer confiscated.
According to a report on Tnooz, both journalists face fines and a year in jail if they don’t comply with the subpoena by Thursday, December 31. This is truly a case of the elephants stepping on the ants.
Flying with Fish: The Fallout From SD-1544-09-06 : The Feds At My Door
Flying with Fish: TSA Security Directive SD-1544-09-06 : The Fallout From NW253
(Photo:brotherxii/Flickr Creative Commons)
Back in September when I sailed on the Silver Spirit during her construction phase and sea trials I sensed that the ship was going to be spectacular when finished. I was not mistaken. Over the past two days I’ve reacquainted myself with the finished Spirit and I thought it might be fun to have a photo essay of before and after photos. Take a look for yourself.
One thing was very apparent tonight on Silver Spirit – this is not your father’s old cruise line. Silversea’s production of “Aquarius” (a hippie 60’s musical/dance production) was once an unthinkable entertainment option. No more. The line has clearly upped the entertainment ante (and budget) to reflect what today’s Silversea passenger desires – a more youthful approach.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the music, dancers, and set décor – similar to the shows on the big mainstream cruise lines. And, gentlemen bring your pacemakers – the ladies of the show are the most gorgeous entertainers I’ve seen at sea. Hot girls and all the show had the audience clapping and dancing in the end. There are four production shows onboard and if tonight’s show is any indication of the rest they will be well-received.
Also, not to be missed is the Stars lounge entertainment where jazz singer Alfredo wowed the crowd with her exquisite voice and fun entertainment style. For this writer — it was a “like-wow-man” night – and a very pleasant and welcomed surprise.
Silversea Cruises president Amerigo Perasso hinted that Silver Spirit may get a sister ship in the future. During a press conference with journalists onboard the newly launched Spirit, Perasso said the company will decide in the coming months on what to do next.
“Looking ahead we are considering more growth either organic or in another form. We are very confident going forward,” he said. When elaborating on the organic comment Perasso noted the line does have an option with the shipyard to build another vessel.
Stay tuned for more live blogs from Silver Spirit.
Silversea Cruises president Amerigo Perasso says the line is having its best year ever. “Despite the difficult world economy in 2008 and the first half of 2009 we are showing record bookings,” said Perasso. He noted the boom started back in June – since then the line has been substantially exceeding its targets. “Seventy percent of our revenue plan for 2010 is on the books.” Perasso says much of the success is because the line has continued to invest in the product and the personnel onboard.
Perasso made the comments during a press conference onboard the line’s new vessel Silver Spirit currently docked in Monaco. Silver Spirit brings the Silversea fleet to a total of six vessels. The 540-passenger 36,009-ton vessel offers 270 suites (95 percent have balconies), six restaurants, the brand’s largest spa at 8,500 square feet, and expanded deck space — some of it covered, with the flexibility for dining and entertainment, are among Spirit’s design advances.
Silversea is hosting press and travel agents on a preview cruise from Monaco to Barcelona. On the 23rd Spirit will embark on its inaugural cruise, from Barcelona to Lisbon. The official christening of the vessel will be on January 21, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale.
Stay tuned for more blogs from the Silver Spirit.
Cruise lines are scrambling to find new ways to top each other in the innovation stakes. Bigger ships and never-before-seen features are the shape of things to come on the high seas in 2010.
Ship class of 2010
Fifteen new ships will be ready for their close-ups next year, with one being the second largest cruise ship ever launched. Here’s a summary for the Class of 2010, in order of the month they debut.
January– Costa Cruises 92,700-ton Costa Deliziosa will carry 2,828 guests and will homeport in Dubai for the winter with sailings around the Middle East. The ship will transition back Europe in May to cruise the Baltics during the summer and the Mediterranean for the rest of the year.
February - AIDA Cruises, Germany’s largest cruise line, (owned by Carnival Corporation) will launch its seventh ship in 2010, the 68,500-ton, 2,050-passenger AIDAblu. The vessel is the sister ship to AIDAdiva, AIDAbella and AIDAluna and will cruise European waters year round.
March - The MSC Magnifica will be MSC Cruises’ 11th ship. The 93,330-ton ship will carry 2,518 passengers. The ship will feature its MSC Yacht Club, exclusively for suite guests. The ship will be based in Venice where it will sail year-round seven-night cruises.
March - Avalon Waterways is the fastest growing river boat cruise line in the world. The company will launch two new vessels this year bringing the fleet size to 10 riverboats. Carrying just 138 passengers Avalon Felicity will ply the waters of the Rhine until the winter season.
April -The Celebrity Eclipse will be Celebrity Cruises’ third ship in the Solstice-class. For summer 2010, Eclipse will cruise from Southampton, England – the first time a Celebrity ship will based in that port. The ship will be 122,000-tons and carry 2,850 passengers. In November the ship will transition to the Caribbean.
P&O Cruises’ 116,000-ton Azura will carry 3,100 passengers. The ship will sail alternating 7- and 14-day European itineraries from Southampton, England.
May – Compagnie du Ponant Yacht Cruises will launch its first new vessel in a decade, the 264-passenger Le Boréal. The luxury French line’s new vessel will sail various European itineraries year round.
California-based AMAWATERWAYS is an upscale European river cruise company that was launched in 2002. The company will launch the MS Amabella bringing its fleet to 11 boats. The Amabella is sister ship of the MS Amacello and carries just 148 passengers. Itineraries for the new vessel have not been disclosed.
June – The Seabourn Sojourn is the second of three new ships for the Yachts of Seabourn. The ultra-luxury 32,000-ton Seabourn Sojourn will accommodate 450 lucky guests. The yacht’s itineraries will begin with sailings around Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Caribbean before it embarks on its 111-day world cruise from Los Angeles.
The most anticipated ship launch of 2010 is Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Epic. It will be NCL’s largest and most innovative ship to date, featuring an Aqua Park, an ice bar, wavy staterooms, and the largest private villa complex at sea. The 153,000-ton ship will carry 4,200 guests and sail alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
July - Holland America Line’s 86,000-ton Nieuw Amsterdam is the second of the line’s “Signature Class” vessels. The ship, which will carry 2,104 passengers, will sail 12-day sailings around the Mediterranean. In mid-October, Nieuw Amsterdam will head to Fort Lauderdale for the winter season sailing seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailings.
August – Avalon Waterways will launch Felicity’s sister ship Avalon Luminary in May. Like Felicity, Avalon Luminary will carry just 138 passengers; however, it will cruise year-round on the Rhine River.
October – Cunard Line launches the new 90,400-ton, 2,092-passenger Queen Elizabeth, sister ship to Queen Victoria. The ship will sail round-trip from Southampton on various Mediterranean itineraries. In January, the ship will begin its 103-day world cruise.
November – When Sea Cloud Cruises launches the Sea Cloud Hussar it will be the largest three-mast passenger ship ever built. The 69 exterior cabins offer space for 136 passengers, who are looked after by a crew of 90. The ship will sail routes in the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. And, like its sister ships it will be sailed in the traditional way – by hand.
December - Allure of the Seas is the sister ship to the Oasis of the Seas, and thus is the second of two of the world biggest ships. At 222,000-tons it will carry 5,400 guests (6,300 max) and 1,650 crew members. Like Oasis, Allure will offer distinct neighborhoods, unique interior staterooms, and a zip-line. Allure will sail year-round from Fort Lauderdale offering 7-day alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries.
German cruise line AIDA Cruises’ new AIDAblu will have a microbrewery – a first for the cruise industry. The microbrewery, staffed by renowned brewers from Bavaria, will serve the beer it brews for free, while also offering specialty beers for a fee.
Inspired by the original ice bars and ice hotels in Scandinavia and one of only 14 ice bars in the world, Ice Bar on Norwegian Epic will be the ultimate chill. This frozen chamber of iced vodka is set in changing hues of blue, green and purple LED lighting that simulates the Northern Lights and creates a distinctive arctic atmosphere. The centerpiece is a giant ice cube that glows and changes colors to the beat of the music. The venue will accommodate 25 guests who will be given fur coats, gloves and hats to keep them warm, since the room’s temperature will not rise above 17 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dinner in a circus
Norwegian Epic will offer the only “big top” at sea in an intimate 265-seat theater-in-the-round. Dubbed “Cirque Dreams and Dinner”, this one of a kind interactive theatrical dining experience will be performed in the air, while juggling dinner courses, with music, mayhem and acrobatic imagination. During the two-hour show, guests will marvel in amazement and become part of a celebration of spectacle and fantasy. The entire experience will be unlike anything else at sea.
Norwegian Epic incorporates several new types of accommodations – the curved New Wave staterooms; the largest ship-within-a-ship suite complex at sea, comprising 60 suites and villas on two private decks at the top of the ship; a new category of inside staterooms for the value-conscious traveler – The Studios and Living Room; and spa and family-friendly accommodations.
More kids invade Europe
Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and thousands of American kids are headed back to Europe. In April, the Disney Magic will return to Europe, where it first sailed in 2007, only this time with a few new itineraries. The Magic will offer its first-ever 10,11, and-12-day cruises to Scandinavia, Germany and Russia, in addition to a lineup of Mediterranean itineraries that include calls at three new ports. And in each port Disney will add its magic touch to enhance the family touring experience.
Alaska’s 2007 imposition of a head tax on cruise passengers has caused a tsunami of cruise ship defections from the state’s waters. Carnival, Princess, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have reduced capacity in Alaska significantly for 2010 and more are scheduled to leave in 2011.
Rick Meadows, executive vice president of marketing, sales and guest programs, for Holland America says the change reflects the rising demand for Europe itineraries. “Our guests are finding a cruise to be the best value for their money in Europe, and interest in Mediterranean and Northern European itineraries continues to grow,” he said. With fewer ships sailing Alaska’s waters cruise fares are bound to go up, which means less bargains for cruise travelers.
Given the bounty of new ships, changing destinations, and wacky amenities, 2010 is shaping up to be a very interesting year for cruise travel.