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Small Ship Cruising In Alaska

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Spirit of Alaska/Baranof Dream

The gap in Alaskan small ship cruising created by the demise of Cruise West last month has been filled.  Allen Marine Tours, based in Sitka, Alaska, has announced the launch of Alaskan Dream Cruises, operating two of Cruise West’s 78 passenger vessels, the Spirit of Columbia and tne Spirit of Alaska. renamed the Admiralty Dream and the Baranof Dream.  The new line will also operate a third vessel, the Alaska Dream, a 49 passenger catamaran.

Allen Marine Tours has operated day cruises since the 1970s, as well as a shipbuilding business.  All three vessels of tne new line will be refurbished in the parent company’s own shipyard.

Alaska Dream Cruises will be based in Sitka as well, offering 7 night trips to the most popular destinations in Southeast Alaska, such as Tracy Arm and Glacier National Park.  The first cruise is scheduled to depart Sitka on May 14th.

American Safari Cruises also has plans to enter the Alaskan small ship market,

Wilderness Adventurer

via their newly formed division InnerSea Discoveries.  The company plans to begin Cruises in May as well, on board the 49 passenger Wilderness Discoverer and the Wilderness Adventurer.

I think this is very welcome news.  While I absolutely recommend that you take whatever opportunity presents itself  to visit Alaska, sailing on a small vessel is an ideal way to see more and experience more of what Alaska has to offer, far away from the towns and hordes of other tourists.  I wish both operators well.

Technorati Tags: Alaskan Dream Cruises, American Safari Cruises, Cruise lines, cruise ships, Cruise West, Glacier Bay, InnerSea Discoveries, Sitka, small cruise ships, Southeast Alaska, Tracy Arm

Have You Heard The Rumor?

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Norwegian Epic

Rumors swirled about the cruise industry over the weekend that Norwegian Cruise Line has signaled its intention to build at least two,  and perhaps three, new ships.  NCL would take delivery of the first in 2013.  The contract is said to be with Meyer Werft, the German shipbuilding enterprise.  The new ships will represent a new class within NCL’s fleet, and are thought to be planned to come in a bit smaller than the Norwegian Epic.

If true, this would represent a bit of a twist in NCL’s recent history.  Norwegian Epic was constructed at STX Europe’s French facility, the first of what was envisioned to be two or three Epic class ships.  One of the proposed ships was cancelled early on in the process, and construction was halted altogether at one point while NCL and STX Europe ironed out a dispute.  Construction eventually resumed with a new agreement, but the second proposed ship was cancelled.  Ultimately Epic sailed out of the yard, her fire plagued construction completed, as the lone example of her class.

NCL has been quite conservative in their shipbuilding, taking delivery of only one new ship in the last three years.  They were willing to walk away from two others, when circumstances and the economy suggested they do so.  They’ve also proved themselves to be quite innovative with their ships.  Their success with Epic has raised the bar for them.  I’m anxious to see what they come up with next.

Technorati Tags: cruise ships, Meyer Werft, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Epic, STX Europe

Carnival Cruises Announces New Sale

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Carnival Cruise Line published details of their new sale in a press release today:

Press Release Source: Carnival Cruise Lines On Monday July 12, 2010, 11:07 am EDT

Carnival Dream

” Carnival Cruise Lines is hosting its first-ever “1-2-3 Go! Sale” which combines three of the line’s most popular sales incentives – Cash Back of up to $160 per stateroom, best available upgrades and attractive “Fun Select” rates – to provide unprecedented value to consumers.

The promotion is available on a wide variety of three- to eight-day “Fun Ship” cruises departing from August 2010 through February 2011, including voyages to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii.  Bookings must be made between July 12-30, 2010, to qualify.

The “1-2-3 Go! Sale’s” cash back option is provided in the form of a shipboard credit that can be redeemed once on board.  Guests will receive a shipboard credit of up to $80 per stateroom on three- to five-day cruises and up to $160 per stateroom on voyages of six days or longer.  The shipboard credit is automatically applied to guests’ on-board accounts when they board their cruise and can be redeemed toward a wide range of shipboard purchases.  Any unused funds at the end of the cruise will be returned to guests on debarkation day in the form of a check.

The best available upgrade feature applies to new individual bookings for categories 4A and higher. Upgrades are available within specific stateroom accommodation types (i.e., interior to interior, ocean view to ocean view, balcony to balcony). Guests are encouraged to book now to secure the best possible choice of staterooms.

The cash back and best available upgrade features must be combined with the line’s “Fun Select” rates to be eligible for this promotion.  With “Fun Select” rates, guests can select the stateroom of their choice based on deck, location and accommodation category.”‘

Technorati Tags: Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream, cruise sale, cruise ships

The Future Looks Brighter

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There is news this week that makes the future of two grande dames of the sea more hopeful.

It is being reported that Queen Elizabeth 2, currently languishing in Dubai, a sad testimony to the over-spending there, may be going to the western Australian port of Fremantle.  The mayor of Fremantle has expressed the belief that he would have strong support from his constituency to bring QE2 there in time to be used as a floating hotel for the ISAF Sailing World Championships in December 2011.

On the other side of the globe, Philadelphia philanthropist, H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest, has stepped in and offered what amounts to a stay of execution for the SS United States.  Mr. Lenfest has pledged the funds necessary to pay the ship’s considerable expenses for the next 20 months.  This will give the SS United States Conservancy time to endeavor to raise the funds needed to purchase her from NCL and restore her to a useful life.

Each of these vessels rendered long and honorable service.  Watching them rust away, perhaps ultimately bound for the scrap heap, is quite sad.  I know, as with all things, an end must eventually come, but maybe – just maybe – for these two great ladies, not quite yet.

Technorati Tags: cruise ships, floating hotels, QE2, Queen Elizabeth 2, SS United States

Cunard Announces Fuel Surcharge

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Cunard Line President and Managing Director, Peter Shanks, made the following announcement yesterday:

“Because of the continued rapid escalation of fuel prices, Cunard Line and P&O (UK) will introduce a fuel supplement of $3.85 (USD) per person per day. These brands will also implement this fuel supplement on third and fourth passengers.

The new fuel supplements will apply to all new bookings effective May 10, 2010 and will apply to all departures from November 1, 2010. The fuel supplements will not exceed $154.00 per person per voyage.

For bookings made prior to May 10, 2010, no fuel supplement will apply.

We regret having to take this action, but fuel price increases have continued, and we now find it necessary to implement a modest supplement.”

With the price of oil hovering well above the $70 or so threshold most cruise lines have set as the trigger point for fuel surcharges, this announcement is not entirely surprising.  Given the recent assurances from industry executives that no such surcharges were in the works, however, the timing may be a bit of a surprise.  Cunard’s surcharges are not particularly high, and one hopes they can be absorbed by their prospective clients without too much pain.

Technorati Tags: cruise ships, Cunard Line, fuel surcharge, Peter Shanks