CRUISE INDUSTRY Double-digit increase in bookings on cruise lines for 2005 Cruise lines are expecting to see an 11 percent increase in volume over 2004 according to statistics from the Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry's marketing arm. CLIA-member ships carried 8,870,901 passengers in 2004 and the association looks for more double-digit increases in coming years. * The cruise industry has weathered a number of storms in recent years - tough economic times, war, the norovirus - but executives are now bracing for a new challenge: how to handle the record numbers of passengers who are flocking to cruise ships. * "Bookings for 2005 are (now) coming far in advance of departure dates," said CLIA president and CEO Terry Dale. * "The booking window continues to narrow, consumer demand continues to rise, and travelers are flocking to more far-flung destinations like Europe and Asia." * According to Dale, "Wave Season,'' great rates for ocean travel to Europe, value and easy port accessibility are playing key roles. * Although there are more cruise departures and itineraries than ever before - 68 vessels will have debuted between 2000 and the end of this year - CLIA-member lines report that bookings generated during this year's Wave Season' (the period from January to March during which cruise lines capture their largest share of annual bookings) have brought record numbers of new passengers into the cruise fold. * Guests can enjoy nightclubs and discos, find tranquility in state-of-the art spas or gaze at the stars while watching a movie on a 300-square foot poolside screen. * Perhaps the biggest reason for the spike in cruise ship travel, Dale said, is the fact that so many ports are easily accessible by car. * Since CLIA's inception in 1975 the number of North American home ports - cities from which cruise ships offer regular departures - has nearly tripled. * Vacationers now have 30 home ports from which to choose - most within driving distance - which eliminates the cost of air travel and the overall price of a cruise. * In 2003, 1.4 million Floridians embarked on a cruise vacation from one of the state's primary cruise ports. Cruise News - April 11, 2005 Regal Princess Leaving Fleet Princess Cruises has announced that Regal Princess will be transferred to the growing U.K. cruise company Ocean Village. The 1,590-passenger ship will debut in the company's fleet in October 2006. Ocean Village was launched in 2003, and since has become regarded as "Best in Class" in the fast-growing mainstream British market, attracting first-time cruisers looking for a more informal and active holiday experience. This will be the second ship for the line, which has taken over 150,000 bookings in its first two years or operation, nearly 60 percent of them from first time cruisers. Regal Princess entered service for Princess in 1991, and was recognized for its distinctive profile designed by world-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, its balcony cabins, spacious accommodations and myriad of dining and entertainment venues. "Transferring Regal Princess to our sister company Ocean Village is a natural evolution of the Princess fleet, which for the past decade has grown progressively younger as new ships have been introduced and older tonnage has been transferred to other sister companies in key growth markets," said Peter Ratcliffe, CEO of P&O Princess Cruises International, who oversees both the Princess and Ocean Village brands, along with Cunard Line, P&O Cruises U.K., Swan Hellenic and P&O Cruises in Australia. "This modernization program gives Princess the youngest fleet in the industry with an average ship age of 5.7 years, and also gives us a competitive edge with the highest percentage (56 percent) of highly desirable balcony cabins, our flexible "Anytime Dining" program and array of entertainment venues," said Ratcliffe. Princess currently has two new ships under construction. Crown Princess will debut in early summer 2006, while a second sister ship is scheduled to launch in spring 2007. Ocean Village, which offers fly-cruise packages to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, is known as "the cruise for people who don't do cruises" and has been lauded for attracting families, first-time and younger cruisers, as well as for its relaxed, informal environment and great value. "Adding another ship to Ocean Village, effectively doubling its capacity, will extend the reach of this popular holiday brand, which offers the newest, largest and best-equipped ships in its class," said Ratcliffe. Norwegian Sea to India Norwegian Cruise Lines parent company, Star Cruises announced this week that the current Norwegian Sea will be renamed SuperStar Libra and will be homeported in Mumbai beginning in September this year. Star begins the launch of their India-based operation with a roadshow covering five key cities in India from 8th to 14th April 2005. Led by the Chief Operating Officer of Star Cruises, Mr. Chong Chee-Tut, the road show will begin in Mumbai on 8 th April followed by New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai. Invitees to the roadshows include officials from the Ministries of Shipping and Tourism of India, port authorities, tourism boards, the travel trade, corporate organisations, media and related agencies at each venue which will feature special product presentations and information on the ship's facilities, pricing, itineraries and destinations. "We are indeed excited about the positioning of SuperStar Libra in Mumbai which is timely in bringing the cruise experience right to the very doorstep of India. The acceptance of our product in the Indian market has grown tremendously over the last five years and is expected to continue with the positioning of a Star Cruises ship in India. Our sales and marketing efforts will be intensified accordingly to create greater awareness in India", said Mr. Chong Chee-Tut, Chief Operating Officer of Star Cruises. "The introduction and positioning of our ship in India stems from our confidence in the growing tourism sector in India where the appetite for domestic and outbound travel has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years. In particular, the potential of developing cruise tourism in the country is significant given the growing awareness and demand for cruise holidays, the country's long coastline, maritime strength and the numerous culturally and historically-rich attractions . Further, the Indian Government's decision to waive the cabotage requirement for cruise ships for 5 years reflects the tremendous support for the growth of cruise tourism and has provided the impetus for Star Cruises to position a ship in India", added Mr. Chong. Mumbai was a clear choice as a homeport given its "gateway" status into India for air, land and sea arrivals and the onward accessibility to other ports along the west coast. SuperStar Libra will arrive in Mumbai on 25 th September from Singapore after calling at Phuket in Thailand, Chennai and Colombo en route. After a series of one-night cruises to introduce and showcase the ship in Mumbai, she will commence regular 4-night destination cruises to Kadmat (Lakshadweep) and Goa, 2-night cruises to Goa and 1-night weekend getaway cruises from 2 nd October 2005 till April 2006. Four special cruises to Kochi and Goa have also been planned for 25 th December 2005, 29 th January, 12 th February and 26 th February 2006. The positioning of Star Cruises ship in Mumbai will provide holiday makers an attractive holiday option to discover the wonderful sights and culture of the Indian west coast while experiencing world-class service and standards of a luxury liner. SuperStar Libra's call at Lakshadweep, has introduced for the first time a unique and comfortable means to visit one of the world's most spectacular tropical and remote island systems located 220-440 kms off the Malabar Coast. Conferred the National Eco-Tourism Award 1997, the islands offer a natural heritage of ecology with its rich maritime wealth, pristine beaches and lagoons. Given the distance from the mainland, SuperStar Libra will provide a convenient and more accessible alternative to get to the much-sought-after destination. Carnival Liberty Features Excursions to Top European Golf Courses Carnival's first-ever Mediterranean cruises aboard the new 110,000-ton Carnival Liberty will offer golfers many unique and memorable golfing opportunities, including top courses throughout Italy, Spain and France. Carnival Liberty's Mediterranean cruises will encompass eight 12-day cruises operating round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia) July 20 – Oct. 12, 2005. Ports include Naples, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Venice, Italy; Messina, Sicily; Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; and Livorno, Italy. "Not only does Carnival Liberty's Mediterranean program feature some of Europe's most charming and historic cities, it also provides golfers with unparalleled golfing opportunities at many of the region's most beautiful and challenging courses," said Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO. In addition to golfing opportunities at a number of memorable courses throughout Europe, Carnival Liberty's golf program includes a certified shipboard golf professional who, in addition to escorting golfers during golf excursions, conducts private and group lessons, specialty golf clinics, and complimentary putting contests aboard ship. Carnival Liberty's golf program also includes Nike Golf products such as soft spiked golf shoes, balls, caps, gloves and apparel, all of which can be charged to guests' shipboard Sail & Sign accounts. Nike clubs are available for rent, as well. The program also includes early debarkation from the vessel for golf outings, transfers to and from the course, and priority tee times. Featured golf courses on Carnival Liberty's Mediterranean cruises include: Volturno Golf Club (Naples) – Patterned after classic Scottish links-style courses, this par-70 course offers a varied landscape of large dunes and strategically placed bunkers and water hazards, all complemented by gorgeous surroundings including magnificent sea vistas. Golf Club Villa Condulmer (Venice) – Measuring a relatively short 6,408 yards, this spectacular course plays longer than its length, with tight fairways and small greens. All this, combined with lush landscaping, including manicured hedges and native trees, and rose bushes amid 16th century statues, makes for an unforgettable round. Il Picciolo Golf Club (Messina) – This spectacular par-70 course is built around the world famous Volcano Etna, which dominates every hole. The course is designed by legendary Italian course architect Luigi Rota Caremoli, whose dramatic touches are evident throughout this magnificent 5,675-yard track. Masia Bach Golf Club (Barcelona) – Designed by Spanish golfer Jose Maria Olazabal, Masia Bach is a favorite for its challenging layout which certainly tests golfers' abilities. Fast, rolling greens, and tight, long fairways across nearly 7,000 well-manicured yards makes this par-72 beauty a must-play. Royal Mougins Golf Club (Cannes) – This Robert Van Hagge-designed course is challenging to golfers of all proficiency levels, with many water hazards and bunkers. Club selection is a key to success on this par- 71, 6,671-yard course, which consistently ranks as one of Europe's best. Cosmopolitan Country Club (Livorno) – With water coming into play on 11 of 18 holes, Cosmopolitan is a seaside links-style course that combines a tactical layout with native landscaping and large mounds that make for exciting play. The course's many highlights include #16 – a 325-yard-long par 4 located on an "island in the sand." Opera Company to Take Center Stage on Six Seabourn Cruises The acclaimed British repertory troupe, The Reduced Opera Company, will appear as a part of Seabourn Cruise Line's celebrated Dress Circle onboard enrichment program in 2005. A trio of singers: a soprano, a mezzo soprano and a tenor or baritone, will be performing a program of popular selections from classical and light opera on six select voyages aboard all three Seabourn yachts during the year. The cast, which may vary from cruise to cruise, is comprised of some of the most celebrated singers in international opera. The following are among those scheduled to appear: Charlotte Page has sung over thirty principal roles in opera for companies such as the Royal Opera, Covent Garden at the Savonlinna Festival, Finland, the Welsh National Opera and Opera Northern Ireland. She performed the title role in Lucia Di Lammermoor for Haddo House Opera. Internationally, she has appeared with Atelier Lyrique, Orleans and throughout France. She also starred as Christine in Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre London for eighteen months. Anne Williams-King, a Welsh soprano, has mastered a wide variety of roles and appeared with Lyric Opera Ottawa, Holland's Nationale Reisopera, as well as companies in Austria, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. Closer to home, she has performed with the English, Scottish and Welsh National Operas and in concerts at Royal Albert Hall, London Barbican and the Festival Hall London. Tenor Bradley Daley is a regular soloist with the English National Opera in the London Coliseum and has toured around the United Kingdom, in Australia and in America as well as broadcasting on BBC television, radio and Channel 4. Soprano Chloe Wright has worked with the Garden Opera, Pavillion Opera and Opera Holland Park and the Wexford Festival Opera. She spent two years singing the role of Musetta in Baz Luhrmann's production of La Boheme on Broadway, winning a Tony Honor for Excellence and a Drama League of America Outstanding Artist award. Welsh brothers Mark and Wynne Evans both attended Guildhall School and went on to study at the National Opera Studio. Mark, a baritone, has performed with the English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera and the Covent Garden Festival. Tenor Wynne has sung with the English and Welsh National Operas, Opera Holland Park and has worked as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has sung at the Royal Albert Hall and as a soloist at the opening nights of the BBC Proms. During each cruise, the company will present two full performances of arias and selections entitled "Pure Opera." One of these will be introduced and complemented by a special "Night at the Opera" formal dinner in The Restaurant. The Reduced Opera Company will perform aboard The Yachts of Seabourn on the following cruises: Seabourn Legend April 7 (7 days Lisbon to Monte Carlo) and April 24 (7 days Barcelona to Monte Carlo). Seabourn Pride May 6 (16 days Istanbul to Lisbon) and May 22 (14 days Lisbon to London); August 28 (18 days London to New York). Seabourn Spirit October 16 (7 days Athens to Alexandria). RCI Brings Popular Production Shows Ashore Musical theater lovers no longer have to head to sea to see the outstanding shows produced by Royal Caribbean International. The cruise line is bringing two of its popular production shows to shore for a limited engagement, April 13-17, at the Parker Playhouse, in Fort Lauderdale. The shows combine in a two-act "retro-spectacular" called "What the World Needs Now is Swing, Swing, Swing." Created and directed by Scot Woolley, the show features Royal Caribbean's talented singers and dancers as well as special guest star Hal Frazier, who has appeared as a headliner on Royal Caribbean ships for more than a decade. The first act, pulled from Brilliance of the Seas, is a concert tribute to Burt Bacharach, with many of the legendary singer and songwriter's most popular hits as well as those made famous by Tom Jones, The Carpenters and Dionne Warwick. Songs include "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "What's New, Pussycat?" and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" The second act, which comes to shore from Empress of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas, is a high- energy, whirlwind tour through the snappy, sassy music of the Swing Era. Royal Caribbean's dancers keep the beat to classics including "Jump, Jive and Wail," "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar" and "In the Mood." But the show doesn't have to stop there. One lucky audience member will be treated to an encore performance at sea. The line is giving away a complimentary seven-night Royal Caribbean cruise for two during the Parker Playhouse engagement. Tickets to "What the World Needs Now is Swing, Swing, Swing" are available through http://www.royalcaribbeanproductions.com and Telecharge. A total of six performances are offered: three matinees (2 p.m., April 13, 16 and 17) and three evening shows (8 p.m., April 14, 15 and 16). In a related announcement, RCI said that Royal Caribbean Productions, the cruise line's in-house production company, is now available to perform at land-based corporate events and private functions. To give event planners a preview of the entertainment options available, the company has launched a new web site -- http://www.royalcaribbeanproductions.com -- that also includes information on how aspiring dancers, singers and comedians worldwide can audition to join the company's ensemble. While yet to be confirmed by RCI, we understand that plans for future shore-side ventures include a chain of 1,600 seat restaurants that serve marginal, but filling food at 6:00 pm and 8:15 each evening. Passengers Sue HAL After Becoming Ill on Cruise Given the litigious times we live in, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and now a California women and her son have sued Holland America Line (HAL) for unspecified damages after claiming that unsanitary conditions on a 2004 cruise caused them to become ill. Bernice Oltman, 81, and her son, Jack Oltman, whose age was not given, claim that they came down with gastrointestinal illness on a South America cruise on HAL's Amsterdam after toilets on the lower decks "overflowed several times" during the cruise. In the court documents filed last Wednesday in King County District Court in Washington state, the Oltmans claim that the overflowing toilets "created incredibly unsanitary conditions on board, separate and apart from a piercing stench." They said it took crew members more than 15 hours to clean the area. The Oltmans claim that they became ill as a result of the toilet incident and other unsanitary conditions they encountered during the cruise including crew member eating directly from buffet platters. The lawsuit also included an odd - and apparently unrelated - claim that during a stop in Ecuador, the younger Oltman noticed "some crew members openly associating with prostitutes". From the court documents it is not clear how Mr. Oltman knew that individuals were prostitutes or why he was monitoring the crew members activities. In the court filing, the Oltmans have asked HAL to compensate them for "pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of earnings, legal fees and medical expenses." They also want the cruise company to pick up the cost of a colonoscopy and hemorrhoid surgery. The lawsuit was filed more than a year after the Oltmans took the cruise in March of 2004. A Holland America spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.