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Articles from 2006 In June


The sound of Musica

The sound of Musica

The ceremony took place quayside with the Musica as backdrop.

Not surprisingly, music was a central theme of the event with performances ranging from opera to a big band sound. Dancers and masked Venetian characters mingled with guests. Star of the show and MSC Cruises 'very own' godmother, Sophia Loren, cut the ribbon accompanied by MSC owner Gianluigi Aponte and the master of the ship.

As the champagne bottle smashed against the side of the ship, strategically placed cannons released a myriad of coloured papered strips into the air which settled on the guests as they re-embarked Musica.

A large number of staff from MSC Cruises' 26 offices worldwide attended the event which finished with a gala dinner on board followed by a fireworks display as the vessel sailed through Canale della Giudecca providing spectacular views of Piazza San Marco, San Giorgio Island and the Venetian skyline.

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MSC Cruises comes of age

MSC Cruises comes of age

The 2,550 lower berth ship is the first of three vessels of this size which MSC is building at Aker Yards France in St Nazaire. The company has also contracted two bigger 130,500gt, 3,300 lower berth ships at the same yard. The last of the five vessels will be operational by summer 2009.

Providing an update on the MSC shipping empire, Vago said the company owns over 305 cargo ships and fast ferry company SNAV ('possibly the number one fast ferry operator in Europe') and employs 35,000 people worldwide. 'This provides us with the financial background and big shoulders to compete in the cruise market,' he added. Cruise accounts for just 5% of the whole business. 'It could be said that we have come a long way in cruise in the past three years,' he said.

In 2009 MSC will have 22,446 lower berths across 12 ships, if it maintains the three older vessels in the fleet. 'In 2009 we will be carrying over 1m passengers and our cruise business will have an annual turnover of EUR1bn,' said Vago.

Referring to Musica as a prototype, built in a record 24 months, Vago said it represents a new concept for cruising within the Panamax range with 22,000sq mtr of public area and 80% outside cabins of which 65% have balconies.

The 'elegant' interior design by Studio de Jorio speaks for itself said Vago whilst Marco de Jorio himself told Seatrade Insider 'we want to amaze people but not shock them with artificial elements. The design is inviting and soft and we have incorporated many new materials creating an Italian wow effect.'

Domenico Pellegrino, MSC Cruises managing director, added, 'We respect the US-style cruise product, after all they invented it, but MSC Cruises presents a European way of cruising.'

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Star Clippersapos; debut at Tahiti roadshow

Star Clippersapos; debut at Tahiti roadshow

Kara Denning, the Australian sales manager for Star Clippers, said itineraries and fares for the luxury clipper ship that will call Tahiti home from Dec. 16, 2007, have been released in time for these travel industry events which will be held at Sofitel Wentworth Sydney on July 10 and Melbourne Crown Towers on July 12.

Star Flyer's seven-night cruises from Papeete depart Sunday evenings for Huahine, Raitea, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Moorea's Cook Bay and Opunohu Bay. Highlights of the voyages will be overnights in Huahine, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Moorea. Passengers will also spend Saturday evenings on board in Papeete before disembarking the following morning.

The four-masted barquentine will also make 11-night cruises from Papeete to Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas and 10-night return sailings to Papeete. Denning believes there will be a strong demand for the 21-night round voyage from Papeete. However, she said, float/fly packages to and from Nuka Hiva will be available.

The lead fare for Star Flyer's seven-night cruise is A$2,085 (US$1,543) per person. This includes port taxes of A$270 and an early booking discount of A$465. All-inclusive packages with return air travel from Australia will be available shortly.

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RCI, Hagel Smith reach settlement

RCI, Hagel Smith reach settlement

Royal Caribbean said it entered into the agreement with Smith's widow 'to provide closure and move forward.'

The terms of the settlement are subject to approval by a Connecticut probate court. Royal Caribbean said it will continue to provide Hagel Smith access to all information regarding her husband's disappearance.

'We have done our best to assist Jennifer through the tragic events involving the disappearance of her husband,' said RCI president Adam Goldstein. 'She has handled herself well under the most trying of circumstances and we applaud her constructive approach to resolving this matter - so much so that our company will also match a contribution by Ms. Hagel Smith to a charity of her choosing.'

'This has been the most difficult and challenging year of my life,' Hagel Smith said in a statement. 'I will always love George and cherish our time together. I feel blessed to have such a strong network of loyal family, friends and supporters who have provided me with such tremendous strength and encouragement. They have walked and sometimes carried me through this heartbreaking time.'

Hagel Smith further said her talks with Royal Caribbean 'have been very open, as well as extremely productive and informative.' She added: 'I appreciate Royal Caribbean's cooperation, sincerity and efforts moving forward, which I believe will play a major role in helping all of us find closure.'

The disappearance of George Smith from a Mediterranean cruise sparked a media firestorm that included accusations of a cover-up and led to two Congressional subcommittee hearings on maritime security called by Rep. Christopher Shays. This week the lawmaker introduced a bill requiring the reporting of crimes and disappearances at sea. Shays' constituents include the Smith family.

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Fincantieri delivers Costa Concordia

Fincantieri delivers Costa Concordia

Costa invested EUR450m into the newbuild, which includes innovations such as the large Samsara Spa and 67 spa accommodations with direct access to the 2,104-square-meter facility. A pair of swimming pools under a retractable glass roof covering a 3,500-square-meter area will enable outdoor lounging year-round in the Mediterranean, where the ship will operate until 2007. The central pool area sports a giant movie screen. An exclusive feature is the ship's Grand Prix race-car driving simulator.

Costa Concordia's interiors are by architect Joe Farcus, who used the architectural and artistic styles of European countries for his inspiration. One of the five restaurants offers menus designed by the Italian culinary innovator Ettore Bocchia, executive chef at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio and a Michelin restaurateur.

Enrico Buschi, merchant ship general manager for Fincantieri, said the Italian builder dedicated the output of its Genoa yard to Costa's fleet renewal, starting in 2002. 'A strong link has since then developed between the owner and the yard, underlining the deep-rooted links of both Costa and Fincantieri with Genoa,' Buschi added. He also noted that Fincantieri's Marghera yard has been assigned to develop a new-generation ship for the owner.

Costa Concordia brings the Costa fleet to 11 vessels with total lower-berth capacity of 20,500.

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Princess launches culinary upgrade

Princess launches culinary upgrade

They include a revamping of dining room menus, new concepts like a 'menu degustacion' once per cruise and more contemporary preparations of dishes.

The efforts are part of the 'C.H.E.F' initiative, which stands for 'Culinary heritage of excellence in food,' said Jonathan Wilson, director of culinary operations for Princess.

New entrees and expanded Lotus Spa selections are going into the dining room menus. At lunch, several 'late, late risers' breakfast choices are being added. The menus themselves are being organized in an easier-to-read format, printed on higher quality paper and presented in leatherette folders.

In the signature venue Sabatini's Trattoria, dishes will be prepared in a more contemporary style, with new pairings of ingredients, Wilson said. China, glassware and linen are being upgraded.

Some items from the Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant on Crown Princess will be incorporated into the Sterling Steakhouse menus of other ships. Examples include lamb carpaccio as an appetizer and a stacked dessert inspired by chocolate and marshmallow 'S'mores.'

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Smith family sues Royal Caribbean

Smith family sues Royal Caribbean

Smith went missing after a night of heavy drinking. A pool of blood was found on an overhang beneath his cabin balcony.

Royal Caribbean 'deliberately and intentionally portrayed the incident as an accident and hampered a full-blown, appropriate investigation into the facts and circumstances' of Smith's death, according to the suit filed by his parents and sister.

Royal Caribbean president Adam Goldstein called the charges 'recklessly false,' and said the suit is 'an unconscionable attack on our company and its employees, who have done everything they could to fully support the authorities and their investigations.'

The suit was filed in Miami on the same day a settlement was announced between Royal Caribbean and Smith's widow, Jennifer Hagel Smith.

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AAPA cites support, concerns for TWIC

AAPA cites support, concerns for TWIC

The association noted that while it supports the TWIC program as 'an important enhancement' to security, it has significant concerns over some aspects of the proposed rules on the efficiency of port operations and is urging DHS to adopt a more phased-in approach.

AAPA strongly favors a nationwide transportation worker credentialing system and believes that providing a federal card that includes a terrorist background check will help bolster security, said AAPA president and ceo Kurt Nagle. While urging the Transportation Security Administration to quickly implement the regulations to issue TWIC cards, Nagle said AAPA wants to ensure the system is implemented carefully so it doesn't negatively impact cargo movement.

'Without careful evaluation and consideration of these issues, TWIC could cause significant congestion and bottlenecks at ports, in addition to imposing substantial costs in some areas with little measurable decrease in risk,' Nagle said.

DHS estimates that 39% of the more than $1bn cost of implementing TWIC will fall on ports. AAPA is urging Congress to appropriate $400m a year for port facility security through the federal Port Security Grant program to help ports pay for TWIC implementation.

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Costa Allegra debuts in China

Costa Allegra debuts in China

The voyage is carrying VIP guests and will end on Sunday with a celebration that also inaugurates the new Shanghai cruise terminal.

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has promoted the event within the context of the 'Year of Italy' in China. Partners such as the Italian Ministry of the Environment and Territory, along with the Italian companies Gruppo Sanpalo IMI, a major banking group, and Ferrari, the automaker, will also participate.

The more than 750 guests will include Corrado Clini, general director of the Italian Ministry of the Environment, representatives of the Italian Embassy and Consulates in China, local authorities and representatives of the port of Shanghai. Also on hand will be Pier Luigi Foschi, Costa Crociere chairman and ceo, and Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. & plc chairman and ceo.

Costa Allegra's regular service begins Monday when the 1,000-passenger ship launches five-day cruises calling at Nagasaki, Japan, and Cheju, Korea. Starting in November, the winter program will operate from southern China, with five-day departures from Hong Kong visiting Sanya (China) and Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Costa said its goal is to carry 55,000 Chinese passengers a year.

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Celebrity wins $193m in Legionnaireapos;s case

Celebrity wins $193m in Legionnaireapos;s case

One passenger died and others became ill, some critically, due to legionella bacteria in the filtration system of a pool area hot tub.

'This was a long awaited result for Celebrity Cruises,' said president Dan Hanrahan. 'We feel vindicated by this verdict. In the cruise industry, the safety of our guests and employees is paramount.'

Pentair said it believes the verdict against its subsidiary, Essef Corp., is 'not consistent with the law nor the evidence offered at trial.' In a statement, the Golden Valley, Minn.-based company said it plans to make post-trial motions to reverse the verdict.

Due to the ongoing nature of the proceedings, Celebrity said the ultimate financial impact cannot currently be determined. Any gain from the verdict will be recognized when the outcome is known with certainty.

Celebrity sued Essef for lost profits, loss of business enterprise value, attorney fees, litigation and out-of-pocket losses. The $193m award is exclusive of pre-judgment interest and attorney fees, amounts which are subject to further decision by the court.

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