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NEW YORK – The deal announced here on Thursday was the one nobody expected – an attempt to restore the aged, rusting SS United States to a glamorous ocean liner and sail it across the world.

Luxury operator Crystal Cruises has signed an option agreement with the ship’s owner, the SS United States Conservancy, that its chief executive said could see the iconic vessel ferrying passengers to faraway ports as early as 2018, thus ending the liner’s two-decade docking in South Philadelphia.

The Washington-based conservancy had long sought to make the ship a floating hotel, museum and retail venue, a destination for tourists and ship lovers. But a new vision emerged after the conservancy issued a save-it-or-scrap-it deadline last fall, and a strong response came from Los-Angeles-based Crystal Cruises.

“It is our aspiration that the ship returns to the seas as America’s flagship one again,” Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez told about a hundred people at a news conference here.

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The project’s cost, if successful, was estimated at more than $700 million.

The option agreement runs nine months when the cruise line will conduct a feasibility study, including extensive checks and surveys of the vessel. There’s no certainty of restoration. If any one factor might sink the deal, Rodriguez said, it would be environmental issues.

The ship is contaminated with cancer-causing PCBs, often found in old paint and insulation. Also challenging, she said, is making a 1952 liner both mechanically modern and compliant with current safety regulations.

Rodriguez noted the undertaking was huge, difficult, and perhaps unprecedented, but pledged, “Failure is not an option. . . . We’re ever the optimists.”

The announcement – on a stage flanked by flags and flowers – was made here at an appropriately seafaring setting: Pier 88, on the Hudson River, with the aircraft carrier Intrepid standing just across the way. Conservancy members, ship enthusiasts, and other supporters greeted the news with applause.

“The SS United States is ready to make history again,” said Susan Gibbs, the conservancy’s executive director and the granddaughter of naval architect William Francis Gibbs, who designed the ship. “Full speed ahead!”

Crystal Cruises will pay the $60,000-a-month cost of docking and maintaining the ship during the feasibility study – a big benefit to the conservancy, which operates in a constant search for money. The cruise company will pay no additional fees for now. At the end of nine months, if the decision is to go forward, further negotiations over money would take place.

“Together, we beat the odds,” Gibbs told those gathered at the pier. “Together we refused to give up.”

The announcement marked the first time a developer has formally, publicly signed on to the project. For years, plans and hopes for the ship have risen and fallen like the tides. Even under favorable circumstances, restoration remains an extremely complicated and costly endeavor, composed of business plans overlaid with historic preservation.

The conservancy announced in November that it had raised $600,000 to prevent the vessel from being junked. That money would have bought the group about 10 more months to reach a deal.

Its leaders have suggested New York as the best location for the ship. Plans to potentially place the liner in Philadelphia or Chester never materialized.

In its day, the S.S. United States was an ocean queen, longer than the Titanic, serving as a trans-Atlantic liner making its way from New York to ports in Europe. It was built in Newport News, Va., with steel from the Lukens company in Coatesville.

It was both liner and secret weapon: If needed, the United States could quickly be turned into a troop ship able to transport 15,000 soldiers up to 10,000 miles without refueling. The ship’s 1952 maiden voyage shattered the trans-Atlantic speed record, which it still holds. But in the 1960s, plane travel made liners outmoded.

When the United States docked in Newport News for an annual overhaul in 1969, it was taken from service. The ship was moved to Norfolk, sold, resold, put up for auction, towed to Turkey and to Ukraine, and finally to South Philadelphia in 1996. Its furniture and interior were long since stripped.

It seemed destined for scrap when its owner, Norwegian Cruise Line, offered it for sale in 2009. The conservancy was offered the first chance to buy but lacked the money. The next year, Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, until recently the owner of The Inquirer, said he would donate up to $5.8 million.

Today it floats at Pier 82, looming over Ikea and the big-box stores in the shopping center across the boulevard. It was unclear where remediation and renovation of the ship would occur, if undertaken. Eventually the ship would likely have New York as its home port, conservancy officials said.

Crystal Cruises takes customers to places all over the world. Rodriguez said the SS United States, if restored, would display the glamour it exhibited at the height of its run.

“This was the way to travel,” Rodriguez said. “We aim to make her that way again.”

jgammage@phillynews.com

215-854-4906

@JeffGammage
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20160205_Report__Cruise_ship_company_in_deal_to_buy_SS_United_States.html#myyuIMwKpsUoh7EV.99

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Disney Cruise Lines has changed it’s policy about bringing alcohol on board their ships. It used to be that you could pretty much bring whatever you wanted on board and they didn’t seem to mind. Disney-Cruise-LineThe new policy takes effect on September 30th, 2015. Taken from the Disney website, this is the new policy that passengers need to be aware of:

ALCOHOL POLICY

Effective for cruises embarking on or after September 30, 2015, each Guest 21 years and older may bring two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (no larger than 750ml) or six beers (no larger than 12oz) onboard in carry-on luggage at the beginning of the voyage and at each port-of-call. All wine/champagne and beer brought onboard must be packed in the Guest’s carry-on luggage. Any alcohol packed in checked luggage will be removed and stored until the completion of the cruise. Guests are not allowed to bring liquors or spirits (including powdered alcohol) onboard.

Almost all of the other cruise lines have similar policies in place now about bring alcohol on board, but these days you are able to purchase beverage packages to include unlimited beverages. Some cruise lines are currently offering pricing packages that includes unlimited beverages, gratuities, on board credit, and unlimited wi-fi.

Call The Cruise Experts at (469) CRUISES or (469) 278-4737 for details on all cruise lines, and remember “You Won’t Save a Dime If You Book Online”Blog signature post

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Majesty-of-the-Seas,Free-In

Royal Caribbean International won’t retire Majesty of the Seas from its fleet in 2016 after all.

Instead, the cruise line plans to upgrade its oldest ship with new entertainment and dining options and move it from Miami to Port Canaveral for three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas.

Starting in May, passengers sailing on the revamped 2,767-passenger cruise ship also will get free and unlimited access to its high-speed Internet service Voom, Royal Caribbean said.

Voom is already available to passengers sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class and Quantum-class ships at a cost of $15 daily per device, but it will be offered free for the first time to cruisers aboard Majesty of the Seas next summer.

Other new features to be added include multiple waterslides, an enhanced casino, new Izumi Japanese and Sabor Taqueria Mexican eateries and the Chef’s Table, an exclusive restaurant hosted by the ship’s executive chef and Sommelier.

Entertainment additions will include Jacuzzis, a poolside movie screen and the Dreamworks Experience, which offers activities and entertainment with Shrek, Fiona and other characters from the animation studio’s popular movies.

“We are stepping up our game,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

Consumers can now book cruises for the ship’s inaugural Port Canaveral season, which will begin May 27, 2016.

Last November, Royal Caribbean announced that it would transfer Majesty of the Seas to Spanish cruise line Pullmantur Cruises, which is owned by its parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The ship is the last of Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign-class vehicles. Two others — Sovereign of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas — were previously transferred to Pullmantur.

The 74,077-ton Majesty of the Seas sailed its maiden voyage April 26, 1992, and was built at Chantiers de L’Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, Royal Caribbean said.

Enchantment of the Seas will replace Majesty of the Seas at PortMiami and will sail on short Caribbean itineraries, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said Thursday.

Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel

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Carnival CruisCarnivalMagic2-300x178wphone Line will build upon its leadership position in Port Canaveral, Fla., expanding capacity on three- and four-day Bahamas cruises by 34 percent and deploying its newest class of ship on seven-day Caribbean voyages in 2016.

Carnival will enhance its short Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral with Carnival Victory replacing Carnival Sensation on this popular route in February 2016. The move not only increases capacity on the three- and four-day cruises but also provides guests with a greater variety of on-board features and amenities, including more than 500 balcony staterooms aboard Carnival Victory.

Additionally, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itineraries, providing consumers with exciting new week-long cruise vacation choices from Central Florida.   Carnival Magic is part of the line’s newest class of ship and offers such features as a WaterWorks aqua park, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and SportSquare outdoor recreation area.

In turn, Carnival Sensation, which boasts WaterWorks, Serenity adults-only retreat and numerous other features, will shift to Miami in February 2016 to operate the line’s attractive and convenient year-round four- and five-day cruise schedule.

“We are significantly ‘upping our game’ in Port Canaveral with the addition of these great new ships to the important and growing Central Florida market,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “When these ships join the spectacular Carnival Sunshine, this dynamic trio of ‘Fun Ships’ will offer our guests and valued travel agent partners the widest array of attractive and convenient cruising options from the Space Coast,” she added.

Expanded Capacity on Short Cruises from the Space Coast

Carnival Victory, currently based in Miami, will reposition to Port Canaveral to launch a schedule of three- and four-day cruises beginning Feb. 25, 2016, dramatically expanding the line’s capacity on this program. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau, while four-day cruises depart Sundays and call at both Nassau and Freeport.

In addition to providing a newer, larger ship on short cruises from Central Florida, Carnival Victory boasts a variety of on-board features, including a 14,500-square-foot spa, four swimming pools – one with a 214-foot-long water slide – along with 18 lounges and bars whose stunning interiors are inspired by the world’s most famous bodies of water.

During their time in the Bahamas, guests can relax on gorgeous white-sand beaches, enjoy numerous shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities and partake in a wide range of watersports, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking, parasailing and deep-sea fishing.

In October 2016, Carnival Valor — currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in March 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations — will take over Carnival Victory’s three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Central Florida on a year-round basis. Carnival Valor will be the only ship operating three- and four-day cruises to offer the line’s highly acclaimed Fun Ship 2.0 features. Carnival Victory will subsequently move to another homeport.

Exciting New Seven-Day Choices from Port Canaveral

Carnival Magic will kick off its Port Canaveral-based program with a special eight-day cruise departing Dec. 9, 2016, and featuring St. Thomas, San Juan, Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), and Grand Turk.  The ship will then launch year-round seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral Dec. 17, 2016, offering two distinctly different week-long itineraries – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Carnival Magic features a wide variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 312-foot-long Twister water slide, the DrainPipe funnel-style water slide and a 300-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, along with an expansive SportSquare outdoor recreation area highlighted by a suspended ropes course with breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, and a Caribbean-inspired watering hole called RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Magic will join Carnival Sunshine which offers seasonal five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from Port Canaveral and is the only ship in the Carnival fleet to offer all of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, along with unique features like the Speedway Splash water attraction, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and the Latin-infused Havana Bar.

Special 12-Day Carnival Journeys Cruise on Carnival Magic

In preparation for its Space Coast debut, Carnival Magic will offer a special 12-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing Galveston Nov. 27 and arriving in Port Canaveral on Dec. 9, 2016.  Featured ports will include Cozumel; Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; Aruba, and Grand Turk.  Carnival Journeys is a unique collection of nine- to 15-day voyages featuring exotic, less visited ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Hawaii and offering a number of exclusive on-board experiences and activities.

Carnival Sensation’s New Miami-Based Short Cruise Program

Carnival Sensation will reposition from Port Canaveral to Miami to offer year-round four- and five-day cruises featuring top ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, The Bahamas, and Florida beginning Feb. 25, 2016.  On Carnival Sensation’s new Miami-based schedule, four-day cruises depart Thursdays visiting Key West and Cozumel or the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays featuring some of the top ports throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas, including Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Amber Cove, Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

Additional Information and Reservations

These new itineraries from Port Canaveral and Miami are currently open for reservations.

Best of Orlando 2014 Award

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The biggest cruise ships in the world are getting a bigger sister next year, and Royal Caribbean has given her a name, Harmony of the Seas.

“We are orchestrating a medley of new exciting concepts with the best Royal Caribbean innovations to strike the perfect chord for adventurous vacationers. That is why we are calling our third Oasis-class ship Harmony of the Seas,” said Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley.

The Harmony of the Seas will be just slightly larger than the line’s two other Oasis-class ships, the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, which both sail out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Harmony will be 227,000 gross registered tons, which is 1,718 tons larger than the two earlier vessels. The line says the ship will hold 5,479 passengers at double occupancy in 2,747 staterooms, which is 41 more staterooms than either older ship.

Currently under construction at the STX France shipyards in Saint Nazaire, France, just where the 16-deck vessel will debut in April 2016 will be revealed in March, as will the home port of Royal Caribbean’s third Quantum-class ship under construction, the Ovation of the Seas, which is also due in April 2016.

Fort Lauderdale was originally named the home port for the line’s newest ship coming to market, the Anthem of the Seas, coming this April. That ship recently got its first taste of water at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg, Germany. But with the growing market in China, Royal Caribbean changed itineraries to send Quantum of the Seas, which debuted last fall, to sail 3-to 5-night cruises from a variety of Asian ports, which caused a shuffle that will send Anthem of the Seas to Cape Liberty to serve the New York market.

“South Florida specifically as being the No. 1 cruise sourcing in the market, it only behooves any cruise company to have their latest greatest ship sailing from South Florida,” said Stewart Chiron, known at the Cruise Guy.

Whether that means Miami or Port Everglades will get either of Royal Caribbean’s ships due in 2016 remains to be seen.

As far as Harmony of the Seas goes, it will be similar to the lines Oasis-class ships with features like Central Park, which has real trees and grass in the middle of the ship. What’s new on Harmony, though, will be three water slide that will hang out over Central Park 10 decks below. One of those slide will feature a bowl feature that lets riders swirl around before sliding out a hole in the middle before exiting the ride.

The line often takes concepts from its newer ships to roll out in new designs, as well as retrofit older ships when they go into drydock. That notion means there will be more robot bartenders at sea as the Bionic Bar, which debuted on Quantum of the Seas, will also be aboard the Harmony.

As far as accommodations, virtual balconies will be installed in inside staterooms offering an ocean view of sorts, while single cruisers will have studio options. Those ponying up for suites will get more exclusive areas including a private lounge, sun deck and their own restaurant called Coastal Kitchen.

The line announced some specialty restaurants aboard including Izumi Hibachi & Sushi and Sabor Modern Mexican as well as Wonderland Imaginative Cuisine, a new concept that promises a culinary adventure for the senses in a whimsical setting.

“The Oasis class ships continue to astound and delight both new and experienced cruisers. They shatter preconceived notions of what cruising can be and continue to stand in a category by themselves,” said Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain. “With Harmony of the Seas, we are making the most exciting experience at sea even better.”

os-harmony-of-the-seas-waterslide-jpg-20150225This rendering shows the three multi-story waterslides planned for theRoyal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas, suspended above the ship’sCentral Park 10 decks below. (Handout, Royal Caribbean International)

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14041346_WAVE2015_Consumer_FlyerBook between now and December 31st, 2014 to get:

  • 50% off the Second Passenger
  • $300 On Board Credit (up to)
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Take advantage of these special offers now and plan ahead for next year or beyond. Take the time to make payments and take the stress out of having to pay for your dream vacation. We are here to help. No Fees to Book and we have the best prices anywhere.

Call The Cruise Experts: (866) 202-6343

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There is a ship that provides blazing fast connectivity at sea to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine. A ship that lets its guests download streaming music and videos from the cloud, Netflix, Hulu and more at speeds equal to those on land. A ship that lets you play Xbox Live with other gamers anywhere around the world. A ship where technology is there at every turn to make the guest experience richer than ever before. This isn’t a ship- it’s a Smartship. This is Quantum of the Seas SM. This changes everything.

Quantum smart ship

 

SMART

CONCIERGE

Via wearable and portable technology you can book shore excursions, make dinner reservations and more anywhere onboard the ship.

SMART

CONNECT

Blazing internet connectivity speeds let you post to Facebook, Tweet, stream Netflix, play Xbox Live with gamers worldwide and more.

SMART

EXPERIENCES

You’ll experience never before seen wonders at sea like Two70°SM featuring dancing robotic screens; virtual balconies; smart art and our Bionic Bar.

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