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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

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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.

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RegalAtSeaSMALL[1]New Ship Welcomes Guests on Maiden Mediterranean Cruise

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (May 20, 2014) – The newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet, Regal Princess, arrived in Venice today to welcome guests on the maiden voyage. Sister ship to the acclaimed Royal Princess, her seven-day inaugural cruise includes stops in Corfu, Mykonos and an overnight call in Istanbul.

“We’re absolutely delighted to welcome another addition to the Princess family with Regal Princess,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “This new ship now expands our fleet to 18 vessels that visit worldwide destinations, and guests traveling aboard Regal Princess will truly have a special experience while enjoying her exciting features including the showpiece atrium, exceptional dining, relaxing Lotus Spa and innovative features like the over-water SeaWalk.”

Throughout the summer, the new ship will sail on Princess’ signature Grand Mediterranean cruises, with two itinerary choices. Regal Princess will debut in North America in November, when the traditional naming ceremony will take place, followed by a season of Eastern Caribbean cruises.

Regal Princess, a sister cruise ship to Royal Princess, will offer its 3,560 guests a variety of enticing features, including:

The SeaWalk – The ship’s most distinguishing design element is an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship’s starboard side extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here guests can enjoy dramatic views, including to the sea 128 feet below.

Dramatic Atrium – The social hub of the ship, the soaring atrium offers a vibrant collection of always-changing quick bites and light meals, beverages, entertainment, shopping and guest services. Features such as Bellini’s Italian cocktail bar, Ocean Terrace seafood bar, and a gelateria add to the Piazza’s lively atmosphere.

Chef’s Table Lumiere – Princess has set a new standard for the chef’s table experience with the Chef’s Table Lumiere in which guests will be magically surrounded by a curtain of light – providing a soft wall of privacy that envelopes diners as they savor the chef’s special menu.

Princess® WaterColor Fantasy – The ship’s central pool area features daily and nightly performances of four separate themed sequences comprised of dancing fountains, special music and live performers. The Movies Under the Stars screen is also incorporated as an additional show element.

Princess Live! – The ship’s television studio features programming throughout the day from 8 am until midnight. Guests can enjoy live talk shows, demonstrations and performers here, including the daily Wake Show.

Super Tuscan Wines – More than 20 choices of these headline-making wines from Tuscany are available in Sabatini’s. Ranging from recognizable Super Tuscans such as Masseto, Solaia or Tignanello to some lesser known vintages such as Castello del Terricio ‘Cappuanino’ or Il Bruciato Bolgheri, these wines are featured by the bottle and in a Sabatini’s Super Tuscan Wine Tasting event, where guests can enjoy the rare opportunity to sample the wines accompanied by delicious small plates from the Italian restaurant.

Horizon Bistro Pastry Shop – At the Horizon Court’s dedicated pastry shop guests can indulge in fresh-baked goodies throughout the day and even get to see Princess’ pastry chefs in action as they demonstrate their skills in chocolate work and cake decorating.

Private Cabanas – Private cabana options give guests the opportunity to personalize their relaxation time, with elegant cabanas in The Sanctuary and poolside cabanas at the Retreat Pool. Cabana guests looking for a gourmet treat can order one of the ship’s new cabana picnic baskets, packed with artisan edibles paired with a premium wine.

Two new features of Regal Princess include an additional aft pool and access to the exterior promenade on deck 7, enabling passengers to walk the length of the ship.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through The Cruise Experts at (866) 968-2789 or by visiting www.TheCruiseXperts.com  For a PDF to see all the amazing features of this newest ship click on Regal_Princess.pdf

 

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Oasis

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that it has agreed with STX France to move forward on the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship for delivery in 2018. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard D. Fain and President and Chief Operating Officer Adam Goldstein, along with STX France Chief Executive Officer Laurent Castaing, announced the planned ship order at the keel-laying ceremony for the third Oasis-class ship at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

“The Oasis Class was a revolution in maritime design when it was launched in 2009. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas continue to be in a class by themselves both in terms of guest satisfaction and financial returns. Today’s announcement is a reflection of their success,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are thrilled to announce the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship during the keel-laying milestone of the third. This announcement is also a testament to the men and women of STX France who have worked so hard and so cooperatively on Oasis III.”

The order is subject to documentation and satisfaction of financing and other customary conditions. Projected capital expenditures for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 are $1.4 billion, $1.4 billion, $2.2 billion, $0.3 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, taking into account this order and existing ship orders.

Known for pushing the boundaries and as part of the cruise line’s continuous improvement mantra, Oasis III will be approximately 20 percent more energy efficient than Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas,  which already are the most energy efficient cruise ships in the world. The fourth Oasis-class ship will further build on that efficiency.

“We are very excited that Royal Caribbean has agreed to move forward with a fourth Oasis-class ship demonstrating their confidence in STX France to construct the most superior cruise ships in the world,” said Laurent Castaing, Chief Executive Officer, STX France. “We look forward to advancing the efficiencies of our ship building process to produce the most innovative ships that vacationers have come to expect from Royal Caribbean.”

The keel laying of the third Oasis-class ship marks an important milestone in the development of the ship, as it signifies the beginning of its physical construction. During the ceremony, a 1,000-ton block measuring 32-ft by 154-ft (10 x 47 meters) was lifted by crane into the building dock. Newly minted coins were placed under the keel and will stay in place there until the end of the ship’s construction. Once the ship is near to completion, the coins are retrieved and presented to the ship’s Captain and crew to be placed onboard the ship. According to maritime tradition, the coins are said to bring luck to the ship during its construction process and then to its Captain and crew when she is sailing out at sea. Still to be named, the third Oasis-class ship will be delivered in spring 2016.

The third and fourth Oasis-class ships will join Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas – which took the cruise industry by storm with their launch in 2009 and 2010, respectively – and share the title of the largest ships in the world. They feature a revolutionary design with a split superstructure and the cruise line’s neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas. At 225,282 gross registered tons and spanning 16 decks with 2,700 staterooms, the Oasis-class ships also introduced extraordinary “firsts” at sea such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a handcrafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the AquaTheater high-diving performance venue, and the Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants. The Oasis Class also offers amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean, such as twin FlowRider surf simulators, cantilevered whirlpools, an ice-skating rink, the H2O Zone kids aquapark, and the Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that stretches nearly the length of the ship and flanked by restaurants, lounges and boutiques, among many others.

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Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that its two new Breakaway Plus class ships will be the first new builds in the cruise industry to feature innovative scrubber technology developed by Green Tech Marine (GTM), a world leading marine scrubber supplier.

Green Tech Marine will provide five scrubbers per ship for the engines which range from 14.4 to 16.8 megawatts. This installation will be the largest scrubber plant in the world with a total engine power of 76.8 megawatts.

“Norwegian Cruise Line has a history of innovation along with a commitment to utilizing green technology whenever possible,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Installing scrubbers from Green Tech Marine on our new Breakaway Plus vessels is a smart decision and one that will ensure these ships are as eco-friendly as possible.”

GTM has previously delivered scrubbers to Norwegian’s Pride of America which sails year-round in Hawaii. The scrubbers were installed during the ship’s dry dock refurbishment in March and are scheduled to be fully operational later this year.

The two new Breakaway Plus vessels will be built by MEYER WERFT GMBH in Germany and delivered to the fleet in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

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Viking Star

 

 

Until last night we knew very little about Viking River Cruises navigating into the waters of ocean cruising. We knew they were dabbling in the market of ocean cruising but it was very vague. At an event in Los Angeles, Viking River Cruises announced their new line Viking Ocean Cruises, the first ocean-going line in nearly a decade. The new line will introduce two brand new ships in May 2015 and 2016, with an option for four more.

The first ship, Viking Star (photo right), will be built at Fincantieri shipyard in Venice, Italy. The steel cutting ceremony for Viking Star will be held in June and the first cruise is scheduled for May 2015 in Northern Europe.

The new 928-guest ship on order will tout all veranda suites, three-deck atrium, two-deck lounge above the bridge, multiple inside and open air dining options, piano lounge, onboard cooking school and a theater for nightly entertainment.

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 I guess you could say one of Norwegian’s latest new builds, Norwegian Breakaway, is taking a bow, as the vessel got her new front end yesterday in a German shipyard. The bow, known as block 73, weighed 361 tons, measured 72 feet long, 101 feet wide and over 39 feet high was lowered into place early Wednesday morning (photo left).

“Placing the bow is a very symbolic and momentous step in the building of Norwegian Breakaway,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Meyer Werft is doing an incredible job of constructing our most groundbreaking ship to date in record time.”

When the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway enters service in April 2013 she’ll homeport in New York, offering guests seven-night Bermuda sailings in the summer and Florida/Bahamas sailings in the winter.

The line also announced plans to build a new ship yesterday, coined “Breakaway Plus,” the lines largest ship to date. Details to follow later.

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visit us at www.TheCruiseXperts.comto see all of the choices that are available for your next cruise vacation. Remember to call after you find what you are interested in because we may be able to find a better fare code and save you even more!

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