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Greetings to the many thousands of readers the past month from across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as well as Russia, France, Germany, Japan, China, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam and Australia.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cunard history: Anniversary of the signing of contract for QE2 50 years ago




30 December 2014 – 50 years ago on 30 December 1964, the contract for what was to become Queen Elizabeth 2 was signed. Of the 248 ships that have flown the Cunard flag since Britannia in 1840, QE2, as she was to become universally known, is one of the most significant ships Cunard has built.
 
Q4 under construction in August 1967 - a month before her launch.

At the end of August 1964 Cunard was in a position to invite tenders for Q4 – the widely-used codename for the new ship. The use of ‘Q4’ hinted that the new Cunarder was to be the fourth Queen ship that the company had built and meant that Queen Mary was now ‘Q1’ and Queen Elizabeth was ‘Q2’. ‘Q3’ never left the drawing board and it was the plans for that ship which were re-worked into ‘Q4’.

Technically ‘Q4’ should have been ‘Q5’ as the first Cunard Queen was Berengaria when Imperator was renamed.

The firms invited to tender for Q4 were John Brown and Co., Clydebank; Cammell Laird and Co., Birkenhead; the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Glasgow; Harland and Wolf, Belfast; Swan, Hinter and Wigham Richardson, Wallsend-on-Tyne would combine with Vickers Armstrong, Wallsend.

Cruise into the New Year with special onboard offers from Norwegian

Book a new cruise vacation on the first two days of the New Year and receive $100 in onboard credit on select sailings
  Norwegian Cruise Line is helping guests ring in the New Year with a limited time offer in celebration of the start to 2015.

For two days only, guests who book a new cruise vacation on Thursday, January 1 and Friday, January 2, 2015, on select sailings of Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway or Pride of America will receive $100 in onboard credit.

Onboard credit can be used towards a wide variety of activities and amenities, from thrilling shore excursions to indulgent spa treatments, gifts on board, specialty dining and handcrafted cocktails, and much more.

Original cast of “The Love Boat” reunites to decorate Princess Cruises’ Rose Parade float


Princess Cruises Makes Its Debut at the 126th Rose Parade to
Kick Off 50th Anniversary Celebration

Co-anchor of “Today” Al Roker, along with the cast of “The Love Boat,” sing the show’s theme song in front of  Princess Cruises’ Rose Parade float. Pictured with Roker, from left from right: Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Bernie Kopell,  Gavin MacLeod, Lauren Tewes and Jill Whelan.
 SANTA CLARITA, CA (December 30, 2014) – The original cast of “The Love Boat” gathered to decorate Princess Cruises’ Rose Parade float today, as well as participate in a myriad of national and local media interviews which celebrated the reunion of this beloved cast.

Princess Cruises, one of the most famous names in cruise vacations, is widely known for its starring role in one of television’s most iconic shows, “The Love Boat.” Their float in the Rose Parade launches Princess’ 50th anniversary year and pays tribute to the light-hearted TV show which played such an integral role in the cruise line’s early history.

The original cast of “The Love Boat” will ride on the float, which comes on the heels of this ensemble christening Princess’ newest cruise ship Regal Princess to kick off the company’s golden anniversary year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Celebrity Cruises reveals 2016-2017 Caribbean cruise vacations

Launching overnights, double overnights and a new Mardi Gras Signature Event Sailing

MIAMI, FL –Earlier than ever before, Celebrity Cruises has revealed its new lineup of cruise vacations in the Caribbean. Celebrity's Captain's Club members have the first opportunity to choose and book from more than 100 modern luxury getaways that set sail October 2016 - April 2017.
 
The premium brand's season offers vacationers visits to 31 destinations in paradise onboard seven award-winning Celebrity ships guests know and love - Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Silhouette. Guests now can immerse themselves in the Caribbean with the exciting introduction of overnights and double overnights and experience the vibrant nightlife in Aruba, Barbados and Curacao. 
 
Celebrity also has unveiled its first-ever Mardi Gras and Caribbean Signature Event Sailing. Guests can celebrate the city's iconic event of the season - Mardi Gras - as part of an 11-night sailing to George Town, Grand Cayman; Puerto Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and New Orleans.

Princess Cruises announces winner of 50th anniversary “Inspiring Stories” contest


Winners Will Ride on Princess’ Rose Parade® Float on New Year’s Day

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Out of nearly 1,000 entries submitted in Princess Cruises’ 50th Anniversary “Inspiring Stories” essay contest in which past guests were asked to share an inspirational experience that occurred on a Princess cruise vacation for the opportunity to ride on the line’s Rose Parade float on January 1, the story of a World War II veteran’s Memorial Day return to the South Pacific has been selected as the grand-prize winner.
“Inspiring Stories” contest grand-prize winners Paula and Nathan Abbott, pictured above in Hiroshima,
will ride aboard Princess Cruises’ Rose Parade float on January 1.
The story was submitted by Paula Abbott, whose husband Nathan served as a US Navy Radarman 2/C in the Pacific Theater (1943-45).

One of only seven survivors of the USS Monaghan which went down with two other ships during a typhoon off of the Philippines in 1944, the veteran of the Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions had long desired to return to the islands where he had served. In 2004, a Princess cruise to the Islands of the Pacific Theater of War allowed him to fulfill that wish, and he was able to share important memories with other WWII veterans. The 91-year-old Bronze Star recipient resides in Whittier, Calif.

Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 named Best Luxury Cruise Ship

Travel Weekly 2014 Readers Choice Awards


19 December 2014 – For the 11th consecutive year, Travel Weekly readers have named Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 as “Best Luxury Cruise Ship” in the prestigious trade magazine’s 2014 Readers Choice Awards.

“It is indeed a high compliment for Cunard and Queen Mary 2 to be recognized year after year by Travel Weekly’s readers as the best luxury ship in the world,” said Richard Meadows, president of Cunard Line North America.  “We are especially thrilled for Queen Mary 2, as it is a wonderful way to conclude her 10th anniversary year in 2014.”

Cunard Line’s iconic Transatlantic Crossing has appealed to a broad range of sophisticated travellers with a love of glamour, elegance and tradition for nearly 175 years. Each Crossing aboard Queen Mary 2 features a series of Royal Nights themed balls on the largest dance floor at sea in the Queens Room, and the Royal Court Theatre presents West End-style musical revues and guest performers.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Two Canadians favorites in the semi-finals for Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Championship Cruise

***Update***

Brenton Mitchell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, representing ms Nieuw Amsterdam, danced his way to victory on Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champions' Cruise aboard ms Westerdam in the Caribbean.

After a few missteps while doing the samba, Ian Alldritt of Ottawa (Nepean), representing ms Zuiderdam, finished second.


The opening dance at the semi-final competition of Dancing with the Stars: At Sea. (Jim Fox photo)
   By Jim Fox
   AT SEA IN THE CARIBBEAN — Two Canadians are the judge and fan favorites after the semi-final competition at Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champions Cruise aboard ms Westerdam in the Caribbean.

   Ian Alldritt of Ottawa (Nepean), representing ms Zuiderdam, and Brenton Mitchell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, representing ms Nieuw Amsterdam, wooed the judges who gave them perfect scores of 30 in the semi-finals – and they continue to be the onboard fan favorites.

   A third Canadian – Caroline Chan of Vancouver, British Columbia – representing ms Zaandam, was eliminated heading into the semi-finals from the original field of 15 contestants representing one of the 15 ships in Holland America Line’s fleet.

  They were selected via the onboard “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” dance competitions held throughout the past year on every sailing.
 
   Ian Alldritt of Ottawa (Nepean) danced up a storm in the semi-finals (Barbara Fox photo)
   The 15 guests and their professional shipboard dance partners are performing and competing in the main show lounge for guests, as well as dance pros and celebrities from the hit ABC television show “Dancing with the Stars,” who are onboard the Champions Cruise.

   The winning couple will receive the coveted Holland America Line “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea Mirrorball Trophy” and title of Holland America Line’s “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” Champion.

   “The talent we’ve seen this year during the ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ guest competitions has been incredible and the Champions Cruise is going to be a week filled with intense and exciting competitions,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest programs.

   “The Champions Cruise is the perfect finale that allows us to showcase the hard work and dedication of everyone involved with the ‘Dancing with the Stars: At Sea’ program over the past year, and we look forward to crowning the next champion.”
Brenton Mitchell of Halifax, Nova Scotia, did a flawless Foxtrot in the semi-finals. (Barbara Fox photo)
   The other semi-finalists who competed were: Kelly Cooper of Concord, Calif., representing ms Oosterdam; Frances Manzo of Woodlands, Texas, representing ms Volendam; Matthew McGloin of New York, N.Y., representing ms Eurodam; and Ritchie Valenzuela of San Diego, Calif., representing ms Westerdam.

   The three semi-finalists who will advance to the final competitions will be announced on Friday (Dec. 12).

   The other dancers eliminated so far were:
·         Simona Tsives of San Carlos, Calif., representing ms Amsterdam.
·         Elaine Jordan of Meeker, Colo., representing ms Maasdam.
·         Maurice Van Melick of Arnhem, Netherlands, representing ms Noordam.
·         Jacoba Wendrich of Barendrecht, Netherlands, representing ms Prinsendam.
·         Jamie Freedman of Boca Raton, Fla., representing ms Rotterdam.
·         Marie Liza Rodriguez of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, representing ms Ryndam.
·         LeeAnn Valero of Bulingbrook, Ill., representing ms Statendam.
·         Summer Knowlden of Lehi, Utah, representing ms Veendam.

   Joining the Champions Cruise to perform in a special production show were two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champion Kym Johnson and pro dancers Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev. Celebrities set to perform include actress Sabrina Bryan and television personality Carson Kressley.

   The “Dancing with the Stars” talent dazzled the audience with dance numbers from the television series performed in the main show lounge. Additional events on the cruise include a special fashion show featuring the glamorous show costumes and a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, ask questions and take photos with them.

   The Champions Cruise visits the eastern Caribbean sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with calls at Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private island in the Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

   Holland America Line’s partnership with “Dancing with the Stars” features the shipboard program through the 2015-16 sailing season, culminating with another Champions Cruise guest dance-off competition on the Jan. 10, 2016, western Caribbean sailing of ms Westerdam.

   The 2015 schedule also will continue to feature “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” programming on every cruise throughout the year, in addition to six special “Dancing with the Stars” theme cruises featuring the show’s professional dancers and celebrities. Celebrities and professional dancers for 2015-16 will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information about the “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” theme cruises, consult a professional travel seller, call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (1-877-724-5425) or visit www.hollandamerica.com or the Plan a Cruise tab at www.Facebook.com/HALcruises.


Find Holland America Line on Twitter, Facebook and the Holland America Blog. Access all social media outlets via the Online Communities quick link on the home page at www.hollandamerica.com.

About Holland America Line [a division of Carnival Corporation and plc (NYSE: CCL and CUK)]
Holland America Line’s fleet of 15 ships offers more than 500 cruises to 415 ports in 98 countries, territories or dependencies. One- to 110-day itineraries visit all seven continents and highlights include Antarctica, South America, Australia/New Zealand and Asia voyages; four annual Grand World Voyage; and popular sailings to ports in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Canada/New England, Europe and Panama Canal. The line currently has a new ship on order from Fincantieri shipyard for delivery in February 2016.

Fleetwide, the company features Signature of Excellence enhancements, a commitment totaling more than $500 million, that showcase the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine — a state-of-the-art onboard show kitchen where more than 60 celebrated guest chefs and culinary experts provide cooking demonstrations and classes — Explorations Café powered by The New York Times, Digital Workshop powered by Windows, teens-only activity areas and all new stateroom amenities highlighted by flat-panel TVs and plush Euro-top Mariner’s Dream Beds. 

World's Leading Cruise Lines
Holland America Line is a proud member of World's Leading Cruise Lines. Our exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World’s Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at
www.worldsleadingcruiselines.com.