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Port Canaveral News
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Host of Upgrades for Disney Magic, just out of dry dock.

(September 25, 2008) An exciting collection of enhancements is now in place on the Disney Magic as the ship returns from dry dock. The 2,700 passenger cruise ship received a series of upgrades from Sept 6 - 24, 2008.


Here is a glimpse at what's new onboard the Disney Magic:
Indulgence and Relaxation
Quiet Cove, the serene pool retreat reserved for the enjoyment of adults, received a makeover including upgrades to Cove Café, the pool and the deck area. Cove Café, the ship’s sophisticated coffee lounge, now features a new seating area with plush, comfortable chairs providing the perfect venue to relax while sipping a cup of gourmet coffee. Meanwhile, the adult pool was outfitted with soothing, cascading waterfalls from the two hot tubs. Teak deck and lounge chairs with plush cushions line the pool, creating an inviting, stylish ambiance in line with the Vista Spa and Salon.

Fun for the Little Ones
The Oceaneer Club, a Neverland-themed play space for 3-7 year olds, and the Oceaneer Lab, a whacky and interactive laboratory exclusively for 8-12 year olds, were enhanced with new registration areas that make the check-in process more efficient and hassle-free. This sets the stage for incorporating Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in the youth activity areas later this year, which will further enhance and streamline the check-in process. The technology uses RFID tags embedded on wristbands, allowing children to simply tap a sensor to check in and out of the clubs.
Even the youngest cruisers now have a splashtacular time in “Mickey’s Splash Zone,” a new toddler water playground inspired by Fantasia’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This 385-square-foot extension to the Mickey Pool on deck 9 features star- and moon-shaped interactive fountains, a soft play surface and whimsical splash zones; creating an inviting environment for children not yet toilet trained and in swim diapers.

New Conveniences
The guest staterooms onboard the Disney Magic received an infusion of technology with the installation of flat-screen LCD television sets. The new 22-inch units are mounted on a swivel arm to allow easy viewing from multiple locations within the stateroom.
A leader in the family cruise segment, Disney Cruise Line offers three-, four- and seven-night itineraries to The Bahamas and the Caribbean. Land/sea vacation packages that include a stay at the Walt Disney World Resort are also available.

Carnival Bring Largest Ship to Port Canaveral

MIAMI (April 23, 2008) – Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that the new 130,000-ton Carnival Dream – the largest “Fun Ship” ever constructed – will be based at Port Canaveral, Fla., beginning in fall 2009.  Details on the ship’s itinerary will be provided at a later date.

        Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, the 3,652-passenger Carnival Dream is the first in a new class of ship for the line with a unique interior design, sleek hull and distinctive profile, along with a host of innovative facilities and features which will be released in the coming months.

        The deployment of the Carnival Dream to Port Canaveral continues the line’s 18-year relationship with the Canaveral Port Authority, the longest tenure of any cruise line there.

        In addition to the Carnival Dream, the line has two other “Fun Ships” scheduled to enter service – the 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor, set to debut in Europe July 2, 2008, and the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic, slated for delivery in June 2011.

Megaships Coming To Port Canaveral

Disney Cruise Line has agreed to make Port Canaveral home for both of the newest super liner cruise ships in its fleet beginning in 2011, FLORIDA TODAY has learned.

In addition, Royal Caribbean International has signed a letter of intent to bring its Freedom of the Seas to be home-ported at Port Canaveral in 2009.

The deals are the culmination of a year of negotiations.

In 2011 and 2012, Disney will put both of its mega-size 4,000-passenger ships at Port Canaveral in a deal in which the cruise line will pick up the $22 million cost for improvements to its land-side terminal at the port and construction of a new parking garage.

Under terms of the 15-year deal, the ships will remain at Port Canaveral at least until 2014, at which time Disney has the option to move the ships. At least two of the four Disney ships will remain at Port Canaveral for the duration of the contract.

“This is the most exciting development,” said Stan Payne, chief executive officer of Canaveral Port Authority. “The trend in the cruise industry is to put the bigger ships at the strongest ports in the country, and for Disney to put both of its newest ships here is a big statement.”

With Royal Caribbean, the deal to bring Freedom of the Seas to Port Canaveral in 2009 was critical to replace the Mariner of the Seas, which leaves for Los Angeles that year.

The five-year deal, which includes two one-year contract extensions, is the longest term of any contract the port has had with Royal Caribbean. It took a year to work out the Disney deal, because of issues related to the overall deal, particularly including financing the terminal construction, which needs to be completed by October of 2010.

In February 2007, Disney announced the deal with Germany’s Meyer Werft Shipyards to build the two 122,000-ton ships.

Two gambling ships shut down at port


SunCruz. The Coast Guard said it found 24 safety deficiencies during an inspection of SunCruz Casinos’ gambling ship, four of which it classified as “major.” FLORIDA TODAY file photo

The U.S. Coast Guard late Tuesday shut down both gambling ships that operate from Port Canaveral -- one for alleged safety violations, the other for problems with documentation.

The Coast Guard found 24 safety deficiencies during an annual inspection of SunCruz Casinos' Surfside Princess, four of which marine inspectors classified as "major," according to Petty Officer 1st Class Donnie Brzuska, a Coast Guard spokesman,

The major violations included a 20- to-50-gallon-per-minute leak in the ship's main engine coolant system; a leak in the ship's fire main that was running on an electrical panel; an inoperable fire pump; and discrepancies with the vessel's fire screen doors.

Separately, the Coast Guard ordered Sterling's Ambassador II to leave Port Canaveral because it did not have required documentation.

Sterling Casino Lines representatives said a scheduled Tuesday evening gambling cruise was canceled, and it was uncertain when the Bahamian-flagged ship would resume operations. They declined additional comment.

Petty Officer 1st Class Donnie Brzuska, a Coast Guard spokesman, said a new entity that manages the vessel did not have what’s known as a “certificate of financial responsibility” for the ship.

The certificate guarantees it has money set aside to fixed damage cause by an accident or pollution discharge.

Brzuska said the amount of money varies, depending on the ship’s size and type of operation. He did not have specific information on what the amount would be for Ambassador II.

Brzuska said the Coast Guard issued a “captain of the port order” against the Ambassador II, ordering it out of all U.S. waterways and ports.

All foreign-flagged vessels are required to have a certificate of financial responsibility in order to operate in U.S. waters. A certificate of responsibility helps to ensure that the operating vessel has financial responsibility in case of pollution or accident involving the vessel.

The Ambassador II will not be allowed to re-enter U.S. ports or waterways until it has acquired a valid certificate of financial responsibility, Brzuska said.

The Coast Guard had a marine inspector at Port Canaveral issue the order to ship representatives when the Ambassador II returned to the port at 4:30 p.m. from a daytime cruise. The inspector said the ship had to let its passengers off, then leave U.S. waters.

The vessel recently switched management from International Shipping Partners to Sterling Shipping, and did not update its certificate of responsibility after the switch, Brzuska said.

The eight-year-old Sterling ship has a capacity of 1,744 passengers and is 440 feet long, according to Sterling’s Web site.

The American-flagged SunCruz XII has a capacity of 1,200 passengers and is 308 feet long, according to SunCruz’s Web site.



Disney Itinerary Changes Due To Hurricane Wilma

Disney is monitoring Hurricane Wilma very closely, as the safety and
security of their guests is always  top priority. According to the latest
projections from the National Weather Service, there is still considerable
uncertainty surrounding the specific timing and path of the storm.

The Disney Magic will set sail from Port Canaveral on Saturday, Oct. 22,
2005. With Hurricane Wilma moving slowly across Cozumel in the western
Caribbean and predicted to pass very near Key West during the first part of
this coming week, it has become necessary to alter the itinerary so that
guests can enjoy safe conditions and fair weather. Therefore, this voyage
will be sailing to the eastern Caribbean and visiting the ports of St.
Maarten, St. Thomas and Disney's private island Disney's Castaway Cay.

The Disney Wonder will set sail from Port Canaveral on Sunday, Oct. 23,
2005. At this time, Hurricane Wilma is not predicted to pass through the
Bahamas, and Disney will continue to monitor its path carefully. Should
conditions change, they are prepared to alter the itinerary.


Carnival to Add New Four and Five Day Cruises from Port Canaveral

A new year-round program of four and five-day cruises from Port Canaveral will kick off March 23, 2006. These cruises will initially be offered on the 2,052-passenger Sensation through Oct. 19, 2006. Just prior to the start of this program, the Sensation will undergo a comprehensive refurbishment.

The 2,052-passenger Elation will take over the program as of Oct. 23, 2006. Four-day cruises will call at Nassau and either Freeport or Half Moon Cay. Five-day cruises will call at Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau throughout 2006 and from May to Sept. 2007. From Jan. to April 2007 and from Oct. to Dec. 2007, the five-day itinerary will feature Key West and Cozumel.

Grand Turk, part of the Turks & Caicos Islands chain, is a new port of call featuring pristine beaches, turquoise waters, world renowned coral reefs, and an intimate, unspoiled atmosphere. Half Moon Cay is a private island paradise in The Bahamas, featuring beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and an abundance of water sports and beach activities.

Port business back to normal after passage of storm Ophelia wanders away

Sept. 11. All cruise and cargo operations are expected to resume as normally scheduled this weekend at Port Canaveral as Hurricane Ophelia gradually moves north and away from Brevard County, a port official said Friday.

Because of Ophelia, Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International all diverted ships scheduled to return to Port Canaveral earlier this week, sending them instead to Port Everglades, near Fort Lauderdale.

"We have dropped the waterside evacuation warning that was in effect, but we have to continue to watch the track of the storm," said Stan Payne, chief executive officer of Port Canaveral. "The Coast Guard will continue to monitor the storm over the weekend."

"We're hoping this is the end of the impact of this storm," Payne said.

Underwater ditch planned by port to keep sand away

Damage last year from hurricanes blocked ship access for 12 days


PORT CANAVERAL - Sand seems harmless enough. But, for the Canaveral Port Authority, it can be the enemy.

Sand is what washed into the Port Canaveral's shipping entrance during last year's hurricanes, closing one of the world's busiest cruise ports for nearly two weeks before it was removed.

And sand is what the Port Authority is planning for this hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30.

During their monthly meeting Wednesday, port commissioners are expected to approve studies as part of a plan to dig an underwater ditch near Canaveral's shipping channel to catch sand, instead of having it flow into the channel, if there are any big storms.

Above-average hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean has been forecast this summer, but the channel project may not get done in time.

Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Stan Payne said he hopes the project is finished for the
latter part of the hurricane season, which usually is the most active time for storms. But the planning process has been a long one.

"We simply can't have the port close down for 12 days like we did last year because of the impact specifically on our cruise business," Payne said Monday after meeting with port tenants to discuss the port's hurricane evacuation plans.

The Port Authority would pay to dig the hole, and port officials expect the federal government will take responsibility for maintaining it.

When sand filled the channel in September, cruise lines had to relocate their ships to South Florida ports and bus down passengers from Port Canaveral. Cruise terminals also were left without electricity after the storms, making conditions uncomfortable for passengers waiting for buses to South Florida.

The Port Authority -- which gets most of its money from fees it collects from cruise lines based on passenger counts -- lost money from the interruption in service.

In addition, the port's petroleum imports were disrupted because cargo ships were blocked from entering the port.

Payne doesn't want a repeat.

He hopes to "piggyback" the sand ditch project on the authority's contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the channel.

"A lot of things have to fall in place before that can happen," he said.

The Port Authority estimates the construction cost of the ditch project could be about $2 million. But that isn't certain.

"We're not sure of the costs," Payne added. "We're working on it now."

Cruise lines also don't want a repeat.

"The storms last year impacted us tremendously from a financial standpoint and a guest-relations standpoint because a lot of people were inconvenienced," said Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines, which has two ships at Canaveral. "If the (proposed ditch) will prevent what happened last year, that obviously would be beneficial to us."

The Port Authority is taking action on the proposed sand ditch because, if it was left to the federal government, it could take years to be approved and completed.

The government is in charge of maintaining the channel. But making the ditch part of that agreement would take too long, Payne said.

"With the federal government, their hands are tied because of the rules they play with," he added. "We decided we would forge out on our own because it was that important."

Also Monday, port officials met with about 80 tenants to brief them on hurricane preparedness, including the removal of recreational boats from the port's harbor prior to a storm.

Payne said those who do not follow the port's emergency rules could be fined or even lose the right to use the port.

Getting boats out of the water before last year's hurricanes "saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage," and kept vessels from sinking in the harbor, which could have further disrupted shipping, Payne said

Other ports courting Disney

Magic sets sail May 14 for stay in California

Staying at Port Canaveral. Disney Wonder, right, docks in Port Canaveral on Friday. The Wonder will continue to operate out of the port while another ship, Disney Magic, moves to California for three months. Rik Jesse, FLORIDA TODAY

The Disney Magic will depart from Port Canaveral on May 14 for a Panama Canal cruise and will dock at the Port of Los Angeles on May 28. From Los Angeles, it will offer seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises for about three months. It then will cruise back through the Panama Canal and is expected to return to Port Canaveral on Sept. 3.

Disney Cruise Line will introduce its special brand of cruising to a new market and new customers when the Disney Magic sets sail for California on May 14 as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of Disneyland.

"The debut of the Magic to the California market does a couple of things for us," said Tom McAlpin, president of Disney Cruise Line. "It allows a whole new set of guests to experience what Disney Cruise Line is all about. In addition to that, it gives our guests who have sailed with us the ability to come back and see new ports of call."

The Magic and its sister ship, the Disney Wonder, both are based at Port Canaveral. But the Magic will sail from the Port of Los Angeles for about three months as part of the 18-month-long celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary -- what Disney is calling "The Happiest Celebration on Earth."

In a wide-ranging interview with FLORIDA TODAY, McAlpin said that while the Disney Cruise Line has a long-term contract with Port Canaveral, the cruise line is continually being courted by representatives of other cruise ports.

"We like where we are now because of its access to Walt Disney World, but, then again, Tampa's close, too," McAlpin said. "But we hope to continue to play a part of the local economy in Brevard County."

The cruise industry is a critical component of what Brevard County tourism-industry officials say is a $1 billion-a-year tourism industry responsible for about 30,000 local jobs.

Cruising is more popular than ever, and, while cruise lines are continually looking to add attractions to their ships, Disney has the advantage of using its content and entertainment for a total immersion experience, McAlpin said.

"What we have is a broad array of product and content," he said. "People go on a Disney cruise and want to have the Disney experience."

What McAlpin said his company is trying to steer away from is being labeled as a kids-only cruise line.

"Of course, we have tailored products for the children," he said. "We have one whole deck dedicated for children and things to do for the families. But by taking care of children and families, it allows parents to act like adults. We have nightclubs, adult-only pools, an adult-only spa, so every member of the family will have a great vacation, and it frees the parents up."

While the rest of the cruise industry is looking to put more exciting forms of entertainment on board the ships, Disney has a built-in opportunity, he said.

"We're about immersing the guest in Disney," McAlpin said. "That includes the storytelling and the programming and that magic. And incorporated in the Disney cruise is premium product certainly that provides great entertainment opportunities."

The cruise appeals to those who want to experience an all-inclusive vacation, McAlpin said.

"What we have done is we've gone out and we've built a new vacation product to appeal to a specific market," McAlpin said. "We have a unique island which is an escape to paradise, complete with barbecues, beaches and a serenity bay just for adults."

Appealing to the whole family will become more and more of a company initiative, McAlpin said.

"We find it is not just the nuclear family, but moms, dads, kids, aunts, uncles and grandparents who come together. It's a great family reunion," he said.

"The cruise industry has had an overall growth rate of 8 percent over the past 15 years," McAlpin said. "The industry is experiencing high growth rates. The reason it's grown so much is high satisfaction and the all-inclusive nature. "

He said a top initiative is to keep Disney visitors on Disney properties for the entire time they're on vacation.

While Disney is considering adding a third ship to its fleet, no deals have been worked out with shipbuilders, largely because of an unfavorable exchange rate between the dollar and the euro. Most large cruise ships are built by European companies.

Italian firm Fincantieri built both the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder.

"We certainly believe the business will grow," he said. "We need to wait until the timing is right. The booking pace is good, and that also allows us to not only to test the market, but see how it appeals to a whole new audience. Many of the guests booking us for the West Coast cruises typically wouldn't book us for an East Coast cruise."

McAlpin said, while the Magic is out West, the Wonder will continue to serve its regular purpose.

"The bookings for the Wonder won't double," he said. "The purpose of the Wonder is to convert visitors into lifelong cruisers."


Crown Princess headed to Port


When Princess Cruises' new Crown Princess arrives at Port Canaveral next year, it will add to Canaveral's growing port-of-call business that has brought tens of thousands of cruise passengers to the Space Coast in recent years.

Other port-of-calls entries in the past two years include Carnival Cruise Lines' Miracle, Holland America's Zaandam, Norwegian Cruise Lines' Dawn and Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas.

Those ships and the Crown Princess ensure that a steady of flow of visitors from the Northeast stop in Brevard County on their way to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. It has benefited local attractions, from major ones such as Kennedy Space Center and the beaches to smaller ones such as Cocoa Village and tours of the Indian River Lagoon.

The leisure and hospitality industries in Brevard employ about 21,000 people, state data show. And Port Canaveral is the nation's second-busiest cruise port, behind the port of Miami.

Rob Varley, executive director of the Brevard County Tourist Development Council, estimates about 1,500 passengers from each cruise on the Crown Princess will visit Brevard County during the daylong port-of-call stops. He said each passenger is likely to spend an average of $70 to $80 in the area. That comes to $105,000 to $120,000 in local spending for each cruise, or $525,000 to $600,000 for all five cruises.

Varley said 500 to 600 passengers on each cruise likely will visit Kennedy Space Center. The beaches, Cocoa Village, restaurants, stores and local attractions also will benefit from the influx of business, he said.

"With the ships out of New York, it's just a great stop" for the Space Coast, Varley said, alluding to the fact that New Yorkers make up a significant number of the tourists and winter visitors to the area.

Tourism officials said the port-of-call stops may lead to some passengers to come back to Brevard for vacations and longer stays.

Port officials are equally pleased.

"We welcome Princess Cruises' magnificent vessel to the growing lineup of cruise ships that utilize the beautiful, world-class facilities at Port Canaveral," said Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Stan Payne.

"It is our hope that, once Princess Cruises experiences all that Port Canaveral and the Space Coast has to offer, executives will home-port a vessel here year-round for all of Central Florida to enjoy," said Port Authority Vice President of Business Development Bobby Giangrisostomi.

Santa Clarita, Calif.-based Princess Cruises gained notoriety in 1977, when one of its ships, the Pacific Princess, began to be featured in the television show "The Love Boat."

The company, which began in 1965 with one ship cruising to Mexico, now has 15 ships and is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise company.

After the 116,000-ton Crown Princess goes into service next year, the ship will begin cruises out of New York City to the Eastern and Western Caribbean from June to October.

The ship, with a capacity of 3,100 passengers, will stop at Port Canaveral during five trips to the Western Caribbean, the Canaveral Port Authority said.

Currently, the ship is being built in Italy.

It will be the first time a Princess Cruises ship has stopped at Brevard County's seaport, port officials said.

"Obviously, they (Princess executives) thought it would be someplace that a lot of people would be interested in stopping," Princess spokeswoman Karen Tetherow said about Port Canaveral.

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