Oceania rolls out much improved on-board TV service

2008--Wave Entertainment Network(TM), a wholly owned subsidiary of
SeaMobile(R) Enterprises, announced today an agreement with Oceania
Cruises(R), the world's only upper-premium cruise line, to provide
Oceania Cruises' guests with the first state-of-the-art satellite
television service delivered at sea. The first ship to deploy the Wave
television platform will be Oceania Cruises' Insignia. The line's
Nautica and Regatta are scheduled to receive the service later this

   Wave Entertainment Network delivers an at-sea television platform
that rivals what viewers currently experience at home and is a
significant change in the world of maritime entertainment. The Wave
programming platform is the first multi-channel, interactive
television system ever to be distributed to passenger cruise ships in
all ocean regions around the world. Wave offers abundant content--both
linear and "on-demand"-with superior digital picture quality via its
satellite delivered IPTV system.

   The television and audio services provided to Oceania Cruises will
include linear cable, satellite and broadcast networks, audio content,
video-on-demand, adult programming, special events, and other video
content typically offered via multi-channel platforms.

   "We are thrilled to provide the Wave programming platform to
Oceania Cruises," said Larry Lemoine, Wave Entertainment's President.
"This world class entertainment solution adds to the suite of luxury
services already provided on Oceania Cruises' ships. As with other
SeaMobile services, our television line-up allows guests on cruise
ships to experience all of the entertainment choices that they could
expect on land."

   The Wave Entertainment platform uses a combination of satellite
technology - delivered by SeaMobile's industry leading Maritime
Telecommunications Network (MTN) - and special caching technology that
allows viewers to experience live events and network programming in
time slots they are accustomed to seeing. The unique store-and-forward
feature of the service ensures that travelers at sea won't miss their
favorite programs while enjoying other activities during their cruise.

   "For over a year now we have utilized SeaMobile's premier
communications solutions for our guests," said Oceania Cruises'
President Bob Binder. "As an innovator and leader in the cruise line
industry, we have again placed our trust in SeaMobile to deliver a
television product that not only enhances our guests' experience, but
makes them feel right at home."

   Wave Entertainment Network represents an important component of
parent company SeaMobile Enterprises' vision to provide a host of
dynamic communications, information, and entertainment services
available in remote locations around the world. SeaMobile is already
the market leader in providing broadband services at sea

At last decent internet access on board a cruise ship!

Crystal Cruises’ Passengers Have the
“Fastest Internet at Sea” with F5 BIG-IP WebAccelerator

SEATTLE, February 13, 2008 – F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV), the global leader in Application Delivery Networking, today announced that luxury cruise specialist Crystal Cruises has significantly upgraded its onboard computer network with the F5® BIG-IP® WebAccelerator product to provide its guests with a fast and convenient Internet experience no matter where in the world its ships travel.

Companies like Crystal Cruises provide Internet access aboard their ships via satellite transmission, which is significantly slower than typical broadband access on land. As part of its ongoing commitment to provide guests with the highest quality service, Crystal Cruises became the world’s first and only cruise line to purchase and install WebAccelerator. This highly specialized device from F5 uses a series of intelligent technologies to compress data in transit and reduce the amount of data transmitted, dramatically improving Internet performance for guests aboard the award-winning Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony cruise ships.

“We know that email and Internet are an integral part of our guests’ way of life,” said Thomas Mazloum, SVP, Hotel Operations at Crystal Cruises. “Guests noticed an immediate benefit and significant improvements in the speed and performance of our shipboard networks. Whether they’re checking email, using the Internet to do their banking or check stocks, or sending photos to family and friends, our guests now enjoy the best technology and performance at sea.”

A recent issue of Condé Nast Traveler featured a readers’ poll naming Crystal Cruises the number one large-ship cruise line, declaring Crystal Serenity’s Internet connection to be fastest in the industry and symbolic of the smoothness of the whole guest experience aboard the luxury line.

In seeking a solution to reduce Internet response times while at sea, Crystal Cruises turned to its technical advisor, solution provider CDW. “CDW’s networking specialists recommended F5 based on its web acceleration capabilities and excellent fit with Crystal Cruises’ specific needs,” said Kenneth Grimsley, VP of Strategic Sales at CDW. “In addition to improving performance on the 25 state-of-the-art workstations in the Computer University@Sea program offered on all cruises, the solution needed to support rental laptops and guests’ personal laptops accessing WiFi throughout the ship. The resulting solution provides guests with an enhanced web browsing experience even while the ship is miles from any port.”

“As part of Crystal Cruises’ effort to improve user experience, it was absolutely essential that the solution did not require any changes to be made to personal laptops guests bring onboard,” said Joe Hicks, Senior Product Manager at F5. “WebAccelerator requires no browser or user changes and significantly reduces the amount of traffic that traverses the satellite connection, for a big reduction in page load times. As a result, Crystal Cruises is able to provide fast and convenient Internet access that is consistent with the extremely high level of service their customers expect.”

Celebrity Cruises capitalises on Maltese marriage-at-sea legislation

Capitalising on the new Maltese law passed last month that sees civil marriages performed in international waters being recognised in Malta, cruise line operator Celebrity Cruises has announced it is to begin offering legal marriages, with ceremonies conducted by their ships’ captains.The cruise line recently re-registered eight of its ships in Malta, while both the ships run by its high-end sister company, Azamara Cruises, are also registered in Malta.

Celebrity Cruises has said it is to begin offering legal, captain-led weddings at sea later this year. In the past, the line has offered packages that include vow renewal ceremonies and in-port weddings led by a local official, but never weddings at sea officiated over by a ship’s captain.

The initiative has been made possible by the recent Bill passed by the Maltese parliament allowing captains of Maltese-registered ships to conduct marriages that would be registered in Malta.

Basic captain-performed wedding packages, the company said in a statement this week, are to start at US$2,500.

Silverseas adventure ship “Monte Carlo”

Silversea Cruises’ first expedition vessel is to sail from London on its maiden voyage this summer.

The 132-passenger former World Discoverer, acquired by the luxury line last September, will focus on polar adventures following a multi-million dollar refurbishment.

It will be equipped with eight Zodiac boats to allow passengers to explore away from the ship.

The ship, an A1A-ice class vessel, is to me named in Monte Carlo in early June before sailing to London for its inaugural cruise.

The vessel will depart on June 12 for the Orkneys, Shetlands, Fareos and Jan Mayan before tourism the Artic Circle, including Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland for the summer.

It will them reposition to South America and Antarctica for autumn and winter voyages.

Silversea claims the ship, with 66 cabins, will have the highest space ratio and be the most luxurious in its class.

Facilities will include a main dining room, outside bar and grill, library with internet access, spa, two whirlpool baths, shop, beauty salon and fitness centre.

The line’s president Amerigo Perasso said the interest in expedition cruising is growing, particularly among “affluent baby-boomers” and adventure seekers who prefer to travel in luxury.

“Adventure travel is about having experiences that are intellectually enriching, so every voyage will feature a carefully selected expedition team of lecturers and leading experts who will share their insights on the natural and historical highlights of some of the most pristine and secluded regions on earth,” he said.

Packing an extra bag for your cruise just got a little more expensive!

United Airlines Feb 5th :

Domestic passengers will have to pay $25 to check a second piece of luggage. The policy change applies to travel on or after May 5, and to tickets purchased today or later.

The new policy appears targeted at the occasional leisure traveler: It applies to customers purchasing nonrefundable domestic economy tickets who do not have either at least premier status in United’s Mileage Plus programs, or silver status in a Star Alliance program.

About 25 percent of its travelers check a second bag, according to United, and the airline believes its new surcharge will generate $100 million in revenue a year. >The company faced bankruptcy just a few years ago, but in 2007, it earned a net income of $403 million (its first year of profit since 2000).

United is the first major U.S. carrier to charge for checked bags, but the policy is not uncommon among foreign carriers. It started with the discount European carriers: Most charge $10 to $20 for each piece of checked baggage. And then British Airways joined in, charging for a second piece of checked bags (but not on flights from/to the United States). Discount carriers were also the first to charge for snacks, and for exit row seats or an assigned seat. I think you’ll see more of those type of user fees from the major airlines in the months to come.

Carnival Holiday still sick???? a passenger reports

Posted by Ed, on February 2nd, 2008 at 6:44 pm“My wife and I boarded the Holiday on Monday afternoon January 28th as part of a group and just returned this morning (2 Feb) from a 5 day cruise. When we arrived at the port, the first thing we received was a written notice that there had been an outbreak of “Noro” virus during the previous cruise and that our departure on Monday would be delayed in order to disinfect the ship. We were provided information on the nature and symptoms of the virus along with recommendations on how to minimize the chance of contracting it while we were on board. We briefly discussed the idea of not going, but we decided to go ahead since the rest of our group wanted to proceed and Carnival did not make any offer to re-book anyone who didn’t want to go. We had no idea that the outbreak during the previous cruise was so severe that it had made the news. When we arrived at our cabin, we did not notice anything out of the ordinary. Everything appeared clean and smelled fresh. Within 24 hours of our departure, a large number of people took sick and the number appeared to steadily increase during the trip. Ultimately, 4 of the 8 folks at our dinner table became ill during the trip and were confined to their quarters for the duration. Turns out that about a third of our group became ill. We had rough seas on the return from Calica, so I’m sure that didn’t help matters. By this morning, the hallway around our cabin had a sour smell of vomit and sewage and all the crew members were gloved and masked as they cleaned the cabins. Thankfully, my wife and I came through healthy. I must say that the crew appeared to “Soldier On,” remaining cheerful the entire time. Some friends of our who both took sick told us that they were very impolitely treated by members of the infirmary staff. This was our second cruise on the Holiday and although it was marred by sickness and rough seas, we kept our health and had a decent time.”