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December 22, 2008

Dear CruiseCompete Guest,

Announcing a New Feature: Live Online Chat
We've added a new feature to our system that allows you to get quick answers to questions about your cruise quotes: Live Online Chat.

When you are viewing a quote from a travel agent, if that agent is online you'll see a button that says: Chat Live with this Agent. Just click on the button to start an online chat.

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The team at CruiseCompete would like to thank you, our valued clients, for making us one of the most popular web sites for cruise shopping.

Wishing You Happy Holidays and a Very Prosperous New Year!

Still looking for that perfect holiday gift? Consider a cruise and a very romantic shore excursion for 2009. Below are 7 of the most romantic shore excursions to simply "wow!" the love of your life. Print the cruise itinerary and the romantic shore excursion, wrap with bows and beautiful paper and there will be the magic under this year's tree.
And consider these 7 "Dreamy Ideas.

Christmas in Schwerin: A Fairy Tale Castle
Cunard Line Ltd. Germany

Pay a night-time visit to Schwerin Castle. Christmas lights transform the castle, the village, and Schwerin cathedral into a sight straight from a German ‘marchen' or fairy tale.
Approximate duration: 5 1/2 hours
Approximate Price: $99

Schwerin Castle - Christmas lights transform this medieval castle, the former stronghold f the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg. Your guided tour visits the Sylvester Gallery, the Red Audience Room, and the Floral Room. View the castle's magnificent woodwork, carvings, and inlays.

Schwerin Cathedral - A short walking tour of Schwerin ends at the cathedral. Founded in 1147, the cathedral is the site of an exclusive organ concert featuring Christmas music. Following the concert, enjoy some free time for independent sightseeing.

Enjoy a hearty snack before exploring Schwerin's lovely Christmas Market along the Schlossstrasse.

Browse for classic art, traditional crafts, German Christmas decorations, and toys while munching on roasted almonds and chestnuts. Browse the market and sample Germany's most famous winter potable, Gluewein (mulled wine).

Board your motor coach for the approximately 75-minute drive to Schwerin, traveling to Schwerin per German autobahn

Very Romantic Private Dune Dinner Safari
Dubai, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Approximate Duration: 6 1/4 Hours.
Approximate Price: $239.00.

Capture the beauty of Dubai's desert like never before during this sunset dinner safari that includes champagne, strawberries, a Bedouin camp visit and belly dance performance.

Depart the pier for the drive into the desert. Upon arrival, you will experience the beauty of the desert after dark during an exhilarating dune-bashing session in which your off-road vehicle traverses the steep dunes. Along the way, photo stops will be made to capture the sun as it sets on the horizon. You will then proceed to a high dune, where you will be greeted with champagne and strawberries in Arabian-styled surroundings set-up lit by marshals, and featuring carpets and a canopy.

Next, you will take a sunset drive to a Bedouin camp nestled on a serene enclave in the dunes. The soft lighting emitted from traditional lanterns and Arabic music in the background will add to the Arabian ambience and hospitality. At the Bedouin camp, you will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of pre-dinner activities, including camel rides and sand-boarding. Set-up in a separate area will be a water pipe, or shisha station, where you can relax and enjoy a puff or two of flavored tobacco. You can also have one of the Henna ladies draw a beautiful intricate pattern (temporary tattoo) on your hand before sitting down to an Arabian-styled barbecue dinner featuring various cuts of fresh meats cooked on an open fire. After dinner, the highlight of your visit will be a belly-dancing performance.

Following your tour, you will re-board your off-road vehicle for the return drive to the pier and ship.

A Memorable Stay at Château La Lagune
Bordeaux, France, Silversea Cruise

Approximate duration and price: 2 Days / 1 Night | $2,899.00

Indulge in this exclusive overnight stay at Château La Lagune, the first classified wine estate one encounters on the road from Bordeaux. Your stay includes the services of a butler, housekeeper and chef; dinner and breakfast are provided. Leave the pier and enjoy a pleasant drive of approximately 45 minutes before arriving at the Château La Lagune. Château La Lagune. La Lagune's history dates back to the 16th century, when the first vines were planted. In 1730, the elegant chartreuse or mansion was designed and built by Baron Louis, architect of Bordeaux's Grand Theâtre. The domain gained importance over the years and was awarded a Third Cru Classe distinction in the classification of 1855. As with many châteaux, La Lagune fell into disrepair during and after World War II. Agricultural engineer Georges Brunet purchased the estate in 1958, replanting the entire vineyard and constructing a modern winery. La Lagune changed hands once again in 1961, when it was purchased by Rene Chayoux of Champagne Ayala. The château was restored, with particular attention paid to the furnishings. In 1964, Jeanne Boyrie was appointed the first woman manager and cellar master in Bordeaux, a position she held until her death in 1986; her daughter, Caroline Desvergnes, succeeded her. Today, the tradition of a female winemaker continues with Caroline Frey, the young oenologist who graduated at the top of her class at Bordeaux University in 2003. The second-generation winemaker directs the production of two well-regarded blends, the premium Château La Lagune and enjoyable table wine, Moulin La Lagune, both utilizing the estate's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and sometimes a touch of Petit Verdot. After freshening up in your elegantly appointed room, enjoy a wine tasting in the estate's cellars. A special four-course dinner follows, accompanied by the estate's wines. Coffee and delectable mignardises (petit fours) conclude the meal. Savour the balance of the evening, relaxing in the lounge or perhaps taking a stroll around the grounds. Following breakfast in the morning, return to the pier in Bordeaux, where the ship awaits.

This excursion has very limited availability and only available on certain dates.
Overnight essentials should fit into a carry-on bag. All meals and beverages (domestic brands) are included as described. Otherwise, drinks and other incidentals are at guests' own expense. Moderate walking is required to explore the grounds. Participation is strictly limited; the Château has been reserved exclusively for Silversea guests; however a minimum is required to operate.

Ocean Swim on Horseback
Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, Crystal Cruises

Miami to Caldera

Approximate Price $105
Approximate Duration 1 1/2 - 2 hours

Put on your swimsuit and grab your camera for this thrilling horseback riding adventure, which features a ride on the beach and in the inviting waters of the Atlantic.

Depart the pier aboard your air-conditioned minivan and enjoy the scenic journey along the coast and across the island. Pass Governors Beach, the local airport and the charming little city of Cockburn Town before reaching the Grand Turk Indigenous Horse Shelter, where your horseback ride will begin.

After a safety briefing and orientation, mount your horse, give him a nudge with your heel and savor the views of the crystal-clear Atlantic as your steed walks along the beach.

Following your leisurely trail ride of approximately one hour, dismount and allow your guides to unsaddle your horse and prepare him for your ocean swim. Equipped with a pad and halter, your horse will be ready to step into the waves, giving you an experience of a lifetime as you and your horse wade in warm waters.
Invigorated by your ocean ride, return to dry land for a refreshing shower and time to relax in the sun.

Later, re-board your minivan and return to your Crystal ship. En route you will view North Creek, where you may glimpse the island's famous pink flamingos.

Exclusive Day of Shopping in Monaco & Cannes
Monte Carlo to Athens, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Approximate Price $1,042
Approximate Duration/2 -8 hours

In addition to its mild climate and natural beauty, the French Riviera is known for its fashionable shopping. This exclusive excursion allows two lucky guests a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to browse the area's prestigious shops. Even better, you will be escorted by a personal escort who knows the ins and outs of this shoppers' paradise.

Your well-educated French guide will meet you and your companion at the pier and whisk you away in an air-conditioned automobile for your full-day excursion. On the list are the best boutiques for designer clothing, leather goods, porcelain and home fashions. You may find yourself at Gucci, Hugo Boss, Dior, Sonya Rykiel, Chanel, Prada and Cartier, just to name a few.

A highlight of your shopping adventure is a stop at the Automobile club boutique, the official shop authorized to sell the products of the Grand Prix and Rally of Monaco.

After spending the morning in Monaco, enjoy a delightful lunch at Cafe de Paris, just the two of you. Then it's off to Cannes for an afternoon dedicated to more high-end shopping.

Return to your ship with bags full of treasures and your camera filled with wonderful memories.

Stockholm by Hot-Air Balloon
Stockholm to London, Various Cruise Lines

Scandinavian Splendor 8220

Approximate Price $343
Approximate Duration 2 – 2½ hours

Enormously exhilarating yet completely serene, this hot-air balloon experience offers astounding views of Stockholm. If you wish to join this exciting excursion, we suggest you make your reservation early, as it is available only to a few.

Your outing begins as you are met at the pier and transferred to the starting point of the balloon ride. The exact location will depend on prevailing weather and wind conditions. On arrival, you will be invited to assist the crew in unpacking the balloon and filling it with warm air, a task that takes approximately 20 minutes. With all systems go, it is time to step into the basket and lift off for your balloon adventure.

Rising high into the air with the help of the wind, your balloon floats over fields and towns, an artist's tapestry of varying colors and textures. Views of flowering gardens, beautiful buildings, meandering streets and lush islands will unfold below. You will also spy people, looking up at you and offering friendly waves of bon voyage.

After an approximately one-hour flight, begin your descent. If the wind is strong, you may experience a slight "thud" or two as the basket reaches the ground. If the wind is gentle, your landing will be soft.

With your feet on terra firma and your camera filled with striking photographs, return to your Crystal ship.

Romantic Drive in a Collector Convertible
Monte Carlo, Monaco, Crystal Cruises

Monte Carlo to Athens

Approximate Price $837
Approximate Duration 8 hours

If you have a spirit of adventure, an appreciation for nostalgia and a streak of independence, this sightseeing drive in a classic convertible is the perfect excursion for you and your touring companion.

Awaiting you at the pier is your vintage car. Whether it is a Mercedes, BMW, Fiat or Peugeot, your vehicle will offer a truly special way to discover the sights of Monte Carlo. Before departing for your independent drive, you will be supplied with a driver's road book, which includes itineraries, a description of the area's attractions, interesting notes about the history and culture of Monaco, and optional shortcuts.

Setting off in your car, enjoy the freedom of seeing what you wish at your own pace. Choose from several circuits outlined on your map, each featuring up to four area highlights. Stop for an independent exploration of a neighborhood, boutique or other sight on foot, or continue on with your hair blowing in the wind and the sun on your face. With this unique excursion, the choice is yours.

Return to the pier at the conclusion of this personal and romantic outing.

Have a Wonderful Holiday!

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