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April 2, 2007

If you're flying, don't wait to get that passsport.

While U.S. cruisers won't need passports until 2008 at the earliest, if you're flying home from another country you need one now. If you still haven't applied, there's no time to waste, for the Department of State says a record number of requests have already caused a major slowdown in processing the documents. The typical six-week waiting period is now extended up to ten weeks. Even those using the two-week expedited program are waiting up to four weeks. To check the status of a passport application online, cruisers should visit, or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.

Baltic Cruisers Get a Bang out of Russian Firearms

For the seasoned cruiser (and military and weapons buffs) who have supposedly seen everything, how about a special shore visit to a St. Petersbug, Russia military museum and shooting range? Baltic cruisers take a short drive from the ship pier in St. Petersburg to a special shooting range, where they can try their hand at a selection of Russian firearms, including the famous Kalashnikov rifle. An instructor teaches guests the basics about the different Russian weapons and how to handle them. Ear protection is provided. Cruisers can keep their target and spent shell casings as souvenirs, and everyone should bring their camera. Later, guests visit St. Petersburg's famous Artillery, Engineers and Signals museum. The building itself is imposing and it contains exhibits from the 12th through 20th centuries. The museum's courtyard features an extensive collection of Soviet weaponry.

Princess Cruises Invites Guests to "Chef's Table"

Food aficionados traveling on the new Emerald Princess are in for a unique culinary treat. Princess Cruises is offering the "Chef's Table" experience on select nights, providing a limited number of cruisers with access to the inner sanctum of the ship's galley with a guided tour by the executive chef and gourmet dinner prepared exclusively for them. In addition to pre-dinner cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in this behind-the-scenes setting, participants will enjoy a specially prepared, multi-course tasting dinner in the dining room.

Menus will feature regional cuisine and indigenous ingredients from recent ports. Each course will be accompanied by details on special features, preparation methods and tasting suggestions. During desert, the executive chef returns for a lively discussion about the evening's meal, answer questions and share tips on food preparation. Each couple at the Chef's Table will receive a personalized, autographed copy of Princess' cookbook, "Courses, a Culinary Journey," which has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide, plus a complimentary photo with the chef.

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