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October 13, 2008

Holland America revamps bar scene experience on five ships

The bar scene aboard five Holland America ships is being shook up with a large new space in the heart of each ship, called Mix. This venue, part of a $200 million upgrade program to the ms Statendam, ms Maasdam, ms Ryndam, ms Veedam and ms Roterdam, will feature three specialty theme bars Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales.

The bubbly will flow at Champagne, the ship's premier celebration venue; will offer 20 different champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world. It will host late champagne breakfasts, pre-lunch Mimosa and Bellini hours, champagne tea times and pre-dinner champagne tours with caviar canapes. Martinis will serve 25 Grey Goose martinis elegantly offered in individual shakers, as well as a full range of cocktails. Guests can also enjoy a martini flight made up of several mini martini concoctions. A house specialty will be the Martini for Two with aged Cognac served with a dish of caviar and other garnishes. Spirits & Ales will feature an international selection of beers and premium whiskeys and brandies sure to entice even the most selective connoisseur.

Disney Magic back at sea with a variety of upgrades

The Disney Magic cruise ship has just left dry dock, with Mickey and his crew appearing to have been very busy with a variety of upgrades. Quiet Cove, the pool retreat for adults, is being fitted with new cascading waterfalls from two hot tubes. Cove Cafe, the ship's sophisticated coffee lounge, is being upgraded with a new seating area and other amenities. The Oceaneer Club, the ship's Neverland-themed play area for 3-7 year olds, and the Oceaneer Lab, an interactive laboratory for 8-12 year olds, also are being enhanced, while Mickey's Splash Zone, a new toddler water playground inspired by Fantasia's sorcerer's apprentice, is being created for children in swim diapers. The guest rooms aboard the Disney Magic are receiving a major infusion of technology with new 22-inch flat-screen LCD television sets.

Spotlight on fabulous family excursions

Caribbean Pirates Extravaganza (Royal Caribbean SL41)

Approximate Duration: 4 hours

Budding pirates young and old alike will enjoy this swash-buckling experience offered by Royal Caribbean. The adventure starts in St. Lucia, aboard the 140-foot, 19th century tall ship, the Brig Unicorn, featured in the Disney hit movie Pirates of the Caribbean. Guests will sail to historic Pigeon Island and the famous Fort Rodney, the setting for important naval battles between the British and French. A highlight is the thunder of the Brig's working cannons in a mock pirate attack. On the island, families can swim, hike, sightsee or participate in a pirate treasure hunt. After a busy day playing pirate, rum punch and sodas are served before returning to the pier.

Caravan in the Sands (Azamara AX25)

Approximate Duration: 13 hours

Ideal for families with older children, this exciting tour for Azamara guests acquaints them with the beauty of the Egyptian desert and the mysteries of the pyramids. Families will travel by coach from Alexandria across the desert to Cairo. There, they will stop at the Western Plateau of Giza for panoramic views of the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, the Pyramids of Giza, before continuing to the based on Chepren's Pyramid to explore the site further. Guests will also have the opportunity to visit the Sphinx and Valley Temple. At the Sakkara Country Club, the group will take 4x4s into the desert to join a camel caravan and experience an unforgettable trip through the desert on the back on this magnificent animal. After lunch, the excursion proceeds to Sakkara, Egypt's ancient cemetery. Guests will discover the Step Pyramid of King Koser, the first monumental building of the world. The tour returns to Cairo and the Papyrus Institute to see a demonstration on the art of paper making, discovered by the ancient Egyptians. From there, guests return via coach to Alexandria.

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