By Jay Clarke
Romance is getting a big boost on the "Love Boat" cruise line.
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Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the hit TV series "The Love Boat," Princess Cruises has set up a new Department of Romance and is launching a number of romantic pursuits aboard its ships.
Princess has long been identified with "The Love Boat"; its Pacific Princess was the backdrop for many episodes.
Gavin McLeod, who played Captain Stubing on the TV show, is one of four relationship experts to serve as consultants to the line's Department of Romance. The others are dating guru Trish McDermott, couples therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and wedding planner Alba Carreras.
"I have been amazed by the number of passengers who come up to me and share their romantic stories," said McLeod. "I'm delighted to play a role in helping couples embrace this important aspect of our lives."
New onboard romantic programs include:
_A Romance by Room Service package that includes champagne, chocolates and rose petals.
_A new learning program, Become a Certified Romantic, that will teach couples how they can rediscover and sustain romance.
_Classic romantic movies like "Sleepless in Seattle" on in-stateroom TV.
_Daily romantic tips in the ships' newsletters.
The programs will be launched with the debut of Emerald Princess in April.
TRANS FATS OUT
One of the latest health villains is trans fats, and the cruise lines are getting the message. Crystal Cruises announced in January it has gone completely trans-fat-free, substituting healthier oils from such sources as olives, corn, walnuts and sesame and pumpkin seeds.
But Crystal isn't the first line to take a hard look at trans fats. Celebrity said it stopped using trans fats in February, and Holland America says it hasn't used trans fat cooking oils for at least a year.
Carnival Cruise Lines says it stopped using cooking oils containing trans fats in 2005. It currently offers trans-fat-free salad dressings and Spa Carnival dishes, and says that in the next six months it will identify and replace other foods containing trans fats.
Disney Cruise Line - as well as the Disney parks - has begun eliminating trans fats and expects to complete the process by the end of the year.
Royal Caribbean started removing trans fats this month and expects to have its fleet completely free by the end of the year.
Princess reports it is currently evaluating the removal of trans fat but has not yet taken any action. Norwegian Cruise Line says it is not studying the question.
Back from a 28-day stem-to-stern makeover, Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas has resumed three- and four-night cruises out of Miami with new dining venues, a larger spa, refurbished staterooms, shops and public rooms, and new teen facilities.
A reconfigured casual dining venue, Windjammer Marketplace, offers a selection of Asian, Latin, Mediterranean and American fare. Also brand new is the Compass Deli, where guests can order sandwiches, soups, salads, paninis and crepes.
It's damn the cost and full speed ahead for upscale cruise lines as they continue to place orders for new ships in European shipyards despite the unfavorable dollar-euro exchange rate.
At the recent Seatrade conference in Miami Beach, Oceania announced it has ordered two 1,260-passenger vessels. Silversea has placed an order for a 540-passenger ship and Seabourn earlier announced it was building two new ships. Interestingly, all are bigger than the lines' present ships.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which in January went to an all-inclusive policy that includes complimentary wine and spirits in on-board restaurants and bars, has added several ports of call in Europe this summer. New ports include Cartagena and Valencia, Spain; Falmouth, England; Golfo de Porto, Corsica; Koper, Slovenia; Korcula, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Kos, Greece. Regent's Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator, which will sail in Europe, have just completed multimillion-dollar renovations.
NEW ISLAND STOPS
Carnival Cruise Lines, which for years didn't have a private island on its itineraries, now is making stops at Half Moon Cay, the private Bahamian island developed by its sister line, Holland America. Latest ship to include the island is the Carnival Triumph, which will do seven-night sailings from Miami starting April 21 through Aug. 11. The ship also will call at San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk.
BROADWAY AT SEA
Top Broadway composers and performers will join in a special Broadway at Sea cruise from Rome on Regent's Seven Seas Voyager Oct. 27. This Composer's Cruise will feature the music of Leslie Bricusse, Stephen Schwartz and Frank Wildhorn, whose combined works include 18 Broadway shows, 50 movies, five Grammys and 70 Tonys. The songs will be performed by Broadway stars Liz Callaway, Rob Evan, Brandi Burkhardt and others. Information: 877-292-9287, www.broadwayatsea.com.
SCRAP YOUR TRIP
Like to keep a scrapbook of your travels? Princess Cruises is taking that hobby to sea with a series of onboard classes and a scrapbooking kit ($24.95) with themed pages designed exclusively for Princess. The company says the program is the first aboard any cruise ship.
© 2007, The Miami Herald.
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