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California Ghost Ship Revealed to be Infamous S.S. Monte Carlo

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The wreckage of the mysterious ghost ship that was discovered off the coast of California last year has been identified as a notorious 1930s floating “pleasure palace.” An episode of The Science Channel documentary “What on Earth” detailed the long investigation conducted by a team of researchers who wanted to identify the wreck after noticing similarities with the famous Russian cruise ship, the Lyubov Orlova. As it turns out, the Orlova, which was last seen adrift in February 2013, could still be out there. This new episode of the documentary led experts to confirm that this shipwreck — revealed by the storms of El Nino during last February — was, in fact, the S.S. Monte Carlo, a former World War I oil tanker that was remodeled into a floating speakeasy and casino in 1932.

Source: Wikimedia

Purchased by Marvin Schouweiler, a former rum runner and partner in the U.S.’s first floating casino Johanna, and Edward V. Turner, a well- known poker and casino enthusiast, the S.S. Monte Carlo was officially opened on May 7, 1932. It wasn’t long before she became known as the biggest and best in a fleet of casino and gaming ships, and was soon linked to notable gangsters Tony Cornero and Al Capone.  

Named after that stylish destination and playground of the rich and famous, in some ways the S.S. Monte Carlo was much like her namesake. Drawing in some 15,000 customers each week who would play poker, dice, roulette, blackjack and slots in her gaming parlors, the S.S. Monte Carlo catered to the pleasures and whims of the rich and, on occasion, the famous. Legendary silver screen actors Mae West and Clark Gable were even rumored to have been seen enjoying her extravagant facilities.  

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The S.S. Monte Carlo was first anchored on the coast of California at Coronado, and offered free water taxi rides from the pier at Hawthorn St. An old newspaper advert describes her as a “palatial nightclub ship…Cool and thrilling under the stars on a Venetian sea…gayer than old Caliente.” At the height of her popularity, it has been estimated that the S.S. Monte Carlo brought in $3 million per year, which was boosted by onboard entertainment in the form of burlesque dancer Jean Fay, and fine dining from chefs Walt Lower and Alec Eggars.

Despite their notorious clientele and dubious operations, when guests reportedly saw “skinny women in tiny skirts dancing on tables” in the gaming parlors, the owners managed to avoid prosecution by sailing her in international waters. Although a raid was conducted by San Diego’s County Sherriff and District Attorney Office and the casino equipment on board was confiscated, the S.S. Monte Carlo’s owners and employees were all acquitted and had their equipment returned after the prosecutors conceded that their jurisdictions did not cross international boundaries.  

For almost five years, the S.S. Monte Carlo anchored on the shores of Long Beach and San Diego by day and sailed her guests “under tropical skies” by night. However, during a storm on January 1, 1937, she broke from her anchors and ran aground just south of California’s Hotel del Coronado. Severely damaged by the ongoing storm, her owners claimed nothing. Not that there was much left to claim after locals and law enforcement officials cleared the beach of her casino equipment.

At 300 feet long, she was too big and too expensive to move, so she lay in a watery grave for almost 80 years. Although throughout the decades, historians and visitors have been able to see glimpses of the wreckage, 2016’s El Nino was the first to reveal its scale. And she is still visible to this day, drawing in crowds of tourists and local enthusiasts who are no doubt inspired by the legend that there are over $100,000 in silver coins still waiting to be discovered within her sunken decks!

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Cruise Ships Diverted By Tropical Storm

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If there’s one thing cruisers have learned over the past couple years, it’s that Mother Nature gets an almost perverse thrill out of throwing a wrench into the best laid vacation plans. So it should come as no surprise that Tropical Storm Alberto is causing several cruise lines to make itinerary changes in order to avoid unpleasant weather as best they can.

Two Carnival Ships Impacted So Far

As of Saturday morning, the National Weather Service’s Twitter feed reported that Alberto was “moving northward toward the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico.” Meanwhile, Carnival announced that two of their ships would slightly alter their itineraries in order to avoid the storm’s path.

Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy was one of two of the line’s ships to alter itineraries as a result of Tropical Storm Alberto. Photo, as well as featured photo, courtesy Carnival Cruise Line. 

Although scheduled to visit Cozumel on Saturday, the Carnival Valor instead went to Progreso. From there, it will, as previously planned, spend a Fun Day at Sea on Sunday before returning on Monday to Galveston, Texas. Meanwhile, the Carnival Fantasy made the same change to its own itinerary — swapping Cozumel for Progreso — followed by a sea day on Sunday before returning to Mobile, Alabama on Monday.

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Royal Caribbean Itinerary Changed

Meanwhile, according to the Royal Caribbean Blog, that line’s Majesty of the Seas also skipped its scheduled Cozumel stop in order to avoid the storm, instead spending the night in Havana, Cuba. And in news unrelated to the storm, Royal’s Vision of the Seas apparently experienced a ship-wide blackout for about 15 minutes earlier this week. According to announcements made by the captain, the power loss was caused by “a technical malfunction” which was later resolved, allowing the ship to resume her 12-night Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona.

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the seas spent the night in Havana, Cuba.

With the storm continuing its approach, and Governor Rick Scott having Saturday morning declared a State of Emergency across Florida in anticipation of its arrival, there is every likelihood that the cruise lines could announce more itinerary changes in the hours and days to come. Cruise Radio will update this story as it learns of any such developments.

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Inside The Party For Carnival Horizon [PHOTOS]

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Given that Queen Latifah is the Godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, you had to know a good time was going to be had by all at the Carnival Horizon’s official naming ceremony. Held in New York City on a picture-perfect afternoon, the event featured plenty of food, lots of drink, singing, dancing and even a pretty substantial charitable donation.

Welcome To Flavortown

Things got under way with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as celebrity chef Guy Fieri welcomed guests to the latest outpost of Flavortown, the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse. With live music playing, servers dished out hearty helpings of the venue’s signature foods, including trashcan nachos, dragon chili cheese fries and a pecan pie that was, according to the genuine Southern belle at our table, “to die for.”

Guy Fieri and brewmeister Colin Presby, doing the honors.

After that, the traditional naming ceremony kicked off with Brand Ambassador John Heald offering up a tip of the hat to “the one man to blame” for the fact that “I now have X’s in the back of everything I’m wearing,” Fieri.

Next up was the traditional prayer of blessing, followed by Carnival president Christine Duffy welcoming everyone aboard before discussing the very special bond between the cruise line and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Speaking proudly of the $16 million dollars raised by Carnival since the partnership first began in 2010, Duffy then presented the hospital with a check for another $100,000 and directed everyone’s eyes to the 24-foot Dreamscape, which anchors the atrium and now features among it’s displays 33 pieces of art created by St. Jude patients.

Artwork done by St. Jude patients lit up the Dreamscape.

Next up was the ship’s Godmother, Queen Latifah, who also happens to be a major supporter of St. Jude. After thanking the crowd “for looking so good,” Latifah asked everyone to take another look at the artwork-adorned Dreamscape. “My mom was an art teacher,” she said of her recently-deceased parent, “so I appreciate what the kids do. I know what it does for a child’s heart to create like that.”

Of being Godmother to a cruise ship, Latifah admitted it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to be a part of in my life!” She was then joined on stage by Captain Luigi De Angelis and, together, they poured an oversized bottle of champagne (“This is the only time the captain will hold a bottle of champagne like this,” quipped Heald) over the ship’s inaugural season bell.

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“Only at Carnival Cruise Line,” quipped Heald of the ceremony, “do we water the plants with Moet.”

With the official business of the day out of the way, it was time for the fun to start in the Liquid Lounge, where Latifah battled Philadelphia Eagles player Jake Elliot in an epic Lip Sync Battle hosted by popular Carnival cruise director Matt Mitcham. But before the main event could begin, the crowd was in for an unexpected treat when Duffy was joined on stage by Carnival Corp’s President and CEO, Arnold Donald, for a lip synched performance of The Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”

Duffy and Donald proved they definitely choose fun.

With Duffy cheering on Elliot, and Donald firmly in the Queen’s corner, the main event began. And while footballer Elliott took the pumped-up crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbangers Ball by donning a massive wig to perform Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” this was Latifah’s battle to lose. And if you know anything about the singer/actor/businesswoman — who also happens to be a past Lip Sync Battle champion — it’s that she does not come to lose. The moment she and the Playlist Productions performers took to the stage to perform “It’s Raining Men,” it was all over but the cheering. Of the stripping background dancers, Mitcham joked that Latifah’s performance was “like Baywatch and Magic Mike went wild,” while Donald said that the dancers “inspired me to keep my shirt on!”  

Elliott put up a good fight, but he couldn’t dethrone the Queen.

Before being crowned the winner, Latifah admitted there was one thing about her new role which she’d found disappointing. “Shouldn’t Godmother’s have a wand?” she asked… only to promptly be presented one, with which she sprinkled “love dust over the crowd, even my sworn enemy Jake.”

The evening ended with a bang… or, more precisely, a whole lot of bangs.

With the scheduled events of the evening over, invited guests dispersed to enjoy the live entertainment taking place all around the ship, as well as movies in the Imax and Thriller Theaters, a party on the Lido deck, a midnight buffet and an impressive fireworks display that was, appropriately enough, set in part to the tune “New York, New York.” 

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June Special: Kids Sail Free to the Bahamas

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With summer around the corner, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has a special deal for families traveling with kids. Valid for all June cruises, those 16 and under will sail free if they’re staying in the same stateroom with two paying parents.

With the school year wrapping up and Father’s Day on June 17, it’s the perfect time for a quick escape to the Bahamas. Both of the line’s ships, Grand Classica and Grand Celebration offer a number of activities for guests on their way to the island. There are youth clubs divided by age, swimming pools, multiple dining options, a mini movie theater, mini rock climbing wall, a ball pit, and more.

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There’s also a number of shore excursions that families can take part in once they arrive, including snorkeling, a beach day, cruising the beach in an open-top Jeep, swimming with dolphins, parasailing, kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours, and more.

For more information, visit bahamasparadisecruiseline.com.

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