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The Fight to Save a Beloved Cruise Ship

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Pop quiz: What cruise ship holds the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing? If you guessed the Carnival Vista or Norwegian Breakaway or any other modern marvel, take a seat. Because the record holder is actually a ship christened in June of 1951 before her maiden voyage on July 3, 1951… and she’s currently in danger of going away forever.

Meet The S.S. United States

Photo credit: Save the United States

The largest passenger ship ever built in America, the United States was built by United States Lines in conjunction with the government and designed to be part luxury liner, part potential weapon. 100 feet longer than the Titanic, it has been called “the most famous ship that didn’t sink.”

And as the fastest cruise ship ever built, it was able to break the transatlantic speed record previously held by the Queen Mary, making the voyage in 3 days, 10 hours and 40 minutes.

While she traveled at an average speed of around 34 knots (or 39 miles per hour), reports of her speed were exaggerated at the time, a fact kept secret for many years. And while she held both the eastbound and westbound record for years, she eventually lost the former — in 1990 — to an ocean-going catamaran known as the Hoverspeed Great Britain.

Where Is She Now?

Photo credit: Save the United States

In 1969, the ship — which was no longer turning a profit — was retired from service, and although in 1977 there was a plan to see her relocated to Atlantic City to be used as a hotel and casino, that did not actually come to pass. Instead, she was sold for $5 million to a group which planned to revamp her into a time-share cruise ship. But this plan, too, hit the skids.

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The United States was eyed by other companies, including at one point Norwegian Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, and even the Navy, which considered converting her into a floating hospital. But in 1984, her fittings and furniture were auctioned off and in 1996, the ship was towed to her current location at Pier 84 in Philadelphia.

In the years since, the ship has been eyed by numerous groups, organizations and cruise lines, but nothing has come to pass. But a non-profit organization called the S.S. United States Conservancy is hoping to save what they have dubbed “America’s flagship.” Hoping to rally Americans around the cause, the group’s YouTube ad explains that, “like our country, the [ship] has beaten the odds. She remains afloat, and she is ready for renewal as a waterfront destination and a living museum of what unites us.”

How You Can Help

Photo credit: Save the United States

The conservancy is hoping to raise $500,000 by — appropriately enough — July 4th in order to convert the ship into a mixed-use museum and development complex. Unfortunately, the exorbitant cost of bringing the ship up to modern standards — not to mention completely rebuilding and renovating the interiors — make it unlikely that she will ever be used to ferry passengers again. However, if enough money isn’t raised to make converting her into something useable feasible, it’s likely that the United States will wind up scrapped or possibly even turned into a submerged reef.

There are, however, several ways in which you can help the effort to save the ship. The conservancy has organized a GoFundMePage, or for something a tad more personal, you can actually pick a particular square inch of the ship to save via the “explore and donate” option.

Featured photo: Save the United States

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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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