San Francisco: Your port entry for worldwide cruising
By Kathy Chin Leong

A record number of cruises leaving from the port of San Francisco means that you can cruise to more places than ever before without having to fly to your port locations first. At the recent San Francisco Cruise Expo, a whose-who of cruise liners showed up to announce excursions planned for 2005.
According to SF port authories, after 9/11, the public was hesitant to fly. Cruises have become more popular than ever and meanwhile, the pressure is on for port authorities to accommodate luxury liners.

PRINCESS


In May and throughout the summer, travelers can board the Regal Princess on Princess Cruises for a 10-day vacation from SF to Alaska. That’s not all. Princess also announced 10-day sailings on its Dawn Princess from Sept. 21 to May 9, 2006 to go to Mexico. Folks who want a cruise sampler can sail to Vancouver on 2 and 3 day excusions in May, September and May of 2006.

Kids can participate in a junior ranger program, pizza parties, and have their own video game parties. On certain ships, kids enjoy a sleepover under the stars.

CELEBRITY


Premium cruise line Celebrity cruises is offering a variety of SF to Mexican Riviera cruises for 10 and 11 nights starting at $700 per person, and 7-night California Coastal excursion in April for $700.

This high-end ship greets each passenger with a white gloved attendant who hands out a glass of champagne. Celebrity ships feature exclusive spas and gourmet restaurants, and one crew member for every two passengers.
Entertainment is crème de la crème with an exclusive contract with members of Cirque du Soleil for the evening shows.

While it does not emphasize its children’s program, it does have a kids and teens setup with daily activities.

CRYSTAL


Crystal Cruses will feature ten roundtrips to Alaska this season. Featuring medium-sized cruise liners that hold approximately 940 passengers (as opposed to 1,950 on Celebrity ships), this tour emphasizes high quality education. Imagine learning to play piano in a week, becoming a gourmet cook, speaking a new language…you can sign up for free classes on the Harmony or Symphony ships. Kids can also take etiquette classes, among other courses with experienced camp counselors.

Unlike other cruises, all beverages are included and cruisers have a choice between four restaurants including Italian and Asian cuisine.

YORKTOWN CLIPPER


For a 6-day cruise that goes local, you can take a Yorktown Clipper cruise which is a smaller ship compared to other lines. With the Clipper leaving from port in April, May, and October, passengers will go to Napa for a wine country tour. Prices start at $2,000 per person.

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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES:

* www.clippercruise.com .
* www.crystalcruises.com
* www.celebrity.com
* www.princess.com

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