The Cayman Islands announced plans to create an underwater attraction for scuba divers and snorkelers from a decommissioned U.S. Navy ship.
Ownership of the USS Kittiwake, a 2,290-ton submarine rescue ship, will be transferred from the U.S. Maritime Administration to the Cayman Islands government this fall.
Toxic materials must first be removed from the vessel, built in 1945, before the ship is sunk next year in the Caribbean Sea as an artificial reef. It has been anchored for years among rusting hulks of the James River Reserve Fleet, commonly known as the "Ghost Fleet," in Fort Eustis, Va.
The 251-foot Kittiwake should attract large schools of fish to deserted cabins and halls, according to Charles Clifford, the islands' minister of tourism.
The Cayman Islands, a British dependency and offshore banking haven, already is well known among divers around the world.
In 1996, the Caribbean territory sank a 330-foot Russian destroyer in 60 feet of water off Cayman Brac.
The wreck, now decorated with a thick coating of sponges and corals, has attracted an assortment of tourists and fish.
New stops for Disney cruises
Disney Cruise Line is offering a number of new destinations to choose from in 2010, including St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tunisia.
Booking for the cruises opens Tuesday. Call a travel agent or go to www.disneycruise.com.
The St. Petersburg stop is on the Disney Magic's 12-night Northern European Capitals cruise, offered in June and July 2010. The ship will depart Dover, England, for Oslo, Norway, Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden, among other ports. The cruise will overnight in St. Petersburg with a shore excursion option to Moscow for the second day. Rates start at $3,649 before fees.
In April, May, August and September, the Disney Magic returns to the Mediterranean with 10- and 11-night cruises to Italy, France and Spain, plus three new ports of call: Tunis, Malta and Corsica. Rates start at $2,529 per person before fees.
Disney will also offer four repositioning cruises: two 14-night trans-Atlantic voyages, a seven-night cruise from Barcelona, Spain, to Dover, England, and an eight-night cruise from Dover to Barcelona.
The Disney Wonder will shift in 2010 from three-night trips to four- and five-night cruises to Nassau, Key West and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. Rates for the five-night trips departing Port Canaveral start at $899 per person before fees.
Trans-Atlantic cruise deals
Every fall, cruise lines move their ships across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to warmer waters for the winter season. We're seeing some great rates, though air fares must be tacked on:
• Royal Caribbean is offering a 15-day cruise from Barcelona to the Port of Houston, and rates start as low as about $42 per night after fuel surcharge, taxes and fees. The cruise departs on Nov. 29 and stops in Cartagena, Spain; Madeira, Portugal; the Canary Islands; Nassau, Bahamas; and Miami before reaching Texas. When we priced this cruise, inside cabins started at $399, ocean view cabins were $599 and balcony cabins were $1,299.
• Norwegian Cruise Line has a 13-day repositioning cruise from Barcelona to New York City that departs on Nov. 16. Stops include the Italian cities of Pisa and Rome. Prices per person start at $349 for an inside cabin, $549 for an ocean view, $749 for a balcony and $949 for a suite before fees.
• Carnival offers rates starting at about $55 per night after fees on 16-day sailings from Rome to Fort Lauderdale leaving Oct. 29. Stops are Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Madeira, Portugal; and St. Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles. Prices start at $699 per person before fees for an inside cabin. Carnival has a similar cruise starting at $849 per person before fees departing Rome on Nov. 6 that stops in the Canary Islands instead of Madeira.
A Caribbean taste of Ireland
Fans of Irish music will be treated to 40 hours of entertainment aboard Celebrity Cruise Lines' Summit Jan. 31-Feb. 7.
The 18th annual Irish Festival Cruise features Cherish the Ladies, the Black Brothers, Tommy Sands, Johnny McEvoy and other musicians as well as world champion Irish dancers Donny Golden and Dan Stacey.
Sailing round-trip from San Juan, Puerto Rico, the voyage calls at St. Maarten, Dominica, Grenada, Bonaire and Aruba. Prices start at $1,199 per person for an inside cabin before fees, $1,579 for an ocean view cabin and $1,729 for a veranda stateroom.
The trip is offered by Irish Festival Cruises (toll-free 1-800-441-4277; www.irishtours.com).