Thursday, 21 June 2018

A tale of two cruise lines

A tale of two cruise lines

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Two European businessmen created two different cruise lines in the 1990s. Both have been successful in their own terms, but one formula for success has a lot more scale than the other one.

The two lines are Silversea Cruises and MSC Cruises. Silversea was formed in 1994 by building two new ships straight out of the gate for the luxury market. It was marketed primarily, if not exclusively, in North America.

MSC took a different route. Created from the leftovers of the Lauro Lines in 1995, MSC operated used, some would say very used, tonnage. Like Carnival Cruise Line, it deployed its older ships to cater to the mass market. It was marketed primarily to Europeans, with a few winter itineraries in the Caribbean.

Silversea's first newly built ship, the Silver Cloud, was a thing of beauty. It was instantly competitive with other luxury vessels.

MSC's first newly built ship didn't arrive until a decade after the Silver Cloud was delivered and it was a takeover of an option that couldn't be exercised by the Greek line Festival Cruises when it went into bankruptcy.

Since launching, Silversea has acquired a fleet of nine ships, with two more vessels on order.

With the delivery of the MSC Seaview, MSC has 15 ships in its fleet, with another nine on order through 2026.

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Last week, Silversea and Royal Caribbean announced an agreement in which Royal will get a 67% equity stake for $1 billion. Silversea gives up its autonomy as a private company in exchange for continued growth and investment in its brand.

MSC is investing in its own future with a $10.5 billion newbuild program, and its autonomy is not in doubt.

MSC took a slower, less glamorous route to success but in the end, it is the company that stands independent.

Two major differences steered MSC and Silversea towards different outcomes. The first is that MSC Cruises was a side project for MSC chairman Gianluigi Aponte, whose main business, container shipping, made it easier to secure the financing that kept MSC's order book growing.

The second is that MSC operates in the low-price, high-profit segment of the cruise business. Catering to the mass market may not be where the glamour is, but it is where the money is. The finances of both MSC and Silversea are private, so it is perhaps unfair to say one is more profitable than the other.

Yet there's no doubt about the economies of scale that big ships produce, and the comments of executives at public companies that operate in both segments suggest that while luxury produces higher per-diems, big ships produce a more overall profit.

Disney Offers Unique Halloween at Sea

Disney Offers Unique Halloween at Sea

Halloween on the High Seas with Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line announced it will transform its ships for Halloween activities with "frightfully fun events and activities, special decorations, unique menu items in the restaurants and themed parties" on cruises this fall.
Halloween on the High Seas takes place on most voyages aboard the Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Wonder and Disney Magic from September through October.
The festivities include lively entertainment and elaborate décor, including The Pumpkin Tree, which magically transforms throughout the cruise.
Halloween on the High Seas with Disney Cruise Line
Other special experiences include:
Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, a celebration with games, dancing and candy! Beloved Disney characters, wearing special Halloween costumes just for the occasion will join guests for a costume party.
A Nightmare Before Christmas—Sing and Scream: an interactive movie experience where guests are part of the action, followed by a meet-and-greet with Jack Skellington and Sally.
Haunted Stories of the Sea, where guests gather under the stars to hear tales of the sea told by a mysterious sea captain storyteller.
Creepy Cabaret: a Halloween-themed music performed live in the atrium by a band of ghostly musicians.
Halloween Isn’t Just For Kids: For adults, the nighttime entertainment district becomes the ghoulish setting for a costume contest and a Villainous Takeover on the dance floor.
Spooky Movies: To get guests into the spirit of the season, Halloween-themed movies will be shown on Funnel Vision by the family pool and in staterooms.
Ghoulish Delights: Disney Cruise Line chefs will prepare some special treats for Halloween, including chocolate cake with pumpkin filling, spider cakes and “Spooky Juice.”
More spooky fun includes mask-making and a ghostly takeover of ship announcements, Disney said. 

Saga Sapphire to Leave Fleet in 2020

Saga Sapphire to Leave Fleet in 2020

Saga Sapphire
Saga Cruises today announced the Saga Sapphire will leave its fleet, with the last cruise heading to Norway on a "Musical Norway" sailing in spring of 2020.
"For Saga Sapphire’s last foray to the Norwegian fjords, we’re cruising off the beaten track for an in-depth exploration of this country’s beautiful fjords, mountains and villages," the company said.
The 10-night cruise leaves from Dover on April 11, 2020, and offers live jazz performances onboard while sailing 2,376 nautical miles through the Norwegian fjords.
Sailing roundtrip from Dover, calls include Alesund, Trondheim, Geiranger, Ulvik and Haugesund, along with four days at sea.
The Sapphire leaving Saga's fleet complete's the British company's fleet renewal program. The Pearl II will depart the Saga fleet in early 2019, making way for the Spirit of Discovery, a 1,000-guest new build that joins the fleet in summer 2019.
As the Sapphire leaves in early 2020, the Spirit of Adventure, a second newbuild, joins the fleet in summer 2020.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Star to Build Up Home porting Operation in Qingdao

Star to Build Up Homeporting Operation in Qingdao

SuperStar Aquarius
Star Cruises marked the inaugural sailing of the SuperStar Aquarius from her new Qingdao homeport earlier this week, and also announced the SuperStar Virgo would homeport in Qingdao starting in November.
Ang Moo Lim, President of Star Cruises said: “Back in 2002, Star Cruises had the privilege to pioneer Qingdao’s cruise industry development with the deployments of SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Capricorn to this beautiful port city. As we celebrate the inaugural sailing of SuperStar Aquarius in Qingdao, Star Cruises has officially set a new record number of homeport deployments by the same brand in Qingdao.
"Furthermore, to demonstrate the company’s commitment and dedication to the development of the Qingdao market, Star Cruises will deploy the SuperStar Virgo to homeport here in the autumn, making Star Cruises the only cruise line in history to have two cruise ships homeport in Qingdao in the same year. Star Cruises will also likely become the International cruise line with the highest number of homeport deployments in Qingdao this year.”
The SuperStar Aquarius will sail from Qingdao this summer to Japan, stopping in multiple ports including Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Sasebo and Beppu.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

MSC Seaview Calls in Valletta

MSC Seaview Calls in Valletta

Seaview in Valletta
Valletta Cruise Port has welcomed MSC Cruises newest ship, the MSC Seaview, which called for the first time on Wednesday, June 13.
The MSC Seaview, a ship bearing a Maltese flag registration, was named last week and was on its inaugural voyage, according to a statement.
In honour of the maiden call, a special event was held onboard the ship in the presence of the Honourable Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, honourable members of the Cabinet of Malta, local authorities and dignitaries, as well as business and industry leaders.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat highlighted the significant collaboration between Malta and MSC.
“Thanks to MSC we will see more guests visiting our Islands, wherein 2018, MSC ships will be entering port over 70 times with nearly 300,000 passengers," he said.
“We are proud to welcome MSC Seaview on her maiden call to Valletta Cruise Port and to be welcoming her on 22 other occasions in our scenic historic port, throughout her inaugural season in the Mediterranean this summer.  It is indeed a pleasure for Valletta Cruise Port to collaborate with MSC Cruises who entered the cruise industry 15 years ago. The company has left an indelible mark on an ever-evolving cruise industry. In the last five years, we have hosted over 880,000 passenger movements in Valletta sailing on MSC vessels. We congratulate MSC Cruises on their achievements and look forward to many more years of fruitful joint cooperation," commented Valletta Cruise Port’s CEO and Global Ports Holding COO, Stephen Xuereb.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman added: "Malta has always been important to us and we have been partners for many years. Our first cruise ship to call here was the Melody, back in the late nineties. Today, MSC Seaview, a next-generation cruise ship like no other, featuring some of the best and most innovative maritime and environmental technology at sea, will be calling Malta regularly in 2018”.
He added: "Moreover, MSC Seaview will be our third ship to fly the Maltese flag. And wherever we call, we proudly hoist the Maltese Cross. As such, the Maltese flag also stands for innovation, advanced technology, and maritime excellence. Today, MSC Seaview has for the first time arrived home, in her port of registry and many others ships will follow. All cruise ships that we have on order will also be registered here. In Malta, we have found a home for our new fleet ".
On arrival, the ship and its guests and crew were welcomed with the lively tunes of a traditional village band featuring a number of local favourites, along with international pieces. Prior to departure, guests were treated to a display of local folk dancing by dancers wearing Maltese traditional costumes, courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority.

Viking Orion Named by NASA Astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher in Italy

Viking Orion Named by NASA Astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher in Italy

Viking Orion Naming
Viking Ocean Cruises has named its fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion during a celebration in Livorno, Italy.
The ship was delivered to Viking last week and is currently sailing a maiden voyage with her ceremonial godmother, American chemist, emergency room physician and retired NASA astronaut.
Named after the prominent constellation and in honour of Dr. Fisher’s work on NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project, the 930-guest 47,800-ton Viking Orion arrived in Livorno early this morning, Viking said.
"Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family. Just three years ago we launched our first ocean ship, and now we are welcoming our fifth ship, whose name was selected to honour both the original Viking explorers who used the constellations for long-distance navigation, as well as the great space explorers of our time,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “We are grateful for Dr. Fisher’s many contributions to the scientific community, and we are humbled that she is godmother to Viking Orion. The spirit of exploration is at the heart of the Viking way of travel, and we look forward to welcoming guests onboard our newest ship, which has been designed to offer opportunities for learning about the great history of space exploration.”
Viking Orion Naming
Following her arrival this on Thursday morning, Viking Orion was positioned alongside the city’s historic Medici-built Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress). Livorno is known as a gateway to Tuscany, a region reached by the original Viking explorers.
Nearby, Pisa is also known for its native Galileo Galilei – “The Father of Science” – whose gravitational theories and the invention of the Galilean telescope have been central to advancements in oceanic navigation.
It was at the Fortezza Vecchia that in 1662 students of Galileo held an experiment to test his projectile motion theory.
Livorno – with its Fortezza Vecchia – was chosen specifically for Viking Orion’s naming ceremony because of those connections to scientific studies and exploration.
Viking Orion Naming
During the naming ceremony, guests enjoyed a high-tech show and musical concert that paid tribute to Nordic mythology and the spirit of exploration. Legendary British explorer Sir Ranulph “Ran” Fiennes served as the narrator for the event, which also included musical performances from Italian tenor Antonio Corianò, Norwegian bukkehorn musician Sissel Morken Gullord and Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, who is widely considered one of the world’s top crossover sopranos and who will also be godmother to Viking Jupiter, which debuts in early 2019.
In addition to the naming ceremony, “Finse Explores the Universe" was also released, the 14th book in the educational children’s book series, “The World of Finse”, which showcases the adventures of Viking Senior Vice President Karine Hagen’s yellow Labrador, Finse. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Rule Britannia: P&O Cruises’ flagship still rules the roost


Rule Britannia: P&O Cruises’ flagship still rules the roost


Britannia
This Article was produced by the Cruising Baker

Britannia may have just celebrated her third birthday, but she is still a special way to see the Caribbean
Cocktail in hand, basking in the warm glow of the Caribbean sun as it disappeared into the sea, I couldn’t think of a place I’d rather be.

High up on P&O Cruises’ flagship, Britannia is The Sunset Bar. You would often find me here, tucked away from the stresses of life, completely embracing the Caribbean vibes.

It was hard to believe that a week had passed since my early departure from Gatwick Airport.

Yet here I was sipping a Long Island Iced Tea in tropical conditions without a care in the world. In the famous words of P&O Cruises: ‘This is the life’.

My adventure? Sailing on Britannia as she finished her Caribbean season and travelled home across the Atlantic.

Two years of planning, a number of family celebrations and an amazing itinerary all added to the anticipation we felt. It had been a long time coming, but here I was, finally cruising the Caribbean.

It’s only fair to start with the aspect that truly made this cruise incredible – the itinerary. We spent twelve days sailing the Caribbean calling at six islands in total.

Embarking Britannia in St Lucia, famous for its lush valleys of coconut and banana plantations, the journey time from the airport to ship was an hour and a half, accompanied by a local guide.


From St Lucia we crossed to the ‘island of spice’, Grenada, one of my favourite ports of call. Here I explored how nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa was produced before sampling the locally brewed spiced rum, which certainly had a kick! A stop at the immersive Annandale Falls within the heart of the rainforest followed, watching the water cascade down whilst witnessing sponsored jumps to help raise money for the local community – a picture perfect memory if I ever saw one.

From Grenada we cruised the islands of St. Kitts, home to some of the best rainforest in the Caribbean, the French Territory of Martinique, the historic Antigua and, of course, Barbados, the Caribbean home of P&O Cruises.

It is true what they say – no two Caribbean islands are alike – and each has something unique to offer: whether it is culture, history, activities or exports.

If I had to choose my favourite, there is one that stands out, a favourite place of my late uncle’s, the gorgeous island of Antigua.

Usually, when you look forward to something this much there is always a risk it won’t live up to your expectations. But I needn’t have worried. The locals were friendly, the scenery incredible and the history intriguing, it’s truly a magnificent island and encompasses everything I love about the Caribbean.

Antigua also happened to be our last port in the Caribbean. And though it was incredibly bittersweet, I was excited to start my transatlantic crossing, even if it meant leaving the Caribbean behind.



Departing Antigua, eight sea days and a call into the Azores separated us from Southampton. I love sea days and after a very port intensive itinerary, these provided ample time to recharge with plenty of opportunities to explore onboard. It had been two years since I last sailed on Britannia, so how was she fairing?

There are signs of wear-and-tear, which you would expect, but the crew have maintained her well and there is no denying that she is still a stunning ship, radiating elegance and charm.

Her public spaces are well-designed from a practical viewpoint and, despite her size, she has an ambience which remains intimate and inviting, with echoes of her smaller sister Aurora creeping through. Certainly, at no point did I ever feel overwhelmed by the number of passengers onboard, something I was grateful for.

As for our accommodation, we plumped for neighbouring deluxe balcony cabins. Impressive and modern, almost minimalistic in decoration, they have the usual layout and amenities you would come to expect.

The balconies are narrow making them difficult to use comfortably but remain perfect for enjoying a glass of bubbly or two whilst sailing into the sunset.

Interestingly, there are no bedside lamps for reading, nor any coat hooks within the cabin. Minor issues, perhaps, but it seems strange that features which have been a staple part of cruise cabins for many years are missing. However, senior management did say these minor omissions should be addressed during her first refit in October 2019.

Regardless, Britannia’s atrium is spectacular, with her starburst feature illuminating the surrounding decks. It is undoubtedly the social hub of the ship, with many choosing to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat here.

Early on I developed an unexpected love with the Market Café, headed by celebrity chef, Eric Lanlard. On offer are crêpes and patisseries along with a selection of gourmet boards, all of which were delicious. In fact, a visit to the Atrium became a staple part of my daily routine, ensuring I received my much-needed afternoon tea and cake!

The Atrium’s glamour ripples throughout the rest of the ship’s numerous entertainment venues, bars and lounges – each having its own unique ambience and character. The Crow’s Nest was a favourite haunt of mine. A sophisticated feel with a nautical, yet modern theme, a spectacular view by day transforms to an evening of piano music and cocktails, or if like me, a journey through the rather large gin menu!

Given the itinerary, I didn’t particularly use the evening entertainment. The Headliners Theatre Company are worth mentioning, leading some of the best shows I’ve seen onboard, all developed to suit Britannia’s hi-tech theatre and LED screens, creating shows which are a spectacle to witness.

From productions celebrating the music of Queen to fairy tale stories with a touch of magic, there was something for everyone.

Unfortunately, Britannia’s top deck signature light spectacular left much to be desired. This is where her age was showing. Many lights appeared to be malfunctioning and the production quality was lacking.


Daytime entertainment was packed with activities, quizzes, events, movies, speakers, with more than enough to keep you occupied. As for me? I spent most of my time mesmerised by the sea, engrossed in a thrilling read or drinking a cocktail or two.

Speciality dining was incredible. Britannia has six speciality venues, including my favourites, The Beach House and Sindhu, along with The Glass House, Epicurean and The Limelight Club.

Each offers a varied menu with foods inspired from both home and away. We celebrated Mother’s Day in the finery of Epicurean, revelling in the culinary delights and flambé displays!

The main dining room didn’t make the best first impression, with food being served cold on several occasions. However, this was addressed with apologies from the Restaurant Manager who re-seated us in the Peninsular restaurant. Here we met the star of the crew, Francisco, who certainly made our dining experience a fun one. Thereafter we dined in ‘Francisco’s corner’, making memories to last a lifetime.

As the weather grew too cold to brave the outside bars, my last couple of day were spent looking through the ship's windows at the ever-darkening sea. Savouring every moment of my final days on board, I had time to reflect on the incredible itinerary that I had witnessed and the memories I had made, eager to find my next adventure.

Daniel Bradley is The Cruising Baker who writes about his two passions: cruising and baking! Check out his blog here to read more of his work.

Royal Caribbean announces a brand-wide withdrawal of single-use plastic straws

Royal Caribbean announces a brand-wide withdrawal of single-use plastic straws

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Single-use plastic straws are to be withdrawn across all 50 ships across Royal Caribbean Cruises brands by the end of the year.

The move is the first step towards a comprehensive plastics elimination across Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Tui Cruises and Pullmantur.

A “straws upon request” policy running for more than a year will see paper straws replacing plastic versions by early next year.

Passengers will start to see Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood coffee stirrers and bamboo garnish picks as part of the company’s plastic reduction strategy.

The focus will then switch to other single-use plastics such as condiment packets, cups, and bags.

A full plastics audit is underway, with the overall plan to be completed in phases by 2020.

Chairman and chief executive Richard Fain said: “Healthy oceans are vital to the success of our company.

“For over 25 years, our Save the Waves programme has guided us to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything we can. Eliminating single-use plastics is another step in that programme.”

MSC Cruises unveils plans to build fifth Meraviglia class vessel

MSC Cruises unveils plans to build fifth Meraviglia class vessel

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MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises aggressive fleet expansions plans are set to continue after the brand revealed plans to build a fifth Meraviglia-class vessel.

The line announced its decision to build a ship, due to be delivered in 2023, during a ceremony today (June 14) at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard in STX France.

The vessel will be the 13th ship to be built during MSC Cruises’ 10-year investment plan which will see the line double its capacity by 2020 and more than triple it by 2026.

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, said: “Our fifth Meraviglia-class cruise ship will bring a new generation of cutting-edge environmental technology to the market, benefiting from a new generation of LNG-powered engines.

“This will help us further reduce our environmental footprint and advance in our journey of constant improvement.”

The line also revealed at the event that the fourth Meraviglia-class vessel would be called MSC Virtuosa, which underwent its steel cutting ceremony today.

For the first time in Saint-Nazaire’s history, three cruise ships belonging to a single cruise brand are under simultaneous construction at the shipyard.

MSC’s agreement with STX France to add another ship to its order book represents an investment of €900 million.

Thursday’s event was held to mark three shipbuilding milestones: the steel cutting ceremony of the fourth Meraviglia class vessel, the coin ceremony of MSC Grandiosa and the float of MSC Bellissima.

MSC Bellissima will be christened at a ceremony in Southampton on March 2 2019.

The event will be attended by more than 2,000 guests, including VIPs and important British stakeholders.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Royal Caribbean Buys Silversea

Royal Caribbean Buys Silversea

Silver Muse
Royal Caribbean Cruises and Manfredi Lefebvre D'Ovidio, majority owner of Silversea Cruises, today announced an agreement for Royal Caribbean to acquire a stake in privately-owned Silversea Cruises.
Under the agreement, Royal Caribbean will acquire a 66.7% equity stake in Silversea Cruises based on an enterprise value of approximately $2 billion.  
The purchase price of the equity being acquired is approximately $1 billion.  Royal plans to finance the purchase through debt, the company said.
In addition, Lefebvre will qualify for an estimated contingent consideration of approximately 472,000 Royal Caribbean shares, payable upon achievement of certain 2019-2020 performance metrics.
"Silversea is a crown jewel, and the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. "Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests and create revenue in strategic growth areas."
Fain added: "We are proud to welcome aboard Manfredi Lefebvre, a visionary leader whose high standards and history of innovation we deeply respect. Manfredi will remain, Executive Chairman of Silversea, continuing to lead its strategy long term." 
"This partnership will bolster the growth of this exceptional brand founded by my father," said Lefebvre. "I have always been kindred spirits with Richard and we share a vision of offering excellence and leadership to our guests. This new partnership gives Silversea the opportunity to accelerate the growth of the most successful luxury and expedition cruising brand in the world."
The strategic rationale for the partnership includes: driving long-term capacity growth in the burgeoning luxury and expedition markets at a much larger scale than what Silversea would achieve independently; diversifying Royal Caribbean's portfolio and increasing its expedition offerings by adding a premiere ultra-luxury brand; leveraging the global footprint of the combined companies to generate demand and increase vacation and destination options for the guests of both companies and realizing significant synergies related to global market access, supply chain, purchasing power and other economies of scale.
Lefebvre said he is confident that the significant investment stake he is retaining will sizably increase its value through the growth this long-term partnership will enable.
Lefebvre and Fain also confirmed that Silversea's CEO Roberto Martinoli will continue in his role, working with the existing Silversea management team.

Three Inaugural Calls for Dover in May

Three Inaugural Calls for Dover in May

Viking Sun
The Port of Dover saw three first-time cruise calls in May, highlighted by the Viking Sun and also including the Deutschland and Zenith. 
The ships were greeted in true Dover Cruise style with a water salute from Dover Tugs Doughty and Dauntless, the port said.
In addition, the first bank holiday weekend saw the historic Western Docks at full capacity for the first time since 2016 with three cruise ships berthed together.
There was also a call from the expedition vessel, the Silver Cloud. The ship's guests enjoyed a unique kayaking experience to view the iconic White Cliffs up close.
Holland America Line's Prinsendam arrived in port on the Royal Wedding day on Saturday, May 19 to a celebratory great British Street Party in Cruise Terminal Two.
"Complimentary tempting food and drink were provided along with musical entertainment from the talented Nick Bosworth on piano and keyboard. Life-size cardboard figures of the Royal Family were positioned in the terminal where guests enjoyed taking selfies with them creating unique holiday memories. It was marvellous to see the affection passengers from all over the world have for our Royal Family," the port said.

Royal Caribbean Reveals China-Bound Spectrum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Reveals China-Bound Spectrum of the Seas

Spectrum of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International has announced details of the China-bound Spectrum of the Seas.
It will be the first of the line’s ships to have a private suite area, as the Quantum-class ship will also get new features, dining concepts and more for its 4,246 guests. The ship debuts in Shanghai next June.
“When Quantum of the Seas made her debut in Shanghai three years ago, it changed the face of cruising in China. Fast forward to today, and we are revealing just how we’ll transform the cruise vacation market, yet again, with the debut of Spectrum of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “The introduction of our highly anticipated Quantum Ultra Class will represent a quantum leap forward in ship design and experiences specifically tailored to Chinese guests.”
SkyPad
Custom built for the Chinese market, the Spectrum of the Seas will feature new experiences, including the iconic Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience located on the aft of the ship. Guests will strap in and don their VR headset to transport them to another time and planet.
The first Quantum Ultra ship will debut Royal Caribbean’s first exclusive suites-only area, which will feature the exquisite Golden and Silver suite accommodations in a private enclave at the forward end of the ship on decks 13 through 16, the company said.
Vacationers booked in these luxury suites will have special keycard access, a private elevator and a dedicated restaurant and lounge. In addition to a range of exclusive amenities, guests will have access to The Balcony – a private outdoor space.
The ship will get a three-level main dining room with 1,844 seats to serve a variety of Chinese and Western a la carte options rotating each day of the sailing. For guests looking for a more casual venue, the Windjammer Marketplace – 20 per cent larger than those on Quantum Class ships – will offer a wide buffet selection of Chinese and Western dishes, including noodles, pizza, Japanese teppanyaki and mini hot pot.  
Other speciality venues include Wonderland’s Dadong, a new outpost of Chinese chef Dong Zhenxiang, renowned for his much-coveted roast duck dish; Jamie’s Italian by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver; Izumi Japanese cuisine; and Chops Grille will join the lineup as well. In addition, the new Leaf and Bean traditional tea room and café parlour will debut on the Royal Esplanade. The spot will offer a range of authentic Chinese teas, classic coffee drinks as well as freshly baked Chinese and Western desserts and pastries.
Also for the local market will be Star Moment, a lively and energetic karaoke, the company said.
The cruise line also will enhance SeaPlex – the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea where families can enjoy bumper cars, roller skating and basketball – with new augmented reality walls and floors.
When Spectrum of the Seas debuts in April 2019, she will sail a 51-night transit voyage from Barcelona, Spain to Shanghai.
Meanwhile, the iconic and widely popular Quantum of the Seas will sail her farewell season from Shanghai before moving to Tianjin in summer 2019. The Voyager of the Seas is set to return to Hong Kong and Shenzhen for the summer and will sail a variety of itineraries calling on Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines.

Monday, 11 June 2018

MSC Seaview Christened in Genoa

Seaview Christened in Genoa

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MSC Christening in Genoa.

The MSC Seaview was christened on Saturday in Genoa in front of MSC executives, VIPs and key travel partners. 
The Seaview will spend the summer in Europe before the 4,140 guest ship moves to Brazil for the winter.
Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Group’s founder and executive chairman as well as the shipowner, attended the ceremony together with the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families.
From the christening of the MSC Seaview
The christening ceremony was hosted by the star of Italian TV, Swiss-born Michelle Hunziker who welcomed to the stage the "father of Italian blues" Zucchero Fornaciari.
TV star Lorella Cuccarini hosted a special moment on stage, and Italian children’s choir, Piccolo Coro Dell'Antoniano, performed as the UNICEF ambassadors.
Also taking to the stage was the young talent of belcanto, Matteo Bocelli, son of the world-famous Andrea Bocelli who sang at the christening of MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview’s sister ship in Miami last December.
Godmother Sophia Loren cut the ribbon to officially name Fincantieri-built MSC Seaview, the 13th MSC Cruises ship. 
Gianluigi Aponte and Cardinale Bagnasco
Also present at the ceremony was Ramon Freixa, the Spanish two Michelin-starred chef who has now extended his partnership with MSC Cruises to develop his first restaurant at sea onboard MSC Seaview. Pan-Asian chef Roy Yamaguchi, attended his second MSC Cruises’ ship christening to celebrate his second restaurant at sea, with his first launching on MSC Seaside. Other stars in attendance included Spanish model and actor Jon Kortajarena, Brazilian presenter and actor Giovanna Ewbank and French television personality Ariane Brodier.

Pride of America Returning to Kona, Hilo

Pride of America Returning to Kona, Hilo

Norwegian Cruise Line
PHOTO: Norwegian Pride of America (photo courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line)

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Carnival wins a challenge against Bermuda same-sex marriage ban

Carnival wins a challenge against Bermuda same-sex marriage ban

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A ban imposed against same-sex marriages on cruise ships registered in Bermuda is being lifted after a successful Carnival Corporation-backed legal challenge on the island

The Supreme Court in the British Overseas Territory yesterday upheld a constitutional challenge against the Domestic Partnership Act, allowing gay couples to once again be able to marry.

Chief justice Ian Kawaley, delivering his judgment, said the sections of the Act which revoked the right to same-sex marriage were invalid because they were inconsistent with provisions in the Constitution which give the right to freedom of conscience and creed.

It came after a court battle fought by gay Bermudians Rod Ferguson and Maryellen Jackson and the gay rights charity OutBermuda, with part funding by Carnival.

The ban, which came into force in February, meant P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises ships registered in Bermuda were prevented from conducting same-sex marriages on board.

Carnival had faced calls for a boycott due to some of its ships being registered in Bermuda.

Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “We are delighted that the supreme court of Bermuda has decided that same-sex marriage is legal in Bermuda and we congratulate OutBermuda on its hard-won challenge.

“As a result of the judgment, it will also now be legal for same-sex couples to marry onboard cruise ships registered in the country.

“As a company committed to equality, inclusion and diversity, we believe everyone deserves equal dignity and respect, and we are proud to have provided our support to OutBermuda’s efforts to champion marriage equality.

“We will now be working closely with the Bermudan authorities to understand when we will be able to resume marrying same-sex couples on board.”

The Domestic Partnership Act was passed by Bermuda’s parliament in December, reversing a supreme court ruling from May last year, which enabled gay couples to marry on the island.

The new legislation came into force on Friday, revoking the right of gay couples to marry and offering them – and heterosexual couples – the option of a legally-recognised civil union.

But chief justice Kawaley’s ruling will mean gay couples can wed once more and domestic partnerships will also be available.

The DPA meant Bermuda was the only country in the world to have allowed gay marriage and then revoked that right.

Ferguson then launched a crowdsourced civil case on the grounds that his constitutional rights had been breached.

Jackson and OutBermuda, with partial funding from Carnival Corporation, later filed a separate lawsuit and asked for it to be joined with Ferguson’s case.

However, the Bermuda government has an automatic right to appeal the ruling and it will not go into effect immediately.

The chief justice agreed to an application by solicitor-general Melvyn Douglas to stay the effect of the judgment for six weeks until it decides whether to appeal, meaning the current ban on same-sex marriage will remain in place, according to Bermuda’s Royal Gazette newspaper.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Norwegian Joins Trash Free Seas Alliance

Norwegian Joins Trash Free Seas Alliance

Norwegian Cruise Line Funnel
Marking World Oceans Day, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced today that it has partnered with Ocean Conservancy. The company will join  Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance, actively working toward solutions that will mitigate plastic waste entering the ocean., Norwegian announced.
“The success of our business is dependent on the health of our oceans and, together with Ocean Conservancy, we are taking a step forward in our commitment to protect the world’s oceans," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “We are excited to lead the cruise industry by joining the Trash Free Seas Alliance and support Ocean Conservancy’s vision of a world with waterways, beaches and oceans free of plastic waste.”
Founded in 2012, the Trash Free Seas Alliance brings together thought leaders from industry, conservation and academia to create a forum for pragmatic, real-world collaboration focused on the measurable reduction of ocean trash.
”Nothing connects people to the ocean more than time spent on the water, and with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings offering that experience to more than 2.5 million guests each year, we believe this is a tremendous opportunity to foster greater stewardship of our oceans,” said Janis Searles Jones, chief executive officer at Ocean Conservancy. “What’s more, Ocean Conservancy believes strongly that it will take all of us—including industry leaders—to stem the tide of ocean plastic. We are grateful for Norwegian’s leadership and look forward to working with them to reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the ocean.”

Viking Takes Delivery of Fifth Ocean Ship

Viking Takes Delivery of Fifth Ocean Ship


Viking Cruises
PHOTO: Infinity pool on Viking Cruises ship (photo courtesy Viking Cruises)

Friday, 8 June 2018

AIDAnova Gets Her Smile

AIDAnova Gets Her Smile

AIDAnova
The new AIDAnova officially has her smile, as AIDA announced its trademark hull art had been applied to the new LNG-powered ship at the Meyer Werft facility in Papenburg.
"The exterior painting of smiling lips, eye, eyelid and a wave is applied to all AIDA ships based on an idea from the Rostock artist Feliks Büttner. The smiling lips are the first element, and already adorn 250 m² of the ship’s bow. It took 50 litres of black, orange, and red paint to paint the brand symbol," AIDA said, in a prepared statement.
The AIDAnova will be christened in Papenburg on August 31, 2018, during the AIDA Open Air, a concert event.
The ship will be delivered in November and is scheduled to start revenue sailings in December in the Canary Islands.

Jotun: Higher Raw Material Costs Will Force Price Increase

Jotun: Higher Raw Material Costs Will Force Price Increase

SkySea Drydocking
Jotun has posted a profit before taxes of NOK 464 million on revenues of NOK 5.6 billion for the first four months of 2018, compared to profit before taxes of NOK 643 million on revenues of NOK 5.3 billion for the same period last year.
The company said that sales increased by 6 per cent compared with the same period last year, driven by growth in Decorative Paints and in the Protective and Powder Coatings segments. However, weak demand for new tonnage in the shipping industry depressed sales of Jotun Marine Coatings.
According to Jotun CEO Morten Fon, one in five vessels trading today are coated by Jotun.
"Jotun remains the world's largest marine coatings supplier so when the market is weak, it impacts our business,” he said. “In the short term, we do not anticipate improvement in this market. The remaining three segments experience good sales growth”.
The decline in earnings was also attributed to rising raw material prices as well as lower sales of marine coatings.
“We have seen weak marine and offshore markets for a long time, and expect this to continue also going forward,” said Fon. “We have taken steps to adjust to this challenge by controlling costs rigorously. As the effect of increased raw material prices will continue to influence Jotun in the months to come, price increases will be necessary.”

MSC Cruises chief warns yields could drop amid mass growth

MSC Cruises chief warns yields could drop amid mass growth

Image result for msc seaview
MSC Seaview

Cruise line yields could fall in the future due to the volume of new ships entering the market in the next decade, according to the boss of MSC Cruises.

A total of 106 ships are expected to launch between 2017-26, including 12 alone from MSC Cruises. Other mainstream cruise brands such as Royal Caribbean International has six ships on its order books and Norwegian Cruise Line has seven. 48 expedition and luxury ships are also planned.

Asked whether occupancy levels were at risk of falling from so much growth, chief executive Gianni Onorato told delegates at the ITT Conference in Sicily: “No, we are not crazy. But in difficult times it can have an impact on yields more than occupancy. So I think this will be more of an issue than occupancy levels.”

Onorato said the slowdown in cruise bookings last year in the UK was due to a “lack of capacity” in 2017 and said he was very “optimistic” about the British market going forward.

He said the biggest challenge facing cruise lines was future proofing ships which are built to last 20 years.

“Knowing what guests want in 2040 when you’re building them now is very difficult to predict so we need to have a flexible mindset and be able to follow guests’ needs (in terms of technology) but at the same time maintain human contact,” Onorato said.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Carnival Rolls Out Enhanced Casino Program

Carnival Rolls Out Enhanced Casino Program

There’s fun for all ages on the new Carnival Horizon.( Photo by Andy Newman courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.)
There’s fun for all ages on the new Carnival Horizon. ( Photo by Andy Newman courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.)

High rollers on the high seas now have more to look forward to aboard Carnival Cruise Line.
A refresh of the Carnival Players Club casino program is bringing new offers and experiences to the table. And, the benefits apply ashore, as well.
The program includes a new “Dealer’s Choice” offer with exclusive cruise savings opportunities, complimentary in-casino drinks for qualified guests, and invitation-only Carnival Players Club events.
Carnival has also upgraded several new programs that provide guests with an enhanced cruise and casino experience. Value-added benefits, privileges and exclusive events are based on the level of play. Four different program levels include Getaway, designed for players interested in a short vacation. It’s available on three- to five-day cruises. Guests receive extras such as in-stateroom gifts, priority check-in and luggage delivery, complimentary in-casino drinks for qualified players, and a chance to win up to $10,000 in free play, cash, and prizes.
The Premier level is for more avid players. Premier is available on cruises of six days or longer. Guests receive all the benefits of the Getaway program. Additionally, they receive a complimentary pre-cruise gift, priority debarkation, a special Welcome Aboard party, invitation-only casino tournaments, and a chance at $20,000 in free play, cash, and prizes every cruise.
Loyal players will receive an invitation to the Ultra level. They’ll receive all the benefits of the Premier program, plus a chance to win $100,000 in cash and gifts on board.
The Elite program is reserved for the line's best players. It provides perks such as complimentary parking or local airport pick-up and drop-off; early stateroom access, complimentary drinks throughout the cruise; a free shore excursion and Wi-Fi; special Welcome Aboard and sail away parties, and VIFP Platinum status for the entire voyage.
“Carnival offers the most enjoyable and rewarding casinos aboard our 26 ships and with our enhanced Carnival Players Club program we’re providing our valued guests with a variety of expanded offers and unique experiences simply based on their level of play,” said Marty Goldman, Carnival’s senior vice president of global casino operations.
Additional enhancements to the program include new branding and logos, plus a new Carnival Players Club web site.
The line's newest ship, Carnival Horizon, was christened in New York a few weeks ago.

Norwegian Bliss Arrives in Seattle

Norwegian Bliss Arrives in Seattle

Norwegian Bliss
The Port of Seattle officially welcomed the Norwegian Bliss on Wednesday.
The arrival of Norwegian Bliss marks a major milestone for the Port of Seattle, according to a statement, which over the last 18 years has transformed into the largest and fastest growing cruise business on the west coast, while earning a reputation for progressive environmental protections.
The Port of Seattle has a special relationship with Norwegian Cruise Line, as they were the first cruise line to homeport in Seattle over eighteen years ago, the port said.
Norwegian Bliss
Together, through a public-private partnership, Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 was renovated and expanded to welcome the largest ship to homeport in Seattle and cruise to Alaska – Norwegian Bliss.
“The Port of Seattle is thrilled to host the magnificent Norwegian Bliss and her passengers for many Alaska cruise seasons to come,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Courtney Gregoire. “Cruise ships like Norwegian Bliss meet our objectives of increasing economic opportunity in our region while constantly raising the bar on environmental sustainability. We thank Norwegian for their eighteen years of partnership with the Port of Seattle, and look forward to many more to come.”
Norwegian Bliss
 “We are proud of our partnership with the Port of Seattle, where we have cruised out of for nearly two decades,” said Andy Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “Tomorrow will mark an exciting evolution of our relationship. For the first time in the company’s history, we will christen our newest and most innovative ship in Seattle, before she begins her inaugural season cruising to Alaska. We look forward to a promising future and continuing to work with the Port of Seattle to further expand cruising opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.”
Norwegian Bliss Photos - https://flic.kr/s/aHsmbCHEP7
Norwegian Bliss Go-Carting Video - https://youtu.be/Qufyio_TZdc
Norwegian Bliss Laser Tag Course Video - https://youtu.be/UcDix1IO2s8