Friday, 13 December 2019

A ‘Confident’ Carnival Cruise Line plans more European deployment

A ‘Confident’ Carnival Cruise Line plans more European deployment

Carnival Legends signature Funnal. Photo credit Dave Jones

Carnival Cruise Line’s chief operating officer has suggested more ships will be deployed in Europe after the line gained “confidence” in the US market.

The US-based line has 18 homeports around North America and has never consistently based ships in Europe.

There were no Carnival ships based in Europe last summer.

However, Carnival Legend and Carnival Radiance will both operate in the Mediterranean next summer while yet-to-launch 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras will visit the UK as it repositions to the US.

Carnival will offer nine departures out of Dover on 2,124-passenger vessel Carnival Legend in 2021.

Speaking on the maiden voyage of the line’s new ship Carnival Panorama in the Mexican Riviera, Gus Antorcha said: “With Europe, we focused and then pulled back a little bit and then focused. You will see Europe becoming more important.

Dover seafront photo credit Dave Jones

“We have grown in the US so that gives us more confidence that we can fill a ship at good yields and there is still demand. When we design the right deployment in Europe, it is very popular.”

Antorcha said it was vital that when Carnival tries a market “we should try and stay there for a number of years” as agents were able to build their knowledge and learn from customer feedback.

“It is easier to sell if you’re selling the same product,” he added. “It gives consistency. Some of our sister lines and competitors are moving ships all over the world and they are adding new itineraries every week. That is harder to sell if you are sell.

“If you are selling a consistent product you build the feedback on the product.”

Iain Baillie, the line’s vice president of international sales, called on agents to encourage the line to base ships in Europe by ensuring passengers were “profitable”.

“It is up to us,” he said. “It is how we educate our guests. We want to make sure our guests are profitable – we want them to choose the bars, the casino and the excursions. If we can get those metrics correct we can keep the ships coming.

“For us to have nine ex-Dover departures [in 2021] – we are going to jump all over that. It is going to be a race though because that [European] deployment is very popular with the US market.”

Christine Duffy, the line’s president, told Travel Weekly: “We feel with Carnival Legend – a Spirit-class ship – we can have some consistent European summer deployment.

“We will put the capacity where we feel we can generate the demand.”

Antorcha said the line’s net promoter scores given by passengers had risen by “25% to 30%” since he first took over as chief operating officer in November 2017. Antorcha briefly left Carnival earlier this year to become the chief executive of SeaWorld Entertainment before returning in October to his former role.

“Now we are north of 50ish, which is very high,” he said.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

New Seabourn expedition ship to be christened in London

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Seabourn’s first expedition ship Seabourn Venture will be christened in Greenwich before its maiden voyage.

The 132-suite ship will call into the London port in June 2021 before sailing on to Oslo.

It will visit more than 150 destinations through to April 2022.

Seabourn Venture will operate a pre-inaugural sailing to London from Lisbon after it has been delivered by shipyard T.Marriotti in Italy.

UK managing director Lynn Narraway revealed the christening location to Travel Weekly at an event in London on Friday.

More:  New details of expedition ship revealed by Seabourn

Senior vice president, global sales and marketing, Chris Austin, also gave more details about the line’s second expedition ship due in 2022.

He revealed that the vessel’s debut programme would go on sale in “four to six weeks” and that the name would be announced in February.

“We are trying to get our itineraries out much earlier,” Austin said, adding that the line had recruited a second member of staff to its itinerary planning team.

He added that the US ban on cruises to Cuba had got “in the way” of deployment planning.

“We had planned five [Cuba] itineraries so we had to plan five more,” Austin said.

“[Cuba cruise ban] was probably the biggest obstacle we have ever had.”

House Oakland's Homeless on a Cruise Ship?

House Oakland's Homeless on a Cruise Ship?

Port of Oakland
The Oakland, California city council president has floated an idea to house 1,000 of the city's homeless on a cruise ship, according to local news reports.
At a public meeting Tuesday, Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan said a ship in the city's harbour could act as emergency housing for the city's ballooning homeless population, which rose from 1,900 to more than 3,200 since 2018, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Kaplan reportedly plans to officially propose the idea in January.
The council president claimed to already be in discussions with cruise lines about the project, which would offer cabin space on a pay-what-you-can scale, based on income.
She said similar efforts had worked to temporarily shelter aid workers after natural disasters and to house Olympic athletes.
Obvious unaddressed problems include the overall cost of per-square-foot cruise cabins versus shoreside apartments:
  • Fuel and crew pay to get a ship to Oakland.
  • Fuel to operate the ship while in the harbor.
  • California shoreside power regulations, both current and future.
  • Wastewater produced by the ship.
  • Freshwater needed for the ship.
  • Paying the necessary ship's crew while in the harbor.
  • Comparatively quick degradation of ship infrastructure versus that of land-based buildings.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

National Geographic Endurance Floats Out

National Geographic Endurance Floats Out

National Geographic Endurance
Lindblad Expeditions Holdings celebrated the float out of National Geographic Endurance in Ulstein Verft, Norway on Saturday, December 7, 2019.
National Geographic Endurance
The first polar newbuild for the line, the 126-guest vessel is fully stabilized with the highest ice class (PC5 Category A) of any purpose-built passenger vessel, according to a press release.
The vessel is scheduled for delivery in January 2020.
Carnival Cruise Line names final Vista-class ship

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Carnival Cruise Line has officially named Carnival Panorama in Long Beach, California, where the 4,008-passenger ship will be based.

No cruise line has deployed a new ship on the US west coast for 25 years, Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy told more than 2,000 guests at last night’s ceremony onboard.

Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison, Arnold Donald, the corporation’s chief executive; and Princess Cruises’ president Jan Swartz were just some of the leading industry figures in attendance for the naming of the line’s final Vista-class ship.

Chefs Guy Fieri, Emeril Lagasse and Rudi Sodamin were all given a rousing reception by the crowd on the ship’s lido deck.

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Duffy said: “This is the first new ship that will homeport here year-round for 25 years. We are very happy to homeport [Carnival Panorama] here in Long Beach alongside Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Imagination.”

Carnival Panorama has several new features including cooking school Carnival Kitchen, trampoline park Sky Zone and military veterans venue Heroes Tribute Bar.

Duffy said Heroes Tribute Bar on deck five was the feature which had “the most meaning”.

“At Carnival Cruise Line, we look to the godmother to personify the Carnival mission,” added Duffy, who introduced Carnival Panorama’s godmother Vanna White.

TV host White, who has starred in US game show Wheel of Fortune for 37 years, officially named the ship by pressing a button which smashed a bottle against the ship’s hull.

She said: “This naming of a brand-new ship is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I will never forget.

“Thank you, Carnival Cruise Line, for allowing me to serve as the ship’s godmother. I just know that the ship will provide endless fun for families for years to come.”

Carnival Panorama is operating six, seven and eight-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach year-round.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

New Zealand tragedy: Royal Caribbean issues hotline numbers

New Zealand tragedy: Royal Caribbean issues hotline numbers

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The death toll from the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand rose overnight while two British women are among the injured.

As many as 13 people are presumed to have died, including eight still missing on White Island.

Thirty-eight of the tourists visiting the island when disaster struck at 2.11pm local time on Monday were reported to be passengers and crew from Royal Caribbean International ship Ovation of the Seas.

Police said a total of 47 people had been on the island – a popular tourist attraction – at the time.

There were 24 visitors from Australia, nine from the US, five from New Zealand, four from Germany, two from China and one person from Malaysia.

A total of 27 people were taken to hospital with burns to a third of their bodies. Others are also suffering from inhalation burns.

Two British women were among those receiving treatment, according to Laura Clarke, the UK High Commissioner to New Zealand.

Royal Caribbean set up hotlines, including 0800-014-8339 in the UK, for those concerned about relatives travelling onboard Ovation of the Seas.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he “feared” three of the five confirmed dead were from Australia.

He said that 24 Australians were from a cruise ship exploring the island in the Bay of Plenty when the volcano erupted. Of those, 13 people had been hospitalised and 11 were unaccounted for, he added.

There were two groups on the island at the time, “those who were able to be evacuated and those who were close to the eruption,” according to New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

Some survivors were rescued by boat in the immediate aftermath, but police said it was too dangerous to mount a rescue operation.

Helicopter rescue flights later picked up several people from the privately-owned island, 30 miles off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Ovation of the Seas had been docked at Tauranga, a coastal city near White Island.

Royal Caribbean said: “The news from White Island is devastating. The details that are emerging are heartbreaking.

“We are working to help our guests and the authorities in the aftermath of this tragedy in any way we can.

“We are communicating with our guests and their families. We’re making sure they are taken care of in terms of medical help, counselling, accommodations, and transport. Our hearts go out to them, and we want to be as supportive as we can.

“Staff from our Sydney and Auckland offices office are already on-site, and we’re going to be offering all our resources while this terrible tragedy sorts out.

“We are grateful for the work of all the first responders and medical personnel. We also thank the prime minister and her team, the local authorities and everyone who has reached out to help with their kind thoughts and prayers.”

Ovation of the Seas was on a 12-day itinerary which left Sydney last Wednesday.

White Island or Whakaari is one of New Zealand’s most active volcanoes yet attracts frequent day trips and scenic flights.

In updated travel advice, the FCO said: “The Whakaari/White Island volcano erupted on 9 December. Emergency response is underway. If you are travelling in the area, you should follow the advice of the local authorities and/or your tour operator.

“If you’ve been affected by the incident and need urgent consular assistance, you should contact the British High Commission in Wellington on +64 (0) 4 924 2888.

“If you are in the UK and you’re concerned about friends or relatives in the area, you should contact the FCO in London on 020 7008 1500.”

Around 200,000 British nationals visit New Zealand every year.

Low-interest savings account a negative for cruise sales

Low-interest savings account a negative for cruise sales


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Amid all the positive signs for cruise growth going into 2020, one thing that remains troubling is the continued low return for savings.
Interest rates continue to be anaemic by historical standards, which should give pause to an industry still dependent to a great degree on seniors.
Unemployment is low, home sales are healthy, inflation subdued, the stock market at record highs. All of those things bode well for cruise sales. But anybody on a fixed income hasn't gotten a raise for quite a while.
I wrote about this seven years ago, and remarkably little has changed. Yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note closed 2012 at 1.76%, and as I write this the yield on the 10-year is currently 1.79%. For savers, it takes a nice sum in the bank or in CDs to be able to afford a cruise on that kind of return.
Interest rates did move up above 3% for a good part of 2018 as the Federal Reserve tried to wean the economy off of artificially low money rates that have been in place since the 2008-09 recession.
But it was forced to back off because of weak economies in Europe. Interest rates in Germany and some other European countries are now negative, which explains why Aida and Costa Cruises have had such a lousy year.

Christie Brinkley named Seven Seas Splendor godmother

Christie Brinkley named Seven Seas Splendor godmother

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Former supermodel Christie Brinkley will be the Seven Seas Splendor godmother when the ship is christened in Miami on Feb. 21.
"Christie Brinkley is a universally beloved icon who is synonymous worldwide for her beauty, style and commitment to health and happiness," said Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. 

"It's fitting that the godmother of Seven Seas Splendor reflects timeless elegance, vitality and sophistication, as Regent has perfected all the details of luxury onboard Seven Seas Splendor."

Brinkley gained fame with her three consecutive appearances on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, starting in 1979. She is also known for her appearance in "National Lampoon's Vacation" as the girl in the red Ferrari and as a longtime model and spokeswoman for CoverGirl cosmetics.
The Regent Seven Seas Cruises ship is a 750-passenger sibling of the Seven Seas Explorer.

NCL's Silver Cove villas open on Great Stirrup Cay

NCL's Silver Cove villas open on Great Stirrup Cay


Norwegian Cruise Line's deluxe Silver Cove area of its Great Stirrup Cay private island in the Bahamas has opened for guests.
Silver Cove includes an oceanfront lagoon area and private beach, 38 beachfront villas, a Mandara Spa as well as a new Moet Bar and the Silver Cove Restaurant and Bar.
The air-conditioned villas range from studios to larger one- and two-bedroom villas and they are equipped with a full bathroom, daybed, club chairs, TV with on-demand entertainment and outdoor patio and lounge seating.
Villa prices range from $299 to $1,100 per day, depending on size and season.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Carnival expects Panorama's cooking classes to sizzle

Carnival expects Panorama's cooking classes to sizzle

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Occupying 1,350 square feet on the Panorama's Deck 4, the Carnival Kitchen will feature nine cooking stations.

Will guests who pick their vacation primarily for fun find it in a classroom? Carnival Cruise Line is about to find out. The line's newest Fun Ship, the Carnival Panorama, will be it's first to have a culinary studio for cooking classes.
Occupying 1,350 square feet on Deck 4, the Carnival Kitchen features nine cooking stations designed for 18 students per class. With its debut, Carnival becomes the first contemporary cruise line to offer a full-time space for cooking instruction.
To date, culinary arts centres have been more common on ships that sail for premium or luxury lines, which tend to have longer, more global itineraries that involve more sea days than mass-market lines. In addition to catering to the desire for enrichment and engagement, the luxury lines' culinary centres provide guests with something to do while their ship is travelling on long ocean legs between ports.
However, Carnival's voyage model is the opposite: short cruises sailing from domestic ports with frequent stops.
Cyrus Marfatia, the cruise line's vice president of culinary and dining, said he's confident that a culinary centre can succeed, in part thanks to the line's experience with its 16-person Chef's Table on other ships.
"When we started, we used to do it twice a week, and maybe the second [session] wouldn't even fill up, and that's only 16 seats," Marfatia said. "Now we find that on ships like the Horizon and Vista, we do six days a week and there's always a waitlist."
That growth resulted in revised thinking about the concept.
"We felt there is a lot of natural demand for people to deal with food and learn food, so we thought of it as ‘Why not? Why not try it?'" he said. "And we were pleasantly surprised, because when we opened it up for reservations, it was very, very positive, and it had limited awareness."
The Carnival Panorama is scheduled to launch Dec. 14 and sail seven-day, roundtrip itineraries to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, Calif. Marfatia said there are three sea days on the itinerary, providing a fair chance to sample the Carnival Kitchen.
On sea days, Carnival plans to hold up to three one-hour classes during the day plus a two-hour evening session that combines a class with dinner. The day classes are $30 per person, the evening ones are $59.
On port days, the $30 buys a two-hour combined class and lunch, a little extra incentive for those who feel they might be missing something by not going ashore, Marfatia said. There is also a two-hour dinner class.
Marfatia said that because of the types of foods they will be making, guests won’t get bored. Classes come with fun course titles such as "Bake Shop & Pie Town," "Tailgate Party" and "It's an Ice Cream Kind of Day."
"We have a pie-making class. We have an entertaining class, pizza. All of these are fun things to do," said Marfatia, who added that the format is also family-friendly. "So fun and education kind of come together."
Carnival has tapped Juliana Barrera, a Colombian chef who has worked at Carnival for several years, to run the program. In addition to teaching, she will enlist guest chefs drawn from Panorama's diverse galleys who are experts in ethnic specialities such as Indian or Mexican.
A course titled "The Orient Unknown" may be taught by a Thai or Indonesian chef, Marfatia said.
"If there is a sushi-making class, a chef from Bonsai will come and visit," he said, referring to the name of the line's sushi bar.
Culinary studios took off about a decade ago with their inclusion on the Oceania Cruises newbuilds Marina and Riviera. But the 4,000-passenger Panorama is triple the size of those ships, so if the classes prove popular, they may be oversubscribed.
Marfatia said that if the sea days sell out, Carnival would consider adding more classes on port days.
Carving out dedicated space for culinary instruction is taking a bit of a chance, Marfatia admitted, because real estate comes at such a premium on a cruise ship. On other Carnival ships, sometimes even the Chef’s Table is held in a dining room annexe or in the library.
Customer research so far suggests the classes will find an audience.
"We'll learn as we go along, and one of the strengths of Carnival is that we are able to implement and make changes on the fly," Marfatia said. "So we're not going to be stuck in something that doesn't work."

Sky Princess Christened

Sky Princess Christened

From the christening of the Sky Princess
Princess Cruises christened its newest ship the Sky Princess today in a tribute to the pioneering women of the U.S. Space Program.
Princess Cruises chose the theme of Reach for the Sky for the occasion and honoured two women of NASA for their achievements in the U.S. space program: Captain Kay Hire, and engineer Frances “Poppy” Northcutt, who served as the godmothers of the Sky Princess.
From the christening of the Sky Princess
Captain Hire began her 30-year NASA career as a mechanical systems engineer, helping to launch more than 40 space missions. Then, as an astronaut, she logged 700 hours in space, flew over 12 million miles, and orbited the earth 475 times. She was the first female assigned to a military combat flight crew while serving in the U.S. Navy. And, she retired from the U.S. Navy with more 35 years of service. Poppy Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer when NASA made history with its mission to the moon. When the crew of Apollo 13 became stranded in their service module, it was her team’s calculations that brought them home safely – a feat of heroism that earned the entire mission operations a Presidential Medal of Freedom Team Award.
“As we celebrate our newest, most technologically advanced ship – one whose spirit of adventure and discovery match the grandeur of her name, Sky Princess, we also applaud the groundbreaking women of the U.S. Space Program,” said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz. “Our godmothers, Captain Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt, remind us all of what we can achieve when we reach for the sky.”
From the christening of the Sky Princess
Sky Princess Captain Heikki Laakkonen also recognized two Sky Princess female officers who embody the Reach for the Sky theme, striving for success in leadership positions –Kerry Ann Wright, who started working in the cruise industry as a spa technician and went back to school to rise through the ranks to become a Second Officer working on the bridge; and Chief Security Officer Susan Morgan, who is the longest-serving woman in the British Royal Navy.
Captain Hire and Poppy Northcutt, recited the traditional cruise ship blessing before pushing a NASA-style “launch” button releasing and smashing a 15-litre bottle of champagne, officially naming Sky Princess.
Additional women of NASA recognized in a tribute video, included:
• The first woman of colour to travel to outer space, Dr. Mae Jemison.
• The first Hispanic woman in space who later became Director of the Johnson Space Center Dr. Ellen Ochoa.
• The first woman to command the Space Shuttle Eileen Collins.
• The first woman to command the International Space Stations Peggy Whiston.
• The first woman to join a spacewalk, Kathryn D. Sullivan.
The ceremony featured entertainment adding to the exciting bottle break moment, including Princess Cruises Celebrations Ambassador and Love Boat actress Jill Whelan, serving as ceremony co-host with Sky Princess Cruise Director Alexander Yepremian; and performance of Dream On from America’s Got Talent Alum, Brian Justin Crum. The finale of the naming ceremony included a performance of This is Me from The Greatest Showman and featured in the cruise line’s new production show Rock Opera.
The new Princess ship is now sailing on voyages to the Caribbean through spring 2020.

MSC Inks Berth Rights Deal in Dubai

MSC Inks Berth Rights Deal in Dubai

MSC Bellissima in Dubai
MSC Cruises announced that it has signed a long-term agreement with DP World for preferential berthing rights at Mina Rashid Port in Dubai. 
The contract was formally signed by the line’s CEO Gianni Onorato and Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannaei, CEO, P&O Marinas & Executive Director, Mina Rashid on board the MSC Bellissima during her maiden call ceremony at Mina Rashid in Dubai.
Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said: “This new agreement with DP World is a continuation of what has been a successful partnership and establishes a longer-term framework for our operations out of Dubai that provides our cruise ships with preferential berthing rights at the Mina Rashid cruise terminal.
“Our existing commitment to Dubai and the region is clearly demonstrated by MSC Bellissima’s presence this season, the most modern, as well as one of most environmentally-advanced, cruise ships to sail in the Gulf. We will strengthen that bond further in winter 2020-21 when we deploy the highly-innovative MSC Seaview, a ship specially designed to operate in warmer weathers, to serve the region.
“I’m also extremely pleased to add that our extended partnership with DP World, a visionary organisation that has the same environmental outlook as we have at MSC Cruises, will see us both work actively together to further reduce the carbon footprint of ship operations.”
Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Mannaei, CEO - P&O Marinas & Executive Director, Mina Rashid, said: “We warmly welcome MSC Cruises’ strategic decision to scale up their regional operations with Dubai as their base. It marks a new high in our long and mutually beneficial relationship. We’re particularly happy that a brand new vessel like MSC Bellissima, with its high green credentials, will be homeporting at Mina Rashid and spearheading MSC Cruises’ 2019-2020 winter cruise season. At Mina Rashid, we constantly invest in enhancing the services and support systems for today’s fleet of ultra-modern cruise vessels.
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“The agreement with MSC Cruises for preferential berthing comes at a time when Mina Rashid has been experiencing a double-digit increase in tourist traffic. Key to this sterling performance is our flagship Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal, the world's single largest covered cruise facility capable of handling 14,000 passengers a day. DP World UAE Region supports the Dubai Tourism Strategy goal of achieving 20 million tourists by 2020. MSC Cruises’ ambitions for the coming year is ideally placed to support this drive.”
Hamad Bin Mejren, Senior Vice President, Dubai Tourism, added: “We are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with MSC Cruises and solidify Dubai’s position as the leading cruise hub of the region. Dubai continues to provide its international visitors a superior customer service throughout their travels reflecting the city’s diverse offerings.
“We are committed to protecting Dubai’s natural environment and will fully support partner efforts to carry out conservation and sustainable practices through their business. Our longstanding synergy with our valued partners allows us to cement Dubai’s position as a responsible, year-round-destination of choice.”
The long-term agreement comes on the back of MSC Cruises’ expecting to carry in excess of 180,000 passengers in Dubai this season, a figure that will progressively grow through the length of the new agreement, according to a press release. 
MSC Cruises said last month that it will be the world’s first fully carbon neutral major cruise line in the world from 1 January 2020 with an ambitious programme where all direct carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its fleet’s marine operations will be offset through a blend of projects developed according to the highest standards by leading international entities that take immediate action on greenhouse gas emissions. All costs for the offsets, as well as any other associated items, will be covered directly and in full by MSC Cruises.
MSC Bellissima, which was launched in February of this year, will make 17 calls and spend 35 days in Dubai during the winter season until March 2020 and sail a range of 7-night itineraries in the Gulf.
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MSC Cruises will also deploy MSC Lirica in the Gulf for this winter season with 11-night cruises as well as 14-night cruises that call also to India.
The over 600-year old maritime tradition of exchanging crests took place today on board MSC Bellissima in Dubai at a maiden call ceremony between the ship’s Master, Captain Giuseppe Maresca, and senior officials from DP World, Dubai Tourism, Dubai Immigration, Dubai Customs and the Sharaf Shipping Agency, MSC Cruises’ agents in Dubai.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady Has Completed her Sea Trials and She’s Looking Pretty Epic

Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady Has Completed her Sea Trials and She’s Looking Pretty Epic
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Get a first-look of the new ship, along with behind-the-scenes action with Sir Richard Branson himself h
ere...
She’s set to be one of the most exciting ship launches of 2020 (if not ever), and now finally, Scarlet Lady has completed her sea trials.
The debut ship from Virgin Voyages, Scarlet Lady, is set to launch in April next year but found her sea legs last month sailing from Genoa to Marseille, and then back again.
Setting sail on 15 November, Scarlet Lady sailed from Genoa to Marseille, before sailing back to Genoa on 27 November, arriving three days later.
Virgin Voyages: Richard Branson with Virgin Voyages team
Richard Branson joined the Virgin Voyages senior management, team

The man himself, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson boarded the ship in Marseille, touring the ship with his wife Joan and children Sam and Holly.
CEO Tom McAlpin was also on board, along with Chief Commercial Officer Nirmal Saverimuttu, SVP of Design Dee Cooper and CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss.
During the excitement, Branson ceremoniously painted the outline of the Virgin flag on the hull of the ship where the Virgin Voyages logo will appear.
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady sea trials
Sir Richard Branson looks delighted at his new ship

Sea trials show whether a new ship is smooth, stable and quiet, and will provide a comfortable sailing experience to those on board.
“We’re thrilled to have completed such a significant milestone with our Sea Trials and have our amazing crew to thank for their passion and tenacity in this achievement,” said McAlpin.
“We’re one step closer to getting our Sailors on the Scarlet Lady and are grateful for all that have chosen to join us on this adventure.”
Virgin Voyages Richard Branson painting Scarlet Lady hull
Sir Richard even had a go at painting the outline of the Virgin Voyages flag…

Setting sail on her maiden voyage on 1 April 2020, Scarlet Lady is set to change the way non-cruisers view cruising, hoping to attract a younger, new-to-cruise audience.
The first sailing will have special celebrity guest appearances, events and surprises, as she sails around the Caribbean and Bahamian islands.
Virgin Voyages’ second cruise ship was also recently announced, with the line revealing Valiant Lady will sail around the Mediterranean in 2021…
Visit virginvoyages.com for more information.

First Guests Arrive at MSC's New Ocean Cay

First Guests Arrive at MSC's New Ocean Cay

MSC Ocean Cay Opens (AP Images for MSC Cruises)
MSC Cruises today welcomed the very first guests to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, its new private island destination in The Bahamas, according to a press release. 
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said: “Ocean Cay is founded on a deep commitment to ecological principles – beliefs that shape everything from how venues are built, to how the island is run, to the kinds of activities featured on the island. Having the first guests arrive on the island is a moment of great pride for all of us at MSC Cruises. We wanted to create for our guests something sustainable, with a higher purpose. Ocean Cay is not just a vacation island, it is a unique marine reserve where people and nature thrive in harmony.”
MSC Ocean Cay Opens (AP Images for MSC Cruises)
The island’s opening is a major milestone for MSC as it builds its North American operation, which has four ships sailing from Miami this winter. 
MSC has turned the island from what was once an industrial sand excavation site into a stunning tropical destination, while working with environmental engineers and other experts to revitalize the surrounding ocean beds, marine life and endangered coral, according to a company press release.
MSC Ocean Cay Opens (AP Images for MSC Cruises)
The project took nearly three years to complete. 7,500 tons of scrap metal was removed and, throughout the clean-up process, a team of expert divers and marine biologists carefully removed individual hard coral colonies from debris on the ocean bed and relocated them to an approved location outside the construction area. More than 75,000 plants and shrubs planted across the island to create a biodiverse and sustainable environment.
In the coming months, MSC Cruises will also introduce a Conservation Center on the island, which will serve as an active base for coral education and research. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth returns home

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth returns home

A proud moment for the UK.

Portsmouth is now home to two aircraft carriers for the first time in a long time.
HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce also returned to warm welcomes in Devonport, say the Royal Navy. The ships’ flights made their way to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton.
It’s been a busy three months away for the Portsmouth-based HMS Queen Elizabeth which hosted British F-35 Lightning jets for the first time at sea as part of the WESTLANT19 deployment. Her sister, HMS Prince of Wales, is expected to be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy in the coming days.
Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth Commodore Steve Moorhouse said:
“Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth, with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion. Two of her escorts, frigate HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce, returned to Devonport today.”

Image Crown Copyright 2019.

The ships flights also made their way to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton.

Image Crown Copyright 2019.

Commander of the Air Group, Captain James Blackmore, added:
“The five-week period of operational tests with UK F-35s from the UK Lightning Force was significant and historic. As the last pilot to fly Harrier from the deck of HMS Ark Royal in 2010, it filled me with tremendous pride to see UK fixed-wing aircraft operate once more from a British carrier.”

An update on new tall-ship options

An update on new tall-ship options

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For agents with clients who are looking for an alternative to the megaship experience, there is no shortage of small-ship choices.
But to be really radical, why not look at ships that are not only small but wind-powered, too?
There are two lines, Star Clippers and Sea Cloud Cruises, where guests feel the thrill of watching sails set by hand and listen to nothing but the breeze while underway. Both are in the process of building new ships.
(Windstar is another tall-ship line, but it sets its sails mechanically and also can operate under engine power.)
But while Star Clippers' new Flying Clipper seems hung up for the time being in a shipyard dispute, Sea Cloud's newbuild, the Sea Cloud Spirit, is on schedule to be delivered at the end of August.
That's according to Sea Cloud CEO Daniel Schaefer. In an interview, Schaefer said the 136-passenger ship has recently been floated out and interior work is proceeding. He said the yard on its current pace will deliver the ship a bit ahead of when Sea Cloud actually needs it to make its schedule.
Building a new ship isn't as routine for Sea Cloud as for the big lines, which crank them out every year. Its last ship, the Sea Cloud II, was delivered in 2001. The flagship Sea Cloud was built as a yacht in 1931 and converted to cruise use in 1979.
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The designs have been evolving more towards cruise ships, away from the yacht-like attributes of the original ship, Schaefer said. The Sea Cloud Spirit will have 25 balcony cabins, for example, a first for a sailing ship. It will also have an elevator, another first.
Dining tables will be round, rather than the long, rectangular ones on the Sea Cloud, he said. There will be a larger wellness area, a sauna and a second, more casual restaurant.
A third ship should really increase Sea Cloud's availability for FIT passengers. Currently up to 50% of Sea Cloud's capacity is devoted to charters. The Spirit will be chartered, too, but overall there should be more opportunities and itineraries for individual passengers.
In Europe, Sea Cloud will no longer have to shuttle one of its two ships back and forth between the Med and the Baltic, the line's second most popular summer region.  It will be able to keep two ships full time in the Med, he said, and still offer Baltic itineraries with the third.

Carnival Panorama to have SkyZone trampoline park

Carnival Panorama to have SkyZone trampoline park


The new Carnival Panorama will be the line's first ship to have a SkyZone trampoline park.
The 3,000-square-foot Cruise X SkyZone will occupy space on Decks 7 and 8. It will have a "challenge zone" equipped with a climbing wall, balance/jousting beam, Sky Ladder climbing apparatus, dodge ball games and SkyHoops (an above-the-rim basketball experience).
Developed in partnership with trampoline park chain SkyZone, the indoor park will be open all day on sea days and in the late afternoon and evenings on port days.  
Sessions will be offered for toddlers, youths and adults. During "toddler time," cruisers ages 6 months to 5 years can participate in the bouncy fun, accompanied by an adult. The fee is $5 per child and $5 per adult. 
Kids ages 6 to 15 can book 1-hour sessions for $12, which includes a pair of keepsake socks.
At night, an all-ages blacklight glow party will cost $18 and include a T-shirt. 
The Panorama is the last of three Vista-class Carnival ships and the only one that doesn’t feature a two-deck Imax theatre.
Regular year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas begin Dec. 14.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Latest MSC Cruises ship floated out at the shipyard

Latest MSC Cruises ship floated out at the shipyard

Latest MSC Cruises ship floated out at shipyard

The latest in a series of new MSC Cruises ships have been floated out at its shipyard in France.

MSC Virtuosa is the second Meraviglia-Plus vessel following MSC Grandiosa and will now move docks at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire for further construction and fitting until delivery in October 2020.

The float out follows the delivery in October of MSC Grandiosa as well as the steel cutting ceremony on the same day of MSC Europa.

MSC Virtuosa will be the second ship in the company’s fleet to have a selective catalytic reduction system and next-generation advanced wastewater treatment system to minimise the environmental footprint and ensure cleaner air emissions.

The catalytic reduction technology aims to help reduce nitrogen oxide by 80% by converting it into harmless nitrogen and water.

MSC Virtuosa will also be fitted with shore-to-ship power which connects it to a port’s local power grid to further reduce air emissions.

The line will soon reveal exact details of the features onboard MSC Virtuosa.

But like MSC Grandiosa, the ship will have a promenade lined with restaurants and shops underneath a 93 metre-long LED Sky Screen, two new shows from Cirque du Soleil at Sea and the Zoe personal cruise assistant in every cabin.

The ship’s maiden voyage will be a seven-night six-port western Mediterranean cruise in November 2020 from Genoa, Italy.

After a winter season in the Mediterranean, MSC Virtuosa will be deployed in summer 2021 to Northern Europe with itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.

The third of three Meraviglia-Plus ships, yet to be named, will enter service in 2023 and be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

MSC Cruises is spending €5 billion to build five LNG-powered ships with the first ‘world class’ type named MSC Europa entering service in May 2022.

The line plans to expand its fleet to 25 ships by 2027 at a cost of €11.6 billion.

Monday, 2 December 2019

CMV Targets French Market with New Brand

CMV Targets French Market with New Brand

Jules Verne
Launching a new French brand, Cruise & Maritime Voyages is targeting 10,000 guests per year aboard the Jules Verne which currently operating as the Astor. Service is set to begin in early 2021 following a recent announcement at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Clement Mousset and Cedric Rivoire-Perrochat are at the helm of the new French brand which will operate under Croisières Maritimes and Voyages banner.
The timing may be ideal, as there is no current mainstream French cruise brand following the demise of Croisières de France.
Mousset has been named general director and was previously heading up Celestyal Cruises’ efforts in the French market. Rivoire-Perrochat has been named marketing and operations director and is the former director of France for CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association).
The brand will build a 10 to 15 person team based in a Marseilles office, according to the company executives.
The plan is to offer a premium product to the French market on a year-round basis on the 550-guest ship.
"On our ship, you will find no shopping complex, no climbing wall, no circus. You will feel like you’re on a ship,” Mousset said.
The French product will also feature select adults-only departures, while six per cent of staterooms will be for the solo traveller market.
Cruises will run an average of 12 nights with a target price of 190 euro per person per day. 
The ship will arrive in Le Havre for a two-night preview cruise next April, while an inaugural cruise will sail from Le Havre to Marseilles with stops in various French ports.
Other itineraries will be far-ranging, including sailings to the Baltic, Black Sea, Mediterranean, and a long world cruise in early 2022. Sales are expected to open in early 2020. The first revenue sailing is scheduled for May 1, 2021

Royal Caribbean Announces Three Ships For 2021 Alaska Program

Royal Caribbean Announces Three Ships For 2021 Alaska Program

Ovation of the Seas Alaska
Royal Caribbean International has announced that it will have three ships in Alaska in 2021.
The Ovation, Radiance and Serenade of the Seas are returning to the Pacific Northwest
For the second consecutive year, Royal Caribbean will bring three ships to the region, offering a variety of seven-night itineraries sailing from Seattle, Vancouver, and Seward.
The Ovation will be the largest ship in the market. The Quantum-class ship’s series of seven-night cruises are roundtrip from Seattle. The Radiance is set to embark on seven-night, open-jaw itineraries between Seward and Vancouver, and the Serenade will be sailing seven days roundtrip from Vancouver.
Before and after the Alaska season, the Serenade and Radiance will sail 10-night itineraries between Honolulu and Vancouver.
All three ships will debut Royal Caribbean’s spa staterooms. According to the cruise line, the brand-new lineup of balcony accommodations “will allow guests to relax in between adventures with an array of amenities and perks, including priority spa reservations, lush bedding and bath products, tranquil décor, daily delivery of tea, water and coffee; and priority boarding at embarkation.”
For the Ovation, the seven-night itineraries roundtrip from Seattle promises to visit “the best of the region,” including Skagway, where vacationers can retrace the steps of the historic Klondike Gold Rush and visit a restored 19th-century railroad depot; and Juneau, to go dogsledding over the Mendenhall Glacier or explore centuries-old mining trails.
The Radiance will offer alternating southbound and northbound seven-night itineraries between Vancouver and Seward. Guests will have the opportunity to visit Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Skagway, and sail through the Inside Passage and by the Hubbard Glacier.
The Serenade, returning for a second Alaska summer season, will offer seven-night roundtrip sailings from Vancouver and visit Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka and Juneau.
Royal Caribbean also offers overnight stays before or after the cruise with three- to seven-night Cruisetour packages. Travellers will be able to visit the Denali National Park and Preserve with local experts, hike the Exit Glacier, kayak and bike by Eklutna Lake, and more.