Friday, 31 March 2017

Tui Explorer to join Thomson Cruises fleet next year

Tui Explorer to join Thomson Cruises fleet next year

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Tui Explorer has been unveiled the name of the latest ship to join the Thomson Cruises fleet next year.

It will become the line’s largest vessel when it enters services from its homeport in Palma, Majorca in 2018.

Currently operating as Mein Schiff 1 for the German market, the vessel will be joined at the UK arm by Mein Schiff 2 in 2019.

Tui Explorer joins Tui Discovery and Tui Discovery 2 in continuing to introduce the Tui brand to UK ahead of the re-brand which sees Thomson disappear later this year.

Tui Explorer will run all-inclusive cruises with ten dining options including a new sushi counter and The Mediterranean, an area with a glass roof inspired by open air terraces and local tavernas which will house two inclusive restaurants – a pizzeria and tapas restaurant – plus the Hot Stone Grill at an additional cost.

New cabin types include 14 family balcony cabins that measure 20 square metres, sleep up to five people and have a balcony of up to 9 square metres, and a balcony cabin with more external space.

Standard inside cabins onboard Tui Explorer are 16 square metres, larger than any other standard cabin in the fleet.

Other features include a spa split into 11 different areas including a Finnish sauna with floor to ceiling windows, a couples room and two luxury treatment suites.

An adults-only sunbathing area called The Veranda will have padded sun loungers, pod chairs and day beds.

A new feature bar, Indigo, offers ocean views from the top of the ship and is home to a casino and nightclub.

Another new venue is The Lounge, complete with colour-changing bar and a brightly coloured piano to provide live music.

On sale later this month, Tui Explorer will sail four itineraries – Cosmopolitan Classics, Highlights of the Mediterranean, Magic of Spain and Mediterranean Secrets.

Ports of call will include Barcelona, the ports for Rome and Florence, Naples and Lisbon.

Thomson Cruises managing director, Richard Sofer, said: “I’m delighted to unveil the name of TUI Explorer, our biggest and most exciting ship yet.

“As part of our continued modernisation and transformation strategy, and our commitment to offering choice and flexibility, we’ve created a whole host of new spaces onboard to meet our customers’ needs.

“We’ve got ten restaurants and ten bars, as well as more onboard activities and spaces for families including an indoor cinema and a fantastic new Kids’ Club with children’s pool and slide.

“I’m also really excited about our new flagship entertainment venue, Indigo – a huge space with incredible ocean views, sat right at the top of the ship.”

The ship, which started life as Celebrity Cruises’ Galaxy in 1996, has a capacity for 1,924 passengers.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Cunard and a compelling story of immigration

Cunard and a compelling story of immigration

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The Three Queen's in Liverpool.

Cunard Line has put together a new video of Micky Arison talking about how Carnival Corp. came to own the storied brand, and it's worth seeing if you can get the opportunity. Among other things, it sheds some light on the immigration issue that is prominent in the current political debate.

The video begins with Arison reminiscing about coming to the U.S. on Cunard's Mauretania. It was 1954. Arison's father, Ted, who founded Carnival, moved the family from Israel to New York where he thought there would be better business opportunities. Micky, who was 5, recalls going to school in New Jersey and being driven along the West Side Highway past the trans-Atlantic liners at the pier.

Little did he imagine at the time, Arison said, that he would grow up to play an important role in the cruise industry.

Arison said he got the idea for a liner like the Queen Mary 2 after seeing the film "Titanic," with the nostalgic, romantic gloss it put on the ill-fated ship. The 1997 film was the first film to gross more than $1 billion.

In 1998, Carnival bought 68% of Cunard for $425 million, buying the rest later.

Arison said it is often misunderstood that Carnival conceived of the Queen Mary 2 after deciding to buy Cunard. The reality is (one of Arison's favorite phrases) that Carnival conceived of the ship first and only bought Cunard because It needed the historic brand to make the concept work.

Ted Arison came to the U.S. via Cunard when immigration was at a low ebb. It had been 30 years since the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 had been passed "to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity," according to a State Department history. It would be another 10 before the law was liberalized by Congress after President Kennedy's death.

America was as homogeneous as it would ever be in 1954. Yet it still had room for Ted Arison, born in Tel Aviv when it was part of British Palestine. That's to America's credit.

Open immigration is a blunt instrument. Some immigrants may turn out to be criminals. Most are ordinary like the rest of us. But some, perhaps a disproportionate number, are extraordinary, like Ted Arison. Is there any doubt that the U.S. economy is better off with Carnival Corp. headquartered in Miami instead of Tel Aviv? 

Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president of Cunard North America, said the Arison video wasn't created with the idea it would be widely distributed. But if there's a Cunard sales event in your town, it will probably be shown. If you make time to see it you won't be sorry.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Norwegian Joy on the way to Shanghai!

Norwegian Joy on the way to Shanghai!

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Norwegian Joy cruise's down the river Ems

The Norwegian Joy begins its journey to China with the passage through the Ems
 Wiesbaden, 28 March 2017 . For the Norwegian Joy, the first cruise ship designed by the international shipping company Norwegian Cruise Line, designed specifically for the Chinese market, the Ems Passage has begun a journey to its Chinese home port Shanghai. On Sunday, March 26, the second ship of the Breakaway-Plus class left the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg and began its 14-hour ride over the Ems.
 The transfer of the 333 meter long and 41 meter wide Norwegian Joy represents another important milestone on the way to the transfer to the shipping company on April 27th.
 "We are very pleased that Norwegian Joy has officially started its journey to China," said David Herrera, President of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. "As the first ship built specifically for the Chinese market, the Norwegian Joy will offer our guests a first-class cruise experience, and we can not wait to welcome them to the fleet in June."
 The journey of the 168,800-ton vessel began around 9:00 pm when the Norwegian Joy passed the ship's dock sluices with the stern, leaving only 1.2 meters of space on either side of the ship. The team of the ship was under the guidance of experienced shipyards and river controllers, as well as several navigation officers who were responsible for the bow and stern maneuvers. In addition, members of local authorities and other partners were involved in supporting the maneuvers.
 After the lock, the Norwegian Joy continued the passage with the stern ahead, which ensures optimum maneuverability. Prior to reaching its provisional destination Eemshaven in the Netherlands on Monday evening, 27 March, the ship passed further bottlenecks, including the Fries Bridge in Weener, the Jann-Berghaus bridge in Leer and the Ems barrage in Gandersum. Upon arrival in Eemshaven, the Norwegian Joy will take on board other equipment and crew before the trial runs start at sea.
 About the Norwegian Joy
The Norwegian Joy, currently under construction at Meyer Werft, is the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to be designed specifically for the Chinese market. The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the possibilities and experiences that the ship offers to guests, the promise to feel like in "paradise on the sea". The new ship of the Breakaway-Plus class will accommodate 3,850 guests and will be commissioned in the summer of 2017 in China.
 The Norwegian Joy is designed to provide guests with an unparalleled cruise experience, equipped with onboard equipment tailored to the specific needs of Chinese holidaymakers. The vessel has a variety of VIP cabins and suites, including The Haven by Norwegian ® , the exclusive cruise ship-to-ship luxury cruise ship from Norwegian Cruise Line, which also includes a completely new 180-degree view deck, As well as the Concierge category, which offers guests VIP services and larger balcony cabins. There are also cabins specially designed for families, a variety of cabins with connecting doors that are particularly suitable for larger families, as well as a large selection of mini suites, balcony, outdoor and indoor cabins, many of which have a virtual balcony.
 The Norwegian Joy offers exciting and innovative board activities, including the first two-level kart track, an open-air laser-day arena, racing car simulators and interactive video walls in the Galaxy Pavilion, and two water slides reaching over several decks. In addition, the Norwegian Joy will have a park-like recreational area and the largest shopping center in the fleet, from extraordinary duty-free shops to shops with world-famous luxury brands.

Comparing Carnival’s Ocean Medallion Versus MSC for Me

Comparing Carnival’s Ocean Medallion Versus MSC for Me

Comparing Carnival’s Ocean Medallion Versus MSC for Me
 MSC for Me wearable bracelet. (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises)

Princess Cruises recently announced a fourth ship in its fleet would receive Carnival Corporation’s latest Ocean Medallion technology. Rival MSC Cruises has newly introduced its own MSC for Me guest tech as well.
While the two are very similar, there are also differences to discuss.
Quick Background
The whole high-tech trend towards wearable and app-based devices really started when Royal Caribbean International implemented its SMART Check-In and WOWbands on its newest ships.
The idea is simply to help expedite initial embarkation with as much data pre-entered before arriving pier-side and to have a rubber bracelet that can more conveniently replace a key card. This then provides RFID access to opening cabins and making purchases in conjunction with the Royal iQ app.
Carnival's Ocean Medallion
Announced at CES 2017, Carnival’s Ocean Medallion takes the concept much further. Curiously, it won’t first be rolled out on its Carnival Cruise Line brand but rather its Princess Cruises one. Regal Princess will introduce it in November 2017, followed by Royal Princess in January 2018, Caribbean Princess in March 2018 and now Island Princess in May 2018.
Ocean Medallion is based on a coin-sized device that can be pocketed or worn on the wrist or as a pendant. It then branches out as part of the larger O·C·E·A·N (One Cruise Experience Access Network) for passenger personalization. Besides the physical device, the Ocean Compass links everything as a digital concierge on ship displays, cabin televisions and guests’ mobile devices.
Specific features include expedited embarkation and stateroom access, not unlike Royal Caribbean. Additional capabilities encompass real-time ship navigation, friends and family locating, messaging, dining and spa reservations and even drink and food ordering with crew delivering to wherever a guest is located currently or as scheduled.
Behind the scenes, Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) systems support the platform.
MSC for Me
While less hyped initially, MSC Cruises will actually beat Carnival to the punch when it launches its own MSC for Me experience first on the MSC Meraviglia in June 2017, followed by MSC Seaside in December.
Again, MSC’s thinking is similar, but the line already plans to implement it fleet-wide across its upcoming eleven ships and existing twelve. Its goals extend to facilitating the crew with better means of servicing 170 different nationalities and their languages onboard.
MSC promises over 130 smart features backed—on the Meraviglia for example—by 144 interactive screens, 244 information screens, 31 virtual staterooms screens, 81 video wall monitors, 2,244 NFC-equipped cabins, 3,050 Bluetooth beacons, 700 access points and 1,200 CCTV cameras.
Guests will also have wearable bands and can access everything via a mobile app as well. Specific abilities will comparably include stateroom access, live navigation (accurate to 16 feet), concierge booking services and check-in.
Beyond that, MSC for Me will allow guests to book trips, utilize virtual reality to preview shore excursions, view and share cruise gallery images, receive preference-based geo-located recommendations and even be facially-recognized by cameras for more customized service.
First, how will the technology be received by Princess and MSC guests? Second, will Carnival Cruise Line join the fold as a standard mainstream competitor? Will Norwegian Cruise Line as well?
Currently, Norwegian relies more on way-finding and reservation kiosks rather than wearables, and even Royal Caribbean has room to grow to match Carnival and MSC.
Of course, the implementation of such ship-wide systems is by no means quick and easy, and any investments towards such platforms need to be made wisely and as future-proofed as possible. One thing is for certain: old-school cruising is gone and the new high-tech equivalent is here to stay.

Uniworld affirms commitment to Paris with new river ship

Uniworld affirms commitment to Paris with new river ship

Actress Joan Collins, godmother of the S.S. Joie de Vivre, christening the ship on Monday. At left is Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge. Photo Credit: Michelle Baran

PARIS -- Actress Joan Collins christened Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's new river cruise ship, the S.S. Joie de Vivre, here on Monday, signaling the company's confidence in the enduring allure of Paris.
"Like so many places in the world, [Paris has] had problems in the last couple of years, and like everything else in life and history, that too shall come to pass," Stanley Tollman, founder and chairman of The Travel Corporation, Uniworld's parent company, said during the christening ceremony to the backdrop of one of Paris' most iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower.
"Paris is coming back. It's coming back strongly, " he said, adding that the Joie de Vivre is nearly 90% booked for 2017, indicating that the $26 million investment The Travel Corporation made in the Joie de Vivre is paying off, despite some initial hesitation about whether to go forward with the launch following the November 2015 attacks in Paris,
Dressed head-to-toe in white, Collins on Monday morning officially named the ship, which set sail on its maiden voyage along France's Seine River toward Normandy shortly after the ceremony.
The 128-passenger Joie de Vivre is the latest of Uniworld's Super Ship class of vessels and is a floating ode to Parisian aesthetic and charm, including an impressive collection of unabashedly French artwork throughout the vessel. The entire ship combines rich wood finishings with intricate upholstery, resulting in vintage-looking details that are at once both classic and clean.
The Joie de Vivre houses several new spaces and features for Uniworld, namely a greater variety of onboard dining experiences, including Le Bistrot, an endearing eatery with red banquette seats situated adjacent to the lounge that serves traditional bistro fare throughout the day.
At the aft of the vessel is Club L'Esprit, a pool and juice bar by day that transforms into Claude's, a lively supper club and live music venue by night with a dance floor atop a retractable pool cover. Here, a covered patio also allows guests to sip their beverages and nosh on small bites either al fresco, weather permitting, or enclosed behind a glass roof and windows. Claude's will be open about three nights on any given one-week sailing, and will become a small cinema that will show movieson two nights of each sailing.
Passengers on the Joie de Vivre will also be able to reserve a seven-course wine-pairing dinner at La Cave du Vin, a 12-person venue on the lowest deck of the ship where a cooking demonstration will be followed by a menu that incorporates the resulting dishes. While all the other dining experiences are included, this one costs an additional 92 euros per person.
The Joie de Vivre also has a fitness and a spa room, two 24-hour tea and coffee stations and a guest laundry room.
There are five categories of staterooms, ranging from 162-square-foot lower-deck cabins to 410-square-foot suites. Most staterooms range from 180 square feet to 260 square feet. All suites and staterooms on the upper two decks have wall-to-wall retractable windows that drop down with the flip of a switch, converting into French balconies. Some suites can accommodate up to three people and there are adjoining staterooms available, too. There are USB ports in the cabins and the lounge and free WiFi is available to guests onboard.
The christening was attended by numerous Travel Corporation executives, including Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge; Beatrice Tollman, president and founder of Red Carnation Hotels, Uniworld's sister company; Brett Tollman, The Travel Corporation's chief executive; and Gavin Tollman, CEO of Trafalgar, The Travel Corporation's guided vacation brand.

Cunard Promises The World in 2019

Cunard Promises The World in 2019

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PHOTO: Queen Victoria will see the world in 2019
Cunard is throwing one amazing opportunity at your feet: The chance to tour the world at a leisurely pace.
Cunard recently announced (h/t USA Today) its Oceans of Discovery program, which is an apt title for a set of voyages that will take myriad travelers to grand destinations.The downside is that you will have to be a bit patient, as the party doesn’t kick off until 2019.
That’s when The World Voyage aboard Queen Victoria launches.
This particular ship is no stranger to wading past some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. This past January, it became the largest passenger ship to have traversed the Amazon. 2019 will see it help Cunard once again offer a circumnavigation journey that will take several months and see 24 countries over the course of 107 nights.
Voyagers have a wealth of options when it comes to the 2019 program. Boarding the Queen Victoria alone will have you selecting from 37 voyage possibilities.
As the website states, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth will also embark on some truly remarkable adventures.
Josh Leibowitz, Senior Vice President, Cunard North America, states, via Cunard: “Across the fleet, Cunard’s Winter 2019 program covers the globe, including places that we have not visited for years. Our itineraries have been designed to offer enriching days in port as well as plenty of time on board for our guests to relax and enjoy all that our ships have to offer.”
While Queen Victoria sets sail to conquer the world, its sister ships will concentrate on “exotic voyages that offer richer, deeper and more regionally-focused itineraries than ever before.”
In the case of Queen Mary 2, this means a few fabulous firsts as it calls at Doha, Qatar; Mormugao, India; Seogwipo, Jeju Island, South Korea and Chennai, India.
Queen Victoria’s world journey starts at $17,579 per person. So at just under $20,000, you are getting the absolute trip of a lifetime.
But if you want to save some bucks and are on this side of the pond, you can skip the trip to Southampton and start the journey on this side of the Atlantic. USA Today puts the price of a voyage from Fort Lauderdale at $15,799.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

When is the Best Time of Year for a Cruise?

When is the Best Time of Year for a Cruise?

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Norwegian Fjords

The world is a wonderful patchwork of variety, with something totally different to explore in every corner of the globe. So if you’re sick of wintry weather – or just fancy a complete change of place – there is an exciting destination out there to be discovered, and, thanks to the schedule that the tourism industry operates by, there are lots of good low-season deals to be had. Here are a few suggestions of top cruise destinations – only not at the times of year you might expect.

November to January
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Caribbean Cruise
The winter months are a funny time for the cruise calendar. Although the weeks of Christmas and New Year are peak times for trips to the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera, early November and late January are very quiet periods that nevertheless offer all of the benefits that you’d expect from busier times. The weather is still beautiful and perfect for beach days and general lounging, but crowds are few and, with less demand for tourist attractions and excursions, ticket prices are lower. Meanwhile, the South Pacific, and particularly the exquisite island of Tahiti, is the perfect place to escape the bitter cold of European winters. Wade in the crystal waters and relax on the beaches of French Polynesia, while enjoying the peace of the low season in the cafes and bars.
February to May
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Galapagos islands
Springtime is a great chance to pick up some travel bargains before the real holiday season gets into full swing, and there are some amazing destinations that are cheaper and much less hassle to visit at this time of year. South America is a particularly good hotspot to try. Temperatures are not yet up to their summer highs but they are still very pleasant – and, helpfully, less humid – and in a part of the world that sees a lot of tourist traffic, the presence of fewer crowds really pays off when it comes to convenience and the prices you pay. The Amazon rainforest can be explored via river vessel and makes for a really unique and adventurous trip – and the milder weather will certainly be welcome when you’re navigating the humid confines of the jungle. Alternatively, there are the awe-inspiring and vibrant Galapagos Islands, whose unrivalled flora and fauna helped Darwin to develop his theory of evolution. Although they are popular most of the year round, they enjoy a slight lull in trade around this time of year.
June to August
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New England
It may be the peak holiday season during which many Westerners set off around the globe for a hard-earned break somewhere completely different, but there are still parts of the world offering real bargains worth having during their months of hibernation from the tourist trail. Tourists flock to Canada and New England every autumn for their world-famous foliage and breath-taking landscapes, making the summer months the perfect time to visit. Many locals are away for their own holidays, the weather is warm and there is still plenty to do and see, at a much cheaper rate. Australia is another great place to visit during low season; don’t forget that this is Australia’s winter, but extreme weather is unlikely, and there are plenty of attractions to see and bars and restaurants to enjoy while avoiding the high-season-price tickets.
September to October
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Santorini Greek Isles  
Autumn brings about many opportunities for exciting and affordable cruises. Now that all of the summer tourist footfall has ceased and normal working days have been resumed, there are many places where you can enjoy the peace and quiet – and cheaper prices. Hawaii is still soaking up the tropical sunshine between September and October, with its colourful beaches bare and ready to be relaxed upon. Although the heat can bring about tropical storms, it will certainly not dampen your Hawaii experience, and there are any number of characterful bars and restaurants to take temporary refuge in. Alternatively, the autumn months are low season for the cruise routes of Northern Europe, which include the famously beautiful fjords of Norway. The crisp winter weather makes for wondrous landscapes, so don’t forget to bring your camera. The affordability of Northern Europe during low season is a definite perk too, with Scandinavia being a lovely but quite expensive destination, so take advantage of low prices and fewer people on board cruise ships.
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Royal's Jewel of the Seas leaving Stockholm
About the author: Debbie Stevens oversees The Cruise Line’s sales team and assists with coordinating the company’s marketing strategy. She has had over 20 years’ travel experience with various responsibilities and sailed with Windstar Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, amongst others.

MSC Cruises enhances dining experience

MSC Cruises enhances dining experience

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MSC Cruises introduces – starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside – even greater dining options with added flexibility on how, when and where to dine on board

MSC Cruises revealed today new dining concepts that will be available first to guests on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside. Designed to meet the needs of today’s cruise guests, the two ships – the first two of a total of 11 new mega-ships due to come into service starting this year, in June and December, respectively – will introduce highly flexible dining options and a choice of dining packages that can be booked at any time prior to embarkation as well as whilst on board. All of which means that MSC Cruises guests can dine as they want, when they want and in an even wider range of speciality restaurants and international dining experiences.
MSC Cruises’ Head of Product Development and Guest Experience, Andrea Gangale, commented: “At MSC Cruises, we strive to create memorable holiday experiences for our guests whilst they are on board one of our cruise ships. And dining is and has always been a key feature of our offering.”
Mr Gangale continued: “We are driving innovation in cruising at many levels, now also in the onboard dining experience. The new dining concepts are being introduced to cater to the needs of today’s cruise guests, who are looking for flexibility and choices. Starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside, we are introducing new ways for guests to manage their choices – through cutting-edge onboard technology – and offering an even greater selection of international restaurants to deliver culinary experiences from around the world, all of this so that guests can enjoy their holiday even more.”
New Dining Styles
One of the new dining concepts that MSC Cruises is introducing is Flexi Dining. This new dining style allows guests to pre-select a time slot for their evening meal, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise. This way guests can get the most out of their holiday by more easily adapting the dining experience around their plans for each day.
The Classic cruise dining experience will still be available, with a choice of two sittings each evening. This traditional dining style is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night so that they can enjoy personalised service from the same waiter who will know them by name, know their dining preferences and how to accommodate them. This way, they can also socialise with the same guests each evening.
In addition to this, MSC Yacht Club guests will also benefit from free-time dining in the dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant, with the option of reserving a table in advance if one so desires.
Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours-a-day, offering a wide range of freshly prepared dishes. The MSC Cruises buffet – already one of the richest at sea — has been further enhanced with a wide range of different international food experiences with dishes to tempt everyone’s tastes. MSC Seaside, in particular, will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will be dedicated to families, serving family-friendly options and featuring child-friendly seating.
Even More International Speciality Restaurants
Speciality restaurants are another standout feature on MSC Cruises’ ships, one that gives guests the opportunity to experience an ever-growing range of cuisines from around the world even while at sea. To this end, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will feature restaurants with innovative ‘open kitchens’, following the trend in restaurant design that makes dining a true sensorial experience and that allows guests to see, smell and hear expert chefs at work. Selected restaurants on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will also feature a Chef’s Table, a dining concept designed for those seeking a true gastronomic experience.
Following the success and popularity of the Kaito Sushi Bar, serving fresh fish, sashimi and tempura, MSC Cruises will introduce a brand new Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant on board MSC Meraviglia to complement the ship’s Kaito Sushi Bar. With a modern twist on Asian cuisine, guests can sit at the cooking stations to watch their delicious Japanese dishes come to life in front of their eyes. Expert chefs will cook with flare on an open grill – a visual spectacle and feast for the senses with flames and sizzling ingredients all coming together to form flavoursome dishes.
MSC Seaside's Asian Market Kitchen
MSC Seaside's Asian Market Kitchen

Another new restaurant concept will be an authentic American Steakhouse – the Butcher’s Cut, celebrating the craft heritage of America blended with the skilful mastery of the butcher. Guests can select their favourite steak from glass-fronted meat ageing fridges and then watch the skilled chefs preparing their flavoursome fresh dishes in the open kitchen. The wine list is bold and features an appealing selection from the New World to complement the dishes. Cocktails are also inspired by American heritage, while guests can also savour some of the best craft beers.
A highlight of the dining on MSC Seaside will be the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. The three distinct restaurants created by the innovative Japanese-American chef will consist of an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations in a stylish venue with incredible sea views, a Sushi Bar and Teppanyaki Grill, each offering an authentic pan-Asian dining experience at sea.
MSC Seaside will also feature signature seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay. This stylish restaurant will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. A simple menu with delicious signature dishes will include locally-sourced Stone Crabs, a delicacy in the homeport of Miami, beautiful fresh Sea Bass, flown in from the Mediterranean and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).
Even More Collaborations With Renowned Chefs
MSC Cruises is committed to partnering with world-class experts in their fields and the dining experience on the new ships is no exception. The collaboration with world-renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi on MSC Seaside extends way beyond the creation of the menus. As part of the partnership, Chef Yamaguchi will be personally involved in conceptualising and designing every element of the new pan-Asian restaurant, bringing his creative flair and vision to every single detail of the guest’s experience. This includes everything from creating the recipes, menus, selecting chinaware to enhance the dishes, music selection to create the right ambience all the way through to the wine pairings to complement the food and even the choice of the paper stock for the menus.
A long-standing partnership with two-star Michelin chef Carlo Cracco will now encompass the development of signature dishes for the main restaurant menus on MSC Meraviglia as well as for the Christmas and New Year menus. Meanwhile, on board MSC Meraviglia, a partnership with award winningFrench chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury will tempt guests with incredible sweet creations. Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café will feature an open chocolate atelier whilst Jean-Philippe Crêpes & Gelato serve tasty treats that can be savoured while enjoying oneself on the ship’s Mediterranean-style promenade.
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two-star Michelin chef Carlo Cracco
The chef collaborations extend beyond the new ships as part of MSC Cruises’ focus on international fine dining. MSC Cruises is for example collaborating with international Chinese chef, Jereme Leung. Globally recognised for his contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine, Chef Leung’s modern approach has long caught the attention of top international restaurant critic and he has brought his contemporary Chinese cuisine to MSC Lirica. Chef Leung collaborated with MSC Cruises to design new and innovative dining concepts tailored to the tastes of Chinese guests, an exclusive range of signature dishes as well as enhancing existing menus with his creative and distinctive flair.
New Dining Packages For All Tastes
To help guests better plan their onboard dining experiences and make the most of their time on board, MSC Cruises is introducing a range of dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. For example:
MSC Cruises guests on board MSC Meraviglia will be able to book a Dinner & Show package where they will enjoy an exclusive table d’hôte menu and then experience the breathtaking Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the impressive purpose-built Carousel Lounge.
A special dining package is available for the Eataly Chef’s Table on board MSC Meraviglia, which includes a dedicated chef and sommelier for the night, seven gourmet dishes cooked to perfection and all perfectly matched with seven wines – this really is a food lover’s dream.
For those who want to explore each of the speciality restaurants, a special package can be booked in advance meaning guests can benefit from a discount on the onboard prices.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Coin ceremony marks construction milestone for Carnival Horizon

Coin ceremony marks construction milestone for Carnival Horizon

Coin ceremony marks construction milestone for Carnival Horizon
Fincantieri’s Clementina Zecchin helps to weld the coins into place (Image: Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Cruise Line held a coin ceremony for its newbuild Carnival Horizon at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard in Italy on 10 March 2017.

Signifying the successful completion of Carnival Horizon’s exterior outfitting, the coin ceremony tradition was started by the ancient Romans who believed that attaching coins to a ship provided divine protection.

Fabrizio Timossi from Carnival’s corporate shipbuilding department represented the cruise line at the ceremony, while Fincantieri’s Clementina Zecchin served as godmother and welded the commemorative coins to the ship’s mast.

Built as a sister to the recently launched Carnival Vista, the 133,500gt Carnival Horizon will debut in Europe on 2 April 2018.

Onboard highlights will include indoor and outdoor dining, bars, the bike-ride-in-the-sky attraction called SkyRide, an IMAX Theatre and WaterWorks aqua park with corkscrew slides, a tipping bucket and more. Guests can choose from a wide range of accommodation, including spa cabins with exclusive privileges at the Cloud 9 Spa, larger staterooms in the Family Harbor area, and tropical-inspired Havana staterooms and suites with exclusive daytime access to a Cuban-themed bar and pool.

Carnival Horizon will sail her 13-day maiden Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona – the first of four roundtrip departures from the Spanish port. Carnival Horizon will reposition to the US via a 14-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to New York, US from 9-23 May 2018.

Following a summer schedule of four-day Bermuda and eight-day Caribbean departures from New York, Carnival Horizon will kick off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami, US in September.

Fincantieri lays first keel block for Nieuw Statendam and order a Third Ship

Fincantieri lays first keel block for Nieuw Statendam

Fincantieri lays first keel block for Nieuw Statendam

Fincantieri laid the first piece of keel for Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam at its Marghera yard in Venice, Italy on 20 March. The 260-ton block, which is 11.3 metres long and 34.8 wide, will form the central section of Nieuw Statendam.

Built as a sister to Koningsdam, Nieuw Statendam will be Holland America’s second 99,800gt Pinnacle class ship and will be delivered at the end of 2018. The vessel will be able to accommodate up to 2,650 passengers in more than 1,300 cabins and feature interiors created by two major studios – Tihany Design and YSA Design.

Holland America Line to Build Third Pinnacle Class Ship for Delivery in 2021


Carnival Corporation announced that it has signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. to build two new cruise ships with final contracts expected to be executed in early 2017. The two new ships are designated for the company’s Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands.
Holland America Line’s new ship will be built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Marghera, Italy, with an expected delivery in 2021.
“We are extremely pleased to formally announce these two new ships and build on the success and popularity of their sister ships already sailing guests around the globe,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “Our goal is to exceed expectations of the 11.5 million guests who sail with us each year, and these new ships will offer more opportunities for our guests to create lifelong vacation memories while generating added excitement around the fast-growing global demand for cruise vacations.”
Holland America Line’s new 99,500-ton, 2,660-guest ship will be its third Pinnacle Class vessel, following the design of the line’s newest and largest ship, ms Koningsdam, and its sister ship, ms Nieuw Statendam, scheduled for delivery in November 2018.
The new ship will combine classic hallmarks of the brand while featuring several of the innovative venues that were introduced on Koningsdam, as well as new concepts that will debut on Nieuw Statendam and additional elements unique to the new vessel.
Each of Carnival Corporation’s new ships will be specifically designed and developed for each brand and the guests and markets it will serve, supporting the corporation’s overall goal of providing extraordinary vacation experiences at an exceptional value for its guests around the world. Specific features and amenities for the ships, along with deployment details, will be revealed in the coming months.

Dover Cruise Port to welcome 96 cruise calls in 2017

Dover Cruise Port to welcome 96 cruise calls in 2017

Photo Credit; Dave Jones Port of Dover taken from the Carnival Legend.

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic will return to Dover in both 2017 and 2018 (Image: Port of Dover)

Destination Dover and Dover Cruise Port is set to welcome 96 cruise calls in the 2017 season, which started on 15 March with a call from Saga Cruises’ Saga Pearl II.

This year, several cruise lines will return to the UK port including Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Phoenix Reisen with Artania and Albatros. Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic will also return on 24 May and then make further turnaround calls on 28 June and 9 July. Disney Magic has also booked four calls for 2018. Another highlight of 2017 will be an inaugural call from Silversea Cruises’ Silver Explorer on 1 June.

“It’s wonderful that the cruise season is underway again here at Dover Cruise Port and fantastic to be able to announce that Destination Dover has secured so many cruise calls for the 2017 season,” said Sonia Limbrick, Port of Dover’s head of Business Development (Cruise). “The history and inspiring regeneration of Dover Western Docks and town has created a buzz of excitement within the industry and placed Dover firmly on the map as a destination of choice for both local and international cruise passengers.”

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Norwegian's New Chinese-Bound Ship Offers Clues for America

Norwegian's New Chinese-Bound Ship Offers Clues for America

Norwegian's New Chinese-Bound Ship Offers Clues for America
PHOTO: Norwegian Joy floated out at the Meyer Werft shipyard. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Norwegian Joy may be slated for the Chinese market, but it also provides hints for what the North American market can expect once the Norwegian Bliss launches.
The Joy will be officially launched on April 27, 2017 in Bremerhaven, Germany, and I will be there to cover a quick preview of the ship and its delivery ceremony.
Before then, it has already emerged outside of the enclosed Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg for a better look.
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On March 4, 2017, the 168,800-ton, 3,850-guest Breakaway Plus-class ship exited building dock II where its hull art (by Chinese artist Tan Ping) could be seen in all of its glory for the first time.
Now tied up at the finishing dock, the ship will soon complete construction that first began in September 2015. She follows the Norwegian Escape as the second in the larger Breakaway Plus series, with the Norwegian Bliss scheduled to set sail behind as the third in June 2018. (That ship is initially being built now.)
Here's what's different from Escape: The Joy has a midship go-kart racing track in place of a ropes course, a single longer meandering free-fall waterslide and multi-decker observation lounges above the bow.
We already know that the Bliss will also feature such expansive scenic venues to match, but perusing its currently revealed deck plans neither yet reveals any watersides nor any ropes and racing courses.
Still, as the Bliss already matches the Joy so closely, it makes sense that other attractions will follow suit.
A racetrack would work well in Alaska, where the ship will first deploy, and waterslides would fit in nicely in the Caribbean, where the ship will head in the winter—both are features I plan to capture and share aboard the Joy next month.
After all, the Joy is custom-designed for China and home ports like Shanghai and Beijing, but that doesn't mean some of its venues would not also be perfect in America—most notably the sinuous double-decker racing course which measures in at 833 feet long. The experience is anticipated to last around five minutes.
Otherwise, the Bliss will sport the wildlife artwork of Wyland as the biggest exterior change that is expected from the now floated-out Joy. Other features unique to the Joy, at least for now, will be a laser tag course, hovercraft bumper cars and simulator rides, plus interactive video walls at the Galaxy Pavilion.
Speaking of such thrills, Joy unexpectedly includes a singular free-fall waterslide: Instead of the two racing free-falls on the Escape, the new ship features just one that traverses a longer figure-eight cantilevered far over the side of the ship with translucent tube sections.
Here’s hoping that too makes its way on the Bliss.
Until that time when more is unveiled about the Bliss, David J. Herrera, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China President had this to say about Joy: “We are thrilled that Norwegian Joy is now one step closer to delivery and one step closer to delivering on our promise to create a First Class at Sea experience for our Chinese guests.”

RCCL ventures outside cruising with launch of tour-booking site

RCCL ventures outside cruising with launch of tour-booking site

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Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) has launched a new subsidiary, GoBe, an online seller of tours and activities – and not just to cruise customers.
"We're thrilled to officially open GoBe to every type of traveler, from hotel guests and staycationers to business travelers with a long layover," managing director Billy Campbell said in a statement.
GoBe says it offers thousands of tours in 97 countries, and it plans to triple inventory by the end of the year.
There are three main product categories on GoBe: high-value group tours, private excursions, and exclusive "Travel Creations." RCCL said Travel Creations are tailor-made tours that can be "found nowhere else online."
Users of the site can search by destination, interest or group requirements. The site can also search cruise itineraries for nearly 20 cruise lines. Certain tours and activities are designated as "cruise-friendly," enabling users to identify which tours depart from areas close to ports.
GoBe offers a variety of products, like a sea kayak expedition in Port Frederick, Alaska, during which participants can spot humpback whales and enjoy scenic bays and estuaries; a private helicopter ride over Rome; and surfing lessons in Brazil.
If searching by interests, users can select from about 25 categories, from event tickets to family activities to full-day tours to budget tours.

Virgin Voyages doesn't hold back on design partners

Virgin Voyages doesn't hold back on design partners

Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin announced several key design partners for Virgin Group's first cruise venture, including the team behind hipster hotel chain Ace Hotels.
At a steel-cutting ceremony in Genoa, Italy, for the first of three 110,000-gross-ton ships that Virgin Voyages has on order from Fincantieri, McAlpin on Wednesday listed off the numerous designers and architects who are helping Virgin's vision of cruising come to life.
"Thanks to them, our ships will be a complete departure from the ordinary," said McAlpin against the backdrop of a "Make ship happen" banner. "That style that we see in some of the coolest places on land, soon we will see on the seven seas."
The creative team includes Roman and Williams, the design team behind numerous Ace hotels and the Standard High Line hotel in New York; Concrete, an edgy Amsterdam design company; cruise ship design firm GEM, which has designed vessels for Silversea, Cunard and Princess Cruises; HOSTUDIO, a London-based brand development agency; New York-based architecture firm WORKac; creative agency Chandelier; and global design company HKS.
The first Virgin Voyages ship is slated to enter service in 2020, with two additional ships to follow in 2021 and 2022.
Wednesday's steel-cutting ceremony is expected to be followed by a keel-laying event toward the end of 2017.
The 2,700-passenger vessels will carry 1,150 crew members.