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Tuesday 2 April 2013

Royal Caribbean Cruise Deal - Flash flagship sale offers up to $200 onboard credit and 50 per cent reduced deposit

Sometimes it pays to stay a little longer.  For just one week from 7-13 April, Royal Caribbean is holding its Flagship Sale which not only offers guests up to US$200 onboard credit but also a 50% reduced deposit price – with guests receiving more onboard credit for cruises 12 nights and over.

OFFER DETAILS:  Available for next summer's Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises departing between September 2013 and April 2014, the Flagship Sale offers US$100 onboard credit for any cruise between 5-11 nights.  And for cruises 12 nights and over, guests will receive double the onboard credit, US$200 per stateroom.  All bookings will receive a 50% reduced deposit.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: This offer is valid for new individual bookings only for Royal Caribbean International Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises departing between September 2013 and April 2014.  New Bookings must be made between Sunday 7 April and Saturday 13 April 2013 and have the required deposit paid no later than 5:00pm local time (Sydney) on Friday 19 April 2013.  Further terms and conditions apply.


What: 7-night Tasmania cruise onboard Rhapsody of the Seas departing roundtrip from Sydney.  Ports of call include:  Melbourne, Burnie and Hobart.

When: Departing 12 December 2013

Lead fare: Prices start from $895*per person with US$100 onboard credit

What: 14-night New Zealand & South Pacific cruise onboard Voyager of the Seas departing roundtrip Sydney. Ports of call include: Nouméa, New Caledonia; Lautoka, Fiji; Auckland, New Zealand; Tauranga, New Zealand; and Wellington, New Zealand.

When: Departing 9 November 2013

Lead fare: Prices start from $1,595* per person with US$200 onboard credit

What: 7-night Tasmania cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas departing roundtrip from Sydney. Ports of call include: Newcastle, Hobart and Melbourne.
When: Departing 27 January 2014

Lead fare: Prices start from $1095* per person with US$100 onboard credit.

* Prices are per person in Australian Dollars, based on double occupancy and inclusive of all taxes, fees and onboard gratuities. Prices are correct as at 25-Mar-13 and are subject to change at any time without notice.



Monday 1 April 2013

South American Cruise Tour aboard Princess Cruise's Golden Princess

CRUISE specialist has released an exclusive South American fly/cruise/tour package - a 30-night itinerary which includes a 17- night cruise aboard Princess Cruise's Golden Princess from Valparaiso in Chile to Los Angeles.

The Myths, Gods and Machu Picchu tour departs Sydney on March 5, 2014, for two nights in Santiago, Chile, before travelling to Cusco, Machu Picchu by train and Lima. Enjoy all the famous and popular sights of each city for eight days before boarding your ship.

You then visit La Serenca in Chile, Pisco and Lima in Peru then onwards to Punta Arenas in Costa Rica, San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico before reaching your final destination of Los Angeles, USA.

Spend your final three nights exploring L.A's beaches, shopping districts and entertainment venues before flying back to Australia.

The itinerary includes tours in Santiago, Lima, Cusco plus two days at Machu Picchu.

Priced from $7599 per person twin share, the package also includes return air fares with Qantas from Sydney, 13 nights superior hotels including Grand Hyatt, Swissotel, Hilton and Aranwa Boutique Hotel, 17 nights cruise accommodation with all meals on board the Golden Princess, air and port taxes as well as all transfers.

For more details contact on 1300-369-848 or check out


What Goes at Classic International?

Athena - Ex Valtur Prima, ex Italia Prima, ex Caribe
Athena - Ex Valtur Prima, ex Italia Prima, ex Caribe
Most people know Classic International Cruises as the creation of Lisbon-based expatriate Greek shipowner George Potamianos, who died this May and has since then been succeeded by his twin sons Alexandros and Emilios.

But on the weekend before last, three of Classic International Cruises’ fleet were arrested, the 556-berth Athena (1946) and 568-berth Princess Danae (1955) at Marseilles and the 334-berth Arion (1965) at Kotor, all for unpaid bunker bills and other debts said to include back wages.
Princess Danae
Princess Danae
According to the “Ship & Bunker” web site, the firm has been financed for several years by Portuguese bank Montepio, which has now stated that it will not fund any further operations of and will not to see the company through to the end of this season.
Classic International operates under several names, including Arcalia Shipping, World Cruises Agency and Great Warwick Inc, among others.
Shortly after this news broke, Grant Hunter, managing director of Classic International Cruises’ Australian branch, was quoted as saying: “Athena’s shipowners and the bank are working on a major restructure which is expected to be finalised within 5-7 days. The owners have advised that Athena will operate her full Australian season as planned, beginning on November 12, 2012, in two month’s time. The ship has now entered a scheduled drydocking period in Marseille.”
This statement completely ignores the fact that All Ways Travel of Belgium had a charter on the Athena and had flown passengers in to Marseilles for a cruise that was due to sail last Monday. Once informed that the ship had been arrested, All Ways took immediate steps to fly its clients back home to Belgium.
Recent news reports have also missed the fact that a fourth Classic International ship, the 479-berth Princess Daphne (1955), has continued to operate on schedule for Germany’s Ambiente Kreuzfahrten. Leaving Puerto del Rosario in the early hours of Thursday, September 20, she made her planned call at Arrecife the same day and then left Casablanca on Saturday, September 22, for Malaga, where she was due this morning.
That three ships have been arrested while the fourth continued to sail seemed to indicate that some sort of arrangement had been made as far as the Princess Daphne is concerned. After anchoring off Malaga this morning, the Princess Daphne sailed at 12:46, headed east southeast, and was last seen off Torre del Mar steaming at 14? knots on a course of 100 degrees, her destination Ibiza. So will she finish her present voyage without arrest? The Ambiente web site continues to operate, listing her next cruise as a Black Sea sailing from Istanbul on October 6.
Funchal - Photo D.R.Carneiro
Funchal - Photo D.R.Carneiro
As well as the planned Australian season for the Athena, Ambiente has charters on Athena and Princess Daphne for next summer, but whether any of these cruises go ahead will depend on whether financing is put into place for the ongoing operation of Classic International Cruises.

A fifth fleet member, the 430-berth Funchal (1961), has been in Lisbon for some months now undergoing what is supposed to be a refit to bring her into compliance with the latest SOLAS standards.

Berlitz Guide to Cruising 2013 Now Available

by Kevin Griffin

The 28th edition of the “Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships” has just appeared in Kindle format and hard copies will be available from next Monday. We look at some of the updates to this year’s issue, which evaluates 284 cruise ships. Meanwhile, three out of the five-ship fleet of Classic International Cruises have been arrested in Marseilles and Kotor, while a fifth continues to trade for Ambiente Kreuzfahrten. We look at how one major cruise agent has been able to stand up to the P&O/Cunard UK commission cut to 5% and still see an increase in its profits. Finally, Mistral Cruises will be the new kid on the block in Croatia in 2014 with its 34-berth Mistral.
The latest issue of the “Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships” became available in Kindle and e-book format on September 15 and will be available in hard copy next week. This year, the Guide has expanded from 688 pages to 704, reviewing a total of 284 cruise ships.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2
In the year ahead we can look to three ships of new design, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2, coming from STX France, Norwegian Breakaway from Meyer Werft in Germany, and Royal Princess from Fincantieri in Italy, as well as matching sister ships for AIDA, Ponant and MSC.
This year, author Douglas Ward has added a comment on security at US ports. Homeland Security has been so bad at treating cruise passengers over the past couple of years, with significant delays being caused to P&O’s Arcadia, Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa and Fred Olsen ships that one line, Fred Olsen, has decided not to send ships to the US any longer.
Balmoral - Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Balmoral - Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Indeed, since this news, Saga has made the same decision and both companies are this autumn operating North American cruises that call only on Canadian ports (and in the case of Saga, one cruise from Canada to Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba).

Fred Olsen’s 28-night Canadian cruise in the Balmoral left Southampton on September 5 and is today in Havre St Pierre, Quebec, one of eleven Canadian ports called at before her return to the UK.
Some small changes in the Guide are also noted, one being a sign of the times in that Ward has finally removed the reference to “plated service vs silver service.”

Where this section was now heads straight into a new paragraph on “self-service buffets,” where his words remain the same: “strangely, passengers don’t seem to mind lining up for self-service food (reminiscent of school lunches and army canteens) in scandalously overcrowded venues.”

Instead of silver service, Ward has added a comment on “seating arrangements.”
In the spa section, a new list presents the best spas, while in the expedition ship section, the list of ships is in need of an update, although new sections have been added to cover the Northwest Passage (where there will be three full transits and two local transits in 2013) and the Amazon above Manaus heading into Peru, where the port of Iquitos is about three-quarters of the way across the South American continent from the Atlantic.

In the summary section on the major cruise lines the headings have been changed from bold red bars to narrow grey bars, making it slightly more difficult to navigate, while Louis Cruises, now that it is down to two ships, has been moved out. However, the same “so what’s it really like” section summarises each line’sr good and bad aspects.

Louis has now been added to the smaller operators section, as have small ship operators Ambiente, Antarpply, Comodros (now Silversea’s Galapagos operation), FTI of Germany, Harmony Cruises, Oceanwide, One Ocean and Passat.

Meanwhile, on the ships themselves, the size brackets have been changed this year, which has moved some ships into a new bracket. Changes in the “Top 10” for each bracket are summarised below.
Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria
Under Large Ships (now 1750+ berths instead of 1600+), Queen Mary 2’s Grill class keeps her the top spot, but Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria have dropped from places 2 and 3 to 6 and 7.

This is because rankings 2 to 5 are now taken up by the Celebrity Solstice class ships, and the Queens are followed by three of the Celebrity Millenium class, now “Solsticized.”

The Queens have fallen in ranking because where they were previously rated for their “Grill class” they are now measured on their overall ratings.
Crystal Serenity
Crystal Serenity
The Mid-size ship has gone from 600-1600 to 750-1750 berths, and here Oceania’s Riviera has knocked the Crystal Symphony out of place while Crystal Serenity has retained the number one spot.

Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and Voyager have now left this classification, going to “Small Ships,” and this has opened up a couple of spots that have been taken up by P&O’s Adonia and Phoenix Reisen’s Artania in the Top 10.

The Small Ship category has been moved up from 200-600 berths to 251-700 berths, thus bringing the two largest Regent ships into this grouping. But the top spots in this category are taken by Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa (still the top-scoring ship in Berlitz) and eight ships from Seabourn and Silversea.
Seadream I in London
Seadream I in London
The Boutique category has gone from 50-200 berths up to 50-250 berths and includes the SeaDream duo, the original Seabourn trio (which last year fell into Small Ships), plus Hapag-Lloyd’s Hanseatic, the two Sea Clouds, Silver Explorer and Hebridean Princess. Orion, Island Sky and Bremen have been knocked out of the Top 10 by the arrival of the Seabourn trio.
All in all, still the Bible of the cruise ship guides, it is interesting to see that Berlitz has still not sorted out its disagreement with Peter Deilmann over the rating of the Deutschland, and almost fifteen years after her introduction that ship is still listed as “Not Yet Rated.”

Presumably, the German-flag ship will not allow a Berlitz inspector on board (she was given a four-star-plus rating and a score of 1656 out of 2000 in the 1999 guide but was not listed at all in 2000, to reappear as “Not Yet Rated” a few years later).

The “Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships” is available for pre-order from for £12.59 (regular £17.99) with free delivery and for purchase from the Amazon Kindle store for £14.82. In North America it is available from for $15.17 (regular $24.99) and the Kindle edition for $24.03.

The 2013 Guide will also be available for purchase from other reliable booksellers from Monday, October 1.