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Monday, 19 August 2013

Viking's 15-day Grand European Tour from $5,795*per person SAVE $1,000* per couple


15-day Grand European Tour from $5,795*per person SAVE $1,000* per couple

Amsterdam to Budapest or v.v.

 

Imagine 15 magical days along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. From Holland's windmill-studded tulip fields to Germany's fairytale castles, from the engineering marvel of the Main-Danube Canal to the picturesque vineyards ofAustria's Wachau Valley, this epic voyage presents the highlights of Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Savor a decadent Sachertorte in a Viennese café and panoramic views of imperial Budapest—and along the way, discover the legend of the Lorelei, the ancient art of glassblowing, the music of Mozart and more. Guests who choose this voyage soon see why it is our most popular itinerary.

 

Includes: 14-nights onboard NEW Viking Lif or Viking Skadi in river-view stateroom, 13 guided tours, all onboard meals: 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 14 dinners, Culture Curriculum, port charges, all tipping and gratuities.

 

PLUS, book before 30 September, 2013 to receive complimentary on board Silver Spirits Beverage package including unlimited wine, beer, premium cocktails, soft drinks, juices and specialty coffees.

 

For more information visit www.vikingrivercruises.com.au or call us now on 1800 131 744.

 

Conditions: Price is in Australian Dollars, per person, double occupancy, subject to availability. Single supplements apply. Valid on 2014 sailings only. Price includes current booking discount and isbased on: 15 Nov 2014 departure in cat F stateroom. Must book by 30 September 2013. Viking River Cruises reserves the right to revise and withdraw pricing and discounts throughout the season without prior notice.  Conditions apply, visit www.vikingrivercruises.com.au.


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Celebrity Cruises Stirs and Shakes at Sea with New Craft Cocktails

                                                                                                                        

Celebrity Cruises is shaking up the onboard bar scene by significantly expanding its selections of cocktails, offering 30 new craft cocktails exclusively onboard.

 

Celebrity's new craft cocktail experience was developed through an alliance with artisanal cocktail developers Hawthorn Beverage Group, founded by noted cocktail creator Josh Durr. Hailing from Kentucky, Durr has been honoured with a "Rising Star Award" from Cheers magazine and has his clients include Apiary, Diageo, Pernod, Remy Cointreau and Ruth's Chris, among others.

 

The new craft cocktails blend vintage-style liqueurs with fresh ingredients, organic juices and the finest artisanal spirits, resulting in a combination of new-school brews and updated old-school favourites. A new line-up of "zero-proof" (non-alcoholic) cocktails also will be introduced including 'Sparkling Mint Lemonade' and 'Raspberry Fizz', along with an assortment of fine wines by the glass. Celebrity's current list of international beer selections will be expanded too, including everything from pale ales and IPA's to Belgian ales and premium lagers.

 

"Together with Josh Durr and the highly skilled mixologists at Hawthorn, we worked to create flavour profiles that vacationers will thoroughly enjoy, while also focusing on the details, quality of ingredients, and craftsmanship," said Celebrity's manager of Beverage Development Chanelle Duarte. "Through our creative guidance and the methodical specifications of Josh and his team, Celebrity is 'stirring up' an authentic, trend-forward craft cocktail bar experience for our guests."

 

Celebrity Cruises guests will have the opportunity to indulge in the full, new craft cocktail experience across its modern luxury fleet by the end of 2013.

 

Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium will sail from Australia and New Zealand this summer season to exciting destinations locally and within the South Pacific and Asia.

 


Friday, 16 August 2013

Please give us your feedback on Cruise Weekly


We would love to know what you think about Cruise Weekly so we can continue in our mission to bring you the best coverage of issues relevant to the Australian cruising sector.

The CW team have put together a short online survey and we hope you can take a couple of minutes to complete it.

Participants will be put into a draw to win a $100 gift card too, so please take this opportunity to help us out.

The brief survey can be accessed via the following link:

CLICK HERE for Cruise Weekly survey

Thanks for your help!

The Cruise Weekly team. 

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Royal Caribbean Upgrades Guests’ View on Bahamas, Caribbean and Bermuda Sailings

Guests enjoy great rates on Oceanview and Balcony Staterooms in August on tropical itineraries! 

Royal Caribbean is enticing Aussies to swap the winter blues for tropical views in the sunny Bahamas, Caribbean and Bermuda with a free upgrade* offer!

The free upgrade* offer is applicable to all new and individual bookings in August 2013 on three to 10 night Bahamas, Caribbean and Bermuda cruises departing from 1st September 2013 through 30th April 2014.

Guests who take advantage of the free upgrade* offer will be able to experience some of the most revolutionary at-sea experiences onboard their choice of superliner.

Enjoy Oceanview category stateroom for the price of an Interior stateroom onboard:

  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Legend of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas

Enjoy a Balcony stateroom for the price of an Oceanview category stateroom onboard:

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas

Fares start from $1,139 per person for a Balcony stateroom (including free upgrade) for a 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise onboard Oasis of the Seas departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 9 November 2013.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 21 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. Royal Caribbean provides a world-class holiday experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. Royal Caribbean International is an award-winning global cruise brand with a 40-year legacy of innovation and introducing industry "firsts" never before seen at sea. The cruise line features an expansive and unmatched array of features and amenities only found on Royal Caribbean including, jaw-dropping, Broadway-style entertainment and industry-acclaimed programming that appeals to families and adventurous vacationers alike.

The local Royal Caribbean team look forward to the return of the Royal Caribbean International superliners to Australia & New Zealand for the summer season in October, 2013. The Royal Caribbean International superliners sailing locally and to the South Pacific are Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas.  

For more information about Royal Caribbean's upgrade offer and the brand, visit: RoyalCaribbean.com.au.

*Cabin type and upgrade varies per ship. Conditions apply. Subject to availability. Excludes Vision of the Seas sailings. The free upgrade offer is applicable for all new, individual bookings made by 31 August 2013 on three to 10 night Bahamas, Caribbean and Bermuda cruises departing from 1st September 2013, through 30th April 2014. Any booking that is cancelled and then rebooked during the offer period will not be eligible for the promotion.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Great Deals on the Horizon as National Cruise Week Nears

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Australian holidaymakers can look forward to a flood of great deals from cruise lines around the world, when National Cruise Week gets underway on September 2.

Coordinated by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, the cruise promotion features deals from dozens of international cruise lines which will be available exclusively from CLIA travel agent members across the country from September 2-9.

The deals will include special discounts, upgrades and bonus offers on bookings, with travel agents planning an array of special activities to promote the offers to holidaymakers.

To find their nearest CLIA travel agent member and learn more about what's happening in their area, holidaymakers should visit www.nationalcruiseweek.com.au

From August 23, the website will also promote the range of special deals being offered during the week.

CLIA Australasia General Manager Brett Jardine said National Cruise Week was a great way for consumers to find out more about cruise holidays - from ocean cruises to river cruising and smaller expedition ships – and to pick up a great deal.

"For those who already know that cruising is a great value holiday, National Cruise Week is the perfect time to take advantage of some fantastic deals. And for those who've yet to experience a cruise, it's the ideal time to contact a local cruise specialist travel agent and find out more about the options available."

Mr Jardine said latest industry figures showed that Australia continued to be one of the fastest growing cruise markets in the world with almost 700,000 Australians enjoying a cruise in 2012.

"More and more Australians are discovering that cruising is one of the easiest ways to travel.  We're looking forward to highlighting all the cruise options and all the new deals during National Cruise Week so that we can welcome even more Australians onboard our ships next year," he said.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

New England “Features of the Fall” cruise tour - exclusive features


THE exclusive 36-night Canada and New England "Features of the Fall" cruise tour has just been released by cruise specialists ecruising.travel with special prices for the September 14, 2014 departure and a free 15-minute "New York Tour" by helicopter and a night time helicopter flight over the Las Vegas strip if you book before December 31, 2013.
 
Fly from Australia to Las Vegas for three nights Mandarin Oriental before flying to New York to explora the city that never sleeps. You will have four days to take in a show in Broadway, hit the shops on 5th Avenue and visit the numerous tourist sights the city is so famous for.
 
At Cape Liberty embark on your Celebrity Summit vessel for a 14-night round trip cruise which includes port visits to Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
 
The escorted touring component begins after the cruise with extensive sightseeing during two weeks travelling to Massachusetts, Vermont, Quebec, Ontario and Michigan before arriving at your final destination of Chicago. Highlights include visiting Morse farm,  a cruise on Lake Champlain, getting up close and personal with Niagara Falls onboard the "Maid of the Mist" and much more.
 
Now priced from $11,449 (was $20,089) per person twin share it includes return economy airfares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, 15-nights fully escorted tour including hotel accommodation,  daily breakfast, transportation, all sight-seeing and entrance fees with a tour director, three nights' accommodation in Las Vegas, four nights at the Grand Hyatt New York, 14 nights cruise accommodation with all meals on board plus a complimentary bottle of champagne and chocolate coated strawberries, entertainment and on-board gratuities, transfers and port charges and government taxes.

 

For departures from Adelaide the tour is priced from $11,749 and for Perth passengers from $11,949 per person twin share.
 
The tour is limited to 50 guests, to reserve your place now contact ecruising.travel on 1300-369-848 or check out
www.ecruising.travel

 


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Couple missing on cruise ship. Did she slip and fall?

Kristen Schroder and Paul Rossington drowned after they
went missing from a cruise ship. Picture: Facebook

A WOMAN who plunged off a cruise ship balcony may have slipped while trying to climb around to visit family members in a neighbouring cabin, it has emerged. 
 
The theory is among several under active investigation as police prepare a brief for the coroner into the deaths of real estate agent Kristen Dennis, 27, and her paramedic boyfriend Paul Rossington, 30, on May 8.

They have not been found.

Royal Caribbean International dual milestones

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL CELEBRATES DUAL MILESTONES FOR QUANTUM OF THE SEAS AND ANTHEM OF THE SEAS

Keel Laying and Steel Cutting Ceremonies Held for new Quantum Class

Excitement was palpable at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany on Friday as Royal Caribbean International marked two important milestones in the development of its Quantum class of ships. Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, received its first block as the keel was officially lowered and put into place. In conjunction, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum's sister-ship, had its first piece of steel cut, signalling the first step in the ship's construction.

"Today is a very special day in the development of our new Quantum class, as we are now two steps closer to delighting guests around the world with Quantum cruising," said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "It's incredibly rewarding to seeQuantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas coming together so well, and today we not only honour these two very important milestones, but also recognize the years of hard work and dedication from the team developing these ships."  

The keel laying marks an important milestone in the development of Quantum of the Seas as it signifies the beginning of the ship's physical construction. During the ceremony, a 430-ton block measuring 59-ft by 75-ft (18 x 23 meters) was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane. Newly minted coins were placed under the keel which then stays in place until the end of construction. Once the ship is nearing completion the coins are retrieved and presented to the ship's Captain and crew to be placed onboard the ship. According to maritime tradition, the coins are said to bring luck to the ship during its construction and then to its Captain and crew when she is out to sea.

The groundbreaking Quantum class ships will debut new unprecedented features, such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; transformative venues, such as The Sea-Plex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line's largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry's first-ever Virtual Balcony staterooms, which offers expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations for interior staterooms.

The Quantum class will debut in autumn 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by her sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015.  Quantum ships span 16 decks, encompass 167,800 gross registered tons, carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,090 staterooms.  More information on Quantum of the Seas is available at RoyalCaribbean.com/QuantumoftheSeas.

For additional information or to make reservations, visit royalcaribbean.com.au or celebritycruises.com.au, call 1800 754 500 or contact your travel agent. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit cruisingpower.com.

Image 1  - Royal Caribbean International took a major step this week in the development of the cruise line's next generation of cruise ships when the first piece of steel was cut for Anthem of the Seas, sister-ship to Quantum of the Seas. The steel cutting took place at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.
 
Image 2 - Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, received its first block today as the keel was officially lowered and put into place. The 430-ton block measuring 59-ft by 75-ft (18 x 23 meters) was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane and signifies the beginning of the ship's physical construction.
 
Image 3 - Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, received its first block today as the keel was officially lowered and put into place. Newly minted coins were placed under the keel which then stay in place until the end of construction. According to maritime tradition, the coins are said to bring luck to the ship during its construction and then to its Captain and crew when she is at sea. Present at the event were (lefto to right): Bernard Meyer, Harri Kulovaara, EVP, Newbuild and Design, Royal Caribbean International; Mika Heiskanen,  
Project Manager, Royal Caribbean International and Jan Meyer, Managing Partner, Meyer Werft.
 

About Silversea Cruises



Silversea Cruises, which is chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, is recognised as an innovator in the luxury cruise line industry, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit – all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the inclusion of the expedition ships Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos (debuting late 2013), Silversea Cruises' itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to both polar regions and over 500 fascinating destinations in between.



In Asia Pacific, Silversea has been voted "Best Luxury Small Ship Cruise Line" by Australia's Luxury Travel & Style Magazine every consecutive year from 2006 to 2012 and Silver Whisper or Silver Shadow have also won the Gold Award as Best Small Cruise Ship in each of those years. Silversea has won similar awards from readers of Australia's Cruise Passenger Magazine. In the US, Silversea has been voted "World's Best" by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler (nine times) and Travel + Leisure (seven times), and awarded "Best Cruise Line for Luxury Small Ships" by Luxury Travel Advisor (2011).

Follow Silversea on Twitter, Facebook and the Silversea Blog.

Scenic Jade 2014 European river cruise program released




Due to unprecedented demand and an overwhelming response to their 2014 Europe River Cruising launch, Scenic Tours announced in May this year the commission of another new Scenic 'Space-Ship' to be delivered in 2014. Bringing their world-class fleet of Scenic 'Space-Ships' to nine, Scenic Jade will sail along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

Since this decision was made after the 2014 Europe River Cruising program was launched, the Scenic Jade sailing dates are not listed in the printed brochure so Scenic Tours is excited to announce the release of these departure dates. Scenic Jade will be operating on the Scenic Tours flagship itinerary only, the 15 Day Jewels of Europe River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and from Budapest to Amsterdam with City Extensions to Paris and Prague. These sailings take place from 14 May – 12 November 2014 with the last sailing departing on 29 October 2014.

Scenic Jade will feature all of the exceptional embellishments that have made Scenic 'Space-Ships' the most popular on the market. These include private butler service, the finest luxury suites, which boast the largest private balconies fitted with Scenic 'Sun Lounges', complimentary mini-bar stocked daily, and 32 inch Samsung HD TVs linked to Mac mini computers with complimentary internet access. Unlimited complimentary beverages handpicked by the company's sommelier will complement the exceptional range of cuisine prepared from fresh local produce in all dining venues including the River Café for casual fare and dégustation at Table La Rive.

For more information visit scenictours.com.au or call 1300 SCENIC (1300 723 642).

Australians just want to get away from it all this Christmas!


Royal Caribbean releases new survey findings about what Aussies really want at Christmas time

 

Forget the roast and fruit cake at gran's place! Most of us just want to get away from it all over the Christmas holidays according to a brand new survey* by Royal Caribbean.

The survey showed that a whopping two thirds of Aussies believe that getting away from it all would make Christmas better, and 50% of respondents said that a getaway was the number one thing that would make school holidays better.

When it comes to stress at Christmas time, money is the main cause of the headaches with 30% citing spending too much money among the most stressful part of the festive season. Over 95% of respondents find that Christmas usually costs more than expected. After that, the most stressful part of Christmas was those dreaded household chores. Plus, 94% of respondents said that they usually needed a break to get over the Christmas holidays!

However while we want to get away from the stress of Christmas, a lot of us are happy for the family to come along - 40% of respondents said that they would most like to go on a cruise with their family.

Adam Armstrong, Commercial Director at Royal Caribbean Cruises Australasia said: "A cruise is a great value option at Christmas time, from as little as $166 per person per day including meals, accommodation and lots of entertainment. And of course there's no arguing over who's going to do the washing up!"

It is hard not to get into the holiday spirit with all the special activities on board a Royal Caribbean cruise at Christmas time. The season comes to life with carol singing, Christmas parties, visits from Santa, holiday-inspired menus and Christmas treats such as gingerbread houses built by talented onboard pastry chefs.

Royal Caribbean's summer 2013-14 wave season will begin in October 2013, with Rhapsody of the Seas arriving in Sydney on 5 October, Radiance of the Seas on 11 October and Voyager of the Seas on 7 November. In total, the three ships will offer 55 sailings calling at 56 beautiful Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific ports, with departures up until April 2014. Each ship will offer a South Pacific Christmas cruise over the December holidays.

Fares for a nine night South Pacific cruise onboard Voyager of the Seas start from $1,499 per person departing Sydney, 18 December 2013. For a limited time only book a Balcony cabin for the price of an Oceanview from $2,199 per person.**

For additional information or to a make reservation, visit royalcaribbean.com.au, call 1800 754 500 or contact your travel agent. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit www.cruisingpower.com.

*Survey conducted via Survey Monkey from 16-19th July, 2013. Survey tallied over 1,600 responses across Australia and New Zealand, with majority of respondents ranging from under 20 to over 70 years old.  

**Conditions apply. Subject to availability.

 

 

Snap Shot of Key Survey Findings:

 

·         Over 61% of respondents cited spending too much money and household chores the most stressful at Christmas time.

·         Over 67% of respondents said that getting away from it all would make Christmas better for them.

·         Nearly 94% of respondents said that they always or sometimes need a holiday to get over the Christmas holidays.

·         Nearly 76% of respondents said that taking a holiday would be the perfect way to spend Christmas.

·         Over 95% of respondents find that Christmas expenses always or sometimes cost more than expected.

 

RCL Cruises Ltd Australia commenced operation in December 2008 as the Australian arm of global cruise holiday company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  The company offers three cruise brands in Australia and New Zealand: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.  Royal Caribbean International has three ships sailing in the region: Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas.  This is in addition to two Celebrity Cruises ships, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium

 

For additional information or to make reservations, visit royalcaribbean.com.au or celebritycruises.com.au, call 1800 754 500 or contact your travel agent. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit cruisingpower.com.

 


Viking River Cruises partnership with Australian National Maritime Museum

International Blockbuster "Vikings – Beyond the Legend" opens 19 September 2013

Today, Viking River Cruises, the world's leading river cruise line was proud to announce its partnership with revered Australian National Maritime Museum. Viking River Cruises is the museum's Major Partner supporting the international blockbuster and historical exhibition "Vikings – Beyond the Legend" opening at the museum in September.

"We are extremely proud to support and collaborate with the Australian National Maritime Museum on this exciting project. It is a rare opportunity to find something so intimately connected to our history and where there is such an obvious connection to our brand" says Ms Teresia Fors, Managing Director, Viking River Cruises Australia. Fors continues " At the core of our brand and product offer is to bring opportunities for our Guests to explore history and culture in comfort and it is therefore a natural step, to now also in Australia, partner with a distinguished cultural institution such as the Australian National Maritime Museum."

Developed by the Swedish History Museum Vikings – Beyond the Legend draws on recent archaeological discoveries and hundreds of rare artefacts to shed new light on the Viking way of life and quash stereotypes of Vikings as ferocious, plundering pagans in horned helmets. Visitors to the exhibition will see hundreds of unique artefacts, many never before seen in Australia, including exquisite gold and silver pendants, the oldest known Scandinavian crucifix, beautifully designed jewellery such as arm bands, neck rings, and brooches, small statuettes of Norse gods, and Viking swords ranging in date from 700- 1100AD which demonstrate the intricacy of Viking arts, craft, and metal work technologies. "Vikings have come to symbolise the terror of the so-called Dark Ages in Europe. They are a persistent presence in popular culture and hold a fascination for people even here in Australia," says Australian National Maritime Museum curator Dr Stephen Gapps.

Modern day Vikings

Viking River Cruises, founded by Chairman and cruise industry stalwart, Norwegian Mr Torstein Hagen, is offering 22 itineraries in 2014 ranging from 8 to 23 days in length. While the majority of its river cruises are in Europe, the company is also a Russia specialist with a comprehensive journey and following the Vikings old sailing routes along the Volga, Neva and Svir between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

As previously announced Viking River Cruises set a world record in March 2013 with the christening of ten new Viking Longships®, developed using techniques used by the historical Vikings and named after Gods and Goddesses from the Viking pantheon. The first-of-its-kind simultaneous christening ceremony in Amsterdam debuted the ships and was certified by a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM adjudicator as 'The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company.' A further 12 Longships will be launched in 2014. Designed by legendary naval architects Yran & Storbraaten, the team behind The Yachts of Seabourn, these new vessels offer state-of-the-art engineering, patented design* and luxury.

Today's Longships

These ships features: 95 comfortable outside staterooms (2 Explorer Suites [except Viking Hemming and Viking Torgil], 7 Veranda Suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, 25 Standard Staterooms), all suites feature two rooms with a veranda off the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. Sun deck with 360-degree views and shaded sitting area; organic herb garden and solar panels; putting green, and walking track. Aquavit Terrace® with a revolutionary indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the boat, and grills for al fresco dining. Observation lounge and bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views. Library corner and on board boutique, elevator and free shipwide wireless internet service. These ships also feature ecologically friendly hybrid engines producing less vibration for a smoother ride.

For bookings travellers can call toll-free 1800 131 744 (Australia) or 0800 447 913 (New Zealand) and visit www.vikingrivercruises.com.au for more information.


About Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises, the world's leading river cruise company, offers scenic cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, China and Southeast Asia. The company has been honoured multiple times as the top river cruise line on Condé Nast Traveller's "Gold List" and Travel + Leisure's "World's Best" Awards as well as recognized as the World's Leading River Cruise Operator at the World Travel Awards in 2009 & 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and by the editors of Cruise Critic as "Best River Cruise Line" in the website's 4th Annual Editors' Picks Awards. Since its 1997 inception, the company has grown to own and operate the largest river cruise fleet, and provides unique, deluxe vacations to experienced travellers with an interest in geography, culture and history. For additional information, contact Viking River Cruises at 1800 829 138 (Australia) or 0800 447 913 (New Zealand) or visit the company online at http://www.vikingrivercruises.com.au

Packing for a Worry-Free Cruise Holiday

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Cruise season is here again and there's nothing like a seemingly-endless parade of glistening cruise ships visiting ports all around Australia to prompt travellers to consider a cruise holiday.

For the first time cruiser, the thought of packing enough different outfits to last an entire holiday is always a major concern, so the International Cruise Council Australasia has come up with a simple guide to make cruise holiday packing that little bit easier.

General Manager Brett Jardine said the best way to ensure Australian travellers chose the cruise line to suit their lifestyle would be to first speak with a cruise expert, such as an ICCA-accredited travel agent.

"When you know you've picked the right ship and the right destination for you to enjoy a great holiday, everything else will fall into place," Mr Jardine said.

The first thing people think about is what to wear on board ships. Usually the dress code during the day is comfortable and casual so t-shirts and shorts, skirts and sun dresses teamed with sneakers, thongs and sandals are all good options. But note that swimmers and sarongs are fine around the pool but not in public or dining areas anywhere around the ship.

At night, most cruise lines offer a mix of formal, semi-formal and casual nights throughout a cruise with your average week-long cruise including at least two formal nights (usually on sea days), a couple of cocktail evenings and the rest smart casual.

Evening dress codes usually apply to restaurants and public areas from about 6pm but for those who don't enjoy formal nights, passengers can usually choose to dine in the more casual buffet alternative.

Double check the dress code information the cruise line sends with the tickets – it's the best way to ensure packing appropriately.

Apart from your wardrobe, there are a few other essential items:
  • Passport with at least six months' validity after your return and any destination visas
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Sufficient quantities of any medications you may need – these may be unavailable onboard
  • Sunglasses, hats and sunscreen
  • A camera for all those happy snaps as well as any cables you need to download shots onto Facebook to update family and friends
  • Laptops or iPads – most ships have wi-fi connectivity to make staying in touch easier
  • A good book or two – and there's always extras at the onboard library
  • Any sporting equipment you can't cruise without – such as snorkelling gear in the tropics, you can often hire these onboard but it can be easier to carry your own.
A great final tip is to check the type of electrical plugs used on board – there's nothing worse than a camera that can't be charged without a US or European adaptor plug!

The International Cruise Council Australasia is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1996, committed to training travel consultants and raising consumer awareness of cruising.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Tauck Sees Huge Growth in French River Cruising

Company's Bookings Jump 137% in Two Years as it Adds Ships and Itineraries on the Rhone, Seine and Saône

When Tauck's ms Swiss Emerald sailed on the company's first-ever departure of its new Rhone River family river cruise earlier this month, it was just the latest milestone in Tauck's rapidly increasing presence in French river cruising.  Although the Connecticut-based company (recently named the "World's Best River Cruise Line" by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine) has only been operating on France's rivers for three years, it has already chalked up some impressive growth statistics.
 
Since its debut on the Rhone in 2011, Tauck's French river cruise bookings have increased 137%, and the company has gone from zero itineraries in France in 2010 to a total of seven for its 2014 operating season, including three popular specialty cruises for families, food lovers, and art aficionados.  The company will also deploy its ms Swiss Sapphire to sail on two new itineraries on the Seine next year, doubling the number of ships it has in France.  (The newly refurbished ms Swiss Emerald will continue to sail on the Rhone and the Saône.)  Tauck's success in France shows no sign of slowing, with pre-season bookings up more than 650% over the same time last year, and up nearly 1,300% over this same point just two years ago.
 
TWO NEW ITINERARIES ON THE SEINE
Helping fuel Tauck's incredible growth in preseason bookings are two new-for-2014 itineraries on the Seine.  The new "Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London" (from $6,790 per person, plus airfare) is a comprehensive two-week journey that begins with an included two-night stay in London at the landmark Savoy, featuring guided sightseeing plus a Tauck-exclusive lecture by Winston Churchill's biographer and granddaughter Celia Sandys.  After travelling via high-speed train beneath the English Channel to Calais, guests will board the ms Swiss Sapphire in Caudubec-en-Caux for a nine-day cruise along the Seine.
 
Highlights along the Seine will include an excursion to Normandy's D-Day beaches, an exclusive dinner with music at a private chateau in Rouen, and private tastings of absinthe in the Absinthe Museum in Auvers-sur-Oise and Calvados at Chateau du Breuil, a distiller of the spirit since the 1500s.  The journey continues in Paris, where the ms Swiss Sapphire will dock for three nights as Tauck guests enjoy an in-depth exploration of the city with included sightseeing.  After disembarking in Paris, guests will have their choice of a guided exploration of the city's colorful Montmartre district, or a guided visit to Louis XIV's palace at Versailles.  The 14-day itinerary concludes with a two-night stay in Versailles at the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria property, highlighted by an exploration of the Chevreuse Valley and a visit to the 12th-century Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay.
 
Tauck's second new French itinerary, "Rendezvous on the Seine," (ten days from $4,590 per person, plus airfare) also begins with an included two-night stay in Paris, at the Hotel Pullman overlooking the Eiffel Tour.  A subsequent seven-day cruise on the Seine includes ports-of-call at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Giverney (where guests will visit the home and gardens of Impressionist painter Claude Monet), Vernon, Les Andelys and Rouen.  Highlights include a farm visit and tasting of local farm-to-table specialties in Étretat, a visit to the seaside town of Honfleur, a lecture on the events of D-Day followed by a tour of Normandy's iconic beaches, and guided visits to historic abbeys and chateaux.
 
THE NEWLY REFURBISHED MS SWISS EMERALD
Elsewhere in France, Tauck's Rhone and Saône River cruises will sail aboard the newly renovated ms Swiss Emerald.  Launched in 2006, the ship received a makeover earlier this year when its décor was enlivened with new carpeting, new upholstery, new bedding and other enhancements.  The Swiss Emerald is one of four Tauck vessels in its Jewel Class of riverboats, along with the ms Swiss Sapphire, ms Swiss Jewel and ms Treasures.
 
Two new and larger Tauck riverboats, the ms Inspire and ms Savor, are currently under construction.  Set to launch next year, the 443-foot newbuilds will together comprise Tauck's Inspiration Class of ships.  Each will have twenty-two 300 square foot suites (a third of all cabins), as well as thirty-two 225 square foot cabins.
 
Eight of those 225 square foot cabins will be located on the lower (Emerald) deck, and they will feature an innovative "loft" design with a raised platform seating area.  Each seating area will have a table with two chairs, plus a raised ceiling that allows the use of a much taller window than can normally be incorporated into cabins on a riverboat's lower deck.  The upper portion of this window can be opened for fresh air, and being taller, the window will allow far more natural light to fill the cabin for a much brighter and more airy ambiance than can typically be achieved in lower level cabins.

ALL 2014 TAUCK RIVER CRUISES NOW OPEN FOR BOOKING

Each of the 19 European river cruises in Tauck's 2014 portfolio (on the Danube, Rhône, Rhine, Seine, Moselle, Saône, Main and Maas rivers) is now open for booking, and departure dates, prices and a host of additional information are contained in the company's new 100-page 2014 river cruise brochure.  Tauck has also debuted an expanded and redesigned section of its website at www.tauck.com dedicated exclusively to river cruising.  The new micro-site contains details on Tauck's river cruise itineraries and ships, a collection of nine new videos, the latest Tauck river cruise news, guest message boards, and more.

Tauck is also expanding its river cruising outreach to the travel agent community with the appointment of Mary Murrin as the company's first Business Development Manager – River and Small Ship Cruising.  A Tauck Cruise Director aboard the company's riverboats for five years prior to assuming her new role, Murrin is a travel industry veteran who has also worked with Ritz-Carlton and in events management.  In her new position, Murrin will focus on agent and consumer education, represent Tauck at cruise-related conferences and other events, and help Tauck maintain its leadership position within the river and small ship ocean cruising segments.

 ABOUT TAUCK

Tauck is a world leader in upscale guided travel, with nearly 100 land and cruise itineraries to some 70 countries and all seven continents.  The company has been named to Travel + Leisure magazine's list of the "World's Best Tour Operators & Safari Outfitters" in each of the past 15 years, and it has also been named to the magazine's list of the "World's Best River Cruise Lines" in each of the past four years.

ABOUT TRAVEL THE WORLD

Travel the World has been providing discerning travellers with unique luxury experiences for over 30 years. From premium cruise holidays with the world's best cruise lines to enriching cultural tours and indulgently luxurious resorts, Travel the World offers an exciting range of travel options beyond the predictable. The company has established new benchmarks of excellence in travel-related services to the Australian travel industry and consumers since 1977.

For further information on TAUCK please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Uniworld launches 2014 Asia brochure


Experience China, Vietnam and Cambodia by land and luxury river cruise

 

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has released its 2014 Asia Boutique River Cruise and Tour brochure showcasing 11 to 18 day itineraries throughout China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Additionally, it introduces the 12-day Treasures of China & the Yangtze cruise/tour providing travellers with a new luxury option to discover the glories of China's history and culture.

 

John Molinaro, General Manager of Australia, said: "We're delighted to have our new brochure on the shelves.  Our itineraries include a combination of land touring and cruising the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers. Onboard the Century Paragon and Century Legend guests stay in Uniworld Signature Suites with private balconies. On land they'll enjoy five-star hotels such as the Sofitel and Ritz Carlton in Beijing, the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai and the Intercontinental Hanoi and Park Hyatt Saigon.


"As with our European cruises, the culinary experience is key and the combination of cruising and city touring means we can incorporate special regionally-themed meals from a dim sum lunch in Shanghai, traditional dumpling and Tang Dynasty dinner in Xi'an, family-hosted lunch in a Beijing hutong and of course Beijing's signature Peking duck. In Cambodia a real highlight is the Apsara dance show accompanied by a traditional Cambodian meal.

 

"The Mekong and Yangtze are the lifeblood of these regions and our shore excursions provide guests an opportunity to see what life is like along the rivers. During the Mekong River cruise, guests can take a sampan among traditional floating markets to a village and fish farm while shore excursions along the Yangtze River include a smaller riverboat cruise to the exceptionally beautiful Lesser Gorges and visit to the landmark Shibao Pagoda. Of course there is also plenty of time just to relax on the sun deck and just watch as the scenery floats by" said Mr Molinaro.

 

River Orchid

  • Guests on Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong will navigate the Mekong on the French colonial River Orchid. With accommodation for 58 guests, the intimate ship provides an up close view of life along the river. Staterooms are designed with French doors that open to a shared promenade. Public areas include a panoramic restaurant, lecture and movie room, sun deck with full-service bar, and spa for massage treatments.

 

Pay in Full and Early Bird Savings

  • Uniworld is currently offering Pay in Full savings of up to $1200 per couple on 2014 Asia cruises, valid until 31 October, 2013.
  • Early Booking savings of up to $600 per couple are also available to guests who book 2014, simply book and pay a deposit at the time of reservation. Offer valid until 15 January, 2014.

 

Itinerary highlights

  • NEW 12-day Treasures of China & the Yangtze – Shanghai to Beijing. Priced from $4290 per person twin share, cruise/tour. Sample China's top sights from Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing as well as the Yangtze.  Price includes 4-night Yangtze River cruise and 7 nights in centrally located luxury hotels, all transportation throughout the trip, many meals, 10 days of fully escorted excursions with English-speaking local experts, the services of a Uniworld Cruise/Tour Manager and all transfers on arrival and departure days.
  • 18-day Grand China & the Yangtze – Beijing to Hong Kong. Priced from $6465 per person twin share, cruise/tour. Discover both old and new China on this comprehensive journey to Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Hong Kong and the Yangtze. Price includes 4-night Yangtze River cruise and 13 nights in centrally located luxury hotels, all transportation throughout the trip, many meals, 16 days of fully escorted excursions with English-speaking local experts, the services of a Uniworld Cruise/Tour Manager and all transfers on arrival and departure days.
  • 15-day Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong – Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Priced from $5614 per person twin share, cruise/tour. Experience the contrasts of Southeast Asia from the ancient Angkor Wat to the lively cities and floating villages of the Mekong. Price includes 7-night

Mekong River cruise onboard the River Orchid and 7 nights in deluxe hotels, all transportation throughout the trip, many meals, complimentary wine and beer with all dinners throughout the cruise, 12 days of fully escorted excursions with English-speaking local experts, the services of a Uniworld Cruise/Tour Manager and all transfers on arrival and departure days.

 

For more information visit www.uniworldcruises.com.au or call (02) 9028 5199.

Acclaimed Travel Expert Valerie Wilson Christens the Amaprima

APT and partner AmaWaterways Celebrate their Newest European Ship in Vilshofen, Germany

Award-winning river cruise lines APT and AmaWaterways celebrated the christening of their newest ship in Vilshofen, Germany, yesterday, amid great fanfare provided by dancers, singers, musicians, stilt walkers and other local performers. The highlight of the event was the traditional christening of the Amaprima by its honorary godmother, Valerie Wilson, founder, chairman and CEO of New York City-based Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc.

Wilson christened the AmaPrima in the time-honored tradition, breaking a bottle of Champagne against the ship's hull. Amid a chorus of cheers and applause, doves were released into the sky as the Vilshofen Fire Department sprayed a plume of water high over the river.

Other highlights included a special blessing of the ship by a local pastor, songs by soprano Heidlinde Schmid and an Indiana Jones-like whipcracking demonstration (a Bavarian tradition). Children from a folkloric club preformed traditional dances and presented the Vilsofhen flag to the AmaPrima's captain, Jan de Bruin, who also signed the town's ceremonial "Golden Book" along with other VIPs in attendance.

The tradition of christening a ship originated more than 4,000 years ago. A respected and well-known woman is selected to serve as a new ship's honorary "godmother," entrusted with blessing the vessel to ensure the safety of its passengers and crew. The Amaprima's godmother, Valerie Wilson, heads one of the largest privately owned and family-managed travel agencies in the United States. She has been honored with many prestigious awards, serves on numerous advisory boards and has shared her expertise with readers of The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesTown & Country and Travel + Leisure, among others. She is also the author of "Valerie Wilson's World…The Top Hotels & Resorts."

One of APT's Concerto class river ships, the Amaprima, a sister ship to the award-winning Amacerto (2012), is a deluxe 164-feet passenger vessel that incorporates such innovative design features as Twin Balconies (an APT and AmaWaterways exclusive) and spacious staterooms that measure up to 350 sq. feet. Guests also enjoy Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary creations with unlimited fine wine and beer, a choice of dining venues, a heated pool with swim-up bar, massage and beauty salon, fitness studio, and complimentary in-room Internet, Infotainment and Wi-Fi. The Amaprima even carries a fleet of bicycles on board so guests can enjoy Europe's picturesque riverside bike paths on their own.

The Amaprima will serve the Dutch and Belgium Waterways and the Danube and Rhine Rivers on 10 itineraries: Tulip Time CruiseThe Romantic DanubeMelodies of the DanubeThe Legendary DanubeBlue Danube DiscoveryBlack Sea VoyageMagnificent EuropeGrand Danube CruiseChristmas Time Cruise; and Great Capitals & Vintages of the Danube.

To book an APT River Cruise onboard the Amaprima in 2014 call 1300 278 278, see www.aptouring.com.au or contact your local travel agent.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Royal Caribbean milestones for new ships

Royal Caribbean milestones for new ships

Excitement was palpable at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, earlier as Royal Caribbean International marked two important milestones in the development of its Quantum class of ships.

Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, received its first block as the keel was officially lowered and put into place. In conjunction, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum's sister-ship, had its first piece of steel cut, signalling the first step in the ship's construction.

"Today is a very special day in the development of our new Quantum class, as we are now two steps closer to delighting guests around the world with Quantum cruising," said Adam Goldstein, president, Royal Caribbean International.

"It's incredibly rewarding to see Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas coming together so well, and today we not only honour these two very important milestones, but also recognise the years of hard work and dedication from the team developing these ships." 

The keel laying marks an important milestone in the development of Quantum of the Seas as it signifies the beginning of the ship's physical construction.

During the ceremony, a 430-ton block measuring 59-ft by 75-ft was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane.

Newly minted coins were placed under the keel which then stays in place until the end of construction.

Once the ship is nearing completion the coins are retrieved and presented to the ship's Captain and crew to be placed onboard the ship.

According to maritime tradition, the coins are said to bring luck to the ship during its construction and then to its Captain and crew when out to sea.

The groundbreaking Quantum class ships will debut new unprecedented features, such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea; the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean; transformative venues, such as The Sea-Plex, the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea with bumper cars, roller skating and more; and the cruise line's largest and most advanced staterooms ever, including the industry's first-ever Virtual Balcony staterooms, which offer expansive, real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations for interior staterooms.

The Quantum class will debut in autumn 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by her sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015. 

Quantum ships span 16 decks, encompass 167,800 gross registered tons, carry 4,180 guests at double occupancy and feature 2,090 staterooms.

Rockefeller Tries To Tax Cruise Lines – Other Cruise News: Cruise Naysayers – Work Under Way on AIDA Sisters In Japan


 by Kevin Griffin

Sometimes there seem to be endless negative voices braying about the big, bad cruise lines and all the wrongs they do. But a quick investigation by The Cruise Examiner finds that this rump adds up to only two or three people, a senator, a university professor and a lawyer. In today’s lead story, we look at how that senator is trying to tax foreign-incorporated cruise lines trading from the United States, while in a follow-up story we look at the naysayers of the industry. Finally, we take a peek preview at two new ships now being built for AIDA Cruises of Germany by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

THIS WEEK’S STORY

Rockefeller Tries To Tax Cruise Lines


In filing a new bill last week that has the intention of taxing foreign-incorporated cruise lines that trade from and to US ports, Senator John D (Jay) Rockefeller IV of West Virginia made a case that lines should pay taxes as they benefit from the resources of the US Navy and US Coast Guard, as well as from the services of more than twenty US agencies and the infrastructure of ports and transportation. Rockefeller is the chair of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

Many of the largest cruise lines in the world are now headquartered in Miami, but incorporated overseas, meaning that they are not subject to US federal income tax because of an exemption in the tax code. This exemption was granted on the assumption that non-US corporations would pay tax on their international income in their home countries.

Of the big three, for example, Carnival Corp & plc is incorporated in Panama, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd in Liberia and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings in Bermuda.

On Thursday, Rockefeller introduced a bill that would eliminate this income tax exemption for cruise lines and also impose a 5% excise tax on gross income if passengers embark or disembark in the US. The Rockefeller bill seeks to apply tax to cruise line income derived from cruises that embark or disembark passengers in the US. This income would be treated as subject to the US corporate income tax rate of 35%.

In addition to charging income tax, Rockefeller proposes a 5% excise tax on cruise industry income, which would be used to fund transportation infrastructure. The bill would impose excise tax on gross income from cruises embarking or disembarking passengers in the US. For cruises where a majority of passengers embark or disembark in the US, the full gross income from that voyage would be subject to excise tax.

For cruises that call at a US port, but do not embark or disembark a majority of the passengers in the US, half of the gross income would be subject to excise tax. According to Senator Rockefeller, his excise tax would be similar to passenger taxes in the aviation industry and gas tax for motor vehicles.

In a statement last week, Carnival Corp & PLC said that it pays nearly $1.2 billion to US federal, state and local agencies including port authority payments, government fees, dockage fees and payroll taxes. It also is subject to taxes and/or fees based on the guest counts, ship tonnage, ship capacity or some other measurement in “virtually all”port jurisdictions where its ships now call.

The way the bill reads, not only would cruises operating to and from US ports be subject to the excise tax, but so would ship operators from around the world when their ships call in the US. With the devices of Homeland Security and the Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act of 2010 (“the peepholes act”) having already prompted about half of visiting foreign cruise ships to drop their calls in the US in recent years, it is likely that the other half will now look at joining them if no way can be found of avoiding this new levy.

After nearly thirty years in the Senate, Rockefeller is standing down from his seat and will not be running in the 2014 election. This will be none to soon for many, who regard Rockefeller’s recent efforts to give the US Department of Transportation oversight of the cruise lines as an unnecessary folly and a bureaucratic step too far.

OTHER CRUISE NEWS

Cruise Naysayers

There’s no doubt about it. We’re already there. We’ve gone past the barrier and hardly anyone has noticed, but a cruise is no longer desirable for all the public. To many, the ships have now got too large and too impersonal. But luckily, the market has also grown so much that there is a larger choice of cruises available than ever. Admittedly, some cruisers do not like big ships, but plenty of alternatives still remain.

Sadly, though, unlike in the past, some say they do not want to cruise again..

This first signs of pushback started when ships started getting bigger. The first 100,000-tonner was introduced seventeen years ago now when Lin Arison named the Carnival Destiny at Venice in 1996.

Carnival Destiny moored at Riva Sette Martiri,
Venice – October 1996 (Photo Stefano Fermi)
And the Grand Princess followed in 1997. These first 100,000-tonners brought real economies of scale to cruising but were not yet that different from the modern cruise ships that had preceded them. Ironically, the Carnival Destiny has just been rebuilt as the Carnival Sunshine and Lin Arison, widow of the late Ted Arison, will once again perform the honours.

It was really the arrival of the 1,000-footers that began to change the nature of cruising. The first, Royal Caribbean’s 1,020-foot Voyager of the Seas, of 1999, brought us a Royal Promenade, rock climbing walls and ice-skating. And in recent years, the trade has been deluged with bigger and bigger ships, culminating in 2009-10 in the 5,408-lower-berth Oasis and Allure of the Seas, which can carry 6,360 passengers when all beds are full.

It is now also possible to go surfing on board and to be visited by Shrek, the appearance of whom has probably also scared a good number of adult cruisers away from these ships as well.

Royal Caribbean now stand out as the builder of behemoths, giants and leviathans, now having produced ten ships in three different classes that carry more than 3,000 passengers since the Voyager of the Seas, plus planning three new ships of the Quantum class (4,180 passengers) and another Oasis. The interesting thing about these ships is that they are able to attract the custom, and they are able to do so at prices above the average.

Norwegian Cruise Line, on the other hand, has added a lot of extras too, but with its Freestyle Cruising, started in 2001, it has also been able to charge extra for many if not most of its alternative restaurants. In fact, Norwegian is probably better known than most other lines as a line where you will pay end up paying more for on board spend than on some others.

But while not all may like larger ships, the truth is that by the general public has welcomed these additional entertainment options and alternative restaurants. And, in the end, the real negativity is coming from sources outside the industry.

The first real negativity came about a dozen years ago now from a strange source, in the form of Ross Klein, a university professor in social work from Newfoundland. Just how many in this Canadian province of 515,000 actually take a cruise each year we don’t know, but Klein is not a Newfoundlander.

Although he had arrived in Newfoundland before he started his criticism of the industry, he had held junior teaching positions at Yeshiva University in New York, Syracuse University, Iowa State, State University of New York and Skidmore College before he became a professor at Memorial University in St John’s. And he has degrees from Arizona State University, the University of Maryland and Syracuse University.

Not long after arriving in Newfoundland, Klein started making a reputation for himself. In quick succession, he published four tomes on cruising.

In 2001, it was “Death by Chocolate: What You Must Know Before Taking a Cruise,” in 2003, “Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Industry,” in 2005, “Cruise Ship Squeeze: The New Pirates of the Seven Seas” and in 2008 “Paradise Lost at Sea: Rethinking Cruise Vacations.”

The man has made a veritable industry out of making money from books that criticize the cruising industry and in getting himself hired as some sort of “expert,” especially at hearings convened by one Senator Rockefeller.

Indeed, Klein has made himself into such a celebrity that he maintains his own website at www.cruisejunkie.com, where one can find just about anything critical of the cruise industry. One of his speaking engagements biographies says, “as an outspoken critic of the industry, Klein’s is a unique voice,” but one must wonder why it is so unique.

Todd de Haven, in an open letter to “Cruise Mates” written in 2006, came up with his own theory:

“I believe … I may have found what ultimately could be the reason behind Klein’s crusade and if I’m correct, the reason is for me at least, incomprehensible. The start of his campaign against the cruise industry appears to correlate with the same time frame he received what he felt to be an unsatisfactory response to a complaint he made to an upscale cruise line about his perceived ill treatment by a bartender.”

Meanwhile, in 2005, another author no one had even heard of before, Kristoffer Garin, joined Klein, when he published an entertaining volume entitled “Devils on the Deep Blue Sea: The Dreams, Schemes, and Showdowns That Built America’s Cruise-Ship Empires.”

While sensational, Garin’s book carries a good story about the mergers and acquisitions activities of these lines. Washington-based Garin, now an investment banker, also co-authored the New York Times bestseller“Win Forever: Live, Work and Play Like a Champion” in 2010 with Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. But having written his first tome on cruising, although he has also written occasionally for Conde Nast Traveler, he does not seem to have returned to the cruising theme.

To its credit, Garin’s “Devils on the Deep Blue Sea” makes a very good read if you’re interested in boardroom shenanigans at the cruise lines during their various takeover attempts. And rather than lecturing in social work, Garin actually served as a petty officer in the Royal Norwegian Navy between 1997 and 1999.

Another frequent source of negative comment on the North American cruise industry is Walker & O’Neill, a firm of Miami lawyers who make their crust making claims against cruise lines on behalf of passengers and cruise ship crew members. Jim Walker even runs a website called “Cruise Law News” and is often to be seen being interviewed on US television. But one can hardly hold it against a lawyer that he tried to make a name for himself in order to maximize his fee billings.

More recently, in January of this year, came a company called Un-Cruise Adventures, really an amalgam of two previous lines called American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries. But this renaming was really aimed at conveying the line’s unique style of exploration cruising. And they were not the first to use this theme.

SeaDream Yacht Club had started using the tagline “it’s yachting not cruising” almost a decade before. These are hardly naysayers, however, but companies with products that they want to differentiate from mass market cruising.

Despite all this negativity that comes from only a couple of individuals, cruising is still an industry that is growing from strength to strength, mainly now in Europe and Asia. One can only hope that once Europe pulls into its full stride and becomes a mature market, we will not have naysayers like Senator Rockefeller and Ross Klein running their own sort of circus.

Neither has ever worked in the industry and it is actually rather unsightly, even to some fellow senators, to see the two of them gang up together in senate hearing after senate hearing.

Work Under Way on AIDA Sisters In Japan



Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) has begun construction at its Nagasaki Shipyard of the first of two new-generation 124,500-ton cruise ships for AIDA Cruises, the German arm of Carnival Corp & plc. The two new ships, which will incorporate an array of new environmental technologies, are scheduled for delivery in March 2015 and March 2016

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) has begun construction at its Nagasaki Shipyard of the first of two new-generation 124,500-ton cruise ships for AIDA Cruises, the German arm of Carnival Corp & plc.

The two new ships, which will incorporate an array of new environmental technologies, are scheduled for delivery in March 2015 and March 2016.

The keel-laying ceremony to mark the occasion was recently attended by owner’s representatives including Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman of Costa Group, Michael Thamm, CEO of the Costa Group, Michael Ungerer, president of AIDA Cruises; and chairman Hideaki Omiya from MHI. The new ship will be the first of two vessels ordered by AIDA, each able to carry around 3,300 passengers capacity– and the largest ships ever for AIDA Cruises.

The order for the two follows the two highly successful 116,000-ton ships, Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess, built for Princess Cruises in 2004.

Sapphire Princess in Seattle
The new ships will incorporate all the various features to enable provision of AIDA’s unique style of cruising experience. Among the features already selected for installation is MHI’s proprietary technology to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through use of a layer of air bubbles along the vessel’s bottom.

This is expected to reduce fuel consumption by about 7%.

From the outside, however, the most interesting point is that the ship is introducing an entirely new form of bow for cruise ships. Instead of the usual clipper-style bow, it will consist of a form of inverted X-bow now common in new offshore vessels. The new bow is more efficient and provides seakeeping abilities equal or greater than a traditional bow.

It will also cause less stress and wear on the vessel as it slices through heavy seas instead of trying to part them and push them aside.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

HAL's Statendam rescues stranded passengers in Alaska

file image of vessel Baranof Wind
source: eGlobal Travel Media

Holland America Line’s ms Statendam has picked up 103 people from a sightseeing boat wallowing without power in frigid seas near an Alaskan glacier. Another Holland America Line cruise liner rescued passengers from the same sightseeing boat a year ago.

While leaving from Margerie Glacier to depart Glacier Bay on Friday, Statendam received a call for assistance from the 24-metre sightseeing vessel Baranof Wind. Mechanical troubles had cut all power on the Baranof Wind in the ice near John Hopkins Glacier.

Statendam lowered two tenders, which collected 102 tourists and one Glacier Bay National Park ranger, bringing them back to the ship, a company statement said. A Glacier Bay National Park ranger aboard Statendam helped coordinate the assistance from the ship’s bridge.

The sightseers were taken in the evening to Bartlett Cove, where the Baranof Wind’s excursion originated. Statendam then sailed for Seward, Alaska, where it is expected to arrive on schedule today.

“Statendam’s Captain Jochem Bakker and his crew responded quickly and professionally to assist the passengers of Baranof Wind,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “We are proud of our officers and crew.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Baranof Wind, described as a high-speed catamaran, ran aground in Glacier Bay with 72 passengers aboard. It was on a day-time sightseeing trip that time, when it struck a rock, a report said.

On that occasion, Holland America Line’s ms Volendam was one of the first to arrive on the scene. Crew helped transfer passengers from the Baranof Wind to the Volendam, taking them to Bartlett Cove where they were transferred to Juneau by another vessel. The Baranof Wind was later towed back to port.

The US Coast Guard launched an investigation into the August 2012 incident and will no doubt investigate the latest episode as well.

Written by Peter Needham