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Friday 25 October 2013

Weekly Deals & News from Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises

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Royal Caribbean International Deal: Xmas & New Year Cruises

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. It's easy to get into the holiday spirit with special activities on board Royal Caribbean's cruises. The festive 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.

Nine night cruise to Fiji on board Voyager of the Seas departing Sydney 18th December, 2013

Cruise from AU$1,599 per person twin share in an interior stateroom.*

Nine night cruise to the South Pacific onboard Rhapsody of the Seas departing Sydney 19th December, 2013

Cruise from AU$1,579 per person twin share in an interior stateroom.*

Nine night cruise to the South Pacific onboard Radiance of the Seas departing Sydney 20th December, 2013  Cruise from AU$1,839 per person twin share in an interior stateroom.*

* From price applies to lowest available interior stateroom. Other Conditions apply. Subject to availability. For full terms and conditions see:

For more information about Royal Caribbean International or to book:

AUS:, call 1800 754 500 or contact your travel agent.

Royal Caribbean Newsflash: #InstaFilmFest

Royal Caribbean International is hosting the world's first Instagram film festival. Everyone is invited to capture their "WOW moments" in 15 seconds of video footage and upload to Instagram via the hashtag #InstaFilmFest to go into the draw to have their film screened at a special VIP event and to win a cruise to the South Pacific.*

*For full competition terms and conditions, visit:

For more details, visit the InstaFilmFest microsite:

Celebrity Cruises Deal: Cruise to New Zealand in Modern Luxury Style

Enjoy cruising in New Zealand with Celebrity Cruises onboard Celebrity Solstice, Australia's highest rated superliner.* Departing 3rd January, 2014 from Auckland, there is no better way to kick off a new year than sailing in Modern Luxury taking in the highlights of New Zealand. This itinerary includes Auckland, Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin, Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound in New Zealand and Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.

Cruise from AU$1,649 per person twin share in an interior stateroom.**

*Based on the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013.

** From price applies to lowest available interior stateroom on cruise departing Auckland 3/1/2014 only. Other Conditions apply. Subject to availability. For full terms and conditions see:

For more information about Celebrity Cruises or to book:, call 1800 754 500 (AUS) or contact your travel agent.

Celebrity Cruises Newsflash: Celebrity Cruises Bites into the Big Apple with Culinary Events

In October, Celebrity Cruises is taking its award-winning cuisine to New York City in a series of land-based events. The program has been designed to give food and wine enthusiasts a glimpse into its modern luxury approach to culinary innovation. Events include: a health food trends panel in NYC, dinner at James Beard House and a sponsorship of the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE. The James Beard House dinner and Food Network New York City Wine and & Food Festival are open to members of the public; tickets are for sale at and

For more information about Celebrity Cruises, visit:

Azamara Club Cruises Deal: 14 Night Vietnam & Thailand Voyage

Azamara Club Cruises allow guests to be immersed in their destination. Discover the rich culture, lifestyle and food of Southeast Asia whilst cruising onboard Azamara Journey. This cruise includes visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites including: Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An. Plus, a unique AzAmazing evening event – a magical evening at Binh Quoi Village – including performances of traditional music, dancing and martial arts. This cruise departs Hong Kong on 9th December and concludes in Singapore.

Cruise from AU$2,999 per person twin share in an interior stateroom.**

* From price applies to the lowest available interior cabin on cruise departing 9/12/2013 only. Other conditions apply. Subject to availability. For full terms and conditions contact Azamara Club Cruises in Australia or speak to your local travel agent.

Contact your local travel agent to make a booking and for more information, visit:


Monday 21 October 2013

Seabourn’s New Order Changes Balance With Silversea – Other Cruise News : QE2 On The Way To Asia – Anthem of the Seas For Southampton?

by Kevin Griffin
Last week Seabourn announced that it was ordering a fourth ship of the Seabourn Odyssey class, which will serve to replace most of the capacity lost by the sale of its original trio to Windstar Cruises, with deliveries over 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile, Silversea has increased its fleet of expedition ships to three. Elsewhere, QE2 Shipping has placed a contract with COSCO Shipyard Group for conversion of the Queen Elizabeth 2 into a 400-room floating hotel, to be based at an as yet unnamed major city in Asia. Meanwhile, rumours seem to indicate that Royal Caribbean International intends to base its new Anthem of the Seas at Southampton from 2015.
Seabourn’s New Order Changes Balance With Silversea
Seabourn and Silversea have usually fought head-to-head for primacy in the smaller-ship ultra-luxury sector. But Seabourn’s pending sales of the three smaller ships and the latest letter of intent with Italy’s Fincantieri for a new ultra-luxury cruise ship for delivery in the second half of 2016 will change the overall balance.
After a five-year gap, the new ship will be a follow-on from the new 450-berth trio that the line introduced in 2009-11 with Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest, and will be the fourth ship of this class.
Seabourn Quest
Seabourn Quest
Arch-competitor Silversea seems to be going down a different road from Seabourn, however.
Unlike Seabourn, Silversea built only one ship of its latest class, the 540-berth Silver Spirit, and never ordered any more.
It will soon therefore be outgunned by Seabourn in the 450/550-berth ultra-luxury range four ships to one by Seabourn, although overall it will be able to offer a few more berths:

Also unlike Seabourn, however, Silversea has been investing in expedition ships, an area outside Seabourn’s area of expertise. Starting in 2007 with the 132-berth Finnish-built Prince Albert II, renamed Silver Explorer in 2011, it added the 100-berth Silver Galapagos three weeks ago and will introduce the 128-berth Silver Discoverer in March 2014.
Silver Explorer ex Prince Albert II
The Silver Galapagos was one of eight original Renaissance small ships, built in 1990 in Italy. The Silver Discoverer had been sailing as the Clipper Odyssey for Zegrahm Expeditions. She is one of a very small number of Japanese-built cruise and expedition ships, having been built for Showa Line by NKK Tsu (now Universal Shipbuilding) in 1989 as Oceanic Grace.
In all, this adds three ships but only 360 berths to Silversea’s inventory, brining the total number of lower berths to 2,268, or about 25% more than Seabourn.
While Silversea will be up to eight ships, including the three expedition ships, Seabourn’s fleet will be streamlined to just four Seabourn Odyssey class ships after it disposes of its smaller 212-berth trio to Windstar Cruises. Seabourn Pride is to become Star Pride in April 2014, Seabourn Legend will follow as Star Legend one year later and Seabourn Spirit will become Star Spirit in May 2015.
Seabourn Pride in Malaga. She will become Star Pride in April 2014
These timings also mean that Seabourn will be at three ships for a year before the latest newbuilding enters service in 2016.
Ironically, the three Seabourn ships will not be moving far as new owners Windstar Cruises are on Seattle’s Fourth Avenue, only a little over a mile away from Seabourn’s head office on Elliott Avenue, where they lodge with Holland America Line.
Windstar is a division of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, based in Greater Denver, in turn part of Denver-based Anschutz, while Seabourn is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp & PLC. Silversea is still family-owned and based in Monaco.
QE2 On The Way To Asia
The Dubai-based QE2 Shipping LLC last week announced the appointment of COSCO Shipyard Group to refurbish the former Cunard Transatlantic liner Queen Elizabeth 2 into a luxury floating hotel. In this £62m conversion, her 900 cabins are to be converted into 400 larger suites ranging from 650 to 1,600 square feet in size.
While the transformation is under way, memorabilia is to removed from the ship and stored in a secure warehouse in Singapore, to be reassembled after the renovation is complete.
Ownership of the Queen Elizabeth 2 has meanwhile been transferred to a consortium of investors in QE2 Shipping, which will also oversee the ship’s management as a hotel. The chairman of the new company, Khamis Juma Buamim, is as well chairman of Dubai’s Drydocks World LLC.
QE2 at the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai
The ship has been at Dubai, where an initial idea to convert her into a floating hotel locally never went ahead, since 2008.
The ship has been at Dubai, where an initial idea to convert her into a floating hotel locally never went ahead, since 2008.
The QE2 has now been brought back to class with Lloyd’s Register and it is intended that she will soon depart from Dubai under her own power for COSCO’s Zhoushan shipyard, south of Shanghai, for her conversion work. She is then scheduled to be delivered as a floating hotel in 2015.
It had been hoped QE2 would leave Dubai in a “gala sail off” on Friday, with stops at Singapore and Hong Kong before arriving at the Chinese shipyard. At the moment, however, she is still in Dubai and the company has not yet provided any new timetable.
The winning bidder, COSCO Shipyard Group, is a joint venture between China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and Singapore’s Sembcorp Marine. The group specializes in ship repair and conversion, newbuilding and offshore unit construction. Three other Chinese shipyard groups were also invited to tender. Khamis Juma Buamim said: “No other ship can match the QE2’s prestige, or her legacy.
She is an absolute icon of maritime history, one of the best and most powerful ships in the world. Therefore, our decision on a partner was critical. We are pleased to be working closely with COSCO Shipyard for the technical repair and refurbishment process, which will be carried out with the utmost respect to the QE2’s heritage and splendour.”

Sun Princess
Although, this will be the first cruise such conversion project in a Chinese shipyard, Sembcorp has done similar work at its Sembawang shipyard in Singapore, one of Asia’s best-known shipyards for passenger ship work.
The recent modernization by Sembawang of Princess Cruises’ 1,950-berth Sun Princess for the Japanese market was successful enough that Princess Cruises has awarded a further project to Sembawang for modernization of its 2,674-berth Diamond Princess, work on which is to commence in March.
Meanwhile, under the title “Project New Life,” seven international firms have been invited to submit design proposals for the QE2’s interior refurbishment. Proposals from US companies BG Studio, Jerde Partnership and Wilson Associates, UK-based Benoy, the Finnish firm Dsign Vertti Kivi, Italy’s Santarossa and Singapore’s Ong & Ong will be showcased on the official QE2 website for public review between October 15 and November 15, 2013. The winning proposal will be announced on November 30.
Daniel Chui, president and chief executive of QE2 Shipping and managing director of Oceanic Group of Singapore, partners in the conversion, said: “The ship’s redevelopment is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any interior design professional to create what will become one of Asia’s major waterfront tourist attractions. The goal for the final design is to preserve the soul of the QE2 – many of the original furnishings and much of the décor will be incorporated – while creating a modern luxury hotel. The key to this project is to keep the essence of the QE2. It’s an iconic ship that still has a lot of emotion attached to it.”
Other work will see a revamp of the ballroom as well as the refitting of seven restaurants, ten lounges, a cinema, a maritime museum displaying QE2 memorabilia and a shopping mall. The future location of QE2 in Asia following the refurbishment has not yet been announced.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ ship in Long Beach. In the background the Queen Mary (Photo A. Newman)
The former 70,327-ton former Cunard flagship carried almost 2.5 million passengers and completed more than 700 Atlantic crossings during her forty-year career with Cunard Line. The 81.237–ton Queen Mary of 1936, is now a floating hotel at Long Beach, California, while the 83,673–ton Queen Elizabeth of 1940 burned at Hong Kong in January 1972 while being converted into a floating university.
Cunard Line’s present flagship, the 148,528-ton Queen Mary 2, which marks ten years in service in 2014, is the fourth Cunard Transatlantic Queen.
Anthem of the Seas For Southampton?
Rumours have been making the rounds for the past few weeks suggesting that the company may be about to unveil the employment of Anthem of the Seas, the second unit in its 167,800-ton Quantum class, from Southampton in the Spring of 2015, when she is scheduled for delivery from Meyer Werft in Germany.
If true this will give the UK its first North Star pod, whose design is apparently based on those on the Millennium Wheel in London.
Independence of the Seas
For a while, future berth reservations for the French port of Le Havre showed Anthem of the Seas arriving from Southampton in 2015 or heading for Southampton after calling at the French port. Not featuring in the same advance 2015 lists is the Independence of the Seas, the current Southampton-based ship, although the 3,114-berth Adventure of the Seas, which is also operating a series of cruises from the UK this year, is included.
It seems the Le Havre lists have now been switched back from Anthem to Independence but that may just be to keep a cover on the news.
The reported 2015 Anthem itineraries reflect those now being operated by the Independence of the Seas so it could well be that Royal Caribbean International is planning for the 4,100-berth Anthem to replace the 3,634–berth Independence, thus upping the berth capacity on its main UK-based ship by 12.5%.
At the same time, Royal Caribbean would be pipping out P&O’s new Britannia, which at 141,000 tons and 3,600 berths will be smaller than either Royal Caribbean ship, as the largest ship based in the UK. Britannia will also be slightly smaller than Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 at any rate, but Anthem of the Seas would definitely usurp both as the largest ship calling on Southampton.
Britannia. The new P&O flagship. The 141,000-ton 3,611-berth cruise ship is scheduled to enter service in March 2015
Nevertheless, it would be an interesting day when all of Anthem of the Seas, Queen Mary 2 and Britannia are all in Southampton together, as among them the three ships can carry in excess of 10,000 passengers.
On another point, the Quantum class vessels have been designed as “winter ships,” with what would be outdoor activities on most ships taking place instead under a glass roof. The class also features more multi-functionality of indoor areas than most other ships do.
This raises another interesting question, as while Independence of the Seas served year-round from Southampton at first, more recently her winter departures have been cut back. Perhaps the Anthem could be a return to year-round cruising from the UK for Royal Caribbean.
Quantum of the Seas, lead unit of the class, is scheduled to operate out of Bayonne, New Jersey, from late 2014, when she is due to be completed. New York too requires winterized ships for year-round service, something that has been developing in a number of areas over the past decade of so.
Without disclosing any details, meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International has scheduled a media event to be held in London on November 21.
(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)

Sunday 20 October 2013

Sail Through the Festive Season in Style

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Celebrate the festive season in luxury and style, on board Silversea's Silver Shadow, sailing from Sydney to Auckland, December 2013.

Departing 20 December 2013 from Sydney, and arriving in Auckland, 4 January 2014, this 15 day cruise will see an overnight stay in Melbourne, offering guests the opportunity to explore one of Australia's most unique cities, before voyaging to New Zealand where guests can cruise through the stunning channels of the Dusky and Milford Sounds, discovering the hidden pockets throughout these beautiful regions.

Prices are per person starting from AU$7,650 double occupancy. Silversea's fares include all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus designed by Relais & Châteaux, complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ship, and all gratuities.

Price is subject to availability, capacity controlled and may rise as the sailing date approaches. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit

Cruise season sails into Port Arthur

The 2013-14 Southern Tasmanian cruise season will begin this Wednesday morning, October 23 when Sea Princess moors just offshore from the Port Arthur Historic Site. She will be carrying 1,900 passengers and 900 crew on a cruise around Tasmania from Sydney.

After voyaging past the sea cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula coastline, passengers will be tendered ashore to experience the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Site and learn about Australia's convict heritage. While at Port Arthur, they will be offered unique locally made crafts and produce, including jewellery hand-crafted by local artist Sally Ferrar using ashes collected from the January 2013 bushfires.

Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA) Director of Tourism Anne McVilly says that some passengers will undertake tours in the local region.

"We have fantastic and unique experiences all around Port Arthur, including award winning eco cruises, the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, a chocolate factory and whiskey distillery as well as the World Heritage-listed Coal Mines Historic Site."

"A select few will explore areas of the Port Arthur Site not normally open to visitors on special behind-the-scenes tours with our archaeologists. "

The ship will depart for Hobart in the late afternoon, giving passengers the opportunity to undertake further tours and activities in southern Tasmania the next day, and providing an increased economic boost to the region.

"PAHSMA has been working strategically for many years to attract more cruise ship visits to its deep water harbour," said Ms McVilly.

"We are really starting to see that effort bear fruit this season, with nine visits scheduled between now and next April. We anticipate even more visits in future seasons following the upgrading of our jetty facility in the first quarter of 2014."

An economic impact study commissioned by Cruise Downunder reveals that each passenger visiting a Tasmanian port spends on average around $113.00 per day, which added up to a total expenditure of $8.9 million in 2012-13.

"With more port visits expected this year, this figure will grow, and doesn't include expenditure by the crew or on provisioning the ships."

"Every vessel that visits Port Arthur is adding a day to its Tasmanian itinerary, so the economic benefits are cumulative and spread around the region."

Tasmania is set for record cruise season with 64 port visits in total. Burnie is expecting 12, Hobart 36, Devonport one, and Coles Bay and Wine Glass Bay three each, in addition to the nine expected at Port Arthur.

Sydney to Hong Kong on board P&O World Cruises’ Aurora

P&O Aurora

WHEN it comes to value for money it's very hard to beat a 22-night fly/cruise/stay package from Sydney to Hong Kong on board P&O World Cruises' Aurora departing on February 16, 2014 not to mention the extra UKP150 on board credit per person now available through

Passengers can save from $2300 per person upwards when the package is booked by November 22.

The new price of $2429 includes a 20- night cruise with all main meals and entertainment, two nights at the Marco Polo hotel in Hong Kong and return air fares to Sydney.

On the way north Aurora spends a day in Brisbane and another in the Whitsunday Islands before a few days at sea on the way to Manila. Next stop is China's most exciting city Shanghai, then the resort island of Xiamen before arriving in Hong Kong with another night on board before disembarking.

Whilst at sea Aurora has plenty to keep you entertained with a cinema, 600-seat show lounge, casino, pools and Jacuzzis, golf simulator, business centre and library.

Wining and dining is catered for by a 24-hour bistro, and two main restaurants including a deck café, buffet and chocolate shop all serviced by a choice of 12 bars.

There are more P&O World Cruise Asian voyages available with great discounts, for more information contact on 1300 369 848 or check-out

Seabourn Offers Hundreds of Way to See the World in Style in New 2014-15 Collection

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Ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn has released its 2014-15 Cruise Collection, offering guests the chance to see the world in style, with hundreds of voyages spanning the seven continents and ranging from seven to 116 days.

From the Amazon to Antarctica, the new cruises take Seabourn's six award-winning small ships to some of the world's most exciting locations, including new ports along the African coastline and in the Philippines' archipelago.

To mark the launch of the collection, Seabourn has released special Seabourn Value Fares, with savings of up to 50 per cent on a wide range of itineraries, including one of its most popular cruises among Australians - a 10-day voyage through the Mediterranean from Monte Carlo to Barcelona priced from $5699* per person.

The Cruise Collection sees the debut of Seabourn's Extended Explorations, featuring new, linked itineraries that allow guests to explore more extensive regions of the globe in depth, on voyages lasting from 28 to 116 days.

Extended Explorations feature frequent overnight stays in ports, regionally-themed menus and wines on board, local entertainment, regionally-focussed experts for Seabourn Conversations onboard enrichment and optional, escorted mid-cruise Seabourn Journeys to nearby cultural or historical highlights.

Offerings include a 116-day exploration of Africa and South East Asia on Seabourn Sojourn, taking guests on a new itinerary along the African coastline as the ship travels to regions from Morocco, the Canary Islands and Namibia, to Madagascar, Mauritius, the Maldives and Myanmar.  Departing Barcelona on November 19, 2014 the voyage is priced from $56,299* per person.

Meanwhile Seabourn will offer its second season of Antarctica voyages in 2014-15, with guests able to choose from six different options. Fares start from $16,999* for 21 days cruising from Buenos Aires to Santiago, visiting Antarctica as well as the Falkland Islands and some of Chile's most exciting fjords and sounds.

Closer to home, Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn will offer beautiful cruises through South East Asia with itineraries including a new 14-day voyage to stunning ports throughout the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia, with fares from $8299* per person.

Seabourn Odyssey will also return to Australian waters to offer a series of cruises between Sydney and Auckland from December 2014 to February 2015, with the cruises visiting picturesque destinations such as Milford Sound and Akaroa, as well as smaller ports like Oban, Tamaru and Kaikoura.

Seabourn's ships carry between 208 and 458 guests exclusively in ocean-view suites, visiting an array of must-see ports as well as hidden gems where larger ships cannot call.

Complimentary open bars throughout the voyage and open-seating dining add to a relaxed, club-like ambience that encourages an easy sociability among guests. Award-winning cuisine is graciously served in a variety of venues, and the onboard entertainment options are varied as well. Along with beautiful, understated elegance in design and thoughtful, quality furnishings and materials, the Seabourn ships provide one of the world's finest holiday options and represent exceptional value to travellers.

For more information and a copy of the new Cruise Collections brochure, see a licensed travel agent, call 13 24 02 or visit

*All fares are in Australian dollars, cruise-only, for new bookings only, per guest double occupancy, and subject to availability. Conditions apply.

Monday 14 October 2013

How Berlitz Rates The Ships For 2014 – Other Cruise News: Star Orders New Ship From Meyer Werft – Seven New Names

by Kevin Griffin
Last week we announced the arrival of the 2014 issue of the Berltz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships by Douglas Ward. This week, we have a look at how the new guide rates those ships, with the top five scores in each category. Elsewhere, after standing by the sidelines for several years while concentrating on its half-interest in Norwegian Cruise Line, Genting has finally ordered a large new cruise ship for its Star Cruises operation. And among them, NCL, AIDA and Royal Caribbean have together revealed seven new cruise ship names.
How Berlitz Rates The Ships For 2014
Last week we revealed that the 2014 Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships had awarded Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 the top rating, the first new ship to claim the title in fourteen years. Other ships that have held this honour have included the Royal Viking Sea (now Albatros), Royal Viking Sun (now Prinsendam) and Sagafjord (sold for breaking up last year). In this year’s guide, five completely new ships area also reviewed for the first time.
It’s the first time since 1989 that two ships belonging to the same company (Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa and Europa 2) have achieved a 5-star-plus rating – the last time, twenty-four years ago, it was Royal Viking Line’s Royal Viking Sea and Royal Viking Sky.
Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships 2014
Some interesting findings from the 2014 guide:
- eleven out of the top twelve 5/5-star-plus cruise ships are in the small (251-750 passengers) or boutique-sized (50-250 passengers) categories, proof that good things come in small packages.
- half of the top ten large ships (more than 1,750 passengers) belong to Celebrity Cruises. These are of course their Solstice class vessels.
- Cunard Line’s three Queens comprise the three top-rated large ships – Queen Mary 2 (in Grill Class), Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
- Seabourn dominates the combined small and boutique ships categories, with six vessels in the top twenty, namely Seabourn Quest, Odyssey, Sojourn, Legend, Spirit and Pride (but none scoring in the top five in either category – see below).
- five of the top ten are Silversea vessels.
The compete rankings for the top five ships in each category (scores are out of 2,000) are:
How Berlitz Rates The Ships For 2014: the compete rankings for the top five ships in each category (scores are out of 2,000)
Only five of the twenty ships named, namely those of Cunard and Celebrity in the large ships sector, are owned by one of the big three cruise ship groupings. Cunard is part of Carnival Corp & plc (which also owns upmarket boutique and small ship operator Seabourn, now run by Holland America) while Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd owns Celebrity.
Also interesting is the fact that none of the all-inclusive Regent Seven Seas ships appears here, although the two newest ships from its non-all-inclusive affiliate Oceania Cruises do.
A new App version of the Guide is also now available for Apple devices and can be used as a perfect cruise planning tool. Filter and search options help potential cruisers choose a vessel and voyage according to their needs. Criteria include cuisine, entertainment, accommodation, size of ship and many others.
Expanded from 704 to 752 pages, and now in its 29th year, the 2014 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships  (£17.99 in the UK, $24.99 in North America) as well as an eBook, will be available in November through Amazon and reputable bookstores. The corresponding App is available from Apple through the iTunes App store.
Star Orders New Ship From Meyer Werft
Genting Hong Kong has entered into an agreement with Meyer Werft shipyard for the construction of a new 3,364-berth 1150,000-ton cruise ship for its Star Cruises operation. Valued at €707 million euro, the new vessel will be designed to cater for the unique demands of Asian clientele, in particular China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Superstar Gemini (Ex Norwegian Dream, ex Dreamward)
The last ship to be added to the Star fleet was the 1,532–berth Superstar Gemini, the former Norwegian Dream, which entered service for Star at the end of last year, but despite a $50 million refit, this ship is now twenty years old.
She has been based at Shanghai this summer and this week begins cruising from Sanya on Hainan Island to ports in Vietnam.
Star’s largest ship is the 1,974-berth Superstar Virgo, which entered service in 1999, and along with sister ship Superstar Leo (now Norwegian Spirit) was one of the ships that started the whole Freestyle Cruising idea, with multiples choices and times for dining venues.
SuperStar Virgo in Singapore – Photo Stefano Fermi
Other Star cruise ships include the 1,529-berth Superstar Aquarius (ex-Norwegian Wind) and 1,418-berth Superstar Libra (ex-Norwegian Sea). Another ship, the 1,009-berth former Viking Line cruise ferry Star Pisces, refurbished earlier this year, offers 1-night overnight dining and gambling cruises from Hong Kong.
Although Star is currently the market leader in the Asia-Pacific region, with five ships, it is facing tougher competition than ever before from the likes of Royal Caribbean, Costa and Princess, who have all established Asian subsidiaries and sent several large ships to exploit the local market.
Seven New Names
Norwegian Escape (delivery October 2015) and Norwegian Bliss (delivery early 2017) are the names chosen for the two new 163,000-ton Breakaway Plus ships ordered from Meyer Werft by Norwegian Cruise Line. A third ship, the 143,500-ton Norwegian Getaway (delivery January 2014) is also under construction at Meyer Werft for year-round service from Miami.
AIDA Cruises has announced AIDAprima as the name of the first of two 125,000-ton ships now under construction at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.
AIDA Cruises has meanwhile announced AIDAprima as the name of the first of two 125,000-ton ships now under construction at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.
She will sail year-round from Hamburg on 7-night European Capitals cruises to Southampton (for London), Le Havre (for Paris), Zeebrugge (for Brussels) and Rotterdam (for Amsterdam and The Hague).
Her maiden voyage will be an 86-day cruise leaving Yokohama on March 22, 2015, for Hamburg, where she will arrive on June 16. This largest of German cruise ships will attract a lot of attention at the 39 ports in 22 countries where she will call.
Meanwhile, over at Royal Caribbean International, four names have been held aside for new ships. Royal Caribbean is building a third Oasis class ship at STX France (delivery June 2016) and also has under construction at Meyer Werft in Germany three ships of the Quantum class, whose first two names have been assigned as Quantum of the Seas (delivery late 2014) and Anthem of the Seas (delivery March 2015).
The third is to be delivered in May 2016.
Which of the new Oasis class and Quantum class ships will get these names we don’t know, but the names are Ovation of the Seas, Passion of the Seas, Pulse of the Seas and Vantage of the Seas. We can’t say that we particularly like Pulse of the Seas – will Bean of the Seas be next?
(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)

Friday 4 October 2013

Azamara to Explore Australia for the First Time

Azamara Quest
Azamara Club Cruises opened reservations on its 2015 program that includes the line's first voyages in Australia. The 2015 lineup is composed of 52 five- to 18-night itineraries that will visit 203 ports in 62 countries. The Azamara Quest will sail Asia voyages in the spring and winter seasons. In late December, Azamara Quest will sail from the Bali Sea on a 14-night holiday and New Year's voyage to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. The ship will make maiden calls at Puerto Princesa, Philippines, and Thursday Island and Darwin, Australia, as well as at Great Barrier Reef destinations Cooktown, Port Douglas and Cairns, Australia.

In spring 2015, Azamara Journey will sail 11- to 18-night voyages throughout Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, the Antarctic Sound, Panama Canal and West Indian islands. One voyage overnights at Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, and Azamara offers for sale seating in the stands of the sambadrome for the samba school competition.

Azamara Quest will sail the Baltic, North and Mediterranean seas on seven- to 18-night itineraries while Azamara Journey will explore the Spanish, French and Italian rivieras, the Adriatic and Black seas, and Greek Isles on seven- to 16-night itineraries.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Diamond Princess Set to Shine Over Summer

Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess
Australians will have more opportunities to enjoy the brilliance of Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess next year, with the cruise line announcing three new roundtrip cruises from Sydney over the summer holiday period.

In a move which will take Princess Cruises’ summer capacity in Australia to record levels, Diamond Princess’ new offerings include the ship’s first 14-night roundtrip cruise to New Zealand, departing Sydney on December 19, 2014 for a Christmas Day and New Year celebration.

Visiting ports from Bay of Islands in the north to Dunedin in the south, fares on the cruise start from $2779* per person twin share.

Also on offer is a new eight-night cruise to Tasmania, following an enthusiastic response to Diamond Princess’ inaugural Tasmania cruise this summer. The January 2, 2015 departure is priced from $1369* per person twin share and will visit Hobart, Port Arthur and Wineglass Bay.

Holidaymakers will also be able to enjoy a five-night roundtrip cruise from Sydney visiting Melbourne, departing December 14, 2014 with fares from $869* per person twin share.

The new cruises follow Princess Cruises’ recent announcement that Diamond Princess will make two 28-night circumnavigations of Australia in November 2014 and February 2015.

Fares on these cruises start from $4679 per person twin share.

Princess Cruises Executive Vice President Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Jan Swartz said the new cruises were expected to be very popular.

“Diamond Princess is a spectacular ship which already has a strong following among Australian passengers, so we’re very pleased to be able to introduce more roundtrip options for the local market,” Ms Swartz said.

Launched in 2004, the 116,000-tonne Diamond Princess carries around 2700 guests and stretches 290 metres long, making it one of the largest ships to sail in Australian waters.

The ship’s features include multiple dining options, 13 bars and lounges, five pools, a child-free Sanctuary, a mini golf course and its own wedding chapel.

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