Get Cruising!

Thursday 16 April 2015

From ancient Athens to the canals of Venice aboard Silver Spirit

Sail through the beautiful Adriatic Sea on a 7 day cruise aboard Silversea's luxurious Silver Spirit, exploring the wonders of Greece, Montenegro and the Dalmatian Coast.

Departing from Piraeus (Athens) on 26 June 2015, Silver Spirit travels north along Greece's shimmering coastline before docking in tiny Katakolon.  Here, guests can explore the birthplace of the Olympic Games or uncover stunning archaeological treasures including the Temple of Zeus and Olympic Village.

Continuing her journey, Silver Spirit ports in Corfu, the greenest and one of the most beautiful islands of Greece.  With emerald mountains, crystal waters, abundant olive trees and classic European architecture, Corfu is a mosaic of sights that reflect the island's profound history.  The voyage continues to dock overnight in Kotor, Montenegro, a coastal town filled with medieval jewels from the spectacular hilltop fortress of UNESCO World Heritage listed Stari Grad (Old Town) to the Cathedral of St Triphun.

Arriving in Croatia, guests will visit the magnificent fortified city of Dubrovnik, before sailing to the stunning island of Hvar.  Here, guests can wander through the island's splendid sights and sounds seeing the 16th-century Renaissance Cathedral and the Cathedral of St. Stephen, or be serenaded a cappella at the 15th-century Franciscan Monastery.

Sailing to Italy, Silver Spirit anchors in the majestic city of Venice for an overnight stay.  Guests can explore the islands of Murano and Burano, and experience the centuries-old traditions of glass-blowing and lace production, before disembarking on 3 July 2015.

To enhance Silversea's 2015 Mediterranean all-inclusive pricing, guests are able to take advantage of included Silver Shore Select excursions, which are offered in every port of call. In addition, guests aboard this Silversea voyage have access to two hours of Wi-Fi per day, and unlimited Wi-Fi in premium suites (Medallion and higher categories).

Prices are per person starting from AU$5,850 in a Veranda 2 Suite double occupancy. Silversea fares include: all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; and all gratuities.

This voyage is subject to availability.  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

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Viking Star sets sail on maiden voyage

First Ship for Viking Ocean Cruises Launches New Era in Destination-Focused Travel

Viking Ocean Cruises ( today announced its first ship, Viking Star, has embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice, thus launching the travel industry's first entirely new cruise line in a decade. From Venice, Viking Star will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened in Bergen, Norway during a citywide celebration on May 17 – Norwegian Constitution Day. Developed from the ground up to return the focus of cruising to the destination, Viking Ocean Cruises also has two additional sister ships on order – Viking Sky and Viking Sea – all of which will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.  

"We have always believed that cruising should be about connecting you to your destination – not just taking you to places on a map. It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "With our new ocean cruises, we have created a new kind of vessel that is smaller in size and smarter in design, offering an alternative to today's mega liners. Along with our privileged-access excursions and on board enrichment, we have made the destination the true focus of our new ocean cruises."

A Ship Designed for Destination Cruising

Classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 passengers in 465 staterooms – each with its own veranda. Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, allowing them more time to spend enjoying each destination.

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

On board Viking Star, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cosy pelts. In the Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.

Destination-Focused Enrichment

Leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises passengers, Viking Ocean Cruises was developed with experienced travellers in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine.

While on board, guests will enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theatre. Dining options on board Viking Star elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen's features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen's mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as "Mamsen;" and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine.  In the Kitchen Table, the high-tech space offers cooking classes featuring a wide range of regionally inspired dishes and culinary techniques; at night it transforms into an interactive dinner experience with fellow guests and Viking's esteemed chefs.

While every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, Viking's optional excursion program was designed to provide guests with enriching privileged-access experiences that go beyond the iconic and expected. Highlighted examples include:

Booking Details

Viking Inclusive Pricing provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all on board meals, gratuities and all port charges and government taxes. Passengers also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service—a value of more than US$2,400 per couple for an average cruise.

Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1300 062 326 (Australia) or 0800 447 913 (New Zealand).

For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 1800 131 744 (Australia) & 0800 447 913 (New Zealand) or visit

Tuesday 14 April 2015

New Ovation of the Seas to homeport in Sydney

Royal Caribbean to position brand new cruise ship in Australia

Royal Caribbean International has just announced that its Ovation of the Seas will operate in Australian waters after it launches in late 2016.

A sister ship to the groundbreaking Quantum of the Seas (pictured) and the just-delivered Anthem of the Seas, Ovation will be the largest cruise ship to ever sail out of Australia, as well as being the most technologically advanced vessel in the region.

Carrying around 5,000 passengers and 1,500 crew, the Ovation of the Seas will "completely redefine the idea of cruising in Australia," said Gavin Smith, Royal Caribbean regional vice president Asia-Pacific.

Smith said the deployment would take the industry to the next level by offering a host of incredible never-before-seen features and technologies.

"This demonstrates our belief in, and long term commitment to, the Australian cruising market," he said.

More details in Travel Daily today and tomorrow's issue of Cruise Weekly.This Cruise Weekly breaking news brought to you by Cruise Weekly.

Saturday 11 April 2015

The Blue Star Line (est.1911)

The Early Years (1911 – 1939):

The Vestey family originated from Liverpool, developing a butchery business. They were one of the first businesses to introduce refrigeration into their shops. Previously butchers had to sell off meat at reduced prices on Saturday, the shops being closed on a Sunday. From this developed a business importing meat from South America. Eventually growing to a huge business owning estancias to feed their meat works in Buenos Aires, the "Anglo Frigorifico". This meat works in its heyday could process 5000 head of cattle a day. The saying was that nothing was wasted. The carcasses being exported as chilled beef, together with the offal and hides. Even producing, as a by-product, insulin for diabetics!

The Blue Star Line was founded by the Vestey family to carry their chilled beef from Argentina and other South American countries, where they had large cattle ranches and freezer works. The company was formally registered on 28th July 1911 and the first ships were registered with Lloyds Register of Shipping between 1912 and 1913. Prior to the First World War, seven refrigerated ships sailed under the Blue Star Line banner, carrying eggs and other perishables to England from China. By the First World War it had 12 vessels, all their names starting with Brod. A considerable profit was made over these years with the carriage of beef to supply the allied armies in France. It was for these services that William Vestey was honoured with a baronetcy. It was not until 1920 that the familiar "Stars" began to appear the first being the Albion Star. Soon the ships of Blue Star Line, with their very distinctive funnel colours, became well known all over the world.

The company continued to trade profitably and became famous for its all first class passenger vessels the Almeda Star, Andalucia Star, Arandora Star, Avelona Star and Avila Star. The Arandora Star in particular became popular to the rich and famous for cruising in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the West Indies. By 1939 the company traded some 38 vessels.

The Second World War (1939 – 1945):

On the outbreak of WWII, most of the vessels were commandeered by the British Government, continuing to carry much needed food to the United Kingdom. Many of the ships being fast for the period and sailed unaccompanied with the result that by the end of the Second World War some 29 ships and 646 Blue Star personnel lost their lives. Including 11 captains, 47 navigating and 88 engineering officers. Most famously was the sinking of the Doric Star by infamous German pocket battleship the Graf Spee and the tragic loss of the Arandora Star to a German Submarine off the west coast of Ireland.

Of the pre-war vessels, only the Albion Star, Australia Star, Brisbane Star, Columbia Star, Fresno Star, Gaelic Star, New Zealand Star, Norman Star, Sydney Star, Trojan Star, Tudor Star (ex. Empire Star) and Britanica survived.

The Final Years (1945 – 1998):

After WWII the company rebuilt the fleet by new building and the purchase of some second hand tonnage. Notable among the new building was the replacement Plate or so called "A"-boats. These cargo passenger ships, the Argentina Star, Brasil Star, Paraquay Star, and Uruquay Star carried some 68 passengers and hanging chilled beef. On a 7-week turn round they sailed from London's Royal Victoria Dock calling at Southampton, Lisbon, Las Palmas, occasionally Recifé, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo and finally terminating at Buenos Aires. Many of the passengers were employees of Vestey companies in South America travelling to and from leave in Europe, but the ships were also popular with many round trip passengers escaping the European winter. It must be remembered that this was before the Jumbo Jet, so flying to South America was only for the super rich, by flying boat. The cargo of chilled beef was loaded directly from the company's meat works in Dock Sud in Buenos Aires, taking 7 days. Some general cargo and small quantities of refrigerated cargoes such as fish were carried on the outbound passage.

The company continued trading successfully during the post war years, with operations as far a field as Australia, New Zealand, West and East Coasts of the U.S., South America and Central America, the latter on the banana trades.

The Legacy (1998 onwards):

The company finally was disposed of in 1998 to P&O Nedlloyd, complete with its name and ship's livery including the famous funnel. While most of the container vessels including those formally operating as ACT vessels were also sold to P&O Nedlloyd, most of the refrigerated liner ships were retained in the Vestey organisation under the ownership of Albion Reefers. These were operated by Star Reefers formed by the merging of the conventional reefer fleets of Hamburg Sud and Albion Reefers.

In July 2001 the Vestey Group announced that Star Reefers, operating a fleet of 24 ships had been sold to Norwegian Owners. The business would continue to be managed from London with the staff transferring over. The Norwegian Owners have since forged a joint operation with the Japanese NYK Group, and a new company, NYK Star Reefers Ltd., under the Chairmanship of David Habgood, now controls a fleet of 74 vessels. This finally ended some 90 years association of the Vestey family with the shipping industry. <>Some of the original Blue Star vessels sold to P&O Nedlloyd traded until recently (Feb. '03) under Blue Star colours on the West Coast of America to Australia and New Zealand. They were the America Star (ex ACT 3), Melbourne Star (ex ACT 4), Sydney Star (ex ACT 5) and Queensland Star (ex ACT 6). The last vessel trading, to carry the Blue Star funnel was the America Star which was handed over to the breakers on the 19th February 2003. This was truly the end of an era indeed.

On the 22nd April 2002, P&O Nedlloyd placed its first contract with its own, newly formed ship management company, Reederei Blue Star, based in Hamburg. The time charter agreement covers five 2,500-TEU ships, each for a period of five years, with the first deliveries commencing in late 2003. The vessels, which will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Korea and owned by German KG private investors. They will be used to replace older tonnage to cover positions in the P&O Nedlloyd network. P&O Nedlloyd says it created Reederei Blue Star to diversify its sources for chartered ships.

P&O Nedlloyd Ltd. was acquired by the AP Moller Maersk Group (Maersk) in 2005 and was combined with their existing container shipping business Maersk-Sealand to form Maersk Line. However today the Blue Star colours still live on with the vessels of Reederei Blue Star who provide ship management services and is now owned by the AP Moller Maersk Group.

P&O Cruises Arcadia

P&O Arcadia in Sydney Harbour (supplied)

Arcadia is a stylish and beautiful cruise ship. Her design is derived from the Holland America Line's "Vista" class cruise ships. She is specifically designed to operate world voyages and offers a contemporary cruise experience and her stylish design, innovation and signature features set her apart.

Arcadia’s contemporary and innovative character is evident from the moment you step on board. Her exterior glass-fronted lifts afford you panoramic views as you glide from deck to deck. Her Arcadian Rhodes restaurant, created by esteemed British chef Gary Rhodes, offers you a matchless dining experience. This venture sees him working with P&O Cruises for the first time to bring his unique brand of modern cuisine to the high seas.

She combines new ideas with cruising tradition. She has a series of signature features including the Crow's Nest observation lounge, the Palladium - a West End style theatre, and a British pub (The Rising Sun). The ship's public rooms, staterooms and 11 passenger decks also display more than 3000 pieces of modern British art, showcasing the work of 50 of this country's most celebrated contemporary artists. Arcadia has also been designed with adults exclusively in mind. She is a child free ship, with families continuing to be catered for by the other ships in the P&O Cruises fleet.
Arcadia also launched P&O Cruises "New Horizons" programme that will take passengers on a voyage of self discovery. This series of talks, demonstrations and practical sessions in the programme is the way to develop new skills while at the same time unwinding and enriching your time on board. The chance for passengers to expand their interests, undertand more of the world and experience a new cultural activity has become a popular element of today's cruise holiday experience and the New Horizons programme takes this into new places in the 21st century.

The ship is the first in the P&O Cruises fleet to be powered by the revolutionary Azipod propulsion system. She has 6 propulsion pods that offer her unrivalled manouverability and renders traditional rudders obsolete.

Design and Construction (2000 - 2005):

She was actually ordered by Holland America Line in 2000 as the planned fifth "Vista" class cruise ship. However in 2003 she was transferred to Cunard Line to become their Queen Victoria. Shortly before her launch it was decided to transfer her to the P&O Cruises fleet and she became Arcadia.

She was built by Fincantieri Shipbuilders S.p.A. at their Marghera shipyard near Venice in Italy. The float out ceremony took place on the 26th June 2004. Playing a key role in the ceremony was Sabrina Dunkerley, a student at the Warsash Maritime Centre and one of the company's youngest cadets. Together with David Dingle, managing director of Carnival UK, she continued the tradition of placing a specially minted coin under the vessel's mast. It is a ceremony that dates back to Roman times and sailors believe that it brings good luck to passengers and crew of a new ship. Then the cadet sent a bottle of champagne crashing against the ship's side, according to Italian custom, as a signal to allow the water to pour into the dry dock and thus floating out the Arcadia. In December 2004 she undertook her sea trials prior to delivery to P&O Cruises. She was delivered to P&O Cruises on the 20th March 2005 at the Marghera shipyard near Venice.

She was named in Southampton in a lavish ceremony on the 29th March 2005 by Dame Kelly Holmes. The introduction of Arcadia signified the next generation of superliners and represents the evolution of P&O Cruises, as a a holiday experience to appeal to the modern day traveller is developed in the early 21st century.

P&O Cruises era (2005 – Present): She then set sail on her maiden voyage on the 14th April 2005 which was a cruise from Southampton to the Mediterranean. Since then she has enjoyed a successful career with P&O Cruises and throughout the spring, summer and autumn, Arcadia sails to the Mediterranean, Baltic, Scandinavia and the Caribbean. January to March each year sees her undertaking her annual World Cruise, calling at nearly 30 ports of call and taking 90 days to complete.

Today she continues to sail for P&O Cruises and remains a firm favourite with the British cruise market.

by Alex Naughton (originally published at

Princess Cruises 2016 Europe Cruise Program

Australia's favourite cruise line Princess Cruises has announced its 2016 Europe program featuring five ships sailing to more than 130 destinations, from the picturesque corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Scandinavia.

The 2016 season features itineraries from three to 48 nights on the cruise line's newest and largest sister ships Royal Princess and Regal Princess, its deluxe Caribbean Princess, Emerald Princess and small ship Pacific Princess.

The program will see Princess return to the Canary Islands and make a raft of maiden visits to ports in Croatia, Ireland, Norway and Scotland.