Saturday, 17 May 2014

First ship emerges from $50 million fleet upgrade Oceania Cruises welcomes home Insignia

Oceania Cruises has welcomed Insignia back to the fleet following a two-year charter and an extensive dry dock.  Insignia is the first of three sister ships from Oceania Cruises to undergo a massive $50 million refurbishment.  Nautica and Regatta are scheduled to enter dry dock and receive similar enhancements over the next four weeks.  Renovating three ships from bow to stern in a six-week time period marks the largest refurbishment programme in Oceania Cruises' history.

The multimillion dollar makeover brings many of the interior design elements from the award-winning Marina and Riviera ships to Insignia, Nautica and Regatta while maintaining the warmth, intimacy and charm Oceania Cruises' guests cherish in the 684-passenger ships.  In addition to elegant new furnishings and décor for all public rooms, suites and staterooms, Insignia added several new guest experiences, including the ever-popular Baristas coffee bar, a cook-to-order grill at Terrace Café and new outdoor recreation on the Sports Deck.

In preparation for two special 180-day voyages, a version of the Artist Loft enrichment centre was added exclusively to Insignia during the dry dock.  The "Around the World in 180 Days" cruise departs from Miami on 10th January 2015, and the "180 Day World Odyssey" sails from Miami on 8th July 2015.

"This is a milestone moment for Oceania Cruises.  Not only did we welcome home a family member with Insignia re-joining the fleet today, but she comes out of dry dock essentially a new ship, reflecting an even higher level of elegance and design," said Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Oceania Cruises.  "By adding features our guests adore from Marina and Riviera to Insignia, Nautica and Regatta, it further enhances the upscale cruise experience and exceptional value for which Oceania Cruises is known throughout the industry."

Notable Enhancements Include:

  • Suites & Staterooms:  There are significant updates to the Owner's and Vista Suites with an all-new bathroom design that is elegant, yet contemporary in nature.  The bathroom features wall-to-wall marble with a decorative inlay centrepiece, along with an expansive granite vanity that sits opposite an inviting oversized shower.  The Penthouse Suites have new furnishings, rich upholstery and a vibrant, yet calming palette that reflects the sea, sun and sky.  All staterooms were appointed with new décor elements featuring a refreshing sense of style and elegance.
  •  Terrace Café:  The main casual dining option on board the ship is brand new from top to bottom.  A resplendent collection of new furnishings, floorings, fixtures and lighting accompanies the stunning floor-to-ceiling window views.  The pièce de résistance is the cook-to-order grill featuring delicacies such as steaks, chops and lobster tail.
  • Baristas:  The popular coffee bar where master baristas prepare complimentary illy brand espressos and cappuccinos throughout the day now makes its debut on Insignia.  Baristas is the perfect location to relax with a beverage in one of the comfortable lounge chairs or sofas and is centrally located on deck 5, near the Grand Dining Room.
  • Upper Decks:  The Sports Deck, located atop the ship, received a new miniature golf course and shuffleboard courts, along with other deck games.  The main pool area, ringed with luxurious sun beds, shimmers with blue and white mosaics, beautifully contrasted with rich teak decking.
  • Relaxation & Enrichment:  The Canyon Ranch SpaClub exudes a sense of tranquillity with new décor elements including a flowing mosaic display.  Inside the spa, guests will enjoy peaceful steam rooms with beautiful new tile mosaics, along with renovated changing areas.  The all-new Artist Loft is tucked inside Horizons Bar, providing a variety of enrichment programs for guests to enjoy. 
  • Lounges:  All of the ship's main lounges are refreshed and refurbished.  Horizons bar features a new colour palette of soothing sea blues, cocoa brown and mint, complemented by new sofa, chair and table furnishings.  Martinis maintains its classic ambiance with all-new furnishings.  The Insignia Lounge was completely refurbished with new carpeting and chairs, along with luxurious new fabrics and upholsteries. The transformed Insignia set sail on 8th May for a 7-day "Jewels of Europe" cruise.  Similar enhancements will be added to Nautica and Regatta during their upcoming dry docks, with Nautica scheduled to debut on 16th May 2014, for a 10-day "Cliffs & Coves" cruise and Regatta on 7th June 2014, for a 10-day "Majesty of Alaska" cruise.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Norwegian Cruise Line Launches Online Shopping Site

Norwegian today announced the launch of its online shopping portal at with branded merchandise ranging from men's, women's and children's apparel to travel and promotional items, including special Norwegian Epic paraphernalia. Guests can purchase swag pre or post-cruise to build excitement for their upcoming sailing or check the site for items they may have forgot to purchase while on board.

The expansive product line features stylish gear for the resort-casual savvy cruiser including rhinestone-studded shirts for women and embroidered polo shirts for men, a leather passport and luggage tag set for the avid traveler and even the newest addition to the family can be well-equipped for Freestyle Cruising with a selection of baby bibs, onesies and t-shirts for toddlers.

The online store also offers travel partners a simple way to view and order an array of promotional items for their agencies, as well as giveaways for special events. Travel partners will receive 10 percent off their purchases when entering the promotion code PARTNER at checkout on a variety of items including embossed pens, wine sets, notebooks, beach balls, tote bags and more.

Norwegian's Latitudes members (past guests) will also receive 10 percent off purchases using promotion code LAT10, and to celebrate the online store's opening, the first 200 customers will receive a complimentary Norwegian drawstring backpack.

Fans of the line on Facebook should also stay tuned to the fan page at for a special promotion code redeemable for an exclusive fan-only t-shirt. The first 200 Facebook fans that place an order on will receive the t-shirt.

To purchase Norwegian merchandise, please visit

Royal Caribbean Offers 50 Percent Off for Second Guest

oasis of the seasRoyal Caribbean is offering travelers the chance to save 50 percent off a second guest on 2015-2016 sailings.

With the line's “Buy One, Get One 50 Percent Off” promotion, from May 1 through May 31, U.S. and Canadian vacationers will receive 50 percent savings off of the cruise fare for the second guest, booked in the same stateroom with a full-fare guest. The offer applies to new individual and named group bookings in all stateroom categories and sailings departing between January 1, 2015 and April 30, 2016, and excludes Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, as well as third and additional guests.

Celebrity Cruises Launches "Suite Club" Travel Agent Incentive Program

celebrity reflectionIn conjunction with the recent launch of its "Suite Class" experience, Celebrity Cruises has announced a new "Celebrity Suite Club" travel agent incentive program.

Beginning April 2015, Suite Class will introduce new offerings, including an exclusive restaurant, a VIP lounge, and complimentary ‘all-in’ benefits such as premium beverages, dining at any specialty restaurant and unlimited internet access.

To inaugurate the Suite Club, Celebrity invited the 50 travel agents who hold the most Celebrity Cruises suite bookings that sailed in 2013. With rewards ranging from a $100 gift card for every suite booking to a modern luxury vacation in an upscale suite, Suite Club’s annual membership include:
  • $100 gift card for each new booking in a Celebrity Cruises suite made from May 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015, with the exception of charters and groups 
  • VIP experience when sailing with Celebrity Cruises 
  • The chance to win a cruise vacation in Bermuda, the Caribbean, Europe or Asia, complete with suite accommodations 
  • Select members will be featured in Celebrity’s 2015 Travel Agent Guide 
  • Personalized quarterly newsletter from the desk of Dondra Ritzenthaler, SVP Sales, Celebrity Cruises; and more

Experience the world’s most exhilarating motorcycle race on Fred. Olsen’s ‘Superbikes and Scenic Hikes’ cruise in 2015


Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is offering guests the chance to experience one of the most exhilarating and challenging motorcycle races in the world - the famous Isle of Man TT - on Balmoral’s nine-night ‘Superbikes & Scenic Hikes’ cruise (L1505) around the UK and Ireland, which departs from Southampton on 31st May 2015.

Nathan Philpot, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:
"This ‘experiential’ cruise highlights Fred. Olsen’s commitment to offering guests so much more than just a conventional holiday.

"The Isle of Man TT Races' gruelling track comprises 37 miles of seemingly never-ending bends, bumps, jumps, stone walls, manhole covers and telegraph poles; and for the first time, Fred. Olsen’s guests can be involved in this thrilling event as part of a cruise holiday.”

Julie Colquitt, Business Development Manager for the Isle of Man Government, said:
“We are thrilled that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines have chosen to feature this iconic racing event within this action packed cruise itinerary. The TT races is one of the world's most exciting spectator sports with bikes racing at speeds of up to 200mph on public roads. Guests can choose from a series of spectacular vantage points to catch the action around the course. For those not wishing to take part in the racing event, the Isle of Man offers a variety of excursions for guests to enjoy our historic and unique Island.”

In addition, guests who book on to one of Fred. Olsen’s new 2015 cruises before 7th May 2014 will be able to benefit from the cruise line’s ‘The more you buy, the more you save’ campaign, whereby guests who book two cruises will save 20%, and if they book three cruises or more, this rises to a 30% saving*.

Cruise guests will arrive first in picturesque St. Peter Port, on the island of Guernsey. Here, they can choose to visit Hautville House, once home to the French writer Victor Hugo, or enjoy a shopping trip in one of the many unique boutiques, before relaxing with a coffee along the pretty harbour.

Next stop is colourful Tobermory, a quaint Scottish town on the Isle of Mull. This picture-postcard destination offers guests the chance to spot some fantastic wildlife, such as the rare and unusual Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Otters, Corncrake and an abundance of other birds and mammals.
Balmoral will then set sail onwards to Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney Islands. With an eclectic heritage of Christian, Nordic and Celtic influences - which can be seen in the sculpted churches and local buildings - Kirkwall also has two impressive museums: Tankerness House, a beautifully-preserved 16th Century town house; and the Orkney Wireless Museum, which has unique displays on the history of radio.

Guests will then stop in Douglas, on the Isle of Man. Fondly referred to as the ‘Rock’ by residents, the Isle of Man is approximately the same size as Ibiza and Singapore, although with a lot fewer people. As well as being the home of motorcycle road-racing, it has many other interesting attractions, including the 1890s Manx Electric Railway, the Great Laxey Wheel - the largest working water wheel in the world - the Nautical Museum and Peel Castle.

Balmoral will then dock in the vibrant city of Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, for her final port of call. Famous for its Guinness and lively ‘Temple Bar’ area, guests can wander through the elegant square gardens of Trinity College, take a river cruise along the Liffey, enjoy excellent shopping or experience the city’s renowned Irish hospitality, or 'craic'.

Prices for this unique ‘Superbikes & Scenic Hikes’ cruise start from just £1,099 per person, based on two adults sharing a twin, ‘Inside’ cabin, and include accommodation, all meals and entertainment on board, and port dues.

Fred. Olsen is proud to be the only UK travel company to receive a coveted ‘Gold Award’ from leading consumer review website Feefo, having achieved a 95% service rating of 'Excellent' or 'Good' in over 5,600 genuine, independent guest reviews in 2013.

Fred. Olsen was also delighted to be voted ‘Best Affordable Cruise Line’ and runner-up ‘Best Cruise Line’ in the ‘Cruise International Awards 2013’, and ‘Best Value for Money’ in the Cruise Critic ‘Editors’ Picks UK Awards 2013’.

*See the website for full Terms and Conditions.

Phoenix Reisen: All Inclusive Anniversary Cruise

AlbatrosCelebrating its 25th anniversary, Phoenix Reisen is marking the occasion with an all inclusive “Great Mediterranean Cruise” aboard the Albatros sailing 21 days from Nov. 9 to Nov. 20.

The Albatros sails from Venice to Genoa, calling at Palermo, Tunis, Zarzis, Valletta, Heraklion, Piraeus, Istanbul, Rhodes, Alanya, Limassol, Port Said, Alexandria, Naples and Civitavecchia. Rates start at 2,199 euro per person, double occupancy.

Carnival Liberty Launches Year-Round Service from Space Coast

Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Liberty departed on its inaugural voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., this weekend, becoming the line’s third year-round ship sailing from the Space Coast.

With the arrival of Carnival Liberty, Carnival will increase its annual passenger count from Port Canaveral to 600,000 – more than any other cruise operator.

On Carnival Liberty’s new schedule from Port Canaveral, vacationers can select from a variety of five-, seven- and eight-day Caribbean itineraries conveniently departing from the Central Florida while enjoying a wide range of dining, bar and entertainment innovations that were added as part of the line’s Fun Ship 2.0 product enhancement program.

Carnival Liberty joins the totally transformed Carnival Sunshine, which launched year-round five- to eight-day Caribbean departures from Port Canaveral last month, and Carnival Sensation, offering year-round three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from the Space Coast.

In addition to three different year-round ships each with an exceptional number of features and facilities, vacationers have their choice of an unprecedented 200 cruises a year departing from Port Canaveral visiting 18 tropical islands throughout the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida – the widest array of cruise lengths, durations and destinations from Central Florida.

“Port Canaveral is one of our fastest-growing homeports and deploying a third year-round ship from the Space Coast is a clear indication of the confidence we have in this important market,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival president and CEO.  “The dedicated efforts of the Canaveral Port Authority, as well as the outstanding support of our valued travel agent partners, have allowed us to achieve this unprecedented and historic growth,” he added.

According to Port Canaveral CEO John E. Walsh, “Carnival Liberty is Carnival’s third year-round ship and will increase their annual Port Canaveral passenger count to 600,000.  We value the confidence Carnival continues to demonstrate in Port Canaveral and the customer service we provide for both our homeported and port of call ships.  Carnival is a valued business partner and we extend a heartfelt welcome to our community to the captain and crew of the Carnival Liberty.”

Carnival Liberty’s year-round schedule from Port Canaveral encompasses five- to eight-day departures featuring the best the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida have to offer.  Five-day cruises call at Nassau, Freeport and the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay or Key West, while seven-day western Caribbean voyages visit Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya with week-long eastern Caribbean sailings featuring at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau. Two different eight-day options are offered – a unique eastern Caribbean itinerary featuring Grand Turk, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and San Juan, and a southern Caribbean program visiting Aruba, Curacao or Bonaire, and Grand Turk.

Carnival Liberty has undergone an extensive multi-million-dollar makeover and features a wide range of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations.

These include exciting bar concepts such as the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, along with the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the EA SPORTS Bar where patrons can watch sporting events on a 16-screen video monitor wall or play popular EA SPORTS games. Dining innovations include Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, and the BlueIguana Cantina, serving authentic burritos and tacos.

Guests can also check out the Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez with up to 20 family friendly and adult-oriented comedy shows per voyage, as well as signature “Fun Ship” elements such as a 214-foot-long Twister water slide, a Serenity adults-only retreat, a classic American-style steakhouse, a luxurious 14,500-square-foot spa, and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups.

Princess 50th Anniversary Cruise On Pacific Princess – Other Cruise News: Princess Pair Reflagged to UK – Adventure Canada Takes On Larger Ship Next Year

Last week Princess Cruises announced that it was scheduling the Pacific Princess for a 14-night 50th Anniversary cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera on December 3, 2015, fifty years to the day after the chartered Princess Patricia departed on her first voyage for the new line. In other news, last month Princess transferred its Japanese-built Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess to UK flag, where along with three Australian-based P&O ships, they join a very small circle of five UK-flag ships in the Carnival fleet out of the thirty operated by Princess (17), P&O (10) and Cunard (3). Meanwhile, Adventure Canada will up its capacity by two-thirds next year with the charter of the larger Ocean Endeavour to replace Sea Adventurer in 2015.


Princess 50th Anniversary Cruise On Pacific Princess
To celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Princess Cruises has scheduled the 680-berth Pacific Princess for a special Mexican Riviera itinerary departing Los Angeles on December 3, 2015. She will leave fifty years to the day after the line’s original ship, the 347-berth Princess Patricia, left on the line’s first cruise in 1965.

The original vessel, from which Princess Cruises took its name, was chartered from Canadian Pacific, who normally operated her in the Alaska cruise trade by summer and laid her up in Victoria each winter.

Pacific Princess

The Pacific Princess
It was Stan McDonald who saw this opportunity. McDonald had got his start in cruising during the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, when he chartered the 401-berth Miami-Nassau cruise ship Yarmouth for seventeen 10-day cruises between San Francisco and Victoria.

From Victoria, passengers were ferried to Seattle in the Princess Marguerite, sister ship of the Princess Patricia. The name Princess Cruises had actually been used by Canadian Pacific for its Alaska service as early as the 1930s.

As it happened, although schooled in Seattle, like the Princess name, Stan McDonald was also of Canadian origin. He located Princess Cruises’ first offices at 643 South Flower Street, at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, in the same building as the British-American Chamber of Commerce and not far from the Harbor Freeway.

The Pacific Princess, which will perform the 50th anniversary cruise, is the smallest ship in the Princess fleet, and the 14-night cruise will be of the same duration as that first cruise on the Princess Patricia. It will include a blend of ports from the maiden itinerary, including Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Manzanillo, and add some newer destinations such as La Paz and Loreto.

During her two winter seasons with Princess, the 23-knot Princess Patricia turned at Acapulco and it was her success that allowed McDonald to move on to larger ships and expand into the Alaska trade as well. McDonald managed the fledgling cruise line from Los Angeles until 1974, when he sold out to P&O.
The 347-berth Princess Patricia
The 50th anniversary cruise goes on sale on May 13, with fares starting at $1,699 per person, double occupancy. By way of comparison, fares on the 1965 Princess Patricia cruise began at $430. While that fare may seem high for 1965, they were less per day than her 8-night Alaska summer cruises, which started at $275.

Guests on the commemorative cruise will also be treated to activities and entertainment celebrating half a century of cruising and will be joined by some surprise guests.

“This nostalgic cruise to Mexico will be the perfect finale to what’s sure to be a special 50th anniversary year for Princess,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “For this significant milestone we couldn’t resist recreating, with some new touches, the very first cruise our company operated. And because the name Pacific Princess is so integral to our company’s history, we wanted to offer the cruise aboard the current ship with this iconic name.”

Now one of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises’ first season offered ten cruises to Mexico between December 3 and April 8 accommodating about 3,200 cruisers. Nearly fifty years later, Princess is the third largest cruise line in the world, with seventeen ships carrying 1.7 million cruisers to destinations around worldwide.


Princess Pair Moved To UK Flag

Still on the subject of Princess Cruises, there are interesting changes of registry occurring there at the moment. After Princess, P&O and Cunard all abandoned the British flag for Bermuda, except for the three P&O Australia ships that still fly the UK flag, two Princess ships were transferred from Bermudian to British flag last month.

This is not a return as the two ships in question had been registered in Bermuda since they were built in Japan ten years ago.

On April 1, Princess moved its Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess to UK flag and the ships now have London painted on their sterns instead of Hamilton.

The Diamond Princess

Princess has made no announcement but according to sources in Bermuda it may have something to do with the new trades the ships are shifting to in Singapore and the Far East as there may be some fiscal advantage to UK registry in Far East and Australian waters.

At least, there is not the threat of the EU laws that apply when ships operate from the UK. On August 1, 2011, when the Equality Act was implemented, it was no longer lawful to pay differential rates of pay to other EU nationals, no matter where recruited. This meant that market rates of pay that had been negotiated for other nationals could no longer be paid under UK flag. The Act had misunderstood the competitive nature of shipping and how it works.

On September 23, 2011, after a polite few weeks’ interval, Peter Shanks, then president of Cunard Line, started talking of weddings, telling The Financial Times that  “weddings at sea are now very big business” and “this business is currently denied to us, as our fleet is registered in the UK.”
Soon, there were no Cunard ships under UK flag, nor any P&O or Princess ships for that matter, except in Australia.

The Sapphire Princess

According to The Transport Select Committee report on UK Shipping Strategy report of March 26, the number of UK ratings has fallen nearly 30% in the time since passage of the Equality Act, to the current level of 8,590, and a significant shortfall in UK trained seafarers is predicted by 2021.

Of the two Princess ships that have been reflagged, the Diamond Princess also cruises from Australia during their summer season, bringing the UK-flag cruise ship fleet based in Australia to four on a seasonal basis. She is now cruising from Yokohama until November, when she shifts back to Sydney, remaining there until her return to Yokohama in April 2015. From next month through November, Sapphire Princess will be cruising from Shanghai, Tianjin and Singapore and from November she will be based in Singapore.

While on the subject of Bermuda, millions of cruise tickets have now been issued by Cunard, P&O and Princess showing their ships as “Bermudan.” The preferred usage in Bermuda is actually Bermudian, a term that generates ten times as many search results on Google, in excess of 9 million, compared to just 900,000 for Bermudan.

One cannot say that Bermudan is incorrect but it is not favoured in Bermuda, where Bermudian is regarded as proper.

Adventure Canada Takes On Larger Ship Next Year

Toronto-based Adventure Canada announced a new ship last week when it revealed that it would be chartering the 12,907-ton Ocean Endeavour for its 2015 Arctic expedition season. The Ice Class 1B ship will replace the 4,376-ton Sea Adventurer.

Adventure Canada’s Ocean Endeavour

Outfitted with a fleet of twenty Zodiacs, advanced navigation equipment, several lounges and a ship-top observation room, Ocean Endeavour is perfect for intimate expeditions to remote environments around Newfoundland, Labrador, the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and the Northwest Passage.

“Not only will we retain the entertaining and educational expedition programming our guests value, but we’ll be able to invite even more resource staff aboard to further enhance the experience,” said Cedar Swan, Adventure Canada’s vice president.

“Ocean Endeavour allows us to provide more options for our guests.”
Ocean Endeavour’s shallow draft and maneuverability allow her to navigate isolated fiords, sheltered bays and visit secluded communities to deliver the routes Adventure Canada is known for. While venturing to some of the world’s last great frontiers, such as the Northwest Passage, guests can appreciate the comforts of a boutique hotel and know their safety is first.

The Ocean Endeavour will comfortably accommodate a maximum of 198 passengers when in service with Adventure Canada. Compared to 118 on the Sea Adventurer this will allow two-thirds more passengers to enjoy these popular expedition voyages.

Sea Adventure (Former Clipper Adventurer)

Clipper Adventurer – Sea Adventure
Guests can select from a variety of cabin categories, ranging from 100 to 320 square feet, all en suite and with television.

Built in 1982, the ice-strengthened Finnish-registered vessel was converted for cruising in 2010 and underwent further extensive renovations this year. Passengers enjoy spectacular views on several decks equipped with comfortable lounge chairs and can take advantage of amenities including sauna, Jacuzzi, gym and spa.

Ocean Endeavour’s three lounges also provide spacious public spaces for simultaneous workshops, events and presentations, inviting each guest to tailor their own on board experience.
(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)