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Articles from 2017 In March

April Fool's Day spoofs range from cows on board, pink aircraft and a ski resort at sea

Fred. Olsen’s on board flight experience is expected to include a unique new seating configuration down the centre of the aircraft for outside viewing

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) said in response to its passengers who like their cups of tea with fresh milk it is planning to place four cows on board two of its ships complete with lush grass, supervised by two milkmaids. It said the line was waiting for approval from The Dairy Council that before proceeding which should be ready by April 1.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines reported it has purchased a fleet of aircraft to support its extensive new worldwide fly-cruise programme.

Fred. Olsen’s new fleet of aircraft – the exact model and quantity of which have yet to be disclosed – are to be named along the same lines as Fred. Olsen’s cruise ship fleet, and will all start with the letter ‘B’. The first aircraft to be unveiled by Fred. Olsen is to be called ‘Bader’, as a tribute to Sir Douglas Bader, the renowned WW2 pilot.

Speculation that Fred. Olsen’s second aircraft is to be called either ‘Barbie’ or ‘Biggles’ following an online poll has not been confirmed. Pink will feature heavily in the livery the company said.

Fred. Olsen’s on board flight experience is expected to include a unique new seating configuration down the centre of the aircraft, and guests will be able to walk around the edge and enjoy the views, whilst being able to exercise at the same time – in keeping with the ‘promenade deck’ concept across Fred. Olsen’s cruise fleet.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International has announced plans to push the boundaries of extraordinary even further with its fifth Oasis Class ship, Piste of the Seas - the world’s first ski resort at sea. 

The ship, set to launch in 2021, will offer a truly unique way for holidaymakers to hit the slopes and is ideal for anyone torn between a ski or cruise break. A first of its kind, the ship will accommodate a full size ski resort complete with five real snow runs, a lift and après-ski restaurants, bars and spa.

And the snow facilities are just the ‘peak of experience’ said RCI.  Wood panelled, family sized chalet-styled rooms will be adorned with faux fur throws to snuggle up after a day on the slopes.

And when sailing in the Med, 25 snow cannons will be required to keep the temperature of the piste below 2 Degrees Celsius and the snow level deep enough to ski on.

Finally, Celebrity Cruises said its Celebrity Escape, currently sailing with 120 crew and no guests, is being used exclusively to research new destinations and itineraries has discovered a previously unknown island 720 nautical miles south west of Bermuda.

The ship’s past escapades include test sailings in one of the world’s largest swimming pools at the San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, Chile, and attempts to cruise between Southampton and New York in just three days.   

Celebrity is inviting participants to come up with a suitable name for the new island. Anyone can submit their ideas via social media using the hashtag #IslandX.


STB paves the way for CLIA to train India travel agents

Peter Kollar, head of international training and development at Cruise Lines International Association(CLIA), assisting Indian travel agents to sell cruise

18 months later, Kollar attended Singapore Tourism Board’s second India Cruise Forum Thursday offering Indian travel agents CLIA accreditation, aimed at educating Indian cruise sellers with the finer techniques of selling cruise holidays and running an introductory workshop.

Annie Chang, director, cruise, STB,  told travel agents present that STB’s would like to support them as much as possible - through travel agent FAMs to experience sailing and the destinations, trade events - and has now brought in CLIA, to help them market cruise.

She said STB having worked with India over the years, understood India and was helping CLIA customize material for its cruise market.

‘At your doorstep you have Singapore,’ advised Koller. ‘There is a high number of flights to Singapore from Indian cities and there are increasing number of cruise vessels cruising out of there.’

Cruise lines seeing the potential will add even more ships, he predicted. The travel agent has the power to increase the cruise market and they have to be empowered. 'The travel agents are the ones who can convince new people to cruise,’ he told delegates.

Travel veteran Arvind Tandon, director of Ark Travels applauded the CLIA initiative facilitated by STB.

Kollar sketched a quick picture of how the global cruise industry was showing strong growth: ‘Amazing innovations are coming to us with amazing speed. Just last week Celebrity announced their magic carpet.’

Comprehensive knowledge of the product and trends are needed to sell cruise, he told his audience of 100 Indian travel agents. 

He said CLIA would be offering them basic to advanced level training programmes, backed by online videos, quizzes, games, material – and exams.  This could culminate in a Masters programme done an onboard a vessel, when agents were ready to  become ‘owners and managers’, he concluded.


STB's second India Cruise Forum prioritises awareness creation for future growth

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) held a seconf Cruise Forum in India to champion efforts to develop the growing source market

In 2016, Singapore reported 1.2m cruise passengers with a double digit growth of 16%, compared to 2015, out of which 100,000 were from India, an increase of 29% over 2015 figures and representing the number one fly-cruise market.

India’s cruise market is also is the youngest in the world with an average passenger age of 37, and continues to grow with more now coming also from tier-two and even tier-three cities.

Given these figures, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) continues to champion efforts to develop the increasingly enthusiastic cruise market in India. 

STB organized the second edition of its India Cruise Forum in Mumbai, on March 30.  The forum kicked off with some 100 travel agents being encouraged to dance along to a hit song from a blockbuster Bollywood movie which was partly shot in Singapore. 

Indians have been long aware of Singapore, and this was something travel agents can leverage on, they were told.  But is is an uphill task to help and empower agents to help convince customers to take cruises over land holidays. 

To address this key issue, STB brought in Peter Kollar, head of international training and development, at Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to offer accreditation to Indian travel agents for the first time.

Annie Chang, director, cruise, STB,  said  STB goes around the world talking to cruise lines, asking them to bring their ships not just to Southeast Asia, which has ten countries and many ports of call,  but India as well.

‘Together we can do so much more!’ is her mantra and she highlighted southeast Asia offers more options to diversify itineraries, when there is geopolitical unrest in North Asia, for instance. 

STB’s regional director G.B Srithar, added, ‘According to a consumer survey conducted in Mumbai, 34% of young Indian families are willing to spend between 100,000  and 200,000 INR on a cruise holiday and 98% of 500 travellers surveyed  were open to a cruise from Singapore. Increasing connectivity, with more airlift from main cities and second-tier cities is also giving a boost.’

Kiran Bhandari (Cruise Club), co-Founder, CruiseClub Vacations Pvt Ltd pointed to changing demographics, accessibility, internet and widening travel windows as being key factors for growth.

Despite there being little cruise infrastructure development in the country, Indians are excited to go abroad and explore, he explained.

‘Singapore and Dubai can be considered India's homeports,’ he said echoing the sentiments of many present. 

Opportunities like the deployment of  Dream Cruises’ Genting Dream  out of Singapore in December will help grow opportunities in the region, he predicted.

Naresh Rawal, vp sales, Genting said  the company has had much success with the Indian market  for sailings out of Singapore over the year . ‘We had requests to have a larger ship out of Singapore and Genting Dream answers this call,’ he said.

Anita Raja, regional manager South India, TIRUN Travel Marketing reported that many Indians will join Royal Caribbean International’s ex-Singapore 2017/18 sailings totalling 72 on Mariner of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.  

Nalini Gupta, managing director, Lotus Destinations (gsa of Costa Cruise India),  said there has been far more demand than supply during times like Diwali when Indians make last minute bookings.

‘For this reason ships that are based in a nearby country that offers hassle free visas, work.’



Norwegian Jade adds new restaurants, bars, lounges

A refreshed look for Norwegian Jade's Atrium

Plus, the design and décor were updated in many public spaces and staterooms were refurbished as part of Norwegian Cruise Line's 'The Norwegian Edge' investment program.

Norwegian Jade’s enhancements come just weeks ahead of its summer deployment from Hamburg, the brand's first complete season sailing from the German port to the Norwegian Fjords and North Cape. Embarkation is also available from the UK's Southampton.

Norwegian’s 24-hour neighborhood pub-style restaurant, O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, was added to Deck 8. Serving cold brews and snacks in a relaxed atmosphere, the venue features modern flooring, refurbished front and back bars and new banquette seating. The Pit Stop, a new concept for Norwegian Jade, will provide poolside fare in a 1950s-style American diner atmosphere clad with vintage license plates, gas station signage and classic car elements.

Moderno Churrascaria received a new home on Deck 13 and features a new upscale glass door entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows, new flooring, wall coverings and upgraded furniture. Norwegian's signature steak house Cagney’s added seating to a completely refurbished space that offers a new color scheme, upgraded flooring, new wall linings and a virtual fireplace.

Italian specialty restaurant La Cucina received an elegant modernization thanks to updated décor and furniture, flooring, a new decorative bar and a wine display wall. Teppanyaki, the Japanese hibachi grill restaurant, was enhanced with updated furnishings and fittings.

Complimentary venues Jasmine Garden and the Garden Café also received extensive enhancements including newly designed spaces with upgraded furniture and new flooring, among other details.

The new Bliss Ultra Lounge on Deck 7 echoes an upscale Miami nightclub and features a cool color palette of silvers, grays and black. The new Sugarcane Mojito Bar on Deck 13, adjacent to Moderno Churrascaria, has a flight option for those who want to try several kinds of mojitos. The room itself sports granite bar fronts, new furnishings and finishes.

Norwegian Jade’s Spinnaker Lounge also received a complete redesign with new flooring and window treatments, decorative chandeliers, reupholstered seating and refurbished bars with contemporary mosaic tiling and LED lighting.

Every stateroom was enhanced with new carpets, furniture, flat-screen televisions, larger headboards with USB charging outlets and new artwork. Passengers sailing in The Haven will find a more modern, chic atmosphere in all suites and villas, due to new finishes on walls and ceilings, new flooring throughout the suites and balconies, and new soft goods and drapery. The villas and suites also received more than 250 new art pieces.

The Haven Courtyard was upgraded, too, with four new plush cabanas, a newly refinished pool surrounded by modern furnishings and new artwork.

The Atrium, the heart of the action on Norwegian Jade, was enhanced with a refreshed look and décor brought to life with an eye-catching, custom-designed marquee chandelier, and new, modern finishes in calming gray tones, updated flooring, enhanced reception and shore excursion areas, a new large TV screen and relaxed banquette seating.

In still other changes, the upgraded Photo Gallery now provides individual digital monitors and larger photo display panels, along with sleek furniture and tile flooring. All-new TechnoGym equipment and new rubber flooring, ideal for weightlifting and plyometric workouts, were added to the fitness center. Splash Academy for junior cruisers gained noise-reducing mats so kids can play into the evening hours.

The ship’s main pool deck was also touched by this extensive refurbishment, with the addition of glistening new lighting fixtures, flooring and tiling around the pool and whirlpools.

As well, all elevator landings were refurbished with updated interior finishes and flooring, new wall coverings, new carpet and updated light fixtures. In addition, the ship’s stairways all received new carpeting featuring a new contemporary designed featuring new modern artwork in in all mid-stairwell landings.

Norwegian Jade is due to depart Port Tampa Bay on April 30, bound for its summer Europe deployment.

Laem Chabang welcomes Ovation of the Seas

Ovation of the Seas is on an overnight stay in port at Laem Chabang

The largest cruise ship sailing in Asia arrived on a 5-night cruise from Singapore carrying over 4,000 guests, which is the highest number of passengers ever on a ship calling at Laem Chabang, located two hours south of Bangkok.

A traditional plaque and key ceremony was held between Ovation of the Seas’ captain Flemming Nielsen and local officials including Zoroz Kajohnprasat, director of port engineering of Port Authority of Thailand and captain Ito Yoshikata, vp of NYK Auto Logistics (Thailand).

Ovation of the Seas is on an overnight stay in port at Laem Chabang, allowing guests to enjoy a longer stay in Bangkok.

Over 100 guests from Thailand boarded the ship in Singapore at the start of the cruise on March 29 and disembarked in Laem Chabang, while another 200 plus more started their cruise today and will sail to Singapore, as a special segmented cruise by Royal Caribbean to cater to the Thai market.

From March to April, Ovation of the Seas is offering 10 cruises from Singapore ranging from 3 to 5 nights to Penang, Phuket, Bangkok (Laem Chabang), and a one-way 12-night cruise to Tianjin with calls at Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) for an overnight, Hue/Danang (Chan May), Hong Kong and Seoul (Incheon).

The ship returns to southeast Asia for two sailings in April 2018.


Astoria kicks off a record 2017 season for Rouen

Astoria in Rouen next to the Gustave-Flaubert Vertical Lift-bridge

Rouen has been successful not only at increasing the numbers of visits, but also extending its season with both Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and CMV calling next December to take advantage of Rouen’s growing Christmas Market, held annually next to the Western façade of Rouen Cathedral.

During Astoria’s stop over this week, Rouen was also hosting the largest international trade fair for French tourism ‘Rendezvous en France’, as 900 tour operators worldwide met for two days of face-to-face appointments with a choice of 650 French tourism professionals.

The ship’s captain and senior officers were special guests at the event party held at Rouen’s XXL Panorama home of one of the largest paintings in the world.

Currently almost every cruise ship visit to Rouen entails an overnight stay with stopovers mainly from European-based lines.

Looking ahead to 2018, which is expected to beat this year’s record, there will be a greater number of US passengers visiting as well with Holland America Line’s Prinsendam making a maiden call, as well as Seabourn’s Seabourn Quest, Silversea’s Silver Wind (after a long absence) and The World.


Thomson Cruises adds TUI Discovery 2 and names next ship TUI Explorer

Artist impression of Indigo, TUI Explorer's new night entertainment venue

Based in Palma, Majorca from May 2018, TUI Explorer - currently sailing with TUI Cruises as Mein Schiff 1 - will new feature bar, Indigo, with ocean views from its position at the top of the ship and is home to the casino and nightclub in the evening; Aperitif is an intimate speakeasy style bar; Scoops, an ice-cream parlour with quirky bicycle-themed seating; and The Lounge, a new venue with colour-changing bar and signature brightly coloured piano and live music.

TUI Explorer will also have ten dining venues including Surf & Turf, Kora La and Snack Shack, as well as new addition Umi Sushi, a showcase sushi counter.

The Mediterranean is a dining area featuring glass roof inspired by open air terraces and local tavernas which will house two inclusive restaurants – a pizzeria and tapas restaurant – plus the Hot Stone Grill at an additional cost.

The ship will also feature an onboard spa hosting eleven different areas including a Finnish sauna with floor to ceiling windows, a couples room and two luxury treatment suites, and The Veranda, an adults-only sunbathing area.

New cabin types on TUI Explorer include 14 family balcony cabins that measure 20sq mtr, sleeping up to five people and a balcony cabin with more external space. Standard inside cabins onboard TUI Explorer are 16sq mtr, bigger than any other standard cabin in the fleet.

Managing director of Thomson Cruises, Richard Sofer, said: ‘I’m delighted to unveil the name of TUI Explorer, our biggest and most exciting ship yet. As part of our continued modernisation and transformation strategy, and our commitment to offering choice and flexibility, we’ve created a whole host of new spaces onboard to meet our customers needs.’

TUI Explorer joins TUI Discovery and TUI Discovery 2 in continuing to introduce the TUI brand to UK customers ahead of the re-brand which sees Thomson transition to TUI later this year. 

The all-inclusive ship will sail in the Western Mediterranean calling Barcelona, Rome, Naples, Florence and Lisbon.  

Thomson Cruises, part of TUI UK and Ireland, is the third largest cruise line in the UK. There are five ships in the the fleet – Thomson Dream, Thomson Majesty, Thomson Celebration, Thomson Spirit and TUI Discovery.

Mein Schiff 2 switches from TUI Cruises to Thomson in 2019, whilst Thomson Majesty and Thomson Spirit leave the fleet at the end of this year. Net result will see a fleet of four ships in 2018 and back to five in 2019.


Late-night stays dot Azamara's first Alaska season in 2019

Azamara Quest will operate the program

Among the five itineraries is the 10-night 'Alaska Intensive, between Seward and Vancouver, BC, which visits Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait Point (until 10 p.m.), Sitka, Juneau (until 10 p.m.), Skagway (until 11 p.m.), Haines, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC (until 11 p.m.).

The eight-night 'Alaska Adventure' between Vancouver and Seward, visits Ketchikan, Juneau (until 11 p.m.), Skagway, Sitka (until 10 p.m.), Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier.

'Alaska Showcase,' 10 nights, sails round-trip Vancouver. Ports are Seattle (overnight), Ketchikan, Juneau (until 11 p.m.), Skagway, Sitka and Nanaimo, BC (until 11 p.m.)

The included AzAmazing Evenings will feature local, authentic experiences, and optional shore excursions in small groups of 20 to 25 are planned.

For example, 'Haines off the Beaten Path' visits the artists’ enclave of Mud Bay with a tour of Extreme Dreams Art Studio, a handcrafted timber-frame gallery filled with creations by local artisans. The excursion ends with a guided visit to the quirky yet fascinating Hammer Museum.

In Icy Strait Point, travelers can taste fresh seafood in a rustic setting hosted by an Alaskan fisherman who'll give an expert filleting demonstration.

And from Skagway, a trip in the White Pass & Yukon Route’s luxurious Legacy Club Car features a private guide.

Azamara’s Land & Sea Experiences include pre- and post-voyage land programs of two to six nights. 'Untamed Alaska, Native Villages,' for example, involves a traditional community gathering, riverboat cruising or an afternoon at a dog handler kennel to learn about the famed Iditarod Dogsled race and meet Alaskan huskies.

American Cruise Lines names its 2018 newbuild

(Rendering: American Cruise Lines)
American Constitution - the sister of this year's American Constellation

Construction is under way at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland, with delivery scheduled for 2018. American Constitution is the sister of American Constellation, which begins sailing this May.

The 175-passenger American Constitution has full active wing stabilization, a variety of lounges and large, well-appointed staterooms with private balconies.

'We are committed to continue building new ships which will meet today’s guest expectations for comfort, spacious staterooms and modern amenities,' said Tim Beebe, vp, American Cruise Lines.

American Constellation will sail on the Eastern Seaboard this year, and the company will expand its new ship deployment to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska in 2018. Details will be announced soon.


Windstar hires senior purchasing manager, marine operations

Windstar hires senior purchasing manager, marine operations

'Natalie has proven to be highly efficient in her approach to purchasing and vendor relations with a strong focus on establishing partnerships with suppliers to create a win-win environment for all involved,' said Christopher Prelog, vp fleet operations.

Drain brings 30 years of cruise expertise with 18 years of concentration in purchasing and vendor relations. She most recently worked at food service restaurant management company Guckenheimer as strategic sourcing manager.

Prior to that Drain worked at Holland America Line.