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Chris Prelog moves up to the Windstar presidency

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Chris Prelog joined Windstar almost four years ago as VP fleet operations after 18 years with Seabourn

He reports to Andrew Todd, CEO of Windstar and of Xanterra Travel Collection.

'Perfect for the role'

'Chris is the perfect person for this role,' Todd said. 'As Windstar’s chief operating officer, he has led the $250 million Star Plus investment in expanding and renovating our three all-suite yachts in addition to managing our operations through this pandemic. His in-depth knowledge and expertise of the small ship cruise business combined with his collaborative leadership style have won the hearts, minds and respect of the Windstar crew and corporate team alike.'

'I am excited and humbled to lead this tremendously talented team at Windstar,' Prelog said. He added that during this most challenging year, the teams at Windstar and Xanterra have worked together across all disciplines to implement the 'Beyond Ordinary Care' program and numerous plans in response to the pandemic.

'I am so proud of the work that we have delivered as a team,' Prelog said, and 'honored to be chosen for this important role.'

Prelog joined Windstar nearly four years ago as VP fleet operations and became COO in February. Earlier, he spent 18 years at Seabourn, working first as a waiter then in on-board hotel operations and, ultimately, as head of all ship operations. He began his career at various Hilton Hotels in Austria.

Seabourn Legend start

After starting in the cruise industry as a waiter aboard Seabourn Legend, he rose through the ranks and became head waiter, restaurant manager and hotel director — all on the Legend — before advancing to manager of hotel operations, director of hotel operations and VP hotel operations and purchasing.

He holds a degree in hotel management and accounting from Florida International University in Miami and certificates from Harvard’s Kennedy School, Cornell University and the Higher Tourism Institute in Austria.

After 22 successful Taiwan sailings, Dream Cruises diversifies itineraries

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Short sightseeing cruises will visit the 'Milky Sea' that surrounds Guishan Island in Yilan

Explorer Dream's 'Discover Taiwan' cruises of one to five nights will sail from Keelung to destinations like Anping in Tainan, Penghu, Kaohsiung and Hualien, as well as sightseeing cruises to view the 'Milky Sea' that surrounds Guishan Island in Yilan and the Keelung Islet.

Genting Cruise Lines President Kent Zhu expressed pride that Explorer Dream has operated for nearly two months 'without any incident and has garnered high scores in terms of passenger satisfaction.'

Zhu added there is pent-up demand since global travel continues to be put on hold. The new 'Discover Taiwan' cruises offer Taiwanese a getaway without having to leave home, 'through which they can explore the beauty of Taiwan by sea, and with total peace of mind.'

Five-night itinerary

Explorer Dream’s five-night itinerary visits the four scenic destinations of Anping in Tainan, Penghu, Kaohsiung and Hualien, allowing travelers to visit some of the most iconic destinations on the main island and outlying islands. The also provides an opportunity to see the Penghu Bay International Light Festival from a panoramic and unobstructed vantage point at sea.

And shorter trips

Plus, there are four-night and three-night cruises to Penghu, Kaohsiung and Hualien, or two-night getaways to Anping, where the cruise terminal will be transformed into a traditional market featuring local delicacies and specialty souvenirs. A one-night 'Discover Taiwan' cruise travels around the Keelung Islet and Guishan Island in Yilan, known for its 'Milk Sea,' a natural phenomenon caused by the combination of seawater and a saltwater hot spring, and a two-night sightseeing cruise to the turquoise waters surrounding Ishigaki Island.

Korean festivals

In collaboration with the Korea Tourism Organization, Dream Cruises will host a series of Korean-themed festivities aboard Explorer Dream from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, starting with an authentic Chuseok Korean harvest festival with traditional Korean delicacies, dance and music on the mid-autumn festival sailing, which will also offer traditional Chinese mid-autumn festival customs, such as lantern riddles and mooncake-making workshops.

Travelers who sail on Explorer Dream’s inter-island cruise to Anping on Oct. 9 will celebrate the Double Ten Day long weekend with a spectacular fireworks display in the skies above Tainan's Yuguang Island on Oct. 10.

Plus, Oktoberfest and more

Oktoberfest festivities will take place on Oct. 7-8, providing traditional Bavarian dance and music, bratwurst and pork knuckle, and activities like beer-drinking contests and a giant beer pong.

To celebrate the National Day of Spain in mid-October, passengers can take part in flamenco dance and sangria-making tutorials, and sample tapas. They will be invited to don a polka dot or traditional flamenco outfit to join Explorer Dream’s Flamenco Night, with Spanish cuisine, music and professional dance performances.

October festivities will wrap up with a big Halloween party on Oct. 30-31, while Diwali celebrations will take place Nov. 13-14, where passengers can learn traditional dances and take part in interactive workshops on paper lantern making and Mehndi hand coloring.

Health safety and fresh air

Health safety measures continue throughout the ship, including masks, no self-service dining and social distancing with theatres and recreational facilities at reduced capacity and extra sanitization throughout.

Explorer Dream allows for 100% fresh air intake, filtered and supplied to each cabin and public area. As certified by Dr. Chen Jia-kun, associate professor, Institute of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, National Taiwan University, the ship is equipped with a positive pressure system that allows the continuous exhaust of air to the outdoors, ensuring only filtered fresh air can enter the ship. Every stateroom and public area is equipped with standalone air ventilation systems and separate vents for fresh air supply and exhaust, which guarantees the air will not re-circulate and cross-contaminate staterooms and public areas.

 

How to Maximize Your Virtual Event – The Exhibitor Experience

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With a global audience unrestricted by geography, Seatrade Cruise Virtual exhibitors can take advantage of not only a diverse audience but also media-rich profiles, deep lead gen analytics, A.I. powered matchmaking, and many more never-before-seen opportunities!

Here are some useful tips to help make the most of your experience.

Set Up Your Listing
Complete your company profile with a maximum of information including logo, description, filters, social networks, website, team members, etc.―a completed form is 3 times more likely to be consulted! Ask your team members to complete their personal profile, this will increase their chances of being contacted.

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Familiarize Yourself with the Platform
Log in early and often to understand how to use our virtual platform. Here are some links to short video tutorials and FAQs to get started:

Engage Differently
Use a custom message when requesting connections. You can also review company statistics of your Exhibitor Center. Learn more »

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Communicate About Your Participation
Social networks, website, emails, … let the world know that you will be exhibiting! As a little extra, encourage your community to contact you through the event application.

Thanks to the Attendees list, you can study the event's visitors and identify people of interest. Do not hesitate to contact them through the application to prepare your meeting at the event.

Keep an Eye on Your Incoming Requests
From the Exhibitor Center, assign the confirmed meetings to the different members of your team in order to efficiently organize everyone's time. Don't forget to respond to the requests received, otherwise the slot will remain blocked. It would be a shame to miss an opportunity!

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Maximise Your ROI
Invest in your content and be recognizable. Participating in the conference programme and digital sponsorships are great ways to engage with potential partners and establishing your presence as a thought leader. Explore Sponsorship Opportunities »

Black Watch and Boudicca sold as accommodation vessels by Fred. Olsen

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Boudicca is set to leave Rosyth for the final time as early as next week

Layup in Rosyth

Boudicca is on course to leave Scotland’s Babcock Rosyth facility next week, where the ship is currently in layup with the rest of the Fred. Olsen fleet, with Black Watch to follow. Crew are in the process of preparing both vessels for the journeys. 

A spokesperson for Fred. Olsen commented that the ships ‘served us extremely well’ and they are ‘delighted’ the ships will stay together.

Two of Royal Viking's original ships

Black Watch debuted in 1972 as Royal Viking Line's first ship, Royal Viking Star, while Boudicca was built in 1973 as Royal Viking Sky. 

Bolette and Borealis

It was confirmed by the cruise line last month that Bolette and Borealis would replace Boudicca and Black Watch.

The two ships new to Fred. Olsen's fleet will enter service later this year following their purchase from Holland Americal Line.

 

A powerful case for cruising's return from Virtuoso's Matthew Upchurch

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'Sadly, terrorism wasn’t eliminated before we got back on planes following 9/11. Zika wasn’t cured before we returned to the Caribbean,' Matthew Upchurch noted, while adding he's not minimizing the severity of COVID-19

That's the message from Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of the Virtuoso global luxury travel network.

'That needs to be the rallying cry of the travel industry, whether you sell cruises or not; whether you’re a hotelier, tour operator or destination management company. People who cruise don’t just sail. They fly to and from the ship, they stay in hotels before and after, they take tours, dine at restaurants, shop in ports and visit cultural sites. This is a case where a rising tide truly floats all boats. When the cruise lines successfully sail again – and I’m confident they will – it will bolster trust in traveler safety.'

When will CDC give a sign?

Upchurch issued these powerful remarks in response to the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations and as everyone awaits some sign from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose no-sail order is set to expire at the end of September.

Upchurch continued: 'Because the public needs to see travel reopened in a meaningful way, the cruise lines have taken this task on themselves,' going on to elaborate how Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings teamed with Royal Caribbean Group to develop the Healthy Sail Panel, a group of public health officials and scientists who created a comprehensive, 74-point plan across five areas of focus.

This week they presented their findings to the CDC in an attempt to demonstrate that cruise passengers will be some of the safest travelers anywhere in the world, with science serving as the basis for these universally applied protocols.

'Cruise lines fighting the fight for the rest of us'

'Cruise lines are willing to fight the fight for the rest of us,' Upchurch said, 'working with local governments throughout the world to allow US visitors to return. Yet, they are being held to a different standard with stringent oversight that’s not being applied to the same degree to any other sector in travel, even air.

'The world has been focused on air travel, and they have done an impressive job of showing how their filtration systems exceed standards. They’ve taken their own measures towards enhancing cleaning protocols. Some are doing away with change fees and leaving middle seats empty — a bold move when you consider their yields are predicated on squeezing as many bodies as possible onto each flight.

'But it hasn’t revived the travel industry and that’s because relying on air travel implies business travel will be the first to return,' Upchurch argued. 'Business travel usually jumpstarts the industry after disruptions. This time it’s different for a variety of issues – tighter budgets, new ways of collaborations, the list goes on. Our efforts need to focus on the leisure traveler.

'Coordination amongst governments for testing, the implementation of travel corridors, even to assess threat levels in a universal way has yet to materialize. And lobbying on behalf of an industry that few politicians understand in its totality, let alone fully appreciate, can only carry us so far. When the pandemic caused travel to halt in the spring, the focus was on flattening the curve. Since then, the conversation has evolved to waiting for a vaccine before travel fully resumes. While that’s a goal worthy of aspiring to, it has not been the case with other threats that disrupted travel.

'Sadly, terrorism wasn’t eliminated before we got back on planes following 9/11. Zika wasn’t cured before we returned to the Caribbean. In no way do I want to minimize the severity of COVID-19 or a global pandemic, but the reality is that like other threats, it becomes part of the traveler’s risk profile. Our job, as travel professionals, is to help travelers make informed decisions based on all factors, including their personal risk tolerance.'

More new bookings for cruises than other categories

In a recent poll of Virtuoso’s travel agency members, 83% said that the greatest factor in restoring consumer confidence was flexible cancellation and postponement policies. 'Our partners,' Upchurch said, 'are doing a good job there, but that practice needs to continue.' The same poll showed 40% of new bookings were for ocean cruising – higher than any other travel category – and 37% of Virtuoso clients said they are ready to cruise again.

'The appetite for cruising’s return is there,' Upchurch said.

'Time and again, the travel industry has proven its resiliency and willingness to pull together in times of crisis for the collective good. Now is one of those times. And for all our sake, we should be working to get cruise ships back on the seas.'

Costa redesigns April-November Mediterranean, Northern Europe cruises

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Costa Fortuna will be among four ships sailing in Northern Europe

Earlier, the company — which has resumed sailng with two ships in the Mediterranean — outlined the balance of its 2020/21 winter season.

From April through November Costa will be further expanding its Mediterranean offer, with a variety of options and more departure ports. Also, summer 2021 will see the return of cruising in Northern Europe.

Costa said it's working with national and local authorities in the various countries to ensure the Costa Safety Protocol in all the destinations included in the new program.

Three ships each in Eastern and Wester Mediterranean

Three ships will be deployed on a regular basis in the Western Mediterranean — LNG-powered Costa Smeralda, new ship Costa Firenze, built for China, which is going to remain in the Mediterranean for a year, as earlier reported, and Costa Pacifica, which will offer weekly cruises to Italy, France and Spain.

Three additional ships will be operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, all on weeklong itineraries. Costa Deliziosa will head for the Greek Islands, Costa Luminosa will visit Greece and Croatia and Costa Magica will sail to Greece and Malta.

Four ships in Northern Europe

During the 2021 summer season, Costa will have four ships in Northern Europe. Costa Fortuna and Costa Diadema will sail weeklong cruises to the Baltic capitals and the Norwegian Fjords, respectively. Costa Favolosa will offer 14-day cruises to Iceland, nine-day cruises to the Norwegian Fjords and a fortnight Ireland, Scotland and England itinerary. Meanwhile, Costa Fascinosa will undertake a 12-day North Cape itinerary and a nine-day Baltic route.

Israel, Turkey, Morocco, Lisbon, plus mini-cruises

During spring and fall 2021, Costa Fortuna, Costa Diadema, Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa will all be operating in the Mediterranean. Costa Diadema will visit Israel and Turkey on alternating two-week cruises. Costa Fortuna will offer Western Mediterranean mini-cruises while Costa Favolosa will be deployed on mini-cruises in the spring and 10-day cruises to Morocco in the fall. Costa Fascinosa will sail on 10-day holidays bound for Lisbon.

The other cruises previously scheduled between March and November 2021 and not included in the new program are canceled. Costa contacting customers and travel advisors with options for rebooking.

Ponant poised to start domestic cruising in New Zealand (*updated*)

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In an interview with Radio New Zealand this week, Ponant’s Asia Pacific Chairman Sarina Bratton said until a trans-Tasman bubble is open to cruise ships, Ponant would only carry New Zealanders on coastal voyages.

NZ$4.5m into economy

Bratton said one Ponant ship in New Zealand in the coming summer season would pump about NZ$4.5m into the economy.

Cabotage restrictions

Regarding cabotage, Bratton told Seatrade Cruise News a foreign cruise ship could operate domestically in New Zealand for 28 days before having to call at another international port.

She said Ponant’s sub-Antarctic expeditions usually include the Australian territory of Macquarie Island.

She said the company is trying to work its way ‘through a myriad of obstacles’ to start ‘bubble expeditions.’However, Bratton added, everything is on hold until after the 2020 New Zealand general election on October 17.

She said in the last two-and-a-half months, Ponant has operated more than 50 expeditions in various parts of the world ‘with no incidents.’

The other two new members of NZCA are Venture Timaru, the economic and tourism agency for Timaru District on New Zealand’s South Island and Walking By Nature that offers guided walks on Waiheke Island, close to Auckland.

Hope for future

‘It is great to be able to welcome three new members,’ NZCA CEO Kevin O’Sullivan said. ‘New members bring a ray of sunshine and hope for the future,’ he said.

Cruise Suppliers Advisory Group launched in Australia

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Members include representatives of farmers, food wholesalers, beverage providers and transport companies.

CLIA Australasia MD Joel Katz said the advisory group will meet regularly as part of efforts to ensure the industry’s voice is heard by governments at state, territory and national levels.

Suppliers devastated

‘Many of these suppliers have been devastated by the suspension of cruise operators in a similar way to members of the travel and tourism industry,’ Katz said.

He said the businesses are among thousands of Australian companies impacted by the suspension of Australia’s A$5bn-a-year cruise economy which has put more than 18,000 jobs at risk across the country.

Cruise lines unable to buy products

He said they have lost an enormous portion of their business because cruise lines are no longer able to purchase their products and services. 

Select Fresh Providores Group GM Steven Biviano said the advisory group will support CLIA’s efforts to establish a pathway towards a cruise resumption.

Farmers need to know what crops to sow

‘Businesses need certainty so they can plan for their revival,’ Biviano said. ‘For example, farmers need to know when their supply channels are likely to reopen so they can prepare for the coming season and make decisions on the crops they sow.’

Katz said with extensive health measures in place, there is an opportunity to plan for a carefully phased resumption of cruising, involving domestic or local itineraries for Australian residents only.

He said this would protect Australia from outside infection and help with economic recovery for the thousands of businesses and local communities that depend on cruise tourism. 

MSC Group's luxury cruise brand chooses Versonix

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'We’re very pleased to partner with Versonix,' said Mario Barca, head of information technology for MSC’s luxury cruise brand. 'We evaluated all the relevant cruise reservation systems on the market and Versonix Seaware was our choice because of, amongst others, its flexibility in terms of guest and client management, inventory management, revenue optimization, data analytics and an extensive loyalty program.'

Portfolio of luxury clients

'At Versonix we are pleased to have MSC as our new customer,' CEO Yuri Polissky said. 'We are very excited to start working with their new luxury brand in this early phase of its development and launch. Since Versonix has a number of other luxury cruise and tour clients, the new brand will be able to tap into a vast number of features and capabilities Versonix has developed over the years.'

In fact, the first Versonix cruise customer was a five-star line so 'luxury has long been in our DNA,' as Polissky put it.

Hainan issues first cruise trial operation permit to Astro Ocean Cruise

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Piano Land will operate the program

The first cruise trial operation business license was issued to Astro Ocean Cruise, allowing the company to develop routes and cruise travel products locally.

Piano Land to start with cruises to nowhere, then expand

Astro Ocean Cruise will take Sanya Phoenix Island International Cruise Port as its homeport and deploy its vessel Piano Land for Hainan and international cruise routes.

At the initial stage, the company will provide cruises to nowhere from Hainan, then will develop overseas routes when the COVID-19 pandemic is well controlled, said Li Ming, general manager of Astro Ocean Cruise.

In addition, Astro Ocean Cruise will work with local authorities to develop cruise ship maintenance and repair and further promote Sanya's cruise homeport development.

Earlier this year, China’s Ministry of Transport approved a pilot scheme for a cruises to nowhere operation out of Hainan.