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Two ships named in UK within three days

Two cruise ships were named at separate ceremonies in the UK within three days from each other.

On Tuesday, Her Majesty The Queen named P&O Cruises' 147,730 gross ton newbuilding Britannia in Southampton. She was accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh. Britannia is the eight vessel in the fleet of the Carnival Corp & plc group's UK focused contemporary market unit

Today Thursday, Gloria Hunniford, named Cruise & Maritime Voyages, 46,052 gross ton Magellan in Tilbury, east of London. The ship was built as Holiday in Denmark for Carnival Cruise Lines in 1985 and five years ago, it underwent a €55 million refit that gave it a completely new identity. It is the largest unit in the four strong deep sea cruise ship fleet of the company.

Both vessels are net additions to their respective fleets.

Former Norwegian ceo Colin Veitch sues Branson and Virgin Group - report

Colin Veitch former chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line is suing British billionaire Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group conglomerate, claiming that Virgin stole his ideas and business plans to enter the luxury cruise industry, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reports on its website.

"Colin Veitch, who oversaw Norwegian from 2000 to 2008, and his VSM Development company is seeking more than $300 million in damages and has asked a judge to stop Virgin from going forward with its recently announced Miami-based cruise line," the report said.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court, alleges Virgin reneged on a May 2011 agreement with Mr Veitch over how estimated profits would be split. Mr Veitch would get nothing if the 4,200-passenger "ultra" ships were not profitable but could earn $315m if projections were met, the report continued.

The 4,200 passenger capacity of the planned Virgin ships is the same as that of the Breakaway Plus series that Norwegian is currently building at the Meyer shipyard in Germany.

"Richard Branson and the Virgin Group first looked at the cruise market in the late 1970s, and our current team has been exploring the opportunity for more than a decade. Over the years, we have been in discussions with a number of parties including the plaintiff, and those discussions ceased in 2012. We strongly believe the claim has no merits," the report quoted a Virgin spokesman as saying.

Sir Richard told The Telegraph at the weekend that he will commission the construction of two giant ships as part of ambitious plans to gatecrash the cruise liner market. The ships are likely to be built in a German or Italian shipyard and will take four to five years to complete, at the cost of around $1.7bn (£1.1bn).

“We’re in the final throes of those negotiations,” Sir Richard said. Financial backing for Virgin Cruises, which will be based in Miami, South Florida, has been secured from private equity firm Bain Capital. Sir Richard has brought in Tom McAlpin, part of the management team that founded the Disney Cruise Line in 1996, to head up the new company, the report concluded.

Royal Caribbean announces 2016 Europe and Alaska deployments – Harmony to sail from Barcelona

Royal Caribbean International today announced new 2016 Europe vacations, totaling eight of the region’s most innovative cruise ships that will sail from six European homeports and call at 80 destinations in 27 countries throughout the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Scandinavia and the Baltic. Four of the Europe ships will be new to the region, and Royal Caribbean’s most-anticipated, third Oasis-class ship, Harmony of the Seas, will sail its inaugural season from Barcelona, while Independence of the Seas returns to Southampton as the U.K.’s largest cruise ship. Perfect for family travel in Alaska, Explorer of the Seas will make history as the largest cruise ship to ever sail the region, and join Radiance of the Seas for the cruise line’s 27th consecutive season in the Great Frontier. Royal Caribbean’s 2016 Europe itineraries will open for booking starting March 19, 2015, and 2016 Alaska will open on March 26.

As part of all the new deployment openings, Royal Caribbean is announcing a new early booking BOGO50 offer. Vacationers can save 50 percent on the cruise fare of a second guest in the same stateroom with a full-fare guest, when making a new booking aboard sailings departing on or after May 15, 2015. Vacationers also can enjoy additional 50 percent savings on the fare of a third and fourth guest on nearly all 2016-17 itineraries, including the recently opened 2016-17 Caribbean itineraries. Additionally, guests can take advantage of the offer’s buy-one-get-one-half-off the second Premium Beverage Package by noting promo code ‘BOGOBEV,’ and complete their new booking with 50 percent reduced deposits. For more information about BOGO50, please visit www.Royalcaribbean.com/BOGO50.

BOGO50 is valid for new bookings, made between March 11 and April 30, 2015, in Oceanview and higher-category staterooms on five-night or longer itineraries. The offer does not include bookings on Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, and trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and China sailings.

New Oasis-class vacations from Barcelona

– After its delivery in May 2016, the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, will homeport at Barcelona and sail a round-trip, seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary. Vacationers also can embark Harmony of the Seas at Rome (Civitavecchia), but guests must sail round-trip for seven nights.
– Brilliance of the Seas also will alternate 12-night Italian Mediterranean and Greek & Italian Mediterranean cruises.

British and Scandinavian cruises

– The U.K. welcomes back Independence of the Seas in summer 2016. The ship will sail mostly 10- to 14-night Mediterranean or Canary Island cruises from Southampton, while Navigator of the Seas will offer British vacationers a wide range of new six- to 14-night Norwegian Fjords, Baltic, Mediterranean or Canary Island itineraries.
– Serenade of the Seas will sail seven-night Norwegian Fjords and seven- to 13-night Scandinavia and Russia itineraries, round-trip from Copenhagen, Denmark, in early summer and August, and from Stockholm, Sweden, in June and July.

Italy and Greece adventures from Venice and Rome

– Jewel of the Seas will alternate brand new 10-night Greece & Adriatic and 11-night Greece, Turkey & Croatia itineraries from Venice, while Vision of the Seas will alternate seven-night Greek Isles and Greek Isles & Turkey cruises. Jewel of the Seas will double the cruise line’s capacity at this unique, iconic and most desirable world-class city.
– Rhapsody of the Seas will homeport at Rome (Civitavecchia) and sail nine-night Greek Isles cruises in early summer and autumn months. From late June through August, the ship will alternate seven-night Greek Isles and Greek & Turkey cruises.

Royal Caribbean’s 27th Alaska season

– Explorer of the Seas will be unmatched in onboard amenities when the ship debuts in Alaskan waters. Guests on the ship’s seven-night round-trip itineraries from Seattle, Wash., will sail up Tracy Arm Fjords for an incomparable view of Sawyer Glacier. In September, the ship will sail three Pacific Coastal cruises, seven nights in duration, which feature an overnight in San Francisco, Calif.
– For its part, Radiance of the Seas will alternate seven-night northbound and southbound Alaska cruises between Vancouver, B.C., and Seward. On these itineraries, guests will venture into Disenchantment Bay for a close-up view of Hubbard Glacier.

Vacationers also can choose a wide range of trans-Atlantic cruises, which bookend each ship’s 2016 Europe season and combine Europe and the Caribbean on 13- to 16-night itineraries aboard the aforementioned ships. For their part, Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas will reposition to Australia, via Hawaii.

St Patrick's Day at Cruise Shipping Miami

As before, Cruise Ireland will once again be present at this year’s Cruise Shipping Miami, showcasing all the unique attractions of this enchanted Celtic country, but with an added flavour on this occasion. Alan Lam reports.

Ireland’s cruise tourism has been growing steadily in recent years, attracting increasing number of cruise calls. 2014 was a record years in terms of ship calls to its ports. To maintain this momentum, Cruise Ireland is sending a huge contingent of its members to this year’s Miami gathering.

Happily, for the first time in a long while, St Patrick’s Day falls in the beginning of the event. Cruise Ireland has seized this opportunity to celebrate this day by putting on a music and dance extravaganza at its booth between 3 pm and 5 pm on the 17th of March. More than 100 special invitations have been sent out to its loyal clients and friends.

For the last few years, Cruise Ireland has been sharing a stand with Cruise Wales at this event as a part of the Celtic Ways. This year, it will have its own booth, thus forging its own distinct identity and strengthening the Ireland brand.

“Like a few other countries in Europe,” said Niamh McCarthy, Managing Director of Excursions Ireland, a key founding member of Cruise Ireland, “Ireland has had a hard time economically in recent years; but the cruise industry has continued to growth throughout. 2014 was an excellent year for cruise tourism in Ireland. The sector contributed €40 million directly to the economy. We expect an even better year in 2015.”

The membership of Cruise Ireland is made up of ports, ground handlers, suppliers and many others involved in the cruise business.  All of them work tirelessly throughout the year in promoting the country as a cruise destination. Indeed, through their collective efforts, Ireland has become a popular cruise destination. Princess Cruises alone makes over 30 calls a year to its ports. “Cruise is now one of the biggest segments of tourism in Ireland, attracting a myriad of nationalities” said Niamh McCarthy. “We now hire Russian and Chinese guides. It wasn’t like this five years ago.”

To hail this success, Cruise Ireland promises an Irish whiskey laced merrymaking on St Patrick’s Day in Miami. It aims to be light-hearted and to show the world what Ireland is famous for – hospitality.

Britannia to lead trend of more ships to cater for British tastes

Britannia, the 144,000 gross ton newbuilding of P&O Cruises, leads a trend of more ships designed to cater for British tastes, said David Noyes, ceo of Carnival UK.

"The market will keep growing, if we look at the US, the cruise industry's penetration is about 5%, in the UK it is well below 3% of the population," he told Cruise Business Online.

He did not comment on whether there would be further newbuildings for P&O Cruises in the run up to 2020.

The new ship that cost £473 million to build is aimed at widening the appeal of cruising and offering the feeling of a high quality hotel rather than a cruise ship, he said on board the ship.

David Dingle, chairman of P&O Cruises and of Carnival UK, said that Britannia capitalises on the newly found confidence, pride and creativity of the country and that if there ever has been a time to highlight the Britishness of the P&O Cruises brand, that time is now.