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Disney to start river cruises on Danube

Disney Corporation, an ocean cruise operator, will enter river cruise business in 2016. The move is tipped to be a game-changer in the river cruise segment, as it will be the first family-oriented product in the sector. Alan Lam reports.

In partnership with AmaWaterways, Disney has announced that it is to offer family-focused river cruises on the Danube from the 2016 season.

The planned seven-night itinerary will cover the distance between Budapest in Hungary and Vilshofen in Germany on a new AmaWaterways vessel, namely AmaViola, which is being custom built for the family market with cabin configurations that can accommodate up to five passengers. Disney is also designing shore excursion programmes with families in mind.

The ship will have four suites with beds and pullout sofas that can hold a family of four, and chairs that can be converted into an extra bed. There will also be six sets of adjoining cabins that allow members of families to share accommodation spaces.

The new venture aims to open up a new market in the river cruise business, as until now, it has been catered for adult travellers only. “We think the Disney brand will bring families to the river cruising category,” said Ken Potrock, the Disney executive in charge of this project, “and we think that’s very exciting development for the industry.”

The cruises will be sold via Adventures by Disney, the corporation’s tourism division. Initially there will be five departures, on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of July, as well as a Christmas cruise departing 22nd of December. The ports of calls will be Vilshofen, Passau, Linz, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. Passengers can also add an optional two nights of sightseeing tour to Prague at either end of the sailing, extending it to a nine-night itinerary.

The cruise line will offer archery, strudel making, historic castle visits, interactive Disney games and an array of other family-orientated activities both on board and on land. In all there will be five or six activities to choose from each day, far more than those found on most other current river cruises.

In addition to the ship’s regular staff, Disney will provide eight “adventure guides” on board each sailing.

The cruise is recommended for children of age eight upwards, with a minimum age limit of four.

Prices will be $4,179 per person, based on double occupancy.

Starting small, Disney has plans to expand this new venture in the coming years. This will be a transformational development, perhaps the beginning of a new era in the river cruise sector.


Ovation of the Seas to homeport in Sydney winter 2016-17

Royal Caribbean International, the contemporary market unit in royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) group, said Ovation of the Seas homeports in Sydney for boreal winter 2016-17. “Currently under construction in Germany, Ovation of the Seas will not only claim the title of the largest cruise ship to ever call Australia home but also the most technologically advanced in the region,” the company said in a statement.

Previously, the company has said the vessel would be based in China. Ovation of the Seas is the third and final unit in the 168,000 gross ton Anthem class of ships.

“Royal Caribbean has been breaking the boundaries in Australian cruising since we arrived in 2007 but today, we have completely changed the face of the cruise industry, making the single largest investment in Australia by any cruise line,” said Gavin Smith, regional vice president, Royal Caribbean, Asia Pacific.

“Ovation of the Seas will completely redefine the idea of cruising in Australia, taking 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.”

Ovation of the Seas will be the fifth ship in the Royal Caribbean Australian fleet for winter 2016-17, joining four other Royal Caribbean ships – Voyager of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas in Sydney and Legend of the Seas in Brisbane – offering an expansive range of the newest, most modern and exciting style of cruising Australians have ever experienced. Additional details for the Royal Caribbean’s winter 2016-17 season will be revealed at the end of April.

Meyer acquires remaining 30% of Turku shipyard shares

Meyer Werft, the privately owned German shipbuilder, has acquired the remaining30% of the shares in Meyer Turku Shipyard it does not already own, the Finnish  shipbuilder said in a statement.

In September 2014, Meyer Werft took up 70% of the sharesin the yard and Finnish Industry Investment Ltd (FII), a government owned entity, acquired the remaining 30% from STX Europe in September 2014.

“As usual for the FII´s investment policy, it exits from its investments. In the case of the Turku shipyard, it was agreed that Meyer had a call option to buy FII’s minority stake in the shipyard. Meyer has now decided to further invest in Turku shipyard using the call option,” Meyer Turku said Jan Meyer, Chief Executive Officer of Meyer Turku in the statement.

“At the time of the purchase Meyer was only operating shipyards in Germany and therefore going to invest in Finland was a big and strategic step for us – which we carefully considered from different angles.,” said

“Our well-coordinated acquisition with the Finnish Government made it possible for us to implement this strategic move, and I am sincerely grateful for the government for its valuable contribution. In general, I hope that our decision to buy all the shares is received as a sign of confidence that we can make Turku shipyard a long term shipbuilding success,” he said.

“We are happy to see that the Turku shipyard is developing so positively. Our engagement was an investment in Finnish strengths – the shipyard and the strong maritime cluster.  It is good to see that Meyer is sharing our confidence and further invests in the Turku shipyard.  This benefits not only the yard but also the maritime cluster and Finland at large”, says Jan Vapaavuori, the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs.

“Meyer has had a great start in Finland bringing a lot of new orders to Turku. I want to congratulate Meyer and the whole shipyard for a fine start in Finland”, concluded Minister Vapaavuori.

The change in the ownership  structure is expected to become effective within the next weeks.

Royal Caribbean takes delivery of Anthem of the Seas

There’s a new tune in the air today as global cruise line Royal Caribbean International officially took delivery of its 23rd ship, Anthem of the Seas. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain officially received the new ship from Meyer Werft Yard’s Managing Partner Bernard Meyer in a signing ceremony held in Bremerhaven, Germany. Anthem of the Seas is the world’s most advanced cruise ship and reflects the best of Royal Caribbean’s history of innovating cruise ship design and cruise vacations.

“I am very happy to receive Anthem of the Seas from Meyer Werft Yards,” said Richard. “We’ve always broken the mold with each successive ship we build, and Anthem of the Seas is no different. I would like to thank Bernard and the Meyer Werft team for their ongoing partnership in designing and building awe-inspiring ships with us.”

“It’s wonderful to welcome Anthem of the Seas to the Royal Caribbean family of ships,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “Just like every Royal Caribbean ship, Anthem of the Seas will deliver to guests its own distinctive set of amazing adventures, whether sailing in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.”

Anthem of the Seas will now sail to Southampton, U.K., where the ship will homeport through October and sail to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands. The ship will be inaugurated in Southampton on April 20, when travel agent Godmother Emma Wilby will christen the ship to impart good luck and divine protection over the ship and all that sail on board, and perform a song to more than 1,300 invited guests. In November, New York Harbor will be Anthem of the Seas’ permanent home, where the ship will sail regularly from Cape Liberty Cruise Port on adventures to Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada and New England.

Guests will enjoy a wide range of Royal Caribbean’s unmatched onboard innovations, such as the North Star aerial observatory, a glass capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean for incomparable panoramic views, and the RipCord by iFLY skydiving and FlowRider surfing simulators. Guests will be dazzled with the ships’ transformative venues, such as the Two70 lounge, a great room by day and an immersive, multimedia entertainment spectacle at night. SeaPlex changes throughout the day to offer bumper cars, disco roller skating, circus school, and basketball and other sports. Guests also will delight at the expansive array of delicious fare in 18 distinctive onboard restaurants and enjoy Royal Caribbean Productions’ industry-renowned entertainment in Music Hall, the Royal Theater, and the Royal Esplanade.

Anthem of the Seas spans 16 guest decks; encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons; carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy; and features 2,090 staterooms.

Princess Cruises unveils 2016 Japan cruise program

Carnival Corporation & plc announced today that its Princess Cruises brand, the top North American cruise line in Japan, will offer an array of Japan voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2016 that circumnavigate the country, visiting the top-rated ports with two new ports of call on the island of Kyushu, along with visits to Korea, Taiwan and Russia.  The voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan’s largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, new Land and Sea Vacation packages will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto and Tokyo.

The variety of voyages offered on Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 20 nights, include the whole of Japan on Circle Japan voyages; northern Japan on Circle Hokkaido Island voyages, with a visit to Korsakov, Russia; and southern Japan on Kyushu Island voyages featuring maiden ports of call in the beautiful southern beach port of Miyazaki and the famous castle ruins of Yatushiro, and voyages to Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands. Grand Japan voyages ranging from 14- to 20- nights offer the greatest variety of ports and experiences; while four- and five-night getaway cruises provide a sampling of some of Japan’s not-to-be-missed destination highlights.
Princess Cruises’ 2016 Japan season runs from April to October, the only full season of voyages offered by a North American cruise line in Japan, and bookings for the new itineraries open to the public on April 16, 2015.  More details can be found at
"Japan is steeped in tradition and lore, with ancient sites, hallowed temples and natural wonders throughout the island chain. The ideal way to explore this fascinating country is by sea and Princess offers travelers unmatched options for discovering its many jewels," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. "We visit the top-rated ports, provide local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences onboard and offer bi-lingual service to make it easy and memorable for our guests to explore all that Japan offers. We’ve been recognized as the top cruise line in Asia with the best itineraries and our 2016 voyages more than live up to this billing."
UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The new Princess Cruises itineraries take guests to a wide variety of culturally significant sites listed by including some of the world’s greatest attractions such as 7th Century Bulguska Temple in the Korean capital of Gyeong-Ju and remote historic villages in central Japan. All Hokkaido Island cruises feature the Shiretoko Peninsula, one of the world’s richest eco-systems and one of the few places in the world where multiple species of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be spotted, among many more.
Festivals and Special Events

Spectacular summer festivals and fireworks displays are the highlight of many summer cruises ranging from seven- to 11-night itineraries.  These sailings include late evening departures from ports to allow guests time to participate in vividly colored lantern processionals, parades of giant floats, dance festivals and spectacular fireworks displays like the famous Toyohashi Fire Festival in Nagoya and the Kagoshima Summer Night Fireworks with an active volcano as the backdrop.
Guests on next year’s July 25 and August 4 voyages will experience the Nebuta Festival, Japan’s most extravagant display of brilliantly-colored floats, musicians and dancers.  Sailings on August 15, 24 and September 9 of 2016 feature some of Japan’s largest and most spectacular fireworks festivals.
Land and Sea Vacations

To further enhance the cruise line’s Japanese vacations, Princess Cruises will offer multi-day land tour package options, available for add-on with most cruises, to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. Kyoto tours will include sightseeing at Nijo Castle, the famed Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and popular Japanese gardens. Tokyo tours explore this fascinating city before heading out to Mt. Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi.  
While Diamond Princess features the cruise line’s signature innovations including its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat, it also offers many unique features designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience onboard including:

– Traditional Izumi Japanese Bath – the largest of its kind at sea and modeled after the popular Japanese onsen experience
– Kai Sushi restaurant – boasting made-to-order sushi and a full selection of Japanese sake
– Noodle stations – serving up a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles
– Tamagoyaki -  a traditional Japanese omelet available daily for breakfast
– Unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as “rakugo” storytelling performances and origami classes
– Unparalleled luxury brand duty-free shopping

In addition, dining room menus offer a wide variety of international cuisine including Japanese options on all menus and onboard collateral items and stateroom information is available in both English and Japanese.