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Voyages of Discovery completes ‘School Cruise with 750 students and staff

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Voyages of Discovery, the only cruise line to offer a dedicated school at sea programme in the UK, says it has completed another successful ‘Schools Cruise’ this past week – its first one having taken place in 1994.

More than 750 pupils and staff enjoyed an opportunity to cruise to Eastern Mediterranean’s sites of antiquity in support of their GCSE and A level studies The students, from 29 schools on this cruise, took part in a comprehensive itinerary designed to give every student maximum educational benefits from their cruising experience.

“This year’s cruise set sail from Kusadasi in Turkey and proceeded on to Haifa for Galilee, Ashdod for Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, Port Said for Cairo and the island of Rhodes before reaching Athens. While at sea and prior to each port, students were treated to a stimulating programme of on-board lectures given by expert Voyages of Discovery staff,” the company said.

Voyages of Discovery has revived a tradition from the 1960s and the 1970s, when a P&O subsidiary British India Steam Navigation Company operated passenger ships on this business. The last one, Uganda of 16,907 gross tons, was withdrawn from requisitioned for the Falklands War in 1982 and remain in military service until scrapped in 1985. A much larger vessel, the 20,526 gross ton Nevasa, operated alongside Uganda in 1965-75. Both ships had rather spartan accommodation for students, but good cabins and public rooms for other passengers.

Voyages of Discovery accommodates students in normal passenger cabins on board the 20,636 gross ton Discovery. These are far superior in quality compared to the student accommodation on British India ships.

“With an extensive amount of experience running a ‘school at sea’, the specialist staff were responsible for all aspects of the schools’ daily routine including the timetabling and programming arrangements so essential for the smooth operation of an educational cruise,” the company continued.

Featuring some of the Eastern Mediterranean’s most renowned historical sites including Ephesus, Jerusalem and the ancient Egyptian Pyramids, the itinerary was carefully crafted to give students enough time ashore to absorb something of the history, culture and way of life of the places and people the ship visits. When not immersed in culture and learning the students were able to kick back and enjoy some of the many entertainment and leisure options available to them onboard including a cinema, disco, pool, organised quizzes, art and photography plus a large selection of board games to keep busy.  

Mo Holland, School Cruise Manager, Voyages of Discovery explains the benefits to students: “It is so rewarding to be involved in such an exceptionally unique programme in which young people have the opportunity to gain a different perspective on our world’s many cultural and historical sites. In all my years as School Cruise Manager I have yet to find any student that has not been entranced at some level by the engaging programme of lectures and shore excursions that Voyages of Discovery is consistently able to offer year after year.”

As the only cruise line available to schools for an exclusive voyage of exploration, Voyages of Discovery offers students a unique and specialised cultural cruising experience of a lifetime and one that is a world away from normal day at school. For normal itineraries, Discovery’s smaller size accommodates around 650 passengers, allowing it to visit ports and destinations which larger cruise liners are unable to, bringing each destination to life with renowned guest speakers.

Study shows British passengers' high brand loyalty

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Research from an online cruise travel agency has revealed that half of British cruisers are loyal to cruise brands, a fifth of which have only ever cruised with one company. A further 16% of respondents claimed to have always been loyal to one specific cruise ship, a report in traveldailynews.com says.

“As part of ongoing research into the holiday habits of Britons, an independent online cruising travel agency conducted a study into the loyalty of cruisers. 1,214 British cruisers, each of whom had embarked on more than three cruises, were polled,” the report said. The study, conducted by Bonvoyage.com, initially asked the respondents to the study if they were loyal to specific cruise operators, to which more than half, 52%, said ‘yes’. These respondents were then asked how many cruise operators they have travelled with, almost a fifth, 19%, admitted to only having ever cruised with one operator.

Of the fifth of respondents who admitted to being loyal to one specific cruise operator, 23% stated that they were loyal because of the ‘high quality’ of cruise offered by their favoured operator; whilst 18% said it was because they were ‘cheaper’ than any other liner. In a bid to investigate the matter further, bonvoyage.co.uk, created by the founders of online travel agency sunshine.co.uk, asked respondents to detail which other habits or loyalties they had when it came to cruising. Sixteen percent  of the respondents polled claimed to be ‘loyal’ to a specific cruise ship, admitting to only ever having cruised on the same cruise liner. A quarter of these, 24%, said they were loyal to a particular ship because of the ‘luxury’ onboard.

Furthermore, more than a tenth, 12%, of those polled claimed to be ‘loyal’ to a particular cruise route, stating that they always travelled to the same destinations through the same route; therefore, essentially being loyal to the destinations rather than the cruise operator or ship.

Chris Brown, co-founder of bonvoyage.co.uk, spoke about the results of the study: “It was interesting to see that some cruisers are loyal to a particular operator, even though they had only ever embarked on a cruise supplied by them. However, it is understandable, as a first cruise is often a very special experience. I would always recommend trying a new operator and ship though; as long as you do your research and travel with a well known and respected operator, everything should run smoothly.”

He continued: “Many holidaymakers are loyal to a specific aspect of their holiday, whether it be the operator, destination, resort or liner...the list is endless!  Holidays are such an important part of our lives that we may not want to risk trying something new, it can make sense to stick with what you know. Maybe next time you are booking a holiday, consider trying something new, you will probably love it!”

Diet themed cruise on MSC Fantasia in January

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

MSC Cruises, the Geneva based cruiseshipping company,  is launching a “dietthemed cruise” on 30 January next year with one of the most famous nutritionistsin the world, French diet specialist Dr Pierre Dukan, to give guests the rareopportunity to shed kilos, tone up and tan during a mid-winter holiday in theMediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean

"Losing weight naturally is key to theinternationally famous Dukan Diet Method, so it’s not surprising that the11-night cruise created especially for French speaking guests aboard theflagship MSC Fantasia is all about having fun, enjoying great food and beingexposed to the ship’s extensive state-of-the-art physical fitness facilities," the company said in a statement.

Even the shore excursions and walking toursof the famous cities where MSC Fantasia calls during the cruise will form anintegral part of the scientifically structured diet programme. And the highlight of the cruise will be thechance to meet Dr Pierre Dukan himself at a private onboard party. Anutritionist and specialist in food behavior for over 30 years, his 19 booksincluding the French best seller “I don’t know how to lose weight” (The DukanDiet book) have sold 2.5 million copies and brought him over 20 millionfollowers worldwide.

A team of expert nutritionists, dieticiansand a specialist physician trained in the Dukan Method will be onboard to giveprofessional advice and care throughout the cruise which departs Genoa, Italy,on 30 January and returns on 10 February. Guests will receive a Diet Kit and undergoa personal health assessment at the start of the cruise before being advised onindividual diet and sports training programmes. They will also be invited todaily workshops on procedures and technical aspects of losing weight, culinarydemonstrations, cooking lessons and themed conferences.

Dr. Dukan says he has strived to develop amethod that allows him to have fun while dieting because he himself has alwaysfought against being overweight. “This method works because you can eat asmuch as you like from a list of 100 different foods as long as you follow thementoring and monitoring of my team of experts,” says Dukan.

P&O Cruises to expand Green World Tours offering in 2012

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Following on from a successful first season, P&O Cruises is adding a number of new options to its Green World Tours programme for 2012. This also comes after the programme received an Environmental Initiative Award for its notable contribution to advancing the environmental aspect of cruising, the company said in a statement.

Green World Tours are a range of charitable and responsible tourism based shore experiences designed to support the towns and communities visited on longer itineraries, as well as giving the passenger a unique experience ashore. The first Green World Tour was in November 2009 and tours are now operated by P&O Cruises in 16 destinations worldwide. The tours vary in price and are non-profit making. Some include a donation and others just cover costs and passengers are free to donate as they choose.

New tours for P&O Cruises in 2012 are:

        Rural Life & SOS Village, Nha Trang, £26

A visit to the local SOS Children’s Village - an independent, non-governmental social development organisation that works to meet the needs and protect the rights of children without parental care.  The tour then continues on to the Vinh Thanh commune to see how local farmers plant and harvest the rice; followed by the opportunity to visit a family in a typical Vietnamese rural house and to visit a communal house at Vinh Ngoc Village.

        Mondesa Township, Walvis Bay, £99

A visit to the Mondesa Township in Swakopmund, which was established in the early 1950s to provide housing for Owambo, Damara and Herero people working in Swakopmund. Mondesa is a township where poverty and unemployment is high and by opening their lives to travellers and visitors, the township community raises awareness and can provide opportunities for growth, friendship, support and a greater understanding between varied cultures.

       Kibbutz voluntour, Ashdod, £44

A visit to a kibbutz, a collective community way of living which only exists in Israel. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a mixture of socialism and Zionism with ideals based on the principle of joint ownership of property, equality and cooperation of production, consumption and education.  The tour then offers the chance for participation in ‘Project Leket’ an initiative that sends volunteers into fields and orchards to gather produce for donation to those in need in Israel.

Tours are offered on some longer itineraries, such as Oceana’s 24 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise departing February 26 (including a call in Ashdod), and all world cruises. In 2012 Arcadia, Aurora, Oriana and Adonia are offering world cruises of between 87 and 109 nights in duration with shorter sectors available. Tours are offered  in ports of call including Limon, Bali, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Port Kelang (Kuala Lumpur), Phuket and Port Elizabeth.

P&O Cruises managing director, Carol Marlow, said: “We have seen an excellent response to this new collection of tours and this shows that our passengers and crew really value the destinations that they visit and want to give something back. “The recent Environmental Initiative Award for this programme is fantastic recognition for the steps these Green World Tours are taking to advance the environmental aspect of cruising and we will continue to expand this programme to offer tours to even more passengers in more ports of call.”

Green World Tours are also offered to various wildlife centres and charitable projects, such as the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre in Laem Chabang and the Cats and Dogs Rescue Centre in Koh Samui. 

Darts and football legends to sail on Boudicca’s Caribbean voyage in January

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Guests joining Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ 35-night Caribbean voyage aboard Boudicca in January 2012 – the cruise number D1202 – will find themselves in the prestigious company of three major sporting celebrities from two of Britain’s favourite sports, darts and football. The stars are ex-footballer and former Manager of both Spurs and Arsenal, Terry Neill, along with former darts champions, Keith Deller and Cliff Lazarenko, who will be entertaining guests throughout this cruise, as part of the exclusive onboard enrichment programme, Vistas (www.fredolsencruises-vistas.com), the company said in a statement.

From ‘the beautiful game’ comes William John Terence (‘Terry’) Neill. Born in Belfast in 1942, Terry was involved in football from his earliest days, playing as a junior for Bangor before moving to Arsenal in 1959. In the early 1960s, he made 29 league appearances for ‘The Gunners’, and was also a regular player for the Northern Ireland team. He became Arsenal Captain in 1968 and played 275 games for them. He moved to Hull City in 1970, as one of the youngest ever Player/Managers, and was later Manager of Tottenham Hotspur, returning to his beloved Arsenal as its Manager until his retirement from the club at the early age of 41, in 1983. Since then, he has run a number of successful sports bars in London, and still commentates on Arsenal games for Arsenal TV.

Keith ‘Del Boy’ Deller was born in 1959 in Ipswich – coincidentally, also home to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ head office. He caused a huge stir in the darts world, when he won the ‘Embassy World Professional Darts Championship’ in 1983, the youngest player ever to do so, and defeated the three top names in darts in the process – Eric Bristow, Jocky Wilson and John Lowe. After enjoying a highly successful professional career, Keith now works for Sky Sports, along with his old rival Eric Bristow, as a ‘spotter’, using his expertise to work out where the next dart will be thrown.

Big’ Cliff Lazarenko – so-called because he stands an impressive 6’ 4” and once weighed in at over 20 stone – was born in 1952, and entered professional darts in 1975. He won the ‘British Open’ in 1980, and reached the semi-finals of the ‘World Championship’ four times. Throughout an impressive career, his other triumphs included winning the ‘Autumn Gold Masters’, ‘British Matchplay’, ‘British Gold Cup’, ‘Jersey Open’ and ‘Danish Open’. Cliff retired in the early 2000s, due to poor health, but returned to professional darts in 2007, playing in the ‘UK Open’ at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton. In 2008, he also appeared in the BetFred League of Legends, where he reached the semi-finals, but was beaten by fellow darts champion, Keith Deller.

"With these three charismatic characters on board to entertain guests with their sporting anecdotes, the days at sea are sure to pass swiftly as Boudicca cruises away from the chilly British winter en route to the Caribbean sun. She departs from Southampton on 19th January 2012, for this leisurely 35-night cruise. The Atlantic crossing is broken by a call into the Canary Island of Tenerife, before Boudicca begins her odyssey of the Caribbean islands. Her ports of call are a roll call of idyllic destinations – the islands of Barbados and Curaçao, then Cartagena in Colombia, and Colon in Panama, before reaching Montego Bay on the colourful reggae island of Jamaica. The next port is a highlight of the cruise – an overnight stay in Havana, Cuba, a port steeped in history and romance.  Two more Caribbean islands complete this part of the itinerary – Turks & Caicos, and the tiny island of St. Maarten – before Boudicca begins her return voyage to Southampton, broken by a last call into Ponta Delgada in the Azores," the company said.

"This cruise has a host of added attractions, in additional to its superb itinerary. As well as the theme of ‘Sporting Personalities’, hosted by Terry, Keith and Cliff, there are two further themes of a very different nature – ‘Pottery’ and ‘Handicrafts’," Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines noted.   

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