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MSC Cruises and STX France celebrate record-breaking partnership

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

In the morning of May 19 in Saint-Nazaire, France, MSC Divina was officially delivered to MSC Cruises at the STX France shipyard.

During the traditional flag ceremony, the shipyards pennant and the French flag were lowered, accompanied by the French national anthem, before Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, formally handed the ship over to MSC Cruises owner Gianluigi Aponte. Mr Aponte then gave command of the ship to Captain Giuliano Bossi, and the flags of Italy and MSC Cruises were raised to the sound of the Italian national anthem. Erminio Eschena, General Director of MSC Cruises France, Belgium and Luxembourg, was also in attendance.

The honor of cutting the ribbon fell to Ela Aponte, wife of MSC Vice President Diego Aponte, who was also in attendance. After the traditional breaking of a bottle of champagne, three blasts from the ships siren signalled the end of the ceremony.

I am very proud of MSC Divina, the 12th addition to our wonderful fleet and our third Fantasia-class ship. I believe she is the most beautiful ship in our fleet and that her innovations and polished features bring this successful class to perfection. Dedicated to Ms. Sophia Loren, MSC Divinas stylish refinement represents a new benchmark in cruising. More than that, MSC Divina is the latest expression of our long-term collaboration with STX France, said MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago. Each Fantasia-class ship represents 5 million working hours and an average investment of $700 million, over 70 percent of which directly benefits the French economy, in terms of both employment and the procurement of goods and services in support of the ships construction. We believe that the success of a countrys economy relies on such investments in its unique industrial traditions.

STX France's General Manager Laurent Castaing added: "MSC Divina is the 11th ship in just over 10 years that our shipyard has built which is operated by MSC Cruises. Her sistership MSC Preziosa, currently under construction, will become the 12th ship. Throughout our 150-year history never before have so many vessels been built for one ship builder, and this is a record which deserves to be highlighted today. I myself have even had the opportunity to participate in the construction of a good number of these vessels during my previous roles at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard.

MSC Divina is 1,094 feet long, 124 feet wide, and measuring 139,400 tons, the 3,502-guest (double occupancy; total: 4,345) luxury cruise ship is able to travel up to 23 knots, offering smooth cruising in sumptuous surroundings.

Her elegant design is once again the work of award-winning naval architects De Jorio Design International. New features to MSC Divinas 322,900 square feet of public areas include the Garden Pool, an infinity style pool with a chic and minimal design and its four resounding sculptures, to the Galaxy restaurant in the disco with its fabulous Mediterranean fusion cuisine and its chic décor, based around the theme of light.

After the closing of the flag ceremony, MSC Divina today began her pre-christening cruise from Saint-Nazaire, where calls are scheduled at Lisbon, Portugal, on Monday, Cadiz, Spain on Tuesday, and Valencia, Spain on Thursday. She will reach the port of Marseille on Friday, May 25, ready for her official christening ceremony the next day. The highlight of the event will be the cutting of the ribbon and the naming of the ship by screen legend Sophia Loren.

Fred. Olsen to call in Myanmar, Pitcairn Island on 2014 world cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has announced two new ‘World Cruises’ for 2014 aboard its cruise ships Balmoral and Black Watch that will visit some new ports of call, such as Yangon in Myanmar – formerly Burma – and a first foray into Japan, with visits to the historic island of Hiroshima, then the ports of Osaka and Yokahama.

“Balmoral's cruise includes five maiden calls, and Black Watch’s has four; but the ships also re-visit some of Fred. Olsen’s guests’ favourite ports around the world, often with an extended stay to allow extra time for shore excursions,” the company said in a statement. There are special ‘Pre-Launch’ offers available on these exclusive cruises, valid until the launch of the ‘Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Worldwide Cruises Brochure 2013/14’ in late June 2012. Early bookers will also benefit from up to £550 free onboard spending credit per cabin.

 Balmoral's 104-night ‘Myanmar, Japan & Hawaii World Cruise’ L1401, ex Southampton on 5th January 2014 This cruise travels in an easterly direction, via Spain and on to Egypt, with an overnight stay in the historic city of Alexandria, and a daylight transit of the Suez Canal. Balmoral continues to Sharm el Sheikh and Safaga, then Salalah in Oman and glittering Dubai in the UAE. Next, Balmoral calls into enigmatic and magical India, where ports include Mumbai, for an overnight stay, and Cochin, an important trading centre since ancient times. After visiting Colombo in Sri Lanka, Balmoral makes a first-ever visit to Yangon in Myanmar, a highlight of the cruise, allowing guests to visit this beautiful and little-known part of the world. There is a two-night stay here, before Balmoral cruises on to the great world ports of Singapore and Hong Kong.

 Balmoral’s next calls are in Japan, to the historic island of Hiroshima, then to Osaka and Yokahama. The dream destinations of Hawaii follow; Nawiliwili, Honolulu and Hilo. After a call into sunny San Diego, in the United States, Balmoral visits Mexico, including Acapulco, famous for its legendary cliff divers. This offers a panorama of different cultures and climates; the next ports Central America – Guatemala and Costa Rica – and, finally, Balmoral visits the balmy Caribbean islands of Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua. Her return voyage makes a final call into the Azores, before she docks back in Southampton on 19th April 2014.

Black Watch’s 114-night ‘Australia & South America World Cruise’ W1401, ex Southampton on 14th January 2014. This epic cruise has a very different itinerary, and is the longest ever undertaken by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. The itinerary offers a real feast for the senses, with its diversity of destinations. It takes in South America, with overnight stays in both Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Buenos Aires (Argentina), to allow guests time to explore these vibrant ports at leisure, then rounds Cape Horn, and cruises the Chilean Fjords, with ports of call including the romantically-named Robinson Crusoe Island in Chile. Another highlight must be Easter Island, famous for its enigmatic giant stone carvings.

 Black Watch also visits Pitcairn Island, Papeete (Tahiti), and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.  One of the great joys of a long cruise is being able to call into so many diverse islands en route to the world’s major ports. The Australasian sector of the cruise visits Auckland, New Zealand, and the Australian ports of Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns. There is a completely different atmosphere as she heads east, travelling to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and on to magical India. Here Black Watch calls into Port Blair, Chennai (Madras) and, of course, Mumbai for an overnight stay. The cruise concludes with calls into ports in Jordan, Egypt and finally Malta and Gibraltar, before returning to Southampton. 

P&O Cruises to show live HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee events

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

P&O Cruises will show live BBC World News coverage of HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on June 5, the company said in a statement. 

 Highlights of the coverage will include: 
·        HRH The Duke and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge’s first formal carriage ride since their wedding in April 2011. 
·        HRH The Prince of Wales, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and HRH Prince Harry joining the procession. 
·        HM The Queen's 1902 state landau travelling along Whitehall and the Mall to Buckingham Palace following the Diamond Jubilee lunch in Westminster Hall. 
·        The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment providing a Sovereign's Escort for the remaining members of the royal party. 
·        HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh gathering with senior royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the crowds and watch an RAF formation fly past. 

In addition to the live coverage on June 5 passengers will also have the opportunity to watch a three-part series called, Diamond Queen, in which Andrew Marr from the BBC looks at the life and reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II, interspersed with interviews from members of the Royal Family. Diamond Queen will air on board on June 2nd/3rd, 9th/10th and 16th/17th. 

P&O Cruises managing director, Carol Marlow said: “We are delighted to be showing live coverage of the Diamond Jubilee on board. As Britain’s favourite cruise line we want to ensure that all of our passengers can enjoy world class coverage of this historic occasion while enjoying their holiday”. 

All coverage will be shown live in public areas on board, and is satellite dependent. 

Regent Seven Seas reports results for first quarter 2012

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Seven Seas Cruises S. DE R.L. or the “Company”) yesterday reported results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2012. Revenue for the first quarter of 2012 was up 15.5 percent reaching a record amount for the first quarter of $119.9 million, compared to $103.8 million in the first quarter of 2011. Adjusted EBITDA was $17.7 million for the first quarter of 2012, compared to $16.9 million for the first quarter of 2011. Net Yield for the first quarter of 2012 was up 5.2 percent driven by higher occupancy of 4.7 percentage points. In the first quarter of 2012, we had a 1.1 percent increase in capacity over the first quarter of 2011. Net income was $0.4 million for the first quarter of 2012 compared to net income of $1.5 million for the first quarter of 2011.

Commenting on the first quarter results, the Company’s Chairman and CEO, Frank Del Rio, stated, "We are exceptionally pleased by the performance of the brand with record revenue, occupancy, Net Yield and Adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter, which is a reflection of our focus on providing an extraordinary experience for our guests and travel agency partners and the fulfillment of our brand promise. We were delighted to be honored with the "Platinum Circle" award by Condé Nast Traveler in addition to being ranked the #1 cruise line for Honeymoons by Brides Magazine."

Other key operating metrics for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the prior year are as follows:

– Net Cruise Cost, excluding Fuel and Other expense, per APCD increased 1.9 percent, to $286 in 2012 compared to $281 in 2011, primarily due to increased hotel services costs driven by an increase in PDS of 6.6 percent.

– Fuel expense increased 17.0 percent, or $1.8 million, reflecting higher prices. Our economic hedging strategy was able to partially offset this increase, as we recognized a $1.2 million cash benefit on executed fuel hedge contracts during the quarter that offset 66.7 percent of the price increase. The realized gain of fuel derivatives was recorded in other income (expense) as these instruments do not qualify for hedge accounting.

– Other expense increased $0.2 million.

Celebrity Millennium sails after revitalisation

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium set sail on Saturday from the Port of Miami following an extensive enhanced refurbishment that completed, the company said in a statement.

“Celebrity Millennium is the fourth and final ship to complete the cruise line’s $140-million investment programme, dubbed “Solsticizing”. Ships that have been enhanced now feature a host of venues and experiences guests love most on the newest Celebrity Cruises ships,” Celebrity Cruises said.

“Solsticizing has been such an exciting initiative for us – and more importantly, for our guests, as indicated by their response to each of our refurbished ships,” said Celebrity Cruises’ President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. “Our Millennium Class ships already had a large and loyal following, having repeatedly ranked at the top of many of the world’s most prestigious consumer polls, and their original style, design and ambience served as significant inspiration for the design of the Solstice Class. So now, we’re bringing it full circle, incorporating on the entire Millennium Class what our guests enjoy most on the Solstice Class. It ties our whole fleet together in a very powerful way.”

 One of the many new features added to the refurbished ships is Celebrity Cruises’ AquaClass category of staterooms, with spacious, private balconies; exclusive access to the speciality restaurant, Blu; complimentary access to the Persian Garden and Relaxation Room in the AquaSpa; a personal Spa Concierge to book AquaSpa treatments; use of plush Frette bathrobes and slippers; enhanced personal care products, and in-room features including Hansgrohe shower heads, fog-free bathroom mirrors, aromatherapy selections, and daily deliveries of complimentary bottled water and teas. AquaClass and its host of features will be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013.

 Another Celebrity Cruises exclusive – “Qsine,” the restaurant introduced on Celebrity Eclipse in 2010 and Celebrity Silhouette last year – is also dazzling guests on Celebrity Infinity, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Millennium as a result of each ship’s make over. The first restaurant at sea to present a menu and wine list on an iPadTM, Qsine serves a blend of classic and contemporary dishes in custom-made table ware, such as spring rolls served in vertical springs, and popcorn shrimp in cinema-style popcorn boxes.

Other new on board features include:

·           The Celebrity iLounge, which debuted on Celebrity Eclipse and made Celebrity Cruises the industry’s first Authorised Apple Reseller

·           Celebrity Cruises’ “eXhale” bedding programme, in partnership with Reverie®, a leader in the field of luxury bedding

·           A new twist within Celebrity Cruises’ casually elegant bar, Michael’s Club, where its selection of fine whiskies, cognac, bourbons and scotches is now complemented with craft beers, including 50 international selections

·           The “cool,” ice-topped Martini Bar and Crush

·           The creperie, Bistro on Five

·           Café al Bacio and Gelateria

·           Cellarmasters wine bar, complete with the “Enomatic” state-of-the-art wine serving system allowing guests to select wines by the glass, at the touch of a button

·           New balconies added to the ship’s spacious Celebrity Suites

·           Additional oceanview and inside staterooms

·           An expanded collection of original, contemporary art

Celebrity iLounge, the eXhale bedding programme and the new Michael’s Club concept will all be added to Celebrity Constellation in 2013. 

The extensive refurbishment and enhancement initiative was completed within less than two years, with each ship completing the massive transformation over the course of an only three-week drydock period. Celebrity Millennium is currently on a Panama Canal voyage from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. Following a 5-night wine-themed cruise from San Diego to Vancouver on 27 May, the ship will offer seven-night Northbound and Southbound Alaska sailings between Vancouver and Seward (Alaska).

* During the Solsticizing of Celebrity Constellation in 2010, the Solstice Class-inspired specialty restaurant “Tuscan Grille” – an Italian-themed steakhouse – was added to the ship, within the space occupied by Qsine on her sister ships.