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Cruise Critic wins Gold in Lowell Thomas Awards

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News
Cruise Critic (http://www.cruisecritic.com), the world’s largest cruise news and reviews site, has received a Gold Award in the 2011 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. The award, the top in the category of Service-Oriented Consumer Article, honored Cruise Critic’s story “The Free Cruise Offer: Scam or Legit,” which was written by News Editor Dan Askin.

The annual competition, sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, is recognized as the most prestigious in the field of travel journalism. The 2011 winners were announced at the SATW convention, held earlier this month in New Zealand. The faculty of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication served as judges of more than 1,200 entries.

In honoring Cruise Critic’s winning submission, the judges said “This is great investigative work into a company drawing hundreds of consumer complaints. Anybody who thinks they are getting a free cruise -- touted on television, online or in “congratulations” mailings of award certificates -- needs to read Dan Askin’s piece.”

While Cruise Critic has received Lowell Thomas Awards in previous years, this year’s award is particularly special for the site. “Winning a Lowell Thomas Award in the Service-Oriented Consumer Article category is especially gratifying because helping cruise travelers be as informed as they can be is really a core mission for Cruise Critic,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, Cruise Critic editor in chief.

Cruise Critic is the leading source of cruise information on the Web, with more than 80,000 cruise reviews, and is home to the world’s largest online cruise community. 
For the full award-winning article, visit http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=4035

Royal Caribbean launches largest selection of high-end wines-by-the-glass found at sea

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Royal Caribbean International’s guests have more reasons to raise their glasses. With the addition of a 48-bottle WineStation system, Royal Caribbean now boasts the largest of its kind, state-of-the-art automated wine serving system aboard both Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas cruise ships in the Vintages Wine Bar.

With the swipe of a SeaPass card, wine drinkers can sip, swirl and savor a world-wide selection using the automated WineStation intelligent dispensing system within Royal Caribbean’s signature wine bar.

"We pride ourselves on always seeking the newest and most effective solutions to provide our guests with an unmatched vacation experience," says Bob Midyette, Director of Fleet Beverage Operations, Royal Caribbean International. "The WineStation has become a very successful option to help our guests explore wines on their own, or with one of our knowledgeable, friendly and engaging wine tenders. We look forward to offering this on more ships in the future."

The WineStation provides an inviting self-serve experience for travelers aboard Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. The WineStation perfectly preserves wine for 60 days and keeps each bottle pristinely temperature controlled. The beautiful displays allow ship’s guests to explore 48 varieties not typically offered by the glass such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Caymus, Penfolds, Torres, and Robert Mondavi, in taste, half- and full-glass portions with the touch of a button. The easy to read LCD screens display the varietal, year and region, and the lit bottles encourage guests to experience the labels.

Adds Nick Moezidis, Co-Founder of Napa Technology, "A wine preservation system like the WineStation is imperative for any venue to have a competitive and cost effective wine program. We are pleased to partner with an industry leader who is committed to fine wine service."

Royal Caribbean International’s Vintages Wine Bar offers guests a venue dedicated to wine education, enjoyment and entertainment allowing guests to explore a wide range of varietals from some of the best wine-producing regions in the world. Guests also can learn about different wines and their distinctive characteristics in wine tastings classes held in the venue.

Norwegian Cruise Line introduces elite pre-cruise concierge service for The Haven guests

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Norwegian Cruise Line has launched a shoreside concierge desk exclusively for guests with reservations in the line's most luxurious accommodations, The Haven by Norwegian. Beginning today, the concierge desk provides pre-cruise assistance enabling guests and travel partners to pre-arrange a variety of services and amenities.

The concierge desk provides support in booking reservations for all suite accommodations; arranging dining and entertainment; booking shore excursions; making spa and salon appointments; as well as taking special requests such as pillow preference and any other arrangements. The concierge desk will send an email confirmation to the travel partner or guest prior to their sailing reconfirming all of the requests made.

The Haven is currently featured on board Norwegian's Jewel class ships (Norwegian Gem, Pearl, Jade, Jewel); and the line's newest and most innovative ship, Norwegian Epic. Norwegian's two new ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will also feature The Haven by Norwegian when they launch in April 2013 and April 2014.

Suite guests are privy to an array of complimentary amenities, including 24-hour private butler service; priority embarkation and disembarkation; distinctive platinum keycard; priority boarding of tenders to shore; in-suite espresso/cappuccino machines; gourmet treats delivered each evening; Bliss Collection by Norwegian(tm) pillow-top mattress; fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu; along with plush bathrobes, slippers, oversized towels; and much more.

Norwegian's Jewel class ships (Norwegian Jewel, Jade, Pearl and Gem) include up to 18 suites as part of The Haven, including the largest suites at sea - the 5,000 square foot, three-bedroom Garden Villas. All of these suites surround The Haven Courtyard that includes a pool, sundeck, hot tub, fitness room and more. The Haven on Norwegian Epic is the largest suite complex at sea, comprising 60 suites on two private decks at the top of the ship. An additional 15 suites located throughout the ship also have access to The Haven which includes a private pool, two whirlpools, gym, saunas, sundeck, along with a private restaurant with indoor/outdoor dining, exclusive bar and concierge lounge.

Savona to host Costa Fascinosa naming event on May 6, 2012

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Costa Cruises, the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s no.1 cruise company, announces big news regarding the new flagship Costa Fascinosa, the 16th member of the fleet, currently being fitted out at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard, that together with her sister ship Costa Favolosa, will be the largest cruise ship flying the Italian flag.

On the occasion of the Costa Favolosa’s first call at Savona, Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi declared that the Costa Fascinosa will be named in Savona on May 6, 2012. She will be the first cruise ship to be inaugurated in the Ligurian port city. The naming event will be staged with the support of the Port Authority of Savona, the local Chamber of Commerce, the Municipality of Savona, the Savona Provincial Administration and the Liguria Regional Administration. The event will take place during the first vernissage cruise of the ship, departing from Venice on May 2, 2012.

Costa Cruises invested around 510 million euros for the construction of the Costa Fascinosa. After the Costa Fascinosa, Costa fleet expansion plans include another cruise ship to be built in the Marghera yard; the new building, which will be 132,500 gross tonnage and carry 4,928 total Guests, is scheduled for delivery in October 2014. Since 2000, Costa Cruises has ordered a total of 10 new ships from Fincantieri’s Italian shipyards, with a total investment worth over 5 billion euros.

To support the resulting increase of ships and guests arriving in Savona, Costa Cruises continued to invest in the growth of the Savona Palacrociere cruise terminal, which has been managed directly by the Italian company since 2003. January 2012 will mark the start of building work on the second terminal, with an investment worth around 9 million euros. The new terminal building is expected to be ready by March 2013.

In 2011 Costa cruise passenger movements at the Palacrociere reach the record number of about 1 million, a 35% growth compared to 2010. In 2012, 14 of the Costa fleet’s 16 ships will be calling at least once at the Savona Palacrociere. A total of around 230 calls are scheduled next year with more than 1 million cruise passenger movements.

The presence of Costa’s ships generates an important economic impact on the local area. According to a study carried out by MIP, the Milan Polytechnic Business School, in 2010 Costa Cruises generated a direct economic impact of more than 5.5 million euros in the Port of Savona and of 230 million euros in the Liguria Region.

In addition to the naming of the Costa Fascinosa, the Savona Palacrociere will be the starting point for two other upcoming major events already announced by Costa Cruises. On December 28, 2011, the Costa Deliziosa will set sail on the historic “round-the-world” cruise, for so long a highlight of the Italian line’s operations spanning more than 6 decades. A 100-day world voyage: from Savona to Los Angeles via the Caribbean and the Panama Canal; from Los Angeles to Singapore with stopovers in San Francisco, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia; and from Singapore to Savona via Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Red Sea and Egypt. Guests embarking on the Costa Deliziosa “round-the-world” cruise will be about 2,300, coming from all over the world.

Meanwhile, on February 20, 2012, the Palacrociere will welcome the first cruise of the Costa neoRomantica (www.costacruise.com/neoromantica), the result of the refit of the Costa Romantica; this radical refurbishment is being carried out at the San Giorgio del Porto and T. Mariotti yards in Genoa, with a total investment of 90 million euros. The 11-day itinerary includes Spain, Morocco, the Canary Islands and Madeira. In spring 2012, the Costa neoRomantica will offer 15-day cruises to the magical Atlantic capitals, while in summer 2012 the Costa neoRomantica will be operating in Northern Europe offering 15-day cruises that for the first time will bring together the best destinations of the Fjords and Baltic Capitals and 2 cruises to Spietzbergen Islands. The stylish ambience of the Costa neoRomantica will also be the setting for the Grand Cruise, from Italy to Australia and New Zealand, via the finest and most fascinating places in the eastern hemisphere, departing on September 19 from Savona. 

Spirit of France runs aground after moorings snap in storm

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Spirit of France, second of two 49,000 gross ton newbuildings P&O Ferries has on order at STX Finland’s Rauma shipyard, has ran aground after moorings in the bow of the ship broke in a storm on the night to Monday, Finnish media reports say.

The 213 metre long vessel has not sustained leaks in the accident, but it is possible that bottom plates of the ship have suffered dents. The ship was due to be delivered  to its owner before Christmas. 

Spirit of France will operate on P&O Ferries’ service between Dover and Calais. The owner is part of the Dubai based DP World group and should not be confused with P&O Cruises, which is part of the Carnival Corp & plc group.

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