Costa Cruises' totally restyled Costa neoRomantica departed Savona, Italy, on March 2 with 1,600 guests on board, following a private naming ceremony.
On the occasion of Costa neoRomanticas inaugural sailing from Savona, Costa Crociere top management attended a private blessing ceremony conducted by His Excellency Vittorio Lupi, Bishop of Savona.
At the beginning of the blessing ceremony, one minute of silence was observed in respect and mourning for the victims of Costa Concordia.
Following long-standing maritime tradition, a bottle of champagne was broken across the ships hull. Serving as Costa neoRomantica's godmothers were Francesca Scuffi, a member of the Costa Club for repeat guests, and Gabriella Gentile, a member of Costa Concordia's crew. She was chosen as a symbol of the gratitude the company expresses toward Costa Concordia's crew.
Costa neoRomantica was virtually a new ship when it left San Giorgio del Porto shipyard in Genoa. The five-month restyling represents an investment by Costa Cruises of approximately US$120 million (90 million euros), one of the most expensive and extensive cruise ship refit projects ever undertaken in the industry.
Costa neoRomantica's interior design has a contemporary, elegant and refined style created by Swedish architectural firm Tillberg Design and Syntax, the London firm specializing in prestigious hotels and spa.
Costa neoRomantica departed on an 11-night round-trip Canary Islands cruise calling at Barcelona, Spain; Casablanca and Agadir, Morocco; Arrecife and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Funchal (Madeira), Portugal and Malaga, Spain.
One of America's most generous, personable and ground-breaking chefs will step into the honored role as godmother to Oceania Cruises' newest ship, Riviera. Chef Cat Cora will name the ship in Barcelona at a lavish, invitation-only christening ceremony on May 11, which will culminate with a 15-liter Nebuchadnezzar of champagne, custom-made by Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, commemoratively breaking against the hull of the 1,250-guest ship.
Poised to take its place as another "game-changer" for the upper-premium segment, much like its sister ship Marina which debuted in February 2011, Riviera is the second new ship launched by Oceania Cruises in under 18 months. Designed for epicureans, Riviera features 10 dining venues - six of which are gourmet restaurants - plus a Bon Appétit Culinary Center for hands-on learning and La Reserve by Wine Spectator, a professional facility for wine tastings and pairing dinners.
"Cat Cora's passion for fine cuisine and her focus on the dining experience captures the essence of what we do every day," stated Kunal S. Kamlani, Oceania Cruises' president. "We are all excited to have her christen our newest ship and are proud to welcome her to the Oceania Cruises family."
Cora made television history as the first and only female Iron Chef on Food Network's Iron Chef America, and this spring, steps into a role as co-host of Bravo's new television show "Around the World in 80 Plates" with Curtis Stone debuting in May. The show follows 12 chefs competing in a culinary race across 10 countries in 44 days. Many of the countries featured in the show include destinations her new ship, Riviera, will visit during its inaugural season.
In addition to her television credits, Chef Cora operates four restaurants: Kouzzina at Disney's Boardwalk Resort in Orlando, CCQ, in partnership with Macy's in Costa Mesa, California and Cat Cora's Kitchen in San Francisco and Houston. A third Cat Cora's Kitchen location will be opening at the Salt Lake City International Airport later this month. In addition to being a restaurateur, she also has her own branded olive oils, vinegars, sauces, tapenades and cookware, a collection of wines and is the author of three best-selling cook books and a children's book.
"It's an honor to have been asked to serve as the godmother for the beautiful Riviera," said Cora. "Oceania Cruises has done an incredible job of developing ships custom-designed for food lovers, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it all."
Oceania Cruises chose Chef Cora as godmother to Riviera, a role revered for its historic and symbolic value, also in recognition of her many philanthropic efforts to support emergency, educational and hunger-related causes. Cora is the president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, which she started in response to the devastating Tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004. The organization is dedicated to reducing hunger worldwide by supporting humanitarian relief and promoting nutrition education.
After the Christening Cruise concludes in Venice, Riviera sets sail on May 16 on her maiden voyage, a 10-day cruise that includes an overnight in Venice before visiting Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu, Monemvasia, Crete, Santorini, Kusadasi (gateway to Ephesus), Delos, Mykonos and Athens.
Royal Caribbean International's Rhapsody of the Seas has entered Sembawang Shipyard (a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd.) in Singapore to begin a month-long, $54 million drydock where she will undergo a major revitalization and emerge with an array of new amenities. The ship revitalization is the largest of its kind ever to take place in Singapore and will employ more than 800 local workers from the region.
Part of the cruise line's Vision-class of ships, Rhapsody of the Seas will receive a host of new dining and entertainment venues as well as an assortment of technological upgrades. The ship also will receive a bow-to-stern refresh of all furniture, carpet and upholstery, including renovated staterooms. The revitalizations are part of the Royal Advantage – the cruise line's commitment to offer vacationers the world's most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned, friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service.
"Rhapsody of the Seas drydock is part of Royal Caribbean's commitment to continue to deliver the Royal Advantage to our guests," said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "With our $300 million investment through 2014, no ship in our fleet will go untouched and our guests will have an unrivaled vacation experience no matter which destination in the world they visit or on what ship they sail on."
Similar to sister-ship Splendour of the Seas, which underwent its revitalization in November 2011, Rhapsody will receive new dining venues, including Chops Grille, Izumi Asian Cuisine, Chef's Table experience and Park Café. Additional offerings include a Diamond lounge for Crown and Anchor loyalty guests, a Concierge Lounge for suite guests and top tier loyalty guests, a transformed Viking Crown Lounge and the popular Royal Babies and Tots Nursery.
New offerings for guests include ship-wide Wi-Fi, a digital way finding system, electronic mustering, an outdoor movie screen, as well as iPads in every stateroom featuring content about the ships amenities and activities, ensuring a seamless cruise experience for guests. The ship's Centrum, with its sweeping views and central location, will transform into a new chic and sophisticated venue featuring enriching daytime activities, dazzling nightly entertainment and jaw-dropping aerial spectacles. The ship's Champagne Bar, located in the Centrum, also will reemerge as the R Bar, featuring a sophisticated 1960s vibe, complete with iconic furnishing and signature cocktails mixed by a savvy and personable mixologist.
When the enhancements are completed on March 28, Rhapsody of the Seas will sail a 15-night voyage from Singapore to Sydney, Australia. From there, she will sail across the Pacific with a combination of cruises from Australia and Hawaii, before beginning her Alaska season in May 2012.
In Alaska, Rhapsody of the Seas will offer seven-night open-jawed itineraries from both Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington. She will join Radiance of the Seas, which was revitalized in May 2011, offering guests in Alaska an unparalleled cruise vacation experience.
Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.
TUI Cruises, the German premium market cruise operator, has teamed up with Hanse Merkur Reiseversicherungs AG to provide travel insurance for the passengers on its two ships. The new arrangement means that passengers can book travel insurance with the cruise operator from the start of April 2013. TUI Cruises says that by adding this offering it orientates itself closer to meet the needs of its customers.
Voyages to Antiquity, the British destinational cruise specialist, has added eight single cabins on board Aegean Odyssey that now features 24 such cabins. The new single accommodation is spread over seven price categories and they feature beds that are four foot (120cm) wide, which is more than the width of a normal bed in a hotel room. the company also sells some double cabins for signle occupancy, the company said in a statement.