River cruise line AmaWaterways has launched its second new vessel on the Mekong River, the 124-passenger MS AmaLotus. The 7-night maiden voyage set sail this week after a traditional Vietnamese praying ceremony at the shipyard. The MS AmaLotus joins the MS La Marguerite (2009) in providing distinctive river cruises from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as part of the highly-popular Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong program.
"Vietnam and Cambodia offer an incredible array of interesting, historic and scenic destinations, especially along the Mekong River. We're extremely proud to introduce a second ship there with the features and amenities of the MS AmaLotus," said Rudi Schreiner, President, AmaWaterways.
Featuring ultra-spacious 624-sq. ft. Suites; ten Jr. Suites at 290 sq. ft. and standard staterooms at 226 sq. ft., the MS AmaLotus has outside balconies on 90 percent of her staterooms. The décor combines Colonial elegance with regional Khmer accents, staterooms include comfortable sitting areas, individually controlled air- conditioning, a mini-bar, safety deposit box, kimonos and slippers and luxurious bathtub (Jr. Suites/Suites). Guests enjoy fine dining consisting of both Asian and Western specialties; free-flowing complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner with complimentary house-brand spirits and soft drinks throughout the cruise. Onboard highlights include folklore dances, musical performances and culture discussion forums.
The expansive Sun Deck on the MS AmaLotus provides the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing cool drink, take a swim in the outdoor pool or simply admire the spectacular sunsets over the Mekong. The ship also features two lounges, a fitness room, spa and gift shop. The hotel manager aboard the MS AmaLotus is European, and the entire staff is fully English-speaking.
Launched in 2009, the Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong river cruise and land programme is part of the AmaVoyages line of river cruises. Separate and distinct from the AmaWaterways European river cruise product, AmaVoyages deliver an exceptional experience in some of the worlds most intriguing destinations. The Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong itinerary includes two nights in vibrant Hanoi followed by an overnight aboard a luxury junk in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. A short flight then transports guests to Siem Reap, Cambodia, the gateway to the magnificent Angkor Archeological Park. A two-night stay there includes tours of world-renowned sites such as Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, the Bayon and newly-reopened Baphuon Temple.
From Siem Reap, guests embark on their 7-night odyssey along the Mekong River from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Calls include the bustling capital of Phnom Penh and numerous points of historical and scenic interest, including Kampong Chhnang, Oudong, Tan Chau, Sa Dec, Xeo Quyt and Cai Be. Along the way, guests experience the unforgettable hospitality and ancient traditions of this singular part of the world as they visit floating markets, rainforests and Buddhist monasteries; ride an oxcart and a trishaw and participate in the delicate craft of rice-paper making. The Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong program concludes with an overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Celebrity Cruises has celebrated the keel-laying of the fifth in its stylish, five-ship Solstice Class series, Celebrity Reflection, at shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. The 500-ton block measuring 66-ft by 118-ft was lifted into the building dock with an 800-ton crane, and commemoratively placed on a collection of coins, consistent with tradition.
Celebrity Reflection is the 10th ship to be built for Celebrity Cruises by Meyer Werft. The two organizations’ collaboration began in 1988, with the building of the former Celebrity Horizon. And in a unique twist, Celebrity Reflection shares the same trio of numbers as designated by Meyer Werft to the first Celebrity ship built at the yard: The former Celebrity Horizon’s shipyard number was S-619; Celebrity Reflection’s is S-691.
The trends, potential and prospects of cruise shipping tourism were up for discussion on September 9 in Kiel’s Hotel Atlantic at the trade forum “Cruise Shipping Destinations Schleswig-Holstein” organised by the Schleswig-Holstein Tourist Agency. The forum is an information platform and an opportunity for trade experts to exchange views. Dr Dirk Claus, Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co. KG) and a partner of the “Cruise Shipping Destinations Schleswig-Holstein” project said “cruises in northern Europe continue to be as popular as ever and Kiel is benefitting from this growth. The number of travellers has more than doubled to 350,000 inside just four years.” The port chief singled out three developments in particular. "As cruise ships continue to get bigger, they themselves become objects of interest, the public is getting younger and the northern Europe cruise season is getting longer," Dirk Claus said.
This year the average size of cruise ships calling at Kiel is almost 65,000 gross tons for the first time. That’s five times more than the average cruise ship size in 2001 (12,850 GT). "The increasing size of ships has placed challenging demands on port locations. Enormous investments have been made in expanding terminal facilities and further capacity expansion will be necessary," said Dirk Claus. Ships of more than 300 metres in length, carrying more than 3,000 passengers, are now increasingly being brought into service in the Baltic and require handling logistics which need to be well-planned and include good service. To continue to meet this growing future demand, not only the Ostseekai but also, from 2013, the Ostuferhafen will be in a position to host big cruise ships.
Of particular importance for port locations is the trend towards longer cruising seasons in northern Europe. Whereas cruise ships have so far traditionally operated between May and September in the Baltic, the season now starts as early as the beginning of April and lasts until mid October. "In the coming year," said Dirk Claus, "we will even welcome a cruise ship to Kiel during Advent. Why shouldn’t cruise ships , like ferry ships, soon be sailing all the year round in the Baltic.” As well as being a start and end port, Kiel is also the gateway to Schleswig-Holstein as a tourist destination. Dirk Claus said “the public is getting younger and our international guests want increasingly active land excursions. There is an opportunity here to market Schleswig-Holstein’s many tourist attractions. In this respect I heartily welcome the co-operation among tourist and port concerns which is promoted within the “Cruise Shipping Destinations Schleswig-Holstein” project.”
The SEEHAFEN KIEL operates Kiel’s commercial port on behalf of the Schleswig-Holstein state capital, of which it is a 100% subsidiary. Kiel boasts a total of three modern passenger terminals for ferry and cruise ships at the Ostseekai, Schwedenkai and Norwegenkai - all of them in inner-city locations. Smaller cruise ships and large private yachts can berth at the Sartorikai which has a very special atmosphere. Inside just five years and with the support of the state of Schleswig-Holstein and the EU, well over 60 million Euros have been invested in the expansion of port facilities.
Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled the balance of stateroom designs, including The Studio, Spa Balcony, Spa Mini-Suite, Oceanview, Family Mini-Suite, and Inside staterooms -- for Project Breakaway, the company's two new next generation Freestyle Cruising ships scheduled for delivery in April 2013 and April 2014. Similar to the Balcony and Mini-Suite staterooms revealed this summer, these staterooms combine the form and function of the line's Jewel class ships' staterooms with the modern and contemporary design touches of Norwegian Epic.
Norwegian is continuing the popular award-winning Studio staterooms for solo travelers on the Project Breakaway ships. The 59 Studios on each ship are specifically designed and priced for the solo traveler with an innovative bathroom design that includes a separate sink and shower to provide more personal space. The Studios, the majority of which connect, feature a full-size bed with convenient lighted recess above the bed to hold books, magazines, tablet computers or electronic reading devices and have a unique window to the corridor. These rooms also have private keycard access to the Studio complex and exclusive two-story Studio Lounge with a bar.
For those who like to relax, the 28 Spa Balcony and the 20 Spa Mini-Suite staterooms feature tranquil spa décor and have easy access to the adjacent spa and fitness center, as well as complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suite during operating hours.
On the Project Breakaway ships, Norwegian is re-introducing Oceanview staterooms that feature large picturesque windows. Of the 158 Oceanview staterooms on each ship, there are approximately 42 Family Oceanviews that sleep up to five guests and have a bathroom similar to the Mini-Suite with a modern double sink, bath tub and a second wardrobe for added storage.
The Family Mini-Suites located on Deck 12 and 13 feature all the attributes of the Mini-Suite and are located in close proximity to the children's facilities, making it convenient and easy for families. For families with small children, there are a number of staterooms with bath tubs.
Project Breakaway ships include 449 Inside staterooms that feature two lower beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed. Many are connecting and sleep up to four guests. They are located on various decks throughout the ship and some are adjacent to the children's facilities.
Each of the 144,017 gross ton vessels will have approximately 4,000 passenger berths. Project Breakaway ships represent an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to "break away" from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true respite at sea. These new ships will take the best of the best from all of Norwegian's existing ships drawing on the line's experience of having launched 10 ships in the past 10 years - starting with Norwegian Star and Sun in 2001 and culminating with the launch of Norwegian Epic in 2010.
Norwegian commissioned design group Priestmangoode of the United Kingdom and Tillberg Design of Sweden, to design the staterooms for Project Breakaway. Priestmangoode won accolades and awards for designing the Studios, the first staterooms designed specifically for solo travelers, on Norwegian Epic.
Holland America Line has promoted Capt. Rik Krombeen to director, nautical operations. In this role, he will be responsible for the safe operation and nautical oversight of the premium cruise line's 15 ships. He will report to Cees Deelstra, vice president, nautical operations.
Krombeen began the transition from sailing onboard to the corporate office this past April, splitting his time between Seattle, Wash., and serving as captain. He is now full-time in his new position.
"Captain Krombeen brings with him years of knowledge and experience that will be a valuable asset to ensuring the safe operation of our ships," said Deelstra. "He is well respected in our organization and throughout the industry, and we know he will achieve great success in his new role."
Krombeen began his career with Holland America Line in 1983 when he went to the Nautical Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, later joining the ships as a junior deck officer. After leaving the company for a brief time, he returned in 2002 and was appointed to the position of captain in 2007.
He holds a Master-All Ships license and a bachelor's degree in shipping economics.