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All Discovery Cruising restructures for expansion

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

All Discovery Cruising North America promotes Ivonne Brown to Vice President of Sales & Marketing and creates three Key Account Specialist roles to manage top agency account relationships.

In response to recent announcements of a multi-million dollar investment to develop its three cruising brands which includes new ship Voyager (Voyages of Discovery), a major design upgrade for Minerva (Swan Hellenic) that increases balcony cabin accommodations to 23%, and a new Five-Star river cruising program aboard Royal Crown (Hebridean Island Cruises), All Discovery Cruising is restructuring its North America office to support their growing presence.

Reporting to Steve Novello, President of All Discovery Cruising's North America office, Ivonne Brown will manage North America's marketing, sales, and public relations initiatives. She most recently served as Senior Director of Marketing and brings a wealth of experience to the role with her strong sales and marketing background acquired within the cruise, travel, GDS, and publishing industries.

"We've come a long way since the day we hired Ivonne. She was the key hire that played a significant role in strengthening our North American market presence. Ivonne's marketing expertise allowed us to re-establish our relationship with our loyal past guests, get exposure in front of new travel agents, and most importantly, provide key marketing tools to our agent partners who were loyal to these brands in the past. Her contribution, along with a committed investment in marketing and operations for the North American office by the UK parent, is indicative of the transformation that Ivonne helped to lead in our market. Without her, and the commitment and belief of our current staff in her, this would not have been possible," states Novello.

In her new role, she will focus on growing the business by introducing advanced marketing efforts to help educate agents and their clients about our numerous niche offerings. The strategy includes converting three current positions to new dedicated Key Account Specialists that work closely with key travel partners to provide a "boutique" approach to sales and service.

All Discovery Cruising is a niche cruise company (accommodating 50-to-650 guests), with each brand offering its own distinctive characteristics and style. Together they share a combined focus on delivering superior destination and enrichment cruises to the world's most beautiful destinations. "Because of the unique nature of our cruises, our strategy is to continue developing new and existing partnerships with those travel partners who have the right demographic mix for our products. In addition, travel partners will benefit from new programs that will be implemented in the coming months to improve operational efficiencies through enhanced technology," adds Novello.

MSC Cruises brings additional refinement to MSC Yacht Club

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Family-owned cruise line MSC Cruises continues to surprise and delight with unexpected innovations. MSC Yacht Club is a prime example. This exclusive ship within a ship on MSC’s acclaimed new flagships stunned the cruise world with its private club ambience, luxurious facilities and comfort. And at the same time it surprised, transforming MSC’s cruise experience with the unsurpassed personal attention of a prestigious traditional butler service.

Now MSC has joined the ranks of those innovating this most unchanging of professions - led by none other than HM Queen Elizabeth II - and recruited its first women butlers to enhance the MSC Yacht Club staff. Fully trained and impeccably attired in traditional livery, their introduction has delighted guests and proven a tremendous success. 

Thirty-five-year-old Larysa Fedoruk is a perfect example of the modern woman who is bringing a feminine touch to this demanding role - and bringing a multitude of skills with her. Fluent in English, German, Italian and Russian, she trained as a dancer. Indeed, that’s what first took her to sea, working in one of the world-class troupes performing on MSC’s ships. Enchanted by the experience, she formed the ambition to become one of the company’s first woman butlers, and - with a dancer’s grit and determination - passed the rigorous selection procedure and training programme with flying colours. 

Larysa’s enthusiasm has actually grown with her work, as she herself explains: “I’ve always loved the challenge of providing close personal service in so many different areas, from room and valet services to arranging custom excursions and assisting at the buffet and bar. And I really appreciate how MSC enables all its people to achieve their full potential. Becoming an MSC Yacht Club butler has allowed me to experience the satisfaction of tuning in to our guests’ habits and preferences to provide that special level of service which pleases by providing exactly what someone wants without their having to ask. It’s such a reward to see their expression of pleasure and surprise.” 

“Then there are other surprises, too”, she continues. “Like the time I was asked to organise a city tour by hot air balloon for a couple who wanted to celebrate their anniversary in the sky. I made sure champagne and a cake were awaiting them in the basket, so they could drink to their happiness while drinking in the views. It’s the same when guests ask for my advice about a gift, excursion or what to wear. It makes me part of their unforgettable experience in MSC Yacht Club.”

With the sensitive touch that Larysa and her new female butler colleagues bring to complementing MSC Yacht Club’s attentive service, there’s no doubt that this is another tradition which has strengthened its values through innovation, true to the spirit of MSC Cruises.

Paul Gauguin to receive a multi-million dollar refit

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the Paul Gauguin, has announced the largest renovations in the ship's 14-year history. Scheduled for completion in January 2012, the $7 million renovation will feature extensive enhancements to both interiors and exteriors of the ship.

The renovations will take place in January during the ship's 10-night crossing from Tahiti to Brisbane and 11-night drydock in Brisbane. When joining the South Pacific Discovery sailing departing January 26, 2012, guests will be aboard a vessel that has been thoroughly updated and redecorated for even greater comfort.

Following the renovations, all suites and staterooms will feature new carpeting, refinished furniture with new fabrics, new teak railings on the balconies, decorative side panels around the windows, and new bathroom flooring. Renovations throughout the ship will include new flooring and replaced carpeting, elegant new furniture, new window treatments and decorative wall panels, and new signage, providing a lighter, brighter feel.

La Veranda will offer guests a redesigned entrance, refinished indoor and outdoor furniture and solar shades throughout. Le Grill will boast new decorative partitions and divider walls, as well as a new buffet area and new lighting. L'Etoile will also feature a redesigned entrance in addition to video equipment for conferences.

Promenade Deck 5 will boast a new built-in banquette and expanded casino in Le Casino, and Deck 6 will receive a new integrated display case for books and art. La Palette will feature a decorative stone band along the front of the bar and an updated lighting system, as well as new outdoor furniture. Le Grand Salon will offer a refurbished dance floor to provide the perfect venue to dance the night away under the South Pacific sky.

The Gauguin's previous renovation, totaling $6 million, was completed in January 2009. The upcoming refurbishments show Paul Gauguin Cruises' level of commitment to the vessel and the importance of the overall product and guest experience.

American Cruise Lines' American Spirit to operate in Alaska

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

American Cruise Lines, the leader in small ship cruising, has announced that its 100-passenger American Spirit will operate its recently introduced Alaskan itineraries debuting in June of 2012. Built in 2005, The American Spirit will be the newest vessel operating in Alaska, offering a full range of onboard amenities, including an elevator to all decks, numerous glass-enclosed lounges and the largest staterooms by far, the majority of which have private balconies and all with extra-large opening picture windows to maximize each passenger’s personal view of the Alaskan scenery; towering glaciers, verdant forests, floating ice castles and islands and waters teeming with wildlife.

"Our passengers are going to experience Alaska like they never have before in the comfort of the American Spirit," said Paul Taiclet, Vice President of Hotel Operations, American Cruise Lines. "The oversized staterooms, spacious public areas and multitude of modern-day amenities make this ship by far the most comfortable and accommodating."

American Cruise Lines’ unique approach to small ship cruising will introduce passengers to secluded and seemingly untouched waterways and in the company of expert naturalist guides and local experts. The American Spirit is specially designed to navigate these narrow inland waterways, while the intimate atmosphere onboard is perfect for onboard camaraderie as guests often find themselves amongst others who seek enriching travels and share their passion for exploration, adventure and discovery. See a deck plan of the American Spirit here.

Beginning in June of 2012, American Cruise Lines will offer several different seven- and 11-night Alaskan itineraries, including round trip cruises departing from Juneau, Alaska, and one-way cruises between Juneau and Seattle, Washington. Offering a unique pampered adventure to experience Alaska, American Cruise Lines passengers will experience breathtaking views of the Alaskan wild in the premier vessel available, while having up close and intimate access to wildlife, inside passages and glaciers in the comfort of the American Spirit launch or for the more adventure –inclined passengers, by kayak.

AmaWaterways launches new AmaLotus, the company's second Mekong ship

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News
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.