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UK government to outlaw credit card charges - report

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

The British government will introduce legislation that will make it illegal to charge customers that pay by credit card a fee in addition to the cost of the product, the Daily Telegraph reports on its website.

Many travel companies charge a fee for paying by credit card, which means that British consumers pay hundreds of millions of pounds each in these charges, yet it only costs the seller 20 pence to process a credit card payment.

The legislation will be introduced at the end of next year, the report said.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines returns to TV advertising after two-year break

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, the UK based operator of four medium sized ships,  will be launching its first TV advertising campaign since 2009, using the distinctive, hand-drawn style and strong brand values of its recent highly-successful print campaign, the company said in a statement.


"The 30-second advertisements – highlighting the exceptional customer service on Fred. Olsen cruises and access to hundreds of destinations worldwide on smaller ships from UK ports – will appear on a range of daytime terrestrial and digital TV channels from 28 December 2011 to mid-February 2012, falling within the all-important post-Christmas holiday booking period," the company said.


"The TV campaign will be supported by direct marketing activity and inserts in national and regional newspapers, encouraging early booking for 2012/13 Fred. Olsen cruises. Guests can take advantage of amazing cruise deals with savings of up to £400 per cabin on over 70 cruise holidays by booking before the end of February 2012, via the dedicated Fred. Olsen Reservations telephone number 0800 980 6510, their ABTA travel agent, or the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines"


Nathan Philpot, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Sales and Marketing Director, said:“From my previous experience, TV has created huge demand and driven customers onto the ‘phone and into agents’ shops. We hope that all our retail partners will benefit from this investment."

 “The distinctive style of our recent print advertising has brought us extremely valuable stand-out in a crowded marketplace, and has been very well-received. We want to build on this success by bringing our message to TV, reinforcing Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ traditional values of outstanding customer service, intimate, smaller ships and the ability to cruise to the heart of hundreds of destinations worldwide from a number of convenient, regional UK ports.”

 The TV campaign – created by London agency Fox Kalomaski Crossing – will appear on key channels, including Channel 5, ITV3, More 4, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, G.O.L.D., Alibi, Blighty, Yesterday and Dave, with up to a maximum of 34 spots per day.





Celebrity Cruises introduces series of food and wine themed cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News
Celebrity Cruises’ new food-and-wine-themed cruises will offer guests a unique, behind-the-scenes experience and a rare opportunity to get to know the Celebrity Cruises culinary team through intimate demonstrations, tastings and dinners. Developed and hosted by the talent behind the cruise line’s award-winning culinary programme, Celebrity Cruises’ “Excite the Senses Culinary Theme Cruises” will start on 24 March 2012, with a seven-night sailing headlined by Celebrity’ Cruises’ master chef and vice president of culinary operations, Jacques Van Staden.


Van Staden said: “The culinary-themed activities at the heart of Celebrity Cruises’ Excite the Senses cruises aredesigned to appeal to everyone from the novice to the sophisticated oenophile – just like the book itself – and shine a spotlight on all the elements of Celebrity Cruises’ culinary experience, from outstanding service to innovative menus to cutting-edge trends and more.”


The 24 March cruise, which will take place onboard Celebrity Eclipse, will also the other members of Celebrity Cruises’culinary team who will later host their own cruises. The cruise will offer guests a variety of special culinary-themed activities including:

·           An exclusive cocktail and Qsine pairing dinner hosted by Van Staden and “The Liquid Chef” and Master Mixologist Junior Merino

·           A “Corporate Star Chefs” cooking demonstration and question-and-answer session with Celebrity Cruises’food and beverage team

·           Mixology demonstrations

·           Hands-on cooking classes with chefs in the galley


Activities during the Excite the Senses Culinary Theme Cruises will include:

·           Exclusive dinners in Celebrity Cruises’ speciality restaurants

·           Cooking demonstrations focused on the importance of using locally sourced ingredients

·           Wine tastings

·           Sessions on how to host elegant afternoon teas and unique cocktail parties as well ways to enliven holiday traditions with modern twists and tips for creative table settings, and more


Celebrity Cruises’ 2012 Excite the Senses Culinary Theme Cruises’ dates and hosts are:


·           March 24 – 7-night Caribbean cruise onboard Celebrity Eclipse, from Miami (Florida), hosted by Van Staden and team; activities will focus on food, wine, mixology, and entertaining at home.

·           April 10 – 12-night Caribbean cruise onboard the brand-new Celebrity Silhouette, roundtrip from Cape Liberty (Bayonne, New Jersey), hosted by Celebrity Cruises’ traveling pastry chef Thierry Houlbert; activities will focus on baking, pastries and sweets.

·           May 5 – 8-night wine cruise onboard Celebrity Century from San Diego (California) to Vancouver (British Columbia), hosted by Celebrity Cruises’ senior travelling executive chef W. Thomas Szymanski; activities will build on the popular cruises with an even greater focus on food.

·           May 27 – 7-night Bermuda cruise onboard Celebrity Summit – which will have emerged from an extensive drydock revamp several months prior – sailing from Cape Liberty and hosted by Celebrity Cruises’ travelling executive chef Steve van der Merwe; activities will be themed around culinary exploration and Bermuda culinary traditions.

·           June 29 – 7-night Alaska cruise onboard Celebrity Infinity, which has just been revamped, from Seattle and hosted by Celebrity Cruises’ director of culinary operations John Suley and his wife and Celebrity Cruises’ wine expert Chanelle Duarte, who serves as Celebrity Cruises’ beverage development consultant. Activities will focus on local ingredients, food and wine pairing and more.

·           July 10 – 12-night Mediterranean cruise onboard Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruises’ flagship vessel, sailing from Barcelona (Spain) and hosted by corporate executive chef Rufino Rengifo. Activities will celebrate Mediterranean cooking.

·           August 12 – 12-night Baltic cruise onboard Celebrity Constellation, the first of Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium Class ships to be overhauled, sailing from Amsterdam and hosted by Lorenzo Davidoiu, Celebrity Cruises’ restaurant operations manager, who will focus on easy, modern entertaining tips.

·           September 14 – 8-night wine cruise onboard Celebrity Millennium, which will be revamped in May 2012, sailing from Vancouver to San Diego and hosted by Celebrity Cruises’ travelling restaurant manager and former star maitre d’ Dominique Gamba, who will focus on speciality cheeses from around the world, the art of tea service, table settings and entertaining tips.


About the hosts

·           Jacques Van Staden originally from South Africa, he began his culinary career at the age of 14. He held positions at several Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas restaurants before joining Celebrity Cruises, where he has evolved the guest experience to a series of world class restaurant, bar and lounge experiences blending global influences, classic culinary fundamentals and contemporary trends with a keen eye for detail and artistic flair.

·           Top up-and-coming chef John Suley joined Celebrity Cruises in 2011 as director of culinary operations. Previously, Suley worked at several highly regarded restaurants in New York, Miami and Las Vegas, alongside some of the world’s most well-known chefs.

·           Renowned mixologist Junior Merino began his career at age 16. He went on to form “The Liquid Chef Inc.” with the mission of showcasing the artistry and mixing of ingredients and liquors. His “Molecular Bar” concept on Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice Class ships is one of the most unique beverage experiences at sea.

·           Rufino Rengifo has worked in restaurants in New York, Miami, Boca Raton, Caracas and Milan. Rengifo also represented Latin Fusion Gastronomy at The World Food Festival in Europe and opened several restaurants before becoming the executive chef for Celebrity Cruises.

·           Steve Van der Merwe started his career in a small pizzeria in South Africa, which eventually led to him working in all levels of culinary positions, to where he reached Master Chef as recognised by Chaine des Rotisseurs. Steve joined Celebrity Cruises in 2008.

·           W. Thomas Szymanski born in Poland, Szymanski grew up in Germany, joined Celebrity Cruises in 1997, and eventually became the chef responsible for travelling to ships around the world to train kitchen staff on the creation of Celebrity Cruises’ award-winning cuisine.

·           Thierry Houlbert discovered a passion for baking on his grandmother’s farm. After a dozen years spent baking in Paris, St. Tropez and Monaco, Houlbert joined Celebrity Cruises in 1994, and today is responsible for the fleet’s pastry and bakery departments.

·           Having previously worked with several luxury dining venues, certified sommelier Chanelle Duarte has successfully assisted in developing and implementing unique onboard beverage concepts, including the Blu wine menu and the Michael’s Club beer experience that debuted on Celebrity Silhouette earlier this year.

·           Originally from Romania, Lorenzo Davidoiu began his career with Celebrity Cruises as an assistant waiter. 15 years at sea led him to his current role as manager of restaurant operations. He supervises the execution of Celebrity Cruises’ dining experience, including crew training efforts and the design and development of restaurant concepts.

·           Dominique Gamba attended culinary school in Provence (France) before working on a Seine river boat which offered gourmet dining. He took his career to land for an experience in a Michelin-star restaurant in Paris before joining Celebrity Cruises.


MSC Cruises launches Keep It Simple Med cruise promotion on UK market

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

MSC Cruises is standardising prices for all of its summer 2012 Mediterranean cruises, irrespective of the ship or the itinerary, the company said in a statement.

 “Welcome to the KIS promotion! KIS – Keep It Simple – does just what it says on the tin. No gimmicks, no confusing red tape and no spending hours comparing prices and routes,” MSC Cruises said.

 Booking periods are divided into three seasons: low (April, May, October and November), medium (June and September) and high (July and August). Prices for any 7/8 night 2012 summer Mediterranean cruise departing during low season start from £549 per person including flights (£699 for 11 nights). All Medium season prices start from £699 per person including flights (£849 for 11 nights) and All high season prices start from just £849 per person including flights (£999 for 11 nights).

These prices translate into quite incredible savings for MSC customers, ranging from as much as £410 per person in low season through to a staggering £840 in high season. Passengers can choose a cabin upgrade, and again there will be just one price across all MSC’s ships sailing the Mediterranean in summer 2012, over the three booking periods.

Cruise only prices are available on the same basis, with prices reduced by £200 per person.  MSC Opera itineraries from Southampton and Northern Europe sailings from Kiel and Hamburg are excluded from this offer. The KIS promotion is valid on new bookings made from 27th December 2011 to 29th February 2012.


Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines to offer three antiques themed cruises in 2012

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines – awarded ‘Best Educational Cruise’ by readers of Cruise International magazine in 2011 – is offering three cruises in 2012 with ‘Antiques’ as the special topic, through its acclaimed onboard enrichment programme,Vistas. On each cruise, there will be celebrated experts from the world of antiques, sharing their knowledge and passion with like-minded guests. Each of these experts appears as an appraiser on the BBC’s celebrated and long-running ‘Antiques Roadshow,’the company said in a statement.
Antiques-collecting is one of the UK’s most popular pastimes; the popularity of antiques fairs and auctions continues unabated, with TV shows like 'Antiques Roadshow', ‘Cash in the Attic’ and ‘Flog It!‘ going from strength to strength. So, what better way to indulge an interest in antiques than taking a cruise to some of Europe's most interesting cities, brimming with a wealth of art and antique collections, in the company of the most knowledgeable experts in the field?
The Fred. Olsen experts are:-
Lars Tharp
The Danish-born historian, lecturer and broadcaster is one of the longest-standing experts on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’. Lars originally trained as an archaeologist, and was a Director of Sotheby’s, where he specialised in European ceramics, Chinese ceramics and Oriental works of art. In 2008, Lars was appointed the Director of the Foundling Museum in London, and Visiting Professor at De Montfort University, Leicester. 
Will Farmer
Will specialises in 20th Century decorative arts, covering ceramics, glass and furniture. He studied at the Birmingham School of Jewellery, undertaking a combined BA Honour degree in Silversmithing and Fine Art History. Will has featured as an expert on the ‘20th Century Roadshow’, and is now in his fourth season as an expert with the ‘Antiques Roadshow’.
Marc Allum
Marc has been a miscellaneous specialist on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ for 12 years. His interest in antiques began as a child, buying and collecting from an early age, and later becoming an auctioneer and Director of a London auction house; a career he pursued for 16 years. Marc has worked on many other television programmes, including ‘20th Century Roadshow’, ‘Going for a Song’, Bargain Hunt’, ‘Cash in the Attic’ and ‘Moving Day’, in addition to appearing on Discovery Television, Channel Four News and various radio shows.
Clive Stewart-Lockhart
Clive joined Sotheby’s after leaving Marlborough College in 1973. Although his career at Sotheby’s was interrupted by periods at Bluett & Sons and Bonhams, he worked in the auction house’s Valuation Department for five years. Clive then joined the auctioneers Dreweatt Neate in 1982, and now heads their Fine Art Department. His specialties are pictures, works of art, and Oriental ceramics. On the ‘Antiques Roadshow’, his areas of expertise are books, miscellaneous, pictures and paintings.
Paul Viney
Paul is Chairman of Woolley & Wallis, the Salisbury-based fine art auctioneers. He began his career at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He then worked for the National Trust at Waddesdon Manor, the former Rothschild house near Aylesbury, before joining Phillips Auctioneers, where he was Vice President in New York for three years and European Director from 1986 until 1992. He is well known to Radio 2 listeners for his annual Children in Need auctions with Terry Wogan, Jimmy Young, Ken Bruce and others. He has lectured extensively.







You can join these fascinating experts free of charge on the following Fred. Olsen cruises in 2012:


Black Watch, W1207, 13-night cruise to ‘The Baltic with Norway’

Departing from Dover on 24th June 2012, this cruise calls at Kiel (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia), for an overnight stay; Helsinki (Finland), Turku (Finland), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Kristiansand (Norway), before returning to Dover.


Prices start from £1,699 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside, twin cabin’ Grade ‘E’.  The price includes all meals and entertainment on board, and port taxes. The Vistas theme on this cruise is hosted by Lars Tharp and Clive Stewart-Lockhart.


Boudicca D1221, 12-night cruise to ‘Stockholm & St. Petersburg

Departing from Newcastle (Port of Tyne) on 14th September 2012, this cruise calls first at Stockholm (Sweden), where the ship is at anchor, then Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia) for an overnight stay; Rønne (Bornholm, Denmark), and Kalundborg (Denmark), before returning to Newcastle. 


Prices for this cruise start from £1,559 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside, twin cabin, Grade ‘E’. The antiques experts on this cruise are Marc Allum and Will Farmer.


Braemar M1223, 14-night cruise to ‘St. Petersburg, Helsinki & Stockholm’

Departing from Dover on 22nd September 2012, this cruise calls at Warnemünde (Germany) for tours to Berlin; Stockholm (Sweden), where the ship us at anchor; Helsinki (Finland), St. Petersburg (Russia), for an overnight stay; Rǿnne (Bornholm, Denmark), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Oslo (Norway), and returns to Dover.

Prices for this cruise start from £1,519 per person, based on two adults sharing an inside, twin cabin, Grade ‘I’.  Hosting theVistas ‘Antiques’ theme on this cruise are Lars Tharp and Paul Viney.