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Noble Caledonia unveils Caledonian Sky 2012 summer programme

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Noble Caleonia, the UK based boutique cruise brand, has unveiled a six cruise programme of 2012 summer itineraries for Caledonian Sky, the second ship of the company.

The programme will start on 12 May, when the ship will sail on a 8 night Spring Garden and Bird Quest cruise from Tilbury to ports in the English Channel and in Cornwall. The ship will also cruise around Iceland on a 14 day cruise that will start in Oban and terminate in Aberdeen. In addition, the programme comprises cruises in Scottish and Norwegian waters plus a White Sea fly cruise from Archangel to Tromso.

The 4,200 gross ton vessel will be refitted prior to its entry in service with London based Noble Caledonia. It is a sister ship of Island Sky, one of the eight Renaissance class vessels built for the now defunct Renaissance Cruises in Italy in 1990-91.

Holland America returns to the Down Under and South Pacific in 2012, 2012

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News
In winter 2012 and spring 2013 two Holland America Line ships -- Oosterdam and Volendam -- will sail a series of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific cruises, visiting more than 50 ports where guests can revel in the cosmopolitan attractions of Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, and explore the exotic landscapes of Vanuatu and Fiji in the South Pacific.

The complete series of sailings ranges from 10- to 58-days and features for the first time one of the line's larger Vista-class ships, ms Oosterdam. This addition represents almost a 25 percent capacity increase in the Australia/ South Pacific region for Holland America Line.

"Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands are among the top travel destinations in the world and we've developed our itineraries to showcase the best of what they offer from secluded ports to popular favorites," said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, for Holland America Line. "Holland America Line's cruises highlight the region's incredible wildlife on land and sea, including the legendary Outback, world-famous Great Barrier Reef and the opportunity of a lifetime to witness a solar eclipse while at sea."

Guests can choose from a series of multiple departures ranging from 10- to14-days sailing roundtrip from Sydney or one way to or from Auckland between October 2012 and March 2013. New Zealand itineraries give guests a chance to experience some of the most amazing scenic cruising in the world, including the beautiful and dramatic Fiordland National Park and Bay of Plenty known for its beaches. These itineraries also visit both the North and South Islands of New Zealand with calls at popular ports of Wellington, Napier and Tauranga.

Cruise Shipping Asia preview: Lines and ports face challengies, opportunities in Asia market

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The challenges and opportunities facing cruise lines and cruise destinations in Asia are much the same as elsewhere in the world, says Ted Blamey, principal consultant of Chart Management Consultants Pty Ltd. Blamey and three other cruise experts are participants on the "Destinations: Challenges and Opportunities in the Development of the Cruise Industry" panel at the event in Singapore Nov. 16-18.

Blamey notes there are two core criteria required for a successful cruise port: "Ensure cruise guests rate the destination highly and ensure the cruise line operation is smooth and economical."

To garner high ratings from guests, destinations need to provide "activities and attractions ashore to make the guest experience enjoyable and memorable, have sufficient local transport to allow guests to get to the attractions comfortably and safely, provide trained, knowledgeable guides with good language skills to deliver the experience and create a clean, safe and welcoming environment to make the experience pleasant and hassle-free," said Blamey.

On the cruise line operations side, Blamey says it is essential that the ship -- or its tenders -- is able to disembark and embark guests easily, quickly and safely. Lines also expect port charges to be reasonable, red tape minimal, local officials helpful and port agents experienced and capable.

He notes that Asia presents a mix of both mature and emerging cruise destinations.

"Many Asian destinations have been welcoming cruise ships for decades and receiving high ratings from both guests and the ships, among them Singapore, Hong Kong, Bali and Penang," he said. "In the past five to 10 years, many 'new' destinations such as Korea's Jeju Island, Vietnam's Halong Bay, Shanghai and other cities in China have become cruise success stories."

But while in other parts of the world port operations have become standardized and best practices set, those functions largely are dependent on local custom and laws in Asia.

"Most destinations come under the local port and municipal authorities," Blamey said. "While progressive destinations study successful practices across the region -- and the globe -- and adopt what makes sense to them, they typically work to their own agenda, which perforce must take account of existing infrastructure, geographic features, local laws and customs. However, the role of the port agent is critical to the industry and here we do see companies with global or region-wide operations standardizing, sharing personnel and taking a customer-centered approach."

Though Western cruise operators have now been there for a number of years, they are still trying to understand subtle differences in the Asian market.

"The global cruise operators are still discovering how to best meet the aspirations and expectations of Asian passengers, in every aspect of the cruise experience," Blamey said. "Shore programs are part of this. And it should not be assumed that guests from one Asian country will be looking for the same shoreside activities as those from another - each national market will have its own orientation and preferences."

But, he noted, as long as the cruise line and its shore tour operators and destination-management companies offer a combination of the iconic sights and attractions for which a place is famous and some unique experiences in each destination, most guests will enjoy the destination and be satisfied with their port experience.

Though many Asian destinations are investing heavily to develop their passenger infrastructure, Blamey points out that the emphasis should be on the experiential aspects of cruising.

"It is the experiences ashore that matter most to the guest, not the dedicated cruise infrastructure," he said. "Sometimes a great destination may have no infrastructure at all -- for instance, certain islands, beaches and villages in the South Pacific and Papua New Guinea. From the ship's point of view, even an established port in a prominent city need not have a dedicated cruise terminal as long as passenger and coach movements can be conducted in safety and under shelter."

But the challenges for many ports in the region lie in developing sufficient shoreside support services and equipment -- especially as the size of cruise ships in the region rapidly increases.

"The tourism plant can be a constraint," said Blamey. "Coaches and guides, sometimes watercraft, do need to be of sufficient number, safe, clean and comfortable to deal with the number of passengers coming ashore and taking excursions."

The "Destinations: Challenges and Opportunities in the Development of the Cruise Industry" panel is scheduled for the afternoon of Nov. 16. Moderated by Yeoh Siew Hoon, producer of WebinTravel, in addition to Ted Blamey of Chart Consultants, the panel will feature Dr. Sapta Nirwandar, director general of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia; Richard Doyle, managing director of Doyle Tourism Services, and Dr. Gary Cheng, associate professor at the School of Economics and Management of Shanghai Maritime University and Eduardo Gonzalez Cid, under secretary general of the Mexico Ministry of Tourism.

Cruise Shipping Asia is presented by UBM plc. The conference and exhibition are scheduled Nov. 16-18, 2011, at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center in Singapore.

Celebrity Cruises add four Celebrity Constellation cruises to Southampton programme

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Celebrity Cruises, the premium market unit in the Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) group, has added four 12 night cruises on Celebrity Constellation to the company’s 2012 programme from Southampton.

The cruises call at Le Havre, France; Bordeaux (Le Verdon), France; Bilbao, Spain; Vigo, Spain and Porto (Leixoes), Portugal. They atre themed as “Immersive Wine Cruise.”

The first one of these cruises will sail on 19 September and the last one on 18 November. Initially, the ship had been scheduled to operate a series of cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean during this period, but the company changed its plans. A previously announced programme of cruises from Southampton on Celebrity Eclipse will be operated as planned.

MSC Cruises turn 28 Yacht Club cabins to Aurea Suites

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News
MSC Cruises says its  spa and wellbeing offering is to be further enhanced by the launch of its new Aurea Suites. "This deluxe accommodation will be available on board MSC Fantasia from 5th November and on MSC Splendida from 13th November. Aurea Suites will also be found on MSC Divina, the company’s newest flagship that will join the fleet from next May," the company said.
Named after the ships’ state-of-the-art Aurea Spa and located on the prestigious upper decks, the Aurea Suites comprise 28 luxuriously appointed cabins, each formerly part of the deluxe MSC Yacht Club offering.
Guests who book an Aurea Suite will receive a superb wellness and spa package which includes a welcome cocktail at the spa bar, unlimited access to the Thermal Suite (Turkish bath, spa bath, sauna and relaxation room), a personal appointment with an Aurea Spa doctor, a 30 minute relaxing facial treatment and last but not least, a solarium session.
"A stay in an MSC Cruises’ Aurea Suite will be a one-of-a-kind experience. Passengers can relax their mind and revitalise their body whilst discovering some of the jewels the Mediterranean has to offer. MSC Cruises’ groundbreaking spa and fitness facilities have already made the company a market leader, so much so that at the recent Cruise International Awards, MSC Splendida’s Aurea Spa beat off stiff competition to win Best for Well-Being. Now the company raises the bar still further with the launch of this initiative," the company said.