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Carnival Corporation brands return to Grand Turk, St. Thomas, San Juan

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

With the vast majority of the Caribbean untouched by recent storms and open for business, the region's momentum continues as cruise line brands from Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest cruise company, begin returning this month to Grand Turk, St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Most of the nearly 100 destinations in the Caribbean have been fully operational since the storms, and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) reports that nearly 90% of the region is open for business.

Carnival Corporation brands have operated normal schedules in the aftermath of the September storms, modifying itineraries for only a handful of impacted destinations. Vigorous recovery efforts to restore cruise travel to those affected destinations have led to the re-opening of cruise ports in Grand Turk, St. Thomas and San Juan.

Below is a summary of when Carnival Corporation brands return to these three popular destinations:

– Carnival Cruise Line returned to Grand Turk on November 1, and will return to San Juan on November 30 and St. Thomas on January 9.
– Seabourn visited St. Thomas November 3 and will return to San Juan starting on December 18.
– Holland America Line will return to Grand Turk on November 6, St. Thomas starting on November 8 and San Juan starting on December 7.
– AIDA Cruises will return to Grand Turk beginning November 9.
– Princess Cruises will return to St. Thomas starting on November 12, Grand Turk starting on December 15 and San Juan starting on December 20.
– Costa Cruises will return to San Juan starting on December 17 and Grand Turk on December 23.
– P&O Cruises UK will return to Grand Turk on December 20.

"The Caribbean covers a far-reaching region of more than one million square miles, so it is important to know the vast majority of its islands realized little or no impact from the September storms, and we have been sailing thousands of guests to the Caribbean for great vacations," said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation. "The Caribbean is the world's most popular region for cruise vacations – and its people and businesses are not only great hosts to our guests, but they also have a strong spirit and resilience. So, for those few islands that were impacted, we applaud them for their tireless efforts to recover and rebound, stronger than ever. We are thrilled to have our brands beginning to return to renowned destinations such as Grand Turk, St. Thomas and San Juan, and we know our guests will also be happy to have those ports as part of their cruise vacation."

In October, the FCCA announced it launched, a website that is part of its multifaceted, million-dollar campaign to generate awareness that the majority of Caribbean destinations are operating normally, unhindered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and have been welcoming and continue to welcome tens of thousands of travelers every day.

"The landing site is an invaluable resource for destinations and cruise lines to spread information about and footage of the beautiful destinations awaiting guests," said Michele Paige, president of FCCA. "It is crucial to connect with potential travelers and show them that most of the unparalleled experiences in the Caribbean are fully available to them as they plan upcoming vacations, and also to let them know that the best way to show support is to travel to the Caribbean, as the entire region greatly benefits from tourism."

The website – CaribbeanIsOpen – features footage of and updates from destinations, a map showing that nearly 90 percent of the region's ports are open and welcoming guests, a Q&A broaching potential travelers' questions about visiting the Caribbean, testimonials from travelers that recently visited the Caribbean and more.

Costa Cruises holds coin ceremony for new ship built for Chinese consumers

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Costa Cruises – the Italian cultural brand of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest leisure travel company – today held the traditional coin ceremony for its newest ship, the Costa Venezia, named after Venice, one of the world’s most beautiful and legendary cities.

As the first Vista-class ship specifically designed and built for China, Costa Venezia in 2019 will bring the rich culture, history and romance of Venice to its Chinese guests.

During the coin ceremony, one newly minted commemorative coin was officially placed in the ship’s keel as a symbol of good luck and blessings for the crew and passengers onboard the ship and her future journeys. The event connected Italy and China to mark this milestone, which was attended by government officials, trade partners and senior executives from Costa Cruises.

“Costa Cruises is thrilled to have a new ship that is built to offer the best experience to Chinese consumers,” said Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia. “The Costa Venezia demonstrates our strong commitment and confidence in the world’s fastest growing cruise market. Her arrival in 2019 will further enhance our offerings for Chinese guests to reinforce our leading position in China.”

To be built by the Italy-based Fincantieri shipbuilding company, the 135,500 gross ton Costa Venezia will feature 2,116 passenger cabins and a capacity of 5,260 total passengers.

It is the first ship in the world that features a design that entirely reflects her name and the city where she was built. Guests may go onboard to have once-in-a-lifetime experience of Venetians, immersing themselves in a multi-sensory trip featuring food, art, music and entertainment. Come nightfall, guests can participate in an onboard version of the Carnival of Venice, the city’s famous festival known for its elaborate masks.

“With the Costa Venezia, Costa Cruises is proud to showcase the allure of one of Italy’s most famous and culturally rich cities and regions to Chinese consumers,” said Mario Zanetti, President of Costa Group Asia. “The planned addition of the ship to our Asia fleet is part of our continued efforts to innovate and consistently exceed our guests’ expectations by providing authentic and memorable Italian experiences to everyone who sails with us.”

An inaugural world cruise has been planned following the completion of the Costa Venezia that will begin in Trieste, Italy, and end in Shanghai. Along the way, the ship will call in countries such as Greece, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan, following Marco Polo’s famous journeys between Italy and China.

Tickets for the world cruise will be available soon. The ship will depart from Italy in early March 2019, inviting guests to experience the Carnival of Venice and become fully immersed in the magic of Italy.

Costa Cruises was the first international cruise company to enter China in 2006, and has established a leading presence in the market. With the kick off of “Costa New Decade” in China, it will strive relentlessly to exceed guest expectations by continuously innovating to deliver the most delightful onboard experiences – with a touch of Italy.

Costa Venezia’s addition to Costa Asia fleet in 2019 will be followed by an additional ship in 2020, which will also be specially designed for Chinese consumers.

Virgin Voyages' first ship to cater for 18-plus only market

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Virgin Voyages, the new venture in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group of companies, said it will be the first major cruise line to offer a ship that is an exclusive 18 year old plus experience, which was a direct result of listening to future sailors – Virgin term for passengers - and travel partners.

The company is building three 110,000 gross ton ships at Fincanteri’s Sestri-Ponente shipyard in Genoa, the first of which is die to enter service in 2020.

Tom McAlpin, CEO, said at a presentation on 31 October that the first ship would be “Adult By Design” – meaning that sailors must be at least 18 or older to sail.

The decision was driven by feedback from future sailors and travel professionals, who are looking for a more elevated and premium experience, with a few Virgin style surprises, he said.

Keel of first Virgin Voyages’ “Lady Ship” laid in Genoa

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

The keel of the first of three 110,000 gross ton cruise ships for virgin Voyages, which is part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in London, was laid in Genoa on 31 October.

To be known as “Lady Ships,” the trio will feature silver grey hulls and cater for adults only. The company will call its passengers sailors and cabins with balconies sea terraces.

Tom McAlpin, CEO,  shared specifics on the Virgin Voyages design philosophy and experience. “The entire ship will be built with an attention to detail, reflecting the craftsmanship and materiality inspired by super yachts. Designed to feel more intimate and connected to the sea, 86 percent of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93 percent an ocean view. Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between.”

In a bold and unique move for the industry, McAlpin then gave details that the first ship’s experience will be “Adult By Design” – meaning that sailors must be at least 18 or older to sail. The decision was driven by feedback from future sailors and travel professionals, who are looking for a more elevated and premium experience, with a few Virgin style surprises.

The world also got its first glimpse of the ship’s distinct livery, which will feature a sleek silvery-grey hull, with smoked glass, and of course, distinctive touches of red. The livery was conceptualized by Ben Christie and David Azurdia from the multi-award-winning Magpie Studio in London. RWD from Beaulieu England, who are leaders in super yacht design, created the iconic red Virgin funnel of the vessel.

The ships are on order at the Sestri Ponente yard of Fincantieri.


Meyer Werft delivers World Dream

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Today, October 26 in Bremerhaven, Meyer Werft handed over the new cruise vessel World Dream to the Asian shipping company Dream Cruises, subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong. Together with the new design, this cruise ship offers passengers a wide range of special features and comfort. About 75% of the cabins are outer cabins and most of these have their own private balcony.

The new ship for Dream Cruises has a capacity for 3376 passengers with a dimension of 151,300 gross tons. The ship is 335 meters long, 39.7 meters wide and can reach a speed of more than 23 knots. This cruise ship also carries a small deep sea submarine that can take four guests down to a depth of up to 200 metres. There is also a motorboat which can be booked for excursions.

Entertainment on the ship is guaranteed state-of-the-art thanks to an interactive communication system and extensive stage equipment. Most modern marine engines as well as numerous energy saving measures are reducing operating costs. The ship has also been designed and built according to the latest safety regulations. World Dream offers 35 restaurants and bars; various entertainment facilities such as theatres, a ropes course as well as plenty of space for other outdoor activities and a large range of virtual reality applications.

“This is our 44th cruise ship we delivered. Our team made a great job. I am proud and thankful for their contribution”, said Tim Meyer, Managing Director of Meyer Werft.

The new cruise ship has been designed for the rapidly growing Asian cruise market.

After being handed over to the cruise company in Bremerhaven, World Dream will set sail to some of the loveliest destinations in Asia where it will offer cruises for two, five and seven nights. Sailing from Hong Kong, it will cruise through spectacular regions in Vietnam and China.

"On the World Dream with yard number S. 712 was promoted the first time application of innovative components with innovation aid of the Federal Ministry for Economy and energy (BMWi) and the country Lower Saxony."