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P&O Cruises Australia debuts two more ships, expands country’s largest year-round fleet

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced its P&O Cruises Australia brand has introduced its two latest ships, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, expanding Australia’s largest year-round fleet to five cruise ships.

With the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, P&O Cruises Australia now has five ships cruising year-round from eight homeports in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. During the celebration to welcome its two latest ships, Australia’s leading cruise line made history by staging two first-ever events: a five-ship spectacular in the world-renowned Sydney Harbour and a social media naming ceremony.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises Australia, said the event marked a new era for P&O, Australia’s only homegrown cruise line, which has grown its fleet in response to increasing demand for cruise vacations.

“P&O Cruises has been sailing from Australia for more than 80 years, so we are thrilled to be able to celebrate the expansion of our fleet with so many Sydneysiders today,” said Sherry. “The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden represents a 50 percent expansion in our guest capacity and heralds a new look and feel for our cruise line that is inspired by modern Australia.”

With Australian cruise passenger numbers having grown by an average of 20% a year over the past decade to break through the one million mark in 2014, P&O Cruises Australia is well positioned to continue meeting Australians' surging demand for cruise vacations. The addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden has paved the way for exciting new cruise options including deployments from every mainland state in Australia, an extended deployment from Auckland and a season of cruising from Singapore.

Carnival Corporation, which owns 10 cruise line brands, including P&O Cruises Australia, is the largest cruise operator in Australia and the only cruise company to have ships based full-time in Australian waters.

Over the past 10 years, Carnival Corporation’s presence in Australia has grown rapidly with its local fleet increasing from two full-time ships, both with P&O Cruises, to nine full-time ships from three of the company's brands – five P&O Cruises ships, three Princess Cruises ships and one Carnival Cruise Line ship.

P&O Cruises marked the debut of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden with a social media naming ceremony, which saw popular Australian singer Jessica Mauboy and actress Kate Ritchie simultaneously christening the ships via Twitter as the two vessels sailed by Fort Denison, in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

Notable cruise industry officials and two special guests attended the ceremony – young Sydney sisters Aria and Eden Mulligan, invited by P&O to perform the role of “junior godmothers” for the sister ships, which coincidentally share their names.

In a nod to maritime tradition, a bottle of Champagne was smashed on the bow of each ship as they sailed by Fort Denison, with all five ships sounding their whistles to mark Australia’s first dual cruise ship christening.

Thousands of Sydneysiders watched the cruise ship spectacular from the shore, while more than 12,000 guests and crew onboard the five ships joined in the celebrations.

The five ships are to remain on Sydney Harbour all day, with guests onboard enjoying a series of live concerts from more than 25 music acts, including performances by leading local performers Jessica Mauboy, The Veronicas, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade and Stan Walker. The celebration will conclude with a special fireworks display above the harbour.

Designed to be game changers for the Australian cruise industry, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden offer a relaxed vibe in a contemporary and stylish setting.

Both ships feature a range of dining options, including the revolutionary new Pantry, which replaces the traditional ship’s buffet with an international food market showcasing eight delicious outlets. Other onboard offerings include stylish new lounges and bars, a stunning poolside area, new Pandora jewelry boutiques and a range of entertainment options including Bianco, the new P&O White party.

Continuing the cruise line’s modern Australian evolution, P&O Cruises has another ship on the horizon to be named Pacific Explorer. The ship will build on the fresh and contemporary design of newcomers Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. The 77,000-ton ship, currently sailing as Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess, is scheduled to enter the P&O Australia fleet in May 2017 and will sail from Sydney during its inaugural season. Details of its sailings will be released in the near future.

Majestic Princess to sail inaugural season in Europe

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Princess Cruises has announced its 2017 cruise vacations to Europe, including the inaugural sailings of the line’s newest ship Majestic Princess. The season features six ships sailing to 119 destinations from the corners of the Mediterranean to the northernmost tip of Europe.

Guests can choose from 64 unique itineraries on 153 cruise departures, visiting 27 countries. Debuting in April 2017, Majestic Princess first sets sail on maiden European sailings with 5- to 28-night Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona, Athens and Rome.

“Princess is known for offering the best cruise itineraries around the globe and our 2017 Europe season is sure to inspire our guests with our newest and largest ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “We’re especially excited to debut Majestic Princess in the Mediterranean before she officially sails to Asia for her maiden China cruise season.”

Princess now offers the More Ashore program, crafting the line’s newest itineraries to give guests more opportunities to experience the color, culture and flavors of the region in 2017. With port calls offering more time ashore with either late night departures (9pm or later), an overnight, or a two-day experience, travelers can see the sights during the day and then experience the nightlife of select destinations in the evening. Highlights of the More Ashore program in Europe include overnights in Dublin and St. Petersburg on select sailings, as well as late evening stays in more than 15 countries.

All 2017 Europe sailings open for bookings on Thursday, December 3, 2015.

Highlights of the Princess Cruises 2017 Europe program include:

Majestic Princess
The newest cruise ship to join the Princess fleet debuts in Rome (Civitavecchia) on April 4, 2017 for a five-day Maiden Adriatic Sea roundtrip voyage visiting Kotor and Corfu. The 3,560-guest Majestic Princess then sails on a series of seven-, 14-, 21- and 28-day Mediterranean voyages departing Barcelona, Athens and Rome from April 9-May 14, 2017.

Cruises to the Mediterranean
In addition to Majestic Princess, Royal Princess features new 11-day Grand Mediterranean and 10-day Western Mediterranean combinable for a 21-day Grand Mediterranean Collection, as well as seven, 14-, 21- and 28-day sailings throughout the Mediterranean

Scandinavia & Russia Cruises
Regal Princess returns to Northern Europe, along with Crown Princess and Pacific Princess for popular cruise vacations to Scandinavia & Russia, offering an overnight in St. Petersburg with departures from London (Southampton or Dover) or Copenhagen. A new Pacific Princess Baltic Heritage itinerary includes overnights in Stockholm and St. Petersburg, sailing from London (Dover).

British Isles Cruises
The 2017 Europe season marks the line’s largest British Isles season ever with 12 departures on Caribbean Princess and two on Pacific Princess, including last night stays in Edinburgh offering the opportunity to visit the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo on select sailings. All 12-day British Isles cruises include a new late evening stay in Belfast and an option of an overnight in Dublin on select departures from London (Southampton).

New Ports of Call
Summer 2017 features maiden port calls to Haugesund (Norway), Oban (Scotland), Siracusa (Sicily, Italy), Ulvik (Norway), and St. Tropez (France).

Iceland & Norway Cruises
Both Crown Princess and Pacific Princess will offer North Cape voyages to the Arctic Circle during the peak midnight sun period around the summer solstice. Crown Princess will also visit the spectacular Norwegian fjords, while Pacific Princess will feature a maiden call in Haugesund, Norway.

Pacific Princess will also offer 14-day Iceland & Norway itineraries visiting off-the-beaten path ports in Iceland and the Shetland Islands. She will also cross to the land of fire and ice on a Transatlantic passage featuring Iceland.

European Land & Sea Vacations
Guests can enhance their European travel with five unique Land & Sea Vacation options, which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour. Choices include Paris and the French Countryside; Ireland’s Ring of Kerry; Classic Italy, visiting popular sites in Venice, Florence and Rome; Imperial Treasures of Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin; and Swiss Splendors featuring the mountain beauty of Interlaken and Lucrene, as well as a scenic boat trip on Lake Como.

Passengers of Le Boreal evacuated as fire breaks out in engine room

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

A total of 187 passengers have been evacuated from the 10,944 gross ton expedition cruise ship Le Boreal after a fire had broken out in the engine room.

The 264 passenger capacity ship was positioned near Cape Dolphin the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, when the fire started at about 0200 am local time.

The passengers of Le Boreal were evacuated to L’Austral, another vessel of the Marseille based expedition cruise company Ponant. A British naval vessel, the HMS Clyde, was also close to the scene, but its assistance was not required.

The passengers were taken to Port Stanley, capital of the Falkland Islands. And the next cruise of Le Boreal has been cancelled. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Le Boreal was built in Italy in 2010.

Crystal says second luxury air plane to be Boeing Business Jet B777-200 LR

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Crystal Cruises, the Los Angeles based luxury cruise company in the Genting Hong Kong group, says it has acquired a Boeing Business Jet B777-200LR, to offer an array of global itineraries for its expanded brand extension Crystal Luxury Air.

Company officials have said that the expansion into air travel plus sea and river yachts transform Crystal from a cruise line to a lifestyle company. It announced the decision to add another plane to the Crystal Luxury Air operation in August, but it did not specify what kind of plane would be in question at that time

“The announcement comes on the heels of Crystal’s groundbreaking news in July of an extensive brand expansion, which will include extravagant air vacations around the world aboard a luxurious Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner,” the company said in a statement

“In addition to doubling the initial air projections with the expanded aircraft fleet, Crystal will work with the Registry of Aruba in developing and securing an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). This will pave the way for Crystal Luxury Air to launch international operations. The twin-aisle BBJ B777-200LR will be redesigned to accommodate just 88 guests with flat-bed first class seats; a beautifully appointed lounge and bar; and offer 14- and 28-day around-the-world and international itineraries, beginning in 2017,” the company said.

“Our mission is to make Crystal the core of what will become the world’s premier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand collection, not only for the immediate future, but for years to come,” said Crystal Chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. “The acquisition of our second luxury aircraft is another profound step toward establishing our goal.”

The twin-aisle Boeing 777-200LR, and the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which typically seats up to 300 passengers and will be redesigned to accommodate just 52 guests, will boast the premium luxury that discerning global travelers have come to expect from Crystal, including copious amounts of guest space, plush amenities and Crystal’s world-class service and crew.

“Trips will include accommodations at the world’s most luxurious hotels, the finest Michelin star-level cuisine prepared by celebrated chefs and fabulous local cultural entertainment. Additionally, the aircrafts can be arranged for special charters,” the company said.

“Following our expansion announcement, travelers and travel agents expressed a strong interest in all-inclusive luxury air travel with a wider range of itineraries,” says Crystal’s President and CEO Edie Rodriguez. “Based on this enthusiastic feedback, we are growing our fleet to meet the demand from our guests and travel partners in luxury air options.”

Genting to launch premium cruise brand to be called Dream Cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Genting Hong Kong, the holding company of Star Cruises and Crystal Cruises, has launched its third, premium cruise brand, namely Dream Cruises, to target mainly the fast maturing Asia market.

“The major target market for Dream Cruises will be Asia,” said Michael Goh, Senior VP – Sales, Star Cruises. “40-50% would be domestic clientele and the rest would be international, comprising of Indian, European, American markets, among others,”

The planned first sailing date has been set for November 2016. The announcement was made during a recent Chairman’s Cruise event held on board SuperStar Virgo, which was sailing from Nansha (Guangzhou) to Hong Kong and back during 6-8 November.

“Dream Cruises will be Asia’s premium cruise brand,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman & CEO of Genting Hong Kong. “The ship will be bigger than SuperStar Virgo and the price point will be higher as well. We will finalise the price point in January next year.”

The proposed itineraries for Dream Cruises will include two-night Pearl River Delta cruise, five-night Vietnam-Sanya voyage, and a seven-night itinerary departing Nansha.

The new brand will employ Genting Dream, the first newbuilding of Genting has on order from Meyer Werft in Germany. It will have 1,700 staterooms, with a capacity of 3,400 lower berths; it will have 35 restaurant and bars, a theatre, sectional meeting spaces, and a bowling alley, etc. As well as outdoor adventures, relaxing and rejuvenating facilities, the ship will boast a Genting Club, which is a boutique hotel within a hotel, containing 142 suites where guests will enjoy exclusive privileges, including priority access and European butler service.

Genting has so far invested US$1 billion for this venture.

The company has sharpened its focus on Guangzhou. It has recently signed a cooperation agreement with Guangzhou Port Group to launch the first regular cruise service from Port of Nansha, using SuperStar Virgo, from January 2016. A new cruise terminal is being built in Nansha; meanwhile the port has upgraded its deep water berth at the container terminal to receive large cruise vessels

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