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Carnival Corporation continues talks with Cuba, now accepting bookings for Cuba voyages from all travelers on its Fathom brand

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest leisure travel company, today announced that the company is continuing discussions with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in the same manner as current air charter operations, which transport Cuba-born individuals to and from Cuba.

Fathom will begin sailing its 704-passenger Adonia cruise ship to Cuba every other week starting on May 1, marking the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship has sailed from the U.S. to Cuba.

Carnival Corporation also announced that it is accepting bookings on its 10th and newest brand, Fathom, from all travelers to Cuba, regardless of their country of origin, and is looking forward to its historic inaugural voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly.

Carnival Corporation continues active discussions with Cuba, asking that travel on Fathom be on a level playing field with air charter travel to Cuba and remains confident its discussions with Cuba will result in a positive outcome for everyone who wants to travel to Cuba, including those who are Cuba-born.

Fathom has updated its reservations process and all travelers can book its cruises to Cuba, including Cuban-born individuals, in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were traveling by air.

"We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We remain excited about this historic opportunity to give our guests an extraordinary vacation experience in Cuba."

"We have already seen tremendous consumer interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom. “Our guests will visit three beautiful and unique destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations.”

During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music and dancing, and much more.

Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation to Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, along with conversational Spanish lessons.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. ET. The Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season.

The Costa Group continues to grow in China and Asia with the deployment of Costa neoRomantica in April 2017

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

The Costa Group today announced that starting in April 2017 Costa neoRomantica (56,800 gross tonnage and 1,800 total guests) will be based in Asia year-round.

She will be the fifth Costa ship deployed regularly in Asia and operated by the Costa Asia brand, offering cruises marketed for local Guests.

"The deployment of a fifth Costa ship in Asia in 2017, in addition to the two new fleet members that will be built specially for Costa Asia, will allow us to continue to significantly grow the Asian cruise market in particular China, which is set to become the second largest in the world by the end of the decade," said Costa Group CEO Michael Thamm.

Costa neoRomantica will arrive in Shanghai on April 10, 2017, after a 23-day positioning cruise departing on March 18, 2017, from Port Louis, Mauritius; and calling at Port Victoria, Seychelles; Malè, Maldives; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Phuket, Thailand; Singapore; Da Nang, Vietnam; and Hong Kong, China.

Then, Costa neoRomantica will be dry docked in Shanghai, to perform renewal works that will customize the ship for its new Asian guests and boosts its "Italy at Sea" appeal. The first cruise dedicated to the local market is scheduled to sail from Shanghai April 24.

At present there are three Costa ships already cruising in Asia, while a fourth, Costa Fortuna, will arrive in Shanghai April 22, 2016. In addition, the Costa Group recently announced an order for two new ships for Costa Asia, to be built by Fincantieri in Italy, with delivery in 2019 and 2020.

The Costa Group was the first cruise company to enter the Chinese market back in 2006. Costa's cruises are marketed in China as "Italy at Sea," offering an authentic Italian and European experience for Chinese guests, with inimitable Italian-style hospitality, cuisine and entertainment.

Thomson Cruises to re-brand

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Thomson Cruises yesterday announced that its new addition will be named TUI Discovery as part of the re-brand which will see the whole of Thomson transition to TUI over the next eighteen months. TUI Discovery will also be the first of the Thomson Cruises fleet to offer an all-inclusive drinks package as standard, as well as giving customers a wider choice of dining and entertainment included in the price of their holiday.

The move to name the newest addition to the fleet TUI Discovery is part of the strategy to start introducing the TUI brand to UK customers. Investment in product to enhance and personalise the customer experience is fundamental to the ethos of the TUI brand and unveiling the new ship as TUI Discovery demonstrates this on-going commitment.

As the first of the Thomson Cruises fleet to offer all-inclusive drinks as standard TUI Discovery customers will be able to enjoy the wide range of restaurants and bars on-board alongside a selection of premium drinks, all included in their holiday. From succulent Italian cuisine in the new restaurant, Gallery 47, or laid-back street food from the Snack Shack, families and couples alike will all be able to get the most from their holiday.

TUI Discovery will also see the introduction of innovative new technology to modernise and personalise the on-board experience. Customers will be able to summon their favourite tipple at the touch of a button from their sun lounger on adults-only deck, The Veranda, make dinner, spa and entertainment reservations at self-service kiosks, and browse and buy photos of their cruise. A hi-tech holiday and shore excursion shop will showcase what to see in the many destinations the ship will visit, as well as inspiring customers on future holidays.

Nick Longman, Managing Director of TUI UK & Ireland said: “TUI is a recognised and trusted brand in other countries and we want customers in the UK to get to know and love it too as we transition from Thomson to TUI. Investment in our product to enhance and personalise the customer experience is fundamental to the ethos of the TUI brand and what better way to demonstrate this than unveiling our newest addition as TUI Discovery and introducing all-inclusive as standard. The introduction of TUI Discovery marks a new era for our cruise business in the UK which will continue with the introduction of two more TUI ships to the fleet over the next three years.”

The update on TUI Discovery comes as Thomson Cruises also announces it new programme for summer 2017 which will see the fleet based in the western Mediterranean, eastern Mediterranean and the UK for the first time since 2014. With its smaller ships, Thomson Cruises not only offers a more personal service, but is also able to call at some of these regions’ less-visited ports that other cruise ships can’t reach.

TUI Discovery and Thomson Majesty will both be based in Palma, Majorca whilst Thomson Dream will sail from Corfu and offer customers the ultimate island hopping experience. Thomson Spirit will move to Dubrovnik, Croatia and offer adult-only cruising whilst the fifth ship in the fleet, Thomson Celebration, will split its summer between Malaga, Spain in May and October and ex UK sailings from Newcastle between June and September.

This will result in the introduction of 12 brand new itineraries including UK sailings to ports in the Norwegian Fjords, Scandinavia and the Baltics; more choice in the Mediterranean visiting classics like Venice, Italy; and Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Cadiz, Spain; and a range of durations from four to 14 nights.

New ports of call for summer 2017 will include Wismar in Germany which offers access to the country’s two biggest cities, Berlin and Hamburg; Gdynia in Poland for customer’s to experience the architectural wonders of the region’s capital Gdansk; and Arendal in the Norwegian Riviera to see the inspiration for Disney’s smash hit, Frozen and visit the stunning offshore islands of Merdø, Tromøy and Hisøy.

In the Mediterranean, Thomson Cruises will visit Roses, Spain with its huge bay – endorsed by UNESCO’s Most Beautiful Bays in the World, Blue Flag beaches and secluded coves; Piombino, the gateway to Italy’s Tuscan cities of Siena and Pisa; and Pula, where ancient Rome and modern Croatia collide.

Also new for summer 2017 are the ports of Taranto, Italy; Ciutadella, Menorca; and Zakynthos Town, Zakynthos.

Helen Caron, Managing Director of Thomson Cruises said: “The line-up for summer 2017 is set to be our most exciting programme yet with some incredible new itineraries and ports of call. From the culture of cities likes Casablanca and Copenhagen to the culinary delights of the Tuscan Riviera and the spectacular scenery in Croatia and the Norwegian Fjords we have something to offer families and couples alike. All this, alongside tips and service charges included and flights from 22 airports across the UK. We’re confident that our customers will love everything that summer 2017 has in store.”

On sale from late April, Thomson Cruises’ summer 2017 programme includes flights from 22 regional airports with new routes from London Southend to Palma, and Doncaster Sheffield to Dubrovnik. Early bookers for the summer 2017 season will benefit from a free drinks package upgrade on all summer 2017 sailings and selected winter 2016/17 sailings across the fleet.

MSC Cruises says World Class ships to be LNG powered

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

MSC Cruises, the world’s fourth largest cruise shipping group, said the up to four World Class cruise liners of 200,000 gross tons plus it intends to build at STX France would be powered by LNG.

“They will be the richest yet in terms of amenities and features for guests and families; have a cutting edge design; feature the latest and the best state-of-the-art smart technology and use the most advanced environmentally-friendly technology available with LNG-propelled engines. But most importantly it will be a ship for all seasons and all regions,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, in a statement.

“The four ships provided under the LOI (letter of intent)– two firm orders and two further options – will be delivered in 2022, 2024, 2025 and in 2026,” the company said in the statement.

The ships would feature 2,700 cabins and have about 5,400 lower beds.

MSC Cruises signs letter of intent for up to four 200,000 gross ton plus ships at STX France

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

MSC Cruises, the world’s fourth largest cruise shipping group, said it signs a letter of intent with STX France for the construction of up to four 200,000 gross ton plus ships that will be based on a new, next-generation prototype and will be known as the “World Class” of MSC Cruises’ ships.

The announcement of the four new “World Class” ships is in addition to the seven new builds that MSC Cruises already has on order with (four) Meraviglia and Meraviglia-Plus class ships at STX France and (three) Seaside class ships at Fincantieri – meaning a total of 11 new cruise ships on order between 2017 and 2026 and an investment plan worth a total of $10.2 billion.

“MSC Cruises is the first cruise line brand to develop an investment plan of this length and magnitude - demonstrating our commitment to growth and expanding our existing global footprint,” the company said in a statement.

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