Australian River Cruisers In Europe – MSC Armonia Returns To Sea – Saga To Sell Through Travel Agents

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 29th September 2014... …

Scenic Diamond

The Scenic Diamond is only one of about 30 Australian-owned river cruisers soon to be sailing the rivers of Europe

APT, Scenic and Evergreen may be new names to many, but together they are deep in the Australian psyche and are investing €360 million in European river cruise vessels. We have a quick look today at their latest moves. Meanwhile MSC Cruises’ MSC Armonia will finish her lengthening at Palermo in a few weeks, after which she will be able carry 400 more passengers. MSC has announced some special events for her November positioning voyage from Genoa to Las Palmas. And Saga in the UK is preparing to welcome bookings from travel agents instead of relying solely on direct sell as in the past.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                    (See previous columns)

Thirty Years Of Northwest Passage Cruises – TUI Cruises Places Options For Two More Ships – New Ship Names For Royal Caribbean

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 22nd September 2014... ..

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Lindblad Explorer

Lindblad Explorer transited the Northwest Passage in 1984

northwest_passageThis month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the first full transit of Canada’s Northwest Passage by a commercial passenger vessel, with the Lindblad Explorer arriving in Yokohama on September 29, 1984. The 43-day voyage had departed St John’s, Newfoundland, on August 20. But things are now accelerating in the Northwest Passage. Last year saw the first commercial cargo, 73,000 tons of coal, move from Vancouver to Finland in the Nordic Orion, and this year the first westbound cargo, 25,000 tons of nickel concentrate, moving from Quebec to China in Fednav’s Nunavik. In 2015, Abercrombie & Kent will become the seventh company operating expedition ships through the Northwest Passage by chartering Ponant’s Le Boréal, and in 2016 Crystal Cruises plans to carry 900 passengers from Seward, Alaska, through the Northwest Passage to New York in the 68,870-ton Crystal Serenity.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                 (See previous columns)

Canadian-Owned m.v. Nunavik Takes First Westbound Cargo Through The Northwest Passage As Our 2014 Passengers Arrive In Anadyr

Nunavik

Fednav, a Canadian-owned company and world leader in Arctic navigation, announced that its vessel, the m.v. Nunavik sailed from Deception Bay en route to China via Canada’s Northwest Passage, with a full cargo of nickel concentrate. The Nunavik will be one of the first commercial vessels to transit the Northwest Passage completely, and the first to do so unescorted with an Arctic cargo, and with Canadian expertise.

The Nunavik is the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) icebreaking bulk carrier in the world, and sails from Deception Bay, Northern Quebec year round, transporting product from the Canadian Royalties mine. The Nunavik will deliver 23,000 tons of nickel concentrate to Bayuquan in China.

Meanwhile, our own Northwest Passage passengers for 2014 arrived in Anadyr, Siberia, this week from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, which they left on on August 26, in Ponant’s L’Austral. Ice conditions are fairly heavy this year. The ship needed an icebreaker in the Passage and was late arriving at Cambridge Bay and had to cancel her call there. The ice that is clogging the Northwest Passage right now is mostly multi-year ice breaking off from polar ice-packs and being pushed down from the Arctic Ocean.

We now have six companies offering the Northwest Passage: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Ponant and Silversea offering the full transit while One Ocean Expeditions, Adventure Canada and Lindblad transit the passage from the east and turn at Coppermine or Cambridge Bay. You will find some of the links here on our Expeditions page. Crystal Serenity in the ice

Crystal Cruises will transit the Northwest Passage from Seward, Alaska, to New York in 2006 with the 1,090-berth Crystal Serenity. Her passage has been planned by EYOS Expeditions and has been in the making for two years. Please call Gay Scruton on +44 (0) 20 7723 2450 for further details on this departure.

For further details on booking any transit of the Northwest Passage please contact The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Maiden Voyage Of Tahiti-Based Aranui 5 Delayed Until October 2015; Passengers Can Rebook To Ensure They Are On The New Ship

Aranui 5Tahiti’s Compagnie Polynésienne de Transport Maritime (CPTM) has just confirmed to us that the Aranui 5 ‘s maiden voyage will be delayed by one sailing. At the moment, CPTM believe that she should be able to enter service with departure N°14/2015 (October 10, 2015). This date could change again in the future. To be on the safe side, passengers wishing to travel on the new vessel should probably book on Voyage N°16/2015 and thereafter.

With these latest changes, for passengers already booked and wishing to travel on the new ship CPTM will allow them to postpone or even cancel their cruise without penalty. CPTM’s reservations department will shortly be contacting all operators and agents having passengers on these trips.

Furthermore, CPTM has decided to reintroduce for 2015, their Senior Special (voyage N°12 – Aug 29th 2015). The discount granted will be 10% applicable to passengers already booked on this departure and also to new reservations (some conditions apply).

For further details on booking on either the Aranui 3 or the new Aranui 5 please contact Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America please call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Three Ships Placed In NSB’s Mediterranean-Australia Cargo-Passenger Service With MSC : Last-Minute Bookings Now Being Taken

Three ships, the MSC Monterey, MSC Geneva and most recently MSC Carouge, have now been placed into MSC’s Italy-Australia service via Suez. Each ship can carry six passengers in one Owners Cabin and two Doubles. These ships are 4,870 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent container) capacity vessels and single passengers are carried at a very modest single supplement of €15 per day on top of the normal fare.

MSC Monterey © Lotse 1967 @ FleetmonThe overall route is : Valencia – Fos sur Mer – La Spezia – Naples – Gioia Tauro – Suez – Pointe des Galets(La Reunion) – Port Louis(Mauritius) – Sydney – Melbourne – Adelaide – Fremantle – Singapore – Jebel Ali – Ad Dammam – Jubail – Jebel Ali – Salalah – King Abdullah – Suez – Piraeus – Valencia – Fos sur Mer – La Spezia.

One-way and partial bookings are possible but passenger bookings are not accepted to or from Middle Eastern ports. The MSC Monterey (pictured) is on charter until 2019, but, subject to renewal, MSC Geneva and MSC Carouge have charters that last only until January / February 2015.

Last-minute passenger space is now available on the following departures:

MSC Carouge from La Spezia about October 5, 2014. For this departure only we also can accept bookings to La Reunion and Mauritius.

MSC Geneva from La Spezia about October 19, 2014 to Sydney etc or the full round voyage.

For further details and bookings to and from Australia please call Miri Lopusna at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

A Prestige Ship For Bermuda At Some Time In The Future?

Norwegian Cruise Line ceo Kevin Sheehan was quoted in Bermuda recently as having said that with its acquisition of Prestige Cruises the “new” Norwegian group might take a bigger interest in the now underused Bermuda ports of Hamilton and St George’s. The maximum length of ship allowed in Hamilton is about 720 feet, on 26 feet of draft, and similar limitations apply at St George’s. The great advantage to Hamilton of course is that ships dock right on the city’s main thoroughfare of Front Street.

Seven Seas Mariner and Voyager in Hamilton April 2008

Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager together in Hamilton, Bermuda, in April 2008

Both Regent and Oceania have been to Bermuda in the past and indeed in 2003 Regent (then Radisson) ran the 560-foot 490- berth Seven Seas Navigator on eleven weekly cruises from New York and Norfolk to Hamilton and St George’s. Oceania, on the other hand, has put ships into Bermuda, on positioning voyages or seasonal cruises.

At 594 feet, Oceania’s 684-berth “R” class ships Insignia, Nautica and Regatta can get into Hamilton and St George’s, but because of their length, the 776-feet 1,250-berth Marina and Riviera are restricted to Bermuda’s outlying Naval Dockyard. The “R” ships are only slightly longer than the Furness Bermuda Line’s 580-foot Queen of Bermuda and Monarch of Bermuda, which at one time were the mainstay of the New York-Hamilton trade.

Of the three Regent ships, not only the Seven Seas Navigator but also the 709-foot Seven Seas Mariner and 677-foot Seven Seas Voyager, both with 708 berths, have docked on Front Street in the past. Indeed the Mariner and the Voyager became two of the largest ships to do so when they docked together in Hamilton in April 2008. At 732 feet, the 738-berth newbuilding Seven Seas Explorer, due in 2016, will be subject to approval by the local authorities as to whether she will be able to berth in Hamilton. That means that five or six out of the eight existing Prestige ships could be candidates for Bermuda.

But whether a regular upmarket service to Bermuda can survive since the relaxation of the shipboard casino opening laws has yet to be proven. Sheehan told the Royal Gazette, “We would be open to bringing more of the smaller ships into Bermuda – it seems like the perfect market.”

Hamilton will see only seven calls this year, with nothing between late April and mid-October, and St George’s only two cruise ship calls in the whole year.

Azamara Club Cruises tried one season with its 684-berth “R” ship Azamara Journey on the New York-St George’s-Hamilton run in 2007 and then left.

Between 2010 and 2012, in which year she made 19 voyages, Holland America Line ran its 719-foot 1,348-berth Veendam between New York and Hamilton, but she did not call at St George’s. After not being able to make enough money sailing to Bermuda, Holland America switched the Veendam to the Boston to St Lawrence trade at the end of 2012.

However, with ships’ casinos now allowed to open in port, Veendam will test the waters again in 2015, making six sailings between Boston and Hamilton between May and July, alternating with her Boston sailings to the St Lawrence.

Norwegian of course holds Bermuda contracts for the New York-Bermuda and Boston-Bermuda trades and has the largest ship in the Bermuda trade with the 4,000-berth Norwegian Breakaway serving New York, and the 2,476-berth Norwegian Dawn on the Boston route. Their ships will make 48 calls at Dockyard in 2015.

For further details of cruising with Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises please call Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Norwegian’s “All-Inclusive” Packages – A Prestige Ship For Bermuda? – Chinese Taishan Enters Service

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 15th September 2014...

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        NCL All-Inclusive

Last month, Norwegian Cruise Line announced its new 2015 all-inclusive program for North America, and this month it announced a similar program for the UK. There are some interesting comparisons between the two programs in that fare reductions that are a part of the package differ, as do rates of exchange used for different cruise lengths. Elsewhere in Norwegian’s “new” realm since they agreed to acquire Prestige Cruises, Norwegian ceo Kevin Sheehan remarked that Bermuda might see more Prestige ships in future years, as being a good destination fit for the Regent and Oceania cruise brands. And in China, Bohai Cruise has inaugurated its new cruise service using the 800-berth Chinese Taishan, formerly Costa Voyager.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                                                  (See previous columns)

Five Transatlantic Sail Opportunities With Star Clippers In 2015 – Schooner Or Square Rigged – Caribbean to Europe And Vice Versa

Star Clippers TransatStar Clippers’ range of extended ocean cruises allows you really to get a feel for life on the open water as you sail across the Atlantic Ocean from one delightful destination to another. Usually these crossings embark from in Europe and travel to a port in the Caribbean, or vice versa, giving you the opportunity to discover two vastly different continents and enjoy a relaxing break at sea in between.

Flights, non UK transfers & port charges included in the following fares

St. Maarten to Lisbon

Departing April 2, 2015 – 18 nights aboard Star Flyer – Visiting: St. Maarten, 12 nights at sea, Punta Delgada, 4 nights at sea and Lisbon – From £1,979 per person, Single from £2,359

Barbados to Rome

Departing April 25, 2015 – 21 nights aboard Royal Clipper – Visiting: Barbados, 10 nights at sea, Punta Delgada, 4 nights at sea, Malaga, Palma, Mahon and Rome – From £2,049 pp, Single from £2,679

Las Palmas to Barbados

Departing October 24, 2015 – 15 nights aboard Star Flyer – Visiting: Las Palmas, Santa Cruz, 13 nights at sea and Barbados – From £1,789* pp, Single from £2,229

Malaga to St. Maarten

October 31, 2015 – 21 nights including Star Clipper – Visiting: Malaga, Safi, Arrecife, Las Palmas,
13 nights at sea and St. Maarten – From £2,539 pp, Single from £3,279

Lisbon to Barbados

November 5, 2015 – 16 nights including Royal Clipper – Visiting: Lisbon, Casablanca, Safi, Tenerife,
10 nights at sea and Barbados – From £2,149 pp, Single from £2,729

For further details of crossing the Atlantic with Star Clippers please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Century Sold To Chinese “Joint Venture”– Norwegian Acquires Regent and Oceania – Things That Were Not To Be

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at Cybercruises.com by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 8th September 2014..

Century CdF

Celebrity Cruises’ Century as she will never appear, in the colours of Croisières de France, as she was sold to China instead

 

Last week was full of news. First, Royal Caribbean announced that it was selling Celebrity Cruises’ Century to a newly formed subsidiary of China’s Ctrip. This was mixed in with rumours from China about additional ships from within the Royal Caribbean group. On the same day, although rumours had been circulating for some time of the acquisition of Prestige Cruise Holdings, owners of the Oceania and Regent brands, by Norwegian Cruise Line, the deal was finally announced. From Australia came word of the cancellation of Funchal’s short 2015 season, and then from France confirmation that the Zenith would remain with Croisières de France as the Century was now going elsewhere.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                            (See previous columns)

Compare This Lanai Suite On Matson Lines’ Lurline Fifty Years Ago With A Typical Balcony Suite On Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 Today

For those who like their luxuries, here is an interesting comparison. This is a typical Lanai Suite from Matson Lines’ 26,000-ton (18,163 US measure) 632-foot ocean liner Lurline, which sailed between San Francisco and Honolulu from 1932 into the 1960s. From 1957, she offered a First-Class only service for 475 passengers, also offering occasional cruises to the Pacific between her regular Hawaii sailings.

Accommodation Matson Line Lanai SuiteFifty years later, here is a typical balcony suite on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 42,830-ton 739-foot Europa 2, introduced last year. Have some fun and count up the similarities (that room divider for one thing) and the differences (Venetian blinds vs balcony for another) betwen the two styles, which, although separated by half a century, are very similar.

Accommodation Europa 2 Balcony Suite

Europa 2 carries 516 passengers in all-balcony accommodation in the best style, offering 7-night itineraries in the Mediterranean by summer and skighty longer Far East itineraries by winter. She is rated by the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships as the top cruise ship in the world.

For further details on cruising on board Europa 2 please call Gay Scruton (who is off for another cruise on Europa 2 tonight) at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.

Antarctica: Special Offer From Poseidon Expeditions – 20% Off Plus Free Cabin Upgrade on m.v. Sea Explorer – December 7-18, 2014

Sea Explorer 1Take advantage of this bargain offer while the going is good and get in Antarctica before Christmas. Leaving Ushuaia, December 7-18 on board the yacht-like but Ice Class Sea Explorer.

Click above or below to enlarge.

Sea Explorer 2For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk.

Why You Should Go To Panama by Alex Page – To Cruise The Canal On The Variety Voyager

Variety Voyager

Cruise through the Panama Canal on board the mega-yacht Variety Voyager

This summer, the incredible Panama Canal celebrates 100 years of history, having opened to shipping traffic for the first time on August 15th 1914. The local tourist authorities cannot be said to be milking the milestone, though, having been commemorating it for the past year with a variety of events.

Considered the epicentre for world trade, it still sees a phenomenal amount of traffic. Roberto Roy, president of the Panama Canal Authority’s (ACP) board of directors, is among those celebrating its uniqueness. “The Panama Canal has been connecting the world since Aug. 15, 1914,” he told Inside Costa Rica.

“The fact that 14,000 vessels make use of the waterway every year in order to serve 1,700 ports in 160 countries is sufficient proof of this statement.” But what exactly is so special about this spectacular waterway? And why should you make it the focus of your cruise holiday? Trade history The Panama Canal is a 50-mile stretch of water that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Initially opened for trade, it has also since become something of a cruise favourite thanks to the hive of activity that can be seen on an everyday basis.

The waterway itself was a catalyst for world trade, reducing distances, costs and shipping times for the movement of merchandise between production and consumption centres. Initial construction proved tricky. Started by the French, who later abandoned the project thanks to various difficulties, it was eventually completed by the US after 23 years of work and a ten-year hiatus. But the history doesn’t stop there, as the waterway has seen its fair share of controversy since, including a territorial issue in the 1960s that threatened to close it.

On a cruise As well as experiencing all this history as close to first hand as it is possible to get, there are a number of other advantages to cruising the Panama Canal. Spectacular places to experience along the way include Panama City and the various locks ships have to traverse in order to pass, at which stringent checks are in place.

CC Utrillo in Panama CanalThen there are the various sights and sounds of Panama to experience – Pacific and Atlantic beaches, volcanoes and jungles are just some of the many landmarks to be visited. It is important to bear in mind that there are size restrictions in place on the waterway. Obviously for the mega yacht Variety Voyager, this is not a problem, but more importantly, as a smaller vessel it can access some of the smaller bays and coves beyond the reach of the big ships, allowing guests to experience some of the national parks and tropical natural wonders of the region up close.

What does the future hold  for this iconic waterway? Current projects are on track that will allow the trade route to accept vessels twice the size as the ones that currently float along it, by next year, so a visit in 2014 could be your last chance to witness the Panama Canal in its current state.

If all this has got you itching to experience a cruise on this incredible stretch of water, consider checking out a Costa Rica and Panama Canal cruise. You will not be disappointed by the sights, history and culture on offer.

For further details please call The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or e-mail cruise@cruisepeople.co.uk. In North America call 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail cruise@thecruisepeople.ca.