22 MARCH 2010

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Article from BTNews 22 MARCH 2010

CRUISE NEWS MARCH 2010

Speaking at the Cruise Shipping Miami Conference last week William Gibbons, Director of Britain’s Passenger Shipping Association, said:  "The UK cruise industry proved resilient in 2009 despite the very difficult economic climate and much of this success can be attributed to the all-inclusive nature of cruising and the very high standards of quality and service.  These are values intrinsic to cruising and will continue to encourage greater numbers of passengers, with the PSA predicting 1.65m Brits taking a cruise holiday in 2010."

In 2009 1.53m Brits took a cruise – a 4% increase on 2008.  Figures show a 7% increase in the number of people joining their cruise in a UK port while the number of fly-cruise passengers increased by 2%.

The Mediterranean continues to be the most popular destination with 595,000 passengers and a 39% share of the market.  Northern Europe and the Caribbean vie for second place with 295,000 and 275,000 passengers respectively.  Figures show that 16,000 UK passengers took a round Britain cruise.

Looking ahead, Mr Gibbons said: "There are 14 new ship launches this year bringing capacity for an additional 28,000 passenger berths.  Among the new ships are three dedicated to the UK market – Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Eclipse, Cunard's Queen Elizabeth and P&O Cruises' Azura.  Cruise & Maritime has a second ship, Ocean Countess, and Royal Caribbean International is providing a year-round service from Southampton with Independence of the Seas.  Disney Cruise Lines and Holland America Line are also introducing full length cruises out of Dover.  In 2011, nine new ships will be launched and although none are directly dedicated to the UK market, we predict the number of Brits taking a cruise holiday will grow to 1.75m passengers."

Readers might like to know that The Cruise Show, sponsored by the Daily Telegraph and supported by Cruise Critic, is returning to London for a second year next weekend (Saturday 27 March and Sunday 28 March) promising more attractions, expert talks and even more access to cruise lines than last year's very successful inaugural event.

Whether you need some advice on planning your first (or fiftieth!) cruise or just fancy climbing a rock wall, then this show is not to be missed. The venue is London's Olympia, easy to get to and now on the Overground.  Most of the major cruise lines – and many smaller, more adventure-oriented companies – will be on hand to answer questions and provide brochures and other info. www.cruisingshow.com


OUR TEN STORY NEWS ROUNDUP

AMAWATERWAYS is to introduce the MS Amakatarina to its “Russian Waterways” fleet as of May 2011.  Her inaugural sailing will take place on 20 May 2011, and thereafter she will sail a total of 14 11-night voyages for the 2011 season.

AMA say the completely renovated ship will be the largest and most luxurious vessel sailing the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

The 212-passenger ship boasts 24,025 sq ft of space dedicated to just 106 cabins.  Passengers can choose from ten cabin categories spanning four decks to meet their personal needs.  Four different suite categories offer luxurious accommodations ranging in size from 280 to 432 sq ft.  Public areas include a panoramic lounge, conference hall, sauna, bar/nightclub and solarium.

For 2011, the “Russian Waterways” programme will feature an 11-night itinerary from Moscow to St Petersburg, filled with the line’s trademark exclusive features and culturally-enriching tours.  Highlights include two nights on board docked in Moscow, followed by a 6-night cruise along Russia’s colourful and historic waterways.  Passengers will visit the enchanting Golden Ring cities of Uglich and Yaroslavl, then transit across Europe’s two largest lakes, Onega and Ladoga, to one of the world’s most beautiful cities, St Petersburg, spread over 101 islands and 66 canals.  The tour concludes with three nights on board the vessel in St Petersburg where a full programme of tours is included.  www.amawaterways.com


CRYSTAL CRUISES is mounting a much more aggressive campaign in the UK this year and coming up with some excellent offers (AERBT for the most part never mentions prices – they always seem to be changing).  Undoubtedly the one cruise line to never vary its exacting values, Crystal, has expanded its enrichment series now called Experiences of Discovery cruises with a special-interest focus. 

With both Serenity and Symphony offering purpose-built lecture theatres Crystal makes the most of the facility.  Themed cruises (you don’t have to take part) include  Science & Technology, the Wine & Food Festival, Mind, Body & Spirit, Jazz, Golf, Film plus Theatre Festival and Big Band.  www.crystalcruises.com


MS EUROPA, by Hapag Lloyd, Berlitz highest rated ship (it scored 1851, even the two Crystal ships only made 1700) is featuring on its 15-day Ocean Sun Festival Round Britain cruise, an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s finest classical music stars as well as to explore a splendid selection of summer gardens, from northwest Scotland’s Inverewe to the Isles of Scilly and the exotic tropical gardens on Tresco.

Europa provides a perfect venue for the August cruise mix of classical music artists: a string quartet from the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and several guest musicians and singers including Magdalena Kozena – a recent nomination in the 2010 BBC Music Magazine Awards opera category, conductor Ariel Zuckermann and leading young cellist, Gaultier Capuon.  There will be classical concerts onboard as well as exclusive concerts at historical sites ashore as the ship sails from Kiel in Germany to Scotland, the Orkneys, Ireland, Wales, the Scilly Islands and back to its home port of Kiel.

For the landscape designers and enthusiastic gardeners onboard there’s a different garden to explore almost every day, all accompanied by the Europa’s garden art expert.  In Scotland there are the gardens at Tyninghame House, Cawdor Castle, Kierfiold House, Inverewe and Portrack House; in Ireland the Helen Dillon Garden, Powerscourt and Lakemount Gardens.  Bodnant Garden in Wales is followed by Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Scilly Islands and England’s Trelissick Garden in Cornwall and Mottistone Manor, Cowes.

Additional highlights on this 15-day day voyage include a visit to the most northerly whisky distillery in the world; Ring of Brodnar and Skara Brae, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Orkney Islands; Rosslyn Chapel made famous by Dan Brown’s bestseller, The Da Vinci Code; and some of Britain’s historic castles highlighted by an evening performance of  pipes and drums at the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The voyage is being  promoted by the very long established The Cruise People, who are also very active in endorsing what is not the opposite, but very different, deep see "cruises" in the private quarters of large merchant ships. www.hl-cruises.com www.cruisepeople.co.uk


ORION EXPEDITION CRUISES is to increase the size of its fleet with the addition of a second specialist expedition cruise ship to join the existing 106-passenger Orion.  Currently known as Clelia II, Orion II is a 100-passenger all-suite luxury expedition ship.  It is scheduled to commence expedition voyages under the Orion Expedition Cruises banner in May 2011. 

Based on thorough research, and following the success of Orion’s recent voyages, Orion II will be based in South East Asia offering a wide range of expeditions that will include Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Indonesian archipelago, Japan and Borneo.  Recently subject to a €13m refurbishment, with emphasis on technical enhancements and upgraded environmental systems, the ship will also undergo additional cosmetic enhancements to bring her fully into the Orion style.  Together, Orion and Orion II will be two of the most modern and capable expedition cruise ships cruising in Australasia.  www.orionexpeditions.com

P&O CRUISES is to offer Mediterranean fly-cruising for the first time with a winter 2011/2012 package as part of its largest ever programme.  Offering an adult only voyage will be Adonia, formerly Royal Princess, which joins the P&O Cruises’ fleet in May 2011.  With a maximum of only 710 passengers it is a fine intimate ship, but equipped with just about everything its larger brethren offer.  Between May and October, ex-Southampton, she will offer seven to 26 nights cruises to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe featuring some smaller and off the beaten track ports of call as well as the must see destinations.  There is a round Britain cruise. 

In October, Adonia will reposition to the Mediterranean and offer six Central and Eastern Mediterranean fly-cruises, departing from Athens, Naples, Savona and Trieste.  Itinerary highlights include a Christmas and New Year cruise to the Holy Land.  www.pocruises.com


PRINCESS CRUISES has announced its largest ever programme of Mediterranean and Scandinavian cruises in 2011, with seven ships offering 106 departures on 42 unique itineraries, including seven new ones.  The line is introducing a wider choice of UK departures as well as more Mediterranean fly-cruises, in a bid to take advantage of the growing success and popularity of the brand in the UK.  A sister company to P&O voyagers will find a more mixed company on board with plenty of Americans.  However its British heritage is not forgotten, afternoon tea very popular in the main dining room. 

The 2,600-passenger Grand Princess will return to Southampton in 2011 with new itineraries to offer more choice to past passengers, as well as a 3-night Weekend Sampler to offer new customers an opportunity to try out the brand.  In addition to her popular 14-night Mediterranean cruises and 7-night short-breaks Grand Princess will sail an 11-night cruise to the Canary Islands and Madeira, and a 14-night cruise to Norway and Spitsbergen.

“After ten years of above-market level growth, Princess Cruises is set for further growth in the UK in 2011 with our biggest ever Mediterranean and Scandinavian programme.  With seven ships, we can offer a wide range of itineraries for seasoned cruisers as well as newcomers to escape completely,” said Pieter van der Schee, Head of Brand Marketing, Princess Cruises.  www.princess.com


ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL: 2011 European deployment will see an increase  from eight ships in 2010 to 11 and offer 109 unique itineraries, ranging from three to 15 nights and visiting 27 countries and 78 ports.  Two ships Grandeur of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas will sail their maiden Europe seasons from Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca (Spain) respectively. 

Independence of the Seas will continue its year-round service from Southampton with Liberty of the Seas.  Adventure of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas will sail a variety of Mediterranean itineraries, while Jewel of the Seas and Vision of the Seas will ply the Baltic and North seas.  www.royalcaribbean.com


SANCTUARY RETREATS is a curious name for a cruise company but in fact is the title of a London-based tour operator specialising in luxury travel to more interesting destinations, typically rural Kenya, Alpine Europe and out of the way places in Spain.   

Sanctuary has now added an Egyptian cruise programme featuring Nile Adventurer, a five-star rated 32-cabin vessel, which even has a swimming pool on board.  The cabin sizes, on average 22sq m, are generous for a river boat and all have a tub.  You can dine in your cabin if you wish, not a usual offering for a river cruiser.

The trip can start from either Aswan or Luxor depending on the cruise schedule.  There is a no-mobile policy throughout the internal public areas of the boat, for guaranteed peace and relaxation. www.sanctuaryretreats.com


SEABOURN QUEST will launch on 20 June 2011 with a 14-day Maiden Voyage from Barcelona to Athens.  Quest’s maiden season will include seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises, operating alternately between Athens and Istanbul, and Venice and Athens, as well as a seven-day Black Sea voyage.  On the 5 January 2012 Quest begins a 109-day world cruise from Ft Lauderdale to Venice on a unique eastbound course via South America, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. 

Quest is the third (Odyssey and Sojourn being the others) in a new series of ultra luxury “yachts” from Carnival's 6-star operation.  Coming in at 32,000 tons they accommodate just 450 passengers, virtually all in balcony cabins.  www.seabourn.com


STAR CLIPPERS, the Tall Ship specialist, has introduced a new stay-and-cruise package to launch its summer season of seven-night voyages from the Greek island of Rhodes.  The offer includes a week soaking up the summer sunshine at the award-winning, 5-star Rodos Palladium Hotel before joining Star Flyer for a seven-night voyage along the beautiful unspoiled Turkish coast.

The second part of the holiday includes a transfer to the port to join the 170-passenger vessel for a seven-night odyssey along the Turkish coast with its tiny bays and pretty fishing villages.  Ports of call include yachting favourites like Olympus, Antalya, Kemer and Kekova, rarely visited by bigger ships, as well as Gocek, nestling in the sundrenched Bay of Fethiye, a setting of pristine beaches, tiny islets and crystal-clear waters, perfect for snorkelling.  There’s also a call in Greece, at the exquisite little harbour of Kastellorizon, before returning to Rhodes. www.starclippers.com

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