3 AUGUST 2015
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The really big news this month is that Crystal Cruises, under the new ownership of Genting Group (GHK) (see BTN 6 July), the global hospitality and leisure company, has ordered three 100,000 ton ships from the German yard Lloyd Werft. Each will accommodate just 1,000 passengers in suites of a minimum 400sq ft, twice that of any other luxury liner. As a means of comparison the current Crystal Serenity, one of the most highly rated of all ships by Douglas Ward, is 68,000 tons for the same number of guests.
This issue's ON TOUR features cruising, Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas, not a megalith, just 78,000 tons and 2,000 passengers, a 1998 vintage family ship, that has clearly withstood the time very well. RCCL’s Explorer of the Seas, somewhat bigger, played host to your Editor, wife and grandson during July and a report will appear in a future cruising edition of BTN.
Initially this month CRUISE NEWS concentrates on the luxury ships followed by CRUISE DEALS with October targeted, just far enough ahead for readers to consider a bargain trip.
GHK wholly owns Star Cruises and is a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. With the Crystal brand, and its high quality six-star reputation, GHK plans a luxury yacht, river cruises and exclusive Boeing 787 Dreamliner for just 60 passengers offering 28-day world air cruises.
Crystal Esprit is being acquired from within the Genting Group and will embark on its maiden voyage later this year as the first expansion of the Crystal Cruises fleet. The 62-guest, 3,300-ton yacht will offer intimate, exclusive, and immersive experiences with a boutique ambiance, said the company. Technology includes a two-passenger submarine, four 10-passenger zodiacs, and a single 32-passenger yacht tender.
The spring of 2017 brings more growth with Crystal River Cruises featuring expertly curated itineraries offering the all-inclusive Crystal experience – 6-star service, world-class dining, and what the company calls “enriching shore-side adventures”.
“Our vision and revolutionary plans for Crystal’s ocean vessels requires us to partner with a premium shipyard that has the expertise and resources to deliver the ‘Crystal Exclusive Class’,” said Tan Sri Lim, Chairman. “Lloyd Werft is synonymous with successful world-class new builds and luxury mega yachts, including Luna, the second largest expedition private yacht in the world, measuring at 337ft long (in length).”
“With an impressive 100 tons of space per guest, the average space ratio for luxury cruise ships being 60 tons per person, our new ships’ guest-to-space ratios will be vast in comparison to past, current and under-construction luxury ships, reaching all corners of the world safely, smoothly and in the utmost style and comfort,” said Edie Rodriguez, President and CEO, Crystal Cruises.
For the first time ever, guests will have the opportunity to call a Crystal ship “home”, with Crystal Residences. Situated on the top deck of the new ships will be 48 unique homes, with their own private restaurant, reception and facilities, and high ceilings (9ft). Residences will start at 600sq ft and go to more than 4,000sq ft of interior living area, which will be the largest on the high seas.
Also in the luxury market, but less than half the size, Silversea has cut metal on its new flagship, the Silver Muse, to be delivered in the spring of 2017. A first season in the Mediterranean is a strong probability.
It will accommodate 596 guests and represents the evolution of the lovely Silver Spirit and its small-ship intimacy.
The addition of ‘Muse’ will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships, and will once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market.
If you are in to top end cruise ships also building is Regent Seven Seas Explorer due to make her maiden voyage in 2016, at 54,000 tons, 369 suites and 750 guests. Her first season will be in the Mediterranean, with the maiden voyage from Monte Carlo to Venice set for 20 July. With new ships building no doubt senior executives from Crystal and Silversea will be discreetly booking their passages.
Seabourn is Carnival Group’s 6-star product with three 32,000 ton 450-passenger ships, Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest (Ward 1703), virtually all balcony vessels. The newest addition, Seabourn Encore (600 passengers), will commence her service in December 2016 with a 16-day sailing from Athens to Dubai. Following her inaugural voyage, Encore will stay in Indonesia and offer a variety of voyages throughout the region with itineraries including highlights such as Java, Bali and Colombo.
CRUISE DEALS IN OCTOBER
October is a fine month to go cruising with the under 18s for the most part at school and the weather in Mediterranean often very good. There is plenty of capacity and some very good deals available. Most of the ships will be hibernating towards the end of the month to the Caribbean, and even further afield. Atlantic crossings are available at bargain prices with upgraded cabins available.
The following is just a sample list for the month. Contact your cruise specialist or the operator direct for more bargains. Generally speaking, flights are extra.
(See the Berlitz – Douglas Ward’s "CRUISING & Cruise Ships” rating in brackets + passengers + tonnage)
AZAMARA is the top brand of the RCCL group and currently operates two of the former R Class ships to a very high standard (1548/676/30,000). Both Journey and Quest have had a lot of money spent on them, the ships oozing quality. For just £958 for two (Club Balcony) you can try Quest out of Barcelona to Nice 8-11 October. There are other Mediterranean offers during the month. www.azamaraclubcruises.com
CMV is cruising out of Tilbury the whole of October with Magellan including an eight-night trip starting at £489 taking in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Helsingborg, Copenhagen, Aalborg, with a sea day at either end. A former Carnival ship of 46,000 tons and reduced to 1,250 passengers she joined CMV earlier this year after a major refit and waits to learn of Douglas Ward’s rating. She has 150 single cabins. www.cruiseandmaritime.com
CRYSTAL is the height of luxury and Crystal Serenity (1711/1090/68,000) outstanding in every respect. Starting in Venice on 18 October (overnight – but go early to enjoy the city for a few days) followed by Kotor, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence) and ending in Monte Carlo. Prices start from £2,310 per person including return scheduled flights, transfers and seven nights in a deluxe stateroom with picture window with all meals and soft drinks, most alcoholic beverages, port taxes and gratuities. There is free wi-fi for past guests (Crystal Society members). www.crystalcruises.co.uk
CUNARD continues with its popular summer season crossing of the Atlantic with Queen Mary 2 (1675/2620/150,000), satisfying a market for people who do not want to fly, offering a true liner experience in the great traditions of the line. It is for regulars and newcomers. Some people go one way, others take the return crossing. An iconic trip. In October there are departures from New York on 11 and 29 October and Southampton 22 October. Some crossings are seven and some eight nights. Prices with an inside cabin start from £1,000 including the return flight. www.cunard.com
FRED OLSEN has a 13-night ‘Canaries & Madeira Winter Warmth’ cruise, on Braemar (1274/930/24,000) departing from Santa Cruz (Tenerife) on 30 October. Cruise-only prices start from £799 per person, or £999 per person including flights and transfers to/from ship. We recommend the package although carriers such as easyJet serve Tenerife South from a variety of UK airports. There are eight stops during the voyage including the Moroccan city of Agadir, La Gomera, and an overnight stay at Funchal, Madeira. www.fredolsencruises.com
MSC Cruises have a seven-night fly-cruise from Genoa (Italy) on MSC Preziosa (1452/3,500/140,000) departing 17 October, calling at Civitavecchia (Rome) (Italy); Palermo (Sicily); Cagliari (Sardinia); Palma (Majorca); Valencia (Spain); Marseille, (France) and Genoa (Italy). Prices start at £599 per person, including return flights from London with British Airways and transfers, plus free ‘Fantastica’ upgrade (breakfast in cabin and 24hr room service). Upgrade to balcony cabins for an extra £100 per person. www.msccruises.co.uk
NCL has on offer Norwegian Jade (1367/93,500/2466) on a seven-night Adriatic fly cruise, Greece and Turkey from Venice. Prices start from £949.50 per person based on two adults sharing an inside stateroom departing Heathrow on 10 October. Norwegian pioneered ‘Freestyle’, much copied. Fly from London to Venice, and on to Dubrovnick, Athens (Piraeus), Kusadasi, Split and back to Venice. If you have the time take in Venice before or after the cruise. www.ncl.co.uk
OCEANIA Cruises is offering free gratuities and a complimentary beverage package including wine, champagne and beer with lunch and dinner on bookings 5 October from £1,689 for a veranda stateroom. Athens to Barcelona is eight nights on board the mid-sized luxury cruise ship Riviera (1682/1252/66,000) and a chance to sample all four speciality restaurants as part of the deal. Complimentary soft drinks and bottled water, and the opportunity to take part in wine and food pairings or cookery workshops in the only hands-on cookery schools at sea. Flights included. www.oceaniacruises.com
P&O Cruises is offering a 12-night Iberia cruise on the family friendly Ventura (1464/3074/116,000) from £749 per person for an inside cabin departing Southampton 12 October, the price includes full board meals and afternoon tea. There is a fine kids' club and full entertainment on board. Ports of call are Lisbon, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, Malaga and Gibraltar. www.pocruises.com
STAR CLIPPERS operates a fleet of three ‘sailing’ ships with another one, the world’s largest, on its way. You even can even climb up the mast, under strict supervision and with a safety harness. Available are a series of seven- night Mediterranean cruises on Star Flyer (1395/170/2,298) from 10 October with prices starting at £1,339pp, the first one out of Barcelona and via Mahon, Palma, Ibiza, Cartagena, Motril, Puerto Banus and Malaga (from where the next one begins. www.starclippers.co.uk
ROYAL CARRIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL offers Anthem of the Seas (new and not rated but 4,180 passengers and 167,000 tons) out of Southampton until 11 October with some very good deals available, but we feature here Legend of the Seas (1370/1,800/69,000) sister ship in our ON TOUR review of Vision of the Seas, which has an 11 October departure from Singapore. The itinerary includes Ko Samui (Thailand); Bangkok and Laemchabang (Thailand); Sihanoukville (Cambodia); Nha Trang (Vietnam); Ho Chi Minh – from Phu My (Vietnam) and back to Singapore after 10 nights. Book your holiday quickly to benefit from Buy One Get One Half Price (on cruise fare only). Prices start from £1,669 for first guest and just £1,164 for second guest (based on two sharing an interior stateroom). Stay in Singapore for a few days either end. www.rccl.com
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