2 NOVEMBER 2015
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Once again BTN is able to offer a very special price for the London CRUISE Show Olympia 20-21 February 2016 of just £2. If nothing else it provides an opportunity to collect all the latest brochures in one go! This is a fantastic saving as the tickets are £10 at the door. Book now and quote 'E1' to claim the discount – you can book online here or by calling +44 (0)871 620 4024.
CRUISE INTELLIGENCE features Queen Mary 2 and new ships from Saga and Silversea but first the 2016 edition of the Berlitz Cruise Guide is out.
If you are into cruising and never purchased the book, it is a must. If your copy is somewhat vintage, just like the ships it reviews, the book does need updating from time to time. Buy one.
It is a good Christmas present as well at £18.99 and the Kindle edition is just £7.81, remarkable value.
The new book is the same size as the previous one with 704 pages, but author Douglas Ward has responded to minor criticism by adding a simple tabulated ships’ rating at the back, all 275 ships individually reviewed in the 500 pages that make up the bulk of the book. Well done John.
For newcomers the book provides a very comprehensive guide to cruising in the glossy editorial pages, enlightening on all aspects not just for beginners, but also sections for families, seniors, solo travellers and what it terms ‘romantics’. Special needs cruising, expedition and coastal cruising sections noted. A short sailing ship section is included too. There is a well written comparison of the major cruise lines. www.insightguides.com
HOW THE SHIPS COMPARE
The top five large ships, rated 4-star, are Mein Schiff 4 and Mein Schiff 3, followed by the Queen Mary 2, Britannia and the Queen Elizabeth.
The top five mid-sized ships, rated 4-star plus, are the Viking Star, the Crystal Serenity and Symphony, and Oceania’s Riviera and Marina.
The top five small ships, rated 5-star plus, are the Europe 2, the Europa, and Silver Whisper, Shadow and Spirit.
The top five so-called boutique (small) ships, rated 5-star, are the Hanseatic, the SeaDream I and II, and the Sea Cloud and the Sea Cloud II.
Ward also rates ships best for families; best for teenagers; most luxurious suites; best spas; best for child-free cruising; best cruise line for foodies; and the ships with the best water slides.
With each ship the guide explains who it is most suitable for, gives the history of the vessel, and describes its accommodations, dining, entertainment, and spa and fitness programs. It also gives tips on how to choose a cruise to get the best value for your money; it lists extra cost items passengers should be aware of; what to expect onboard, a sample programme of a typical day at sea; and talks about what is new in 2016 – including destinations and new ships being introduced.
Also covered are cruise ship environmental standards, safety and medical services. And there are practical tips, like what to do if you miss your ship or if your luggage does not show up.
Ward lists reasons why a reader should take a cruise: It is value for money, it offers convenience, comforts, great food, family togetherness and learning experiences, entertainment and adventure.
Claiming to have “participated” in more than 1,000 cruises and spent more than 6,000 days at sea, 158 trans-Atlantic crossings, countless Panama Canal transits, shipyard visits, ship-naming ceremonies and maiden voyages, Berlitz refers to Ward as a maritime Sherlock Holmes, examining everything from the fluffiness of towels to the quality of the china and silverware, and from the welcome aboard to the disembarkation process.
5 Best Ships for Families – Chosen for family-friendly facilities, activities and entertainment:
5 Best Cruise Lines for Teenagers – Teenagers like space away from adults to hang out and meet others. Some ships get it, others don’t. These do:
5 Best splash-tastic Water Slides – Children cannot wait to go for a ride once they are on board:
5 Most Luxurious Suites – Suites are not just about size and space but also the furnishings, service and all the little details:
5 Best Cruise Ship Spas – Wellness and pampering on board have become major attractions:
5 Best ships for Child-free Cruising – One from each of five different cruise lines:
5 Best Cruise Lines for Foodies – chosen for the quality and variety of ingredients, their creativity and presentation:
If you were thinking of taking one of the Queen Mary 2 Transatlantic cruises next May/June forget it. Now 11 years old (see CRUISE NEWS NOVEMBER 2009) the popular Cunard flagship is due for an extensive 25-day refit at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg at that time. She will receive a wide range of upgrades, including 30 additional Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and 15 Britannia single staterooms, as well as a comprehensive refurbishing of all pre-existing Britannia Club Balcony cabins. There are plenty of other sailings between Southampton and New York during the year.
Queen Mary 2’s redesigned Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and all-new Britannia Single staterooms will offer passengers more options and a more elegant, modern stateroom experience. Fresh design schemes and fine details will pay tribute to the original Queen Mary’s iconic art deco heritage while keeping this grand ocean-liner at the forefront of luxury.
Of the 15 Britannia single staterooms to be added, nine single cabins will be on Deck 2 and six larger single staterooms will be built on Deck 3L. New single cabins on port side Deck 2 will benefit from increased ceiling height and an illuminated coffered ceiling. New single cabins on port side Deck 3L will feature two unique circular windows with bench seat cushions and a central dressing console table.
Additional are Britannia Club Balcony statements on deck 13, at the very top of the ship, previously an open deck. The current Britannia staterooms are on deck 12, allowing guests, those who so wish, direct access to the pool area with its retractable roof. Patrons of Britannia Club dine from the same menu as the Britannia restaurant but at a time to suit themselves during normal opening hours, in a secluded private section of the diner. The Queen Elizabeth has a similar, and equally popular, offering. www.cunard.co.uk
New Saga ship
It is still a long way off, but Saga plans to operate for the first time a ship purpose-built for its unique style of cruising for the over 50s. As a Plc now it is in a position to take the ‘new ship’ route, rather than as in the past acquiring, and extensively updating, a previously owned vessel.
The all-balcony 55,900 tons ship, built by Meyer Werft in Germany, will come into service in 2019. The shipyard recently put the finishing touches to Norwegian Cruise Line's soon-to-launch Norwegian Escape and is building Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas.
The new ship will carry something less than 1,000 passengers in 540 suites and cabins. Around 15% will be designed for single occupancy and leisure facilities will include outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa, saunas, treatment rooms and beauty salon.
Saga Cruises currently operates two ships, the 446-passenger Saga Pearl II (Berlitz 1348) and the 706-passenger Saga Sapphire (1446), both by the end of the decade ready for phasing out.
Feedback from passenger forums indicated that passengers are keen to maintain the friendly, "one ship for everybody" ethos that Saga is known for. Dining can be accommodated in a single sitting and there will be no exclusive areas on board, or restaurants that charge supplements. www.saga.co.uk/cruises
There are about 35 new cruise ships on order at the present time. One of the most significant is likely to be the Silver Muse, the new flagship of Silversea Cruises. The new ultra-luxury ship is being built by Fincantieri of Italy and at 40,000 grt accommodates 596 guests, representing an evolution of the very successful Silver Spirit enhancing the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience. (see BTN 17 December 2012)
The addition of the Silver Muse will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships, and will once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market with a wealth of enhancements to the on-board experience, while satisfying the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world's most discerning travellers.
"We have always had a special relationship with Fincantieri, since my father ordered from them the first cruise vessels for Sitmar Cruises in 1987," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Chairman of Silversea. "Both companies have a clear understanding of what today's affluent traveller seeks, and each approaches the market with originality, creativity and quality. The management team led by Giuseppe Bono has been exceptional in managing Silversea's project."
According to Enzo Visone, Silversea's CEO, "With enhanced design specifications and enriched content, the Silver Muse will continue to build on the sophistication, innovative style and ground-breaking concepts for which Silversea ships are renowned. This ship contributes to our ambitious growth plans that will ensure our continued leadership in ultra-luxury cruising."
"We're very pleased to once again partner with Silversea," commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "Silversea has shown remarkable dynamism and ability to achieve important results in this market. This project offers us the opportunity to develop creative solutions and set new standards for shipbuilding in the ultra-luxury segment, a segment in which Fincantieri has won every new order on the market in the past year." www.silversea.com
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