Monday, March 31, 2008

Royal Caribbean Plans Eight Ships in Europe for 2009 (03/21/08)

Royal Caribbean International plans to deploy a record eight ships in Europe for the 2009 summer and fall seasons. Itineraries range from four to 14 nights aboard Independence of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas. All told, the line plans 70 itineraries to 87 ports of call in 32 countries. Itineraries will explore the Mediterranean Sea, Northern and Western Europe and a variety of transatlantic sailings. Bookings are open for the 2009 Europe cruises and cruise-tours for all ships except for Vision of the Seas, which will open in April. Cruise-tours allow passengers to combine a cruise with land journey, city tours and hotel stays ranging from three to five nights prior to embarkation. A tour director escorts each group to landmarks and attractions in Europe's popular cities, including Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Stresa, Verona, Venice, Florence and Rome. Air and ground transfers, hotel reservations, tours and some meals are included.
In 2009, Independence of the Seas returns to Southampton, U.K., for its second Europe season, offering 14-night Western Mediterranean, 10- and 11-night Western Europe and Canary Islands, and four-night British Isles itineraries. Navigator of the Seas will sail from homeports of Malaga, Spain, a new homeport for Royal Caribbean; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Barcelona. Voyager of the Seas is also homeporting in Barcelona through November 2009. In November and December 2009, Brilliance of the Seas will operate a new Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean itinerary roundtrip from Barcelona, featuring the Greeks Isles and calls at Port Said and Alexandria, Egypt. Vision of the Seas will operate Scandinavian itineraries from Copenhagen, Denmark, another new homeport for the cruise line; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. Jewel of the Seas will operate 12-night Scandinavia and Baltic voyages, featuring an overnight in St. Petersburg. Jewel will also sail one 12-night itinerary that combines the British Isles and Norwegian Fjords, which includes a call at Geiranger, Norway, one of the highest rated ports by previous guests. Vision of the Seas will also offer 10- and 11-night Holy Land itineraries from the new homeports of Athens and Istanbul.

Celebrity Plans Biggest Europe Season Ever for 2009 (03/21/08)

Celebrity Cruises has scheduled its largest European deployment ever for 2009 with five ships, including two new vessels. The line will visit 76 ports in 29 countries, five of which are new to Celebrity. Celebrity's 2009 Europe season includes six homeports, overnight stays in eight ports, and five cruise-tour options. Celebrity also will offer nine transatlantic sailings in 2009. The cruises opened for sale Thursday. "Our guests have told us repeatedly that Europe is where they want to be, and they want to be there in style," said Celebrity President and CEO Dan Hanrahan.
Two new ships will debut in Europe in 2009, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox. Joining them are Celebrity Century, which underwent a $55 million makeover in 2006, Celebrity Constellation, built in 2002, and Celebrity Summit, which launched in 2001. The six homeports are Amsterdam, Holland; Barcelona, Spain; Harwich and Southampton, England; and Rome and Venice, Italy. Celebrity's ships will explore Scandinavia and Russia, the Arctic Circle and North Cape, the Mediterranean, Israel and Egypt. Overnight port stays are scheduled for Alexandria, Egypt; Copenhagen, Denmark; Istanbul and Kusadasi, Turkey; Rome, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; and Venice, Italy. Celebrity will make five maiden calls at Antwerp, Belgium, located on the River Scheldt, 50 miles from the sea; Ashdod, Israel's largest port; Haifa, Israel's third-largest city; La Spezia, Italy, on the Ligurian Sea; and Portofino, Italy.
Celebrity Century will offer seven-night Western Mediterranean sailings roundtrip out of Barcelona from Sept. 19 - Nov. 21, 2009. Celebrity's European itineraries have traditionally lasted 10 nights or longer, and this shorter offering is designed to appeal to those with less vacation time. From Aug. 18 through Oct. 23, 2009, Celebrity Equinox will sail 13- and 14-night "Ancient Empires" itineraries out of Rome, featuring calls on Ashdod, Haifa, an overnight in Alexandria, and ports throughout Greece, Turkey, and Italy. Beginning May 4, Celebrity Solstice will sail 10- and 11-night Eastern Mediterranean roundtrips from Rome, calling on ports throughout Greece, Turkey, and Italy. The 11-night sailings include overnight stays in Istanbul.
Celebrity has increased the number of "Scandinavia and Russia" cruises roundtrip from Amsterdam, with nine of these itineraries scheduled between May and August 2009. These voyages feature an overnight stay in St. Petersburg and calls in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Denmark. The Century's 12-night "Arctic Circle and North Cape" itinerary, offered June 26 and July 8 from Amsterdam, features calls on seven Norwegian ports, including Geiranger, which the line hasn't visited since 2006.
Celebrity Constellation's 14-night transatlantic sailing from Harwich on Sept. 5, 2009, will feature a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland; the voyage, which ends in Cape Liberty (Bayonne), N.J., also features stops in France, Ireland, Scotland, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick. Beginning May 10, Celebrity Summit will alternate 12- or 14-night "Classical Mediterranean" and "Mediterranean Legacies" sailings between Venice and Barcelona, calling on ports in France, Italy, Greece, Croatia and Turkey, collectively.
Mediterranean cruise-tours include a new five-night "Venice, Florence and Rome" package featuring two nights in Venice, one night in Florence and two nights in Rome. The three-night "Italian Lakes, Verona, and Venice" cruise-tour includes two nights in Lago Maggiore's Stresa, one night in Verona, touring in Venice and a lake tour to the Borromean islands and the Shakespearean city of Verona. A four-night "Madrid and Barcelona" cruise-tour offers two nights in Madrid, two nights in Barcelona, city tours in both locations, and a visit to the ancient city of Toledo. Northern Europe cruise-tours include a four-night "Paris and London" package, and a three-night "Brussels and Amsterdam" package.

RCCL to Homeport Freedom-Class Ships in Port Canaveral (03/20/08)

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and the Canaveral Port Authority are expected to finalize an agreement in the next few months to homeport the 160,000-ton Freedom of the Seas at Port Canaveral. Royal Caribbean submitted a letter of intent to deploy the vessel to Canaveral in May 2009. "The Freedom of the Seas will be the largest cruise vessel homeported here," said Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne. "And the agreement represents the longest commitment of Royal Caribbean to Port Canaveral." Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said, "Based on the popularity of Mariner of the Seas at Port Canaveral, we look forward to and anticipate similar success for Freedom of the Seas." The 3,634-passenger Freedom of the Seas was launched in 2006 as the world's largest cruise ship.

Disney to Homeport Two New Ships in Port Canaveral (03/20/08)

Disney Cruise Line has finalized an agreement with Port Canaveral to extend the company's current contract 15 years through 2023. In addition, the company said it would homeport its two new ships in Port Canaveral when launched in 2011 and 2012. The agreement was ratified Wednesday by Port Authority Commissioners. As part of the new agreement, the Canaveral Port Authority will expand and modify the Disney port facility including an extension of the dock and enlargements and enhancements to the terminal building to allow for additional luggage and passenger capacity. A multi-level parking structure, scheduled to be completed by 2011, will also be built for Disney. "We are very excited to call Port Canaveral our home and look forward to bringing our new ships here," said Tom McAlpin, President of Disney Cruise Line. "The new enhancements being made to our terminal will provide guests an even more seamless transition from land to sea."
Once completed, the enhancements will provide for improved passenger flow and additional guest conveniences. Disney will work with Port Canaveral to create a state-of-the-art facility, which will contain several Disney touches. The terminal and dock enlargements are necessary to accommodate the new and larger Disney ships, which will be significantly larger than the existing Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Port Canaveral continues to be one of the world's busiest cruise ports. More than 3.5 million Disney Cruise Line guests have sailed from Port Canaveral since the line's beginning in 1998. Future itinerary information for Disney ships beyond 2009 will be released at a later date.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oceania Releases Design Details of New Ships (02/28/08)

Oceania Cruises unveiled the first design details of its new Oceania-class ships, which are scheduled for delivery in fall 2010 and summer 2011. The ships, to be constructed in Fincantieri's Sestre Ponente shipyard in Genoa, Italy, have been designed by Y&S Architecture and Interior Design of Oslo, Norway. Y&S will design the public spaces, suites and staterooms. Gunnar Aaserud, a partner and executive architect at Y&S who has done extensive work on the line's Regatta-class ships, is leading the design team for the Oceania class. Signature public spaces will include Martinis, Horizons, The Patio, and a grand staircase that sweeps up both sides of the lobby. The color palette will feature earthen and jewel tones, while furnishings and accent pieces will create an atmosphere designed to resemble that of a fine home or manor.
"One of the hallmarks of the Oceania Cruises experience is the refined yet relaxed atmosphere onboard and that is something that will continue with our new ships," said Bob Binder, president of Oceania Cruises. "Guests will experience the same intimate ambience as our current ships, and the staff-to-guest ratio will be even greater, resulting in an even higher level of personalized service onboard."
The new ships will feature dark woods, Italian marble, granite, wool carpets and leather. They will accommodate 1,252 guests in 626 staterooms and suites, and will be served by more than 780 staff members. Ninety-six percent of all accommodations will feature private teak verandas. Guests will dine in their choice of six open-seating restaurants. Deck 15 will feature Horizons, an observation lounge and nightclub, and a sports deck. On Deck 14, there will be a spa and fitness center, The Patio, a library, Polo Grill steakhouse and Toscana, a gourmet Italian restaurant.
Plans for Deck 12 are to feature guest suites, a Culinary Arts Center, an enrichment center, Waves Bar, swimming pool and Jacuzzis, Waves Grill & Milkshake Bar, private dining rooms, wine cellar and the Terrace Café buffet restaurant. Decks 7 through 11 will feature guest staterooms and suites. Overall, there will be four Owner's Suites, six Vista Suites, 10 Oceania Suites, 120 Penthouse Suites, 440 veranda staterooms, 20 ocean-view staterooms and 26 inside staterooms. Deck 6 will be home to the Upper Hall, Martinis, a casino, a card room, the Grand Bar and Grand Dining Room with continental cuisine. The main lounge, reception hall and lounge will be located on Deck 5, along with a country French restaurant and an Asian fusion restaurant. The new ships will boast a cruising speed of 20 knots, which is 20 percent faster than the Regatta class. In addition to their greater speed, the new ships will have a greater range that enables them to undertake the itineraries to destinations worldwide.

Carnival's New Splendor Undergoes Final Outfitting (03/05/08)

Carnival Cruise Lines' new 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor is undergoing final outfitting at Fincantieri's Sestri yard in Genoa, Italy. The 3,006-passenger vessel -- the largest "Fun Ship" ever constructed -- is slated to debut July 2 with an eight-day voyage from Genoa before launching a series of 12-day Northern Europe cruises from London (Dover) -- Carnival's first within this region -- beginning July 13. Representing a new class for the line, Carnival Splendor will offer a 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa that will include a thalassotherapy pool and an elaborate thermal suite. Adjacent to the spa will be 68 spa staterooms and suites -- a first for the line. Carnival Splendor will also offer a 5,500-square-foot children's play area -- the largest in the "Fun Ship" fleet -- along with a water spray park. Following its European season, Carnival Splendor will reposition to Fort Lauderdale to operate a winter season of seven-day Caribbean sailings. The ship will embark on three South America voyages then operate year-round seven-day Mexican Riviera voyages from Long Beach, continuing the line's expansion of its West Coast operations.

RCCL Tentatively Orders Fourth Freedom-Class Ship (03/04/08)

Aker Yards announced it has reached an understanding with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to build a fourth ship in the Freedom class -- currently the world's largest cruise ship at 158,000 tons and 3,600 passengers. The vessel would be delivered in the second half of 2011. The placement of the order is still subject to a number of conditions, including board approval and finalization of terms and conditions. Aker Yards has previously delivered two of these record-breaking cruise ships, and will deliver the third ship in April from its yard in Turku.