Fleet wide improvements for the Carnival Corporation

Carnival Cruise Lines is conducting a fleet wide $300 million plan to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, introducing a new fire safety technology system and improving the level of operating redundancies.

The improvement plan is the result of a comprehensive operational review, overseen by parent company Carnival Corporation & plc, initiated immediately after the Carnival Triumph fire in February 2013.

“All of Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships operate safely today. Each vessel already has effective systems in place to prevent, detect and respond to emergency situations, and we meet or exceed all regulatory requirements,” said Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. “However, by applying lessons learned through our fleet-wide operational review after the Carnival Triumph fire and by taking advantage of new technologies, we have identified areas for enhancement across our operations. These initiatives reflect our commitment to safe and reliable operations and an enjoyable cruising experience for the nearly 4.5 million guests who sail with Carnival Cruise Lines each year.”

The work is already underway and will not affect scheduled itineraries. Upon completion of the initial phase, the line will install a second permanent back-up power system on each ship to provide an even greater level of hotel and guest services if main power is lost. These additional services will include expanded cooking facilities and cold food storage, as well as internet and telephone communications.

The company has also announced the formation of a Safety & Reliability Review Board that will include experts with significant expertise in marine and occupational safety, reliability and maintenance, marine regulatory compliance and quality control/assurance.

The parent company Carnival Corporation & plc previously announced a corporate-wide operational review of all 10 of its brands and 101 ships. The review process will include learnings from the recent incidents that can be applied across the corporation’s fleet. Carnival Corporation & plc has confirmed that, based on the results of the ongoing review, the latest versions of technologies and enhancements will also be implemented on the remainder of the fleet where they are not already present. The overall program of enhancements across the corporation’s 101-ship fleet, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America; P&O Cruises and Cunard in the United Kingdom; AIDA Cruises in Germany; Costa Cruises in Southern Europe; Iberocruceros in Spain; and P&O Cruises in Australia , is expected to cost between $600 and $700 million.

“Our fleet already operates at a high standard of reliability. The investments announced today for Carnival Cruise Lines, and those we will continue to make, will reinforce our ability to consistently deliver the customer experience that 10 million people every year have come to expect from us across our fleet of 101 ships. Absolutely nothing is more important than the safety and comfort of our guests and crew, and we will use the full resources of our company to meet that commitment,” said Micky Arison, Chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc.

Initial implementation of the upgrades to the Carnival Corporation & plc fleet will take place during the next several months. Each class of ship is different and often systems differ on ships within a class, so the enhancements will be tailored to each vessel.

These fleet wide improvements will most likely help the cruise consumers regain their faith in Carnival Lines after the recent unfortunate events.

Three’s A Charm: Seabourn Quest Debuts

Image courtesy Seabourn - Seabourn Quest, the third 450-guest ship to debut in three years for ultra-luxury small-ship operator Seabourn, completes the line’s ambitious expansion in the small-ship luxury segment.

By Michael Coleman

Ultra-luxury small-ship operator Seabourn unveiled its third new ship in three years when the 450-guest Seabourn Quest debuted this week.

“She is a beautiful vessel, and I have no doubt she will earn as much praise from the experts, and as much affection from our guests as her two sister-ships,’’ said Richard Meadows, Seabourn’s President. “Her officers, staff and crew are ready to welcome travelers on board to experience Seabourn-style cruising on our newest ship.”

Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Blythe Danner will serve as godmother and name the ship during a sunset ceremony at the port of Barcelona on June 20. The ship will then depart on a 14-day maiden voyage to Athens, stopping at the charming seaside towns in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey that are a hallmark of the Seabourn cruise experience.

Seabourn Quest’s maiden season includes seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises, operating alternately between Athens and Istanbul, and Venice and Athens, as well as a seven-day Black Sea voyage. In the fall, the ship will cruise across the Atlantic Ocean from Malaga, Spain, to Fort Lauderdale from where it will sail on a series of round trip voyages in the Caribbean.

On January 5, 2012, the ship will begin a 109-day maiden 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.

Among a host of onboard amenities, dining takes center stage. Under the guidance of celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, Quest offers a variety of dining options from the main dining venue, The Restaurant, serving multi-course breakfasts, luncheons and dinners in an open-seating style amid a refined setting of gleaming white linens, polished alabaster walls, flowing sheer draperies and crystal chandeliers, to the Colonnade, a more casual, indoor/outdoor option serving lavish station-style buffet breakfasts and lunches. Dinners in the Colonnade are regionally-themed menus prepared in the open kitchen and served at table.

Restaurant 2 is an intimate setting where guests can enjoy innovative small-plates tasting menus nightly by reservation. The Patio Grill is a casual alternative offering poolside dining for luncheons and dinners, as well as freshly baked pizzas from its on-site oven all afternoon.
Quest is the third iteration of the sleek and widely-admired design that first appeared as Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009. The second sister-ship, Seabourn Sojourn, entered service this time last year.

On the web: www.seabourn.com

Poll: Crystal, Regent, Seabourn deemed world’s best

Three ultra-luxury cruise lines — Crystal, Regent and Seabourn — have been voted as the world’s best. Regent Seven Seas Mariner is pictured here in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
Images courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Luxury cruise ship operators Crystal, Regent and Seabourn have been voted as the world’s best cruise lines.

Crystal and Regent tied for number one in the “large-ship” category in the 2010 Condé Nast Traveler readers’ poll while Seabourn was named best in the “small ship’’ category.

Considered among the travel industry’s most coveted honors, the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards celebrate the best-of-the-best cruise lines, hotels, airlines, cities, rental car companies and islands.

Travelers evaluated cruise lines on their Itineraries and Shore Excursions, Accommodations, Food/Dining, Crew/Service, Design/Layout and Activities/Facilities to determine the overall score. Complete results appear in the magazine’s November edition.

Crystal, soon to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, shares the number one billing with a competitor for the first time in over a decade-and-a-half yet still holds the distinction of having won the award more than any other cruise line, hotel or resort in the magazine’s poll history. 

Renowned for their service, space, quality and choices Crystal’s two stylish ships, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony, are recognized for innovative partnerships with Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio, stimulating Creative Learning Institute and Computer [email protected], Feng Shui-designed spa, and a myriad of culinary, cultural and fitness-oriented enrichment. In 2011, Crystal will introduce Perfect Choice dining featuring flexible open dining times, by reservation, and two seating choices. Itineraries of seven to 100+ days are available throughout the world.

Regent, meanwhile, the world’s only cruise line to include airfare, all-suite accommodations, acclaimed cuisine, open bars, sightseeing excursions, gratuities and taxes as part of the overall cruise fare, features a three-ship, all-suite luxury fleet carrying 490 to 700 guests to ports in Australia, Europe, Asia, Alaska and the Caribbean. Facilities include several bars, a show lounge, intimate casino, library, Internet center, card room, outdoor pool, hot tubs and Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Depending on the ship, guests can choose from up to four, open-seating gourmet restaurants, including Prime 7, the line’s new steakhouse.

Seabourn Odyssey docked on Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos.
The 2010 Readers’ Choice award comes as Seabourn is in the midst of a three-year, three-yacht expansion of its small ship fleet, which has included the launch of Seabourn Odyssey in June 2009 and Seabourn Sojourn in June 2010. The new Seabourn Quest is scheduled to depart on its maiden voyage from Barcelona, Spain, on June 20, 2011. The expanded fleet has enabled Seabourn to increase its capacity in the most popular destinations, such as the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, while adding new, exotic ports of call around the world, including Indonesia and the South Pacific. 

More than 26,000 subscribers voted in the 2010 survey. 

On the web: www.crystalcruises.com, www.rssc.com, www.seabourn.com

Crystal Serenity pictured off the coast of Taormina, Sicily.

Luxurious Seabourn Sojourn debuts

The new, 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn arrived at London’s Cable Wharf this week to begin her inaugural voyage. Image courtesy Seabourn

By Michael Coleman

British supermodel Twiggy was among the 700 attendees during christening ceremonies for the new 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn, which debuted in London last week.

Sojourn is the second of three new luxury cruising vessels to join Seabourn’s fleet. Sister Seabourn Odyssey was unveiled last summer in Venice. Seabourn Quest will debut in 2011.
Sojourn is presently operating 12- to 14-day voyages during the summer to the Baltics, Scandinavia, Russia, Norwegian Fjords and Scotland, as well as several Mediterranean voyages in the fall.

The line is celebrating her launch — Twiggy was named Godmother — with a number of special value fares during the remainder of 2010.

For a limited time look for special fares on a 14-day Norwegian Fjords and Scotland, departing August 8; a 12-day Grand Norwegian Fjords, departing September 15; a 12-day Maiden Transatlantic, departing November 3; an 11-day Maiden Caribbean, departing November 19; and a 10-day The Yachtsman’s Caribbean, departing November 30. Nine-to-12-day voyages in Northern Europe start from $4,999 per person, cruise-only or $6,400 with inclusive air.

The launch of Sojourn brings the number of ultra-luxury yachts in the Seabourn fleet to five. Sojourn offers travelers highly personalized service in a relaxed, sociable and luxurious atmosphere. Like its sister Sojourn features 225 spacious suites, 90 percent of which have private verandas.

All suites feature separate living areas and bedrooms, writing desks with personalized stationery, iPod and MP3 connections and spacious granite bathrooms with separate bath and shower and twin sinks.

The two-deck, state-of-the-art Spa at Seabourn features a Spa Villa for hours of indulgence and relaxation, as well as a Kneipp Walk, an herbal bath facility and an aroma steam bath with salt inhalation.

The new vessel has four dining venues featuring menus by celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer, as well as six bars and lounges serving a full range of beverages including fine wines and spirits with Seabourn’s compliments.

On Jan. 5, 2011, Sojourn will embark on a world cruise from Los Angeles to London via the South Pacific, New Zealand, around Western Australia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, India, Arabia and the Mediterranean. Rates for the full 111-day world cruise begin at $49,995 per person, based on double occupancy, and include a number of additional benefits and amenities such as a pre-cruise Bon Voyage event with dinner and luxury overnight in Los Angeles, special shoreside events and exclusive complimentary shore excursions, Personal Valet luggage shipping service, and shipboard credits.

For a limited time, Seabourn is also offering two-for-one cruise fares with include round-trip air, or cruise-only fares featuring savings up to 65 percent. The promotion is valid for Seabourn voyages in Europe departing between June and November 2010.

On the web — www.seabourn.com

Seabourn Sojourn poised for debut

The 450-guest Seabourn Sojourn, the second of three 450-guest vessels being added to The Yachts of Seabourn’s fleet of intimate, yacht-like cruisers, debuts this summer. Image courtesy Seabourn

By Michael Coleman

A series of spectacular shore adventures in Northern Europe, from kayaking in the Baltic Sea to cycling among former imperial residences in Russia, will mark the maiden sailing season aboard Seabourn Sojourn.

The ship will operate a 14-day inaugural voyage from London to Dover on June 6, visiting Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the Norwegian Fjords and Amsterdam. The maiden season will also include a series of 12- to 14-day voyages in Northern Europe, including Norway, Scotland, the Baltic Sea and Russia.

Like her sister ship, Seabourn Odyssey which debuted last summer, Sojourn will offer 225 suites, 90 percent of which have private verandas. All suites include separate living areas and bedrooms, writing desks with personalized stationery, iPod and MP3 connections and spacious granite bathrooms with separate bath and shower and twin sinks.

The new vessel will, among a host of amenities, offer a spa and four dining venues, including a spacious open-seating restaurant capable of seating all guests. Six bars and lounges will serve a full range of complimentary beverages including fine wines and spirits.

The ship’s shore adventures are equally impressive during her inaugural voyages. Look for over 100 optional excursions during Sojourn’s Northern Europe itineraries. Among the highlights:

Helsinki, FinlandHelsinki Nordic Walking — A local guide will lead walkers on a scenic path around the center of Helsinki, passing city parks, museums, and waterfront districts.
 
Kiel, GermanyKiel Highlights & Germany Brewing Culture — Guided by a Kieler Brauerei microbrewery team, guests will learn about the different local beer brands, the history of beer-brewing, ingredients, brewing methods, and brewing process; Cutter Sailing Experience — For a taste of living Baltic history, guests can enjoy a sail on the Gefion, a traditional two-masted Shark Cutter. They’ll learn how to hoist the sails and steer the ship plus discover the secrets of navigation and traditional seamen’s knots.
 
St. Petersburg, RussiaBiking Alexandria Park — Guest can traverse through the 285-square-acre park of Alexandria, a magnificent ensemble of palace and park on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, where they will cycle past former imperial residences, hills and tranquil ponds, the ruins of old structures and small bridges.
 
Lübeck, GermanyA Local Fisherman’s Life — Guests can stroll on small paths among the beautifully preserved thatched fishermen’s houses and gardens of Northern Germany’s fishing villages. Visit a smokehouse and learn the traditional method of smoking fresh pike-perch, pike or eel over beech and alder wood.

Stockholm, SwedenMillennium Walking Tour — Follow in the footsteps of the characters from “The Millennium Trilogy” series of best-selling detective novels by Swedish author Stieg Larsson; Kayaking in National City Park — Paddle out into Brunnsviken Bay, located in Haga Park, and explore this gulf that is part of the Baltic Sea. Enjoy the stunning natural beauty and surrounding cultural history of Brunnsviken, part of the world’s first national urban park.
 
Seabourn has also pegged Sojourn for its world cruise in 2011. Departing Jan. 5, Sojourn will embark on a 111-day voyage from Los Angeles to London via the South Pacific, New Zealand, around Western Australia, Indonesia and Southeast Asia, India, Arabia and the Mediterranean. 

Sojourn’s other sister, Seabourn Quest, will debut in 2011.

On the web: www.seabourn.com

Days-at-sea voyages in vogue

Cunard Line is the only company that offers regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings, most often aboard the Queen Mary 2. Transocean voyages are in vogue among today’s cruise travelers. Image courtesy Cunard

By Michael Coleman

Transocean cruise travel opportunities are gaining in popularity as luxury, premium and mass market operators offer longer haul, sea-going choices than ever before.

As cruise ships large and small are seasonally repositioned from one cruising destination to another, travelers have dozens of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s most memorable and unique experiences — a voyage by ship from one continent to another.

The Cunard Line, for decades, was literally built via the transatlantic voyages offered aboard her ships and today is the only company that offers regularly scheduled transatlantic crossings on the Queen Mary 2 from April to November.

But, in this highly-competitive global industry that is cruise travel, more and more lines are offering a host of transocean opportunities as well.

In this the first of a two-part series, we’ll look at the transocean voyages being offered by the world’s best luxury cruise lines, each a member of the Cruise Lines International Association.

Next week, we’ll take a closer look at the transocean voyages being offered by the world’s top mass market and premium cruise lines.

CUNARD LINE Queen Mary 2 — Twenty-one transatlantic crossings, April-November, including classic six-day voyages between New York and Southampton, plus a seven-day option as well as eight- and nine-day crossings to Cherbourg and Hamburg,

CRYSTAL CRUISESCrystal Symphony — From Dubai to Athens, departing May 12; from London to New York, departing September 5; from New York to Los Angeles, departing November 2; Crystal Serenity — From Dubai to Athens (part of the 2010 World Cruise), departing March 15; from Rome to Barcelona, departing October 19.

REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISESSeven Seas Mariner — 16 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Monte Carlo departing March 22; Seven Seas Navigator — 20 nights from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco departing May 6; 18 nights from Seward to Tianjin (Beijing) departing September 15; Seven Seas Voyager — 14 nights from Fort Lauderdale to Reykjavik departing May 12; 15 nights from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing November 8.

SEABOURN CRUISE LINESeabourn Spirit — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon departing March 19; Seabourn Legend — 13 days from Fort Lauderdale to Lisbon departing April 8; Seabourn Legend — 13 days from Malaga to Fort Lauderdale departing November 20; Seabourn Odyssey — 13 days from Nice to Fort Lauderdale departing December 6.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUBSeaDream I — 13 days from San Juan to Malaga departing April 30; 12 days from Malaga to San Juan departing October 14; SeaDream II — 12 days from Barbados to Malaga departing April 25; 2 days from Barbados to Malaga departing November 8.

SILVERSEA CRUISESSilver Spirit — 14 days from New York to Southampton departing April 23; Silver Cloud — 15 Days from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Barcelona, Spain, departing April 14; Silver Whisper — 12 Days from Southampton, U.K. to New York City, New York, departing September 2; Silver Shadow — 16 Days from Vancouver, British Columbia to Tokyo, Japan, departing Sept. 12.

Cruising offers the ultimate in romance

Whether your idea of romance is a nice dinner, playing games in the casino or relaxing on a beach, a cruise offers it all. Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises.

By Matt Roseboom

With breakfast in bed, dining under the stars and dancing until dawn, you can’t get much more romantic than a cruise. If you haven’t already made plans for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, surprise them with a romantic cruise.

Here’s a sampling of Valentine’s Day-inspired offers, programs and activities:

Carnival Cruise Line

In addition to a huge number of balcony staterooms on its ships, Carnival offers tables for two in the main dining rooms. Try a couples massage in the spa.

Costa Cruises

Costa makes it affordable at $75 per day, or up to 60 percent off regular fares. An authentic Italian style of service sets the perfect backdrop for a romantic cruise.

Crystal Cruises

From special dinner requests to “Crystal Private Adventures” shore excursions to renewal ceremonies, couples can arrange pretty much anything they’d like for a romance package. In penthouse accommodations, guests can request dinner for two to be served by their personal butler on the verandah.

Cunard

Where better to follow in the footsteps of such starry-eyed couples as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, than aboard a Cunard ocean liner? Luxurious couples massages, ballroom dancing and elegant dining add to the intimate appeal.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney offers romantic dining experiences specifically for adults. High atop both ships, Palo, Disney’s signature restaurant at sea, treats adults to sweeping ocean views and northern Italian specialties.

Holland America

Some of the special romance packages offered include breakfast in bed, champagne and caviar, cuddly stuffed bears proclaiming “I Love You” and the Valentine’s Red and White Ball in the Crow’s Nest.

MSC Cruises

From elegant Italian ambiance to evenings filled with dancing and live entertainment throughout the ship, MSC sets the mood. They also offer a seven-course gourmet dinner and breakfast served on your private veranda.

Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL offers several “Romance” packages such as intimate dinners for two, customized “dream dates” ashore and couples massages.

Princess Cruises

Princess will be holding its first ever Romance Summit aboard Crown Princess during the Valentine’s week cruise, Feb. 13 to 20. Passengers will be treated to romance-themed events and activities, including a renewal of vows ceremony and a gala Valentine’s Ball.

Seaborne

A Seabourn yacht cruise offers gourmet dining, whether in the ship’s elegant restaurant or at a private candlelit table on your suite balcony.

Silversea

Silversea’s intimate ultra-luxury ships provide a uniquely appealing option for those seeking a truly indulgent, romantic getaway. Couples are welcomed onboard with a glass of champagne and then escorted to their richly appointed suite.

Windstar

Windstar offers unique romantic adventures in the Caribbean this winter – seven day voyages from Barbados or Saint Maarten  and seven-day explorations of Costa Rica. A variety of romance, honeymoon and wedding vow renewal packages are also available.

Our top 10 most read cruise stories of 2009

As we end our first year of Cruise News Weekly online, I thought it’d be a good time to go back and look at which of our online stories had the most views. Here are our top 10 most read cruise stories for 2009 – counting down to number one.

Number 10

Guests to christen Seabourn Odyssey
A new ultra-luxurious yacht, set to debut in June 2009, will be christened by each of its guests prior to its maiden voyage.
Full Story


Number 9

New cruise ships poised for debut
The cruise industrys top players will be positioning five of their latest ships in Fort Lauderdale this winter.
Full Story


Number 8

Fairy tale romance aboard Ruby Princess
This is a tale about the Ruby Princess. She is large but beautiful, always ready for fun and romance, and she’s all about great food. No this isn’t a fairy tale, it’s life aboard Princess Cruises’ newest ship.
Full Story


Number 7

Carnival Alaskan cruises to sail round-trip from Seattle in 2010
For the first time ever, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate a schedule of seven-day Alaska cruises round-trip from Seattle beginning in May 2010.
Full Story


Number 6

Detailed model of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas
One of the busiest booths at this week’s Seatrade Cruise Shipping Miami conference (besides Mexico’s when they were giving out free beer) was that of STX Europe, the builder of Royal Caribbean’s upcoming newest ship.
Full Story


Number 5

Music’s top stars on board for One Splendid Evening
Carnival Cruise Lines and Mayercraft Carrier 2 will present “One Splendid Evening,” a special concert event to benefit the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The one night only event will take place the evening of March 26.
Full Story


Number 4

Carnival Dream to offer on-board social networking
The new Carnival Dream, debuting Sept. 21, will take seagoing technology to a new level with the introduction of the FunHub, a comprehensive shipboard intranet portal featuring the cruise industry’s first on-board social network, along with access to a wide variety of information on the ship’s services, facilities and daily activities.
Full Story


Number 3

See rendering, video of Carnival Dream’s water slide
Carnival has released a new artist’s rendering and a test video of The DrainPipe, a unique water slide that will be on the new Carnival Dream when it launches Sept. 21.
Full Story


Number 2

Win prizes in Royal Caribbean’s new online game
Royal Caribbean International is offering vacationers the opportunity to discover the cruise line’s experience without leaving shore. Royal Caribbean’s “Clues to the Cruise” promotion is challenging adventurers of all ages to explore the new Nation of Why Not and the many ‘why not’ moments guests can enjoy on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Full Story


Number 1

Oasis, Allure poised for debuts
The largest cruise ship ever constructed will debut in just seven months but the company launching Oasis of the Seas is hard at work preparing for the unveiling of an equally mammoth sister-ship.
Full Story

Cruise Guide: Seabourn Odyssey debuts in Venice

seabourn-odyssey

By Michael Coleman

cruiseguideheadersmallThe first luxury cruise ship to be unveiled in six years has been launched and is now sailing in the Mediterranean.

The 450-guest, 32,000 ton Seabourn Odyssey features 225 luxury suites (90 percent with verandas), Charlie Palmer cuisine and when a series of voyages ends this year she’ll set off on the company’s first world cruise. Continue reading “Cruise Guide: Seabourn Odyssey debuts in Venice”