Winds of Change
A multi-million dollar facelift is in the air for the entire fleet of Windstar Cruises. The cruise line is pouring $US18 million into a complete makeover for three of its sailing yachts, Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf. And once they set sail in 2013, guests will be spirited along to new destinations in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.
In all the yachts, each of the staterooms, owner’s suites, corridors and public spaces will be redesigned and upgraded, as well as new designs for the Pool Bars, Libraries, Windspas, Restaurants and Verandahs.
Windstar Cruises told Cruise Weekly that the makeover will result in “a new level of elegance to Windstar’s cruise experience.”
The new itineraries will include voyages to romantic Casablanca, a seven day cruise to Provence and the sophisticated Cote d’Azure, an ‘11-day Footsteps of Faith’ adventure, as well as a seven day ‘Idyllic British Isles’ cruise.
Maiden adventures for Hapag Lloyd
Intrepid expedition experts Hapag Lloyd will be taking guests further into the unknown with 88 new ports of call in the 2013-14 season.
Bremen will make 48 maiden voyages, including three nights at the Russian Federation’s Wrangel Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to more plant species than any other Arctic island.
Hanseatic will charter new waters with 39 maiden voyages, including an Asian politics-themed cruise from Kanazawa to Manila and an arts and architecture voyage to the UK.
Plans are also afoot for two circumnavigations of Antarctica and two cruises through the Northwest passage.
Families are also catered for with two ‘Cruises for Young Discoverers’, aimed at children from ten to seventeen.
Hapag Lloyd is enhancing their fleet by chartering Oceania Cruises’ 1998-built Insignia for two years. Renamed Columbus 2, its first cruise is scheduled to depart from Palma Mallorca on 16 April and will sail to Formentera, Ibiza and Menorca.
MSC exits Dubai
MSC Cruises will no longer be using Dubai as its homeport, citing commercial and infrastructure issues as reasons for its decision.
“There is no doubt that MSC Cruises’ guests enjoyed the destination,” MSC Cruises told Cruise Weekly.
“However, for the long-term success of cruising for the region, new ports of call need to be developed, terminal facilities must be upgraded and there must be increased focus on sourcing from local and regional markets,” they added.
The decision to withdraw from Dubai comes less than a year after its first ship, MSC Lirica, cruised from the port.
MSC had planned to base MSC Opera out of Dubai in 2012/13 but the vessel will now be based in South Africa.
Upgrade for Thomson
Thomson Cruises has announced plans to refurbish two of its most popular vessels, Thomson Dream and Thomson Celebration.
The multi-million dollar makeovers will include Thai and French restaurants on both ships, as well as upgrades to cabins, public spaces and spa facilities, including spa cabins.
Work will start on Thomson Dream in August, emerging in time for her winter Caribbean season this year, while Thomson Celebration will debut her new look for the 2013 summer season cruising out of Marmaris, Turkey.
Cunard’s 2013 Voyages
Cunard has announced its 2013 Voyage Programmes, opening for sale 24 April 2012.
Their three ocean liners will each complete 106 voyages visiting 99 ports in 35 countries, with maiden calls to Norway, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Germany, as well as Antigua and Bermuda.
Queen Mary 2 will complete 17 of its popular, traditional seven-day Transatlantic crossings between May 2013 and January 2014. In addition she will debut two eight-day crossings, as well as longer nine and 10-day transatlantic crossings between New York and Hamburg.
Meanwhile Queen Victoria, departing Southampton, will spend the whole 2012 season sailing Northern Europe, 12-17-day cruises in the Mediterranean, and cruises to the Atlantic Isles. Highlights include two-night stays in St Petersburg, Istanbul and Madeira, and a new 24-day Black Sea and Turkey cruise.
Lastly, Queen Elizabeth will sail from Southampton to Northern Europe, including Iceland and the Norwegian Fjords and then reposition to the Mediterranean later in the season to host eight voyages from Venice, Athens, Rome and Southampton.
Cuban Art feast on Riviera
Guests on Oceania Cruises’ Riviera will be treated to a feast of Cuban Art gracing the walls and public spaces of the ship.
The vibrant colours of Cuba’s most famous artists recognise the Cuban heritage of the company president, Frank Del Rio.
Del Rio told Cruising Today that every inch of the ship was designed to showcase the paintings , glasswork and sculpture “that will spark conversation and contemplation” among the guests.
The collection includes original works by artists from Cuba’s Vanguard Movement as well as contemporary Cuban artists.
Island Escape Cruises explore Tonga
If you’re looking for a go-slow Pacific Island holiday, what better excuse than an Island Escape Cruise to Tonga.
Cruising around the undeveloped Vava’u islands, underwater visibility is clear up to 30m and ideal for seeing the hundreds of tropical fish and sea life, remote sea caves, and intriguing ship wrecks.
The cruises will operate Sep-Oct from Neiafu harbour on the Monday, returning on the Saturday.
This trip is tipped by Island Escape as the cruise for people after a slow-paced holiday with time to explore.
Luxury Experience with Crystal Cruises
Crystal Cruises has added 14 themes this year to its 28 luxury ‘Experience of Discovery’ cruises.
On 13 October, keen camera buffs can join the photography-themed voyage where professional photographers will teach guests hands-on skills and lead shooting expeditions ashore.
The ‘Grand Prix’ theme on 18 May offers Esprit du Grand Prix Formula One talks and presentations on board ship.
Uniworld Boutique Collection Preview
River cruise lovers can now see what’s in store for 2013 in the ‘Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’ preview brochure.
Preview highlights include six new itineraries, such as the 13-day ‘Splendours of Italy’ cruise/tour – a seven-night cruise on board the refurbished River Countess as well as a two night hotel stay in Florence and a three night hotel stay in Rome.
As well as the new, the old classic favourites are still on offer such as the’ Imperial Waterways of Russia’ voyage from Moscow to St Petersburg, the eight-day ‘Enchanting Danube’ cruise from Budapest to Passau and the 15-day ‘Timeless Wonders of Vietnam’, cruising along the Mekong river.
The preview will also showcase the 2013 fleet additions, Queen Isabel and River Orchid, describing their adventures down the UNESCO World Heritage Douro River and the Mekong.
P & O sails to exotic Papua New Guinea
P & O Cruises will sail to Papua New Guinea for the first time in October 2013.
Departing from Brisbane, the Pacific Dawn cruise to Milne Bay is timed to coincide with the Canoe and Kundu Festival, where locals compete in canoe races, costume displays and cultural performances.
Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia told Cruise Weekly that the country is one of the most remote and untouched corners of the world.
“Cruising really is the perfect way to explore Papua New Guinea’s idyllic beaches and scenery and discover its ancient customs and history,” she adds.
On sale from 23 April, P & O’s new programme also features 73 departures across 22 different itineraries. As well as the Pacific Dawn voyages from Brisbane, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl will sail from Sydney.
And for those who are looking for shorter breaks, weekend getaways and stays of three to six nights are on the programme, with a Melbourne Cup-themed cruise a highlight.
Avalon goes personal in 2013
River cruising expert, Avalon Waterways, is upping its personal services to customers with its tailor-made ‘Avalon Choice’ experience.
The company has employed a new guest services team to help passengers choose alternative places to eat and visit on-shore, taking their special interests into account, as well as other experiences such as guided bike excursions in several European ports and Nordic walking sticks .
Guests will also be offered ‘Avalon Choice Excursions’, available in three tour types: the new ‘Essential Sightseeing’ , as well as ‘Traditional’ and ‘Leisurely’ sightseeing options.
‘Avalon Choice Dining’ will give guests the chance to sample local cuisine tastings prepared by local chefs, and an on-board bistro .
Also new is the ‘Culture and Cruise’ programme, including activities such as beer tastings, demonstrations by local artisans and talks by local experts.
Avalon Waterways told Cruise Weekly the developments would “elevate Avalon beyond the ordinary river cruise experience by helping our travellers create an extraordinary small ship cruise vacation.”
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