Catch up on Cruising: Latest cruise news in bite size

Applause for Sydney
The cruise ship industry is applauding the decision by Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to allow superliners to berth at Garden Island, Sydney’s naval base.

There will now be room for three cruise liners to berth at the naval base, along with customs facilities.

But the solution to Sydney’s shortage of berths for large cruise ships is only a temporary fix for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.

Until recently, most superliners visiting Sydney have had to anchor in the middle of the harbour and ferry passengers across to the city.

The only exception has been Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which has had ad-hoc access to the naval base since 2009.

 

Now Celebrity Millennium and Radiance of the Seas have been approved to dock at Garden Island.
A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean International, which operates both vessels, says there’s a need to continue working with state and federal government on the longer-term needs of the cruise industry, as the temporary fix only underscores the need for a permanent berth solution for superliners.

“Such a permanent berthing solution for Sydney, either in the Harbour or within Botany Bay, will ensure that larger, more modern ships like Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice, both of which carry over 3,000 passengers, will continue to cruise from Sydney, the home of Australian cruising., they say.

Carnival Australia, the largest cruise operator in Australasia, also welcomed the news.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, told Cruise Weekly that the immediate arrangement was sufficient for the industry’s current operational needs.

“It is a positive step that will help ensure Sydney continues to fulfil its role as an attractive international cruise destination,” she added.

 

Holland America’s special deals
Luxury cruise company Holland America has released a range of special deals for the 2013 season.

These include free cabin upgrades, savings of up to 50% when combining selected Collectors Voyages on European itineraries, and special price offers on sailings covering more than 400 ports of call all over the world.

 

A secure future for Compagnie du Ponant
French luxury cruise ship company, Compagnie du Ponant, is about to be sold in a deal which will assure its future in the cruise line industry.

Ponant has been bought by Bridgepoint, a private equity firm which specialises on the acquisition of companies worth €1 billion.

Compagnie du Ponant was founded in 1988 and operates four luxury ships ranging in size from 32 to 132 cabins, with a turnover of €80 million.

A spokesperson for the company told Cruise Weekly that the sale agreement will ensure Ponant has the resources it needs to “fulfil its ambitions” and to “maintain its growth momentum and take its international expansion to a new level.”

 

Saga Ruby retires
Saga Cruises has announced it’s going to retire its 39-year-old cruise ship, Saga Ruby, next year.

The last cruise ship to be built in Britain, Ruby started life as Norwegian America Line’s Vista Fjord, then Cunard’s Caronia, before joining Saga in 2004.

Saga Shipping CEO, Robin Shaw told Cruise Weekly that it had become more and more difficult to upgrade a ship as old as Ruby. “We have therefore decided that she should be gracefully retired in 18 months,” he said.

Ruby will sail around the world next year, with her final voyage a 31-night cruise around the Caribbean departing on 7 December from Southampton.

 

Viking gets closer to the dream
Viking Ocean Cruises is getting closer to its dream of becoming an ocean cruise company, with an agreement to build two brand new luxury ocean liners.

Ship building giant Fincantieri will build the two new 944-guest, 472-cabin vessels for Viking.

The first ship will be delivered in the first half of 2015, while the second will be delivered in early 2016.

 

Explore the wilderness with Hapag Lloyd
Intrepid expedition cruise experts, Hapag Lloyd, will take adventurous travellers to some of the world’s most remote and pristine wildernesses in 2013/14.

Two small ships, five-star 184-guest Hanseatic and four-star 165-guest Bremen, will take passengers to Alaska, Spitsbergen, Iceland, Greenland, the Northwest Passage, the Amazon,, the Chilean Fjords, Antarctica, the South Seas, New Zealand, Africa and Madagascar.

 

Two new ships for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
Award-winning river cruise expert, Uniworld is making European river cruising more accessible than ever – by adding two more brand new luxury ships to their collection.

With increasing interest from New Zealand and Australian travellers wanting to see Europe in a hassle-free and relaxing way, the two new ships are specifically targeted at the cruise market Down-Under.

SS Alexandra will be a sister vessel to the 164-passenger SS Antoinette which only sails on the Rhine, but SS Alexandra will debut sailing the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

SS Catherine, on the other hand, will be fashioned after the 132-passengerRiver Royale which is based on France’s Rhone River. SS Catherine will also sail exclusively in France, though Uniworld has  yet to reveal its itinerary.

Uniworld is going from strength to strength in the river cruise industry,y with five new ships in the last two years, including additional ships on the Mekong River and in Portugal and partnerships with Century Legend and Century Paragon in Asia.

Other ships in the fleet are undergoing million-dollar refurbishments ahead of the 2013 season.

John Molinaro, Uniworld’s general manager, told Cruise Weekly that Uniworld has the greatest choice of itineraries, with five star ships spread across the world.

“Uniworld is one of the most widely awarded cruise lines in the world, because we stand by our motto: no request too large, no detail too small, he added.

 

Upmarket Ponant goes all-inclusive
Another cruise line goes all-inclusive !

This time it’s high-end yacht cruisers, Compagnie du Ponant who have announced all-inclusive prices with immediate effect.

The new fare structure will include all meals, gratuities, port charges, taxes, fees, onboard entertainment  and alcoholic drinks,  with the only additional charges being optional excursions, transfers and personal expenses such as airfares.

Included in the fare structure are fully-stocked mini bars in the cabins and a welcome cocktail party.

 

CroisiEurope goes into Asia
Major European river cruising operator CroisiEurope is about to expand into Indochina with a new Mekong River itinerary.

But they’re not stopping there – they’re also expanding into Africa, India and Russia.

The company will be known as CroisiVoyages, to differentiate itself from its European operations.

Its ship in Asia, the RV Indochine, is a four-star 24 ensuite-cabin vessel which will sail between Ho Chi Minh City and Angkor with an eight-night cruise including a two-night luxury hotel stay in Siem Reap.

Fares will include all meals, beer and soft drinks.

A highlight of the cruise will be a sail right up into the city of Saigon through the Chao Gao Canal.

 

Blue Lagoon Cruises’ new owner
Blue Lagoon Cruises has merged with two other companies – South Sea Cruises and Awesome Adventures – and its new owners say they are looking to “re-invigorate” the business.

Its new owners, Fiji Holdings Limited, majority-owned by Fijians,  has entered into a long-term management agreement with the owners of South Sea Cruises, who will  further develop the business.

Chris Jacobs, of South Sea Cruises, told Cruise Weekly that Blue Lagoon Cruises is a “very, very good fit” with the existing business.

He added it is business as usual with all its advertised itineraries going ahead as normal.

 

Holland America Line ups its presence Down-Under
Another cruise ship is being added to Holland America’s capacity in Australasia.

Currently, only the 1400-passenger ms Volendam has sailed in Australasia but now the 1900-ship ms Oosterdam is coming this way.

Volendam will circumnavigate Australia while Oosterdam will take over the trans-Tasman and south Pacific sailings.

 

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