Tag Archives: Flavia-Gray

MSC Group Launch Explora Journeys

MSC Group Launch Explora Journeys

New Luxury Brand

The MSC Group have announced the company’s entry into the luxury cruise market. The launch of a new brand, Explora Journeys has been created for the next generation of discerning luxury travellers.

The first of four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Each will utilise the latest in cutting-edge maritime technology to provide journeys of discovery through destinations on and off the beaten path. Guests will be hosted on a ship like no other, with the highest level of service and amenities.

Ship Design

Designed in partnership with the world’s foremost superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the innovative ship will seamlessly blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship. With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy striking views at sea and in port from their floor to ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square metres which is among the most spacious for the category in the industry.

Fourteen decks will provide ample indoor public space, maximising guest choice and seclusion. Generous outdoor decks will boast more than 2,500 square metres overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across 3 outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming and poolside relaxation in any weather. Combined with various indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck, the ship was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in an ocean state of mind.

“Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper,” said Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “Explora Journeys will bring a new perspective to the travel industry, reinventing the classic cruise experience for the next generation of luxury travellers.”

Exceptional Service and Dining Options

With the perfect blend of intimate and vibrant spaces, a guest to crew ratio of 1.25 to 1 ensures anticipatory service at every turn. Tailored to suit personal preferences, flexible dining times at nine distinct restaurants will provide unrivalled variety at sea. Each venue will celebrate global culinary talents, with a focus on wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local partners. To make sure guests are spoilt for choice, several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges will also be available. Relaxation begins the moment a guest steps aboard, not having to reach for their wallet for any additional costs.

Wellness

Personalisation continues in wellness with a spacious indoor/ outdoor spa and fitness area on board. From treatment rooms to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, group workout classes to personal training appointments, tailor-made programmes make staying well while on holiday easy and enjoyable. Bespoke wellness experiences in each destination will make relaxation and rejuvenation easily accessible onboard and ashore.

Guided By The Sea

In partnership with Fincantieri, Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilising the latest in environmental-supporting technologies, while being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available. The design incorporates provision for battery storage allowing future hybrid power generation, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90%. Built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and powered by marine gas oil, all four ships will be RINA DOLPHIN certified for reduced underwater noise. Single-use plastics will not be used onboard the ship, nor will they be offered during land-based experiences, as Explora Journeys is focused on leaving a positive impression on the places and people visited.

“The MSC Family knows the sea like few others, and with that knowledge comes passion, love and most of all, a deep respect,” continued Pierfrancesco Vago. “Our ships will utilise state of the art technology to ensure we are leading the movement towards a more sustainable future. Together with our partners, we’re currently developing ground-breaking technologies that will elevate the status quo, not just for this generation but also beyond.”

Itineraries

With journeys starting at 7 nights, a best-in-class guest experience will ensure relaxed mornings and exciting evenings. Non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays will allow Explora Journeys to offer guests exclusive access to once in a lifetime experiences. With ships that travel far north and south of the equator, itineraries in the inaugural collection will offer the ideal blend of celebrated destinations such as Saint Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, and hidden gems such as Kastellorizo, Bozcaada and the Lofoten Islands. Explora Journeys will bring guests to lesser-travelled harbours to enjoy a more authentic experience and a slower pace of travel.

A Symbolic Emblem

CFO of the MSC Group, Alexa Aponte-Vago designed the Explora Journeys logo. The pattern represents a journey of personal discovery and fulfilment. Illustrations of the lotus flower symbolise purity of body, speech, and mind, while a nod to the fleur-de-lis represents humility and a connection to European heritage. A sophisticated typeface alludes to the subtle curves of the sea.

Bookings for the 2023 Inaugural Collection will open in Autumn 2021. To learn more about Explora Journeys, please visit ExploraJourneys.com, or join the conversation @ExploraJourneys.

Recommended Reading: 7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

MSC VIRTUOSA ARRIVES IN LIVERPOOL

Biggest Cruise Ship To Call At The Port

MSC Virtuosa arrives in Liverpool

The Port of Liverpool yesterday welcomed the first call of MSC Virtuosa. At full capacity, the vessel is able to accommodate over 6,000 guests. However the 1,085ft-long ship is currently sailing with only 1,000 guests in accordance with government guidance.

Guests are welcomed aboard MSC Virtuosa (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Cruises)

Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland commented “MSC Cruises is excited to be in Liverpool for the first time and we are proud to bring our new flagship MSC Virtuosa to this renowned cultural city.”

CREDIT Stratus Imagery. MSC Virtuosa Docked Liverpool

Angie Redhead, Head of Cruise Liverpool added: “We are delighted to offer guests the opportunity to join an MSC cruise in Liverpool for the very first time and as MSC Virtuosa is the largest cruise ship to ever call here, I have no doubt she will draw quite a crowd to our World Heritage Waterfront! We just know that MSC Cruises’ guests are going to love the convenience of embarking in Liverpool, whilst our amazingly friendly city will extend a warm Liverpool welcome to everyone on board.”

MSC Virtuosa, Galleria Virtuosa (Credit: Ivan Sarfatti)

Vaccination Requirements

Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests are welcome on board, as all guests are tested at embarkation. This falls under MSC Cruises’ industry-leading and proven health and safety protocol developed by a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts. This protocol was first deployed on MSC Grandiosa in August 2020 and has since helped protect thousands of guests sailing on the ship in the Mediterranean.

Guests may explore ports of call by taking part in ‘bubble’ shore excursions. These have been carefully developed to extend the comprehensive health and safety protocol, tried and tested onboard and ashore. These bubbles include;

  • Sanitised transfers
  • Tour guides and drivers in PPE
  • All guests staying within their group
  • Visits to pre-screened venues
  • Reserved areas for MSC Cruises guests

All of these measures not only help to protect the health of the ship’s guests, but also residents of the local communities where the ship calls.

MSC Cruises’ Long-Term Goal To Achieve A Zero-Impact Cruise Operation

MSC Virtuosa represents another step towards this goal as one of the most environmentally conscious cruise ships at sea. The ship features some of the most advanced technology currently available, such as shore-to-ship power to substantially reduce emissions close to urbans areas, waste management centres, a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system, and advanced water treatment systems.

For more information and to book, visit: www.msccruises.co.uk/cruises/ships/msc-virtuosa/itineraries

MSC Virtuosa Arrives In Southampton

MSC Virtuosa Arrives In Southampton

To Restart UK Cruising

The newest and most innovative ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet, MSC Virtuosa has arrived in Southampton. She will homport here for the Summer, setting sail on 20th May. Her maiden voyages will consist of 3- and 4-night mini cruises. 7-night sailings around the UK will begin on 12th June.

An Exciting Moment

Antonio Paradiso, UK Managing Director said “The arrival of our flagship MSC Virtuosa into Southampton today is an exciting moment, as we prepare to welcome UK guests back on board from May 20th for her inaugural season around the British Isles. We are proud to be the first cruise line to set sail from UK waters this summer and offer holidaymakers the chance to experience all of the new and incredible features on board our latest and most innovative ship. ”

Image Credit: Antonio Paradiso – Facebook

Environmentally Advanced

MSC Virtuosa is one of MSC Cruises’ most innovative and environmentally advanced ships. The 19-deck ship will offer its British guests of all ages the very best of;

  • fine dining restaurants
  • world-class entertainment
  • relaxing bars and lounges
  • boutique shopping
  • spa and fitness centres
  • an aquapark and clubs for toddlers to teenagers
  • the iconic 112-metre promenade with a stunning LED sky dome

Horizon Terminal

The ship will initially set sail from City Cruise Terminal, before moving to embark guests from the newly-named Horizon terminal once it has opened.

Third Ship Back At Sea

Joining two ships already operating in the Mediterranean, MSC Virtuosa will become the third MSC Cruises ship back at sea. MSC Seaside welcomed guests back on board last week, and MSC Grandiosa has been sailing in the Mediterranean since August 2020. All ships operate under the same industry-leading health and safety protocol.

Recommended Reading MSC Virtuosa Will Restart UK Cruising

Project: Get Me Home (Trigger Warning)

Trigger Warning: This blog post mentions sexual assault which some may find disturbing.

My Story

What is Project: Get Me Home? For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Flavia Gray, I am 48 years old (born 1972) and am a single mum of two with 13 years between them. Yes it took me 12 years to find someone else who wasn’t prepared to support their child.

This is not a pity party. I am sharing my story to help inspire others to follow their dreams and that it is never too late.

Abused

The reason I fell in love with guys who didn’t love me as I deserved, was because I was sexually abused at the age of 13 by a 21 year old man that I knew. Some of my older male and female “friends” where in the room next door and were fully aware of what was going on. My virginity was violently taken away from me on the floor of a squat in Weybridge, and I told myself that was how things were meant to be. There is a scientific explanation as to why that occurs.

When something traumatic happens to us, our brain has a coping mechanism that kicks in that tells us “this is ok, this is supposed to happen”.  It does that because the brain knows we are unable to cope emotionally with the reality. The brain is protecting us.

So from the age of 13 to 29, when my daughter was born, I firmly believed that I had done a disgusting act and hated myself. Victims of sexual abuse will go one of two ways. They either abstain from sex completely or, as I did, have sex with anyone who will have them in the hope to feel loved and/or erase the memory of what happened.

The trouble with the second choice is that it gives the impression that the person is confident and “up for it”, rather than the truth which is a sad little girl desperate to be loved.

A Brush With A Serial Killer

When I was a big boobed, blonde 21 year old, I used to hang out at Rocky’s karaoke bar in Cobham. The club was famous for one of its doorman, serial killer Levi Bellfield. Everyone liked Levi. He was cuddly in an overweight sense and spoke with a high squeaky voice, so no-one took him too seriously. One evening he offered me a lift home to Weybridge. I was drunk on Hooch (remember that). I felt really special that Levi drove me home because he was a popular guy. Before we left Rocky’s I remember people said to me “Be careful. If his Mrs finds out he’s given you a lift home, she will kill you!” The irony!

So Levi drove me home in his white Vauxhall Astra. I think we stopped for a kebab. It was an uneventful journey and I thought no more of it. Later when it came out about his crimes, I looked into the older victims and it seemed that they were big boobed and blonde and they had turned him down for sex. (Disclaimer: I have read this somewhere and cannot verify that is accurate information but am using it to prove a point). My reaction was to joke about it and say “well I was safe then because I never say no”. That was my way of dealing with things. Other people had labelled me, so I had assumed the label. But deep down I just craved to be loved.

Having said that, I had some lovely boyfriends in the past, but because of the programming in my brain, nice guys just didn’t seem strong and manly enough. I know it’s messed up.

Getting My Mind Right

So I guess you are wondering how I went from that way of thinking, to the clarity I have now. Well it’s taken nearly 20 years and will never end because the day you stop learning, growing and developing is the day you die. The answers only come to those who are actively seeking the truth and who are strong enough to deal with it. In my case I had tried everything in my power to get the life I wanted, but nothing ever worked. I felt like I was stuck in a never ending series of Only Fools and Horses. (For those of you who don’t know, the main character Del Boy is always trying to “make it big” but never succeeds)

When the news of Jimmy Saville (celebrity peopdophile) hit the media, it stirred up a lot of emotion for me. Eventually I felt the right thing to do was to contact the police about the incident in 1986. I was absolutely petrified, but I kept thinking, what if there are others. What if he is still abusing children?

Going To The Police

I contacted the police and they sent two female officers to my house to talk to me. We sat down and I told them what had happened, the circumstances leading up to it and during, and they said without a shadow of a doubt that what took place was wrong. I cried. Hearing that from the police was the moment I truly accepted it into my soul. That was my healing.

The police did locate the abuser and he was questioned. He denied knowing who I was. Apparently he was in a bad state healthwise and the police didn’t feel he was a threat to anyone at this point in his life. I gave the police the names of people who knew what happened at the time, but none of them had any recollection of it. So that was all that could be done.

Counselling

As a result of contacting the police, I was able to qualify for specialist counselling by RASASC which was life changing! This was the first step of my restoration.

Since then I attended the Landmark Forum which is an intense weekend of getting your head straight. I highly recommend it, but you must to be emotionally strong enough to cope with a big mental shake up. I also listen to Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Grant Cardone, Joseph McClendon III and other mentors who help keep my mindset right and raise my standards.

Florida – Finding My Home

Why is Florida my home? Well, in 1993 my Dad paid for a 6 week trip for me to go and “find myself” in St Petersburg, Florida. He chose the destination based on the fact that he had a very good friend living there that I could fall back on in an emergency.

The day I was driven by my new found friend Mark, to Sunset Beach on the Gulf Coast for sunset, was the day everything changed for me. Have you ever had one of those moments when you say “this is where I want to be”? Well that was my moment. That was 28 years ago! Since then I have visited countless  times and always wanted to live there.

There is not a day that goes past without me thinking of that sunset.

Here’s to Project: Get Me Home

The Epiphany

I ended January 2021 with opening up about my past experience of sexual abuse. This lead to me feeling a sense of acceptance and freedom. It also opened the door to new feelings and thoughts.

I heard a voice that said to me “If Florida was your home, what would you do to get back there?” Wow! That was a revelation and it suddenly felt achievable.

The Fear

What about medical insurance, what about seeing my family, what if, what if, what if? Ok THIS is the kind of stuff that kills dreams, this is what keeps us in our little box leading an average life.

If your goal doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.

Dig The Ditches

I have heard this message so many times. Act like you are ready to receive what you want. Don’t worry about the how, just visualise it, expect it and prepare for it. I thought I had got this figured out, but it was only when I watched the Class of 2020 video by Sir Anthony Hopkins, that it really became clear.

Sir Anthony relayed a bible verse 2 Kings 3:16 “And he said, “Thus saith the Lord: ‘Make this valley full of ditches. ‘Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye and your cattle and your beasts.”

In other words, prepare to receive it and don’t worry about the how.

Project: Get Me Home

Even as I say it I feel sick with nerves. That’s how I know this is the right thing to do. It scares me because it is a big goal, but success is found outside of your comfort zone.

So now I am preparing to move to Florida. I will apply for my ESTA visas, a pet passport and start getting ready to go.

At the same time, I will continue to connect with likeminded people who have a dream they want to follow. My vision is to be part of a community of people who lift each other up. A community who are positive, kind, loving, honest and willing to stand up to make a difference.

Today I am starting from zero point with no money but a vehicle (my business) to make a good income. I have no working visa or green card, but I will figure it out as I go. Dig the Ditch!

Be Epic

This isn’t just about me, in fact that is the last thing it is about.

I know there are thousands of others out there who are going through exactly the same thing as me. Thousands of people are settling for a mediocre life because they don’t know HOW to make their dreams a reality. Thousands of people who are unhappy because they don’t understand that they have been brainwashed to think this is the best that life can be.

More than sitting on a beach in Florida, my goal is to help as many other people as possible, be truly happy. By using my story and my journey as an example, I want to inspire many others to do the same. Not only to inspire, but to lock arms and show them how they can do it step by step.

If you want to find out more about what I do click here Find Out More

Ships and Champagne

The Ships and Champagne community is changing. It is no longer a platform to promote the cruise industry.

Ships and Champagne’s mission statement is to inspire anyone and everyone to go after the life they deserve. To reach for the moon, not to settle and to believe that anything is possible.

Are you with me?

A New Southampton Cruise Terminal

New Southampton Cruise Terminal For Summer 2021

Associated British Ports in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise line Holdings Ltd have today announced the opening of a new cruise terminal at the Port of Southampton.

This is encouraging news as we all wait for cruise operations to resume. Clearly the impact of this years events does not show any signs of slowing down the future demand for cruises.

The fifth dedicated cruise terminal is going to be well equipped to service the next-generation of cruise ships. The main terminal building will use roof mounted solar power and Shore Power connectivity to supply sustainable operations. This will enable cruise ships, with the right onboard technology, to ‘plug in’ while they are alongside.

UK’s Number One Departure Port

Southampton is Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port and the UK’s number one departure port. The £55 million investment will further strengthen the Port of Southampton’s position.

The yet unnamed terminal is due to open in Summer 2021 and will become the home port of MSC Magnifica for part of the season sailing from the UK.

Four Existing Terminals

The Mayflower Terminal is the oldest of the four existing passenger terminals, which opened in 1960. Queen Elizabeth II Terminal followed shortly after in 1966. It wasn’t until 2003 that City Terminal was built and Ocean Terminal 6 years later in 2009.

Construction of the fifth cruise terminal commenced in September 2020 and is schedule to open in Summer 2021. The new Southampton cruise terminal will be the port’s largest to date and will be capable of handling the largest cruise ships in the world.

This is great news as we come to the close of the most difficult year in cruise industry history. We are all so desperate to get back onboard and it appears that there is no shortage of demand.

MSC Cruises are committing to sustainable cruising. Here are 7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

Big Changes to Royal Caribbean Muster Drill

An Entirely New Approach To Delivering Safety Information To Guests

Royal Caribbean Group is replacing the traditional safety drill, with the new innovative Muster 2.0

The process will be faster and have a more personal, which encourages higher levels of safety.

Tested on Symphony of the Seas in January 2020, Muster 2.0 has been more than a year in the making. Guests who took part in the mock process indicated a strong preference for the new approach. They also reported better comprehension and retention of the safety information.

The New Royal Caribbean Muster Drill Approach Will Help Guests Enjoy A Smoother Sail Away

Muster 2.0 enables guests to access the key elements of the safety drill. This includes things like; What to expect and where to go in case of an emergency and life jacket instructions.

eMuster provides information on mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs. Guests can avoid large group assemblies by reviewing the information at their own time prior to setting sail.

The new approach also allows guests to enjoy more of their vacation with no interruption.

After reviewing safety information individually, guests will complete the drill by visiting their assigned assembly station, where a crew member will verify that all steps have been completed and answer questions. The ships will not depart until all guests have completed the drill.

The distributed muster for ocean-going vessels concept is patented in the United States and is patent-pending in major markets around the world, including the various cruise industry flag states. The company has also worked with international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities to ensure it meets all safety requirements.

Cruise Lines to Eliminate Crowding By Using The Technology

In addition to introducing the new process on the ships of its own cruise lines – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara – Royal Caribbean Group is offering to license the patented technology to interested cruise operators and will waive patent license fees during the time the world and industry battle the global pandemic. Patent licenses have already been granted to the company’s joint venture, TUI Cruises GmbH, as well as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Recommended Reading

A Guide To Cruising with Royal Caribbean

Holland America Are Cruising To Greenland in 2021

Holland America Line’s Canada & New England season will be even more scenic in 2021

From April to October, guests have more than 13 unique Canada, New England and Greenland itineraries to choose from. These range from seven to 17 days,  including a new roundtrip cruise from Boston, Massachusetts, that features GreenlandNewfoundland and New England.

Image Credit: Holland America Line – Maasdam in Quebec City, Canada

Suite bookings made by Feb. 28, 2020, receive free drinks, free dining package and free gratuities.

To celebrate the opening of the 2021 Canada, New England & Greenland bookings, Holland America Line is featuring an exclusive suite offer that includes free drinks, a free dining package and free gratuities when reserved by Feb. 28, 2020.

“With spectacular scenery in any season, close-to-home access for many of our guests and a thriving culinary and cultural scene, Canada and New England remain our most requested destinations,” said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “Adding Greenland to those itineraries makes them even more desirable because it’s so rarely visited on a cruise, and the natural beauty is a perfect complement to Canada and New England.”

Image Credit: Greenland Travel – A fountain in Qaqortoq

Kicking off the season in April, Amsterdam, Zaandam and Rotterdam sail diverse collections of 50 cruises that call at 23 exceptional ports on itineraries departing from BostonFort Lauderdale, Florida; and Montréal, Québec. In addition to Greenland, the cruises call at some of the region’s most iconic destinations, including Charlottetown on Prince Edward IslandMaine’s spectacular Acadia National ParkCape Breton’s incredible Bird Islands and Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.

New and Notable in 2021:

  • Three new 17-day GreenlandNewfoundland & New England Discovery cruises aboard Rotterdam in July and August sail roundtrip from Boston and explores remote destinations with breathtaking natural beauty. Ports include Paamiut, Qaqortoq and Nanortalik, GreenlandSt. John’sRed BaySt. Anthony and Corner Brook, Newfoundland and LabradorHalifax and Sydney, Nova ScotiaCharlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Bar Harbor, Maine.
  • Amsterdam and Zaandam will continue cruising between Montréal and Boston in both the summer and fall, which will add three additional Canada & New England Discovery cruises and one additional Atlantic Coast sailing.
  • Rotterdam takes over the 10-day Newfoundland & New England Discovery itineraries that now sail all the way to Montréal and include a late-night departure or overnight at Québec City, Québec.
  • All three ships will cruise the region in the fall so guests can view the impressive display of foliage. Itineraries feature scenic cruising on the St. Lawrence River and Saguenay Fjord.
  • Holland America Line’s perfectly sized ships enable cruising the scenic St. Lawrence River, with calls at Montréal and Québec City on nearly every itinerary.
  • Leisurely journeys along the Atlantic Coast to and from Fort Lauderdale feature port calls at Charleston, South Carolina, and New York City on select itineraries.

Image Credit: Holland America Line – Saguenay Fjord

Cultural Experiences Come Aboard

On board, Holland America Line’s multimedia EXC Talks bring Canada, New England and Greenland to life with captivating storytelling, expert commentary and stirring audio and video presentations.

Explore Food, Wine and Culture on Culinary Tours

Exclusive shore excursions in partnership with Food & Wine magazine showcase the tastes of the region. On Canada, New England and Greenland cruises, guests can indulge in authentic poutine and maple syrup-infused treats, or farm-to-fork cuisine in Québec City; sail on a classic lobster boat and then dine at a Downeast Maine lobster bake in Bar Harbor; explore Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and attend a tasting at the Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards; or take a walking tour of Portland, Maine, and quaff a small-batch beer at Shipyard Brewing Company.

Recommended Reading

7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

Details of Partnership With P&O Cruises and Gary Barlow

British singer, songwriter, producer and musician Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.

Member of one of the biggest groups in British music history Take That, is set to make Iona’s intimate music bar the most exciting live music venue at sea. The atmospheric late-night music venue will showcase an eclectic range of performances. In keeping with P&O Cruises traditions, the shows will be curated to appeal to British music lovers. Up-and-coming musicians will get a chance to play, which could give them their lucky break.

Naming Ceremony Performance

Gary’s role with P&O Cruises will also see him performing at Iona’s naming celebration which kicks off IonaFest, the UK’s most exciting new floating festival which is a seven-night cruise to the Norwegian Fjords from Southampton on July 4, 2020.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as the brand ambassador. Gary’s impressive career speaks for itself and he will bring his vision and personality to our new The 710 Club; from guiding the resident band, selecting future performers and playlists and even shaping the interiors and signature cocktails.

“We’re excited that our guests can be a part of it and they will have the opportunity to watch Gary light up Iona’s theatre for some extraordinary performances in dazzling surroundings. This collaboration highlights our commitment to providing world-class entertainment on Iona that places music firmly at its heart.”

Image: P&O Cruises. Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.

Gary Barlow added: “I want The 710 Club to be a celebration of great music and great talent. As its musical director, I want to give a unique experience for people who love music as much as I do.”

“Music has been such a massive part of my life – and taken me on so many journeys and adventures. I’m hoping to pass this on to all the guests in my club.”

Cruises With Gary Barlow

Gary will also join guests on two Iona holidays in 2020 for exclusive performances;*

  • Iona G018 departing Southampton on 29 August for the Norwegian Fjords
  • Iona G025 departing Southampton on 31 October for Spain and Portugal

*Tickets for the performances are limited. They will go on sale prior to the holiday, on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost will be £25 per person with a maximum of 4 tickets per holiday booking. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to two charities; Child Bereavement UK and Teenage Cancer Trust.

Recommended Reading

MSC Magnifica Restyled for UK Guests

Gary Barlow Is New P&O Cruises Brand Ambassador

Gary Barlow Will Be P&O Cruises New Brand Ambassador

P&O Cruises have announced today, that Gary Barlow is going to be their new brand ambassador. Guests cruising in 2020 will be able to experience the benefit of this pioneering partnership.

As a producer, musician, songwriter and member of the legendary British pop group Take That, cruisers are sure to be thrilled at the announcement.  P&O Cruises are holding an exclusive event at the Grade 1 listed church building St. Luke’s London Symphony Orchestra this evening (15 January). Here they will announce more details of Gary’s as the new brand ambassador.

Gary is one of the most successful musicians in the UK, with an impressive career. He has written 15 number one singles and sold over 45 million records worldwide. His live performances have sold over 8 million concert tickets. In recognition of his great work, Gary has won six Ivor Novello Awards and eight BRIT Awards.

Gary has also co-written and produced music for other renowned artists. These include legendary singers such as, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams. Gary composed the score for the hugely successful ‘Finding Neverland’ and worked alongside screenwriter Tim Firth to write the music and lyrics for the musical ’The Girls’. More recently Gary worked alongside his bandmates Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Robbie Williams to produce ‘The Band’ a record-breaking musical featuring the music of Take That.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as a brand ambassador and we look forward to revealing more exciting details on Gary’s role very soon.”

Recommended Reading

Details of Partnership With P&O Cruises and Gary Barlow

European Waterways “break out the bubbly”

European Waterways ‘Breaks Out the Bubbly’ for the New Year With Exclusive Hotel Barge Cruise Excursions in Champagne, France

*Champagne Tastings feature in the expanded ‘Insider Experiences’ Programme For 2020 Season, including Gastronomic Lunch at Famed Chateau*

As the world breaks out the champagne to herald the New Year, European Waterways invites travellers to “break out the bubbly” in the land where it all began – Champagne, France. 

For the 2020 season, launching in March, the luxury hotel barge cruise specialist is offering exclusive experiential excursions in Champagne that now include a tasting of various vintages and a gastronomic lunch at the 18th century Château Les Aulnois in the village of Pierry, just south of Épernay  – the birthplace of champagne.

The opportunity is available when cruising aboard European Waterways’ Panache luxury hotel barge and also includes a tour of the original Champagne Henriot vineyards, one of the oldest family-owned domaines that traces its origins to the late 1700’s.

10% Off Selected Cruises

European Waterways is offering 10% off on selected cruise departures in May and June 2020, aboard Panache in Champagne, valid when booked before January 6, 2020

For departures on June 7 and 28, cabins are available at £4,131 per person, based on double occupancy. This is a saving £459 off the regular price of £4,590.

Twelve-passenger whole boat charters are available at £44,550 for the May 31, June 14, and June 21, 2020 departures.  This is a saving of £4,950 off the regular price of £49,500. 

Celebrating with Panache

Panache cruises through the heart of Champagne from mid-June to mid-July, between Château-Thierry and Châlons-en-Champagne, just weeks before the start of France’s famous grape harvest.  The vessel’s six-night, all-inclusive cruises offer a unique immersion into the celebrated history of the sparkling wine and the famous houses that include Moët & Chandon, Henriot and Pannier.  

Epernay

In Épernay, the champagne house of Moët & Chandon features the largest vineyard in the region.  Guests will enjoy a guided tour of its vast underground cellar, carved into the white chalk under L’Avenue de Champagne, and taste some of Moët’s vintages in a private salon with the cellar master.  A separate excursion to the Domaine of Champagne Henriot includes a stop at its famous vineyard, where a viticulture expert explains their grape selection process. Guests are then treated to a private tour of the Château Les Aulnois. This includes a tasting of the various Henriot champagnes, and a gastronomic lunch in the chateau’s dining room.

Reims Cathedral

Panache’s guests visit the magnificent 800-year-old Reims Cathedral. This Gothic masterpiece is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the coronation of the kings of France once took place.  Guests will also visit Château-Thierry, the scene of many fierce battles in WW1 and where American Expeditionary Forces first saw action.  Guests will also visit the American cemetery at Belleau Wood, where the combined U.S., French and British forces fought against the Germans.

Dom Perignon

“The pioneering innovations in the wine-making processes by the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon led to the invention of champagne in the late 17th century, and the world has been celebrating ever since,” said Banks.  “In 2020, we invite travellers to celebrate with us in the land that made it all possible.” 

Six-night cruise fares, based on double occupancy, include:

  • local, private, chauffeured transfers
  • comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation
  • all gourmet meals
  • fine wines – indigenous to the cruise region
  • an open bar
  • daily excursions and admittance fees
  • use of barge facilities, such as bicycles and hot tub

European Waterways’ Brochure

The full range is available in European Waterways’ colourful new 104-page brochure. The brochure is available online at https://www.europeanwaterways.com/brochure-request/

Please visit www.europeanwaterways.com for information.

With over 40 years’ experience in luxury hotel barging, European Waterways has a fleet that spans nine countries and is the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. Hotel Barging is a unique experience for 6 to 20 guests. It offers an immersive, all-inclusive “gentle voyage of discovery” focusing on local culture, history, fine wine and gourmet cuisine.

European Waterways provide an impeccable level of on board service with access to intimate inland waterways. This network of smaller canals allows for flexibility, spontaneity and opportunities to explore surroundings on a bicycle, or on foot. Chauffeured “off the beaten track” excursions to exquisite wine tastings to private tours of stately homes are available daily.

Recommended Reading

Bombay Sapphire Distillery with Princess Cruises

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Virgin Voyages ‘Valiant Lady’ to Head for the Med

Virgin Voyages today announced their second ship debuting in May 2020, will be called ‘Valiant Lady’, and is be based out of Barcelona, Spain. From here she will sail 7-night Mediterranean itineraries, with late-night stops and overnight stays in ports such as Ibiza.

Valiant Lady will sail 3 different itineraries with breathtaking ports of call, open for booking in December 2019.

  1. The exotic delights of Barcelona, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Marseille and Olbia
  2. A fantastic sampling of the Med featuring Barcelona, Ibiza, Toulon, Ajaccio, Marina di Carrara, and Cagliari
  3. Spanish immersion, stopping by Barcelona, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and the British port of Gibraltar

A Home in Barcelona for Summer 2021

Most cruise ships dock at Termina C in Barcelona, which is a 10-minute bus ride to the first point of interest, Las Ramblas. However, Virgin Voyages have secured a prime location usually reserved by luxury liners and mega-yachts. Valiant Lady will dock at the World Trade Center Barcelona, just steps from Las Ramblas, allowing Sailors to be as close to the heart of the city as possible. It gives walking access to the most popular spots such as Poble Sec, el Raval, Barri Gotic, Port Vell and the famed urban beach of La Barceloneta. Departing every Sunday, sailors can enjoy extra time in Barcelona and take advantage of a range of flight options.

Later Stays and Overnights

Sailor and First Mates (travel partners) wanted later stays in ports, which Virgin Voyages have delivered on every itinerary. Sailors can now make the most of their time in port. Every sailing features a Friday overnight stay in Ibiza, one of the most stunning and thrilling Balearic Islands. Whether it’s a beach club, market, spa, sunset, or a late-night out, there is no other place like Ibiza.

Introducing ‘Valiant Lady’

The name ‘Valiant Lady’ was inspired by the Latin valere and the French, Vaillant, meaning “bold”, “strong”, and “courageous”. The image of women historically only graced the bows of ships to bring protection to a vessel. However, ‘Valiant Lady’ embodies the idea that women design, captain, lead and champion change in the maritime industry.

Scarlet Squad

Valiant Lady will continue Virgin Voyages’ ‘Scarlet Squad’ program. This is aimed at recruiting, supporting and mentoring female shipboard talent and growing opportunities to access leadership roles onboard. This includes areas such as marine, technical and hotel management that statistically show low numbers of female leadership.

Recommended Reading Champagne Delivery at the Shake of Your Phone

Future Sailors, First Mates, and travel advisors are invited to check out Virgin Voyages by visiting www.virginvoyages.com or following @virginvoyages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Virgin Voyages Announces Sneak-A-Peak Sailings

VIRGIN VOYAGES ANNOUNCES CELEBRATORY MAIDEN VOYAGE EXPERIENCES 

Virgin Voyages have made exciting announcements on what to expect for the Scarlet Lady’s Maiden Voyage. The much-anticipated voyage will depart Miami on the 1st April next year. In true Virgin style, the first celebratory sailing will be an unforgettable experience.  Celebrity guests will be at every turn, and I am sure there will be much speculation as to who will be onboard. Special onboard events with exciting surprises will give Sailors an enhanced Virgin Voyages experience.

TWO NEW SNEAK-A-PEAK SAILINGS

Virgin Voyages also announced two special preview Sneak-a-Peek sailings, so sailors can sample the Virgin Voyages experience. with the first one departing 26 March 2020.

The adult-only cruise promises to be a cruise like no other, with their fresh approach to cruising.  Scarlet Lady officially sets sail on its Maiden Voyage April 1st.

The three-night Sneak-a-Peek Scarlet Lady sailings will feature the ship’s marquee experiences. These include a stunning day at Virgin Voyages exclusive Beach Club at Bimini. Sailors will enjoy a Scarlet Night Party, access to all restaurants and the opportunity to experience complete versions of entertainment offered onboard.

Bookings for Sneak-a-Peak sailings open on VirginVoyages.com Friday, November 15th. The first sailing will run from Thursday, March 26 – Sunday, March 29. The second sailing will run Sunday, March 29 – Wednesday, April 1.

Recommended Reading Mark Ronson Virgin Voyages Minister of Music

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Amazing Features for Odyssey Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean International recently announced details on the newest Quantum Ultra Class ship Odyssey of the Seas.

Decked Out

Odyssey of the Seas is the 27th vessel to join the Royal Caribbean International fleet and looks like it is going to have the most action-packed top deck to date.

Amazing features for Odyssey of the Seas include a two-level pool deck with two open-air resort-style pools and four whirlpools. The new design provides plenty of sunny and shady space, so guests to soak up the sun and relax and cool off in the shade.

The two-storey Lime & Coconut has a tropical vibe with pool-front views, which replaces the old style pool bar. This will be a great place to hang out during the day and in the evening.

Image: Royal Caribbean International

El Loco Fresh, serves poolside authentic Mexican food, from tacos and burritos to quesadillas and fresh salsas. This provides guests with a convenient food option without having to leave the poolside.

Splashaway Bay features waterslides, fountains and water cannons, giving kids hours of fun.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Splashaway Bay

The Adult only Solarium has an exclusive space on the top deck, offering a retreat for some quiet time, with dedicated swimming pools and whirlpools. Daybeds and hidden nooks will be the ultimate place to relax whilst sipping on a drink from the full-service bar.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Solarium

Kids Play

Young cruisers will be able to choose their very own immersive experiences, as Adventure Ocean will have a whole new layout.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Adventure Ocean

The teen lounge will be maxed-out with gaming consoles, music and movies, which will provide endless hangout options.

Entertainment

Entertainment across the ship will include Royal Caribbean’s signature theatre productions and mind-blowing high tech shows in the innovative Two70.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Two70

Boasting 270-degree panoramic windows with sweeping ocean views at the aft of the ship, the expansive open area living room transforms into a 135-foot-wide and 22-foot-tall screen.  At night, the iconic venue becomes a multidimensional theatre – where six Roboscreens come to life in sync with the music, special effects, live performers and aerialists.

I recorded this video onboard Anthem of the Seas in Two70. It was an afternoon show, which I will never forget.

The Music Hall provides the perfect place for a variety of live performances.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Music Hall

The Bionic Bar with robot bartenders allows you to order from an iPad, choosing your favourite drink from the menu, or design your own cocktail.

Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will be found in the SeaPlex. Sports fans can follow all the sports action, with TVs at every angle. The club-level views will offer great vantage points of the competition below. Guests can enjoy an ice-cold beer and order a range of bar food including the Playmakers Burger, buffalo wings and sliders. There will be a selection of classic board games available, trivia quizzes and pool tables. For an extra special experience, guests can reserve the Owner’s Box VIP area.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Playmakers Sports Bar

Dining

Odyssey of the Seas will have diverse dining to suit all tastes.

Serving Far East flavours, Japanese Teppanyaki Restaurant will make its first appearance in North America.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Teppanyaki

Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar, will serve rustic Italian dishes with a contemporary flair, from hand-tossed pizzas fresh out of the oven and made to order, to charcuterie delights including a wide selection of wines and limoncellos, from many of Italy’s well-known regions.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Chops Grille

Onboard restaurants include Izumi, Chop’s Grille, Chef’s Table and Wonderland.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Izumi

Fun For All The Family

Odyssey’s top deck SeaPlex is the largest indoor activity space at sea, offering fun for all the family. Drive the only bumper cars at sea, soar from a flying trapeze at circus school or battle for survival in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – Seaplex Bumper Cars

The upper level of SeaPlex will be dominated with the most interactive arcade at sea. Virtual Reality games offer individual and group play, with augmented reality walls and floors, for high-tech competitions and family experiences.

There is plenty on offer for thrill-seekers including the FlowRider , Rock Wall, RipCord by iFly and SkyPad.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – SkyPad

The iconic North Star boasting 360-degree views, will share a whole new perspective of some of the world’s most legendary shores from 300 feet above sea level.

Image: Royal Caribbean International – North Star

Recommended Reading Marc Walker – A Day In The Life Of A Cruise Director

Check the website for updates on their operations – Royal Caribbean Latest Travel Updates

Introducing Wonder of the Seas

Fifth Oasis Class Ship Set For Asia

Royal Caribbean International has announced the name of the next ship to join the fleet. Wonder of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world and will set sail from Shanghai, China in 2021.

Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Michael Bayley, revealed details at a global cruise industry conference event in Shanghai. Wonder of the Seas, will be the first Oasis Class ship to sail the Asia Pacific. This will be the start of a new era of cruising.

Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International at the press conference in Beijing. Photo provided to China Daily

“Royal Caribbean is known for its innovation and constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, and an Oasis Class ship in China is proof of that,” said Bayley. “Wonder of the Seas will redefine the ultimate vacation and be revolutionary in her own right, and she marks one of Royal Caribbean’s most exciting chapters to come.”

What to expect on board

Wonder of the Seas will be part of the Oasis class of ships which are the largest in the world. The ship will feature the iconic seven-neighbourhoods and a bold lineup of thrilling experiences, imaginative dining, unparalleled entertainment and the latest technology.

Image Credit: Royal Caribbean International Wonder of the Seas will be like her sister, Oasis of the Seas. (Pictured View of Central Park)

Construction

Construction of Wonder of the Seas took place this week, at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Wonder’s keel, a 970-tonne block measuring 155 feet by 65 feet, was lifted onto the building with a 1,400-tonne crane. This ceremony marks the beginning of her construction.

 

The coin ceremony is part of a long maritime tradition that takes place during the keel laying. You can read more about this in  What Is A Keel Laying Ceremony?

Recommended Reading Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

Princess Cruises Names Ship Discovery Princess

Princess Cruises Reveal Name for Next Ship

Princess Cruises Names Ship Discovery Princess

Discovery Princess set to launch on 3 November 2021 will be the 6th Royal Class ship.  She will begin her inaugural season with a series of European Voyages.  She will be a sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess, Majestic Princess, Sky Princess (joining the fleet later this month) and Enchanted Princess (joining the fleet June 2020 and launching in Southampton).

Her maiden voyage is a seven-day Mediterranean and Aegean cruise departing Rome to Athens on November 3, 2021. For those looking for a longer cruise, this can be combined together with the subsequent seven-day Athens to Barcelona voyage to form a 14-day Adriatic & Aegean Medley sailing.

Discovery Princess will include Adriatic and Aegean Itineraries.

On completion of her short season in the Mediterranean, Discovery Princess will reposition to Fort Lauderdale. From here, she will sail a series of roundtrip cruises to the Caribbean, followed by several voyages around South America.  Ports include Buenos Aires, Santiago, Fort Lauderdale, Mexico and California.

Santiago, Chile. One of the destinations Discovery Princess will visit during her inaugural season.

MedallionClass Technology

Construction of the 143,700-tonne Discovery Princess will take place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The ship will feature the ‘MedallionClass’ technology, which gives guests a smoother and personalised cruise experience, including;

  • Expedited arrival and touchless stateroom entry.
  • On-demand services using smart devices to order drinks, food and retail items and have them delivered directly anywhere onboard, including to their stateroom.
  • Interactive game play – digital scavenger hunts, interactive games and turning their smart device into a game controller for interactive gaming on the Movies Under The Stars top-deck screen.
  • Family and friends locator – Easily locate and chat with friends and family onboard on portals throughout the ships and via guests’ smart devices, and seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest.
  • Guests can use JourneyView to digitally browse on board events, which means they won’t miss out.  This is available up to 60 days in advance, allowing for guests to plan ahead.

Future Ships For Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises have two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered ships on order, which will be delivered in late 2023 and spring 2025. More details here.

Cruise on Discovery Princess

Princess Cruises is offering the seven-day Mediterranean and Aegean inaugural sailing on Discovery Princess from £1,389 per person. Departing November 3, 2021 from Rome to Athens, calling at Naples, Crete (Heraklion), Kusadasi (for Ephesus), Istanbul and Mykonos.

The 3,660-guest ship’s maiden season is available to book from October 8, 2019. To book visit princess.com

Barbados Food And Rum Festival 2019

THE BIGGEST CULINARY FESTIVAL IN THE CARRIBEAN

BARBADOS FOOD AND RUM FESTIVAL 2019 CELEBRATES ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY

This year Barbados celebrates a decade of the Barbados Food & Rum Festival with a new and exciting line-up of culinary greatness. The event kicks off on October 24th with the popular ‘Night out in Oistins’. The schedule of events runs until October 27th 2019.

This year, the theme of the festival is “The Story of Rum…from then to now”. It is sure to entice travellers from around the globe to experience the island’s famous rum and delicious Bajan cuisine.

What Visitors Can Expect at the Festival

Local and international chefs will be doing live food demonstrations. A whole host of food stations will be serving up food from Michelin star delights to street style bites.

Image Credit: Visit Barbados

Tasting bars will offer delicious cocktails, compliments of the Islands’ award winning mixologists. Soca music will fill the air with its tropical rhythm to create the perfect soundtrack for a week of indulgence.

Image Credit: Visit Barbados

Over the past 10 years, the festival has evolved. This has cemented its place as the ‘Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’. A source of pride for local culinary experts who give their time and knowledge to showcase exquisite cuisine to the festival-goers.

Barbados Food And Rum Festival 2019 – Schedule of Events

Thursday, October 24

The festival begins with the free open-air fish fry – Night Out in Oistins.

Savour the taste of the South as the Festival curtain opens at the historic Oistins fishing village. Be there to witness local chefs preparing fresh, grilled treats under the stars, and relish in one of the island’s most talked about experiences of cultural and culinary fusion.

Image Credit: Visit Barbados

Friday, October 25

On Friday night, those who look forward to the sit-down dining experiences will be thrilled to hear that the Gourmet Safari dinner series is back.

Following the success of last year, the festival is being opened to some local restaurants across the island. Guests can look out for Barbados Food and Rum menus at their favourite restaurants, which will offer dishes specially created just for the night.

Saturday, October 26

This year, the festival is introducing a new and exciting Food Truck Mash-Up.

Street food is equally as popular as restaurant dining. This event will be held at Pelican Craft Village and you are guaranteed to shock your taste buds as all the best street food will be in one location.

Image Credit: Visit Barbados

Sunday, October 27

The festival will climax on Sunday at the Ilaro Court. This is an elegant event not to be missed as the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) will marry class with refreshing speciality cocktails and food stations.

More information is available at the website www.foodandrum.com

Recommended Reading Barbados – Sustainability for a Greener Future

Royal Caribbean Brands Increase Sustainable Tours

ROYAL CARIBBEAN BRANDS OFFER SUSTAINABLE TOURS 

Sustainable Tours Increase Across Royal Caribbean Brands

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has announced 1,400 sustainable tours for the Caribbean, Mediterranean and beyond.

These special tours are available across all Royal Caribbean brands, and are offered by certified sustainable tour operators. Experiences include kayaking along Majorca’s west coast, underground Mayan River Cenote in Cozumel and grape harvesting at Pizzorno Winery in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Commitment to Sustainability

The initiative began as part of the company’s 2020 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) target. Royal Caribbean’s goal was to offer guests 1,000 tours, provided by operators certified to the UN-created Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standard.

Educating Tour Operators

Engaging with its global independent tour operators was a key part of the programme.

RCL’s Global Tour Operations team and GSTC conducted educational sessions for its tour operators. They educated on the company’s commitment, the importance of certification and sustainable operations, and the process to become GSTC certified.

GSTC Criteria consists of four main themes;

  • effective sustainability planning
  • maximising social and economic benefits for the local community
  • enhancing cultural heritage
  • reducing negative impacts on the environment.

Unprecedented Scale and Scope

“The scale and scope of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ commitment to sustainable shore excursions and accomplishments to date, are unprecedented,” says Jim Sano, VP for Conservation Travel, WWF.

“GSTC commends Royal Caribbean for taking these important steps, encouraging tour operators to adopt–and seek GSTC accredited certification for sustainable tourism practices,” stated Randy Durband, GSTC CEO. “Royal Caribbean’s efforts to boost the global supply of certified sustainable shore excursions is a watershed moment for the cruise industry. Having almost 1,400 tours in Royal Caribbean’s portfolio is an important milestone, and we congratulate them for their ongoing efforts.”

In 2016, RCL announced a partnership with WWF to take its sustainability performance to the next level. This partnership set ambitious sustainability targets in three key areas:

  • emissions reduction
  • sustainable food supply
  • destination stewardship

This takes the company beyond its self-contained operations, with the support of sustainable travel and livelihoods at RCL destinations.

Recommended Reading: Cruise People – Interview with Marc Walker – Royal Caribbean Cruise Director

Princess Cruises – New Gaming Production Show

Princess Cruises has revealed details of a brand new production show and concept. The exciting show ‘5-SKIES’ will debut onboard the line’s newest ships, Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess.

Be Part Of The Game

The show, which has been created exclusively for Princess Cruises,  will transport guests into a virtual reality gaming world through a series of digital effects, acrobatics, elaborate sets and unique costumes.

The show follows main character ‘Gamer 1’, who attempts to complete a series of five increasingly difficult levels, meeting different personalities along the way in an attempt to reach Sky Princess.

5-SKIES will open on the 3,660-guest Sky Princess on November 15, 2019 as it sails the Caribbean. The vessel will then head to Northern Europe and sail roundtrip from Copenhagen on a number of Russia and Scandinavia voyages between April and August.

Princess Cruises’ Commitment To Guests Experience

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises vice president UK & Europe, said: “The addition of 5-SKIES to the entertainment line-up aboard Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess showcases our commitment to offering one-of-a-kind experiences to our guests.

“With stunning visuals, special effects and spectacular choreography, the show will be brought to life by our team of talented singers and dancers and will further enhance the extensive entertainment offering which can only be found on Princess.”

After the show premieres aboard Sky Princess it will feature on Enchanted Princess when the ship launches in June 2020 in Southampton and then sails a season in the Mediterranean.

Princess Cruises is offering a 14-day ‘East/West Adventurer’ Caribbean sailing on Sky Princess, departing February 29, 2020. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, calling at Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan, Costa Maya (Mahahual), Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Prices from £2,044 per person*.

For more great Princess Cruises offers visit princesscruises.com

Recommended Reading Princess Cruises Reveals New Jazz Lounge

Travel With Friends – Virgin Voyages Circles

Virgin Voyages Offer Incentives for Sailors to Travel with Friends

Virgin Voyages is continuing to shake up the cruise and travel industry. The cruise line have revealed details of its group program. Circles is a game-changing approach to travel with friends and family.

The program is for Sailors who love traveling together and enjoy a luxe adult-only experience.  Groups might include friends and family celebrating milestone birthdays, special occasions or corporate incentive groups.

Why Circles?

Virgin Voyages refer to ‘groups’ of Sailors as Circles because “we love the idea of celebrating togetherness and human connection at sea,” said Tom McAlpin, president and CEO for Virgin Voyages. “We threw out the rule book again by eliminating complex point-based amenity programs, to create something flexible and enticing.  Our approach ensures the experience remains intimate for all Sailors on board and never feels over run by mass.”

Group Requirements

Virgin Voyages define a Circle as 10 cabins or more (including solo cabins) with up to 150 Sailors. The size and number of Circles sailing at one time are limited to ensure exclusivity while maintaining the dynamic for Sailors outside of the Circle.

Circle Bounty

Circles will be eligible for Circle Bounty, which includes an onboard credit for Sailors known as Sailor Loot.

Sailors can spend Sailor Loot onboard, however they wish. The cabin type booked will determine the amount. Insider and Sea View cabins receive $50 per cabin; Sea Terraces receive $100 per cabin and Mega RockStar and RockStar Suites receive $200 per cabin.

Insider and Sea View cabins receive $50 per cabin

Mega RockStar and RockStar Suites receive $200 per cabin.

Cruise Chest

For every 10 cabins sold, the Circle will earn a 10 percent voyage credit. This will be based on the highest fares, and known as the Cruise Chest.

Circles can earn credit towards their Circle Chest in increments of 10 cabins. So, when there is a circle of 15 cabins, the credit will be based on the highest valued 10 cabins within the group. If 20 cabins are sold, credits will be awarded based on all 20 cabins. This continues based on each block of 10 cabins.

The Circle Chest puts the control of the benefit in the hands of the First Mate. The ways in which this can be applied are as follows;

  • Spent in part or in total toward new cabins on the Circle voyage date that can be enjoyed by First Mates or Sailors.
  • Applied prior to final payment as a reduction of voyage fare across any of the purchased cabins on the Circle voyage. In this case, the First Mate’s commission will be protected and based on the full voyage fare.
  • Set up as a pre-funded master account that can be used on board during the Circle voyage. This can be used for extras including onboard credits, visits to the spa, shore things, cocktail parties, etc.

SPECIAL PROMOTION

Virgin Voyages is offering a special promotion for new 2020 Circles booked now through December 31, 2019.

For a limited time, Circles will receive double the standard Sailor Loot amount per cabin. This means Insider and Sea View cabins receive $100 per cabin; Sea Terraces receive $200 per cabin and Mega RockStar and RockStar Suites receive $400 per cabin.

This special offer is valid on all 2020 sailings except Virgin Voyages’ maiden voyage on April 1 and Sir Richard Branson’s Birthday Bash on July 15.

To book or add to a Circle, contact our Sailor Services Crew at 1-800-430-5308 in the US & Canada and +44-800-3688912 in the UK. Or visit virginvoyages.com

Recommended Reading

My interview with Stacy Shaw – Virgin Voyages VP Business Development

MSC Magnifica Restyled for UK Guests

MSC Magnifica To Undergo A Massive Transformation

The most Magnificent EX-UK season ever!

MSC Cruises revealed today brand-new itineraries for Summer 2021 sailing from Southampton on a newly refurbished MSC Magnifica. The ship will undergo a transformation adding 23 meters to the length, which will deliver an additional 7,000 m2 of space to the ship. This will allow for 215 extra cabins, a new water park, a redesigned kids area, plus additional features including two new restaurants and an exciting new shopping area.

24 sailings from Southampton for Summer 2021

MSC Cruises are introducing brand new itineraries designed for UK cruise guests. These include a 14-night sailing to the Mediterranean and 4 different Norwegian Fjord itineraries

The 24 sailings from Southampton beginning in May and ending in October will see the introduction of cruises ranging from 2 to 14 nights. The brand new varied itineraries will include the Canary Islands & Madeira, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Baltic Capitals. The majority of the 24 sailings will set sail on a Saturday. This is to ensure guests can make the most of their holiday experience.

Antonio Paradiso MD MSC Cruises UK & Ireland commented, “We are delighted to be further enhancing our guest experience and offering brand new itineraries sailing from the UK. We are committed to providing UK guests with the holidays they want.”

The announcement comes as a result of agents’ and guests’ feedback and the demand for more options to cruise from Southampton with MSC Cruises.

He added “The UK market is a priority for MSC Cruises and we have shown our commitment consistently over the last few years. Firstly, with our first-ever full EX-UK season in 2018, then with the naming of MSC Bellissima in Southampton in March this year and now with another full EX-UK season on a newly refurbished and enhanced ship with brand new itineraries created specifically with the British holidaymakers in mind.”

Itineraries

Cruise highlights include;

A 12-night cruise that calls at three of the Canary Islands – Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote with their fantastic climate, distinctive landscapes and bustling ports the cruise departing early May is perfectly timed to catch the sun.

14-night Western Mediterranean cruise in August, including popular destinations for UK guests such as Palma de Mallorca and Monte Carlo will be the perfect choice for the family summer holiday.

MSC Magnifica will offer four different stunning Norwegian Fjord itineraries and will call at two brand new destinations; Skagen in Denmark renowned for hours of sun and unique light plus Rosendal, Norway, which is the world’s fourth-largest fjord.

Best of British

In addition to new itineraries MSC Magnifica guests will continue to enjoy the ‘Best of British’ enhancements, initially showcased on MSC Magnifica in 2018. These include favourites such as pie & mash, back bacon and sausages available in the buffet and kettles in cabins with of course Yorkshire Tea.

Environmental Advances

When works are completed, MSC Magnifica will feature two new major and important onboard environmental advances to complement a wide range of existing leading-edge environmental technologies across the company’s entire fleet: a state-of-the-art Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system and next-generation Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) system. SCR technology helps reduce nitrogen oxide into pure nitrogen and water through advanced active emissions control technology.

MSC Cruises took the opportunity to install a state-of-the-art advanced wastewater treatment system onboard. The system meets the highest standards and that purifies used wastewater to near tap-water quality. The system meets the so-called ‘Baltic Standard’ and treats the wastewater to a higher standard than most waste standards available in cities around the world. To help reduce and continuously minimize emissions also while in port, the ship will be able to ‘plug in’ to the local power grid wherever such systems are available at berth.

On Sale Now From £149pp

Cruises go on sale on the 12th September. Prices start from £149pp for a mini cruise and £549 for a Norwegian fjords cruise.

£100 On Board Credit

To celebrate the launch, MSC Cruises are offering up to £100 onboard credit per cabin on all 2021 MSC Magnifica sailings from Southampton. All prices include service charge and taxes. Terms and conditions apply and can be found at www.msccruises.co.uk

Itinerary highlights include:

May Bank Holiday Mini Cruise

This 3-night sailing runs across the late May Bank Holiday. Set sail from Southampton late on Friday evening and spend the day in Zeebrugge before returning to Southampton. Prices starting from £219pp based on two passengers sharing an inside cabin with £25pp OBC.

Baltic Capitals

There are two opportunities to discover the much-loved Baltic Capitals. A 12-night cruise departing 31st May or on a 14-night cruise departing 11th September. Offering slightly different itineraries with added highlights on the 14-night itinerary. These include an overnight stay in the Swedish Capital Stockholm, and a visit to Denmark’s Skagen. Both sailings include an overnight onboard stay in St Petersburg and a visit to Norway’s capital, Oslo. Prices starting from £1,569pp based on two people sharing a Balcony cabin with £50pp OBC.

Norway Your Way

Choose from one of four different Norwegian Fjord itineraries setting sail across the summer season. Explore much-loved ports including Flamm and Stavanger and new destinations for MSC Cruises Rosendal and Nordfjordeid. Cruises depart throughout the summer. Prices starting from £819pp based on two people sharing an Ocean View cabin with £25pp OBC.

14 Nights Perfect For Families

This 14-night cruise visits some of the Mediterranean’s most loved destinations and has been developed with families in mind. Departing on the 7th August this no-fly cruise begins with two sea days to give guests a chance to relax. Then it’s action-packed itinerary allows you to explore seven different ports in nine days. It also includes a late sail from the fabulous Palma de Mallorca and a visit to the exclusive Monte Carlo. Prices starting from £3,296 for a family of 4. All food and service charges included in the price, plus £50 OBC per cabin.

Recommended Reading MSC Magnifica Cruise Review

Sky Princess Completes Sea Trials

Princess Cruises are celebrating another major milestone as they prepare for the launch of Sky Princess.

The 3,660-guest cruise ship set out from Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy for six days of sea trials, where a series of manoeuvres to test the propulsion, steering and navigational equipment were carried out.

Now back in the shipyard Sky Princess will undergo further exterior and interior finishing in preparation for her 7-day Mediterranean and Adriatic maiden voyage on October 20, 2019.

The ship will sail a short season in the Mediterranean before heading to the Caribbean.

Onboard Features

Sky Princess will be an evolution of sister ships Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. Her enhancements will also feature on Enchanted Princess, which launches in Southampton in June 2020. They include:

  • Two ‘Sky Suites’.  The largest balconies at sea, measuring a massive 1,012 square feet (starboard side), and 947 square feet (portside). These exclusive balconies will offer 270-degree panorama views and provide a private vantage of the top deck Movies Under the Stars cinema screen. They will feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining area with skylight as well as a host of exclusive amenities for up to 5 guests.

  • More than 25 dining venues and bars including the World Fresh Marketplace and speciality restaurants Bistro Sur La Mer (French bistro), Crown Grill Steakhouse and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria
  • New entertainment such as the jazz lounge ‘Take Five’, a redesigned Vista Lounge, an enhanced Princess Theatre and the recently announced production show ‘Rock Opera’

  • A redesigned Sanctuary area, the spa-inspired top deck retreat reserved for adults. The Sanctuary will feature an enhanced, contemporary design including twice as many private cabanas as its sister ships, as well as new lounge furniture and the option for guests to indulge in a spa treatment

Ocean Medallion Technology

  • Princess MedallionClass experience, featuring the complimentary OceanMedallion wearable device, which is the same size as a 10p piece, delivers an entirely new level of service and creates a holiday that is more simple, effortless and personalised with:
    • Expedited arrival – Guests who arrive at the terminal with travel documents (i.e. passports) uploaded to their profile enjoy a streamlined and expedited check-in process that gets their holiday started even sooner
    • Touchless stateroom entry – No need to touch, swipe or insert cards or devices into the door handle to unlock the stateroom. As a guest approaches their stateroom the door automatically unlocks
    • On-demand services – Using smart devices, guests have the ability to order drinks, food and retail items such as suntan lotion and have them delivered directly anywhere onboard, including to their stateroom
    • Interactive game play – Available on portals throughout the ship, PlayOcean allows guests to take part in digital scavenger hunts, interactive games and create their own avatars, as well as turning their smart device into a game controller for interactive gaming on the Movies Under The Stars top-deck screen
    • Family and friends locator – Accessible on portals throughout the ships and via guests’ smart devices, OceanCompass leverages the OceanMedallion to easily locate and chat with friends and family onboard. OceanCompass guides guests throughout their journey, providing directional information so they can seamlessly navigate to their next point of interest
      • Interactive voyage timeline – Available on ship portals and via guests’ smart devices, JourneyView is an interactive timeline that lets guests scroll through all of the events available on board during their voyage and bookmark activities they’re interested in to their own personalised itinerary. Voyage itineraries are available as many as 60 days in advance, allowing guests to start planning before they leave home

Growing Fleet

The Princess Cruises fleet will continue to expand with the launch of Enchanted Princess and three additional ships arriving in 2021, 2023 and 2025.

Princess Cruises is offering a 7-day Eastern Caribbean voyage on Sky Princess, departing February 22, 2020. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ports of call are Princess Cays (Bahamas), St Thomas and St Maarten. Special offer currently available with prices from £999 per person for a mini-suite.

Recommended Reading A Day Onboard the Royal Princess