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Viking Cruises launches new Resident Historian program

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Viking Cruises has announced the rollout of its new onboard Viking Resident Historian program. Launching on Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky this month, a carefully selected faculty of historians will provide an enhanced level of enrichment for guests onboard all of Viking’s ocean cruise ships. A new video on the Resident Historian program can be found on the Viking website.

The Viking Resident Historians will provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their journey, offering a framework for understanding the major chapters in world history. They will also conduct seminar-style roundtables – smaller, more intimate forums for discussion with guests, where the Viking Resident Historian will examine in-depth subjects related to their own area of specialization and/or particular areas of interest of the guests.

“Our guests are explorers – they are curious travelers who want to learn,” said Karine Hagen, Senior Vice President of Viking Cruises, who leads Viking’s enrichment efforts. “Having a fundamental understanding of iconic historical events in the destinations our guests visit helps bring a deeper understanding of the present – and perhaps also a better perspective on the future.”

The Viking Resident Historians have been engaged to provide a history course as a refresher, which is then supplemented by onboard Guest Lecturers who contribute their particular expertise (art, architecture, music, etc.) of the region. The responsibilities of Viking Resident Historians extend well beyond just lectures during each cruise itinerary and include:

– Presenting itinerary iconic lectures (examples in Europe and Scandinavia include: The Roman Empire; The Ottoman Empire; The Hanseatic League; Imperial Russia)
– Conducting roundtable discussions (examples include: The Elgin Marbles; Women Explorers; Venetian Naval Power)
– Hosting history-themed dinner discussions onboard
– Holding daily “office hours” for one-on-one time with guests
– Being available for guest questions and interactions outside lectures and office hours throughout the itinerary

The Viking Resident Historian lectures are exclusively produced by Viking, under the tutelage of Dr. Charles Doherty, Chief Viking Resident Historian. The lectures are standardized as a core curriculum to guarantee consistency throughout the fleet, regardless of which Viking Resident Historian is lecturing. As with other onboard lectures, the Viking Resident Historian series will be presented in The Theater – and each will also be filmed and made available for guests on the in-room entertainment system. Additionally, the series is currently being professionally filmed in-studio, and in early 2018 will be available in its entirety on-demand through the in-room entertainment system on all Viking river and ocean ships. Charles Doherty, PhD, has lectured in more than 60 countries for The National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Doherty received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and attended the Courtauld Institute in London as a Fulbright Scholar.

The first three Viking Resident Historians that will be featured onboard Viking’s three ocean cruise ships this spring are:

– Dr. Mark Callaghan holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of London, an M.A. in Art History from Oxford University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Manchester. Dr. Callaghan is a specialist in 20th century European art and culture and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Sky on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.
– Lt. Colonel Tony Coutts-Britton is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and served with the British Army in Europe and Asia – and later with NATO in the Partnership for Peace program. Lt. Col. Coutts-Britton lectures on the social and political aspects of European military history and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Sea on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.
– Dr. Fenella Bazin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and is a Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool’s Center for Manx Studies. Dr. Bazin is a specialist in the Age of the Vikings and modern Norway and will serve as the Viking Resident Historian on Viking Star on sailings of Empires of the Mediterranean this spring.

Oceania Cruises introduces ten new journeys to Cuba

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Oceania Cruises has announced ten new Journeys to Cuba in 2018 with the 684-guest Sirena. Sailing roundtrip from PortMiami, itineraries range in length from 7 to 10 days; all include calls in Havana and the storied destinations of Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Imbued with a profound sense of culture and history, Cuba overflows with opportunities for authentic encounters and unforgettable experiences.

“I recently had the pleasure of sailing on Marina’s first voyage to Cuba, and the best way to get an insider’s view of Cuba is to be immersed in the culture and everyday lives of the people – meaningful cultural insights that invite you to experience the real Cuba,” stated Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises. “You can enjoy exactly that on these new voyages, all of which offer calls in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Cienfuegos.”

In addition to the sailings announced on March 22nd, Oceania Cruises recently added six Journeys to Cuba aboard Insignia in the autumn of 2017 and added calls to Havana on four Regatta sailings in the spring and autumn of 2018. All told, Oceania Cruises offers a choice of 20 voyages to Cuba from autumn 2017 through autumn 2018.

MSC Cruises to provide more flexibility, options on dining

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

MSC Cruises has revealed new dining concepts that will be available first to guests on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside. Designed to meet the needs of today’s cruise guests, the two ships — the first two of a total of 11 new mega-ships due to come into service starting this year, in June and December, respectively — will introduce highly flexible dining options and a choice of dining packages that can be booked at any time prior to embarkation and while on board. With greater flexibility, MSC Cruises guests can dine as they want, when they want, in an even wider range of specialty restaurants and international dining venues.

“At MSC Cruises, we strive to create memorable vacation experiences for our guests while on board our cruise ships, and internationally inspired dining is a key feature of our offering,” said Andrea Gangale, MSC Cruises’ Head of Product Development and Guest Experience.

“We continue to drive innovation in cruising at many levels, which now also includes our onboard dining experience. The new dining concepts cater to the needs of today’s cruise guests, who are looking for more flexibility and choices,” continued Gangale. “Starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside, guests will be able to manage their choices, through cutting-edge onboard technology, and experience an even greater selection of international restaurants which will deliver culinary experiences from around the world.”

New dining styles on MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia

One of the new dining concepts that MSC Cruises is introducing is Flexi Dining. This new dining style allows guests to pre-select a time slot for their evening meal, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise. This way guests can get the most out of their vacation by easily scheduling their dining around their plans for each day.

The Classic cruise dining experience will still be available, with a choice of two seatings each evening. This traditional dining style is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night so that they can enjoy personalized service from the same waiter who will know their names, dining preferences and how to accommodate them. This way, they can also socialize with the same guests each evening.

In addition, MSC Yacht Club guests will continue to benefit from free-time dining in the dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant, with the option of reserving a table in advance.

Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours-a-day, offering a wide range of freshly prepared dishes. The MSC Cruises buffet – already one of the richest at sea -- has been further enhanced with a wide range of different international dishes suited to any taste. MSC Seaside, in particular, will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will be dedicated to families, serving family-friendly options and featuring child-friendly seatings.

More international specialty restaurants

Specialty restaurants are a standout feature on MSC Cruises’ ships, offering guests the opportunity to experience quality cuisines from around the world even while at sea. The cruise line’s new cruise ships launching in 2017 — MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside — will feature restaurants with innovative ‘open kitchens,’ following the trend in restaurant design and creating a sensory experience that allows guests to see, smell and hear expert chefs at work. Selected restaurants on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will also feature a Chef’s Table, a dining concept designed for those seeking a true gastronomic experience.

Following the success of Kaito Sushi Bar, hailed as “The Best Sushi at Sea,” serving fresh fish, sashimi and tempura, MSC Cruises will introduce the new Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant on board MSC Meraviglia to complement the ship’s Kaito Sushi Bar. With a modern twist on Asian cuisine, guests can sit at the cooking stations and watch authentic Japanese dishes come to life in front of their eyes. Expert chefs will cook with flare on an open grill — a visual spectacle with flames and sizzling ingredients coming together to form flavorful dishes.

Another new restaurant concept — featured on MSC Meraviglia as well as MSC Seaside – will be an authentic American Steakhouse — Butcher’s Cut — celebrating the craft heritage of America blended with the skilful mastery of the butcher. Guests can select their favorite steak from glass-fronted meat aging fridges and then watch the skilled chefs preparing their selections in the open kitchen. The bar will feature a bold wine list with selections from the New World, cocktails inspired by American heritage, and an assortment of craft beers.

A highlight of the dining on MSC Seaside will also be the Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi. The three distinct eateries created by the innovative Japanese-American chef will include: an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations in a stylish venue with incredible sea views; a Sushi Bar; and an area with Teppanyaki Grills – each area offering authentic pan-Asian dining experiences at sea.

MSC Seaside will also feature the signature seafood restaurant, Ocean Cay. This stylish restaurant will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. A simple menu with delicious signature dishes will include locally-sourced Stone Crabs, a delicacy in the homeport of Miami, beautiful fresh Sea Bass, flown in from the Mediterranean, and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).

More collaborations with renowned chefs

MSC Cruises is committed to partnering with world-class experts in their fields and the dining experience on the new cruise ships is no exception. The collaboration with world-renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi on MSC Seaside extends beyond the creation of the menus. As part of the partnership, Chef Yamaguchi is personally involved in conceptualizing and designing every element of the new pan-Asian restaurant, including creating the recipes and menus, selecting chinaware, choosing music to create the right ambience, and designing wine pairings to complement the food.

A long-standing partnership with two-star Michelin chef Carlo Cracco will now encompass the development of signature dishes for the main restaurant menus on MSC Meraviglia as well as for the Christmas and New Year menus. Also onboard MSC Meraviglia, a partnership with award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury will include Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café, an open chocolate atelier, and Jean-Philippe Crêpes & Gelato, which will serve sweet treats in the ship’s Mediterranean-style promenade.

The chef collaborations extend beyond the new ships as part of MSC Cruises’ focus on international fine dining. For example, MSC Cruises is collaborating with international Chinese chef, Jereme Leung. Globally recognized for his contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine, Chef Leung’s modern approach has long caught the attention of top international restaurant critics, and he has brought his contemporary Chinese cuisine to MSC Lirica. In partnership with MSC Cruises, Chef Leung designed new and innovative dining concepts tailored to the tastes of Chinese guests, enhancing existing menus with creative flair and developing new exclusive signature dishes.

New dining packages

To help guests better plan their onboard dining experiences and make the most of their time on board, MSC Cruises is introducing a range of dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. For example:

Guests on board MSC Meraviglia will be able to book a Dinner & Show package where they will enjoy an exclusive table d’hôte menu and then experience the breathtaking Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the impressive purpose-built Carousel Lounge.

A special dining package is available for the Eataly Chef’s Table on board MSC Meraviglia, which includes a dedicated chef and sommelier for the night, seven gourmet dishes cooked to perfection and all perfectly matched with seven wines.

For guests looking to explore a variety of specialty restaurants, special discounted packages can be pre-booked before the sailing.

Work start in Genoa on the first ship for Virgin Voyages

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The steel cutting ceremony of the first of three new cruise ships that Fincantieri is building for Virgin Voyages (part of Virgin Group of companies) was held today in Sestri Ponente (Genoa).

The ceremony was attended, among others, by Tom McAlpin, President and CEO of Virgin Voyages, and for Fincantieri by Luigi Matarazzo, Senior Vice President New Building Merchant Ships, and Paolo Capobianco, Director of the Sestri shipyard.

Each ship will measure about 110,000 gross tons, be 278 meters long and 38 wide, with delivery scheduled for 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively. The ships will feature over 1,400 guest cabins that can host more than 2,700 passengers, accompanied by 1,150 crew members on board to deliver the famed Virgin service.

These ships will stand out for original design and craftsmanship. They will include some highly innovative ideas and design solutions, notably for energy recovery, reducing the overall environmental impact. For example, they will be equipped with an energy production system of approximately 1 MW, which uses the diesel engine’s waste heat. The result is, therefore, a project which distinguishes Virgin Voyages in the worldwide cruise scenery.

Steph Armengol appointed VP of Hotel Operations for Oceania and Regent Seven Seas

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have appointed Steph Armengol to Vice President of the two leading luxury cruise lines. Mr. Armengol, who previously held the position of Senior Director of Hotel Operations for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will continue to report to Franco Semeraro, Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations for Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

“We are very happy to promote Steph to the position of Vice President of Hotel Operations,” said Semeraro. “Steph’s extensive experience in hotel management for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and pivotal role in the successful launch of Seven Seas Explorer will be a great asset to Oceania Cruises’ standing as an unrivaled vacation experience in its own right.”

Armengol has always been a seafaring man. He went to sea to take his first cruise ship position in 1998 and joined Regent Seven Seas Cruises in 2000 (then known as Radisson Seven Seas Cruises) as sommelier aboard Seven Seas Navigator. Amengol rose to through the ranks and was appointed General Manager in 2005 of Seven Seas Mariner, the world’s first all-suite, all-balcony ship. From Perpignan, France, Armengol enjoys cooking and sharing quality time with friends and family.