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Silversea Expeditions to cross Northeast Passage in 2019

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Silversea Expeditions, the leading authority in expedition cruising, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the introduction of its first crossing of the Northeast Passage – a remote and spectacular cruising route above the Arctic Circle. Few cruise ships have transited the passage, which follows the extreme coastlines of Asia and Europe and has long enjoyed a fabled reputation among seafarers.

The intimate, all-suite Silver Explorer will become the most luxurious cruise ship to sail the route, as it passes 5,019 nautical miles of dramatic seascapes and untamed wilderness on a 25-day voyage. On August 10, 2019, the ice-class expedition ship will sail from Nome, Alaska, to Tromsø, Norway, on a once-in-a-lifetime explorative journey through this challenging region. "

In this special anniversary year, which marks Silversea's decade of ultra-luxury expedition cruising, we're particularly thrilled to announce our inaugural crossing of the Northeast Passage," says Conrad Combrink, Silversea's Senior Vice President of Strategic Development for Expeditions and Experiences. "Continuing our legacy of exploration, this epic Arctic passage will take guests across the top of Asia and Europe to discover extraordinary landscapes, unique cultures and rare animal species, while enjoying the comfort of Silversea's ultra-luxury Silver Explorer."

One of Silversea's most ambitious expeditions to date, the journey will encompass the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wrangel Island, where polar bears and walruses roam and migratory birds nest; Champ Island, known for the large, mysterious stone spheres that dot its otherworldly landscape; Tikhaya Bay's Rubini Rock, with its stunning basalt columns; and the archipelago of Severnaya Zemlya, famous for its impressive fjords and majestic glaciers.

The ship will also spend a day navigating as far north as possible, in the direction of the Ice Edge, in search of seals, walruses and polar bears on ice floes. History buffs will be intrigued by a visit to Murmansk, the last city founded by the Russian Empire. Quaint coastal villages like Chukotka's Uelen, populated by the Chukchi and Yupik people, will offer immersion in rare cultural experiences.

The intimate Silver Explorer accommodates just 144 guests and her fleet of 12 Zodiac crafts will provide the unprecedented opportunity for up-close exploration. Silversea’s dedicated Expedition Team of qualified specialists will be at hand to share expert knowledge and topical insights. They will provide lectures, run workshops, lead Zodiac trips, and guide shore excursions – all of which is complimentary for guests.

Aboard the ship, guests will enjoy ocean-view suites, sumptuous cuisine, and the personalized service of a butler. Enriching the experience are such all-inclusive amenities as complimentary premium wines and spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks served throughout the ship; an in-suite bar stocked with guests' preferences; in-suite 24-hour dining; and unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi. Double-occupancy fares start from $37,260 per person.

Inauguration of Le Lapérouse, the very first vessel in the Ponant Explorers series

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

One of the world leaders in luxury expedition cruises and only French cruise line, Ponant, celebrated the inauguration of Le Lapérouse on July 10, in the presence of Mrs. François Pinault, the godmother of the ship.

Le Lapérouse was christened by the godmother, Mrs. François Pinault, in the presence of prominent political and cultural figures, international media, and key partners.

During a vibrant Breton-inspired ceremony – a nod to the origins of Ponant which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – the Lann Bihoué Bagad’s bagpipes, Breton oboes, and drums powerfully reverberated. Breton singer Bleuwenn Mevel gave an emotional acapella rendition of the Breton anthem while the poignant sound of Konan Mevel’s (from famous Breton band Tri Yann) bagpipe resonated at the prow of the ship as she was sailing off.

Another highlight of the day involved Le Lapérouse being greeted as she was sailing from Hafnarfjörður by Le Soléal, another Ponant ship, also positioned in Icelandic waters.

Guests on board discovered the Blue Eye, a multi-sensorial underwater lounge located in the hull below sea level, designed in collaboration with Jacques Rougerie, an architect and member of the prestigious Académie Française.

In this exceptional space, through the two portholes made in the shape of a cetacean eye, the passengers watched French free diving champion, Aurore Asso’s aquatic ballet.

With integrated digital screens projecting the live images captured by three underwater cameras, entirely non-intrusive underwater projectors allowing the observation of the sea world without any risk for the ocean life, the Blue Eye also offers a unique sound experience. Captured by hydrophones, the natural symphony of the oceanic world is piped into the lounge and can be felt through the “Body Listening” sofas that vibrates discreetly by corporal resonance.

Crystal Ravel christened in Budapest

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Less than two years ago, Crystal launched its first river ship, Crystal Mozart, marking the company’s grand entrance into Europe’s river cruising industry. Yesterday, Crystal River Cruises welcomed its fifth ship and the newest member of the fleet, Crystal Ravel, during a christening ceremony in Budapest, Hungary. "The World’s Most Luxurious River Cruise Line" celebrated the occasion with Crystal’s President and CEO Tom Wolber; the ship’s godmother, Hungarian philanthropist and creator of the hit “Virtuosos” classical music talent show, Mariann Peller; and Crystal River Cruises’ Vice President and Managing Director Walter Littlejohn.

“Today is a proud day for the entire Crystal family. In just over two years, we introduced five ships, which is a tremendous accomplishment of growth for this expansion of the Crystal brand,” Wolber said. “But what makes us most proud is that with each new ship and new experience, Crystal’s commitment to superb quality and exceptional luxury and service has remained unwavering.”

Crystal River Cruises now comprises Crystal Ravel and her identical sister ships: Crystal Bach, Crystal Mahler and Crystal Debussy; as well as Crystal Mozart, which at twice the width of any other river cruise ship, is Europe’s most spacious river cruise ship and launched the brand in July 2016.

“Beyond these exquisite ships – which are earning the acclaim of luxury travelers from around the world – the heart of the Crystal River Experience is the people,” Littlejohn said. “Crystal’s crew is simply unmatched in their warm, genuine service and attention to detail. Our guests are savvy travelers who truly value that personal connection and frequently share the sentiment that sailing with Crystal is like coming home to their onboard family.”

“To be named the godmother of a ship that celebrates the classical musical heritage of this country and the lands that surround her – is an honor that speaks to my heart,” Peller said. “Beyond the connection to the musical masters of this region, Crystal River ships represent the stunning grace, elegance and beauty of the rivers that flow here. I am honored to become part of the Crystal Family, as this company embodies a dedication to excellence.”

Tenor Steffan Mullan performed during the ceremony, while Young Virtuosos artists performed aboard the ship following the traditional blessing, including clarinetist Ali Dániel Lugosi, double bassist Tamás Kökény, violinist Amira Abouzahra, violinist Mariam Abuzahra, and Budapest Festival Orchestra harpist Ágnes Polonyi with a special performance onboard the ship.

The ceremony took place during the ship’s overnight stay in Budapest on its weeklong “Danube Serenade” voyage, allowing guests aboard the sailing to participate in the festivities, while Crystal crew members also looked on from the decks of the ship. Travelers from around the world joined the celebration via the Facebook Live broadcast on Crystal’s Facebook page.

Crystal Ravel is currently sailing itineraries of six to 14 days between Vienna and Basel; and in 2019 she will be the only river ship to sail seven-night Danube cruises round-trip from Vienna to ports in Austria, Hungary and Slovakia.

Crystal’s new river vessels are the river cruising industry’s first and only all-balcony, all-suite, all-butler vessels in Europe, with every category of accommodation positioned above the water line. All suites feature Panoramic Balcony-Windows and walk-in closets and dual vanity in the bathrooms are featured in most categories. Crystal Mozart is Europe’s most spacious river ship, at twice the width of any other, and offers an unrivalled number of social spaces, restaurants and the largest spa on the rivers. All of Crystal’s river ships feature acclaimed butler service in every room category, king-sized beds, ETRO amenities, robes and slippers, and wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs. Additional enticing features include farm-to-table cuisine in multiple, open-seating eateries: the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro cafés and the exclusive Vintage Room; and the Palm Court for entertainment, enrichment presentations and sweeping views of the countryside.

KfW IPEX-Bank finances P&O Cruises newbuild

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Financing for the world's largest leisure travel company, Carnival Corporation & plc: KfW IPEX-Bank is providing approximately EUR 786 million for the construction of a new cruise ship. KfW IPEX-Bank is handling the entire structuring of the financing and taking on the roles of book runner, initial mandated lead arranger (MLA), facility agent and export credit agency (ECA) agent. The plan is to syndicate up to 80 percent of the financing amount. The financing has a term of 12 years from the date of delivery. It is backed by export credit insurance issued by the Federal Republic of Germany (Hermes cover) and encompasses the Commercial Interest Reference Rate (CIRR) for ships, which is determined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“With this financing we are once again demonstrating our competence in arranging tailored financing for our customers in the cruise segment," said Andreas Ufer, Member of the Management Board of KfW IPEX-Bank. “We are enabling our long-standing customer Carnival Corporation & plc, which placed the order with Meyer Werft Papenburg, one of the world’s leading cruise ship builders, to build a new flagship.”

The new ship will be built by Meyer Werft in Papenburg. The cruise ship has a low-emission dual-fuel engine using LNG and marine diesel, and will normally run on LNG. The cruise ship will be able to accommodate approximately 5,200 guests (lower berths). Delivery is scheduled for May 2022.

Costa Cruises and Meyer Turku holds coin ceremony for Costa Smeralda

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Costa Cruises, the Italian brand of Carnival Corporation & plc, celebrated the traditional coin ceremony for its new ship, Costa Smeralda, on July 4, at the Meyer shipyard in Turku, Finland, one of the biggest shipbuilding complexes in the world.

Entering service in 2019, Costa Smeralda will be the first cruise ship to be marketed broadly to consumers around the globe, particularly in Europe and Italy, that will be fully powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel.

With dual-fuel engines, Costa Smeralda will be fully powered by LNG while in port and at sea – an environmental breakthrough that will improve air quality as LNG prevents emissions of particulate matter and sulfur oxides almost entirely at sea and in port. It also significantly reduces the emission of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide.

Costa Smeralda represents further evidence of the pioneering and innovative spirit that characterizes the Costa Group, the market leader in Europe and Asia for cruising with AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises and Costa Asia.

During the ceremony, some commemorative coins were positioned along the keel of the ship as a symbol of good fortune for members of the crew, passengers and future voyages. This symbolic moment, which is part of shipbuilding tradition, was celebrated with an event attended by the senior management of Costa Cruises and the Meyer Turku shipyard. Elisabetta Moraci, a 28-year-old from Messina, Italy, second deck officer in the Costa fleet, served as godmother of the event.

“We celebrate this symbolic moment for our new ship with great enthusiasm,” said Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises. “With LNG a breakthrough in fuel technology, Costa Smeralda represents a major innovation for the international market and an important step toward setting new standards for the entire sector. Costa Group is the market leader in Europe and Asia, and we continue to make sustainable tourism a key part of our industry leadership. Our strategy of ongoing innovation and continuous improvement will provide a significant boost to the development of LNG as an alternative fuel technology in the cruise industry.”

Costa Group, along with its sister brands within Carnival Corporation’s global portfolio, has been an industry leader in promoting and developing sustainable and environmental solutions. In addition to the use of LNG for cruise ships, Costa Group and Carnival Corporation’s global cruise brands have been industry leaders in pioneering the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) in the small confines of a cruise ship. Considered an environmental breakthrough, EGCS is installed on about 60 percent of ships in the Costa Group and Carnival Corporation fleets. The use of LNG and EGCS will both play an important role in further improving the impact of Costa Group’s marine operations.

“The coin ceremony marks the beginning of the hull assembly for the ship. From here our design and steel construction efforts will start to turn into an actual ship, so a very exciting time for us shipbuilders. We are very happy that Costa Cruises has entrusted with the design and the construction of this sophisticated LNG powered ship with a unique architectural design that truly expresses the Costa spirit. Now we are bringing our designs and plans to life,” said CEO of Meyer Turku Jan Meyer.

Added Palomba: “In addition to being a ship that represents the latest advancements in fuel technology and environmental impact, Costa Smeralda and its to-be-named sister ship expected in 2021, will be unique in terms of the services offered on board and the design. She will represent the best expression to date of our brand promise to deliver ‘Italy's finest’ to our guests, which characterizes and differentiates Costa Cruises internationally. Costa Smeralda will create further opportunities to welcome new and existing guests into the exciting and immersive environment of a next-generation cruise ship, offering them an unforgettable vacation experience.”

In total, the Costa Group has 26 ships in service, which equates to 74,000 beds. Seven new ships will be coming into service between 2018 and 2023, including two for Costa Cruises, two for Costa Asia and three for AIDA Cruises, representing a total investment of over 6 billion euros. Once these seven new ships have entered service, the Costa Group’s capacity will have increased by over 50 percent to meet rising consumer demand for cruising over the next several years.

With a gross tonnage of more than 180,000 tons, Costa Smeralda will offer over 2,600 rooms and will enter service in Oct. 2019. Delivery of a second vessel, the sister ship of Costa Smeralda, also built by Meyer-Turku, is expected in 2021.

Costa Smeralda and its sister ship will be the first ships to be marketed broadly to global consumers that will use LNG to generate 100 percent of their energy, both in port and at sea, contributing to environmental protection and to achieving the ambitious sustainability goals set by Costa Cruises and its parent company Carnival Corporation.

Costa Smeralda's debut is expected on Oct. 20, 2019, with a 15-day maiden cruise from Hamburg to Savona. The itinerary includes two-day stopovers in some of the cities with the richest history and culture in Europe, including Hamburg, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Barcelona and Marseille.

The Costa Smeralda christening ceremony will be celebrated in grand style in Savona on Nov. 3, 2019. The six-day inaugural cruise will depart from Savona on Nov. 4, 2019, and sail to Barcelona, Marseilles and Civitavecchia (Rome). Costa Smeralda will then continue to sail around the Western Mediterranean until April 2020, offering weeklong cruises including Marseille, France; Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; and Civitavecchia, La Spezia and Savona, Italy.

Cruises on Costa Smeralda are available for immediate booking.