Three of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ four ships will undergo multi-million pound refits this winter in preparation for the start of the 2018-19 season, the UK based company said in a statement.
Two ships – Braemar and Balmoral – will be refurbished before Christmas with the third, Boudicca, upgraded in March 2018. Black Watch, the fourth vessel, benefitted from extensive improvement work at the end of last year.
Mike Rodwell, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We are very proud of our smaller, classic cruise ships and we recognise the importance of investing in ongoing upgrades to ensure that our guests can continue to enjoy them at their best. The refreshed Black Watch has been very well received by both new and existing guests so we are delighted that the rest of the fleet will also benefit.”
The schedule for the Fred. Olsen ships includes: upgrading the existing public areas, creating new facilities – such as a new restaurants and gelato bar on Balmoral, a new dining room on Boudicca, a new buffet restaurant on Braemar – and cabin enhancements across the fleet.
The 929-guest ship Braemar will set sail from Southampton to Hamburg on 23 November 2017 for a nine-day dry dock at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. Her first sailing after the refit will be a 16-night M1730 ‘Voyage to the Caribbean’ cruise from Southampton on 5 December 2017.
Fred. Olsen’s flagship Balmoral, will arrive in Hamburg on 10 December 2017 for a nine-day dry dock, before the 1,350 guest-ship departs on a 16-night L1728 ‘Canaries Christmas & Funchal Fireworks’ sailing from Southampton on 21 December 2017.
The 880-guest ship Boudicca will undergo a more extensive 13-day refurbishment in spring 2018, entering dry dock on 16 March 2018, before leaving from Dover on 29 March 2018 on a five-night D1804 ‘Mystery Cruise’.
Ovation of the Seas, a Quantum class ship of Royal Caribbean International, will be making its US debut for the 2019 Alaska summer season, the company said in a statement, adding that it will transition from Sydney, Australia to a new summer homeport in Seattle, Washington.
The ship will sail seven night itineraries to destinations from Juneau to Victoria, British Columbia, showcasing Alaska’s natural treasures and luring adventure seekers with stately spruce forests, island-studded waters, native wildlife and awe-inspiring glaciers.
Ovation of the Seas will join Radiance of the Seas in the Alaska. The last named ship sails seven night open-jaw itineraries between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia. Alaska itineraries will be available to book the week of 11 December 2017, the company said.
Crystal Symphony has emerged from dry dock at Lloyd Werft Bremerhaven, returning to the seas with newly designed spaces, features and amenities that luxury travelers crave. The ship’s new Open Seating dining concept ushers in new restaurants on board, while more of the spacious, butler-serviced Penthouse accommodations were added. Throughout the ship, state-of-the-art technological upgrades were installed, enhancing guests’ connectivity and access to entertainment and news on demand. The month-long dry dock redesign marks the most expansive makeover in Crystal Symphony’s esteemed history, and reaffirms Crystal’s commitment to providing the most luxurious ocean experiences in the world.
“The enhancements made on Crystal Symphony provide guests with more choices and flexibility than ever before, whether it’s the ability to dine at their leisure, stay connected to family and friends on shore, or enjoy a variety of new entertainment options onboard,” says Crystal’s president and CEO, Tom Wolber. “While we continue to innovate at the forefront of the industry, our focus will always be on the consistent quality and personal attention to detail and service that makes Crystal Cruises the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line.”
Crystal Symphony’s new look is decidedly modern, particularly in regard to the high-tech features in staterooms and penthouses, although, the ship still boasts the classic elegance that has enabled it to transcend trends throughout the years. Crystal Symphony’s stunning redesign includes:
New Penthouses and Penthouse Suites
Crystal Symphony now features more spacious, butler-serviced Penthouses and Penthouse Suites, with the newly added Seabreeze Penthouse with Verandah (12 new suites) and Seabreeze Penthouse Suite with Verandah (28 new suites), both occupying Deck 9, Seabreeze. The new accommodations boast the same square footage as existing Penthouses and Penthouse Suites (367 sq. ft. and 491 sq. ft., respectively), while Seabreeze Penthouses are paired by shared entryways recessed from the hall.
Penthouse accommodations offer guests enhanced all-inclusive Crystal amenities, including butler service and in-room specialty dining. Penthouse guests now receive unlimited complimentary dining at the onboard specialty restaurants. The conversion of staterooms into the new penthouse accommodations effectively reduces the ship’s guest capacity to 848, while the number of crew on board remains the same. Crystal has long led the industry in abundant space and number of crew per guest aboard its ships, and the decreased guest capacity enhances the atmosphere of copious space in public areas and dining venues.
New open dining concept and restaurants
The world-class culinary experience also enjoyed an evolution, as brand new stylish restaurants are debuted. Most significantly, a brand new Open Seating concept allows guests to dine at their leisure, affording more choices and flexibility for evening dining and entertainment. While the design and menu of global selections have evolved, the classic elegance, Michelin-level cuisine and superlative service remain.
Waterside has emerged in place of the former Crystal Dining Room, reflecting the chic décor and sophisticated ambiance found in the restaurants of the same name aboard Crystal River Cruises. Added tables for two and four guests offer expanded options for intimate dining in the expansive space, while a new open seating concept invites guests to dine as they wish eliminating Crystal’s previous format of assigned seating and times. Waterside continues to serve breakfast and lunch.
Moving into the former Lido Café space are Marketplace by day and Churrascaria by night. Both venues feature an open kitchen concept with dishes made to order. Marketplace continues to serve casual buffet style breakfast and lunch options, and is converted into Churrascaria, a stylish casual dinner venue in the evening creating an additional dining option for guests. Churrascaria features a Caipirinha as a welcome cocktail and serves a selection of Brazilian-inspired tapas, ceviche, salads and grilled meats presented by Crystal “gauchos” on sword-like skewers.
Newly adjacent to the existing Trident Grill on the Lido Deck is Silk Kitchen & Bar, offering full service dinner of modern Chinese-inspired fare with family-style dinner plates ideal for sharing, and self-service options for breakfast and lunch that include dumplings, Chinois salad, a soup and noodle bar and other Asian favorites. The Trident Grill remains in the adjacent space, serving casual grilled options including burgers and sandwiches.
Silk Road and The Sushi Bar, the specialty dining venues by famed Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, has been rebranded as Umi Uma & Sushi Bar. The authentic venue serves the inspired cuisine of Nobu, prepared by his personally trained chefs, and remains the only Nobu restaurants at sea. The ship’s second specialty restaurant, Prego, remains the same, continuing to serve regional specialties of Italy.
Upon completion of Crystal Symphony’s dry dock, all guests now enjoy unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi throughout any Crystal voyage aboard all Crystal vessels. Crystal’s investment in technological amenities for guests includes hardware and software enhancements to enable expanded internet connectivity and doubled satellite speed. Additionally, a new guest portal – Crystal Connect – is now featured on the landing page of onboard internet connections. The portal enables guests to easily access the internet, as well as an array of shipboard information including daily menus from each restaurant, daily Reflections, day and evening activities, Crystal Adventures shore excursions; and the ship’s location, itinerary and points of interest. A number of international newspapers are available for digital viewing, as well as a library of box office hit movies, music, Crystal lectures on demand and much more. Crystal Connect is also available for use on guests’ personal devices.
In all rooms throughout the ship – in each stateroom and in all public areas – high-definition, interactive flat-panel TVs enable guests to conveniently access onboard programs, view the Crystal Spa & Salon menu, the Connoisseur Wine Selection, and dining menus.
Reimagined public spaces and entertainment
Several favorite shipboard spaces also enjoy reimagined designs, while maintaining their inherent function as part of guests’ onboard experience. Crystal Symphony’s mid-ship Starlite Club, a hub for evening dancing and cocktails, was also refitted, boasting a fresh design to complement its vast sea views and brand new technological capabilities.
Underlining the newly revamped entertainment venues is a brand-new production show, Crystal in Motion. The production showcases the vast repertoire of the Crystal Ensemble, featuring various genres of music and dance, and replaces the former “welcome aboard” show in the Galaxy Lounge. Additionally, the ship will offer evening-long entertainment options around the ship as guests enjoy anytime dining. The Starlite Club features varied acts from the Crystal Ensemble, as well as comedians, ballroom dance group and the Crystal Show Band, performing on select evenings of each voyage.
Crystal will continue its investment into its award-winning ocean ships with the equally extensive redesign for Crystal Serenity, set for fall 2018.
Genting Cruise Lines, a division of Genting Hong Kong comprising of Star Cruises, Dream Cruises and Crystal Cruises, signed an agreement with Tint Tint Myanmar Group to jointly develop cruise facilities at MacLeod Island to continue expanding its footprint in the region and reaffirm its leading position in the Asian cruise market. MacLeod Island is a secluded paradise located in the Myeik Archipelago in southern Myanmar, listed as one of the top ten countries to visit in 2017 by renowned travel guide the Lonely Planet.
“Private Islands are a key feature for many cruise lines in the Caribbean and, as a pioneer of the Asian cruise industry, we are excited to be partnering with Tint Tint Myanmar Group to help create the infrastructure on MacLeod Island to become a key private paradise for Genting Cruise Lines’ guests and to start Myanmar on its journey to become a worldwide cruise destination,” said Mr Kent Zhu, President of Genting Cruise Lines. “Genting Hong Kong recognizes Myanmar as an important developing market with great potential in Asia and looks forward to playing an instrumental role in the evolution of the country’s tourism sector.”
The collaboration serves as a landmark partnership in Myanmar and Genting Cruise Lines is proud to represent the first international cruise enterprise to partner with a Myanmar company in cruise port development – opening up new opportunities for the domestic and regional cruise tourism market.
"With a wealth of experience in cruise tourism and port development in the Asia Pacific, Genting Hong Kong has spearheaded numerous projects in the region including in Guangzhou Nansha in China and Danang, Vietnam. Through a long history stretching back to 1993 with Star Cruises, Genting Hong Kong brings to Myanmar a depth of knowledge and understanding of the cruise industry that is unrivalled by any other Asian cruise company," the company said in a statement.
Tint Tint Myanmar Group, represented by chairperson Daw Tint Tint Lwin, is a renowned resort operator in Myanmar that manages the Andaman resort on MacLeod Island. Headquartered in Yangon, the overall group specializes in 11 different industries with a 500 strong workforce and is also making significant contributions to the development of Myanmar through these diversified business sectors. As part of the collaboration, Tint Tint Myanmar Group will also leverage its expertise to provide entertainment and experiential shore excursion options for visiting guests to offer glimpse of authentic traditional Myanmar heritage.
To capitalize on this partnership, Genting Cruise Lines has also announced new itineraries for Star Cruises and Dream Cruises that offer a rare opportunity to cruise to MacLeod Island.
“Genting Cruise Lines is always looking for new and innovative ways to heighten our guest experience and to open up fresh and exciting destinations for our passengers,” added Mr. Zhu. “To further enhance our Southeast Asia itineraries, we have designed new cruise itineraries for both Star Cruises and Dream Cruises that will allow our guests to enjoy the exclusivity of a private island, which indeed will be a rare and unforgettable experience for many travellers.”
Star Cruises, “The Most Popular Cruise Line in Asia”, celebrated the inaugural arrival of SuperStar Libra to MacLeod Island on 3 November 2017, a new destination for her latest 4-Night round-trip cruise itineraries that includes stops in Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, MacLeod Island and Penang. With SuperStar Libra’s current triple homeport deployment, travellers have the convenience and flexibility to choose their embarkation location from any one of three locations, Kuala Lumpur (via Port Klang), Penang or Phuket, to start their round-trip cruise journey.
During SuperStar Libra’s inaugural welcome ceremony in MacLeod Island, a number of events were held on board the ship, attended by special Guest of Honour, U Myint Htwe, Deputy Director General of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar. A series of memento exchanges between the Guest of Honour, key local authorities and Mr. Ang Moo Lim, President of Star Cruises were also held to commemorate this auspicious occasion.
Additionally, on board Genting Dream, from Asia’s Luxury Cruise Line, Dream Cruises, guests can enjoy a special 5-night itinerary with ports of call to world-famous destinations and hidden island gems across three countries from 26 November to 1 December from her inaugural homeport in Singapore with visits to Penang, Phuket and MacLeod Island as well. Singapore offers a variety of exciting activities that guests can enjoy before the start of their cruise including amazing shopping and culinary experiences and family-friendly attractions such as Universal Studios theme park, the world’s largest Oceanarium, S.E.A. Aquarium, and more.
Chris Hackney has been appointed as the new Managing Director of Marella Cruises and will take up his position from 1st December 2017. Hackney will report to Cruise and Distribution Director, Helen Caron.
Hackney joined TUI UK & I on the graduate scheme in 2001 and spent 14 years within the Commercial division, holding several Product, Trading and Cruise positions. Hackney has also worked on the French and Russian TUI businesses, where he used his expertise and knowledge to devise and implement new Product strategies for both companies.
Most recently Hackney joined the Cruise division in September 2015 as Commercial Director where he successfully managed the commercial aspects of launching Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2, as well as delivering two years of record trading results for the Cruise business.
Helen Caron, Cruise and Distribution for TUI UK and Ireland said: “I am delighted that Chris Hackney is to become the new Managing Director for Marella Cruises at such an exciting time for our business as we establish the Marella brand in the UK& I Cruise market, and launch of our newest ship Marella Explorer in the spring of 2018.
“Our Cruise business is core to the overall growth strategy for the UK&I business and I am confident that under his leadership Marella Cruises will go from strength to strength.”