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Saga Sapphire arrives at Southampton for first time

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Saga Sapphire, the 37,300 gross ton addition to the Saga Cruises' fleet, has arrived at Southampton in the UK for the first time after a four month long refurbishment at Fincantieri's shipyard in Palermo in Italy.

The 1981 built vessel that started life as Europa of Hapag-Lloyd and last traded as Bleu de France for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd's Crioisieres de France brand, received additional balcony cabins and underwent complete renovation of its public areas and cabins.

It will join the 1973 built Saga Ruby of 24,292 gross tons on cruises that embrace most parts of the world over a year, with most of those in the summer and autumn sailing from Southampton or Dover. In addition, the Saga group operates a second brand, Spirit of Adventure, whose 1981 built 18,835 gross ton Quest for Adventure operates mainly fly cruises.

The Saga Group, which is headquartered in Folkestone in Kent,  sells its products to customers over the age of 50 only and its portfolio includes  a wide range of products, from holidays to financial services .



Hebridean Island Cruises encourages passengers to contribute towards marine conservation

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

In its 25th Anniversary year of cruises on the Hebridean Princess, Hebridean Island Cruises will be the first UK cruise company to provide their guests with the opportunity to make a significant contribution towards

marine conservation, the company said in a statement.


A recommended donation of £20 for each booking will be requested as the booking is made (guests can donate more, if they prefer). Guests will not be under any obligation to make the donation, but all the donations made in this way will be collected by Hebridean Island Cruises, which is part of the All Leisure group, and handed to Sea-Changers a new marine conservation charity specifically set up to establish partnerships of this kind.


All of the money raised by Hebridean Island Cruises’ customers will be passed on to relevant marine conservation charities and projects, with no administration costs subtracted. Sea-Changers will distribute the

money to a range of projects, within one of the following areas:


·         Marine Reserves/Protected Marine Areas

·         Direct Marine Clean Up Action

·         Education, Campaigning and Awareness Raising

·         Species Protection and Research

Ken Charleson, Sales and Marketing Director of Hebridean Island Cruises said: “The preservation of Hebridean Princess’ cruising environment and the marine life which it supports is of great importance to the company. We’re delighted to have formed this partnership in order to give our customers the opportunity to give something back to environment they enjoy aboard the Hebridean Princess.”


Helen Webb, Co-Founder of Sea-Changers said: “It’s great to be working with Hebridean and their customers to raise much needed funds. Our vision is to create a world where seas and shores are clean and healthy, marine species are protected and where, far from damaging the oceans, those who use the sea for travel or their leisure pursuits, positively contribute to the sustainability of the marine environment. Hebridean and their

customers will be helping us to make that vision a reality.”



MSC Cruises unveils maiden itineraries in the Red Sea

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

On the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Straits of Tiran, the sheltered waters are crystal clear, inviting visitors to dive straight in from the golden dunes of its pristine, sandy beaches.

This is why MSC Cruises has created a unique opportunity for guests to experience the very best of this rich, historical region, introducing the Red Sea as a new destination for the 2012-2013 winter season.

On 2 November 2012 MSC Armonia will depart from Venice, Italy for an 8-night cruise, arriving at her new homeport in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt just over one week later. MSC Armonia’s course will take her from the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez transit canal to the Red Sea, with scheduled stops in Ancona, Italy, Heraklion, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey arriving in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt on 10 November 2012.

From 10 November 2012 through to 6 April 2013, MSC Armonia has a full schedule of 21 7- night cruises, departing every Saturday from Sharm El Sheikh, with scheduled stops in Safaga, Egypt, Elat, Israel, Aqaba, Jordan and Sokhna Port, Egypt.

Guests will even have the opportunity to combine the positioning cruises to and from Sharm El Sheikh with the first and last cruises of the Red Sea season for the perfect mix of days at sea and calls at port in this stunning region. The Red Sea will say farewell to MSC Armonia on 6 April 2013, when she starts her 9-night return cruise from Sharm El Sheikh to Venice in Italy Scheduled stops are Sokhna Port, Egypt, Limassol, Cyprus, Antalya, Turkey, Rhodes, Greece, Heraklion, Greece and Kotor, Montenegro.

During the Red Sea experience, guests on board MSC Armonia can enjoy the region's most fascinating attractions and discover not only the breathtaking beauty but also the rich history and culture of the region, with itineraries offering the perfect balance of relaxation, historical discovery and adventure through a diverse choice of shore excursions.

The MSC Armonia features 777 cabins, a sophisticated and elegant decor, superb attention to detail in all areas, the finest Mediterranean and international cuisine and a dazzling selection of entertainment. The luxury cruise ship boasts 4 restaurants, bars and lounges, the MSC Aurea Spa, a mini golf course, numerous boutiques, a casino, a theatre, a nightclub, and a children’s club. 

Rhapsody of the Seas completes revitalization

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

After a month-long $54 million dry dock, Royal Caribbean International's Rhapsody of the Seas has emerged from Singapore's Sembawang Shipyard (a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd.) as a virtually new ship. The newly revitalized Rhapsody of the Seas will deliver guests a host of exciting new dining options, visually stunning entertainment and unique amenities after the ship's bow-to-stern transformation. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy all of Rhapsody of the Seas' new signature features as they sail in awe-inspiring Alaska this summer or vibrant Australia in the fall. To learn more about Rhapsody's transformation visit

"Rhapsody of the Seas' dry dock is part of Royal Caribbean's multi-ship enhancement and revitalization strategy to deliver the world's most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries and world-renowned Gold Anchored service to our guests, also known as the Royal Advantage," said Betsy O'Rourke, senior vice president, Marketing, Royal Caribbean International. "With every inch of Rhapsody of the Seas renewed, five new dining restaurants added, the evolution of entertainment in our iconic Centrum, plus an array of new touches, guests will be wowed by what is virtually a new ship."

The all-encompassing revitalization introduces a range of guest amenities and premium experiences that are sure to wow even the most experienced cruiser. From the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery designed for the cruise line's youngest guests, 6 - 36 months old, a Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members, a Concierge Lounge for suite guests and top-tier loyalty guests and completely refreshed staterooms, the onboard revitalization was comprehensive. Guests also will find that staying connected at sea will be easier with Wi-Fi availability throughout the ship and enjoy a host of technology enhancements that include, flat-panel televisions in all staterooms, an outdoor LED movie screen on the pool deck, as well as a digital way-finding system all of which debut on Royal Caribbean's latest and world's most innovative sister ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

For guests looking to tickle their taste buds, Rhapsody of the Seas features an array of new dining options with the addition of five of the fleet's most highly acclaimed dinning concepts, including Giovanni's Table, Izumi Asian Cuisine restaurant, Park Café deli-style restaurant, Chop's Grille steakhouse and the exclusive 14-guest Chef's Table. Concept overviews and pricing are as follows:

– Giovanni's Table: An Italian trattoria featuring Italian classics served family-style (open for lunch, $15, and dinner, $20)

– Izumi Asian Cuisine: Featuring mouthwatering flavors and a sushi bar with hot-rock cooking, the pan Asian cuisine restaurant is a no-hassle, authentic dining experience (open for lunch and dinner, $3.00 cover charge for lunch and $5.00 for dinner plus a la carte menu pricing)

– Park Café: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, complimentary)

– Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean's signature steakhouse offering premium cuts and quality meats (open for dinner, $30 per person)

– Chef's Table: An exclusive and private experience co-hosted by the executive Chef and Sommelier for a wine pairing dinner of five courses (open for dinner, $95 per person).

Guests looking for a jaw-dropping entertainment experience need to look no further than the reinvented Centrum, featuring enriching daytime activities, dazzling nighttime entertainment and a new high-flying entertainment experience where aerialists glide through the five-story atrium as guests enjoy a cocktail in the 60's inspired R Bar, a new bar concept first introduced onboard Splendour of the Seas. Guests also can take in the newly re-imagined Viking Crown Lounge, which features a stunning new design concept as well as a new menu featuring bite size goodies.

Rhapsody of the Seas will embark on a 15-night voyage from Singapore to Sydney, Australia. From there, she will sail across the Pacific via Hawaii to her Alaska season in May 2012. In Alaska, Rhapsody of the Seas will sail every Friday on seven-night, round-trip cruises from Seattle, calling at Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, and Victoria, B.C. Guests also will transit Alaska's Inside Passage, as well as venture up Tracy Arm Fjord to see Sawyer Glacier.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.

Royal Caribbean provides a world-class vacation experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. The cruise line has a 40-year history of giving guests the Royal Advantage - the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service.

Ventura to be fitted with 18 single cabins

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

P&O Cruises will fit 18 single cabins on board its 116,017 gross ton Ventura that was introduced in 2008, following the success of such accommodation on board its sister ship Azura that is one year younger, said Carol Marlow, Managing Director of the company that is part of Carnival Corp & plc group.

The additional cabins will be built midships on deck 6 and after this has been done, the company has three ships with single accommodation. The 69,153 gross ton Oriana was fitted with two inside single cabins in addition to two berth cabins as part of modifications last autumn.