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Shanks unveils Queen Mary 2 refit details

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Cunard Line will send its flagship, the 151,400 gross ton Queen Mary 2, for a two week refit in Germany at the end of nrxt month. Peter Shanks, President and Managing Director of the Southampton based company, describes in his blog what will be done on the ship that entered service in early 2004.

“Well in late November Queen Mary 2 will be taken out of service, and out of the water, for a planned refit in Hamburg, Germany. She will be out of service for 14 days. I have had a number of questions on the blog as to what we plan to do during that time. We will release that news later this week – but I promised to reveal the news through our blog first so – here goes;

Staterooms – We will refurbish every stateroom on board Queen Mary 2 – all 1,310 of them. Each of the Queen’s Grill Grand Duplex, Master and Penthouse Suites will receive a fresh individual design. All of our Queen’s Grill Suites, Princess Grill and Britannia Staterooms will receive new carpets, curtains, bedcovers, linen and some will also see new soft furnishings. The designs will be very much in keeping with the current designs and with the overall ship – but with a fresh look. I am really pleased with how they will look and our returning loyal guests will I am sure be delighted. I have always recognised just how important it is to feel comfortable in your stateroom – a home from home. The designs on Queen Mary 2 are very enduring and when the ship returns to service in December her staterooms will be more appealing and comfortable than ever.

Golden Lion Pub – our guests have worn the Pub out. The Pub lunches are more popular than ever, the bar area is always busy and sport and musical events are increasingly popular. So we have completely redesigned this room. Below are a couple of shots of how the new Pub will look. It recreates the best of British Pubs as well as the comfortable American Country Club feel. We will achieve more comfortable seats and more of them. We will have new and improved screens for sporting events and we will still be able to have our famous Jazz evenings and daytime activities.

Canyon Ranch – goes from strength to strength on Queen Mary 2. One of the highlights of our Canyon Ranch is the wet area and Spa Pool. Well we are completely refurbishing the teak surrounds of the pool and doing a lot of work in other areas of the spa. We will have a range of new exercise machines in the gym area and some new and improved features in the salon. Canyon ranch are one of our most prized partnerships – when it comes to health, relaxation, exercise and wellness – they are the real thing and I am so pleased we are investing in further improving the facilities.

Commodore Club – one of the most iconic bar locations at sea up on deck 9 forward. No radical changes here – but as you can see form the design layout below we are investing in new carpets and refurbishing and adding to our beautiful white leather furniture.

Children’s Club – one of Cunard’s best keep secrets.  We have excellent facilities – but although they were industry leading in 2004 it is time for us to invest further in the facilities. We will refurbish the area, including the very latest in electronic gaming and entertainment – I am looking forward to trying them out for myself.

Sir Samuel’s – Originally designed when the ship came into service as a venue to offer the very best in classic wines. The advent of Cappuccinos, Lattes and Espresso has changed our approach and the room is very busy day and night. So time for new carpets and some new chair covers which will give the room a real lift.

Grill Restaurants – We will lay down a new carpet design for both the Queen’s Grill and Princess Grill Restaurants. These will be very much in keeping with the overall design but I think will give a lighter feel to both restaurants – which remain amongst the best restaurants at sea or on land.

One area that I have received questions on is Kings Court – the equivalent to The Lido area on Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. Given its location, and the fact that it covers such a large area with many sections – some of our guests have in the past found the area can be quite confusing – especially the first time you visit it.

To make significant changes to the actual structure of this area would be very difficult and prohibitively expensive given it’s scale. So we have been tackling this in different ways. We have been looking carefully at customer flow, our food and beverage offering and in particular how we best manage the service in Kings Court. We have plans to increase the alternative dining opportunities and themed evenings, and removing possible confusion by not having too many different serving stations at breakfast. This has significantly improved the situation and we will continue to focus here and make sure we create the appropriate experience for our guests.”

German discount retailer Lidl to start selling cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Lidl, the German discount retailer that has operations around Europe, will start to sell cruises, hotel accommodation and flights in the near future, the German current affairs magazine Focus says on its website.

Lidl will book large numbers of cabins, and hotel rooms for next summer and later perhaps seats on flights as well and then retailer them to its customers at discounted prices. 

The company’s travel offerings will be available in catalogues at more than 3,000 retail units around Europe, the report said.

Royal Princess keel laying marks construction milestone

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

An significant construction milestone occurred Thursday when the keel for the new Royal Princess was laid in the building dock at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. As the keel -- the bottom most part of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position, Princess Cruises and shipyard officials marked the occasion with a celebration and countdown to the ship’s debut in spring 2013.

Following a traditional blessing by a priest, the ship’s keel - which weighs approximately 500 tons - was moved into position by a huge crane onto the keel blocks. The computer-guided maneuver took only minutes, belying the more than 2 million man hours that will ultimately go into building the vessel.

The 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ship will remain in the building dock until its float-out. Royal Princess will launch in spring 2013.

"It’s always very exciting to mark this step in a ship’s construction, when several of the pre-built sections come together to form a new addition to our fleet, especially with a prototype design," said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises who traveled to Italy for the ceremony. He explained that Royal Princess’ evolutionary design will feature some exciting new elements and expanded spaces, while featuring the classic profile and features passengers have come to associate with Princess.

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri said "The keel laying in the building dock marks a fundamental step in the construction of “Royal Princess”, an innovative prototype ship for one of the most prestigious brands of Carnival Corporation, the world cruise leader, for which Fincantieri built many vessels in the past.We are particularly proud and strongly believe that Fincantieri will build the most beautiful ship in the world."

One of the most dramatic new design elements of Royal Princess is an over-water SeaWalk – a glass-bottomed enclosed walkway extending more than 20 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here passengers will enjoy dramatic views off the side of the ship and to the sea below. On the ship’s opposite side, an over-water SeaView bar will also extend over the waves to provide cocktails and unbeatable vistas.

On her top decks, Royal Princess will feature a new adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water Two additional pools will flank a tropical island that will offer pool seating by day, and by night will become an outdoor dance club, complete with a dazzling water and light show. Princess’ signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary, will be expanded both in size and amenities. The popular poolside theater, Movies Under the Stars, will play a starring role mid-ship with an expanded size and high-definition viewing.

Royal Princess will feature an expanded version of the company’s signature Piazza – the ship’s central atrium incorporating a myriad of dining, entertainment and retail experiences. And each of the vessel’s outside cabins will include a balcony, meaning 80 percent of all staterooms will offer this popular feature. Additional details about the ship will be released over the coming months, and a video preview of Royal Princess is available at

Star Cruises honoured with security screening system award

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Star Cruises, the world’s third largest cruise line operator, was presented a TOPSIS Organizational Award (Bronze) at the TOPSIS Forum 2011 held at CAG Auditorium, Changi Airport Terminal 2, on 12 October. The accolade recognizes Star Cruises’ support and contribution in implementing Threat-Oriented Passenger Screening Integrated System (TOPSIS) at its cruise operations in Singapore. The annual awards was organized by the Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore.

Mr. Toh Yiu Joe, Executive Vice President, Financial Services, Genting Hong Kong. "It is an honor for Star Cruises to receive this award. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the Singapore authorities on the TOPSIS programme since 2009. As one of the pioneer cruise liners involved in the programme, we have helped to define the parameters and procedures applicable to cruise checkpoints. After implementing TOPSIS to our cruise operations in 2010, we have since worked towards refining it and sharing our experience with the authorities. Looking ahead, we will continue to support the Singapore government to enhance checkpoint security."

TOPSIS is a key border security programme which has been implemented across major border checkpoints in Singapore since 2009. It taps on both the security and non-security communities working at various border checkpoints to help flag out suspicious persons and refer them for enhanced screening. Selected Star Cruises staff has undergone training to observe and identify suspicious travelers, who will be directed to secondary screening measures by government security agencies. In this way, TOPSIS helps to achieve a rational balance between security and facilitation.

Louis Cruises unveils Louis Majesty, Louis Cristal 2012 summer programmes

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Louis Cruises, the Cypriot cruise shipping group, has announced its 2012 fleet deployment schedule for its 3-, 4- & 7- night Aegean cruises from Piraeus (Athens), Greece that is scheduled to operate from March 16 through November 2, 2012.  "Exciting new itineraries continue to enhance the line’s cruises out of Piraeus, featuring upgraded quality and capacity with sailings onboard Loius Majesty, while time-honored favourites, including the 8 day/7-night “Greece and Turkey” cruise onboard Louis Cristal , remain as highly demanded programmes by travelers," the company said in a statement.

In 2012, Louis Majesty will operate two new programmes: The 4day/3night “Greece and Turkey” in March 2012 and the 4day/3night “Aegean Legends” starting in April 2012. Aegean Legends (4 days/3nights) - Sailing from Athens, Mykonos welcomes guests as the first stop on this exciting itinerary one of Greece’ s Cycladic Islands known for beautiful beaches, whitewashed buildings, tiny churches, windmills, chic shops and cafes where travelers will be awed by the area’s lively ambiance and embracing culture. 

“The adventure continues with a morning in Turkey’s Kusadasi, gateway to Ephesus famous in antiquity for its Temple of Diana one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World ‐ and later the home of St. John the Divine, then an afternoon to explore the Greek Island of Patmos and the Grotto of the Apocalypse where St John through Divine Revelations composed the Apocalypse.  Sailing along, travelers enjoy full-day stays in Santorini, a postcard perfect village perched on the edge of an ancient volcano where the lost city of Atlantis is believed to be found before returning to Athens the following morning.

Greece and Turkey (4 days/3 nights) -- This novel programme commences and concludes in Athens and showcases intriguing destinations throughout the region.  Travelers embark in Athens’ Port of Piraeus then cruise to Istanbul in Turkey for a full day to explore the treasures of this enchanting city, before heading to Izmir.  From the port of Izmir, cruise guests can enjoy a half-day shore excursion to Pergamum, the main centre, together with Alexandria, of the Hellenistic civilization in the East and capital of the Roman province of Asia.

Louis Majesty will also perform the 5day/4night “Jewels of the Aegean” cruise itinerary sailing every Monday from March 19th through October 29th, 2012.  Two additional departures of the 4day/3night “Greece and Turkey” and Jewels of the Aegean programs will be performed by Loius Cristal as follows: one 4day/3night on November 2nd, 2012 and the last 5day/4night on November 5th, 2012.

Louis Cristal will perform the very successful 8day/7night cruise programme “Greece and Turkey”, offering weekly departures during the 2012 Louis Cruises'  season.  The vessel will commence this schedule on March 30th, 2012 and finish her 8day/7night cruise program for 2012 on October 26, 2012.

New this year, guests sailing onboard Louis Majesty and Louis Cristal can now more fully experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Greece and the picturesque Greek islands on their next Mediterranean journey with Louis Cruises’ new a la carte dining option aboard the Louis Majesty and Louis Cristal that features mouthwatering Greek fusion cuisine.

The new “Thalassa” restaurants are owned and operated by Christoforos Peskias, a renowned Greek Celebrity TV Chef & Restaurateur, and feature traditional Greek and Cypriot dishes that have been masterfully prepared with a modern twist. Open for dinner only, cruise passengers onboard the Louis Majesty and Louis Cristal can experience this new alternative dining option for the price of $29.00 per person, per meal.