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Thomson Cruises to unveil “exciting plans” in three-four months

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Thomson Cruises, which is part of TUI Travel group, is looking to modernise its fleet both with potential new ships and upgrades to existing ships, the company’s Managing Director tells Travel Weekly.

Managing director Fraser Ellacott disclosed that there would be news about “exciting plans” for the UK’s third largest cruise company in three to four months time. The company operates four ships under the Thomson Cruises brand name - Thomson Dream, Thomson Spirit, Thomson Destiny and Thomson Celebration - plus one ship branded as Island Escape on the UK market. The vessels are second generation cruise ships, all built between 1982 and 1986 and range in size from 34,000 to 56,000 gross tons. All ships are operated on time charter from their respective owners.

“For the longer term, clearly we have a need to modernise,” he told Travel Weekly. When asked if this would involve work to the existing fleet and new tonnage, he replied that both were under consideration. The development flowed from a strategic review of the company he undertook when taking the helm nine months ago.

Ellacott is also looking to the Middle East and North Africa as possible new destinations from summer 2013, identifying Libya, Lebanon, Algeria and the Dead Sea as offering history and culture that would appeal to British passengers in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Ellacott said it was too early to gauge the impact of the Costa Concordia tragedy on business, saying the industry would learn any lessons to emerge from what he described as a “significant event”. In the meantime, he is anxious to highlight the key USP’s of the Tui UK & Ireland cruise brand, such as fly-cruises from 22 regional airports, tips and service charges included in the up-front price, destination-rich itineraries and more flexible cruise and stay options.

He described feedback from customer service questionnaires in 2011 as the best ever and continuing to improve, with around half of passengers on repeat cruises with the company. “Once people have tried cruising with us, very few don’t go back,” he said. A return to ex-UK sailings this summer with Thomson Spirit offering departures from Newcastle and Harwich was proving popular with customers in the north of England, added Ellacott according to the report.

Costa Cruises clarifies its discounts and promotional offers

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

With reference to news reports on discounts and promotional offers, Costa Cruises feels bound to point out that the company has never offered any discount on future cruises to guests who were on board the Costa Concordia for the cruise of January 13th and involved in the tragic accident. The information published by a newspaper and reported in various news outlets is totally unfounded, as is confirmed by the English passenger who was quoted by the newspaper.

Costa Cruises reiterates that after the tragic accident the company's priority has always been to provide the maximum possible assistance and solace to the people involved. From the outset the company has been fully aware of and saddened by the suffering and hardship endured by guests and crew members and has acted with this firmly borne in mind.

On a joint basis with rescue teams, the Company worked to provide evacuated passengers and crew members with all the necessary assistance to ensure they were able to return home. Subsequently it contacted guests by telephone, after they had returned home, to check on their physical and emotional wellbeing, and to confirm that they will receive a refund for the cruise and all material expenses relating to it. 

As already announced, the company welcomes discussion with its guests and all consumer protection associations to determine indemnity for the hardship endured, with the support of tourism sector trade associations with which it has been in contact for days. Driven by its sense of ethics and the values of fairness and responsibility which guide it, the Company has also given all customers with bookings for future Costa cruises the possibility, if feeling afraid, to cancel their cruise booking by giving notice no later than February 7th. All travel agents who work with the Company were informed of this days ago.

Costa Cruises would also like to clarify that starting on the day after the accident, all advertising initiatives planned were cancelled out of respect for those affected by this tragedy. The Company was unable to stop only one postal promotion which had already been sent to some customers at the end of December.

Costa Cruises is incredulous at the disgraceful and unfounded assertions made about the Company without any form of verification.

STX Finland's Rauma shipyard delivers the Spirit of France

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

On Tuesday 24 January 2012, a car-passenger ferry NB 1368, the Spirit of France, was delivered by STX Finland's Rauma shipyard to P&O ferries. Her sister ship, the Spirit of Britain was delivered from Rauma Shipyard one year ago. 

The Spirit of France is 213 meters long and 31,5 meters wide and she has 3,746 lane meters (lm) for trailers, cars and other cargo. In addition to space for approximately 180 freight trucks and 195 passenger cars, the 47 600 gt vessel can accommodate 2,000 passengers. Special attention has been paid to the environmentally friendly and energy-efficient solutions and safety of the ship. 

"The Spirit of France and her sistership the Spirit of Britain are the largest, most efficient and modern vessels on the route Dover - Calais. We trust that these ships will be highly appreciated by the passengers and they will serve successfully P&O Ferries for a long time. I want to thank the owner and all those involved in the project for a good co-operation", states the Director of STX Rauma shipyard, Timo Suistio.

Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises to hold muster drills on day of departure

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News
Prestige Cruise Holdings, parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has announced that effective immediately all ships will hold guest muster drills on the day of departure.

Presently, all Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises vessels hold muster drills on the same day of departure, with few exceptions.

"On just a handful of occasions the drill is held the following morning, primarily to accommodate late-arriving guests," stated Robin Lindsay, executive vice president of vessel operations for Prestige Cruise Holdings. "However, in light of the recent tragic event, Oceania and Regent have adopted a new policy that requires all muster drills to take place on day of departure."

All Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises vessels are designed and operated in compliance with the strict requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which mandates global standards for the safety and operation of cruise ships, through adoption of regulations, resolutions and treaties. The most important of these treaties is the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, which includes comprehensive mandates on safety equipment and procedures. Prestige Cruise Holdings' ships adhere to all IMO and SOLAS regulations and requirements. In addition, all officers and crew who have specific safety functions, such as evacuation leaders, boat commanders, fire teams, and lifeboat launching teams, regularly conduct simulated emergency training drills.

Costa denies the rumor of unregistered passengers on the Costa Concordia

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Costa Cruises clarifies that the company has extremely strict systems in place to control access to ships, in addition to the port area access controls performed by the authorities before embarkation.

Access on board is granted only on the basis of:
- a ticket and an identity check for cruise customers;
- an optically read ID card for crew members;
- the entry of the persons name on the visitor list, after approval by the Company and the Staff Captain, in addition to the presentation of a valid identity document which is retained on embarkation.

The name of any person who departs with the ship is registered in on board systems. In addition, a photograph is taken of passengers on embarkation, which is then associated with an ID bar code found on the embarkation form and the Costa Card given to passengers when on board (this card acts as each passengers personal identification badge for entering and leaving the ship and for making use of on board services).

No one on board has the power to waive security procedures. The company takes severe disciplinary action in the event of violation. Precise lists of every person embarked on the ship and who departed with it (guests, crew and any engineers) are transmitted to the Company immediately after departure.

In the case of the accident involving the Costa Concordia, these precise lists have been given to the authorities in relation to operations to identify the survivors, victims and missing.

Furthermore, the company categorically denies the rumour that there were clandestine workers on board.

Costa Cruises applies the highest possible standards of security, safety and social accountability. The company is certified as regards social accountability (SA 8000) and safety (OHSAS 18001) by RINA in the framework of BEST4 certification, which also covers the environment and quality, and is subject to inspections by the certification society and the maritime authorities in Italy and in the countries visited by its ships.

The company reiterates, as clarified yesterday, that: with reference to the news reported by several media channels today that a company employee has allegedly received the PC belonging to Captain Schettino, Costa Cruises, after contacting the person involved, categorically denies that it has received anything at all from Captain Schettino.