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MSC Cruises adds French Antilles to winter 2012-13 destinations

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

MSC Cruises has announced the introduction of the French Antilles as a new destination for the 2012-2013 winter season. Complemented by an extensive array of fascinating shore excursions, this is an unmissable opportunity for guests to experience this idyllic region at first hand.

The inaugural voyage begins on 30 November 2012 when MSC Lirica departs from Genoa, Italy for a 16-day/15-night cruise, arriving at her new homeport in Martinique just over two weeks later. MSC Lirica's course will take her from the Mediterranean through the Atlantic and on to the Caribbean, with scheduled stops in Marseilles, Barcelona, Funchal and, after five full days at sea, Bridgetown in Barbados. Scheduled stops then follow in Saint George in Grenada, Basseterre in Saint Kitts & Nevis and Castries in Saint Lucia, with MSC Lirica arriving in Fort-de-France in Martinique on 15 December 2012.

From 15 December 2012 through to 16 February 2013, MSC Lirica has a full schedule of ten 7-day/8-night cruises, departing every Saturday from Fort-de-France, Martinique, and every Sunday from Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. During these Caribbean experiences, guests will discover not only the breathtaking beauty but also the rich history of the islands, with scheduled stops in St John’s in Antigua & Barbuda; Road Town on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands; Santo Domingo and La Romana in the Dominican Republic and Philipsburg in St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles.

The French Antilles will bid farewell to MSC Lirica on 23 February 2013, when she starts her 16-day/15-night return cruise from Fort-de-France to Genoa. Scheduled stops are Pointe-à-Pitre, Castries, Funchal, Malaga, Barcelona and Marseille. Excursions meanwhile will range from gentle tours around botanical gardens and plantations through to canopy zip lines high above the rainforest. Those with a thirst for knowledge may prefer a visit to the fishing village where Christopher Columbus landed in 1502 or a Chocolate Tour to the Caribbean’s largest organic cocoa processing plants.

The 59,000 gross ton MSC Lirica has capacity for a total of 2069 guests in 780 cabins. 

Celebrity Cruises adds 100 wines to offering

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Celebrity Cruises has expanded its wine programme to offer guests the opportunity to taste and learn about more wine than ever before. The updated programme introduces more than 100 new selections of wines by the bottle, including 20 additional new half-bottle selections, the company said in a statement.

The programme now also expands beyond the previous emphasis on wines from Italy , France and California , to include more wines from South America , Spain , New Zealand , Australia , Germany , Portugal and South Africa . When the ships are in wine-producing areas such as Australia and South America , guests will now have more opportunities to select locally produced wines.

“Our guests have told us how much they enjoy the wine experience on our ships, from participating in tastings led by our highly trained sommeliers to the convenience of our wine packages, to simply sipping a glass of wine while gazing out at sea,” said Scott Steenrod, Associate Vice President, Food and Beverage Operations. “The updated, now globally focused programme exemplifies modern luxury, with offerings from more wine-producing regions than before, a new emphasis on the many nuances of flavour that make wines unique, and a variety of convenient pricing and packaging options.”

Other highlights of the expanded wine programme include:

·       In the ships’ main restaurants, as well as in “Blu,” the speciality restaurant for AquaClass accommodation guests, wines are listed by flavour profile, identifying primary flavour characteristics

·       A new “Reserve List” within the main restaurant wine list identifies some of the finest wines previously only available onboard in Celebrity Cruises’ speciality restaurants

·       The list of by-the-glass wines served in various bars, restaurants and lounges throughout the ships has grown from 25 to 38 selections, with 60% of the wines by the glass being new wines for Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises’ beverage packages that include wine also have been updated to mirror changes to the overall wine programme:

·       The “Taste of the Vineyards” three-, five- and seven-bottle wine packages that were previously available on the Millennium Class ships and Celebrity Century have also been introduced on the  Solstice Class ships, and 90% of the wines that guests can choose from to create their packages are new wines for the cruise line

·       The “Classic Beverage Package” and “Premium Beverage Package,” both of which include wines by the glass in addition to beer and spirits, now include more wine choices. Over 80% of wines available by the glass are part of the Premium Beverage Package.

Renowned wine educator Brian Connors has developed a comprehensive wine education programme for Celebrity Cruises’ sommeliers, bar staff and restaurant staff. Dubbed “ Celebrity Cruises Wine University at Sea,” the programme provides up to 24 hours of training for Celebrity Cruises’ Cellarmasters and future Cellarmasters.

“We are constantly tweaking and revising our training programme to make it better and more relevant to the changes in the wine market,” Steenrod said. “Our training programme is on par with what organisations such as the Society of Wine Educators, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and the Guild of Sommeliers offer. What really takes our wine programme from being just a list of names on a menu to being a truly interactive experience is one of the world’s largest teams of highly knowledgeable sommeliers in the world.”

Having trained for his Sommelier certification at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley , California , Connors has extensive experience including certification by the Court of Master Sommelier, a certification through the Society of Wine Educators and a position as a wine educator at Johnson & Wales University ’s College of Hospitality Management .

The enhanced wine programme brings the Solstice Class fleet offering to over 500 different wines, and the Millennium Class ships and Celebrity Century offering to over 300. Guests onboard Celebrity Cruises’ ships also have the opportunity to experience wine tastings and food-and-wine pairing events as part of the line’s Celebrity Life activities programme.








Paul Gauguin Cruises completes $7 million renovation

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the Paul Gauguin, has revealed the completion of a $7 million renovation – the largest in the ship’s 14-year history. The renovation took place during the ship’s 10-night crossing from Tahiti to Brisbane, Australia, as well as during the 11-night drydock that followed, when extensive enhancements were made to both the interiors and exteriors of The Gauguin.

Renovations throughout the ship include new flooring and replaced carpeting, elegant new furniture, new window treatments and decorative wall panels, and new signage, providing a lighter, brighter feel.

Additionally, all suites and staterooms feature new teak railings on the balconies and new bathroom flooring. On the culinary front, La Veranda offers guests a redesigned entrance, refinished indoor and outdoor furniture, and solar shades throughout. Le Grill boasts new decorative partitions and divider walls, as well as a new buffet area and new lighting. L’Etoile also features a redesigned entrance in addition to video equipment for conferences.

Promenade Deck 5 boasts a new built-in banquette and expanded casino in Le Casino, and Deck 6 received a new integrated display case for books and art La Palette features a decorative stone band along the front of the bar and an updated lighting system, as well as new outdoor furniture. Le Grand Salon and La Palette offer refurbished dance floors to provide the perfect venue to dance the night away.

Guests now cruise aboard a vessel that has been thoroughly updated and redecorated for even greater luxury and comfort, reflecting Paul Gauguin Cruises’ level of commitment to the ship and the importance of the overall guest experience.

SeaDream Yacht Club adds paddleboards to their collection of complimentary water toys

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Stand up paddle surfing (SUP) or stand up paddle boarding is an emerging global sport, particularly popular in warm coastal climates and resorts. Now SeaDream I and SeaDream II have two, full volume boards for entry to expert riders. These new boards (Amundson 11'.6") are the biggest all around SUP boards, handling up to 250 pounds. At 30" wide, with a relatively straight outline, they are very stable and track well with speed. A little bit of tail rocker means you can take it in the surf too.

Stand up paddle surfing is fast becoming a popular water surf activity because it allows a wide range of athletic types to get involved. The main benefit of the sport is that SUP provides the participant with a strong 'core' workout. Its Hawaiian heritage is said to have originated from surf instructors standing up on their boards to better see their students and the incoming swell. Unlike surfing, stand up paddle boarding is very easy to learn. Within one hour you can become comfortable in the water and on your board. Also unlike surfing, SUP surfers don't need to worry about high and low tides. (Note: SeaDream I now has two SUP boards and SeaDream II receives her two boards on March 31, 2012.)

Viking Line names cruise ferry newbuilding Viking Grace

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Viking Line, the Finnish cruise ferry company,  has decided to name its 58,000 gross ton newbulding Viking Grace. The ship is currently under construction at the Turku shipyard of STX Finland, which is part of the STX Europe shipbuilding group.

“The vessel, which begins service in January 2013 on the Turku (Finland) – Åland Islands (Finland) – Stockholm (Sweden) route, will officially receive its name during a christening ceremony that will take place at the time it begins service. The planning process has placed great importance on new innovative passenger experiences related to product and service concepts, as well as fresh design thinking and environmentally friendly solutions,” the company y said in a statement.

An interactive naming competition was organised during the period December 1, 2011 to January 15, 2012 on the vessel’s own website, The competition certainly stimulated people’s creativity: more than 23,000 suggested names were sent in, of which more than 9,900 were unique. A large proportion of these names ended with “–lla”, like the names of many of Viking’s earlier-built vessels. Another very popular suggestion was Victoria. After various elimination rounds, three names remained in the final round. From these, the name Viking Grace was then selected.  

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