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Viking Cruises partners with National Geographic

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Viking Cruises today announced it has signed on to sponsor National Geographic’s first fully scripted global anthology series, “Genius,” which in its debut season tells the story of the 20th century’s most brilliant icon, Albert Einstein. The new premier partnership with National Geographic builds on Viking’s continued commitment to supporting enriching cultural programming, with current and past partnerships including PBS’ MASTERPIECE, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl, the Munch Museum and more. During the global premiere of Genius on April 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic, Viking will showcase a new brand campaign entitled “Time,” featuring Torstein Hagen, Founder and Chairman of Viking Cruises. A lifelong admirer of Einstein, Hagen, who is also a physicist, shares Einstein’s interest in the concept of time and often refers to time as “the only scarce commodity.” The campaign debuts today and will roll-out across additional marketing channels throughout the show’s 10-part global event series on National Geographic.

“Through my formal education, I studied nuclear physics, and as a scientist, I have always been fascinated with Einstein and his work as a theoretical physicist,” said Torstein Hagen, Founder and Chairman of Viking Cruises. “We are pleased to have a premier partner in National Geographic, to further bring enriching offerings through art, history and exploration to audiences around the world, while also continuing to showcase The Viking Way of travel.”

“Genius exemplifies National Geographic’s commitment to premium content, and we are thrilled that it is attracting premium partners like Viking,” said Brendan Ripp, Executive Vice President of Sales and Partnerships for National Geographic. “Viking’s commitment to expanding cultural horizons is truly inspiring, and we hope Genius is just the beginning of our joint efforts to bring consumers the type of content we both believe in.”

Dramatizing the stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, season one of Genius reveals how Albert became Einstein, exploring his extraordinary professional achievements along with his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. The series is based on Walter Isaacson’s book “Einstein: His Life and Universe” and is executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, with Howard making his scripted television directorial debut with the first episode. Featuring Einstein’s lovers, enemies and fellow scientific luminaries, the all-star cast includes Geoffrey Rush (“The Kings Speech,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Shine”) as the celebrated titular scientist, Johnny Flynn (“Clouds of Sils Maria,” “Song One,” “Lovesick”) as Albert in the years before he rose to international acclaim and Emily Watson (“Theory of Everything,” “The Book Thief”) as his second wife — and first cousin — Elsa Einstein.

Throughout the series, audiences will experience key locations of Einstein’s life, including his time in Germany (Berlin, Munich, Würzburg, Heidelberg), Switzerland (Zurich, Basel) and Austria (Vienna, Salzburg), as well as his later years in the United States (New York City, Boston) – all of which are also destinations on Viking’s river and ocean cruise itineraries.

Norwegian Cruise Line to add lifeguards to fleet

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced that the line will begin employing certified lifeguards at all of the family pools across their fleet. The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours. The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line's four largest ships - Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic - and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018.

"Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015 and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet."

In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line's four largest ships. Parents can obtain the safety vests at the towel station on the ship's pool deck during daytime hours.

New Russian cruise operator to offer six night Black Sea cruises

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

Black Sea Cruises, a new Russian cruise operator, will start to offer six night cruises in the Black Sea region in June, using a 14,717 gross ton vessel that last sailed for an Israeli company.

The Knyaz Vladimir, built in 1971 in France as the Eagle for P&O Ferries’ service from the UK to Spain and Morocco, will sail from Sochi to Novorossyisk, Yalta, Sevastopol in the Crimea and back to Sochi from 11 June.

The itinerary covers one day calls at the Novorossiysk and Sevastopol seaports, a two day stop in Yalta. “As a matter of convenience the passengers will be offered to start and finish their cruise in the cities of Novorossiysk, Yalta, Sevastopol,"  Rosmorport, the state owned port operator that owns Black Sea Cruises said in a statement.

The company has appointed Infloflot as general ticket sales agent in accordance with the Order of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Black Sea Cruises added. Tickets would be available at the general sales agent, travel agencies around the country and online, the company stated.

Knyaz Vladimir – “Knyaz”s is Russian for Prince – has had a long and colourful career. Its initial service under the British flag only lasted until 1975, when the ship was sold to Croisieres de Paquet in France and renamed Azur. The former overnight ferry now assumed the role of a cruise ship. After 12 years in French ownership, the vessel was acquired by the Chandris group in Greece, which also employed it as a cruise ship, without a change of name.

In 1994, the ship changed hands again, when it was bought by Festival Cruises, another Greek company that was building up the nascent European source market. It was renamed The Azur at this point. However, Festival collapsed and in 2004 the ship was acquired by Mano Maritime in Israel and renamed Royal Iris.


Norwegian Joy to feature Ferrari branded race track

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches as a part of the entertainment and activities on board Norwegian Joy, its soon to-be-unveiled 3,850 passenger vessel. Norwegian Joy will be Norwegian Cruise Line's first purpose-built ship for the Chinese market, designed to deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy 'First Class at Sea’ experiences. Norwegian Joy will home port in Shanghai and Tianjin, following a grand inaugural port tour leading up to a christening ceremony on June 27, led by her Godfather, ‘King of Chinese Pop’ Wang Leehom.

The two-level Ferrari branded competitive racetrack will be located on the top deck of the ship, where guests may take a thrilling ride in electric go-carts. Up to ten drivers at a time will be able to race each other on the course and have photos taken at the finish line to share with friends and family back home. Guests of Norwegian Joy’s The Haven and Concierge class will enjoy a number of complimentary rides as part of the amenities and benefits of their suites and staterooms.

Ferrari represents fun, passion, and competitive spirit, and this partnership will bring the spirit of the brand to Norwegian Joy’s guests. This is the first time Ferrari Watches has partnered on a branded go-kart track and Scuderia Ferrari Watches will be featured in a retail store adjacent to the racetrack.

Norwegian Joy will officially be delivered on April 27 in Bremerhaven, Germany. The ship will then set sail for China, where she will be showcased through a grand inaugural port tour featuring one-day events at the ports of Qingdao, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong, as well as VIP partner cruises from Norwegian Joy’s home-ports of Shanghai and Tianjin. This unique showcase tour will give travel agents and valued partners across the region the special opportunity to experience all that Norwegian Joy has to offer leading up to the ship’s christening ceremony on June 27, led by her Godfather, ‘King of Chinese Pop’, Wang Leehom.

Technical problems, corrupt officials turn Pandaw’s ocean yacht operation start to a nightmare

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

A host of technical problems and corrupt-ridden officials were among the factors that turned the start of operations of Andaman Explorer, a deep sea yacht that Pandaw Expeditions, which is best known for its river cruise operations mainly in South East Asia, bought last year, into a nightmare.

Paul Strachan, founder and chairman of the Singapore headquartered company that is domiciled in Scotland, describes the events in his blog on the website of the company.

“I am getting lots of emails from Pandaw regulars asking what happened with the Andaman Explorer, the classic 1960s motor yacht we bought last year with the intention of exploring the Mergui Archipelago and the Maritime Burma in general. It is not a happy tale but I have never been one for hiding the truth from our Pandaw community when things go wrong. So, here is the story which is I am afraid a long one...

When I first saw the ship, then called the MY Marina, in Dubai in November 2016, it was love at first sight. Here was a classic ship, originally a Norwegian Coastguard vessel and ice classed at that, with its original Rolls Royce engines. It had been pleasingly converted in Italy in the mid 90s into a billionaire's play thing. I believed at the time she could easily be modified to ply the Burma coasts, an area I had explored in the past, been amazed at what I had seen, and knew there was an awful lot more to discover. The ship passed the usual surveys and had just been re-classed so was seemingly fit to go to sea.

Having paid the money troubles began. A delivery company were contracted to send her from Dubai to Thailand where we planned to do refit work. However, week after week went by with excuse after excuse from the Indian master and crew on why they could not sail. Meanwhile, unbeknown to us, they stripped the vessel of any removable and saleable parts. We flew a Pandaw manager in and he was quite helpless in getting things moving. Eventually I contracted an English skipper (ex Royal Marines) to take over and he got her underway. Then one thing after another broke down as she limped across the Indian ocean, finally arriving in Thailand on just one engine with no water, sewage or air conditioning.

We had decided to send her to Ranong, the Thai port on the Burma border, as we somewhat naively thought that services would be better there than in Rangoon. A Scottish captain, much experienced in refits and yacht conversions, was appointed to project manage the work. Captain Peter met the ship there in February and had until September to get her ready for our first expedition.

The delivery voyage had proved more than just a shakedown cruise, the list of things to fix was endless but the key tasks were to completely rebuild the engines, install a new air conditioning system, new water makers, sewage plant, to mention but a few items. Working in Ranong proved far more difficult than we expected. This was an old smuggling town run by a mafia who controlled the police and authorities and their harassment was continuous. Local suppliers tended to promise much and deliver little. Eventually a reliable firm of engineers were found in Bangkok and their teams did much of the engine room work; this was not just a matter of simple overhaul but total reconstruction. However, the deeper we delved the more problems we found – this ship truly was a can of worms.

The engines were rebuilt with a complete set of parts flown in from Rolls Royce in England; a new air conditioning system was installed along with water makers, navigation systems and electronics to mention but a few items on the list. In September she was seaworthy enough to sail to Singapore for dry docking and class survey. Alas in Singapore the dockyard found problems with the propulsion system and what was intended as a one week stay became a three week stay. The Explorer just made it back to Kawthaung in Southern Burma in time for the initial cruise due to start in the first week of October.

Here a new set of disasters befell us: the port authorities would not let our expat management team on board because they had business visas and not tourist visas. As a result, not much was ready and things were a mess on board. Then the first passengers flew in and the port authorities would also not let them board as they had not yet begun port clearance on arrival – though she had been there a week waiting for them to process the papers. We had to put our brave passengers in a local hotel for two nights whilst they completed the clearance formalities. Once embarked, half the group decided to fly up country and join one of our river cruises and the other half wanted to continue the voyage.

Eventually we sailed and without our management team on board, service was a muddle and not up to usual Pandaw standards. The actual cruising, now limited by time, was magical as we had expected and the photos on the link below show something of what the 'survivors' encountered. However such excitements came to an end when we entered the port of Mergui (or Myeik) when we ran into trouble again. This time the port authorities refused to accept our international classification as a 'pleasure yacht' insisting that we were a sea going ship and thus lacked the far more stringent certification required for sea going ships. Nothing would convince them and we realised the vessel might be detained interminably so were forced to evacuate the remaining passengers to Rangoon from there. At the same time the original 1963 Detroit Diesel generators had given up the ghost so it was perhaps as well that the passengers were disembarked here.

After involving our insurers, international maritime lawyers and sundry contacts in Rangoon, the vessel was released a fortnight later and continued to Rangoon. New generators would have to be specially built for the ship in China and would take a couple of months. We decided to cancel all cruises till January and use these three months to do further refit work whilst waiting for the delivery of the generators. Back 'home' in Rangoon things moved a lot faster than in Thailand and the ship really was taking shape. Amazingly the generators arrived in time, trucked through a war zone in Northern Burma. In order to take the old generators out and put the new ones in the ship had to be dry docked and cut open below the waterline. All went to schedule and we were on target.

Meanwhile, we had decided to solve the problem of the port formalities by changing the flag to a Myanmar one and effectively importing her into the country. This was a complex process and not inexpensive. After paying exorbitant import duties we were told that all we needed was the mere formality of a surveyor's inspection and she would be off the next day to pick up our first group.

My wife and I had moved on board in readiness for an early morning departure. Then the surveyor did not turn up. Our people spent the whole day in his office but he pleaded other duties. The same happened the next day, and the next and this went on for over a week. We cancelled one cruise and then the next. Eventually we met the transport minister and the surveyor finally came on board for what we anticipated would be a quick visit. In fact, it took him one month to do the survey. (An international surveyor from say Lloyds or ABS would take a couple of days at the most). Each day the surveyor would run over a different part of the ship testing every little detail. Then just as we thought at long last we could get away they insisted on us dry docking again (at $10,000 a pop) to check the hull plates,” Strachan said.