Tag Archives: cruise

Iconic Cruise liner Reopens in Dubai as Luxury Floating Hotel

Renowned 1960s British vessel, Queen Elizabeth 2, has been docked in Port Rashid since 2008 after decades of voyage. Last Wednesday, it opens her doors yet again as a brand new, luxury hotel floating in Port Rashid, Dubai. Though there were plans to remodel the ship into a luxury property immediately, delayed the project was delayed by the global financial crisis. Finally after a decade, the 963-foot cruise liner will welcome guests again.

The hotel holds a full 13-deck of dining and entertainment, and a total of 224 rooms and suites. There are 13 types of room available, with the basic cabins offering a cozy 180 square feet of space, designed with plenty of dark wood.

A duplex room at the Queen Elizabeth 2

Royal suites sit at a spacious 800 square feet, complete with a private bathtub, private dining room and terrace. Named after the Queen’s mother and grandmother, these 2 exclusive rooms will be booked ‘by invitation only’.

Rooms featuring the original portholes abroad the hotel.

While the liner has been upgraded with technology and modern features, there were also restoration efforts for the original design features like the portholes and period artwork and furniture.

The ship even retains the names of its 13 restaurants for a distinct British feel: an English pub called the Golden Lion, historical bar The Chart Room, cabaret lounge The Grand Lounge, and Queens Grill that offers a British menu that includes many of the same dishes served during its maiden voyage in 1969.

A refurbished bar is ready to receive guests aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2

The new QE2 has a movie theatre and a museum showcasing the vessel’s history. The latter, called the Heritage Exhibition, presents the ship’s iconic history that traces back to decades ago since its service as a war ship during the Falklands War, to when she became Cunard’s luxury leisure cruise ship.

Other facilities include a luxury spa and pool deck, as well as the perennial Dubai favorite: a shopping arcade.

The grand opening is scheduled for October this year. Right now, you can book a basic cabin online for as low as 400 AED (US$110), though royal suites sell for as much as 25,000 AED (US$6,800).

Stateroom Four onboard SS Joie de Vivre. Image courtesy of Uniworld

Luxury superyacht cruises in France: SS Joie de Vivre sails from Paris boasting onboard cinema and spa lifts

Stateroom Four onboard SS Joie de Vivre. Image courtesy of Uniworld

Stateroom Four onboard SS Joie de Vivre. Image courtesy of Uniworld

A luxury superyacht designed as an opulent floating hotel has launched on the Seine in Paris, as the rich person’s version of the ubiquitous sightseeing cruise.

Aboard the SS Joie de Vivre which translates to “Joy of Living”  there is no queueing like herd animals or jockeying for the best seat against selfie stick-toting tourists on the open-air deck.

Instead, guests board a luxury yacht equipped with a spa and wellness centre, onboard cinema, gourmet restaurant and opulent rooms decorated with handcrafted furniture, antiques and original artwork.

The vessel, which accommodates 128 guests, was christened in Paris this week by actress Joan Collins.

After sailing past Parisian landmarks alongside sightseeing cruises on the Seine, the SS Joie de Vivre continues its journey outside the city, to regions like Normandy, Bordeaux and Avignon in eight to 15-day cruise itineraries.

Guests slumber in sumptuous cabins that feature custom-designed Savoir of England beds, tufted velvet headboards, heavy drapes, Egyptian cotton sheets and marble-lined bathrooms stocked with luxury Hermès and L’Occitane bath and body products.

The Normandy cruise is pitched as the dream holiday for history buffs, as the itinerary takes guests through the medieval capital of Rouen, Monet’s postcard-perfect home in Giverny, Versailles and the famed Normandy beaches.

The 15-day Paris-to-Bordeaux cruise is pitched for oenophiles and gastronomes, with an itinerary that includes wine tastings and gourmet epicurean experiences.

Luxury cruises in Myanmar: Rainforest Cruises provide an exotic experience through the Irrawaddy River

Rainforest Cruises has long been a provider of exotic experiences. With Myanmar‘s fast rising status as a new tourist destination, Rainforest Cruises has unveiled plans to set sail along the Irrawaddy River. The new river cruise is stipulated to have itineraries that span 6 to 11 days, and will not only offer rides along the Irrawaddy but also the Chindwin Rivers. These cruise journeys will allow for a closer look at the unspoilt beauty of a traditional country, as well as the lives and workings of its citizens.

Along the way, guests can visit a royal palace, silk, gold and lacquer workshops, ancient archaeological sites, gilded pagodas, temple complexes and Buddhist monasteries. The programme also offers a pre or post cruise land tour extension to the cruise. Amongst the locations up for the taking is Myanmar‘s former capital Yangon, one of the most important commercial and cultural centres in Myanmar. Other cruise companies that stop in Yangon include AmaWaterways, Silversea Cruises, Holland America Line and Sea Dream Yacht Club.

Meanwhile, Rainforest tours are offered on one of four vessels hand-built specifically to navigate the rivers in Myanmar. The jewel of the quartet is the Irrawaddy Explorer Cruise, which features 28 cabins, hardwood floors, sun deck, spa and writer’s lounge.

Rainforest Cruises joins a growing list of river cruise providers who are setting up shop in the burgeoning tourism country following the end of military rule in 2011 and the first democratically elected government in 2015. The country’s tourism office has its sights set on luring 7.5 million tourists a year by 2019. In 2016, Myanmar was on track to receive 5.5 million tourists, or nearly a million more than the year previous.

A 2015 report on luxury travel by international travel network Virtuoso noted the rising popularity of river cruises and singled out Myanmar, along with other emerging destinations like Croatia, Iceland, Cuba, and Bhutan.

For more information, visit www.rainforestcruises.com

Cruise From Singapore: Coral Expeditions Sets Sail to Vietnam, Thailand and more

Coral Expeditions went for its inaugural South East Asia voyage from Singapore on November 25, 2016, following a makeover of its flagship vessel the Coral Discoverer. What makes this cruise ship stand out among the others is the experience that it offers. As the Coral Discoverer is quite a compact vessel, it is able to venture into areas that larger ships are unable to access. With that said, the cruise embarked will be an adventure in less-traveled waters, which holds some of the best-kept travel secrets of South East Asia.

Thousand Islands - Indonesia

Thousand Islands – Indonesia

The available itineraries stay true to Coral Expeditions’ passion for exploration, charting the coastal regions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Voyagers can choose from 12 nights from Singapore to Yangon (and vice versa), 12 nights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, and 17 nights from Singapore to Darwin.

Halong Bay - Vietnam

Halong Bay – Vietnam

Venture to the Vietnam’s Halong Bay (above), or the Anak Krakatoa volcano of Indonesia. Once ashore, travellers can explore the cultural diversity of their current destination, such as the Burma WWII Railway Memorial, Indonesia’s Komodo Island, or Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.

Sun Deck Bar

Sun Deck Bar

Along with the introduction of the new voyage, the recent upgrade of the Coral Discoverer features a refurbished dining room, deck lounge and sun deck. For The Sun Deck (above) in particular, the space is completely revamped as a social hub for fellow voyagers to mingle. The space comes complete with a circular bar, cabana chairs and an alfresco dining area. The deck lounge is also equipped with a bar and a multimedia space for travelers to discover more about where they will be visiting. And of course, there will be artisanal New Zealand and Australian spirits to enjoy when on board.

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom

The refurbishment also includes six more Bridge Deck Staterooms, adding up to a total of 36 rooms in the ship. Each Coral Expedition voyage will only have 72 passengers on board, allowing for an intimate travel experience and the opportunity to immerse in the cultural offerings of the destinations.

Best Luxury Cruise of 2016: Seabourn

Best Luxury Cruise of 2016: Seabourn

Oceangoing vacation company Seabourn has been named Best Luxury Cruise line of the year by Cruise Critic US, with Carnival and Disney also receiving accolades.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Vista, which features an onboard water park, brewery and 14 restaurants, won Best New Ship – Carnival was also named Best Value for Money – while Disney Cruise Line’s dining options and variety of onboard venues contributed to its double win in Best Dining and Best for Families.

In the River division, AmaWaterways becomes Best River Cruise Line of 2016, and also won Best for Families (joint with Adventures by Disney) as well as Best for Active Cruisers.

Seabourn won Best Luxury Cruise in the honor’s inaugural year, with Cruise Critics praising its “impeccable service, creative itineraries and sophisticated touches.”

Multiple winners included Royal Caribbean (Cabins, Suites,) Princess Cruises (Shore Excursions, Romance,) Viking (Luxury Value, Luxury Spa, Itineraries – River,) and AmaWaterways (Best for Active Cruisers – River.)

Full details are available from CruiseCritic.com, with UK awards available from CruiseCritic.co.uk and a first ever Australian Cruise Critic awards announced October 13.

Top Luxury Travel Destination Revealed

Italy leads the list of top luxury travel destinations for the coming 12 months in a survey put together by the Travel Leaders Group. Ninan Chacko, CEO of Travel Leaders Group (TLG), commented that Italy is popular among “affluent travelers who are seeking authentic, enriching experiences paired with a multitude of very high-end accommodations.”

So what do luxury travelers expect when they explore the world? According to TLG, affluent holidaymakers expect fine dining, private concierge-level access, spas, butler service, and a personalized or private check-in and check-out. “That’s important for industry partners to recognize,” said Gail Grimmett, President of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group.

Italy and Africa had already been on the radar of luxury travelers, as has the United StatesAside from Italy, other top-ranked luxury travel destinations include European river cruises, the United States, Mediterranean cruises, and Australia. Iceland, New Zealand, and Cuba are also recognized in the list as a destination with growing interest. Here is the full list:

1. Italy

2. European river cruise

3. United States

4. Mediterranean cruise

5. Australia

6. Mexico

7. Ireland

8. Caribbean cruise

9. France

10. England (Tie)

10. Iceland (Tie)

11. South Africa

12. New Zealand

13. Jamaica

14. Costa Rica

15. Cuba

Crystal Serenity Makes for First-ever Arctic journey

Giant Cruise Ship Starts First-Ever Arctic Journey

It is a voyage explorers only dreamed of not so long ago. But thanks to climate change, a luxury cruise ship has undertaken a pioneering journey that will see it sail through the once impassable Northwest Passage during a month-long trip that is drawing much excitement but also criticism from environmentalists.

The Crystal Serenity, which set off from Seward, Alaska on August 16 with nearly 1,000 passengers, is scheduled to dock in New York on September 17.

The ship made its last Alaska port call on Sunday, stopping in the remote town of Nome before heading farther north, accompanied by the RRS Ernest Shackleton, a British supply and icebreaking vessel.

The voyage marks the first time a passenger ship this size sails the storied Northwest Passage where warmer temperatures and melting ice are opening the Arctic – one of the most pristine places on Earth – for business.

Passengers on board the $350 million vessel paid between $22,000 and $120,000 for the journey, which took three years of planning and preparation to avoid any mishaps, including a repeat of the Titanic.

Guests were also required to purchase $50,000 in emergency evacuation insurance in order to cruise through the Northwest Passage – a once unnavigable shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that is increasingly becoming a popular route for shipping.

The Crystal Serenity is expected to reach the northwest territories on Friday and complete the Arctic leg of its journey by September 4 before heading to Greenland and finally New York.

“Every aspect of this voyage is literally unparalleled in the luxury cruise industry, and nearly the entire travel industry as well,” Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez, said in a statement.

“It is a tremendous undertaking to embark on such a historic journey, but also an honor for us to be able to offer the world’s most discerning travelers the opportunity to experience a region of the world that so few others have or ever will.”

He said guests on the 820-foot (250-meter), 13-deck vessel can enjoy a slew of activities, including helicopter flights over glaciers as well as polar bear and other wildlife sightings. Passengers also have at their disposal on board a fitness center, a spa, swimming pools, restaurants and luxury shops.

But not everyone is hailing the high-profile voyage, with critics lashing out at Crystal Cruises and accusing the company of capitalizing on the destruction of the planet.

An Abomination

An article in the online current affairs magazine Slate offered a scathing review, describing the cruise as yet another example of a consumption-driven society that will stop at nothing.

“It is a historic voyage, one that marks the opening of one of Earth’s last frontiers,” author Will Oremus wrote.

“It is also an abomination – a massive, diesel burning, waste-dumping, ice-destroying, golf-ball-smacking middle finger to what remains of the planet.”

Elena Agarkova, senior program officer for the World Wildlife Fund, acknowledged that Crystal Cruises had taken measures to offset the environmental impact of the Serenity’s voyage, including not using heavy fuel oil and discharging waste water at least 12 nautical miles from shore.

But she said there were still concerns about safety and protecting wildlife as well as the region’s diverse indigenous communities.

“This voyage is symbolic of the rapid changes happening in the Arctic,” Agarkova told AFP.

“Today, we do not have the right rules in place needed to reduce risks to wildlife and people, nor the capacity needed to respond to accidents.”

She said that as climate change accelerates and Arctic shipping and leisure travel grows, governments individually and collectively must match that pace in managing the region.

“Cruise ships of the size of the Crystal Serenity are essentially huge cities,” she noted. “They are going to have some 1,700 passengers, including crew, on board and they are going to be discharging thousands of gallons of sewage and graywater as they sail through the Arctic waters.”

Agarkova said although the waste will be dumped away from shore, it will still be going into the Arctic ecosystem on a daily basis.

“And of course the more ships that we have, the more impact and the more waste will be in these right now relatively pristine areas,” she said.

“I find it ironic that one of the biggest selling points of these voyages is to see Arctic wildlife and to see the last frontier. “And the more people show up to see the last frontier, (the more) the last frontier it will be.”

Silversea Cruise Sydney

Best and Worst Days to Book Cruises: Report

Looking to book that holiday on the high seas you’ve been itching for? If so, the number-crunchers and bean-counters at a pricewatching cruise website found that travelers can find the best deals if they book on a Thursday.

After analyzing more than 600,000 price reductions over the last year, editors at CruiseWatch.com found that consumers can save up to 17 percent on their cruise if they book on a Thursday – around twice as much as on the slowest day of the week, Sunday.

But if Thursday is the best day of the week to book a cruise, holidaymakers are advised to steer clear of Wednesdays: 34 percent more price hikes happen on a Wednesday than any other day of the week, says CruiseWatch.com.

Weekends were also found to be quiet, with little movement – be it price hikes or dips – on Saturdays and Sundays.

“When a sailing (sic) is not sold out, most cruise lines will discount the cabins rather than sailing empty,” said co-founder Britta Bernhard in a statement.

“These price drops can make for some incredible deals. But you need to find them and book quickly.”

Like air travel, a general rule of thumb for finding a good deal on a cruise is to book as early as possible.

As Cruisecritic.com points out, booking early means having the best selection of staterooms and deals to choose from.

In order to fill up cabins fast, it’s become increasingly popular for cruise lines to launch early-bird specials rather than post last-minute deals.

Overall, experts advise booking a cruise a year to 18 months in advance and no later than six months out.

It’s the latest piece of travel advice that aims to help travelers find the best deals through smart booking strategies.

While Tuesday had long been considered the best day of the week to book a flight, Expedia debunked that theory in their latest travel outlook report prepared jointly with the Airlines Corporation (ARC).

After mining through reams of air travel data over the last two years, the report for 2016 concluded that the odds of scoring a good deal run highest when booking on the weekend.

Harmony of the Seas Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean Orders 3 Cruise Ships for $2.8b

The world’s second largest cruise firm, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, and shipbuilder STX inked a $2.8 billion deal for three vessels, set for delivery in 2021 and 2022. The letter of intent was signed with the French arm of STX, and comes less than two weeks after they handed over the world’s biggest cruise ship, the 120,000-tonne Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas, to Royal Caribbean.

“This is great news. It is for us the realisation of the customer’s confidence even though we have just handed over a ship that was not easy to build” said Laurent Castaing, head of STX France. He also noted that the creation of the one new Oasis class and two Edge class vessels will add up to about “2.5 billion” euros and “22-23 million work hours”. That makes the total number of orders on their plate since the beginning of the year go to nine – with the rest of the orders coming from Swiss-Italian shipowner MSC.

With such a backlog, Castaing added that their order book is “very full until 2023 and full until 2026”. This means that some of the work is likely to be outsourced to other yards in Europe due to a lack of space and to help ease the workload.

Genting Dream Dream Cruises

Genting Hong Kong Launches Dream Cruises

“International in spirit, but Asian at heart” – that’s what Genting Hong Kong’s latest initiative, Dream Cruises, promises its passengers. And the first ever Asian-luxury cruise line keeps true to its word, starting with its exterior. The hull of the massive 335 meter Genting Dream is adorned by an art piece by Chinese pop-artist Jacky Tsai. Titled “Voyage of a Lover’s Dream”, the ethereal image is that of a journey of love between a mermaid and an astronaut – a metaphor for the boundless elements of water and space.

Dream Suite 2

Inside, the heart and soul of the ship is centered on Asian heritage and lifestyle. The 2,000-strong crew on deck accommodate up to 3,400 guests, leading the crew-to-guest ratio in Asia-based cruising with stellar Asian hospitality. The room options are more than impressive – more than 70 percent of cabins feature balconies, and the 100 connecting rooms make the journey more enjoyable for large groups and families. For a little decadence, the ‘Dream Mansion’ is a two-floor suite that comes with special guest privileges, European-style butler service and your very own grand piano.


Within Genting Dream lie 35 restaurants and bar concepts, each capturing the flavors of Asia and the world. A 610-meter wraparound promenade allows for sea-side dining and an unadulterated view of the ocean during sunset.

Onboard, the sheer number of entertainment options will ensure no one has time to get bored. The pool features six exhilarating water slides, alongside a rock-climbing wall, while there are dedicated play rooms for toddlers. The health-conscious will enjoy the full complement of health and well-being facilities, including yoga classes and spas. Millennials (especially Singapore ones) will be thrilled to find a familiar name onboard – the iconic Zouk will recreate the world-class clubbing experience that it is known for on high seas. A unique ‘retail-tainment’ concept will also be introduced, providing highly personalized shopping experiences such as trunk shows, personal shoppers and in-cabin services throughout the journey.

5 Water Slides

The Dream Cruise is slated to have her maiden cruise from her homeport in Guangzhou (Nansha Port), China on November 13, 2016, and will offer 2, 5 and 7-night Vietnam destination experiences.

From November 13, 2016 to January 1, 2017, the five-night cruise will provide guests an opportunity to take in the panoramic views of Vietnam’s Da Nang and Ha Long Bay; from January 1 to March 31, 2017, revel in the vibrancy of Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City during the five-night cruise. Both itineraries will have an option of a two-night weekend cruise to Hong Kong.

Zouk Beach

“We are delighted to introduce and launch Genting Dream in Singapore, featuring exciting and highly-acclaimed Asian destinations as repositioning cruise ports-of-call including India, Singapore, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong,” said Thatcher Brown, President, Dream Cruises. “Dream Cruises aims to be a pacesetter in the cruise industry in the region. With the finest Asian and international experiences, Dream Cruises aims to redefine vacation travel with a transformational journey at sea.”

Visit DreamCruiseLine.com for more information or call 6808 2288.

US Cruise Liner Sets Sail for China

China’s population of 1.3 billion seems to hold great promise for the US-based cruise liner Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCL), who announced Tuesday they were to venture into China next year with a ship tailor-made for the market there. The Norwegian Joy plans to go into service in March 2017, where it will be based at Shanghai and Tianjin ports, and provide services geared towards Chinese tastes like food options, casinos, mahjong rooms, as well as duty free shopping. The 20-deck liner will have a capacity of 3,900 passengers and joins 12 other liners that have homeports in China, nine of them foreign-owned

The country’s burgeoning middle class spells a large potential for rising demand, noted Steve Odell, NCL senior vice president and managing director for the Asia Pacific. Data from the Cruise Lines International Association reported that China accounted for about 50 percent of the cruise trips within Asia that same year. Cruise operators are eager to grab a slice of the Chinese market, which could grow to nearly $10 billion in cruise package sales by 2018 from around $6.8 billion in 2013.

Odell has plans running already, with an office open in Singapore for the Southeast Asian market. “If you think of things on the macro scale, there’s a lot of confidence that (ships) going to China (are) going to get filled up. What will happen probably is that there’ll be a lot more pressure on price than before, but that is normal supply and demand economics,” he said. Further data showed that about 2.2 million, or 10 percent, of the 23 million passengers who made cruise trips worldwide in 2014 came from Asia, with this figure only set to rise.

Odell notes that they’re “still in the… infancy of developing a cruise market in China”. Hopefully, this development will lead in to further and more interesting developments for the Asian industry.

The Naga Pelangi schooner returns to The Datai Langkawi

State-of-the-art yachts are now a dime a dozen in the world of luxury travel but what about cruising luxuriously aboard a private traditional Malay sailing ship?

In December, luxury Malaysian resort The Datai Langkawi is bringing back its exclusive Naga Pelangi charter for its guests to explore Langkawi’s shimmering seas and captivating coastline.

Shaped like a traditional Malay junk schooner from the 1300s, the Naga Pelangi is a yacht adorned with traditional pinas-design but finished to modern cruiser standards.

Naga Pelangi - The Datai Langkawi

This 97-foot traditional wooden schooner-replica is now available for private hire in packages including 4-hour discovery cruises to 10-hour private charters, which allows you to enjoy the best of Langkawi waters in a day.

For shorter, yet memorable experiences, the Sunset Cocktail Cruise (3 hour course) will have you in bliss with delectable cocktails and champagnes, while overlooking the last radiant embers of light casting a blaze of colors over Teluk Datai.

cruise ship Fantasy New Orleans

Over 22 Million Cruise Passengers in 2014

cruise ship Fantasy New Orleans

Global demand for cruising has increased 68 percent over the past decade, driven by countries like the US, Germany, the UK and China, one of the fastest growing markets.

A wide-sweeping report published by Cruise Lines International Association shows that interest in sailing the high seas has been growing steadily over the years: In 2014, 22 million holidaymakers chose to spend their vacations on cruise ships, compared to 13 million in 2004.

Last year also marked a few records in the industry, with 11 million passengers boarding from US ports to set a new high.

In dollar signs, that translates to a record $21 billion USD pumped into the US industry alone, which also represents a new peak in the US for cruise expenditures, says the CLIA.

While Florida remains the center of the American cruise industry, accounting for 62 percent of all US embarkations, the report points out that California is catching up, driven primarily by shorter, three and four-day cruise offerings which are growing increasingly popular.

And though the American market remains the largest cruising by a huge margin – 11.2 million US cruisers in 2014, compared to 1.77 million cruisers from Germany- the report highlights that the cruise tourism industry in Asia is growing at double-digit rates.

Between 2013 and 2015, the volume of cruises and voyages throughout the regoin increased 11 percent and passenger capacity grew 20 percent.

The biggest driver, is, not surprisingly, China, accounting for nearly half of the regional passenger volume in 2014.

Here were the biggest cruise markets in the world in 2014:

1. US: 11.2 million
2. Germany: 1.77 million
3. United Kingdom: 1.61 million
4. Australia: 1 million
5. Italy: 840,000
6. Canada: 800,000
7. China: 700,00
8. France: 590,000
9. Spain: 450,000
10. Norway: 180,000

Costa Cruises new LNG ships

Two 6600 Passenger Ships Will Be Built For Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises is set to take Royal Caribbean’s crown as the operator of the world’s largest cruise ship in passenger capacity when it receives the first of its two new vessels in 2019.

Costa Cruises new LNG ships

The newest ocean liner from Costa Cruises will be able to host the population of a small town and, when complete, will nab the title of largest guest capacity ship, capable of ferrying 6,600 passengers.

To be delivered in 2019 and 2020, the two “next-generation” ships are being built in a shipyard in Finland.

In addition to boasting the record for largest guest capacity, the ships also become the first in the cruise industry to be powered by what’s being billed as the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

Dual-powered hybrid engines will be used to power the ship in-port and out on the open sea. Overall, the specs are impressive: 180,000 gross tonnage, with more than 2,600 passenger cabins.

Currently, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas is touted as the world’s largest cruise ship with a mass of 227,000 tonnes; it will measure 1188 feet (362.15 metres) from bow to stern.

That ship is is currently under construction and is expected to make its maiden voyage in May 2016. It will have a capacity of 6,360 passengers.

Crystal Dreamliner

Crystal Cruises May Change Cruising As We Know It

Crystal Dreamliner

 has announced an unprecedented expansion plan that includes the launch of luxury ocean, yacht, river cruises and air travel.

In fact, when you factor in ports of call, it could be said that the luxury cruise liner will cover all the main bases — travel by land, air, and sea — when it launches Crystal Luxury Air.

Set to take off in 2017, the 787 Dreamliner will be reconfigured to seat 60 travelers instead of 300, who will fly on fully reclining business seats for around-the-world trips.

Twenty-eight-day itineraries will include stops to about a dozen destinations “…to which major airlines do not offer nonstop service,” as well as stays at luxury hotels, restaurants and world-class entertainment.

The concept is not far off from a Four Seasons-branded program that launched earlier this year, offering all-inclusive, around-the-world trips aboard private luxury jets.

 Crystal Esprit

Meanwhile, late this year the company will also launch Crystal Esprit, a 62-guest, 3,000-tonnage vessel designed to offer a “boutique” ambiance, the first of the company’s Yacht Cruises program that will set sail in the Seychelles Islands, Dubai and Adriatic Coast.


Activities aboard the yacht cruises include two-passenger submarines, zodiacs, water skis, wakeboards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing, scuba and snorkel equipment.

Crystal Esprit Bahamas

After making its foray into air travel, and trying to carve a new niche market in boutique yacht cruises, Crystal will also raise anchor on three newly commissioned ships in 2018, configured to offer a luxurious, at-sea experience that takes cruising up a notch.

That means increasing the average space ratio from 60 tons per person on a typical luxury cruise ship to 100 tons of space.

Crystal Exclusive Class ship and Residences

The new Crystal Exclusive Class will also feature Crystal Residences, 48 homes built on the top deck that will offer affluent cruisers their own little community, with a private restaurant, reception and facilities.

And at 600 to 4,000 square feet, (56 to 372 square meters), the residences are billed as the largest on the high seas.

Carnival Vista

Carnival gets US approval for cruises to Cuba

Carnival Vista

Carnival Corporation, the world’s biggest travel and leisure firm, plans to launch cruises to Cuba in May, following the historic thaw between the communist nation and the United States.


The US Treasury Department and Commerce Department granted the company approval for the plans, Carnival announced Tuesday, though it has yet to receive Cuban authorization.

The cruises will leave from Miami, and will be operated by the company’s new brand called “fathom,” which offers positive “social impact” travel experiences to developing nations.

It will mark the first cruises from the US to Cuba since the two countries severed ties in 1961.

Under the new initiative, some 37,000 travelers a year will either volunteer or be immersed in educational and cultural exchanges in local communities, according to Carnival.

The Cuban trips will be full-week sailings, and will take place in addition to similar voyages to the Dominican Republic that will start in April 2016.

The announcement comes amid a rapprochement between Cuban and the United States that began in December after half a century of enmity between the Cold War foes.

the two countries announced, just days ago, they were re-establishing ties and reopening their respective embassies in each other’s country.

Richard Branson Carlos Gimene

Virgin Cruises to launch in Miami in 2020

Richard Branson Carlos Gimene

Virgin Cruises will launch its first luxury liner in 2020 from Miami, British tycoon Richard Branson announced Tuesday, placing his bets on medium size “boutique” ships.

True to his flamboyant style, Branson arrived amid fireworks at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, descending from a helicopter dressed in a captain’s uniform and short pants.

“Virgin Cruises plans to make some waves with an original and intimate experience,” he said at a news conference.

He promised “a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike.”

A joint venture with Bain Capital, the cruise line will be the latest addition to the 62-year-old Branson’s Virgin Group, which includes an airline, railroad, bank and cable operator among its more than 400 holdings.

The amount invested in Virgin Cruises was not disclosed.

Branson said he has ordered the line’s first three ships from Italy’s Fincantieri, which will deliver them in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

“We made the decision to sail against the current trend of building these big megaships,” Virgin Cruises president and CEO Tom McAlpin said. “We are going to be constructing smaller, more boutique vessels.”

“We have deliberately chosen a size of ship that allows us to offer an excellent variety of experiences but in a more intimate environment.”

He said the ships will weigh about 110,000 tonnes each, and have capacity to carry some 2,800 passengers and a crew of 1,150.

“These are highly technological machines,” said Vincenzo Petrone, the president of Fincantieri. “The level of the entertainment … envisioned is extremely complex with technological challenges. But we are sure we can together develop a very special type of platform.”

Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller Restaurant To Debut on Seabourn Cruises

Thomas Keller

Triple Michelin-starred Thomas Keller has become the latest master chef to take his star power and cuisine to the high seas.

In a collaboration with luxury cruise liner Seabourn, the chef behind The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon in the US will develop a new signature restaurant brand aboard the Seabourn Quest next spring, which will then be expanded to the rest of the fleet.


The Seabourn Quest

Guests aboard the Seabourn Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest (pictured above) will also be able to sample Keller’s award-winning French and American haute cuisine during their cruise itineraries this fall.

Thomas Keller is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the Michelin guide and the first American male chef to be designated with the Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor.

MSC Cruises MSC Seaside

New MSC ship named MSC Seaside

New details have been released on the MSC Seaside set to debut in November 2017 and sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

Designed for warm weather, the ship’s biggest selling point will be the aqua park that will span two decks and include five water attractions including Slideboarding, a two-storey, 367-foot (about 111 meters) slide that challenges riders to match the colors of the flashing strobe lights projected inside the tube with corresponding buttons on the raft.

MSC Cruises MSC Seaside

With a capacity of 4,140 guests, the Seaside will be the largest cruise vessel built by Italian shipmaker Fincantieri.

On the Duelling High-Speed Aquatubes, guests race against other riders through 525 feet (about 160 meters) of twists, turns and drops on slides that extend over the side of the ship for a dizzying views of the sea below.

MSC Seaside aqua park

And the Adventure Trail is built as a ropes course, where guests climb, crawl and slide through the trail while trying to dodge the fire of water spray cannons from their friends and family below.

The Mariner of the Seas

Asian Cruising Sees Double Digit Growth

The Mariner of the Seas

The number of Chinese passengers who stepped aboard a cruise ship grew an impressive 79 percent per year between 2012 and 2014, signaling the growing popularity of cruising in the region.

Last year, 697,000 passengers from mainland China chose to spend their holidays aboard a cruise ship, according to a new report from the Cruise Lines International Association

In total, cruise lines hosted nearly 1.4 million Asian vacationers in 2014, representing a 34 percent compound annual growth rate since 2012.

To meet the growing demand, passenger capacity in the region is expected to reach 2.2 million in 2015, tying for fourth place with Australasia for passenger capacity deployment.

The report also outlines a few key differences in the Asian cruising market compared to the Western market.

Given their limited vacation entitlements, for instance, shorter sailings are preferred among Asian consumers.

In 2014, the most popular package chosen by 48 percent of travelers were four to six-day cruises, followed by two to three-night sailings (38 percent). Meanwhile, only 12 percent opted for seven to 13-night cruises.

This year, 52 cruise ships will operate around Asia, with 1,065 sailings scheduled for 2015, including one of the most talked-about liners out on sea today, the Quantum of the Seas.

The game-changing vessel, that comes complete with a bumper car ring, skydiving chamber and 90-meter high observation capsule, will make Shanghai its home port this year.

And in 2013, Hong Kong opened a $1.1 billion cruise terminal at the former site of an airport, in a bid to become Asia’s cruising hub.

The report also reveals that the majority of cruisers stay within Asia (91 percent), while the remaining nine percent flew to cruise destinations like Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean.

The busiest port calls planned for 2015 are Japan, followed by Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.