Tuesday 16 April 2013

White Bay right way on first day
P&O passengers have praised Sydney’s new cruise terminal, which processed its first ship yesterday.
After two years of concerns and criticism, Australia’s newest cruise facility has gained overwhelming support from the first people to trial the new White Bay terminal. A spokesperson from Sydney Ports Corporation told Cruise Weekly that “very positive feedback” had been unanimous among the passengers disembarking Pacific Pearl yesterday. But the most convincing responses were the posts on P&O Australia’s Facebook page, generally a reliable yardstick for consumers’ true feelings. “Got off the ship this morning. All was great including the new drop-off point. The city was at its finest,” said Suzanne R, of Young NSW. “Nice facility, easy exit,” said Louise C. The kind words continued all day, but were mixed with negative comments from observers who slammed the inconvenience, public transport options, parking facilities and taxis costs from the airport or train stations. Carnival Australia, which operates the two cruise lines to most regularly use White Bay (P&O and Princess Cruises), also reassured travellers that it would work hard to ensure the transition from Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, was “as smooth as possible”. In a statement, the company made sure to call the facility “Sydney Ports Corporation’s new White Bay Cruise Terminal”. When the NSW Government approved the terminal in 2011, Carnival Australia expressed concern about its “sub-optimal” location, lack of facilities and local traffic congestion. But this week P&O’s senior vice president Tammy Marshall reconfirmed the company’s promise to play nice. “Once the decision was made to relocate cruise ship operations to White Bay, we pledged to work cooperatively with Sydney Ports Corporation to make the new terminal a success,” Marshall said. The new terminal will officially open on Friday (19 April), with yesterday’s event described as a “trial” by Sydney Ports. While other cruise ships have docked at White Bay in the past, when Sydney’s other berths were occupied, Monday was the first time that passengers were “processed” at the end of a cruise, he said. P&O’s Pacific Jewel is the next ship scheduled to arrive at White Bay to coincide with the VIP opening celebrations on Friday.

Christmas in Jun on the Dawn
PRINCESS Cruises’ Dawn Princess will make its first stop at Flying Fish Cove on Christmas Island as part of a 16-night roundtrip cruise departing from Fremantle on 10 Jun. Passengers will have a full day to explore the island around the scenic cliffs and beaches.

Know your way with Celebrity
COMPREHENSIVE destination guides detailing the highlights and suggested things to see at 150 ports visited by the line will be produced by Celebrity Cruises. The guides are being put together by Celebrity Cruises in conjunction with American Express Publishing and will feature content provided by a number of contributors from American Express travel magazines. In addition, content will appear on Celebrity’s website, onboard and in agent brochures.

HAL not showing age at 140
SAVINGS described by the company as “historic” will be on offer as part of birthday celebrations for Holland America Line, with the line turning 140 years old this week. Customers however are the ones receiving the presents, able to enjoy discounted cruises departing this year, as well as savings on 2014 Exotic Voyages in the Northern winter/spring. Offers include a $140 onboard credit per stateroom to use on food, drinks or shore excursions, valid on selected sailings or longer “Collectors Voyages” as well as reduced fares for third and fourth guests in the same cabin. MEANWHILE, Holland America Line has released details of its 2014 Grand World Voyage, in which the MS Amsterdam will also sail along the West Coast of Africa. More information on Holland America’s Grand World Voyage on page 3 of today’s CW.




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Tuesday 16 April 2013

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Sapphire to be based in Singapore
Princess Cruises will tweak its services for Asian tastes in the largest ever deployment by a premium cruise line in southeast Asia.
Riding the wave of growth in Asian cruising, Princess Cruises has announced a four-month season in Singapore in 2014-15 (CW 11 Apr). The 116,000-tonne, 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess will undertake 15 roundtrip departures, ranging from three to 11 nights, calling at seven countries and 16 ports. Designed for the broad Asia holiday market, the extended program offers more destinations from Singapore than on any other cruise line, including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Bali. “Off-the-beaten path resort destinations” include Penang, Koh Samui and Langkawi. Alan Buckelew, the line’s president and CEO, said the program was “custom designed” to attract local first-time cruisers. “Our new features superior itineraries specifically designed for the regional market which we believe will prove extremely popular and will help to introduce cruise holidays to a growing number of Southeast Asia travellers”. The experience onboard Sapphire Princess will be “substantially the same” as the Princess product offered around the world, the company added. However, “some changes & enhancements” will be made to appeal to the local market including more multi-lingual crew members and adjustments to the dining room menu, enrichment programs, shopping selection and spa treatments. Approximately 40,000 passengers are expected to be carried during the first season of cruising from Singapore, with most coming from Asia, Australia, North America & the UK. Highlights of the new program include two seven-night Vietnam & Thailand departures on 30 January and 15 February 2015; and a 10-night Indonesia sailing with an overnight stay in Bali (Benoa). The longest voyage, an 11-night Southeast Asia cruise, calls at Bandar Seri Begawan (Muara), Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Sihanoukville, Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and Koh Samui, with fares starting at $1299 per person twin-share. The new cruises are priced from $499 for a three-night cruise through the Strait of Malacca on 23 January 2015 and on sale now. For details, contact a licensed travel agent, call 13 24 88 or visit

Avalon Artistry II makes debut
THE first of two new Suite Ships planned to make its debut for Avalon Waterways, namely the Avalon Artistry II, has been officially unveiled and christened in Europe. Official naming and christening duties were carried out on the 64-cabin vessel by Filipino travel industry identity Marilen SandejasYaptangco in the Dutch town of Middelburg. “Avalon’s Suite Ships have been a huge success since the introduction of Avalon Panorama in 2011 & will soon represent more than half our overall fleet,” Avalon Waterways Australasia md Stewart Williams said, adding that Artistry II had been added to the fleet following the success of the Suite Ship concept. The company’s second Suite Ship to launch this year - Avalon Expression - will make its debut in May, with a further three scheduled to be unveiled next year. Suite Ships offer two accommodation decks consisting entirely of suites with panoramic retracting windows that open out to turn the cabin into an open-air balcony.

Cruise Calendar
Cruise Weekly’s cruise calendar details upcoming port calls of passenger cruise ships at various destinations in Australia.
sydney Pacific Jewel Radiance of the Seas Carnival Spirit BRISBANE Pacific Dawn FREMANTLE Dawn Princess DARWIN Orion Fri 19 Apr Fri 19 Apr Sun 21 Apr Sat 20 Apr Tue 16 Apr Thu 18 Apr

Carnival ship health check fail
INSPECTORS from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention marked the Carnival Fascination with a fail mark in a surprise health inspection performed in Feb, it has emerged. According to USA Today, the 2,056-passenger vessel received 84 out of 100 for the tests, with anything below 86 considered a fail mark. Problems found included uncovered food preparation areas, dried food waste under kitchen counters and a number of flies found. A Carnival spokesman said the company’s average health mark for the last five years had been 97.2 out of 100, and that following the result, “corrective action was taken immediately, with several issues being resolved during the inspection and all issues resolved within 24 hours of the inspection”.

What’s cooking on Seabourn
A RANGE of new dining and culinary options have been added in the main restaurants of all Seabourn ships, the company has announced. Vegetarian options, daily cheese selections and menu items reflecting the region the ship is travelling in have been introduced, as well as an expansion of every course in a sit-down meal, including appetisers and desserts. Popular signature dishes have been retained, with many menu items also now including enhanced ingredients and many internationally sourced product into meals.

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Tuesday 16 April 2013

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Florida gets another Princess
A BOOMING cruise industry in the Caribbean has prompted Princess Cruises to announce the deployment of its Caribbean Princess vessel to operate a season of sailings during the 2014 Northern summer. It marks the first time in four years that Princess Cruises has operated a vessel in the Caribbean from May to September. Based from Fort Lauderdale, the 3,600 pax Caribbean Princess will operate a series of three, four, five and seven night voyages covering the eastern and western Caribbean. Caribbean Princess will relocate from the Mediterranean for the season.

Lindblad to visit Haida Gwaii
LINDBLAD Expeditions, in partnership with National Geographic will operate two 14-night voyages visiting Haida Gwaii, otherwise known as the Queen Charlotte Islands off the western coast of Canada on 03 May & 06 Sept, 2014. The voyage to the islands, which are also known as the “Canadian Galapagos,” marks the first time in two decades a liner carrying more than 22 pax has visited the island chain, known for its rich biodiversity and rich species of plant and animal life found nowhere else. Rates for the voyage start from $9,990pp twin share, with the voyage visiting ancestral Haida villages, national parks & heritage sites.

Five continents for world sail
HOLLAND America Line’s 2014 Grand World Voyage will visit 38 ports across five continents as part of a 113-day epic global circumnavigation, the company has revealed. Utilising the MS Amsterdam, passengers aboard the voyage will have the opportunity to spend a full night in Sydney, before the ship travels up Australia’s eastern coast, calling in at Brisbane and Yorkeys Knob, near Cairns. After departing from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, other voyage highlights will include visits to Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Tahiti and two ports in Papua New Guinea. Amsterdam will also visit Asia before heading south and around the tip of South Africa, before heading up Africa’s western coast, and then travelling to the Caribbean prior to ending the voyage back in Fort Lauderdale. Cabins for the entire voyage, departing 04 Jan 2014, start from $19,999 per person, with individual segments also available.

Port Review: Porto Venere - Italy
By Cruise Sales Manager, Roger Condon
THE Mediterranean delivers an extravaganza of cruising opportunities for any avid cruise enthusiast, and I would suggest that for those who still think cruising is not for them, the Mediterranean is a great place to test your sea legs, as most cruises in this area have you enjoying a fascinating and dynamic port of call every single day with minimal time at sea. By day, every morning offers new adventures ashore, and by night your floating hotel/resort/luxury home offers all that you could ever need. There are many big, historically powerful cities lying on the Mediterranean Sea, but for many travellers it’s the smaller, perfect walking towns that appeal. Porto Venere is just one of these smaller towns on the stunning Ligurian coast & gateway to the famous Cinque Terre (Five Villages). Your ship anchors just off shore and tenders quickly get you to town where you’ll be right in amongst it all. The town sits on a promontory with a commanding view across the Gulf of Poets, meaning there’s a plethora of pleasant cafes and restaurants to watch the world go by. Try some of the area’s famous Pesto...bellissimo! Beyond the waterfront, where you can swim with the local Italians, I suggest a stroll into the rabbit-warren of cobbled streets of the town. Inside, you’ll immediately sense that the outer buildings were built not only to shelter people, but also as defensive walls. This little town is not short on history, dating back to Roman times. Your ship will most likely offer a tour to the Cinque Terre, five villages clinging effortlessly to steep cliffs leading to the sea. This is a must do tour for most cruise travellers, but if you’re an independent soul, then it’s also easy to get there on your own. Take the local bus from Porto Venere to La Spezia, where a short walk will bring you to the railway station. Buy a day ticket allowing you to take the train to all five villages of the Cinque Terre and return. Or there are local boats directly from Porto Venere to the Cinque Terre. You should also walk between some of the villages (another must do). There’s loads of shopping and some incredible restaurants.

Big Quantum reveal tomorrow
Royal Caribbean is talking up tomorrow’s unveiling of the new Quantum of the Seas, hosted by the line’s managers and the ship’s godmother, actress Kristin Chenoweth. A live streaming of the event will start at 11.30pm (AEST) on the line’s Royal Connect home page: The public can also join in the conversation via Twitter on hashtag #QuantumoftheSeas.

Cruisers robbed in Caribbean
Celebrity Cruises says it is “monitoring the safety situation” in the Caribbean island of St Lucia after a busload of Celebrity Eclipse passengers were robbed by armed gunmen. The 55 passengers and two crew were on a shore excursion heading to a local attraction, with the gunmen making off with cash and jewellery, but nobody was hurt.

Roger’s Quick Tips
Best Months: May - September Don’t Miss: The Cinque Terre, Ligurian Trofie al Pesto Tour or Not: On your own, but a little Italian helps Sightseeing: Simply stroll Porto Venere; Cinque Terre Food: Trofie with pesto or walnut sauce; seafood Language: Italian Currency: Euro Shopping: Local produce = wine, olive oil, pesto Cash or Card: Credit Card and Euro

Costa pays fines for Concordia
ITALIAN prosecutors say they are “satisfied” with a US$1.3m settlement to avoid potential criminal negligence charges for Costa Crociere relating to the Costa Concordia disaster. Individual lawsuits filed by passengers remain unresolved however, as well as accusations of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck levied against Captain Francesco Schettino. The Concordia is in the process of being refloated from its year-long submersion off the coast of Tuscany in Italy after running aground last year, resulting in 32 passengers’ deaths.

Porto Venere

By Roger Condon, cruise sales manager, Discover the World Marketing - with 15 years at sea.

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Tuesday 16 April 2013

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Scenic’s seventh Space-ship sparkles
Scenic Tours this week debuted Scenic Jewel on a voyage between Mainz and Amsterdam, and Cruise Weekly is on-board experiencing the stunning vessel.
Australian-owned Scenic Tours now has seven “Space-Ships” in its European fleet, and Scenic Jewel continues the tradition of excellence and innovation which are a hallmark of the brand. The addition of Jewel is in response to ongoing strong demand for Scenic’s allinclusive product and special features, and the ship certainly doesn’t disappoint. Jewel features Scenic’s unique ‘Sun-Lounge’ facility - a remotely activated, hydraulically sealed glass window fitted to the ship’s private balcony suites which allows cruisers to experience the river (pictured right) without inclement weather spoiling the moment. The all-inclusive product offers the finest in dining, with the on-board Crystal Dining Room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s also the River Cafe adjacent to the lounge area, offering all-day dining, or for a five star culinary experience there’s the Portobello restaurant which must be prebooked due to limited capacity. Passengers can enjoy an open bar, a wellstocked in-room complimentary mini bar (left) and butler service - as well as all tipping and gratuities. With all the fabulous food on offer, a visit to the on-board gym may be needed - not a problem, as it’s open 24 hours a day. The ship is tastefully decorated, with the Jewel lounge offering a range of comfy seats and sofas as well as complimentary tea and coffee available 24/7. It’s easy to stay in touch with family and friends - rooms have individual Macintosh computers with free internet on-board. Almost all of the Scenic European fleet was refitted with the ‘Sun-Lounge’ concept over the winter break so the product is consistent. Scenic’s relentless growth is continuing, with another ship planned for 2014 - the 128-passenger Scenic Gem which is being built to sail on France’s Seine River. Scenic Tours Europe managing director, Lucas Sandmeier, told CW there will probably be even more ships in 2015, with possibly a second ship to be moved to France and another newbuild for the central European route.

when you first see Scenic Tours’ new Scenic Jewel, a question arises - the stunning ship looks just a little too big to get under the many bridges across the rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest. There are actually more than 120 bridges on the popular route, many of which have a clearance of just 6 metres. Depending on the level of the river, this can become an issue for modern ships like Jewel because sometimes there will be only a few centimetres between the deck and the overhead bridge. To get around this, the Scenic ships have moveable or collapsible structures on the sun deck (pictured below).

A unique pick-me-up!
Rudesheim - one of Scenic’s ports of call in the heart of the Rheingau region - is famous for its Asbach brandy. One unique way to try it is in a ‘Rudesheimer Coffee’ – described as “the epitome of sophisticated hospitality”. This coffee consists of 3 cubes of sugar in an original ‘Rudesheimer Coffee’ cup, with 40ml of Asbach poured over it. This is then set alight, stirred and allowed to burn for 1 minute. Hot coffee is then poured in, followed by a generous scoop of cream that has been sweetened with vanilla sugar on top. You then “drink the hot delight through the cool cream”. You will definitely need to use Scenic’s onboard gym after this!

Sun canopies have the ability to fold down, along with the radar mast - but the most impressive capability is the wheelhouse. When a low bridge approaches, the entire “Commander Bridge” (below) actually lowers into the ship.

The captain is able to remain in the wheelhouse and see what’s going on by peeking up through a hatch in the roof (right).

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Tuesday 16 April 2013

Go West Africa
by: Roderick Eime
From G Adventures inaugural West Africa voyage on MS Expedition. Once upon a time the post-Antarctic reposition was a mad dash up the Atlantic with maybe a stop at Tristan de Cunha, Ascension or Cape Verde. Nowadays, with the pressure on adventure cruise companies to find new territories for their growing legions of “beenthere-done-that” repeat clients, coupled with the slowly opening doors of West African nations, this journey is becoming a must-do in its own right. In CW on 24 Jan 2012, we examined the various operators currently executing or planning itineraries along the African coast from Cape Town as far as Morocco. Previously unheard of ports and countries are now appearing on sailing schedules. Angola, Congo, Ghana and Senegal are just a few of those once forbidden lands now welcoming visitors. CW is fortunate to be travelling with G Adventures [www.] as their vessel, the MS Expedition, works its way from stunning Cape Town, all the way to Dakar over three weeks. “This is a true expedition,” says Lyn Mair, leader of the team of highly experienced staff who have spent the last two years painstakingly assembling the itinerary, “even though we believe we've crossed every tee, Africa is certain to throw up some surp rises.” Lyn should know. She's been leading tours around Africa’s islands for decades. Reaching the midway point of our journey, we've already moved north from the relative civilisation of Cape Town, through the desolate wastes of Namibia, the recovering nation of Angola and today, the suspicious and brooding former French territory of Congo, where Africa did deal us a few wild cards. The sturdy, ice-strengthened, 130 passenger MS Expedition is certainly more at home in polar waters, but shows no reluctance operating in the warmer climes of equatorial Africa. Okay, the air conditioning is working overtime and the Zodiacs are still piled on deck, but the 40 year old girl hasn't missed a beat, cruising effortlessly up to her top speed of 14 knots. I'm going to go on record and predict this route, with its myriad variations, will dominate the must-do lists of veteran expedition cruisers for the next few years. This sold out voyage follows the pattern of other operators like Hapag-Lloyd, Lindblad National Geographic and Zegrahm who all report strong demand from clients already bored with the 'ho-hum' Antarctic Peninsula and Svalbard. Impressions? So far it's been a remarkable voyage with plenty to keep restless minds occupied both at sea and on land. The shore excursions have included cultural experiences, historical sites and a taste of natural beauty or, in the case of the bizarre Welwitschia plant of Namibia, natural ugliness. It should be said this is not a voyage for all tastes. It's unpredictable, uses many untested land agents and operators, a bit expensive and chock full of surprises. If you are comfortable cruising with a dash of the unknown and can roll with whatever falls in your lap, then it might be just your cruise. A fan of midnight buffets, ballroom dancing and Las Vegas shows? Maybe not so much for you. That said, the likes of Silversea and Azamara are not unfamiliar with these waters either. Follow Rod's progress at

Singers in the dunes, Namibia

Sailing away from Cape Town

Winemaker, David van Neikerk, keeping spirits up

Cruise Weekly is Australia’s favourite online cruising publication. In production since 2007, Cruise Weekly is published each Tuesday, with a further travel industry update each Thursday. Cruise Weekly is free and is sent to subscribers via email as an Adobe Acrobat PDF document. Sign up for a free subscription at PO Box 1010, Epping, NSW 1710 Phone: 1300 799 220 Fax: 1300 799 221

Advertising and Marketing: Christie-Lee Lachance, Magda Herdzik and Lisa Martin Email: Business Manager: Jenny Piper Email: Part of the Travel Daily group of publications.

Publisher/Managing Editor: Bruce Piper Editor: Louise Goldsbury Production Editor: Matt Lennon Contributors: Roderick Eime and Chantel Housler Email:

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Cruise Weekly is a publication of Cruise Weekly Pty Ltd. All content fully protected by copyright. Please obtain written permission to reproduce any material. While every care has been taken in the preparation of Cruise Weekly no liability can be accepted for errors or omissions. Information is published in good faith to stimulate independent investigation of the matters canvassed. Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by Bruce Piper.

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