Monday, February 13, 2012

Holland America Line’s 2012 Mediterranean season

Holland America Line’s 2012 Mediterranean season to feature a grand voyage, guest chefs and maiden calls

Monday, 13 February 2012

Segments of the Grand Mediterranean & Black Sea Voyage Available

Holland America Line’s 2012 Mediterranean season features an extensive selection of itineraries ranging from seven to 42 days, as well as an exciting 62-day Grand Mediterranean and Black Sea Voyage aboard the intimate ms Prinsendam.

Six of the line’s other ships — ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam, ms Rotterdam, ms Maasdam and ms Ryndam — also will sail the region on 32 different itineraries that span the eastern and western Mediterranean. Celebrated guest chefs will enhance select cruises as part of the Culinary Arts Centre program, performing cooking demonstrations for guests in the ship’s state-of-the-art show kitchen, conducting tastings and participating in question-and-answer sessions.

“The Mediterranean has it all — from top-rated beaches and incredible architecture to historical landmarks and a long history,” said Richard Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs for Holland America Line. “Whether it’s a shorter cruise or a Grand Voyage, by offering one of the most extensive itinerary selections of any cruise line, we enable guests to take their dream cruise.”

Grand Mediterranean and Black Sea Voyage
A highlight of the Med season comes this spring when ms Prinsendam, the line’s smallest and most intimate ship -- just 835 guests, departs Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 12, 2012, on its roundtrip 62-day Grand Mediterranean and Black Sea Voyage. Visiting 32 ports in 14 countries, the itinerary includes maiden calls at Durrës, Albania’s second-largest city and one of Europe’s oldest cities; Saint Raphaél in the Côte d'Azur region of France, and Castellón de la Plana in the Costa del Azahar region of Spain.

Overnight stays in Seville, Spain; Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Istanbul, Turkey; Piraeus (Athens), Greece; Venice, Italy; Barcelona, Spain, and Lisbon, Portugal, provide guests with more time for exploring of some of the world’s most interesting destinations.

The Grand Voyage also offers grand experiences on board. Guests can relax and unwind during leisurely days at sea, taking advantage of the extra time to read a book, indulge in a massage at the Greenhouse Spa or watch a movie in the theatre. Sommelier and Wine Educator Charlie Arturaola will be on board from March 21 – April 3 as part of the Culinary Arts Centre program. Brian Archibald, executive sous chef of Camelback Inn, a JW Marriott Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, also will sail from April 18 – 30.

Evening activities shine on board as well with local cultural entertainment and special guest headliners, while festive gala balls and formal nights create memorable moments. Dining is elevated to a new level on each Grand Voyage, featuring local ingredients and regional cuisine from all corners of Europe.

For those with less time, 11 segments are available ranging from 16 to 41 days and start at AU$2,199 per person.

2012 Mediterranean Voyages
A highlight of the season is a 20-day Mediterranean Medley cruise departing July 21, sailing roundtrip from Dover, England, or Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on ms Ryndam. Guests can explore ports throughout Italy, Portugal, Spain and Monaco on this adventure.

Additional itineraries include three 12-day sailings on ms Nieuw Amsterdam that explore Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Montenegro and Croatia. Guests looking for a longer voyage can combine the two itineraries to create a 24-day Collectors’ Voyage.

A series of two 10-day itineraries on ms Noordam can be combined to form a 20-day Collectors’ Voyage, with calls at ports in Italy, Monaco, Spain, Tunisia, Croatia, Greece and Turkey.

The new 17-day Spanish Rhapsody sailing roundtrip Rotterdam onboard ms Rotterdam offers guests the opportunity to explore the best of what Spain has to offer in addition to ports in both Portugal and Italy.

Fares for a seven-day Mediterranean voyage start at just AU$849 per person, double occupancy.

Select Mediterranean cruises also feature a guest chef on board:

  • Ken Oringer, executive chef/co-owner of Kenneth Oringer and Clio restaurants in Boston, Massetusses, sails on ms Nieuw Amsterdam’s 12-day Mediterranean Empires cruise June 5.
  • Kevin Sbraga, executive chef and owner of Sbraga restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and US cable channel Bravo's “Top Chef” season seven winner, sails on ms Noordam July 17 in the Mediterranean.
  • Giuliano Hazan, author of “Cooking Italian With Giuliano” and International Association of Culinary Professionals Cooking Teacher of the Year, sailson ms Rotterdam’s 17-day Moorish Empires cruise Sept. 29.
  • Timon Balloo, executive chef of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Miami, Florida, sails on ms Noordam's 7-day Riviera Romance cruise Oct. 15.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A new Spirit emerges for Australia

Carnival Spirit has emerged
from her two week drydock
sporting seven million dollars
worth of upgrades, ahead of
her arrival in Sydney this year.
KEY upgrades to Spirit included a revamping
of her Serenity area, one of the largest childfree
adult retreats on the ship, which includes
an open-air deck with pool, heated spa,
hammoks, plush lounges and a cocktail bar
offering a special daily selection of drinks.
The drydock also included $450,000 in
upgrades to Spirit’s fitness centre with new
cardio and strength training equipment, as
well as a Jacuzzi under a giant skylight; and the
creation of the child-magnet Splash Zone,
which includes the Power Drencher, a massive
tipping bucket that fills up with hundreds of
litres of water, then tips and soaks all
underneath it.
New carpets were also laid through all public
areas and in cabins, plus Spirit was also treated
to a new coat of paint on her interior and
exterior, whilst cabins scored new flat-screen TVs.
Most notably, Spirit’s star attraction, the
world’s steepest and fastest waterslide at sea,
Green Thunder was also installed, and was
broken in on the vessel’s debut Hawaiian
cruise post-makeover.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sydney Festival of Cruising

Harbour Comes Alive with the ‘Sydney Festival of Cruising’ to Underline Cruising’s Economic Contribution

In a resounding confirmation of cruise season’s contribution as a major economic event, Sydney is set to host the month-long Festival of Cruising with a record 26 ships making an unprecedented 33 visits during February alone.

Five more ships will visit for the festival than in February last year – the previous busiest cruise ship month on record in Sydney – with each ship visit representing a special event in its own right.

So many cruise ships are visiting that several will moor mid-harbour before ferrying passengers ashore to enjoy the many attractions of the harbour city.

Highlights of the Festival of Cruising include the Valentine’s Day arrival of Cunard’s 151,400-tonne flagship, Queen Mary 2 and sister ship Queen Elizabeth’s visit on February 28 for an overnight stay.

Other festival high points include the arrival of the UK-based P&O Cruises ships Aurora, on February 17, and Oriana on February 23 for a special celebration of P&O’s 175th anniversary.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which represents 13 of the visiting cruise ships, said the Festival of Cruising emphasised cruising’s contribution as the standout success of the Australian tourism sector.

"The Festival of Cruising underlines the contribution that cruise ships make to the local economy," Ms Sherry said.

"Analysis we commissioned from Deloitte Access Economics shows cruise passengers, crew and cruise ship operators spent a combined $400 million in Sydney in 2010-2011 alone.

"Their combined spending is expected to increase to $1.3 billion by 2019-2020 as the economic contribution of cruising continues to grow.

"Passenger ships are also a vital part of Sydney Harbour’s maritime heritage and while our ships will visit ports around Australia during the Festival of Cruising, Sydney remains the Australian gateway for visiting ships."

Commenting on the Festival of Cruising, NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, said the importance of the cruise industry to Sydney and NSW could not be understated.

"It continues to make a valuable contribution to the State’s economy and is an important factor that has helped the NSW Government develop its strategy to double expenditure by visitors to NSW by 2020," Mr Souris said.

"Cruising is certainly one of the most exciting segments in the leisure market, with continuing strong growth prospects as the record number of liners arriving in the harbour city indicates.

"Sydney’s performance in recent years has helped make Australia one of the world’s fastest growing cruise markets with 157 ship calls to Sydney in 2010-2011 and 210 calls forecast for 2011-2012 with 246 scheduled for 2012-2013. Sydney is recognised by the international cruise industry as one of the most attractive harbour approaches in the world."

The 13 ships visiting from across Carnival Australia’s fleets include P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Sun; Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth; Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess, Diamond Princess and Pacific Princess; P&O Cruises World Cruising ships Oriana and Aurora; Seabourn’s Odyssey and Holland America’s Amsterdam and Volendam.