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Carnival Cruise Line Announces Red, Blue & White Hull Livery Design Across The Whole Fleet

Carnival Cruise Line have announced that their red, white and blue hull livery designed – first introduced on their latest vessel Mardi Gras – will be rolled out across the whole Carnival fleet as Carnival prepare to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2022.

The next ship to receive the new livery will be Carnival Magic during her current dry docking in Marseilles, France. She will emerge gleaming with the new livery on 24th May 2021.

A press release on the Carnival Cruise Line website read:

Following the popularity of the stunning red, white and blue livery adorning Mardi Gras, another Carnival Cruise Line ship will soon receive the dramatic hull design that will become a trademark feature across the fleet as Carnival, America’s Cruise Line, prepares to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2022.

Carnival Magic will be the first ship to receive the new livery during its current dry dock in Marseilles, France.

Paying homage to maritime tradition and patriotic colors, the eye-catching hull design is highlighted by a stately navy blue hull inspired by officers’ uniforms along with vibrant red and white accents running the entire length of the 1,004-foot-long ship. Additional vessels will receive the new livery as they undergo scheduled dry docks. Carnival Glory will be the second ship to receive the new hull design during a dry dock scheduled in June.

“When we first saw the hull design for Mardi Gras, we knew it was something special and, particularly as we get ready to celebrate our 50th birthday, we’re delighted to incorporate this stunning livery as a signature exterior design element across our fleet,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “As we look to resume sailing in the U.S., we’re coming back with a signature new look as well!”

In addition to the new livery, Carnival Magic will emerge from its dry dock on May 24 with an expanded casino with an even greater variety of slots and other games, as well as a host of enhancements including freshening up the finishes for the WaterWorks aqua park and pools.

For additional information on Carnival Cruise Line and to book a cruise vacation, visit http://www.carnival.com, or contact your favorite travel advisor or online travel site.

Source – Carnival Cruise Line
Feature image © Carnival Cruise Line

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P&O Cruises To Celebrate Iona’s Big Day With Alex James’ Britpop Cider

The Nebuchadnezzar of Britpop to be used in Iona’s naming ceremony. Image © P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises have announced they will be using a Nebuchadnezzar of Britpop Cider – created by Blur bassist Alex James – to smash against the hull of Iona as she is named on 16th May.

Produced in Herefordshire with bitter sweet and bitter sharp English apples, the Nebuchadnezzar of Britpop smashing against the hull will be the culmination of the naming ceremony, presented by Jo Whiley to a specially invited virtual audience.

A press release from P&O Cruises read:


Alex James’ Britpop cider will take centre stage when Iona, Britain’s largest and most-environmentally friendly cruise ship is officially named on May 16 in Southampton.


The glittering ceremony will culminate in the smashing of a Nebuchadnezzar of Britpop, specially made for the event, against the side of Iona’s hull.


The ceremony, with a specially invited virtual audience, will be hosted by broadcaster Jo Whiley.


Travel industry ambassador Dame Irene Hays, DBE, chair of Hays Travel, Britain’s largest independent travel agency, will be Iona’s godmother.


P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:

“The naming of a ship is a momentous occasion and steeped in seafaring tradition. The bottle smash, which has happened for centuries, is to ward off evil spirits and bless the ship, bringing it good fortune in its travels.


“Cider has often been used throughout history for ship launches, most notably during Prohibition, and for P&O Cruises and Iona, with her many “firsts”, it is very fitting to have English apples, grown from this ancient soil and pressed in this country, for the christening.


“We are also delighted to have Jo Whiley as our host for the event – with her inimitable warmth and style she will certainly embrace the virtual format and ensure all our guests feel an integral part of this special evening.”


Alex James said:

“Britain’s apples are part of our treasured heritage and Britpop has turned those apples into a celebratory tipple which is an ideal way to launch this extraordinarily cool ship.


“Britpop is pure golden sunshine in a glass and it could not be more appropriate to mark the naming
of a ship which will take you on glorious sunshine escapes.


“Cheers to Iona!”


Iona will sail her seven night maiden voyage around the coast of the island of Iona and the Scottish Isles from Southampton on Saturday August 7, 2021.

To book go to http://www.pocruises.com or telephone 03453 555 111 or call a trusted travel agent.

Source – P&O Cruises

Images © P&O Cruises

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Disney Cruise Line Present Their Grand Reveal Of Disney Wish

Today saw Disney Cruise Line present their grand reveal of their latest newbuild Disney Wish in an online virtual event.

At around 144,000 GRT, 1119ft long and capacity for 4000 guests, Disney Wish will be the fifth ship in the fleet for Disney and will set sail on her maiden voyage on 9th June 2022.

Disney Wish will sail on her inaugural season with three and four night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas and Disney’s private Island, Castaway Cay from her new home port of Port Canaveral, Florida. Bookings for these cruises will open to the general public on 27th May.

Featuring a collaboration of new features including AquaMouse – the first Disney attraction at sea, stylish accomodation for all the family and exciting dining options, Disney revealed all in the virtual event which can been seen in the video below.

Disney Wish is currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany.

Source – Disney Cruise Line

Feature image and video © Disney Cruise Line

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Celebrity Cruises Unveil Exciting New Details About Celebrity Beyond

Celebrity Cruises yesterday unveiled exciting new details about their third Edge-Series vessel Celebrity Beyond in a virtual reveal online.

Included in the exciting details announced is Celebrity Beyond will depart on her maiden voyage from Southampton on 27th April 2022 on 10-night Western Europe itinerary visiting Bordeaux, Lisbon, Seville, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona.

A press release from Celebrity Cruises read:


MIAMI (April 28, 2021) – Today, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo unveiled the company’s third ship in the company’s industry-transforming “new luxury” Edge Series® — Celebrity Beyond.

Designed to give guests endless opportunities to disconnect from the world — while simultaneously reconnecting with the world that surrounds them — Celebrity Beyond goes further than imagined possible for a cruise ship, creating a new world of wonder and luxury.

Inspired by a vision to take the cruise industry into the next era of luxury, Lutoff-Perlo assembled a dream team of modern lifestyle icons to bring to life extraordinary experiences that allow guests to connect with each other, the sea, and their journey. Celebrity Beyond showcases the design talents of multi-award-winning British designer Kelly Hoppen CBE; celebrated American designer Nate Berkus; and lauded Paris-based design firm Jouin Manku; the innovation of British architect Tom Wright; and the culinary gifts of Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud. The ship will also feature experiences and products from goop CEO and founder Gwyneth Paltrow, the brand’s new Well-Being Advisor.

Redefining luxury again, Celebrity Beyond builds on the features and design of its award-winning predecessors Celebrity Edge (2018) and Celebrity Apex (2020) by creating innovative spaces that set the brand apart from others in the industry. Every element of Celebrity Beyond’s look and feel has been carefully curated with re-imagined spaces and more luxurious versions of the brand’s most popular signature spaces, including:

The Retreat®, an exclusive resort-within-a-resort area for suite guests, highlighted by a new two-story sundeck;
Transformed accommodations from modern two-story villas with private plunge pools to staterooms with infinite verandas, blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living;
An expanded Rooftop Garden and stunning Resort Deck featuring unique cantilevered float pools;
A multi-level, multi-terraced Sunset Bar redefining the ship’s aft;
A first-ever Daniel Boulud fine-dining restaurant at sea;
A boldly redesigned Grand Plaza spanning three decks, creating an airy and open indoor space;
And, the return of the Magic Carpet®, an engineering feat soaring cantilevered above the sea, offering guests uninterrupted vistas while sipping cocktails or having dinner.
“Celebrity Cruises has always been an innovator at sea, and now we have challenged the status quo with a vessel that goes beyond expectations, beyond imagination,” said Lutoff-Perlo. “Celebrity Beyond shatters any and every preconceived notion of the cruising experience. This exquisite ship offers a journey at the intersection of elegance and approachability filled with what’s important to our guests today: forward-thinking design, culinary excellence, unparalleled well-being and incomparable service.”

“With Celebrity Beyond, we saw an opportunity to take the extraordinary features of Celebrity Edge – like the focus on the connection with the ocean and the grand spaces – and really amplify them,” said Richard Fain, Chairman of Royal Caribbean Group, parent company of Celebrity Cruises. “We focused on providing more openness, height and spaciousness throughout the ship’s most popular spaces. The end result is a next generation ship that embodies the intersection of architecture and design.”

The Retreat: A Resort In and of Itself
One of the most sought-after interior designers in the world, Kelly Hoppen CBE, has reimagined aspects of the design for The Retreat, the unrivaled and exclusive resort space for suite guests, including all new suites, and brought her globally renowned style to outdoor venues such as the Rooftop Garden and the main pool area on the Resort Deck.

The new, two-story Retreat Sundeck will offer more unadulterated outdoor bliss and ways to rejuvenate in the fresh ocean air with secluded cabanas, chic new seating areas, additional water features and the exclusive Retreat Bar. The warm and inviting Retreat Lounge is a newly stylish space to unwind; while Hoppen’s new take on the adjacent private restaurant Luminae, now at the front of the ship, becomes a space where every corner provides a new experience with each visit, in keeping with the daily changing menu.

An array of contemporary suite accommodations featuring fresh color palettes and design details by Hoppen await guests of The Retreat, including the redesigned two-story Edge Villas with outdoor plunge pools, and Celebrity’s famous Iconic Suites, the largest in the fleet, offering better views than the captain’s quarters.

Connecting Two Worlds
Nowhere is more rejuvenating than the open sea, and Celebrity Beyond ensures guests are able to take full advantage of both the luxurious design of the ship while soaking in the world around them.

Perhaps best known for designing the world-famous Burj Al Arab Hotel, lead architect Tom Wright of WKK has expanded the exterior spaces on Celebrity Beyond, transforming them into serene outward-facing sanctuaries leveraging endless ocean vistas and breath-taking panoramas of the extraordinary places the ship will visit. His design both lengthens the ship by 20 meters and raises the ship to 17 decks tall, allowing for the reimagination of The Retreat, the Resort Deck, and the Rooftop Garden – outdoor spaces increasingly important to today’s traveler.

The main open deck, 40 percent larger than on previous Edge Series ships, features an enormous living Rooftop Garden designed by Hoppen and includes increased seating offering new private nooks and more spaces for movie watching, enjoying live music and outdoor dining at the expanded Rooftop Grill. A highlight of this area is Wright’s incorporation of two spectacular floating pools cantilevered six and a half feet over the side of the ship, taking guests beyond the water’s edge.

On the Resort Deck, guests will enjoy a stunning asymmetrical space with a 25-yard lap pool surrounded by a terraced pool deck and new sunken seating areas designed by Hoppen.

Wright also designed the signature Edge Series Magic Carpet, a tennis-court sized cantilevered platform that scales the side of the ship and transforms from open-air lounge or restaurant hovering above the ocean along higher decks to a tender platform for going ashore on lower decks. Featured on Celebrity Beyond, it debuted on Celebrity Edge in 2018 and is still considered one of the most unique design innovations ever for a cruise ship.

Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Series Design Ambassador Nate Berkus stepped into the role of designer himself, to imagine one of the most anticipated venues on Celebrity Beyond – the Sunset Bar. Inside this space that is nearly twice as large as previous iterations, Berkus has created a chic, Moroccan-inspired escape that is reminiscent of a modern-day Casablanca.

Guests will enter through a pergola-covered entrance to enjoy one of the hottest spots at sea. With more conversation niches and covered enclaves to allow guests to connect in a more intimate way, the Sunset Bar’s cascading terraces will combine to provide the perfect place to soak in spectacular views and create unforgettable memories.

Luxury in Every Detail
The core of Celebrity Beyond’s vision of luxury is the Grand Plaza, a transformational place at the center of the ship designed by Jouin Manku — the team responsible for designing the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower — and offering a different experience with every visit. Inspired by the piazzas of Italy that serve as life centers of towns where architecture and social connection become one, the Grand Plaza spans three decks at the heart of the ship, boldly declaring it is the place to see and be seen.

Larger than Grand Plazas on its sister Edge Series ships, the Celebrity Beyond Grand Plaza has an airier atmosphere with more room for intimate seating. The added space allowed designers to move the Martini Bar into the center of the venue as a full, circular bar.

Hanging proudly above the new Martini Bar, the Grand Plaza’s iconic chandelier boasts a new, organic shape with hundreds of individual LED lights that cast an inviting glow at all hours—taking center stage with talented bartenders at night during their exciting and theatrical Flash Flair Fusion performance.

Connected to the Grand Plaza is the top table of culinary excellence at sea, the new, intimate 50-seat restaurant by world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud. Aptly named Le Voyage, travel is the inspiration for the globally inspired flavors within, designed to transport guests to the very places that inspire the Michelin-rated chef. Complementing the menu, world-class sommeliers will pair the perfect wine with every dish from Celebrity Cruises’ “most awarded” wine collection at sea.

Complementing Chef Boulud’s world-class menu is the restaurant’s ambiance, which is also the result of Jouin Manku’s creative talents. Intimate seating cocoons are surrounded by luminous portals highlighting the themes of journey and travel, while graphically lit “glass flutes” provide layers of light and texture to create an enchanting experience.

Providing a sense of occasion and flow, the Le Voyage experience begins with a dedicated entrance and concludes with a customized sweet prepared in Daniel’s own farewell boutique as guests are wished ‘au revoir.’

Rethinking Wellness at Sea
Luxury didn’t stop at the architectural design and culinary experience, but extended into how Celebrity Cruises thought of wellness on Celebrity Beyond. New to the ship are AquaClass SkySuites, an immersive living experience that helps guests find their center. From floor-to-ceiling ocean views, private verandas, luxurious bedding and other wellness amenities, Celebrity Beyond has thought of everything to nourish its guests’ mind, body, and spirit on vacation.

Celebrity Beyond also sets sail with a new partnership with actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, serving as the line’s new Well-being Advisor. All Aqua Class guests across the entire Celebrity Cruises fleet (excluding Galapagos sailings) will be treated to onboard wellness offerings, including fitness kits from Paltrow’s modern lifestyle brand goop, aimed at enhancing self-care and collective well-being. Paltrow and her team at goop will also curate onboard wellness programming and participate in the line’s new Women in Wellness initiative.

Welcome Beyond
Celebrity Beyond will depart on her maiden voyage on April 27, 2022 from Southampton, England, on a 10-night Western Europe cruise visiting Bordeaux, France; Lisbon, Portugal; and Seville, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona, Spain. She will then offer a variety of Mediterranean journeys including nine-night Italian Riviera and France itineraries and 10-night Greek Isles itineraries through early October, when she then heads to the Caribbean. Voyages are on sale as of April 28, 2021 at 3p.m. ET. For more information on all of Celebrity Beyond’s inaugural 2022-2023 sailings, visit https://www.celebritycruises.com/cruise-ships/celebrity-beyond.

Like her industry-changing sister ships, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex, the former of which was named one of TIME Magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” following her 2018 debut season, Celebrity Beyond will connect guests to the breath-taking world around them like never before. Celebrity Cruises’ onboard and onshore experiences stand it apart as a new luxury travel brand without comparison. For more information on all Celebrity Cruises’ offerings and to book the vacation of a lifetime, visit http://www.celebritycruises.com.

Source – Celebrity Cruises

Feature image © Celebrity Cruises

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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd Announce Next Phase Of Return To Cruising For Oceania, Regent Seven Seas & NCL Brands

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd have announced their next phase of return to cruising outside the US for their Oceania, Regent Seven Seas Cruises & Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) brands.

Oceania Cruises will begin operations with sailings to Scandinavia & Western Europe onboard Marina in August whilst Regent Seven Sea Cruises will restart their cruise operations with cruises from the UK in September onboard Seven Seas Splendor.

Norwegian Cruise Line will also begin operations in the Mediterranean with Norwegian Epic & Norwegian Getaway in September following previously announced Caribbean & European itineraries beginning in July & August.

All initial cruises will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew along with the company’s robust, multi-layered SailSAFE health and safety program which will include universal COVID-19 testing prior to guests embarking.

A press release from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. read :

MIAMI, April 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (the “Company”) (NYSE: NCLH), a leading global cruise company which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, today unveiled the next phase of its long awaited plan to resume cruising outside of the U.S. this summer. Oceania Cruises will resume operations with sailings to Scandinavia and Western Europe beginning in August and Regent Seven Seas Cruises will restart cruising with voyages from the U.K. beginning in September. In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line will continue its phased restart with Mediterranean voyages on board Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway in September, following its previously announced Caribbean and Europe itineraries beginning in July and August. In parallel, the Company continues to await feedback on its proposal submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) on April 5, 2021, outlining its plan to restart cruising from U.S. ports starting July 4th and requesting the CDC lift the Conditional Sail Order. All initial voyages will operate with fully vaccinated guests and crew in addition to the Company’s robust, multi-layered SailSAFETM health and safety program, which includes universal COVID-19 testing prior to embarkation.

We are pleased to unveil the next chapter of our resumption of cruise voyages embarking outside of the U.S. with sailings in Europe on all three of our award-winning brands. We value the health, safety and well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit above all else and we have worked tirelessly to develop our science-backed plan to safely resume cruising, including mandatory vaccinations and robust SailSAFE preventative protocols,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “As part of our two-pronged approach to return to cruising within and outside of the U.S., we are simultaneously planning for a potential resumption of cruising from U.S. ports while we await further discussion with the CDC regarding our proposal for a July 4th restart to participate in America’s national opening.”

As part of the Company’s phased return to cruising, Oceania Cruises will restart cruise operations with the Marina in August, resuming her originally published voyage schedule commencing on August 29, 2021 in Copenhagen. Regent Seven Seas Cruises will return to sailing with Seven Seas Splendor cruising from the U.K. beginning September 11, 2021. The voyage will also mark the resumption of Seven Seas Splendor’s inaugural season, with the ship having only completed two cruises with guests after being christened in February 2020. All voyages on these brands, excluding these newly announced voyages, with embarkation dates through September 30, 2021 have been cancelled. Impacted guests on voyages that will not operate will be notified accordingly.

Norwegian Cruise Line will continue its return to cruising with voyages in the Mediterranean during September and October on Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Getaway. Norwegian Epic will cruise seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from Sept. 5, 2021 through Oct. 24, 2021 and Norwegian Getaway will sail 10 to 11-day Greek Isles voyages from Rome (Civitavecchia) from Sept. 13, 2021 to Oct. 25, 2021. The Company previously announced its initial restart with sailings originating in Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Greece beginning in July 2021 with Norwegian Joy, Jade and Gem. Certain sailings for Norwegian Cruise Line outside of these newly announced voyages have been cancelled. Impacted guests on voyages that will not operate will be notified accordingly.

The Company continues to expect a phased-in approach to reintroducing additional vessels across its three brands while taking into account the public health environment, global travel restrictions and port availability, among other considerations. All voyages will operate with the Company’s comprehensive SailSAFE health and safety protocols which were developed with leading public health and scientific experts including the Healthy Sail Panel and the SailSAFE Global Health and Wellness Council.

Source – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Feature image © Cruisemarsh

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Azamara Quest To Commence Sailings On Greek Country Intensive Voyages From 28th August

Azamara have announced a return to cruising for Azamara Quest on a series of five back to back country intensive voyages and one classic Mediterranean sailing in August 2021.

Commencing 28th August 2021, each voyage will be seven nights in duration. For the six voyages in total, there will be 18 late-night stays in port including Santorini, Rhodes and Heraklion, Greece. Bookings will be open on 11th May 2021.

The news comes as Azamara confirm all sailings on Azamara Journey & Azamara Pursuit will be suspended until September 2021. For current Azamara Quest sailings through 2nd October 2021 they have been suspended with the newly announced voyages commencing from 28th August.

Guests impacted by the summer suspensions will be offered a number of flexible options to rebook or to request refunds for their current bookings.

Azamara have also confirmed the new voyages will require all crew and guests to be fully vaccinated – no later than 14 days before embarkation. Once the bookings open for sale, Azamara will reveal protocol guidelines led by the Healthy Sail Panel, to reassure guests a healthy return to service.

A press release from Azamara read:

MIAMI, April 27, 2021: Azamara – the boutique cruise line dedicated to Destination Immersion® experiences – is pleased to announce that Azamara Quest® will return to the high seas beginning August 28, 2021 with five back-to-back Country-Intensive Voyages and one classic Mediterranean sailing; each seven-days in length and a total of 18 late-night stays in port, including Santorini, Rhodes and Heraklion, Greece.

Over the past year, our team – ship to shoreside – continued to connect with our guests and travel partners. Our biggest takeaway is the desire everyone has to sail again, and we are excited to share that we can finally make this dream come true,” said President of Azamara, Carol Cabezas. “There’s no better way to return to service than in a country Azamara knows best, Greece. Our return to sail wouldn’t be possible without the support from Honorable Minister Harry Theoharis, the local government and port authorities, and we are extremely grateful for welcoming us back into this beautiful and culturally rich destination.”

We’re looking forward to welcoming Azamara and its guests in Greece in August,” says Honorable Minister Harry Theoharis. “We fully support the line’s return to cruising in the Aegean waters and we are sure that all of its passengers will have unique experiences in our beautiful destinations.”

Voyages will open for booking on May 11, 2021. With the health and safety of guests and crew being the top priority for the return to sail, Azamara has made the decision to require all guests and crew to be fully vaccinated no later than 14-days prior to departure. Once the sailings open for booking, the upmarket cruise line will reveal protocol guidelines led by the Healthy Sail Panel, to reassure guests a healthy return to service.

With travel requirements remaining unconfirmed throughout most of Europe, all sailings aboard Azamara Journey® and Azamara Pursuit® will be suspended until September 2021. Current Azamara Quest sailings through October 2, 2021 are also suspended, with the new Country-Intensive voyages beginning August 28, 2021. Guests impacted by summer suspensions will be offered a number of flexible options to rebook or request refunds for current reservations. Guests looking to book these new voyages and other Azamara cruises can still take advantage of Azamara’s “Cruise with Confidence” benefits, offering flexibility for fully paid reservations booked by May 31, 2021 for sailings through April 30, 2022.

GREECE HIGHLIGHTS:
Medieval, ancient wonders of Rhodes, Greece: Known as the Island of the Knights, guests can visit ancient wonders including the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Stunning architecture and ruins of Heraklion, Greece: The fourth largest city in Greece, guests can explore Heraklion’s architectural marvels including The Bronze Age Palace of Knossos, an ancient palace with ruins dating back to the early Minoan period.

Volcanic splendors and stunning sunset in Santorini, Greece: Santorini was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. Travelers can sail the caldera or discover the ancient ruins of Akrotiri by day and soak in the sunset views from Azamara Quest, as nightfall descends upon the island.

Ancient Delos and beautiful beaches of Mykonos, Greece: Step back in time to mythological Delos, birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guests can explore the hidden corners and captivating coastline of Mykonos by 4X4 or caique, a traditional wooden boat.

A blend of old and new in the coastal city of Limassol, Cyprus: Travelers can visit the last divided capital of the world, Nicosia, shared by Cyprus and Turkey. Byzantine landmarks, tales of the Crusades, or ventures into the countryside to explore the fruit orchards, olive groves and vineyards await.

Source – Azamara

Feature image © Cruisemarsh

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P&O Cruises Reveal Dame Irene Hays As Godmother To Iona Plus Gary Barlow To Perform At Naming Ceremony

P&O Cruises have today announced Dame Irene Hays – owner and chair of Hays Travel – as godmother to Iona.

In addition, they have also revealed Iona will be named in Southampton, in front of a VIP virtual audience on 16th May with a special short set performed by Gary Barlow.

A press release from P&O Cruises read:

P&O Cruises new ship Iona will be officially named in a contemporary ceremony, featuring a special one-off performance from Gary Barlow broadcast to a virtual audience.

Dame Irene Hays, DBE, DL, owner and chair of Hays Travel Group, will be godmother to the ship, Britain’s largest and most environmentally-friendly, in the landmark ceremony in Southampton on May 16, 2021.

Gary Barlow will perform a short set as part of the event, which will be broadcast to a VIP audience, in his role as music director. His involvement includes overseeing the ship’s 710 Club music venue and curating new talent to perform on board.


Dame Irene’s husband John, who died last November, founded Hays Travel in 1980 and it has grown to become the UK’s largest independent travel agency group.

Together they were instrumental in the expansion of the Sunderland-based company and particularly in the acquisition of Bath Travel in 2013 and Thomas Cook’s retail travel agencies in 2019.


P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Dame Irene Hays will be Iona’s godmother, taking centre stage alongside Gary Barlow in a landmark naming ceremony which will be the first stepping stone on the path to the return of the UK cruise industry.

“Since the inception of Hays Travel there is no one who has been more supportive of cruising or more of an ambassador for the travel industry. As such there is no one more appropriate to name Iona in
this prestigious event than Dame Irene as we celebrate her achievements.

“The travel industry as a whole has been paused for over a year and has been devastated by the events of the last 13 months. We are so immensely grateful for the support we have received from travel agents across the UK, all of whom have faced commercial challenges none of us could have imagined.


“With domestic cruising opening up from May 17 and with our series of UK coastal cruises proving very popular this summer, recovery is certainly on the horizon and Iona’s arrival into the UK and naming ceremony will be the ray of hope the cruise sector has needed for such a long time.

“We also feel honoured that we are able to support the Hays Travel Charitable Foundation which encourages young people to be the very best they can be across education, sport and the arts. Being able to play a small part in securing the future of the next generation is indeed a privilege.”

Iona is Britain’s most environmentally-friendly and largest cruise ship and will sail her seven night maiden voyage around the coast of the island of Iona and the Scottish Isles from Southampton on Saturday August 7, 2021.

To book go to http://www.pocruises.com or telephone 03453 555 111 or call a
trusted travel agent.

Irene Hays was awarded a CBE in 2008 and she was made a Dame in the 2021 New Year’s Honours for her services to training, education and young people, which she said was recognition of the
commitment John and the training team at Hays had made to developing young people.

Prior to the Thomas Cook acquisition, over 40% of Hays Travel managers had started out as apprentices.
She has also been a powerful advocate of Hays Travel community and charitable activities – where Hays Travel colleagues contribute to their local communities. Hays Travel now funds a community
partnership in every branch across the country and five years ago John and Irene created the Hays Travel Charitable Foundation which has so far donated over £1.5 million to support young people to be the best they can be in education, sport, the arts and their health.

Brought up in Ashington,Northumberland., Dame Irene worked her way through the ranks in local and national government, becoming CEO of two UK metropolitan authorities (Sunderland City Council
and South Tyneside Council) and Director General of Local Government and Regeneration in Whitehall


Dame Irene has served on a number of boards and governing bodies, including the boards of Sport England, The Football Foundation and the Academy for Sustainable Communities. She is currently a non-executive director on the Board of the Department of Education and chairs its Education and Skills Funding Agency.


She holds an honorary Doctorate from the University of Sunderland and Lifetime Achievement Award for supporting the growth of businesses in the North East of England.

Source – P&O Cruises
Feature image © Hay Travel Recruitment (Facebook)

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Wonder Of The Seas Asia Bound In 2022

Royal Caribbean International have today announced that Wonder of the Seas, their latest evolution of the revolutionary Oasis Class, will sail from Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2022 on a series of 4 to 9-night itineraries through the Far East to the best of Japan and more.

Currently under construction in Saint-Nazaire, France, Wonder of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship in the world and will be the first of its kind to call China it’s home when she arrives in March 2022.

A press release from Royal Caribbean International stated:

Shanghai, April 20, 2021 – Royal Caribbean International today announced that Wonder of the Seas, the latest evolution of the revolutionary Oasis Class, will set sail from Shanghai and Hong Kong, China in 2022 on thrilling 4- to 9-night adventures through the Far East to the best of Japan and more. Currently under construction in Saint-Nazaire, France, Wonder will be the world’s largest cruise ship and the first of its kind to call China home when it arrives in March 2022. The ship’s inaugural season cruises are now open for bookings.

On the horizon for vacationers with their sights on a getaway aboard Wonder are visits to popular destinations in Asia. Between March and November, guests can sail roundtrip from Shanghai to Japan, where they can immerse themselves in the local sights and sounds. From pleasing their palate in Osaka, to exploring the nation’s oldest official residence in Fukuoka, to tasting the best beef in Kobe and enjoying the natural scenery of the islands of Okinawa, all senses can be fulfilled on these culture-rich itineraries. The combination of ports of call to choose from also include Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Ishigaki and Miyazaki, Japan.

Wonder will transition to warmer climates and homeport in Hong Kong, November 2022 through January 2023, to offer highly anticipated Christmas and New Year’s holiday sailings to several ports of call. Part of the destination lineup are Chan May, Vietnam; Busan and Jeju, South Korea; Kochi and Okinawa, Japan; and Taipei, China.

“China continues to be one of the most important parts of the world for Royal Caribbean. We have won the trust of our partners and the favor of travelers and built on that significantly since we first set sail 12 years ago. By introducing Wonder of the Seas and the iconic Oasis Class to China, our strong commitment to the market’s growth is reaffirmed yet again for years to come,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “It will be a remarkable moment to see years of partnership realized when the industry’s newest, most innovative ship becomes Shanghai’s new city skyline and takes cruise travel beyond imagination.”

Wonder is the fifth ship in Royal Caribbean’s renowned Oasis Class. With a gross tonnage of 236,857, the ship is 362 meters long and 64 meters wide, and it features a total of 18 decks and 2,867 staterooms to accommodate up to 6,988 guests. On deck for travelers of all ages are the signature amenities the world’s largest and unmatched ships are known for since they first revolutionized cruising more than a decade ago, including the unique neighborhood concept. Wonder will be the first of its kind to be designed with eight neighborhoods, introducing the new Suite Neighborhood alongside returning favorites Central Park, the open-air AquaTheater, sporting a new look and where jaw-dropping, high-diving acrobatic and aquatic performances take place; Ultimate Abyss, the tallest slide at sea; and a 25-meter zip line 10 decks above the Boardwalk neighborhood.

Eight Distinct Neighborhoods & Highlights

Central Park – The first living park at sea, home to more than 20,000 plants — not to mention some of the fleet’s most coveted specialty restaurants and high-end boutiques. Travelers can unwind in one of the many nooks tucked away in this open-air oasis during the day or drop by in the evening for live music under the stars.
Boardwalk – Family friendly fun abounds on Boardwalk, a stretch at the end of the ship that is outside and always buzzing with activity. The can’t-miss features and experiences include twin rock-climbing walls, a classic carousel and deck-defying AquaTheater shows.
Pool & Sports Zone – It is all about the action in this neighborhood. Travelers can catch waves on the fan-favorite FlowRider, soak up rays in any one of the pools and whirlpools, soar while on the 10-deck-high zip line, and brave a 10-story plunge down Ultimate Abyss. Friends, old and new, and families can also go head-to-head on the basketball or volleyball courts or tee off in a round of mini golf.
Entertainment Place – Where world-class performers light up the stage night after night in headline shows and original productions at the Royal Theater, breathtaking ice-skating spectaculars and more. Travelers can even choose to brave the stage themselves at Spotlight Karaoke by belting out their favorite tunes in front of a live audience.
Royal Promenade – The pulsing heart of the ship, where shopping, dining and entertainment come together. In the morning, guests can drop by for a cup of tea or coffee. As the day goes on, they can watch and dance as the signature neighborhood comes alive with pop-up musicians and performers.
Vitality Spa & Fitness Center – Here is the place to charge up the day or recharge the spirit. The dedicated spa and fitness center offers a lineup of dynamic exercise classes within the full-scale gym and indulgent spa treatments designed for the ultimate in relaxation. It’s also home to Vitality Café, which serves up a menu of light and tasty fare like nutrient-rich smoothies and fresh sandwiches.
Youth Zone – Even the littlest explorers will find plenty of adventure just for them. Home to the award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program and a nursery for infants and toddlers, this colorful, action-packed area is full of innovative common spaces, educational activities, games and other thrills. Young adults have their dedicated teens spaces too, where adults and younger kids can’t cramp their style.
Suite Neighborhood – Wonder is the first Oasis Class ship with an eighth neighborhood – one just for suite guests. The new neighborhood provides a private experience like no other, featuring world-class dining, a new sun deck for unparalleled ocean views, a private lounge and restaurant and much more. Moreover, loved ones can make it the getaway of a lifetime when they book the expansive and beloved Ultimate Family Suite.

Source – Royal Caribbean International

Feature image © Royal Caribbean International

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Cruise Feature

Time’s Right For More Ships To Be Based In Scotland With Gap In The Market Following Collapse Of CMV

Scotland has enjoyed a growth in cruising over recent years with unprecedented growth in the amount of Scots taking cruises and the number of cruise lines and ships on offer sailing from Scotland.

However COVID-19 over the last year or so certainly has impacted the Scottish cruise market and with the collapse of Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) who had developed a range of regional departures from across the UK, including Dundee and Greenock in Scotland there is now indeed a void and a gap in the market. Now surely as cruising slowly but surely returns, there is an opportunity for other cruise lines to look at Scotland and maybe base more ships there.

The former CMV’s Magellan was a popular ship departing Dundee. Image © Cruisemarsh

Whilst Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have Balmoral based in Rosyth for a series of cruises over the summer season and MSC Cruises are offering departures from Greenock on their newest ship MSC Virtuosa this summer and both Azamara and Silversea each operating a departure from Leith, there is no other major cruise line that operates scheduled cruises out of Scotland. Yet so many visit Scotland as part of ports of call.

MSC Meraviglia visiting Greenock in May 2018. Image © Cruisemarsh

Now, surely the larger cruise companies such as P&O Cruises, Princess, Cunard and Marella Cruises are missing a trick?

For a British cruise line in P&O Cruises, it’s odd that they have never looked to base any of their ships in Scotland for a summer season. They only visit on certain round the UK cruises and that’s restricted to around once or twice a year. Whether it’s down to the costs of having a ship based in Scotland or whether they don’t feel there is enough demand remains to be seen however Scotland has so much to offer them.

P&O Cruises newest ship Iona is named after a Scottish island. Image © P&O Cruises

Maybe at the very least P&O and others should look at the MSC system and allow embarkation and disembarkation at various ports on their UK itineraries. Surely they could adapt and create itineraries to incorporate that. That would surely give a fairer spread to not just Scotland but to other ports across the other nations of the UK.

With easy access to Norway and closer to the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the stunning islands of Scotland and Ireland there is so much to offer in terms of itineraries and less time spent sailing to the destinations and more time in ports of call for the guests onboard.

One such port that has been anticipating more cruise ships arriving and departing is Dundee. A popular CMV hub port for Magellan, the location of the east coast Scottish city is ideal for the Norwegian Fjords. This itinerary proved popular with passengers embarking on Magellan and now with CMV no longer operating, the city is crying out for an operator who could offer a reasonably priced, good cruise product.

Having more cruise ships based in Scotland would greatly reduce the need for those Scots having to travel down to the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle or Southampton to embark on a cruise. Travelling to join the ships down in England can be expensive too both using public transport or travelling down by car.

Cruise lines and indeed the port authorities in Scotland along with support from the Scottish and UK Government’s could surely come together and invest more money into the existing infrastructure in place and upgrade and construct cruise terminals – Aberdeen is one such city that has been expanding their cruise operations as part of a harbour extension – however that project has been put back for completion until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That in turn would create jobs and also sustain a demand for those Scots who want to cruise from home and not have to travel down South to embark.

Surely if Fred. Olsen can see the benefits of offering a cruise ship based in Scotland to allow regional departures for their Scottish guests, then why aren’t there any others willing to take the plunge and base more ships in Scotland?

It’s certainly a market that cruise lines should perhaps be looking more closely at. Time will tell.

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Cruise Feature

Cruising Back – The Return Of UK Cruising This Summer

Let’s put this out there – UK cruising is coming back this summer!

Here in the UK, there is now a plethora of ships and itineraries to choose from over the summer period – ranging from 2 nights up to 12 nights – as confidence in the domestic UK cruise market soars.

MSC Cruises, Marella Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Viking Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines to name just but a few are returning to offer the UK passenger an opportunity to return to cruising and on their doorstop.

The return of cruising in the UK will mean all cruise lines will be adhering to the relevant health and safety protocols devised by each cruise line and strict guidance and regulations from the UK Government. The majority of the cruise lines offering UK sailings will be for UK residents who have had both the COVID-19 vaccination doses prior to embarkation. MSC Cruises however are offering their UK sailings to UK residents who have had the vaccinations and those who haven’t. Those who are unvaccinated will be required to provide a negative test prior to embarkation.

The return of UK cruising this summer is a welcome relief to the UK cruise and travel industry after a year of uncertainty, delays, cancellations, job losses and financial loss & pain.

The UK cruise and travel sector has largely been forgotten about with many having to rely on their cash reserves and self-reliance to continue. The lockdown and severe travel restrictions have meant travel agents, consultants all working in the trade have had their hands tied and futures put into doubt. Thankfully now though, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for them.

We know it’s been a tough, difficult and emotional year for everyone. The number of deaths, hospitalisations and the long term health effects that have stemmed from those who have suffered from the dreadful virus shouldn’t be forgotten about either – it’s truly a human tragedy and our thoughts go out to all those families who have lost loved ones and those who continue to battle the virus.

Our sincere thanks go out to the amazing and wonderfully dedicated NHS, emergency services, care sector and essential workers who have all gone beyond the call of duty in the battle against this awful virus.

Cruise lines are also looking to repay their thanks to the NHS, emergency services, essential workers, care sector and the military by offering either greatly reduced cruise fares such as MSC Cruises or complimentary cruises with Royal Caribbean International who have made available 999 staterooms on their UK ocean getaway cruises.

The UK this summer will once again be at the forefront of the global cruise industry and guests will be able to enjoy the facilities of some of the newest cruise ships out there – including MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa, Viking Cruises’ Viking Venus and Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady – as they sail around the UK.

We are confident that this will indeed be a safe return to cruising and with all the necessary health and safety protocols in place, it will be good to see cruise ships sailing around the shores of the UK and also will allow UK residents to see more of their country and what there has to offer on their doorstep.

The safe return of cruising in and around the UK can only mean a good and positive thing not just for the travel sector but for the UK economy as it looks to fight back from the devastating effects that COVID-19 has placed upon it over the last year or so.

Cruising is back this summer in the UK and it’s here to stay!!

Feature image © Cruisemarsh