P&O Cruises officially welcomes new ship Arvia to the fleet

At an official handover ceremony with the Meyer Werft shipyard today, Thursday December 15, 2022, P&O Cruises took ownership of Arvia, the latest addition to its fleet and, similar to its sister ship Iona, the largest cruise ship ever built for the UK market.

At 185,000 tonnes, 345m in length with 16 guest decks and setting new ground for guest experience, Arvia is P&O Cruises second ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), the marine industry’s most advanced fuel technology to date. Arvia has an optimised hull design to minimise drag and is installed with the latest energy-efficient technology on board.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, who was present at the event in Bremerhaven and signed the Protocol for Delivery and Acceptance said:

“Arvia, as the latest evolution in the P&O Cruises experience, embodies the newest trends in travel, dining and entertainment and is the epitome of a sunshine resort sailing year-round to the warmest climates. It takes its sister ship Iona’s design aesthetic and general arrangement but provides new and exciting outside and inside spaces which make the most of Arvia’s deployment to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

“Arvia is a very evident symbol of optimism for the future of the cruise industry as we see a new generation recognising the value for money and individuality of a holiday at sea.

“The ship is now officially part of the P&O Cruises fleet and we are focused on readying her to welcome guests for the maiden cruise on December 23 before departure to the Caribbean on January 6, 2023 for a winter season from Barbados.

“I would like to thank the vast teams of skilled engineers, designers, architects and so many more who worked on Arvia from the concept and design through to the build and finished feat of innovation and technical excellence we see here today.”

New features on Arvia:

  • SkyDome will feature a retractable glass roof, creating a relaxed poolside environment with dining and drinking options for guests. In the evening, the space will seamlessly transition into an entertainment venue, showcasing superb production shows, live music, guest act tributes and aerialist performances. Guests will also be able to enjoy blockbuster movies under the stars on the huge SeaScreen.
  • New restaurants created exclusively for Arvia include Green & Co feat. Mizuhanawhichoffers guests exquisitely crafted fish and plant-based dishes. 6th Street Diner is an all-American diner serving breakfast, brunch, dinner and sweet treats, accompanied with great music and ice-cold cocktails. There are new menus of Caribbean dishes designed by Local Food Hero Shivi Ramoutar at Taste 360 and The Beach House as well as a Mediterranean-inspired menu from José Pizarro in The Glass House and Cellar Door.
  • New experiential retail areas on board include an area showcasing the latest in tech at sea, a ‘design your own’ fine jewellery bar; and the first-at-sea Swarovski ‘Wonder Lab’ Concept Store featuring the latest crystal collections from Swarovski’s new creative director, Giovanna Engelbert. There will also be a collection of pre-loved handbags and watches.
  • New entertainment optionsinclude AltitudeArvia’s outdoor adventure zone which features Altitude Skywalk, P&O Cruises first ever high-ropes experience, Altitude Minigolf and the new aqua zone at Splash Valley. Mission Control is also exclusive to Arvia and is a unique immersive experience combining an escape game with multimedia simulation and a live-action story to create a thrilling underwater challenge. New to Arvia will be the stage musical, Greatest Days – The Official Take That Musical which is an adaptation of the acclaimed West End musical The Band, which features the songs of Take That and is a story by Olivier Award-winning writer Tim Firth. Arvia will also feature WaveLength, a new interactive gameshow, virtually starring presenter and game show host Ben Shephard.
Posted in Cruise News, P&O Cruises

MSC Cruises Takes Delivery Of New Flagship MSC Seascape

MSC Cruises has officially taken delivery of its new fun-filled flagship, the striking MSC Seascape – the largest cruise ship to be built in Italy.  The delivery took place in the presence of Gianluigi Aponte, the shipowner as well as Founder and Executive Chairman of MSC Group. Also present at the ceremony were Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO of Fincantieri, as well as other regional and local authorities, dignitaries, important travel advisor partners and media. During the ceremony, which pays tribute to centuries-old maritime traditions, Cristiano Bazzara, Fincantieri’s shipyard director, presented to Captain Roberto Leotta, Master of MSC Seascape, an ampoule containing the water that first touched the hull when the ship was floated out earlier this year.

MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer Gianni Onorato said: “MSC Seascape is the second ship to come into service this year bringing our modern fleet to 21 ships. We are proud to welcome her to our fleet as she is the second Seaside EVO ship and completes the innovative Seaside class. MSC Seascape aims to connect guests with the sea, she offers a wealth of outdoor spaces allowing guests to enjoy the beautiful scenery of The Caribbean, where she will spend her inaugural season. The ship’s distinctive design with nearly 13,000 m2 of outdoor space and an expansive waterfront promenade, invites guests to enjoy their escape to The Caribbean and disconnect.”

Following a star-studded Naming Ceremony bringing MSC Cruises’ distinctive European style and glamour to the Big Apple on Wednesday 7 December 2022, MSC Seascape will sail to Miami for an inaugural season in the Caribbean. The ship, with her iconic design, long list of fantastic features and nearly 13,000 m2 of outdoor space is particularly well-suited for the region’s warm and sunny weather. MSC Seascape will be the second Seaside EVO class ship to enter MSC Cruises’ fleet, and the fourth in the line’s highly innovative Seaside class, which has been redefining guests’ expectations for Caribbean cruising since MSC Seaside first launched in Miami in 2017. MSC Seascape is a testament of the Line’s dedication to offer guests an enhanced experience with every new ship that joins the fleet. With revisited entertainment offerings, the latest technology and design, as well as all the favourite features that make the Seaside class special, MSC Seascape promises a unique trip for guests.

New Horizons at Sea

MSC Seascape will offer an immersive experience truly connecting guests with the sea through and the beautiful design and her impressive outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed for relaxation, dining, and entertainment. Some of the key highlights include:

  • Technologically advanced onboard entertainment options, including the new ROBOTRON – a thrilling amusement ride that offers the breath-taking thrill of a rollercoaster at sea combined with a personalised DJ music experience
  • Awe-inspiring entertainment, with six fantastical new productions and 98 hours of exclusive onboard entertainment featuring interactive elements
  • 700 square metres of dedicated kids’ space and cutting-edge amusement options, with newly designed spaces for ages 0 to 17
  • 2,270 cabins, featuring 12 different kinds of suites and staterooms with balconies (including the iconic aft suites featured on all Seaside class ships)
  • 11 dining venues, 19 bars and lounges, with many options for ‘Al Fresco’ dining and drinking
  • Six swimming pools, including a stunning aft infinity pool with incredible ocean views
  • The largest and most luxurious MSC Yacht Club in MSC Cruises’ fleet, with approximately 32,000 square feet of space featuring sweeping ocean views from the front of the ship
  • An expansive 1,772-foot-long waterfront promenade that puts guests closer to the ocean
  • A spectacular glass-floored Bridge of Sighs at deck 16 with a unique view of the sea

MSC Seascape will offer two different 7-night itineraries from Miami, in the sun-soaked Caribbean:

  • Eastern Caribbean: Calling at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and Nassau in The Bahamas, San Juan in Puerto Rico, and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic
  • Western Caribbean: Calling at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Cozumel in Mexico, George Town in the Cayman Islands and Ocho Rios in Jamaica

Latest and Most Advanced Environmental Technology

The ship will feature the latest environmental technologies which include selective catalytic reduction systems on each of the four Wartsila 14V 46F engines to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90 percent by converting the gas into harmless nitrogen and water. MSC Seascape’s hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system will remove 98 percent of Sulphur Oxide from its emissions.

Fitted with the best-in-class wastewater treatment systems with purification standards higher than most wastewater treatments facilities on land, the vessel is also equipped with advanced waste management systems, ballast water treatment systems approved by the United States Coast Guard, the latest-technology systems for the prevention of oil discharges from machinery spaces, and various effective energy-efficiency improvements – from heat recovery systems to LED lighting able to save energy.

The ship will feature an underwater radiated noise management system to reduce and isolate the potential effects on marine mammals.

Posted in Cruise News, MSC Cruises

Holland America Line Introduces Exclusive ‘De Lijn’ Gin in Honour of 150th Anniversary

Gin has been an anchor in Holland America Line’s history dating back to the company’s inception, and to celebrate that 150-year tradition the cruise line is debuting a new exclusive label of the spirit on board. Affectionately named De Lijn in a nod to Holland America Line’s roots, the bottle is adorned with a label boasting the name in Dutch orange, accented with line drawings of brilliant blue juniper berries in a style the cruise line has coined as Modern Delft, an homage to iconic blue and white of Dutch Delftware.

De Lijn Gin is made with a blend of Dutch inspired botanicals, including orange and rose, along with elderberry, lemon verbena, lemon, raspberry and juniper. Each botanical is cold distilled separately for distinct and consistent flavours. The result is a premium gin, made in America, inspired by the Netherlands, and specially crafted for Holland America Line.

“Gin often carries characteristics of its geography, and we wanted to produce a blend that not only captured our Dutch heritage, but also used botanicals in a modern way to make it unique to our brand,” said Anthony Stice, vice president of dining and beverage operations for Holland America Line. “We call it a ‘Nieuw’ Western Gin, our take on the fast-growing New Western Dry Gin category; we selected a bright and floral profile, finishing it slightly over-proofed, making it ideal for mixing cocktails. This is Holland America Line’s first produced spirit, and we’re excited to see our guests’ reaction.”

To celebrate the introduction of De Lijn, Holland America Line will feature the spirit in three new 150th Anniversary cocktails:

·       “Dutch 150” A twist on a French 75 with De Lijn Gin, lemon juice and sparkling wine.

·       “150th Martini” Classic Martini with De Lijn Gin and Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth.

·       “De Lijn Gin and Tonic” is an exclusive drink prepared tableside in the Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant. In addition to De Lijn Gin and Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic, the cocktail blends an assortment of seasonal botanicals such as juniper berries, peppercorns, verbena, star anise, mint and expressed citrus.

De Lijn will be available in all bars and lounges fleet-wide as a gin of choice or in one of the special cocktails starting in November 2022. Bottles also will be available for purchase in the shipboard shops.

Posted in Cruise News, Holland America Line

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Borealis completes multi-million-pound refurbishment at Cammell Laird shipyard near Liverpool

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Borealis has completed a multimillion-pound refurbishment programme at Cammell Laird shipyard, Birkenhead, becoming the first cruise liner to undergo work at the site for over 25 years.

Borealis arrived on 28th October, for a 14-day refurbishment, including steel repairs, an overhaul of the shafts and propellers as well a new application of underwater paint, supported by more than 150 members of Cammell Laird’s workforce.

The ship sailed out of Cammell Laird’s Birkenhead site at lunchtime on Saturday, ready to welcome guests back on board for a cruise in search of the Northern Lights, which left the city on Sunday.

Peter Deer, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said:

“I would like to thank the people of Liverpool, Birkenhead and Cammell Laird for looking after our ship Borealis during her time in dry dock.

“We’ve been sailing from Liverpool for almost 20 years and we’re so proud to have this fantastic city as Borealis’ homeport. We cherish the relationship we have with the people in the area, whether that be our guests, our friends at Cruise Liverpool or the men and women of Cammell Laird who have worked hard to get Borealis refurbished in time for her upcoming sailings.

“As a family-run cruise line, we know how important it is to support local communities and we hope to continue to build these relationships in and around Liverpool for many years to come.”

Borealis joined the Fred. Olsen fleet in 2020, and has called Liverpool its homeport since sailing resumed in 2021, offering more than 50 sailings from the city. A report to the local authority’s culture and visitor economy committee earlier this year found Borealis had contributed more than £2.25m to the local economy by using Liverpool as her homeport.

Her upcoming sailings from the city include the chance to visit both Northern and Western Europe, including a special two-week Christmas sailing to the Canary Islands – before setting sail on an exciting ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ cruise in February – the first time Fred. Olsen has offered the chance to join a World Cruise from Liverpool.

David McGinley, Chief Executive of Cammell Laird, said:

“Cammell Laird was delighted to welcome Borealis and her crew to our facility, and be given the opportunity to showcase Cammell Laird’s ship repair capabilities.

“It took over 150 members of the Cammell Laird workforce, including apprentices, to complete the programme of works – which injected well in excess of a million pounds into the local economy.

“Contracts such as these deliver significant economic value to the Liverpool City region and we look forward to welcoming the Borealis again as well as other members of the Fred. Olsen fleet.”

There is still time to get away aboard Borealis this year, with the following sailings departing from Liverpool in 2022:

Borealis’ 11-night S2230 ‘Discover Portugal with Madeira’ cruise. Departing from Liverpool on 24th November 2022. Prices start from £899 per person.
Itinerary: Liverpool, England – Lisbon, Portugal – Funchal, Madeira, Portugal (overnight stay) – Leixões (for Oporto), Portugal – La Coruña, Spain – Liverpool, England
For more details: Visit Borealis’ S2230 ‘Discover Portugal with Madeira’ cruise

Borealis’ 9-night S2231 ‘River Cities and German Christmas Markets’ cruise. Departing from Liverpool on 5th December 2022. Prices start from £699 per person.
Itinerary: Liverpool, England – Cruising North Sea Canal, Netherlands – Amsterdam, Netherlands (overnight stay) – Cruising River Elbe, Germany – Hamburg, Germany (overnight stay) – Honfleur, France – Liverpool, England
For more details: 
Visit Borealis’ S2231 ‘River Cities and German Christmas Markets’ cruise

Borealis’ 8-nightS2232 ‘Festive Spanish City Break’ cruise. Departing from Liverpool on 14th December 20222. Prices start from £649 per person.
Itinerary: Liverpool, England – Gijon, Spain – Getxo (Bilbao), Spain – Vigo, Spain – La Coruña, Spain – Liverpool, England
For more details: 
VisitBorealis‘ S2232 ‘Festive Spanish City Break’ cruise

For further information on Fred. Olsen’s departures from Liverpool visit www.fredolsencruises.com/cruises-from-liverpool 

Posted in Cruise News, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

MSC Cruises Introduces The Future Of Cruising With Official Launch Of MSC World Europa 

MSC Cruises hosts the Naming Ceremony of its newest flagship MSC World Europa at the brand-new Grand Cruise Terminal in Doha, Qatar.

Together with partners Qatar Airways, the celebrations are part of MSC’s overall commitment to Qatar, reinforcing its commitment to supporting the growth of international tourism there as well as the broader Middle East region, where MSC Cruises is brand leader.

MSC World Europa is the most innovative and environmentally advanced cruise ship in the MSC Cruises fleet. On top of ground-breaking advances in terms of reduction of emissions and energy efficiency, the LNG-powered ship also paves the way towards the uptake of carbon-neutral synthetic and other alternative fuels as soon as they are available at scale.

Spanning 22 decks, with 215,863 GT’s, 47 metres wide, 40,000 m2 of public space and 2,626 cabins, MSC World Europa is an ultramodern urban metropolis at sea offering a veritable world of different experiences whilst setting a new standard for the cruise industry.

A long-standing maritime tradition, the official Naming Ceremony of the ship took place in the presence of the Master of the Vessel, Captain Marco Massa and distinguished guests from around the world.

Hosted by comedian, producer and entrepreneur, Hamad Al Amari, event guests from around the world were treated to experiences from local artists, a cutting-edge video-mapping projection onto the ship’s hull, huge drone show and a grand finale performance by international singer-songwriter Matteo Bocelli, presenting his solo work for the first time ever in Doha. His new album is due in early 2023 via Capitol Records.

The glamorous night culminated in a spectacular firework display against the stunning Doha skyline, and a gourmet gala dinner in the ship’s elegant restaurants.

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Posted in Cruise News, MSC Cruises

The Maritime Skills Academy – A Behind The Scenes Taster On Mandatory Crew Training Courses

As passengers, when we cruise, one of the first things we must observe is the muster drill. We watch the video and sign-in at our respective muster stations, and then we never think about it again. It’s in place for a reason, but let’s face it, the chances of there ever being an emergency at sea which would warrant us gathering in a real-time situation are very slim. Nevertheless, there are plans and procedures in place, just in case, and we rarely give thought to what our amazing crew members must undertake for us to all sail safely.

Because of this, I recently went behind the scenes at the Maritime Skills Academy (part of the Viking Maritime Group) in Dover, to see what training is involved and to share it with you. So, the next time you order your drink at the bar or sit down to your evening meal, you might remember that your entire ships company really are super-human – they’re not just serving drinks, cleaning your cabin, or entertaining you. They’re also trained to save your life.

We’re all guilty of forgetting the other side of being a crew member and what training and courses every one of them must pass before they can even step onboard. It takes dedication and constant training. During my visit to the Maritime Skills Academy there were crew from Virgin Voyages and DFDS at the centre, undertaking refresher courses. I didn’t get hands-on, this time, but I intend to go back and do the STCW course myself. This is the very basic course that everyone hoping for a career at sea must pass before they can do anything else. It includes security awareness, personal survival techniques, fire prevention and fire-fighting, first-aid and basic safety training.

I’m not crew, so why am I going to do this, I hear you ask? Well, why not? I’m always game to learn more and appreciate what others must do in order to be where they want to be in life and in their career.

The Maritime Skills Academy is a family-owned and operated company, helping the industry set new standards by delivering a higher level of Deck and Engine Simulation, Marine, Fire and Safety Training.

MSA Dover features:

  • Custom purpose-built pool
  • Realistic simulation environment
  • Adaptable to multiple scenarios

They support the practical application of the academy courses, simulating marine survival scenarios including escape shoots, life rafts, a rescue RIB and a wind-farm turbine ladder.

MSA Dover also has a world-class Marine Fire Safety and Training Centre with:

  • Fully equipped fire training ground
  • Adaptable real-world situations
  • Extensive marine environment replication

This enables delegates to safely tackle simulated and highly realistic deck and shore-side fire scenarios, supporting the HSE and Commercial Firefighting training.


A Unique Lifeboat Centre with direct access to the English Channel

  • Fully Enclosed Lifeboat & Fast Rescue Boats
  • Experience on the world’s busiest seaway
  • Maritime & Coastguard Agency accredited

The MSA Dover is perfectly placed to meet the worldwide demand for higher standards of maritime safety.

There’s also the Maritime Skills Academy in Portsmouth, somewhere I’m also hoping to visit in the near future so I can see first-hand how their ship simulator works. Don’t worry, I won’t be sailing your cruise ship anytime soon!

This centre is Fully equipped to deliver ground-breaking simulator and classroom-based Bridge and Engine Resource Management courses, including 270 Main Bridge, Emergency Safety Centre, 360 Tug Sim, Engine Control room, Main Switch Board, High Voltage and Virtual Machinery Spaces.

MSA Portsmouth is the world’s only commercial training centre to have a fully integrated Wärtsilä Nacos Platinum system within the full mission bridge simulator and associated course provision. The Portsmouth centre is a purpose-built, state of the art centre. The simulation locations have been created in partnership with global maritime simulation leaders, Wärtsilä.

Aside from crew training, the company collective also does cadetships run by Chiltern Maritime and crew recruitment, placement and management through Viking Crew, as well as meeting all your training needs, they can also find you the perfect job at sea – whether it be on commercial shipping lines or aboard private yachts.

I’ll be bringing you more on this in the coming weeks, so if a career at sea is something you’d like to pursue, regardless of where in the world you are located, check back and I’ll give you more info on how you can start those first steps.

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Posted in Cruise Ship Mechanics, Cruise Ships, Off Topic, Safety Onboard

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines unveils two new shorter sailings to India and Singapore or Japan, USA and Mexico as part of 2023 Phileas Fogg adventure

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines unveils two new shorter sailings to India and Singapore or Japan, USA and Mexico as part of 2023 Phileas Fogg adventure
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines unveils two new shorter sailings to India and Singapore or Japan, USA and Mexico as part of 2023 Phileas Fogg adventure

Explorers looking for their next adventure can take advantage of two new shorter sailings unveiled by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines today, as part of its ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ cruise in 2023 – with up to £300 per person for guests to enjoy on board. 

Borealis will set sail from Southampton on 23rd February 2023, following as closely as possible in the footsteps of fictional explorer Phileas Fogg in the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days.

Those wishing to experience part of the adventure can join one of two shorter cruises that will visit many of the wonders included within the 80-day voyage. A 26-night journey from Southampton to Singapore will see Borealis cruise the world-famous Suez Canal, with guests able to explore the majestic temples of Luxor and Karnak in the Egyptian port of Safaga, visit the secret bazaars, hidden temples and the lesser known Elephanta Caves in bustling Mumbai or, in Singapore, witness the indigenous wildlife and the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Botanic Gardens.

From Singapore, Borealis will depart on a 53-night cruise, where guests will enjoy a call into Japan in time to witness the cherry blossom in bloom and delve into the Samurai heritage at Fukuoka and Osaka Castle; experience the temples, street food and architecture of Hong Kong and enjoy a taste of paradise in Hawaii, with its iconic Aloha Tower, authentic farmers’ markets, and traditional Hawaiian dance shows at seaside lūʻau.

The two new sectors will be available exclusively to members of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Oceans loyalty scheme on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th November, ahead of general release on Friday 11th November.

Claire Ward, Director of Product and Customer Services at Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s said:

“Our Around the World in 80 Days cruise has already proven popular, and there are some exceptional opportunities to be had as we follow as closely as possible in the footsteps of fictional explorer Phileas Fogg.

“These shorter sailings will enable even more of our guests to share these experiences, with every port offering a fascinating insight into history, culture, art, architecture or the chance for spectacular encounters with wildlife.

“Plus, with up to £300 on board spend per person, guests can really make the most of their time with us, whether it’s to take their explorations to the next level with one of our immersive short excursions, or relax in one of our lounges as we enjoy scenic sailing between destinations.”

Details of the new sectors are as follows:

Borealis’ 26-night S2306 ‘A Journey from Southampton to Singapore’ cruise, departing from Southampton on 23rd February 2023 (flights returning to London Heathrow). Prices start from £3,799 per person, with up to £300 per person to spend on board.
Itinerary: Southampton, England – Lisbon Portugal – Cruising Strait of Messina, Italy – Brindisi, Italy – Port Said, Egypt – Suez Canal Transit, Egypt – Safaga, Egypt – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India – Mormugão, Goa, India – Kochi, Kerala, India -Singapore, Singapore
For more details: Visit www.fredolsencruises.com/cruise/southampton-to-singapore-s2306

Borealis’ 53-night S2307 ‘A Journey from Singapore to Southampton’ cruise, departing from Singapore (flights departing from London Heathrow) on 21st March 2023. Prices start from £7,499 person, with up to £300 per person to spend on board.
Itinerary: Singapore, Singapore – Nha Trang, Vietnam – Hong Kong, China – Shanghai, China – Hakata Fukuoka, Japan – Osaka, Japan – Nagoya Aichi, Japan – Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan – Crossing International Date Line At sea – Honolulu, Oahu, HI, United States of America – Lahaina, Maui, HI, United States of America – Hilo, HI, United States of America – San Francisco, CA, United States of America – San Diego, CA, United States of America – Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico -Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica – Panama Canal Transit, Panama – Cartagena de Indias, Colombia – Santa Marta Colombia – Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands – Basseterre St Kitts and Nevis – Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal – Southampton, England
For more details: Visit www.fredolsencruises.com/cruise/singapore-to-southampton-s2307

Posted in Cruise News, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Celebrity Cruises’ Highly Anticipated Celebrity Beyond Sets Sail On Her Inaugural U.S. Sailing

Excitement and anticipation hung in the air as Celebrity Cruises’ G.O.A.T., and newest and most luxurious ship, Celebrity BeyondSM, set sail from Fort Lauderdale on Friday, kicking off her inaugural Caribbean season. Headlining the sailing’s highly-anticipated festivities was the ship’s official naming ceremony, led by her lauded Godmother and inspirational female powerhouse, Simone Biles – a G.O.A.T. in her own right – a 19-time World Champion, seven-time Olympic Medallist and most decorated American gymnast in history. 

Helmed by the barrier-breaking Captain Kate McCue, the first and still only woman to be named captain of a “Mega” cruise ship, Celebrity Beyond’s much anticipated arrival to the U.S. ushers in a new era of cruising for the industry; coming on the heels of Celebrity’s new brand campaign that defines what a relaxed luxury resort at sea is. As it kicks off its inaugural season with rotating Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries visiting the sun-drenched beaches of Grand Cayman and picturesque vistas of Puerta Plata, guests will recharge as they are treated to luxury hotel- style accommodation, Michelin-level dining, and world-class wellness amenities.

“I can think of no one better to be the Godmother of this incredible ship than the G.O.A.T. herself – Simone Biles,” said Jason Liberty, President and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Celebrity Cruises. “This ship’s beauty, power, and resilience sets the standard by which all others will be measured. Simone’s determination, progressive nature, empowered attitude, and grace in the face of challenges make her such an inspiration to so many around the world.  All of these attributes are why Simone Biles is perfectly suited to watch over Celebrity Beyond’s journey.”

“I’ve been waiting for this day to arrive for a long time and I am ‘Beyond’ excited to be able to share her with our guests. She is the gold standard by which other ships are built and embodies the meaning of relaxed luxury,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO. “She is ‘FULL’ of wonder and excitement and our guests will undoubtedly feel reconnected to the world around them as they visit new destinations and immerse themselves in culinary experiences and wellness amenities not found anywhere else at sea.”

Alongside Liberty, Lutoff-Perlo and other Celebrity Cruises executives, Simone Biles officially named Celebrity Beyond in a beautiful ceremony attended by 2500 lucky guests and media, capped by a live performance from award-winning singer and songwriter, Leona Lewis. 

Simone Biles follows Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who previously inaugurated Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge, respectively. Both women are renowned for their advocacy of women everywhere, inspiring them to soar above their limits. 

“It is an honour to be selected as Beyond’s Godmother and to join such a distinguished group of strong, barrier-breaking women who have been named as Celebrity’s Godmothers before me,” said Simone Biles. “I appreciate the important message this designation holds in recognising our accomplishments as empowering women, and I am honored to share the stage today with fellow brave, boundary-breaking leaders like Lisa-Lutoff Perlo and Captain Kate McCue.” 

As the most decorated American gymnast in history, with 32 medals from the World Championships and seven medals from the Olympics, Biles is also the first American woman to win seven national all-around titles and is the first female gymnast to earn three consecutive World All-Around titles. As well as her more than inspiring gymnastic accomplishments, she has been included in important lists such as TIME’S 100 Most Influential, Forbes 30 Under 30, Ebony Power 100, amongst many others, placing herself firmly as a role model for women everywhere. 

Beyond All Expectations

Inspired by a vision to take the cruise industry into the next era of luxury, Celebrity Cruises assembled an award-winning dream team of modern lifestyle icons for Celebrity Beyond to bring to life extraordinary experiences that allow guests to connect with each other, the sea, and the world around them. 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; the culinary talents of Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud; and experiences and products from goop CEO and founder Gwyneth Paltrow, the brand’s Well-Being Advisor. 

Every element of Celebrity Beyond’s look and feel has been carefully curated with re-imagined, upgraded spaces and a host of luxurious amenities. 

  • The Retreat®, an exclusive resort-within-a-resort area for suite guests highlighted by a two-storey Retreat Sundeck with secluded cabanas, chic new seating areas, additional water features and the exclusive Retreat Bar; the warm and inviting Retreat Lounge; and the adjacent private restaurant Luminae
  • Accommodation with fresh colour palettes and design details that blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living, including the two-storey Edge Villas with outdoor plunge pools; and 1,900-square-feet Iconic Suites, the largest in the fleet, with a private sundeck.
  • A Rooftop Garden and stunning Resort Deck featuring unique cantilevered float pools and sunken seating areas;
  • A multi-level, multi-terraced Sunset Bar, redefining the ship’s aft with its internationally-inspired beach club ambience;
  • 32 distinct food and drink venues, including Le Voyage a first-ever Chef Daniel Boulud fine-dining restaurant at sea;
  • New AquaClass SkySuites, an immersive living experience including floor-to-ceiling ocean views, private balconies, luxurious bedding, complimentary access to the spa’s Thermal Suite and other wellness amenities to help guests find their centre; 
  • A selection of signature goop retail products and well-being experiences from the brand including fitness tools for AquaClass guests, on-demand wellness classes on stateroom TVs, a custom detox smoothie and more; 
  • A bold Grand Plaza spanning three decks at the centre of the ship, creating an airy and open indoor space with the brand’s signature Martini Bar as the showpiece;
  • The Magic Carpet®, an engineering feat, considered one of the most unique design innovations ever for a cruise ship, that soars cantilevered above the sea, offering guests uninterrupted vistas while sipping cocktails or having dinner;
  • And cutting-edge entertainment including a host of new live show spectaculars and onboard interactive experiences that are as revolutionary, technologically mind-blowing and carefully crafted as the ship itself. 
Posted in Celebrity Cruises, Cruise News

Northern Lights Expedition Cruise with Hurtigruten Expeditions

My cruise aboard Hurtigruten Expeditions ‘MS MAUD’ was unlike any other cruise experience I’ve had, and in so many ways.

Usually, I’d do a day-by-day account of the cruise, but if I tried that with Maud, I’d still be here this time next year – that’s how much I want to say about it! Instead, I’m going to give a more condensed overview of my Northern Lights Expedition Cruise and one that I hope, by the end, leaves you wanting to experience it for yourself. Although some aspects of the sailing weren’t quite what I expected, it’s left me wanting more, so I guess it did what it was supposed to do – it sucked me in, gave me a taste and then said see you again!

This sailing was a Dover round-trip, which was perfect for me as I don’t like to fly. Check-in was faultless and before boarding the ship, there was one little thing that I loved. It sounds silly, but my cruise card was already attached to a rather sturdy lanyard, and I liked that. I suppose I’d say it was the first taste of expedition life – you couldn’t simply put your cruise card in your back pocket because the adventure wouldn’t allow for it, or a flimsy shop-bought lanyard. It had to be expedition proof.

This carried on once onboard and I was directed to Deck 5 to pick-up my expedition jacket. Now, this jacket, I am still in love with it, and I barely had it off my back for the duration of the cruise. Made by Helly Hansen exclusively for Hurtigruten, it’s warm, waterproof, windproof, flexible, and light weight. It has a clear pocket on the left arm which is for your cruise card during expedition days – so you don’t need to go rummaging in all your layers of clothing to find it! Genius! It also has 2 Velcro sections – one on each arm – and these are for your expedition boat group identifications. I was a Puffin and I wore mine on my right arm. The jacket is yours to keep, but you do need to hand in your boat group at the end of the cruise. I’m going to say out loud here that I think you should be able to buy them. It’s only a small thing, but it’s part of the cruise.

Hurtigruten Expeditions – Dining

When you think of Expedition sailings, you instantly imagine all these fantastic experiences ashore and I’m going to get to those, but first, I want to highlight something that I don’t see a lot of people talk about when it comes to Hurtigruten, and that’s the food. Why am I mentioning food first? Because it was far better than I could have expected.

There are 2 dining venues onboard that are open to everyone. Restaurant Aune is the ships main dining room. For breakfast and lunch, this is a buffet option but for dinner, it’s table service. Restaurant Fredheim is the second option and is open from 12 noon until 20:30 every day. Here, you can get burgers, hot dogs, simple things such as steak and grilled chicken, crab rolls and then other options that change every few days. Fredheim also offers a small take-away menu which I loved! I tried to make lunch my main and healthiest meal of the day, that worked for me, and in the evening if I wanted anything, I’d dial up Fredheim – usually for a ship-sized portion of French fries. I’ll just take a minute here to say that the vegetables were always so good! I know, they’re just veggies, but I’ve been on so many cruises where the galley couldn’t even get a sprout right – Maud’s team were the masters! On one occasion, I had a plate of vegetables for lunch, and I was in my element.

There’s also Restaurant Lindstrøm which is reserved exclusively for suite guests at breakfast and lunch. In the evening, this is also the main restaurant for suite guests, but those not staying in suites can book for 25 euro per person. I didn’t dine in Lindstrøm very often, I was usually still full after lunch and the menu didn’t always work for me. That’s personal preference, though. Everything offered sounded amazing and I didn’t hear a single bad review from others onboard, but I was still partly restricted because of a medical diet and some things, I don’t eat. Full stop. There was always local produce available. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many dishes or ingredients on a cruise menu that were local. There was everything from Arctic Cloudberries to Reindeer and local fish. I ate Rudolph once, during a Norwegian cruise, and I promised my Mother I’d never do it again – she was mortified – so that stopped me in my tracks on those dishes.

Hurtigruten Expeditions – Norway Tours

So, now I’ve covered the food, let’s get down to the real business of ports! This itinerary visited, Loen, Reine, Alta, Tromsø, Narvik, Bergen and Egersund. Between those, we had 2 coastal cruising days which were expedition landing days and on top of those, we had some seriously good moments of scenic cruising! Maud, well, what a ship! That girl is built for cruising the polar regions and she handled the twists, turns and the odd angry swell, like a pro.

There is a selection of included tours available which you can do if you wish, you just need to let the Expedition Team know so they can save you a place. They included the Narvik War Museum, Funicular in Bergen, Fishing Village guided tour in Reine, the Loen Skylift, and the Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta.

As well as the included options, there’s also a few optional tours and I booked myself on four of those: Husky Sledding and a Northern Lights Chase in Alta, the Polar Park in Narvik, and the Briksdal Glacier tour in Loen.

I really enjoyed my tours, so I’m probably a bit biased, but I think I made the best choices. My favourites were probably the Northern Lights Chase and the Birksdal Glacier. I’d never seen a glacier before and to say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. What I saw before me was hugely impressive, but I’m told that it has shrunk a lot over the years. It was quite a damp and windy day in port, but that didn’t hinder our tour – our expedition jackets kept us warm and dry – and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. It was on this tour that I met the lovely Joan and she and I buddied up for several other tours during the cruise. I also collected some rocks on this trip and had David, the onboard Geologist look at them a few days later. Apparently, one of them was a nice slice of quartz and the others were a collection of metamorphic rocks which had been transformed over the years by heat, pressure, and other natural agencies. Nothing overly exciting, but I had no idea, they were just stones to me until he looked at them and these aspects of the cruise, I found fascinating. I joked and said that it was like being back at school, only this time I appreciated what I was being told and I wanted to be at the front of the class to learn as much as I could.

I love animals, so naturally the Polar Park and Husky Sledding HAD to be on my list. We had the entire Polar Park to ourselves, or at least, that’s how it felt. The animals were beautiful, had lots of space and were clearly very well cared for. I was in awe of the bears. They were so beautiful and majestic. There was one that had the mannerisms of a dog – she was asking for treats and seemed clearly huffed when she realised, she wasn’t getting any more. The Arctic Fox’ were also gorgeous and very playful. The entire park was unique, and I suspect in the winter months, when covered in snow, it’s an even greater adventure.

I’d visited Holmen Husky several years ago during another Arctic cruise but then, it was thick with snow. I knew this wouldn’t be the case for my cruise, but I wanted to see it in a different light and experience the husky ride under different conditions. The dogs were desperate to run and play, and the puppies in training were an absolute joy – full of mischief! The ride itself was very different to how it is when the ground is covered in snow (it’s a lot more comfortable in the snow) but I was glad that I did it and I think the dogs were overjoyed that we were there. Again, I think we had Holmen all to ourselves. I HIGHLY recommend Holmen Husky, it’s a family-owned and run business and the welfare of the animals and training of the humans is top priority. These people know what they are doing, and the dogs clearly love life! There were a lot of people on my cruise that didn’t book this trip because they were told there was no snow and the ride would be on wheels, in my opinion, they made the wrong choice. Yes, it’s very different in the snow, but there’s more to this tour than just the ride. It’s learning about the dogs, meeting them on a one-to-one basis and enjoying the warmth and atmosphere of the lavvu – a typical Sammi tent. On the coach back to MAUD, there were 30 happy faces, all having loved their time at Holmen.

After the thrill of the huskies, it was time to run up the gangway, grab my packed lunch and head out on the Northern Lights chase. There was an hour-long presentation onboard before leaving – a sort of introduction about what to expect and why the team running the tour had chosen the location that they had for us. We would drive 50km south of Alta and set up camp for a few hours in the middle on nowhere. It was a great location choice and within minutes of us being there, the sky started to dance. We had 2 solid hours of Northern Lights, and I was frozen by the time we left. I think I may have been the only guest on tour that didn’t once step inside the lavvu. I stayed out beneath the night sky relishing in every second of that tour. The show carried on once back at the ship and for our sailaway – we were incredibly fortunate.

Overall, I was very pleased with all the tours. I didn’t get the chance to do a lot of the included options, but others seemed very happy with them, and I was pleased with the optional ones I’d booked. I absolutely recommend that you consider some of the optional tours because they enhanced the experience. Norway doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re embarking on a Hurtigruten Expedition sailing, you really should soak yourself in every aspect of it, including the optional tours.

Hurtigruten Expeditions – Expedition Landings

I mentioned that we also had some expedition landing days, so let’s get to those. Our first was at the Svartisen Glacier and I’d put my name down for the Science Boat. Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people, so I was moved to this on our second landing day. It turned out to be for the best because if I hadn’t been moved, I wouldn’t have had the chance to do the 5km hike to the Glacier.

Our second day found us at anchor in Lekka and within minutes, MAUD’s calves (her RIB’s) were on the water, getting ready to take us ashore. As in virtually every other port, there was the option to go kayaking or hiking, as well as doing the landing, but this day for me was all about my eagerly anticipated Science Boat trip. We left the ship with Tim at the wheel and after a few minutes we’d lowered the sea anchor and were having our lesson on the Secchi Disk. The disk was created in 1865 and is used to measure water transparency or turbidity in bodies of water. The disc is mounted on a pole or line and is then lowered slowly into the water. The depth at which the disk is no longer visible is taken as a measure of the transparency of the water. This measure is known as the Secchi depth and is related to water turbidity. Since its invention, the disk has also been used in a modified, smaller 20 cm (8 in) diameter, black and white design to measure freshwater transparency. We played with this for a while until the tape measure snapped, and then we moved onto our plankton collection.

Hurtigruten Expeditions – Onboard Science Program

I’ll start this section by sharing this link with you, which will explain in far more detail than I can give you, what the Hurtigruten Science Program is all about and how YOU can get involved both onboard and ashore.

Examples of Scientific Research Onboard

Seabird Distribution with the Antarctic Site Inventory — Surveys throughout the Antarctic Peninsula help scientists understand how seabirds are using different habitats and provide valuable information about their life cycles.

Cloud Observations with the Globe Program — By observing and recording cloud cover timed to NASA satellite fly-overs, guests can help scientists understand how surface and air temperature are affected by cloud cover, and how clouds will respond to a changing climate.

Happywhale — We assist in tracking individual whales throughout our world’s oceans by harnessing the power of whale watching enthusiasts – our guests – expanding our scientific knowledge of their behaviour and distribution.

Sea Leopard Project — A non-profit study aimed at a better understanding of the behaviour, ecology, and population dynamics of Leopard Seals on the Antarctic Peninsula to promote their conservation and safe human-seal interactions.

Fjord Phyto — Study phytoplankton to better understand how they respond to water temperature changes in the polar regions, providing a key to help mitigate future environmental impacts.

Earlier in this blog, I mentioned that not all aspects of the cruise were what I had expected and by that I meant that there weren’t quite as much ‘hands-on’ science-based things happening as I thought there would be. But as I also said, it sucked me in enough to leave me wanting more because when these events took place, I was like a child in a sweet shop – I loved every second of them – and even now, I am still doing my own research into many of the things I was told, especially about plankton because our specimens were INCREDIBLE!

I was engaged through the enthusiasm of the Expedition Team. These people know their stuff and they love what they do. Tim was one of these people, he took us out on the Science Boat and subsequently ran the session onboard relating to our specimen gatherings. He made it exciting! When he put the plankton findings under the microscope and spotted something interesting, he showed clear excitement and that, ultimately, made us excited. It was genuine – that’s the word I’m looking for. I could say a million things about these sessions but, in reality, I could never do them justice. These are things YOU need to experience for yourself.

Hurtigruten Expeditions – MS MAUD

Let’s talk about Maud. She’s small, very intimate and has a fabulous crew! I felt very much at home within hours of boarding and, of course, my stunning suite also helped with that. I couldn’t have asked for, nor did I expect such a beautiful space to call home for 2-weeks. The bay window was my favourite feature. I liked to move one of the chairs and just sit there watching the world go by – it was my relaxation space and right there in my own cabin.

There are several public areas where passengers can enjoy some down time before and after exploring. My favourite was the library. Now, it’s not a library in the conventional sense, as such. The books available are mostly left behind by other passengers and are a mix of English and Norwegian. The space itself is just perfect. I enjoyed it most in the evening when the world outside was dark and the lights inside were dimmed just enough to let you relax. It connects to the Explorer Bar which is another very nice space and seemed to be the most popular in the evening. One side is quite dark and atmospheric, allowing you to relax after a heavy day ashore, and the other is bright enough to sit and play games or read while you enjoy your evening tipple.

Guests could also enjoy the two-levelled Explorer Lounge at the very front of the ship, a small gym, male and female saunas, hot tubs, laps of Deck 6, a small shop with branded items, Helly Hansen merchandise and other bits, the Lecture Hall and, of course, the Science Centre.

There were numerous lectures and other events happening onboard and I wanted to give you a few examples below:

Norwegian Coastal Kitchens – these culinary experiences were held out on Deck 9 and included fresh waffles, delicious hot chocolate, grilled salmon, and reindeer hot dogs.

Lecture: The Magic of the Arctic Light of Northern Norway – all lectures were streamed to the TV in your cabin on channel 5.

Introduction to Norwegian Folk Dancing – this was held out on Deck 9 and was mostly hosted by Magnus, an individual with so much love and enthusiasm for what he does. I watched and I laughed until my ribs ached.

Wildlife Watch – this was offered every morning on Deck 6 from around 08:30

Lecture: Plankton – Drifting Through Life – this was an introduction to the world of plankton and readied us for things such as the Science Boat tour.

Green Stay – I absolutely LOVED this! Basically, alongside your ‘Do Not Disturb’ leather door sign, you also had a ‘Green Stay’ option. Hurtigruten Foundation is funded by direct donations and several onboard initiatives, including auctions, fund-raisers and the ‘Green Stay’ program. Every time you hung this on your door, you let your cabin steward know that you didn’t want your cabin cleaned, therefore saving energy, water, detergent, and power. Every day you used this a donation was made.

Arctic Circle Baptism – We had crossed into the Arctic Circle, and it was time to be initiated. Those who joined in were sharply awoken by a ladle of ice and freezing cold water being poured down their back. I had just washed my hair, that was my excuse, and I was sticking to it!

This is just a very small example of what was offered. If there’s anything you want to know, about anything, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to give you the answer.

Thank you, MS MAUD

My days were jam packed because there were so many things I wanted to get involved with and go and learn about. I’ve never had that on any other cruise and I’ve done a few over the years. It was a totally different cruising experience, and I relished every second of it. I enjoyed active days and relaxing evenings with no need to rush back and change/dress-up for dinner.

The onboard atmosphere was very relaxed. It wasn’t about ‘show’ it was about learning while exploring some of Norway’s most incredible places. We were all there because we wanted to broaden our scope, in more ways than one, and do that alongside people with the same ambitions. We wanted to leave places in a better state than they were when we arrived – so there were beach cleans – and we wanted to ask questions that we’d get honest answers to. Of course, we also wanted the little luxuries that come with cruising and Hurtigruten fulfilled that in every way.

I’ll finish by saying a huge THANK YOU to MS MAUD and her AMAZING crew! Everyone onboard was brilliant. You all made my experience memorable, enjoyable, and immersive.

AD – I was a guest of Hurtigruten for this cruise.

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Posted in Hurtigruten, New To Cruising, No Fly Cruises, Solo Cruising

Holland America Line’s Rotterdam Arrives in New York City on Historic Maiden Call

Holland America Line’s Rotterdam arrived at New York City yesterday morning on her maiden call to the city following a transatlantic crossing that departed Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Oct. 15. The ship is nearing the end of a 15-day cruise that is recreating the maiden voyage of Holland America Line’s first ship — Rotterdam I — that departed Rotterdam 150 years ago October 15, 1872.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine officially declared today, October 26, an “honorary day” for Holland America Line to recognise the occasion and the historic contributions of the company to Manhattan throughout its 150 years.

To celebrate the milestone, an event is being held on board tonight for invited guests. A highlight of the evening will be the performance of a musical piece by Emmy Award-winning producer and Emmy-nominated composer Steven Schoenberg, written exclusively for Holland America Line’s anniversary to accompany a special short film about the cruise line’s journey. The composition will be performed by a 25-piece ensemble of former Holland America Line’s Lincoln Center Stage musicians.

In addition, the premium line will introduce a partnership with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation to celebrate the cruise line’s 150-year journey from immigrant carrier to consumer ocean liner fleet. The partnership features on-board video content across Holland America Line’s entire fleet produced by an Ellis Island researcher, as well as a curated exhibit launching in 2023 at Ellis Island detailing the brand’s historical prominence in bringing one in 10 immigrants from Europe to the United States.

“We are excited to be celebrating our 150th Anniversary in such a vibrant city with our newest ship on a rare overnight call,” said Gus Antorcha, Holland America Line’s president. “There’s nothing like sailing into New York under the Verrazano Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Standing on deck, you can’t help but think back to more than a century ago, feeling the emotion of arriving in America for the first time. Recreating our first voyage has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

During the crossing, guests indulged in exclusive menus that showcase Holland America Line’s 150-year history with entrées each evening reminiscent of dishes served as early as the 1920s. One special 150th Gala Menu only featured items  from appetizers to desserts — from a previous Holland America Line voyage.

In addition to the cuisine, special programming included a “Throwback Happy Hour” that rolled back time with drinks priced as low as 25 cents, Dutch High Tea, presentations that relived the history and roots of the company and anniversary-themed trivia.  Holland America Line also introduced a limited-edition Pilsner beer — HAL Pils — in a commemorative can adorned with the iconic Jan van Beers advertising poster of 1898 showing a woman holding a Holland America Line steamship above her head.

For travellers looking to continue the celebration, many of the same special culinary and enrichment programs will be offered on another 150th Anniversary Transatlantic departing April 6, 2023, from New York, ending in Rotterdam on April 18th, the cruise line’s 150th birthday.

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Posted in Cruise News, Holland America Line
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