Bob Hoelscher

Group Cruise News – October 22, 2018 Update

 
 

Bob Hoelscher
Published October 22, 2018

Welcome! It’s not often that I have an opportunity to review a lesser-known cruise product that turns out to be surprisingly well crafted; indeed, sometimes the opposite is true. However, having just completed a seven-day Mediterranean sailing of Pullmantur’s Zenith, round- trip from Barcelona, I have to admit that the experience substantially exceeded my expectations. Pullmantur is a value-oriented Spanish line that is barely marketed at all in the U.S., but should be, and not only to those of Hispanic heritage but to other American travelers seeking a bargain as well. As is the rest of the company’s four-ship fleet, Zenith is not a new vessel, having been built originally for Celebrity Cruises in 1992. Despite showing some signs of it’s age around the edges, the vessel is very clean and well maintained, and at 47,255 tons, is much easier to find one’s way around than many of the latest mega-liners.

 

Our standard outside cabin (this ship has only 40 balcony staterooms) was roomy and very comfortable, and at just over $100 per person per day, including all taxes, fees and pre-paid shipboard gratuities, offered great value for the money. Food, both variety and quality, as well as service throughout were consistently very good, better in fact that on some much more highly touted lines. And since Spaniards traditionally eat at later hours than Americans, I never found any lines to contend with in the buffet. What really cements the deal, however, is that all drinks are included, excepting only extra-cost ‘premium’ liquor brands and vintage wines, so the vast majority of guests are sure to be satisfied with the wide variety of cocktails and mixed drinks, plus beers, wines, champagne and soft drinks all available on an unlimited basis without charge, and without having to sign any annoying charge slips. Personally, I found the ‘Mahou’ beer tfrom Madrid to be excellent, Bacardi Rum was used for my drinks of rum and Diet Coke, and the included wines were also good. Furthermore, the internationally-styled entertainment aboard was plentiful, lively and appeared to be well-received by the ship’s guests. A spa, well-equipped gym and three hot tubs supplement the ship’s two pools.

 

Although Spanish is the primary language spoken aboard Zenith, announcements are also made in English, and English-languarge daily programs and other materials are delivered to cabins daily. Virtually all crew members speak English, simply because it is the ‘second-language’ common denominator of the 608 male and female staff members who hailed from some 35 different countries. Euros, naturally, are the currency used onboard, as they are on shore. Our five-port ʺSecret Places of the Mediterraneanʺ itinerary was absolutely outstanding, beginning with Mahón, Menorca (Spain) and Ajaccio, Corsica (France). Following were three ports on the coast of Italy…Portovenere (from which we explored three villages of the renowned Cinque Terre); Piombino (for a full-day excursion to magnificent Siena); and splendid Portofino (with visits also to nearby Rapallo and Santa Margherita). Except for our public bus and rail trip to the Cinque Terre, we took the ship’s bi-lingual (Spanish and English) excursions, all of which proved to be relatively inexpensive and quite good.

 

Potential American guests of Zenith will find several things that are different from what they have likely found elsewhere, none of them deal-breakers. Being an older vessel, there are no water slides, rock-climbing walls, ice rinks, bowling lanes, etc., or even an ‘obsevation’ lounge. There are no port lectures, so travelers will need need to book the ship’s shore excursions or come prepared with the knowledge necessary for sightseing on their own. Cabins are serviced only once daily, so there are no evening ‘turn-downs’ or whimsical towel animals. Smoking (allowed only on the open decks) was never obtrusive. I did find tendering operations (used in two ports) to be on the slow side and somewhat less than well coordinated, but on the other hand, after some 120 cruises, I have never, ever experienced an easier and quicker disembarkation procedure than we had at Barcelona. All in all, a value-laden Zenith cruise is well worth investigating for those seeking something a bit out of the ordinary, plus Pullmantur offers cruises of the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, the Canary Islands, Middle East, Caribbean and British Isles, as well as repositioning voyages and a varirty of both Eastern and Western Mediterranean itineraries.

 

 

 

P.S.  Please excuse the two different type sizes used for website addresses below, as it has been necessary for me to use multiple laptops which seemingly do not communicate well with other equipment.

 

AIDA Cruises is introducing the AIDA Bike Camp on selected itineraries, through which travelers can experience a varied cycling adventure teamed with a cruise vacation. The bike package includes four guided trips of between 60 and 110 kilometers each, a bike transport box for each guest’s racing bike, transportation costs for arrival and departure as well as daily bike checks and safe storage of each bike. In addition to technical workshops, expert talks and lectures, guests can expect evening team events. The program can be booked on AIDAprima’s “Pearls on the Mediterranean” cruises as well as “Canaries and Madeira” departures of AIDAstella and the new AIDAnova. www.aida.de

 

American Cruise Lines’ new, 184-guest American Song departed from the Port of New Orleans on October 6th for its sold-out, eight-day inaugural sailing to Memphis with stops at Oak Alley, Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, Natchez, and Vicksburg. Sister ship American Harmony’s lower bow section has also moved from Fabrication Building #4 at Chesapeake Shipbuilding to the Assembly Launchways, as the second vessel in ACL’s five-ship, modern riverboat series is well on its way to completion. www.americancruiselines.com

 

American Queen Steamboat Company is offering savings of up to $1400 per stateroom on the December 23rd Christmas Cruise of American Duchess, round-trip from New Orleans, and up to $1600 per stateroom on the December 23rd Creole Christmas sailing of American Queen from Memphis to New Orleans. www.aqsc.com/

 

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, operator of two-night cruises and ʺCruise & Resortʺ stays to Grand Bahama Island year-round from the Port of Palm Beach, has announced a partnership with Brightline, the new intercity express train service currently connecting cities in South Florida. www.bahamasparadisecruise.com/

 

Carnival Cruise Line is taking Halloween to the next level with ʺFrightfully Funʺ festivities during all sailings this month, highlighted by the debut of ʺPatch the Pumpkin Pirate,ʺ who towers 12 feet tall and greets guests as they board each ship. Kids can gather around Patch as they enjoy Scary Story Time hosted by the cruise director, plus both the young and the young at heart can stock up on candy and other goodies from costumed crew members at different venues throughout the ship. The events conclude with costume contests offering prizes for the most creative get-ups. In other news, Carnival, which carries more military personnel and their families than any other cruise operator, was presented with the prestigious U.S. Honor Flag on October 4, bestowed by the Miami-Dade Police Department Honor Guard in recognition of its support of the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. The U.S. Honor Flag flew over Ground Zero following the September 11th attacks and since then has traveled seven million miles, flying on the space shuttle Atlantis, and over the Pentagon, state capitols, presidential libraries, state and national memorials, as well as at funerals and tributes to fallen soldiers, police officers and first responders. Elsewhere, Carnival has announced a dry dock that will transform Carnival Victory into Carnival Radiance, representing the final phase of a $2 billion fleet enhancement program that has brought a consistent level of experiences from WaterWorks aqua parks, specialty dining, entertainment, enhanced accommodations and amenities, to the more than five million passengers who annually sail with the line. The refurbishment of Carnival Victory will add the line’s iconic culinary, bar and entertainment innovations and complete an “any ship, any port, any itinerary” level of service and offerings across its fleet of 26 ships. Following a 38-day dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, Carnival Radiance will enter service in 2020. Homeport and itinerary details for the vessel will be announced next month. www.carnival.com/

 

Celestyal Cruises has announced the appointment of Stewart Williams as Regional Manager, APAC. Williams will report to Marios Polydorou, Director, Sales and Travel Services, and will be based in Sydney. He is a commercial executive with more than 20 years’ experience in organizational leadership across Asia, the Pacific and Australasia. www.celestyalcruises.

 

Costa Cruises, AISM (the) Italian Multiple Sclerosis Association) and the Costa Crociere Foundation have created a joint project aimed at making vacations increasingly accessible to people with impaired mobility. For the first time in the cruising world, guests with disabilities will be able to participate in group shore excursions at no extra cost, with accessibility verified by AISM, in accordance with the most advanced international good practices. The new program, called “Adagio Tours,” will be available for booking beginning on January 1 for Mediterranean cruises on the line’s flagship Costa Diadema. Elsewhere, the line has announced that major renovation work will be carried out on Costa Fortuna at a Singapore shipyard from December 10 to 16. The work will involve the restyling of many public areas and the introduction of new services for guests, with an investment of 8 million. The 103,000-ton ship, which can accommodate 3,470 guests, is currently operating in the Asian market, but will return to Europe at the end of March, 2019, to offer one-week cruises in the Mediterranean departing Fridays from Genoa, Italy.  www.costacruise.com/

 

CroisiEurope will soon be revealing details of a new ship that will be introduced to its Rhône River fleet next year, bringing it up to four vessels. www.croisieuroperivercruises.com/

 

Crystal Cruises and Crystal River Cruises have introduced more than three dozen sailings through 2019 that offer low single supplements starting at just 110% of regular double occupancy fares.  In other news, on September 26, Crystal revealed renderings of its new “Diamond Class” ships, with the first of the class set to join the fleet in 2022. The luxury vessels will be approximately 67,000 gross tons, accommodate about 800 guests, and will be built at the MV Werften shipyard in Stralsund, Germany.  Next, the line has announced its President’s Cruises for 2019 and 2020. Crystal President and CEO Tom Wolber will host the December 1, 2019, “Panama Panorama” sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Caldera aboard Crystal Symphony, as well as the December 7, 2020, “Icons of Southeast Asia” aboard Crystal Symphony for an extended journey from Singapore. Closer in, Crystal’s 85-day “Grand Continental Odysseys” world cruise aboard Crystal Serenity embarks from Los Angeles on January 13, 2019, on a journey through Hawaii, Fiji and the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, Africa and the Mediterranean. In all, more than 300 Crystal Adventures ashore…24 of them brand new…are set to connect travelers with each destination.  www.crystalcruises.com/

 

Cunard has announced more than 140 shore excursions for the brand’s returns to Alaska with Queen Elizabeth’s four 10-night voyages round-trip from Vancouver, departing May 21, 31, June 10 and 20, 2019. Port calls will be made in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Victoria, and highlights will include scenic cruising through the Inside Passage, Tracy Arm Fjord, and Hubbard Glacier. And on October 4, Cunard introduced its ʺWorld of Adventure Sale,ʺ featuring fares from $999 as well as free drinks and free gratuities for Grill Suite guests, on select 2019 Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth cruises. The offer applies to sailings ranging from five to 50 nights to such destinations as Africa, Alaska, Asia, Australia, Japan, the Middle East, Northern Europe, the Pacific Coast, as well as trans-Atlantic voyages. Finally, the brand has announced that renowned designer, Adam D. Tihany has been appointed Creative Director of its upcoming new ship. Tihany will oversee the entire interior design process of the still unnamed vessel, which is scheduled to join the Cunard fleet in 2022. He has earned his reputatiob by creating beautiful spaces for luxurious and iconic hotels, restaurants and resorts across the globe, including The Beverly Hills Hotel, Belmond Hotel Cipriani and The Oberoi New Delhi.  www.cunard.com/

 

Disney Cruise Lines in early 2020 will offer families more ways to explore the world together with the addition of a new home port in New Orleans and a return to the Hawaiian Islands. The line will also return to Puerto Rico for a limited time and continue existing itineraries to tropical destinations from Florida and California. www.disneycruise.disney.go.com/

 

Dream Cruises welcomed its one millionth passenger with a celebration at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on October 19. Upon her disembarkation from World Dream, Hong Kong resident, Ms Mimi Lo, was welcomed at the terminal with a short celebration and ceremony. www.dreamcruiseline.com

 

Emerald Waterways ʺFly & Sailʺ sale through November 30 on European river cruises includes itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Douro and Rhône Rivers. Featured are flights from the U.S. to Europe for as low as $295 per person and a free Premium Drink Package, for a total value of up to $3,110 per couple. And Emerald will be welcoming esteemed names from the world of wine on-board its Emerald Liberté ‘Star-Ship’ next July for a one-time sailing through the renowned wine-producing region of Provence in the south of France. Featured will be private wine tastings, on-board wine masterclasses, and informal Q&A sessions complemented by the expertise of British Master of Wine, Tim Atkin; Australian Master of Wine, Andrea Pritzker; Canadian wine expert, D.J. Kearney; and American wine expert and talk show host, Robin Stark. www.emeraldwaterways.com/

 

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Martin Lister, Head of Itinerary Planning & Destination Experience, has won ʺCruiseCopenhagen’s Ambassador Award 2018ʺ for his work in promoting Denmark as a cruise destination and for creating itineraries that exclusively visit Danish ports. The CruiseCopenhagen Ambassador Award is given annually to a personality within the cruise industry, and is chosen by a panel of Danish destination partners. In other news, the company is is offering up to £200 per person in free onboard spending credit on a selection of its longer voyages, with durations ranging from 22 to 70 nights, for bookings made by November 19. The offer is available on five 2019/2020 itineraries, with destinations including the Adriatic and Dalmation Coast, India and Arabia, and Indian Ocean Islands. www.fredolsencruises.com/

 

Genting Cruise Lines has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesia’s state-owned terminal operator, PT Pelabuhan Indonesia III, as part of its ongoing commitment towards developing the country’s cruise tourism industry. The recent signing marks the second collaboration between both parties, following an initial agreement in April, 2017, and the successful deployment of Dream Cruises’ Genting Dream in North Bali later in the year. The company has been celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018 with a host of special offers, contests and giveaways to highlight a quarter century as a leader in the Asian cruise industry. Originally founded in 1993 as Star Cruises, Genting Hong Kong has been a significant force in establishing the Asia Pacific as a cruise destination and introducing the cruise product as an attractive vacation option to the growing middle class demographic in the region. Since then, Genting Hong Kong has grown in stature to become a leading player in the cruise industry not only in Asia, but also worldwide, and has amassed a host of other associated travel, tourism and hospitality enterprises as well. In 2015, the company enhanced its cruise portfolio with the acquisition of international luxury brand, Crystal Cruises, and the unveiling of its new premium cruise line, Dream Cruises, in order to accommodate the spectrum of passengers from contemporary to high-end, now collectively known as Genting Cruise Lines. www.gentingcruiselines.com/

 

Holland America Line is building on its collection of immersive, culinary-themed ʺFood & Wine EXC Toursʺ(shore excursions) with the addition of 20 new tours throughout Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada & New England. In partnership with Food & Wine magazine, HAL debuted 23 excursions earlier this year on select cruises in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe that explore food, wine and culture in some of the world’s hottest gastronomic locales. During these tours, guests take hands-on cooking classes with top restaurant chefs, go on culinary walking tours, visit wineries, sample authentic street food, explore local hideaways and more. In other news, HAL recently reached a milestone when the 20,000th travel professional graduated from the Holland America Line Academy, the brand’s travel agent training program offering learning through a combination of video instruction, reading and quiz interaction. Robin Dworkin, owner of GAP Travel in Levittown, New York, was the 20,000th to graduate, and received a bag overflowing with HAL goodies to commemorate the occasion. The Academy, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2017, began as a workbook sent to agents in the United States and Canada and later transitioned into an interactive online experience. Finally, When HAL’s Nieuw Statendam sets sail in December, the ship’s senior staff officers will bring a combined 80 years of company loyalty and experience. Captain Sybe de Boer, Staff Captain Kevin Beirnaert, Hotel Director Don Habets, Chief Engineer Eric van Loenen, and Environmental Officer Dolf Kramer are slated to lead shipboard teams. The 99,500-ton vessel currently is under construction at Fincantieri’s shipyard at Marghera, Italy. During its inaugural year, Nieuw Statendam will explore the Caribbean this winter and then move to northern Europe, Iceland and the Mediterranean next summer.  www.hollandamerica.com

 

On September 27, Lindblad Expeditions’ CEO & President Sven Lindblad unveiled plans for the line’s advanced polar expedition ship…the 126-guest National Geographic Endurance…at a live video conference. The first new polar build in the company’s history, the ship was named to honor legendary explorer Ernest Shackleton, and reportedly embodies every innovation and concept Lindblad has developed in over 50+ years of pioneering expedition travel. Fully stabilized with the highest ice class of any purpose-built passenger vessel, National Geographic Endurance is being designed to provide unprecedented access to polar environments, opening up previously unexplored opportunities areas as well as allowing Lindblad to explore familiar geographies for longer. in polar environments. The vessl is scheduled to be delivered in early 2020. www.expeditions.com/

 

MSC Cruises will be ringing in the upcoming holiday season with a new itinerary for cruisers sailing out of Miami, as well as themed onboard activities from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Joining MSC Seaside…sailing the Caribbean year-round from Miami…and MSC Divina…returning to Miami this month…MSC Armonia will kick off her first journey from Miami to Cuba on December 10, initiating the only seven-night cruise program including two weekend days in Havana, as well as calls at Montego Bay (Jamaica), Georgetown (Grand Cayman) and Cozumel (Mexico). In other news, launching in November of 2019, MSC Grandiosa will become the company’s newest and largest flagship. The vessel, currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, will be the first of the company’s two Meraviglia-Plus class ships. Departing on November 10, 2019, MSC Grandiosa will sail an inaugural itinerary through Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, and guests can choose from a 10 or 13-night program, embarking in Hamburg and disembarking in Genoa, Italy, or Marseille, France. MSC Grandiosa will be the third MSC Cruises’ ship to feature two new shows from Cirque du Soleil at Sea, a longstanding partnership between the line and Cirque du Soleil, a world leader in artistic entertainment. The partnership will ultimately result in a total of eight original shows, with two on each of MSC’s four Meraviglia and Meraviglia-Plus class ships. Next, MSC has announced a new chapter in its environmental stewardship program, introducing a commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from its entire fleet. By the end of this December, the line will phase out all single-use plastic straws on board its ships, and by next March, virtually all single-use plastics will be removed or replaced if alternatives are available. MSC has already engaged with thousands of partners and suppliers with a firm request to remove all plastics from its supply chain. And since 2009, bath and shampoo products in single-use plastic packaging have been replaced by refillable soap and shampoo dispensers in staterooms. Finally, on October 18, MSC and Fincantieri announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement for the construction of four luxury cruise ships for a total value in excess of 2 billion. The new vessels, the first of which will be delivered during spring, 2023, will each be of approximately 64,000 tons and feature 500 staterooms. The remaining three ships will come into service one per year over the following three years. Each will reportedly feature the latest environmental technology and innovative designs, and will result in a total of 17 new ships being built for the company by 2027.  www.msccruises.com/

 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss completed her inaugural season to Alaska from the Port of Seattle when she returned to the city on September 29, then made her way to Los Angeles, offering Mexican Riviera cruises before repositioning to Port Miami, Florida for her fall/winter season sailing to the Caribbean. Elsewhere, the line, along with the Island of Hawai’i Visitors Bureau, hosted a private event on October 2nd to celebrate the culture, history and people of Hawai`i. President and CEO Andy Stuart discussed the company’s long-standing support for the destination and its history of inter-island sailings from Honolulu 52 weeks each year. He also announced Norwegian’s most recent effort to encourage travel to Hawai`i…a new ʺFree At Seaʺ offer which provides free and reduced airfare from 37 airports nationwide as well as from Vancouver, B.C. In other news, the brand has announced that it will host Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and Grammy Award-winner Jon Bon Jovi’s ʺRunaway To Paradiseʺ cruise vacations in partnership with Runaway Tours, creators of intimate artist experiences, and Sixthman, the industry leader in music festival vacations. Norwegian Jade will be hosting Runaway To Paradise’s Caribbean cruise, which will be sailing from Miami to Nassau, April 12 to 16, while Norwegian Pearl will host a Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Palma, Majorca, August 26 to 30. www.ncl.com/

 

Norwegian Cruise Holdings, Ltd. has announced the opening of Ivan Dawson Primary School, the first school to be constructed as a result of the company’s ʺHope Starts Hereʺ hurricane relief campaign. Together with All Hearts and Hands – Smart Response, the company raised over $2.5 million dollars to deliver early relief response and rebuild safe, resilient schools in the Caribbean communities impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. A portion of the proceeds was used to build the primary school on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. On October 5, NCLH officials attended the grand opening celebration of the Kindergarten through sixth grade school, which will open its doors to students on October 31. www.nclhltd.com/

 

Poseidon Adventures’ two-year collaboration with photographer Filip Kulisev has resulted in a display presently in Monaco at Galerie des Pêcheurs. Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the exhibit, Polar Planet, on October 2, which is scheduled to run 24 hours daily through November 15, with admission free to the public. This is the third time that Kulisev has been honored with an exhibit in Monaco featuring his large-scale photographs highlighting the beauty and some of the most spectacular sites and wildlife of both the Arctic and Antarctic. The exhibition continues many years of cooperation between Kulisev and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which has three priority objectives: to limit climate change, to safeguard biodiversity, and to manage water resources.  www.poseidonexpeditions.com/

 

Princess Cruises’ guests sailing on Caribbean Princess since early September have registered satisfaction scores indicating they thoroughly enjoy using their high-tech ʺOceanMedallionsʺ to elevate their experience to a higher level by removing friction points, delivering enhanced levels of personalization and guest service, while staying connected with land-like internet streaming speeds. ʺOceanMedallionʺ is the wearable device that since early September has been used by all of the 3,100 guests on Caribbean Princess. In other news, the brand is inviting guests to send in their best images of destinations across the globe in its ʺSea to Sky Princessʺ photo contest. One thousand images will be chosen, framed and displayed throughout the stateroom corridors aboard the new Sky Princess when the ship debuts in October, 2019. One entry and its photographer will be awarded a grand-prize cruise for two, up to seven days, aboard the new vessel. The contest is open to guests 21 years of age or older and runs through this November 13th.   www.princesscruises.com/

 

Scenic’s new ‘Adventure Yacht,’ Scenic Eclipse, which enters service in January, will be featuring itineraries ranging from the Russian White Sea and the fjords of Norway to the Arctic Islands of Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland, plus the epic Northwest Passage. Highlights include several programs that will allow guests to discover the mysteries and magic of Greenland, the world’s largest island, the transformation of which from frozen tundra and coastline to an island of massive ice calving and melting has been the focus of many of the world’s leading environmental scientists. The Scenic Group has also unveiled a new travel agent rewards program with opportunities for agents who sell Scenic and Emerald Waterways river cruises and the new Scenic Eclipse, making it retroactive with credit given or all prior and current bookings made for travel in 2018 and beyond, and bookings made this month being awarded double points. One point is earned for every two dollars spent, excluding air components, taxes and non-commissionable products which form part of the booking, as well as any surcharge or service fees on payments made by credit card, charge card or other forms of non-cash payment. Since points are credited every two weeks, Scenic advises that many agents may already have points to redeem online for a substantial variety of products and gift cards.  www.scenicusa.com/

 

Seabourn is continuing its mission to inspire and inform guests with a new line-up of distinguished speakers for its Seabourn Conversations program during the 2018-2019 cruise season. Featured will be Royal Portrait Painter Richard Stone; American film director, producer, author and playwright Bryan Fogel; American astronaut Captain Scott Kelley; television producer and director Dean McFlicker; Asian affairs expert, novelist, blogger and syndicated columnist Jamie Metzl; co-founders of the Zagat Survey, Tim and Nina Zagat; Asian cuisine and culture expert Pamela Chen; film director, gourmet and entrepreneur Armando Manni; history professor Ben Taggie; author and mountain climber Paul Deegan; adventurer, explorer, mountaineer, “beer muse,” filmmaker, storyteller, and bestselling author Alison Levine; and the designer of the Apple 1 personal computer, Steve Wozniak. www.seabourn.com/

 

Guests of Silversea Cruises on a recent Silversea Expeditions voyage were treated to one of nature’s most stunning phenomena: the aurora borealis, or northern lights. This display of otherworldly green lights dancing across the night’s sky came into view as Silver Cloud sailed off the southwest coast of Greenland on September 4. In other news, the line has opened bookings for 191 new voyages, which will unlock 572 destinations in 84 countries from summer, 2020, into winter, 2021. Complimentary round-trip economy air transportation and transfers are included on virtually all of the newly announced itineraries. Next, Silversea and parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced agreements to build three new ships for the luxury brand that recently joined the RCL family. A memorandum of understanding was signed with German shipbuilder Meyer Werft to build two vessels in a new “Evolution Class,” the first expected to be delivered in 2022. Silversea has also signed a contract with Dutch shipbuilder Shipyard De Hoop to construct a new expedition vessel, to be named Silver Origin, that will serve the Galapagos Islands itinerary currently sailed by Silver Galapagos. The new vessel is expected to enter service in March, 2020. Finally, Silversea has launched a new collection of voyages to Cuba. Departing for Cuba from the United States for the first time in the line’s history, the 17 voyages have been designed to unlock authentic experiences for its guests, showcasing the best of the country through immersive land excursions in various destinations. Available to book now are five sailings of seven to 14 days in length during 2019, and another 12 departures are scheduled for 2020. www.silversea.com/

 

Vantage Adventures is touting its Nile River cruises aboard Mojito, a 136-passenger all-suite vessel that has been recently refurbished. Onboard faciities include a sun deck, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and spa, while each stateroom features a private bath with tub and hair dryer, minibar, safe, TV, and large windows. www.vantagetravel.com/pr

 

Virgin Voyages has announced that the company’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, will bring stylish tattoo artistry to the high seas with Squid Ink. To create this one-of-a-kind experience on board, Virgin Voyages has teamed up with ink industry legends from World Famous Tattoo Ink. When the vessel sets sail in 2020, she will have two full time resident tattoo artists on board, handpicked by ink industry legend Lou Rubino Jr., the visionary behind World Famous Tattoo Ink, Soho Ink and Freshly Inked Magazine. www.virginvoyages.com/