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Cruise W E E K L Y

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Older Australians cruising longer Over 85% of baby boomers take cruises of 12 days or more, according to Australia’s leading cruise specialist. An analysis by 2013 Best Travel Agency of the Year, Adelaide’s Phil Hoffmann Travel, has found that the vast majority of its customers are cruising for longer than ever before. According to the company, more than 85% of its clients travel 12 days or longer on cruise packages. “While the typical cruise holiday for boomers


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was previously five to 10 days, it’s now being stretched out anywhere up to one month or 100 days,” said Peter Williams, chief executive officer of Phil Hoffmann Travel. “This is a result of the inclusivity of pricing and ease of travelling that cruising provides.” Williams added that retired people, with both time and money on their hands, appreciated the value of all-inclusive packages that take care of flights, transfers, food and entertainment. According to Williams, the recent fall in the Australian dollar had not weakened demand for overseas cruises. “Regardless of the Australian dollar, most places in which boomers are choosing to visit have flat economies at the moment so they’re actually getting better travel rates,” he said. The Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Canada and Alaska were deemed the most popular destinations for baby boomers, with river cruising in Europe becoming one of the faster growing segments on the market. Emerging cruising destinations for the Australian market include Panana Canal, Hawaii, Tahiti and Antarctica. Phil Hoffmann, the company’s managing director, also said cruising was booming because of the greater range of choice. “Baby boomer travellers can now choose between a 60-passenger ship and a 5,000-passenger ship, and there are many more being built and coming onto the market. It’s certainly raised the bar for what cruising is all about.”

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Royal Caribbean consolidation Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has announced it will gradually implement a restructure to some aspects of the organisation over the coming year, which will see its eleven global contact centres consolidated down into three. The global cruising giant cited the need to “address efficiency challenges that are common in any business that has experienced rapid global expansion”. Call centres for both consumer and travel agent queries will be taken over by an external partner, with a number of other departments to be “centralised” or “regionalised”. RCCL said its proposal is “likely to mean some redundancies” however it is unclear at this stage how this restructure will affect the operations of its Australian offices. “We are currently working through the details, including specifics about the number of jobs that will be affected,” the company told Cruise Weekly in a statement. “However, we believed it was important to share this information with our staff at this stage and we have promised the team further updates as more details become available”. The line plans to appoint individual managing directors for each of its three brands, those being Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.


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cruise W E E K L Y

Tuesday 10 September 2013

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Berlitz names new top-rated ship The world’s 13-times highestrated cruise ship has finally been beaten – by its younger sister. After 13 consecutive years, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa has lost its winning status in Berlitz’s ‘Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships’, only to be overtaken by its sister ship and total newcomer Europa 2. Launched this year, Europa 2 scored 1,860

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points out of a possible 2,000 in the industryrenowned book’s rating system, compared to 1,851 points for Europa, placing them first and second in the small ships category (covering vessels with capacity up to 750 passengers). The German sisters were the only recipients of the 2014 edition’s “5-stars-plus” distinction. Hapag-Lloyd’s Hanseatic topped the boutique ships (up to 250 passengers), featured for the first time in the category’s top ten, and was the only expedition vessel to be awarded five stars. “In the 29-year history of Berlitz ratings, this is the first time two cruise ships are in the exclusive 5-stars-plus club,” said author Douglas Ward, who heads a team that annually assesses 285 cruise ships worldwide. “The Europa 2 has also achieved the highest score ever in the history of the book. She offers a great space per passenger ratio, much light through the high windows, an excellent and high-class culinary choice, and attentive and unobtrusive service.” Karl Pojer, chief executive officer of HapagLloyd Cruises, said they were proud to be global leaders in the luxury & expedition sector. “This score is a special distinction for the crews of the Europa and the Europa 2 who are setting the bar in the sector with their quality and service.” Hapag-Lloyd is represented in Australia by Landmark Travel - see MEANWHILE, Europa 2 will sail new waters as part of its second season in 2014-15, which was officially released late last week. Maiden calls will be made in New York City and Miami in the USA as well as Denmark, Sweden and Norway along with a series of four-day cruises in the Baltic and North Seas. The vessel will also visit Western Europe, the Caribbean & South America during the season. Complementing the season and appealing to its many new markets is the line’s first ever English language brochure, which is now available to download from the line’s website. A total of 167 ports in five regions will be visited, with many shorter itineraries able to be combined into longer cruises if required.

Viking adds to river ship order Citing “record levels of consumer interest”, Viking River Cruises has further boosted the number of new Viking Longships that it will launch next year from 12 to now total 14. The latest addition means that by the end of next year, the line will have launched 30 ships over the course of a three year period. Viking River Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen said the company was working hard to try and match supply with passenger demand. “More than ever, travelers want experiences that bring them closer to the destination, which is why we continue to design ships and itineraries with destinations and enrichment as the focus,” Hagen said. Earlier this year, Viking set a Guinness World Record by simultaneously christening ten new Longships in ceremonies around the world in a single day (CW 21 Mar).

Coral Princess spices up 2014 A NEW 12-night expedition of Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands has been unveiled as a new voyage in Coral Princess Cruises’ 2014/15 South Pacific brochure. The inaugural departure will be operated by the line’s Oceanic Discoverer vessel and is scheduled for departure on 14 October 2014 from Biak in West Papua. Cruising of the region’s limestone islands will feature in the voyage, with guests to also visit Cenderawasih Bay, the Spice Islands and Indonesia’s Tanimbar Islands, before ending in Darwin on 26 October. Stateroom fares for the voyage are priced from $10,990pp twin share for a Main Deck Category B, inclusive of a charter flight at the beginning from Darwin to Biak. Other inclusions in the new international brochure are a series of 10- and 12-night PNG voyages departing from Cairns and Rabaul, as well as a 25-night sailing from Cairns to Darwin which also circumnavigates Papua New Guinea. Coral Princess Cruises founder and managing director Tony Briggs said the new itinerary would appeal to “even the most well-travelled adventurer who thinks they have seen and done it all” - phone 1800 079 545 for details.

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cruise W E E K L Y

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Crew Profile This week Cruise Weekly speaks with Mary Murrin, Business Development Manager onboard Tauck’s The Tauck Class Vessels. How long have you been working on cruise ships? I’ve been working on river and ocean going vessels since 1996 and as a Cruise Director on European Riverboats since 2005. When did you join Tauck? I joined Tauck in 2008 as a Cruise Director on our Jewel Class European Riverboats. What is the best thing about working for Tauck? Tauck is a family owned company dedicated to the philosophy of our founder, Arthur Tauck, Sr – delivering excellent, transformative travel experiences that bring people together in a shared sense of anticipation and discovery. What is your favourite cruising destination? I have to say I love Amsterdam, Vienna and Budapest for the big cities on the European Rivers and the gorgeous Wachau Valley in Austria for the quaint villages, terraced vineyards and castle ruins. My favorite for ocean cruising has to be South New Zealand. Briefly, what does your job entail? I am in Business Development for our River and Small Ship Cruising brands. When onboard, my roles are to care for the guests and make sure everything runs smoothly. As Cruise Director, I act as onboard hostess, concierge, and liaison with our shore-side suppliers in regard to Tauck’s land-excursions. What do you enjoy most about your job? I derive the same amount of happiness working with our agent partners to grow their business with Tauck as I feel onboard the ships as the Cruise Director, working with the guests. What is the most interesting request you’ve received from a passenger? Helping a grandfather complete an antique chess-set collection was one of my favorite assignments. Wedding vow renewals are very special requests, too. Do you have any embarrassing cruise stories you can share with us? I remember once waking up in Vukovar, Croatia and announcing to the entire ship that we were in Vidin, Bulgaria. How do you spend your when you return home? When I’m home, it’s all about family. When you travel for a living, you live life in reverse…so going home is the vacation!

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Big sendoff for Seabourn Pride LUXURY small-ship line Seabourn is planning a big season of send-off celebrations for its outgoing vessel Seabourn Pride prior to its new ownership in the Windstar Cruises fleet. Fifteen Caribbean sailings from Nov through to Mar 2014 will be operated by the ship, with many former staff members being invited back to participate, along with classic menus and recreations of Presidential and State dinners. The ship’s final departure as Seabourn Pride will depart Florida’s Fort Lauderdale on 30 Mar and will be a trans-Atlantic voyage, upon conclusion of which it will undergo renovations to become the Star Pride, debuting on 05 May.

APT to open up German castle Germany’s Burg Namedy Castle is being opened up exclusively to Australian guests travelling on APT’s Royal Experience European river cruises in 2014. Princess Heide von Hohenzollern will open the doors of her home, inviting Australians to a champagne reception in the Knights Hall ahead of a banquet dinner in the Hall of Mirrors. The castle is located in Andernach in Western Germany, between Cologne and Frankfurt, and dates back to the 14th century, with natural parkland protected by German heritage laws.

Luxury land touring with A&K Shore excursions for passengers aboard Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and Silversea vessels visiting Australia in the 2013-14 season will be handled by Abercrombie & Kent. A&K will be responsible for offering a range of high-end land touring products for guests of all three lines in all Australian ports visited by the trio during the season. “We are extremely pleased that all three cruise companies have placed faith in A&K’s ability to service their needs and requirements in the Australian market place,” Abercrombie & Kent Australian MD Sujata Raman said.

New website for Louis Cruises Greek Island cruising and ferry operation Louis Cruises has launched a new website sporting a variety of upgraded features. Along with an updated departures calendar through to the end of next year, the new portal boasts a redesigned layout with improved navigation and a boosted booking engine. Destination information on a host of new ports to be serviced, including Chios, Milos, Symi, Samos, Ios and Syros also feature with high-resolution photos, videos and brochures.

P O R T H O L E EARLIER this year, Holland America Line implemented popular US ballroom dancing show Dancing With The Stars as one of its entertainment options on its fleet of ships. Since then, it has been hosting dance competitions among guests on its fleet of 15 ships worldwide, and early next year will crown its ultimate Dancing With The Stars: At Sea champion on an upcoming seven night “Champions Cruise” in the Caribbean, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Set to sail on the MS Nieuw Amsterdam, the line has recruited professional dancers Kym Johnson, Tristan MacManus & celebrity actress Sabrina Bryan to judge and decide on the ultimate winner. Winners from dance competitions on other ships will gather together for the voyage to compete on the Champions Cruise, with the celebrity judges available to mingle and take photos with guests. The professionals will also conduct dancing lessons with guests & parade the glamorous costumes worn on the show in a special fashion parade, all while the ship travels around a number of exotic Caribbean ports. Cabins are still available for the voyage but are selling quickly, so consult your travel agent if you wish to be among the glamour.

P&O social media milestone P&O Cruises has announced the line this week set a new social media milestone by reaching 250,000 “likes” on its Facebook page. The company said that over the last year, the number of “likers” has grown by approximately 12,000 on average each month, with its range of interactive and engaging content attributed to the increase in popularity. Such content includes frequent competitions, travel polls, special offers, share their own P&O holiday photos with others as well as establish communication in advance with fellow guests boarding an upcoming cruise. “Cruising and social media are a match made in heaven and really adds to the excitement before, during and after a cruise,” Carnival Australia marketing director Simon Cheng said. Cheng added that based on current growth, the line hopes to reach half a million likers at some point over the next year.

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cruise W E E K L Y

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Ship Review: National Geographic Sea Lion by: Roderick Eime VITAL STATISTICS

Passengers: 62 Crew: 22 Built: 1982 Refurbished: 2005 Demographic: English-speaking, active mature couples and singles. Carefully chosen families with bright, well-adjusted kids. Facilities: Single-sitting Dining Room, Guest Internet Access, Kayaks, Spa, Library, Lounge with bar, Open Bridge, Sun Deck, Wellness Program, Zodiacs, underwater cameras. Some guides (e.g. Berlitz) fail to mention the spa and wellness program. While not extensive, it caters well to the number of likely customers. There is also some fitness equipment on the sun deck. Itineraries: Alaska from Juneau and Sitka (May-Aug); the Columbia & Snake Rivers from Portland (Sept-Oct) and Baja/Sea of Cortez from La Paz (Jan-Mar). Cabins: 31, across three categories - small, from 7sqm. Food: While some might describe the dining as plain and it is certainly unpretentious, but the food is tasty, healthy and wholesome, with excellent use of locally-sourced produce. A quality rather than quantity mindset reinforces health and responsibility. Service: Relaxed, cheerful and informal, the crew, staff and naturalist guides feel more like extra guests and become part of the travelling contingent without feelings of delineation and segregation. Tipping: ‘Crew gratuities at guests’ discretion’ Entertainment: Expedition ships do not have formal entertainment typically, so most is self-generated conversation, movies, documentaries, reading and just relaxing under the stars. Naturalist lectures are engaging and well presented with plenty of audience participation. There is a definite focus for photographers with dedicated

Stunning destinations up close

lectures, facilities and workshops. Excursions: Shore trips range from self-guided strolls through the little villages to highly informative, expertly guided nature hikes through the forest and aboard Zodiacs. Dress code: Smart casual, comfortable and practical. Leave your sequins and heels at home. Like any expedition ship, your packing list should reflect the destination with appropriate footwear & outer wear a priority. Who would love it: Active, intelligent, inquisitive grown-ups predominantly, but NG Expeditions also cater well for kids with naturebased educational program and activities. On some expedition ships, I have occasionally found ill-suited guides with great CVs but poor personal and organisation skills. The NG team are easily equal to the best I have ever experienced with a focus on guest enjoyment and not self-aggrandisement. Birdwatchers, nature and animal lovers, outdoorsy types and those looking to rid themselves temporarily of urban stresses. Most passengers tend to be drawn from the non-cruise sector and very few will have been aboard the biggest cruise ships and if they have, are unlikely to make it the topic of discussion at dinner. Expect to meet lively, well-travelled types. Mainly Americans, but don’t let that put you off, I found my shipmates in Alaska delightful. Who would hate it: If you’re a traditional big ship kind of person, you might find yourself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable surroundings. There’s sod-all to remind you of the lavish, red carpet treatment you may be used to in the owners’ suite. There’s no expansive 24hr buffet, Las Vegas style entertainment or slot machines, but I’d wager that’s what most people aboard are trying to get away from. If you’re judging a ship by its Berlitz rating, and NG Sea Bird is a lowly 1.5 stars, you’re missing the point. This is not a ‘ship’ experience, it’s a nature experience and an exceptional one.

Cabins designed for comfort and function

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

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Inspirational shore excursions

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CW for Tue 10 Sep 2013 - Baby boomers cruising, Europa 2 tops Berlitz, Royal Caribbean, P