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New ship No. 10 — AIDAprima

Last in a series of new ships for 2016

If you think you’ve read about this “new” ship before, well, you have. Right here, one year ago, when the AIDAprima was to be among the class of 2015. Well, it wasn’t. Originally scheduled to be launched last spring, AIDA Cruises announced in October that the AIDAprima’s delivery date will be “announced at a later date” with a maiden voyage in the spring, subtly pointing the finger at the Mitsubishi shipyard where it’s being built, in Nagasaki. The first cruise for sale is the end of April. When it arrives, the AIMAprima is expected to introduce its mostly German clientele to a “new age of cruising.”

Launch date: March

Capacity: 3,300

Sister ships: Unnamed in 2016, or 2017, or…

Maiden voyage: Yokohama to Dubai

Home port: Hamburg

Ships then in AIDA fleet: 11

Interesting: The first ship to operate year-round from Hamburg, the AIDAprima will offer 7-day vacations  with “guaranteed sunshine” with 4 Elements and the AIDA Beach Club. In both, water, air, earth and fire will guarantee such a climate under an expandable membrane roof that allows UV rays in and that is “almost invisible” to the eye. Besides physically resembling Norwegian ships with colourful bow designs, AIDA is also introducing more of a “freestyle” concept on board, with dinner reservations not necessary and casual dress the norm. The AIDAprima, with 18 decks and 13 restaurants, will have novel balcony rooms — walk-in closets, two bathrooms and room for two loungers on the deck. Now, about that launch date…

In the news…

• Multimillion-dollar renovation for Carnival Inspiration starts Monday
• All new shows coming for Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas
• Cunard ships partnering with the Savoy Beaufort Bar and Jack Daniel’s

Today at portsandbows.com: Cruise awards from readers of USA Today 


Celebrity Summit
7 nights
April 9, 2016
San Juan (return): Tortola, Fort-de-France, Roseau, St. Kitts, St. Thomas
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $69
www.celebritycruises.com

Deal Too Good, Too Late To Be True

Normally, we let our “Daily Deal” deliver some value cruises for you to consider but once in a while there’s something extraordinary that deserves an even better treatment…A couple Allureof days ago we had one — you do notice that’s past tense, right?…It was a Transatlantic trip on Allure of the Seas, the (starting) price was $659 with 50 per cent off for the second guest, plus up to $200 for an on-board credit…For 12 days, it worked out to less than $50 a day on one of the two biggest cruise ships in the world, as long as bookings were made by January 31…Well, guess what?…Today is January 20, and it’s no longer available…Obviously, eagle-eyed consumers snapped up the rooms but it does leave you wondering how many Royal Caribbean made available in the promotion.

Now here’s a clever idea: When the AIDAsol arrived in Vietnam this week, immigration AIDAsolofficials boarded the ship at Buoy 1, three hours before docking at Tan Cang-Cai Mep, to process the 2,176 passengers, most of them German…By the time the AIDA ship reached the port, the process was finished and passengers were able to disembark right away…On their most recent health inspections, in Fort Lauderdale, two Holland America ships — the Noordam and the Zuiderdam — were perfect (100) in scores by the Centers for Disease Control.

The line-up for the Olympics has begun…The Norwegian Getaway is first in the line-up of cruise ships for Rio de Janeiro, where the Summer Games will be staged in 2016…The Getaway will be impersonating a hotel from August 5-21 next year, just like its smaller Getawaysibling, the Jade, did at the 2012 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia…With a capacity close to 4,000, the Getaway will help take some of the stress off Rio’s hotels, at the same time providing its “passengers” with luxurious accommodation and presumably earning a few “reals” — you didn’t know that’s what Brazilian currency was called, did you? — for the cruise line…The Getaway has experience at this, having served as a floating hotel at last year’s Super Bowl in New York…It doesn’t hurt that Getaway’s ambiance and treatment are decidedly Spanish.

Super BowlFile this one in the “When Will It End?” drawer…In a major Canadian newspaper (Toronto Star) there was a story about Carnival’s advertising on TV during the Super Bowl next week, and the second paragraph read: “Carnival, of course, is the line whose ship, Triumph, became a PR disaster in early 2013, when it got stuck at sea for almost a week due to an engine fire”…Seriously?…That was two years ago and, after all the things Carnival has done to restore its public stature, the cruise line hardly needed a Super Bowl ad to make image amends.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's latest technology

Carnival Triumph
10 nights
February 20, 2015
San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Croix, Falmouth, Galveston
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $54
www.carnival.com

New ships: Le Lyrial, Mein Schiff 4, AIDAprima

Fourth in a series about new ships

Le-Lyrial

Ponant’s Le Lyrial

If you’d like to know how the wealthy French cruise, this could be as close as it gets. The Ponant ships are like large yachts, with a crew-to-passenger ratio better than 2-to-1, with a promise that every guest will be pampered, entertained and enlightened, and an idea of cruising synonymous with French elegance…beyond cuisine and fine wines, of course.

Launch date: April 18
Capacity: 264
Sister ships: Le Soleal, L’Austral, Le Boreal
Maiden voyage: Istanbul to Venice — 21 days
Home port: Venice
Ships now in Ponant fleet: 5

Interesting: Le Lyrial’s contemporary decor was inspired by the blue light of the Vega star in the Lyra constellation. All guests will have spectacular ocean views and access to a fitness center, library, swimming pool, beauty salon and all the usual amenities, only French style. After summering in the Mediterranean, it’s apparently heading to Antarctica, an unusual destination for French elegance.

 

Mein Schiff 4

TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 4

The second new-build from German-based TUI Cruises, a joint venture with Royal Caribbean. The other ships in the TUI fleet were purchased from Celebrity and re-named, the first the former Galaxy (2009) and the second the Mercury (2011), becoming Mein Schiff 1 and 2, respectively. The first new-build was Mein Schiff 3, which arrived last year.

Launch date: June 6
Capacity: 2,506
Sister ships: Mein Schiff 3
Maiden voyage: Eight days, from Kiel (return) to the Baltics
Home port: Kiel
Ships then in TUI Cruises fleet: 4

Interesting: By the time TUI is finished, there will be five sisters, once Mein Schiff 8 arrives in 2019, all of them new-builds and probably all like the first one, Mein Schiff 3. That means, like Mein Schiff 4, they’ll be environmentally friendly, carry 2,506 passengers, and have 15 decks, 11 restaurants and 82 per cent of its cabins with balconies.

 

AIDA Prima

AIDAprima

The artwork on the hull is probably the tip-off that this 18-year-old German-based line is designed for young, fun-loving, German-speaking and physically active cruisers. Like Norwegian, it’s ultra-casual in both its dress code and dining options, and the AIDAprima will be its largest ship, the first of two, the second due to arrive next year. As yet, No. 2 is unnamed but it will be AIDAsomething.

Launch date: October 1
Capacity: 3,250
Sister ships: (Coming in 2016)
Maiden voyage: In two stages, the first from Tokyo to Dubai (49 days), the second from Dubai to Hamburg (38 days)
Home port: Hamburg
Ships then in AIDA fleet: 11

Interesting: Built for Germany’s largest cruise line at Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, AIDAprima will have 18 decks and 75 per cent of the rooms will come with balconies and one of its many activities is ice skating. With an opening voyage almost three months long, you can be sure the German cruise masters will have everything just right.

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival's 12th FunShip 2.0

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
January 31, 2015
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau 
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.ncl.com

Protecting The Privacy Of Passengers

The much-publicized (can you say 24/7 on TV?) hacking at Sony this month once again raised the issue of cyber security in every business, which of course includes cruise lines.

While all of them have to pay close attention to the issue, it appears that Carnival was a little ahead of the curve, hiring a specialist with a long history in a similar position with Supervalu, a $37 billion grocery retail and supply chain.

With good reason.

Carnival the Cruise Line is the tip of the “Internet Iceberg.” Carnival the Corporation is the whole iceberg and it includes the following cruise lines (in case you never knew or have Gary Eppingerforgotten): Holland America, Cunard, Princess, P&O, Seabourn, Costa, AIDA, P&O Australia and Iberocruceros (Spain).

Pretty much a world-wide iceberg, right?

Several months ago, Carnival (the Corporation) hired a security expert, Gary Eppinger. After you strip away his lengthy vice-president’s title and list of responsibilities, his primary duty is to make sure the privacy of passengers on ships from all 10 brands is protected…as much as personal information can be protected.

“Millions of customers go onto our ships every year,” he told Travel Pulse. “We look at our ships as floating cities with gambling, hospitals, multiple retail stores, and everything’s connected to your room key. Security is critical for us, because of this huge installed base of customer information. There are things we can do and have done and are doing to put us in a better position to reduce our exposure and risk.”

Reduce? That’s right…there are no absolute guarantees in cyberspace.

“Our navigation systems are in a segregated offline network, so we built controls in place to prohibit things like that happening,” Eppinger explained in the Travel Pulse story. “But with every wall you put up, somebody’s always trying to break in, through or around that wall. We do look at it continuously, and whatever the odds are, they’re still too high.”

Carnival, and every business, knows they are at risk of…becoming another Sony.

Today at portsandbows.com: The most popular 'long' cruises

Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
February 2, 2015
Miami (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $42
www.carnival.com

Cruise numbers continue to grow in Bermuda

 

We won't tell you how many years it took us to discover Bermuda, other than  to say "a lot." Our first trip there was on a cruise ship, earlier this year. As a tourist destination, Bermuda has been around for a few hundred years…or just a little longer than we have.

Now, and this year more than ever, others are discovering it as we did, on a cruise.

By year-end, there will have been almost 350,000 passengers to visit Bermuda, undoubtedly some of them for the first time. Next year, it will be more, and they'll come not just from all kinds of ships, but from all kinds of directions.

Ships…

There have been the usual ships, like Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas and Norwegian's Dawn, making regular calls to the Royal Naval Dockyard at this, Great Britain's oldest overseas territory. Then this year, along came the Norwegian Breakaway, from New York every week, ands with it another 90,000 tourists.

Princess will be making a stop with three ships next year — the Ruby Princess, Emerald Princess and Ocean Princess. Carnival will pop in with the Spirit and the Splendor for the first time.

Directions…

Most ships have been coming from the New York and Boston areas. In 2014, they'll also come from South Carolina, and Bermuda's plan to expand on that include courting Aida, a little-known German cruise line that has a limited presence in North America. The next thing you know, they'll be coming to Bermuda straight from Europe.

If you've been there that won't surprise you. If you haven't, go.

Carnival Sunshine
7 nights
February 2, 2014
New Orleans (return): Key WestFreeportNassau
Inside: $429
Cost per day: $61
www.carnival.com

 

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