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Published in: Cruise News

American Queen Steamboat Company announced it has completed trials of RebelRocket Wi-Fi optimization service aboard its flagship American Queen vessel. 

By reducing undesirable traffic, RebelRocket improved Wi-Fi performance while simultaneously lowering cost, according to a press release. 

Thurman Jones, director of IT at American Queen, turned to RebelRocket to make better use of available internet capacity, according to a statement. 

A trial began mid-cruise which meant guests experienced Wi-Fi without RebelRocket and then with the new traffic optimization. The solution opened up existing bandwidth for the content passengers want by eliminating unnecessary background traffic. 

“We just turned it up with a simple DNS address change and off it went," said Jones. 

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Published in: Cruise News

Norwegian Cruise Line said the Norwegian Getaway is back and has completed its first sailing after the ship’s extensive refurbishment as part of The Norwegian Edge program, according to a press release. 

Following a two-week drydock at a Damen facility in Brest, France in late May, the Norwegian Getaway returned to Copenhagen, Denmark, after completing her first sailing showcasing new venues and artwork, updated social spaces and refreshed accommodations and décor.

The renovations were completed just in time for a summer of Scandinavia, Russia and Baltic cruising.

“Norwegian Getaway is the youngest ship in our fleet to cruise Europe this season,” said Andy Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We are proud to showcase her and the new experience she delivers to guests exploring the region this summer. A season of European sailing immediately following her multi-million-dollar renovation showcases our commitment to the market, where our brand has been honored as “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” by the World Travel Awards for the 11th consecutive year.”

New outlets aboard Norwegian Getaway include the company’s first onboard, full-service Starbucks-licensed store available in the European market, and the popular rock ‘n’ roll-themed entertainment venue, Syd Norman’s Pour House.

In addition, as part of the revitalization, nearly 800 pieces of art were incorporated aboard the ship, and over 20 percent of those works of art are original pieces.

Notable works include an original installment by sculptor Eric Levy, whose work is also featured on Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Escape. The piece is displayed prominently in the ship’s atrium. 

Norwegian Getaway will complete her Scandinavia, Russia and Baltic cruising in late October 2019. She will then return to North America to homeport for the first time in New Orleans for a winter and spring of Western Caribbean cruising in November 2019 with routine calls to Norwegian’s island destination in Belize, Harvest Caye. In 2020, Norwegian Getaway will return to Europe to sail the Mediterranean for the first time while homeporting in Rome (Civitavecchia) for a summer of cruising Italy and the Greek Isles.

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Published in: Cruise News

As of June 8, 2019, all plastic straws will be eliminated across the entire Crystal fleet, according to a statement.

The company announced the initiative as the latest part of its Crystal Cares program, which comprises a broad spectrum of environmental efforts and sustainable practices. Paper straws will be available throughout the dining venues aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity as well as aboard the company’s yacht, Crystal Esprit, and the Crystal River Cruises fleet. New ships will never carry plastic straws. 

“Crystal has always recognized that the world we travel is precious and deserving of our utmost care, and that all measures contributing to the preservation of our marine environments can make a significant impact,” said Crystal’s president and CEO, Tom Wolber. “This initiative, as well as the others under our Crystal Cares program, ensure that we are continuing our focus of caring for our world in meaningful ways.”

The company also recently announced a partnership with ORCA – a leading conservation organization dedicated to the protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises – which will bring Cruise Conservationists aboard select Alaska voyages for training, research and data collection as part of its OceanWatch program.

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Published in: Cruise News

At 5:00 a.m. Friday morning, local time, the American Harmony moved under its own power to the Chesapeake Shipbuilding's outfitting pier for her final touches.

It's the second modern riverboat for American Cruise Lines, following the launch of the American Song last fall.

The construction process is well ahead of schedule for its August 17, 2019 inaugural cruise on the Mississippi River, the company said, in a statement. 

Construction on the American Jazz, the third ship in the modern riverboat series, is well underway and will be launched in about three months at Chesapeake Shipbuilding ahead of her 2020 launch. More new ships will follow in 2021 and 2022 as part of a five-ship newbuild program. 

"The American Harmony will have the same sophisticated modern design and state-of-the-art technical features as the series flagship," American Cruise Lines said, in a statement. "The American Song, including the same unique opening bow and retractable gangway. The American Harmony has 10 more deluxe suites on its upper deck and features huge all-outward facing staterooms, all with private furnished balconies. Like American Song, American Harmony also has a gorgeous multi-story glass atrium in the center of the ship."

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Published in: Cruise News

Lindblad Expeditions announced today that it will become a carbon neutral company beginning in 2019.

Lindblad’s announcement also supports National Geographic’s ongoing efforts to identify greenhouse gas emissions associated with its travel programs, the company said, and decrease that impact by offsetting carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated.

Lindblad Expeditions’ investments will effectively offset 100% of emissions from their ships (eight from the Lindblad-National Geographic fleet and five leased), all land-based operations, employee travel, offices in New York and Seattle, and additional small but measurable emission contributors.

“As a company, recognizing that global climate change is arguably the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, we all need to urgently step up our efforts whether big or small,” said Sven Lindblad, CEO and Founder of Lindblad Expeditions. “Our goal is to reduce and offset our carbon footprint, and to commit to carbon neutrality throughout the many layers of our business. It has become increasingly more apparent that we, human beings, and our planet which sustains us are out of balance. Climate change and its resulting impacts on global biodiversity and human health and livelihoods has provided a clarion call and awakening. The message is clear; we must rebalance and rebalance urgently.”

“We are thrilled with Lindblad’s commitment to be a carbon neutral company,” said Nancy Schumacher, EVP Travel and Tour Operations of National Geographic Partners.  “We recognize that travel contributes to the overall human footprint that affects the Earth’s climate, and have been actively working to reduce this impact over the past decade, investing more than $1.5 million in verifiable carbon offset projects.  We look forward to working together to spur further climate action.”

Working in partnership with South Pole, a developer of international emission reduction projects, Lindblad Expeditions now has a portfolio of six carbon project investments that align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These investments focus on renewable energy (solar and wind), reforestation, and community-based projects in six countries, including Mexico, Peru, and Vietnam.

South Pole requires independent third-party verification and regular monitoring of all projects in their portfolio to ensure they deliver the stated impacts and adhere to the highest internationally recognized standards. Further, South Pole ensures emission reductions are accurately measured and verified to deliver transparent annual public reporting. 

Carbon neutrality joins a diverse portfolio of corporate sustainability programs recently expanded under the direction of Amy Berquist, Vice President of Conservation, Education, and Sustainability.

“We are always looking for creative and meaningful ways to support the health of the environment and the people and ecosystems reliant on it,” Berquist stated. “Committing to carbon neutrality is a natural extension of our core beliefs, especially in the face of increasing threats posed by climate change.”

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Published in: Cruise News

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has provided an update on the new Cuba travel regulations and the estimated financial impact to full year 2019 expected financial results.

“Our three brands are working diligently to accommodate the needs of our guests and travel partners as we quickly modify itineraries to meet the new Cuba travel regulations,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, in a prepared statement. “We share in the disappointment that comes with these changes especially on such short notice and sincerely appreciate the cooperation and understanding of our guests for this inconvenience. Our brands have put in place generous compensation programs that offer guests and travel partners a compelling, value-packed alternative.”

The extremely abbreviated timeframe to modify our itineraries to be in compliance with the new travel restrictions to Cuba has exacerbated the impact to the company’s earnings estimates, Norwegian said, in a statement.

The restrictions impact all three of the company’s cruise brands, with approximately 25 percent of the impacted capacity days attributable to the combined sailings on the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, the majority of which were Cuba-intensive premium priced itineraries.

ailings that included a Cuban port of call represented slightly more than 3 percent of the company's remaining sailings in 2019 for all three brands.

The modification of these itineraries, the substantial discounts offered to guests for them to remain on their booked cruise, the accommodation of cancellations and changes to reservations, incremental marketing investment to support the compressed sales cycle for the modified voyages, along with the protection of travel agent commissions will result in an estimated impact to Adjusted EPS for full year 2019 of approximately $0.35 to $0.45. 

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Published in: Cruise News

Ponant has announced a culinary addition to its Quintessential Collection, a series of themed-itineraries that dig deeply into special subjects and destinations.

The seven-night "Epicurean Delights of Southern Italy and Sicily" cruise aboard Le Jacques-Cartier is scheduled for October 18-25, 2020 and features two noted food and wine experts, Eric Asimov and Arthur Schwartz, who will share their in-depth knowledge of the extraordinary food and wine culture of Southern Italy and Sicily throughout the cruise. 

Fares start at $5,600 per person.

During the cruise, Eric Asimov, who is chief wine critic of The New York Times and the author of How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto and Wine with Food Pairing Notes and Recipes from The New York Times, will share insight into menus, ingredients and wine pairings. 

Also featured is Arthur Schwartz, a former food editor of Newsday and the New York Daily News, where he was also a columnist and restaurant critic. His book Naples at Table: Cooking in Campania is considered the definitive English language book on the subject, according to a statement. He is an acknowledged expert on Southern Italian cooking and gastronomic culture.

The program is an opportunity for passengers to explore and experience with experts the various roles food and wine play in relation to physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Guests will immerse themselves in the bounty of Sicily and Southern Italy’s regional cuisines as they sample pastas of Syracuse, wines of Mt. Etna, artisanal meats and cheeses of Calabria, and mozzarella from Agropoli. Thanks to rich volcanic soils and a variety of splendid grapes, wonderful reds, whites and sparkling wines abound.

The cruise begins in Civitavecchia and includes stops in Gaeta to see the cathedral bell tower and ancient fortifications; Naples with visits to Pompei and Herculaneum; Agropoli for a side trip to Paetum; Vibo Valentia for a visit to the hilltop town of Tropea; Taormina in Sicily noted for its stunning Greek Theatre; and the archeological sites of Syracuse before a final stop in Valletta in Malta.  An optional pre-cruise overnight program in Rome is available

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Published in: Cruise News

Aurora Expeditions debuts the new Greg Mortimer in October, sailing from Ushuaia on its inaugural Antarctica cruise, and has recently signed for a second newbuild from SunStone Ships set to debut in 2021. 

By all accounts, the new Infinity-class SunStone newbuild is just a response to demand, according to Robert Halfpenny, managing director, in an interview in the 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

"We’ve sold 96 percent of the total capacity to date and the ship is being built ahead of schedule,” he said, in an interview with Cruise Industry News from his Sydney, Australia office.

The company has gone from chartering Russian vessels to the unique 54-guest Polar Pioneer to now a long-term charter of the first new SunStone ship, purpose-built for the expedition market and Aurora Expeditions.

he new ship has been configured for global deployment, according to Halfpenny, allowing the company to fill in the shoulder seasons with revenue-generating sailings with 80 cabins up for grabs. In the Polar Regions, capacity is trimmed to 120 to provide a premium experience.

"Our differential in the market place is small groups, and the reason we are selling out is people are picking up on that,” he said.

Sixty-five staterooms will offer balconies, with CMI Leisure overseeing the hotel product aboard.

“Greg (Mortimer) founded the company under the principal of getting out there and dirty; we have so many activities … that is part of our difference.”

Doubling capacity and driving sales, the company has opened new sales offices in Vancouver and the UK. Sourcing has gone from 10 percent of guests being from outside of Australia and New Zealand to 30 percent, with Halfpenny targeting 40 percent by the end of 2020.

With the Polar Pioneer exiting the company’s fleet, Aurora will add a second newbuild in 2021.

“We’ve signed for a second ship,” Halfpenny said. “2021 is already 40 percent sold out.

--

About the Expedition Market Report:

The 2019 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News is a comprehensive overview of the booming expedition market, profiling 39 operators, over 40 new ships and projecting capacity growth through 2027. The 196-page PDF is a deep dive into all aspects of the expedition cruise market.

Report Preview | Table of Contents | Download Now

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Published in: Cruise News

Silversea Cruises has announced Bill Davis has joined Silversea in the role of Vice President Expedition Operations and Development, commencing June 1, 2019.

Based in Miami, Davis will oversee the Silversea’s expanding expedition destination operations, assist with the development of new programs, and manage the cruise line’s Expedition Field Staff.

e will also oversee the Silversea Expedition Academy, which recruits and trains expedition talent.

In addition to working extensively in the field, in which he has led and participated in more than 200 expeditions on more than 40 vessels since 1993, Davis has gained an MPhil in Polar Studies from the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University. As well as both Polar Regions, Davis has journeyed to the world’s remotest locations in the South Pacific, South Atlantic, North Atlantic, Russian Far East, Newfoundland & Labrador, Alaska, and around the coasts of the UK and Norway, among others.

“I am delighted to have joined the team at Silversea Cruises at this exciting time,” commented Davis. “With destination expertise that is unparalleled in the industry, the cruise line’s Expedition Team is enabling guests to really explore the authentic beauty of the world in depth, sharing local knowledge and expertise accrued over many years. I am excited to further enhance Silversea’s offering for guests, with more immersive experiences in spectacular destinations.”

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Published in: Cruise News

Aurora Expeditions today announced that it has entered into an agreement with SunStone Ships to build a second expedition vessel for delivery in autumn 2021.

“Sales for our polar voyages have been phenomenal; with a virtually sold out upcoming Antarctic 2019-2020 season," said Robert Halfpenny, managing director. "In excess of 60% of the inventory has already been sold for Antarctica 2020-2021 and with the second ship, we are now able to ensure that the demand for places is met without causing disappointment to those who have not been able to join us during Greg Mortimer’s inaugural season.”

The ship will be a sister to the soon-to-be-launched Greg Mortimer, which enters service for Aurora later this year.

The new ship will launch out of Ushuaia in autumn 2021 before heading south for the 2021-2022 Antarctic season.

News on the ship’s name will be released shortly.

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