Welcome to the Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine Blog where we keep you up to date with things about cruises that are part of cruise news, useful, interesting and even irrelevant but fun in the world of cruises and cruising.

Friday, July 23, 2010

MSC Cruises Confirms Construction of New Ship

MSC Cruises announced the conclusion of the legal process that finalizes the order and confirms construction of a new ‘Fantasia’ class cruise ship, MSC Fantastica, by STX France making it the 12th ship in its fleet.

An important factor in the success of the project was the financial backing provided by French financial institutions, and especially by Coface, the French Export Credit Agency, making it possible for the vessel to be delivered as required by MSC Cruises by the end of spring 2012.

According to Jacques Hardelay, General Manager of STX France, he’s pleased with the contract being confirmed. “We look forward to continuing the long-standing relationship between the teams of MSC Cruises and STX France for the successful delivery of this magnificent vessel,” said Hardelay.

MSC Fantastica will build upon the success of the ‘Fantasia’ prototype, offering a unique experience for guests in its class thanks to innovative features such as the MSC Yacht Club, exclusive ship-within-a-ship area onboard, for unprecedented levels of privacy and personalized service.

Pierfrancesco Vago, worldwide chief-executive-officer for MSC Cruises, said, “We are delighted at the confirmation of this important investment--a sign of the success of our ambitious growth strategy. Together with STX France, we are focused on further enhancing MSC Cruises' leading positioning within the world’s cruise industry.

For more information on MSC Cruises, visit www.MSCCruisesUSA.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hapag-LLoyd Cruises Returns to the Great Lakes in Fall 2011

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is happy to announce the return of their Great Lakes cruises in 2011. MS COLUMBUS, built in 1997 was specifically designed to navigate the locks of the Great Lakes, and is therefore one of the few ocean-going cruise ships that can successfully travel through the wonderful scenery of the Great Lakes of North America. The COLUMBUS offers a unique opportunity to experience a European cruise ship on two Great Lakes itineraries in 2011.

The two international (German/English) Great Lakes itineraries provide the rare opportunity to visit seven different states, two Canadian provinces, and all five lakes. A highlight of the Great Lakes journeys is when the COLUMBUS proceeds through the eight locks of the 28-mile long Welland Canal, after tackling a height difference of almost 328 feet. Guests will also be presented with numerous opportunities for outings which include: attending a real Pow-Wow and traversing the Agawa Canyon on an excursion that takes them where tourists seldom go, through a breath-taking wilderness with waterfalls, ravines and steep passes.

The 2011 COLUMBUS international cruises ensure English-speaking passengers feel comfortable from the moment they step onboard. Travel Documents and information is provided to guests in English prior to their trip. Documentation in English onboard includes: daily programs, menus, announcements, lectures/video presentations, and safety drill instructions. Shore excursions are offered in English at each port of call. Lastly, the entire crew is fluent in English.

For an overview of Hapag-LLoyd Cruises visit the Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine page on Hapag-LLoyd Cruises or visit the official web site here.

Photo courtesy Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Worlds Best Cruise Lines from Travel & Leisure

Featured in Travel + Leisure’s August issue, available on newsstands July 23, Travel + Leisure announced today their list of the World’s Best awards - and Crystal Cruises, the Yachts of Seabourn and Abercrombie and Kent clean up the cruise categories.

Crystal Cruises, winning the award for the World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line have held onto their #1 ranking every year since the poll began in 1996.

The top ten large-ship cruise lines, ranked in order, are:

1 - Crystal Cruises
2 - Regent Seven Seas
3 - Oceania Cruises
4 - Disney Cruise Line
5 - Azamara Cruises
6 - Cunard
7 - Celebrity Cruises
8 - Holland America Line
9 - Royal Caribbean International
10 - Princess Cruises

The Yachts of Seabourn also top their own list as the World’s Best Small-Ship Cruise Line

The top five small-ship cruise lines, ranked in order, are:

1 - The Yachts of Seabourn
2 - Silversea Cruises
3 - Lindblad Expeditions
4 - SeaDream Yacht Club
5 - Windstar Cruise

And in a new category, Abercrombie and Kent wins the award for the World’s Best River Cruise.

The top five river cruise lines, ranked in order, are:

1 - Abercrombie and Kent
2 - Avalon Waterways
3 - Tauck
4 - Viking River Cruises
5 - Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

The results of the Travel + Leisure questionnaire, developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure, were collected from readers between December 15, 2009 to March 31, 2010 and addressed the cruise lines, their cabins, food, service, itineraries/destinations, activities, and value.

For more awards for the top cruise lines take a look at the 2009/2010 Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine Best Cruise Lines

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The "Opera Babes" Join Fred Olsen Mediterranean Cruise

As part of a special programme of top quality musical and comedy entertainment on selected 2010 cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is delighted to announce that the ‘Opera Babes’ will be the headline act on board a Black Watch autumn cruise to the Western Mediterranean.

The cruise, W1018, is of 14 nights, departing from Southampton on 15th October 2010, and visiting Gibraltar, Menorca, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Ibiza and Almeria, before returning to Southampton. The ‘Opera Babes’ will join the ship in Barcelona and entertain guests on board for the remainder of this cruise.

Rebecca Knight, soprano, and Karen England, mezzo soprano, were discovered by a talent scout in 2001, when they were busking in Covent Garden. Their first big break came when they were booked to perform at the FA Cup Final, giving them a worldwide audience of 500 million people, and they have never looked back. Their first album was launched to great critical and popular acclaim and reached Number 1 in the UK Classical Charts, selling over a million copies, and also reaching Number 4 in the US chart.

They have performed for Her Majesty The Queen on several occasions – including the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, and the launch of the Commonwealth Games, and have sung with many of the world’s leading orchestras. A highlight was performing alongside Placido Domingo at the Los Angeles Opera. They have made numerous TV appearances, both in the UK and USA, and made musical history by being the first classical act to perform at the world famous Stardust Casino in Las Vegas.

The duo has released two highly successful albums – ‘Beyond Imagination’ in 2002, and ‘Renaissance’ in 2006 – and Fred. Olsen customers will have an exclusive opportunity to see them on board Black Watch this autumn.

Prices for the cruise start from £999 per person and the price includes all meals and entertainment on board – including, of course, performances by the ‘Opera Babes’ – and port taxes. The price is based on two adults sharing an inside twin cabin.

Find out more about all Fred. Olsen’s “Music and Laughter at Sea” cruises by visiting www.fredolsencruises.co.uk Book online, call Reservations on 01473 742424 or see your ABTA travel agent.

Also visit the Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine general overview of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cruising the Rivers of West Africa

Ever in the search of new and exciting destinations, cruise lines are helping their guests find ever more exotic locations to explore.

Variety Cruises, for example, now offers The Rivers of West Africa cruise departing Fridays from Dakar in Senegal, sailing down the Saloun River to the following ports of call:
* Diffjre, a quaint fishing community
* Dakar, notable for its expansive markets filled with local treasures
* Tendaba, home to Kiang West National Park and the Baobolong Reserve
* Kuntaur, a thriving port village on the Gambia River
* Janjangbureh, location of River Gambia National Park
* Banjul, capital city of Gambia near the Nature Reserves of Abuko and Makasutu

Passengers will sail aboard Variety Cruises' mega yacht Pegasus, which hosts just 46 guests with 23 cabins in a relaxed, congenial atmosphere. The vessel was refurbished in March 2010.

And to make the lure of the African rivers even more enticing, Variety Cruises now welcomes guests on its new Rivers of West Africa cruise with two free nights at a four-star hotel in Dakar, Senegal for bookings made by September 30, 2010. The inaugural special is valid pre- or post-cruise for category A and B cabins and includes two transfers. The exotic program sets sail from December 24, 2010 through March 4, 2011, with fares starting at $2,240 per person, per week.

The Rivers of West Africa special does not apply to currently confirmed or group bookings. Reservations and 50% payment required by September 30, 2010.

For more information, please visit http://www.varietycruises.com/, or call 1-866-944-8498 (Canada) and 1-800-319-7776 (US).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company

A brand new idea for entertainment at sea - the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company is set to debut in October on the brand new Queen Elizabeth from Cunard Line.

Performing in the new ship’s majestic Royal Court Theatre, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company will present a variety of musical productions and abridged versions of popular plays such as a Neil Simon triple bill and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”

Video blogs about the new entertainment programme have been posted on the WeAreCunard YouTube.com channel, and Prow's Edge Blog brings you a taste of what it to be offered below with Queen Elizabeth's on-board Entertainment Director Alistair Greener chatting with Cunard President Peter Shanks (Part One) and Martin Lilly, director of entertainment (Part Two).

For more information about the original line up of entertainment, take a look at the latest news page about the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Company at Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Norwegian Epic sets off on First Caribbean Cruise

Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and largest Freestyle Cruising ship ever, sets sail today from Miami on its first Caribbean cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, following the ship’s successful inaugural festivities. Starting today, the ship is sailing alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries every Saturday and is home ported in Miami through April 2011.

The 153,000 gross tons, 4,100-passenger vessel is the first new ship to homeport in Miami in three years. Norwegian Epic billed as the world's largest floating entertainment venue with world-class entertainment unlike anything before seen at sea, made its successful maiden transatlantic voyage from Southampton, UK on June 24 and arrived in New York on July 1. The ship was christened by country music superstar Reba MeEntire on July 2, before setting sail on a two-day preview cruise. It returned to New York to host the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks® Spectacular and then departed for Miami on July 5.

“We are thrilled to have Norwegian Epic set sail on its first Caribbean voyage,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far and we are looking forward to a really strong and successful inaugural season.”

The ship will sail alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. Its first voyage will be to the Eastern Caribbean, with stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas. In the Western Caribbean, Norwegian Epic will visit Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan, Honduras.

For more news on the Norwegian Epci take a look at the Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine news item at NORWEGIAN EPIC READY TO SET SAIL - Final sea trials completed for Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Award for Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine

Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine is once again the winner of an award, this time from Iglucruise.com who have included Prow's Edge in their list of Highly Recommended Cruise Guides and News Websites.

"(These) sites, we feel," say the folk at Iglucruise.com, "are the best ... within these online pages you’ll find everything you need to plan the perfect cruise, as well as keeping current with the latest developments and insider’s news from the cruising industry.
Since the number of cruise sites out there is understandably huge (the ocean is a large place), our judging panel for this award set its standards impeccably high. All of the sites you’ll find below are distinct in their presentation and usefulness, and while each one is a powerful cruise resource in its own right, combined they are an all-encompassing guide to every aspect of the industry."

IGLU is one of the biggest travel companies in the UK, and has millions of people visiting the site every year. IGLU has won many awards based on their hard work and dedication to the customer, who they offer many holiday destinations to, as well as a range of information.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bargain Cruise to Canada for less than $70 / day

MSC is offering a roundtrip, 13-night, fall foliage cruise from New York, NY for less than $70 per day or $899 per person (plus government fees and taxes, GFTs) through August 31.

Guests interested in shorter fall foliage cruises can sail from $499. Plus, it’s an affordable family vacation because kids 17 and younger cruise free (only pay GFTs starting from $79.25 per child) on all Canada/New England cruises when sharing a stateroom with two paying adults.

This 13-night, roundtrip cruise from New York, NY on October 16 calls in the Coastal Atlantic ports of Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island known for their seafood and national parks and featuring a special overnight stay in Quebec City, Quebec.

The voyage continues through historical Boston, Massachusetts to explore such sites as the Freedom Trail. Then, onto Newport, Rhode Island where the Vanderbilt and other well-known family mansions are located, prior to MSC Poesia’s return to New York, NY.

For a general overview of MSC Cruises take a look at the Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine MSC Cruises profile or visit www.MSCCruisesUSA.com

Photo courtesy MSC Cruises

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pandaw Cruises' Floating Hospital

Exactly two years ago, with emergency funds raised by Pandaw Cruises passengers, Pandaw Cruises bought a brand new ship and fitted it as a floating hospital, all for under US$250,000.

The motorised 128 ft barge contains a modern clinic, dispensary, accommodation for doctors and paramedics with messing area. There are ample holds below decks for storing supplies and Pandaw Cruises installed a water treatment plant, generators and even a parking space for a light truck.

The hospital ship was loaned to the UK medical charity Merlin in September 2008 who ran the medical side whilst the Pandaw team operate the marine side.

Between September 2008 and March 2009 4,487 patients were treated by the Merlin team on board.

During the hot season 2009 the vessel was also used to deliver fresh water to villages. The holds were relined and painted to carry water that could be pumped out into communal tanks.

Pandaw Cruises are currently working with the Myanmar Foundation of Germany who will supply medical services as the cruise line continues to provide the marine operation.

The Myanmar Foundation have just spent a further US$50,000 on fitting out a proper operating theatre, with X ray, ECG and USGt. Pandaw Cruises have used further charity funds to invest an additional US$30,000 towards updating other equipment on board.

New operations begin in the Delta at Phapone with a circuit around villages in that area from July 2010 with three doctors, three nurses and auxiliaries on board.

The Pandaw Hospital Ship is a long term solution to the medical crisis in the Delta.

For details on helping this project with your donation - please visit Pandaw Cruises at https://www.pandaw.com/cyclone_appeal_burma.php/cPath/104_103

Friday, July 2, 2010

More Success for the International Cruise Victims Association

Crime and death at sea is not happy topic for those of us looking for news and information about taking a cruise - but as we keep saying in the Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine - Safety at Sea pages - it's not about obsessing about the gory details: it's about being informed and learning that we can avoid the dangers and actually work together to make the cruise vacation the safe and secure option it ought to be.

And no one works more tirelessly with this in mind than Kendall Carver, President of the International Cruise Victims Association, who has today announced the success of years of activism in bringing about changes in legislation that are designed to change the law so that passengers are more safe at sea and have more rights in following up the unfortunate situation should they become victims of crime at sea.

Details of the latest developments can be found at the latest Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine news item "International Cruise Victims Association (ICV) brings about landmark changes for victims who die at sea".

A sobering thought for those of us who might still want to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that this is not a problem we need to be aware of can be found in the latest petition from the ICV that highlights in a very sobering way that this not a problem we can ignore.

For more information about the International Cruise Victims Association, please visit www.internationalcruisevictims.org or contact Kendall Carver at Kcarver17@cox.net or phone 602 852 5896 or 602 989 6752

For more information about the issues of safety at sea and the legislation surrounding this, take a look at the unique Prow's Edge Cruise Magazine section about Safety and Crime at Sea