Cruise update

by Steve Hartridge

Havila Voyages ready to sail in August

New cruise company Havila Voyages has announced that its first two ships will begin operations this August.

Avila Canella will start cruises along the Norwegian coast on August 24, while Havila Castor is expected to sail a week later on August 30. When they launch, Capella and Castor will be the most environmentally friendly ships to sail along the Norwegian coastal route and will feature the world’s largest battery packs.

Two more ships (Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux) will join the fleet in 2022, as previously announced. The ships will be operating as part of a 10-year contract with the Norwegian Government to sail the coastal route from Bergen to Kirkenes.

The 12-day return voyage will visit 34 different ports, sailing through narrow fjords and open seas and will travel high up into the Arctic Circle.

Matthew Valentine, UK Country Manager, commented, “We are incredibly excited about welcoming our first guests on-board in August. "The coastal voyage is the ultimate bucket-list trip, allowing guests to immerse themselves in Norwegian culture and enjoy unique experiences such as the Midnight Sun and magical Northern lights.

"Having a range of durations and payment options gives agents the flexibility to either sell a complete package or add a point-to-point sailing as part of a more complex itinerary.”

The large battery packs fitted to each ship will allow them to sail through the fjords and other vulnerable areas for up to four hours at a time - quietly and emission free. The batteries will then be charged in one of the numerous ports along the route, using clean hydropower.

Other environmental initiatives include the use of LNG, a hull specially designed to be energy efficient in the Norwegian coastal conditions and a heat recovery system. The combination of these changes means that each ship’s CO2 emissions have been cut by around 25% and Nox by 80-90%. Longer term, the company has a goal to offer zero-emission voyages.

The ships will offer 179 large cabins, with onboard menus reflecting Norway’s culinary traditions and using the highest quality Norwegian produce.

Prices start from £241pp for a two-day trip from Trondheim to Bergen on a cabin-only basis. The six-day southbound voyage from Kerens to Bergen starts from £497pp, while the 12-day round trip costs from £829pp on a full-board basis. Prices are based on departures from December 15-31 2021.

Ponant reveals cruises with Smithsonian tie-up

PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys, which last month announced an alliance on a series of small ship expeditions, have unveiled their first cruise destinations.

The new itineraries for 2022 will feature Smithsonian-crafted cultural experiences onboard and on land.

The 19 departures will explore Antarctica, Japan, Iceland, the Mediterranean, British Isles, the Great Lakes, the Norwegian fjords and more, offering guests the chance to engage with a variety of experts ranging from archaeologists and scientists to anthropologists and historians.

Treasures of Japan by Sea, a seven-night and eight-day cruise, will see Le Solae sail from Kobe to Osaka, with highlights including an Udonnoodle masterclass at a Takamatsu cooking school, a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and a tour through Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens in Okayama.

With a departure on April 15, 2022, prices start from £4,460pp.

A seven-night and eight-day cruise in Southern Spain and Portugal will see Le Bougainville and Le Champlain explore the Portuguese and Spanish coasts, from Lisbon to Barcelona. Stops include Cádiz, from where guests will visit the oldest royal palace in use in Europe; the Alcázar de Sevilla, Granada, to enjoy a private after-hours visit of the Alhambra; Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. Departures are on May 3 and October 30, 2022, with prices £3,060pp.

A Voyage Along the Great Lakes will see Le Bellot cruise on all five Great Lakes in one cruise, the eight-day itinerary departing from Toronto, on the shore of Lake Ontario, before continuing through each of the lakes, passing sights such as Niagara Falls before sailing the length of Lake Michigan and ending in Milwaukee.

Departure is on September 18, 2022, with prices starting from £4,180pp.

Seabourn's Grand Pacific Odyssey

Seabourn has put on sale its new Grand Pacific Voyage 2022: A World of Islands, a 65-day cruise on Seabourn Odyssey.

It willdepart Vancouver, Canada, on September 30 2022 and will arrive at Sydney, Australia, on December 5 2022.

It will sail to 41 ports, 30 islands and 12 countries and the itinerary will include five overnight stays.

Guests will also have the option to embark the voyage in Seattle on October 1 2022.

Stops will include Hawaii, French Polynesia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

“The Pacific Ocean is a phenomenon all of its own – so vast, so beautiful, with such a wide range of destinations and cultures for guests to discover, so demand for this 2022 Grand Pacific Voyage has been very strong,” said Josh Leibowitz, President of Seabourn.

A line-up of optional Overland and Seabourn Journeys will explore sites on land that cannot be accessed on single-day excursions from the ship.

Discounts off the cruise-only fare, for those who book the entire 65-day Grand Pacific Voyage and pay in full by May 31 2021, are available.

For those who cannot commit to the entire 65-day Grand Pacific Voyage, shorter segments are available.

Those who book the full Grand Pacific Voyage by February 28 2022 will receive a host of exclusive benefits that include round-trip air, shipboard credit (Ocean View and Veranda Suites receive $2,000 per suite while Penthouse and Premium Suites receive $3,000 shipboard credit per suite), private car transfers door-to-door between home and the airport and more.

Princess unveils Dine My Way initiative

Princess Cruises this week unveiled Dine My Way, another of its flexible Medallion Class enhancements.

The initiative is designed to make it easy for guests to pre-plan and tailor their dining experiences, and pairs with the cruise line's OceanNow on-demand service to offer more onboard dining flexibility and convenience.

The line says Dine My Way gives guests the freedom to make reservations in onboard dining rooms and speciality restaurants at times they prefer and with whom they wish to dine. It will also help optimise capacities in dining rooms and restaurants on board, manage wait times, and give guests significantly more flexibility.

When making a reservation, guests will be able to add additional friends or family members with whom they are travelling, select their preferred pace of dining (relaxed, quick, etc), indicate their desired seating location (near window, close to entrance) in the Ocean profile, share dietary preferences and allergen information and pick the same venue and dining time each night.

“We believe guests are going to love the control and customisation Dine My Way offers,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises' President.

“Instead of restricting dining choices during the pandemic, we’ve been able to expand the options for our guests and thanks to the unique, innovative capabilities of the OceanMedallion, reduce wait times and eliminate the need to stand in line.”

In addition, Princess’ OceanNow on demand menu has been expanded to include entrees and beverage options from restaurants throughout the ship with guests' requests delivered directly to their location.

OceanNow orders can be made using the MedallionClass app on a smart device, via the stateroom TV, or by having a crew member place the order on the guest’s behalf.

OceanMedallion is a wearable device that pairs with IoT-driven innovation to enhance and personalise the guest experience.

Princess MedallionClass holidays are also marked by streamlined embarkation and disembarkation, touchless payments and keyless stateroom entry.

Disney UK cruises set to leave guests spellbound

Disney Cruise Line has announced details of its Disney Magic at Sea UK staycation cruises this summer.

Guests can look forward to Disney storytelling and onboard entertainment and dining on two-, three- and four-night cruises in waters around the UK coast that will depart from a variety of ports including Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle and London Tilbury.

Offered by Iglu Cruise and aimed at families, the cruises will feature surprise appearances throughout the ship by Disney characters, a pianist playing favourites from the Disney songbook and "epic encounters" with Marvel superstars including Iron Man, Spider-Man and Black Panther. Theatre shows will feature the characters of Frozen, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Cinderella and Aladdin.

The cruises kick-off with a two-night cruise, sailing from Liverpool, on July 18, priced from £540pp. A two-night sailing from Southampton on August 30 is priced from £563pp, while a departure from Newcastle on September 6 starts from £449pp for the two nights and a three-night cruise from London Tilbury on September 24 begins at £703pp.

The sailings are only available to UK residents and vaccination is mandatory for guests 18 years of age and older. Those under 18 must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken between five days and 24 hours prior to the departure date.

Additionally, multiple health screenings will be conducted before and during the cruise, and face coverings are required for all guests aged 11 and above as well as all crew members, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

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