Cruise Wrap: PONANT and Norwegian’s new agent programs, Celebrity wins top wine awards + MORE

We are particularly excited about this week’s Cruise Wrap, not only because it mentions wine, but there are lots of pretty pictures too.

PONANT launches Kimberly Facebook program

PONANT is hosting its third series of online lectures on their Facebook page in this month, focussing on Australia’s Kimberly coastal region.

Stretching over 12,000 kilometres, with more than 2,500 islands, Australia’s Kimberley coast is like nowhere else on earth. One of the world’s last great wilderness areas, and one of Australia’s greatest natural assets, it is a destination that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. From migrating humpbacks, to Ospreys and Frigates, horizontal waterfalls, Devonian barrier reef and soaring sandstone cliffs, PONANT specialists share their knowledge of this special place.

The line invites agents to watch the weekly presentations throughout July on Facebook and learn from each specialist as they share their expertise. This series of virtual lectures is easily accessible every Thursday in July HERE.

Norwegian launches ‘book-a-BDM’ platform for agents 

Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ‘Book-a-BDM’ platform allows travel agents to book a personal session with their regional business development manager.

The 30-minute BDM sessions can be used to discuss anything from product to itinerary updates or training, depending on the travel agent’s preference, and can be booked as a phone call or conference call via Zoom at any time. If state restrictions and agency allow, in-store meetings are also available. Travel agents can register for a ‘Book-a-BDM’ session on HERE.

NCL is also hosting its ongoing ‘News & Network’ webinar series for travel partners, with each session presented online by its team of business development managers. Future sessions will continue to focus on specific regions and itineraries from the line’s newly unveiled sailings for 2021-2022. Agents can view the latest Europe 2021-2022 on-demand webinar HERE.

The brand has further launched a dedicated Australia and New Zealand Partners First Facebook group, where agents can keep across NCL’s latest updates.

Adventure Canada taps into the Northern European market 

In 2021, Adventure Canada will offer five expedition voyages in northern Europe, including a new Basque Country expedition cruise showcasing the wild scenery and unique, age-old traditions of the Basque culture centred around the Bay of Biscay.

In June and July, 2021, Adventure Canada’s European sojourns will feature the maiden Basque Country cruise, a voyage around the Scottish Isles, a journey from Scotland to Iceland, a circumnavigation of Iceland and an expedition from Iceland to Greenland.

Adventure Canada is offering a 15 per cent earlybird saving on Adventure Canada’s five European expeditions in 2021 while Australian partner, Cruise Traveller, is exclusively offering a free, one-night stay before each of the cruises. The offers are valid for bookings made by October 31, 2020.

SeaLink gets new chair and independent non-exec director + snags Brisbane ferry contract 

SeaLink made some changes to its board of directors following the retirement of current chair Andrew McEvoy from 30 June 2020.

In light of the rapidly changing and uncertain business environment in 2020 due to COVID-19, the board has appointed Jeffrey Ellison to act as chair. Ellison has worked at SeaLink in various roles since 1997 including as Managing Director from 2008 up until his retirement in January 2020.

SeaLink also appointed Lance Hockridge as an independent non- executive director of the company. Hockridge has extensive international experience in the transportation, manufacturing and logistics sectors with a focus on safety, operational and financial transformation of businesses.

Meanwhile, Sealink’s subsidiary company, River City Ferries has been contracted as the new operator of Brisbane City Council’s iconic CityCat, CityHopper and Cross River Ferry networks following a competitive tender, securing SeaLink’s first marine public transport contract since acquiring Australia’s largest privately-owned metropolitan bus company, Transit Systems in January 2020.

SeaLink’s services are planned to commence on 4 November 2020 for a term of up to 15 years and will secure up to 250 local jobs, as well as the operation of 31 vessels and add millions of passengers to the 360 million passengers that the group already moves globally each year.

Crystal Serenity’s 2023 voyages open for booking

The latest deployment from Crystal features an exploration of the Black Sea, Dalmatian Coast, South Pacific, Africa, New England and Canada, Caribbean and more

In 2023, the ship will sail individual voyages of seven to 23 nights, as well as a full World Cruise offered with 140-, 128- and 119-night options, and combination sailings of up to 100 nights without repeating ports.

Hurtigruten’s big rebound

Following the departure of the MS Finnmarken from Bergen last week – marking the world’s first ocean cruise ship to resume sailing – Hurtigruten now has four ships offering guests the Original Coastal Voyage on the Norwegian coast, with MS Midnatsol, MS Richard and MS Trollfjord all offering sailings from this week.

Hurtigruten coastal sailings are currently open to the Norwegian and Danish domestic market and, following an engaging local campaign encouraging Norwegians to take “a big adventure” with Hurtigruten, locals have jumped at the chance to experience the wonders of their own coastline this summer season.

Viking releases 2022 river/ocean combination cruises

Viking has released two brand-new 2022 departure dates for its popular river/ocean combination cruise, the 15-day Rhine and Viking Shores & Fjords between Bergen and Basel or vice versa.

Clients can choose to commence with the river portion or the ocean portion; both new departures sail on 23 September 2022 and are priced from $9,990 per person twin share in Standard Stateroom/Veranda Stateroom, including savings of up to $2,500 per couple plus an additional saving of up to $800 per couple for new-to-Viking guests as part of Viking’s Journeys Worth Planning promotion.

The 15-day combination cruise fuses Viking’s eight-day Rhine Getaway river cruise between Basel and Amsterdam with the eight-day Viking Shores & Fjords ocean itinerary between Amsterdam and Bergen. With calls in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland, the voyage delivers a seamless European exploration for those who enjoy the best of both worlds.

Plus, guests can book their future travels with confidence with Viking’s Risk-Free Guarantee, knowing they have the freedom to change or postpone their cruise up to 24 hours before departure.

Celebrity Cruises scores top wine awards

Celebrity Cruises has taken out 12 Wine Spectator 2020 Awards of Excellence.

Awarded to only the finest restaurant wine programs around the world, the recent accolades include two of the most prestigious ‘Best of Awards of Excellence’, for Cyprus on Apex and Normandie on Edge.

Since Wine Spectator began including cruise line restaurants in their annual awards in 2013, Celebrity Cruises has exceeded any other cruise line by taking home 77 awards, including three “Best of Awards of Excellence”, the only three ever awarded in the cruise industry.

Australian wine-lovers will soon have the chance to experience the award-winning wine list of Grand Epernay Restaurant (Award of Excellence since 2013) on the upcoming Celebrity Solstice Australia sailings.

Oceanwide participates in Cleanup for Sarah

In memory of Sarah Auffret, AECO’s environmental agent who tragically passed away March last year, Oceanwide Expeditions took part in an AECO-organized waste removal effort known as Cleanup for Sarah on June 16, her birthday.

Auffret led AECO’s initiatives for Clean Seas, a UNEP campaign that seeks to drastically reduce single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise vessels while also enhancing passenger participation in Arctic beach cleanups.

Traditionally, Oceanwide’s beach cleanups in the Arctic have taken the form of yearly waste removal events along the coasts of Spitsbergen, which are supervised by the governor of Svalbard in cooperation with AECO.

Due to the current travel restrictions, however, staff have done their own cleanups in small groups near the main office or individually in other areas around the world.

Dream Cruises extends ‘Cruise As You Wish’ policy 

As ongoing global uncertainties continue to affect travel plans for many, Dream Cruises is extending their ‘Cruise As You Wish’ assurance policy with the aim to assist guests in their decisions to cruise and most importantly to provide peace of mind in view of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

This policy extension allows all new and existing bookings made for Genting Dream’s sailings prior to or on 9 April 2021 to have the flexibility to cancel up to 48 hours prior to sailing and receive 100 per cent future cruise credit to be redeemed on any Dream Cruises or Star Cruises sailing embarking on or before 30 September 2021.

Cruise Traveller: Cruise pause a chance for small ship market to revamp

Boutique and expedition cruise operators have an opportunity to redefine themselves as they rebound to become the first cruise sector to restart operations after Covid-19, according to Cruise Traveller, which represents more than 50 boutique, luxury and expedition cruising operators around the world.

The managing director of the Gold-Coast-based cruise wholesaler, Craig Bowen, said the expedition cruise sector had grown rapidly in recent years with a record number of small ships being launched and commissioned to meet surging demand and each showcasing eco-sustainable innovation the sector had become renowned for.

Bowen said small ship expedition companies were more aligned with the adventure travel industry than the mass cruise ship sector and that the challenging events of the past few months had highlighted the many benefits of small ship cruising and the lower risk profile of smaller vessels.

“Cruise Traveller’s bookings for 2021 product to the end of May, 2020, are 32 per cent up on the same period last year for 2020 sailings,” Bowen said.

“While most of our guests are keen to travel overseas again in the future, the number of small ship voyages around and close to Australia will soon rise markedly and this will help satisfy pent-up demand.”

Mr Bowen said that while larger cruise ships had dominated the close-to-home market for many years, Covid-19 had prompted many of Cruise Traveller’s small ship partners to debut new and creative itineraries around the Australian coastline which were already selling strongly.

Royal Caribbean extends suspension 

Royal Caribbean Group has extended the suspension of most sailings through to 15 September 2020, excluding sailings from China, suspended through the end of July, and sailings to Bermuda, suspended through 31 October 2020.

Wärtsilä and Pastrovich Studio team up for sustainable hybrid boutique cruise vessel

Technology group Wärtsilä has signed a partnership agreement with architect and yacht designer Stefano Pastrovich on the design of innovative sustainable superyachts for the boutique cruise sector.

The design will feature a fully-integrated combination of hybrid propulsion and solar panels for minimal environmental impact and high energy efficiency, allowing it access to harbours that would otherwise be closed to large motor yachts.

The concept is built around a 60-metre long catamaran with accommodation for up to 36 passengers.

Wärtsilä has extensive hybrid propulsion and energy recovery experience which will be leveraged in the new design, and has already worked with Pastrovich in other successful projects. These include the 99m X-Vintage in 2011 and the 101m X-Expedition in 2017, an innovative design that bridges the worlds of Cruising and Superyachts.

Featured image credit: ©PONANT/Nicolas Matheus


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