Monday, 10 June 2013

River cruises affected by flooding

Heavy rains and flooding in Central Europe last week has resulted in river cruise lines altering and cancelling cruises in the area.


The cruise line has not cancelled any sailings with most cruises operating as scheduled, while some itineraries have been altered slightly.

One June 6, guests embarked the Amadolce on the line’s Magnificent Europe schedule on the Rhine River. The sailing is continuing as scheduled.
The Enchanting Rhine itinerary which embarked on June 7 began with one night’s hotel stay in Amsterdam, with a sightseeing tour of the city on June 8 before transferring to Cologne. Guests will embark the Amacello in Cologne and continue their cruise on schedule.
Guest travelling on the Melodies of the Danube will begin their cruise with one night at the Hilton Westend in Budapest on June before transferring to an alternate ship, the AmaBella for the remainder of the cruise.  

Guests sailing on the Blue Danube Discovery itinerary had excursions planned to Salzburg, Vienna, Durnstein and Melk. Further updates will be posted on June 10.

Guests embarking on the Legendary Danube itinerary on June 12 will check-in as planned in Prague on June 9, and embark the ship in or near Nuremberg depending on water levels.
 For the Blue Danube Discovery itinerary, embarking June 11, guests checked-in as scheduled on Sunday June 9 at the Sofitel Hotel in Budapest for their pre-cruise extension. For guests without a pre-cruise extension in Budapest, the Tuesday June 11 meeting point will be at the Sofitel Budapest. There are three meeting times: 10hoo, 14h30 and 17h30. All guests will then be transferred to Bratislava for one night at the Sheraton Bratislava. On Wednesday June 12, the itinerary will continue with a hotel stay in Vienna. Further updates will be posted on June 10. 

Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has cancelled the June 7 cruise of River Ambassador and the June 9 sailing of River Beatrice. Impacted passengers will receive a full refund and a future cruise credit of $500. Uniworld has also cancelled the June 16 sailing of the River Empress. Passengers were encouraged to rebook another date but were also being given the option of a full refund. They will also be compensated with a $500 per person future cruise credit. 

The flooding also caused Uniworld to either alter the itinerary or cancel the remainder of several cruises that were in progress. Passengers with cruises cancelled mid-sailing will also receive a full refund and future cruise credit. They can elect to remain onboard while the line helps them make arrangements to return home. 

For more details refer to

Scenic Cruises:

For a list of affected cruises visit:

Avalon Waterways has cancelled the following cruises:

Legendary Danube (June 2); Blue Danube Discovery and Jewels of Central Europe (both June 7); Magnificent Europe (June 8 and 9) and Austrian Highlights & Bavaria (June 10), an 18-day Grand Danube cruise from Bucharest to Prague leaving Saturday (June 8) and a 13-day Blue Danube Discovery from Budapest to Prague (June 13).

Affected passengers are being contacted, and will receive full refunds and discount vouchers for a future cruise, as well as refunds on airfare booked through Avalon and change fees for independent air arrangements. 

Other Avalon sailings have had alternations, such as transferring passengers to different ships on the other side of the Main-Danube canal or doing a partial sailing combined with hotel stays. These passengers are receiving some compensation, commensurate with the number of cruising days affected. In nearly all cases to date, passengers are able to visit the destinations and attractions outlined in the original itineraries.

MSC Cruises recruits locally

In March this year, MSC Cruises SA announced that it would play a more active role in job creation and skills development in the South African cruise sector by hiring South Africans for both land-based and onboard positions.
Positions on board include guest services, buffet attendants, room service attendants, waiters and waitresses, shore excursion hosts, shop assistants, casino dealers, as well as housekeeping staff. Recruitment is ongoing for both local and international seasons.
To date, MSC has received over 600 applications from South African job seekers, conducted around 300 interviews and invited many applicants back for a second round skills test.
Interviews have been taking place in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, while Skype interviews have been conducted for those in remote areas of the county. 
Successful candidates will now be asked to undergo the relevant medical tests before starting their Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) training courses in Durban. 
"We are pleased to note that, at this stage, over 200 South Africans will be embarking with MSC Cruises over the next few months, and that 80 South Africans are ready to join the MSC Opera crew at the end of the month,” said MSC Cruises coo, Neil Palomba. 

This recent recruitment drive is part of MSC Cruises’ ongoing commitment to job creation and skills development in the South African market.
South African travellers will enjoy an extended 2013/14 season, with the return of MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia to local shores and the introduction of exciting new 

Thirst quenching experiences with Crystal

Combining its recent focus on unique, local gastronomy, Crystal Cruises is offering more than two dozen Crystal Adventures ashore that explore Europe through libations.

From alcoholic drinks like brandy to non-alcoholic liquids like olive oil, Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony travellers can sip their way through the Mediterranean, Baltic, and Western Europe until December, learning about the history and culture behind iconic lubricants along the way.  

Examples of tasting and crafting excursions include:

Arctic beer at the oldest pub in Tromsø
16th-century Bénédictine herbal liqueur, at a palace near Honfleur
Fresh cider and apple brandy from the ‘Orchard of Norway’ area near Eidfjord.
Vodka in Honningsvâg, Lofoten, and Stockholm ice bars
Cafés offering rum and honey poncha near Madeira, limoncello in Sorrento, and soumada in Mykonos
Renowned alcohol distilleries like Bushmills near Belfast, Hennessy in Cognac (near Bordeaux), and Heineken in Amsterdam
Olive oil at a Málaga mill
Traditional tea at an 18th-century Belfast area estate and a Russian tea plantation near Sochi
Highland, Lowland, Speyside, and Island whiskies, at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society near Edinburgh

Wine-related outings are especially numerous, with insight into:

Unconventional winemaking, seen through a Mykonos winemaker who plays classical music to his wines, and a modern reserve winemaker near Bilbao whose cellar integrates into the landscape
Medoc Classified Great Growth Château estates, from the man who literally wrote the book on Bordeaux wines
Wine history, including a 400-year-old Malta wine cellar, Mallorca’s oldest winery, and French wines’ birthplace, Nice
One of the most celebrated limited private label white wines, at a Corfu Count’s private estate. International wine distribution, via a leading Bordeaux wine trader
Viticultural geography, at wineries in St-Tropez -- where south-facing slopes and microclimate make it ideal for certain vintages – in Constanta -- where Champagne-like land and weather have helped win 130+ international wine gold medals – and Arrecife, where the volcanic soil is inhospitable for crops, yet extraordinary for grapevines

Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony sail throughout Europe from now to December, on voyages ranging from five days to month-long, extended vacation combo cruises.

Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity’s extensive, innovative choices for gourmandizing include the ultra-luxury line’s coveted cheese and wine cellars, overseen by on-board, certified sommeliers (Court of Master Sommeliers-certified for wine); all-inclusive, chef-like cocktails served by certified mixologists; and gourmet dining options at every meal, whether in the Crystal Dining Room, at afternoon tea, or in Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio’s specialty restaurants.

Royal Princess arrives in Southampton

On June 7, Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Royal Princess, arrived in Southampton where the vessel will be christened on June 13 by the Duchess of Cambridge.

The June 13 naming event will feature not only the christening by the Duchess, but also musical entertainment including British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield as well as a performance by British actress and ‘the first lady of London’s West End,’ Kerry Ellis. The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth and The Pipe Band of 1st Battalion Irish Guards will open the event with the pomp and ceremony of British ship-naming traditions.

Royal Princess is a new-generation ship and among the special features found on board is a multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship offering a host of dining and entertainment options; an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop at sea; a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. 

Friday, 7 June 2013


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Wednesday, 5 June 2013


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