Saturday, 28 September 2013

Royal Caribbean International

There is no better way to span two continents in one holiday than onboard a Royal Caribbean International cruise. The cruise line known for the industry’s most innovative cruise ships announced Ocean Voyages, a collection of special sailings that offer unique onboard programming, new shore excursion packages, and unbeatable value on 2014 sailings between Europe and the Americas.

Holidaymakers can choose among 11 Royal Caribbean International ships that call at more than 35 exciting destinations on Ocean Voyages, which also include late 2014 sailings onboard the world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship Oasis of the Seas, and the next-generation Quantum of the Seas, introducing its variety of new at sea firsts to the industry.

“Royal Caribbean International’s collection of Ocean Voyages offers unique and enriching WOWs,” said Carol Schuster, senior vice president of Marketing for Royal Caribbean International.

“Our ships are world-renowned for their wide range of exclusive and innovative onboard features and our friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Combined with exciting onboard enrichment and interesting itineraries, guests on these sailings will enjoy a distinctive experience that can only be found on Royal Caribbean International.”

Delivering the Royal Caribbean International WOW in a whole new way, each Ocean Voyage will feature a guest expert, who will lead a line-up of entertainment programming and engaging activities, which feature spotlight topics such as culture, dance, film, visual arts, photography, and wines and cuisine. A highlight of every Ocean Voyage will be the Black & White Masquerade Party, so guests are encouraged to bring along a special outfit for the occasion.

Guests can also sign up for new shore excursion packages at the exciting ports of call for even more memorable experiences along the way. Ocean Voyages shore excursion packages include a choice of three options from a prix fix menu of some of Royal Caribbean International’s most popular shore excursions at each port of call. Each ship’s shore excursion package is customised to its specific itinerary; start at $99 per guest; and offers a great value on shoreside adventures.  Options include visiting side-by-side caldera lakes, on “Sete Cidades Crater Lakes” at Ponta Delgada, The Azores; or explore Mt. Teide National Park in Tenerife, the Canary Islands, on “Canadas del Tiede” for one of the best examples of alpine volcanic ecosystems. At Funchal, Madeira, guests can choose “Emblematic Madeira & Ribeira Brava” to enjoy an incomparable view from Cabo Girao, Europe’s highest sea cliff, and sample Poncha, a local drink made with rum and honey.

On board, guests will finally have the opportunity to fully enjoy Royal Caribbean International’s innovative and exclusive features, including surfing to their hearts content on the FlowRider surf simulator on Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas; ice skating their way across the Atlantic in the Studio B ice rinks onboard Adventure of the Seas; and becoming a billiards expert on the self-leveling pool tables onboard Brilliance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas.

All Royal Caribbean International ships to sail Ocean Voyages will also have completed revitalisation by early 2014. Guests will not only enjoy the special Ocean Voyages programme, but more entertainment, delectable dining experiences and technology upgrades. On Radiance and Vision class ships, guests will be WOW’ed by the award-winning aerial-acrobatic entertainment production, which spans throughout the ship’s multi-story Centrum. Guests also can savour each of the many new or signature restaurants, up to 10 per ship, such as the exclusive Chef’s Table, Chops Grille Steakhouse, Izumi Asian Cruise, Giovanni’s Table, and Rita’s Cantina for an additional charge, and complimentary restaurants, such as the Park Café gourmet deli and Boardwalk Dog House.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Costa Concordia captain blames helmsman

Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia, which sank off Italy in 2012, has blamed his Indonesian helmsman for the accident. Schettino claims the helmsman failed to obey orders to slow down and steered the ship onto rocks. The captain is presently fighting charges of causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship.Thirty-two people died when the cruise ship capsized in January 2012. Helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin has already been convicted of manslaughter in a separate trial. He was one of five Costa employees who were granted plea bargains in return for mild sentences in a separate proceeding. He was given a sentence of one year and eight months. Investigators have said previously language problems between the captain and the helmsman might have played a role in crash. Schettino claimed if the helmsman had quickly executed the correct manoeuvre, the Concordia would have steered away from the jagged reef that sliced a hole in its side.

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Friday, 6 September 2013

Seychelles launches its biggest and fastest high speed ferry

Inter Island Boat Company of Seychelles has this week launched its new high speed ferry on the route Mahe to Praslin Islands. The company has now ensured that Seychellois and tourists alike can enjoy the one hour crossing in total luxury.

The Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe has been built in Australia, and it arrived in Seychelles aboard a special cargo ship. For the Inter Island Boat Company this latest acquisition represents an investment of over one hundred million Seychelles rupees.

The Cat Cocos -Isle of Mahe, the fourth ferry of the Cat Cocos fleet has been commissioned for the inter island crossing for over five hundred passengers in Business, Comfort Upper Deck and in the main cabin. The owners of the company have been quoted assaying that this new ferry is providing a model of international luxury ferry service in the Seychelles waters.

A state of the art thirty six metre long vessel designed with a dynamic fresco depicting the essence of Mahe with the symbolic Clock Tower of Victoria and Trois Freres Mountain is increasing the comfort of passengers moving between Praslin and Mahe islands.  Guillaume Albert of Inter Island Boat Management Company said that it is the company’s belief that the ferry will bring added benefits to the business of Inter Island ferry service in Seychelles.

“This new boat is also equipped with a state of the art right control system which will accentuate considerably. It is our strong belief that this vessel will contribute to increasing tourism flux between our two islands and ultimately benefit the business of Praslin and La Digue operators’’ Guillaume Albert said.

Addressing the crowd at the launching ceremony, Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture said that the ferry is a big move forward for Praslin and La Digue Islands.

“This is indeed a remarkable success story for the islands. I am sure Seychellois and visitors alike will appreciate that this service, on such a big fast boat is today available in Seychelles. Those of us who know the region well will appreciate that the launching of this modern luxury fast ferry in Seychelles is a success for the region. On behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and on behalf of the Government of Seychelles we need to thank Mr Joe Albert and his family, as we need to congratulate you for having brought to Seychelles such a fine product’’ Minister Alain St.Ange said.

Minister St.Ange said with the launching of the high speed ferry service Seychelles realises the mechanism to develop andto stimulate the Inter Island ferry market.

“It was clear a couple of years ago when Mr. Joe Albert and his partners brought in the small Cat Cocos ferry everybody was surprised. Could he make money out of it? Could it sustain that run to Praslin? Everybody was proved wrong because it did not only succeed in proving the need for a fast boat to Praslin, but the owning company made money out of it. That prompted Joe Albert and his family and his Creole Travel Services Company to move forward and bring a bigger Cat Cocos. This big five hundred plus seat Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe ferry shows you that it was needed. Joe Albert stimulated and developed that business. I salute you Joe and your company for having the fore sight, and for having the bravery that is needed for you to really put your money where your mouth is” said Minister St.Ange.

The Minister went on to say that with the arrival of the new big boat in the Inter Island fleet, this will also bring more competition.

“As we are launching this new boat I take the opportunity to salute the ferry operator William Rose and his daughter Cindy for having provide for many years a ferry service of quality between the islands of Praslin and La Digue. Today as we launch another new ferry in Inter Island Boat Group we must anticipate that this brings with it new competition for the inter island ferry businesses. Because of our size, competition should also bring the need for us to relook at how we operate. On behalf of the government I appeal to you all to work in partnership in this ferry business to ensure that as you move forward, everyone in the industry moves with you for a more joyous Seychelles, and for a better environment in our tourism industry’’ Minister Alain St.Ange said. The French Ambassador to Seychelles, Mrs Genevieve Iancu had the honour of smashing the traditional bottle of champagne on the new boat as the ‘godmother’ of the new Cat Cocos - Isle of Mahe and Minister Alain St.Ange and Mr Joe Albert jointly cut the ribbon to declare open the gang way to the vessel. Bishop Denis Wiehe of the Roman Catholic Church and Fr Danny Elizabeth of the Anglican Church blessed the vessel and crew.

Zimbabwe outlines plans for African Disneyland

In a somewhat surprising development given its recent history, the Zimbabwean government has outlined plans for a $300 million ‘Disneyland’ style resort at Victoria Falls.

Speaking to the official news agency in the country New Ziana, tourism minister Walter Mzembi revealed a vision for a new resort filled with shopping malls, banks and exhibition and entertainment facilities.

The government of president Robert Mugabe, who was recently re-elected in controversial circumstances, has reserved 1,200 hectares of land close to Victoria Falls international airport with a view to beginning construction, Mzembi said.

Speaking at the UN World Tourism Organisation general assembly, which Victoria Falls is co-hosting with the town of Livingstone in neighbouring Zambia, Mzembi added: “We want to create a free zone with a banking centre where even people who do not necessarily live in Zimbabwe can open bank accounts.”

The government has plans to invest $150m in expanding the town’s airport to accommodate bigger aircraft, according to the report from Ziana.

Portugal recognized by World Travel Awards

The Algarve has received a prestigious accolade recognising the region’s beach product as the best in Europe at the World Travel Awards ceremony in Antalya, Turkey.

This year the Algarve was awarded the title of ‘Europe’s Leading Beach Destination’ for the second year running, while Portugal took the title of ‘Europe’s Leading Golf Destination’, with voters citing the wonderful golf infrastructure in the Algarve as a contributing factor.

The WTA awards programme, hailed as the ‘Oscars of the travel industry’, highlights and rewards the travel brands that have made the greatest contribution to the industry over the past year.

The Algarve is home to over 200 kilometres of golden-sand beaches with 74 of these having been awarded with Blue Flag status for high standards in areas such as of water quality, safety and services.

As well as award-winning beaches and fantastic surrounding scenery, the Algarve has some of the world’s best golf courses with many designed by some of golf’s most famous names.

Desidério Silva, president, Algarve Tourism Board, said: “It is very significant to receive these two awards of such prestige for the region.

“This is indeed a unique achievement as it highlights the importance of the Algarve’s image as the leading beach and golf destination in Europe, which reflects the overall contribution from everybody who made this happen.

“The Algarve has one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, certified for its environmental quality.

“Most Algarve beaches hold the blue flag and gold awards for cleanliness, safety, water quality and facilities. In fact, the Algarve beaches are tremendously well maintained and a fabulous place to relax and unwind.

“As for the region’s golf courses, golfers have a wide range of courses to choose from which offer value for money and challenging holes.

“This coupled with a year-round pleasant climate provides the perfect recipe for golfing enthusiasts and this award is exactly proof of that.”