Ports & Ships Cruise News

Jan 9, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

  • Indian Ocean Cruises sets sail

  • Hiccup for P&O’s Arcadia at start of 2009 World Cruise

  • A Superslide for Superstar Virgo

  • Fred Olsen reviews fuel supplements


    Indian Ocean Cruises sets sail

    It’s taken a while but the OCEAN ODYSSEY, the cruise ship which is now home-berthed in Port Louis, Mauritius, is about to embark this month on her new routine of voyages among the islands of the region.

    Ocean Odyssey, which has been fully refurbished with a colonial theme blended with the various cultures found in the Indian Ocean islands, offers a unique range of itineraries, all based from Port Louis and focusing on exciting journeys among the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, visiting Reunion, Rodrigues and Madagascar. And for the Mauritius tourism industry this adds another set of attractions to the magical appeal of the island, as if it needed another, while adding value to the offerings of Mauritius products in the Indian Ocean.

    The launch of the new venture took place at the World Travel Markets in London on 10 November with the first cruise scheduled to set off from Port Louis early in the New Year.

    “We have invested over US$30 million to develop our cruise offering in the Indian Ocean and have aggressive plans for the next five years to establish world class cruises in the Indian Ocean,” said Utsav Seth, Joint Managing Director of Foresight Smart Ventures, the flagship company of the 500-million dollar London-based Foresight Shipping Group.

    The four-star Ocean Odyssey carries up to 200 passengers and provides ultimate comfort with a personalised service at affordable prices. The ship has all the required amenities including a four-star restaurant offering a range of local and international cuisine, observation lounge and bar, coffee bar, gymnasium and fitness centre, sauna and spa, sundeck, casino, library and medical clinic along with a wide variety of international entertainment.

    It has also been announced that Foresight Shipping Group has entered into a strategic partnership with Europe’s second largest travel firm, Thomas Cook Group plc.

    Thomas Cook will play a key role in marketing the ship’s Indian Ocean Cruises destinations through its agents across Mauritius, India and Europe.

    “Our partnership with Thomas Cook is one step forward in branding Mauritius as an exciting cruise and vacation destination,” said Sanjeev Goswani, the other Joint Managing Director of Foresight Smart Ventures.
    “We are glad that the launch of heritage cruise liner Ocean Odyssey in January 2009 will bind the islands of the Indian Ocean on the theme of their historical evolution.

    “Mauritius is the star and key of the Indian Ocean and will now become the starting point of this wonderful journey adding value to the customer offerings.”

    In November Indian Ocean Cruises also entered into a partnership with Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority.

    “Mauritius is not just white beaches but has a splendid hinterland and offers a blend of diverse cultures, traditions, cuisine and events. Indian Ocean Cruises will now point the world tourism map towards Mauritius,” said Nalini Gupta, president and head of marketing of Thomas Cook India Ltd.

    Ocean Odyssey (4,561-gt, built 1965) is the former Jason of Royal Olympic Cruises, which underwent a US$5 million refit in 2007. The ship was originally the passenger-vehicle ferry Eros for Epiritiki Lines.

    Hiccup for P&O’s Arcadia at start of 2009 World Cruise

    The luxury P&O Cruises ship ARCADIA (82,500-gt, built 2005) got her 2009 World Cruise off to a delayed start this week after experiencing technical problems as she prepared to sail from Southampton.

    The grand ship, which will make 35 port calls in 19 countries during the World Cruise, suffered the embarrassment of a 24-hour delay as engineers battled to restore her electrical back-up system, which would be required in an emergency.

    Technicians from ashore as well as ship’s own engineers toiled all day and through the night to fix the problem and allow the ship to head off into the wild blue yonder (probably grey skies) at 16h00 on Tuesday 6 January on what will now be a 100-day cruise. The 1,860 passengers on board were offered shore excursions and all amenities on board the ship were opened for use.

    A spokesman for the company said the delay should not have any lasting effect on the cruise with time easily being made up. Arcadia ends her Round the World cruise back in Southampton on 16 April.

    A Superslide for Superstar Virgo

    Superstar Virgo

    Amazing what cruise companies will spend on gimmicks, gadgets and toys for the boys (and girls), simply in order to get more people on board their ships. This thought came to mind when reading that Star Cruises, the third largest cruise operator and parent company to Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), is spending a cool US$ 550,000 on a 100 metre long stainless steel slide to be fitted on the SUPERSTAR VIRGO during her dry dock this month.

    Having personally explored the thrill and excitement of a variety of fibreglass slides at Durban’s uShaka Marine (not the waterworld’s really high slides, let it be hastily admitted), it is easy to understand the allure of such things, for both young and old alike.

    For Michael Goh, Senior VP of Sales at Star Cruises however, it’s a matter of giving customers the best thrill imaginable while on board ship. “We believe in giving our cruisers the best experiences,” he said. “This latest feature is part of our continuous effort to upgrade our products and services to provide our cruisers with more endless fun times and values onboard. As it is the first of its kind on a cruise ship, it will be something that all cruisers can look forward to.

    Goh said the 100m slide will be ready by the end of this month and promises lots of fun splashes on board Star Cruises largest ship in the Asian fleet.

    For those with an interest in these things, the slide rises over 10,5 metres above deck and has an average inclination of 10%, which will provide sliders with a maximum speed of 7 metres a second.

    The slide also features a 5m long glass tube section set 25m above the ocean surface through which sliders will travel, giving them the thrill of flying above the ocean. Towards the end of the slide the inclination increases to 25% which will further accelerate sliders up to a maximum speed of 25mph before they splash into the water break.

    The 75,338-gt Superstar Virgo, which carries up to 1,750 passengers, operates from Singapore to Malaysia and Thailand destinations including Penang, Port Klang and Phuket.

    Fred Olsen reviews fuel supplements

    Fred Olsen's cruise ship Braemar

    Fred Olsen Lines is another of the cruise operators to have reviewed its policy regarding fuel supplements.

    From mid December all fuel tax charges were withdrawn, meaning that all bookings made from 17 December 2008 do not incur a fuel charge supplement.

    Passengers who have already paid the fuel cost supplement will be refunded on board ship.

    In announcing this Fred Olsen has joined Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Carnival Corporation who announced also in December that they were revising fuel supplements in line with lower bunker fuel costs.

    Fred Olsen operates the cruise ships Balmoral, Boudicca, Braemar, Black Watch and Black Prince.

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