MSC Seaside class, to be equipped with full Internet access alongside the rest of the fleet
Keeping in touch with the world whilst at sea has never been more simple, says MSC Cruises.
The world's largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, MSC Cruises has announced next-generation connectivity across its entire fleet and new internet packages designed around the Internet access needs of today's holidaymakers.
This will provide guests with fast, reliable access to the web and simple, easy to use packages, thereby enhancing key aspects of the onboard experience with seamless, latest-generation connectivity and the ability to share memories and experiences with friends and loved ones whilst at sea.
Working with Marlink, a pioneer of business critical communication solutions for customers operating in remote environments, MSC Cruises will provide dynamic bandwidth to its 12 existing ships as well as the next-generation ships currently under construction including MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside. No matter the itinerary of the ships, which touch nearly 183 ports across five continents, guests will receive continuous high-bandwidth global access.
"We are constantly seeking new ways to innovate and enhance guest experience aboard what is already the most modern fleet at sea," said Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises CEO. "We know that staying connected whilst on holiday is increasingly more important to our guests, hence we are rolling out state-of-the-art technology to allow them to stay connected whether they are looking to share experiences and memorable moments, stay in touch with friends and family, need to stay on top of work emails or simply catch up with daily news."
The new services are now live onboard MSC Preziosa, currently deployed in the Western Mediterranean, and MSC Divina, in the Caribbean and will roll-out across the entire fleet over the coming months.
MSC Cruises says this demonstrates its position as an innovative and forward-thinking cruise line by offering one of the most advanced guest connectivity services available at sea. With several hundred Mbit/s available in the Marlink Sealink Cloud, MSC Cruises will deliver a whole new Internet and social media accessibility experience for guests that are hungrier than ever for cost-effective, reliable internet access for whilst enjoying their holidays at sea.
Guests will be able to select the right package for their needs even prior to embarkation, which will be easy to purchase, easy to upgrade, recharge whilst managing the consumption of each device.
The Social Package is aimed at those who need to be connected 24/7 to social media but have a limited budget allowing to post pictures and chat with friends. This includes popular social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat, Pinterest. Prices from R59.00 per day / R224.00 for a full seven day cruise.
The Surfer Package is designed for moderate Internet users who want to be updated on what's hot, surfing the web for news, sports scores and to catch up on emails. This package also includes access to social media platforms as per the Social Package. Prices from R149.00 per day / R449.00 for a full seven day cruise.
The Streamer Package has been created for heavy Internet users who need access either for work or for fun and want to be connected without any limitation with the best possible quality. This package gives full Internet and social media access, including audio and video. Prices from R229.00 per day / R889.00 for a full seven day cruise.
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RRS ERNEST SHACKLETON TO ESCORT CRYSTAL SERENITY THROUGH ARCTIC
The research ship RRS Ernest Shackleton will escort the cruise ship Crystal Serenity through the Arctic region. Picture is by Ian Shiffman
Crystal Cruises has revealed a charter party agreement with Tactical Marine Solutions of Victoria, Canada and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) headquartered in Cambridge UK, to have the RRS ERNEST SHACKLETON escort CRYSTAL SERENITY on her 32-day expedition voyage through the Northwest Passage this August.
RRS Ernest Shackleton, operated by BAS, is an ICE 05 classed icebreaker (exceeding the more common 1A Super class) that will provide operational support to Crystal Serenity, including ice breaking assistance should the need arise. She will carry additional safety and adventure equipment.
"We have been planning this historic sailing for more than two years, working closely with expedition experts from EYOS-Expeditions, as well as Transport Canada, the US and Canadian Coast Guards and local agencies along the route to ensure the ultimate safety and a most memorable experience for our guests," says Crystal president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. "The RRS Ernest Shackleton's assistance in navigating this region will only enhance the safety of our voyage."
RRS Ernest Shackleton will carry two helicopters for real-time ice reconnaissance, emergency support and flightseeing activities. In addition to its robust ice navigation and communications equipment, RRS Ernest Shackleton will have on board supplemental damage control equipment, oil pollution containment equipment, and survival rations for emergency use.
The expedition crew comprises of expert guides with many years' experience transiting the Northwest Passage and also a diver and support team trained in the use of the emergency equipment carried on board. RRS Ernest Shackleton will support Crystal's adventures ashore, carrying newly acquired zodiacs for 'wet landings', while the vessel's crew will provide expert assistance during flightseeing adventures and the line's recently unveiled 'Unexpected Adventures,' which offer more spontaneous ways of exploring the region.
Prior to making the voyage, Crystal Serenity will be outfitted with state of the art forward looking sonar, ice detection radar, ice searchlights and thermal imaging, as well as an ice navigation system that will display near real time satellite ice imagery and ice forecasts. In addition, the Master and bridge team will attend ice navigation training at a simulator in St John's, Newfoundland, and two veteran Canadian ice pilots will be on board to assist the bridge team in managing the information provided by additional equipment which is not typically found on cruise ships. RRS Ernest Shackleton will also carry her own very experienced ice pilot.
Crystal's 2016 Northwest Passage voyage sails on 16 August from Anchorage in Alaska to New York.
Crystal Cruises is the World's Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line, having earned more 'World's Best' accolades than any other cruise line, hotel, or resort in history. Crystal Cruises has won 'World's Best Cruise Ship' in Conde Nast Traveler's Reader Choice Awards for 22 years; been voted 'World's Best Large Ship Cruise Line' by Travel + Leisure readers for 20 consecutive years; and the 'Best Luxury Cruise Line' by Virtuoso for two-consecutive years (2014 & 2015).
In summer 2015, Crystal embarked on the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality, introducing three new classes of cruising -- the recently launched Crystal Yacht Cruises (December 2015), Crystal River Cruises (July 2016), Crystal Exclusive Class Ocean Cruises (fall 2019), Crystal Luxury Air (April 2016) and Crystal AirCruises (2017).
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WARNING ABOUT COUNTERFEIT UK ADMIRALTY PRODUCTS
On the left, a counterfeit product and on the right, an official Admiralty publication. Illustration provided by kind courtesy of UKHO.
The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office has once again issued a warning over the dangers posed to the safety of vessels, crews and cargoes by counterfeit nautical charts and publications and has produced a simple guide to help identify genuine Admiralty products. The problem was last raised in 2013.
The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has recently observed an increase in the number of counterfeit versions of its Admiralty charts and publications in circulation. Counterfeit documents do not satisfy the carriage requirements of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as they have not been issued officially by or on the authority of a Government, authorized hydrographic office or other relevant government institution.
Their carriage may also fail to satisfy (and may be contrary to) the laws of Flag State Authorities and Port State Control, as well as increasing the safety risk for vessels, crews and cargoes. Furthermore, carriage of counterfeit documents is against the law in all countries that have signed the Berne Convention on copyright, which includes the vast majority of nations.
"The UKHO urges all purchasers, users, inspectors and regulators to be vigilant for counterfeit Admiralty charts and publications," said John Dawson, Head of Marketing at the UK Hydrographic Office. "Because counterfeit versions have not been through the same rigorous checking procedures as official Admiralty charts and publications, they cannot be trusted for voyage planning or navigational purposes. As well as failing to comply with SOLAS carriage regulations and possibly also Flag State and Port State Control regulations, the use of counterfeit charts and publications poses a serious risk to vessel safety.
"We are actively seeking to stop the production and sale of counterfeit copies of our charts and publications and have raised our concerns with the International Maritime Organization, the International Hydrographic Organization and Flag States. We also encourage anyone that suspects they may be in possession of counterfeit products to get in touch with us."
UKHO has produced a simple guide to help users and inspectors to distinguish official Admiralty charts and publications from counterfeit versions. Official Admiralty charts bear the Admiralty 'Flying A' watermark within the paper and will carry a 'thumb label' strip on the reverse with the Admiralty logo, chart number, geographical area, barcode and date.
Suspect charts and publications can also be identified by comparing them against official Admiralty versions, where variations may be spotted in the look, feel and weight of the product, the colour tone and strength of the ink, the folds on charts and the height and binding quality of publications.
Anyone with suspicions over the authenticity of their Admiralty charts and publications is asked to contact the UKHO by emailing email@example.com
Copies of the UKHO's guide to identifying genuine Admiralty products can also be downloaded from HERE
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CRUISING IS FASTEST GROWING SECTOR IN WORLDWIDE TOURISM
"In fact, anyone who can afford an overseas trip, can afford a cruise."
The global cruise industry is currently valued at US$39.6 billion worldwide. With 350 ships, cruise lines are struggling to cope with passenger demand. New ships are being commissioned and built by almost all major cruise lines.
The number of passengers carried by the cruise industry has grown year-on-year and is expected to exceed 24 million in 2018.
The largest passenger segment by nationality is predictably from the USA, the UK being second, Germany third and Australia fourth. Major growth is expected from the Asian market and ships designed specifically for this market are presently being designed and under construction.
In a statement from Cruises International, the largest Southern African sales and marketing agent, CEO George Argyropoulos said, "The South African cruise travellers represent a mere 0.1 percent of the South Africans who travel overseas annually. We are convinced this figure can increase to 1 percent and beyond. To this end, we have offered substantial discounts on certain sailings, free flights on Ama Waterways river cruises, and other incentives to grow the market."
He said that antiquated perceptions regarding cruising prevail in the South African psyche. These include that one has to be middle-aged, retired and wealthy to select a cruise. "In fact, anyone who can afford an overseas trip, can afford a cruise. It is still the best value for money, least hassle and most memorable vacation. With all inclusive fares, there is no comparison with a land-based option."
Some cruise lines like SeaDream Yacht Club boasts 60 percent repeat passengers. It's evident that brand loyalty is important. Royal Caribbean has 36 percent repeat guests and Crystal a mammoth 65 percent.
"Of course the cruise industry has evolved enormously over the past 5 years," says Argyropoulos. "Now ships like SeaDream include onshore excursions accompanying the Executive Chef to local markets, cycling and hiking with the Captain, and a far more flexible and relaxed programme. Gourmet cruises, wine cruises, al fresco dining and a Living Food menu reflect contemporary guest lifestyles."
Business charters represent 30 percent of our business
Cruising has become mainstream and is more accessible than ever, says Thomas Harrison, Sales Director of SeaDream who was on a whirlwind visit to South Africa last week. "Chartering a ship for incentive and brand launches is a major part of SeaDream's business. Family reunions and weddings are just some of the options. A full 3-day charter of a SeaDream yacht Club from Nice to Cannes costs US$200,000, and at $1800 per person, that's an excellent business decision."
Mr Harrison announced a SeaDream special Riviera cruise starting 18 May for just ZAR56,000. "Expect personalised pyjamas, Bulgari amenities, Balinese Dream beds where guests can sleep under the stars." he said. The relaxed ambience of privately owned SeaDream is intrinsic to the Nordic owners philosophy. Dining al fresco is encouraged. Movies under the stars, a Shaken not stirred Martini cocktail, and their signature Champagne and Caviar beach parties are hugely popular.
Cruises International's impressive portfolio consists of nine luxury brands from sailing yachts; intimate yachts like SeaDream; Crystal Cruises' Crystal Esprit which is able to navigate smaller ports; to the mega ships of Royal Caribbean that offer world-class entertainment. River cruises including AmaWaterways and Crystal, have become hugely popular, with an offering, which far outweighs a bus tour. Exploration vessels like Crystal Endeavour which is launching soon, while a special Bombardier aircraft has been fitted to cater for the discerning executive to fly to cruises. Celebrity meanwhile recently announced the purchase of a dedicated yacht to sail the Galapagos.
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FIRST SEA LORD CHANGE OF COMMAND
First Sea Lord
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, right, and Admiral Sir Philip Jones. Photo: MOD Crown Copyright 2016.
On 8 April the torch of naval leadership changed hands as Admiral Sir Philip Jones took over as Britain's senior sailor and his predecessor, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, stepped down after 35 years serving his nation.
In the Great Cabin of the world's oldest commissioned warship, HMS Victory, at Portsmouth Dockyard Admiral Zambellas formally handed over command of more than 30,000 men and women, nearly 90 warships, nuclear submarines and support vessels, the helicopters and jets of the Fleet Air Arm and the elite naval infantry of the Royal Marines to the man who has overseen the day-to-day operations of the Royal Navy since 2013 as its Fleet Commander.
During his three-year spell in charge, Admiral Jones will oversee the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth's entry into service. Her sister ship, Prince of Wales, will begin sea trials and the world's most advanced fifth generation jet aircraft, the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, will operate from a Royal Navy ship for the first time.
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EXPECTED SHIP ARRIVALS and SHIPS IN PORT
Port Louis - Indian Ocean gateway port
Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.
In the case of South Africa's container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.
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CRUISE NEWS AND NAVAL ACTIVITIES
QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman
We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section, but this is also available in a dedicated Cruise News section. This section will include various stories and news not covered in the general news so if you have an interest in this sector don't forget to check regularly on our CRUISE NEWS page.
This you will find here in CRUISE NEWS & REVIEWS
Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories which also have their own dedicated section, although some stories may be duplicated in the general news section.
Find the Naval Review section HERE
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PIC OF THE DAY : LOGOS HOPE
The library ship LOGOS HOPE is expected to come off the Eldock floating dock either today or tomorrow, after undergoing a survey and maintence programme at the EBH Durban shipyard. Prior to that the ship was open to the public at the N-shed passenger terminal for a couple of weeks. Her next port of call is Richards Bay where she is due in early May, followed by visits to East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. In the meantime she will continue her maintenance alongside the ship repair jetty at Durban's Bayhead. These pictures are by Trevor Jones
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