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No More Shopping Handle

Many have commented over the years on the Skywalkers night club on Grand Princess and some of her sister ships, and how it makes the ship look like a shopping trolley, or at best looks like a spoiler on a hot rod. But now that will be all over in a major remake of the ship that will actually give her tiered pool decks aft and allow the sun to shine on her after decks.

During the 24-day makeover this spring at the Grand Bahama Shipyard, the Grand Princess will receive many of Princess' trademark features, introduced since her début in 1998, including the signature Piazza atrium. Several new features will be also be added, including a tea lounge and library called "Leaves"; and a full-service pizzeria called "Alfredo's, as well as a steakhouse called the "Crown Grill."

A new nightclub called One5, for its location on deck 15, will be installed on the top deck to replace the shopping buggy handle. Skywalkers will be removed in a change that will significantly improve the operational performance of the ship, something that will include greater fuel efficiency.

"This is the largest makeover we've ever undertaken for any of our ships," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "When Grand Princess was launched she was the most innovative ship at sea, and now were adding some of the later innovations we introduced on subsequent ships."

The rebuilt ship will debut on May 5 in Ft. Lauderdale, when she will depart on a Transatlantic crossing back to Southampton, where she will cruise to a variety of European itineraries.

In an interesting departure from what the other major lines are doing, Princess Cruises will in future be promoting their product as a relaxing one, and less frenetic than the likes of NCL, Royal Caribbean and sister brand Carnival. The approach will be more traditional and even the lay-out of Grand Princess's new after decks looks more traditional.

Source: www.cybercruises.com


Meyer Scores With Third Pair of Cruise Ships

Meyer Werft of Papenburg, Germany, pulled off a coup on Friday with the announcement of an order for the first of a pair of large cruise ships for Royal Caribbean. Apart from a raft of five ships for Celebrity, this is the third pair to be ordered at Meyer Werft recently, following two ships for Disney Cruise Lines and more recently, another pair for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Project Sunshine is the name Royal Caribbean has given to this next generation of ships, the first of which will be delivered in the autumn of 2014 and the new ship will be the fifteenth ship to be built for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines by Meyer Werft. The yard has built ten ships for Celebrity Cruises, starting with its first newbuilding, the Horizon, in 1990, plus the four Brilliance class ships for Royal Caribbean International.

An option has also been placed for a second Project Sunshine ship for delivery in the spring of 2015. These new 158,000-ton ships will carry something over 4,100 passengers in lower berths at an overall cost per berth of €170,000 (170 thousand). [Grand Bahama Shipyard - Photo Courtesy the Grand Bahama Shipyard]

Richard Fain, chairman and ceo of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, in announcing the letter of intent, stated that "Royal Caribbean has worked hard to earn a reputation of offering the most innovative ships in the cruise industry and this next generation will not disappoint. While we continue our policy of keeping our newest ideas and features under wraps during the early stages of construction, I can say that I am very excited about the passion and imagination that our teams have devoted to the project. Project Sunshine builds on the best ideas of our existing ships and adds exciting new activities and entertainment concepts.

It will offer features for everyone: from grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families. I am also excited about the energy efficiency and environmental technologies which have been incorporated. Our existing ships are some of the most energy efficient in the world and Project Sunshine takes this one further step. Based on our over 20 years of experience with Meyer Werft, along with their compelling proposal, we know they will deliver on all of the innovations Royal Caribbean's guests have come to expect."

Of the ships previously on order for Royal Caribbean, the Celebrity Silhouette is to be delivered later this year and Celebrity Reflection in 2012. Meanwhile, Meyer Werft has just delivered the first of another pair for Disney, with the Disney Dream now in service, and Disney Fantasy to follow in 2012.

This latest announcement leaves Korean-owned STX out in the cold. For now, having lost these latest orders to the competition, it has only three new ships on order, the MSC Divina for MSC Cruises, Phoenicia for GNMTC of Libya and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Europe 2, just announced. STX's large cruise ship shipyards in both Finland and France now seem to be genuinely short of possible places to obtain new orders.

Fincantieri, meanwhile, continues to thrive on orders from Carnival Corp & PLC, from Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Crociere and Princess Cruises. And to the chagrin of STX, even Meyer Werft has a steady supply of Carnival Corp orders, for its German-based Aida brand.

Source: www.cybercruises.com


Polar Star Update

Last week The Cruise Examiner ("Bad Luck Year For Polar Cruise Ships") stated that the February 6 departure of the Polar Star would be cancelled, but since then owners Polar Star Expeditions have confirmed that it will have to cancel her last three Antarctic voyages of the season so that she can be drydocked for repairs.

She is expected to return to service by May 3 to take up of her scheduled spring voyages around the northern regions of the UK and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Source: www.cybercruises.com


Disney Lays Keel for New Fantasy at German Shipyard

Disney Cruise Line on Feb. 11 celebrated the keel-laying of the Disney Fantasy at the Meyer Werft shipyard. Disney Fantasy is the sister ship to the Disney Dream, which entered service on Jan. 26. The keel-laying ceremony is a milestone in the shipbuilding process when the first block, or section of the ship, is lowered into the building dock and a coin is placed under the keel for good fortune. Placing the coin was Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line, who was assisted by Minnie Mouse.

The Disney Fantasy will offer many of the innovations that the Disney Dream features, including AquaDuck, a water coaster. At the same time, the Disney Fantasy will feature a few new design elements and guest experiences. The 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy will sail week-long Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral with its maiden voyage scheduled for March 31, 2012.

Source: www.travelpulse.com


MSC Cruises launches cruises from Cherbourg

Written by Teijo Niemelä

This summer, MSC Cruises will call nine times in the port of Cherbourg allowing travelers to embark on the MSC Opera for a 9-night cruise with an itinerary alongside the Atlantic coast.

In adding the port of Cherbourg to the French ports and neighbouring already linked by MSC company, MSC wants to get closer to its customers and wants to reinforced its French market.

"We diversify our French embarkation locations because we want our passengers not to have to move too far to start their holidays. In addition with this new call, about 18000 international passengers could debark in Cherbourg and visit the town and surrounding areas during summer 2012. We offer shore excursions to Mont-Saint Michel, Cap de la Hague and Barfleur," explains Erminio Eschena, Head Manager of MSC Cruises.

"Since 2006, Cherbourg is well positioned as a top quality cruise destination in a full expanding market. Being aware of our capacities, we refurbished our prestigious Transatlantic terminal in order to have a modern cruise terminal. We are now able to welcome every type of cruise ship in transit as well as turnaround. We are very proud today to announce our new partnership with MSC Cruises who has trusted us and chosen Cherbourg as a turnaround port," says Gilles Lechevallier, President of Cherbourg Cruise Club.

Located in the Cotentin peninsula, Cherbourg is a logical call for a cruise sailing alongside the Atlantic coast. After its departure, the MSC Opera will reach Southampton (UK), Amsterdam (Netherlands), La Rochelle (France), Bilbao and La Corogne (Spain), before coming back to Cherbourg. The first departure will be on the 13rd of July.

Source: http://cruisebusiness.com


Royal Caribbean Signs Letter of Intent to Build New Generation of Ships

MIAMI and PAPENBURG, Germany, Feb. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. has signed a letter of intent with shipyard Meyer Werft to build the first of a new generation of Royal Caribbean International cruise ships. Developed under the code-name "Project Sunshine," the new vessel design incorporates new and exciting features that take advantage of the best of Royal Caribbean's experience and imagination. The project is a result of over a year of dedicated research and development.

The order calls for one ship to be delivered in the Fall of 2014 with an option for a second ship for Spring 2015. The 158,000 Gross Registered Tons (GRT) new build will carry just over 4,100 guests based on double occupancy. The estimated all-in cost per berth is about euro 170,000. This all-in cost includes the yard's base contract price plus everything needed to design, operate and build the vessel, from architect fees to supervision costs and all loose inventories from computers to art and bed linens.

"Royal Caribbean has worked hard to earn a reputation of offering the most innovative ships in the cruise industry and this next generation will not disappoint," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. "While we continue our policy of keeping our newest ideas and features under wraps during the early stages of construction, I can say that I am very excited about the passion and imagination that our teams have devoted to the project. Project Sunshine builds on the best ideas of our existing ships and adds exciting new activities and entertainment concepts. It will offer features for everyone: from grand, spectacular spaces to small intimate settings; from active, invigorating activities to the serenity of more personal space; and from a plethora of dining alternatives to a cornucopia of opportunities for families. I am also excited about the energy efficiency and environmental technologies which have been incorporated. Our existing ships are some of the most energy efficient in the world and Project Sunshine takes this one further step. Based on our over 20 years of experience with Meyer Werft, along with their compelling proposal, we know they will deliver on all of the innovations Royal Caribbean's guests have come to expect."

"Meyer Werft is pleased to be working with Royal Caribbean especially in light of their reputation for building such innovative ships. I am very happy we are continuing our long time partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and its brand Royal Caribbean International. Their projects always present incredible opportunities for Meyer Werft to create the latest cutting edge hardware in the cruise industry," said Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft shipyard.

The letter of intent is subject to customary conditions being satisfactorily met.

About MEYER WERFT GmbH:

Founded in 1795, Papenburg-based MEYER WERFT GmbH is currently owned by the sixth generation of the Meyer family. This well-established company has some 2,500 employees. MEYER WERFT's extensive production program covers a wide range of ship types, from cruise ships and gas tankers, to car and passenger ferries. In order to stay successful in worldwide competition, production technology has been continuously extended. Today, MEYER WERFT has the most modern production premises in the shipbuilding industry. For more information go to www.meyerwerft.de.

About Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.:

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France. The company has a combined total of 40 ships in service and two under construction. It also offers unique land-tour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Dubai, Europe and South America. Additional information can be found on www.royalcaribbean.com, www.celebritycruises.com, www.pullmantur.es, www.azamaraclubcruises.com, www.cdfcroisieresdefrance.com or www.rclinvestor.com.

Source: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.