Cruise News: The ‘Countdown to ms Koningsdam’ Continues, While Regent and Norwegian Unveil Huge Renovation Projects
We’ve been keeping a firm eye on the progress of Holland America Line’s newest ship in the making. On Jan. 16, the ship returned to Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard--where it's been receiving hull maintenance--after successfully completing two sets of sea trials. This is a major milestone for the much-anticipated vessel, as now it’s rounding on its final phase of work before delivery in early April (and you can bet we’ll be all over that, so stay tuned!).
The cruise line is enhancing its luxury with a $125 million fleet-wide renovation. In an effort to create a consistently decadent cruising experience across the board, each ship will receive extensive refurbishments in its public spaces—plus a complete redesign of all suite categories, among other enhancements. First on-deck for the upgrade is Seven Seas Navigator this spring, followed by Seven Seas Voyager in late 2016 and Seven Seas Mariner in spring 2017. The project is slated for completion by mid-April of 2017.
They're calling this series of upgrades The Norwegian Edge, and it's a program that promises a number of innovative ship enhancements. The two-year, $400 million investment began in October 2015 and is in the process of completely transforming the cruising experience on 9 of the cruise line's 13 ships--from updated dining menus to exclusive destinations and amenities. The extensive refurbishments are meant to complement Norwegian's newest marketing campaign, Feel Free, which allows guests the flexibility to plan their ideal cruise vacation.
If you’ve yet to sail on a river cruise, take it from us—you’re missing out. Europe’s newest river cruise line is adding two new Star-Ships to its current fleet of five. Guests will now have the chance to sail down France's Rhône and Saône rivers or Portugal's scenic Douro River aboard the Emerald Liberté and Emerald Radiance. Scheduled to launch in 2017 with 30 departure dates each, the Emerald Liberté will be sailing past historic architectural landscapes in France, while Emerald Radiance is set to cruise along Portugal's hilltop villages.
MSC Magnifica’s scheduled port stops in Istanbul and Izmir will be replaced with calls in Athens and Mykonos this spring and summer. The ship, which will be based in Venice beginning March 26, is suspending its calls in Turkey following a Jan. 12 suicide bombing in Istanbul that claimed the lives of 10 people. MSC advised that the ship’s substituted calls in Greece will remain in effect until further notice.
The mosquito-borne virus poses a significant threat to pregnant women and women who are trying to get pregnant. As a result, the CDC suggests women under the above circumstances should consider postponing travel to these areas while the alert is in effect.
RANDOM, BUT COOL
If you like saunas and you love Finland, head over to Helsinki on March 12, 2016 for its first-ever Helsinki Sauna Day. On this day, Finnish locals and tourists alike will have the chance to enjoy some of the country's three million-plus private saunas. Local residents and companies will open their doors to anyone looking to kick back and mingle with other sauna enthusiasts. Saunas are a hot topic (literally) in Finland, attracting both foreign visitors and local relaxation lovers looking to immerse themselves in the country’s urban culture. Best of all, it’s free—so go get your sauna on.
Royal Caribbean is putting the finishing touches on its new 4,180 passenger-vessel, making its initial sailings in May out of Southampton, England. It will then embark on an epic 53-day, half-world tour and offer sailings out of its home port in Tianjin, China starting in June. Culture and history junkies will be pleased with the ship’s inclusion of Chinese art and relics, courtesy of China’s Imperial Palace Museum. The ship may be built specifically for the Chinese market, but Ovation of the Seas’ Chinese name translates to “praising the world and welcoming guests from everywhere."
DID YOU KNOW?
China is rapidly becoming a go-to destination for major cruise lines, so check out the growing list of China-bound cruises you can't miss!