Aqua Expeditions to upgrade both Amazon vessels

Luxury river operator Aqua Expeditions has announced that it will be renovating its two Peruvian Amazon vessels, the Aqua Amazon and the Aria Amazon. The upgrades are being overseen by the boats’ original designer, Peruvian architect Jordi Puig.

The vessels’ exteriors will be outfitted with new woodwork, a fresh coat of paint and new awnings. New wood flooring has been installed throughout most common areas. Additionally, all the suites are being redone with new floors, furniture and amenities, and the bathrooms with new floors and tiles. Both vessels feature newly upholstered furniture, new wall coverings and lighting. New skiffs have also been added on each vessel that seat up to 10 passengers.

Aqua Expeditions was founded eight years ago when it launched the 12-suite Aqua Amazon, which was followed by the 16-suite Aria Amazon. In October 2014, Aqua Expeditions launched a third luxury river cruise vessel, the 20-suite Aqua Mekong, on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia.

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Norwegian Star to sail Asia and Australia cruises

Norwegian Star in Cabo San Lucas, by Dave Jones

By Jerry Limone

Norwegian Cruise Line will sail to destinations in Asia and Australia for the first time since 2002, operating voyages from six ports in fall/winter 2016-17 on the Norwegian Star.

Itineraries will depart from Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland, New Zealand. Highlights include the line’s first visits to India and the Persian Gulf, a series of Southeast Asia cruises and two Australia/New Zealand voyages (one 12-day and one 19-day cruise). The Southeast Asia cruises feature overnight stays in Bangkok.

Also in winter 2016-17, the Norwegian Epic will return to Florida after more than a year in Europe, sailing eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral. The Norwegian Jade will replace Norwegian Star in Tampa, mainly sailing an itinerary that visits the Mexican Caribbean; Roatan in Honduras’ Bay Islands; and Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s new private destination in Belize.

Starting next summer, the Norwegian Spirit will replace the Epic as the line’s year-round European ship, sailing Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona, Venice and Istanbul.

In addition to Norwegian’s previously scheduled Panama Canal cruises in February, the line has added two 14-day Panama Canal sailings from Los Angeles and Miami on the Norwegian Jewel, on Feb. 5, 2017, and Feb. 19, 2017. The Caribbean cruises go on sale Aug. 24.

Caribbean sailings for fall/winter 2016-17 will go on sale Aug. 19, and all other destinations go on sale Aug. 24.

 

MSC Orchestra’s arrival in Singapore marks MSC Cruises’ first foray into Asia


MSC Orchestra sailing in Asian waters

MSC Cruises made its first foray into Asia Thursday, a region it described as ‘the new trendy area of cruising and the future area of growth’.

Welcoming some 200 passengers on board, MSC Cruises ceo Gianni Onorato said: ‘This is a historic moment in our company’s journey – the first time an MSC Cruises ship has called at the magnificent city of Singapore. In fact, all 13 ports of call on MSC Orchestra’s pioneering grand voyage are firsts for MSC Cruises.’

He added: ‘We are in Singapore to show how firmly we believe in the Asian market’s potential, which is only going to grow further in the foreseeable future.’

Speaking to Seatrade Insider, Onorato disclosed: ‘We will be deploying into Asia and need to decide when. We will perhaps go to North Asia with one of our newbuilds.’

Neeta Lachmandas, assistant chief executive, business development group, Singapore Tourism Board, also lauded the move, saying: ‘This development is testament to the potential of Southeast Asia,’

She said cruise is a high growth business with a lot of opportunities and this growth is led by Asia where now some 52 ships are deployed and including nine year-round deployments.

A Boston Consulting Group study had shown that 60% of spending is going to come from Asia by 2020, she said.

‘Southeast Asia is a cruising playground in its own right – with over 25,000 islands and diverse attractions ranging from cosmopolitan cities to pristine beaches and UNESCO Heritage sites. We are excited that travellers from all over the world will get to experience so much of Asia through MSC Orchestra,’ she added.

MSC Cruises executive director for emerging markets, Antonio Paradiso, said: ‘MSC Cruises has grown 800% since 2004. In 2014, we carried 40,000 guests per day on our fleet of 12 ships, and with up to seven new ships in two state-of-the-art prototypes coming online by 2022 we’ll double our current capacity. We used to carry 80,000 guests per year at the start and we’ll carry 80,000 guests a day at the end of our investment plan. This growth will unlock fresh opportunities, including new markets and regions, and untried itineraries.’

The 2,550-passenger MSC Orchestra is currently undertaking a 33-night voyage from Dubai to Perth, Australia. The ship will call 13 ports in eight countries across three continents. Singapore is the sixth port of call on the journey.

After an overnight stay, MSC Orchestra will sail for Benoa in Bali followed by four sea days before arriving in Cairns, Australia.

MSC Orchestra’s time Down Under covers maiden calls in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, before her final destination of Fremantle, the port serving Perth.

While MSC Orchestra marked the first time an MSC Cruises’ ship has called in Asia, the line has been carrying Asian cruisers for a period of time, particularly in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. ‘We are the biggest importers of Asian cruisers in the world,’ Onorato said.