MSC Cruises Donates School in Rebuilding Caribbean

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin IslandsPHOTO: The semi-permanent school will serve the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. (photo via Flickr/kansas photo)
MSC Cruises continues to assist in the rebuild of the Caribbean following September’s devastating hurricanes.

The Swiss-based cruise line announced Thursday that it has joined forces with government officials in the British Virgin Islands to donate a new 4,000 square-foot, the pre-fabricated building that will function as a semi-permanent school on the island of Virgin Gorda.

All 15 of the territory’s schools were destroyed in the recent hurricanes.

“It is our responsibility as a family-owned company in the seafaring business for more than 300 years, to come to the aid of our family, friends and neighbours in dire times,” said MSC Cruises USA chairman, Richard Sasso in a statement. “This donation is one of many ways we are working to set the industry standard to help those who need it most and we’re proud to utilize our global resources to assist as the Caribbean works to recover and rebuild.”

The donation represents just one example of MSC Cruises’ ongoing effort to restore the British Virgin Islands and the surrounding Caribbean as a whole.

“With most cruise ports in the Caribbean region now open for business, MSC Cruises, along with other players in the cruise industry, are working to support local governments in their efforts to restore normality and rebuild the damaged infrastructures on the islands impacted,” the cruise line stated on its website.

With the help of its global network of partners, MSC Cruises has already helped ship food, water, medical supplies and building materials to the British Virgin Islands as well as hard-hit places in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and Dominica.

The cruise line recently provided shipping services to bring emergency lighting to Puerto Rico.

Another aspect of the global cruise’s effort to assist the islands is by ultimately returning to the coveted destinations.

Travelers seeking a holiday sailing to the Caribbean with MSC Cruises this December can have their pick of the MSC Divina or the brand new MSC Seaside.

Click here to learn more about some of the ways MSC Cruises is aiding in the Caribbean’s recovery.

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With ocean line expansion, Viking will bring first ship stateside

Viking Ocean Cruises is a little more than two months away from accepting its second ship, the Viking Sea, an event that will multiply the fledgling line’s ability to offer varied itineraries.

Already Viking has said that its first ship, the Viking Star, will reposition to North America starting in September.

After a transition cruise that follows the route of the Viking explorers from Norway to the New World, the Viking Star will offer some fall cruises in Canada and a trip down the eastern seaboard before making its home for the winter of 2016-17 in Puerto Rico.

Richard Marnell, senior vice president of marketing for Viking River Cruises, said the company intends to hold the line on pricing.

“It is our intent to maintain the value at what it is today and essentially to fill the ships as quickly as we can build them,” he said.

Marnell said the company, which is new to the ocean side of cruising, had some kinks to work out in its first few months, but its debut received positive feedback from media and customers.

He said a rating of 5 from the editors of the Cruise Critic website and a “Loved It” endorsement from 86% of the site’s readers were especially exciting. Internally, the line’s surveys are “very, very good and encouraging,” Marnell said.

“What people are applauding is the understated elegance, the residential feel, the great bathrooms, king-size beds, the housekeeping,” he said. “Food is a surprise, and people are quite pleased with our food.”

One of the kinks had to do with an electrical transformer problem that led to the early termination of a cruise in Estonia. Another involved sudden breakage of glass shower partitions in the bathrooms.

Marnell said both problems have been fixed, and Viking might be making a design modification on future ships to ensure that the glass breakage doesn’t reoccur but added that “from a safety perspective and a utility perspective it’s fine.”

There was also an IT problem that torpedoed the television system on early cruises; that, too, has been resolved.

In addition, he said, Viking has learned from experience that some things aren’t working as expected. A singular reception area on the Star has been split into separate shore excursion and guest services desks. The gangways have been modified because the ship is too small for most air bridges, which are designed for bigger vessels, Marnell said.

By bringing the Viking Star to North America, Viking hopes to give more people a chance to see the ship. On its transition cruise from Canada to Puerto Rico, it will be making stops in Boston, New York and Florida.

Those stops, Marnell said, “will give the opportunity for those who weren’t able to attend other functions — and this is particularly important to agents — to be able to see the vessel and experience it.”

For the winter months, the Viking Star will do a series of nine 11-night roundtrips from San Juan, visiting Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Antigua; St. Lucia; Barbados; St. Kitts; Guadeloupe; St. Maarten; and St. Thomas.

Marnell said that homeporting in San Juan saves time that would otherwise be taken up sailing from South Florida for more port time in the Caribbean, a key brand promise.

Also, Viking’s overall value continues to get high marks in customer surveys, according to Marnell, and that remains a key point of differentiation.

“So we feel like we’re in a very good position, and it’s our intention to maintain that moving forward,” he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed it’s itineraries for 2016 and 2017 including some new routes.

 

Highlights include the addition of San Juan, Puerto Rico as a seasonal homeport for Norwegian Gem, along with new eight-day Eastern Caribbean and six-day Western Caribbean Norwegian Escape sailings from Miami. In addition, all guests sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary in 2016/2017 will have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to Harvest Caye, Norwegian’s new island destination in Belize.

Seasonally, Norwegian also continues to offer three ships in Alaska, four in Europe, two in Bermuda, as well as a variety of exciting South America; Bahamas & Florida; and repositioning cruises. Norwegian will also continue to offer its unique inter-island Hawaii cruises year-round on Pride of America from Honolulu and short Bahamas itineraries from Miami year-round on Norwegian Sky. The new itineraries open today for group bookings, and go on sale on December 16, 2014 for our Latitudes Rewards guests and President’s Club travel partners and on December 18, 2014 for all bookings.

“Once again, Norwegian Cruise Line continues to offer a wide variety of exciting cruises for our guests to choose from in 2016 and early 2017,” said Drew Madsen, Norwegian’s president and chief operating officer. “Guests can cruise to the Caribbean year-round while experiencing the incredible innovations on Norwegian’s newest ships, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Getaway. In addition, we continue to offer the best of Europe on four beautiful ships including Norwegian Epic year-round, and the opportunity to experience the scenic beauty of Alaska on some of the youngest ships in the industry.”

So lets take a look at some of the itineraries that NCL has announced below:

Bermuda

Norwegian will continue its tradition of sailing from both New York City and Boston to the pink sand beaches of Bermuda between April and October, 2016. Norwegian Breakaway will return to Bermuda, sailing from New York City on seven-day cruises every Sunday from April 24, 2016 through October 23, 2016. From Boston, Norwegian Dawn will sail seven-day cruises, departing every Friday, from June 3, 2016 through September 2, 2016 and from October 7, 2016 through October 21, 2016.

Caribbean

Norwegian’s newest and largest ship, Norwegian Escape, will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean sailings from Miami year-round. Ports of call include St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

Norwegian Escape will sail an eight-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary from Miami on July 23, 2016, August 6, 2016, and August 20, 2016. Ports of call will include Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Escape will also sail a six-day Western Caribbean itinerary from Miami on July 31, 2016, August 14, 2016, and August 28, 2016. Ports of call include Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. This six and eight-day itineraries can be combined to create an incredible 14-day Caribbean vacation.

Norwegian Getaway, Miami’s Ultimate Ship, will sail from Miami to the Western Caribbean on seven-day cruises every Saturday from April 24, 2016 to April 23, 2017. Ports of call include Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Norwegian’s newest destination Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Norwegian returns to homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2016 on Norwegian Gem. She will sail a seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary from San Juan on October 23, November 6 and 20, and December 4, 2016. Ports of call will include Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Norwegian Gem will also sail a variation of the seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary on October 30, November 13, and November 27, 2016. Ports of call include

St. George’s, Grenada; Castries, St. Lucia; Roseau, Dominica; St. John’s, Antigua; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Norwegian Spirit will sail alternating seven-day Western Caribbean and Eastern Caribbean itineraries departing on Saturdays from Port Canaveral. The Western Caribbean itinerary begins December 10, 2016 and continues to April 15, 2017. Ports of call will include Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary stops in Nassau, Bahamas; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Tortola, British Virgin Islands, from December 3, 2016 to April 8, 2017.

Norwegian Jade will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Saturday from Houston from November 19, 2016 to April 15, 2017. Ports of call include Cozumel, Mexico; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras.

Norwegian Dawn will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Sunday from New Orleans from November 20, 2016 to April 16, 2017. Her stops will include Cozumel, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Norwegian Star will sail a seven-day Western Caribbean itinerary every Sunday from Tampa from October 23, 2016 to April 16, 2017. Ports of call will include Cozumel, Mexico; Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Bay Islands, Honduras; and Harvest Caye, Belize.

Alaska

Norwegian will continue to sail three ships in Alaska in the summer of 2016: Norwegian Pearl andNorwegian Jewel from Seattle, Washington and Norwegian Sun from Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska.

Norwegian Jewel, departing Saturdays, will sail a series of seven-day Sawyer Glacier cruises from Seattle between May 7, 2016 and September 10, 2016. Departing Sundays, Norwegian Pearl will set sail on seven-day Glacier Bay itineraries from May 15, 2016 through September 18, 2016. Both itineraries feature stops in Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

For those wishing to cruise on a longer Alaska itinerary, Norwegian Jewel will sail one ten-day Glacier Bay itinerary on September 17, 2016, and will visit Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway; Icy Strait Point; and Sitka, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norwegian Pearl will offer a 10-day Glacier Bay itinerary from Vancouver on May 5, 2016, stopping in Juneau; Skagway; Sitka; Icy Strait Point; and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Victoria, British Columbia.

Norwegian Sun will sail seven-day Glacier Bay one-way cruises between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska every other week from May 30, 2016 through September

5, 2016. Sailing north from Vancouver, guests will enjoy a cruise through the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and visits to Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau, Alaska. On Norwegian Sun’s Southbound seven-day Sawyer Glacier one-way itineraries from Seward, Alaska, sailing every other week from June 6 to September 12, 2016, guests will cruise the Inside Passage, Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier and enjoy stops in Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska. Norwegian Sun’s one-way cruises give guests the opportunity to see more of beautiful Alaska and make their cruise an adventure by adding on a pre or post-cruise CruiseTour, giving guests the chance to experience more of Alaska.

Norwegian Sun will also offer three seven-day Glacier Bay roundtrip cruises from Vancouver on May 16, 2016, May 23, 2016, and September 19, 2016. Ports of call will include Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, and will include cruising the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay.

Europe

Norwegian will offer a four-ship deployment in Europe during the summer of 2016. Norwegian Epic will remain in Europe year-round from her homeport in Barcelona, sailing seven-day Western Mediterranean itineraries from April 17, 2016 to November 20, 2016. Her exciting ports of call include Naples, Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; Cannes, France; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.

On November 27 and December 28, 2016, and February 19, March 12, and April 13, 2017, Norwegian Epic will sail a 10-Day Canary Islands & Morocco itinerary. Her stops will include Tangier, Morocco; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands; Funchal, Madeira; and Granada (Malaga), Spain. Norwegian Epic will also sail an 11-Day Western Mediterranean itinerary on December 7, 2016 and January 7 and 18, February 8, March 1 and 22, and April 2, 2017. Ports of call include Cagliari, Sardinia; Messina, Sicily; Naples, Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Palma, Majorca, Spain.

Norwegian Star will return to the Baltic, offering nine-day cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark on May 8 and 24, June 2 and 25, and July 4 to September 5, 2016. This exciting itinerary includes an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as a scenic sail through the Stockholm Archipelago following the ship’s afternoon departure from Stockholm, Sweden. Other calls include Warnemünde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; and Helsinki, Finland.

On June 11, 2016, Norwegian Star will sail a 14-day North Cape itinerary, during the summer solstice. This incredible itinerary will set sail from Copenhagen, Denmark and will visit the best of Norway including Alesund, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Trondheim, Leknes, Tromso, Hammerfest, Honningsvag, Molde, and Bergen, Norway. This itinerary can also be combined with a nine-day Baltic Capitals itinerary for the ultimate northern Europe experience.

Norwegian Star will also sail two seven-day Norwegian Fjords itineraries from Copenhagen, on May 1 and 17, 2016. This breathtaking itinerary will sail through the beautiful fjords of southern Norway featuring stops in Alesund, Geiranger, Flam and Bergen.

Norwegian Star will also sail a 14-Day Norway, Iceland, & Faroe Islands cruise from Copenhagen on September 14, 2016. Port calls will include Bergen and Alesund, Norway; Lerwick, Shetland Islands; Thorshavn, Faroe Islands; Reykjavik, Iceland; Greenock, Scotland; and Dublin, Ireland.

Norwegian Jade will return to Venice and sail alternating seven-day Greek Isles and seven-day Adriatic, Greece & Turkey itineraries from May to October 2016. Guests may also choose to combine these two exciting itineraries to enjoy the ultimate 14-day adventure. The Greek Isles sailings will run from May 7, 2016 to October 1, 2016 with calls in Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Olympia (Katakolon), Greece, while the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey itinerary includes Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; and Split, Croatia from May 14, 2016 to September 24, 2016.

For an incredible combination of eastern and western Mediterranean itineraries, guests can embark on Norwegian Spirit’s 12-day Grand Mediterranean from Venice on May 19, June 12, July 6, August 1 and 25, September 18, October 12, and November 5, 2016. This incredible itinerary visits five different countries, with calls in Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Istanbul, Turkey; Mykonos, Greece; Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia), and Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy; and Provence (Toulon), France.

Additionally, Norwegian Spirit will sail a 12-day Grand Mediterranean one-way itinerary from Barcelona to Venice on May 7 and 31, June 24, August 13, September 16 and 30, and October 24, 2016. Her stops include Provence (Toulon), France; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; and Venice, Italy.

Norwegian Spirit will also sail a spectacular 14-day Grand Mediterranean open-jaw itinerary from Barcelona to Venice on July 18, 2016. Port of call include Provence (Toulon), France; Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), and Naples, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Kotor, Montenegro; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Bahamas and Florida

Norwegian Gem will sail seven-day Bahamas & Florida cruises from New York in 2016 from April 30, 2016 to May 14, 2016 and from June 18, 2016 to August 27, 2016. This popular family-friendly itinerary includes visits to Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral), Norwegian’s private island Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. Along with recent enhancements to add brand favorites Sugarcane Mojito Bar and O’Sheehans Neighborhood Bar & Grill, Norwegian Gem also features exclusive Nickelodeon? programming on board.

On May 21, 2016 and June 4, 2016, Norwegian Gem will sail eight-day Bahamas and Florida sailings that feature an additional sea day, as well as a full day in Orlando and the Beaches (Port Canaveral).

For a shorter cruise option, Norwegian Sky will continue sailing three and four-day cruises to the Bahamas year-round from Miami departing Fridays and Mondays. Ports of call include: Nassau, Grand Bahama Island, and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island.

Norwegian Getaway will also sail a one-time two-day Bahamas itinerary from Miami on September 2, 2016, stopping in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.

Canada & New England

Norwegian Gem will again offer two summer Canada & New England roundtrip cruises from New York City in 2016. These six-day sailings on May 29 and June 12, 2016 call in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Portland, Maine.

Norwegian Gem will also offer seven-day cruises roundtrip from New York City from September 3 to October 8, 2016, visiting four beautiful ports of call: Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Portland, Maine; and Newport, Rhode Island.

Norwegian Dawn will offer one-way seven-day cruises between Boston, Massachusetts and Quebec City, Quebec from September 9 to 30, 2016. The northbound itinerary features visit to Portland, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Gaspésie, Quebec; and Saguenay (La Baie), Quebec, while the southbound route begins with an overnight in Quebec City, Quebec and then visits Sydney, Nova Scotia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Bar Harbor, Maine. These sailings can be combined for an ultimate 14-day Canada & New England experience.

Hawaii

The recently-enhanced Pride of America will continue to sail her very popular seven-day Hawaii itinerary departing from Honolulu every Saturday through April 2018. Offering more than 100 hours of sight-seeing time, ports of call include an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawai`i; Kona, Hawai`i; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; and an afternoon cruise past the breathtaking Nãpali Coast.

Panama Canal

Back by popular demand, Norwegian Pearl will sail 11- and 10-day Panama Canal itineraries from Miami beginning fall 2016. The 10-day Panama Canal sails November 28 and December 19, 2016, and March 13 and April 3, 2017, with calls in Oranjestad, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; and Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. The 11-day Panama Canal on December 29, 2016 will include port calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

An alternate 11-day Panama Canal round-trip itinerary on November 17 and December 8, 2016, and March 23, 2017 will include calls in Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puerto Limon, Costa Rica; Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Costa Maya, Mexico.

South America

Norwegian Sun returns to South America to sail 14-day South American one-way Westbound itineraries from Buenos Aires to Santiago (Valparaiso) and Eastbound from Santiago (Valparaiso) to Buenos Aires. The 14-day South America from Buenos Aires (Westbound) sails on December 3 and 31, 2016 and January 28, February 25, and March 25, 2017, with calls including Montevideo, Uruguay; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; and Puerto Montt, Chile. During the cruise, guests will sail Cape Horn, across the Beagle Channel offering breathtaking glacier views, the Strait of Magellan, the majestic Chilean Fjords, the Patagonic Channels, and Canal Moraleda.

The 14-day South America cruise from Santiago (Valparaiso) sails on November 19 and December 17, 2016 and January 14, February 11, and March 11, 2017 with calls in Puerto Montt, Chile; Puerto Chacabuco, Chile; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Stanley, Falkland Islands; Puerto Madryn, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay. During the Eastbound cruises, guests will also cruise the Patagonic Channels, Chilean Fjords, Strait of Magellan; Beagle Channel, and Cape Horn. Guests can also choose to extend their South American exploration with a CruiseTour, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore this region’s culture and spectacular destinations such as Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and Easter Island.

Mexican Riviera

Norwegian returns to the Mexican Riviera, offerings cruises from two different homeports.Norwegian Jewel will sail a seven-day itinerary from Los Angeles from October 2, 2016 to April 23, 2017, with calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Norwegian Sun will sail an 11-day Mexican Rivera itinerary from San Diego on September 30, 2016 and October 11 and 22, 2016. Ports of call will include Acapulco; Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa; an overnight call in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Repositioning Cruises

In spring of 2015, Norwegian will offer a variety of once-in-a-lifetime repositioning cruises including Caribbean repositioning, Transatlantic cruises and Pacific Coastal itineraries.