MSC Cruises to feature in a TV documentary tonight

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A behind-the-scenes documentary filmed on MSC Seaside is set to air on Channel 5.

Secrets of the Mega Cruise Ship will give viewers the chance to see life on the ship as 5,000 passengers visit destinations across the Caribbean.

Film cameras were given access to the ship’s dining venues and bars, and also below deck where performers prepare to appear in shows and staff get ready to work in the restaurants.

The 90-minute documentary, due to appear on Channel 5 tonight (Monday), also features sections on the vessel’s waste disposal and water systems.

MSC Seaside sails 365 days a year with around 1,500 officers and crew onboard, according to the line.

Antonio Paradiso, managing director for MSC Cruises UK and Ireland, said: “It is an honour to have this great opportunity to show the British public another of our beautiful ships and all the onboard features we are famous for, while also offering a unique behind-the-scenes look at the goings-on of one of the world’s most advanced cruise ships.

“There is no better way to demonstrate how fantastic cruising is than to physically show people, and this feature-length documentary provides a great opportunity to do just that.”

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MSC Cruises reveals details of the private island

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Gallery: First pictures of MSC Cruises’ private island Ocean Cay revealed

MSC Cruises’ new private island in the Caribbean will give guests a “ticket to paradise”, according to chief executive Gianni Onorato.

Ocean Cay, 20 miles off the coast of the Bahamas and 65 miles from Miami, will boast eight “pristine” beaches, seven reserved for different guests, such as families, Yacht Club or Aurea Spa passengers, and one for the crew.

There will also be a sunset beach, lagoon beach and main beach where all water sports and activities will take place. Water sports will include snorkelling to a shallow sunken shipwreck through to scuba diving.

Lectures on the coral life around the island and what MSC has done to clean up and preserve it will be offered, something Onorato felt would be popular with younger guests and children.

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Every Caribbean itinerary from Miami, whether sailing to the Eastern or Western Caribbean, will call at Ocean Cay. Onorato said: “Because it’s so close to Miami, we can stay there until 1am so people can experience it at night and still be back in Miami for 6am the following morning.”

Guests will be able to watch movies under the stars with their feet in the sand.

Food will include a family buffet and a food cart going around the island, but the ship’s restaurants will remain open all day as many guests are expected to go back on board to eat. The furthest point of the island is a 17-minute walk from the ship and “completely flat”, Onorato said.

Deckchairs and some activities will be included in the cruise price, but cabanas, cocktails, island Wi-Fi, and certain sports like scuba diving will be extra. All will be bookable through package upgrades via the MSC app.

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Onorato also revealed there would be a second private island, for groups of 30-40 people, that could be booked out exclusively for the day. He said this would be a perfect upsell for travel agents. Costs for this and other extras would be added to the website at the end of the month.

The island will have three shops; one selling Bahamian goods manned by locals, one selling Ocean Cay-branded merchandise and the other selling MSC items.

Onorato said it was his “dream” to open an island in the Mediterranean but explained that the only location it would be possible to have an island open year-round, off the North African coast, was currently out of bounds.

“We will have to wait, but it is my dream to open a private island in the Mediterranean at some point,” he said.

Virgin Voyages to name first ship Scarlet Lady

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Virgin Voyages will name its first ship Scarlet Lady as it plans to launch a programme to recruit more female crew members in male-dominated roles.

Sir Richard Branson revealed the name today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa where it is being built.

The name, which also appeared on one of the earliest Virgin Atlantic planes, “reflects the brand’s iconic mermaid image”, according to the line, which will appear on the hull of the adult-only ship due to launch in 2020.

Virgin Voyages will launch a “Scarlet Squad” initiative aimed at recruiting and mentoring female crew in onboard areas such as marine, technical and hotel management, which statistically show low numbers of female staff and senior management.

Travel Weekly joined Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard and Virgin Voyages president and chief executive Tom McAlpin in Italy where the line was celebrating construction milestones, including the flooding of the ship’s drydock and a ceremony to cut the first pieces of steel for its second ship, due for delivery in 2021. Virgin Voyages will launch the third ship in 2022.

More details of the ship’s onboard features were also revealed.

“Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women,” McAlpin said. “I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Sir Richard and McAlpin also announced the company will eliminate the use of passenger-facing single-use plastics, including straws, bottled water, other beverage bottles, condiment packets, shopping bags, food packaging, stirrers, and take-away coffee and tea cups.

The company will emphasize the use of recyclable and reusable materials across the ship.

Complimentary filtered still and sparkling water will be available at all bars and restaurants, as well as at Natura filtered water stations on the ship.

“Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in,” Sir Richard said. “Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.”

“We believe that in order to fulfil our purpose of creating an ‘Epic Sea Change for All,’ we must make a commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws,” added McAlpin. “We must make a commitment to building ships and experiences that do everything possible to look after the well-being of our precious oceans. We are delighted with what we’ve achieved so far and will continue to push ourselves to look for innovative ways to do things that will make a difference.”