MSC Cruises to homeport ‘enlarged’ ship in Southampton

MSC Cruises is to lengthen and refurbish one of its ships and homeport it in Southampton for the summer season in 2021.

The ship, which has not been named, will go into drydock and re-emerge as “a super-enhanced version” of itself.

It will be the first time MSC has based one of its ships in the UK for a full season.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Antonio Paradiso, managing director for UK & Ireland, said: “This is not just a refitting. It will be a perfect blend of an old prototype ship and a new one.

“The larger ship will sail northern Europe itineraries to the Baltic capitals, Norwegian Fjords, North Cape and some southbound destinations.”

He also said: “It was the first time we have made a 100% commitment to the UK market.”

Paradiso revealed the ship would partner with “exciting British brands” and be “adapted” to meet the needs of the UK market.

“We learnt a lot from MSC Magnifica, bringing on British food, kettles and tea bags,” he added. “It has satisfaction scores of 7.5 out of 10 which is great for a first operation out of the UK.

“2021 gives us an opportunity to further improve those scores.”

Paradiso said plans were still being finalised and he would confirm the ship, deployment and details in “two to three months’ time”.

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P&O Cruises Ventura completes two-week docking at Damen Shiprepair Brest

The P&O Cruises Grand-class cruise ship Ventura has just completed a two-week docking at Damen Shiprepair Brest. Launched in 2008, this was the first visit of the 290-metre, 116,000 DWT vessel to the yard, where she underwent a regular docking together with a range of maintenance works.

Major features of the maintenance programme included the installation of two exhaust gas scrubbers, for which Damen Shiprepair Brest (DSBr) designed, manufactured and installed a sea chest. While the Ventura was in DSBr’s Drydock number 3, at 420m by 80m the largest of DSBr’s three dry docks, the hull was ultra-high-pressure water blasted and then, along with the superstructure, repainted. Additional works included maintenance of the propulsion systems and stabilisers, plus other minor repairs.

As with all cruise ship dockings, completing the works within the scheduled period was absolutely critical with the Ventura due to depart Southampton on 28 March on a 12-day cruise to the Canary Islands and Lisbon. The logistics were particularly challenging, with a wide range of subcontractors needing access to the vessel both inside and out, and hundreds of containers, trucks and garbage skip to be positioned around the dock and manoeuvred as necessary during the two-week period. As always, meticulous planning and exact specification of all the different tasks to be undertaken took place in the months before her arrival. That, plus excellent organisation while she was in the yard, was the key to success. In the event, the Ventura departed DSBr on 26 March with all works completed and in top shape for her 3,574 passengers and 1,220 crew.

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“This is the first time that we have welcomed a vessel owned by Carnival plc (which operates the P&O Cruises brand),” said Patrick Renavot, Managing Director Damen Shiprepair Brest, “and we were delighted that the project was a success. All planned work was finished on time and the vessel returned to its busy schedule on schedule.

“As cruise ships expand in terms of both numbers and size, we hope to see our general activity in this sector grow. With two dry docks of 420-metres and 338-metres respectively plus a convenient and easily-accessed location for cruise ships entering and leaving the Atlantic, DSBr has much to offer owners and operators looking for yards capable of meeting their specific needs.”

In recent years, the yard has made substantial investments in its facilities including an enhanced black and grey water disposal capability and a new fire and cooling water supply system. The yard also features ample owners’ storage, extensive laydown areas and spacious temporary workshops for subcontractors. There is even an adjacent container terminal. The yard has a constructive relationship with the local authorities and, with a culture at the yard based on maximising safety and cooperation, customers can rely on a committed, efficient service at every level.

Enhanced Pacific Princess Emerges from Refurbishment

Enhanced Pacific Princess Emerges from Refurbishment
PHOTO: Princess Cruises’ new livery applied to Pacific Princess. (photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Princess Cruises’ sole small ship—the 670-guest Pacific Princess—has emerged from a two-week dry-dock refurbishment with a number of enhancements befitting the larger fleet.

“We carefully considered how to incorporate modern design elements and comfort while keeping the traditional elements of small ship cruising that have always been the hallmark of Pacific Princess,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president, in a press release.

“The results are incredible and Pacific Princess now offers approachable luxury for the world-class traveler to craft an authentic cruising experience.”

The line’s multi-year “Come Back New Promise” enhancement program kicked off the updates, and among the multi-million-dollar improvements made to Pacific are new interior colors, patterns and textures—plus 178,000 square feet of new carpet—as well as the line’s signature new exterior hull livery. The classic “Sea Witch” logo now dons the bow larger than ever before.

Overall, the ship maintains its existing Beaux-Arts aesthetic while also modernizing it, such as at the atrium. Lighter tones and style take inspiration from Central Park hotels in New York City.

The ship’s four dining venues have also been enhanced, beginning with the pair of specialty ones. Sterling Steakhouse takes its cues from Rush Street Steakhouses of Chicago and Hollywood Brown Derby with black-and-white portraits of classic and modern film stars lining the restaurant. For Italian, Sabatini’s Restaurant has been updated with a contemporary look and a new forward lounge.

The Club Restaurant steps across the pond to make the main dining room reminiscent of Central London.

Rich woods are accented by light jewel-tones, modern furniture and updated carpets, drapes and chairs. The Panorama Buffet was similarly updated with new carpets, paint, tile, furnishings, drapes and awnings.

Also, the pool deck outside the buffet was given a garden-style enhancement a la South Beach hotels thanks to new tile and refinished teak. Outdoor furniture here includes double bed loungers, sofas, lounge chairs and pool chaises.

Meanwhile, 336 private staterooms were refreshed. New amenities include 700 Princess Luxury Beds developed in partnership with sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus and HGTV designer Candice Olson. Additionally, all accommodations received new carpet, upholstered headboards, modern drapes, along with lamps and sconces with incorporated USB ports.

Suites also were improved with new modern furniture such as sofa sleepers, dining room table and chairs, lounge chairs and desks.

Club Class Mini-Suites are also a new category available onboard complete with VIP perks. Special amenities encompass the reserved Club Class Dining area with preferred seating and an expanded menu, in addition to priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Through December 2017, the Pacific Princess is scheduled to sail several European itineraries before embarking on its 111-day World Cruise from Los Angeles on January 20, 2018.