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”.

Carnival Horizon Arrives at PortMiami

Carnival Horizon

Carnival Horizon’s arrival to PortMiami, its new year-round homeport, was marked today by a fun basketball-themed event featuring the company’s Chief Fun Officer – NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal – along with Miami HEAT legends Alonzo Mourning, Shane Battier and Glen Rice, according to a press release.

The festivities, which took place prior to Carnival Horizon’s inaugural two-day cruise, included the unveiling of a large Choose Fun bumper sticker on the ship’s stern, as well as a flyover from the Carnival AirShip.

During the event, Carnival presented a $25,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital representing funds from an online promotion in which consumers who posted a photo of the AirShip in social media with the hashtag #ChooseFun triggered a donation to the hospital and entered them in a drawing for free cruises and other prizes.

“With its awesome top-deck attractions and a wide variety of al fresco dining experiences, Carnival Horizon is the ideal ship for the Caribbean and this event was a perfect way to celebrate her Miami arrival while benefiting the special children of St. Jude,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “And we’ve taken our Choose Fun tagline to the next level by putting a giant a bumper sticker on our newest ship proclaiming our never-ending commitment to FUN!”

Added O’Neal: “In my role as CFO, I get to tell everyone just how much fun you can have on a Carnival cruise and I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of the festivities for the new Carnival Horizon which takes the concept of choosing fun to entirely new level with so much to see and do for guests of all ages.”

Following the two-day cruise, Carnival Horizon kicks off a year-round schedule of six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from PortMiami beginning Sept. 22, 2018.

On its new Miami-based schedule, six-day cruises depart Sundays, calling at Ocho Rios; Grand Cayman; and Cozumel. Two different eight-day itineraries will be offered with departures on Saturdays – one featuring Grand Turk; La Romana (Dominican Republic); Curacao; and Aruba; and the other visiting Grand Turk; San Juan; St. Kitts; and St. Maarten.

Star to Build Up Home porting Operation in Qingdao

SuperStar Aquarius

Star Cruises marked the inaugural sailing of the SuperStar Aquarius from her new Qingdao homeport earlier this week, and also announced the SuperStar Virgo would homeport in Qingdao starting in November.

Ang Moo Lim, President of Star Cruises said: “Back in 2002, Star Cruises had the privilege to pioneer Qingdao’s cruise industry development with the deployments of SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Capricorn to this beautiful port city. As we celebrate the inaugural sailing of SuperStar Aquarius in Qingdao, Star Cruises has officially set a new record number of homeport deployments by the same brand in Qingdao.

“Furthermore, to demonstrate the company’s commitment and dedication to the development of the Qingdao market, Star Cruises will deploy the SuperStar Virgo to homeport here in the autumn, making Star Cruises the only cruise line in history to have two cruise ships homeport in Qingdao in the same year. Star Cruises will also likely become the International cruise line with the highest number of homeport deployments in Qingdao this year.”

The SuperStar Aquarius will sail from Qingdao this summer to Japan, stopping in multiple ports including Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Sasebo and Beppu.