Costa Concordia captain loses final appeal against prison sentence

Image result for costa concordia

The captain of the Costa Concordia has lost his final appeal bid.

Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2015 after a court found him guilty of manslaughter, causing a maritime accident and abandoning ship.

On Friday the sentence was upheld by Italy’s highest criminal tribunal, the Court of Cassation.

The ship capsized after hitting rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012 killing 32 people.

Schettino had handed himself in to the Rebibbia prison in Rome after the verdict, according to the BBC.

More than 4,000 passengers and crew were aboard the Costa Concordia during a Mediterranean cruise.

Six reasons why MSC Meraviglia will be this summer’s ultimate destination in the Mediterranean

MSC Meraviglia

Designed around meeting every need of its guests, MSC Meraviglia will introduce new, cutting edge ways to connect holidaymakers seamlessly with the experiences that matter to them, whether at sea or on land.

With the first cruise scheduled for 4 June 2017, MSC Meraviglia will feature the ultimate in entertainment, alongside a broad range of dining options and luxurious wellness choices. In addition to the on-board experience, the ship will spend her inaugural summer season sailing the western Mediterranean – calling at beautiful, historic destinations with a unique, highly-tailored programme of discovery excursions, to immerse guests in local culture and tastes.

  1. Exclusive, world-class entertainment from Cirque du Soleil

The highlight of on-board entertainment will be represented by the world leader in artistic performance, Cirque du Soleil, thanks to the exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea partnership with MSC Cruises.

Two unique Cirque du Soleil shows will be performed on-board in the evenings, 6 nights per week, at the purpose-build Carousel Lounge. An exclusive on-site dinner service for up to 100 of the 450 guests booked for the show, which elevates MSC Cruises’ exquisite dining and award-winning entertainment to yet another level. In fact, this is a unique experience that cannot be had anywhere else at sea – or in the world, for that matter.

MSC Cruises designed a custom-made entertainment venue, the Carousel Lounge, for MSC Meraviglia and its three Meraviglia and Meraviglia-Plus sister smart cruise ships. Featuring the latest technology, this ground-breaking venue, which has been designed to meet the needs of Cirque du Soleil and its performers, will be a circular performance space with a 180° circular glass wall. Kitted out with the most cutting edge equipment and special rigging, the Carousel Lounge will enable Cirque du Soleil performers to deliver their world-renowned performances for the exclusive enjoyment of MSC Cruises guests.

  1. Enriched family offering and cutting-edge entertainment for all ages

With MSC Meraviglia, MSC Cruises continues to evolve and enrich the family options that have historically been at the core of its offering. The facilities and services for families on every MSC Cruises holiday, are designed to ensure that it is engaging for all members of the family, both together and individually.

For the first time on any MSC Cruises ship, all of the facilities for families, kids and teens are all together in a super amusement park and children’s area. This means families have a dedicated area specially designed for their needs, providing a safe place for children, and an opportunity to also meet and get to know other families. This area includes the DOREMI Studio Lounge, a dedicated lounge for all family activities, DOREMI Tech Lab, a must visit destination for kids who love technology, as well as facilities designed in partnership with family experts including the LEGO Group and Chicco.

Amongst other features, the on-board Aqua Park will include four action-packed water slides, a splash pool and champagne bowl. And the Himalayan Bridge will thrill adventure seekers, who can attach themselves to a rope and cross the ship, 60 metres above the water.

  1. Comfortable accommodations to meet every need

With 10 different types of cabin to choose from, there really is something for everyone.

The Yacht Club

MSC Meraviglia features an enhanced Yacht Club with luxurious accommodation, now spanning three decks with 78 suites, 15 inside cabins and two apartments. The two coveted apartment suites are designed with a large living room and two balconies, one of which is a large outdoor space that has a dining table for eating al fresco and a private whirlpool.

This unique “ship within a ship” concept is specially designed for guests seeking exclusivity and privacy in a world full of choice. MSC Yacht Club guests can thus enjoy the world-class entertainment, speciality restaurants and boutiques before returning to their own private, luxurious haven.

With unparalleled luxury comparable to that of a private yacht, it also provides key benefits including the Top Sail Lounge, an entirely self-contained private club, offering panoramic sea views, and the One Pool Deck, featuring a private pool, whirlpool baths and solarium. A private lift will transport guests discreetly to the MSC Aurea Spa to experience the delights of an authentic Balinese spa, with an exclusive MSC Yacht Club massage and treatment room.

Modular cabins designed with the needs of families in mind

The trend for multi-generational holidays is further met on this ship with a clever modular cabins system, which is unique to MSC Cruises. Up to three cabins can be combined together to accommodate up to 10 guests.

In addition to the modular cabins, quadruple cabins can accommodate a family of up to four people each, with a living space in the daytime, and a sofa that turns into a comfortable bed by night – making the most effective use of space in the cabin.

  1. A truly unprecedented choice of both fine and casual dining options

MSC Meraviglia makes available to her guests a choice of both fine and casual options through 12 venues – in true MSC Cruises fashion – serving always fresh, authentic food. This starts with the buffet, open 20-hours a day, which will serve a delicious array of Mediterranean specialities and international cuisines – including ethnic, “itinerary” and wellness corners plus a multitude of other tastes and dietary needs catered for round-the-clock.

In addition, fine dining options examples include the award-winning Kaito Sushi Bar, the new Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant and an American-style steakhouse with specialty meats from around the world (details of additional fine dining options will be revealed over time).

  1. The 96 metre-long Mediterranean-style promenade

Another feature of MSC Meraviglia is her Mediterranean-style indoor promenade, featuring an 80 metre LED sky that creates an awe-inspiring atmosphere 24 hours a day. With stunning visuals and effects, the Promenade will be the social centre of the ship and a focal point for a broad range of leisure activities. Amongst others, guests can stroll up and down, sit back and take in the atmosphere, shop until their hearts’ content, snack on delicious ice cream or crepes from Jean Philippe Maury, the award-winning French chocolatier and pastry chef.

  1. Elegant pools for daytime relaxation and night-time entertainment

MSC Meraviglia offers all her guests a choice of three elegantly designed pools:

* The main pool, located on deck 15 is inspired by the cool vibes of Miami’s South Beach. At approximately 25 metres long, it has the most generous poolside space at sea. By night, the pool becomes a visual spectacle, illuminated with special lighting. There is also a buffet nearby with inside and outdoor dining options, providing guests with more convenience and optimal relaxation time.

* As MSC Meraviglia is the ship for all seasons, there is a 10 metres indoor pool with a magrodome that can be opened when the ship is in port or the weather simply allows for it.

* Finally, the Aft Pool on deck 16 offers spectacular views from the front of the ship, while by night is transformed into a space where guests can dance the night away under the stars.

Additionally, the private One Deck Pool, exclusively for the use of Yacht Club guests, is in a coveted position at the top of the ship on deck 19 providing a quiet haven for relaxation.

When is the Best Time of Year for a Cruise?

Image result for cruise the fjords

Norwegian Fjords

The world is a wonderful patchwork of variety, with something totally different to explore in every corner of the globe. So if you’re sick of wintry weather – or just fancy a complete change of place – there is an exciting destination out there to be discovered, and, thanks to the schedule that the tourism industry operates by, there are lots of good low-season deals to be had. Here are a few suggestions of top cruise destinations – only not at the times of year you might expect.

November to January

Image result for cruise the caribbean
Caribbean Cruise

The winter months are a funny time for the cruise calendar. Although the weeks of Christmas and New Year are peak times for trips to the Caribbean and the Mexican Riviera, early November and late January are very quiet periods that nevertheless offer all of the benefits that you’d expect from busier times. The weather is still beautiful and perfect for beach days and general lounging, but crowds are few and, with less demand for tourist attractions and excursions, ticket prices are lower. Meanwhile, the South Pacific, and particularly the exquisite island of Tahiti, is the perfect place to escape the bitter cold of European winters. Wade in the crystal waters and relax on the beaches of French Polynesia, while enjoying the peace of the low season in the cafes and bars.

February to May

Image result for cruise the galapagos islands
Galapagos islands

Springtime is a great chance to pick up some travel bargains before the real holiday season gets into full swing, and there are some amazing destinations that are cheaper and much less hassle to visit at this time of year. South America is a particularly good hotspot to try. Temperatures are not yet up to their summer highs but they are still very pleasant – and, helpfully, less humid – and in a part of the world that sees a lot of tourist traffic, the presence of fewer crowds really pays off when it comes to convenience and the prices you pay. The Amazon rainforest can be explored via river vessel and makes for a really unique and adventurous trip – and the milder weather will certainly be welcome when you’re navigating the humid confines of the jungle. Alternatively, there are the awe-inspiring and vibrant Galapagos Islands, whose unrivalled flora and fauna helped Darwin to develop his theory of evolution. Although they are popular most of the year round, they enjoy a slight lull in trade around this time of year.

June to August

Image result for cruise the new england coast
New England

It may be the peak holiday season during which many Westerners set off around the globe for a hard-earned break somewhere completely different, but there are still parts of the world offering real bargains worth having during their months of hibernation from the tourist trail. Tourists flock to Canada and New England every autumn for their world-famous foliage and breath-taking landscapes, making the summer months the perfect time to visit. Many locals are away for their own holidays, the weather is warm and there is still plenty to do and see, at a much cheaper rate. Australia is another great place to visit during low season; don’t forget that this is Australia’s winter, but extreme weather is unlikely, and there are plenty of attractions to see and bars and restaurants to enjoy while avoiding the high-season-price tickets.

September to October

Image result for cruise the mediterranean

Autumn brings about many opportunities for exciting and affordable cruises. Now that all of the summer tourist footfall has ceased and normal working days have been resumed, there are many places where you can enjoy the peace and quiet – and cheaper prices. Hawaii is still soaking up the tropical sunshine between September and October, with its colourful beaches bare and ready to be relaxed upon. Although the heat can bring about tropical storms, it will certainly not dampen your Hawaii experience, and there are any number of characterful bars and restaurants to take temporary refuge in. Alternatively, the autumn months are low season for the cruise routes of Northern Europe, which include the famously beautiful fjords of Norway. The crisp winter weather makes for wondrous landscapes, so don’t forget to bring your camera. The affordability of Northern Europe during low season is a definite perk too, with Scandinavia being a lovely but quite expensive destination, so take advantage of low prices and fewer people on board cruise ships.

Image result for cruise the Scandinavia
Royal’s Jewel of the Seas leaving Stockholm

About the author: Debbie Stevens oversees The Cruise Line’s sales team and assists with coordinating the company’s marketing strategy. She has had over 20 years’ travel experience with various responsibilities and sailed with Windstar Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, amongst others.