Construction begins on Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 15 - 2014

Construction began this morning on Seven Seas Explorer at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy. The crisp pop of a cork being freed from a Krug Grande Cuvée magnum initiated a laser, which cut the ceremonial first piece of steel for the new ship. Incorporating a bottle of the world’s finest champagne to start the building process is symbolic of the high level of sophistication and design being developed for Seven Seas Explorer, which is scheduled to debut in summer 2016.

The ceremonial first piece of steel cut this morning will serve as the foundation for an opulent, one-of-a-kind owner’s suite unlike any other at sea. The suite, resplendent with exquisite stonework and luscious fabrics, will serve as a hallmark for the superior level of elegance found throughout the ship. When it debuts, Seven Seas Explorer will establish a new benchmark for style and service and perfectly complement the all-inclusive luxury experience currently enjoyed by guests sailing with Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  During the ceremony, Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Gabriele Cocco, senior executive vice president of merchant ships for Fincantieri, began a countdown that culminated with Maison Krug Italy’s master sommelier, Michela Cimatoribus, releasing the cork from a magnum of Krug Grande Cuvée. As the cork soared and the champagne flowed, confetti cascaded down and the laser cut the first piece of steel for the 750-passenger ship.

“We’re one step closer to fulfilling our dream of building the most luxurious ship in the world and giving our guests another exciting option to explore inspired global destinations with our special brand of all-inclusive luxury,” noted Kamlani. “Seven Seas Explorer will surpass the current standard in luxury cruising, offering a new level of grandeur throughout the ship from its lavish suites to its elegant public spaces and gourmet restaurants.”
“We are extremely excited to welcome a new partner in Regent Seven Seas Cruises and to start construction of this brilliant new ship,” commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. “As a global leader in cruise ship construction, we’ve built some of the finest ships at sea. Building the most luxurious ship ever built is quite a challenge, but with our craftsmanship and experience building luxury ships we feel that Seven Seas Explorer will become the definition of excellence.”

At 54,000 gross-registered tons and carrying only 750 guests, Seven Seas Explorer will boast the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios in the cruise industry and further strengthen Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ widely recognized position as the most inclusive luxury cruise line. Seven Seas Explorer will join the rest of the award-winning Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet in the summer of 2016.  Regent Seven Seas Cruises will begin taking reservations for the maiden voyage and inaugural season for Seven Seas Explorer in early 2015. For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises or to receive a brochure, guests can visit www.RSSC.com, call 1-844-4REGENT (1-844-473-4368) or contact a professional travel agent.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Starting in 2015, all Windstar Cruises’ itineraries will feature a spectacular onshore Private Event, created exclusively for Windstar guests. These complimentary events are crafted to give guests an in depth and authentic local experience that compliments their voyage. Private Events include activities such as an after-hours tour and dinner under the stars in the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus or a private ballet performance in the famed Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

“We curated these Private Events with the local experience in mind. Our product managers toured the regions sampling cuisines, talking to locals, visiting the UNESCO sites to create the best experience possible,” said Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises’ chief executive officer. “Our guests gain an even deeper involvement into the local culture.”

imageWindstar débuted its first exclusive Private Event on its Dreams of Tahiti voyage in May. The event, included on all 2014 sailings through the South Pacific, features an evening of entertainment with music and a dazzling performance by local fire dancers on a secluded island or “motu.” The evening also includes a dinner of local Tahitian cuisine with tender suckling pig slowly steamed in a traditional ”ahima’a” earth oven.

New Private Events featured on 2015 voyages:

Asia

  • Phuket: A Feast for the Senses: Featured on the Singapore & the Malay Peninsula voyage, guests will start the evening with a performance by local dancers and a Long Drum Parade, followed by dinner at the award-winning restaurant, Sala Bua (Pavilion of Lotus), overlooking the Andaman Sea, and a private performance of graceful Thai dance.
  • Hoi An: Dreams of Floating Lanterns: Featured on the Treasures of Southeast Asia, Southeast Asia Unveiled, and Southeast Asia Unveiled & Angkor Wat Cruisetour voyages, guests will start the evening with a private performance of lion dancers, before dining in the beautiful Nam Long restaurant surrounded by lush gardens on the Thu Bon River. Floating lanterns gliding down the river accompanied by traditional music and dancers will add to the enchantment of the evening. Guests will also have the opportunity to take part in interactive workshops of Vietnamese letter drawing, lantern-making, and wood-engraving.

Arabia

  • Luxor: Temples and Tombs on the Nile: Featured on the Wonders of Arabia and Wonders of Civilization Cruisetour voyages, guests will travel to Luxor for a two-day tour of the Luxor Temple that includes an evening showing of the Sound and Light display at Karnak Temple, and a one-night hotel stay in the Hilton Luxor. On the second day of the tour, guests will explore the Valley of the Kings – the most important archaeological site in the world that features the tombs of King Tutankhamun and Ramses IV – followed by lunch aboard a felucca, a traditional sailboat, as they float down the Nile.

Greek Isles, Turkey & Black Sea

  • Rhodes: The Tantalizing Tastes of Greece: Featured on the Greek Isles & Turkish Delights (Athens to Istanbul) voyage, guests will be wined and dined at the award winning Hatzikelis Fish Taverna in Rhodes that will include a sampling of traditional and modern Greek fare and wines from the local Cair Winery, followed by an exhilarating performance by local musicians and dancers.
  • Kusadasi: Evening in Ephesus: Featured on the Greek Isles & Turkish Delights (Istanbul to Athens) and Pride of the Aegean voyages, guests will enjoy an after-hours tour of the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus. The evening includes a five-course, white-glove-service dinner in the courtyard of the Library serenaded by a trio from the Aegean Chamber Orchestra.
  • Odessa: Artistry in Architecture and Dance: Featured on the Black Sea Tapestry voyage, guests will enjoy an exclusive ballet performance in the Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre – one of the most important landmarks of Eastern Europe designed by Viennese architects F. Felner and H. Helmer. The evening also includes champagne and canapés served during intermission, and a chance sighting of the famed ghost of Pavlova.

Caribbean & Panama Canal

  • Prickly Pear Beach: Island Beach Party: Featured on the Yachtsman’s Caribbean Voyage the event includes a day of relaxation and fun on Prickly Pear Beach, a secluded and uninhabited nature refuge in the British Virgin Islands. Activities include water skiing, kayaking, snorkeling, friendly games of beach volleyball, horseshoes, and bocce ball, and a lunch of freshly grilled local seafood.
  • Mayreau: Private Beach Getaway: Featured on the Jewels of the Windward Islands voyage, this Private Event includes a day in paradise on the small island of Mayreau. Guests will enjoy music and a Mixology Class to learn how to make favorite local drinks, in addition to an amazing lunch of fresh local food.
  • St. Lucia: Getaway in Paradise: Featured on the Classic Caribbean voyage, guests will spend a day of fun and adventure on a secluded beach on Pigeon Island, where the bar is open and the steel drums are playing. Guests can take part in an escorted snorkeling excursion or a number of water sports. After working up an appetite, Windstar chefs will serve a dinner of local fresh fish, lobster, and the uniquely Caribbean specialty, conch.
  • Isla de Coiba: Tropical Beach Delights: Featured on the Passage Through Panama voyage, guests will have opportunity to explore the Isla de Coiba, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, accessed only by special permit. Snorkel or take a guided hiking tour through the island’s untouched natural beauty. The day will be accompanied by live music, cocktails, and a beachside lunch.

Italy

  • Messina: Taste of Sicily: Featured on the Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast voyage, the event begins with a wine tasting and tour of Vinicola Benanti, a family-run winery, followed by lunch featuring traditional Sicilian food paired with a selection of the family’s wines.
  • Monte Carlo: Glitter & Games: Featured on the Yachting the Riviera, Rivera Enchantment, and Glitter & Glam of the Riveras voyages, guests will enjoy red carpet treatment during an on deck cocktail party set against the glittering backdrop of Monte Carlo. After dinner and cocktails on board, guests will enjoy a champagne and dessert reception in the legendary Grand Casino, followed by an evening of gaming in the city.
  • Agrigento: Beauty Among the Ruins: Featured on the Sicilian Splendors voyage, guests will enjoy an exclusive tour through the Valley of Temples – one of the most important archaeological sites in the world that features ancient temples and edifices built between 510 and 430 B.C. The day will include lunch at the five-star Hotel Villa Athena.

Mediterranean

  • Giardini Naxos: Taste of Sicily: Featured on the Enchanting Greece & the Amalfi Coast voyage, the event begins with a wine tasting and tour of Vinicola Benanti, a family-run winery, followed by lunch featuring traditional Sicilian food paired with a selection of the family’s wines.
  • Mallorca: Bolero, Fandango, and Other Works of Art: Featured on the Islands of the West Med and Spanish Serenade voyages, this event features a private guided tour through the March Palace, which features a renowned works of art collection. At the end of the tour, guests will enjoy tapas on the terrace and a performance by 30 local artists featuring Mallorcan folk dances such as the bolero, the jack, the fandango, and the copeo.
  • Cádiz: Best of Breed – Andalusian Horses and Sherry: Featured on the Splendors of Southern Spain voyage, this event starts with a tour and sherry tasting at the internationally recognized González Byass Bodega. The day also includes a spectacular equestrian ballet performed at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation, followed by tapas and a sherry tasting.
  • Marrakech: Textures and Treasures: Featured on the Casablanca & the Canary Islands voyage, this event starts with a tour of the famed Majorelle Gardens, followed by a private lunch served in the heart of the exclusive Palm Groves neighborhood of Marrakech. Guests will go on to visit the holy site of Ben Youssef Madrasa – a stunning example of 16th century Moorish architecture – followed by treasure hunting in Souk Smarine. Guests will end the day in Djemaa el Fna square, where fireeaters, mime artists, snake charmers, and street musicians perform.
  • Butrint: Bronze Age to Venetians: Featured on the Venetian Passageways voyage guests will enjoy a day of exploration in Butrint, which features some of the world’s most significant and beautiful Roman ruins. The day will also include a presentation by the former director and founder of Butrint National Park, Auron Tare, followed by a cocktail reception.

Northern Europe

  • St. Petersburg: Private Reception at the Catherine Palace: Featured on the Baltic Delights voyage, this event includes an exclusive tour through the Palace led by guides and followed by a champagne reception in the Throne Room, accompanied by “Catherine the Great” herself who will take part in a Farewell Dance in the Courtyard before departing in her royal carriage.
  • Bordeaux: A Perfect Blend: Featured on the Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain & France voyage guests will enjoy a wine tasting and estate tour of the Chateau Giscours. The tour includes a French cooking class at the Halle Suzanne followed by dinner accompanied by a quartet of classical musicians.
  • Porto: Songs and Spirits of Portugal: Featured on the Gems of France & Iberia and Best of Europe’s West Coast voyages this event includes a guided tour through the historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Ferreira Cellars, where guests will enjoy a glass of port accompanied by a fado performance by the national known singer, Joana Costa.
  • Nærøyfjord: Dramatic Passage: Featured in the Lands of the Midnight Sun voyage, this event includes a sailing tour of the cascading waterfalls and stunning beauty of Nærøyfjord – a UNESCO World Heritage Site rated by the National Geographic Society as the world’s number one natural heritage site in 2006. The tour will include a picnic of regional delicacies as guests enjoy the vivid scenery.
  • Ijmuiden: Swords and Dungeons: Featured on the Northern Europe Wonderlands voyage, this event includes a guided tour through Forteiland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one-of-a-kind fortress built half underground near Amsterdam. Following the day of exploration, guests will also enjoy a candlelit tapas dinner in the Koepelzaal (Dome Hall).
  • Copenhagen: An Evening with Princes and the Gods: Featured on the Spectacular Scandinavia and Scandinavian Tapestry voyages, this event includes a canal cruise through Copenhagen and a tour through The National Museum, closed to the public for Windstar’s exclusive use. The tour will also feature a classic Danish smorgasbord paired with local beverages.
  • SAIL Amsterdam: Parade Of Tall Ships: Featured on the Windmills & Tall Sails voyage, guests will have deck-side seats to one of the world’s largest sailing parades on board Wind Surf. Enjoy a lunch and cocktails as the yacht sails with hundreds of sailing heritage craft, modern and naval ships, and historical replicas during SAIL Amsterdam.
  • Culloden: Fields of the Bonnie Prince: Featured on the Gaelic Explorers voyage, guests will enjoy canapés and champagne at Fort George, during an exclusive after-hours tour with expert guides who will take guests through the history of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highlanders loss to the Duke of Cumberland during the Battle On The Moor. The event will include the traditional military and musical performance, Beating Retreat, complete with pipes, drums, and marches.

For more information visit Windstar’s website.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Windstar Cruises offers 4th of July sale – savings up to 76% off!

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 30 - 2014

Windstar Cruises, a leader in small ship cruising, is celebrating the Fourth of July with exceptional savings on select sailings. Guests can book the yachting vacation of their dreams for as low as $1,776 per person, a savings of up to 76% off, on select voyages until July 11, 2014.

Take advantage of these savings and cruise in Windstar Style, the perfect pairing of comfort and luxury. Experience the glamorous ports of the French Riviera on Glitter & Glam of the Riviera. Relax on the beautiful beaches of the French Polynesia islands on Dreams of Tahiti.

Windstar Cruises Wind Surf sails in the Caribbean used by ExpertCruiser courtesy of Windstar CruisesAdditionally, select Asia voyages include a $1,000 airfare credit per person.  From Singapore and the Malay Peninsula to Hong Kong and Vietnam, Windstar explores the best of Asia. All Asia voyages include Windstar’s new Private Events, a complimentary on shore experience that is crafted to give guests an in depth and authentic taste of the local culture.

Every Windstar voyage promises an intimate, yacht style experience, including pampering without pretense, smaller ports of call, and unique private events on shore.

To learn more about the featured voyages and take advantage of Windstar’s Fourth of July Sale, contact a travel professional, visit the website or call Windstar Cruises at 800-258-7245.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Holland America Line sending two ships to P&O Cruises in Australia

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On May - 20 - 2014

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise company, today announced plans to significantly expand its market leadership in Australia, one of the fastest growing markets in the cruise industry.

With Australian cruise passenger numbers having increased 130 percent in the past five years and projections of 800,000 cruise passengers in 2013 growing to one million by 2016, P&O Cruises (Australia), one of Carnival Corporation’s 10 brands, will add two ships to its fleet in 2015. With a total of five ships, P&O Cruises will establish Australia’s largest year-round fleet and be well-positioned to continue meeting Australians’ surging demand for cruise vacations.

The expansion leverages Carnival Corporation’s industry-leading scale and underscores its strategy of increased collaboration among its 10 brands, as the two ships will be transferred from the company’s Holland America Line brand to become part of the P&O Cruises fleet. In the meantime, Holland America Line is building its latest and largest ship, to be delivered in February 2016. The new Pinnacle Class ship will be 99,500 tons and carry 2,660 passengers. This new ship will replace the capacity of the two vessels moving to P&O Cruises in Australia.

“Australians know a good thing when they discover it, and that speaks to why taking a cruise has become the most popular vacation experience in the Australian tourism industry,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “By any measure, Australia is one of the top performing cruise markets in the world, with an eye-popping average annual passenger growth rate of 20 percent over the past decade.”

Holland America Ship Sydney courtesy of Carnival Corp Australia for use by ExpertCruiser.com

Added Donald: “We are already firmly entrenched as the market leader, and with today’s move we are poised to continue our leadership. At the same time, our ability to work among our brands to make strategic deployment decisions is a great example of our focus on leveraging our scale and increased collaboration. This is an exciting development on many levels.”

Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise operator in Australia and the only cruise company to have ships based full-time in Australian waters. Over the past 10 years Carnival Corporation has grown rapidly with its local fleet increasing from two full-time ships, both with P&O Cruises, to six full-time ships from three of the company’s brands — three P&O Cruises ships, two Princess Cruises ships and one Carnival Cruise Lines ship. In 2015, with P&O Cruises adding its two ships and the return of Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess full-time, that number will increase to nine.

The company’s ships sail from five Australian cities as well as Auckland in New Zealand. During the past summer cruise season in Australia, the company had a record 20 ships from across seven of its brands sailing in Australian waters.

“The announcement is an emphatic statement of confidence in Australia, one of the most vibrant cruise markets in the world,” said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia. “Today’s news also underscores how P&O Cruises — which pioneered cruising in the country more than 80 years ago – has been the driving force in making cruising one of the most popular vacation experiences in Australia. We have a great understanding of what Australians are looking for in a vacation, and with cruising more popular than ever among Australians, this is the perfect time to meet demand with increased capacity.”

Today’s announcement follows recent news that Carnival Corporation in 2015 will be the first global cruise company with four ships based in China, also considered one of the world’s fastest-growing cruise markets. Together, the company’s moves highlight its strategy to strengthen its leadership position through the Asia-Pacific region, which includes Australia, and positions the company well to realize the potential market growth.

The two ships being added to P&O Cruises, currently sailing as ms Ryndam and ms Statendam in the Holland America Line fleet, are mid-range in size, similar to the three existing P&O ships in Australia — the Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl. The ships will be completely refurbished to offer a new level of comfort and style and will include onboard features tailored for Australian and New Zealand passengers. Full details will be announced in coming months.

Having a five-ship fleet will give P&O Cruises greater flexibility in its increased offering of short-break cruises, traditional cruises to the South Pacific and cruises to new destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Asia.

The ships will join the P&O Cruises fleet in November 2015 and itineraries are being developed for the expanded fleet.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Breaking News: Carnival Corp. sending more ships to China

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On May - 12 - 2014

Today Carnival Corporation announced Costa Serena will deploy year-round in China next year, making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with four ships based in China, the world’s fastest-growing cruise market. The move will accelerate Carnival Corporation’s leadership in China, capitalizing on growing consumer demand that is expected to make the country the second largest cruise market in the world by 2017.

Costa Cruises, one of Carnival Corporation’s 10 industry-leading brands, announced today it will debut Costa Serena in Shanghai in April 2015, where it will join Costa Victoria and Costa Atlantica, both already deployed in China. The move will increase Costa’s overall capacity in Asia by 74 percent.

The Costa Cruises expansion builds on eight years of successful operations in China and Carnival Corporation’s surging momentum as the largest operator in the country. In addition to Costa Serena, another Carnival Corporation brand, Princess Cruises, will homeport out of Shanghai starting May 21 through Sept. 3, 2014, with Sapphire Princess, providing another unique cruising experience for Chinese travelers. Adding a third ship based in China this year increases Carnival Corporation’s total 2014 capacity in the country by 66 percent. In 2015, with four ships based in China for the first time, Carnival’s industry-leading capacity is expected to jump 140 percent over a two-year period.

“Carnival Corporation has for years recognized that Chinese travelers would love the cruising experience, and that is why Costa Cruises was the first global cruise line to commit to sailing from China back in 2006,” said Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald. “We have never been more committed to China as a market of great strategic importance for our company, and with today’s news we will be the only global cruise company to have four ships operating out of China. More than that, as the world’s largest cruise company with a portfolio of 10 of the world’s most celebrated cruise lines, we are very well positioned to continue working with government officials in China to help the country meet its goal of becoming one of the most important cruise markets in the world.”

Donald added, “Today’s news is another big step in that direction. Chinese travelers love sailing on Costa’s Victoria and Atlantica, and we are confident they will also love sailing on Costa Serena and Sapphire Princess. Our team is passionate about delivering a unique experience designed to exceed the expectations of every guest who boards one of our ships.”

Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group, said of today’s expansion announcement: “Costa Serena’s arrival in China is a monumental occasion for our company, and we’re proud to be the first global cruise line to have three ships based in China. As we execute our strategy to accelerate growth in China, which has great market potential, we have the benefit of eight years of experience in China to not only help guide our expansion, but also to find unique ways to surprise and delight our guests as more travelers in China experience ‘Italy at Sea’ with Costa.”

Carnival is investing significantly in China as well as in Asia to take advantage of strong growth opportunities across the region. In addition to investments in China, Carnival is concentrating on growth efforts in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea to maintain and expand its leadership position in Asia. Highlights of Carnival’s strong momentum and leadership in the region include:

  • Capacity: Industry-leading cruise presence in China in 2014 and 2015, including 66 percent increase in total 2014 capacity in China and 140 percent increase over a two-year period.
  • Port Calls: Industry leader with 23 ships across seven brands visiting 90 ports in Asia with an estimated 1,439 port calls planned for 2014, including 220 port calls across five brands in China.
  • Sales offices: Carnival operates 10 offices in Asia, more than any competitor, including five locations in China –Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
  • Industry firsts: Costa was the first global cruise company to sail from China in 2006; Princess was the first global cruise line to offer a full season of sailing with a homeport in Japan, starting in 2013.
  • Brand strength: Carnival Corporation has seven of its 10 brands sailing in Asia: Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises and Seabourn.

Carnival Corporation Introducing Sapphire Princess to China
Adding further to Carnival Corporation’s commitment to China, the company’s Princess Cruises brand will officially introduce Sapphire Princess to China on May 21. Sapphire Princess will bring the brand’s premium cruise experience – Princess Class – to Shanghai for a four-month season during which it is expected to carry 65,000 passengers on roundtrip cruises.

Based on key research insights, the Princess Class premium cruise experience offers customized services and onboard features for Chinese guests to enhance and enrich their travel experience. Guests on the new China-based cruises will be treated to exceptional cultural, culinary and entertainment programs, including the World Leaders’ Dinner, English Afternoon Tea, Ultimate Balcony Dining, the only 24-hour buffet at sea in China, Tai Chi and Zumba at sea, “Princess Night” personal touches and luxury shopping. Princess Class also includes a “Touch of Class” enrichment series designed to appeal to multi-generational groups with offerings such Social Etiquette classes and a Sommelier Wine Excursion.

Additionally, itineraries will range from three to seven days, which is the ideal range of vacation days for the Chinese market, according to research.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Princess unveils 2015 Japan cruise program

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On April - 21 - 2014

Demonstrating a continuing commitment to developing the Japan cruise market, Carnival Corporation & plc has announced the 2015 Japan cruise program for Princess Cruises which features Diamond Princess returning for the line’s third season, and introduces new cruises as short as three nights to appeal for those local travelers seeking a quick getaway.

Beginning next April, the Japanese-built Diamond Princess will once again offer an exciting season sailing from the two home ports of Tokyo (Yokohama) and Kobe. During the four-month summer season the ship will offer 20 departures on a mix of itineraries visiting more than 20 destinations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. The mix of itineraries is designed to have broad appeal, with cruises as short as three nights and up to 17 nights for guests seeking a more in-depth experience in Japan.

“We are very pleased to bring Diamond Princess back to Japan again next summer, this time with a broader variety of itineraries and cruise lengths offering guests a diverse choice of experiences and destinations,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “In addition to offering local consumers a shorter cruise experience, our longer sailings will offer an enriching and convenient way to explore many of Japan’s most fascinating port cities.”

Swartz added that Sun Princess will not be returning to Japan next summer as it will instead be deployed to Australia where it has long been a popular ship based in the region. “Moving Sun Princess to Australia in 2015 doesn’t diminish our enthusiasm for the Japan cruise market. As demand for cruising grows further in Japan, we will review the opportunity to add additional capacity in the future.”

Diamond Princess will begin the 2015 season on April 29 in Yokohama with an eight-night Golden Week itinerary and a nine-night Taiwan & Korea sailing. The ship will then position to Kobe for a series of three cruises of Princess’ popular eight-night Ryukyu Islands & Taiwan voyages that include calls to Okinawa, Hualien, Kaohsiung and Taipei (Keelung). New for 2015 from Kobe is a 10-night Hokkaido cruise that includes appealing northern destinations of Aomori, Hakodate, Otaru and Abashiri.

Diamond Princess will return to Yokohama to spend the balance of the summer sailing north to the island of Hokkaido or around Japan, visiting culturally rich destinations such as Maizuru (for Kyoto), Nagasaki and Aomori. A special feature of the Hokkaido voyages is the late evening departure from Hakodate, which is famous for the nighttime view from the top of Mt. Hakodate, as well as the morning fish market.

Also new for the 2015 season, which runs through mid-September, are three-, four-, five- and seven-night itineraries designed to appeal to those with limited vacation time. Throughout the summer Diamond Princess will sail on a four-night Korea Getaway roundtrip from Kobe, plus a five-night Korea & Japan Getaway roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) and a five-night Korea & Japan Getaway that positions between the two homeports. In August, the ship will sail on a week-long itinerary roundtrip from Yokohama which can be segmented into a three-night Korea Getaway disembarking in Hakata, or a four-night Korea & Japan itinerary embarking in Hakata.

The experience onboard Diamond Princess in Japan will substantially be the same as that offered by Princess Cruises around the world, providing an impressive array of dining and entertainment options in addition to the line’s signature innovations such as its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat. However as done during the first two Japan seasons, some changes and enhancements will be made to appeal to the local market. The just-completed refurbishment of Diamond Princess added Izumi Japanese bath – the largest of its kind at sea – as well as a Kai Sushi restaurant.

Dining room menus will offer international Princess cuisine, while additional offerings will cater to Japanese tastes, and a la carte sushi bar will be opened. Other amenities such as the spa treatments will also be tailored to Japanese preferences, and onboard collateral items and stateroom information will be translated into Japanese.

An extensive array of shore excursions will be available to complement the itineraries including opportunities to visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Diamond Princess was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan – the first of two Princess ships built in Japan.

The 2015 Japan cruise program opens for sale April 30.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS, or by visiting the company’s website at princess.com

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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