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(31-01-2011)

Marina Maiden Voyage - Other Cruise News: Disney Dream Now In Service - Tunisia and Egypt Port Situation



by Mark Tre' - "The Cruise Examiner"

Oceania Cruises' long-awaited 1,250-guest Marina finally departed Barcelona on her maiden voyage on January 22 and called at Tenerife last Tuesday en route to Miami, where she is due on Friday, February 4. Her sponsor will be American television personality Mary Hart. In another maiden Transatlantic crossing, the Disney Dream has now entered service between Florida and the Bahamas. Meanwhile, with the spread of the "Jasmine Revolution" from Tunisia to Egypt, cruise lines are making changes to their port calls in North Africa until the situation quietens down.


THIS WEEK'S STORY

Oceania's Marina Calls At Tenerife on Maiden Voyage

When Oceania Cruises new 66,000-ton Marina was delivered in January, Frank Del Rio, founder of Oceania Cruises and chairman & CEO of parent Prestige Cruise Holdings, was quoted as saying Marina is unlike any ship built in the past 50 years and is destined to be a game-changer in the industry. The superb gourmet restaurants and exquisite residential interiors reflect the best of what makes Oceania Cruises such an unrivaled experience.

At the same time, Giuseppe Bono, CEO of her builders Fincantieri, said "the new Marina is not only beautiful, but one of the most elegant ships we have built in the last years."

Reports from Tenerife, where the new ship called last Tuesday, indicate that both her owners and passengers were happy with her. The ship's master, Capt Dimitrios Flokos, previously of the Regatta, commanded five of the eight former Renaissance "R" ships, three of which are now in the Oceania fleet, and while with Commodore Cruise Line commanded that Caribe, a ship that his own father had commanded thirty years earlier when she was the Greek Line's Olympia.

The last few days on board Marina have been moments I will never forget and it is an honor to share them with our loyal guests, said Frank Del Rio, after he disembarked in Casablanca. I look forward to welcoming the guests and crew to my hometown of Miami in a few short days and hearing all about their experiences on board our new gem.

The Marina features the first "Bon Appetit" culinary centre, master chef Jacques Pepin's first namesake restaurant at sea, Ralph Lauren Home-furnished Owner's Suites, other accommodations by Dakota Jackson, a "Wine Spectator" wine program, a grand stairway of Lalique glass and a "Canyon Ranch" Spa. Marina also offers ten different dining venues, all comparable in quality to the very best shore-side restaurants.

Following her arrival in Miami this Friday, four days of showcasing and a gala launch celebration will follow, after which she departs for San Francisco on the first of two Trans-Panama cruises.

The new ship's sponsor, Mary Hart, is well-known in North America as the female host of the nightly program "Entertainment Tonight," an electronic imitation of "People" magazine and an institution on American television since 1982. Hart, who also speaks fluent Danish and Swedish, will end a thirty-year run when she leaves the show at the end of the current season for pastures new. The Marina, meanwhile, will return to Europe for the summer cruise season.


OTHER CRUISE NEWS

Disney Dream Now In Service to The Bahamas

On the other end of the scale, and a completely different product, Disney Cruise Lines have now introduced their new 2,500-berth Disney Dream into the 3-, 4- and 5-day Port Canaveral to Nassau and Castaway Cay circuit in the Bahamas.

Like the other Disney ships, this one carries thousands of children among the many families she books, and can carry more than 4,000 passengers, meaning she has more than 1,500 upper or third of fourth berths. The same is true of Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, which while although they feature 1,750 lower berths, can carry 3,325 passengers each, with again more than 1,500 upper berths.

The new Disney ship's master, Capt Tom Forberg, has been with Disney since they opened their own cruise line in 1995, and was Disney's first saegoing employee. Previously he had been with Norwegian America Line, Royal Caribbean, Fearnley & Eger, who built the first Renaissance cruise ships, and Crystal Cruises.

Christened at Port Canaveral on January 19, the new 122,000-ton ship features a 765-foot "AquaDuck" water coaster and portholes in inside cabins that show a live view to the outside of the ship. Disney cartoon characters also cross this screen on a fairly regular basis.

The inside cabin made into an outside is an innovation worthy of note and we don't suppose it will be long before these porthole or window screens (minus the cartoon characters) find their way onto other cruise ships, particularly as the outside view is real time.

Meanwhile, the Disney Dream, which is 50% larger than the line's other two ships, has allowed the Disney Wonder to be freed to run cruises from the West Coast. A second new ship, the Disney Fantasy, will be introduced in 2012.


The Latest Tunisia and Egypt Port Situations

After the destruction and vandalisation of a number of new cars at Tunis's port of La Goulette in the past week or so, some cruise lines have cancelled calls there as the automobile port is right next door to on of the cruise ship terminals. Winter calls are light however, with only a few lines such as Costa, MSC and Louis operating ships compared to the summer high season in the Mediterranean.

Further east, in Egypt, NCL's Norwegian Jade dropped an overnight call at Alexandria this weekend in favour of Istanbul. MSC Magnifica called on Limassol yesterday instead of Alexandria and MSC Splendida diverted to Izmir today.

Meanwhile, Thomson Cruises has cancelled this week's shore excursions from the Red Sea to Cairo and the pyramids on its Sharm el Sheik-based Thomson Celebration. Luxor and Hurghada have also been affected and the Celebration will now call at the Israeli port of Eilat instead of Safaga.

Nile cruises have also been affected, with cancellations into mid-February, and intending passengers should consult the agent through whom they booked for more detailed information.

Compared to 1.9 million Americans who visited France, only 237,000, or one-eighth that number, visited Egypt in 2009. The number of European visitors is much higher however, with Egypt now attracting about 15 million visitors a year.


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