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MSC CRUISES: Lengthening back in fashion
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 00:00

MSC Armonia will be the first of four MSC ships to be lengthened. W. MayesMSC Armonia will be the first of four MSC ships to be lengthened. W. Mayes

The four smallest and oldest units in the fleet of MSC Cruises will be lengthened by 24m between August 2014 and November 2015 by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, adding 59 crew cabins and 193 passenger cabins and increasing the maximum passenger capacity by almost 600.

MSC Armonia, Lirica, Opera and Sinfonia each have a gross tonnage of around 59,000, but the additional accommodation will increase this to around 65,000. MSC Armonia and Sinfonia came to the fleet through the demise of Festival Cruises in 2004, while MSC Lirica and Opera were built for the company to a very similar design. All were built at the St Nazaire shipyard of what was then Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Sahara India: New role for Melody
Thursday, 30 January 2014 15:19

Melody has been sold for further service.Melody has been sold for further service.

The smallest unit in the MSC Cruises fleet, Melody (1982/35,143gt), has been sold after spending almost a year laid up. Her new owner is Sahara India Pariwar, a multinational group involved in finance, leisure, hotels, construction, property and industrial activities. This appears to be first ship to be owned by the company, but it seems unlikely that her future is destined to be in the Indian cruise market, as the corporate structure lends itself more towards Melody, now renamed Qing, being used in an accommodation role, either for workers or as a hotel. Sahara India Pariwar has controlling interests in New York’s Plaza Hotel and the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Oceania Cruises: Major refurbishment
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 00:00

Insignia will return to Oceania Cruises service in May.Insignia will return to Oceania Cruises service in May.

During the spring the three original ships in the Oceania Cruises fleet, all former Renaissance Cruises vessels, will undergo major renovations in what might be thought of as a mid-life refit. With a budget of $50 million, all of the ships will have significant upgrades to suites, cabins and public rooms, bringing them in line with the interiors of the newer ships in the fleet, Marina and Riviera.

The three 30,277gt ships, Insignia, Nautica and Regatta, were delivered to Renaissance Cruises as R One in 1998, R Five in 2000 and R Two in 1998 respectively, but their time with that company was short-lived due to the slump in American tourism in particular after the terrorist attacks in the USA in September 2001.

The dry-dockings will take place between 24 April and 6 June, with Insignia (currently in the final months of a charter to Hapag-Lloyd as Columbus 2) returning to service first on 8 May. Nautica will follow about a week later. Both will be refurbished in Marseille. Regatta will have her refit in Vancouver and will be back in service on her Alaska itineraries on 6 June.


Cuba Cruise: Under way at last
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 00:00

The well-travelled Louis Cristal is spending the winter in Cuba.The well-travelled Louis Cristal is spending the winter in Cuba.

It was supposed to happen last winter, but for some reason did not, but now Louis Cristal is being prepared for her Atlantic crossing, followed by a first season of cruises that circumnavigate Cuba. She was due to sail from Greece on 24 November 2013 in an arrangement that has been variously described as a charter or a joint venture.

Louis provided the crew and the ship, which had not been used in cruise service in 2013. Cuba Cruise is a Canadian-based organisation offering one-week cruises around the island, with boarding points in Havana as well as Montego Bay, Jamaica, the only port used that is not in Cuba.

Costa Cruises: Two refits undertaken
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 00:00

Costa Classica was overhauled in Genoa in November 2013.Costa Classica was overhauled in Genoa in November 2013.

Both Costa Voyager (2000/24,427gt) and Costa Classica (1991/52,926gt) have had refits of varying complexity and have both been dry-docked. Along with Grand Mistral (now Costa neoRiviera), both ships received attention during November 2013 at the San Giorgio del Porto Shipyard, situated at the entrance to the port of Genoa.

The total cost for the overhaul and refurbishment for the three ships has been given as €10 million, which might indicate that little major work was carried out, although a good proportion of that amount might have been used in upgrading and applying the Costa ‘neo’ look to Grand Mistral, even though her visit to the yard, at just five days, was the shortest.

Costa Classica spent nine days in Genoa, while Costa Voyager’s stay at the shipyard was the longest, at around two weeks. It now seems that Costa Classica will join her sister, Costa neoRomantica, and Costa neoRiviera in the new Costa sub-brand, which utilises smaller ships on what are described as more relaxed itineraries.


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