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Cruising And Travel Update: John Pond

Welcome to cruising news writer John Pond’s weekly update. Here’s what’s happening in the oceans, seas and rivers that take up so much of our world:


Sister Ships Viking Star and Viking Sea Crossed Paths in Santorini, Greece

Viking Ocean Cruises announced on Friday that its two ocean ships had their first port meeting in Santorini on Thursday, 30 March. The company’s first ship, Viking Star, which launched on April 11, 2015, was recently sailing from Istanbul to Venice on Viking’s popular Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary. Viking took delivery two weeks ago of its second ship, Viking Sea, and she has been sailing in the opposite direction toward Istanbul, where her first guests boarded on April 3. From Istanbul, Viking Sea will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on the way to be officially christened on May 5 on London’s Thames River in Greenwich. Following the christening, Viking Sea will spend the summer with Viking Star, sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic. The two 930-passenger sister ships are virtually identical and last week shared docking space in Santorini while guests enjoyed shore excursions on the island.

“It is hard to believe that less than one year ago, we were just setting sail with our first ship, and now we have two sister ships together,” Chairman of Viking Cruises Torstein Hagen said. “It is a proud day, and I am already looking forward to next year when we will have three ships to cross paths.”

Royal Caribbean Extends Ovation of the Seas’ Maiden Australian Season.

The company revealed that the newest, biggest and most technologically advanced ship for Australia will now extend her maiden season down under with four extra cruises during this forthcoming summer 2016/17 season.   In addition, it was confirmed that Ovation of the Seas will return for a second season in summer 2017/18 due to the extraordinary demand for the ship from Australians. Together these new programs will add almost 60,000 new beds to the local cruise market.

Final deployment details for both new programs will be released later in April, however guests who would like to be the first to know itinerary details and receive exclusive notice of the on-sale date are encouraged to register their interest at:

“The level of interest for Ovation of the Seas has exceeded all of our expectations; we’re currently over 90 per cent sold for next summer’s sailings,” said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Australasia.  “She is a true game-changer and such was the high demand for the ship that we’ve been able to secure four extra cruises from Sydney, which will extend the season into late February 2017.“This extension of her maiden season – plus her subsequent return in summer 2017/18 – reaffirms Australia’s position as one of the most significant cruising markets in the world and Royal Caribbean’s position as Sydney’s leading cruise line,” Armstrong continued.



Celebrity Cruises makes it faster 

Celebrity Cruises has just announced its latest modern luxury experiential offering: the addition of Xcelerate – cutting-edge, high-speed internet capability – across its entire fleet. Xcelerate will make it easier for guests to stay connected while on holiday, with higher-speed internet at sea that will allow for faster web browsing, accelerated page loads, and more dependable video streaming capabilities.

Xcelerate provides the type of wi-fi access that modern luxury travellers have come to expect. With the improved capability, guests on Celebrity’s ships now will be able to access, with ease, some of their favourite technology for staying connected, such as Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, YouTube, Netflix and more. Xcelerate is available on Celebrity Reflection, and soon will roll out to the remainder of the premium cruise line’s large ships. (Celebrity Xpedition, the 100-guest ship sailing year-round in the Galápagos Islands, is not scheduled to receive Xcelerate.)

Celebrity Reflection cruise ship
Celebrity Reflection cruise ship

Ventures by Seabourn

The world’s finest ultra-luxury cruise line, Seabourn, has completed a highly successful first season of the new Ventures by Seabourn program in the Amazon on two extraordinary Seabourn Quest voyages.

During Seabourn Quest’s South America itineraries in February and March, guests enjoyed exclusive opportunities to experience the natural wonders found along one of the world’s largest rivers as part of the cruise line’s inaugural Ventures on the Amazon program. The series of informative and educational shore excursions guided by knowledgeable and experienced expedition teams saw guests participate in Zodiac and kayak tours that exposed them to incredible wildlife native to the region including exotic birds, sloths, howler monkeys, pink river dolphins and even an anaconda.

Seabourn Amazon zodiac
Seabourn Amazon Zodiac and kayak tours

Scenic Luxury Tours

Scenic has launched its 2017 pre-release on its luxury tours to Canada, Alaska and USA, and is offering the best price available for travel in 2017 which will only be available for a limited time.

Fly Free offers are available on April departures of 18 Day The Canadian Rockies and Alaskan Cruise – a saving of up to $5,160 per couple or fly for $995 on any Western Canada journey of 19 days or longer travelling from May to September, a saving of up to $6,030 per couple. Guests can also choose to upgrade to business class from only $5,995 per person when travelling to Western Canada for 19 days or longer from April to September.

Guests who book early will also benefit from the freedom to choose and secure the date that suits them the best from the entire touring season plus a guarantee that they will receive any brochure upgrades released in the main Canada, Alaska and USA 2017 brochure. 18 Day The Canadian Rockies & Alaskan Cruise, priced from $10.995 per person twin share. This 18 day tour starts in Victoria and travels through British Columbia and Alberta. Travel overnight on board VIA Rail’s The Canadian to Jasper then onto Banff via Lake Louise, on to Sun Peaks, Whistler, and back to Vancouver to board ms Nieuw Amsterdam for a seven night luxury Alaskan cruise.

The new 2017 Pre-Release Canada, Alaska and USA brochure is out now.

Call Scenic on 138 128 or visit

Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Lake Louise in Banff National Park



Terms and conditions may apply to offers. Subject to availability. Not responsible for errors or omissions. Written by John Pond.

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