Virgin not bashful

FLAMBOYANT businessman Richard Branson is not one to do things by halves, so it shouldn’t be surprising his foray into the cruising market is ramping up before it has even launched.

Virgin Voyages recently revealed it will construct a fourth ship in its assault on the adult-focused cruise segment, signing a contract with shipbuilder Fincantieri worth an estimated 700 million.

The new vessel is scheduled for delivery at the end of 2023 and will be a sister ship of the three other vessels already on order, including the highly publicised Scarlet Lady which will debut in 2020, followed by ships in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Celebrity Eclipse Aussie commitment

IN A sign the brand is enjoying strong demand for its products in Australia, Celebrity Cruises has announced that two of its ships will service the market simultaneously in 2020.

Celebrity Eclipse will be deployed to homeport in Melbourne during the 2020/21 season, while Celebrity Solstice will continue to cruise out of Sydney.

The move means the cruise line effectively doubles capacity in Australia and was labelled by Royal Caribbean Cruises managing director Australia and NZ Susan Bonner as “a season of firsts” for the Celebrity brand.

Before sailing into Melbourne, Eclipse will head to Sydney on 8 December 2020 to sail a two-night sampler voyage, before departing on a 13-night cruise via New Zealand to her new Aussie base.

CLIA awards get makeover

A “new look and feel” will grace Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia’s 2018 annual awards night early next year.

The industry body has opted to make some changes to its night of nights, with updates to include a more diverse range of award categories, a more transparent online voting system, and a separate judging panel to determine award winners from New Zealand.

“We’re updating the awards, nomination criteria and judging in the hope of inspiring individual member agents…to engage with and champion the cruise industry,” said CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz.

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