Quantum of the Seas to become Smarter!

quantum of the seas smartship

Technology is ubiquitous in today’s world, even on enormous ocean liners or trains, the control of technology is a must have these days.

Royal Caribbean Cruise International have decided to implement many modern innovations on their new ship, the Quantum of the Seas known in the industry as the first SMART ship.

The 4,180 passenger vessel that spans 18 decks is scheduled to debut in November 2014. The ship will offer plenty of firsts including a skydiving simulator, a 30-foot rock-climbing wall and a gem-shaped glass capsule named the ‘North Star’, which provides unobstructed views in 360-degrees at 300 feet above sea level.

RCCL announced this innovative technology program onboard the Quantum of the Seas at a media event in Germany. Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. reinforced that “Cruise holidays have a romantic past – but they also have a lively, adventurous, state-of-the-art future,” We were determined to take the best advances in modern technology, turn them into shipboard WOW and take the frustration out of the holiday.”

Here are some of the new features that passengers will find on this new ship:

SMART Check-in

The innovations begin before you can even step on the ship. Once a cruise has been booked and it is available online, passengers can then generate their documents, upload their own photographic ID and receive confirmation of any extras that have been added to the booking.

When arriving at the port of embarcation, waiting in a long queue will be a thing of the past and the guests can go directly to the ship in ten minutes or so with no additional papers or forms needed. In addition, passengers with Smartphone’s can track down their luggage in real time, from the terminal to the stateroom.

SMART Concierge

The RFID WOWband wristbands that will be provided to passengers when they first get onboard will offer a wide variety of services. With just a tap of the wrist, guests will be able to see a map of the ship, order goods and unlock their room and much more, all on a digital display.

On-Ship Apps

There are two applications provided onboard that will also improve service. These apps can be downloaded on the ship or from the App Store. Cruise Planner allows passengers to book items such as spa and dinner appointments in advance whereas the iQ system will allow cruise goers to keep in touch with what’s going on at home and see what’s going on with the day’s programme.

SMART Connect

For those that are bringing their own computer equipment like laptops, tablets or Smartphone’s, there is no need to worry. The Quantum of the Seas is going to boast perhaps the fastest connection at sea, with a blazing fast bandwidth connection. The connection is going to be provided via satellites owned by O3b Networks.

Access will be provided 24 hours a day and many features will be included. You can use the Seapod with the Quantum collection to play your XBOX Live on the ship with others.

BOT Crew Members

Even some members of the crew have gone techie. One interesting feature is the ‘Bionic Bar’, where passengers order drinks on tablets and actual robots are the mixologists. Robots are further used in Two70 with the Roboscreens. There are six Roboscreens in total and they depict different scenes, often merging or combining the video footage together.

Her inaugural voyage is an 8-night transatlantic voyage departing from Southampton on the 2nd of November.

Quantum of the Seas homeport will be at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey. She will be sailing on 7 to 12 night journeys to the Caribbean and the Bahamas up until spring of 2015. Afterwards, Quantum will call Shanghai her new home and will be doing 3 to 8 night sailings in China with ports of calls in Japan and Korea beginning in June 2015.

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APT to Expand their River Cruise Offerings

Bagan Burma

River cruises have gained popularity over the past few years. Whether it is the Danube or the Rhine, a river cruise is a great way to view the countryside and visit cities and villages situated along its banks.

According to Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), “Over the past five years, river cruising has seen a 10% annual passenger increase” and the lines that specialise in river cruising are responding to the demand. Many river cruise holidays are based in Europe but the companies are keen to expand their offerings to more exotic locations such as China’s Yangtze River.

apt logoWorking in conjunction with AmaWaterways, Australian Pacific Touring (APT) offers several types of river cruise experiences to its guests from Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

APT began as a family-owned and operated travel company that was founded in 1927 and based in Melbourne. It was recently announced that APT will provide passengers with two new river cruise vessels that are scheduled to debut in 2016.

APT is a part owner of AmaWaterways who are well acclaimed by having a member of their fleet listed as ‘Number-One’ in Berlitz: Cruising and Cruise Ships, River Cruise Edition.

The two new ships will be based in Burma (Myanmar) and both will be meandering on the Irrawaddy River between Yangon and Mandalay with 15-day sailings and welcoming its first passengers in January 2016.

The vessels, in partnership with the Maing Fong Company, are being built in Yangon. The RV Samatha will be in the luxury-class with 30 suites and two dining venues and a swimming pool. The RV Princess Panhwar will be a four-star premium 36-suite vessel.

“We already offer river cruising in Burma for APT guests aboard AmaPura and although this is our first year, sales have already exceeded expectations,” Debra Fox, APT’s gm sales and marketing, said.

Although full details are only in the planning stage, the following two ports provide an insight into the type of adventure that awaits in Burma. It promises to be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.


Once known as Rangoon, this city was at one time the capital of Myanmar and had some of the most revolutionary building styles of the 19th century. The structures, although aged, have retained their beauty and you should not miss out on seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda.

This pagoda is said to have been built during the Buddha period and contains some of his relics. It is 326 feet (100 meters) in height and is considered to be one of the Wonders of The World as well as an iconic landmark.

Shwedagon Pagoda


Mandalay is located in the centre of Burma bordering both the Irrawaddy River and the Shan state. In a cultural sense, there are many customs that are performed here. Mandalay’s main form of transportation is the bicycle.

The U Bein bridge is the longest teakwood bridge in the world and is used as a passageway by the locals and for monks walking home with their bicycles.

U Bein Bridge

At one time, this was also the capital of the country as seen by the 150-year-old palace. The palace is kept in immaculate condition, and the Mahamuni Buddha Temple is considered to be one of the most valuable sacred places in the world.

There are enormous statues of the Buddha as well as those depicting religious scenes. Each day, the monks and pilgrims come in to cleanse the statue at 4AM and this is known as the “Face Washing Ceremony”.

This is not the first time the company has had sailings in this region and they still offer Burmese trips in association with AmaWaterways. About2Cruise will be following any updates on the latest venture and the highly anticipated arrival of the RV Samatha and the RV Princess Panhwar.

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A Date with Death & The Duchess

poison murder mystery cruise

Everybody loves a good mystery and Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines are no different!

They have introduced a ‘Poison, Murder & Mystery Cruise’ that will take place on their Boudicca ship. The 16 night cruise departs on the 10th of July of next year. The ports of call will be contributing to the sinister role play onboard the ship with the subject of poison and mystery evident with plays, talks and special tours and even a murder-mystery game.

The ship will be leaving from Rosyth in Edinburgh and will be working in tandem with the only ‘Poison Gardens’ in Britain at Alnwick Castle, owned by the Duchess of Northumberland. As the estate and castle owner is very proud of her infamous ‘Poison Gardens’, she will join the festivities’ onboard for a portion of this cruise holiday.


Alnwick Castle is one of the most popular attractions in the Northeast with more than 800 thousand visitors each year. The castle is better known as the castle that served as the set of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series of films.

Besides Alnwick, the mythical ‘Pyramids of Guimar’ will be waiting to be discovered for passengers at a ‘Poison Garden’ in Santa Cruz, Tenerife created by Mr. Fred. Olsen Senior.

As the serving Chairman of the Board, Mr. Fred. Olsen Senior stated, “It is very special to be able to link these gardens with a unique cruise itinerary and we know that many of our guests share an enthusiasm for gardening. We also know, from previous experiences such as our Titanic Centenary cruise two years ago, that they enjoy dressing up and taking part in murder mystery-themed events.”

fred olsen senior

Other ports that the ship will be visiting in Portugal and the Canary Islands area are also very intriguing. The route has been specifically chosen as it is the ‘Agatha Christie Route’, named after the famous mystery story author. Agatha may be long gone but thriller-writing legend, Dick Francis’s son, Felix Francis, will be on-board to create a short crime story as it is happening during the sailing.


There are plenty of other interesting things to experience on this cruise besides murder and mayhem. In Leixoes, visit the Porto Cathedral which is constructed in three different architectural styles. In addition, take in the Ribiera Old district designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Funchal, you can try out Levada Walking by using aged irrigation canals as hiking trails.

When you arrive in Santa Cruz, you will be greeted with the enormous Parque Nacional del Teide as well as the Playa de las Teresitas, a beach that has managed to remain unspoiled.

Las Palmas contains intriguing sights as well such as the Plaza de Santa Ana with its iconic twin towered cathedral and ornaments originally from St. Paul’s cathedral. Another attraction is the Casa de Colon, an enormous mansion where Christopher Columbus was rumoured to stay in 1492. It also served as a governor’s palace and is now a museum.

Finally, there is an endless amount of things to do in the capital of Lisbon. Must-see landmarks and attractions include the famous and World Heritage Site the Torre de Belem, the commerce centre of Praca do Comercio and the 25 de Abril Bridge, one of the largest in the world.


Of course, every evening there will be some mystery  guest speakers to match the theme. Former Forensic Medical Examiner with the Metropolitan Police and the Coroner for Essex, Peter Dean will be providing his insight into the fascinating subject of murder and forensic science to figure out ‘who did it’.

Everything you wanted to know about poisons but were afraid to ask will be clarified by eminent poison Historian and Archaeologist, Dr. Dan Jones.

And if learning wasn’t enough, the curator of ‘The Power of Poison’ exhibition, Doctor Mark Siddall will be offering interactive and hands-on classes.

Now is the time to book and not miss out of this once in a lifetime adventure onboard Fred.Olsen’s Boudicca. To book the D1516 cruise click here

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Meet the ms Savor

tauck ms savor

Though Tauck was founded in 1925 as a luxury tour operator, its river cruise division is gathering momentum since its inception in 2006. Tauck has been named by readers of the popular Travel + Leisure magazine as the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” for the third time in four years.

The ms Savor was christened on June  21st of this year and is already becoming a success story. The 443 feet in length river vessel has had the experts purring with delight over its high-quality service and luxurious interiors, combined with its relaxing and quiet atmosphere.

The 130 passenger Savor is the second ship of Tauck’s new inspiration class. She now brings the total amount of ships owned by Tauck to six.


Due to the small passenger  numbers, Tauck have  placed more emphasis on the cabins. There are many innovative features including a first-in-the-industry, “loft” design cabins. These 8 loft cabins provide extra space, comfort and unobstructed views.

ms savor loft cabin

67 cabins are available in seven different categories and situated on three decks. All cabins have a large queen-sized bed with 400-thread-count satin bed linens and 100% cotton blankets.

There’s a pull-out couch that can easily accommodate a third passenger. The all marble bathrooms contain all toiletries and Terry robes. Two French balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows insure passengers will never miss out on a view while resting in their cabin.


The dining onboard the ship is equally high quality. The main dining room offers open seating on the Ruby Deck and has flexible dining times available. An alternative venue on the Diamond Deck offers buffet style meals and there’s an alfresco restaurant on the Sun Deck. There’s also a chance to obtain a bite as snacks are available from 10 in the morning until midnight for those looking for something light.

ms savor dining room

Dress Code

Casual and comfortable is the order of the day. Most evenings call for smart casual to informal based on personal preference. Formal evenings are still not all that formal as on other lines, but do require a suit or dinner jacket for men and a cocktail dress for ladies.

Activities and Entertainment

The ms Savor offers piano music nightly of all genres performed in the ‘Panorama Lounge and Bar.’

The putting green will be a great way to practice some strokes. You can also stay in shape with a wide variety of exercise machines in the fitness centre. If you want to exercise whilst away from the ship and see more scenery, there are bicycles available to take ashore. There is a Jacuzzi to unwind in and the spa provides an extensive health and well being menu. Enrichment lectures range from gourmet cooking to architecture.

ms savor fitness centre


The ms Savor is travelling exclusively on the Danube River. So whether it is Vienna or the castles of the Wachau Valley, passengers will get to see some fantastic towns and cities on any of the 7 or 12-night sailings.

There are shore excursions where passengers are divided into groups of 25 and are taken on a tour through the ports. There are also exclusive events that no other river cruise line offers. Scheduled is a private conference on shore with the granddaughter of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Celia Sandys and dining in a 1000-year-old old castle.

Tauck CEO Dan Mahar stated, “Even though we’ve continued to boost capacity, the popularity of our cruises is growing at an equal or even greater pace. There’s no question that right now is the very best time for travellers to make their 2015 river cruise plans with Tauck.”

The ms Savor is just one of the two new ships that has been added to the European river cruise program for this year. Her sister ship, ms Inspire matches the style and comfort of the Inspiration Class and will be sure to impress all passengers. All gratuities onboard are included, as are beverages, including beer anytime and wine with meals.

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Decision in Venice

venice cruise ship ban

After years of going back and forth, Italy finally passed a law to ban some cruise ships from going through Venice. However, it should be no surprise as petitions by people concerned with the ecology, local residents and celebrities had secured enough awareness to overturn a previous decision.

Italy once again changed their decision regarding whether larger cruise ships will or will not be allowed into the famed city of Venice. Presently, arrival into Venice is a star attraction for cruise passengers and 650 cruise ships pass through the city each year.

Environmentalists asserted that irreversible damage to the Venetian lagoon’s ecosystem is caused by ships sailing through the city’s shores. There has been also been additional concerns are about potential damage to some of the iconic landmarks of the city. Cruise lines may now only pass 1000 feet away from the legendary St. Mark’s Square to provide a stunning view without upsetting the delicate balance of the water.

The About Turns

About2Cruise ran this story in November 2013. It reflected in turn about the directive being passed regarding cruise ships in Venice. Enrico Letta, the then-Prime Minister and the Italian legislation ordered a directive stating that ships weighing more than 96,000 tons would not be permitted to sail in the waters. It went further and determined that cruise lines with fleet members weighing in at 40,000 tons or over must be reduced by at least 20 percent.

However, in March 2014, those restrictions were rescinded following an appeal by the Venice Passenger Terminal Authority. Travel in Venice via a cruise was back in business. With the amount of ships continuing to make its way into the lagoon, the public outcry and celebrity involvement only made the government’s concern slightly more justifiable to have another look.

Celebrities such as Julie Christie, Cate Blanchett, Sir Michael Caine, Edward Norton, Susan Sarandon, Isabella Rossellini and Diane Lane petitioned against cruise ships from entering into the Venetian lagoon. Passing historic buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica by a cruise ship had to end and it appears they have finally won their battle.

“It seems to me to be a balanced solution which takes account of our duty to remove the skyscrapers of the sea from the canals of Venice, while safeguarding a world heritage city that is the envy of the world and protecting the city’s economy which is so linked to cruise tourism”, stated Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi when making the announcement.

The New Route is still in the Discussion Stage

No doubt this will take a large percentage out of the cruise industry’s influence in the region. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) vowed to keep the ships out of both the Giudecca Canal and Saint Mark’s basin. They added, ”We agree that a sustainable solution for Venice requires a new alternative route for ships and so we are pleased that the Italian government is working very hard to find a sustainable solution”.

The unknown route that ships will be forced to take in the coming months remains in the discussion stage. One proposal that sounds promising is to dig a new channel stretching three-miles and reaching Venice’s main shipping terminal, ‘Stazione Marittima’.

CLIA has urged the Italian government to be swift on this alternative route and begin dredging immediately. Any delay in construction could mean that some cruise lines will not be able to offer Venice as a port of call in 2015.

Most Ships wiil be Unaffected

Most ships are unaffected by tonnage restrictions and will continue to enter the lagoon. The ships that are mostly definably banned and in excess in weight include the Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Silhouette, Costa Fascinosa, Costa Magica, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, P&O Ventura and Regal Princess. Which ships over 40,000 tons that will be part of the 20% cut is anyone’s guess at this date?

However, there is a silver lining for certain members of the industry, such as Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Saga, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea and Voyages to Antiquity. Their passengers will continue to have unsurpassed views whilst arriving in Venice and meandering through Saint Mark’s basin.

What is your opinion on this decision?

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