Meet the ms Savor
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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.

Cabins

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.

Dining

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

Itineraries

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
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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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Crystal Cruises Latest Outdoor Venture
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crystal symphony

A new project costing 11 million pounds is currently being worked on at Crystal Cruises onboard their ship Symphony. This project, part of their latest renovation, is an enormous outdoor fitness garden that is due to have nothing short of state-of-the-art exercise facilities.

The equipment will be supplied by Technogym’s cardio line, ARTIS, known as the best available in the industry for cardio and strengthening exercises. Exercise will never be as enjoyable when utilising the interface programming system in the form of a tablet, giving participants the chance to connect to music, data, workout-tracking or even television.

This garden will be positioned in the open areas on Deck 7 and Deck 8 as well as Deck 12 aft. There will also be a ‘Movement Journey’ that will evaluate the passenger’s fitness level and train them on how to make the best use of the equipment.

The ship’s 360-degree promenade on Deck 7 offers several open-air fitness options including their ‘Walk on Water and Nordic Walking’ programs.

walk on water program

Crystal Symphony was equally innovative when she first set sail in 1995 and refitted in 2006. The ship is known for their roomy cabins with all outside cabins offering 202 square feet and large deluxe cabins with verandas offering an amazingly large 246 square feet. Suites are a massive 982 square feet and offer features such as separate lounge and dining room.

All of the 461 cabins onboard the Symphony contain a luxurious queen sized bed as well as flat-screen television, DVD player  and a minibar with complimentary drinks and snacks. In addition, there is a spacious bathroom with terrycloth bathrobes, two sinks and a bathtub/shower combination.

With four restaurants in total guests can indulge in fine international cuisine prepared by their talented team of chefs. ‘The Lido’ is a buffet with a breakfast bar in the mornings. ‘The Trident Bar & Grill’ by the poolside offers casual fare including burgers, the Asian fusion restaurant, the Silk Road which is run by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa and the Italian restaurant Prego which specialises in dishes from North Italy.

symphony lido cafe

You can also get a bite to eat at the café, ‘The Bistro’ for pastries or the ‘Palm Court’ for afternoon tea and canapés.

The service is always impeccable and Crystal Symphony’s enrichment programs really do excel. Obtain some knowledge in art, history, French, music, piano playing and even wine tasting.

Lighter fun activities include a trivia quiz, Scrabble, mah-jongg, bingo, and daily movies in the ship’s cinema. There is also ‘Luxe’, the ship’s nightclub as well as a large casino with plenty of gambling games to test your luck.

Crystal cruises believe that cardio exercise, resistance training and stretching are needed to remain in shape whilst on your cruise holiday. Exercise tends to be at the bottom of the priority list, but it’s nice to know that Crystal can offer their guests something a little different with these latest innovations.

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Powering up – A Look at Yesterday and Today
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cruise ship power banner

Your cruise holiday is not enjoyable if the power fails onboard. See how these floating hotels are powered and what is done in the event of an emergency.

History

Seafaring vessels in the early years were only used for the transportation of cargo. The evolution of the industry changed their power sources.

The first shipping company to offer scheduled passenger transatlantic crossings from New York to Liverpool in 1817 was America’s Black Ball Line. Britain dominated the globe with their cargo shipping market, but it wasn’t until the middle of the 19th Century that ships began to carry passengers, even if the traveler experienced only a small degree of comfort.

The leading British line, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) saw positives by carrying passengers and commanded the marketplace with the Cunard Steamship Company, running a close second. Impressive improvements in the quality of the cruise holiday experience emerged.

Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company
Image courtesy of P&O Cruises

Over time, ships began to cater solely to passengers and resulted in such added luxuries as electric lighting, entertainment options, dining experiences and eventually to the modern ‘oohs and aahs’ found on today’s cruise ships..

Steam Engine

When the steam engine was unveiled in 1712, it created a stir and became a revolutionary way to harness power. This single development pushed the shipping industry to great heights. Sitmar’s FairSky was the last passenger ship built with a steam engine in 1984. Today, many of the existing older ships are still at sea.

They use reciprocating diesel engines to generate power for moving through the water, also known as propulsion engines. Transmission systems operate the actual propellers and manage the number of revolutions and thus the speed.

Diesel Electric or Gas Turbines

The more modern cruise ships use either gas turbine or diesel electric engines for propulsion. The mega-cruise ships use two or more systems for various needs throughout the ship.

Newer ships utilise diesel electric propulsion. Celebrity’s Solstice Class was one of the first to change over to this more efficient means of producing a ship’s energy.  Instead of being connected to the propeller shafts, the principal engines are directed to large generators to produce electricity.

This provides the ship with all of its electrical needs including turning the propellers for movement.

The first company to fit their cruise ships with gas turbines was Royal Caribbean International. The company determined this alternative to be more environmentally friendly and cost efficient than the other options. Ships can sail with fewer members of their maintenance crew as well as reducing the inventory of parts.

By driving its generators to provide power to the ship’s propeller motors, the gas turbine then accelerates its produced heat into the steam turbine. This in turn produces all electricity onboard the ship including the air conditioners and hot water for a bath or shower.

Cunard’s QM2 use azimuth thrusters. These housed propellers can rotate a full 360 degrees to allow maximum flexibility when manoeuvring the large ship in various ports and locations. These thrusters create better fuel efficiency when used in conjunction with the gas turbine or with diesel electric engines.

Cold Ironing

Another emerging trend regarding cruise ship power is the need for efficient power while in port and some ports are implementing shore-based power. This is also known as cold ironing and is an innovative and simple way to reduce CO2 emissions by allowing the ship to power down while in port and provide onboard guest services through shore-provided electricity.

Watch the Video: Port of San Diego Shore Power System

This option is clean and sufficient energy that keeps the lights on rather than remaining idle with engines running and burning fuel. More and more ships have decided to plug into these shore-power systems when available.

New Regulations and Improvements

In response to the recent mishaps passengers have experienced with the loss of electric power and drifting at sea, improvments are now being put into place. The Royal Princess and Norwegian Breakaway were the first and other ships are following suit and now being retrofitted.

It’s called ‘doubling up’ and everything pertaining to running a ship from cables to electrical systems and the engine room are doubled. If the unfortunate event of a fire occurs in the engine room, the second engine room can take over with ample power to remain operational.

Even essential services, including electricity will remain functional. A cruise ship can now navigate without the aid of tugboats, although at a much slower pace and no longer be stranded at sea. The ships are better equipped and safety measures are a priority.

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The Uniqueness of Cunards Queen Victoria
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Queen Victoria

Only one cruise line can profess to having three ‘Queens’ in their fleet and that is Cunard. The Queen Victoria is a shining example of luxury combined with traditional British style cruising. In 2007, she was unveiled to provide ‘Old World’ charm by reflecting the past amongst the modernity of the 21st Century cruise ship.

There is no uncertainty that the plush and rich design is reminiscent of the romance and tradition of the old transatlantic liners. Heavy woods and marble are commonplace throughout the ship with a touch of glitz. The ship’s theme plays and emphasises upon the long history of cruising, particularly with Cunard, which were famous for their cruises on steamers.

Photographs of past celebrities and famous figures who sailed on their great ships can be observed in virtually every part of the ship.

Cabins

Queen Victoria can hold over 2000 passengers and there are over a thousand cabins with more than half offering verandas. The cabin system is very unique as it is divided into many different categories that have everything from small but cosy rooms with twin beds, balcony cabins to Grand Suites that have over 2000 square feet of space.

queen victoria balcony a3

All cabins onboard the ship contain well appointed and state of the art features such as flat-screen television with international programming, a refrigerator, a hairdryer, a storage safe, a telephone and a daily paper about activities on the ship. Bathrooms come equipped with a small shower in the standard cabins with baths available in the more expensive staterooms.

Dining

There is an attempt to create a few special enclaves that have been an integral part to Cunard story with the class system. Consisting of the Queens Grill premium cabins and Princess Grill suites, passengers have access to exclusive restaurants as well as private lounges.

One bit of tradition that still follows in the Grills is high tea in the afternoons.

afternoon tea

Cunard has placed quite a bit of effort into the other dining options as well onboard the Victoria.

One of the restaurants, the two story high Britannia Restaurant serves casual fare with a warm demeanour. There is also the Lido Café which is a buffet style restaurant. Another option is the Verandah on deck two which serves sophisticated and yet contemporary cuisine under the direction of world-famous Chef Jean-Claude Zimmermann.

There are also many lounges on-board including Churchill’s Cigar Lounge.

Entertainment

Don’t worry about being bored as the Queen Victoria has a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained. There are some very interesting shows every night ranging from Celtic dance to a comedic view of Victorian era life, Victoriana. The Hemispheres nightclub offers a wide range of music to get you out of your seat and into the groove

There’s a casino that, while it’s not too large, it contains all of the standard games to challenge your gambling instincts.

queen victoria casino

Other Interests

The Queen Victoria also plays host to the “world’s first floating museum”, providing insight into the rich history behind Cunard and it’s fleet. In addition, there are two standard swimming pools available that provide a perfect place to cool down after a long day. The young ones can spend time away from their parents at the children’s club on the ship.

For those who want to be rejuvenated, the best place to head to is the luxurious spa and fitness centre. The spa offers a large amount of treatments such as facials, oxygen treatments, “aroma soul” massages and deep tissue scrubs, all of which are guaranteed to make you feel younger. In addition, the fitness centre focuses more on health and cardiovascular rather than muscle tone.

queen-victoria-spa

Destinations

The best part for those who reside in the UK is the Queen Victoria has made her home port in Southampton during the spring, summer and autumn. Travel to the Med, Canary Islands and then sail a transatlantic through the Panama Canal. She has a winter hiatus on the other side of the atlantic with sailings out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Cunard’s uniqueness is always offering the perception that there is something different about being on one of their ships. They certainly have made that possible on the Queen Victoria.

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