Crystal Cruises to offer Belfast and Berlin excursions

Crystal Cruises, a Japan-owned cruise ship company with its headquarters in Los Angeles, USA, is to offer two new excursions this summer on its Northern European itinerary.

The company is adding outings to Belfast and Berlin to the portfolio of ‘Boutique Adventures’ that it has on offer. The tours are claimed to be unique to Crystal and to include access to exclusive venues in the two cities. The excursions will comprise a maximum of 15 guests and will take place during 5 voyages on the company’s ship, Crystal Serenity, between June and August this year.

The Belfast excursion will include a behind the scenes look at Northern Ireland’s seat of power, Stormont Castle. The visit will be followed by lunch with members of Northern Ireland’s assembly at a 19th century manor and working farm. It is on offer to guests aboard the August 26, 7-day Dublin to London British Isles cruise.

The Berlin excursion will be of particular interest to film buffs. It will take them from the port of Warnemunde to Berlin, accompanied by a local film expert who will point out locations in the city that have been used for films including The Bourne Supremacy and Run, Lola Run. Guests will then be taken to the Red Room inside Berlin’s members-only Soho House, for a champagne party and a private screening of One, Two, Three, a Billy Wilder film. The excursion is available on 10-day Baltic sailings from Copenhagen to Stockholm, on departure dates June 15 and 25, and July 20 and 30.

All inclusive cruise rates commence from $4,145, and excursion prices vary.

easyjet to Expand Services from Belfast to Birmingham

easyJet, the UK based airline, is increasing its flights between Belfast International Airport and Birmingham, in keeping with an increase in demand.

The airline is offering a second Sunday flight from Belfast to Birmingham, which will be added to the airline schedule from March 31, 2013. The airfares for the new flights are currently on sale at www.easyJet.com, with prices commencing from £22.99 one way.

The service to Birmingham from Belfast was only launched from October 28, 2012, and around 14,000 passengers have flown on the route since then.

Ali Gayward, the airline head for Northern Ireland, said, ‘We only launched our Birmingham route in October and due to an overwhelming demand for affordable fares, we are delighted to announce the doubling of our Sunday flights. This additional frequency will see an increase from 12 to 13 flights per week.

Our aim has always been to make travel easy and affordable and we’re delighted to be able to show further commitment to Northern Ireland by responding to demand and adding the extra service.

Sunday is a strong travelling day for both business commuters and people on weekend breaks, therefore doubling our Sunday offering will give our passengers further choice in flight times at affordable prices.

Earlier this month easyJet introduced allocated seating on all Belfast flights from 27 November. This, along with our Flexi fares reinforces easyJet’s position as Belfast’s leading airline for business passengers.’

The airline had earlier announced its allocated seating initiative on all flights from November 27, 2012, and the service will be available on all new and expanded routes.

The allocated seating includes a priority boarding system against a payment of a minimum of £3 per person. Passengers that purchase Speedy Boarding will be the first to board the airplane, followed by passengers requiring special assistance and families. All other passengers will only board the aircraft after these groups have embarked.

Aer Lingus Announces Change of Airport Base in Belfast

Aer Lingus, an Ireland-based airline company, is to relocate its operations in Belfast, North Ireland.

The airline, which has been operating out of Belfast International Airport, will be based at the George Best Belfast City Airport from the commencement of its winter schedule on October 28, 2012.

Christoph Mueller, the airline’s chief executive officer, said, ‘Northern Ireland’s vital London connections are secure with Aer Lingus. The two aircraft which we normally use in the winter for a mixture of sun destinations and Heathrow will be used for Heathrow and Gatwick with a third aircraft serving two European routes in the new-look summer schedule.

This is a commercial decision delivering value for our customers and the company. George Best Belfast City Airport delivers a compelling location and a strong history of business flying. We believe the move will appeal to the 600,000 plus passengers annually who fly with us and especially the business traveller who now has a choice of two London airports with Aer Lingus.’

The airline has decide to relocate its operations following a tender process that involved both airports, and it will be maintaining two aircraft at the city airport during the winter, and three in the summer flying season.

Brian Ambrose, the chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport, said, ‘We extend a warm welcome to Aer Lingus and look forward to working closely with the airline in creating a strong base in which to develop a growing route network.

I am delighted with the frequency of services to London Heathrow and Gatwick. By the end of October, Belfast City will offer Northern Ireland’s only linkage to Heathrow with 10 flights per day.’

Easyjet Announces More Services from Belfast

Easyjet, a UK-based airline, has announced additional services on its routes from Belfast International Airport to Edinburgh, Manchester and four other airports in the UK.

The airline is also launching new flights to Birmingham from Belfast from October 28, 2012.

The expanded services include an increase from three to four daily flights between Belfast and Edinburgh on Mondays, an increase from two to three daily flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; an increase from two to three flights between Belfast and Manchester daily on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, and an increase of flights on weekday mornings and evenings between Belfast and Gatwick, Luton, Southend and Stansted airports.

The airfares commence from £20.99 one way on the new route, and £15.99 one way to all London airports.

Ali Gayward, the airline commercial manager, said, ‘Edinburgh and Manchester are important centres for the business community and also for leisure travellers, including people going there for our popular city breaks.

We operate up to 13 flights daily from Belfast to London, significantly more than any other airline, but demand is such that the extra morning and evening flights are essential.’

The company had previously announced that it would no longer maintain a base in Madrid, Spain, due to a lack of demand. The airline will be moving its aircraft to other bases in Europe, and will be reorganising its crewmembers based out of Madrid in a phased manner.

The airline is currently operating around 200 aircraft across 23 bases in the UK and mainland Europe.