MSC Cruises sails again after festive season layoff

MSC Grandiosa, Swiss-based MSC Cruises’ flagship, departed last night (January 24) from the port of Genoa in Italy to resume as planned regular 7-night cruises in the Mediterranean after a short pause of operations during the holiday period.

The ship had temporarily suspended her sailing as a result of the Italian decree that restricted movement within the country. MSC Grandiosa first welcomed guests back on board in August 2020 and the company says that feedback from the more than 30,000 guests who have boarded so far has been extremely positive, so much so that some guests have been choosing to extend their stay on board by one or more weeks. It added that its health and safety protocol helped to set the standard for the industry and reemphasised its safety record.

The protocol, which is unique in the hospitality industry and has been approved by national authorities in Italy, Greece and Malta, is being used as the basis to inform and support plans to restart cruising in other parts of the world. Prior to embarkation, all guests pass through a series of health checks, including COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew, as part of MSC Cruises comprehensive health and safety protocol, devised by the company with the support of international experts and approved by the relevant authorities in the countries visited by MSC Cruises ships currently or due to be at sea. The health and safety measures also include a dedicated response plan that can be activated in collaboration with the authorities.

MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol has been designed to respond to the situation ashore even while it evolves, and since November last year some of the measures were enhanced, including the introduction of mid-cruise testing for guests and weekly testing for crew as well as further enhanced hygiene and sanitation measures. Everyone on board observes social distancing as well as wearing masks in public areas, and the guest technology has been leveraged to facilitate onboard contact tracing. To preserve a safe bubble on board the ship, guests only go ashore as part of protected shore excursions, so that they can be protected even while ashore by measures similar to those on board.

MSC Grandiosa, launched in November 2019, offers a wide range of experiences for guests. The company says that whilst on board, guests can relax with total peace of mind and safely enjoy a range of different activities, all adapted to meet the current health and safety measures, whilst still allowing guests to have a memorable and rich experience.

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays expands capacity to Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Madeira for October

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, the UK-based travel and holiday company, has said that they have expanded their services for October, by adding more flights to Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Madeira – an addition of over 70 new flights.

The company has added flights to four destinations that are all experiencing increased demand during October, representing over 13,000 additional seats. The new flights added include: the addition of over 25 additional flights to Rhodes, with extra flying from Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle and London Stansted; 20 additional flights to Kos, with extra flying from Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle; over 15 additional flights to Corfu, with extra flying from East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle; and nine additional flights to Madeira (Funchal), with extra services added from Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘There has been a significant spike in demand to Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Madeira and, as ever, we are the first to step in and meet that demand so that holidaymakers can travel to the places where they want to be. Customers are telling us loud and clear that they want to escape the gloom and enjoy a well-earned break, and we know these extra flights will book up very quickly.

‘With great choice and value, not to mention our award-winning customer service and industry-leading response to recent events, customers know that they can trust us to look after them and deliver a fantastic experience so that they can enjoy a lovely holiday.’

Jet 2 has measures in place for the safety and well-being of customers and employees, including HEPA filters on aircraft, onboard cleaning and compulsory face masks throughout the flight.

To assure customers further, the company also launched a 5* Defaqto rated insurance product, which includes added Covid-19 cover for cancellations and medical claims abroad, as well as cover for travel to destinations where the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises ‘against all but essential travel’ as a result of Covid-19.

TUI resumes operations from Doncaster Sheffield Airport starting August

Doncaster Sheffield Airport has said that TUI will resume operations from the airport starting August 1.

With the move, passengers can set out for summer breaks, flying with TUI from DSA to popular destinations such as Lanzarote, Tenerife, Palma del Mallorca in Spain, Kos and Rhodes in Greece, Tunisia, Cyprus and Turkey.

Between August 1 and late October TUI intends to carry nearly 50,000 customers on their summer holidays from DSA, as the airport has seen huge increase in interest from prospective travellers in recent days. It is expected that other destinations will be added as the Government and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) relax current legislation and restrictions on international travel.

Dee Thomas, Director of Operations at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said ‘We’re delighted to welcome back our TUI passengers to DSA and get their summer holiday’s off to a great start. DSA has remained operational throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, with our runway remaining fully operational for our freight operations.

‘We’ve supported the movement of perishable goods for supermarket shelves and personal protective equipment in support of the NHS. However, passengers are our core business and we are so thrilled to welcome them back.’

TUI also said that it will restart its summer schedule from July 11, in strict adherence with government advice. Customers with existing bookings will be able to travel, and those looking to book a holiday will also be able to do so, it said.

In ensuring the safety and well-being of customers and crew, Doncaster Sheffield Airport said that it will strictly follow all guidance from Public Health England and the relevant authorities. Safety measures within the terminal building include social distancing, the use of safety screens, hand sanitiser stations and an enhanced cleaning programme. Passengers and staff will be required to wear face coverings at the airport and to follow the up to date public information displays.

Jet2holidays announces new destination to Mykonos from Manchester and Stansted

Jet2Holidays has announced the launch of flights and holidays to a new Greek destination for Summer 20 – the island of Mykonos.

The UK-based holiday company will operate to the Cycladic island from Manchester and London Stansted Airports. One of Greece’s most famous and cosmopolitan islands, Mykonos offers holidaymakers access to some beautiful beaches. Customers can also enjoy resorts and whitewashed villages such as Agios Ioannis, Elia Beach, Mykonos Town, Psarrou, Ornos and Platis Yialos.

Jet2 will operate up to two weekly services to Mykonos from Manchester Airport, with a Sunday service operating from May 24 through to November 1, and a Thursday service operating from July 16 through to September 24. Jet2 will also operate up to two weekly services from London Stansted Airport, with a weekly Sunday service running from May 24 through to November 1, as well as a weekly Tuesday service operating from May 26 to September 22.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: ‘The introduction of flights and holidays to Mykonos from Manchester and London Stansted Airports is yet more fantastic news for both holidaymakers and independent travel agents. Mykonos is a breath-taking destination with beaches, natural beauty, and nightlife aplenty, and we have no doubt that our award-winning flights and holidays will be hugely popular with holidaymakers looking for a stunning escape. With 13 Greek destinations now on sale for Summer 20, we are offering holidaymakers more choice and flexibility than ever before.’

Jet2 will operate to 13 Greek destinations for Summer 20 – five of them brand new. These include Mykonos (brand new), Skiathos (brand new), Preveza (brand new), Kalamata (Peloponnese) (brand new), Lesvos (brand new), Corfu, Crete (Heraklion), Crete (Chania), Kefalonia, Kos, Rhodes, Halkidiki and Zante, it said.

Jet2.com announces summer 2020 programme from Edinburgh Airport

British travel and holiday company Jet2.com has announced its summer-20 programme from Edinburgh Airport, with 33 destinations including the new destination of Izmir in Turkey.

With the capacity expansion, over 850,000 seats are now on sale, including across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands, next summer.

The new flights to Izmir will operate every Tuesday from May to October, when holidaymakers can also access popular resorts on the west coast of Turkey such as Kusadasi, Cesme, Ozdere and Seferihisar. In addition to Izmir, Jet2 will operate more flights and seats to Antalya and Dalaman next summer, as well as continue its popular weekly service to Bodrum. Jet2 currently operates three weekly services to Antalya and Dalaman.

As part of its summer 2020 programme from Edinburgh Airport, Jet2 will have over 80 departing weekly flights during peak periods. The key highlights include flights to Canary Islands, with up to 12 weekly services to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, and additional flights to Tenerife.

Further, the airline will operate daily services to the sunshine destinations of Palma (Majorca), Alicante and Faro as well as increased service to Malaga with five weekly flights, and Ibiza with four weekly flights. Jet2 will also offer more choice to Spain and its islands, with three weekly services to Reus (Costa Dorada), two weekly services to Girona (Costa Brava) and a weekly service to Menorca.

In addition, the airline offers nine weekly services to Greece, including two weekly services to Crete (Heraklion), Zante and Rhodes, as well as weekly services to Corfu, Kos and Halkidiki; two weekly services Paphos and a weekly service to Larnaca in Cyprus; additional frequency, two weekly services to Bourgas, Bulgaria; weekly services to Dubrovnik, in addition to weekly services Pula and Split in Croatia; and three weekly services to Venice, as well as two weekly services to Naples and Verona in Italy.

Tickets for the summer programme are available to book at www.jet2.com or www.jet2holidays.com.

Celebrity Cruises launches inaugural charter flights from Cardiff

Luxury cruise line Celebrity Cruises has commenced its first ever charter flight from Cardiff Airport.

The new charter flight is part of Celebrity Cruises’ Jet Set Sail programme – operating charters offering holidaymakers larger seat pitches in-flight, increased luggage allowance and a joining service from airport check-in to the on-board ship accommodation.

Launched on July 31, the first of the two Jet Set Sail charter flights was operated by Titan on behalf of Celebrity Cruises. The flight will land in Barcelona, where guests will board the luxury ship Celebrity Constellation and board a 10 night cruise around the Mediterranean and Adriatic visiting popular destinations including Valencia, Florence, Rome, Montenegro and Split.

The second Jet Set Sail will depart on August 28, 2017, and will travel to Venice, where the passengers will join Celebrity Constellation and begin a 10 night cruise around the Greek islands, visiting tourist locations including Santorini, Athens and Mykonos.

Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport, said: ‘Exciting developments like this is evidence of the halo effect that comes with our recent passenger growth and increase in choice for customers. The cruise market has traditionally been very strong in Wales and it’s great to see new, very esteemed cruise operators reacting to demand and offering more choice for fly-cruise seekers from Cardiff.’

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director, Celebrity Cruises, UK, Ireland and Asia added, ‘Our new exclusive Jet Set Sail charter from Cardiff Airport adds yet more choice and opportunity for our guests. The expansion of our nationwide programme into Cardiff is in response to strong demand and great support from Cardiff Airport. Cruise travellers can start their Celebrity Cruises holiday in complete comfort and luxury before they even depart the UK – exactly how every holiday should begin.’

Celebrity Cruises is introducing the new Jet Set Sail charter following increased demand from the Welsh cruise community for fly-cruise options out of Cardiff Airport, the airport said, adding that companies like TUI and P&O already offer cruise flights in summer and winter.

British holidaymakers eye Portugal and Spain amid security issues in Egypt, Turkey

British tourists are increasing turning to destinations like Portugal and Spain for their holidays this summer, while previously popular destinations of Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia are being dropped for security reasons, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Citing figures, the report noted that reservations for Portugal have increased by nearly 32 per cent, while that to Spain has seen a 27 per cent rise, with other destinations like Cyprus and Malta also figuring in the sought-after list.

Meanwhile airlines and travel groups are registering a drop in business to traditionally popular destinations like Tunisia and Egypt, following terrorist incidents and changes to Foreign Office travel advice. Turkey has seen reservations drop by 50 per cent following a bomb blast in Istanbul last month, which saw ten people killed in a busy tourist area, the report noted.

Following the trend, travel group ABTA has issued a notice to tourists to book their holidays early this year. Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: ‘The significant increase in summer holiday bookings to western Mediterranean destinations is also being mirrored in other Northern European markets.

‘So it makes it more important than ever that customers book early to obtain the best value and ensure they get the holiday of their choice.’

Besides, amid rising demand for the supposedly safer destinations, many of the airlines are now diverting flights to high-demand areas.

Last week Thomas Cook has said that it has moved 400,000 seats from Turkey to Spain, while tour operator Thompson said it has increased capacity significantly to Spain to meet the demand. Monarch airlines said that the eight flights a week schedule which were previously going to Sharm-el-Sheikh, in Egypt, had all now been diverted to Spain following the ban of all UK airlines to the site, which saw 38 people gunned down on a beach last year.

Citing the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, the report added that UK residents are taking more overseas holidays than ever. The Travel and Tourism report showed Britons made 13.4million visits abroad in the three months to December 2015, an increase of 10 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, the Telegraph added.

Brittany Ferries offers winter sun holidays in Mediterranean

Car-ferry service Brittany Ferries is offering UK holidaymakers a four week winter sun holiday in the Mediterranean between February 1 and March 31, 2016.

With prices starting from £539, the company’s winter sun offer includes ferry travel to northern Spain and 18 winter sun destinations to choose from, including the Algarve, Marbella, Calpe and St Tropez. The four week sail-and-stay winter sun holiday will begin with a ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao in Spain.

Alternatively, if looking for a stay in the south of France customers can choose any of Brittany Ferries’ routes across the Channel travelling by day or night. All utilities, plus linen change and weekly or daily cleaning service at many locations, are included in the rental.

‘Only high quality apartments have been selected for our winter sun deals, located in some of southern Europe’s most glamorous locations,’ said Christiane Barker, general manager Brittany Ferries holidays. ‘Each of our resorts in southern Spain, Portugal and France has its own character and range of activities. Whether you love beach resorts, a round of golf, coastal strolls or are just seeking a home from home in a warmer climate, we can deliver.’

In addition, Brittany Ferries is also offering a 5-star luxury Hotel Real break in Santander, with sail-and-stay for four, five or seven nights from £209 per person. The short holiday includes return cruise from Portsmouth to Santander as a foot passenger with an en-suite two-berth cabin each way. Taking a car adds another £50 return, if not already included in the price.

Bed and breakfast accommodation, a complimentary drink and 90 minutes water therapy session are included in the price, and customers can also enjoy a 15 percent discount on spa treatments, entrance to the casino and other activities.

Majorca Continues To Have Allure For British Holidaymakers

Majorca has been a favourite of British holidaymakers since as far back as the 1960’s, but the love affair with the Spanish-owned island shows little sign of cooling.

Majorca is located near the South East coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean Sea, and has long stretches of beach, secluded coves and surrounding mountainous terrain. It has the famed S’Amarador beach, which has been voted the ‘Best Beach in Europe’ in 2009, and is a part of the Mondrago National Park. Many beaches in Majorca are pristine and well preserved, and all three beaches at Calas de Mallorca offer fine sand and tempting turquoise waters.

Majorca’s Hotel Salvia is typical of many such venues on the island, offering accommodation for GBP145 upwards per room, per night. It has recently been awarded the Travellers’ Choice 2012 Winner for Best Service in Spain. Other hotels in Majorca that have won similar awards include the Fina Es Castelle, offering rooms for GBP100 to GBP113 per night, and the Can Furios Hotel, offering room rates commencing at GBP133 per night.

Cosmos holidays, a UK-based travel company and a member of the Association of British Travel Agents, is offering three nights holidays to Majorca, departing May 28, 2012, for GBP192.36 per person.

Sol Melia, a Spain-based hotel company, has also announced plans to open a new venue at Majorca’s Megaluf Resort. The project will include a luxury hotel and an entertainment area. Sol Melia Park Hotel will be part of the Katmandu entertainment universe, and will open in 2013, offering all kinds of amenities for families.

 

Monarch Airlines Announces Extension to its Summer 2012 Schedule

Monarch Airlines, a UK-based airline company, has announced its expanded summer schedules for 2012.

The airline is currently offering two new scheduled flights to Barcelona (Spain) and Nice (France) from Birmingham Airport in the UK. The new daily flights to Nice, and four times weekly flights to Barcelona, commence from July 20, 2012, with airfares starting at GBP5.99 per person, one-way.

The airline is also launching its services from its new base, East Midlands Airport in the UK, and is offering daily services to the Mediterranean destinations of Malaga (Spain), Alicante (Spain), Faro (Portugal) and Palma (Majorca). The services from East Midlands Airport commence from August 31, 2012.

The airline managing director, Kevin George, said, ‘We are delighted to be expanding our Summer 2012 flights programme from Birmingham Airport and launching our first programme of flights from East Midlands Airport, providing greater choice to our customers in the Midlands.’

He added, ‘The launch of operations from East Midlands accelerates the strategy we announced last year to focus on the development of our scheduled operations into key leisure destinations across the Mediterranean, the Canaries and North Africa.

The addition of new daily services from Birmingham Airport to Nice, a new scheduled destination for the airline and the new services to Barcelona supports our determination to deliver an all-encompassing proposition; offering choice, value and superior customer service from all of the major gateways in the UK.’

The airline has recently introduced ‘Air Packs’ for their customers, offering to build them a customised package with optional amenities, for prices commencing at GBP20 per person, per flight.