Wednesday Briefing: Seabourn Encore Delivered, Lufthansa Makes Strike Offer

Today in the travel industry, the delivery of a new luxury cruise ship, Lufthansa’s latest offer in its ongoing labor dispute, an update on the wildfires in Tennessee and plans for new Nintendo-themed attractions at Universal theme parks are the headlines to watch. 

Seabourn Encore Delivered

In cruise news, Seabourn has taken delivery of its new, all-suite luxury cruise ship, the Seabourn Encore, during an official handover ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy.

The ship, which carries 600 guests based on double occupancy, is designed to deliver a high staff to guest ratio, and offers all travelers suites with their own private verandah. Designed by famous hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, the new ship is meant to build on the line’s Odyssey-class ships, which launched between 2009 and 2011, with one additional deck and newly expanded public areas. New features include The Retreat, a relaxation area with private cabanas, and a Spa Treatment Cabana for personalized spa services. 

For dining, guests can check out The Grill by Thomas Keller, the new signature restaurant from three-star Michelin chef Thomas Keller that was introduced on Seabourn Quest earlier this year and will be expanded to the entire Seabourn fleet. The ship also marks the debut of another new Seabourn restaurant, Sushi

For entertainment, the ship will host “An Evening with Tim Rice,” a show created exclusively for Seabourn in association with Belinda King Creative Productions. Both the show and a new Spa and Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil mindful living program will debut on the ship’s inaugural voyage from Singapore this January, with both Tim Rice and Dr. Weil sailing onboard. 

Seabourn Encore will be officially christened at a ceremony in Singapore on January 7, 2017. International recording artist and world's best-selling soprano, Sarah Brightman, will be godmother of Seabourn Encore and officially name the ship during the celebration. The vessel will then depart on its inaugural voyage, the 10-day Gems of the Java Sea cruise, bound for Indonesia.

Following the inaugural sailing, the ship will move onto a 16-day Great Barrier Reef & Gold Coast and back-to-back 16-day Australia & New Zealand voyages before reversing the earlier 10-day Gems of the Java Sea cruise to Singapore and proceeding on a 16-day Jewels of India & Arabia cruise to Dubai. The ship will then finish its first season with a 19-day Arabian Gems & Holy Land voyage before ending its winter season at Athens on May 5.

Seabourn Encore will spend summer 2017 in the Mediterranean, with itineraries including a seven-, 14- or 21-day Mediterranean cruise departing from Piraeus (Athens), Greece on May 6, the 22-day Adriatic & Mediterranean Isles cruise departing June 24, and the 20-day Mediterranean Encore cruise departing from Barcelona on August 5. The ship will finish summer with the 20-day UNESCO Gems of the Western Mediterranean cruise on September 13 for the start of its autumn season.

Visit www.seabourn.com

Lufthansa Makes New Offer in Strike

In air travel news, the Lufthansa strike continues today. Since the strike began November 23 the airline said it has been forced to cancel 4,450 flights, affecting 525,000 travelers. The strike affects short-, medium- and long-haul services from Germany

Other Lufthansa Group (LHG) airlines, including Eurowings, Germanwings, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti and Brussels Airlines, are not affected by the strike, and flights to and from Germany provided by other LHG airlines will operate as scheduled. 

In its latest statement the airline reports it has made a new offer to the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union (VC): a two-step 4.4 percent increase in remuneration plus a one-off payment. Remuneration would be increased by 2.4 percent for 2016 and by a further 2.0 percent for 2017. Lufthansa said the union has told the media that it would be willing to enter mediation on the basis of an offer of this kind. 

In the meantime, customers whose flight is cancelled through the strike action may rebook (once) or cancel their flight free of charge, Lufthansa said. Customers also have the one-time option of rebooking free of charge if they hold a ticket for a flight with Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, SWISS or Brussels Airlines from, to or via Germany on one of the days affected by the strike. For routes within Germany, flight tickets may also be exchanged for Deutsche Bahn rail travel vouchers. Customers can find additional information under “Current Travel Information” on LH.com.

Update on Tennessee Wildfires

In other news, wildfires continue to burn in Tennessee after forcing the evacuation of two tourist towns near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the Washington Post reports. So fare the fire has killed at least three people and injured at least 14 others, and rescue efforts remain underway throughout Sevier County. 

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) told the Post that Westgate Resorts, which spans more than 100 buildings, is “likely entirely gone,” that Black Bear Falls has probably lost all of its cabins, and that Ober Gatlinburg has reportedly been destroyed. The fire has also engulfed the 300-room Park Vista hotel in downtown Gatlinburg. 

The Dollywood theme park, which is about one mile from Pigeon Forge, has not sustained any damage thus far, park officials told the Post in a Monday night statement. 50 rooms in its DreamMore Resort and 19 of its cabins have been evacuated as firefighters work to protect the park from a fire burning on the adjacent Upper Middle Ridge

Universal Theme Parks to Add Nintendo-Based Attractions

In family travel news, Universal has partnered with popular video game company Nintendo to bring a new series of attractions to its Osaka, Orlando and Hollywood theme parks. 

The partnership will bring Nintendo-themed areas to Universal Studios Japan, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, offering attractions, shops and restaurants allowing guests to interact with Mario and his friends and other popular Nintendo characters. 

Planning and creative work on the new areas is well underway, Universal said, with details on each of the specific Nintendo areas to be announced soon. 

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