(12:45 p.m. EST) — Hurtigruten will refurbish four of its 1990s-built ships as part of a rolling program starting in January next year. The Norwegian coastal voyage specialist will start with a three-week refurbishment of MS Polarlys, which is due to be completed by February 2, 2016. MS Kong Harald (Feb. 7), MS Nordkapp (April 19) and MS Nordnorge (Nov. 18) will follow. The line’s new expedition ship, MS Spitsbergen, is undergoing a more major upgrade to fit in with the current fleet and will launch in the spring.
MSC Cruises has completed its 200 million euro “Renaissance Program,” which saw the refurbishment and extension of four ships. MSC Lirica, Opera, Armonia and Sinfonia have had a total of 800 new cabins installed, most of them balconies, as part of the stretching process. They were also refurbished inside and out, with new features that include partnerships with Lego and Chicco, new restaurants and upgraded theaters.
A first for the expedition cruise line, Lindblad will embark on Falklands 360, a 13-night circumnavigation of the islands off the coast of South America and near Antarctica, with two departures in late October 2016. National Geographic Orion, carrying 102 passengers, will sail the region, making a stop at Isla de los Estados (of Argentina), the newest nature preserve in the Southern Hemisphere. Other highlights include Carcass Island, famous for its rockhopper penguins; Steeple Jason for its black-browed albatross; and the capital of Stanley for a chat with locals. While both departures will feature National Geographic photographers and experts, the October 19 sailing is designated as a “Photo Expedition,” with New York-based photo/video megastore B&H providing passengers with its newest gear to test out.
Amadeus River Cruises will introduce a third extended-capacity vessel in 2016. The 168-passenger Amadeus Silver III will bring the company’s European fleet up to nine vessels. The ship will have 72 cabins and 12 suites like sister ship Amadeus Silver II.
Expedition cruise line Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will sail a series of cruises to Costa Rica and Panama in 2016, following the completion of the Panama Canal’s massive expansion project. As part of the new itinerary, the line also added standup paddleboards to its water sports equipment. Other new offers in the region include a nine-night land-based journey through Costa Rica and a choice of a complimentary two-day extension in Panama City or free round trip airfare from Miami (when you book by November 30, 2015).
Haimark Line has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The line, which operates just one boat, MS Saint Laurent, will go through a reorganization. The line’s financial troubles began when Saint Laurent hit a concrete wall bumper on a lock on the Saint Lawrence Seaway in July. Several crew members and passengers sustained minor injuries as a result of the accident, and four sailings were canceled while the ship was in dry dock for repairs. According to Haimark, it is working to resolve insurance issues stemming from the accident. No interruptions in service are anticipated.