U.K. Cruise News Shorts: Independence makeover, Princess' Japanese expansion and Silversea's celebrity chef

February 1, 2013

(12:30 p.m. EST) -- From time to time, there are news stories from the cruise world that only need a few words of explanation, but are important enough that we just can't pass them up. Here are a few of those we thought you might like to know about.

Silversea to bring celebrity chef onboard

Silversea has announced that Michelin-starred celebrity chef Jason Atherton will join Silver Shadow on a 9-night Hong Kong to Singapore cruise in November 2013. The chef will cook a four-course meal for guests onboard, give a lecture and also lead a shore excursion to one of Ha Long Bay's -- a port of call in Vietnam -- fresh food markets. The menu for Atherton's meal onboard is still undecided, but the chef, who owns restaurants in China, Singapore and the U.K., is well known for his creativity.

Independence of the Seas gets makeover for 2013 summer season

As part of a $300 million fleet-wide "revitalisation programme," that began in 2011, Royal Caribbean International has announced that the Southampton-based Independence of the Seas will undergo a refurbishment in April 2013.

The refurbishment is meant to bring Oasis-class-style upgrades to older ships the fleet and, on Independence of the Seas, will include the addition of a cupcake shop, an Italian trattoria called Giovanni's Table and a Royal Babies & Tots Nursery. On the technology side, the ship will get digital signage, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and a poolside movie screen. Independence of the Seas will arrive in Southampton on May 2, following the two-week, $7 million overhaul.
Princess cruises adds ships and homeports in Japan

After announcing Sun Princess' 2013 Japanese deployment last March, Princess Cruises has decided to double its fleet there in 2014 by adding Diamond Princess.

According to the line, Diamond Princess will join Sun Princess, cruising from three homeports -- Tokyo, Kobe, and Otaru. Between April and October, 2014, the two ships will offer 42 sailings and nine itineraries ranging from seven to nine days in length.

In a statement, the line said that "some changes and enhancements are being made to appeal to the local market," including Japanese-speaking crewmembers, a sushi bar, Japanese breakfasts, a noodle bar, regional teas and a sake menu. Changes to enrichment programmes, onboard shopping and spa treatments are also part of the localisation of the two ships.

Demonstrating further commitment to growth in the Asian market, Princess' owners, Carnival Corporation, announced in September 2012 that Costa Atlantica would join Costa Victoria sailing ex-Singapore cruises in 2013.

--by Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor