U.K. Cruise News Shorts: Saga Ruby Finally Underway, Mein Schiff 3 Details and MSC Loses $30,000 in Fraud

February 22, 2013
(1:10 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.

Saga Ruby gets underway … at long last

Saga Ruby has finally left Southampton, some six weeks after its scheduled departure for a 108-night world cruise was delayed due to mechanical problems.

The 25,000-ton, 655-passenger ship was due to leave Southampton on January 7th, but just hours before its planned departure engineers discovered a faulty crank shaft. Some 300 passengers had already arrived and most spent the night onboard, before being sent home the next day to await news.

Saga Holidays set off fireworks to mark the 40-year-old ship's departure this week. The cruise -- meant to be Ruby's last world cruise before retirement in 2014 -- has been shortened to 65 nights.

Swan Hellenic extends Minerva Lease until 2021

All Leisure Group has confirmed in its annual report that the lease for Swan Hellenic's Minerva will be extended by 8 years, until 2021, despite reporting a drop in profits of nearly £5 million in 2012, as compared to 2011.

All Leisure Group -- which owns cruise brands Voyages of Discovery, Hebridean Island Cruises and Swan Hellenic -- significantly upgraded Minerva in early 2012, adding a new observation lounge and several extra balcony cabins.

TUI releases more details about Mein Schiff 3

TUI Cruises has released more design details of Mein Schiff 3, currently under construction at STX Finland's Turku Shipyard.

The new ship will feature a two-deck, 167-square-metre glass wall at the stern, which will house the specialty restaurants Richards-Feines Essen and the Surf and Turf Steakhouse in addition to a new coffee lounge and the glass-enclosed Diamond Bar.

Two glass-floor platforms on Deck 14, 120 feet above the sea will allow passengers to "walk on water," according to the line.

Mein Schiff 3 will also have its own acoustically engineered concert hall, where TUI plans to offer classical concerts, jazz, theatre readings and movies with surround-sound.

Other entertainment options onboard include a 1,000-seat, three-deck theatre, 25-meter swimming pool and outdoor movie screen.

MSC loses $30,000 in South Africa fraud

Two men are facing fraud charges for allegedly using forged documents to book over $30,000 in cruises on MSC ships -- which they never paid for.

The men, both South African, are accused of booking large numbers of tickets with MSC and collecting the tickets immediately prior to departure. Upon collection, the men reportedly produced forged documents "proving" money had been transferred to MSC to pay for the cruises, according to a South African newspaper. It is unclear what booking systems were used in the alleged fraud.

An MSC spokesperson declined to comment on the case, saying, "At the moment it's a police matter and MSC doesn't have a statement, but the line is collaborating with the police."

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