TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Bellissima of the ball



Alana Buyrne and Suzanne Rowe of MSC on board MSC Bellissima before naming ceremony


Things to know about travel this week

  • MSC shows off Bellissima to Irish trade
  • More cruise vessel than car ferry, first glimpse of WB Yeats:
  • Aer Lingus reports €305m profit as revenue passes €2bn
  • Neenan Travel goes global with Disney specific software
  • CSO shows unusual 10.4pc growth from Britain in January

Video Watch.

Irish rugby team escort Rome 2019Video of the week goes to footage of the Irish men’s rugby team getting a Mario Kart-like police escort (Fiat Panda) through the streets of Rome. Watch here.

Etihad Airways is gearing up for the Special Olympics being held in Abu Dhabi. Watch here.

Tourism Ireland counts down to St Patrick’s Day, and looks at his legacy in Ireland. Watch here.

As tensions rose between India and Pakistan, closing airspace, thousands of westbound passengers were left stranded at Bangkok Airport. Watch here.

It’s a common occurrence The luckless couple caught on camera frantically missing their cruise ship after turning up 45 minutes late to the dock have been revealed as a newlywed TV star and her husband.


Behind the Headlines

MSC will have hosted 350 Irish travel trade by the time the last group board this morning for the naming ceremony of the Bellissima, with its 20 bars, 6 restaurants, 6 entertainment areas, spa and gym. More akin to MSC Meraviglia than its most recent launch, MSC Seaside, the ship has an enticing outdoor double pool (yes, Travel Extra was first in the pool, maintaining a tradition on cruise ship launches going back to 2006). MSC entertainment, a weak point in their cruise offering, has been taken to a new level by the addition of the high-trapeze acrobatics of Cirque de Soleil which gave a breath taking demonstration to guests on Friday evening. Sophie Loren, as is tradition, broke the bottle in a weather disrupted naming ceremony and the party lasted through the night. Picture shows Alana Byrne and Irish head of sales for MSC Suzanne Rowe. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

It is hard to believe that the South Kerry Greenway, potentially the most beautiful cycle path in Ireland, got the go ahead (greenly?) the same time as Waterford Greenway. Local vested interests, however, have dogged the project. The latest were farmers James Sheehan, Curra, Glenbeigh; James Dominic Michael Moriarty, Drom West, Glenbeigh; Patrick Murphy, Gornagree, Kells; and Paul O’Shea, also of Gornagree, Kells, who won an order refusing Kerry County Council access to four separate sections of land along the route to test soil and drainage. Funding for the project is being sought elsewhere so the question is how long Kerry County Council will ruses the project, which is sorted by tourism interests but opposed by farmers.

Travel Trade

Worldchoice Ireland have scheduled their annual networking event for November 23 in the radisson Blu Hotel in Golden Lane, Dublin.

Alan Neenan’s Neenan Travel has signed deals in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Turkey to sell on his Disney-specific software to travel agents there. The software is in use by 120 agents in Ireland. Alan is  finalising contracts with two other distributers and expect to have them on board in the next week or so and is in advanced discussions with three other Disneyland Paris distributors in Europe, and in early stage negotiations with several others.

Dates have been announced for Turkish airlines annual bowling competition  for the trade. Odyssey Bowl Belfast April 1 19:00, Leisureplex Coolock Dublin April 2 19:00, Leisureplex Cork April 3 19:00.

The WB Yeats was showcased to trade and media – and Irish Ferries’ new ship is a step up style-wise, with cruise-like cabins, two of them with private balconies (Full video of the ship here). Irish Continental Group CEO Eamonn Rothwell (watch here) argued that ferries don’t get the attention shown to airline routes, but are equally vital for the island’s trade and tourism links. Irish Ferries MD Andrew Sheen (watch here), an engineer by profession, highlighted WB Yeats’s eco-friendly features. Pictured onboard are Peter O’Hanlon, Travelfinders, and Dermot Merrigan, Irish Ferries, in the Maud Gonne Bar & Lounge. For more images from our galleries see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.


The Thailand Tourism Authority showcased the country, hosting agents at Dublin’s KOH restaurant.  Jack Grennell Hobbs, Emma Arnott and Jialing Tang from Thai Tourism are pictured at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Declan Hughes’s FlyCruiseStay (pictured) has been named Best Online Travel Agency in  Ireland by LUXLife magazine.

Tui looks set to drop its Sensimar and Family Life hotel brands and shift them to its “flagship” Tui Blue range, which aims to make it the largest leisure hotel brand in the world.

Topflight roadshow finished in style at the Radisson Blu hotel in Belfast having toured eight different venues around the country and reached 180 Travel Agents.

The European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the European Union agreed new regulatory rules for online platforms operated by Google and price comparison sites designed to force them to increase transparency in search rankings and have “mandatory disclosure” of business practices and disclosure of data use.

  • Former owner of United Travel Con Murphy who used what was described by the judge as a ‘Father Ted’ defence (“the money was resting in his account”) lost his court appeal of a 2014 conviction for using charity funds in an inappropriate manner.
  • Overseas trips made by Irish residents during January 2019 were down 2pc to 536,900.
  • Eoghan Corry will be speaking at Wexford Travel Show today Sunday March 3 2019. Watch video here.

Strange world

Moira Boxall unpacked her luggage after the 9,300-mile journey from Mackay in Queensland to Glasgow to find a small python curled up in her slip-on shoe.

Two pensioners were arrested after a row over checking in baggage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport erupted into a violent scuffle resulting in the arrest of two passengers.

Chinese airline Lucky Air is suing a passenger for causing almost €20,000 in damage after he threw coins into a plane’s engine for “good luck” and grounded the flight.


Nepal’s Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari and six other passengers and crew were killed in an Air Dynasty AS350 helicopter crash near the Himalayas.

At least twenty-two people were killed at Ramses station in Cairo after a train driver got out of the cab after colliding with another train and his locomotive moved off, hitting a barrier at high speed and starting a blaze.

Food & Beverage

Shane Flynn, Managing Director of Food Services Ireland, Derek Reilly, Aramark Ireland Culinary Director, Chapter One's Ross Lewis and Carolyn Hails, Marketing Director, Aramark Northern Europe presenting the Aramark Chef of the Year 2019 award to Oran Colhoun (centre), Head Chef of Visitor Catering at the Guinness Storehouse. Picture Conor McCabe Photography. MEDIA CONTACT : sarah@mkc.ieShane Flynn, Managing Director of Food Services Ireland; Derek Reilly, Aramark Ireland Culinary Director; Chapter One’s Ross Lewis; and Carolyn Hails, Marketing Director, Aramark Northern Europe presenting the Aramark Chef of the Year 2019 award to Oran Colhoun, Head Chef of Visitor Catering at the Guinness Storehouse.

Upmarket Shanahan’s on the Green in Dublin voiced concerns that building work on a new Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland next door will affect its business.

  • Chez Max restaurant of Dublin’s Lower Baggot Street has been sold for almost €2m.
  • Profits are even higher at Johnnie Fox’s tourist pub in the Dublin Mountains – rising from €85,223 in 2017 to €198,086 last year.


Dalata CEO Pat McCann expects that only 1,200 of a projected 1,600 new hotel rooms will open in Dublin this year. Ireland’s largest hotel group said pre-tax profits for last year rose by 13pc to €87.3m. RevPar rose by 4.7pc to €94.13, while the average room rate rose by 4% to €112.51. Deputy Chief Executives Dermot Crowley and Stephen McNally are pictured with Pat McCann, centre,  at the announcement of the full-year results. Photo: Tony Maxwell.

Best Western Hotels & Resorts aims to have 10 new hotels in Ireland within the next five years and said it is targeting existing properties and new builds which have at least 75 rooms around the island.

Roger Russell, General Manager at The Metropole Hotel, Cork, is pictured celebrating with staff members after the property was named Best Cork Hotel at the Cork Business of the Year Awards. Photo: Brian Lougheed.

Construction work is under way on the Dean Galway – a sister to Dublin’s The Dean – which set to open in late 2020 in Bohermore, Galway City.

Operating profits increased just marginally as revenues at the Parknasilla Resort in Kerry rose by 9pc, from €7.3m to €8m.


Aer Lingus made a record €305m profit from record revenue of €2,020m in 2018, according to the IAG accounts. Profit per passenger was €23.28, revenue per passenger was €154.20, average fare was €149. Listen here to Willie Walsh on RTÉ Morning Ireland. Full year results release for the year to December 31, 2018 (pdf).

Belfast International Security search area will expand to 8 lanes.

Another British Airways aircraft – this time a Boeing 747-400 – is being repainted in Dublin. The colour scheme – seen here in the past on a DC-10 – will be the Landor design used from 1984 to 1997.

The EU has offered tentative support for Spain’s territorial claim over the land on which Gibraltar airport is built.

Istanbul’s new airport, which was due to go fully operational on December 31, will not become fully operational until April 7.

Lufthansa is to add a second weekly service from May 2-October 12 between Shannon and Frankfurt. The service will now operate to Frankfurt on Thursdays (Embraer190) as well as Saturdays (Airbus A319.

Evan Quaid (14), a student from Castlemahon in Limerick, has become the youngest ever producer of an item to be stocked at Shannon Duty Free, after his Quaid Candles went on sale. He is pictured with  Darren Smyth, Head of Commercial at Shannon Airport.

A five-year-old girl suffered serious facial injuries after an emotional support dog mauled her at Portland International airport in Oregon when she reached out to pet it, according to a lawsuit filed by her mother. There is no formal training requirement which must be met for an animal to be used as an emotional support animal in the US.


Ten jobs have been created at Dublin Airport with the opening of the San Franciso-insipired SoMa restaurant in Terminal 1, at the 300 boarding gates. Dublin Airport Food and Beverage Manager Daniel Saunders, operator KSG Chief Executive Michael Gleeson and Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison are pictured at the opening.


Royal Caribbean revealed what it spent the $115m on when it came to uprgrading Navigator of the Seas. The ship will feature the longest waterslide at sea and To Dry For, and the first standalone blow-dry bar at sea.

Holland America is to charge $10 for second main courses for dinner on some ships, saying it’s an effort to cut waste by passengers who order too much food and don’t eat it.

Royal Caribbean’s newest cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas, floated out of its Meyer Werft shipyard. The ship will be deployed this year in the Asian market.


CSO January tourism figures showed an unusual 10.4pc growth from Britain.  Europe was up 12.2pc, N America up 12.3pc and other areas up 9.4pc.

Fáilte Ireland is to grant €2m towards €3.2m cost of Irish Racehorse Experience at National Stud Kildare. Hurricane Fly; the Chief Executive of the Irish National Stud and Gardens, Cathal Beale, Junior Minister for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin; Paul Kelly, CEO, Failte Ireland; Orla Carroll Failte Ireland; and Hardy Eustace are pictured at the announcement.

Drivers from the Republic have been told to apply for a Green Card if they plan to drive across the border after the end of next month.

An Taisce has said that tourism to Skellig Michael must come second to its preservation, and said it is concerned about the rising number of visitors to the island off the Co Kerry coast.

Meanwhile, Star Wars filming on Skellig Michael and in Co Donegal continues to be a money-spinner for Irish tourism. The ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival returns from May 3-5 to celebrate the Star Wars Universe in Kerry and Donegal. Photo: Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic

Irish Rail revealed it has spent €2.5m on taxis and buses for stranded passengers over the past five years.

This year’s National Famine Commemoration will take place on May 19 – the third time the State Commemoration has taken place in Connacht.

Michael Parsons, Chair of the Heritage Council, Minister Josepha Madigan and Virginia Teehan, the newly-appointed Chief Executive of the Hertiage Council announced that six towns will share in €1m in capital funding under the Historic Towns Initiative 2019.Michael Parsons, Chair of the Heritage Council, Minister Josepha Madigan and Virginia Teehan, the newly-appointed Chief Executive of the Heritage Council announced that six towns will share in €1m in capital funding under the Historic Towns Initiative 2019.

Drone shot of Mourne MountainsNational Trust workers Marc Vinas Alcon and Katie Taylor have what is being described as the best ‘office’ view in the North as they start a project to repair path ways on Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh in the Mountains of Mourne.


Deal Watch

Insight Vacations offers: Dublin to Eastern Canada for Luxury Gold escorted tour, including flights, transfers, and 7 nights’ luxury accommodation in central locations, 7 breakfasts, 4 dinners with wine and 9 included experiences, was €3,259 per person sharing, now from €2,989 per person. Flight cost must be
paid at the time of booking. Book and pay in full by 31 March 2019 or call 01 775 3803.

ITAA offers: Ireland to Rome, 10 nights camping at Vacansoleil Camping, from €1829 per family, includes two cabins bags per person, 2 x 20kg checked in bag per family, pre-booked airport transfers available from €60 each way, depart June/July with Shandon Travel on:

Italy offers: 10-night escorted tour of Rome, Florence and Venice, 9 nights accommodation in centrally located hotels, 9 buffet breakfasts and 3 dinners with wine, airport transfers, baggage handling, taxes and porterage charges at hotels, expert tour director, travel on an air conditioned bus. *Flights not included, from €2775pps, depart August with Insight Vacations on

Dublin to Lake Garda, 7 nights B&B in classic double room, airport transfers, 20kg checked bags per person, from €710pps, depart May with Travalue on

Sunway Offers: Dublin to Boston for Autumn Colours escorted tour, includes flights ex Dublin, 20kg bag per person, taxes, 8 nights twin share 4* hotels, scheduled airport transfer, some meals and tours as per itinerary. Subject to availability and change, from €2,645pp, depart September 21. Dublin to Munich for 5* River Cruise ’Romantic Danube’, home from Budapest, includes flight ex Dublin, return port transfers, 7 nights twin sharing outside stateroom CAT D, unlimited wine/beers at meals, sip and sail daily cocktail hour & daily complimentary excursions. Not included gratuities and port charges of €150pp. Price includes early booking saving of €1,189pp. Subject to availability and change, from €2,499pp, depart July 5. Dublin/Cork to France, 7 nights all inclusive 4T Club Med Grand Massif, adults from €1,190pp and children from €755pp. Dublin to Delhi for Golden Triangle Tour, from €1,499pp includes flight ex Dublin, 20kg baggage per person, 7 nights accommodation on twin share basis, some meals and tours as per itinerary. Includes reduction of €145pp subject to availability and change, depart May 12. Dublin to Bodrum, 7 nights B&B 3* Safir Hotel, from €473pp, depart September 21. Dublin to Bodrum, 7 nights all inclusive 3* Sami Beach Hotel, from €559pp, depart September 21. Dublin to Bodrum,  7 nights B&B 4* Ambrosia Hotel, from €573pp, depart September 21. Dublin to Bodrum, 7 nights all inclusive 5* Rixos Premium Hotel, from €1098pp, depart September 21. Dublin to Thailand, 7 nights 4* The Old Phuket Hotel, Phuket, from €935pp, depart May. Dublin to Thailand, 7 nights Khao Lak and Elephant Hill, from €1329pp, depart May. Dublin to Singapore, 3 nights Singapore, 4 night Cruise on Voyager of the Seas around Malaysia and Thailand plus 3 nights in Hong Kong, from €1,589pp in balcony stateroom, depart May 2. Dublin to Scandinavia Cruise, 8 nights onboard Celebrity Reflection, from €1,215pp, depart May 26. Dublin to Barcelona for Italian Fly Cruise, 7 nights onboard MSC Bellissima, from €1195pp, depart July 12.

Topflight Offers: Belfast to Italy, escorted tour, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Vesuvius. Staying at 4* Hotel Conca Park, Sorrento Half Board from £949pps, depart May 31. Cork to Italy, escorted tour of Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Vesuvius. Staying B&B at 4* Hotel Astoria, Sorrento, from €989pps, depart August 14. Dublin to Italy escorted tour, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Vesuvius. Staying B&B at 4* Hotel Astoria, Sorrento, from €1007pps, depart August 18. Escorted Tours also include three excursions – a full day Amalfi Coast excursion, a full day excursion to Pompeii and Vesuvius and a Sorrentine Musical Evening. All Sorrento holidays also include a complimentary guided Sorrento walkabout. Dublin to Sorrento, 7 nights half board 4* plus Hotel Bristol, from €949pps, depart April 7. Dublin to Sorrento, 7 nights self catering 3* Villaggio Verde, from €649pps (4 share), depart May 19.

TUI Offers: Save an additional €100 on holidays departing this summer using code: SMILE100.
Departures 01.05.19 – 31.10.19. Min spend €1,000. Terms and conditions apply. Dublin to Salzburg, 7 nights B&B 3* Hotel Obermair, Mayrhofen, from €449pps, depart May 29. Dublin to Salzburg, 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Jagerwirt, Kitzbuhel, from €639pps, depart June 5. Dublin to Salzburg, 7 nights half board 3*+ Hotel Fischer, St Johann, from €649pps, depart June 12. Dublin to Gran Canaria, 7 nights self catering 3* Altair
Apartments, Puerto Rico, from €469pps, depart March 7. Dublin to Lanzarote, 7 nights all inclusive 4* Occidental Lanzarote Mar, Costa Teguise, from €599pps, depart March 10. Dublin to Tenerife, 7 nights B&B 3* Parque Vacacional Eden, Puerto de la Cruz, from €409pps, depart March 8. Dublin to Lanzarote, 7 nights all inclusive 3*+ Lanzasur Splash Resort, Playa Blanca, from €649pps, depart March 17. Dublin to Gran Canaria, 7 nights self catering 3* Cay Beach Princess Bungalows, Maspalomas,  from €459pps, depart March 21. Dublin to Jamaica, 7 nights all inclusive 3* Holiday Inn Resort, Montego bay, from €1,279pps, depart May 18. Dublin to Cancun, 14 nights all inclusive 4* Grand Bahia Principe Coba, Riviera Maya, from €1,449pps, depart June 10., call 1850 45 35 45 or visit a TUI store / travel agent.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offers: Dublin to Europe for Enchanting Danube river cruise, from Budapest to Passau, including flights, 7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom onboard the S.S. Maria Theresa, airport transfers on arrival and departure days, all meals onboard, unlimited beverages onboard, 6 days of excursions, all gratuities and more, from €2,819 per person sharing.  Flight cost must be paid at the time of booking. Port charges excluded. Price includes 30% Our Best Offer Discount. Book and pay in full by 31 March 2019, depart July 14.


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