Friday, 26 May 2017

Piraeus Port to invest €294 million to upgrade cruise facilities

Piraeus Port to invest €294 million to upgrade cruise facilities

Piraeus Port to invest €294 million to upgrade cruise facilities
Piraeus Port Authority aims to grow its homeporting business by expanding its facilities (Image: Piraeus Port Authority)

Piraeus Port Authority is to invest €294 million over a five-year period to upgrade its existing cruise infrastructure and boost its appeal to operators sailing in the East Mediterranean.

Currently, Piraeus can berth between nine and eleven cruise ships simultaneously, using a total of 2.8 kilometres of quay.’s expansion plans include adding four new 400-metre cruises berths, adding a total of 1.65 kilometres of quay length and boosting the port’s capacity by roughly 50%.

Other plans include building hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and other auxiliary services to enable Piraeus to become a homeport.

“The planned infrastructure improvements will benefit the cruise sector overall by providing best-in-class customer service experience to the operators of the cruise ships as well as by enhancing the overall experience of their guests,” said Theodora Riga, PPA’s manager of strategic planning and marketing. “New value-added services for the cruise lines and passengers are at the core of PPA's vision to promote overall product awareness in the Chinese market, and act as a facilitator to capture higher volumes of tourists from the Far East.”

Cruise Industry Celebrates Record-Breaking Year

Cruise Industry Celebrates Record-Breaking Year

Cruise Industry Celebrates Record-Breaking Year
Carnival Liberty
PHOTO: Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Liberty. (photo via Flickr/Roderick Eime) 
The cruise industry hosted a record 24.7 million ocean passengers around the globe last year, according to new data released by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Tuesday.
The figure topped projections by 500,000 and is up from 23.2 million in 2015.
The Caribbean was the most popular destination for ocean cruisers last year, accounting for a 35 percent share of capacity. Next came the Mediterranean (18.3 percent) and Europe (11.1 percent) while Asia (9.2 percent), Australia/New Zealand/Pacific (6.1 percent) Alaska (4.2 percent) and South America (2.5 percent) rounded out the seven most-visited regions in 2016. 
CLIA credits the positive growth to continued development in the Asian market as well as more than two dozen new ships joining its fleet in 2016, including nine new ocean vessels. The 26 new cruise ships introduced last year expanded passenger capacity by 28,000.
According to CLIA, capacity in Asia climbed to 9.2 percent last year, representing a 38 percent increase from 2015. What's more, Asian travelers are taking shorter cruises and taking them more frequently the trade association has found.
Beyond the booming Asian market and an ever-expanding fleet, CLIA president and CEO Cindy D'Aoust attributes the industry's growth to its ability to provide travelers with exactly what they're looking for.
"One of the many reasons that the cruise industry continues to thrive is because of the personalization it is able to offer to its guests from around the world," D’Aoust said in a statement. "Never before have I been a part of or seen an industry that is so good at listening and reacting to what its customers want, and this is why we are going to see our industry continue to grow."
As TravelPulse cruise expert Jason Leppert points out, cruise lines are also winning over the all-important millennial market with exciting onboard attractions and kid facilities for younger passengers traveling with children.
Unsurprisingly, CLIA projects another year of encouraging growth on the ocean: The association is forecasting 25.8 million global passengers for 2017.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

China's ban leaves cruise lines scrambling

China's ban leaves cruise lines scrambling

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Majestic Princess

Cruise lines have started to tear up their northern China itineraries following an order from the Chinese government to the country's travel agencies to stop selling itineraries that include South Korea.
The Chinese directive follows the announcement late last month by the South Korean and U.S. governments that components for a new U.S.-developed anti-missile system were to arrive in South Korea last week for installation.
Known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, it is designed to intercept missiles up to 125 miles away as a means of protecting South Korea from missile strikes by North Korea, which has undertaken a series of long-range missile tests in recent months and tested a nuclear weapon as recently as last September.
The Chinese and Russian governments have objected to the installation of the missile-defense system because it employs powerful radar technology that the two countries assert can see into their territories.
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Genting Dream
Japan and South Korea are the main cruise destinations reachable from northern China on the four- and five-day itineraries preferred by most Chinese. With Korea suddenly off limits, cruises operated for Chinese passengers out of ports such as Tianjin and Shanghai will now focus primarily on visiting Japan, experts said.
In a statement, Costa Cruises said it would "remove calls to South Korean ports for our upcoming cruises homeported out of China, replacing them with cruising at sea or calls to destinations in Japan."
Royal Caribbean International also said it will curtail visits to South Korean ports due to "recent developments regarding the situation in South Korea."
Delivery of the parts for the missile-defense system came as North Korea tested four missiles launched in the direction of Japan that fell into the sea.
Dwain Wall, an executive at and a consultant familiar with the Chinese market, said there is no question that the Chinese government has the authority to order Chinese travel companies to stop selling cruises to Korea.
"There is a very tight licensing and regulatory control over travel agencies" in China, Wall said. "It does impact cruise, but it's low season, thank God, and [the cruise lines have] been sort of able to regroup and change the ports to Japanese ports."
If China's ban persists into the busier summer months it could both overwhelm the port capacity in Japan and reduce demand for cruises in China because of the lack of destination variety.
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Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said he could not predict how long the chill in China-Korea relations might last.
Stock analysts blamed news of the Korea tiff for a pull-back in cruise shares last week but said that it was excessive.
As a share of cruise lines' global capacity, the analysts said China accounts for 9% of RCCL's, 6% of Carnival Corp.'s and 4% to 5% of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings'. Further, they pointed out, not all of that capacity is sailing from north China.

Norwegian has no plans to reduce China service, Del Rio says

Norwegian has no plans to reduce China service, Del Rio says

Norwegian Joy

It's full speed ahead in China for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Despite recent announcements by other lines that ships once scheduled for year-round service in China would move to Australia for part of the year, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings chairman Frank Del Rio said his company has no plans to follow suit.

"I'm glad to see that the others are leaving," Del Rio said. "That leaves us perhaps the last man standing, and that'd be great. I'll take all the demand."

Del Rio's comments came during a conference call with analysts to discuss first-quarter financial results. 

Cruise selling in China has been disrupted since March by the Chinese government's move to halt travel to South Korea, a protest of a decision by the South Korean government to install a U.S.-made missile defense system.

"The disruption caused travel agents to be distracted from focusing on contracting charters further out into the year, then trying to book, in some cases rebook, [and] find new customers [for those] who no longer wanted to go on sailings that didn't include Korea," Del Rio said. "But it's also had a bit of a chilling effect on overall demand."

He added that sales for new cruises had started to pick up in the past two weeks. "The South Korea situation, we believe, is a temporary bump in the road, and time will tell," he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line is scheduled to start sailing the 3,883-passenger Norwegian Joy, its first ship custom-designed for the Chinese market, from Shanghai in late June. 

Princess Cruises recently said that its Majestic Princess, also custom-built for the Chinese market, will be deployed to Australia for six months in 2018-19. The move follows the redeployment of the Sapphire Princess from China to Europe in the latter half of 2018.

Because Norwegian is new to the Chinese source market, Del Rio said he's being cautious about predicting the impact of the Norwegian Joy on the company's performance in the second half.

"So in many ways, all the good things that I have to say about how our business is operating on the other 24 ships is being somewhat tempered by the potential that could arise in China," Del Rio said.

A strong Wave

Del Rio said on the call that this year's Wave was "the best Wave season that we and likely the industry has experienced in quite some time." As a result, NCLH brands have fewer cabins to sell for the rest of 2017, and it expects higher prices on those bookings than last year. 

NCLH, which also includes Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, posted Q1 net income of $61.9 million, compared with $73.2 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 6.8%, to a record $1.15 billion.

Del Rio attributed the net-income decline to higher-than-expected maintenance and repair costs, particularly for the Norwegian Star, which broke down in Australia for five days in February. 

Outside of that, CFO Wendy Beck said the results were driven by "strong close-in demand in the Caribbean, coupled with strength in onboard revenue." Cuba itineraries are now available on all three brands, and "the performance of that itinerary is just astonishing," Del Rio said. NCLH is also doing better than it planned in Europe this year, which Del Rio attributed to a combination of less inventory to sell than at the same time last year and positive market conditions. "That is resulting in very, very strong sales in Europe at significantly higher prices than the same time last year," he said.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Costa Concordia captain loses final appeal against prison sentence

Costa Concordia captain loses final appeal against prison sentence

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The captain of the Costa Concordia has lost his final appeal bid.

Francesco Schettino was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2015 after a court found him guilty of manslaughter, causing a maritime accident and abandoning ship.

On Friday the sentence was upheld by Italy’s highest criminal tribunal, the Court of Cassation.

The ship capsized after hitting rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012 killing 32 people.

Schettino had handed himself in to the Rebibbia prison in Rome after the verdict, according to the BBC.

More than 4,000 passengers and crew were aboard the Costa Concordia during a Mediterranean cruise.

Pandas and Beauty Queens Lure Chinese Groups to Cruise Ships

Pandas and Beauty Queens Lure Chinese Groups to Cruise Ships

Ovation of the Seas arrives in Hong Kong in June 2016. Photo: Royal Caribbean International

By Bloomberg News (Bloomberg) — Liu Jing wakes at 7, feeds her 84-year-old mother and two-year-old grandson and then spends the day watching the boy play in the playground, with breaks for meals and his afternoon nap and perhaps a little TV in the evening.
That’s not unusual for a Chinese retiree, many of whom play an instrumental role in raising grandkids, but Liu, 57, is on board the Costa Atlantica, a luxury cruise ship packed with activities and events that she largely ignores.
“I just don’t have time to do all these,” said Liu, 57, a Beijing resident who sailed with her husband, grandson and mother from Tianjin port late last year. “Everywhere you look on the cruise, you see middle-aged people like me, with small kids.”
Lines including Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp. have sent an armada of luxury vessels to China to tap the world’s fastest-growing market, but they face turbulent waters. In addition to satisfying the tastes of Chinese passengers, they sail in the shadow of the region’s increasingly volatile politics. And soon, a new threat will emerge: Chinese companies are building their own big ships.
“Right now it’s a learning process,” said Ken Muskat, chief executive officer at SkySea Holding International Ltd., a Shanghai-based cruise operator. “Everybody is adapting and learning more about what the Chinese market is looking for.”
The number of passengers in China has risen tenfold in five years, to around 2 million in 2016, and the government expects 4.5 million by the end of the decade. Most make shorter trips — five days on average — and call in South Korea and Japan, the top two destinations in Asia outside of China, according to industry body Cruise Lines International Association.
With so much potential — China is still nowhere close to the 11 million plus Americans who cruise each year — companies are bringing bigger and better ships to the Yellow Sea, tailoring their offerings and seeking new destinations in an effort to persuade Chinese travelers that a cruise is more than just a form of transportation.
Royal Caribbean’s latest mega-ship, the 4,905-passenger “ Ovation of the Seas,” complete with indoor sky-diving and robot bartenders arrived at its new home port of Tianjin on May 4 for the summer season after being christened in China last year by actress Fan Bingbing. On deck, a sculpture of a mother panda reaches out to her cub on the deck below.
“We have still a huge challenge ahead of us to create more consumer awareness of what a cruise is, what that experience is like,” said Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean.
But before China’s newbie cruisers adapt to life on the ocean, the cruise lines first have to adapt to local tastes. And that starts in the kitchen.
“Whether it’s rice and congee for breakfast or different types of seafood for lunch or dinner, they’re sticklers for the authenticity of Chinese cooking,” Goldstein said.
Then there’s the entertainment. Out go the Broadway-style shows beloved in the Caribbean and in come flashy Chinese song-and-dance hits and local celebrities. SkySea invited candidates from the Voice of China reality TV singing contest to perform and staged the Miss World China Final beauty pageant on its ship Golden Era, which can carry 1,814 people.
Royal Caribbean in 2016 invited cross-talk artist Guo Degang to perform on “Ovation of the Seas” during the ship’s inaugural visit to China last year.
“There’s much more of an emphasis on shopping,” Goldstein said, adding that Chinese passengers spend two or three times as much in the on-board stores. “Plus we know that they’re shopping energetically in the ports of call.”
But perhaps the biggest difference in China is that cruises are often a mutigenerational holiday.
“Chinese cruise travelers are very family oriented” said Muskat at SkySea, which counts Royal Caribbean and Chinese online travel service International Ltd. as major backers. “They like to spend a lot of time with their family whereas in North America you can put the kids in the youth program for seven days and not see them again.”
Liu said she barely tried any of the swimming pool, mahjong, shows, casino, bars and gym on her cruise ship, owned by Italy’s Costa Crociere SpA, because her grandson and 84-year-old mother required her constant attention. Costa said it invites local chefs for its China cruises and adds more extensive retail space. The company, which still keeps an Italian flavor to its voyages, said about 85 percent of its passenger accommodation is in family cabins for China cruises.
Tailoring ships to win over Chinese seafarers may provide an advantage to local cruise lines that can adapt quickly to the rapidly changing tastes of Chinese consumers, said Yu Dunde, CEO of Chinese online travel booking service Tuniu Corp.
China has “too many similar offerings,” said Yu. “To win the market, you’ll have to differentiate through activities, you have to give people something that other cruises can’t.”
Companies are trying to diversify, with more ships departing from southern ports like Guangzhou and Xiamen into the warmer waters of the South China Sea for the winter market.
China’s own operators and shipyards are also entering the market for big cruise ships. Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corp., is working with Italian cruise shipbuilder Fincantieri SpA to build two vessels, worth approximately $1.5 billion, according to a memorandum signed in February. The ships will be delivered to a new China-based joint venture between Carnival, CSSC and CIC Capital, and will be tailored for the Chinese market. The first, carrying about 4,000 passengers, is expected to be delivered around 2023 and the operator also has an option for four more.
The Shanghai shipyard said the order is a substantial step forward that brings local builders closer to their dream of having a cruise vessel made in China.
But for both local and foreign operators, the waters around China have become increasingly risky due to the region’s politics. Both Royal Caribbean Cruises and Costa scrapped calls to South Korean ports in March for their cruises departing from China amid escalating tensions between the two countries over the deployment of a U.S. Thaad missile defense system.
China has had similar brushes with Japan and its Southeast Asian neighbors over disputed islands.
Those risks aren’t deterring the expansion of the industry. Cruise lines are already looking to the largely untapped market of potential cruisers in China’s inland cities, a market that is becoming more accessible as the nation builds more airports and high-speed railways.
“They just can’t ignore a broader market beyond the coastal regions” Yu said. “If they can extend the market to the hinterland, then the number of cruise travelers could grow from millions to tens of millions.”

Royal Caribbean Commits to Cuba Through 2019

Royal Caribbean Commits to Cuba Through 2019

Royal Caribbean Commits to Cuba Through 2019
PHOTO: Royal Caribbean International's Empress of the Seas. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
After the initial success of Empress of the Seas’ arrival in Cuba, Royal Caribbean International has announced its expansion of the ship’s calls to Havana as far out as 2019.
“Since arriving in Cuba for the first time last month, we’ve seen the excitement of our guests when sailing into Havana and the passion they have for the city at sail away – its people, its architecture, its food, its music. This is the enthusiasm we strive to bring to adventure-seekers who vacation with us,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International, in a press release.
“The positive reaction to our Cuba sailings is very encouraging, and we are thrilled to expand on the number of sailings for our 2018-2019 itineraries.”
The ship will sail a new batch of 58 four- and five-night itineraries from January 2018 through March 2019, 28 of which will feature an overnight in the Cuban capital of Havana.
Empress of the Seas currently cruises from Tampa, Florida through November 4, 2017, and will next return to Miami, Florida to depart for Royal Caribbean’s Coco Cay private island and Nassau, The Bahamas for the winter 2017-2018 season.
By summer 2018, the ship will be back in Tampa heading to Key West, Florida, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico, plus Havana, Cuba on most voyages. For the winter 2018-2019 season, it will leave from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Cuba is also featured on board the Empress of the Seas thanks to cortaditos and cafe con leche in Cafe Royal, plus salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge. The 48,563-ton ship accommodates 1,602 guests in 795 staterooms across 11 decks.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

AmaWaterways to launch ‘biggest river cruise vessel’ in Europe in 2019

AmaWaterways to launch ‘biggest river cruise vessel’ in Europe in 2019

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AmaWaterways is to launch the ‘biggest river cruise vessel’ in Europe in 2019.

The ship will be twice as wide as standard river cruise vessels and accommodate 194 passengers.

The ship will sail the Danube with itineraries released by the end of the month.

President Rudi Schreiner said the ship, which will be called AmaMagna, would have more facilities and ocean style cabins.

The announcement was in Amsterdam during a week-long sailing on the line’s newest ship AmaKristina which was sailing a Rhine River itinerary from Basel to Amsterdam.

AmaWaterways was set-up in 2002 by husband and wife team Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst and Jimmy Murpy.

The cruise line has 20 ships and is expected to launch another five by 2019. It runs cruises around the world, including Europe, Asia and Africa.

The company set-up a UK office in Guildford last year headed up by cruise industry veteran Stuart Perl. Previously, it had been represented by Fred Olsen Travel since 2008.

Ama also has a partnership with APT which has chartered its ships since 2006 for its luxury cruises.

The ship will have multiple dining options including an al fresco glass-enclosed restaurant, an open-water sports platform, with zodiac boats, canoes and recreational equipment. Construction for the new began on March 6.

Schreiner made the announcement during a Rhine sailing on the line’s newest ship AmaKristina.

“As the luxury river cruise market continues to grow, we want to carry on as the leader in industry innovation,” he said.

“While this new double-width concept has been on the table for some time, we believe, given the unique demand that exists, that now is the perfect moment to introduce this style of ship.

“AmaMagna will provide guests with generous personal space, the freedom of multiple dining choices and exceptional stateroom comfort. “Combining this with our award-winning cuisine, noteworthy shore excursions and remarkable onboard service, we feel this ship is a game-changer.”

AmaMagna will feature 97 staterooms – the majority of which will be over 300 square feet.

Additional amenities include a large heated sundeck swimming pool with whirlpool and sky bar, spa area with new treatments, a fitness room large enough for small group classes.

Check Out 2018's Blues and Rock-Themed Cruises

Check Out 2018's Blues and Rock-Themed Cruises

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Fans of blues and rock can head out to sea in 2018, simultaneously getting their musical groove and vacation on aboard three new themed cruises.
Cruise to the Edge 2018
Cruise to the Edge 2018 will be aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas for five nights from February 3-8. Prog-rock's biggest festival at sea will be hosted by YES as it sails from Tampa, Florida to Belize City, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico prior to returning.
There's also a complimentary pre-cruise party optional to guests.
Joining YES will be Marillion, Steve Hackett, Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Carl Palmer's ELP Legacy (honoring Keith Emerson and Greg Lake) and Marin Barre (of Jethro Tull), Saga, Anathema, Gong, Haken, Glass Hammer, Adrian Belew Power Trio, Lifesigns, Knifeworld, Stick Men with special guest violinist David Cross, Sound Of Contact, Moon Safari, IO Earth, Bad Dreams, Thank You Scientist and Baraka.
UK journalist and preeminent YES expert, Jon Kirkman, will also be joining the sailing.
Experiences onboard will include artist/cruiser photo experiences, Q&A sessions, theme nights and more. One main event will be CTTE Late Night Live with the opportunity to potentially jam with a headliner, watch fans and artists performing together, see a guest showcase or have your song selection played.
The Brilliance of the Seas beckons guests with a nine-deck atrium, glass-enclosed elevators, Solarium pool, Vitality Spa, rock-climbing wall and plenty of other venues and Prog Performances stages.
Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV
From February 26 to March 2, 2018, Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV will be presented by Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation, Joe Bonamassa and Sixthman aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade.
The four-day voyage will naturally showcase Bonamassa and others as the ship departs roundtrip from Miami, Florida to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“We’ve had a blast this year and we’ve had a blast every other year…There has been some great music this year and we will carry it on to next year,” said Bonamassa, in a press release.
Besides Bonamassa, set to perform across multiple onboard stages are Black Country Communion (Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian), Los Lobos, JJ Grey & Mofro, Ana Popovic, North Mississippi Allstars, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, The James Hunter Six, Matt Andersen, Kirk Fletcher & Josh Smith, Marcus King Band, Greyhounds, Toronzo Cannon, Larkin Poe, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, New Orleans Suspects, The Steepwater Band, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Jack Broadbent, The Bros. Landreth and Juzzie Smith.
More are expected to be announced.
The Norwegian Jade will be newly refurbished by the time the music festival kicks off with musical group collaborations, a Black Country Communion reunion, artist activities and lots of live performances. The ship itself will feature new restaurants, bars, lounges and updated interior design.
Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018
The Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018 is scheduled for five nights aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas roundtrip from Miami, Florida to Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee on February 11-16. The hard rock/heavy metal festival will additionally feature two pre-cruise parties.
Artists include Tesla, Queensr├┐che, Thunder, Lita Ford, Winger, British Lion featuring Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Doro, KIX, Y&T, Vixen, Great White, Beasto Blanco, LA Guns, The Pretty Maids, Lynch Mob, Firehouse, Loudness, Michael Sweet (of Stryper), The Quireboys, Tyketto, Dangerous Toys, Junkyard, Keel, Raven, Madam X, Rhino Bucket, John Corabi, Autograph, Lillian Axe, Rough Cutt, Mitch Malloy, The Iron Maidens, Kickin' Valentina, Jared James Nichols, Thee Rock 'N Roll Residency, Atomic Punks and more to be announced.
Hosting the cruise and moderating Q&As and other events will be Eddie Trunk and comedian Don Jamieson (VH1's "That Metal Show”), as well as radio host Nikki Blakk and Luc Carl (SiriusXM's "Hair Nation”). 
Additional activities will extend to artist photo-ops, Gong Show Karaoke, My Bloody Valentine Fantasy Ball, "So You Think You Can Shred" and Cooking with Rock Stars hosted by Lisa Tirone and more.
As a Voyager-class ship, Navigator of the Seas showcases the Royal Promenade and attractions such as a FlowRider surf simulator.

Disney doing Bermuda cruises next year

Disney doing Bermuda cruises next year

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Disney Cruise Line fans will have two new ports to try in 2018, when the line has itineraries scheduled to call in Bermuda and Quebec City.
The Disney Magic will sail from New York in the fall of 2018 on five-day sailings that include two full days in Bermuda and six-day sailings that include three days in Bermuda.
Seven-day itineraries will depart both New York and Quebec City, with visits scheduled at Saguenay and Baie-Comeau.
From New York, the Disney Magic will also make seven-day round trips to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, and Port Canaveral, where a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket plus complimentary round-trip transportation between the ship and the theme parks is included.

Viking Ra Unveils Its Egyptian Design and Itinerary

Viking Ra Unveils Its Egyptian Design and Itinerary

Viking Ra Unveils Its Egyptian Design and Itinerary
PHOTOS: Viking River Cruises' Viking Ra renderings. (photos courtesy of Viking Cruises)
Taking its cues from Viking River Cruises’ award-winning Viking Longships design, the line’s newest Viking Ra is coming to Egypt’s Nile River during March 2018.
Viking is completely gutting the recently acquired vessel and redesigning it in Scandinavian style as an intimate 48-guest, all-suite riverboat to sail a Pharaohs & Pyramids cruise-tour.
“Egypt is one of the most intriguing countries in the world, and it remains a top destination for many of our guests,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises, in a press release.
“For two decades, we have led the industry in river cruising with our innovative ship design and itineraries that bring our guests closer to the cultures of the world. We are committed to Egypt, and with the introduction of Viking Ra, we look forward to providing our award-winning service to our guests on the Nile – and to their experiencing this culturally rich region in the Viking way.”
The 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary will feature many points of interest, starting with a three-night first-class hotel stay in Cairo. Highlights there will include the Great Pyramids of Giza, the new Grand Egyptian Museum and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Then guests will fly to Luxor to explore the temples of Luxor and Karnak prior to boarding the Viking Ra for an 8-day roundtrip Nile River cruise.
The sailing will highlight Aswan and privileged access to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, along with tours of the Temple of Khnum in Esna, the Dendera Temple complex in Qena and a Nubian village.
The entire journey ends with a return flight to Cairo and an additional night stay. 
Like the Viking Longships’ heavenly nomenclature, Viking Ra is named after the Egyptian sun god. It also references Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his Ra and Ra II papyrus-reed boats. The riverboat is being designed by the same interior team behind the Scandinavian-styled Viking Longships, but it will also incorporate regional Arabic patterns as well.
24 suites will encompass three categories, each measuring in at 291 sq. ft. There will be 20 Veranda Suites, for example, with a full-size veranda off the living room and a French balcony off the bedroom. All private accommodations will include a hotel-style bed, luxurious linens, sofa, bathroom with shower, air conditioning and flat-screen televisions.
Onboard dining will extend to The Restaurant for three full daily meals of international and regional cuisine, as well as The Lounge and bar for drinks. Entertainment will focus on the destination in lieu of a casino, while Viking’s Culture Curriculum will feature an onboard Nubian evening event and even the chance to ride a camel. An expert Egyptologist will also lead all excursions ashore.
Unique to the Viking Ra from the Viking Longships are its pool and two jacuzzis as well as a spa.
The pool will be located at the back of the ship, while the pool and sun decks will also have plenty of shade under sails reminiscent of regional dhow ships and mashrabiya-like screens. Meanwhile, The Spa will offer massage services and other treatments.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Work starts on MSC Seaside's future Miami home

Work starts on MSC Seaside's future Miami home

A rendering of PortMiami's expanded and renovated Terminal F.

Construction has begun on PortMiami's Terminal F, which will be expanded and renovated to accommodate the MSC Seaside, a ship due to enter service next December. Terminal F will also be home to the MSC Divina.
Miami-Dade County is funding the $38 million project, which will enable the terminal to manage embarkation loads of up to 6,000 passengers, according to the county. The MSC Seaside will accommodate 4,140 passengers at double occupancy but will have a maximum of more than 5,000.
MSC Cruises said it has been "actively involved in the entire process of designing the new cruise terminal." Under an agreement between the county and MSC Cruises, the port was obligated to expand the terminal.
Planned enhancements include an expanded waiting area with seating for 1,500, a larger VIP waiting area for MSC Yacht Club passengers, an improved baggage-claim area and the implementation of technology for faster embarkation and disembarkation. 
The terminal is expected to be ready by Dec. 1 next year, just prior to the MSC Seaside's arrival in PortMiami on Dec. 21.

Fourth Oasis-class ship to be called Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean's new 170,000-square-foot terminal in Miami will be home to two Oasis-class ships.

Royal Caribbean's fourth Oasis-class ship will be called Symphony of the Seas and begin service in late 2018 from its new Crown of Miami terminal.
The 5,400-passenger ship will be joined at the new terminal by another Oasis-class ship, Allure of the Seas.
Since the debut of the Allure in 2010, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale has been the home of two Oasis-class ships and Miami none. The new 170,000-square-foot terminal in Miami is being built to accommodate the giant ships and to create an iconic presence at PortMiami, where Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has its global headquarters.
The Harmony of the Seas, now sailing from Port Everglades, presumably will remain there while the Oasis of the Seas continues at Port Canaveral, Fla. The Harmony entered service last spring.
The four Oasis-class ships would give Royal Caribbean the capacity to carry 21,600 passengers or more per week from the three Florida ports.
On Wednesday, Royal Caribbean also will announce an agreement with the government of the Bahamas allowing RCCL to build a pier at its Coco Cay private island in the Bahamas and make other upgrades.
In return, RCCL will expand a program for local vendors at Coco Cay, make a commitment to hire more Bahamians to work on ships and start a training program in the Bahamas for hospitality workers.

NCL terminal in Miami to expand

NCL terminal in Miami to expand

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Port of Miami

Norwegian Cruise Line will get an expanded terminal at PortMiami by 2020.
Under a proposal approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission, the existing terminals B and C at the port will be combined and a new Terminal B will be built. The two terminals will accommodate two 5,000 passenger ships at a time. 

The cost is expected to be about $100 million.

Already, MSC Cruises is renovating Terminal F for the arrival of its MSC Seaside and Royal Caribbean Cruises broke ground in March for a new Terminal A.

Carnival finalizes Grand Bahama cruise destination

Carnival finalizes Grand Bahama cruise destination

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Carnival Cruise Line signed a final agreement to build a cruise destination on Grand Bahama Island that it said will eventually host 1 million cruise passengers a year.

The long-anticipated agreement with the government of the Bahamas will give Carnival a major new destination for a dozen or more Carnival ships that homeport in Florida and various cities on the East Coast of the U.S.

Carnival will finance and operate the as-yet-unnamed destination on a secluded beach area on the eastern end of the island. Grand Bahamas' major city is Freeport.

Other Carnival Corp. brands such as Princess Cruises and Holland America Line have long had private islands in the Bahamas, as have competitors such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. MSC Cruises is building one near Bimini that is expected to open in 2018.

Carnival did not give a timetable for the completion of its project.

It said the new resort will be "the largest purpose-built cruise facility ever constructed in the Bahamas." Features will include a 1-mile stretch of beach; food, beverage and shopping outlets; a wide array of water-based amenities; and other recreational facilities. The port will feature a pier capable of accommodating two of Carnival's largest ships simultaneously.

Carnival did not put a specific price tag on the development but said it would be a "multimillion-dollar project" that will provide significant economic and employment benefits for the Bahamas.

MSC has said it plans to spend about $200 million to develop its Bimini destination.

At a signing ceremony, Carnival Corp. president and CEO Arnold Donald said, "When Ted Arison, the founder of Carnival and the modern-day cruise industry, embarked on his first cruise, it was to the Bahamas. From that day until now, the Bahamas continues to be one of the most strategic and important destinations for our company."

Some Bahamians have expressed concerns that the new destination is remote from Freeport and won't provide many jobs or opportunities for vendors.

Bahamian prime minister Perry Christie said the Carnival shore attraction "will create a new destination with a distinctive flavor and characteristics that offer the broadest Bahamian entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, representing another phase in the development of Grand Bahama as a viable tourist center."

The project is subject to a detailed public discussion process, environmental studies and permitting.