Monday, 20 November 2017

Contrasting calls on Royal Caribbean sailing

Contrasting calls on Royal Caribbean sailing

Labadee is situated on a mile-long peninsula, with the ocean on one side and a bay on the other. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas at Labadee’s concrete pier, built in 2009 to accommodate Oasis-class ships. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
By Tom Stieghorst
I recently had a chance to visit two of the Caribbean destinations developed at least in part by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. One, the Haitian private port of call of Labadee, exceeded my expectations. The other, in Falmouth, Jamaica, did not.
Both are big enough to accommodate the largest cruise ships in the world: Royal Caribbean International's Oasis class, which includes the hulking Harmony of the Seas, my transport to the two ports. Neither is devoid of interest. But for my money, Labadee is the more enjoyable of the two.

Part of it is simply a matter of time. Labadee has been around since 1986 and has had a chance to grow into itself. Its facilities don't look like they just came out of the box, as do those at Falmouth, opened in 2011.

Labadee is situated on a peninsula perhaps a mile or so in length, with the ocean on one side and a bay on the other. Forested mountains offer a backdrop. There is a stout pier built in 2009 to accommodate the Oasis-class ships, making it easy to go back and forth between the ship and the facilities.
The giant Labadee sign is a good spot to pose for photos. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
The giant Labadee sign is a good spot to pose for photos. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
The setting is quite attractive, more so than I expected. The bay side, in particular, has some beautiful, calm swimming beaches and is a natural spot for the rentable cabanas that have been installed along its shores. 

There are actually three distinct beaches on the bay side, which feels nicely sheltered and different from the ocean side. The Barefoot Beach Club area includes the cabanas close to the water. At least some are reserved for the use of Suite Class guests who shell out for the top-end suites on Royal ships.

It also has the more elaborate of two spa treatment areas at Labadee.
A bungalow at Columbus Cove. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
A bungalow at Columbus Cove. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
Nellie's Beach is somewhat similar. Columbus Cove, the largest of the three beaches and the most distant from the ship, is a good spot for families. It has a collection of inflatable floating slides and rafts offshore as well as the Dragon's Splash waterslide, a twisty, low-slung, blue metal slide that must look like it's worth every penny of its $27.50 daily cost to kids of a certain age, if not their parents.

One could easily make a day of it at Columbus Cove alone. There is a cafe, bars, restrooms, a trading post, beach chairs and a station for the island tram.

There is also a free one-way shuttle boat from the pier.

The tram operates on a sand road that forms the spine of the island and really makes it easier to get around, especially for guests who are older, have young kids or are not very mobile. I walked the length of the place to see it but was happy to hop the tram to go back.

One of the most pleasant parts of Labadee is that there's lots of shade provided by mature Australian pines, coconut palms and other trees. The walk from the ship along the pier was hot on a late October morning, but the rest of it was pretty breezy.

The ocean side of Labadee is protected by a reef, so the waves broke rather gently on shore when I was there. A promontory point anchors the crescent curve that at the far end becomes Adrenaline Beach, where there is a breakwater and daybed-style cabanas.
The Dragon’s Splash waterslide. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
The Dragon’s Splash waterslide. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
As for activities, personal watercraft, parasailing, kayaking and snorkelling are all available. There's a nicely done splash park for little kids and volleyball for adults. The star attraction is undoubtedly the five-line, 2,600-foot-long Dragon's Breath zipline that starts high atop an overlook and swoops over the ocean beach. It costs $95.75 per ride.
There's also the Dragon's Tail, a tracked coaster with two-person sledges that curves around the side of a steep, forested hill. It costs $19.75 for a five-minute ride.
Entertainment at Labadee includes Haitian musicians and dancers. There is an extensive Artisan's Village with native crafts of a somewhat higher calibre, I thought than those for sale at other Caribbean ports. Be prepared for a friendly but aggressive pitch.
Falmouth a port in progress
I left Labadee wanting to spend more time there. The next stop on the Harmony's itinerary at Falmouth left me feeling I'd seen it all in an hour.
The Harmony of the Seas looms over the buildings of the shopping village at the cruise port in Falmouth, Jamaica. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
The Harmony of the Seas looms over the buildings of the shopping village at the cruise port in Falmouth, Jamaica. Photo Credit: TW photo by Tom Stieghorst
The cruise port, developed by RCCL and the Jamaican government along with some partners, is a triangle jutting into the sea with two long wharves with new shops meant to mimic Falmouth's 18th-century Georgian architecture. There's a very healthy assortment of jewellery shops along with a large Margaritaville complex and not a lot of natural shade.Outside the gates of the triangle lies the town of Falmouth, which boomed in the late 18th and early 19th century as a slave market and sugar depot and thereafter fell into decay. Jamaica tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said there are efforts underway to restore some of the historical architecture, and a cab driver who took me to Montego Bay Airport confirmed they have started, but most of the town remains somewhat ramshackle.

Two showcases of the Georgian era, the courthouse and the Anglican church, fit squarely in the colonial style of much of the Caribbean, and I was mildly disappointed that the quality wasn't as high as in some American colonial villages, much less the London originals on which they are based.

Beyond the gates, there are vendors and would-be tour guides trying to drum up business, but I didn't find them as aggressive as some reports might suggest. On the whole, however, a first-time visitor to Falmouth might be better off taking the excursion to Ocho Rios rather than hanging around in town.

Curacao opens second cruise pier

Curacao opens second cruise pier


Adventure of the seas

The Curacao Ports Authority has opened Tula Pier, the second cruise pier in Curacao.
Tula Pier is in the Otrabanda area west of St. Anna Bay. The second pier was built to keep pace with increasing cruise calls and to accommodate the cruise industry's largest ships.
For the first call, more than 3,000 passengers arrived at the pier on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas on Nov. 13.

Carnival increases capacity for short cruises

Carnival increases capacity for short cruises

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Carnival Cruise Line will raise the number of cabins devoted to short cruises out of Galveston and New Orleans in 2019.
It will send the 2,974-passenger Carnival Valor to New Orleans and the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream to Galveston, representing capacity increases of 10% and 22%, respectively, for the four- and five-day itineraries there.
In Galveston, the Carnival Dream replaces the Valor and will join the Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista, which repositions to Galveston in fall 2018.
The Valor will swing to New Orleans to replace the Carnival Triumph, which will be repositioned to a port to be determined.
Four-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Cozumel. Five-day voyages depart Mondays and Saturdays, calling at Cozumel and Progreso. Some five-day itineraries from Galveston feature Cozumel and Costa Maya.
The Carnival Dream recently underwent a refurbishment that added Guy's Pig and Anchor Bar-B-Que, the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, the BlueIguana Cantina Mexican restaurant and the full-service Bonsai Sushi restaurant.
Valor last year added Guy's Burger Joint, the Caribbean-themed RedFrog Pub, SkyBox sports bar, an Alchemy Bar and the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Carnival Corp. to proceed cautiously with Ocean Medallion

Carnival Corp. to proceed cautiously with Ocean Medallion

Arnold Donald, left, with Travel Weekly's Arnie Weissmann at CruiseWorld. Photo Credit: Creative Focus
FORT LAUDERDALE -- Carnival Corp. is taking a slow approach to introducing Ocean Medallion technology, making sure it works right and is delivering the services that customers really want, CEO Arnold Donald said Friday at Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld.
Speaking to travel agents at the conference, Donald said the technology is so transformational that Carnival Corp. doesn't want to create a future shock for past passengers.
The Ocean Medallion is a wearable disc that can be worn as a pendant, wristband or clip. Besides functioning as a stateroom key and streamlining the boarding process, the device is billed as a "personal concierge." When used in tandem with the Ocean Compass app, the Ocean Medallion will enable passengers to make dinner reservations, order drinks to be delivered where they are located, receive excursion invitations based on interests, and play casino games anywhere on the ship.
"We've got to be really intelligent about how we introduce this because it's different," Donald said.
Carnival Corp. did a multimillion-dollar upgrade of the Regal Princess' terminal at Port Everglades to create a new embarkation experience. "When guests walk through that terminal, it doesn't feel like what they're used to, so we want to manage all the unintended reactions," Donald said.The first ship to have the Ocean Medallion, Princess Cruises' Regal Princess, was to offer it on the entire 3,560-passenger ship starting Nov. 13, but the rollout has been scaled back to select guests and groups.
The MedallionNet rapid Internet service, which is in use on the whole ship, is drawing rave reviews, Donald said.
Carnival Corp. is targeting the 2018 first quarter for a wider introduction of the Ocean Medallion. "The guests will decide what they want, how they want it when they want it. That's why we're introducing it slowly to make sure we get it right because it's truly transformational," Donald said.
Carnival is also moving deliberately on developing a new $200 million beach destination in Grand Bahama. Donald said Carnival signed a deal to build the destination just before a change in government in the Bahamas.
"We're working closely with the new government to make sure we've got the right location, the right development concepts and that it will work for the locals," Donald said. "It's not just a matter of building a destination, but building a destination that's woven through the local community. We hope to have that destination completed in the next few years, but it is a process."
Donald was also asked why Carnival sells through warehouse club Costco, which uses gift cards convertible to cash as a rebate when club members buy cruises
"I don't have an easy answer for any of these big-scale folks that go low-cost," Donald responded. "You have to match up your business where it really will compete effectively."
He said agents that provide personal service and client understanding will not suffer from bottom-feeder competition, but he said Carnival will look at the issue. "We would prefer to see strong pricing," he said. "There's no big reason to be discounting today."

Azamara Pursuit to be christened in Southampton

Azamara Pursuit to be christened in Southampton

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Azamara Club Cruises’ new ship Azamara Pursuit will be christened in Southampton after agents helped to double the usual sales from the UK market.

It will be the first time the brand has christened a ship, as both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest went straight into service after refit when purchased.

Neither ship has a godmother.

The decision to christen Azamara Pursuit in the UK comes after the ship received double the demand of bookings from the UK market than its sister ships achieve.

The brand put the success down to the “speedy response of the trade” in pushing marketing messages to their customers and to a surge of interest from fans of P&O Cruises’ Adonia (the name of the ship before it changes hands to Azamara).

Azamara chief operating office Carol Cabezas said there would be “strong representation from UK agents and media” at the christening and two-night celebratory cruise.

She said: “This ship has a very strong British heritage and it has a fantastic following here. Plus we have seen a tremendous amount of demand from the UK audience – the general sourcing has doubled in Pursuit against the normal UK contribution.”

“We’ve never had a christening in our brand’s history and we want to do that in Southampton.”

After being revamped, the ship will leave the dry dock for Barcelona on August 3 to sail to Southampton. When it reaches the British port, it will sail on an Icelandic itinerary before returning to Southampton to be christened on August 28.

UK managing director Richard Twynam applauded how quickly key partners “jumped on board” with Pursuit. He particularly referenced the work of Bolsover Cruise Club and Reader Offers.

“Bolsover had a huge Adonia base and that’s been brilliant,” he said. “And Reader Offers has created some beautiful and extremely clever print marketing campaigns around our deployment announcements.”

The search for the ship’s godmother is underway, but Cabezas said it would be a woman who embodied the line’s love of destinations and travel.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Celebrity building the Flora, a small ship for Galapagos cruises

Celebrity building the Flora, a small ship for Galapagos cruises

The Celebrity Flora will debut in May 2019.
FORT LAUDERDALE -- Celebrity Cruises has designed a new ship for use in the Galapagos, a rare newbuild in the market and at 100 passengers the smallest ship parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has ever built.
Celebrity president Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said that only in a market with such high demand and limited supply would the economics of building a ship of that size make sense for a brand like Celebrity.
"On a per-berth basis, it's really hard to get a return on these ships," Lutoff-Perlo said. "The Galapagos is different."
The Vista will be the Flora's top-deck area.
The Vista will be Flora's top-deck area.
The number of ships that can operate in the Galapagos is restricted by the Ecuadoran government and the size is limited to 100 passengers or less, so prices tend to be relatively high.
A seven-night Galapagos cruises on the Celebrity Xpedition is listed on Celebrity's website starting at $4,399 per person.,
The news was announced at CruiseWorld, Travel Weekly's conference here.
The new ship, named Celebrity Flora, will be built in a Dutch shipyard and debut in May 2019. Lutoff-Perlo declined to say how much it will cost but said it is a fraction of Celebrity's bigger ships.
The Celebrity Flora will take over itineraries now offered on the 100-passenger Xpedition, which will take on itineraries of two smaller ships, the 48-passenger Celebrity Xperience and the 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration. The two small ships will likely be sold, Lutoff-Perlo said.
A rendering of the Darwin Deck Bar on the Celebrity Flora.
A rendering of the Darwin Deck Bar on the Celebrity Flora.
Although it will carry the same number of passengers, the Flora will be twice the size of the Xpedition, allowing for more features. "We're able to do more outdoor spaces and more public space for our guests," Lutoff-Perlo said.
It will have a small pool, which Xpedition does not, and two restaurants and two lounges, where Xpedition has one each. There will be more crew space so the Flora will have one naturalist for every 12 guests, up from a 1:16 ratio on Xpedition.
Opting for a new ship enabled Celebrity to design storage space in the hull for three Zodiac boats that are stored on deck on the Xpedition. The Flora's two 1,288-square-foot Penthouse suites will be the largest in the Galapagos.
The design of the ship will be consistent with the new Celebrity Edge and other larger Celebrity ships, but with an emphasis on the neutral, natural and organic, Lutoff-Perlo said. Lounges, suites and restaurants will have floor-to-ceiling windows to facilitate wildlife viewing.
The Flora will be the smallest ship ever built by Celebrity parent RCCL.
The Flora will be the smallest ship ever built by Celebrity parent RCCL.
About 50% of the accommodations will incorporate the virtual balcony concept that will debut on the Celebrity Edge.
Celebrity's emphasis on facing out toward the ocean will be reflected in all beds being positioned to face a window.
The top deck will have four stick-style cabanas that will be available for day rental and for sleeping out on deck under the stars.
Celebrity Flora will sail year-round from Baltra Island. Bookings open today.

NCL moving final-payment deadline to 120 days before departure

NCL moving final-payment deadline to 120 days before departure

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Artists impression of the Norwegian Bliss.

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Norwegian Cruise Line will advance the deadline for final payment on its cruises from 90 days to 120 days before departure, said Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Details about which cruises would be subject to the 120-day deadline and when the policy will be implemented are forthcoming.
The move means consumers will have to pay in full faster and is likely a reflection of the strong seller's market for cruising that developed in 2017. The 120-day deadline already applies to Garden Villa and Haven accommodations.
Del Rio, who revealed the news at Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld on Wednesday, told hundreds of travel agents that they will benefit directly from the decision.
"It's great for both of us," Del Rio said. "It locks in the customer early. You get your payment 30 days earlier, and it helps you with your cash flow. We think it's wonderful for our agent community that you get to collect on your hard work 30 days earlier."
Norwegian Cruise Line established the 90-day deadline in January 2016.
In a Q&A with Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, Del Rio was asked if he wants to acquire any more of the eight former Renaissance Cruises ships for Oceania Cruises, which already has four (Insignia, Regatta, Nautica and Sirena).
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Azamara Club Cruises, a competitor owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., recently acquired a third former Renaissance ship (P&O Cruises' Adonia, to be renamed Azamara Pursuit). Del Rio said he hopes Azamara gets the one remaining (currently sailing for Princess Cruises as the Pacific Princess).
"It won't be us," he said. "We're happy with our four and we're happy with our Riviera and Marina ships. But the next introduction for Oceania will likely be a whole new concept we're working on."
Turning to Cuba, Del Rio said there's no doubt that the market has rewarded Norwegian's decision to use its four-day cruise from Miami to provide two full days and an overnight in Havana.
"The booking curve for a four-day cruise now looks more like a seven-day cruise to Alaska or to Europe. People are booking it way in advance, and therefore the prices have risen. It is now profitable for you to sell four-day cruises where it wasn't before," Del Rio said.
Norwegian next year will devote a second ship, the Norwegian Sun sailing from Port Canaveral, to a Havana itinerary. "That gives you an idea of how important, how profitable, Cuba is to us," he said.

MSC Cruises’ first Meraviglia-Plus ship to be named MSC Grandiosa

MSC Cruises’ first Meraviglia-Plus ship to be named MSC Grandiosa

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MSC Cruises has announced that its first Meraviglia-Plus class ship will be named MSC Grandiosa when it enters service in November 2019.

The announcement was made by MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, as the line celebrated the steel-cutting ceremony for the ship as well as the traditional coin ceremony for MSC Bellissima, which is due to join the fleet in March 2019.

In addition to the two ships now under construction at the STX France shipyard, MSC also has two ships being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, as part of a 10-year investment plan which will see €9 billion invested in 11 new ships.

Vago said: “Today we are celebrating a truly unique moment, as it is the first time that key shipbuilding milestones for two different ships are celebrated on the same day. This is a testimony of the strength and ambition of our investment plan.”

He added: “The Meraviglia generation of ships is already setting a new standard for the cruise industry and is just one of the three brand new prototypes that we have designed to bring the cruise guest experience to the next level.

“MSC Grandiosa is named to signify magnificence and grandeur, a fitting name for this even richer, ultra-modern mega-ship.”

In addition to the first fine art museum at sea, MSC Grandiosa will be one of four MSC ships to feature Cirque du Soleil at Sea in the custom-built Carousel Lounge, Vago said.

The Meraviglia-Plus ships are an evolution of the Meraviglia class (pictured), which includes MSC Meraviglia – in service since June of this year – and MSC Bellissima.

The Plus class will be 331 metres in length, compared to the Meraviglia class at 315 metres, and will have a maximum capacity of 6,334 guests.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Spectrum of the Seas to Drive Chinese Demand

Spectrum of the Seas to Drive Chinese Demand

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Sunshine of the Seas pictured above.

When the new Spectrum of the Seas debuts in China in 2019, the Quantum-ultra class vessel will have features that should drive demand in the Chinese market, according to Dr. Zinan Liu, president China and North Asia-Pacific, Royal Caribbean International.
Liu said announcements would follow in the coming months. He continues to be bullish on the Chinese cruise market.
"Frankly speaking in the past two years, there have been some issues, even setbacks in the Chinese market," Liu said. "The industry ebbs and flows, that is business law. The industry won't redefine the laws of economics, we have to follow the pattern of supply and demand.
"Personally, I am not very concerned about the recent weakening," Liu continued, in a speech at China Cruise Shipping.
"When the price drops, some companies may choose to exit. When the market thrives, newcomers join the ranks. That is the result of supply and demand. Leading cruise lines are adjusting their capacity as to maximize the return on investment."
Among areas of concern, he said, was port development to keep up with a growing cruise fleet. As well as continuing a path of sustainable development. Other challenges include offering more diverse itineraries, as well as better shore excursions.
Liu said excursions for the Chinese cruise guest have been dominated by shopping trips, and the company is now working to add more cultural offerings for the 2018 season.

Senate bill would tax cruise line income

Senate bill would tax cruise line income



A little-noticed provision of the Senate's tax reform legislation introduced last week would partly repeal an exemption from U.S. income tax that the cruise industry has enjoyed for decades.
The Senate's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act addresses sections 873 and 883 of the tax code that provides for reciprocal exemption from income taxes for foreign corporations in the ocean shipping business.
All of the major cruise lines are legally incorporated in foreign nations such as although they maintain their principal headquarters in the United States.
The bill "creates a category of income defined as passenger cruise gross income," according to a summary by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. "As a result, effectively connected passenger cruise income is subject to net basis taxation," the analysis said.
"Effectively connected passenger cruise income" is defined as the part of a voyage that occurs in U.S. territorial waters 12 miles from shore. It essentially applies to the embarkation and disembarkation days of cruises that leave from U.S. ports on ships owned by foreign corporations.
Cruise lines currently pay income taxes on land-based activities that occur in the U.S., such as excursions in Alaska, but it is a minor share of their overall income.
The cruise tax provision is detailed on the second-to-last page of the 247-page analysis under the heading "Other Provisions."
Stock analysts attributed a swoon in cruise shares on Friday to investor discovery of the provision. Shares of Carnival Corp. closed down 2.3% on Friday, while shares of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fell 1.9% and shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings sank 2.9%.
Analysts pointed out that the shape of a final tax bill in the Senate is far from set, and the House tax bill currently does not change the tax treatment of cruise shipping income for foreign corporations or nonresident owners.

Royal Caribbean has big technology ideas, some close to reality

Royal Caribbean has big technology ideas, some close to reality

Royal Caribbean's vision of the inside cabin of the future, with virtual balcony.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- On the cruise of the future, check-in counters, guest services desks and in-room phones will be relics, replaced by facial recognition, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) last week showcased the various ways that passengers on its three brands -- Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises -- will experience technological innovations going forward, some much sooner than others. 
Passengers on some Royal Caribbean cruises this year (the Oasis and the Allure of the Seas) will be able to check in, order drinks and reserve shore excursions and dinner reservations on their smartphones, using the cruise company's new app, which will debut this year on 13% of the line's ships, half of the fleet in 2018 and on 100% of its ships by 2019.
The app, the first consumer-facing piece of the Excalibur technology initiative, is for passengers to do tasks they would normally do at the guest services desk or from their stateroom phone, in addition to checking into the cruise, tracking their luggage, opening cabin doors and texting fellow passengers. 
RCCL also demonstrated the evolution of "smart staterooms," which Royal Caribbean International president Michael Bayley said allows the room to "take care of the guest."
On display was a Sky Suite, one of the cabin categories on the upcoming Celebrity Edge, which will have some of the features of smart speaker systems like Amazon's Alexa. Guests will be able to make some commands, such as having the lights turn off and shades close by simply saying, "Computer, good night," and a "good morning" command in the morning to turn them back on.  Passengers also will be able to control all of the room's lighting, temperature and the shades using their smartphones or a control panel on the wall, including preset options like "movie" which will close the shades and turn down the lights for optimal movie watching.
As the technology gets better, Bayley said, passengers could be lying in bed and announce that they'd like a coffee, which will then be ordered.
Many of the ideas RCCL showcased are still just that, ideas that may or may not make their way onto ships. One is a "virtual restaurant" experience where passengers put on VR masks while they are eating. Diners would enjoy Japanese food while looking at cherry blossoms in Kyoto.
Another is RCCL's vision for the inside cabin of the future, in which high-definition videos create the illusion not only of a real balcony with the ocean going by outside -- complete with the appropriate weather -- but a screen on the floor that shows the sea below and a moonroof ceiling that opens to the "sky."

Thursday, 9 November 2017

How will Virgin Voyages navigate adults-only cruising?

How will Virgin Voyages navigate adults-only cruising?

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Built to carry more than 2,700 passengers at double occupancy, Virgin Voyages ships will be the largest that won't cater to families.
The line said last week that it won't book passengers under age 18. Virgin Voyages is due to launch its first ship in 2020.
"We have seen it work successfully with Viking Ocean's 18-plus policy," said Vicky Garcia, COO of Cruise Planners. "Also, on the land side, there are many adults-only resort models that work well when targeted so that the clients know what to expect."
Most cruise lines that sail with children have an area of the ship that is adults-only, such as the Solarium on Royal Caribbean International's largest ships, the Sanctuary on Princess Cruises and the Serenity areas on Carnival Cruise Line.
"Virgin Voyages is looking to attract those who probably are averse to cruising because of their impression that cruising is too focused on kids and families, with water slides, rock climbing and such," Garcia said.
While Virgin could be going after a "party-hearty" demographic, several mainstream cruise lines fill that niche already, especially in the short-cruise segment.
Virgin's plan calls for seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami on its first ship.
Some expect Virgin to be aimed at the more sophisticated and lucrative end of the singles/couples continuum. 
"I'm foreseeing a very South Beach-style vibe that will attract new-to-cruise passengers," Garcia said. "It's hard to know exactly what other vacations their target is currently aimed at, but the brand's focus on the yacht-like design is unique and super sexy."
The first renderings of the Virgin ships' exterior design demonstrated some of Branson's typical flair.
The ship's colours will be silver-grey with red accents, including a red funnel. The aft below the promenade deck will be red with the familiar Virgin logo in large white letters centred in the middle.
Virgin also unveiled an image specific to Virgin Voyages: a sexy mermaid with blonde hair and a red tail trailing a flowing Virgin banner in one hand. The mermaid will appear at a modest size on the side of the ship's bow in line with the bridge.
Virgin said the mermaid was inspired by figureheads on historical vessels and was designed by the London-based artist Toby Tinsley.
The overall shape of the vessel shares some angles and features with recent Fincantieri designs, such as MSC Cruises' upcoming MSC Seaside and Norwegian Cruise Line's Project Leonardo ships.
Renderings show a broad promenade at the aft contrasting with a slim tower of upper decks and a bow with a strong vertical aspect. Virgin said that 86% of all cabins will feature a balcony, and 93% will offer an ocean view.
Virgin has begun accepting $500 refundable deposits that will enrol prospective passengers in a presale that takes place before Virgin Voyages goes on sale to the public.

Venice to Ban Large Cruise Ships From City Center

Venice to Ban Large Cruise Ships From City Center

MSC Divina in Venice
PHOTO: Large cruise ships will be banned from docking in Venice by 2021. (photo via Flickr/Martin Cooper)
Venice has taken action against cruise ships in a move that isn't likely to sit well with future passengers.
According to The Independent, an Italian government committee has ruled to ban cruise ships over 60,000 tons from docking in the city centre by the year 2021.
Instead, the large ships will bypass the Grand Canal and St. Mark's Square for the mainland at Marghera, a destination that pales in comparison to the photogenic Venice.
The controversial decision comes in the wake of concerns expressed by both locals and activists that the vessels are harming the city's historical infrastructure as well as the environment.
Venice hosts approximately 30 million tourists annually, according to CNN. While the large cruise ships that enter the city represent a key driver of its tourism-based economy, Venice's 50,000 or so residents have warned that the city can't withstand all the attention.
"We want it to be clear to UNESCO and the whole world that we have a solution," said Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro via The Guardian. "This takes into account all the jobs created by the cruise industry, which we absolutely couldn’t afford to lose, and we can start to work seriously on planning cruises."
Ships under the specified mass will continue to travel along the iconic Zattere waterfront and into Venice's city centre.
While 99 percent of Venetians who voted in an unofficial referendum this past June supported the ban, not everyone is optimistic about the committee's ruling.
Activist Tommasso Cacciari of the No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships) protest group told The Guardian that the "declaration means nothing."
"They haven't found a solution, there is no plan—basically, nothing will change. They say the largest ships will go to Marghera—but where will they put them?" he asked. "They say all of this will be done within four years, but even projects in Dubai do not get completed in that space of time."
Cacciari also argued that the ban won't quell environment concerns.
This week's decision comes four years after authorities banned ships over 105,000 tons from sailing through the city. That ban was subsequently overturned in 2015.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Lindblad orders expedition ship with inverted bow

Lindblad orders expedition ship with inverted bow


Lindblad Expeditions Holdings ordered an expedition ship from Norwegian shipyard Ulstein Group for delivery in 2020, with an option for two more vessels.
The ship will have 69 cabins, including 12 for solo travellers, giving it a capacity of 126 passengers. Of the cabins, 75% will have balconies.
A core feature is Ulstein's signature X-BOW, a bow that increases fuel efficiency while significantly improving guest comfort in rough seas. The ship will have a very high ice class, allowing for access deep into polar regions, Lindblad said.
A rendering of the ship shows a more contemporary design than the two most recent ships Lindblad ordered from the Nichols Bros. shipyard in Washington.
"We are incredibly excited to be working with Ulstein and their brilliant team of engineers and designers on this state-of-the-art vessel as we continue the expansion of our fleet. It is the next step in the long-term growth of the company, and will be the most extraordinary global expedition ship in the world on a multitude of levels," said Lindblad CEO Sven-Olof Lindblad.

Hurricanes cost Royal Caribbean $55M, but Q3 profit still rises

Hurricanes cost Royal Caribbean $55M, but Q3 profit still rises

Royal Caribbean's three Oasis-class ships.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. reported an 8.6% increase in third-quarter net profit despite costs from the most destructive hurricane season in its history.
Net income rose to $752.8 million from $693.3 million. If not for five hurricanes in September, including two in the Pacific, Royal Caribbean said that net profit would have been $55 million more.
"That made it by far the most expensive hurricane season in our 45-year history," chairman Richard Fain said in a conference call with analysts.
Royal Caribbean said strong close-in demand for cruises in July and August and higher onboard spending helped it offset hurricane-related costs and lost revenue from cancelled cruises and a decrease in bookings.
Fain said demand fell "precipitously" during September, both for cruises that month and for future bookings. The softness lasted about six weeks but bookings for virtually all itineraries are back to normal now, Fain said.
Fain said he thinks that travellers have become "inured" to disruptions such as hurricanes or terror attacks so that they are affecting booking patterns for shorter time periods than in the past.
Royal Caribbean said its forecast of adjusted full-year earnings of up to $1.59 billion still holds.
In the third quarter, revenue advanced slightly to $2.57 billion from $2.56 billion a year earlier.  Onboard revenue was up 5%, led by increases in internet usage and shore excursions.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

P&O’s Arcadia and Oceana to undergo refits before Christmas

P&O’s Arcadia and Oceana to undergo refits before Christmas

Image result for P&O Arcadia
P&O Arcadia.


Two P&O Cruises ships are to undergo multi-million-pound refits before Christmas.

Hospitality interior design practice, RPW Design, has been drafted in to support the updating of adults-only ship Arcadia. Cabins, suites, public areas, bars, main dining restaurants and fine dining venues are to be revamped.

Oceana will enter dry dock in Hamburg at the end of November to be updated and refreshed.

Arcadia, which entered service in 2005, will undergo its refit in Hamburg this autumn in preparation for Christmas and a 99-night world cruise which departs Southampton on January 9, 2018.

Arcadia’s first cruise after its refit will be a three-night Belgium cruise from Southampton on November 15.

Work to Oceana, which joined the P&O Cruises fleet from Princess Cruises in 2002, includes refurbished youth spaces with improved entertainment equipment, new soft play equipment, revised nursery space and an updated area for teenagers.

Image result for P&O Oceana

The Terrace Bar will gain refurbished hot tubs as well as a new canopy over a swimming pool which will extend out to cover the bar.

Following its refit, Oceana will embark on a 12-night Canary Islands and Portugal cruise from Southampton on December 17.

P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said “We continually invest in our ships in order to create a contemporary and comfortable environment while still keeping the unique character and key features that our guests know and love.

“Those traveling on Arcadia and Oceana can look forward to new design concepts and improvements to comfort while still enjoying the incomparable service that characterises a P&O Cruises holiday.”