Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Virgin Voyages unveils details of first cruise ship

Virgin Voyages unveils details of first cruise ship

Image result for virgin voyages cruise ship


Virgin Voyages has revealed its first cruise ship will be adult-only.

The decision to not allow children on board was taken after consulting travel professionals and “future sailors” – Virgin’s term for passengers.

Virgin Voyages three-ship fleet will be known as the “Lady Ships”, a play on the term “your ladyship”, which the line said was a nod to British heritage.

The ship’s design, which was unveiled at a keel-laying ceremony at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Genoa, Italy, today (Tuesday), will feature a silvery-grey hull, with smoked glass and splashes of red, while a mermaid design will feature on the bow of the ship.

The first vessel is due to be delivered in 2020.

Group founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages president and chief executive, Tom McAlpin, arrived at the ceremony via a 200-foot crane drop.

Staying true to its promise of breaking with tradition, the line is calling cabins with balconies “sea terraces” and passengers will be referred to as “sailors”.

McAlpin said: “Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between.”
A mermaid image with the Virgin logo will adorn the

Customers and travel partners can place a $500 refundable deposit for access to a pre-sale before Virgin Voyages goes on general sale.

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal getting upgrades

Brooklyn Cruise Terminal getting upgrades


The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the New York City home for Princess Cruises and Cunard Line ships, will get $17.2 million in upgrades.
The funds will go toward building a new apron up to 500 feet long, a passenger viaduct and two new gangways. They will also pay for the design and implementation of a high-capacity wireless network at the terminal, according to an announcement from the New York City Economic Development Corp. and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
Adams said $2.2 million in capital grants will be provided by the city and another $15 million will come from Ports America, the private operator selected to run the terminal in May.
New York picked Ports America to run both the Manhattan and Brooklyn cruise terminals through 2029. As part of the agreement, Ports America has agreed to invest $38.5 million in capital improvements at both terminals.

World's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, nearing completion

World's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, nearing completion

The exterior of Royal Caribbean's soon-to-debut Symphony
Symphony of the Seas

The giant is almost ready. 
New photos from the shipyard building Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas — the largest cruise ship ever — show the vessel rapidly approaching the finishing stages of construction. 
As seen in the carousel above, the new images of the 230,000-ton ship show an exterior now gleaming with a finishing coat of paint and work well under way on outdoor decks including the Boardwalk amusement zone. Boardwalk will be home to a classic carousel, diner, rock climbing walls, the base of a nine-deck-high slide and more. 
Another highlight of the Boardwalk area, an "aqua theater" that will boast daring high-diving and aerial performances, also can be seen nearing completion in the photos.
Royal Caribbean revealed earlier this month that Symphony would be ready weeks ahead of schedule. Now debuting in March instead of April, the vessel has been under construction for more than two years at the giant STX France shipbuilding facility in St. Nazaire, France.
Symphony was floated out from a dry dock at STX France in June, a construction milestone that marked the end of basic exterior work. It is now undergoing months of finishing work to its interior.
Image result for symphony of the Seas float out
Behold the largest cruise ship ever built, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas. USA TODAY
Symphony will be more than 3,000 tons bigger than the current size leader in the cruise world, Royal Caribbean's 226,963-ton Harmony of the Seas. Like Harmony, Symphony will be part of Royal Caribbean's record-breaking Oasis Class of ships, though it won't be an exact copy of its sisters. Royal Caribbean has unveiled several new features for the vessel including a first-of-its-kind, two-deck-high family suite with a slide between floors.
Symphony is scheduled to sail to the Caribbean out of Miami starting in November 2018. It'll move to the city after spending its first few months operating voyages in the Mediterranean.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Mariner of the Seas getting massive makeover

Mariner of the Seas getting massive makeover

Mariner of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International plans a major improvement in its short-cruise product, starting with a massive makeover of the 14-year-old Mariner of the Seas.
Speaking to a conference of Cruise One/Dream Vacations and Cruises Inc. agents aboard the Harmony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean president Michael Bayley said the line will spend over $100 million on the ship.
Plans call for a six-week drydock in Cadiz, Spain, in March and April. Bayley said it is the most money Royal Caribbean has ever spent renovating a ship.
"I'm calling it a modernization, not a refurbishment," Bayley said. "We're going to be adding concepts and redoing concepts," he said.
When the work is finished, the 3,114-passenger Mariner will sail three- and four-day cruises from Miami. The ship is currently sailing in Asia.
The move will coincide with the June 2018 opening of the newly constructed dock at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas, which will play a major role in the Mariner's itineraries.
Bayley hinted there is more reinvestment yet to be disclosed. "It is attached to the Mariner and it is attached to the idea of boosting up the shore experience," he said.
He said that the combined ship-shore package will be a "game changer" in the short-cruise market.
In May 2016, the Empress of the Seas started sailing short cruises after a $50 million renovation. That ship is now doing four-, five- and six-day cruises from Tampa on Caribbean itineraries that include Cuba.
The only other cruise line to spend more than $100 million in a single refurbishment was Carnival, which refitted the Carnival Destiny and renamed it the Carnival Sunshine in 2013 at a cost of $155 million. 

Carnival devotes more resources to travel agents

Carnival devotes more resources to travel agents

Carnival Paradise

Carnival Cruise Line will carve out four new sales territories in fast-growing areas of the country, each to be headed by a business development manager.
At the same time, Carnival made other changes to its sales structure, including the formation of a program to focus management attention on independent agents.
The four new territories are Boston and Rhode Island; Jacksonville, Fla.; western Texas; and the four corners region that includes parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
Carnival also highlighted the formation of a new groups desk that was inaugurated earlier in October. The desk is designed to provide additional technical support for travel agent questions related to group bookings, Carnival said. It can be reached at (800) 327-5782.
"We created these new sales regions and the independent agent program to provide added business development support for travel partners," said Carnival vice president of sales and trade marketing Adolfo Perez. "The growth in these geographies and the independent agent channel, combined with our recent preferred supplier agreements with Travelsavers/Nest, Signature, and Ensemble, make this the right time for us to expand our field team resources."

Costa Serena to Sail Two Cruises from South Korea

Costa Serena to Sail Two Cruises from South Korea

Costa Serena
Costa Serena

The Costa Serena will deploy to South Korea for a pair of week-long sailings next May as the ship has been chartered by Lotte Tour.
The first voyage sails for seven days and six nights, from Incheon to Busan, according to a spokesperson. Calls include Ishigaki, Taipei, and Keelung.
Second cruise sails eight days and seven nights, round-trip from Busan, with calls in Sokcho, Vladivostok, Tomakomai, and Hakodate.

Western Australia Committed to Growing Cruise Business

Western Australia Committed to Growing Cruise Business

Ovation of the Seas arrives in Perth

“The State Government (of Western Australia) is committed to growing the cruise industry by addressing regulation and infrastructure issues,” said Tourism WA (Western Australia) Acting CEO Stephen Wood.
Among the changes for cruise operators, casino operations are permitted when ships are traveling between WA ports.
With nine ports, including Perth as a key homeport, WA is in close proximity to ships coming from Southeast Asia, offering a variety of niche destinations.
Mid-West Ports recently installed two sets of shore tension units for Geraldton, Wood said, to ensure reliable berthing. There is also funding heading to Kimberly Ports to purchase an all-tide gangway system for the Port of Broome.
In Exmouth, a steering group has been formed to enhance anchor and tender operations. Wood said Exmouth was a transformational cruise port that holds the key to growth for WA.
“Perth and the port city of Fremantle are also undergoing massive transformations, thanks to unprecedented levels of public and private investment, making both more attractive places to visit,” Wood told Cruise Industry News. “Perth has seen redevelopments on a huge scale including improvements at Perth Airport and the Elizabeth Quay waterfront precinct. Fremantle is undergoing major redevelopment, with more than $1 billion in the investment pipeline. New small bars, restaurants, cafes and retail precincts have popped up in both cities, giving cruise visitors many shore options for dining and shopping.”
Recent highlights included the Queen Mary 2 making a visit to Busselton, with a return call planned in February 2018. The Ovation of the Seas called in Fremantle last December and comes back earlier this year, with a November call on the books.
This coming season will see 44 cruise ship visits for Fremantle, a small decline as some capacity has been moved elsewhere. Cruise & Maritime Voyages is a key customer, homeporting the Astor for a fifth consecutive season.
Inaugural visits are scheduled by the Regatta, Ocean Dream, Azamara Journey, L’Austral, Seven Seas Navigator and Golden Princess.
Tourism WA is pushing its strategy to make its nine ports a key cruise destination, by developing the necessary infrastructure to serve industry capacity, according to Wood.
“Since 2012, Tourism WA has helped to deliver 30 ‘Welcoming Cruise Passengers to the West’ workshops to more than 1,000 tour guides/drivers and volunteers across the state,” he said.
In addition is a newly accredited training program for tour guides funded by Tourism WA, which will debut in Geraldton, Busselton, and Albany.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Royal Caribbean returning to St. Thomas in November

Royal Caribbean returning to St. Thomas in November

St. Thomas cruise port

Royal Caribbean International will resume calls at St. Thomas on Nov. 10. Calls were suspended after Hurricane Irma ravaged the island on Sept. 6.
The Adventure of the Seas will make the call. At the same time, island officials, with an assist from Royal Caribbean, hope to reopen a restored Magens Bay, one of St. Thomas' most popular tourist attractions.
Royal Caribbean said that most downtown shops, restaurants and bars and tour operators will be fully operational, with boat and catamaran excursions among the activities that will be offered.
Royal Caribbean said it has committed to returning to San Juan and St. Maarten by the end of November and is working closely with local governments to announce the exact dates.
Port St. Maarten, in a statement on its Facebook page, said that Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas plans to make its return to that storm-battered destination on Nov. 5, but a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman said that is incorrect.
___
Correction: Royal Caribbean says it isn't returning to St. Maarten on Nov. 5.

Norwegian Jewel to Return to Australia

Norwegian Jewel to Return to Australia

Norwegian Jewel
Norwegian Cruise Line has opened bookings for the line's 2018/2019 Australia and New Zealand cruises aboard Norwegian Jewel, the ship's second season in Australia and New Zealand.
Following an expansive refurbishment, the Norwegian Jewel will spend a second season down under cruising a set of itineraries taking in the "best of Australia" including Melbourne, Cairns, Hobart; and New Zealand including Milford Sound, Wellington and Tauranga, as well as itineraries to the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and a transpacific voyage from Vancouver to Tokyo (Yokohama).
In late October 2018, Norwegian Jewel will undergo a three-week dry dock in Singapore, as part of the Norwegian Edge multi-million-dollar revitalization program.
"Norwegian Jewel’s Australia and New Zealand sailings have received a great deal of anticipation and excitement from guests both locally and internationally,” said Andy Stuart president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “The region is a bucket-list destination for many of our guests with a warm culture, lush lands, sandy beaches, action-packed adventure and more. We are thrilled to be returning to this dream destination with the iconic Norwegian Jewel looking as if she were a brand new ship.”

Technology Meets Cruise Trends

Technology Meets Cruise Trends

Port of Miami entrance
PHOTO: Port of Miami entrance. (photo via Flickr/Phillip Pessar)
Cruise travel is so hot right now.
In order to determine just how hot, advertising platform Sojern partnered with Google to ascertain the outlook.
The three biggest takeaways from the report pertain to mobile planning, influence and alternative forms of travel. First, there has been an uptick in mobile cruise searches during 2017—33 percent to be exact, accounting for 29 percent of such overall searches. Second, pricing (89 percent) and entertainment (47 percent) are among the factors that influence potential cruisers.
Third, those searching for other vacations may still opt for a cruise in time.
Additionally, the report cross-referenced Google’s treasure trove of search and survey data with Sojern’s own intent information from traveler profiles and purchase signals.
As much as mobile and online are important these days, offline booking is still viable. Of past cruisers, 41 percent still made their reservations either by utilizing a travel agent or calling the cruise line directly. However, trends are certainly shifting more digital, so online travel agencies are crucial. After all, 69 percent of cruisers desire to book their next trip online.
Going digital is an influence in itself. The video specifically is cited as an important tool in capturing travelers’ attention, (which is one of the very reasons I produce my own Popular Cruising YouTube channel).
As far as marketing is concerned, there is a multitude of paths a buyer may take before booking.
One of the most common, with a 37 percent share, remains a simple cruise search followed by the reservation. However, there are also bookings that follow one or more searches for other travel forms and agencies either before or after a cruise inquiry.
In other words, agents, as well as cruise lines, should have a strong online presence, especially via social media.
As one might expect, searches for key air destinations also correspond to cruise searches. In the top ten are Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston, Cancun, Vancouver, San Juan, Honolulu, and Tampa.
Given most of these are also cruise hubs, it makes perfect sense that a search for something land-based might transfer over to something cruise based.
The report points out that, despite the wonderful all-inclusive value proposition of cruises, it is not always what leads people first to a cruise. Rather, it's more often about a destination or experience.
Once another gets them interested, however, the value is a great way to win them over.
It’s worth noting a majority of cruise searches still occur on desktop platforms and almost all bookings are made on the desktop over mobile. During a week, most searches happen on Mondays and Tuesdays, with three-quarters via desktop. However, by the weekend, mobile searches account for one-third of the traffic.
Meanwhile, only 9 to 11 percent of reservations are actually made over mobile versus the remainder via desktop. There definitely seems to be potential to convert more mobile searches to bookings accordingly. Perhaps apps need to mature in this area to ensure better consumer confidence.
Ultimately, there remain plenty of ways in which a traveler can research and purchase a cruise vacation. Both cruise lines and travel agents need to simply be aware of the prime marketing positions and avenues to occupy.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 hosting 'The Greatest Showman' premiere

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 hosting 'The Greatest Showman' premiere

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Cunard Line will host the first debut of a major motion picture on a cruise ship when 20th Century-Fox presents the world premiere of "The Greatest Showman" on Queen Mary 2 in December.
The movie is a musical that tells the story of P.T. Barnum, the legendary circus impresario. Stars include Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zac Efron. It is scheduled to hit theaters on land on Christmas Day.
Barnum sailed several times on Cunard, including an 1850 voyage from England to New York where 40,000 people were waiting to greet the ship.
Scenes from the movie were shot in the original U.S. headquarters of Cunard at 25 Broadway in lower Manhattan. Other scenes were shot in Brooklyn, Queen Mary 2's U.S. homeport.
"We are thrilled to host the first major motion picture premiere on a Cunard ship," said Josh Leibowitz, senior vice president, Cunard North America.
Cunard will sponsor a sweepstake in which a winner and their guest will attend the premiere.

Disney to Expand San Diego Season in 2019

Disney to Expand San Diego Season in 2019

Disney Wonder

Disney Cruise Line will offer an expanded two-month season from San Diego in 2019, sailing to Baja and the Mexican Riviera as the company today announced some of its 2019 deployment.
There are also cruises to Southern Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to the company. From January to May, all cruises departing from Florida feature a stop at Castaway Cay.
Bookings open to the public on Nov. 2, 2017.
More details on 2019 itineraries can be found on the Ports and Itineraries for 2019 page of disneycruise.com.
The Disney Wonder returns to San Diego for an extended season from March to May 2019, with a variety of cruises to Mexico, including two-, four-, five- and seven-night voyages.
Most sailings to Mexico’s Baja peninsula call on Ensenada. Two-night cruises to Ensenada boast Friday departures from San Diego for a weekend experience. 
Four- and five-night Baja options include a visit to Cabo San Lucas.
Seven-night sailings to the Mexican Riviera call on Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, and Mazatl├ín. 
In January, three special Disney Wonder cruises from San Juan sail to the Southern Caribbean. The Disney Wonder arrives in San Juan after a five-night journey departing Jan. 9 from Galveston, Texas, with a stop in Falmouth, Jamaica.
On Feb. 3, a four-night cruise aboard the Disney Wonder takes guests from San Juan to Port Canaveral, Florida.
The Disney Fantasy continues to sail seven-night Caribbean voyages, with Eastern Caribbean itineraries visiting the Virgin Islands of Tortola and St. Thomas, and Western Caribbean cruises calling on Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman and Falmouth.
The Disney Dream embarks on three- and four-night Bahamian cruises to Nassau and Castaway Cay and the Disney Wonder will alternate similar three- and four-night itineraries throughout February.
To kick off 2019, the Disney Magic continues sailing from Miami with four- and five-night voyages to the Bahamas, plus five-night Western Caribbean cruises.

Norwegian Yacht Voyages Reveals First Ship Design

Norwegian Yacht Voyages Reveals First Ship Design

Norwegian Yacht Voyages' M/Y Caroline final design rendering versus old concept (inset)
PHOTO: Norwegian Yacht Voyages' M/Y Caroline final design rendering versus old concept (inset). (photo courtesy of Norwegian Yacht Voyages, Oslo)

Norwegian Yacht Voyages continues to be an ever-evolving brand, but it is also one that is uniquely including the public in all of its initial designs from phase one through the finished product.
Now, it is unveiling its final design for the line’s ultra-luxury inaugural vessel—the M/Y Caroline, considered by the company to be the “World's First True Hybrid Expedition Mega-Yacht.”
That means the ship will be capable of operating dual fuel generators powered by diesel and LNG (liquefied natural gas). It will also feature battery banks for peak-shaving over the need for extra energy via diesel at key times like at startup, as well as solar-powered hydrogen fuel cells.
The resulting environmentally-friendly vessel can fully run on LNG for several days at a time but can’t indefinitely due to the fuel’s limited availability in the ship’s global destinations.
Besides what’s under the hood, the ship will sport even sleeker lines than it did originally, as can be seen in the comparison of the old (inset) and new designs in the header image above. It will now measure in at 173.8 meters long with a passenger capacity of 220 accommodated in 110 suites.
A total of 160 crew members will cater to guests onboard.
Individual suites will be sized from 485-square-foot entry-level ones to 1,506-square-foot Penthouses. Each will be equipped with private balconies, and some will even be connecting for even greater configurations.
It may be untraditional, but Norwegian Yacht’s marketing approach has certainly been refreshing.
In a press release, the company humbly admitted, “We have changed our brand three times and we have evolved our design from something more traditional to something dramatically the world has not seen before. While we are not going to reveal everything yet, we promise to introduce news-breaking innovative solutions and amenities not seen on board any other vessels today,
“Secrecy and NDAs might work for the well established players, but we strongly believe that by creating a transparent brand, and already at the earliest stages invite our future potential guests and partners to share their thoughts and comments, we are able to create a brand that will offer exactly what the market wants.”
Let’s take a look at the exterior design a little closer.
From the get-go, the swooping superstructure at the stern to midship has always been in place, but now the lines are even more yacht-like than before as the smokestack is further integrated into the curvature outlined by the rear windows. The stack wonderfully disappears into the design as does the singular satellite sphere on top.
Particularly edgier are the forward elements from the near-vertical bow to the angular windows’ leading edges. Even the UFO-like observation lounge perched on the top deck sits back, nestled closer to the stack, making for a more aerodynamic forecastle. Thankfully, the awesome diamond-patterned atrium side glass remains.
As a concept drawing, the M/Y Caroline is a beauty akin to an aquatic sports car.


Azamara's third ship going places the line has never been

Azamara's third ship going places the line has never been

Image result for azamara pursuit ship
Azamara Pursuit, how the P&O Adonia will look.

Azamara Club Cruises announced the itineraries for its ship coming in 2018, saying they include 15 ports of call never before visited by an Azamara ship.
Currently sailing as P&O Cruises' Adonia, the Azamara Pursuit will be refurbished in drydock before making its initial voyage for Azamara, a 15-day "Wonders of Iceland" voyage departing Aug. 13, 2018. From there it will move to a 13-night "Wine and Romance" cruise from Southampton to Barcelona. The Pursuit will be Azamara's third ship.
The ship's first year will also include South America voyages, including an initial call in Antofagasta, Chile, where guests can go star-gazing in the northern Chilean desert. The ship will also visit the Chilean fjords and cruise the Beagle Channel at the tip of South America, and stop for two more Azamara maiden calls in Chile -- Laguna San Rafael and San Antonio -- as well as three such stops in Peru -- Lima (Callao), Pisco (San Martin), and Salaverry (Truhillo), along with Maceio in Brazil.
Other maiden calls for Azamara on the Pursuit will be Monemvasia, Samos and Spetses in Greece and Seyoisfjorour in Iceland.
While in Iceland, guests will be able to take an elevator into the magma chamber of dormant volcano Thrihnukagigur.
Azamara said that altogether the Pursuit will increase the brand's destination offerings by 40%. Guests will also be offered a total of 48 late nights in port and 26 overnights.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

MSC Cruises Announces World Voyage

MSC Cruises Announces World Voyage

The MSC Magnifica in the Port of Hamburg in Germany
PHOTO: The MSC Magnifica will be embarking on an epic journey in 2020. (photo via Flickr/Sera Tu)

MSC Cruises announced the opening of sales for the cruise line’s second world voyage.
The world cruise will set sail in 2020 on the MSC Magnifica. MSC Voyagers Club members are eligible to start booking immediately, with all other customers able to book their spot on the voyage November 23.
For the 2020 MSC World Cruise, the new itinerary will include more than 40 ports of call in 23 countries. With four different embarkation ports and dates to kick off the three-month voyage, travelers can select their ideal starting point for a customized vacation experience.
Guests who embark on the world cruise from Rome, Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona on January 4, 5, 6 and 7, 2020, respectively, will cross five continents and visit 43 popular destinations, including Argentina, Easter Island, Australia, India, Oman and more. Eight destinations will include an overnight stay in port.
“Following the highly successful launch of our first MSC World Cruise last year, due to set to sail in January 2019, we are now delighted to open sales for a new world cruise for 2020 developed to offer guests experiences and destinations that they will never forget,” MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato said in a statement.
“In addition, the experience onboard MSC Magnifica – one of the jewels of our fleet - has been designed to reflect the cultures and cuisines of the countries that the ship visits, giving guests the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a true around the world voyage of discovery both on board and on shore.”
MSC Cruises is also providing experiences through its wide range of 15 shore excursions included in the cost of the booking, plus the cruise line will offer additional excursions available to book in advance or during the voyage.
Some of the experiences offered during the world cruise include visiting Turtle Bay in New Caledonia, exploring the ancient city of Petra, climbing to the top of the Kuala Lumpur Tower and more.
On board the ship, passengers will be able to enjoy a complimentary Mealtime Restaurant Drinks Package, a 30 percent reduction on all laundry services, more than 90 shows performed in the ship’s Royal Theater and an activity schedule with theme evenings, language classes, cultural guest speakers and more.

Carnival, Royal Caribbean Announce Caribbean Return

Carnival, Royal Caribbean Announce Caribbean Return

St. Thomas
PHOTO: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas will return to St. Thomas November 10. (photo by Brian Major)
Activity is returning to Caribbean cruise ports shuttered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s 3,114-passenger Adventure of the Seas will call in St. Thomas on November 10— the first ship to return to the destination following the crippling September storms.
Conversely, Carnival Cruise Lines officials say the company’s ships won’t return to St. Thomas until January 2018, the same month officials anticipate the line will resume calls at St. Maarten.
Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president, recently announced November 30 as the date for the company’s resumption of calls in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Duffy said calls at Carnival’s port in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos will resume “in less than two weeks.”
U.S Virgin Islands government officials are quickly preparing for the November 10 Royal Caribbean call despite continuing struggles with issues that include a widespread lack of electricity, damaged roads, badly damaged infrastructure, sunken boats hampering navigation and several beaches considered unsafe for swimming according to media reports.
Royal Caribbean is opting to return to St. Thomas next month following company executives’ tour of the island's port facilities, infrastructure, shopping areas and attractions. The company is providing significant resources to assist government agencies and private sector groups with the restoration of Magen’s Bay beach, a popular stop for cruise passengers, said Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean’s COO.
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ tourism commissioner, said downtown stores are expected to be open for business on November 10 following recent meetings with business community leaders. Based on an assessment last week, 11 St. Croix beaches, six on St. Thomas and five on St. John were deemed safe for swimming, officials said.
She said that over the coming weeks, “20 to 25 ship calls” will follow Royal Caribbean’s November 10 arrival.
"As we move forward from September's historic storms, we are laser-focused on improving and enhancing the overall tourism product, and creating an environment that stimulates economic growth and employment for our residents," said Kennneth Mapp, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ governor.
Local press reports note that while Royal Caribbean contracts with the U.S. Virgin Islands Port Authority for ships to dock at St. Thomas’ Crown Bay facility, several other cruise lines will contract with the West Indian Co (WICO) to dock ships at St. Thomas’ Havensight facility. WICO president Clifford Graham told local media he is negotiating with other lines to return to St. Thomas in November.
Meanwhile, in her announcement of Carnival’s planned January return to St. Thomas and St. Maarten, she described the destinations as among “the few remaining ports that had not yet been added back to our itineraries following the recent hurricanes.”
Nicholson-Doty said preparations for Royal Caribbean's arrival continue and more meetings with the business community are also being planned.
“Welcoming cruise visitors back to the U.S. Virgin Islands is key to our economic recovery," she said.

Cunard to return to Alaska after 20-year absence

Cunard to return to Alaska after 20-year absence

Image result for cunard queen elizabeth

Cunard is set to return to Alaska for the first time in more than two decades next year.

Queen Elizabeth will begin its voyage from Yokohama, Japan, on May 5, 2019, to Alaska where it will remain through June for its first season.

The 2,092-capacity vessel will offer four 10-night round trip Vancouver sailings throughout May and June 2019.

After completing its four voyages, the ship will sail down the west coast of the United States through the Panama Canal to New York before going on to Iceland and the UK.

Itineraries feature scenic cruising through the dramatic waterways of the famous Inside Passage as well as full days in several of the region’s highlight ports to discover the history and culture of the area.

Guests will experience the gold rush spirit of Skagway and Juneau, the native tribes of Ketchikan and the Russian charm of Sitka.

Angus Struthers, Cunard’s vice-president marketing, said: “We’re thrilled to make our return to Alaska, one of the world’s must-see destinations.

“As the majestic Queen Elizabeth undertakes her first season there, our guests can explore the region with highlights including the natural wonders of Tracy Arm Fjord and the Hubbard Glacier.”

Guests can enjoy a Britannia Balcony Stateroom booked with a Cunard Fare from £5,449 per person.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Disney Cruise Line’s Super Plans

Disney Cruise Line’s Super Plans

Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor Disney Cruise Line logo
PHOTO: Spider-Man, Captain America and Thor posing in front of the Disney Cruise Line logo. (photo courtesy of DIsney Cruise Line)

Several famous superheroes are currently sailing aboard 
Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic from New York City, but that’s only a fraction of the excitement on its way.
We had the opportunity to ask Ms. Jennifer Haile Tinn, Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy some questions about just what can be expected now and into the near future—including current Caribbean itinerary concerns—for the growing fleet.
TravelPulse: How would you say Marvel Day at Sea will compare to Star Wars Day at Sea? Being on the smaller Disney Magic versus the larger Disney Fantasy, will the scope be any different?
Jennifer Haile Tinn: The scope of Marvel Day at Sea is just as epic as Star Wars Day at Sea. From character experiences to deck show spectaculars, both Marvel Day at Sea and Star Wars Day at Sea offer unique and epic experiences for our Guests. Marvel Day at Sea is home to the largest assembly of superheroes ever on a cruise ship with some of the most popular Marvel Super Heroes.
Guests can sign up for guaranteed meet and greets with Spider-Man, Iron Man and, for the first time, Black Panther during the sailing. In addition, guests have the chance for heroic encounters with Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot and the sinister Loki. Even adults can get in on the action with the Guardians of the Galaxy, celebrating a galactic dance party in Ravagers Nightclub.
TP: With the fleet nearly doubling soon, what future itineraries are being considered? Might we see more frequency of departures on the West Coast, Hawaii and Asia, for instance? When can we expect to hear more in regard to the new ships’ onboard features?
JHT: While we are excited to nearly double our fleet by 2023, we aren’t ready to share details about the new ships’ features quite yet. We will be returning to the West Coast in early 2018. The sailings will depart from San Diego with seven Disney Wonder cruises to Baja and the Mexican Riviera—five-night sailings visit Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada, Mexico and two- and three-night cruises call on Ensenada.
TP: How is Disney Cruise Line reacting to the Caribbean’s recent hurricane damage and port changes? Do you foresee them affecting the new itineraries from January through April at all? (For 2018, Disney will embark on eight Caribbean cruises from Miami during this time.)
JHT: We are continuing to monitor the condition of ports in the Eastern Caribbean and making modifications to our itineraries as needed. Please check our website for the latest updates to our itineraries: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/guest-services/advisory/.
TP: So, what does it all mean? By the time Disney has seven ships, deployments are likely to greatly expand. Currently, the latest Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy sail exclusively from Florida with only the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder heading elsewhere. That’s sure to change.
The brand will probably want to base its three newest sister-ships from Port Canaveral to pair up with Walt Disney World vacations, freeing up the other four to more regularly go elsewhere. The Disney Wonder already seasonally deploys on the West Coast up to Alaska.
However, the line may opt to send the larger Dream or Fantasy up North instead to offer greater capacity with jaunts to Hawaii in between. There’s definitely reason to reach the islands more often with Disney’s Aulani on Oahu, after all.
I then foresee the remaining larger sister-ship going to Europe and the Wonder to Asia, both potentially year-round. With so many Disney theme parks in these other destinations, there are plenty of international fans to cater to.
Remarkably, that still leaves the Magic open to doing additional itineraries. It could easily embark on exotics, becoming a more prominent ocean extension of Adventures by Disney, for instance.
Needless to say, with seven ships versus four, Disney’s options are considerable, and its guests will benefit substantially.

Norwegian Upholding Cruise Industry’s Clean Air

Norwegian Upholding Cruise Industry’s Clean Air

Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Sun
PHOTO: Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sun. (photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

The cruise industry is collectively striving for cleaner air standards internationally, and Norwegian Cruise Line is doing its part by having environmentally enhanced its Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun.
“We have both a moral responsibility and business imperative to sustain the places we sail and the communities that support our industry,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), in a press release.
“Through innovative and state-of-the-art air emissions programs, we make clean ocean air one of our top priorities.”
Norwegian specifically retrofitted the Jade and Sun with a new Exhaust Gas Cleaning system. Combined with the line’s Sail & Sustain environmental program, the technology will help to dramatically lower air emissions.
The exhaust scrubbers remove sulfur oxide and particulate matter prior to emissions exiting the ships’ smokestacks. Each vessel received five such scrubbers, one per engine. Together, they can reduce sulfur by up to 99 percent and 85 percent of particulates. Combined, the Jade and Sun will lessen the equivalent of around 3,000 tons of Sulfur Oxide, SOx, gas during the coming years.
As a whole, CLIA Cruise Line Members—Norwegian included—are always investing in new ship designs and innovative technologies. One objective is to reduce new marine vessel CO2 emissions by 30 percent come 2025. Other goals include lowering fuel consumption by 5 percent by applying hull paints with special non-toxic coatings and producing emissions-free energy via solar panel installations.
To such ends, the industry has collaborated with the likes of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in order to regulate environmental standards. It has also gathered NGOs and maritime stakeholders to share air emission reduction concepts.
Port destinations additionally partner with cruise brands to better the environment as the Port of Seattle has. The facility has even awarded lines for their shared commitment towards green initiatives.
“We at the Port of Seattle observe year after year the cruise industry’s commitment to reducing emissions while in port by using shore power and exhaust gas cleaning systems,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton, in the release.
“As part of our port community, cruise lines share our goals to reduce maritime-related emissions while maintaining a vibrant harbor. We look forward to our continued relationship with the industry and partnering on our mutual efforts to protect Seattle’s natural environment and air.”
Within the Norwegian fleet, the Jade and Sun represent two of what will soon be eight ships that have installed the scrubber technology. The Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Pearl and Pride of America already utilize the system, and the upcoming new Norwegian Bliss will launch with it in June 2018.
Norwegian is on its own way to achieve its MARPOL Annex VI compliance objective to lower its global sulfur cap from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent by 2020.
Besides clean air goals, the line’s Safety and Environmental Protection Policy calls for lessening overall operational impact on the environment, disposing of waste according to domestic and global regulations, the recycling and reuse of materials, and targeting other means to improve the environment via management.
All of this is to say the cruise industry—although environmentally imperfect at times—is making concerted efforts to be the best it possibly can be. Provided brands like Norwegian Cruise Line continue to do their part and uphold the standards they themselves pioneer, the earth and travelers will thank them.
For more information on the industry’s environmental efforts, visit https://www.cruising.org/about-the-industry/research.

Puerto Vallarta's Changing the Cruiseport Game

Puerto Vallarta's Changing the Cruiseport Game

Cruise ship docked in Puerto Vallarta
PHOTO: Cruise ship docked in Puerto Vallarta. (photo via Flickr/Brian Holsclaw)

Puerto Vallarta has long been known as the smiling face of 
Mexico’s friendly coast.
Nonetheless, increased tourism demand and destination competition have prompted this bastion of traditional, authentic Mexico to undergo a critical upgrade and modernization.
In 2015, the Mexican government announced an audacious three-part plan for Puerto Vallarta: A complete rebuild of the cruise terminal, increasing parking there by 400 spaces and adding a notable attraction—since announced as the largest aquarium in Latin America.
“When the President [Enrique Pena Nieto] was in campaign, he came to Puerto Vallarta and promised to develop the port in order to be more competitive in the world,” said Carlos Gerard, the port director, local tour operator, former Puerto Vallarta Minister of Tourism and owner of the construction company now completing the first two projects.
While the footprint and ship-service mechanics of the three-berth port will not expand, the passenger space is modernizing substantially.
What’s New
Puerto Magico (or “Magic Port”) is the new 15,500 square meter terminal that will be designed like an airport terminal, look like a traditional Mexican hacienda and include numerous public spaces and shops, making it both an authentic welcome point for arrivals and a commercial destination throughout the city.
A study and bidding began in 2013, with construction starting February 2016 and a scheduled completion for August, 2018 on a price tag around $19 million US.
“Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco, the birthplace of tequila, mariachi and charrereia,” said Gerard, “so we need to make that part of the identity of the port itself. We don’t want to make just another cruise terminal. We want an experience so that when anyone visits the port—whether by cruise ship, car or airplane—they will feel like they’re in a real, authentic hacienda.
“The cruise lines have told us that many of the cruise ports in Mexico look all the same, so we have to make that different from the older ports. Mazatlan has its own look, so they have to show it. Cabo San Lucas is desert, so they have to show it. We will be the first to make things different and very authentic and original.
“It will be very light Mexican architecture, with arches and the green roof, as well as open spaces and vegetation.”
Puerto Vallarta Hacienda Cruise Terminal
PHOTO: Puerto Vallarta Hacienda Cruise Terminal
The two-level parking garage replaces an open-air lot and will be approximately 9,500 square meters at a cost of nearly $6.4 million US. The first level will include bus and public transportation facilities, both to be completed with the terminal phase.
Meanwhile, the aquarium will be 8,500 square meters and is currently undergoing internal operations development. Its completion date is open-ended and estimated at easily costing more than $8 million US.
Visitors to the aquarium will enter through the parking complex and then walk past the terminal’s shops and public seating areas—the actual arrival and departure areas will be closed to the public and contain typical security.
Puerto Vallarta entryway
PHOTO: Puerto Vallarta cruiseport entryway.
“We will have 300 different species and some 15,000 different animals from all over the world, including Mexico, the Gulf, the Pacific and the Caribbean,” said Julio Nasta Icaza, Director of Blau Life and the overseer of the current aquarium project. (Blau Life also operate Mexico City’s famous Acuario Ibursa aquarium and a coral farm there that helps repopulate coral in their own exhibits as well as the sea.)
“We will have some 59 different exhibits, and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with animal husbandry, fish farms and training before we can open, even as construction is yet to begin. We have state-of-the-art equipment and will touch all the senses and be highly themed.
“We have agreements with turtle conservation groups and support their efforts. When you have a crab crawl on your arm or touch a starfish in one of our educational exhibits, it brings the sea to life and helps people want to save it.”
Meeting Multiple Needs
While the number of cruise ships being built continues to rise, it is not meeting the increased demand from passengers. What’s more, the competition is fiercer than ever among destinations.
2008 was the high point for Puerto Vallarta, with about 290 ships making a call. That number plummeted to 81 arrivals in 2013 due to the recession and other factors, but has since risen to 108 during 2014, 130 in 2015 and 145 in 2017.
Gerard estimated 10-15% annual growth in cruise ship arrivals following the completion of this project.
Still, there is much work to be done, even as Puerto Vallarta maintains its reputation as one of Mexico's safest cities and neighboring Riviera Nayarit continues to draw international interest.
“There are actually more ports being developed and re-developed right now than cruise ships being built,” said Gerard. “We are making the port more competitive and attractive for the cruise lines, passengers and crew. This will create 400 different new jobs just at the cruise terminal. Once all the construction is finished, it will be over a thousand.”
Puerto Vallarta Parking and entrance
PHOTO: Puerto Vallarta Parking and entrance.
That said, the project was never going to get off the ground at the scale Puerto Vallarta tourism officials wanted unless they began thinking bigger.
“2017 will see approximately 145 cruise ships in Puerto Vallarta, but you’re only talking about 100 days out of 365 that see cruise ship visitors,” said Gerard. “That’s not going to be worth it to investors and developers, so we needed to open it to the public itself so it is attractive.”
Thus was born the idea for making the cruise terminal a multi-use site that caters to tourists and locals alike as a commercial and cultural hub within the city.
“We annually have 4.2 million visitors to Puerto Vallarta who fly in or drive. 50% are Mexican, while almost the other 50% are Americans and Canadians. We have 22,000 hotel rooms in Puerto Vallarta and another 12,000 in Riviera Nayarit.”
Gerard estimated 2.9 million visitors will check out the new cruise terminal and its attractions during its first year based on conservative projections. This includes around 400,000 cruise passengers and 120,000 crew, plus another 600,000 land- and air-based visitors simply using the terminal as the jumping off point for their harbor and water-based tours.
“We also expect about ten percent of the 4.2 million visitors to visit here for commercial reasons,” noted Gerard. “We have 320,000 people living in Puerto Vallarta—including about 45,000 American and Canadian expats partial- or full-time—plus another 120,000 in the surrounding area. We are expecting the average of those folks to visit us once during the year. That is extremely conservative.
“The crew also are buyers and have needs, similar to the passengers. Tourists will spend around $98 US apiece here, which is second-place in Mexico. Crew members will spend $65 US on average.
“We are the No. 2 destination in Mexico for gastronomy and No. 1 in tourist preference. We also need for Mazatlan and Cabo to do something similar. The most popular route from San Diego or Los Angeles is the 7-day cruise that comes through our three cities.”
Notables
—Forty percent of cruise ship passengers take a water or land excursion of about 4.5 hours during their 12-hour stay in Puerto Vallarta, and these will all originate from the terminal after the revamp. (The rest get off the ship and visit the downtown for shopping and exploring along the seaside Malecon and Zona Romantica.)
—Shuttles and small trains will link Berths 2 & 3 (which are across the waterway) on multi-ship arrival days with the cruise terminal and Berth 1 (used for primary arrivals).
Carnival Cruise Line arrives weekly to Puerto Vallarta year-round. PrincessNorwegianHolland and Royal Caribbean are also frequent customers, in that order.
—The port will oversee all the cruise ship maintenance and re-provisioning services, as well as all shop dues and transportation services through this new centralized hub.
—Cruise ship sizes continue to expand, but Puerto Vallarta’s berths remain the same for now. Thus, expanding the mechanical and service infrastructure to meet the coming megaships is not part of this project but is next on the horizon.