Venice to charge tourist entry fee for short stays
For most of the year, Venice's canals are crowded with boats
Venice has won approval to introduce an entry fee of up to €10 (£9; $11.50) for short-stay tourists.
Italy's budget for 2019 has a clause enabling Venice to impose the fee, which will especially target day-trippers arriving on cruise ships.
Tourists already pay a similar "landing tax" when they visit Italy's tiny Aeolian Islands.
Venetians have long complained that mass tourism is swamping the city, adored for its picturesque canals.
Hundreds of cruise ships moor in Venice every year, allowing over a million passengers to see the city's sights.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the "landing tax" would generate much-needed income to keep the city clean.
It is expected to be set at €2.50 to €5 per person, but at peak times in the summer it could rise to €10. Venice plans to have the tax in place for the 2019 high season.
It will apply only to tourists, but it is not clear whether it will replace a city tax already levied on hotel occupants. That tax brings in about €30m annually, but the "landing tax" could generate more - an estimated €50m.
Cruise passengers are easily identified, Italian officials say, but it may prove harder to tax day-trippers arriving by air, road or rail.
Local residents, workers and students will be exempt. For years there have been protests by Venetians who say mass tourism is spoiling the city's character.
Claudio Scarpa, head of the Venice hotel managers' association Ava, said: "the principle is that whoever visits from morning to evening, contributing just a tiny amount to the revenue from tourism, but imposing costs on our services, must understand that it's not all there for free".
P&O Cruises confirms an order for a second new ship
A second large next-generation cruise ship for P&O Cruises was confirmed on Thursday as the line seeks to attract more first-time cruisers.
The vessel will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and is due to join the fleet in 2022 – two years after a similar sister ship enters service.
The latest order will be 180,000 gross tons and have a capacity for 5,200 passengers, it’s set to be the largest cruise ship to be built specifically for the British market.
Both new ships will be registered in the UK and built by leading German shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Papenburg.
The ship will feature the Carnival Corporation’s exclusive “green cruising” design as one of the first generation of cruise ships to be powered by both while in port and at sea.
This will “significantly reduce” air emissions with the shipping industry’s most advanced fuel technology, the company claims.
The new ship is part of a fleet enhancement strategy with 19 new vessels set for delivery across Carnival Corporation brands between 2018 and 2022.
Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “We are seeing the momentum in awareness of cruising both across the media and in our national psyche as ever-increasing numbers of people see first-hand the value for money, unrivalled service and extraordinary onboard experience.
“These two next-generation ships for delivery in the next four years are real and tangible evidence of our absolute optimism for future growth.”
P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow added: “We have a bold and ambitious vision for P&O Cruises to become Britain’s number one holiday choice and we can only do that by increasing our fleet.
“The build for our 2020 ship begins this spring and it will offer all generations of British guests the holiday of a lifetime on the next generation of P&O Cruises ships.
“In four years’ time when her sister ship is launched, adding an additional 22% capacity, we will see an even greater rise in the popularity of cruising across all demographics and all age ranges including both Millennials and Generation Xers.
“Many of them have already learned to appreciate cruising by going on cruises with their families while growing up. Additionally, there are millions more we will attract in the future by retaining the amazing onboard and on-shore experiences and itinerary choices P&O Cruises is known for while reflecting forward-thinking trends and tastes of British holidaymakers.
“This evolution of the guest experience will be evident over the next few years but will be underpinned throughout with in-depth market insight and feedback we receive from the best source: our current, past and prospective guests.
“The first of our new ships will go on sale in September and we will be announcing key elements of the design and build this year.
“Our P&O Cruises signature features in dining and entertainment will be across all our ships, but the space and build of the two new ships allow us to have innovative new experiences to create the most memorable holidays.”
Thomas Weigend, managing director of Meyer Werft, said: “We are very happy to continue our excellent partnership with Carnival Corporation and P&O Cruises.”
Vessel Performance Key to Secondhand Ship Market for Carnival
Carnival Corporation has sold 28 ships since 2006, averaging around two ships per year based on demand in the market.
That number was up in 2018, with the company announcing the exit of four ships overall.
The Pacific Eden was sold to Cruise & Maritime Voyages while the Pacific Jewel will head to Indian start-up Jalesh Cruises.
Holland America Line sold the Prinsendam, which will become the Amera next summer for Phoenix Reisen.
P&O Cruises UK also announced the Oriana will leave the fleet in 2019.
“The practical reality for us is, if ship is relevant to our guests and is delivering double-digit return on invested capital ... we have to invest more in that ship over time. We'll continue with the ship in the fleet if it's relevant to the guests and his earning is key, if it's not then the ship will be gone,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO, on the company’s year-end and fourth quarter earnings call.
The secondhand cruise ship market has historically been highlighted by two to three nine- to eight-figure transactions on an annual basis, according to the Secondhand Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
“And so in terms of there being a robust secondary market, there's no question, the secondary market has opportunity not only because the IMO regulations but simply because the aging of ships that are in the secondary market," Donald added.
Donald said many operators in the secondhand market were sailing ships that are 40 to 45 years old, and those vessels will need to be replaced.
“So there should be a market for a number of the ships. But at the same time, to drive earnings and return on invested capital, if we had a need to scrap for ships in nutshell we would do that. We don't see that at this point in time. But if it came to that, we have no problems doing that,” Donald continued.
“But we're not going to hold onto an underperforming asset, because we're not able to sell it. I mean, if – we would scrap it if we had to. I don't anticipate that, but if we had to do it, we would do it.”
Royal Caribbean Ship Saves Men Trapped at Sea for 20 Days
PHOTO: Royal Caribbean International's Empress of the Seas. (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
A Royal Caribbean ship forced to change its itinerary due to storms found and rescued two sailors Friday who had been stranded at sea for 20 days.
According to the Miami Herald, Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas departed from Miami on December 17 and was sailing between Grand Cayman and Jamaica as part of the storm-impacted itinerary.
Crew members operating the radar system for the Empress of the Seas noticed an anomaly that turned out to be a small fishing boat floating in the water. Royal Caribbean called for emergency rescue and pulled the two men who had been stranded for 20 days out of the water.
Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet shared images of the rescue and praised the quick thinking of the ship’s crew on Twitter:
Celebrating Christmas in Norway on Hurtigruten’s Finnmarken
Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten’s 11 ships that sail year-round along the Norwegian coast, round trip 12 days from Bergen to Kirkenes, making some 65 port calls ranging from 15 minutes to more than four hours.
The 2002-built, 15,690-ton Finnmarken can accommodate up to 740 passengers in staterooms and another 250-day passengers, as well as cargo and up to 47 cars.
The current Christmas cruise includes large contingents of passengers from India and China in addition to passengers from South Africa, Australia, the UK, Germany and the United States.
Winter attractions include Norway’s nature, including the Northern Lights, and shore excursions ranging from sightseeing to dog sledging, cross-country skiing and mountain hiking.
The culinary experience is focused around Hurtigruten’s Coastal Kitchen concept, featuring ingredients and dishes native to Norway.
(Photos by Angela Reale Mathisen and Oivind Mathisen)
Cruise-Line Size Race Is Over; Now It’s About Amenities
By Christopher Palmeri (Bloomberg) — When the $1.35 billion Symphony of the Seas steamed out of Barcelona on its maiden voyage in April, it instantly claimed the title of world’s largest cruise ship.
At 228,000 gross tonnes, Symphony is a tad larger than the previous titleholder, its two-year-old sister, the Harmony of the Seas. But dive deeper into the stats and the victory looks iffy. It’s actually the same length and carries fewer passengers, a maximum of 6,680.
Owner Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which has continually led the industry with its ever-larger vessels, says size won’t matter as much as it used to. Of the 16 ships the company has on order, only one will be larger than Symphony, and just barely. Icon, the new class of ships the company is building in a Finnish shipyard, will be smaller.
“We don’t expect that there will be a leap in the size,” said Harri Kulovaara, the naval architect who has led new ship construction at Royal Caribbean for 23 years. “There might be some tweaks, but not quantum leaps.”
Instead, the Miami-based company is focusing on how to make guests happier on those big boats, which can run close to a quarter mile in length. With eight of the 10 largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean is looking to speed the boarding process and get the fun started sooner. It’s introducing technology to give guests more control over their vacations and is creating onboard entertainment that’s more personal in nature.
“It’s not, ‘Everyone now goes into the theatre to see a great show,’” said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean’s chief executive officer since 1988. “People want something that’s just for them.”
The cruise-line industry is in the midst of a building boom, and that added capacity is coming online at a time when some markets are starting to look weak. Carnival Corp., the industry’s largest player, said on Thursday that its revenue would be lower than expected next year, news that sent the shares of cruise operators tumbling.
Royal Caribbean, the second-largest player in the cruise business after Carnival, has always been an innovator. Its original ship, the Song of Norway, was launched in 1970 as the first purposely built for warm-weather cruising, with a pool on the deck instead of lifeboats. Other innovations include the first buffet, on the Song of America in 1982, and an atrium, in 1988’s Sovereign of the Seas, the largest in its day.
In 1998, Royal Caribbean created a splash with Voyager of the Seas, which featured the first ice-skating rink and a rock-climbing wall. It wasn’t easy. The rink required extensive testing of cooling equipment and materials to create a surface that wouldn’t crack when the ship rocked. And Fain admits he didn’t expect the climbing wall to be a hit.
Still, he used that ship to reinforce the idea that cruising wasn’t just for older folks who wanted to eat and watch Broadway-style shows. He introduced Voyager in a TV campaign featuring the Iggy Pop song “Lust for Life.”
“It was a very visible manifestation that this was not a sedentary, not a passive vacation,” Fain said in an interview.
The number of guests cruising industrywide has increased threefold since then to an estimated 30 million this year.
Fain’s push for the new and exciting seems to come naturally. He has been known to challenge guests to an onboard surfing competition on one of Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider machines or learn to pour seven martinis at once for an employee party.
“Most people would not categorize me as a millennial,” the 71-year-old executive said. “I feel like one.”
Over the past two years, Fain has sought to make Royal Caribbean’s creative process part of its culture, opening an innovation lab next to its dockside Miami headquarters and hiring talent from competitors such as Walt Disney Co. Some 150 employees work in the lab, meeting with shipyard officials and executives from Royal Caribbean’s six brands, including the higher-end Celebrity and Azamara lines. Some projects are visualized in a space called the Cave, where staffers don 3D goggles for virtual walk-throughs of new designs.
Downstairs, a warehouse floor holds prototypes of projects in the works. On a recent day they included a new cabin design, a pirate-themed game, a tropical signpost for one of the company’s private islands and a cart that looks like something Jules Verne would have designed — if the science-fiction writer had wanted a vehicle that mixed cocktails.
Augmented reality will become a navigation aid on the cruise ship
Many of the more personalized experiences Fain is emphasizing are evident on ships the company launched this year. Stairs on the Symphony of the Seas, for example, light up and play music like a scene from the movie “Big.” A musician wheels a piano around the ship and takes requests, even in elevators. Guests on deck 12 can hold their smartphone up to a painting and see an “X-Ray” view of the bridge crew working behind the wall.
“I’m very cynical — I have been on over 150 cruises,” said John Maguire, who runs the travel booking site CruiseDirect.com and who sailed on the Symphony recently. “They do wow me.”
On another new vessel, the Celebrity Edge, diners watch an animated chef prepare their food on a video projected onto their table, then the real dishes are delivered.
At new port facilities Royal Caribbean has built in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, guests can upload passport information and a headshot, then use facial-recognition checkpoints to speed boarding — “from car to bar” — in under 10 minutes, according to Jay Schneider, who heads the company’s digital initiatives.
Over the next few months, Royal Caribbean will make refinements to its app, letting customers adjust the temperature in their rooms before they get there, receive alerts when restaurant reservations are available and order a Mai Tai that will be delivered to them anywhere in the ship.
“What people expect in their vacations has evolved dramatically,” Fain said. “I think one of the reasons the industry is doing so well is we keep evolving what we’re offering.”
P&O Cruises has issued a series of promises to its passengers in a bid to ease any fears over Brexit.
As uncertainty mounts over the UK leaving the EU, the line reminded passengers they will avoid foreign currency fluctuations due to onboard spending being in pound sterling.
P&O Cruises also reminded passengers that all cruises with the line will be protected by Atol and Abta.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We want to reassure our guests that whatever is happening in the world of politics, their holiday and peace of mind is of the utmost important to us.
“Our Brexit promise is that no matter what the future brings, our guests can rest assured when booking a P&O Cruises holiday as they will always pay in pounds sterling in advance and can take advantage of a low deposit to secure their holiday.
He added: “Also, a P&O Cruises holiday offers unbeatable value as so much is included as standard including meals, entertainment, children’s clubs, flights and taxes.
“With sailings directly from Southampton and by choosing shore excursions in advance, our guests can explore Europe without the need for euros.
“In addition, the currency on the ships is pounds which covers all shopping, dining, drinks, indulgent treatments in the spa and a range of shops with favourite British jewellery, clothing and cosmetic brands. We also have the protection of both Atol and Abta.
“With over 180 years of P&O history and expertise, we guarantee to manage any potential impact on holiday plans and help our customers sail through Brexit and onto their next cruise.”
Cruise liners cancel trips to THIS popular destination due to new tourist tax
Cruises: A new tourist tax in Amsterdam has meant cruise ships are changing their itineraries (Image: Getty)
CRUISES travelling through Amsterdam have been cancelled for passengers who book holidays with MSC Cruises or Cruise and Maritime Voyages due to a new tourist tax introduced in the city.
Cruise passengers looking for a trip to Amsterdam may find themselves short for choice thanks to a new tourist tax. The city has announced a €8 head tax per day for tourists arriving by cruise, affecting passengers who stay for 24 hours or less, or €16 for those staying more than 24 hours. This has resulted in a number of cruise liners removing Amsterdam from their itineraries choosing another Dutch city instead. Thousands of passengers travelling in 2019 and 2020 could find their trips drastically altered.
Earlier this year, MSC Cruises announced they will change their overnight calls from Amsterdam to Rotterdam.
Central Station in Amsterdam. photo credit Dave Jones
Gianluca Suprani, head of global port development and shore activities at MSC Cruises, warned Amsterdam could lose thousands of pounds of spending by the loss of passengers.
He told Seatrade Cruise: “We decided to pull our business in 2019 and as a result, Amsterdam city stands to lose between €50-100 per passenger in respect of potential spend.”
Cruise and Maritime Voyages has followed in their footsteps and announced their 2019 and 2020 port calls to Amsterdam will also now be at Rotterdam.
This means 37 of their cruises will make the move, with 30 Columbus ships and seven Magellan ships avoiding the city.
Costa Mediterranea in the Port of Amsterdam. photo credit Dave Jones
According to Seatrade Cruise, more than 50,000 passengers will be affected.
CMV CEO Christian Verhounig warned of the last minute changes for customers who will have already booked for 2019, advising 80 per cent had already been purchased.
“The local politicians have failed to acknowledge or understand that the cruise industry plans their budgets two to three years ahead and have been unwilling to look into a proper implementation schedule,” he warned.
“The late introduction of these new and un-phased charges are therefore not budgeted and simply cannot be absorbed.”
Passengers travelling with either cruise liner should check for any changes to their trips.
Carnival Corp. to Launch Four New Cruise Ships in 2019
The world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation, will launch four new cruise ships in 2019 as part of its ongoing fleet enhancement with 20 new ships scheduled for delivery through 2025.
The ships scheduled to launch next year will be delivered across three of Carnival’s global brands – Carnival Cruise Line, America’s Cruise Line; Costa Cruises; and Princess Cruises.
On New Years Day, Carnival Cruise Line will debut the Carnival Panorama, which will be its first new ship based in California in 20 years. The new vessels also include Sky Princess, Princess Cruises’ fourth Royal-class ship; and Costa Smeralda, the second of Carnival Corporation’s total of 11 new ships joining the fleet between 2018 and 2025 that can be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) both in port and at sea; as well as Costa Venezia, Costa Cruises’ first ship designed and built specifically for the China market.
These new ships follow deliveries of four new ships to Carnival brands in 2018, which include Carnival Horizon from Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn Ovation from Seabourn, MS Nieuw Statendam from Holland America Line and most recently, AIDAnova – the world’s first cruise ship that can be fully powered by LNG, from AIDA Cruises.
“Each launch of a new ship generates lots of interest and excitement among consumers, whether they are among our many loyal guests or they are new to cruising,” said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation. “Our four new ships in 2019 will be no exception as our brands will introduce spectacular new vessels that have been designed with one purpose in mind: to dazzle our guests as they enjoy an extraordinary vacation experience.”
Carnival Mardi Gras to Feature Roller Coaster at Sea
Carnival Cruise Line today announced that the Mardi Gras will have the first roller coaster at sea when the ship debuts in 2020 out of Port Canaveral.
Built by Germany-based Maurer Rides, BOLT: Ultimate Sea Coaster is a "heart-pounding rush of adrenaline offering nearly 800 feet of exhilarating twists, turns and drops with riders reaching speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour," the company said.
It is an all-electric roller coaster that allows two riders in a motorcycle-like vehicle to race along a track 187 feet above sea level.
“Mardi Gras will be our most innovative ship ever with some truly special features and attractions, highlighted by BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “BOLT will continue the tradition of Carnival providing exciting new ways for our guests to ‘Choose Fun.’ We are so thrilled to introduce this one-of-a-kind, game-changing, exhilarating attraction – our guests are going to love it!”
The ride will begin with a launch sequence and race car-like levels of acceleration, Carnival said. The experience culminates with a high-powered hairpin turn around the 5,200-guest ship's funnel.
Riders’ speeds are posted after the race, and guests will have their photo taken during the ride. Guests will be able to choose their own speed.
Royal Caribbean International said the Oasis of the Seas will make its 2020 summer home in the New York metropolitan area, sailing seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J. It marks the debut of the 5,400-passenger ship in the Big Apple.
The Oasis will be the first ship in its class, and the largest, to sail from the Northeast.
The Bahamas sailings will include a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay; the private island will receive calls from 10 different Royal ships in 2020.
The Oasis will have a Canada/New England season, as well.
In addition, the Adventure of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty in 2020, sailing a variety of five- and nine-night summer and fall itineraries to Bermuda; New England and Canada; the Bahamas; and the Caribbean.
Travellers can extend their leaf-peeping experience with longer sailings aboard the Vision of the Seas, which will offer three 10- to-11-night, open-jaw itineraries between Cape Liberty and Quebec City with an overnight in Quebec's capital.