Sunday, 29 September 2019
Saturday, 28 September 2019
Five Ships to Leave Costa Fleet by May 2021
Thursday, 26 September 2019
Tuesday, 24 September 2019
Monday, 23 September 2019
Norwegian has big plans for Juneau, But is the city ready?
With its legacy of gold mining and the majestic Mendenhall Glacier just outside of town, Juneau has long been a crown jewel among Alaska cruise itineraries. But as demand has grown, so have congestion and concerns among residents about the quality of life during the all-too-brief summer months.
Now, an effort by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) to buy a key parcel of land along the downtown waterfront could bring those issues into high relief as citizens debate how much cruise tourism they want.
NCLH's bid to buy the 2.9-acre site known as the Subport comes as the number of cruise passengers arriving in Juneau has grown from 1 million to 1.5 million in the past four years and as NCLH has embraced an ambitious plan to beef up its shore facilities throughout southeast Alaska.
But Juneau could test Alaska's appetite for hosting more and bigger cruise ships with each passing season.
Rorie Watt, manager of the city and borough of Juneau, said, "The growth has been climbing pretty steeply. We're starting to see quite a bit of pushback from the community."
Vacant since 2006, the Subport property is controlled by a state trust that provides services to Alaska's disabled population. Juneau has been urging the trust to sell the land and had a proposal of its own for the site.
When the parcel came up for auction, NCLH was the high bidder. At $20 million, its offer was nearly double the next highest bid, from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and more than quadruple the $4.3 million tendered by the city.
The sum was all the more impressive because, according to Watt, current zoning would not permit the company to build a pier at the site.
"It is true the property is not currently zoned for a cruise ship dock, and it is true that our waterfront plan does not call for a dock in that area," Watt said.
After the bids were opened, NCLH said in a statement that it was "thrilled to be the winning bidder," adding, "We look forward to engaging with the city of Juneau to work together on a plan for the land that will greatly benefit both Juneau and our company."
The company declined to comment further about its plans for the site.
The zoning of the Subport land emerged from a debate in the early 2000s among Juneau residents over cruise-related congestion that had resulted from a previous cruise line growth spurt in the 1990s, Watt said.
At that time, a consensus emerged that the Subport was not an appropriate site for a cruise pier, so the zoning was changed and a long-range waterfront land-use document was adopted to reflect that.
In addition, Watt said the city owns the tidal lands in front of the parcel, and NCLH would either have to buy those or work out a lease in order to put its ships there.
Both changes would require more than obtaining a variance from a zoning board. The decision would almost surely be made by elected officials, Watt said.
"There would likely be a substantial amount of public process if they were to do that," he said.
Juneau is one of several ports in Alaska where NCLH is seeking to build its own infrastructure. In Hoonah, it is partnering with the Alaska Native tribe that owns the Icy Strait Point cruise port to build a second pier for its use.
In Ketchikan, NCLH has agreed to be the first tenant at a pier being developed north of town at an abandoned paper mill. The site at Ward Cove would give it preferential berthing rights. The site was developed by the local Ward Cove Group and a tour operator, Godspeed of Fairbanks.
The $50 million pier proposal is in the permitting process, and the partners hope to have it open for the 2020 cruise season.
NCLH also joined with the Port of Seattle in 2015 to redevelop the Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66 in downtown Seattle, where its Alaska-bound ships also have secured preferential berthing rights following the $30 million upgrade.
Angie Ryan, a Travel Leaders agent in Frisco, Texas, said the investments would make NCLH cruises more attractive to clients.
"I think that by using their own facilities and their own dock, it can keep the standard they're trying to present across the board," Ryan said. "Like they built their own dock in Roatan, [Honduras], and it's a much nicer pier than the one Carnival uses," she said. "And I think that's a draw."
Homeport capacity drives upgrades
NCLH isn't the only cruise company upgrading its Alaska shore product. In 2018, Carnival Corp. spent $290 million in Skagway to acquire a scenic railway and related port facilities, and it formed a joint venture to manage the business.
Since then, the venture has added a berthing dolphin (an above-water marine structure that is not connected to the shore) at the end of the railroad dock complex. The dolphin now enables the berthing of two large ships there, according to Carnival Corp. chief communications officer Roger Frizzell.
The moves are part of a larger expansion of cruise infrastructure in Alaska, driven by increased homeport capacity.
From Seattle and Vancouver, cruise lines now have the ability to launch six ships simultaneously: three from Vancouver's Canada Place terminal, two from Pier 91 at Seattle's Smith Cove and one from the Bell Street terminal.
"I think the way to look at southeast Alaska is that most of the cruise ship visitation is predicated on weeklong cruises that initiate out of Seattle or Vancouver," Watt said. "And berth capacity has been added in Seattle and Vancouver, so there's going to be capacity for six ships leaving there."
That enhanced capacity will have a domino effect on port capacity in Alaska. With the addition of Ward Cove, Ketchikan would have berths for six ships a day, including Norwegian Cruise Line's two 4,000-passenger ships, the Norwegian Bliss and the Norwegian Joy.
Watt said the question for Juneau, which currently has four berths, is whether it wants to keep pace.
The addition of 500,000 cruise visitors since 2015 has meant a lot of perceived change for residents, Watt said.
"It's a lot of economic opportunities, but it's also that your quiet neighbourhood may be less quiet," he said.
He added: "On Juneau's side, I would imagine we're going to go through a period of high-level community vision-type exercises. What kind of town do we want to be, and where are we headed, and how do we plan appropriately for that? My guess is that Norwegian has jumped into the middle of that conversation, and realistically, we're probably not going to be moving very fast. I think it will take us a while."
Thomas Cook ceases trading after failing to salvage rescue deal
Travel giant Thomas Cook has collapsed after last-minute efforts to secure a rescue deal failed.
The 178-year-old business ceased trading with 600,000 overseas, including 150,000 from the UK.
The CAA is to begin the biggest-ever repatriation of UK travellers with more than 45 aircraft sourced from around the world.
German authorities face organising even bigger repatriation with up to 300,000 Germans abroad on Cook holidays.
The Thomas Cook board called in administrators after running out of options to keep the business afloat. A senior industry source said: “The board could not keep the wheels spinning. They had a legal duty.”
Thomas Cook’s failure leaves 20,000 staff, including 9,000 in the UK, out of work.
The insolvency was timed to kick in once the group’s entire fleet of aircraft was on the ground in the early hours of Monday.
The holidays of those due to fly out from today have been cancelled leaving hundreds of thousands to apply for refunds.
Chaos and confusion are expected at airports, as people turn up for cancelled services or to enquire about flights home, and at the more than 3,000 hotels used by Thomas Cook – most of which will be owed money by the group.
The group was set to be rescued in a deal worth £900 million which would have seen Fosun taking control of 75% of the company’s tour operating the business and up to 25% of its airline in exchange for a £450 million capital injection.
Debt holders and lending banks would put up the remaining £450 million in exchange for control of Thomas Cook’s airline and up to 25% of the tour operator.
The deal, which had been pushed back once, was due to be voted on by creditors and stakeholders on September 27.
But last week Thomas cook’s lending banks, led by Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds demanded it finds an additional £200 million in contingency funding.
This demand for “a seasonal standby facility” followed fresh advice from financial consultants working for the banks which suggested Cook risked running out of cash once more by late 2020.
Friday, 20 September 2019
Extended MSC Seashore to be the longest ship in MSC Cruises fleet
More than 40% of new ship MSC Seashore has been redesigned and enhanced as a “significant evolution and improvement” over its two sister ships.
The differences to MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview include 200 extra cabins, a larger ‘ship within a ship’ MSC Yacht Club and an additional double-deck lounge at the rear.
The latest MSC Cruises’ vessel, due to enter service in June 2021, will have 10,000 square metres of additional deck space with a 16-metre extension to 339 metres, making it the longest vessel in the fleet.
Features include 28 more terraced suites and two suites with private whirlpools.
The expanded MSC Yacht Club will include two new cabin categories – 41 deluxe grand suites and two owner’s suites with whirlpools.
A ‘cluster cabin’ concept for families – where two or three adjoining cabins can be linked to accommodate between six and ten people – will be introduced, while 75 larger cabins for disabled passengers are added.
Two new restaurants are planned alongside a new location for five speciality dining outlets to allow for al fresco waterfront seating on the ship’s boardwalk.
The interior has been redesigned with two central meeting points positioned at the middle and forward part of the ship, as well as specific measures to improve passenger flows.
MSC Seashore will have a bigger casino and 20 speciality bars.
The ship will feature a new design of its aft swimming pool, an enlarged indoor pool and a new waterpark. Clubs for young children and teenagers have been separated from a larger kids’ zone.
A range of environmental protection measures is to be installed including a selective catalytic reduction system designed to help cut nitrogen oxide by 90% through advanced active emissions control technology.
Wastewater will go through a purification and filtration process that transforms it to “near tap-water” quality.
The new-build will also be fitted with shore-to-ship power connections while in port to reduce emissions.
The details emerged at a keel-laying ceremony for the ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.
MSC Cruises’ executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “Today’s ceremony marks another key milestone in the construction of one of our most innovative all-around ships yet.
“Most importantly, MSC Seashore – which will feature the latest and most advanced environmental technology currently available – represents another proof of our long-standing commitment to preserving the environment in our ongoing journey to minimise and continuously reduce the impact of our operations.”
Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono added: “The beginning of drydock works of MSC Seashore, the largest ship so far built in Italy, is for us a source of great satisfaction.
“It is a real challenge in terms of structural and managerial aspects, which powers the impressive workload for the shipyard and the local area.”
Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
Hurricane Humberto Causes Cruise Ships to Alter Course
PHOTO: Five-day forecast for Hurricane Humberto. (Photo courtesy of National Hurricane Center)
Hurricane Humberto, which has developed over the weekend from a Tropical Storm into a full-blown, Category-1 hurricane, is making its way toward Bermuda, forcing cruise lines operating in the region to reroute their ships.
Princess Cruises ship to feature in a TV documentary
Princess Cruises’ 3,080-passenger ship Crown Princess will appear on a behind-the-scenes TV documentary next month.
The hour-long episode called Monster Ships follows the vessel as it sails a 10-day Caribbean voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Viewers will see the jobs carried out by 1,200 crew members working in the 17 restaurants and bars onboard, providing round-the-clock room service across more than 1,500 cabins and entertaining guests.
Monster Ships was commissioned by Discovery Networks International and made by WAG TV, an international producer of TV shows.
Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “We’re delighted to see Princess Cruises once again feature on the small screen, this time providing viewers with a rare onboard glimpse behind-the-scenes.
“The Crown Princess episode of Monster Ships is recommended viewing for anyone with an interest in the incredible mechanics and logistics of a cruise ship, or who wants to see the premium guest experience we offer on one of our stunning Caribbean sailings.”
Viewers can also experience the ship for themselves when it sails out of the UK next year on a series of voyages to the Mediterranean and northern Europe.
The episode will air on UKTV’s Yesterday Channel on Thursday, October 3 at 8pm.
Monday, 16 September 2019
Cunard makes cinema ad debut with Downtown Abbey film
Cunard is making its big-screen debut with a new cinema advert to appear before every screening of the new Downton Abbey film.
The ‘Dreams’ advert draws from the emotions evoked from travelling on flagship Queen Mary 2 on a transatlantic voyage.
The 40-second sequence invites audiences “to dream of love, banquets, journeys and music beyond all belief and then, once you have done all that, forget that you were dreaming”.
The advert features the voice of British philosopher, writer, and speaker Alan Watts.
Downton Abbey was chosen as the platform to release the new advert to provide the line with a combination of reach, impact and context.
Cunard marketing director David Milo Jones said: “In a world where we often find it hard to switch off, a holiday onboard a Cunard ship is the perfect place to escape the everyday.
“This advert captures what it feels like to experience the magic of a Cunard voyage onboard our flagship Queen Mary 2 as she journeys across the Atlantic.
“We know that many of our target audience of discerning travellers are passionate Downton Abbey fans, so a return to the big screen was too good an opportunity for us to miss.”
The promotional campaign also includes branded content that will run across Cunard’s social media channels and be distributed to the line’s international teams to use in their own sales and marketing channels.
Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas to sail in Europe
The line’s 27th ship, which will be similar in size to 4,800-passenger-capacity Spectrum of the Seas, will first sail out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Caribbean itineraries from November 2020.
It will sail both six- and eight-night Caribbean cruises, becoming the first Quantum Ultra-class ship to call at the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curacao, which will be calling on its eight-night itinerary.
They will be in addition to the calls on its six-night sailing, which include Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Royal Caribbean International’s private Caribbean island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
After Odyssey’s maiden season in the Caribbean, the ship will redeploy to Europe for summer 2021. Details of its European itineraries are yet to be confirmed and are expected to be released in November. In a previous interview with Travel Weekly, the line’s president and chief executive Michael Bayley hinted that the ship would sail out of Barcelona.
Odyssey of the Seas will feature a RipCord by iFLY sky-diving adventure, a North Star glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean and a two-deck-high Two70 entertainment venue and SeaPlex active space with a trapeze school, basketball court, a roller-skating rink and bumper cars.
Royal said more features of the ship will be announced ahead of its launch.
The line’s first Quantum-Ultra class ship, Spectrum of the Seas, launched in April with sailings out of Shanghai, China.
Friday, 13 September 2019
Grand Bahama Shipyard Welcomes First Commercial Vessel After Hurricane Dorian
PHOTO: Grand Bahama Shipyard welcomes its first commercial vessel, the Agathonissos. (photo via Carnival Corporation)
Following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, officials from the Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) announced Thursday the facility has resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel.