Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Watch: Wild Docking in Norway

Watch: Wild Docking in Norway

 Image result for MS Nordnorge

Check out this wild video out of northern Norway showing an expedition cruise ship docking during strong winds.

The video was filmed on January 21 as the Hurtigruten expedition ship MS Nordnorge was docking Bodø, Norway. As you can see the Captain uses the ship’s anchor to ease the ship alongside the pier, earning him high praise on social media. 

The 123.3 meters, 11,384 gross tonne MS Nordnorge was built in 1997 (refurbished in 2016) and provides expedition cruises for up to 590 passengers within the Arctic Circle.

Last week’s wild docking wasn’t its first rodeo, either. Check out the video below showing the same ship pulling off a similar manoeuvre in 2016.


Monday, 27 January 2020

Which? cruise poll condemned as ‘inaccurate and unrepresentative’

Which? cruise poll condemned as ‘inaccurate and unrepresentative’

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MSC Bellissima

MSC Cruises and P&O Cruises have hit back strongly against negative comments made about them in a newly published survey by consumer group Which?

The annual cruise poll of Which? members rated MSC Cruises as the worst line with “poor customer service. Surly staff and mediocre food” and a customer score of 57%

But MSC Cruises criticised the report as “inaccurate and unrepresentative” and called for the methodology to be improved.

P&O Cruises was criticised for its “social atmosphere” on board with several repeat passengers complaining that standards had dropped and it was akin to “Butlin’s on the sea”. However, the British line received a “respectable” customer score of 71%.

A spokesman for P&O Cruises said in response: “We continue to see cruising rise in popularity across all demographics and age ranges, many of whom have learned to appreciate cruising by going on cruises with their families while growing up and who are attracted to the flexibility and choice available on cruises from discovery to dining; exploration, knowledge, learning and adventures onshore.”

Read about:
Royal Caribbean and MSC cancel sailings over coronavirus fears

The poll of 2,253 Which? members taken in September placed Viking Ocean Cruises top followed by Saga Cruises, Azamara, Hurtigruten and Silversea.

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Viking Sky

The bottom five were MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International. P&O Cruises came sixth from bottom in the rankings.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “Cruises shouldn’t be about long queues, expensive extras and rubbish excursions, especially when you’ve already forked out thousands of pounds for your trip and have limited choice about how you spend your time and money on board.”

However, the results were based on small numbers of responses, with just 67 for MSC Cruises, while P&O Cruises attracted the highest number in the survey at 504.

MSC Cruises argued that the small sample size was not representative of the overall passenger experience following a 37% rise in passengers from the between 2018 and 2019 and three million taking cruises with the company worldwide last year.

The line said: “MSC Cruises is particularly disappointed with the methodology used by Which? as well as the commentary provided within the report.

“The survey fails to recognise the vast difference in what the cruise lines offer as an experience, comparing products that cost £630 per night and products that cost £130 per night without stating what is included.

“This makes for an inaccurate comparison and as a result is misleading for consumers.

“Whilst this is the second year MSC Cruises have featured bottom of the report, Which? stated that for the 2018 report they surveyed people who have cruised with MSC Cruises in the last year, and for the 2019 report people from the last two years, this shows they have only surveyed an additional 21 people and as a result we had a minimal chance of improving our score given the incredibly small sample size.

Read More:
MSC Cruises unveils environmental campaign to restore reefs

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P&O Cruises ambassador Gary Barlow to perform on Iona

“Whilst we are always grateful for the feedback and are constantly working to evolve our product offering and passenger experience we feel that this ranking is unrepresentative of both our brand and the cruise industry as a whole.

“The report does not give enough information to allow readers to make an informed choice on what they think is value for money based on what the cruise includes.”

MSC Cruises said it approached Which? for a second year running asking for a meeting “to help educate them on the cruise industry and to discuss suggestions as to how this report could better represent the cruise industry”.

The line added: “Whilst representatives from Clia, including an MSC Cruises team member did have a meeting to this effect last year, the report has been issued in exactly the same way which is very disappointing.

“Once again we have requested another meeting in the hope of looking for a fairer, more representative study with a distinct improvement in the methodology.

“At MSC Cruises we really believe there is a cruise for everyone and we hope that this inaccurate, unrepresentative report does not put future cruisers off investigating cruise, the fastest-growing holiday segment in the world.

The P&O Cruises spokesman said: ”We work relentlessly to improve and enhance the guest experience for P&O Cruises guests across all our ships.

“In May we will launch our new flagship Iona which will feature enhancements to already successful brand signature venues from the existing fleet, as well as features newly developed for Iona.

“These include a breath-taking three-deck atrium in the heart of the ship as well as SkyDome which will be a world-first at sea and offer a unique space for relaxing in all weathers and providing entertainment, featuring aerial performers and a wealth of live acts.

“Iona will be the first new launch for P&O Cruises in five years, and will be the most environmentally efficient ship in P&O Cruises history.

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P&O Britannia

“It will use LNG to generate the primary source of power reducing exhaust emissions to support the company’s sustainability goals. Iona will be named on July 4 in a celebration which forms part of Ionafest which will feature Clean Bandit, Trevor Nelson, Jo Whiley, Alex James and Sara Cox. We are also very proud to have just announced Gary Barlow as our brand ambassador.”

Clia claimed that the survey “does not tell the true story and is entirely unrepresentative”.

The cruise line trade body said: “We have previously raised our concerns regarding how the survey has been conducted, such as its limited sample size.

“We remain disappointed that these concerns have not been addressed, but we continue to remain willing to engage should the survey authors decide to adopt a fairer approach in future.”

A Clia spokesperson said: “Cruise holidays are becoming increasingly popular as more and more passengers are appreciating the incredible experience, value, and fantastic onboard service offered by cruise lines today.

“Not only are more people choosing cruise holidays, with 32 million people expecting to travel on a cruise in 2020, but they keep returning too, with 82% of cruise travellers saying they are likely to book another cruise in future. In fact, the cruise industry enjoys one of the highest ratios of repeat customers within the travel industry.”

Royal Caribbean and MSC cancel sailings over coronavirus fears

Royal Caribbean and MSC cancel sailings over coronavirus fears

MSC Splendida in Valletta \Harbour photo credit Dave Jones
This story was updated on Monday, January 27 at 8.30am.

Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises have cancelled sailings from Shanghai amid concerns over the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas’ departure on Monday and an MSC Splendida sailing on January 28 have both been pulled.

Quantum-Ultra class ship Spectrum of the Seas was due to sail a four-day Best of Okinawa cruise, but the line has decided to suspend the voyage and is offering affected passengers “full refunds for the cancellation”.

The coronavirus has killed at least 81 people, infected around 3,000 and spread to as many as ten countries outside China.

There have been at least 44 confirmed cases outside China, including in Australia, the USA, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and France.

The FCO hardened its travel advice over the weekend advising against all travel to Hubei Province, the course of the outbreak. “If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so,” it said.

Royal Caribbean said on Friday that passengers who had travelled through or were from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus first broke out, would not be allowed to board its ships.

However, the line has now adopted a tougher stance in a bid to protect passengers.

More:  Updated: FCO issues travel advice after coronavirus cases in China
Heathrow monitors flights from China amid coronavirus outbreak
Operators monitoring coronavirus crisis as people in the UK are tested

“In light of the latest developments with the coronavirus outbreak in China, we are suspending the January 27 sailing of Spectrum of the Seas, currently our only ship homeported in China,” a spokesperson for the line said.

“We are working with our guests to provide full refunds for the cancellation.
Image result for world health organisation logo

“The health and safety of our guests and crew is our primary concern, and we continue to work with the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and government health authorities to monitor the situation.”

The spectrum of the Seas is scheduled to operate a mix of itineraries across the Far East until midway through 2021.

It is not known whether Royal will cancel more of Spectrum’s sailings beyond Monday due to the virus.

MSC Cruises said: “Due to urgent guidelines from the Chinese government to combat the spread of the coronavirus, MSC Cruises is required to cancel the upcoming cruise with MSC Splendida on 28 January.

“Guests booked on this cruise have the option to receive a full refund of their cruise ticket and port charges, or book an alternative sailing with an equivalent price and receiving additional onboard credit – with an embarkation date before the end of the year.

“At the time of writing, MSC Splendida is planned to remain in port for the duration of the cruise from 28 January until 1 February.

“We will continue to closely monitor the public health and safety situation in China and are consulting with international and local health authorities, as well as the ministry of transport of the People’s Republic of China, and strictly follow their advice and recommendations.

“Guests and travel partners have been informed and will be kept abreast of any further changes as the situation evolves.”

All transport hubs including airports, railway and bus stations, have been closed in the city of Wuhan and travel restrictions are in place in other cities in Hubei Province.

FCO advice states: “Public Health England has offered advice to travellers. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities.

“For more information and advice, visit the TravelHealthPro website.”

In a further update today, the FCO said: “We are working to make available an option for British nationals to leave Hubei province. If you are a British national in Hubei Province and require assistance, please contact:

· our 24/7 number +86 (0) 10 8529 6600
· or the FCO (+44) (0)207 008 1500

“We continue to monitor developments closely and are in close touch with the Chinese authorities. The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern.”

P&O Cruises Celebrates Australia Day in Sydney Harbour

P&O Cruises Celebrates Australia Day in Sydney Harbour

For the eighth year running, P&O Cruises celebrated Australia Day on Sydney Harbour with nearly 2000 guests onboard the Pacific Explorer enjoying a giant deck party jam-packed with Australia-filled activities including the cruise line's annual "Look Like an Aussie Legend" competition, thong throwing contests, meat pie eating championships and an Australian national anthem sing-off.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Royal Caribbean ‘Out-Wowing’ Itself

Royal Caribbean ‘Out-Wowing’ Itself

Perfect Day at CoCoCayPerfect Day at CocoCay
“We are going to keep pushing the envelope. At Royal Caribbean we are never satisfied with the status quo,” said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support and service.

“That is why, as we Royal Amplify an Oasis-class ship, people might say ‘Vicki, there was nothing wrong with it, why do you need more bells and whistles?’ But we do not build ships like cookie cutters. With the Oasis, Allure, Harmony and Symphony, we continued to innovate aboard each new ship in the class, while most cruise lines build identical ships after the first one in a class, just changing the decor,” she continued.

“Our chairman has always said ‘Do not think about cost, (instead) think about how we can make our product better and better.’ And if you push the cost aspect aside and are driven by what is going to be the best experience for the consumer, that does change how you think about your product.

“So we will keep pushing the envelope, with new features aboard our ships, a new class of ships, the Icon class, and enhancing Perfect Day at CocoCay and other islands in the Perfect Day Collection.

“Perfect Day at CocoCay is probably the most talked-about destination today,” Freed continued. “Of all the places we call around the world, this is our number one rated port of call, so it is definitely resonating with our guests.”

The island has turned out to be so popular, in fact, that on some itineraries ships call twice during the same cruise.

Royal Caribbean is also driving innovation elsewhere, its latest newbuilding, the Quantum Ultra-class, 158,000-ton, 4,100-passenger Spectrum of the Seas, introduced in 2019, is deployed in the Chinese market.

Royal AmplifiedRoyal Amplified

Also going to China in 2021 will be the next Oasis-class ship, the 227,626-ton, 5,448-passenger Wonder of the Seas.

Meanwhile, the Quantum-ultra class Odyssey of the Seas will be deployed in the North American market, launching service from Port Everglades in November, moving to the Mediterranean for the 2021 summer season.

In addition, the 2009-built Oasis of the Seas just underwent a $165 million renovation last fall.

“Even though the ship is only 10 years young,” Freed said, “we are adding some new features. We always want to out-wow ourselves.”

The Oasis is sailing seven-day Caribbean cruises from Miami this winter before moving to Cape Liberty for the summer season.

Added Freed: “She will be very popular in the Northeast market. Our guests will be able to get on an Oasis-class ship in their own backyard. They will also call at Perfect Day at CocoCay.”

Building a new port facility in Galveston, the port said it will be able to accommodate Oasis-class ships.

“Anytime we build brand-new facilities, we want to make sure that all our ships will fit into that facility,” Freed commented.

Freed continues to be as committed to travel agents as ever. And despite the changing industry, fewer retail storefronts, and the internet, she said that travel advisors are very important to cruise sales.

“Cruising is a complex product. You are talking about somebody’s vacation that they have worked hard for all year long, and we see the need for travel advisors becoming even more important, because people want to make sure they get it right.

“It is true they can go to the internet and find a lot of information, but at the end of the day, there can be too much information, and you get consumer confusion. That is when you need a professional who can guide you to make the right buying decision. You need someone who can be a valued interpreter.”

The new-to-cruise are asking for a shorter cruise experience, according to Freed. They are looking for a three-, four- or five-day getaway, which is a good way for them to test the waters and find out if cruising is right for them.

“This was one of the motivators that led us to flip the short-cruise market upside down. Instead of putting older hardware in the market, we put in the Royal Amplified (modernized) Navigator and Mariner of the Seas, ships that typically in the past would not have been in the short cruise market.

“Their next step may be a seven-day cruise on an Oasis-class ship. Or they can be millennials who prefer shorter vacations, but may repeat their short cruise three to four times a year.”

What are the basic selling points for Royal Caribbean? “There is so much I can say,” Freed answered, “but I like to sum it up in a few words: we are a combination of quality and energy.

“There are some beautiful quality brands out there – Celebrity is a quality brand, and then there are some lines that have energy, but nobody has the unique combination of Royal Caribbean.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Winter 2019-2020

Cruise Lines Race to React to Coronavirus

Cruise Lines Race to React to Coronavirus

Costa Atlantica
The early 2000s and the SARS virus sent Asia-Pacific operators scrambling to move ships, and the same may be about to play out as a number of brands operating in the Chinese market are reacting to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China.

In a prepared statement, Astro Ocean Cruises said it is offering full refunds to any passengers that have a fever or have been diagnosed with the virus. In addition, for groups departing from Wuhan, where most cases have been concentrated, refunds are also on the table if guests cannot join the trip due to “pneumonia-related management measures.”

The company also said medical personnel that are unable to travel are also eligible for refunds or have the option to change their sailing to a future date.

Costa also issued a statement, saying it was working with port authorities to strengthen passenger screening procedures for guests that may have a fever.

The Italian brand is also modifying cruise policies to allow for full refunds for guests that have the virus or have a fever; as well as any guest from the Wuhan area; and similar to Astro Ocean, medical staff that cannot travel due to work commitments.

Passenger dies ‘jumping from cruise ship’

Passenger dies ‘jumping from cruise ship’

 Image result for oasis of the seas
Oasis of the Seas.

A cruise passenger died after jumping from the tenth deck of one of the world’s largest cruise ships.

The 46-year-old man from Florida leapt from Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas while it was docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

He was reported to be an events contractor with LGBTQ+ travel firm Atlantis Events which had chartered the vessel on a week-long Caribbean sailing from Miami.

More: Royal Caribbean unveils raft of changes to the trade sales team

A four-hour search shut down the ship on Wednesday evening as the 4,000 passengers on the cruise were assembled to establish who was missing.

Dive teams and state police agencies in San Juan recovered the body several hours later, according to the US Coast Guard.

Royal Caribbean confirmed that CCTV footage seemed to indicate the man purposefully jumped from the ship although the circumstances around the incident have not been confirmed.

“We are assisting authorities with their investigation of the death of a male guest in San Juan, Puerto Rico,” the line told the Daily Mail.

“Security footage indicates the man intentionally went overboard from Oasis of the Seas. Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Seattle: Alaska Drives Demand

Seattle: Alaska Drives DemandSeattleQuantum of the Seas in Seattle.

 While moving ahead with plans to build a third terminal, the Port of Seattle set another record last year with 1,210,000 passengers on 211 calls and is forecasting a further increase this year to 1,380,000 passengers on 225 calls.

“We are also extending our season starting as early as April 1 with the Grand Princess and closing on Oct. 19 with the Ruby Princess,” said Michael McLaughlin, director of cruise and maritime operations. “Norwegian Cruise Line will also bring a third ship, the Norwegian Sun, joining the Bliss and the Encore at Pier 66. The Sun will sail 11-day Alaska cruises.

“Next year, the new Norwegian Encore will replace the Joy,” he continued. “It is a good example of how Norwegian is keeping their newest and best products in the market.

“Also in 2021, Carnival will replace the Spirit with the larger Freedom.”

Last year marked Seattle’s 20th year as a cruise port, during which it has seen nearly 14 million passengers.

“What stands out over those two decades,” said McLaughlin, “is that even during the recession we continued to grow our market share year-over-year. There was some flattening out in Alaska when that head tax was put into place, but it had less effect on Seattle in that we had entered into berthing agreements with the brands where they needed to meet their annual guarantees. So when they decided to pull ships out of the market as a result of the taxation in Alaska, it had less effect on Seattle.

“Over the long run, the growth trend has been really positive.”

Having released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new terminal last summer, the port has announced three groups that were shortlisted. They were the so-called Cruise Industry Leaders Group, with Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Carnival Corporation and SSA Marine, a Seattle-based stevedoring company; Global Ports Holding and Miami-based Civil & Building North America; and Ports America, teaming up with Jacobs Engineering Group, headquartered in Dallas.

With the goal of having the new terminal ready for the 2023 season, it means Seattle will have three cruise terminals and four berths: Terminal 46 with one berth; the Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66 with one berth, and the Smith Cove Terminal at Pier 91 with two berths.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

MSC Cruises expanding World-class, and more

MSC Cruises expanding World-class, and more

 MSC's first World class ship is due in 2022.
MSC's first World-class ship is due in 2022. MSC Europa

 MSC Cruises ordered two more cruise ships in its World-class and agreed to develop two additional ship classes. One will have at least four vessels and the other could use wind power.

The two firm ships orders and memorandum of understanding to build the two new prototypes represent a combined value of about $7 billion.

An agreement for the ships and prototypes was made with French shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

MSC placed orders for its third and fourth World-class ships, powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), to be delivered in 2025 and 2027.

The new four-ship class will also be LNG-powered, MSC said, while another prototype will incorporate emerging technologies such as wind power.

MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said that the investments “confirm this industry’s commitment to environmental sustainability.”

The four new vessels will represent a capital investment exceeding $4.4 billion, MSC said, adding to the $2.2 billion for the two additional World Class ships.

The Chantiers shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, is currently building the first two ships in the line’s World-class. The first of those 5,264-passenger, 205,000-gross-ton vessels, due to enter service in 2022, will be the largest ship operated by a European cruise line.

MSC Cruises and NFL players promote coral preservation

MSC Cruises and NFL players promote coral preservation

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MSC Europa - MSC World Class future LNG cruise ship.

 MSC Cruises, Miami’s Super Bowl Host Committee and 54 NFL players have partnered to raise awareness about the need to protect and preserve coral reefs.

The MSC Foundation, a private nonprofit wing of MSC Group, launched the #SuperCoralPlay along with the pro football players, including Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry and retired NFL quarterback Mark Sanchez.  

At a Miami event, MSC Cruises USA chairman Rick Sasso said that “we all need to do more” to protect the environment.

“The #SuperCoralPlay is the perfect way to create a change and engage as many people as possible,” he said.

https://youtu.be/NTisSzDZKRE  or click the image below to watch the video.

Image result for https://youtu.be/NTisSzDZKRE

As part of the campaign, MSC’s recently opened private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, will become a centre for applied research on super coral, a hardy coral species that can withstand high ocean temperatures.

The project will bring together experts in marine biology and coral conservation from the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University, among other partners, to have students and faculty do marine restoration research and activities around Ocean Cay. Graduate students from the universities will live on the island for a semester as they participate in the research as part of a fellowship.

The campaign coincides with this year’s Super Bowl being held in Miami and includes a music video featuring the NFL players on MSC’s private island, highlighting the issues facing coral and the steps individuals and businesses can take to help.

Viking Cruises launching expedition ships in 2022

Viking Cruises launching expedition ships in 2022

 Viking Cruises launching expedition ships in 2022

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Viking Cruises has opened the books on a new product line: Viking Expeditions, an expedition cruise line that will set sail in 2022.

The line in its first year of operation will have two, 378-passenger ships. The Viking Octantis, scheduled to debut in January 2022, will sail Antarctica and the U.S. Great Lakes. The Viking Polaris, due in August 2022, will cruise in Antarctica and the Svalbard region in the Arctic.

Vard, a Fincantieri subsidiary, will build the ice-strengthened ships.

Viking's expedition ships will feature the Finse Terrace.
Viking's expedition ships will feature the Finse Terrace.

It had been anticipated that Viking was planning an expedition line ever since it placed an order with Vard, which also was constructing expedition ships for Ponant and Hapag-Lloyd.

Viking made the plan's official during an event for trade and media at the Hilton Beverly Hills Hotel, which featured a naming of Viking Jupiter cruise ship by soprano Sissel Kyrkjebo and a brief performance. (The naming was conducted remotely, as the Jupiter is currently sailing near Ushuaia, Argentina.)

In remarks from the stage, Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said that he had "long had the ambition to do something in Antarctica." the company had been making plans for an expedition ship as early as 2013.

And there was applause when Hagen revealed plans for the Great Lakes cruises that take in ports such as Thunder Bay, Ontario; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Mackinac Island, Michigan, saying that "guests also like to cruise near home." The ships are being built specifically to fit that water system's locks.

Viking has also activated the URL viking.com, which include links to all three product lines.

At a Q&A session with the press, Hagen said: "We have one brand, so everybody really knows what they're getting when they're getting a Viking product. I think that's comfortable. From the get-go we said we're about exploring the world in comfort. So 'exploring' has been part of our tagline. It's a logical step at this time in our career."

The Octantis and Polaris will do double duty as cruise ships and research vessels. Viking said it will host researchers and scientists via partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, among others. Another partnership is with the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute, where Viking has created an endowment, the Viking Chair of Polar Marine Geoscience, that supports the institute’s graduate students.

As part of the endowment, scientists will conduct fieldwork on the ships and interact with passengers.

A 430-square-foot space called the Laboratory will be “designed to support a broad range of research activities,” Viking said. Guests will have supervised access to the area.

Another view of the Finse Terrace outdoor lounge.
Another view of the Finse Terrace outdoor lounge.

The Laboratory will overlook the Hangar, which Viking said will be an industry first: an in-ship marina enabling the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s multiple shell doors, including an 85-foot slipway that enables guests to embark rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) from a stable, interior surface. The ships will carry Zodiac craft, kayaks and two six-passenger submersibles.

In the rendering Hagen showed to guests at the Hilton, he pointed out with a smile the colour of the submersibles. "We have a yellow submarine."

Viking said the ships would meet guidelines and requirements from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators and others. The ships’ straight bows are expected to reduce fuel consumption. A dynamic positioning system will enable the ships to hover over the seabed without anchoring.

Each passenger will be provided with a Viking Expedition Kit with boots, binoculars and waterproof pants. They will have access to satellite phones, VHF radios and excursion gear like trekking poles and snowshoes.

The expedition ships will feature the Scandinavian design ethos seen on its river and ocean ships. Guests who have sailed Viking will recognize some of the public spaces on Octantis and Polaris. But there will be touches unique to the ships.

For example, the cabins will have what Viking called a Nordic Balcony: a sunroom where the top of the glass can be lowered to the open air. "You don't need an outdoor balcony -- it's cold," Hagen said. "We've taken that space and brought it inside." He also showed off an image of the drying closet that will be in each cabin, for airing and drying items like wet expedition jackets and gear.

The cabins start at 222 square feet, but the top accommodation is the 1,223-square-foot Owners Suite with a living room, six-seat dining table, 800-square-foot private garden and traditional Norwegian wood-sided hot tub.

A rendering of the expedition ships' pool deck.
A rendering of the expedition ships' pool deck.

Viking is designing the aft decks of the ships as a combination lecture hall and outdoor lounge. The Aula auditorium is inspired by the University of Oslo’s hall where Nobel Peace Prizes were awarded, and its backdrop will be floor-to-ceiling windows with 270-degree views.

Adjacent to the Aula will be the Finse Terrace, an outdoor lounge with couches and warming lava rock “firepits.” Viking said the two spaces can be combined for “an unmatched alfresco experience for guests to be immersed in nature.”

This report was updated to include remarks by Viking chairman Torstein Hagen.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Port Canaveral: Diversified Offering

Port Canaveral: Diversified Offering

Six Ships, Port Canaveral

A brand-new Terminal 3 is nearing the final stages of construction for Carnival Cruise Line at Port Canaveral, along with a 1,800-spot parking garage, all in preparation for the new Mardi Gras which will become the first LNG-fueled ship in North America.

Projections call for just under five million cruise guests in the fiscal year 2020, and over 5.6 million by 2024.

For port CEO Captain John Murray, the planning started years ago, wanting to be ready for LNG-fueled ships. The effort has paid off as Port Canaveral will host the Mardi Gras year-round and is expected to be home to Disney’s LNG-fueled ships as well.
“We are growing consistently,” Murray said. “All our cruise lines are very strong and over the next few years they plan to add additional ships.

 A rendering of the new Cruise Terminal 3
“We are going to become the Florida port that can expand as the tonnage will be on the market and there won’t be as many berthing options in Florida as there have been in the past.”
Other big news at Port Canaveral includes the summer arrival of Marella Cruises in 2021, a deployment move announced late last year that had been in the works since 2017, said Robert “Bobby G” Giangrisostomi, vice president, cruise business development.
“They were looking for an American product,” he said, adding that the port’s proximity to Orlando was key.

Long term, the big homeport customers have major deals with Port Canaveral, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney, and Murray said in November he was negotiating a new deal with Norwegian.

With options, Carnival’s latest arrangement could extend to 45 years. For the port, terminal infrastructure is about building smart. “Flexible terminals,” commented Giangrisostomi. “A 1,200-foot ship can have up to 7,000 passengers. You have to be flexible. LNG ships, big ships, medium ships and Port Canaveral can handle them all.”
Deals also include more parking infrastructure, which may not be as long term.
"We have to look at what the concept of parking could be in 10 years,” Murray said, noting autonomous vehicles and an 83 per cent jump in Uber and Lyft usage at the port year-over-year.

Shorter cruises? Plan for more drive-in passengers. Estimates suggest that 40 to 60 per cent of guests embarking at Port Canaveral are drive-in customers.                     
“We are 200 miles closer to the entire Southeast,” explained Giangrisostomi
Another metric that is up is port-of-call business. With an expected 83 transit calls this year, that number jumps to just over 100 next year with more visits from the Oasis of the Seas sailing from Bayonne.

"Our port-of-call business is substantial,” added David German, director, cruise business development. “It’s good for the local community, with 6,000-plus passengers.”
The out-island arms race has paid dividends to all the Florida ports, Murray added. With cruise lines spending big developing their own destinations in the Bahamas, they have a reason to keep ships in nearby homeports.

New facial recognition has sped up clearing ships with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which can now happen in as little as two hours for 5,000 disembarking guests.
"They clear the ship very quickly. It helps the cruise lines get to zero counts much sooner,” Murray said.

“Being ready and out front for our cruise customers,” Murray answered when asked about how to run a cruise port successfully. “The guests are the most important part of our operation … easy in, easy off, easy on the ship, easy off the ship. We want to be number one in customer service … It boils down to the end-user.”

Special Report: Cruise ships face emissions challenge

 Image result for cruise ship smoke stacks
Shipping lines must comply with new global emissions controls. Ian Taylor reports

All ships over 400 tonnes became subject to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) limits on sulphur emissions from January 1.

These cut the permissible sulphur content in ship fuel outside designated emission control areas (ECAs) from 3.5% to 0.5%. The limit remains 0.1% in these control areas – the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, North American coastal waters and the ‘US Caribbean’.

The cruise industry accounts for just 1% of the shipping and 2% of global outbound travel but claims to be at the forefront of cutting emissions.

However, the shipping sector has moved painfully slowly. The January limit on emissions of sulphur oxide – a toxic by-product of heavy fuel oil – was agreed in 2008.

Cruise association Clia announced last year that its members were “well on the way to full compliance”.

However, the IMO warned of “price volatility” until “supply and demand find a balance” with the marine oil required to replace the heavy fuel oil commonly used by ships costing up to 50% more.

There are concerns about supply and about inconsistent enforcement, given the IMO limit is policed by ports and ‘flag states’ – the countries where ships are registered.

Broadly, there are three ways of complying – switching to marine fuel oil, investing in liquified natural gas (LNG) technology or installing exhaust cleaning systems.

There are serious issues with all three.

Switching to marine diesel cuts the sulphur content but the fuel still contains many times more pollutants than vehicle diesel. Ships must also beware of mixing fuels which can be unsafe.

Using LNG cuts sulphur emissions almost entirely and nitrogen oxide by 85%. Clia suggests 25 ships or about 12% of the global total could be using LNG by 2025. But the primary component of LNG is methane, an accelerant of global warming.

There are also limits to LNG infrastructure, with fuelling stations only slowly being established in Europe.

Exhaust cleaning systems or scrubbers enable ships to continue using heavy fuel oil by removing the sulphur – dissolving it in seawater which is returned to the ocean as sulphuric acid or held on the ship to be disposed of on land.

Royal Caribbean Cruises vice-chairman Adam Goldstein has said: “You inject tremendous amounts of water into the exhaust and it takes the sulphur away. That is our principal strategy.”

Clia reported in September that more than 68% of global capacity would utilise scrubbers. But China, Hong Kong, Singapore and some Caribbean islands have banned the release of water from scrubbers and there is a call for a worldwide ban.

Cruise lines also try to cut emissions in port by using shore-side power. But only 16 ports offer this – and only three outside North America.

Shipping sector leaders agreed in December to establish a $5 billion fund for research and development into cutting emissions, with the aim of developing zero-carbon emission ships by the 2030s.

Companies would make a $2 contribution for every tonne of marine fuel they purchase from 2023 if governments back the proposal at a meeting in London in March.

Special Report: Cruise ships face emissions challenge

Special Report: Cruise ships face emissions challenge

 Image result for cruise ship smoke stacks
Shipping lines must comply with new global emissions controls. Ian Taylor reports

All ships over 400 tonnes became subject to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) limits on sulphur emissions from January 1.

These cut the permissible sulphur content in ship fuel outside designated emission control areas (ECAs) from 3.5% to 0.5%. The limit remains 0.1% in these control areas – the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, North American coastal waters and the ‘US Caribbean’.

The cruise industry accounts for just 1% of the shipping and 2% of global outbound travel but claims to be at the forefront of cutting emissions.

However, the shipping sector has moved painfully slowly. The January limit on emissions of sulphur oxide – a toxic by-product of heavy fuel oil – was agreed in 2008.

Cruise association Clia announced last year that its members were “well on the way to full compliance”.

However, the IMO warned of “price volatility” until “supply and demand find a balance” with the marine oil required to replace the heavy fuel oil commonly used by ships costing up to 50% more.

There are concerns about supply and about inconsistent enforcement, given the IMO limit is policed by ports and ‘flag states’ – the countries where ships are registered.

Broadly, there are three ways of complying – switching to marine fuel oil, investing in liquified natural gas (LNG) technology or installing exhaust cleaning systems.

There are serious issues with all three.

Switching to marine diesel cuts the sulphur content but the fuel still contains many times more pollutants than vehicle diesel. Ships must also beware of mixing fuels which can be unsafe.

Using LNG cuts sulphur emissions almost entirely and nitrogen oxide by 85%. Clia suggests 25 ships or about 12% of the global total could be using LNG by 2025. But the primary component of LNG is methane, an accelerant of global warming.

There are also limits to LNG infrastructure, with fuelling stations only slowly being established in Europe.

Exhaust cleaning systems or scrubbers enable ships to continue using heavy fuel oil by removing the sulphur – dissolving it in seawater which is returned to the ocean as sulphuric acid or held on the ship to be disposed of on land.

Royal Caribbean Cruises vice-chairman Adam Goldstein has said: “You inject tremendous amounts of water into the exhaust and it takes the sulphur away. That is our principal strategy.”

Clia reported in September that more than 68% of global capacity would utilise scrubbers. But China, Hong Kong, Singapore and some Caribbean islands have banned the release of water from scrubbers and there is a call for a worldwide ban.

Cruise lines also try to cut emissions in port by using shore-side power. But only 16 ports offer this – and only three outside North America.

Shipping sector leaders agreed in December to establish a $5 billion fund for research and development into cutting emissions, with the aim of developing zero-carbon emission ships by the 2030s.

Companies would make a $2 contribution for every tonne of marine fuel they purchase from 2023 if governments back the proposal at a meeting in London in March.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

New MSC Ships Get Wartsila Power

New MSC Ships Get Wartsila Power

MSC World ClassMSC World Class

Wartsila will supply Chantiers de l‘Atlantique comprehensive package of integrated solutions designed for the first two MSC World-class cruise ships, which will operate on LNG fuel.

The orders with Wartsila were placed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Q3 2018 and Q1 2019.

These will be the first two cruise ships to run on LNG with Wartsila 46DF engines and with Wartsila LNGPac systems.

“The focus of our solutions is on reducing energy and fuel consumption in order to promote efficiency. At the same time, our nitrogen oxide reduction and LNG solutions enhance environmental sustainability, which together with the higher efficiency, is very much in line with Wärtsilä’s Smart Marine strategy,” said Stefan Nysjö, Vice President, Marine Power Solutions, Wärtsilä.

“We are very familiar with Wärtsilä’s products and they have always provided us with excellent support in newbuild projects. These two new cruise ships will represent the latest thinking in minimising the environmental impact and reducing fuel consumption, which is in line with our Ecorizon plan, and Wartsila is playing a major role in this,” added Yves Pelpel, Technical Director, Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Each ship will get five 14-cylinder Wartsila 46DF dual-fuel engines fitted with nitrogen oxide reduction (NOR) units, two Wartsila LNGPac fuel storage and supply systems, seven Wartsila thrusters, and two Wartsila fixed pitch propellers.

The Wartsila 46DF engines are IMO Tier III compliant in gas mode and are compliant in marine diesel oil (MDO) mode in combination with the NOR units.

The Wartsila equipment is scheduled for delivery in mid-2020 for the first ship, and in mid-2022 for the second.

Panama Canal Raises Rates Due to Drought Situation 

Panama Canal Raises Rates Due to Drought Situation 

 Coral Princess

The Panama Canal has added new fees and changed its reservation system to counter historic drought levels.

“Due to changing rainfall patterns and historic low water levels at Gatun Lake, the main source of water for the waterway, the Panama Canal today that it will implement a series of new measures beginning February 15 to sustain an operational level of water and provide reliability to customers while it implements a long-term solution to water,” said a statement from the Panama Canal Authority.

This past year's rainfall was 20 per cent below the historic average and the fifth driest year in 70 years. It follows several years of lower than average rainfall coupled by a 10 per cent increase in water evaporation levels due to a 0.5-1.5 degree Celsius rise in temperature.

Without fee and operational changes, the Canal's water levels are projected to drop to levels that would affect the Neopanamax and Panamax Locks. These new measures are intended to better provide reliability in water levels and therefore transit schedules.

A new freshwater fee will be applied to all vessels over 125 feet in length overall (LOA) that transit through the Panama Canal, and will include the following components: A fixed fee of $10,000 per transit and a variable fee ranging from a minimum of 1 per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent of the vessel's toll will be applied depending on Gatun Lake levels at the time of transit (i.e. if the lake has a higher level, the percentage will be lower and vice versa).

The Panama Canal will adjust the number of daily reservation slots available to 27, replicating the total offered during lane outages.

The waterway will also require that each vessel pays its booking fee in full no later than 48 hours depending on the booking period.

A handling service fee will be applied to all visits for transit at the time they are created in the system. The processing fee will be applied as follows: For vessels 91 feet in beam and over: $5,000. For vessels over 125 feet LOA, but less than 91 feet in beam: $1,500.

The fee will be deducted from the vessel's tolls invoice once the vessel begins transit. If the vessel cancels the visit and does not transit, the Vessel Visit Creation Fee will not be refunded. All visits created prior to February 15, 2020 will be honoured and will not be required to pay this fee.

“The decision to adopt such measures was taken following an evaluation of the impact of innovative techniques already instituted to save water used in the Canal's operations. For example, the Panama Canal has been implementing cross-filling lockages, a technique that sends water between the two lanes at the Panamax Locks during transits and saves an amount of water equivalent to that used in six lockages each day,” the Panama Canal Authority said.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Viking Reveals Expedition Cruise Program

Viking Reveals Expedition Cruise Program
Viking Expedition ShipViking Expedition Ship
Viking today announced the expansion into expedition voyages. Viking Expeditions will begin sailing in January 2022 with its first vessel, the Viking Octantis, embarking on voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

A second expedition vessel, the Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. Viking’s arrival to the Great Lakes will bring the newest and most modern vessels ever to explore this region of North America, the company said.

The ships will be built by VARD with a capacity of 378 guests each.

“We invented the concept of modern river cruising when we launched in 1997; then we reinvented ocean cruises and became the ‘World’s Best Ocean Cruise Line’ in our first year of operation, as well as every year since then. Now, in creating ‘the thinking person’s expedition,’ we are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “Our guests are curious explorers. They want to continue travelling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further. We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises; today we stand singularly as Viking, offering destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers, five oceans and five Great Lakes, visiting 403 ports in 95 countries and on all seven continents.”

The Hangar The Hangar
To develop the new expedition voyages, Viking has partnered with some of the world’s most prestigious scientific institutions. The lead partner is the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute. This relationship is underpinned by a major Viking endowment for scientific research into the polar regions, The Viking Chair of Polar Marine Geoscience, a Cambridge University full professorship based at the Scott Polar Research Institute, as well as a sponsorship fund supporting the Institute’s graduate students. As part of this endowment, the Institute’s scientists will undertake fieldwork on board Viking’s expedition vessels and join voyages to share their expertise with guests.

Viking has also partnered with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a globally recognized bird research facility, whose ornithologists will regularly be on board the expedition ships, providing guest advice and interaction. Additionally, Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose scientists will join expeditions in the Great Lakes to conduct research focused on changes in the region’s weather, climate and ecosystems. NOAA scientists may also offer lectures about the Great Lakes’ unique environment to Viking guests during these voyages.

Hagen also announced that adventurers and educators Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be honoured as ceremonial godmothers to Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, respectively. Arnesen, a native Norwegian, became the first woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole in 1994. Bancroft is the first woman to successfully ski to both poles. Arnesen and Bancroft also became the first women to ski across Antarctica in 2001. Together they co-founded Bancroft Arnesen Explore / Access Water, an initiative that aims to engage and empower more than 60 million minds to create a sustainable tomorrow. Arnesen will also periodically serve as a member of the Viking Expedition Team.


Silversea expedition ship floats out

Silversea expedition ship floats out

 Image result for silver origins cruise ship

The first destination-specific ship built for luxury line Silversea has been floated out of its shipyard ahead of entering service in the summer.

The 100-passenger Silver Origin will be based in the Galapagos Islands from July 18 in its inaugural sailing season.

Construction of the all-suite vessel is continuing after it emerged from the De Hoop shipyard at Lobith in the Netherlands.

Silver Origin will replace Silver Galapagos which is being retired.

The new ship will run alternating seven-day itineraries between Baltra and San Cristóbal in the Pacific Ocean archipelago.

Silversea president and chief executive Roberto Martinoli said: “This is an important milestone for our cruise line; it takes us one step closer to strengthening our industry-leading offering in the Galapagos further still.

“While completing the final stages of Silver Origin’s construction, ensuring that the ship surpasses Silversea’s trademark level of comfort, we are also readying our expedition team, who will deliver an enriching and memorable expedition experience for our guests.”

The experts will offer guided excursions by Zodiac boats, hikes and nature walks ashore.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Cruise Lines Eye 40-Year Service Life

Cruise Lines Eye 40-Year Service Life

Triple Cruise Call in Nassau

“If we can have our assets for up to 40 years we will,” said one senior cruise line executive at a recent industry event.
Cruise ships have traditionally been built and designed with a 30-year service life for their first owner, before being sold into secondary or non-competing markets.

That service life is now extending with large-scale drydock projects making existing tonnage competitive, with over 100 ships set to drydock this year, according to the 2020 Drydocking and Refurbishment Report by Cruise Industry News.

Better yet, with some new ships paying for themselves in as little as five years or less, an extended service window continues the earnings potential.
Classic ships can also serve new or untapped markets, while new ships compete against other new ships in the big-market homeports in North America, Asia or Europe.

When Cuba opened temporarily for U.S. travellers, it was the older tonnage from the mainstream cruise lines that were able to serve Havana, where the port offers limited infrastructure and can’t handle modern mega-ships.

But it comes down to the bottom line, according to previous remarks made by Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald on the company’s 2018 year-end and fourth-quarter earnings call.
"We'll continue with the ship in the fleet if it's relevant to the guests and its earning is key if it's not then the ship will be gone,” he said.

Puerto Rico emphasizes that tourism infrastructure is intact

Puerto Rico emphasizes that tourism infrastructure is intact

 San Juan's busy cruise port on Jan. 8.
San Juan's busy cruise port on Jan. 8.

Puerto Rico is open for tourism. That’s the message from Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean, who reported that San Juan welcomed close to 15,000 visitors from three cruise ships on Jan. 9.

A state of emergency remains in place in southwestern Puerto Rico, which was impacted by earthquakes on Jan. 6 and 7. “Travelers should not be dissuaded by the state of emergency. Gov. Wanda Vazquez has kept that in a place to continue to ensure that those in need receive adequate government funding and support,” Dean said.


Dean said power in Old San Juan has been fully restored. “It’s business as usual at all major hotels,” Dean said.

Flights are operating normally to and from airports in San Juan, Ponce and Aguadilla. Taxi and rideshare options are available. Ferry services to and from Vieques and Culebra are running. 
The Ponce cruise port, the Puerto Rico Convention Center and major attractions such as El Morro, El Yunque, San Cristobal Fort and all areas around San Juan are open for business.

Two tourism sites, Punta Ventana in Guayanilla and the Ruins of the Lighthouse in Guanica reported damage, along with several hotels and many homes and businesses in southwestern Puerto Rico.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Extended drydock forces Liberty of the Seas to cancel five cruises in 2021

Extended drydock forces Liberty of the Seas to cancel five cruises in 2021

Related image
Liberty of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International cancelled five 2021 cruises on the Liberty of the Seas to accommodate an extended drydock.

The scheduled drydock is part of the line’s $1 billion Royal Amplification fleet enhancement program that spans 10 ships over four years and includes the Freedom class of ships, of which the Liberty, built-in 2007, is a part of. The line’s Oasis of the Seas recently completed its upgrade under the program. 

The ship’s cancellations begin with a Feb. 14, 2021, sailing. Royal said that all passengers have been informed and that it is offering them alternative cruises. The other affected sailings were to have departed on Feb. 21 and 28 and March 7 and 14.

Celebrity partners with Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop brand

Celebrity partners with Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop brand

Image result for goop at sea

Click the Image to see the Video

Celebrity Cruises will debut a "Goop at Sea" experience in partnership with the lifestyle brand founded by Gwyneth Paltrow.
Celebrity said that passengers on the Aug. 26 sailing from Barcelona of the Celebrity Apex will be able to interact with Paltrow, Goop's CEO, and Goop's chief content officer, Elise Loehnen, who will host the 11-night cruise.
In addition to a conversation and keynote from Paltrow, the cruise will feature mental health and wellness workshops, experiences led by a spirituality teacher and special Goop-curated menu items and amenities.  
Paltrow said in a statement that the brand's wellness summit was successful in translating Goop content "into a tangible, high-touch experience." 
"This partnership with Celebrity Cruises allows us to bring goop to new audiences and to meet readers where they are," she added. "Goop's brand DNA is based on curiosity, and curiosity is an essential component of travel. With Goop at Sea, we'll be invoking that adventurous spirit with a series of transformative experiences led by a few of our most-trusted wellness practitioners and healers." 
Tickets for the goop at Sea sailing begin at $750 for suite class accommodations on the Apex, which is slated to enter service in April.

Cruise lines pledge Australian bushfire relief cash

Cruise lines pledge Australian bushfire relief cash

Image result for Australian fires

Carnival Corporation and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have both made donations to help support Australian bushfire disaster recovery efforts.

The bushfire crisis has been ongoing in Australia since September and 27 people have died.

More than $1.25 million has been pledged by Carnival Foundation – the corporation’s philanthropic arm – five of its global cruise line brands together with the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation.

The pledge includes $1 million from the family foundation of Carnival chairman Arison and his wife, in addition to $250,000 from Carnival Foundation and five brands – P&O Cruises (Australia), Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises.

All five brands have ships based year-round in Australia or homeport seasonally in the country.

The $1 million will be provided to support “the most timely and urgent relief needs throughout the country”.

The $250,000 donation has been committed to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

The company’s commitment follows a combined A$50,000 donation from P&O Cruises (Australia) and passengers late last year to support residents of New South Wales and Queensland impacted by local bushfires.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has donated A$250,000 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund to support emergency relief efforts for communities affected by bushfires.

Image result for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings

Carnival Australia President Sture Myrmell said: “Our cruise lines carried hundreds of thousands of Aussies and international guests on voyages this summer, and this gesture is a sign of our solidarity with the local community.

“As a cruise shipping organisation with close ties to Australian communities developed over many years, we have been shocked by the devastation from this ongoing disaster.

“Our cruise lines are contributing to the Australian Red Cross’ Disaster Relief and Recovery work because of the organisation’s experience in dealing with the effects of natural disasters and its national reach.

“Communities affected by the bushfire crisis are in immediate need, and we are pleased to be able to contribute in a way that ensures help can be delivered where it is needed most and as quickly as possible. This contribution is being made on behalf of all of our guests who are no doubt equally shocked and concerned at what has happened to their fellow Australians.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings president and chief executive Frank Del Rio said: “We are saddened by the devastation caused by the ongoing bushfires in Australia.

“Our A$250,000 donation to the Australian Red Cross will go directly to relief and recovery efforts for those affected by these historic fires.”

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Los Angeles Plans Two New Cruise Terminals

Los Angeles Plans Two New Cruise Terminals

Ruby Princess in Los Angeles
The Port of Los Angeles has floated ideas for a new cruise terminal at Berths 46 and 50 in the Outer Harbor, said Marketing Manager Chris Chase.

The new facility will be able to accommodate cruise ships longer than 1,100 feet carrying more than 5,000 passengers. Due to the port’s seasonal cruise business, the new cruise facilities are expected to accommodate alternative uses when no cruise ships are in port. These alternatives may include filming, conferences, events and more.

‘Two Terminals’
“The idea is at this point two new terminals to handle the largest ships out there – minimum design is 5,000-plus passengers,” Chase said. “The work we’re doing is: How do we handle these larger ships in the future, and more of them?”
The 13-acre Outer Harbor site is on the tip of a peninsula just past a repair yard. It currently contains Berth 46 and Berth 50, used only in overflow situations. The two large berths will require “some work” but will be the focal point of the development.

Berth 46 is a 900-foot concrete wharf with at-berth water depth exceeding 45 feet. Berth 50 is up to 1,400 feet with minimum at-berth water depths of 35 to 45 feet.

“Ten years ago we identified this location for our waterfront environmental document., so it’s not a new revelation. We just finally appear to have a business case to justify having some investment in that location,” Chase said.
The new facilities will need to offer shoreside power. It will also feature 14 acres for off-site parking.

Los Angeles has seen a jump in cruise calls and passenger numbers over last year – 650,000 in 2019 from 124 ship visits. That’s up from 518,904 on 111 calls in 2018. Estimates for 2020 top 705,000 on 126 calls.

Looking forward, the port expects 775,000 passengers by 2022 from 135 calls. The port expects to break 1 million passengers by 2025. It’s a mark LA hasn’t reached since 2008 when 1,195,897 passengers arrived on 265 sailings.


Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Southampton Port ‘on course’ for shore power

 Southampton Port ‘on course’ for shore power

Port of Southampton Photo credit Dave Jones

Southampton remains “on course” to be the first port in the UK to introduce shore power for cruise ships.

Shore power, which is also called cold ironing, reduces the time ships are required to run their engines in port, reducing pollution.

Associated British Ports (ABP) said it would meet its previous pledge to install the technology in Southampton in 2020.

Shipping is forecast to emit between 2% and 6% of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Southampton, ABP’s Port Air Quality Strategy said in 2018.

A report to Southampton councillors in January 2019 said shore power could deliver “public health benefits” and the council applied for a £7 million government grant for the project, that was later rejected due to concerns over insufficient benefits and the speed of delivery

However, prime minister Boris Johnson said he was “very interested” in the proposals in the lead up to the recent General Election.

ABP said its shore power pledge remained “on course” although issues remained over funding and a large amount of power needed for large cruise ships.

Port director Alastair Welch said: “What we don’t want to do is to plug a ship in and brownout the city.”

Cold ironing is already available for cruise ships in the United States, Canada and some European ports.

MSC Splendida in La Goulette taken in 2010, Photo credit Dave Jones

MSC Cruises seals joint venture deal for Tunisian port operator

MSC Splendida in La Goulette taken in 2010, Photo credit Dave Jones

A joint venture involving MSC Cruises has finalised the takeover of the operator of the cruise port for Tunis.

The European cruise line teamed up with independent cruise ports owner Global Ports Holding last year to bid to run La Goulette.

The deal to acquire Goulette Shipping Cruise, the company that runs the cruise terminal at the Tunisian port, has now been completed for an undisclosed sum.

The concession to operate the cruise port was awarded to Goulette Shipping Cruise in 2006 on a 30-year basis, with a right to extend the term for an additional 20 years.

Cruise ship calls into the port declined for four years after the terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in the Tunisian capital in 2015, which killed 22 tourists.

Regular stops in the port resumed in November with at least ten ships expected this year and more forecast in 2021.

Global Ports Holding said La Goulette handled around 900,000 passengers in 2010 and an average if 441,000 a year between 2011-14.

However, the company admitted that “passenger volumes have been low in recent years”.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Mardi Gras delays not surprising but still costly for Carnival

Mardi Gras delays not surprising but still costly for Carnival

A rendering of the Mardi Gras' top deck. 

When Carnival Corp. announced that it was delaying this year’s delivery of the Carnival Mardi Gras, it had a familiar ring.

The Mardi Gras, the first Carnival Cruise Line ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), joins ships from two other Carnival Corp. brands that also feature LNG propulsion and weren’t delivered on time.

The shipyards involved have blamed the delays on design complexity, troubles with coordinating subcontractors and the size of the ships, which are each intended to carry more than 5,200 passengers.
In each case, the ships are the first in a new class of vessel for their respective lines. All are built on a common platform introduced by Carnival in 2015 and referred to as the Excellence class.

The platform was adapted for the individual needs of Carnival as well as for Carnival Corp.’s two European brands, Costa Cruises and Aida Cruises.

For North Americans, the Mardi Gras will be the first ship to feature the LNG engines, a big technological leap that promises environmental gains and cheaper operating costs, especially with new restrictions on heavy sulfur fuels that start this year.

But going first has never been a formula for smooth sailing in the cruise industry. New technologies frequently have unforeseen problems that need to be ironed out as they move from the drawing board to actual use.
 Image result for lng bunkering vessel
World's First Purpose-Built LNG Bunkering Vessel

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald alluded to that legacy when asked about the delay in a conference call in December.

“The situation is that historically we’ve had occasional delays with prototypes,” Donald said. “But we’re working with the yard and are in the process of negotiating what we need to do to ensure that future delivery is on time.”
That’s not much consolation for passengers on eight Mardi Gras sailings that were cancelled because of the delay.

Those sailings included a debut cruise in Europe, a transatlantic crossing, a New York preview cruise and the first four sailings from the Mardi Gras’ year-round homeport, Port Canaveral in Florida.

More than 40,000 guests have been notified that their plans have been changed. They will get a full refund and a 25% future cruise credit for their troubles as well as assistance with nonrefundable airline and hotel reservations already booked.
Travel agents who sold the cruises will still receive the commissions they earned, Carnival said.

The first sailing, which had been set for Aug. 31, has now been rescheduled for Nov. 14.
Ben Clement, Carnival’s senior vice president of newbuilds, said that despite working closely with shipyard executives to keep the giant ship on schedule, prudence dictated that it be delayed to get it right.

“While we deeply regret disappointing our guests, this change in the delivery date is required to make sure all of the ship’s systems, features and technology will be fully operational so that we can give our guests the vacation they expect,” Clement said.
Carnival will get some compensation from the shipyard, Donald said, but it will be reflected in the ship’s value on the balance sheet, not on the profit and loss statement, so the loss of the eight cruises in 2020 will likely impact earnings.

Clement didn’t go into detail about what issues are making the ship late. But in the previous cases involving Aida and Costa, the shipyards issued statements.
In October 2018, the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany said that it would push back delivery of the AidaNova from Nov. 15 to Dec. 2. It was eventually delivered to Aida on Dec. 19.
AidaNova was the first cruise ship to be powered by LNG, and Meyer Werft said it “required more time for commissioning and testing of this prototype.”

 Image result for costa smeralda ship
Costa Smeralda

Another LNG ship built to the Excellence platform is the Costa Smeralda, which was launched Dec. 20 after being delayed twice. The the shipyard, a Meyer Werft-owned facility in Turku, Finland, cited “the high complexity and the sheer size of the ship project” and noted that it was the the first ship in the class to be built at the Turku yard.
The Carnival Mardi Gras is also being built in Turku.

Using LNG for power instead of diesel requires special pressurized steel tanks to keep the gas in its liquid state. For safety reasons, the tanks must be surrounded by void space, requiring about twice as much room inside the ship as tanks for diesel fuel.
The Mardi Gras is being fitted with three steel LNG tanks and four Caterpillar engines. Carnival officials have said that integrating the tanks, piping and bunkering is the biggest challenge in designing LNG ships.

One reason Carnival and other lines are switching to LNG, despite its complexities, is that natural gas is cheaper than oil. Perhaps more importantly, burning it produces little or no sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, two health-damaging gases in petroleum exhaust.
By some estimates, natural gas also generates about 15% less carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas implicated in climate change.

Of the first four LNG-powered ships ordered by Carnival, only the P&O Cruises ship Iona, due in May 2020, has not suffered a delivery delay.
In addition to its novel powertrain, the Mardi Gras has several other features not attempted before on Carnival ships.

 Image result for p&o iona
P&O Iona

The most prominent is an electric roller coaster that loops around the funnel and most of the upper deck of the ship. Called the Bolt, it is being built by Munich-based Maurer Rides and will require extensive testing for issues of vibration, noise and safety, Carnival has said.
The Mardi Gras is also pioneering an atrium that looks out to see from the side of the ship through a glass wall that spans three stories; a report in the Wall Street Journal noted novel structural problems for supporting that area, which would typically be framed in steel.