Friday, 27 February 2015

Caribbean Facts and Figures

Caribbean Facts and Figures

facts & tidbits

Tourist count
Roughly two million tourists visit the Caribbean Islands per year.
World's top cruise destination
The Caribbean accounts for nearly half of the industry's passenger count. Most of the world's major cruise ships winter here.
Tourism drives the economy of most Caribbean islands. And the United States is the chief trading partner in goods and raw materials.
Caribbean compared to the Atlantic
The Caribbean water is significantly warmer, calmer, clearer and less salty. These attributes draw tourists.
The Caribbean Sea is the world's second largest sea. The biggest, the Mediterranean, is only 9% larger.
The Caribbean Sea's deepest point is 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) below sea level.
Number of Islands
The Caribbean officially has over 7,000 islands (but that figure includes small cays, reefs, and islets). Only about 150 islands are inhabited.
When Columbus arrived in 1492, the Caribbean had an estimated population of 700,000. Today, the number is about 40 million. Most descend from African slaves.
Creole, Dutch, English, French, and Spanish are the top five languages spoken in the Caribbean. The entrenched European language on any given island reflects the island's colonial heritage.
Nautical link
The Caribbean Sea connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean (with the assistance of the Panama Canal).
Geographical origins
The rugged-mountain islands (think Jamaica) are mainly volcanic in origin. Flat islands (like Barbados) were formed by coral formation and rising sea beds.
The Caribbean is named after the native Carib people who once dominated many of the islands.

Caribbean cruise lines

Cruise tips you can trust

Best luxury

Silversea Cruises ships are modest sized and sport spiffy interiors. Passengers are sophisticated, congenial, and well-traveled. Food and service are highly regarded. Crew-to-passenger ratio is high.
Best luxury-upmarket
Azamara Club Cruises has two ships, each accommodating up to 644 passengers. Its price point is between upmarket and luxury. They provide vacationers with a needed niche between luxury and mid-priced fares.

to see my tip-and-photo pages on the Azamara Quest ship.
Best upmarket
Celebrity Cruises is upmarket, thus clearly superior to the mid-priced lines in many ways, including cabin space, service, entertainment, food, and passenger sophistication. Most ships carry about 2,000 passengers.
Best 20-something party boat
Carnival Cruise Line has a well-documented fun, party-boat reputation. Fare are mid-priced and ships are quite large (about several thousand passengers). Has glitzy Las Vegas style entertainment and decor.
Best for families
If your children
   are 9 or younger
Disney Cruise Line has four ships, all family oriented. Pleasing kids is the prime focus, but there's something for everyone. The Fantasy is the best and newest Disney ship.
If your children
   are teens
Royal Caribbean International has specialized facilities and programs for teens. But there's plenty going on to please parents and other adults. Passengers: About 3,000.
If your children
   tweens ( to 12)
If 9 to 10, Disney Cruise Line is a better fit.  If 11 to 12, Royal Caribbean is better.

San Juan cruise port sees record daily arrivals

San Juan cruise port sees record daily arrivals

The cruise port of San Juan reached a record high of 17,847 passenger arrivals on Feb. 25, who arrived on six cruise ships.

The new figure topped the previous records of 15,776 passengers set on Dec. 31; 16,712 on Jan. 8; and 16,395 on Feb. 4.

"The arrival of more than 17,000 passengers in a single day represents an economic impact of approximately $2 million to the economy of Puerto Rico," said Luis Munez Martinez, deputy director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC).

Recent improvements at the cruise port aided in the passenger and cruise call increase, including Pier 1, which made possible the arrival of the Disney cruises, and the expansion of Pier 3, which favored the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, according to Colberg Ingrid Rodriguez, executive director of the Port Authority.

The ships that called on Feb. 25 included the Quantum of the Seas, Disney Fantasy, MSC Divina, Carnival Glory and Holland America's Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam.
Cruise ships calling on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 include the Oceania Riviera, Carnival Liberty and Silversea's Silver Cloud, making a total of 21 cruise ships that have called in San Juan since Feb. 21, including 11 ships that called between Feb. 21 and Feb. 25.

China an option for Norwegian newbuild, Del Rio says

China an option for Norwegian newbuild, Del Rio says

Future New Build bound for China?

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio told investors that China is being studied as a deployment option for one of its ships on order for 2018.

At a conference for institutional investors, Del Rio said he has formed a team to evaluate the idea.

The exploratory team will do financial research with the goal of making a recommendation by the spring of 2016.

A key question, Del Rio said, is whether Norwegian could make more money with the ship deployed in China or elsewhere.

He noted that after initial losses, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp. report being profitable in sourcing guests from China.

"Others have begun making money there, and if others can, we can," Del Rio said.

Norwegian has multiple ships on order, including a pair of 4,200-passenger "Breakaway Plus" designs scheduled for delivery in 2018 and 2019.

The Queen confirmed as godmother of new P&O Cruises ship

The Queen confirmed as godmother of new P&O Cruises ship

The Queen confirmed as godmother of new P&O Cruises ship
P&O Cruises has confirmed that The Queen will officially name the line’s new ship Britannia on Tuesday, March 10.
The announcement confirms speculation that the Queen would be performing the honours in Southampton. She will be accompanied at the naming by the Duke of Edinburgh.
Carnival UK chairman David Dingle said: “We are honoured and proud that Her Majesty will name Britannia almost 20 years after she named the P&O Cruises ship Oriana.
“Britannia, a ship for the nation, will be the embodiment of contemporary Britain, and with her Union Jack livery she will fly the flag for Britain across the Globe.”
The biggest ship designed exclusively for Britain, Britannia is P&O Cruises’ latest vessel.
The ship will include a focus on cuisine, with 'Food Heroes' James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Eric Lanlard, wine expert Olly Smith and cheese expert Charlie Turnbull all contributing to restaurants onboard.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Liverpool cruise liner Black Watch scoops string of awards ahead of first transatlantic sailings to Canada in decades

Liverpool cruise liner Black Watch scoops string of awards ahead of first transatlantic sailings to Canada in decades

Fred Olsen cruise liner, MS Black Watch at the Pier Head, LiverpoolFred Olsen cruise liner, MS Black Watch at the Pier Head, Liverpool

Fred Olsen’s transatlantic Liverpool cruise liner Black Watch has scooped a string of awards voted for by passengers.
The ship, which will undertake a record 14 cruises from Liverpool’s Pier Head this year, topped three small ship categories in Cruise Critic’s prestigious UK Cruisers’ Cruise Awards 2015.
The 28,631 gross tons liner, which carries 804 passengers, was named best for service, best for shore excursions and best for value.
Black Watch was built as Royal Viking Star for the now defunct five star-rated Royal Viking Line’s long distance ocean cruising, and will sail the first Liverpool - Canada transatlantic crossings since 1971 this year.
The spacious liner will undertake two return voyages from Liverpool Cruise Terminal to Canada in May and August, the first direct sailings to Canada since Canadian Pacific’s flagship SS Empress of Canada closed ocean liner services from her Liverpool homeport 43 years ago.
Nathan Philpot, sales and marketing director for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “At Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, we believe in providing the very best customer experience that we can on our cruise holidays, from start to finish. We are renowned for our ‘service with a smile’ on our smaller, more intimate ships, which is why 58% of cruise guests choose to return to the ‘friendliest fleet afloat’ each year – one of the highest repeat rates within the travel industry.
“We would like to thank all those valued cruise guests who voted for Fred Olsen, and we look forward to welcoming you on board with us again in the very near future.”
Black Watch’s cruise season from Liverpool begins next month with a 13-night sailing to the Canary Islands at Easter followed by a further 13 cruises, including a two-night Dublin mini-cruise in December, a 25 night voyage to the Adriatic and a journey through the Norwegian Fjords in May.
Her sister ship Boudicca was Fred Olsen’s previous Liverpool cruise liner.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Disney Cruise Line’s enviable kid clout

Disney Cruise Line’s enviable kid clout

By Tom Stieghorst
Almost without exception, you can tell which cruise lines are serious about attracting families by whether there are animated characters prowling the pool deck.

Whether it is Smurfs, Cinderella, Kung-Fu Panda or SpongeBob SquarePants, they generally signify which lines have a year-round business attracting kids and which don’t.

Some lines make no claim to providing characters or attracting children, including Oceania Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and, soon, Viking Ocean Cruises.  Others don’t do a lot of family business during the school year, often because of longer itineraries.

Of the lines that do provide characters, one stands above the rest. Disney Cruise Line’s advantage is almost unfair, its roster of characters so deep and historic, that if characters are a primary consideration, it has to be tops on the list.

And the line isn’t content to rest on its laurels. Its animation factory just keeps turning out the hits.

On Sunday night, Disney took home an Oscar for its movie “Big Hero 6,” featuring Marvel Comics superheroes, who are also present on Disney Cruise Line ships. That comes on top of last year’s Oscar for “Frozen,” the top-grossing animated movie of all time.

“Big Hero 6” topped DreamWorks Studios’ entrant in the Oscars derby, “How To Train Your Dragon 2.” DreamWorks characters such as Shrek are exclusive to Royal Caribbean International ships.

Of course, popular films emerge from other studios besides Disney. The DreamWorks stable includes notable franchises such as Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. 

But Disney’s four ships have so many characters to pick from. This summer it will feature characters from “Frozen” on cruises to Norway and Iceland. Next year it will have “Star Wars Day at Sea” on eight selected sailings, featuring characters from the Star Wars movies.

The ownership of Disney Cruise Line by entertainment powerhouse Walt Disney Co., of course, gives it access to these properties. And it kind of puts the success of the cruise industry in perspective. When you ask which cruise company has the biggest investor value, it isn’t Carnival Corp, valued at $34 billion. It is Walt Disney, valued at $178 billion. 

Viking to Launch American River Cruises from New Orleans

Viking to Launch American River Cruises from New Orelans

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Today, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisana and Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen announced the selection of New Orleans as the homeport for Viking River Cruises’ first North American river cruise itineraries, starting in late 2017.
The Mississippi River cruises will operate from docking facilities near the French Quarter in New Orleans. According to the Governor, Viking’s new service will result in the creation of 416 new direct jobs for Louisiana-based operations and vessel crews, with an average salary of $40,000, plus benefits; and the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates the project will result in an additional 368 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 780 new jobs in the Southeast Region of the state.
Plans call for the construction of six new vessels over the next three years at an estimated cost of $90 million to $100 million per vessel, all of which will be built in U.S. shipyards and crewed by U.S. citizens. The vessels will be owned by Tennenbaum Capital Partners, a Los Angeles-based alternative investment management firm, and time-chartered to Viking.
Viking River customers are expected to travel to New Orleans from across the U.S., Europe and beyond, and bring new business to hotels, restaurants, museums and other attractions in the city, expanding sales for local merchants. More than 90 percent of sales created by the project are expected to come from out-of-state customers.
With the launch of cruise operations on the Mississippi River in late 2017, two boats will be deployed per year, for a total of six new boats in the first three years. Cruises will take passengers on a journey along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to itinerary stops in St. James, East Baton Rouge and West Feliciana parishes; continuing upriver to Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis; or St. Paul, Minnesota, depending on the season.
The specialty-built riverboats will have a full complement of luxury amenities and host up to 300 passengers.
Viking to Launch American River Cruises from New OrelansLED began discussing expansion possibilities with Viking in November 2013. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a $4.5 million performance-based grant for site preparation at the company’s docking locations in Louisiana. The company also will receive the customized solutions of the nation’s No. 1 state workforce development program, LED FastStart®, which will include partnerships with the Louisiana Workforce Commission and local educational institutions.
“Having the top river cruise company homeport in New Orleans will be an outstanding chance to tell the story of the Louisiana renaissance to the world,” said President and CEO Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc. “Viking River Cruises choosing greater New Orleans is a testament not only to our culture and river, but also to our outstanding teamwork at the state, regional and local level. GNO Inc. is proud to have been an integral part of the team that met with Viking on two continents to bring them to New Orleans."
“We are thrilled by the choice of the Port of New Orleans as Viking’s initial entry into the North American market,” said Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “Viking is one of the premier cruise brands throughout Europe and Asia. Their worldwide reputation underscores New Orleans as a destination city for both international and domestic leisure travelers. The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans has worked with the Viking team for nearly two years to determine the proper venue for the new ships within the port and along the Mississippi River, and we couldn’t be happier to add Viking to the port’s cruise portfolio.”
“Viking River is an exciting and compelling addition to the opportunity-rich New Orleans destination,” said President and CEO Stephen Perry of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They will bring a diverse domestic and international clientele drawn not only to enjoyment of the river through cruising, but to the New Orleans part of their visit in this historic capital of American music and food as well.”
“It was an honor to be part of Governor Jindal’s recent economic development trip to Europe, encouraging companies to locate in our great state,” said Chairman Greg Rusovich of the Louisiana Board of International Commerce.
“The decision to locate Viking’s North American homeport in New Orleans speaks to the operational capabilities of our port, the expertise of our hospitality workforce and the increasing popularity of river cruising around the globe,” said executive board Chairman Henry Coaxum of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “We welcome Viking to the New Orleans business community and look forward to its success.”