Norwegian Star exits drydock with Five O'Clock Somewhere bar
By Rebecca Tobin
Norwegian Cruise Line's partnership with Margaritaville is taking shape on the Norwegian Star, which carries the line's first Five O'Clock Somewhere bar following a two-week drydock.
The Five O'Clock Somewhere bar will sell Margaritaville signature drinks like the "Who's to Blame Margarita" and LandShark beer. Norwegian, which announced its partnership with Margaritaville last year, will offer a Margaritaville restaurant and Five O'Clock Somewhere bar on the Norwegian Escape, which debuts this fall, and it also plans to construct Margaritavilles at its private ports of call.
In addition to introducing the Five O'Clock Somewhere bar, the line also eliminated a $15 cover charge on the Star's Ginza restaurant. The Asian specialty restaurant will offer a complimentary menu and items priced on an a la carte basis.
An O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill was added to the ship. The Brazillian steakhouse-style Moderno Churrascaria was moved to what Norwegian called a "more intimate" setting on Deck 13, and a Sugarcane Mojito Bar was installed adjacent to the steakhouse.
Other additions to the Star include new carpeting and flooring throughout guest areas and updates to the pool deck. Touch-screen signage, which was introduced on the Norwegian Breakaway, was added to the Star.
On the technical side, the Azipod propulsion system was updated and the hull coated with silicone paint. Norwegian said the measures would improve fuel efficiency.
The ship will sail in northern Europe this summer. ___
Correction: A scrubber system was not installed during the recent drydock.
Carnival Corp. orders 9 ships to be built from 2019 to 2022
By Johanna Jainchill Carnival Corp. said Thursday that it would add nine ships to its fleet between 2019 and 2022.
Carnival offered almost no details about the ship order. It did not specify which of its nine brands would get the new vessels or offer any information about their size, design or cost.
In a statement, Carnival said the new ships were expected to serve the North American, European and Chinese cruise markets, would be specifically designed and developed for their particular brands and would be the most efficient ships in Carnival history.
“We’re excited to take this next step in our fleet-enhancement plan with these two new agreements that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time,” Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement.
The order is in line with Donald’s previous statements indicating that the company would restrict its growth to two to three ships per year across its fleet.
Carnival said it had signed memorandums of agreement with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard to build five of the vessels and with Germany’s Meyer Werft to build four.
Additional information about the ships, such as their design and which brands they will be built for, will be revealed at a later date, Carnival said.
In announcing the new builds, the company indicated that Donald would be offering additional details about the new vessels during Carnival Corp.’s earnings call on Friday.
Carnival Corp. is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Aida Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (U.K.).
Late last year it ordered one ship each from Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line for delivery in 2018.
The company has added more than 30 ships to its combined fleets since 2007, and it has another nine scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018, which Donald pointed out in December was about one vessel for each of its brands over the next four years.
This year, Carnival is adding two ships to its global fleet and removing four. The new vessels are P&O’s Britannia, which launched earlier this month, and the Aida Prima, set to debut later this year.
Carnival Corporation has reporter stronger-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of 2015.
The cruise company made a net profit of $49 million, or $0.06 diluted earnings per share in the last quarter, compared to a net loss of $20 million in the last year period.
It attributed its strong earnings to a rise in onboard revenues which were up 8% compared to 2014. Onboard spending rose to $889 million from $850 million, although revenue from ticket prices dropped around 3.5%.
Net revenue yields increased 2% in the first quarter of 2015, better than the company’s December guidance of up to 1%. However, gross revenue yields dropped 3.1% due to changes in currency exchange rates.
Looking ahead to 2015, Carnival Corporation said advance bookings were ahead of 2014 and at higher prices.
Chief executive and president Arnold Donald said: “The year is off to a strong start achieving significantly higher earnings than the prior year and our previous guidance.
“Our onboard revenue initiatives drove particularly strong improvement in the first quarter with onboard yields more than 8% higher than prior year (constant dollar).
“We are experiencing an ongoing improvement in underlying fundamentals based on our successful initiatives to drive demand. Our efforts to further elevate our guest experience are clearly resonating with consumers and, notably, improving the frequency and retention of our loyal guests.”
Donald said he believed results had improved off the back of “ongoing public relations efforts and creative marketing campaigns” designed to attract new customers. He referenced the success of the company’s Super Bowl advertising campaign which generated five billion impressions online before the ad had even run on TV.
He added: “Consistent with many global companies, the strengthening of the US dollar has hampered our full-year earnings expectations, masking the 3% to 4% (constant currency) yield increase our collective brands are expecting to achieve.
“Our successful initiatives to drive both ticket and onboard revenue yields have improved our financial performance and we remain on track toward our goal of achieving double-digit return on invested capital in the next three to four years.”
Following a strong start to the year with bookings, Carnival said it expects full-year 2015 net revenue yields to increase 3% or 4% compared to 2014 and one point better than previous guidance for the year ahead.
However, changes in currency exchange rates means full-year 2015 earning expectations have been reduced by $219 million. Carnival said this was offset by an improvement in the company’s operating performance.
Holland America Line is moving back the delivery date of the Koningsdam to "more fully leverage the new features, innovations and state-of-the-art technology to further enhance the guest experience.”
Originally scheduled to be delivered by shipyard Fincantieri on Feb. 16, 2016, the ship will now be handed over on March 31. HAL said the delay was a joint decision with Fincantieri.
The 99,500-gross-ton Koningsdam will be HAL’s largest ship and includes a new hull design and an array of new venues and innovations.
With the postponement, HAL is also moving back the date of the inaugural cruise. The seven-day roundtrip voyage from Civitavecchia, Italy, will now depart on April 8, 2016. The ship’s official naming celebration remains as scheduled on May 21, 2016, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Cruise Ship Affected By Strong Winds In Mediterranean
Photo By: LiveBoat.it
Thanks to CruiseHive.com
A Costa Cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean has been affected by bad weather conditions including strong winds.
Apparently according to local Italian media the neoRomatica which is operated by Costa Cruises had a scary ordeal during a Mediterranean cruise. The ship sailed into a storm on Thursday night March 5th near the vessels last port of call at Trapani, Sicily. The storm was producing wind gusts of around 60 mph which also caused strong waves to hit the 57,000 gross ton cruise ship.
The neoRomantica was forced to let go one of its anchors so the strong conditions wouldn’t knock it out of action. The anchor was apparently hitting the ship’s bow very strong which has done some damage as seen in the featured image. An Italian forum has messages from passengers who were onboard the ship at the time:
” Moments of panic !!! staff on board certainly very prepared to deal with the situation! We were forced to stay almost a full day in the hallway without eating almost had it not been for some apple and a few bottles of water !!! ”
“My boss is on board, I confirm cabins flooded (including that of my head, not accessible to virtually all day yesterday, the water is coming down from the ceiling, wetting the bed and carpet, you name it) and the black out” .
Here is one video posted by a YouTube user who was a passenger onboard neoRomantic as the storm was just starting to get more intense:
So it seems some Cabins had been flooded but this could have been from water pipes inside the ship. With the heavy rocking and banging of the waves against the ships hull it’s possible that pipes could burst. As a result of the damage the ship diverted to Savona, Italy instead of sailing back to its home port of Marseille, France. Passengers were taken back to Marseille by bus.
Cruise Hive has requested further details from Costa Cruises and will update this report once we get a response.
HAL's Koningsdam floats out at Fincantieri's Marghera
PHOTO: FILIPPO VINARDI
Coin ceremony - HAL's Keith Taylor with Koningsdam madrina Tineke Schröder
Holland America Line's Koningsdam was floated out of its drydock and transferred to the outfitting dock at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard.
Construction and interior furnishing will continue leading up to the delivery, scheduled for March 31, 2016.
A coin ceremony also was held in late February when Tineke Schröder, wife of the founder of Dutch airline Martinair and a member of Holland America Line’s Mariner Society, served as the ship’s madrina.
Two gold coins were welded to the forward mast of the ship by Schröder, shipyard director Antonio Quintano and Keith Taylor, evp fleet operations for HAL.
The gold coins bear the image of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. Koning means 'king' in Dutch, and the ship’s name pays honor to the first king of the Netherlands in over a century.
Koningsdam is scheduled to sail its premier voyage April 8, 2016.
Fans of Norwegian Cruise Line may notice more international passengers on the ships in coming years, and certainly will see more Canadians, newly named CEO Frank Del Rio said.
"We think there's a lot of opportunity — relatively low-hanging fruit — to expand Norwegian internationally," Del Rio said in his first call with Wall Street analysts as president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Del Rio was promoted in mid-January from his role as president and CEO of Norwegian's Prestige Cruise subsidiary, the parent company to Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
He told analysts that if Norwegian sourced passengers internationally at the same rate as the Prestige brands, it would mean an extra 210,000 passengers a year — enough to fill a whole new ship.
Canada alone would account for 100,000 of those passengers. "The big opportunity is outside the U.S., especially in Canada," Del Rio said.
As part of Norwegian's recently announced 40% expansion of its sales force, it is beefing up its presence in Canada and has created a director of sales position for that country.
He said Norwegian is trying to find travel agents that have "gaps" in their sales of one of the company's brands, adding that often agents selling Oceania and Regent in Canada don't sell Norwegian.
He also said that he considers Norwegian's relations with travel agents in no need of mending. "Andy Stuart [executive vice president of global sales and passenger services] and his team are liked — loved if you will — by the agent community. They know him well," Del Rio said.
In the call, new Prestige President Jason Montague said there was a notable pause in bookings for the two Prestige brands when it was announced that Norwegian would be buying them, but he said reservations picked up after Del Rio was named to succeed Kevin Sheehan as CEO of Norwegian.
Del Rio said Wave season had been on pace until about three weeks ago when bookings accelerated. He said it wasn't one reason but pointed to Norwegian's promotional offers as a factor.
Cruise line stocks all rose on the strength of Del Rio's comment about Wave season.
Del Rio said in general the strategic direction set by Sheehan would continue. "I know that some of you are expecting some sort of revolutionary announcement regarding Norwegian's future," he said.
"But it is simply too early in the game to make any definitive declarations about expanding into new markets, ordering new ships or any other major strategic announcement," he said. "These things may happen in time, but if they do happen it will be after intense study and careful consideration."
On the call, Del Rio said net income in 2014 solidly improved, rising to $338.4 million, from $101.7 million, despite a fourth-quarter loss of $25.6 million due to financing costs of the Prestige acquisition.
Revenue expanded to $3.13 billion, from $2.75 billion.
Del Rio noted that Prestige has a "market to fill" philosophy rather than the "discount to fill" model, and said that while he wouldn't take an identical approach at Norwegian, the value-add concept is "worth pursuing."
He also said the percentage of air/sea purchases at Norwegian is less than 2%, while it is almost 100% at Prestige with its "free air" value promotions, and that in the future Norwegian could have higher air sales as itineraries diversify.
Prestige is already providing the holding company with diversification into higher yielding markets, Del Rio said.
For 2015, deployment companywide in Asia, the South Pacific and Africa will be 3.3%, up from negligible in 2014. Likewise, deployment in South America will go from zero to 1.6% of capacity.
In the Caribbean, the company expects to deploy 40.4% of its overall capacity, down from 47.9% last year. For the Norwegian brand only, Caribbean capacity will be 45.5% in 2015.
It's been 20 years since Scotsman Paul Strachan started taking people up and down the Irrawaddy River on a single chartered vessel in Myanmar. Since 1995, the founder of Singapore-based Pandaw River Expeditions has grown his enterprise in Southeast Asia into a fleet of 12 ships (and counting) and is now once again looking for that next unexplored stretch of river.
"In the last year, I thought, 'We'd better do some more pioneering,'" said Strachan, who has in recent years been joined by a rapidly growing number of river cruise lines in Southeast Asia. "So, it's exciting times. We're opening up Laos, we're building a ship there … and then we've got the Red River, up in the north of Vietnam … and we're looking at possibly putting a couple Pandaw ships in India."
As competition heats up in Southeast Asia with a flood of new river cruise vessels in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, Pandaw is hoping to separate itself from the pack by introducing ever more remote and exotic river cruise destinations, while at the same time remaining true to its original vision.
"The ships we build today are much the same as the ships we built 20 years ago," Strachan said. "They are the same style, which is something we believe in passionately. Something that is fundamental about Pandaw ships is that they are exactly how ships were 100 years ago on the Irrawaddy, and they were designed like that for a reason."
Pandaw emerged from the ashes of the Scottish-owned Irrawaddy Flotilla Co., which in its 1920s heyday consisted of a fleet of more than 600 passenger and cargo vessels. In 1998, Strachan acquired the Pandaw, a steamboat built in Scotland in 1947 that he renovated and operated for several years. That vessel is now operated by Myanmar-based Ayravata Cruises. Strachan's company built its first ship in 2001 to be almost a replica of the original Pandaw.
The look and feel of those Irrawaddy Flotilla vessels — colonial-style, three-deck ships with wraparound balconies — remain the unifying design of Pandaw vessels today even as newcomers such as AmaWaterways, Sanctuary Retreats, Haimark Travel and Aqua Expeditions have emerged on the Southeast Asia river cruise scene with larger vessels, indoor hallways, sprawling suites, spas and swimming pools.
"I know we sound very old-fashioned," Strachan said. "But really, our clients, who tend to be very adventurous, very seasoned travelers, they're not coming for the pool or the Jacuzzi. They do not want these things. And I'm afraid we're very stick-in-the-mud about this."
Instead, Strachan is focused on building river cruise vessels that foster a more social atmosphere with ample public spaces. The wraparound balconies, for instance, encourage guests to mingle and also facilitate the movement of fresh air as the vessels sail, something Strachan says is both a comfort and safety issue, offering stability to vessels that have more shallow drafts.
The simplicity and practicality of the design as well as the smaller size of the vessels is what the Pandaw founder says enables the company to explore further along various rivers in Southeast Asia and ultimately bring clients to more off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Pandaw's new cruises
While the design of the Pandaw vessels hasn't changed much in 20 years, more recently the company is pushing the envelope with new river cruise routes. This November, Pandaw is introducing a Mekong River sailing through Laos on the newly constructed, 20-passenger Laos Pandaw.
The vessel will sail an 11-day itinerary that will begin in the French colonial city of Vientiane and continue north to Ban Paklay, Pak Lai, Tha Deua and the Unesco World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. There will be a stop at the Pak Ou Caves, and the itinerary will end in Chiang Khong, Thailand.
The Laos Pandaw is being custom-built with a shallow draft to sail the Upper Mekong. The staterooms will measure 180 square feet each, and there will also be an open-air lounge; a bistro-style dining room with outside seating and air conditioning inside; and a bar that will be open around the clock. The cruise-only price starts at $3,250 per person, based on double occupancy. Pandaw pricing includes all excursions, crew gratuities, meals, nonpremium drinks and airport transfers.
Additionally, Pandaw has introduced an 11-day Halong Bay and the Red River itinerary that will initiate a new route along Vietnam's Red River. The sailing will take place on the 32-passenger Angkor Pandaw, which will reposition from the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia at the end of June.
The itinerary will begin in Halong Bay. From there, the river cruise will head up the Kinh Thay River and on to the Duong River. There will be two days of sightseeing in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, before continuing on to the Upper and Lower Red River.
The Angkor Pandaw was built in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012. It features 16 staterooms at 170 square feet each, and the public spaces consist of a main dining room, bar, lounge, shop and library. The cruise-only price starts at $2,340 per person, based on double occupancy.
Pandaw is testing the waters beyond Southeast Asia, as well. The company is chartering some vessels in India this year, with the hopes of perhaps introducing its own vessels there in the coming year. For 2015, Pandaw offered a single, 16-day departure on India's Ganges and Hooghly rivers on the 40-passenger Rajmahal, which has already sold out.
There is also a new eight-day cruise on the Brahmaputra River in northeastern India onboard the 46-passenger Mahabaahu, with departures starting next month.
The cruise will visit the largest river island in the world and will include an encounter with the Mishing people who inhabit India's Assam region. Pandaw guests will also learn more about the aromatic tea the region is known for. Included will be an excursion to Kaziranga National Park and areas known for their single-horned rhinos, buffalos, Indian tigers and river dolphins. The snow-covered Himalayan Mountain range can be seen from the Brahmaputra River. The cruise-only price starts at $2,430 per person, based on double occupancy.
The company also added four departures of a new seven-day itinerary in southern India's Kerala region starting in December, which includes a three-night land program in Cochin and a three-night cruise aboard the 18-passenger Vaikundam from Thottapally through Kanjipada and on to the Champakkulam village. The Backwaters of Kerala trip is priced from $1,530, based on double occupancy.
"We're constantly trying to go further and further up these rivers into remoter areas. That's our ambition," said Strachan, adding that Pandaw is hoping to ultimately introduce an itinerary that will include all six countries through which the Mekong River flows: and China.
Getting permission to sail across the border into China has proven the biggest challenge and is what the company is working toward in order to be able to eventually offer a complete Mekong sailing.
Strachan said that he also isn't opposed to looking at opportunities beyond Asia in places like the Amazon, for instance, if he were to find the right partners.
Courting more Americans
Pandaw's largest customer base consists of Australians, followed by Brits and then Americans. But that's something the company is hoping to change.
"We're trying to grow our direct-sales market in America," Strachan said, referring to Pandaw's desire to sell more of its product directly to agents and consumers in the U.S., rather than predominantly through partner river cruise lines and operators. "That's very important to us. We're working on that."
Pandaw doesn't currently have a U.S. office, but San Francisco-based Sayang Holidays is the company's preferred agent in the U.S. for booking Pandaw vacations.
As U.S. river cruise lines have been expanding beyond Europe into Southeast Asia over the past five years, many of them have partnered with Pandaw on various charters on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers, including Viking Cruises, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and Avalon Waterways.
But as demand for Southeast Asia picked up, so has shipbuilding competition. Pandaw isn't the only game in town anymore. Some companies, such as AmaWaterways, forged their own shipbuilding partnerships in the region to develop ships they partially own, while others, such as Haimark Travel, are working to build vessels and partner with U.S. companies on charters, similar to what has done.
In fact, Haimark was formed in 2012 by a group of three former Pandaw employees who struck out on their own. The Breckenridge, Colo.-based company has come on very strong in the last two years, building luxury vessels in Southeast Asia and India, which many U.S. companies, including Uniworld and Abercrombie & Kent, are now chartering.
"You've got to tip your hat to them. It's amazing how they've grown so quickly," Strachan said of Haimark. "It's a completely different style from us, it's a different market they're going for."
As for Pandaw's market, the company continues to operate charters for several U.S. operators.
Last year, Pandaw hired Hugh Clayson to serve in the newly created role of commercial director. Clayson oversaw the opening of a global sales and marketing office for Pandaw in West London.
Last week’s announcement that Viking River Cruises is planning to build six new vessels for the Mississippi River signaled more than just continued growth of the river cruise industry: The move opens up additional economic opportunities for the communities along America’s most fabled inland waterways.
In Europe, the booming river cruise industry contributes about $1.1 billion in passenger revenue to Western European economies annually, according IG River Cruise, an association of river cruise lines based in Basel, Switzerland.
Imagine if the small and large towns along the Mississippi River began to see even a fraction of that contribution?
In fact, they have already been experiencing a boost. The cities on the banks of the Mississippi River System have been witnessing something of a tourism economy revival since Mississippi River cruising was resurrected in 2012 with the relaunch of the 436-passenger American Queen and the christening of American Cruise Lines’ 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi.
For instance, when the Great American Steamboat Co. decided to make Memphis the homeport of the American Queen in 2012, the deal created 250 new jobs as well as the promise of $1.5 million in annual taxes and fees to Memphis, 10,000 filled hotel rooms each year and $90 million in annual economic impact for the city, the Memphis-based Riverfront Development Corp., which was overseeing the revival of the city’s waterfront, projected during the relaunch of the American Queen.
And Louisiana is hoping that the addition of not just one, but six new Viking vessels that will call New Orleans home will indeed give its tourism economy — which has been making significant recovery strides since Hurricane Katrina — yet another bump. Viking's new venture is expected to result in the creation of 416 new jobs for Louisiana-based operations and crews, and an additional 368 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 780 new jobs in southeast Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Economic Development (LED).
“Viking’s project will generate major opportunities for our citizens, boost our tourism industry, and continue to turbocharge the Port of New Orleans,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.
With Viking’s plans to build six vessels on the Mississippi, starting with two in 2017, and American Cruise Lines having unveiled its own ambitious strategy to begin building a fleet of modern river cruise vessels alongside its existing and forthcoming paddlewheelers, the Mississippi is about to see a significant increase in capacity.
And according to Bruce Nierenberg, CEO of United Caribbean Lines, who served as president of former Mississippi River heavyweight the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., that could mean awesome opportunities for the smaller towns along the rivers if they work together with the river cruise lines to really develop interesting and innovating on-shore experiences and programs and highlight this country’s culture and heritage.
“I hope that Viking and the others really start to spend a lot of time developing the stories in the cities and the towns [along the Mississippi],” said Nierenberg. “There’s a tremendous amount of relationship between the birth of this country and the river. If you can really tap into that … there’s an opportunity there.”
As to whether U.S. river cruising can ultimately be as successful as European river cruising, Nierenberg said, why not?
“There are no Vienna opera houses on the Mississippi,” said Nierenberg, “but there are a lot of things that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.”
Set the first block of the "Ovation of the Seas" into the Dock
In building dock II Meyer Werft in Papenburg now the first block for the cruise ship ovation of the Seas was placed on the Pallungen. Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean International, together with Bernard Meyer, put the lucky penny on the Pallungen before the 800-ton crane deposed the block of the new ship.
This block is one of the 74 blocks of the new luxury liner and has a weight of 740 tons. This officially keel laying, construction begins on the Ovation of the Seas, which counts with a survey of 168,600 gross tonnage of the 5 largest cruise ships in the world.
The first flame cut steel for the ovation of the Seas took place in September 2014. Meyer Werft in laser center. The ship will be delivered in April 2016.
The Anthem of the Seas, which is currently on Equipment pier of the Meyer Werft is completed and the next week Papenburg leaves towards the North Sea, the second ship in a series of three ships being built for Royal Caribbean International at Meyer Werft.
Photo 2:. Vl Lambert Kruse (Managing Director Meyer Werft) Jarmo Laakso (Project Manager Royal Caribbean) Adam Goldstein (CEO, Royal Caribbean International) Bernard Meyer (Managing Director Meyer Werft), Dr. Jan Meyer (CEO Meyer Werft), Mika Heiskanen (Project Manager Royal Caribbean), Carsten Pengel (Project Meyer Werft) Claus Andersen (-Anthem captain of the Seas - Royal Caribbean)
For the first time, an Oasis-class ship will be based in a port other than Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The Oasis of the Seas will remain in Florida but sail from Port Canaveral for the 2016-17 winter season, Royal Caribbean revealed on Thursday.
The Oasis of the Seas, which entered service in 2009, will alternate seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral.
The Harmony of the Seas, an Oasis-class ship currently under construction, will take Oasis of the Seas’ place in Port Everglades, sailing from the Fort Lauderdale port along with sister ship Allure of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean announced the cruise line’s entire Caribbean deployment for the 2016-17 winter season, which will open for booking this month.
Carnival creates boutique cruises that include a 'Throwback Seaday'
Carnival Cruise Lines is redoubling its push for more interesting itineraries, creating a new cruise collection that has novel onboard features in addition to longer voyages.
Called “Carnival Journeys,” the cruises will feature more local food and entertainment options, fun “Carnival style” enrichment classes, more crew interaction and a “Throwback Seaday” in which the clock will be turned back to 1987.
“We want to create something really different in terms of the experience,” said Terry Thornton, senior vice president of itinerary planning.
So far, 26 cruises have been designated Carnival Journeys. They are all longer than the typical Carnival cruise and include some smaller, less visited ports. Thornton cited Bonaire; Martinique; Grenada; Dominica; and Ixtapa, Mexico, as examples. Cruises will run between 9 and 15 days.
Well under 1% of Carnival cruises will be in the program. Part of the idea is to give experienced cruisers and Carnival's past guests something new to aspire to. “This will be a natural for people who have cruised before to come back to cruising and find something original and unique,” Thornton said.
For travel agents, Carnival Journeys offer the prospect of higher commissions than are typical for Carnival.
There are five components to the new onboard program. In “Authentic Eats,” Carnival will partner with local restaurants in ports of call to do onboard cooking demonstrations. There will be excursions to the restaurants and market tours with the chef.
“Local-tainment” will feature local bands either on or off the ship; "Academy of Fun,” will offer enrichment, but in a non-stuffy, entertaining way; and a “Throwback Seaday” will bring back the Baked Alaska dessert, the and white gloves on officers, as Carnival featured in 1987.
The fifth component is a heightened opportunity for interaction with the staff at all levels, and more chances to learn about shipboard life.
The first Carnival Journeys cruise is scheduled for Oct. 4 from New Orleans. ___
Correction: The first Carnival Journeys cruise will depart New Orleans, not Galveston as previously reported.
It’s hard to believe that a decade ago, the MSC Cruises fleet was only made up of a handful of ships, most of which were second-hand tonnage. Now, the line has just announced a deal with Italian shipyard Fincantieri for two brand-new ships to join the popular cruise line’s current fleet of 12 modern megaships. What a difference a decade makes.
MSC’s new ‘Seaside’ class of cruise ships will debut in 2017-2018. Rendering courtesy of MSC Cruises.
Dubbed Seaside, these two ships will be the largest vessels ever constructed by Fincantieri, and the largest to ever sail for MSC. Purpose-built to cruise the Mediterranean, Caribbean and South America, each vessel will be 1,060 feet in length, with a width of 135 feet. Towering 230 feet in height, they will carry up to 5,300 passengers along with a crew of 1,413. The new vessels will have a total gross tonnage of 154,000.
For MSC Cruises, it’s a special moment. The company says the two ships represent the last piece of its plan to double the capacity of its fleet by 2022. With the arrival of the new ships MSC Cruises will reach a capacity of about 80,000 passengers a day.
The €700 million vessels will boast sea-level promenades that will circumnavigate the sides of the ships with outdoor deck spaces, shops and restaurants. They will also combine the best features of MSC’s previous vessels, including the highly-popular MSC Yacht Club, along with new technology that allows for greater efficiency including reduced fuel consumption and advanced safety systems that the company says go “beyond what is required by international regulations.”
In addition, both ships will feature expanded deck space and panoramic glass elevators.
Below the MSC Video of Both Classes; Seaside and Vista Class
Both ships are as-yet-unnamed. The first Seaside-class ship will debut in November of 2017, with MSC taking delivery of the second in May, 2018. MSC also holds the option for a third Seaside-class vessel with Fincantieri that could be exercised if the company wishes.
MSC Orchestra's arrival in Singapore marks MSC Cruises' first foray into Asia
MSC Orchestra sailing in Asian waters
MSC Cruises made its first foray into Asia Thursday, a region it described as ‘the new trendy area of cruising and the future area of growth’.
Welcoming some 200 passengers on board, MSC Cruises ceo Gianni Onorato said: ‘This is a historic moment in our company’s journey – the first time an MSC Cruises ship has called at the magnificent city of Singapore. In fact, all 13 ports of call on MSC Orchestra’s pioneering grand voyage are firsts for MSC Cruises.’
He added: ‘We are in Singapore to show how firmly we believe in the Asian market’s potential, which is only going to grow further in the foreseeable future.’
Speaking to Seatrade Insider, Onorato disclosed: ‘We will be deploying into Asia and need to decide when. We will perhaps go to North Asia with one of our newbuilds.’
Neeta Lachmandas, assistant chief executive, business development group, Singapore Tourism Board, also lauded the move, saying: ‘This development is testament to the potential of Southeast Asia,’
She said cruise is a high growth business with a lot of opportunities and this growth is led by Asia where now some 52 ships are deployed and including nine year-round deployments.
A Boston Consulting Group study had shown that 60% of spending is going to come from Asia by 2020, she said.
‘Southeast Asia is a cruising playground in its own right – with over 25,000 islands and diverse attractions ranging from cosmopolitan cities to pristine beaches and UNESCO Heritage sites. We are excited that travellers from all over the world will get to experience so much of Asia through MSC Orchestra,’ she added.
MSC Cruises executive director for emerging markets, Antonio Paradiso, said: ‘MSC Cruises has grown 800% since 2004. In 2014, we carried 40,000 guests per day on our fleet of 12 ships, and with up to seven new ships in two state-of-the-art prototypes coming online by 2022 we’ll double our current capacity. We used to carry 80,000 guests per year at the start and we’ll carry 80,000 guests a day at the end of our investment plan. This growth will unlock fresh opportunities, including new markets and regions, and untried itineraries.’
The 2,550-passenger MSC Orchestra is currently undertaking a 33-night voyage from Dubai to Perth, Australia. The ship will call 13 ports in eight countries across three continents. Singapore is the sixth port of call on the journey.
After an overnight stay, MSC Orchestra will sail for Benoa in Bali followed by four sea days before arriving in Cairns, Australia.
MSC Orchestra’s time Down Under covers maiden calls in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, before her final destination of Fremantle, the port serving Perth.
While MSC Orchestra marked the first time an MSC Cruises’ ship has called in Asia, the line has been carrying Asian cruisers for a period of time, particularly in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. ‘We are the biggest importers of Asian cruisers in the world,’ Onorato said.