Thursday, 19 April 2018

Norwegian Takes Delivery of New Bliss

Norwegian Takes Delivery of New Bliss

From left: Bernard Meyer of Meyer Werft, and Andy Stuart, president of Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line has officially taken delivery of the new 167,800-ton Norwegian Bliss in Bremerhaven, Germany, following a handover from Meyer Werft shipyard.
The Norwegian Bliss is the 11th ship built for Norwegian Cruise Line by the Papenburg-based shipyard.
“This is our 13th cruise ship we delivered to Norwegian within the last 15 years. Our team made has done a great job. I am proud and thankful for their contribution”, said Tim Meyer, Managing Director of Meyer Werft.
Following the delivery, the ship will sail for Southampton, where the ship will be presented to the public for the first time. After a crossing, she will be previewed to media and VIPs in New York and christened later in May in Seattle ahead of her debut summer season in Alaska.
Norwegian Bliss - Main Data
Tonnage167,800 GRT
Overall length333.46 m
Width41.4 m
Number of decks20
Draught8.40 m
Machine output MAN3x 12 V 2x 14V total 76,800 kW
Propulsion power44,000 kW
Speed23.2 kn
No. of passenger cabins2043
Number of outside cabins (incl. suites)1599
No. of inner cabins444
Crew max.1,716
Theatre seating capacity858
No. of restaurants18
No. of bars/lounges12
Total weight of applied paint approx.300 t
Total length of installed cables.2,200 km
Total length of installed pipes approx.400 km

Norwegian Cruise Line Approves $1 Billion Share Repurchase Program

Norwegian Cruise Line Approves $1 Billion Share Repurchase Program

Norwegian Jewel
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings today announced that its Board of Directors authorized a three-year, $1 billion share repurchase program.
The company said it may repurchase its ordinary shares from time to time, in amounts, at prices and at such times as it deems appropriate, subject to market conditions and other considerations.
Norwegian said it may make repurchases in the open market, in privately negotiated transactions, in accelerated repurchase programs or in structured share repurchase programs, and any repurchases may be made pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 plans. The program will be conducted in compliance with applicable legal requirements and will be subject to market conditions and other factors.
"The $1 billion share repurchase program authorization reflects our ongoing confidence in our financial strength and the long-term outlook of our business," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “Our strong and growing cash flow will allow us to deepen our commitment to provide returns to our shareholders while continuing to invest in our product, innovation and growth.”

Monday, 16 April 2018

Royal Caribbean: 'Very Aggressive' on Tech Infrastructure

Royal Caribbean: 'Very Aggressive' on Tech Infrastructure

Ovation of the Seas in Hong Kong
At Royal Caribbean Cruises, the idea is to anticipate the future of technology and get ready for it now.
“I believe that the largest challenges for us are the things that we don’t even know will be coming in the next five to 10 years. There are revolutions coming, things like virtual reality and other things that we don’t even imagine. We need to look at the historical growth of those technologies in the past, focusing on the future,” said Guillermo Muniz, director of satellite and network engineering, Royal Caribbean Cruises.
While cruise lines may plan into the 2020s on the technology front, challenges still remain when it comes to internet aboard today’s fleet.
“Royal Caribbean is being very aggressive regarding infrastructure within the ship. We are investing to make sure we have the infrastructure on our ships to have the correct Wi-Fi and the latest technologies to be able to not worry about connectivity over the next decade,” Muniz said.
The newer Royal Caribbean ships are using a new technology, marketed as Voom, that has significantly improved internet access aboard, helped in part by SES Networks.
“On those ships, the connection is comparable to our home experience. You can stream and watch videos on your devices easily. The amount of bandwidth that we provide to a single user today is the same amount of bandwidth that we provided for our entire fleet in 2000,” Muniz noted.
Royal Caribbean is working on a new boarding process that uses facial recognition to speed up the embarkation. Muniz explained that guests will be able to take a selfie at home, upload it via an app, and then be recognized at the cruise terminal by special facial recognition cameras. The cruise line plans to launch the system over the next few years.

Largest Cruise Companies Projecting Significant 10-Year Annual Capacity Growth

Largest Cruise Companies Projecting Significant 10-Year Annual Capacity Growth

MSC Magnifica
MSC Magnifica.

The five largest cruise companies are projected to see dramatic capacity growth over the next 10 years, ranging from 114 percent for MSC Cruises to 36 percent for Royal Caribbean Cruises.
The projections are based on new ships to be introduced and known ship withdrawals and deployment changes.
Carnival Corporation is expected to grow its annual passenger capacity from approximately 11.1 million to 15.8 million passengers, for a 42 percent increase, and the largest industry-wide hike in terms of actual passengers, 4.7 million more passengers over 10 years.
MSC will see the second largest estimated increase in terms of actual passenger capacity, going from 2.1 million to 4.6 million, an increase of 2.5 million passengers, or 114 percent.
Royal Caribbean is projected to grow its annual passenger capacity from approximately 6.2 million to 8.4 million passengers, for 2.2 million more passengers, an increase of about 36 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings will see its capacity go from 2.5 million to 3.5 million, climbing 1 million, a 40 percent increase.
Genting Hong Kong will grow its capacity from 1.2 million passengers to 2.0 million, for a 66 percent increase.
The largest industry-wide growth year will be 2020 with global passenger capacity increasing 7.9 percent from the previous year.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Cruise ship passenger jailed after £200,000 of cocaine found in suitcases

Cruise ship passenger jailed after £200,000 of cocaine found in suitcases

Image result for MV Arcadia

A cruise ship passenger has been jailed for using a Caribbean holiday as cover to bring cocaine worth more than £200,000 into the UK.

Kevin Enright, 55, was arrested as he disembarked a ship at Southampton Docks on October 31.

Almost three kilos of cocaine was found in his suitcases when he was stopped by Border Force officers.

Enright was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison for importing a class A drug, following a trial at Southampton Crown Court, the BBC reported.

National Crime Agency investigators said Enright, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, claimed the cruise on P&O Cruises ship Arcadia had been paid for following a win on the horses, and that he had innocently purchased the suitcases.

When officers searched his luggage, they found traces of drugs within a false lining of two suitcases, one of which had been inside the other.

The NCA was able to prove he had collected the cases in St Lucia, and that he had been in contact with others suspected of involvement in the importation.

Enright, who was found guilty of importing class A drugs, had a previous conviction for drug dealing for which he was sentenced to four years in prison in 2005.

NCA senior officer Bob Holness said: “Our investigation involved liaison with law enforcement partners in the Caribbean, and through that, we were able to prove that Enright’s story was made up.

“It became clear that he had contacts with others involved in drug trafficking on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Why Symphony of the Seas is the Ultimate Family Ship

Why Symphony of the Seas is the Ultimate Family Ship

Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas
PHOTO: Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Friday, 13 April 2018

Iconic QE2 finally set for debut as floating Hotel

Iconic QE2 finally set for debut as floating Hotel

Iconic QE2 finally set for debut as floating hotel
Image via Rocky Grimes /

The long-awaited opening of former Cunard flagship QE2 as a floating hotel in Dubai is expected next Wednesday.

Local reports point to April 18 being a soft launch date, followed by a more formal opening later in the year.

According to an updated website, QE2 has 224 refurbished rooms and suites, 13 restaurants and nightlife venues, a shopping arcade and 25 meeting rooms and conferencing facilities.

The 13-deck ship is docked permanently at Port Rashid in Dubai as the first floating hotel in the Gulf region.

Guests will enter the ship from a terminal, which has been turned into a maritime museum featuring artworks from the ship, which was sold by Cunard to Dubai government investment company Istithmar World in 2007.

The ship travelled to Dubai a year later following a farewell voyage around the UK.

QE2 Shipping and PCFC Hotels are both wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Government of Dubai’s Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation.

PCFC Hotels, with investment in the hospitality, retail, real estate and technology sectors, is the operator of the QE2.

The website says: “Docked permanently at Dubai’s Mina Rashid, she has been lovingly restored to her former glory – revitalized with all the latest in smart technology.

“Step aboard and relax in her comfortable rooms and suites that offer an imposing backdrop of Dubai’s iconic skyline or the ocean beyond.

“Embark on a culinary journey across her 13 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. Immerse yourself in her rich past at the onsite QE2 Exhibition.

“We’ve curated a seamless and unforgettable journey that blends old-world sophistication with a new level in hospitality.”

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Carnival schedules 20 more Cuba cruises in 2019

Carnival schedules 20 more Cuba cruises in 2019

Carnival Paradise in Havana.
Carnival Cruise Line scheduled an additional 20 cruises in 2019 that will include visits to Cuba.
The cruises will be roundtrip from Tampa on the Carnival Paradise, which will sail five-day itineraries with a full day or an overnight in Havana.
The schedule includes:
Ten cruises overnighting in Havana with a visit to Key West -- departing March 2, April 13, May 25, June 22, July 6, Aug. 3 and 17, Sept. 14 and 28 and Oct. 26.
Six voyages featuring a day-long call in Havana and a visit to Cozumel -- departure dates are Jan. 5, March 16, May 11, Aug. 31, Nov. 9 and Dec. 7.
Four sailings featuring day-long calls to Havana, Key West and Cozumel -- departing Feb. 16, June 8, July 20 and Oct. 12.
The new schedule is in addition to the 17 recently announced Cuba cruises aboard Carnival Sensation departing from Miami in 2019.

P&O Cruises Ventura completes two-week docking at Damen Shiprepair Brest

P&O Cruises Ventura completes two-week docking at Damen Shiprepair Brest

The P&O Cruises Grand-class cruise ship Ventura has just completed a two-week docking at Damen Shiprepair Brest. Launched in 2008, this was the first visit of the 290-metre, 116,000 DWT vessel to the yard, where she underwent a regular docking together with a range of maintenance works.
Major features of the maintenance programme included the installation of two exhaust gas scrubbers, for which Damen Shiprepair Brest (DSBr) designed, manufactured and installed a sea chest. While the Ventura was in DSBr’s Drydock number 3, at 420m by 80m the largest of DSBr’s three dry docks, the hull was ultra-high-pressure water blasted and then, along with the superstructure, repainted. Additional works included maintenance of the propulsion systems and stabilisers, plus other minor repairs.
As with all cruise ship dockings, completing the works within the scheduled period was absolutely critical with the Ventura due to depart Southampton on 28 March on a 12-day cruise to the Canary Islands and Lisbon. The logistics were particularly challenging, with a wide range of subcontractors needing access to the vessel both inside and out, and hundreds of containers, trucks and garbage skip to be positioned around the dock and manoeuvred as necessary during the two-week period. As always, meticulous planning and exact specification of all the different tasks to be undertaken took place in the months before her arrival. That, plus excellent organisation while she was in the yard, was the key to success. In the event, the Ventura departed DSBr on 26 March with all works completed and in top shape for her 3,574 passengers and 1,220 crew.
Related image
“This is the first time that we have welcomed a vessel owned by Carnival plc (which operates the P&O Cruises brand),” said Patrick Renavot, Managing Director Damen Shiprepair Brest, “and we were delighted that the project was a success. All planned work was finished on time and the vessel returned to its busy schedule on schedule.
“As cruise ships expand in terms of both numbers and size, we hope to see our general activity in this sector grow. With two dry docks of 420-metres and 338-metres respectively plus a convenient and easily-accessed location for cruise ships entering and leaving the Atlantic, DSBr has much to offer owners and operators looking for yards capable of meeting their specific needs.”
In recent years, the yard has made substantial investments in its facilities including an enhanced black and grey water disposal capability and a new fire and cooling water supply system. The yard also features ample owners’ storage, extensive laydown areas and spacious temporary workshops for subcontractors. There is even an adjacent container terminal. The yard has a constructive relationship with the local authorities and, with a culture at the yard based on maximising safety and cooperation, customers can rely on a committed, efficient service at every level.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

MSC Cruises Investing for Digital Experience Aboard

MSC Cruises Investing for Digital Experience Aboard

Luca Pronzati
Luca Pronzati, chief business innovation officer at MSC Cruises, has spearheaded the company’s innovative MSC for Me app, including its new digital personal assistant which will debut next year. Much of his job has been looking at consumer and guest data to better adapt new technologies in the correct (shipboard) manner.
“The ships are becoming bigger and navigation within the ship is becoming somewhat difficult, especially for first-timers, which are still a big part of our customer base,” he said.
Thus, the company’s MSC for Me app has been linked to thousands of sensors across the ships to give guests their exact location, and potential directions to where they want to go.
Investments are also being made to provide the best experience to the cruise guest.
“It’s all about the experience for the customer. They expect a certain speed and kind of connection and we want to offer that,” said Pronzati. “In order to be prepared, we are investing. We are still struggling in getting the right satellite (bandwidth), but once we do, everything will be even better, elevating the experience we already have.”

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Disney Cruise Line’s Marvel Day at Sea Is an Absolute Stunner

Disney Cruise Line’s Marvel Day at Sea Is an Absolute Stunner

Marvel Heroes Unite deck show aboard Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic
PHOTO: Marvel Heroes Unite deck show aboard Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic. (photo by Jason Leppert)

Carnival Accepts Delivery of Horizon

Carnival Accepts Delivery of Horizon

Rendering of Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon
PHOTO: Rendering of Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon. (photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Monday, 2 April 2018

The race to build the world's biggest cruise ship is over

The race to build the world's biggest cruise ship is over

Image result for symphony of the seas
Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas

Can we call it now?

The race to build the biggest cruise ship ever is over, I think.

And the winner is Royal Caribbean International.

Will anyone ever build a cruise ship bigger than Royal's Oasis-class ships, the fourth of which was delivered last week? It might happen, but the evidence suggests that it won't. The reason why I think not is that many cruise companies, including Royal itself, have had a chance to design something bigger since the Oasis of the Seas first took to the oceans in 2009.

No one has.

Of the 36 cruise ships over 120,000 gross tons delivered since 2009, none are bigger than the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas, which is on its way from the shipyard in France to Barcelona, Spain, where it will begin seven-day cruises on April 7.

Of the 43 cruise ships over 120,000 gross tons on order or about to be delivered, none are bigger than the Symphony.

Those orders include ships for nearly every major cruise operator besides Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., including Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Walt Disney Co., MSC Cruises and Genting Hong Kong.

Image result for msc seaside
MSC Seaside.

Each had an opportunity to design the new biggest cruise ship in the world. The closest will be Dream Cruises, which is building a pair of 204,000 gross ton Global class ships for delivery in 2020 and 2021.

Royal Caribbean also has had two chances to top itself but has designed the smaller Quantum class at 168,666 gross tons and the upcoming Icon class at 200,000 gross tons. Royal is still cranking out Oasis-class ships the next is due in 2021. So perhaps when it is finished with that class, it will design something bigger. 

For decades, the biggest cruise ship in the world was the 70,327 gross ton Queen Elizabeth 2, which reigned for 21 years from 1967 to 1988 when the 73,192 gross ton Sovereign of the Seas de-throned it.

Image result for rms queen elizabeth 2
RMS Queen Elizabeth 2nd

Thereafter, in the 20 years from 1988 to 2009, a series of newbuilds followed that each topped the last in size. Now there has been a nine-year lull. To match the QE2's longevity as No. 1, the Symphony of the Seas would have to be the biggest until 2039.

Maybe that won't happen. There's always economies of scale to be reaped by building bigger, although the evidence seems to suggest that beyond 5,500 passengers, operators reach a point of diminishing returns.

But for now, long live the Symphony of the Seas.

What Viking's growth means for river cruising

What Viking's growth means for river cruising

Image result for viking river cruises

The news that Viking River Cruises will add 24 Longships to its fleet signals two things: That following a brief lull in shipbuilding momentum, Viking is experiencing strong enough demand to merit a hefty commitment to more ships, and that the river cruise industry at large is entering a new growth phase.
So, let's start with Viking. With the addition of 24 vessels in addition to the existing 65 ships already in the company's river fleet (though we don't know if and how many ships the company may retire in the coming years), one has to ask, what is in Viking's secret sauce that lets it sustain such growth?

While only Viking is privy to the nuances of its success, the line has certain unique features that have likely helped fueled its expansion and popularity. 

For one, Viking has become a household name in river cruising thanks in large part to its ads that blanketed popular TV programs like Downton Abbey on PBS and that air on National Public Radio. That kind of brand recognition definitely gives it an advantage.

In addition to product awareness, Viking has found the sweet spot in offering well-designed hardware at affordable prices. The line's newest vessels, the Viking Longships, launched in 2012, feature open and airy public areas and contemporary Scandinavian design that makes them feel like unstuffy, sleek floating hotels. They also offer a wide range of stateroom options, from a modest 150-square-foot lower deck cabin with small windows to 275-square-foot veranda suites with step-out balconies and 445-square-foot explorer suites with a separate living room and bedroom.

It doesn't hurt that Viking is also known for its attractive deals. For travellers who find river cruising to be too expensive, Viking's promotions make its cruises more attainable.

Viking also pays agent commission on all components of its river cruises, including port charges and airline fees, which few other lines do.

Image result for amaways river cruises

While Viking's fleet expansion always makes good headline fodder, Viking isn't the only river cruise line that is growing. AmaWaterways recently announced that it will launch three vessels in 2019, including the double-wide 196-passenger AmaMagna, and this spring the last two of Crystal Cruises' four new-build river ships set sail (the first two launched last fall).  
The steady stream of ship orders suggests that demand for river cruising hasn't let up. So, can Europe's rivers sustain all the inventory? Well, there are certain issues the industry needs to consider as it continues on its shipbuilding path, including staggering itineraries so that that numerous ships aren't all docked in the same ports at the same times. And docking space itself needs to be re-evaluated and solutions explored to ensure that ports don't get overcrowded.
Physical growth logistics aside, however, river cruise lines often point out that the demand for the new ships is there. The number of river cruise passengers is still a small fraction of the number of ocean cruise passengers, meaning that many cruisers have yet to discover river cruising. For the river cruise lines, that fact alone signals that this segment is poised to continue on its current expansion path for years, if not decades, to come.