Sunday, 29 September 2019

Piano Land is Christened

Piano Land is Christened

Piano Land
Astro Ocean has officially christened its first cruise ship following a stunning ceremony on Sept. 26 in Xiamen, China, as the Piano Land was named by Director of the Xiamen Municipal Committee and the Director of the Free Trade Commission Ni Chao.
Piano Land
The cruise line is a joint venture by CTS (China Travel Services) and COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Group) with V.Ships Leisure managing the ship. 
An official press release said it is the first state-owned luxury cruise ship in China.
Piano Land
The ceremonies and naming ceremony were held in the Xinghai Theater, with 700 people presenting including company officials, VIPs and government officials. 
In addition, China Tourism Group (parent to CTS), COSCO and the Xiamen Municipal Government signed a strategic cooperation agreement to help develop China's cruise industry.

Oasis of the Seas Enters Drydock for $165 Million Refurb

Oasis of the Seas Enters Drydock for $165 Million Refurb

Oasis of the Seas
The Oasis of the Seas has arrived at the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz, Spain to begin her $165 million Royal Amplification drydock. The ship will be transformed over a period of two months in Spain, debuting in Miami in late November.
Additions include the tallest slide at sea – Ultimate Abyss; The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides, a reimagined, Caribbean pool deck; and new kids and teens spaces.
Debuting alongside this lineup is the cruise line’s first barbecue concept, Portside BBQ, and dedicated karaoke venue Spotlight Karaoke.
Oasis of the Seas
Among more changes will be the reimagined Pool and Sports Zone. The transformed neighbourhood will feature new ways to relax, celebrate and plunge into adventure, joining the popular twin FlowRider surf simulators, nine-deck-high zip line and twin rock-climbing walls, the company said.
Additionally, the new Portside BBQ will offer an authentic, meat-packed menu inspired by the best-in-class barbecue, Royal Caribbean said in a prior press release.
Oasis of the Seas
From smoked marbled brisket, pulled pork and chicken, to beef ribs and burnt ends, the casual eatery on the pool deck will tie it all together with classic sides – including mac and cheese, homestyle cornbread, baked beans and coleslaw – and desserts such as the Banana Dream and a brownie cookie mashup.
Across the way, guests can find Mexican grab-and-go fare at El Loco Fresh, serving up made-to-order tacos and burritos, quesadillas, mini salads and salsas galore. Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade will anchor the lineup in the signature Boardwalk neighbourhood. With 80 big-screen TVs, tabletop games, arcade classics, tournaments, an Owner’s Box VIP room, bar fare and ice-cold brews, Playmakers is where everyone in the family wins. Sugar Beach, with more than 220 types of candy and a new walkup ice cream window, is the icing on the already-tasty offering onboard Oasis, which includes Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table and Izumi.
Oasis of the Seas
The Oasis will set sail on Nov. 24, 2019, beginning seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Royal Caribbean’s new, state-of-the-art Terminal A in Miami, the company said.
The ship will then move to New York in May 2020, calling Cape Liberty her homeport and sailing seven nights to the Bahamas.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Carnival's Q3 profit rises, but storm clouds are on the horizon

Carnival's Q3 profit rises, but storm clouds are on the horizon

Carnival Corp. reported higher third quarter-net income, but reduced its outlook for the 2019 fiscal year and said that business in Europe and the U.S. had eroded since it last reported results three months ago.
Reacting to the mix of news, investors pushed Carnival shares down 7% in mid-morning trading on Thursday.
Carnival said net income for the quarter ended Aug. 31 was $1.78 billion, up from $1.71 billion a year earlier, while revenue rose to $6.53 billion from $5.84 billion.
Carnival also reported higher earnings adjusted for nonrecurring factors, but forecast that earnings for the full year would fall in the range of $4.23 to $4.27 a share, compared to a previous range of $4.25 to $4.35 put forth in June and actual results of $4.26 a share in 2018.
Carnival blamed higher anticipated fuel prices for the reduction.
"We achieved additional cost improvements largely driven by leveraging our scale, offsetting the earnings impact due to voyage disruptions from the combined impact of Hurricane Dorian, the tensions in the Arabian Gulf and the delayed delivery of Costa Smeralda," Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement.
"A further reduction in guidance for ticket and onboard revenue worth 6 cents per share in part contributed to by the high level of close-in voyage disruptions was also offset. However, due to an 8 cent a share impact from the recent spike in fuel prices caused by geopolitical events, we are reducing our full-year guidance for 2019 by 5 cents a share," Donald said.
Carnival said it expects it's North America and Australia segment yields to be up for the year, but slightly less than previous guidance while its Europe and Asia segment is still expected to be down for the year but slightly more than previous guidance.
It also said: "Cumulative advanced bookings for the first half of 2020 are ahead of the prior year at prices that are in line compared to 2019 on a comparable basis. Since June, both booking volumes and prices for the first half of next year have been running lower than the prior year."
By mid-afternoon Thursday, Carnival shares were trading at $44.14, off 8.2% from Wednesday's close.

Sale and Leaseback Deal for Genting Dream

Sale and Leaseback Deal for Genting Dream

Genting Dream in Hong Kong
Genting Hong Kong has announced that it has entered into a sale and leaseback agreement for the 2016-built Genting Dream.
The company has sold the ship for $900 million or 80 per cent of the closing market value (whatever is lower), in a deal involving three Chinese banks. The ship was recently appraised at $1,180,000,000 according to a filing from Genting.
The agreement also includes a bareboat charter agreement to lease the ship back to Genting for 12 years.
Genting said in a filing that the agreement would provide working capital at reasonable terms that will help it finance its cruise expansion and newbuild program at MV Werften. 
The company will purchase the ship back once the 12-year charter period has ended.
Of note, Genting said the net profit attributable to the Genting Dream in 2017 was $23,010,000 and in 2018, $19,367,000
Earlier this year, Genting also sold a 35 per cent stake in Dream Cruises.

Five Ships to Leave Costa Fleet by May 2021

Five Ships to Leave Costa Fleet by May 2021

Costa Mediterranea  (Photo: JD Schwartz)

Working to reduce capacity growth in Southern Europe, five ships will leave the Costa Cruises fleet by May 2021, according to Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, speaking on the company's third-quarter earnings call on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Donald said that two Europe-based ships will leave the Costa fleet in 2020, and he added that two ships will leave the Costa fleet in Asia in 2020.
In addition, he confirmed the Costa Mediterranea will leave the fleet in May 2021. 
The ships will be replaced with more efficient capacity in the new Costa Smeralda, Donald underscored. 
Carnival's CEO did not mention what other ships would leave the fleet, but based on other Carnival Corp. vessel transfers, these would most likely be the line's older and less efficient vessels. 
"Some are being sent to China; some are being sent to other markets where we have strength," Donald said, noting some would also leave the fleet. "When we sell them, we don't sell them into competing markets."
The Atlantica and Mediterranea are expected to transfer to Carnival's joint venture in China with China State Shipbuilding Corporation, but the timeline is behind previously announced goals. 
Recent Carnival Corporation secondhand vessel transactions include not only Costa vessels, but the P&O Oriana, which was sold to Chinese owners and just transferred to the new Astro Ocean brand.
In addition, the Pacific Jewel was sold to Jalesh Cruises, the Pacific Eden moved to Cruise & Maritime Voyages, and the Prinsendam is now the Amera for Phoenix Reisen.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

MSC Meraviglia Becomes Largest Ship to Call In Northern Ireland

MSC Meraviglia Becomes Largest Ship to Call In Northern Ireland

MSC Meraviglia in Belfast
The MSC Meraviglia has made history, becoming the largest cruise ship ever to call in Northern Ireland as she docked today in Belfast Harbour.
Antonio Paradiso Managing Director, MSC Cruises UK and Ireland said: “It is a pleasure to be here in Belfast celebrating a milestone for both MSC Cruises and the Northern Irish cruise industry. Belfast Harbour is an institution to shipping and we are proud to continue to support the expansion of the cruise business with one of the largest ships in our fleet calling at the port. Today we have over 5,300 guests from more than 32 countries discovering the city and the surrounding areas, and we are delighted to be able to share such a beautiful part of the world with our guests.”
He added: “As well as bringing guests to visit Northern Ireland, in 2018 we carried a record number of Northern Irish passengers on our ships to destinations around the world with popular destinations including the Western Mediterranean and the Caribbean.”
Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour’s Port Director added: “Belfast Harbour has a long-standing relationship with MSC Cruises, with the cruise line making its first call to the port in 2013. We’re thrilled to welcome MSC Meraviglia as the largest cruise ship to ever visit Northern Ireland and we look forward to MSC Cruises ships returning again next year. The trend in the northern European cruise market is for ever-larger vessels and Belfast Harbour has already created a deep-water cruise quay and has invested in the development of a cruise terminal building in partnership with Visit Belfast and Tourism NI.”
The ship has spent the summer season sailing Northern Europe from Kiel Germany and is visiting Belfast as part of a 17-night transatlantic cruise from Kiel to New York visiting ports including Copenhagen, Reykjavik and Halifax.
The MSC Meraviglia will then spend several weeks exploring ports in North America and Canada, before making her way to Miami, sailing in the Caribbean, where she will become the first ship to call at MSC Cruises new private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Supply Chain In Focus for MHA Conference at Sea

Supply Chain In Focus for MHA Conference at Sea

MSC Divina
Among the topics set for the Marine Hotel Association’s (MHA) Conference at Sea, this December will be the cruise ship supply chain.
The Conference at Sea will run aboard MSC’s Divina on a three-night itinerary in December (Dec. 17-20); port calls will include the brand new Ocean Cay Marine Reserve as well as Nassau, as the cruise sails from Miami roundtrip.
The event brings MHA members together with relevant cruise line purchasing decision-makers.
The first session during the Conference at Sea will focus on the all-important cruise ship supply chain.
The three-hour workshop will discuss the supply chain from start to finish, purchasing to consumption and also include consolidation and loading.
Presentations are scheduled from multiple cruise operators and purchasing entities, and vendors will get the important question and answer time from panel participants ahead of business networking sessions scheduled for Thursday aboard the ship.
Immediately following the supply chain workshop, MHA members will have the opportunity to get a unique behind-the-scenes look aboard with hosted tours of key areas on the ship.
The MHA has thus far confirmed 14 participating cruise lines for its December Conference at Sea, representing 78 ships and nearly half a billion dollars in annual food spending.
Scheduled every other year, this will be the association’s third event hosted aboard a cruise ship, with previous events held with Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line
The MHA is a true not-for-profit organization, with membership dues at $500.
Its not-for-profit status also means that revenue is put back into the organization and into the famed MHA scholarship fund, which has doled out over 8,000 scholarships over 35 years.

When Dorian threatened, Royal Caribbean had a balloon to deal with

When Dorian threatened, Royal Caribbean had a balloon to deal with

AUSTIN, Texas -- Royal Caribbean had a myriad of decisions to make before, during and after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas. 
And while it's Up, Up and Away helium balloon at private island CocoCay was not at the top of the list, it was still something the company had to address. To deflate or not to deflate?
Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain talked about the balloon, and Royal's other efforts surrounding Dorian, during a press breakfast last week at Signature Travel Network's Owners' Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel Austin.
At first glance, it seems like an easy decision to deflate the balloon and not risk hurricane damage. Giant custom helium balloons aren't exactly for sale on Amazon.
However, deflating the balloon wasn't a cheap option. The balloon takes over a week to inflate, and with a worldwide helium shortage, filling Up Up and Away costs around $350,000.
The company took the more conservative route and deflated it.
After the storm, a team of about 300 people were flown to a nearby island, then took boats to get to CocoCay. They worked to restore the island, and it has since reopened.
Fain confirmed that the Up Up and Away balloon is being reinflated.

Monday, 23 September 2019

MSC Cruises receives approval for Miami double terminal

MSC Cruises receives approval for Miami double terminal

MSC Cruises has received approval for its planned double terminal at PortMiami, the first such arrangement at the port.
Each terminal will be able to handle 7,000 guests, enabling MSC to berth two mega-ships at a time.
The AA and AAA terminals will be just to the east of Royal Caribbean's new Terminal A that opened last year. Designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, renderings show a ski-slope shaped building with cantilevered fins at the eastern end.
MSC plans to move in 2022, around the same time Carnival moves into its new Terminal F. MSC didn’t specify what ships will be using the terminal by then. 
This year, MSC is homeporting four ships across four different classes out of PortMiami -- the MSC Seaside, MSC Armonia, MSC Divina and MSC Meraviglia. The Meraviglia will arrive in November.

Norwegian has big plans for Juneau, But is the city ready?

Norwegian has big plans for Juneau, But is the city ready? 

With its legacy of gold mining and the majestic Mendenhall Glacier just outside of town, Juneau has long been a crown jewel among Alaska cruise itineraries. But as demand has grown, so have congestion and concerns among residents about the quality of life during the all-too-brief summer months.

Now, an effort by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) to buy a key parcel of land along the downtown waterfront could bring those issues into high relief as citizens debate how much cruise tourism they want.

NCLH's bid to buy the 2.9-acre site known as the Subport comes as the number of cruise passengers arriving in Juneau has grown from 1 million to 1.5 million in the past four years and as NCLH has embraced an ambitious plan to beef up its shore facilities throughout southeast Alaska. 

But Juneau could test Alaska's appetite for hosting more and bigger cruise ships with each passing season.

Rorie Watt, manager of the city and borough of Juneau, said, "The growth has been climbing pretty steeply. We're starting to see quite a bit of pushback from the community."

Vacant since 2006, the Subport property is controlled by a state trust that provides services to Alaska's disabled population. Juneau has been urging the trust to sell the land and had a proposal of its own for the site.

When the parcel came up for auction, NCLH was the high bidder. At $20 million, its offer was nearly double the next highest bid, from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and more than quadruple the $4.3 million tendered by the city.

Image result for juneau subport property

The sum was all the more impressive because, according to Watt, current zoning would not permit the company to build a pier at the site. 

"It is true the property is not currently zoned for a cruise ship dock, and it is true that our waterfront plan does not call for a dock in that area," Watt said.

After the bids were opened, NCLH said in a statement that it was "thrilled to be the winning bidder," adding, "We look forward to engaging with the city of Juneau to work together on a plan for the land that will greatly benefit both Juneau and our company."

The company declined to comment further about its plans for the site.

The zoning of the Subport land emerged from a debate in the early 2000s among Juneau residents over cruise-related congestion that had resulted from a previous cruise line growth spurt in the 1990s, Watt said.

At that time, a consensus emerged that the Subport was not an appropriate site for a cruise pier, so the zoning was changed and a long-range waterfront land-use document was adopted to reflect that.

In addition, Watt said the city owns the tidal lands in front of the parcel, and NCLH would either have to buy those or work out a lease in order to put its ships there.

Both changes would require more than obtaining a variance from a zoning board. The decision would almost surely be made by elected officials, Watt said. 

"There would likely be a substantial amount of public process if they were to do that," he said.

Juneau is one of several ports in Alaska where NCLH is seeking to build its own infrastructure. In Hoonah, it is partnering with the Alaska Native tribe that owns the Icy Strait Point cruise port to build a second pier for its use.

In Ketchikan, NCLH has agreed to be the first tenant at a pier being developed north of town at an abandoned paper mill. The site at Ward Cove would give it preferential berthing rights. The site was developed by the local Ward Cove Group and a tour operator, Godspeed of Fairbanks.

The $50 million pier proposal is in the permitting process, and the partners hope to have it open for the 2020 cruise season.

NCLH also joined with the Port of Seattle in 2015 to redevelop the Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66 in downtown Seattle, where its Alaska-bound ships also have secured preferential berthing rights following the $30 million upgrade.

Angie Ryan, a Travel Leaders agent in Frisco, Texas, said the investments would make NCLH cruises more attractive to clients. 

"I think that by using their own facilities and their own dock, it can keep the standard they're trying to present across the board," Ryan said. "Like they built their own dock in Roatan, [Honduras], and it's a much nicer pier than the one Carnival uses," she said. "And I think that's a draw."

Homeport capacity drives upgrades

NCLH isn't the only cruise company upgrading its Alaska shore product. In 2018, Carnival Corp. spent $290 million in Skagway to acquire a scenic railway and related port facilities, and it formed a joint venture to manage the business.

Since then, the venture has added a berthing dolphin (an above-water marine structure that is not connected to the shore) at the end of the railroad dock complex. The dolphin now enables the berthing of two large ships there, according to Carnival Corp. chief communications officer Roger Frizzell.

The moves are part of a larger expansion of cruise infrastructure in Alaska, driven by increased homeport capacity.

Image result for Vancouver's Canada Place terminal

From Seattle and Vancouver, cruise lines now have the ability to launch six ships simultaneously: three from Vancouver's Canada Place terminal, two from Pier 91 at Seattle's Smith Cove and one from the Bell Street terminal.

"I think the way to look at southeast Alaska is that most of the cruise ship visitation is predicated on weeklong cruises that initiate out of Seattle or Vancouver," Watt said. "And berth capacity has been added in Seattle and Vancouver, so there's going to be capacity for six ships leaving there."

That enhanced capacity will have a domino effect on port capacity in Alaska. With the addition of Ward Cove, Ketchikan would have berths for six ships a day, including Norwegian Cruise Line's two 4,000-passenger ships, the Norwegian Bliss and the Norwegian Joy.

Watt said the question for Juneau, which currently has four berths, is whether it wants to keep pace.

The addition of 500,000 cruise visitors since 2015 has meant a lot of perceived change for residents, Watt said. 

"It's a lot of economic opportunities, but it's also that your quiet neighbourhood may be less quiet," he said.

He added: "On Juneau's side, I would imagine we're going to go through a period of high-level community vision-type exercises. What kind of town do we want to be, and where are we headed, and how do we plan appropriately for that? My guess is that Norwegian has jumped into the middle of that conversation, and realistically, we're probably not going to be moving very fast. I think it will take us a while."

Thomas Cook ceases trading after failing to salvage rescue deal

Thomas Cook ceases trading after failing to salvage rescue deal

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Travel giant Thomas Cook has collapsed after last-minute efforts to secure a rescue deal failed.

The 178-year-old business ceased trading with 600,000 overseas, including 150,000 from the UK.

The CAA is to begin the biggest-ever repatriation of UK travellers with more than 45 aircraft sourced from around the world.

German authorities face organising even bigger repatriation with up to 300,000 Germans abroad on Cook holidays.

The Thomas Cook board called in administrators after running out of options to keep the business afloat. A senior industry source said: “The board could not keep the wheels spinning. They had a legal duty.”

Thomas Cook’s failure leaves 20,000 staff, including 9,000 in the UK, out of work.

The insolvency was timed to kick in once the group’s entire fleet of aircraft was on the ground in the early hours of Monday.

The holidays of those due to fly out from today have been cancelled leaving hundreds of thousands to apply for refunds.

Chaos and confusion are expected at airports, as people turn up for cancelled services or to enquire about flights home, and at the more than 3,000 hotels used by Thomas Cook – most of which will be owed money by the group.

The group was set to be rescued in a deal worth £900 million which would have seen Fosun taking control of 75% of the company’s tour operating the business and up to 25% of its airline in exchange for a £450 million capital injection.

Debt holders and lending banks would put up the remaining £450 million in exchange for control of Thomas Cook’s airline and up to 25% of the tour operator.

The deal, which had been pushed back once, was due to be voted on by creditors and stakeholders on September 27.

But last week Thomas cook’s lending banks, led by Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds demanded it finds an additional £200 million in contingency funding.

This demand for “a seasonal standby facility” followed fresh advice from financial consultants working for the banks which suggested Cook risked running out of cash once more by late 2020.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Readjustment Over as Chinese Cruise Market Returns to Growth

Readjustment Over as Chinese Cruise Market Returns to Growth

Costa Venezia
The readjustment period for the Chinese cruise market is coming to an abrupt end as capacity will be up for the first time in two years in 2020, according to the 2020 China Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Annualized capacity with new ships from Costa Crociere and Royal Caribbean International are pushing market capacity, while full-year operations from the Piano Land will also contribute as will the 4,500-guest MSC Bellissima.
Following year-after-year of rapid growth, China saw its cruise supply drop due to an ongoing price war in 2018, as ships and operators left the market. This self-described readjustment period continued into 2019 and is now subsiding with more ships, more berths and more capacity in the market for 2020.

Extended MSC Seashore to be the longest ship in MSC Cruises fleet

Extended MSC Seashore to be the longest ship in MSC Cruises fleet

Extended MSC Seashore to be longest ship in MSC Cruises fleet

More than 40% of new ship MSC Seashore has been redesigned and enhanced as a “significant evolution and improvement” over its two sister ships.

The differences to MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview include 200 extra cabins, a larger ‘ship within a ship’ MSC Yacht Club and an additional double-deck lounge at the rear.

The latest MSC Cruises’ vessel, due to enter service in June 2021, will have 10,000 square metres of additional deck space with a 16-metre extension to 339 metres, making it the longest vessel in the fleet.

Features include 28 more terraced suites and two suites with private whirlpools.

The expanded MSC Yacht Club will include two new cabin categories – 41 deluxe grand suites and two owner’s suites with whirlpools.

A ‘cluster cabin’ concept for families – where two or three adjoining cabins can be linked to accommodate between six and ten people – will be introduced, while 75 larger cabins for disabled passengers are added.

Image result for MSC seaside restaurant

Two new restaurants are planned alongside a new location for five speciality dining outlets to allow for al fresco waterfront seating on the ship’s boardwalk.

The interior has been redesigned with two central meeting points positioned at the middle and forward part of the ship, as well as specific measures to improve passenger flows.

MSC Seashore will have a bigger casino and 20 speciality bars.

The ship will feature a new design of its aft swimming pool, an enlarged indoor pool and a new waterpark. Clubs for young children and teenagers have been separated from a larger kids’ zone.

A range of environmental protection measures is to be installed including a selective catalytic reduction system designed to help cut nitrogen oxide by 90% through advanced active emissions control technology.

Wastewater will go through a purification and filtration process that transforms it to “near tap-water” quality.

The new-build will also be fitted with shore-to-ship power connections while in port to reduce emissions.

The details emerged at a keel-laying ceremony for the ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

MSC Cruises’ executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “Today’s ceremony marks another key milestone in the construction of one of our most innovative all-around ships yet.

“Most importantly, MSC Seashore – which will feature the latest and most advanced environmental technology currently available – represents another proof of our long-standing commitment to preserving the environment in our ongoing journey to minimise and continuously reduce the impact of our operations.”

Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono added: “The beginning of drydock works of MSC Seashore, the largest ship so far built in Italy, is for us a source of great satisfaction.

“It is a real challenge in terms of structural and managerial aspects, which powers the impressive workload for the shipyard and the local area.”

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Virgin Voyages unveils fashion-forward uniforms

Virgin Voyages unveils fashion-forward uniforms

Virgin Voyages' crew will be clad in uniforms created by British fashion designer Gareth Pugh that might be described as one part Star Trek and one part Kinky Boots.
Images of the uniforms on models in moody industrial settings were released ahead of their appearance at a showcase on Sept. 15 as part of London Fashion Week.
The collection -- in brand-correct red, white and black -- was two years in the making. Virgin said it allows for most crew to have a range of looks day and night and also breaks with cruise traditions by having no epaulettes stripes for officers.
One outfit worn by a female model includes a long, flowing red cape. A male model sports a tunic with a deep V design.
Pugh's designs will be paired with signature, custom-designed red sneakers made by San Francisco-based PLAE.
"For this project, we were really allowed to push the boundaries and to redefine the idea of what constitutes a uniform. We ultimately wanted to make everything about it modern, luxurious and desirable," Pugh said.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Carnival Australia Poised for Big Season

Carnival Australia Poised for Big Season

Carnival Spirit in Sydney
Carnival Australia announced that it is is on course for one of its biggest summer cruise seasons ever, featuring more than 600 calls to ports around the nation as well as the local debut of two new ships, the Ruby Princess and Carnival Splendor.
The season kicked off this week as the Majestic Princess sailed into Sydney following stops in Darwin and Brisbane. 
Her arrival marked the start of 625 calls to 34 different ports around Australia by 19 ships from the seven cruise lines represented by Carnival Australia: Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises UK and Seabourn.
Carnival Australia President Sture Myrmell said the 2019-20 cruise season would feature an exciting range of ships as well as 50 inaugural port visits around the country for ships across the company’s cruise lines, according to a statement.
"This is going to be a summer cruise season to remember, with our cruise lines offering Australian holidaymakers a fantastic range of new itineraries and new ports across 19 great ships,” Myrmell said. “In fact the number of local port visits by our ships has grown by more than 50 per cent compared to the summer season 10 years ago, underlining not only the growing popularity of cruising but also how much cruising has become part of the tourism fabric of our nation.” Carnival
On her second season Down Under, the Majestic Princess’s arrival not only marks the start of the summer cruise season but the largest in history for Princess in this region, featuring a record 141-day deployment in Western Australia as well as cruising from the east coast.
Myrmell said highlights of the season also include the first Australian visit by the Ruby Princess which will arrive in Sydney on October 23, 2019, and the Australian debut of the Carnival Splendor, which will sail into her new homeport of Sydney on December 10, 2019. Her arrival means that Carnival Cruise Line will now have two full-time ships based Down Under.
Other inaugural ship and cruise line visits over the summer include Carnival Cruise Line’s first call to Adelaide (Carnival Spirit February 29, 2020); Cunard’s first call to Esperance in Western Australia, (Queen Elizabeth on December 9, 2020); Seabourn’s first call to Portland (Seabourn Encore on March 14, 2020) and Holland America’s first calls to Moreton Island (Maasdam on December 1, 2019); Portland (Maasdam on January 2, 2020) and Phillip Island (Maasdam on January 3, 2020).

Hurricane Humberto Causes Cruise Ships to Alter Course

Hurricane Humberto Causes Cruise Ships to Alter Course

Five-day forecast for Hurricane Humberto.
PHOTO: Five-day forecast for Hurricane Humberto. (Photo courtesy of National Hurricane Center)
Hurricane Humberto, which has developed over the weekend from a Tropical Storm into a full-blown, Category-1 hurricane, is making its way toward Bermuda, forcing cruise lines operating in the region to reroute their ships.
According to CruiseCritic, Humberto has thus far affected two Carnival Cruise Line itineraries that were scheduled to be sailing in Bermuda between Wednesday, September 18, and Friday, September 20.
Carnival Pride, which left Baltimore on September 15, is now spending two days at sea before sailing on to visit Grand Turk and the Dominican Republic's Amber Cove, rather than Bermuda, as was originally intended.
Carnival Sunrise, departing today from New York City, will stop in Charleston, South Carolina, on September 18 before spending a previously-unscheduled day at sea. Sunrise will then spend a single day in Bermuda on Friday, September 20, by which time the storm is expected to have moved on, before cruising back to New York by September 22.
Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas is also scheduled to weigh anchor in Bermuda on September 21, after Humberto is forecast to have already moved away from the island.
While no warnings are currently in effect, the National Hurricane Center anticipates the need to a Tropical Storm Watch for Bermuda later this afternoon, as Humberto continues to gain strength and move east-northeast over the next two days or so.
With sustained wind speeds of 85 mph, the hurricane was this morning sitting about 710 miles outside of Bermuda but is expected to reach the north end of the island by Wednesday night. Humberto is expected to peak as a major hurricane within the next 36-48 hours, with forwarding speed intensifying through Thursday, September 19.
Other effects of the storm include large swells, which will affect portions of the northwestern Bahamas and the southeastern U.S. during the upcoming few days. People in those areas should be aware of dangerous surf conditions and potentially life-threatening rip currents.

Princess Cruises ship to feature in a TV documentary

Princess Cruises ship to feature in a TV documentary

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Princess Cruises’ 3,080-passenger ship Crown Princess will appear on a behind-the-scenes TV documentary next month.

The hour-long episode called Monster Ships follows the vessel as it sails a 10-day Caribbean voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Viewers will see the jobs carried out by 1,200 crew members working in the 17 restaurants and bars onboard, providing round-the-clock room service across more than 1,500 cabins and entertaining guests.

Monster Ships was commissioned by Discovery Networks International and made by WAG TV, an international producer of TV shows.

Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK and Europe, said: “We’re delighted to see Princess Cruises once again feature on the small screen, this time providing viewers with a rare onboard glimpse behind-the-scenes.

“The Crown Princess episode of Monster Ships is recommended viewing for anyone with an interest in the incredible mechanics and logistics of a cruise ship, or who wants to see the premium guest experience we offer on one of our stunning Caribbean sailings.”

Viewers can also experience the ship for themselves when it sails out of the UK next year on a series of voyages to the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

The episode will air on UKTV’s Yesterday Channel on Thursday, October 3 at 8pm.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Carnival brands resume Bahamas calls

Carnival brands resume Bahamas calls

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Carnival Corp. said that its brands have resumed regular sailings to the Bahamas for the first time since Hurricane Dorian struck on Sept. 1.
The company's private islands, Princess Cays and Half Moon Cay, have resumed taking ship calls and Carnival's three largest North American brands -- Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line -- together are projected to make over 250 sailings to the Bahamas through the end of 2019.
Carnival Cruise Line alone will make an estimated 204 calls through the remainder of the year, visiting Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays on eight of its ships.
Princess will return to with the Crown Princess' arrival on October 9, and Holland America resumes Bahamas calls beginning Oct. 21, when the Zuiderdam arrives at Half Moon Cay.
Two Carnival ships -- Carnival Liberty and Carnival Pride -- have made stops this week in Freeport to deliver relief supplies to assist residents, including dozens of pallets of water, generators, chain saws, prepared meals and medical supplies. 
Carnival Corp. chief communications officer Roger Frizzell said, "It is important to spread the word that much of the country had no or little impact and is open for business."

Cunard makes cinema ad debut with Downtown Abbey film

Cunard makes cinema ad debut with Downtown Abbey film

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Cunard is making its big-screen debut with a new cinema advert to appear before every screening of the new Downton Abbey film.

The ‘Dreams’ advert draws from the emotions evoked from travelling on flagship Queen Mary 2 on a transatlantic voyage.

The 40-second sequence invites audiences “to dream of love, banquets, journeys and music beyond all belief and then, once you have done all that, forget that you were dreaming”.

The advert features the voice of British philosopher, writer, and speaker Alan Watts.

Downton Abbey was chosen as the platform to release the new advert to provide the line with a combination of reach, impact and context.

Cunard marketing director David Milo Jones said: “In a world where we often find it hard to switch off, a holiday onboard a Cunard ship is the perfect place to escape the everyday.

“This advert captures what it feels like to experience the magic of a Cunard voyage onboard our flagship Queen Mary 2 as she journeys across the Atlantic.

“We know that many of our target audience of discerning travellers are passionate Downton Abbey fans, so a return to the big screen was too good an opportunity for us to miss.” 

The promotional campaign also includes branded content that will run across Cunard’s social media channels and be distributed to the line’s international teams to use in their own sales and marketing channels.

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas to sail in Europe

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas to sail in Europe

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Royal Caribbean International’s second Quantum Ultra-class ship, Odyssey of the Seas, is to sail in Europe in 2021 after its spending first season in the Caribbean.

The line’s 27th ship, which will be similar in size to 4,800-passenger-capacity Spectrum of the Seas, will first sail out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Caribbean itineraries from November 2020.

It will sail both six- and eight-night Caribbean cruises, becoming the first Quantum Ultra-class ship to call at the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curacao, which will be calling on its eight-night itinerary.

They will be in addition to the calls on its six-night sailing, which include Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; and Royal Caribbean International’s private Caribbean island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

After Odyssey’s maiden season in the Caribbean, the ship will redeploy to Europe for summer 2021. Details of its European itineraries are yet to be confirmed and are expected to be released in November. In a previous interview with Travel Weekly, the line’s president and chief executive Michael Bayley hinted that the ship would sail out of Barcelona.

Odyssey of the Seas will feature a RipCord by iFLY sky-diving adventure, a North Star glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean and a two-deck-high Two70 entertainment venue and SeaPlex active space with a trapeze school, basketball court, a roller-skating rink and bumper cars.

Royal said more features of the ship will be announced ahead of its launch.

The line’s first Quantum-Ultra class ship, Spectrum of the Seas, launched in April with sailings out of Shanghai, China.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Grand Bahama Shipyard Welcomes First Commercial Vessel After Hurricane Dorian

Grand Bahama Shipyard Welcomes First Commercial Vessel After Hurricane Dorian

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PHOTO: Grand Bahama Shipyard welcomes its first commercial vessel, the Agathonissos. (photo via Carnival Corporation)
Following the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, officials from the Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) announced Thursday the facility has resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard is located in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and will once again host cruise ships when Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Ecstasy arrives on October 5. The facility will also support recovery efforts through the ongoing work of its more than 600 employees.
The Freeport shipyard also expects to service 29 dry-dockings throughout the remainder of the year and generate additional economic activity for the surrounding area of Grand Bahama.
“It was extremely important to get up and running as quickly as possible and begin taking in vessels to help support the employees and families at the shipyard, along with economic contributions and rebounding activity for the island,” Grand Bahama Shipyard CEO David Skentelbery said in a statement.
“This is a significant sign of positive progress for the island, and we look forward to continuing our normal operations while also supporting the Bahamian recovery with direct support, including to island utilities, along with increased economic activity from our operations, and also from the industry's collective efforts to support The Bahamas with immediate and long-term relief,” Skentelbery continued.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard suffered no significant damage from the hurricane, with the only issues coming from erosion. The facility can power its core operations and communications infrastructure, as well as provide fresh water and meals in its cafeteria, which serves hundreds of workers daily.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

MSC Armonia to Homeport in Tampa

MSC Armonia to Homeport in Tampa

MSC Armonia
MSC Cruises announced it is sending the Armonia to homeport in Tampa for the 2020-2021 cruise season, adding a key new homeport to the company's arsenal.
Starting Nov. 11, 2020, MSC Armonia will begin sailing from Tampa to the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas year-round, with a full Winter season (Nov. 2020 – April 2021) of four- to five-night short cruises followed by a Summer season (May 2021-Nov. 2021) of week-long cruise options. 
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said: “The introduction of Tampa as a homeport is another important milestone as we continue to grow our presence and profile in North America to meet the growing demand for our product. 
“MSC Armonia’s short cruises will be perfect for the first time U.S. guests to experience our European heritage and I’m sure that our seven-night product will appeal greatly to families.  With every sailing from Tampa including our exclusive Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve private island, all of the ship’s itineraries should also be extremely attractive for large U.S. groups and charters.”   
“As MSC Cruises expands its presence in the U.S., the introduction of Tampa as a homeport plays an important role in our long-term deployment strategy for this region,” added Ken Muskat, EVP and Chief Operating Officer of MSC Cruises USA. “We’ve seen increased demand for cruise options from Tampa as vacationers from around the world look to explore the city and surrounding areas pre- and post-cruise. We’re looking forward to bringing MSC Armonia, one of our more classic and charming ships, to Tampa and to introducing even more travellers to the MSC Cruises experience, inspired by our European heritage.”
“We are thrilled that MSC Cruises will be offering year-round cruises from Port Tampa Bay next year,” said Paul Anderson, President and CEO of Port Tampa Bay. “MSC Cruises offers an enriching and immersive cruise experience, bringing together people from around the world. Tampa is also known for the unique experiences the city offers its residents and visitors, appealing to a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures. We couldn’t be more excited for MSC Armonia’s new home to be Port Tampa Bay.” 
For the Winter 2020-2021 season, MSC Armonia will offer a variety of four- and five-night sailings, visiting destinations such as Key West; Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Progreso, Mexico; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. 
“With a range of itineraries, including short cruise options, MSC Armonia’s itineraries from Tampa are ideal for groups, including family reunions, meetings, incentives and corporate events, as well as charters,” said Muskat. “In addition, the four- and five-night options are a great opportunity for someone who has never cruised before to try cruising as a vacation option or if they are new to MSC Cruises to check out one of our ships for the first time.”
Following its inaugural season in Tampa, MSC Armonia will then transition to 7-night sailings from May through Nov. 2021, with stops at Key West; Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve; Cozumel, Mexico; and Progreso, Mexico. Prices start at $299 per person.