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Articles from 2018 In October

Chantiers de l'Atlantique delivers Celebrity Edge

She's ours! Richard Fain signs for the new ship. At left is Celebrity's Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and at right, Chantiers de l'Atlantique's Laurent Castaign

Years of planning, many thousands of hands

This follows more than four years of planning and 23 months of construction at the skilled hands of thousands of engineers, architects, artisans, designers, contractors, shipyard employees and the Royal Caribbean newbuild and Celebrity teams.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman and CEO Richard Fain and Celebrity president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo hosted a ceremony aboard the ship at Saint-Nazaire for the sign-over. Chantiers de l’Atlantique GM Laurent Castaing and other shipyard officials, Celebrity executive team members and 1,377 crew members from 72 countries were on hand.

Game-changing ship

'The Celebrity team has done an outstanding job and I cannot thank the Chantiers de l’Atlantique team enough for delivering this game-changing ship and for their ongoing partnership,' Fain said. 'Their work continues to transform the way our guests experience the world.'

'Today is a very special day for all of us as we have been eagerly anticipating this moment for more than four years,' Lutoff-Perlo added. 'There are so many aspects of Celebrity Edge that are more groundbreaking than we could have ever imagined, and it is all a testament to the hard work, creativity and talent of everyone who helped bring this magnificent ship to life.'

'Thanks to the confidence Celebrity Cruises granted us and to the exceptional level of cooperation between our respective teams, we are proud to have designed and built one of the most innovative cruise ships ever,' Castaing said. 'This achievement demonstrates once again our capacity to deliver right on time ships of the highest quality to our most demanding customers.'

Celebrity Apex keel-laying

Following the check-signing and delivery ceremony, attendees made their way across Chantiers de l’Atlantique for the keel-laying of sister ship Celebrity Apex, where a 762-ton block was lifted in the air and a lucky coin was placed on the dock before the block was lowered into position.

On Nov. 6, Celebrity Edge will begin its trans-Atlantic voyage to Port Everglades' custom-designed terminal, T25, for pre-inaugural events in late November and early December before kicking off an inaugural season of seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises. The maiden western Caribbean voyage departs Dec. 9, followed by the first eastern Caribbean sailing on Dec. 16. In the spring, Celebrity Edge crosses the Atlantic again to sail the Mediterranean with a range of seven- to 11-night cruises from Southampton, Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome).

Celebrity Apex is due in 2020, and two additional ships in the Edge series will follow in 2021 and 2022.

Virgin's Scarlet Lady will feature Cuba in inaugural season cruises

Scarlet Lady will be visiting Havana for overnight calls on voyages from PortMiami

This—the first destination news disclosed by the line, beyond its plans to offer weekly cruises from PortMiami with Sunday departures—came on the same day as Fincantieri announced the order for a fourth Virgin Voyages newbuild.

Not too big for the cruise terminal

The 110,000gt Scarlet Lady will be able to dock at the Sierra Maestra pier in Havana Harbor. The line worked closely with the Cuban maritime authorities to receive approval to be able to go alongside. 'Together, we determined that there are no issues with the LOA or draft,' a Virgin Voyages spokeswoman told Seatrade Cruise News.

'One of the most desired and interesting destinations'

The decision to visit Cuba was influenced by customer and travel partner research conducted in North America and the United Kingdom. Both groups consistently rank the Caribbean island as one of the most desired and interesting destinations to visit on a voyage.

'Virgin Atlantic has been visiting Cuba for 13 years, and I cannot wait to see our iconic Scarlet Lady gleaming in the Havana Harbor,' Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said. 'Havana is the perfect place for our sailors to go and experience a city that exudes an irresistible energy and passion.'

Branson had indicated Cuba was under consideration as far back as 2015, during the first announcement that Virgin Voyages was building ships at Fincantieri.

'We are thrilled to share the news about our partnership with Cuba and can’t wait to take our sailors to Havana, which is without doubt, one of the Caribbean’s most authentic and enriching destinations,' Virgin Voyages president and CEO Tom McAlpin said. 'This fantastic place offers the chance for our sailors to create their own unique stories as they uncover cultural treasures, meet the locals and just soak up the atmosphere.'

Overnight in Havana

All sailings to Cuba from PortMiami feature an overnight stay in Havana, where people-to-people experiences will be offered in compliance with US regulations on travel to Cuba. Excursion details will become available later in 2019.

The Virgin Voyages destination announcement was made at the Havana International Fair (FIHAV), with remarks from Virgin Voyages executives, government representatives and local tourism leadership.

'We have a long-standing relationship with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group and are pleased to announce this new partnership with Virgin Voyages,' Cuba Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said. 'The Cuban people look forward to welcoming Virgin Voyages’ first ship, its crew and passengers to our shores in 2020.'

Serving a new demographic

Collin Laverty, president of Cuba Educational Travel, hailed the news.

'Virgin Voyages will service a new demographic of travelers to Cuba, which will greatly benefit the Cuban economy and the Cuban people,' Laverty said. 'The Virgin brand is a perfect match for the incredible music, art and dance that Cuba offers.

'Virgin Voyages passengers are in for a real treat.'

Laverty added that the brand’s focus on higher-end travelers will 'differentiate it from cruise lines currently offering Cuba. It will also mean higher earnings for Cuban companies and more money in the pockets of the Cuban people. Moreover, Virgin’s focus on culture will highlight the incredible talent of Cuban artists, incorporating them in on-ship experiences and ground excursions.'

In fact, a number of other premium/luxury lines—Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea, Ponant, SeaDream, Azamara Club Cruises, Holland America, Pearl Seas, Victory Cruise Lines, to name some—are charting Cuba, however the Virgin name certainly brings added cachet.


Carnival Corp. bags patents for OceanMedallion innovations

OceanMedallion communicates a passenger's unique digital identity with an intelligent shipboard network

Near field communication, Bluetooth low energy and more

US Patent No. 10,037,642 was issued for OceanMedallion, which contains a proprietary blend of communication technologies including near field communication and Bluetooth low energy as well as other non-disclosed capabilities.

The OceanMedallion communicates a passenger's unique digital identity with an intelligent shipboard network to provide crew members relevant information about preferences, helping them to deliver a high level of personalized service on a large scale. The device enables payment for goods and services, keyless stateroom access, frictionless embarkation and on-demand services.

Connecting physical and digital experiences

The OceanMedallion activates an Experience Internet of Things (xIoT) platform—the focus of the company's second patent (US No. 10,045,184)—to connect physical and digital experiences on board. This works in real time, based on guest choices and preferences and real-time 'experience intelligence.'

The xIoT platform involves an invisible network of thousands of interactive intelligent sensors and embedded devices mounted throughout the ship, as well as select ports, linking individual passenger and crew devices, shipboard software and hardware as well as synchronized cloud computing to form a unified guest experience platform.

Keyless stateroom access

Carnival Corp.'s third patent (US No. 10,049,516) is for the company's smart door portal solution that leverages near field communication and Bluetooth low energy, proximity, capacitive sensors and cameras to allow passengers to seamlessly and securely access their stateroom without a key or card. The door portal system also features external smart touch display screens to deliver personalized interactions that recognize atributes like brand loyalty levels and celebratory occasions. The proprietary door portals also provide conditional crew access and multi-stateroom access capabilities.

'To have our inventions recognized by the US Patent Office is a tremendous source of pride for the entire company. It also sends a clear signal that we are leading the vacation industry in developing innovative solutions for personalizing the guest experience on a large scale to an even higher level,' said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer for Carnival Corp.

MedallionClass cruising is currently deployed on Caribbean Princess.

Canaveral climbs to all-time high of nearly 4.57m cruise passenger moves

PHOTO: Canaveral Port Authority
Port Canaveral held its position as the world’s second busiest cruise port

The port chalked up $103.75m in total revenue for the year ended Sept. 30.

'This is more than double the port’s fiscal year 2008 revenues of $47.4 million and represents an exceptional return on cruise and other capital investments,' said Tom Weinberg, secretary/treasurer of the Canaveral Port Authority Commission.

Multi-day cruise count up 7.7%

More cruisers than ever started multi-day vacations at Port Canaveral as passenger movements at the world’s second busiest cruise port rose by 327,489 to 4,568,431 in 2018, a 7.7% increase over last year.

Operating revenues reached $101.72m with over $10m in cargo revenues earned—the first time in the port’s history—and an all-time high for multi-day cruise ship passengers. The figures are $8.44m above last year’s reported revenues of $93.28m and a 120% jump from fiscal 2008's $46.1m in operating revenues.

Aiming for a best-in-class experience

'These historic achievements are affirmation that the course we’ve charted for our port is a good one,' port CEO Capt. John Murray said. 'We’re continuing to look ahead to strong organic growth, sound business planning and a clear focus on creating a best-in-class experience for every customer.'

The port’s growing diverse cargo portfolio recorded double-digit increases, rising by 18% from 2017 to an all-time high of $10.15m. Cargo tonnage in 2018 rose to 6,404,944 tons, a 6.9% increase over the previous year.


Scanship nails contract with Carnival Cruise Line


Scanship AWP systems are already on the line's newest vessels, Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista, and will be on 2019 newbuild Carnival Panorama.

'We at Scanship are thrilled to be working with Carnival Cruise Line and are impressed by their commitment for cleaner oceans and sustainable seafaring,' Scanship CEO Henrik Badin said.

Pullmantur to embark 5,000 guests in Malaga in November

Zenith's first port of call post an 11 day revitalisation will be Malaga

It is estimated that the average cost of a passenger who embarks in a Spanish port is 154, an amount that includes air tickets, port taxes, lodging in the city of embarkation, excursions and other purchases.

President and ceo of Pullmantur Cruceros, Richard J. Vogel, affirms, ‘the excellent infrastructure in the Port of Malaga as well as its proximity to the city center are variables that positively influence our planning for itineraries.’

Malaga - the birthplace of Picasso

Vogel continues: ‘our operations in this wonderful city – the birthplace of Picasso - constitutes a great opportunity for the people of Malaga to enjoy a vacation on board with the comfort of being able to embark in their own locality.’

Horizon ship will be the first ship to arrive in Malaga on November 5 from Athens, where this summer it operated two routes to the Greek Islands and to Venice.

Horizon will sail two itineraries from Malaga of six and four nights, sailing to Portugal and Morocco, respectively.

On November 15, the vessel will depart from Malaga on a seven night cruise to Piraeus, Athens as the first leg of the journey to seasonal homeport of Dubai and Pullmantur’s debut winter season in the Middle East.

Malaga is also the first port of call by Zenith on her inaugural cruise after undergoing an 11 day revitalisation at the Navantia, Cádiz Shipyard (from November 1 to 11). Zenith will sail to Canary Islands, Madeira and Agadir.

Malaga to host Seatrade Cruise Med 2020

Malaga is the host venue of Seatrade Cruise Med 2020, taking place between September 15 - 17 .


Mediterranean tops Virtuoso list of desired 2019 cruise destinations


The Mediterranean tops the list, followed by European rivers, Alaska, the Caribbean and the Greek Isles.

The 'Luxe Report' has established Virtuoso as a trusted trend predictor in unveiling consumer preferences in high-end and experiential travel.

Personalization to the max

Virtuoso travel advisers also revealed client requests that illustrate the desire for a deeper level of personalization and one-of-a-kind experiences. From specific seat numbers on planes and hotel room numbers to particular rental car types, travelers are more vocal about their precise preferences. Nothing is left to chance, as increasingly clients ask for prearranged meals and appointments.

They are seeking not just restaurant reservations, but exact tables at in-demand hot spots as well as pre-ordering wine to accompany the meal. They also ask their adviser to book sessions with hairdressers, massage therapists and even tattoo artists.

Key travel motivator: exploring new destinations

Exploring new destinations is the prevailing travel motivator for 2019, followed by crossing off bucket-list items, seeking authentic experiences, rest and relaxation, and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones

Japan tops the list of emerging destinations for the first time, having previously finished third and fifth in 2018 and 2017, respectively. Multigenerational travel maintains its stronghold as the hottest trend for 2019, a position it has held every year but one since 2011. Italy continues its reign as the top global destination as well as the leader for family travel, honeymoons and millennial travel.

When it comes to 2019's top travel trends as identified by Virtuoso, following multigenerational travel are active or adventure trips, river cruising, luxury cruising and celebration travel.

Italy is tops with millennials, too

Following Italy among top travel destinations are France, South Africa, the United States and Iceland. Top millennial destinations are forecast as, No. 1 Italy, then Thailand, Iceland, South Africa and Australia, while family destinations are led by Italy, then Mexico, Hawaii, Orlando (Florida) and England.

After Japan, top emerging destinations are Croatia, Iceland, Portugal and Egypt.

South Africa tops Virtuoso's list of desired adventure destinations, followed by Iceland, New Zealand, the Galápagos Islands and Costa Rica.

Paris leads the roster of cities Virtuoso's well-heeled clients would most like to visit, followed by Rome and New York City (tie), Cape Town, London and Tokyo.

A total of 1,071 travel advisers from Virtuoso-affiliated agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East were surveyed.

Diversification the key to China’s next decade of growth

L-R clockwise: SCAP panelists Sarina Bratton, Bert Hernandez, Cherry Wang and Helen Huang aired issues related to customer satisfaction, distribution channels and diversified products

Issues related to customer satisfaction, distribution channels, diversified products and other topics sparked the attention of leading executives from top brands at last week’s Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific 2018, which took place in Baoshan, Shanghai.

‘The industry is becoming mature and in the coming five years we should be focusing on improving customer satisfaction levels,’ said Helen Huang, president Greater China, MSC Cruises.

‘According to Cherry Wang, vp and gm of Princess Cruises, China, ‘cruising boasts the highest customer satisfication across China’s tourism products.’

With the second largest cruise source market, ‘even more opportunities are coming to the China cruise market,’ predicted Kenneth Wong, GM, MICE and cruise, Hong Kong Tourism Board.

He and Jeff Bent, md Worldwide Cruise Terminals, cited recent infrastructure developments in China’s Bay Area are opening up huge potential for growing the China cruise market: ‘the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high speed rail link which opened in September as suddenly put 270m people (previously 100m) within a four hour train ride of Hong Kong’s Kai Tak cruise terminal,’ noted Bent.

Diversifying products and services are considered to be one of the top priorities of cruise lines focusing on the local market.

‘The important things that need attention are diversifying the destinations on ex-China sailings and the product offering,’ said Bernie Ye, vp sales and commercial, Greater China & South East, Costa Group Asia.

Due to China’s geography and seasonality patterns, year-round cruising in China is not easily handled.

‘Hong Kong is definitely a seasonal cruise destination, while the major mainland cruise ports of Shanghai and Tianjin are not the best options for travellers during winter,’ commented Bert Hernandez, svp and coo, Royal Caribbean International, China.

MSC Cruises’ Huang agreed there might be challenges especially sailings from Tianjin in the winter season.

Broadening the distribution model is another top priority. Many executives called for more travel agents be given the right to sell cruise holidays. There are currently around 800 travel agents selling cruise a number which counted just ten a decade ago.

Cruise lines also requested to be allowed to make direct sales – including shore excursions and on-board packages.

Currently, the distribution channels for cruise sales in the first-tier cities is much better than the second and third-tier cities. ‘We should strengthen the training of travel agencies based in smaller cities, build up the online distribution platform and internet connections,’ suggested Cherry.

Huang agreed the need to better connect travel agents located in coastal cities with customers in inland cities.’

Wong suggested the need to not only focus on selling cruises based on ports of call but to also market according to the onboard offering and brand loyalty.’

Sarina Bratton, chairman Asia Pacific Ponant suggested ‘getting the consumer to better appreciate differentiation of product is crictial,’ adding, ‘there seems to be no brand loyalty in China. Currently, a lot of purchasing is being driven by price.’

Sales and marketing approaches are becoming more crucial for building the local source market and in particular the effective use of social media.

Brendan Tansey, md, Viking Cruises China advised the industry in China to make more of social media while Cherry believes, ‘face to face marketing events’ are working well for Princess to pass information to potential customers.

A sustainable development is important going forward: ‘introducing a new ship is always refreshing, but we need to achieve long-term brand recognition,’ Hernandez emphasized.


Virgin orders a fourth cruise ship at Fincantieri

PHOTO: Fincantieri
Keel laying of Scarlet Lady at Fincantieri - the first of four cruise ships on order for Virgin Voyages

In July this year during the steel-cutting for the second cruise ship, Virgin boss Richard Branson hinted it was not stopping at three ships.

Fourth will be a sister to first three

The new vessel will be a sister of the three ships on order with Fincantieri. Construction is under way at the Sestri Ponente shipyard (Genoa) and the first three ships will enter Virgin Voyages' fleet in 2020 (Scarlet Lady), 2021 and 2022.

The fourth vessel will be approximately 110,000gt, 278mtr long and 38mtr wide.

The ship will feature over 1,400 guest cabins designed to host more than 2,770 passengers, accompanied by 1,100 crew members.

Highlights of the Virgin Voyages fleet, notes Fincantieri, include highly innovative design solutions to address energy recovery and the reduction of the overall environmental impact.

For example, the ships will be equipped with an energy production system of approximately 1 MW, which uses the diesel engine’s waste heat.

See also 'Virgin's Scarlet Lady will feature Cuba in inaugural season cruises'

Captain Marvel takes to the sea with Disney Cruise Line


This action-packed, day-long celebration will take place aboard select Disney Magic sailings departing Jan. 6 through March 8 from PortMiami.

Plus Iron Man, Captain America and more

Captain Marvel joins the event’s lineup of superheroes and villains, including Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Loki, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange and others.

In addition to character encounters, Marvel Day at Sea features a deck show spectacular, themed youth activities, special merchandise and themed food and beverage offerings.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel Studios' 'Captain Marvel' movie is scheduled for release in March.