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Articles from 2015 In December

US meeting to prep for IMO cybersecurity session

US meeting to prep for IMO cybersecurity session

The goal is to better understand all aspects of the maritime industry's use of cybersystems.

Input is sought on topics such as how greater reliance on digital information has increased cyber risks associated with trade-related information including the crew list, passenger list and maritime declaration of health.

Information is also solicited about what cyber risk management processes currently exist in the maritime industry to address the ongoing surge in the number, severity and complexity of cyber attacks.

Details about the meeting are posted in the Federal Register.

The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Jan. 25, at the headquarters of the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services, Suite 605, 1611 N. Kent Street, Arlington, Virginia.

Those who plan to attend are asked to contact the meeting coordinator, David Du Pont ([email protected]), by Jan. 18.

IMO's Facilitation Committee session is scheduled for April 4-8 at IMO headquarters in London.


Lindblad buys ship to replace its Galápagos vessel

Via Australis (Photo: Cruceros Australis)

Via Australis will replace National Geographic Endeavour.

The purchase price is $18m, and Lindblad intends to spend up to $10m to refurbish and outfit Via Australis immediately after closing. It will be renamed with the National Geographic moniker. The company will pay a deposit of $1.8m on Jan. 4 and the balance on delivery.

Via Australis has operated in Patagonia and Cape Horn for Chile's Cruceros Australis for a number of years. Following renovation, the ship will accommodate 96 passengers in 50 double cabins and four single cabins.

'Opportunities to acquire high quality expedition ships on attractive terms are infrequent so we seized this one,' said Sven Lindblad, president and ceo of Lindblad. He called Via Australis the ideal platform for the company's Galápagos expeditions far into the future.

Public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with quick, easy access to decks so passengers can respond to bridge announcements about wildlife and nature sightings. Via Australis has a spacious main lounge and a forward-viewing additional lounge with large windows and immediate access to the outer decks.

An open top deck provides a location for gathering, dining, relaxing and stargazing. 

Zodiacs and sea kayaks are accessible by an efficient Zodiac loading platform that can deploy two landing crafts at the same time.

The ship will have a fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa. A modern audiovisual system will allow high quality presentations, including National Geographic photography instruction.

Well-appointed and improved crew quarters are another feature.

Via Australis will provide the company with increased profitability on the same route through more operating days, revenue enhancement opportunities, operating efficiencies and cost savings compared to National Geographic Endeavour, Sven Lindblad said. Additionally, it will require significantly lower capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.

'The most important elements of a Galápagos experience are the islands, the animals and the sea that surrounds them, so the ship that provides access to these things matters greatly,' Lindblad added. 'The Via Australis is ultra-efficient to operate and was built with the same sensibility that matters so much to us, with a focus on the world outside. To that end, she has great viewing from all public spaces. Her ability to launch and deploy landing craft is fast and seamless. She is exceptionally quiet and maneuverable, a great asset when approaching marine life.

'And I'm particularly pleased that this ship will be well received by our crew who work very hard and are critical to expedition success.'


From China's Black Monday to RCL cracking $100/share, a notable year for cruise stocks

RCL - topped $100 milestone on Oct. 27 and hit 52-week high of $103.40 on Dec. 30

2015's final day sell-off Thursday sent the Standard & Poor's 500 Index into its first yearly drop since 2011, with technology stocks leading the decline, according to Bloomberg.

Royal Caribbean ended the year at $101.21, down $1.52, after hitting a 52-week high of $103.40 on Wednesday. RCL had first topped the $100 milestone in trading on Oct. 27. The stock's low this year was $65.91.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings wrapped 2015 at $58.60, down 91 cents. This year the stock traded as high as $64.27, on Nov. 2. Its low was $42.55.

NCLH became part of the NASDAQ-100 Index on Dec. 21, with ceo Frank Del Rio calling it 'a testament to the extraordinary progress Norwegian has made in the three years since its initial public offering.' The Index is made up of the 100 largest non-financial stocks on the NASDAQ Stock Market, based on market capitalization.

Carnival closed 2015 at $54.48, off 56 cents, following its 52-week high of $55.77 on Wednesday. CCL has traded as low as $42.51 in the past year.

In other memorable stock matters during 2015, Royal Caribbean filed to voluntarily delist its shares from the Oslo Stock Exchange, a move that followed overwhelming shareholder approval. RCL said the benefits of maintaining a secondary listing were outweighed by the additional costs and regulatory requirements.

In its delisting application in late September, Royal Caribbean indicated it would keep the OSE listing for at least three months to minimize inconvenience to impacted shareholders.

RCL will revert to a single listing on the New York Stock Exchange, its primary listing since the company first offered shares to the public in 1993.

Shares of Steiner Leisure Ltd., the leading provider of spa and salon services to the cruise industry, ceased trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market Dec. 9. This followed Steiner's acquisition by private equity firm Catterton, whose affiliates bought all the outstanding STNR shares for $925m, and assumed the company's debt.

In another 2015 event, shares of Lindblad Expeditions began trading on the NASDAQ in July. The venerable expedition cruise operator went public by merging with Capitol Acquisition Corp. II, a public investment vehicle, and became Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, trading under the LIND symbol.

The cruise industry's growing, albeit still limited, exposure to China was felt during the year.

The market meltdown of Aug. 24, dubbed China's Black Monday, triggered sell-offs around the world. In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 1,000 points just after the opening bell in its most dramatic intraday trading ever, according to Reuters. Then the Dow recovered most of those losses before dropping again nearly 600 points to close at 15,871.

Cruise shares went along for the wild ride, falling sharply then bouncing back and eventually settling lower.


American Cruise Lines raises $10,500 for Connecticut Food Bank

American Cruise Lines' gift will buy food for 21,000 meals

In 2013, the company announced the program’s first partnership with Connecticut Food Bank to help alleviate hunger in American Cruise Lines' headquarters state, Connecticut.

The company continued to support the program by promising to donate $50 to the Food Bank for each ticket sold on its 2015 Thanksgiving cruises. These were Queen of the Mississippi's Mississippi sailing, Independence's 'Historic South & Golden Isles' and American Glory's 'Great Rivers of Florida.' All were seven-night cruises.

'Being able to surpass what we’ve previously donated to the Connecticut Food Bank is phenomenal,' said Susan Shultz, director of sales. 'It’s heartwarming to be able to share our successes with our local community and those in need.'

Shultz presented the Connecticut Food Bank with the donation on behalf of American Cruise Lines at the Food Bank’s new distribution center in Wallingford.

Connecticut Food Bank interim ceo Paul O’Leary said the gift can provide food for 21,000 meals.

Trio of Carnival group brands are getting four Fincantieri newbuilds

Among the newbuilds is a fourth Royal Princess-class ship for Princess Cruises. Pictured is the keel of the original ship in the series, 2013's Royal Princess

Final contracts are expected to be executed in 2016.

The agreement defined which Carnival operating companies are getting additions from a five-ship order with Fincantieri that was first announced in March. So this leaves one vessel still to be assigned to a brand, and to be delivered in the 2021-2022 period.

The pair of 135,500gt newbuilds for Costa Asia are destined for the China market, while the P&O Cruises Australia vessel will carry 4,200 passengers—way more than the brand's next largest ship, which has capacity for 2,250 passengers. And the Princess vessel is a 143,700gt ship built on the design platform used for Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess, the latter to be customized for China and scheduled for delivery in 2017.

Carnival Corp. & plc said each of the four new ships will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and market it will serve.

The order means the Carnival group has 17 newbuilds scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2020.

Arnold Donald, president and ceo of Carnival Corp. & plc, stressed the ships are consistent with a long-term strategy of measured capacity growth. He noted this includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a specific period of time.

For Fincantieri, the agreement comes during a 'real and beyond all expectations boom of the cruise sector,' as ceo Giuseppe Bono put it. He added the projects ensure continuity and development for Fincantieri and further strengthen its consolidated partnership with the Carnival group.

Carnival Corp. & plc has invested more than $25bn in Italy through its partnership with Fincantieri, making it one of the country's largest foreign investors. The shipbuilder has churned out 59 vessel for Carnival brands since 1990. Another 10 ships for the group are on order.

Along with the five newbuilds from Fincantieri, Carnival in March ordered four ships from Meyer Werft. Two of the Meyer vessels, from the Turku yard, were assigned to Costa Cruises and two, from the Papenburg yard, to AIDA Cruises. All four are LNG-powered.

In a note, UBS pointed out that seven of the total nine ships are for Europe or Asia Pacific, not North America. And eight of them will be delivered in the first two years of the designated 2019-2022 period.

So, additional capacity is entering service early, UBS analyst Robin Farley said, and the Carnival group is now averaging more than the two to three new ships per year it had previously outlined.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s seven ships for delivery in the same period is a slight increase in that company's one ship per year average, Farley noted, with RCL's new guidance on capacity growth targeted at 3% to 5% annually.



Sales open for MSC Cruises' 'follow the sun' ship

A 360-degree, ocean-level promenade on Deck 8 has indoor/outdoor shops, restaurants and a pool (Rendering: MSC Cruises)

Passengers who book by Jan. 31, 2016, are eligible for the special offer of an All-Inclusive Classic drinks package, applicable to the first and second traveler in a stateroom on cruises of at least seven nights.

On top of that, Voyagers Club (loyalty) members receive a 5% discount.

'We’ve seen tremendous enthusiasm and strong demand from travelers around the world interested in experiencing MSC Seaside and are thrilled to be able to open sales for this revolutionary ship two years ahead of its debut,' MSC Cruises ceo Gianni Onorato said.

Under construction at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard, MSC Seaside is designed to 'follow the sun.' Key elements include a 360-degree, ocean-level promenade on Deck 8 that has indoor/outdoor shops and restaurants, as well as a full buffet area and a pool—traditionally located on a cruise ship’s higher decks.

Public spaces will afford big views from a two-deck glass-walled atrium and panoramic exterior elevators. 

The ship will sail from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami, joining MSC Divina in serving the North American market.

MSC Seaside is part of MSC Cruises' plan to introduce seven new ships by 2022.

How the Carnival group orders stack up for each brand

How the Carnival group orders stack up for each brand

The gains for the three operating companies in Carnival Corp. & plc spring from the quartet of Fincantieri newbuilds that are part of a €2.5bn deal.

The Costa Asia ships, for delivery in 2019 and 2020, are 135,500gt and carry 4,200 passengers each. The order means the Costa Group has eight vessels in the pipeline with a total 45,000 berths. This would lift its fleet capacity to 110,000 berths.

Michael Thamm, ceo of the Costa Group, said that as with Costa Diadema, the last Costa Cruises ship built by Fincantieri, the Costa Asia ships will feature an innovative Italian-style design.

'In addition this new agreement will allow us to continue to significantly build the Chinese cruise market, which will become the second largest in the world at the end of the decade,' Thamm continued.

In the past nine years, Costa Asia helped drive the development of this fast-growing market. These will be the first newbuilds Costa has designated for China.

In 2019, the 135,500gt P&O Cruises Australia ship will join the fleet that was recently expanded with the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden (formerly Holland America Line's Ryndam and Statendam) in November and will reach six total with the introduction of Pacific Explorer (Dawn Princess) in 2017.

Australia is one of the world's top performing cruise markets, with an average annual passenger growth rate of 20% over the past decade. The new 4,200-passenger ship will have the greatest capacity for the P&O brand, with the next largest ship, Pacific Explorer, carrying 2,250 passengers.

Carnival Australia executive chairman Ann Sherry and P&O Cruises Australia president Sture Myrmell hailed the first newbuild for the market.

Sherry called it 'a huge vote of confidence in the Australian cruise market with much of the 20% year-on-year passenger growth over the past decade driven by P&O Cruises’ dynamic industry leadership.'

Myrmell said details and features will be revealed later but the ship will build on the continued evolution of the P&O Cruises brand and will reflect the tastes of modern Australia.

The 143,700gt Princess vessel, meanwhile, is the fourth of the Royal Princess class that began in 2013. It will follow 2017's Majestic Princess that is being customized for Chinese travelers.

It will have capacity for 3,560 passengers in 80% balcony staterooms. Signature Princess elements include a soaring central atrium hub with multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues, and a Movies Under the Stars outdoor cinema.

The ship also will add some innovations, to be announced.


Port Everglades breaks own single-day passenger world record

Celebrity Silhouette - one of eight ships in port on Dec. 20 record passenger-count day (File photo: Simon Brooke-Webb)

The port's last record was set March 20, 2010, with 53,365 cruisers.

'We were cautiously optimistic that we would break the record this year, but didn't want to celebrate prematurely. It is difficult to judge how many families would be sharing staterooms with children and driving up the count,' Port Everglades chief executive and director Steven Cernak said.

Plus, one ship came from drydock without passengers, which would have added another 2,000 people.

The port hosted eight cruise ships on Dec. 20, including Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Conquest, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Silhouette, Holland America Line's Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam, Princess Cruises' Regal Princess and Royal Princess, and Royal Caribbean International's Allure of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas.

The same ships will return on Sunday, Jan. 3, with the exception of the 3,560-passenger Royal Princess, which is due back from its 10-day eastern Caribbean cruise on Jan. 9. But joining the Jan. 3 lineup will be the 680-passenger Pacific Princess for another eight-ship day.

Windstar cancels additional Star Pride cruises after grounding

Windstar cancels additional Star Pride cruises after grounding

This follows the earlier cancellation of the Dec. 26 cruise.

Windstar on Tuesday said no oil or other containments had been discharged in the area.

After the grounding, passengers were evacuated to sister ship Star Breeze and Paul Gauguin Cruises' Tere Moana and transferred to mainland Costa Rica, then repatriated.

Star Pride crew members subsequently were deployed to Balboa or other ships, while those near the end of their rotations were sent home.

Passengers on the disrupted Star Pride voyage were refunded 100% of their fare and got a full credit for a future cruise. Since the Star Breeze itinerary was impacted during its assistance to Star Pride, Star Breeze passengers got a 75% refund and a 75% future cruise credit.

Since Star Pride is registered in the Bahamas, the Bahamas Maritime Authority is taking the lead on the incident investigation.

Panama Canal expansion 96% complete

Panama Canal expansion 96% complete

Locks reinforcements are scheduled to be completed mid-January, followed by testing of the locks reinforcements and other tests. In April, transit trial tests with a chartered vessel in the Atlantic locks are expected to take place.

A date for the expansion's inauguration will then be selected. This is expected to be in the second quarter of 2016. Subsequently, the commercial opening date will be chosen.

The opening will be soon after the inauguration.

'An expansion of the Panama Canal has never been done and we should all feel very good about where we are today,' Canal chief executive/administrator Jorge L. Quijano said. 'After a successful year, we look forward to being able to provide the benefits of the new Canal to our customers and the people of Panama.'

A video of recent progress is here.