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Articles from 2017 In December


$8.4bn in new ships, 34,400 berths to join global cruise fleet in 2018

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From upper left, clockwise: Roald Amundsen's pool deck, Celebrity Edge's Magic Carpet, The Haven Observation Lounge on Norwegian Bliss, the Blue Eye underwater lounge on Ponant's Le Laperouse and Le Champlain

They'll add 34,395 lower berths to global capacity and loads of novel features—from a magic carpet, racetrack and underwater viewing lounge to full LNG propulsion and the ability to operate for stints on battery power.

2018's crop compares to the 10 ocean-going newbuilds with 27,700 lower berths that arrived in 2017, valued at $6.7bn.

In estimated order of delivery, 2018's new ocean-going fleet consists of Star Clippers' Flying Clipper, Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon, Royal Caribbean International's Symphony of the Seas, Seabourn's Seabourn Ovation, TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 1, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Bliss, MSC Cruises' MSC Seaview, Ponant's Le Laperouse, Viking Cruises' Viking Orion, Hurtigruten's Roald Amundsen, Scenic's Scenic Eclipse, Ponant's Le Champlain, Holland America Line's Nieuw Statendam, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge, AIDA Cruises' AIDAnova and Mystic Cruises' World Explorer.

These newbuilds are packed with plenty of cutting-edge characteristics. They include environmental advances like the world's first fully LNG-powered cruise vessel (AIDAnova) and an expedition ship (Roald Amundsen) that can sail for short periods on energy from silent, emissions-free fuel cells.

Speaking of expedition cruising, no fewer than five of the vessels are designed for this, with ice-strengthened hulls and novel elements like an underwater viewing lounge (Blue Eye on Ponant's Le Laperouse and Le Champlain), helicopters and submarines (Scenic Eclipse), underwater drones (Roald Amundsen) and other high-tech gadgets.

While the expedition ships are at the smaller end of the size range, the year's smallest new ship is a sail-cruise vessel, Flying Clipper, at 8,770gt. It's a replica of 1912's France II, the largest square-rigged tall ship ever built. Smallest in terms of double occupancy capacity are Ponant's pair of 184-berth ships.

Also coming in 2018 is a new world's largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, at 230,000gt and 5,497 lower berths. It will be the first Oasis-class ship to sail from PortMiami, resident at Royal Caribbean's new Terminal A. Some fresh features include a two-level Ultimate Family Suite with a slide and a balcony climbing experience, a reimagined Boardwalk with a massive sports bar/arcade, a redesigned Solarium containing a seafood spot and the world's largest laser tag arena.

Next biggest is the 180,000gt AIDAnova, in a size leap for the German operator (its current largest ships are just under 126,000gt). After that, size wise, comes Norwegian Bliss, measuring 167,800gt. It's the third in NCL's Breakaway Plus class and builds on China ship Norwegian Joy's features, including a racetrack (enlarged), The Haven Observation Lounge, an open-air laser tag course plus a new Texas smokehouse. The ship will debut in Alaska as the largest passenger vessel ever to operate there.

Another large entrant, the 154,000gt MSC Seaview, is the sister of the just-introduced MSC Seaside and will be first of its class to sail in Europe.

One of the year's most anticipated ships is surely the 117,000gt Celebrity Edge, with a completely new design, fully created in 3-D. Novelities include the Magic Carpet platform cantilevered from the side of the ship, rooms with infinite verandas, designer suites and a Rooftop Garden with fantasy trees and soaring cabanas. Celebrity's first new ship design since 2008's Celebrity Solstice, Edge will debut with cruises from the customized Terminal 25 at Port Everglades.

Carnival Horizon continues the 133,500gt Vista series, with new features like a Guy Fieri barbecue/craft brewery and Carnival's first teppanyaki venue and Dr. Seuss-themed WaterWorks.

Further series ships include Seabourn Ovation (sister of late 2016's Seabourn Encore), Nieuw Statendam (following 2016's Koningsdam) and Viking Orion, the fifth in fast-growing Viking Cruises' lineup. 

Mein Schiff 1, meanwhile, is 20 meters longer than its fleetmates, with space for 180 additional accommodations. It's the fifth ship built by Meyer Turku for TUI Cruises. (Originally designated as Mein Schiff 7, it's supplanting the Mein Schiff 1 that's exiting to Marella Cruises.)

Two new entrants to ocean cruising are building ships—Australia-based tour operator Scenic and Portugal's Mystic Cruises. Both companies bring river-cruise expertise. While Scenic Eclipse will roam widely for Scenic, Mystic Cruises' World Explorer is set for charters by Quark Expeditions and Germany's Nicko Cruises, a company owned by Mystic Invest.

The year's new tonnage will serve primary markets including North America, Germany and France. Unlike in 2017, though, none of the newbuilds is tailored for China.

A diversification of builders characterizes the year. Fincantieri's Italian yards continue to lead the world in number of cruise ships churned out annually, with five in 2018. Plus, the two Ponant ships are emerging from Fincantieri's Vard, a new entrant in the cruise arena, with their hulls produced at Vard in Tulcea, Romania, and completion set for Vard in Norway.

Moreover, Fincantieri is now an owner of STX France, where two of 2018's ships will emerge. Meyer Werft in Papenburg is building two, as well, and Meyer Turku one. Croatian yards Brodosplit and Uljanik are also emerging in the cruise sector, along with Portugal's WestSea Viana Shipyard. Norway's Kleven Verft continues its line of ships for Hurtigruten, however with a completely new design.

(In addition to these ocean-going additions, new coastal vessels this year include Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Venture, from Nichols Brothers near Seattle and the sister of 2017's National Geographic Quest, and American Cruise Lines' American Constitution, from Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland.)

While 2018 is a big year for new ships, even more are coming in 2019, when 22 ocean-going newbuilds are scheduled for delivery.

$30m cruise pier proposed for Chile's Valparaíso

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Agunsa envisions a pier able to handle two 300-meter cruise ships simultaneously. It would be adjacent to the Valparaíso Passenger Terminal

Agunsa's proposed pier, designed in conjunction with the Dutch engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV, would be able to handle a pair of 300-meter ships simultaneously, with the possibility to expand for bigger vessels in future.

The proposal addresses not only the loss of cruise business but confirms Agunsa's commitment to Valparaíso and the development and progress it envisions for the community, according to Juan Esteban Bilbao, general manager of the Valparaíso Passenger Terminal. He cited the experience and benefits the agency has realized in other places, for example, Manta, Ecuador.

The initiative, an investment of up to US$30m, involves an area of approximately 2,300 square meters on the land side, where offices for the pier's operations and cargo could be consolidated, along with parking for ship suppliers. An access bridge, consisting of a concrete platform 200 meters long and 10 meters wide, would connect the berthing platform to the land.

The reinforced concrete berthing platform, 203 meters long and 30 meters wide, mounted on piles, would serve two ships of 300 meters, the size of most cruise vessels currently calling in Chile. (Norwegian Sun, for example, is 260 meters, and Star Princess is 290 meters.) The pier could be expanded to handle larger ships down the line.

The facility also could incorporate the latest ShoreTension dynamic mooring system to reduce the impact of environmental conditions for safer berthing.

Bilbao noted another plus of the pier is its location near the passenger terminal, which reduces transfer time to and from the docking site and facilitates safe boarding and disembarkation for passengers and crew.

In addition, Agunsa's proposal envisions a public space that would showcase local gastronomy and handicrafts. This would be mobile and adaptable to the season and the functional nature of the terminal.

The Port Company of Valparaíso (EPV) now has 90 days to review this proposed change to the master plan. If EPV makes the decision to go ahead, it will prepare a tender to solicit bids, a process that could take six months and involve the Free Competition Tribunal and, ideally, securing environmental permits.

Construction time is estimated at 14 to 18 months, so the cruise pier could be operational in approximately 2.5 years.

Argentina cuts port fees in bid for a million cruisers

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Three MSC Cruises ships carrying a total of 12,000 passengers visited the Port of Buenos Aires on Dec. 27

Dietrich announced his vision on Wednesday, when three MSC Cruises ships carrying a total of 12,000 passengers were alongside at the Port of Buenos Aires.

During the current 2017/18 season, Buenos Aires, Madryn and Ushuaia are handling 600,000 cruisers.

Port of Buenos Aires comptroller Gonzalo Mórtola released a multifacted measure to cut costs that includes a 100% bonus for port services and passenger fees by the AGPSE-Buenos Aires Port for ships longer than 315 meters during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, to encourage lines to send newer and larger ships.

In addition, for the 2018/19 cruise season the head tax will be reduced by US$1, to $3, applicable to all cruise ships calling at the Port of Buenos Aires.

Carly Rae Jepson to perform free concert on Carnival cruise

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Carly Rae Jepsen’s 'Cut To The Feeling' has been hailed by critics as a top song of 2017

The concert marks the first time Carnival Cruise Line is collaborating with Universal Music Group and Brands.

While the concert is a departure from previous Carnival LIVE performances in that it is free and open to all travelers on Carnival Splendor’s Feb. 17 seven-day voyage, it continues the line’s mission of bringing the best live entertainment to the seas.

The concert will take place on Carnival Splendor’s Lido Deck Feb. 18 while the ship is at sea during a week-long Mexican Riviera cruise that operates round-trip from Long Beach, California. The itinerary includes a day at Puerto Vallarta and two days at Cabo San Lucas.

Jepsen broke onto the music scene in 2012 with her major label debut Kiss that included the smash hit 'Call Me Maybe' which climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes Singles charts in more than 47 countries and earned her Grammy Award nominations for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year.

After earning rave reviews starring in the Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s 'Cinderella,' Jepsen released her next album, E·MO·TION, which received critical acclaim and featured the Billboard Top 40 hit 'I Really Like You.'

Jepsen also starred as Frenchy in Fox's four-time Emmy-Award-winning musical 'Grease: Live' and most recently voiced the character of Odette in the animated movie 'Leap!'. 'Leap!' featured Jepsen’s 'Cut To The Feeling,' which has been hailed by critics as a top song of 2017, showing up on year-end lists for Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Billboard, Noisey and more.

 

 

Four treated and released in Rhine riverboat allision

(File photo: Scylla AG)
Swiss Crystal was involved in an accident near Duisburg on Tuesday night

According to German media reports, Swiss Crystal was carrying 102 passengers, 25 crew and two tour guides. Seatrade Cruise News understands most of the passengers were Dutch citizens.

The Swiss-registered vessel was on a Christmas cruise of the Rhine that sailed Dec. 22 from Arnhem and was due back Dec. 27.

Swiss Crystal hit the bridge pillar around 8:45 p.m. local time as it passed under the A42 motorway while sailing downstream back toward the Netherlands. The Duisburg Fire Service received emergency calls around 8:50 p.m.

According to police reports and statements by the operator, four passengers were taken immediately to hospital; all were discharged Wednesday. Some other passengers later sought medical checks.

Soon after the incident another Scylla vessel, Emily Bronte, was called to the accident site. Some Swiss Crystal passengers were transferred to the vessel, while others were taken ashore and transported back to the Netherlands by bus. The situation was reported quickly under control and the emergency procedures worked without a hitch.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Police closed the A42 motorway between the Kamp-Lintfort and Duisburg-Nord exits following the allision. The motorway was opened again Wednesday morning after experts confirmed the bridge sustained no structural damage.

Damage to Swiss Crystal was mainly confined to the bow section.

The 1995-built vessel is 101 meters long and has capacity for up to 125 passengers.

A ship of 'exploration and discovery'

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MSC Seaside's distinctive stern and, from top, the atrium with six Swarovski crystal staircases, Ocean Cay seafood restaurant and the longest zip line on a ship

'It's a really exciting ship,' said Trevor Young, VP newbuilding, MSC Cruises, who particularly likes the aft area.

'I love the flow, and all the curves,' he continued. 'I call it a ship of exploration and discovery. Everywhere you go you discover something new.'

The distinctive aft superstructure resembles condominium towers soaring above a sun deck with pool. There, glass elevators link the main pool areas on Decks 7 and 16. Plus, like many travel agents and media who sampled MSC Seaside on a couple preview overnights, Young singled out the gelateria at the Deck 7 pool as a favorite.

'The outside decks and the water park are amazing, with all the levels,' he added.

Young credited the 'amazing vision' of MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Raphaela Aponte, the wife of MSC founder Gianluigi Aponte, for the realization of MSC Seaside. Young's project team sailed from its delivery at the shipyard all the way to Miami to 'fine-tune everything.'

Madame Aponte, who's deeply involved in each MSC ship's interior design, lived on board for three weeks, making sure everything met her exacting standards.

'What other company does that?' Young marveled of the family-owned MSC. 'It rubs off on all the crew. They see her. They all know her.

'It's a completely different way of working than I've ever done,' he added. 'I love it.'

Young described the feedback from passengers on the crossing as 'very positive.'

MSC Seaside's gasp-inducing look is standing at the Deck 7 aft pool and gazing up at the 'condo' towers soaring into the sky. And, from up top, the Bridge of Sighs, a glass-bottom walkway, elicits more gasps than sighs.

Deck 8 is designed as a boardwalk, with outdoor seating for bars and restaurants, bringing passengers closer to the sea on this very large (153,516gt) ship.

Inside, the multi-deck atrium glitters with six Swarovski crystal staircases, and stages and LED screens at each level serve for performances such as an impromptu '70s late-night dance party.

'This is very sexy,' Vanessa Lee, president and CEO of Toronto-based Cruise Strategies Ltd. and publisher, Cruise & Travel Lifestyles, said of the atrium. 'It's got a good vibe. It brings a lot of energy to the space. I love it.'

Seven production shows—one for every night of the cruise—are staged in the 934-seat Metropolitan Theater, and MSC Seaside has the line's first improvisational comedy shows, in partnership with North America's BeerProv.

High on Deck 16, Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi is three restaurants in one. The pan-Asian gourmet venue, with sweeping sea views, features dishes like slow-braised pork belly bao, whole snapper, filet mignon and rack of lamb. There's a sushi bar, and a separate room of four teppanyaki grills. Yamaguchi, too, has been on board in recent days, overseeing the chefs.

Clustered in the same area are two other specialty restaurants: Butcher's Cut for steaks, featuring the signature tomahawk steak ($90 for two), and Ocean Cay, a seafood specialty spot with Miami's famous stone crabs among the menu items (12 oysters are $29, bouillabaisse for two, $50, and three soft shell crabs, $24; or there's a $50 fixed price menu with a choice of three items). A wine cellar located between the restaurants is ideal for small group tastings.

Off the atrium is La Boheme, an enticing French bistrot with choices like a charcuterie selection ($16), onion soup ($7), escargots ($10), salad Nicoise ($9), quiche Lorraine ($10) and croque madame ($9). Nearby is a swanky Champagne bar, one of more than half a dozen bars on board.

And besides the two main restaurants, Ipanema and Seashore, there are two buffets. The Marketplace Buffet offers food stations with a carvery, pizzeria, salad bar and more, and the Colonial Buffet & Pizzeria has tables designed for children.

Big hits on the inaugural sailings from Miami were the Italian chocolate maker Venchi's two spots. Tempting aromas waft from the chocolate bar, with its chocolate waterfall, and people flock to nibble on samples and watch the pastry chefs at work behind the glass-fronted counters. Beside the Deck 7 aft pool, a Venchi gelato and creperie outlet got rave reviews.

Four swimming pools, four water slides including the first slideboarding at sea, dual zip lines (at 345 feet, the longest at sea), bowling, billiards and an F1 simulator are among MSC Seaside's many diversions.

'My favorite experience was being on the top deck and watching the zip lines,' said Adam Snitzer, SVP guest services, MSC Cruises USA. 'The water slides are incredible. And then I turned around and there was a gelato bar with my two favorite flavors, nocciola and chocolate.'

MSC Seaside's colorful and meticulously planned youth area has six spaces, including Baby Club Chicco for children up to 3 and two LEGO-themed clubs for 'minis' (3-6) and 'juniors' (7-11). There are separate clubs for kids 12-14 and 15-17 and a family area, the Doremi Studio, is equipped with a green screen for talent shows.

The open-air Forest Adventure Park, a water park, is particularly appealing. 'My kid would go crazy in there,' a Florida man said. 'It's awesome.'

The park is located beside the exotic Jungle Pool, a balmy area of pools, waterfalls and greenery, all topped by a retractable glass roof.

The vast MSC Aurea Spa specializes in Balinese massage and other treatments (and many of the therapists are Balinese). Plus, it offers a snow room; light, scent and geyser showers; pools, relaxation rooms, heated loungers, steam baths and saunas, couples cabanas on deck ($350 per day, including a couple's massage) and medi-spa treatments (the $350 per shot fillers were so popular on the trans-Atlantic crossing, they ran out).

MSC Seaside, which carries up to 5,119 passengers, offers 10 types of accommodations. Most (73%, or 1,315) have balconies. And a number of those balcony rooms can be connected, ideal for families, with space for up to 10 people. Two accommodations are wellness staterooms with advanced kinesis equipment from Technogym.

The large MSC Yacht Club of 86 deluxe suites, with 24-hour concierge and butler service, has a restaurant above the forward-facing lounge, along with a private pool and sun deck with bar. There's also direct access to the MSC Aurea Spa, where two massage rooms are dedicated to Yacht Club residents.

With MSC Seaside joining MSC Divina year-round from Miami, Pierfrancesco Vago said MSC Cruises aims to carry 80% North Americans on the two ships. Currently about half of MSC Divina's passenger base consists of Europeans.

Seatrade's top 20 cruise stories of 2017

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Seatrade Cruise Review's December issue recounts year's hottest news items

2017 has been an exciting and dramatic year for the global cruise business.

Seatrade Cruise Review's December issue recounts the year's hottest news items as reported on Seatrade Cruise News.

They include Ritz-Carlton's dive into cruising, and the exciting technology breakouts by Carnival Corp. & plc (Ocean Medallion) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (Excalibur).

Not surprisingly, hurricane-related stories were big, especially Norwegian Sky's Hurricane Irma rescue mission to pick up stranded travelers in St. Thomas and Carnival's announcement of when ships would return to San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

As always, fascinating new ship features captured attention. The first reveals of Celebrity Edge with its intriguing Magic Carpet, Norwegian Joy's racetrack and the first look at Virgin Voyages' sleek exterior design were highly engaging.

Readers honed in on the newbuilds that propel the business, including Carnival Corp.'s ambitious plan to build ships in China, in partnership with Fincantieri and China State Shipbuilding Corp., and Royal Caribbean's whopping finance package for Oasis 5 and Edge 3 and 4.

Plus, on the shipyard front, Italy's Fincantieri took a hefty stake in STX France—but it wasn't easy.

Refurbishments continued to be big news, and big bucks, like the $400m 'Celebrity Edge' fleetwide refurbishment plan, and the conversion of Dawn Princess into Pacific Explorer at Sembcorp Marine.

In the booming expedition segment, SunStone Ships' newbuilds in Shanghai made a splash with cruise industry readers, along with Mário Ferreira's ambition to build Mystic Cruises into a 10-strong fleet. And, when it came to expeditions, The World made history by reaching Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf.

Leaders and dynamic personalities often dominated the headlines. This year, especially big stories were Tom Wolber succeeding Edie Rodriguez at the Crystal helm, and a tribute to popular, long-time Carnival Cruise executive Natko Nincevic.

Further top stories included MSC Cruises' groundbreaking at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a major new destination in the Bahamas, and a recounting of Royal Caribbean's emotional first foray to Cuba.

For a look back at the 'Headliners' of 2017, click here.

 

Scanship to supply Silver Moon total clean ship system

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Scanship will delivery the system during 2019.

This will be the third Silversea ship built by Fincantieri with a Scanship total clean ship system.

'We are very pleased to work with Fincantieri and Silversea on this high-end luxury class of ship to ensure environmental sustainability at sea,' Scanship CEO Henrik Badin said.

RCL appoints new chief information officer

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Martha Poulter - Among other responsibilities, will help ramp up support for the Excalibur digital transformation

She succeeds Mike Giresi, who left several months ago and is now the CIO at Aramark, a food services company.

Poulter joins RCL after spending the last 13 years as CIO for major corporations including Starwood and GE Capital. She'll report to Adam Goldstein, president and COO.

'Martha certainly has the background to make a difference at Royal Caribbean,' Goldstein said. 'She'll bring that experience to bear on a full range of challenges here, including our plans to evolve the fleet's IT infrastructure, keep pace with the rapid evolution under way in important areas like data privacy and security, and ramp up support for the Excalibur digital transformation that is under way across our company.'

Poulter most recently served as EVP and CIO for Starwood, where she led a global IT team that integrated nine brands and operational platforms. Earlier, she spent nearly two decades at General Electric, including time as CIO of GE Capital.

Poulter said she's looking forward to Royal Caribbean, a company that 'stands for excellence and innovation in the travel industry.'

A star-studded naming for MSC Seaside at PortMiami

(Photos: Anne Kalosh)
From upper left, clockwise: MSC Seaside after the Champagne smash, Ricky Martin gets everyone dancing, Pierfrancesco Vago and Andrea Bocelli, Capt. Pier Paolo Scala with godmother Sophia Loren

And now, with this second ship based at PortMiami and a third—MSC Meraviglia—on the way in 2019, the MSC name will become known stateside for much more than containers.

'At last we are in Miami ... with a ship to make heads turn,' MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfranesco Vago told the crowd.

With MSC Seaside nose to nose with the container ship MSC Ams, the dockside festivities packed one emotional punch after another.

A tear-wrenching 'Ave Maria' by Andrea Bocelli and the Voices of Haiti children's choir.

Superstar Ricky Martin bringing down the house with multiple encores and getting everyone, including MSC Group's Alexa Aponte-Vago, shaking their bon-bon.

Legendary quarterback Dan Marino presenting a Miami Dolphins helmet to MSC Cruises USA president Roberto Fusaro and getting photo-bombed by television star Mario Lopez.

Diva Sophia Loren snipping the cord that sent the Champagne smashing on the bow—the incredible 13th time she's done so as the godmother for an MSC ship.

'We're starting today a new chapter for MSC Cruises in the US market,' CEO Gianni Onorato said. 'It is becoming a top priority for us to be in this market, and to be an important player in this market. Our investment will continue to grow around the world, but especially here in Miami.'

Allen Clifford, US EVP of MSC's container business, and Rick Sasso, chairman of MSC Cruises USA, paired off in what amounted to a comedy routine, trading quips. But they turned serious when extolling the virtues of working for a family-run company.

'When I look at [MSC Seaside], I don't see steel. I see the heart and soul of a company,' Sasso said.

At the festivities—where celebrity chef Ray Yamaguchi, one of MSC Cruises' partners, was also on hand—the company announced another culinary tie. Joe Bastianich, the award-winning restaurateur and TV personality, will be creating a signature dish for MSC Seaside's Elegant Night menu in a partnership that's likely to expand.

And, highlighting its desire to be a good corporate citizen in North America, MSC Cruises announced it will partner with the Andrea Bocelli Foundation to support its community work in Haiti.