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Articles from 2005 In February


EUR200m+ infrastructure spend at MedCruise ports

EUR200m+ infrastructure spend at MedCruise ports

At MedCruise member ports, numbering 56 across the region, an estimated EUR200m+ will be spent in the next three years, according to information gathered by Seatrade.

This year alone will see a new EUR1m terminal and dedicated cruise berth inaugurated at Ancona and at Barcelona a new Terminal B, costing over EUR10m, will be ready for the start of this summer, as will refurbishment work on Terminal C. New terminals will also open in 2005 at the Turkish port of Kusadasi and Malta's Valletta (part of a EUR25m upgrade of Grand Harbour), whilst Sochi on Russia's Black Sea shores is undergoing a EUR3.25m refurbishment which will be completed in May. Venice is investing in a new elevated walkway/new covered parking area and Dubrovnik will start on dredging and quay extension work this year funded by a EUR25m loan from the EBRD.

In 2006, new berths will come on stream at Livorno whilst Split and Malaga will both open new terminals. In Barcelona Terminal A's refurbishment will be completed and Costa's EUR8m Terminal D should be ready.

'Mediterranean ports are investing a considerable amount of moneyto meet the demands of the cruise industry with quality services, securityrequirements and dedicated facilities,' MedCruise president Juan Madrid told Seatrade Insider. 'Nevertheless, I would also like topoint out the change in cruise lines' investment strategy. In the past yearthe main owners have invested in Med ports (directly or through joint-ventures), a fact that was unthinkable some time ago. Theseinvestments are a positive proof of the trust that not only ports, but alsoshipowners, have in the cruise business in our region,' he added.

Other MedCruise ports planning major upgrades include Volos (new terminal), Tarragona (new terminal plus two berths), Portoferraio (new terminal and quay extension), Portimao (quay extension), Ravenna (new terminal), Catania (passenger terminal and pier extension), Palermo (EUR7m new terminal/berthing facilities) and Alanya is extending its jetty by 200mtr to accommodate the largest ships.

In Limassol, a new terminal is envisaged for end 2007, whilst Tunis La Goulette is planning an additional berth and new terminal. Cagliari is spending EUR25m on extending a pier which will be ready in 2008 and the Balearic Islands Port Authority has approved over EUR50m for cruise-related works in its 2004-08 investment plan. Not forgetting Piraeus which spent almost EUR30m (excluding security) refurbishing and upgrading the entire port infrastructure in the lead up to the 2004 Olympics.

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Ketchikan weighs cruise dock options

Ketchikan weighs cruise dock options

The issue goes to a vote this month.

Last week, city planning consultant Luis Ajamil of Miami-based Bermello, Ajamil & Partners presented the two best options honed from a possible five alternatives. One would lengthen the three downtown docks to 1,000 feet each and add a 1,000-foot dock north of downtown. The other would leave the trio of downtown docks at their current lengths (800, 860 and 700 feet) and add a 1,000-foot twin pier south of downtown.

Both options have plusses and minuses, Ajamil told Seatrade Insider. One distinction is cost. The north side plan works out to $78m, while the south side option is $64m.

'It's left to the City Council to decide what is going to be best for the city,' Ajamil said. 'It's an important decision. This project is going to transform Ketchikan.'

B&A began the planning process with Ketchikan in 2002. A waterfront reconfiguration was approved by the city a year later, but cruise lines balked. So it was back to the drawing board. Now, after extensive research, discussion and public hearings, City Manager Karl Amylon has called for a decision.

To keep pace with cruise growth, Ketchikan must expand infrastructure. The city hosted 840,000 passengers during the 2004 season, and this year, 892,000 are expected -- the number B&A had originally projected for 2007.

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CLIA gains a veteran trainer

CLIA gains a veteran trainer

Based in Fort Lauderdale, she will begin presenting Agency Training Program seminars in April.

Baker previously served as trade and international marketing manager at the Alaska Travel Industry Association, working with U.S. and international travel agents and tour operators to promote Alaska, while also training agents to sell vacations to the 49th state. She has been a frequent speaker at the American Society of Travel Agents' World Congress and at industry events sponsored by The Travel Institute.

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Rossellini to join Silver Cloud in Vietnam

Rossellini to join Silver Cloud in Vietnam

The new ambassador for Silversea Cruises will join the ship for a photo shoot with Fabrizio Ferri.

Ha Long Bay, with its towering limestone pillars, is one of Vietnam's most celebrated attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rossellini also will visit Cambodia to be photographed at Angkor Wat, one of Silversea's 'Silver Sights' excursions.

The images of Rossellini will appear in brochures and print advertising and will feature in a photographic journal of her travels produced by Ferri. Photographs of Rossellini's recent South America cruise are now running in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Vanity Fair and will be included in Silversea's 2005/06 atlas, due out in a few weeks.

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Supreme Court hears accessibility case

Supreme Court hears accessibility case

Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether U.S. disability law should apply to foreign-flag cruise ships.

The matter boils down to discrimination, said attorney Thomas Goldstein, representing several passengers who sued Norwegian Cruise Line. Goldstein argued that Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure disabled citizens have equal access to public accommodation and transportation, including cruise ships.

Goldstein'scontention that the ADA applies to foreign-flag vessels in U.S. waters was supported by U.S. Justice Department lawyer David Salmons.

The extraterritoriality issue seemed to raise the court's concern. 'You are in effect saying the U.S. rules the world,' Justice Ruth BaderGinsburg said. Other justices questioned if ships would have to make structural changes even if they only occasionally visit U.S. shores, and if the law would apply to cargo vessels that sometimes carry a handful of passengers.

NCL attorney David Frederick argued Congress never indicated the ADA should apply to foreign ships. But if it does not, justices pondered whether other U.S. laws, such as those barring racial discrimination, could be sidestepped at sea. Gregory Garre, arguing for NCL on behalf of the Bahamas, said flag-state law governs and the Bahamas constitution bans racial discrimination.

NCL said it was pleased with today's events. 'This case has never been about NCL's commitment to the special needs community,' the company said in a statement. 'Instead, this case will answer the question: Did Congress, without ever mentioning foreign-flagged ships, intend the ADA to apply extraterritorially across the oceans of the world and into every port in every foreign nation these ships visit?'

'It was clear the Supreme Court justices were well-briefed and interested in the conflict of law issues as well as the extraterritoriality issues,' said Michael Crye, president of the International Council of Cruise Lines.

Crye, who attended the hearing, told Seatrade Insider the cruise industry has gone 'as far or farther than restaurants, hotels and other means of public transportation in the U.S. to achieve the objectives of the ADA simply because [the disabled] community is a very important community that will become even more important in the future. Economically, we believe it's in our best interests,' he said.

Crye cautioned that U.S. laws could conflict with those of other countries where ships operate. Some 40 nations have disability requirements. The IMO published accessibility guidelines in 1996, but they are not enforceable. The UK has developed its own guidelines based on the IMO's, and the EU is expected to address the issue similarly.

'We seek uniformity and clarity regarding what the goal line is regarding accessibility. We don't seek to avoid our responsibility to [the disabled] community,' Crye said.

A Supreme Court decision is due by the end of June.

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Tuscan Steakhouse menu on 2 Costa ships

Tuscan Steakhouse menu on 2 Costa ships

The menu is being offered in addition to the Italian specialties designed by master chef Gualtiero Marchesi. 'The Tuscan Steakhouse is an Italian-inspired steak house serving great steaks and seafood, all a la carte,' Hans Hesselberg, vp hotel operations for Costa, told Seatrade Insider.

Lump crab meat cocktail, grilled shrimp scampi, Alaskan halibut, baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and grilled vegetables are among the new menu's other selections.

Situated in the glass-topped space on Deck 10, Ristorante Club Atlantica on Costa Atlanatica and Ristorante Club Medusa on Costa Mediterranea are by-reservation dinner venues with a service charge of $23 per person. One complimentary evening is offered to suite guests.

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Strategic development at Island

Strategic development at Island

Horizon, currently part of the Celebrity Cruises fleet, joins Island Cruises from November.

Horne's responsibilities will encompass technical management, hotel operations (including shore excursions and concession management), revenue streams, port operations, total guest satisfaction and product delivery.

Horne has been a captain in command for the past 12 years and joined Island Cruises when the company formed in 2001. He has since been the master of the line's sole ship, Island Escape. The 1,354 lower bed Horizon will be renamed before joining Island in Brazil for the winter season. The ship's UK market entry will be in spring 2006 with an as yet unconfirmed Mediterranean programme.

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Joint bid by Star and Genting for leisure hubs

Joint bid by Star and Genting for leisure hubs

Last month Seatrade Insider reported Star was in discussions with the Singapore government to develop a a $1bn (S$1.6bn) cruise centre in Singapore and the government was also in the process of looking at concepts from developers and investors for an integrated entertainment centre resort that could include a casino, if approved. Speculation is Star's bid was contingent on having its finger in the casino pie as well.

Genting International is the international leisure and entertainment arm of Genting Group and has owned, managed or financed resorts and casinos in Australia, the Bahamas, the Philippines and the UK. The Group's leisure and hospitality division, Resorts World Bhd, owns and operates Asia's leading integrated leisure and entertainment resort, Genting Highlands Resort, which attracted more than 17m visitors in 2004. Resorts World also owns and operates the world's largest hotel, First World Hotel.

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NCL steps up Hawaii purchasing

NCL steps up Hawaii purchasing

.. for NCL America, the Hawaii grocery list goes on and on.

'My instruction to our people is: We should buy local whenever possible,' said Robert Kritzman, NCL evp and md of Hawaii operations. With NCL's year-round and growing presence in the Hawaiian Islands, it makes economic sense.

'In working direct with farmers and farm co-ops as opposed to distributors and brokers, we've found we can purchase less expensively than we were and farmers can make more money,' Kritzman told Seatrade Insider. Every month, Pride of Aloha uses about 7,000 pounds of Hawaiian tomatoes, 15,000 pounds of lettuce and 2,500 pounds of papayas. Kritzman declined to discuss dollar amounts but said 80% of the ship's produce, including vegetables, fruits and herbs, and 51% of the dairy products, including eggs, are Hawaii-sourced.

Besides cost, another plus is freshness. Pride of Aloha loads many items on the island where they're grown. Produce often can be cut the night before so there is 'no freight costs and no loss from spoilage,' Kritzman said.

NCL recently inked a deal to buy Maui brand white and brown sugar, which is now on board for galley and passenger use. The company is considering products like Maui jams and jellies, Big Island ice creams, locally baked breads and Hawaiian rums.

One challenge is whether local producers -- many, small farmers -- will be able to supply the quantity and consistency NCL requires. That's where the co-ops come in, Kritzman said.

As NCL expands Hawaii capacity from Pride of Aloha and, seasonally, Norwegian Wind, adding Pride of America this summer and Pride of Hawaii next year, the company can go a long way in supporting local farmers, a bedrock of Hawaii's economy. The practice helps NCL, too. 'I think we have a good image but this will be very much a positive,' Kritzman said.

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Time running out for the Norway

Time running out for the Norway

'

NCL says this decision 'has been very difficult for the company but one that must be made. It is the hope of everyone at NCL, that fans of the Norway understand this decision.'

NCL estimates it has spent more than $10m in the past 18 months on the upkeep of the liner laid up at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven following an engine room boiler explosion in May 2003 whilst the ship was in the port of Miami, including keeping a crew of some 80 NCL seafarers on board to perform maintenance and technical duties. It confirms 'we cannot continue to support that kind of expenditure with no solution in sight'.

Last year, NCL announced the Norway would not return to its fleet stating the extent of the damage to the ship and overriding safety concerns as well as the cost of repairing her made the feasibility of her returning impossible.

A number of parties have expressed interest in buying the Norway. Just last week Pierre & Vacances, a leading French leisure group interested in converting the liner into a leisure complex, decided against such a venture saying the cost of at least EUR200m was prohibitive. Following this, L´Association pour l´ex-France, a group based in St Nazaire which has been trying to raise funds to buy the Norway, even turned to French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin asking him to intercede in helping them restore the liner back to her original glory as the France.

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