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Articles from 2017 In February

Viking Sky sails on maiden voyage

Viking Sky - sister of Viking Sea and Viking Star

Viking Ocean Cruises' third 930-passenger ship is the sister of Viking Sea and Viking Star.

'We continue to see a positive response from our guests and the industry, which makes us confident in our future growth,' Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen said. A fourth ship, Viking Sun, is due for delivery in November. All are 47,800gt.

Viking Sun's maiden season features the line's first world cruise. Viking Spirit is scheduled to join the fleet in 2018 and will sail in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth vessel is to be delivered in 2019.

In addition to included excursions, among Viking's special options are tours like 'The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors' in St. Petersburg, offered on the 15-day 'Viking Homelands' itinerary. Participants receive a 'Privileged Access' view of the vaults of one of the world’s greatest art collections.

'Vistas, Vikings & The Village Woodturner,' in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, available on the 15-day 'In the Wake of the Vikings' itinerary, gives insight into daily village life and Viking heritage as participants explore the village of Kvivik, site of a 10th-century Viking settlement.

'A Taste of Provence,' in Toulon, on the 17-day Catalonia to Greece itinerary, features a private cooking lesson at a magnificent 19th-century house in the scenic Provençal countryside from Michelin-star-rated master chef of France Monsieur Bérard.

'Nazareth & The Sea of Galilee,' from Haifa, offered on the 15-day 'Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land' itinerary, includes key places in the life of Jesus on an excursion through Canaan, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum and Tabgha.

And on 'King Crab Safari, in Honningsvåg, Norway, during the 15-day 'Into the Midnight Sun' itinerary, participants can set off in a deep-sea raft into Sarnesfjorden to catch their own king crab.

Viking is offering two-for-one cruise fare and free air from more than 150 US cities for all 2017 and 2018 sailings of the 'Panama & Central America' itinerary.

30% of jobs could go at Blohm+Voss as part of a major restructuring

PHOTO: Frederik Erdmann
Bleak days for Germany's leading repair and conversion shipyard in the cruise segment

Addressing an employees meeting Tuesday, representatives of the managing and advisory boards described the yard's situation as ‘very difficult’ and ‘critical’.

They announced far-reaching restructuring measures affecting all levels of the business, including a reduction of the workforce. About 300 of the 1,000 jobs may be cut in several phases.

B+V md, Dieter Dehlke, and chairman of the supervisory board, Dr. Klaus Borgschulte, gave the staff an appraisal of the yard's current status.

According to Borgschulte - a former head of the yard until 2007 - an analysis of the business following B+V's acquisition by Lürssen last autumn revealed much needed investment has been lacking in recent years.

Construction and production processes have not been sufficiently modernised, which has impacted on cost structures.

The situation is, according to Borgschulte, worsened by difficult market conditions.

‘B+V is in a critical condition,’ Dehlke added.

He said a package of measures drawn up in recent weeks needs to be implemented in the coming months in order to secure the future of B+V in Hamburg.

Optimisation in the defence/naval sector as well as the concentration of yacht refits awarded to the Lürssen Group are two elements aiming to support the Hamburg drydock’s capacity. Lucrative cruise ship refurb and refit work would assist any recovery.

B+V's announcement this morning is the second blow for Germany's shipyards within 24 hours: On Monday the management of Bremerhaven-based Lloyd-Werft also informed the workforce that 117 out of about 400 jobs will be cut.


Scylla names pair of river vessels for UK market in Amsterdam

(Photo: Port of Amsterdam)
UK travel agent Tracey Scales names Thomas Hardy

Both 176-passenger vessels stretch 135 meters and offer balcony rooms, a wellness center and fitness area.

They were named after famous English writers since passengers will come mainly from the United Kingdom. The godmothers, Christina Astill for Emily Brontë and Tracey Scales for Thomas Hardy, were chosen in a competition among UK travel agents.

Riviera Travel md David Clemson praised the cooperation with Scylla and the innovation that went into the five-star vessels.

Amsterdam Cruise Port chair Janine van Oosten expressed her delight with the selection of Amsterdam for the festivities. Every year more than 1,850 river cruise vessels visit.

In accordance with tradition, the captains of the vessels were presented with the key to the city.

Emily Brontë will sail mainly on the Rhine and Thomas Hardy the Danube.

Thomas Hardy's construction was completed in November, but the christening was delayed until the start of the cruise season.

Yamaha tuning up for Seatrade Cruise Global

Yamaha has been supplying the cruise industry for many years

Yamaha’s Disklavier model fulfills a multitude of cruise ship needs—as a high-quality acoustic piano for live performance, and on-demand fully orchestrated entertainment system when the band goes on break.

The new Disklavier ENSPIRE is the company’s seventh generation instrument, controlled by the company’s Provisionaire Touch app for iOS, Disklavier ENSPIRE provides direct access to more than 500 built-in songs and over 6,000 performances that include an extensive library of hospitality-focused, island and sea-themed song favorites.

Yamaha has linked the Disklavier ENSPIRE to the company’s MusicCast wireless multiroom audio system, creating the world’s first wireless multiroom instrument capable of playing beyond the confines of a ship’s lounge to any cabin or on deck.

The N3X is the company’s newest AvantGrand piano. This space-saving instrument is over 500 pounds lighter, five feet shorter and one-fifth the price of a typical concert grand, yet offers the same touch, tone and most important, artistic connection of the company’s finest $100,000+, 9-foot concert grand pianos, according to Yamaha.

The digital N3X is impervious to salt air environments and never needs tuning—a significant cost-saving benefit to the cruise industry.

Yamaha is also bringing to the event its QL5 digital mixer, as well as several products from its CIS lineup, including the MRX7-D processor, XMV power amplifiers, VXS and VXC ceiling and surface mount speakers and NEXO ID24 speakers.

‘Yamaha has enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the cruise ship industry for many years, and we are proud to provide a one-stop shop for musical instruments and commercial audio systems,’ said David Jewell, marketing communications manager, Yamaha.



Royal Caribbean International goes into bat as official travel partner of Durham County Cricket Club

Ben Bouldin(left) with Sir Ian Botham, chairman of Durham County Cricket Club

The partnership was revealed at Durham CCC, during a press conference to announce the appointment of Sir Ian Botham as the club’s new chairman.

The upgraded sponsorship agreement, which first began in 2015, will see Royal Caribbean become the club’s official travel partner. The partnership will include TV-visible branding around the Emirates Riverside stadium as well as logo inclusion on Durham’s Specsavers County Championship shirt design.

The commitment and investment from Royal Caribbean will also help the club continue its work to develop locally sourced, homegrown cricketing talent.

Botham, said: ‘Royal Caribbean is a valued partner of the club and this new agreement takes our relationship to another level. They have built a reputation for innovation and we are very pleased to be associated with them.’

Ben Bouldin, avp and md for UK & Ireland, Royal Caribbean said: ‘At Royal Caribbean, we are passionate about involvement in our local communities and are proud to be partnering with Durham CCC as one of the best cricket clubs in the country.’

New attraction offering a bird’s-eye view of Skagen

The newly opened Skagen Grey Lighthouse – Center for Migratory Birds

Thousands of migratory birds navigate the busy junction around Grenen during their annual migration. This phenomenon attracts ornithologists from all over Europe, and to further investigate the lives of the birds, one of Skagen’s four lighthouses has been turned into a scientific bird station and experience centre, Skagen Grey Lighthouse – Center for Migratory Birds.

On interactive screens, visitors will be able to follow the migratory birds live from various hotspots at the European continent. The exhibition is designed by the Berlin based design company ART+COM Studios.

While visiting the new attraction, guests can also climb the 223 steps to the top of the 46mtr high Grey Lighthouse built in 1858 and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Skagen and its surroundings.


Adam Goldstein seeks solution to Sydney’s ‘full house’

Adam Goldstein, right, with Adam Armstrong, like many wants a solution to Sydney's cruise ship infrastructure

Goldstein, who came to Sydney on Saturday evening via Shanghai, Indonesia and Cruiseco’s annual conference in Adelaide, leaves again March 1 for New York. Meantime, he is here for talks with the New South Wales and Federal governments about Sydney’s lack of infrastructure for cruise ships.

‘I have been coming here for many years and with my colleagues I have been saying ‘the day is coming when there will be no room at the inn,’ he told Seatrade Cruise News.

‘That day has arrived.

‘This is what we had hoped to avoid. This is what we have. The restraints are no longer theoretical. They are very real, they are here and now. There is no way we can bring new ships here right now because there is nowhere to park them.’

Goldstein was speaking after Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth arrived in Sydney on Saturday, with QM2 berthing at the Overseas Passenger Terminal and Queen Elizabeth dropping anchor at Athol Buoy in Sydney Harbour because she was too big to go under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

‘We’re saying let’s look around the area -- inside and outside Sydney Harbour -- and come up with a solution,’ Goldstein said. ‘The first steps to a solution have to be a proper dialogue.’

He said there are many ways Royal Caribbean could contribute towards a solution and he did not rule out investment.

‘We are open-minded at this point,’ he said.

Adam Armstrong, md RCL Cruises Australia and New Zealand, said Brisbane is currently suffering a lack of facilities, like Sydney.

Armstrong said Legend of the Seas is one of the few ships in the Royal Caribbean International fleet that can berth at Portside Hamilton. 
However, after two consecutive seasons in Brisbane, Legend is being deployed to Europe and the company doesn’t have another ship available that can negotiate the relatively shallow depth of the Brisbane River and get under the Gateway Bridge.

A mega cruise ship terminal that has been proposed by RCI and Carnival Australia for the mouth of the Brisbane River is under investigation.


New suites, some adventure sailings, fresh routes in American Queen's 2018

American Duchess loft suite

'We look forward to welcoming more families and larger groups in 2018 thanks to the newly renovated suites aboard the American Queen and the loft suites aboard the American Duchess,' said Ted Sykes, president and chief operating officer.

American Queen's new family suites provide an open veranda and private sitting area for river-watching. According to the company, the amenities of these spacious, single-room suites accommodate a variety of travel needs and are ideal for families and friends.

American Duchess will operate new itineraries on the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers as well as on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River including a nine-day Kentucky Derby-focused cruise from Louisville to Cincinnati. Other new routes include Cincinnati to Memphis, Louisville-Pittsburgh and Nashville-Chattanooga.

Pacific Northwest adventure theme cruises on American Empress offer soft-adventure activities for travelers of all ages, making an ideal family vacation. Shore excursions, such as a tandem ride on a kayak or zip-lining through towering trees, highlight the region's terrain.

The all-suite American Duchess can carry 166 passengers. The paddlewheeler, whose superstructure was rebuilt in 2017, features some loft suites, single-seating dining and entertainment venues, soaring ceilings and all the other features associated with the brand.

With 49 sailings in 2018, American Duchess will mirror the route of American Queen, showcasing the Mississippi River with new stops and overnights in ports including Nashville and Chicago.

In the Pacific Northwest the 223-passenger American Empress embarks on a fifth season beginning March 17, 2018. The vessel plies the Columbia and Snake rivers, affording visits to attractions like Multnomah Falls, Mount St. Helens and the Walla Walla Wine Trail. Some 39 sailings are offered between Vancouver, Washington (just across the river from Portland, Oregon), and Clarkston, Washington. Highlights include five-day round-trips that bookend the 2018 season and the adventure theme cruises taking place in July.

American Queen, meanwhile, will sail between New Orleans and Memphis, visiting destinations along the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Embarking on a seventh season on Feb. 19, 2018, the authentic paddlewheel steamboat highlights history such as the antebellum South, music of the 1950s and '60s and the Civil War. Forty-two sailings are offered.

Nine-day cruises on American Queen are priced starting at $1,999, while American Empress fares begin at $2,399 and American Duchess fares at $2,699. All nine-day journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other amenities.

Silver Muse successfully completes sea trials

(Photo: Silversea Cruises)
Silver Muse underwent sea trials near Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente yard

Silver Muse underwent extensive speed, vibration, noise, endurance and propulsion tests ahead of its delivery and an April 19 formal christening in Monaco.

CEO Roberto Martinoli said Silversea looks forward to welcoming guests from around the world on board in just a few weeks, adding that Silver Muse will offer 'the highest expression of excellence in elegance and comfort at sea.'

The ship is scheduled to call at 34 countries and 130 ports in 2017 alone. They'll provide access to 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from ancient Greek temples to historic Caribbean fortresses.

Silver Muse will expand Silversea's fleet to nine.

A fresh, more contemporary look for Norwegian Pearl

New carpets, furniture, artwork

The work was part of the 'Norwegian Edge' fleet investment program.

All of Norwegian Pearl’s 1,197 staterooms were touched in this modernization, receiving cool blue hues with silver and turquoise accents. Each stateroom has new furniture, carpeting, headboards and televisions, and USB outlets were added for charging handheld devices.

More than 2,200 artworks were installed in the accommodations and in Cagney’s Restaurant and The Haven by Norwegian.

The Haven ship-within-a-ship luxury suite complex now offers a completely refurbished Haven Courtyard with new finishes on the decks, pool and hot tubs as well as new furniture including the addition of cabanas, making for a chic resort-style experience. The Haven’s suites and villas also received extensive modernizations with new wallpaper, furniture, finishes on the ceilings and balconies, carpets and drapery.

Cagney’s Steakhouse got upgraded carpet, furniture upholstery and window treatments. A more elegant and modern setting was created for Moderno Churrascaria, which now features new tables and chairs, wall laminates, new granite bar tops in the restaurant’s bar and salad bar areas and a glass-door entrance.

O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill gained modern flooring and an entirely refurbished bar featuring new granite tops, bar back shelving, new ceiling and lighting fixtures, new wall finishes throughout the restaurant, along with new tables and chairs and newly added banquet seating.

Norwegian Pearl’s pool deck now has refreshed flooring and paint and refurbished whirlpools. The Great Outdoors bar and Sky High bar received new flooring, while Sky High Bar's overall look was refreshed with new tables, chairs, bar stools and a new bar façade.

Norwegian Pearl will sail from Miami through April on a variety of itineraries including round-trips through the Panama Canal and cruises to the western Caribbean. In summer the ship repositions to Seattle for week-long voyages to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC.