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Articles from 2018 In February

Just revealed: How Celebrity's dining will be on the Edge

Top: Alfresco dining on the Magic Carpet. Bottom, from left: Cyprus Restaurant, Fine Cut Steakhouse, Normandie Restaurant

Culinary is Celebrity Cruises' No. 1 brand pillar and, like Celebrity Edge itself, the dining will be 'innovative and transformative for the Celebrity brand,' according to president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.

All the concepts were developed by Celebrity's Cornelius Gallagher, a Michelin-star chef who's associate VP food and beverage operations, and were revealed tonight in Celebrity's characteristic style at an over-the-top event at Manhattan's Pier 36.

Gallagher said one word—finesse—sums up Celebrity's overall approach to dining. That means focusing on 'a thousand details.'

The four main restaurants—Cosmopolitan, Cyprus, Normandie and Tuscan—all give nods to Celebrity's legacy. A walk-through wine display at the entrance of the swanky Cosmopolitan Restaurant harkens to the wine towers in the Solstice-class main dining rooms.

Cyprus Restaurant pays homage to the line's Greek heritage and features Mediterranean fare with a focus on seafood. The space was created by world-renowned designer Patricia Urquiola.

The sophisticated and romantic Normandie Restaurant features contemporary French cuisine and has ties to the Murano specialty restaurant on many Celebrity ships as well as displaying the glamorous ocean liner Normandie's historic wooden panels, previously on Celebrity Summit.

Tuscan Restaurant, with a modern classical design inspired by Italian fashion and film, recalls the Tuscan Grille of other Celebrity ships and highlights southern Italian fare. All the homemade pastas will be prepared with a rustic flair.

Each of these four main restaurants will have menus serving the same signature dishes offered today across the Celebrity fleet, which change nightly. Plus, each will offer a special selection of dishes to showcase the venue's regional concept. And classic favorites like shrimp cocktail, grilled salmon and Caeser salad provide a third option.

As well, Celebrity Edge will continue to allow diners to book traditional early and late seating at the same table with the same waiter, or reserve a time of their choice, or take advantage of open seating in all four restaurants.

When it comes to specialty dining with a la carte pricing, Fine Cut Steakhouse promises 'the choicest cuts of meat to the freshest, premium seafood' in an upscale spot with a glamorous design palette of ruby, amber and gold. The signature dish will be USDA Prime dry-aged steak.

Inspired by classic French bistros, Le Grand Bistro is a bustling boulangerie-patisserie where the ambience changes from morning to evening. Diners can sit at the planter-edged sidewalk or in the inner café with stunning sea views.

As a special twist, using technology created by Skullmapping and presented by TableMation Studios, tabletops will spring to life with Le Petit Chef—an animated character who appears beside each diner's plate and prepares each course before the actual dish is served. 'It's new, fun and exciting,' Lutoff-Perlo said, and a very 'sharable' experience.

The entrance of Raw On 5 showcases an iced raw bar display overflowing with oysters, crab and lobsters, at a spot that mingles treats from Saint-Tropez and New England. Think casual fare like shrimp salad, crabcakes, lobster roll, but also caviar and Champagne, as well as sushi and sashimi prepared to order. Moreover, the venue brings in the Magic Carpet.

'There's no place like this on earth,' Lutoff-Perlo said of the Magic Carpet, a platform the size of a tennis court that's cantilevered from the side of the ship and can rise from sea level all the way up to Deck 16. When at Deck 5, the Magic Carpet becomes an open-air extension of Raw On 5, with selections from there plus its own menu.

When on Deck 16, a 'Dinner on the Edge' experience for up to 100 people will hinge on the destinations visited, with the night's menu built around the chef's local market purchase. Concepts could be a 'bubbles and barbecue' experience or a white party theme.

Another alfresco experience from an impressive perch, for lunch or dining under the stars, is the Rooftop Garden Grill, nestled in a corner of the Rooftop Garden. Incredible views accompany the Grill's gourmet backyard barbecue favorites.

These specialty spots join the previously announced Eden, a triple-deck, glass-enclosed lounge/restaurant (designed by Patricia Urquiola), with programming that changes throughout the day. Eden features an open kitchen and menus that deliver sensory and experiential dishes served, after dark, by performance artists called Edenists.

Celebrity Edge will also have Blu for AquaClass passengers and Luminae, for Suite Class, with Luminae designed by British superstar Kelly Hoppen.

In sum, the dining is a 'beautiful mix of what Celebrity's known for, overlaid with new inspiration,' Lutoff-Perlo told Seatrade Cruise News. 'The concepts are unique and familiar at the same time.'

Wednesday night's Celebrity Edge dining reveal for the media will be followed Thursday night by one for trade partners. Both are hosted by Lutoff-Perlo and Celebrity Edge travel ambassador Nate Berkus, along with Royal Caribbean chairman and CEO Richard Fain and Celebrity's VP hotel operations Brian Abel, chef Gallagher and the Celebrity culinary team.

Aurora Expeditions taps CMI Leisure for newbuild hotel development

Aurora will be fielding a 104-meter, ice class 1A expedition ship, to be delivered in 2019

Aurora will be fielding a 104-meter, ice class 1A expedition ship named Greg Mortimer, to be delivered in 2019.

'We knew that our new, high-performance expedition ship needed high-performance service delivery as well. Given our rigorous standards, CMI Leisure’s reputation for delivering excellence while operating in the challenging small-ship expedition environment made them a natural choice,' said Robert Halfpenny, managing director of Aurora Expeditions.

Noting Aurora’s desire to deliver as much comfort as possible, given the challenges of remote regions, Halfpenny said CMI Leisure’s concepts, including alfresco dining, are a 'perfect match for the innovations aboard our Infinity-class vessel.'

The business follows Aurora and CMI Leisure's relationship with Polar Pioneer.

'We are happy to see Aurora’s growth and continued success, and honored to be a part of bringing this amazing new vessel to market,' said Dietmar Wertanzl, president of CMI Leisure. Adding that both companies are passionate about quality experiences in the expedition segment, Wertanzl, said: 'Aurora continues to pioneer cutting-edge experiences, which inspire us to find creative solutionseven in a category and regions where we have years of experience and expertise.'

Now in its 25th year, Sydney, Australia-based Aurora Expedition explores remote areas with innovative itineraries, daily shore excursions and educational experiences led by a team of expert guides. Currently operating five vessels, the company's destinations include Antarctica, the European Arctic, Scotland, the Kimberly Coast, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, Patagonia, Alaska, Papua New Guinea, and Russia.

Currently operating eight ships, CMI Leisure focuses on quality on-board hospitality for specialized itineraries and challenging operating environments.

Brushing off supply concerns, Lindblad says expedition market 'under-served'

Sven-Olof Lindblad - new entrants broaden the category

The 12,300gt ship, with capacity for 126 passengers, is scheduled for delivery in January 2020.

Sven-Olof Lindblad, president and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, said it's the most sophisticated vessel of its kind ever designed. Because of the strong demand for polar regions, the newbuild was engineered to enable the extension of the company's polar season by several months.

During Wednesday's earnings call Lindblad got the same question big-ship cruise operators have been fielding regarding investor concerns about supply growth in 2019 and beyond. Specifically, a number of new entrants are joining Lindblad's expedition cruise segment.

'The expedition market is under-served' and the fact it's attracting new entrants is 'fundamentally good,' Lindblad told analysts, because this broadens the category.

Lindblad cited competitive advantages including the company's tenure, dating back to 1979, and its National Geographic affiliation.

He did not see any long-term pricing pressure from increased competition.

Biometrics and video analytics are changing the cruise experience

A panel discussion on How Emerging Biometric Technologies are Enhancing Security and Guest Experience features at Seatrade Cruise Global on March 7, 2018.

Chris McLaughlin, vp US aviation at Evolv says, ‘Risk based security initiatives that were introduced into commercial aviation earlier this decade have had a meaningful impact on customer processing time and experience, and in the process have strengthened the overall security posture of the sector.’

Using biometrics and information provided through the ticketing process, the cruise industry can adopt a similar strategy, streamlining the embarkation process and ensuring a smooth and secure process for those guests that cruise the most, he remarked.

‘An innovative adversary and evolving threat set have created high demands on today's security professional.  They have to find innovative solutions that leverage the latest technologies while removing friction from the overall process as guest experience remains a high priority,’ he added.

‘The cruise industry, like many others, is implementing biometrics, video analytics, and other exciting technologies on a company by company basis. Early adopters are best discovering ways to implement biometrics and other security measures to increase security and safety and cruise lines are finding ways of improving the bottom line by improving the guest experience,’ commented John Mitchelli, US manufacturer’s representative of ZKTECO.

‘Like a city hotel room, cabin doors need to be secured and equipped with a system to allow credentialed guests and staff to enter. Imagine being able to simply look at the door, have it recognize your face, and allow you access without a key?

‘Administrative and staff areas need to be locked and accessed by authorized staff. Accessing their credentials may be difficult if they have armloads of supplies. They can simply look at the door and it will unlock by facial recognition. Valuables need to be secured and can be done so in high-security situations that require two or more means of identification. Facial recognition, a fingerprint, and a pin number can be used to ensure only authorized access.

These challenges can be handled by a modern biometric entry control solution that can be deployed on cabin doors, staff entrances, and areas containing valuables,’ remarked Mitchelli.

Both McLaughlin and Mitchelli will be joining moderator John Sifling of Broad Reach Maritime LLC, on a panel looking at How Emerging Biometric Technologies are Enhancing Security and Guest Experience during Seatrade Cruise Global on March 7, 2018.

Asked to give an example of an initiative introduced or heard about which has demonstrated that cruising is moving in the right direction, the Evolv executive commented: ‘Taking the friction out of the guest screening process is as much about the customer experience as it is about improving physical security processes.  Implementing technology that recognizes regular, loyal guests and streamlines their screening, adds to their very personal experience.

‘We recently saw Royal Caribbean announce some early work around facial recognition and radio-frequency identification (RFID) baggage tagging. 

‘It's great to see companies like RCC publicly embracing technological innovations that are aimed at taking the friction out of the process,’ noted McLaughlin.

Another example of the cruise industry moving in the right direction, is the “man overboard” challenge, noted Mitchelli.

‘Cruise ships are deploying video analytics to trigger alarms if a passenger falls from a deck. Smart cameras are deployed around the outside of the ship that are programmed with special technologies that can determine if a human has fallen from the ship. This alarm alerts cruise ship authorities immediately so that a rescue can be initiated. With safety and security on travelers’ minds, implementing new technologies to ease their concerns and increase their enjoyment will result in return visits on future voyages and improve the cruise industry’s bottom line.

‘Likewise, introducing technologies, like biometric identification, can increase onboard safety and security while enhancing the traveler’s convenience and overall cruise experience,’ he continued.

Royal Caribbean announces Singapore leadership changes

A Miami HQ post for Sean Treacy, and Angie Stephen to relocate to Singapore from China

Treacy has played a key role in both Australia and Singapore during his four years in the Asia Pacific region.

Angie Stephen, currently avp market development, China, will relocate to Singapore to take on Treacy’s role.

Stephen, who has chalked up almost 20 years of experience in the company, has fulfilled a key market development role in China for the past year.

She will take on the management of the Singapore source market for the Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises brands.


Mark Robinson joins Global Ports Holding as chief commercial officer

croppedmark_robinson_1750_ppx_002 (1).jpg

Robinson is a passionate leader who has a vast amount of experience within the cruise and tourism industry.

During his 30-year career to date, he has held a variety of senior roles, including chief commercial officer of Portaventura World Parks & Resorts, president of Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services - a company that he founded in 2003, where he oversaw the growth of the business from a one port ground operator to a global service provider, and previously vp of onboard revenues & ground services at Festival Cruises.

Robinson started his earlier career working for two of the world’s leading tour operators, TUI & First Choice Holidays, in various senior management roles.

Sayin said: 'I am delighted that Mark will be joining our team at this exciting time for the company, and I look forward to working with him as we strive to continually improve the experience of the passengers and the cruise ships in our ports. He brings with him a wealth of experience spanning operations, infrastructure and management, and he will help to deliver the development of ancillary services as part of our core strategy.'

Robinson commented: 'I am looking forward to be joining Global Port Holdings, a company that I admire, and that has an exciting vision and international growth strategy. It is an exciting proposition to work with the team to grow new and existing ports within the GPH portfolio, with a focus on destination development and strategic opportunities. This will importantly be delivered with the needs of the cruise lines and their guests at front of mind.'


Seatrade Cruise Global raises the curtain on Cruising Innovations Theater

Among the headliners are Carnival's Sarah Beth Reno and Royal Caribbean's Nick Weir in 'The End of Cruise Ship Entertainment'

This fresh presentation venue will feature interactive and experiential sessions in a variety of on-demand topics, all in a live setting where industry executives can both learn and connect.

'The new Cruising Innovations Theater features leading minds delivering stimulating conversations across multiple disciplines. We are delighted to add this new offering accessible to all attendees,' said Chiara Giorgi, brand director for Seatrade Cruise Global.

Innovation case studies in the Cruising Innovations Theater on March 6 include 'Transforming Consumer Travel Experiences into Brand Stories,' with Imagine House creative director Joyce Arbucias exploring how cruise lines and shoreside and port partners can collaborate to help travelers become a natural extension to the marketing team.

'You're Losing and Don’t Even Know?' features Ole Kristian Sivertsen, SVP of maritime at Global Eagle, examining true competitive advantages using big data and analytics to better understand customers and operations.

March 7 presentations include 'Enhancing Your Brand with Art and Interior Design,' with moderator Nate Storey, travel editor, Surface Magazine, leading ArtLink founder and CEO Tal Danai and Tillberg Design of Sweden owner and executive project director Fredrik Johansson in a discussion of the investment in design and its tangible returns.

'The End of Cruise Ship Entertainment,' meanwhile, sees moderator Charly McDonald, principal of Spark, join Carnival Cruise Line VP entertainment Sarah Beth Reno, Royal Caribbean International VP entertainment Nick Weir and Spark principal Joshua Belz discuss how cruise lines are going beyond traditional stage performances to weave authentic entertainment into the experience.

On March 8 the Cruising Innovations Theater features 'Tapping into Travel Bloggers and Influencers,' with Family Traveller chief content officer Laura Begley Bloom as the moderator chatting with leading experts Johnny Jet, Family Travel Network founder and managing editor Nancy Schretter and Cruise Critic chief content strategist Carolyn Spencer Brown about the latest trends and insights including how brand and destinations can stand out.

Seatrade Cruise Global is set for March 5-8. More than 25 panels are scheduled over four days, delivering the event's widest ranging program to date. The complete conference schedule can be found at Seatrade Cruise Global’s website.

The website includes sections on registration details and deadlines for attendees, exhibitor and media resources, as well as travel information and a contact section for UBM, owner of the Seatrade Cruise Portfolio.

See also 'Taste why regional cuisine is hot at Cruising Innovations Theater case study'

NCLH to buy back shares sold by Apollo, Genting HK in secondary offering


The shares are priced at $56.

Morgan Stanley is acting as the sole underwriter.

Concurrently, NCLH has agreed to repurchase from Morgan Stanley shares that are being sold by Apollo and Genting HK having an aggregate purchase price of approximately $263.5m, at a price per share equal to that paid by the underwriter to the selling shareholders.

The share buyback is part of NCLH’s existing $500m share repurchase program.

NCLH is not selling shares in the offering and will not receive any of the proceeds.

Following the sale Apollo's stake in NCLH will go from 11.14% to 7.02%, while Genting HK's will shrink from 5.64% to 1.4%.

NCLH closed at $56.27, down $1.68, on Tuesday.

Cunard partners with Rocky Mountaineer to offer luxury rail

Majestic views of mountains and wildlife

The Rocky Mountaineer railroad is known for the majestic views of mountains and wildlife. The supreme experience on board the all-dome fleet offers opulent storytelling, top-notch cuisine and a first-hand look at the vast, wild beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

'As we return to Alaska for the first time in 20 years, we are excited to partner with the Rocky Mountaineer, ensuring our passengers enjoy the remarkable scenery and Alaskan wildlife in the utmost of luxury both by land and by sea,' said Josh Leibowitz, SVP, Cunard North America.

Rocky Mountaineer tours include three or five nights’ accommodation and two full days aboard the train. The expedition travels through a spectacular array of scenery with glacier and snow-capped peaks of the Canadian Rockies through winding river canyons, mountain passes and remarkable tunnels.

Highlights include the Continental Divide, Kicking Horse Canyon, Spiral Tunnels and the rushing waters of Hell’s Gate in the Fraser Canyon.

Carnival plans its first Cuba trips from Miami

(Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)
Nearly 20 shore excursions will be offered in Cuba

The sailings feature a day-long call at Havana and stops at ports including Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Nassau and the private destinations of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays.

The voyages complement Cuba sailings from Tampa aboard Carnival Paradise during 2018 and 2019.

'Our inaugural cruises to Cuba aboard Carnival Paradise from Tampa were met with exceptional guest response and we’re thrilled to expand upon the program with our first Cuba cruises from Miami featuring Havana and some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean and the Bahamas,' Carnival president Christine Duffy said.

Carnival Sensation’s 2019 Cuba schedule includes four five-day sailings to Havana and Grand Turk departing May 20, Sept. 9, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16. Five five-day voyages offer Havana, Nassau and Half Moon Cay, and depart June 17, July 15, Aug. 12, Sept. 23 and Nov. 4.

One five-day cruise to Havana, Nassau and Princess Cays will sail April 22.

Seven five-day cruises to Havana and Grand Cayman departi May 6, June 3, July 1 and 29, Aug. 26, Oct. 7 and Dec. 2.

Nearly 20 shore excursions will be offered in Cuba. The program complies with US regulations for accepted travel to the island.

Aboard ship a variety of Cuban-themed activities and entertainment, including the sizzling 'Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance' Playlist Productions show, Havana-inspired deck parties, trivia contests and salsa lessons are also offered. A lecturer will be on board to detail Cuba's history and culture.

Carnival Sensation underwent an extensive dry dock last year that added a variety of popular food and beverage concepts, including Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, BlueIguana Cantina serving authentic tacos and burritos, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and the Cherry on Top sweets shop.