Costa signs Kiel as its exclusive German hub

Costa signs Kiel as its exclusive German hub

Director of operations Roberto Ferrarini represented Costa in the accord.

'This is what the industry needs: forward momentum. We need optimism,' Sartori & Berger md Röttger Wittern told Seatrade Insider on the Miami convention floor. As earlier reported here, Germany is facing a record summer for cruise calls. 'This year is going to be an explosive year,' Napp said. 'We almost doubled capacity this summer.'

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Patriot news coming soon

Patriot news coming soon

8m, the amount owed the company after American Classic Voyages' bankruptcy late last year. Carnival chairman Micky Arison told Seatrade Insider the vessel, which has been tied up in Honolulu, would soon set sail for Freeport. Its future will be announced soon.

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Festival substitutes Mistral on early Stars voyages

Festival substitutes Mistral on early Stars voyages

In an oddly worded release, Festival vice chairman Theodore Kontes said: 'The first two or three cruises (of European Stars) were scheduled based on Chantiers de l'Atlantique's great performance in completing our previous two newbuildings together comfortably ahead of the construction timetable. European Stars is once again within the contract schedule and we are looking forward to taking delivery of yet another great ship.'

As for Havana-based voyages, Kontes said Festival 'will certainly be back next winter in Cuba which will be a permanent feature of our cruising calendar.' He added that the line had just completed its 'best season ever in the Caribbean.'

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Cunard captures celebrity chef Daniel Boulud

Cunard captures celebrity chef Daniel Boulud

'The most famous ocean liners in the world deserved the best chef in the world,' said Deborah Natansohn, svp worldwide sales & marketing, as she introduced Boulud at a Seatrade Miami news conference.

The French-born chef's New York restaurant Daniel has been rated one of the 10 best in the world by The International Herald Tribune and is highly acclaimed by a host of reviewers. Boulud also owns and operates Cafe Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne, both in New York, and Feast & Fetes, the catering arm of Daniel.

Boulud described his style as 'French but progressive' with creative flavour combinations. Dishes served to Cunard guests will emphasise seasonality and local ingredients and reflect the area where the ships are sailing. At the news conference, Boulud enthusiastically described possibilities such as a crab salad that could be prepared with pineapple and coriander to lend a Caribbean or tropical note. 'It depends on the chef, what he can get on board,' Boulud explained. His menus will be implemented on the fleet in late summer.

Carnival Corp chairman Micky Arison told Seatrade Insider Boulud was selected by Cunard from among many famous chefs, not just for his award-winning cuisine but also for his personality. He is expected to become as closely linked with the Cunard brand as Michel Roux is with Celebrity.

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Portugal to decorate Pimentel

Portugal to decorate Pimentel

The Commander of the Order of Merit honor was established by the President of the Republic of Portugal and is presented each year to prominent citizens of Portuguese descent whose contributions in business, government or the arts, have been highly recognised and acclaimed. Pimentel is from a Portuguese family that settled in the Hawaiian Islands.

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Industry recovery exceeds expectations

Industry recovery exceeds expectations

'The recovery has been much faster than most of us expected,' summed up NCL president and ceo Colin Veitch.

'It's just amazing how resilient the cruise industry has proved to be,' concurred P&O Princess ceo Peter Ratcliffe. He compared the 8-10% drop in cruise occupancies with the 30-40% decline in hotel occupancies. 'In retrospect,' Ratcliffe said, 'this will be seen to be a disruption that is short term in nature.'

Sparks did not fly, even though it was the first time officials from the Big Three lines have sat down together since the takeover battle erupted between Carnival and Royal Caribbean for P&O Princess Cruises. Asked if Royal might make good on an implied threat to walk away from its proposed merger, RCI/Celebrity president Jack Williams said, 'We remain in the deal today.' And Carnival Corp vice chairman Howard Frank commented he was 'reasonably confident' that regulators would approve the mergers, adding, 'We don't think consolidation brings any type of dominance or pricing power.'

CLIA chairman Mark Conroy opened the session by announcing the North American passenger count for 2001 had reached just 6.9m, not the 7.3m originally forecast. During the year, CLIA poured $7.5m into marketing and trained some 10,000 agents. But Conroy predicted the industry would achieve a 7.75% increase in 2002 to 7.5m passengers. (Capacity growth is projected at 15 ships representing 19,700 berths.)

However, '2002 won't be normal by any means,' Williams cautioned. 'There is still going to be a path to recovery.' After taking the decision to redeploy several ships away from Europe this year, Williams said RCI/Celebrity would look to boost capacity on the Continent again in 2003.

Carnival president Bob Dickinson defended the lines' move to heavy discounting immediately after 9/11, explaining that unlike hotels, cruise berths are perishable items. Introducing new customers to cruising, even at very low rates, was preferable to sailing with weak loads. 'If we kept our stronger yields, it would have been a lost opportunity' to generate new cruisers, he said. Frank noted that since the first of the year, Carnival Corp has experienced very strong bookings for European cruise programmes.'

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Feeling like Finland

Feeling like Finland

You're hoping to make friends and in the end you're invaded by both them,' Veitch quipped.

'If someone knocked on our door with a huge bag of cash, we'd open the door, but at the moment no one is knocking on the door,' the NCL chief added. 'We have a growth strategy that does not rely on merging with anyone.'

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Nieman-Marcus singles out SeaDream

Nieman-Marcus singles out SeaDream

In other news, the company next week will start providing digital brochures on its website, and technology partner Versonix is in the process of installing SeaWare's fully integrated software system to handle reservations, sales, marketing and revenue management.

During a press briefing at Seatrade Miami, SeaDream president and ceo Larry Pimentel expressed 'a little trepidation' about the upcoming European season, saying, 'Yields will erode. Europe will be a pretty decent value.'

Pimentel also elaborated on why the line decided to scrap plans to sell inventory via Authorised Yacht Distributors: It was proving a challenge communicating to travel agents that they could sell SeaDream without signing on as AYDs. And the SeaDream chief said the company was working to resolve issues that led to failing two US Public Health CDC inspections in February.

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UBS: Rebound in sight if war ends quickly

UBS: Rebound in sight if war ends quickly

However, in new research, analyst Robin Farley states that 'whatever happens in Iraq in the next month will not be a long-term fundamental issue for the cruise sector' and suggests the close-in booking pattern could provide resilience once political conflicts are resolved.

Farley cites historical data to predict the sector could rebound quickly: 'Exactly 12 months ago, the 2002 consensus earnings estimate for Royal Caribbean was $0.91, and just 10 months later, the year's actual EPS were 79% higher at $1.63. Similarly, Carnival came in 22% higher than the consensus EPS outlook a year ago, and P&O Princess came in 32% higher.' The analyst notes that potentially lower fuel prices later in the year could also further earnings recovery.

Separately, UBS sees Norwegian Cruise Line's move to year-round Caribbean operations from New York as 'potentially having significant implications for the industry.' If NCL is successful, other lines could try year-round itineraries from the Mid-Atlantic region, bringing ships closer to major population centers and lowering the ticket price without reducing net revenue by eliminating the air component.

Less than 4% of North American capacity is positioned in the Mediterranean this summer, according to UBS. However, Farley cautions that EPS impact could be greater than 4% as Europe is a higher-yielding market than the Caribbean. Redeploying ships on short notice can add to pricing pressures. Farley sees Alaska as continuing to generate demand while the Caribbean is more competitive.

Based on fuel costs, UBS is lowering Royal Caribbean's 2003 EPS estimate to $1.85 from $1.95 (and its 12-month price target to $22 from $23) and 2004's estimate to $2.08 from $2.18. Farley notes an additional $0.08 in EPS could be at stake from price pressure in the first and second quarters.

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Deilmann opens inaugural world cruise bookings

Deilmann opens inaugural world cruise bookings

The 136-night voyage is also available in eight segments of 12 to 20 nights. Per-person prices for the full circumnavigation start at $23,082.

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