Royal Caribbean plots strong return to Europe

Royal Caribbean plots strong return to Europe

'We're more comfortable about a return to the Mediterranean but not convinced of the East Med yet,' said Mike Ronan, associate vp of destination development. 'The emphasis will be on the Baltic, North Europe, Around UK (cruises) and the West Med.'

In 2004, the deployment patterns will be similar to what Royal Caribbean was thinking of for 2003, Ronan said, making the company's growth strategy for Europe one year behind original plans. He spoke at today's World Cruise Tourism Summit at Seatrade Miami.

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Fred Olsen wonapos;t repeat Cuba cruises

Fred Olsen wonapos;t repeat Cuba cruises

Seatrade Insider understands Fred Olsen plans to redeploy the ship to Malaga next year.

Speaking at today's World Cruise Tourism Summit at Seatrade Miami, Lingard added, 'We are reducing our fly cruise offers across the fleet as the only beneficiaries are the airlines.'

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Calling all Royal Viking Line alumni

Calling all Royal Viking Line alumni


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Takeover Panel considers amending DLC code

Takeover Panel considers amending DLC code

'The Code Committee has come to a preliminary view that an amendment should be made bringing the establishment of dlc structures within the Code, the panel said in a statement issued today. The panel will launch a full public consultation 'as quickly as possible' and advised companies considering a dlc structure to consult the panel 'at the earliest opportunity.'

Any change in the code should not affect the dlc deal between Royal and P&O Princess, industry sources told Seatrade Insider.

Merging under a dual-listed structure allows two companies to maintain their own stock listings. That point has been seen as one of the most attractive elements of the proposed Royal-Princess merger by UK institutional investors who are required to hold shares in British companies.

Carnival's hostile bid for P&O Princess has been subject to Takeover Panel scrutiny at every step, an inconvenience Royal has avoided. Further, the Royal-Princess plan includes a $62.5m break fee if the deal isn't consummated, which Carnival has suggested could surpass the maximum allowed under UK regulations.

Reuters in London quoted several sources as welcoming greater examination of dlc deals. 'The panel are right to be looking at it,' said Laurence Levy, mergers and acquisition partner at Norton Rose. 'All the protection shareholders should get through the Takeover Code isn't available to them in the case of dual-listed company mergers.'

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A.G. Edwards, Ryan Beck downgrade stocks

A.G. Edwards, Ryan Beck downgrade stocks

Edwards is raising its 12-month price target on Carnival Corp to $37 but lowering its rating to Buy from Strong Buy based on valuation. Earnings estimates of $1.61 and $2.20 for 2002 and '03 respectively remain unchanged. A.G. Edwards also raised its Royal Caribbean target to $26 and its estimates to $1.20 and $1.80 for '02 and '03. But in new research, analyst Tim Conder lowered RCL shares to Buy from Strong Buy based on valuation.

A.G. Edwards' end of February pricing survey for Carnival and Royal indicates stable brisk booking trends. Carnival was experiencing low single digit price erosion in Alaska, while Royal had low to high single digit pricing gains. Carnival's short Caribbean itinerary pricing was flat to down mid single digits, with upper single digit erosion in longer Caribbean itineraries, while Royal experienced low single digit erosion in both short and longer Caribbean itineraries, and European pricing flat to down mid single digits.

Ryan, Beck is lowering its Carnival rating to Buy from Strong Buy. Analyst Peter McMullin's target price of $37.50 for CCL has not changed significantly for some time as it is based on a 17.6 multiple (a 30% premium to the analyst's estimate of the earnings growth rate) on a $2.14 estimate for 2003, about 21.5% upside over the next 12 months. 'We believe that there is an economic recovery - albeit muted and interest rates will notfluctuate significantly over the next year or so,' writes McMullin in new research. He notes oil prices are starting to pick up and says fuel costs could climb year over year in Q3 or more probably Q4.

CCL closed unchanged today at $31.47. RCL closed up 4 cents at $22.10.

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Crystal will highlight Wolfgang Puck cuisine

Crystal will highlight Wolfgang Puck cuisine

The programme is launching during the currently operating world cruise. After implementation, guests will have the opprotunty to select from Jade Garden's own Asian menu or choose the new Chnois at Jade menu.Puck and Crystal began their relationship in 1991 when the celebrity chef served as a guest chef.

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Six months after 9/11, security remains in the spotlight

Six months after 9/11, security remains in the spotlight

Today's discussion, the first of several at the conference, focused on US procedures, although many areas were applicable internationally.

'The cruise industry's highest priority is the safety and security of its passengers, crew and vessels,' said Sanford Deno, director of operations for the International Council of Cruise Lines. 'Cruise ships are unique in that they are inherently secure, a controlled environment with limited access, especially at sea.'

A security framework has been in place at the international and national levels for many years and on September 11, cruise lines and ports immediately activated their highest-level procedures. The US Coast Guard also launcheed a variety of measures which remain in place today. And daily conference calls including cruise line security managers, the USCG, the Department of Transportation's intelligence gathering and dissemination arm and the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service were initiated.

USCG Capt. Michael Rosencrans, commanding officer of the Marine Safety Office in Jacksonville, said that before September 11, the Coast Guard had directed 2% of its resources to port security, but now the area is 'Mission No. 1, alongside search and rescue.' This year the USCG's budget will swell by a record 28%, with most funds going to 'homeland security.'

As the US Congress considers new seaport security legislation such as S.1214 (the Hollings Bill), Kurt Nagle, president and ceo of the American Association of Port Authorities, stressed the need for adequate resources for the USCG, Customs and other enforcement bodies; additional funding for ports themselves and flexibility in assessing security needs at the local level.

With new international legislation also under consideration, several audience members at the session expressed concern that the US could proceed with unilateral measures. One hotly contended issue at the IMO level is the US call for background checks of all port workers.

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Athens Convention proposals continue to stir debate

Athens Convention proposals continue to stir debate

But when the topic turns to proposed amendments to the Athens Convention, which governs liability for passenger death and injury aboard ship, consensus seems elusive.

'We wish (the Athens Convention) would go away,' said a clearly exasperated Lynn White, Royal Caribbean's vp tax & risk management. White sees 'every piece' of the proposals under consideration as 'less than what we currently enjoy under the US regime.' She voiced support for a compromise plan under development by the International Council of Cruise Lines.

Gwyn Hughes, evp for P&O Princess Cruises, has delved into the effort of achieving a dialogue among the P&I clubs, cruise lines and international regulators, saying 'If we don't get this right, we could have varying regulations ... and could have a situation of reducing payments available.' He further warned: 'It does appear we could end up with the worst of all possible worlds.'

The next step in the process is a diplomatic conference scheduled for October, but ICCL president Michael Crye said his organisation aims to present its compromise proposal in the near future. (For particulars on proposed changes to the Athens Convention, view www.cruise-community.com's 'Talking Law' archive.)

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Costa Marina sets sail for German market

Costa Marina sets sail for German market

The vessel has just emerged from a 5m euro drydocking and upgrade in Genoa in preparation for its first season of cruises devoted to the German market. Hotel renovations included conversion of the disco into a club with a dance floor and buffet, the restyling of the suites and of the theatre.

Dedicating Costa Marina for Germans will reinforce Costa Crociere's strong position in one of the most important European markets in the industry, comments Franco Pellicari, svp sales & commercial. Costa claims it's the largest international cruise operator in the German market, with affiliate Costa Kreuzfahrten GmbH carrying 54,000 passengers last year, a 35% increase from 2000. A further 29% increase, to 70,000, is forecast this year.

Costa Marina will be marketed in the contemporary segment, midway between the casual week-long 'club-style' cruises offered by Aida and the formal, longer, more traditional product sold by a number of German lines. Diverse itineraries of 10 and 11 days will be featured in the Mediterranean and North Europe during spring, summer and autumn, with a new 14-day Caribbean itinerary in winter (sailing from La Romana in the Dominican Republic). Costa Marina's launch is supported by a 2.5m euro marketing and advertising campaign based around the slogan 'La Deutsche Vita.'

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Fun Ships festivities to fete Carnivalapos;s 30th

Fun Ships festivities to fete Carnivalapos;s 30th

A reception marking the milestone was held at Carnival's Miami headquarters last Friday, and celebrations are planned aboard its 16 Fun Ships for today, March 11, the actual date of the inaugural voyage of Carnival's first ship, Mardi Gras, in 1972.

The company has also created a '30 Years of Fun' logo, which is emblazoned on items throughout the fleet, everything from hurricane and pilsner glasses, wine bottles, photo and video holders to ice carvings, cruise document sleeves and mints left on guests' pillows each night. Through an agreement with Coors Brewing Co, a Fun Ship Coors Light beer can has also been produced for sale in shipboard bars, restaurants and lounges. Interactive trivia contests, scavenger hunts and other events - all featuring a 30th anniversary theme - will be held aboard ship.

Travel agents' support will be recognised with customised logo items distributed at trade shows and during agency visits by Carnival's field sales force. And Carnival will hold an on-line contest awarding 30 agents a free two-night cruise aboard the 110,000gt Carnival Conquest, the largest Fun Ship ever constructed, set to debut December 1.

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