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Articles from 2005 In March


Third Freedom class order firmed by Royal Caribbean and Aker

Third Freedom class order firmed by Royal Caribbean and Aker

The 3,600-berth vessel is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2008.

According to the builder the contract value is the same as the second vessel in this class, ordered last September which it valued between EUR570-580m. On announcing a letter of intent in early March, Royal Caribbean said the ship would cost about $230,000 per berth, which indicates an all-in price of $828m.

The buyer credit guarantee offer made by Finnvera and the interest equalisation offer made by Finnvera's subsidiary, Finnish Export Credit, played a role in the deal. Finnvera and FEC made similar offers on the first two Freedom class ships, the first of which is due for delivery in May 2006.

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Royal Caribbean notes are convertible

Royal Caribbean notes are convertible

The notes are convertible at a rate of 15.6675 shares per $1,000 principal amount of notes. If all outstanding notes were surrendered for conversion, the aggregate number of shares issued would be approximately 13.8m, the company said.

Holders may convert their notes prior to 5 p.m. New York time on June 30.

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Saga takes the Berlin

Saga takes the Berlin

According to a Saga company statement, 'the opportunity to purchase the ship fitted the company's long term expansion strategy and plans are being developed to integrate her into Saga's existing fleet.'

Saga bought its first cruiseship, Saga Rose in 1996 and currently operates this and Saga Ruby, the former Caronia, purchased from Cunard last year.

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Oceania opens bookings for apos;06 Europe

Oceania opens bookings for apos;06 Europe

Air-inclusive prices start at $2,199.

With the Nautica's addition, the company will operate its most diverse European deployment ever: more than 50 voyages to 81 ports.

'We're going to Europe with a three-ship fleet, while other operators in the luxury sector are pursuing fleet rationalization and consolidation,' said Oceania president and ceo Frank Del Rio. 'This speaks to the strength of our product and placement within the industry.'

'We're actually going to market with this about two months early because we're starved for European inventory to sell,' Oceania spokesman Tim Rubacky told Seatrade Insider. The line is now on target for 99% occupancy in the 2005 Europe season and, based on high demand levels, it expects to sail at full capacity next year, too, despite the 30% capacity increase, Rubacky said.

Highlights of the 2006 program include the Insignia joining the Regatta in North Europe, where Insignia will operate cruises to the British Isles, Norwegian Fjords, Iceland (with Reykjavik overnights) and Scandinavian capitals/Russia (with St. Petersburg overnights). Insignia will feature a number of 10-day Scandinavia/Russia departures.

Also new in 2006: two Black Sea cruises, up from one this year, and three Libya cruises. Capacity in the Eastern Mediterranean will increase for the third year in a row.

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Crystal Harmony to replace Asuka in NYK fleet

Crystal Harmony to replace Asuka in NYK fleet

Crystal Cruises said it has established a building team that is developing designs for a new ship to replace the 1990-built Harmony.

'With this transfer, we have an opportunity to provide an excellent and larger ship to our sister company, meet the growing demand, and keep her in the family,' said Crystal president Gregg Michel. 'At the same time, this paves the way for new tonnage for Crystal. We will return to a three-ship operation.'

The 960-passenger Crystal Harmony will replace NYK Cruises' 592-passenger Asuka in April. The Crystal ship will be renamed Asuka II.

As recently as late 2002, Crystal spent millions of dollars on major design upgrades including a lavish spa and fitness facilities, to maintain Crystal Harmony's luxury standards. However, the newer Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are equipped with larger bathrooms and more penthouse accommodations, among other features.

Harmony's transfer will leave Crystal with 2,020 berths in 2006. Next year, Crystal Serenity will maintain her announced schedule, while Crystal Symphony's January-May deployment has been revised to include an additional winter Panama Canal transit, new Amazon cruises, Cape Horn and East Coast South America cruises, an Atlantic crossing and an additional 10-day May Mediterranean cruise before resuming her previously announced pattern on May 18.

NYK's investment in the Crystal fleet through the recent extensive Symphony refurbishment and plans for new tonnage 'demonstrates our commitment to our cruise divisions,' said NYK president Koji Miyahara.

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Fincantieri seeks stake in Lloyd Werft

Fincantieri seeks stake in Lloyd Werft

The plan was confirmed by well-placed sources at the Italian yard, although it is officially denied by Fincantieri.

Since early 2004 when it filed for insolvency, Lloyd Werft has been put under administration procedure, similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. The German yard is well-known for its long record of cruise ship repair and refurbishment.

As earlier reported by Seatrade Insider, Fincantieri is also in negotiations to buy the majority stake of Grand Bahama Shipyard, the largest ship repair facility in the West Atlantic and the closest to Florida.

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Sneak preview of easyCruiseOne

Sneak preview of easyCruiseOne

The personal tour was filmed onboard just two days ago in Singapore, at the Keppel Shipyard, following the handover of the completely refurbished ship.

By the time it begins cruising in the Med on May 6, easyCruiseOne will have cost Haji-Ioannou some $20m (including purchase, refurbishment, etc.). The 4,077gt ship carrying 170 passengers and 54 crew flies the Cyprus flag - Haji-Ioannou's country of birth.

The challenge of the ship's conversion was to make innovative use of minimal space says the easyCruise boss, who refers to the cabin interiors as 'minimalist chic'. Available in three categories, the 86 cabins include six quads, four suites and one for the disabled. The twins measure about 108sq ft and have two single beds which can be joined to form a double bed. There are no cupboards or furniture, just a shelf and dress-rail. The ensuite bathrooms are small with frosted glass and sliding doors with a toilet, shower and wash basin. Haji-Ioannou, who has slept a night in the smallest cabin says, 'they are adequate for a few nights'.

The cabin colour scheme is signature orange with some grey and white. Throughout the ship the line's moniker 'easyCruise.com' appears in abundance, notably across the headboard of each bed, on the cabin walls, across the floor of the sun deck, and alongside the hull, 'so the brand name cannot fail to appear in everyone's holidays snaps,' quips the cheerful Haji-Ioannou.

The only public spaces are a coffee shop, American-style sports bar (with live DJ booth), gym and cocktail bar on the top deck. There is no swimming pool, just a six person hot tub. All food and beverage will be pay-as-you-go priced in euros, although US$ and sterling will also likely be acceptable.

Bookings so far have come from residents of 32 countries representing 42 nationalities. Nearly half of the bookings to date are British 'where our brand is best known,' says Haji-Ioannou, and 13% are Americans, 'which is not surprising as they love cruising,' he adds.

The sold-out inaugural cruise departs Nice and the vessel will continue with weekly itineraries along the French and Italian rivieras until October 15. Although not inclined to make a decision about winter 05/06 deployment until end May/early June, 'my guess today is that we will remain in the area operating a reduced number of calls,' discloses Haji-Ioannou, adding 'whereas Portofino is clearly closed in winter, places such as Nice and Genoa don't shut down at that time of year.'

The flexible booking structure means passengers can stay onboard for as little as two nights up to the full seven. 'A long weekend of 3/4 nights in Nice/Cannes/Monte Carlo at prices ranging from as low as £29 to a maximum £159 per person per night (for a suite) and every price in between, dependent on lead-in time and availability, must be very appealing,' says the easyGroup owner. 'Others may prefer a mid-week sailing in the Italian Riviera and bookings so far show demand for both options plus the full seven day itinerary. However it will take people a while to work out the flexibility on offer.'

Looking ahead Haji-Ioannou ultimately hopes to grow the fleet and the ship's capacity: 'This was the cheapest way to enter the market and create a working pilot. The optimum size of future ships is more likely to be around 400-500 passengers but it would be premature to invest further before the first full year of operation.'

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CLIA calls for Hall of Fame nominations

CLIA calls for Hall of Fame nominations

To that end, CLIA is establishing a Hall of Fame that will give formal recognition to towering industry figures, past and present. Cruise sellers at CLIA-member agencies will have the opportunity to nominate individuals they believe worthy of induction.

Calling agents 'the heart and soul of CLIA and the cruise industry,' CLIA president and ceo Terry Dale said agents 'will continue to contribute to an even more successful future' and ' are indeed worthy of the honor of helping to enshrine our industry's greatest icons.'

The Hall of Fame will recognize individuals in three categories: cruise retailer, cruise line executive and an at-large category encompassing an additional retailer or cruise executive, shipbuilder, publisher, government official or politician, or any other individual. Nominations are based on the criteria of accomplishments that created positive change for the industry, if the person is of role-model stature, and accomplishments that set the individual apart.

Nominees will be considered by a committee of members of CLIA's Travel Agent Advisory Board and member-line executives. The final slate will be ratified by CLIA's Executive Committee.

CLIA-member agencies will receive nomination forms via e-mail and via the Travel Agent Center at www.cruising.org. Nominations will be accepted through April 30.

Nominees will be inducted at a ceremony at CLIA's cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale, Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

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Crystal has a new chairman

Crystal has a new chairman

Before joining Crystal a year ago, Imasaki was gm of Nippon Yusen Kaisha's Nagoya branch in Japan.

Imasaki replaces Mitsuhiko Takahashi, who held the chairman's role for two years and, before that, served as evp. Takahashi, one of Crystal's original team of senior executives, is continuing on in a consulting capacity.

Historically, parent company NYK has changed executives in the Crystal chairman's role and at the Tokyo-based NYK Cruise Group every few years, a Crystal spokeswoman said. It is not uncommon for execs to move to different opportunities at different divisions of NYK around the world, she added.

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Silversea atlas details port experiences

Silversea atlas details port experiences

The port highlights are divided into sections based on their appeal for the 'Art Aficionado,' 'Gourmand,' 'History Buff' and 'Active Adventurer.' Also detailed are excursions arranged through an exclusive partnership with FAI - Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano (the National Trust for Italy).

The atlas includes images of Silversea ambassador Isabella Rossellini with her daughter, Elettra Wiedemann, as photographed during recent cruises by Fabrizio Ferri.

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