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Articles from 2015 In March

NCL adds weddings at sea, tests expanded room service/order fee, drops cover for Asian restaurants

NCL adds weddings at sea, tests expanded room service/order fee, drops cover for Asian restaurants

A wedding at sea package is available on the New York-based Norwegian Breakaway and the Miami-based Norwegian Getaway, and will be offered on Norwegian Escape when it begins year-round service from Miami late this year.

The ceremony is performed by the ship's captain, with the couple's marriage license issued by the Bahamas. The package includes a bouquet and boutonniere, a Champagne toast, a wedding cake and the services of a wedding coordinator.

Until now, the line has offered only destination weddings. Norwegian will continue to provide those, along with vow renewal packages. Also, same-sex destination weddings are available where recognized by law, including at port in Boston, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Vancouver, Tampa, Miami and Port Canaveral.

Norwegian is also testing expanded room service offerings and a per order room service fee, on two ships.

This includes an expanded breakfast selection—the addition of eggs cooked to order, sides like breakfast potato/grilled tomato and hot cereals like oatmeal and Cream of Wheat—and more choices on the 24-hour room service menu.

There's no charge per item, but a per order (not per person) fee of $7.95 is being tested on Norwegian Breakaway and of $4.95 on Norwegian Getaway. That fee is waived in The Haven accommodations.

Following the enthusiastic response to the previous $15 cover charge being waived for the Asian fusion restaurant Ginza on Norwegian Star, the line has decided to make the Asian restaurants and noodle bars complimentary on 11 ships by mid-April.

This includes venues like Norwegian Gem's Orchid Garden, Norwegian Pearl's Lotus Garden, Norwegian Epic's Shanghai's Chinese Restaurant/Shanghai's Noodle Bar and Pride of America's East Meets West, as some examples. (The dining charge waiver doesn't apply to Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun.)

All the news was announced by Norwegian president and chief operating officer Andy Stuart during Tuesday's travel agent webinar.


Amras Cruises appoints exclusive Australian distributor

Amras Cruises appoints exclusive Australian distributor

Amras Cruises is an offshoot of privately-owned Lüftner Cruises, which was founded in Austria more than 30 years ago and operates 10 ‘Amadeus’ European river ships.
Last year the company decided to market directly to North America with cruises designed for English-speaking travellers for four of its ships—Amadeus Diamond, Amadeus Symphony, Amadeus Silver and the 168-passenger Amadeus Silver II which makes her maiden voyage on April 16—and opened an office in Boston as Amras Cruises.
It has now decided to go after the Australian river cruise market and this month appointed McLachlan Travel Group, a family-owned company founded by Gil and Leonie McLachlan in 1979.
The company’s gm, industry veteran Peter Smith, said it will sell the cruises from July 1 onwards and will launch an Australian brochure shortly.

Ponant joins CLIA as global cruise line member

Ponant joins CLIA as global cruise line member

Last month river operator CroisiEurope also signed on as a global cruise line member.

Ponant and CroisiEurope are both a part of the CLIA Specialty Cruise Collection, a group of 17 lines representing the small ship, river, coastal, luxury, adventure and sailing ship member lines.

'With the development of our sales offices in the USA and Australasia, we look forward to engage fully with CLIA’s office and CLIA travel agent and agency members around the world over the coming years,' said Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, founder and ceo of Ponant.

Silversea uncorks culinary and wine voyages for 2015 and 2016

Chef David Bilsland - leads complimentary cooking school at sea, L'École des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux

These themed voyages 'add an extra dimension that enriches our guests' experience, and can deepen their understanding of a region's culture,' said Kristian Anderson, Silversea's svp and general manager for the Americas.

Silversea continues to offer the only 'L'École des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux' cooking school at sea. The program, free of charge, provides a special culinary curriculum, including hands-on instruction, and entertaining events. It is hosted by culinary trainer David Bilsland, a former instructor at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London.

Highlights include specialized workshops covering an array of topics from basic knife skills and kitchen terminology to sauces and baking; cooking demonstrations with wine pairings and question and answer sessions; lively cooking competitions between Bilsland and the ship's own culinary team; a 'Lunch and Learn' event offering small groups the chance to sample a meal of specially prepared dishes; and 'Take It Home' recipes.

Also offered on certain voyages, when the itinerary permits, is a 'Market to Plate' experience that provides an escorted tour of a local market to shop for fresh ingredients, followed by a cooking class on board or at an actual Relais & Châteaux property.

On each wine cruise, travelers get to sample great vintages and learn about the tradition and art of winemaking at complimentary tastings and lectures conducted by Silversea wine ambassador Lawrence d'Almeida, a wine production expert and former winemaker. Depending on the itinerary, there will be a chance to explore celebrated wine regions on optional guided shore excursions.

As on all Silversea sailings, an extensive complimentary selection of fine red and white wine pairings is available at lunch and dinner.

Culinary and wine enrichment programs on select voyages include two on Silver Spirit, a 15-day trans-Atlantic crossing from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale departing Nov. 9 and a 21-day Brazil-focused sailing from Barbados to Buenos Aires sailing Jan. 25.



Princess plans 'Sound of Music' screenings, sing-alongs, trivia

Princess will air 'The Sound of Music' on its Movies Under the Stars top deck screens and feature sing-a-longs, trivia games and more for the 50th anniversaries of both the cruise line and the musical

These offerings celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both Princess and the musical and are part of a year-long campaign to honor the classic film.

In addition, Princess is offering movie fans chances to win a free cruise and a $500 on-board gift card every month through December. Details are at

A phenomenon upon its debut in 1965, 'The Sound of Music' won five Academy Awards, including 'Best Picture' and continues to draw audiences around the world with songs like 'Do-Re-Mi,' 'My Favorite Things,' 'Climb Every Mountain' and 'The Sound of Music.' The movie stars Oscar winners Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

'The Sound of Music' will be shown once on every sailing throughout 2015 on Princess ships' giant Movies Under the Stars top deck screens, with the sing-a-long version featured in the Princess Theater. Song birds can meet and rehearse for a special 'The Sound of Music' edition of Princess Pop Choir and a themed trivia challenge will test fans' movie knowledge.


Gaspé embraces Queen Mary 2 visit in 2016

Gaspé embraces Queen Mary 2 visit in 2016

Queen Mary 2's visit is 'an honor for the region,' said Stéphane Sainte-Croix, director of Escale Gaspésie. 'It is also a major vote of confidence from the industry for our organization and for the port of call. We will make sure we meet their needs and expectations in order to make this stop-over a successful one.'

Along with its inaugural visit to Gaspé on Oct. 7 next year, Queen Mary 2 will call at Saguenay and Québec City.

$55m funding boost for cruise works at Québec, Montréal

$55m funding boost for cruise works at Québec, Montréal

'This announcement represents a crucial step in efforts devoted to secure funding and we greatly appreciate the support provided by the government of Québec,' said Tony Boemi, president of Cruise the Saint Lawrence and vp growth and development at the Port of Montréal.

This benefits all the Saint Lawrence destinations as they pursue their ambitious goal of providing the best welcome in the world, Boemi added, since the ports of Québec and Montréal are primary gateways to the region.

Development projects at these two ports of embarkation and disembarkation are key to being able to support exceptional growth in international cruises in Québec, according to Cruise the Saint Lawrence.

In 2015, the region expects more than 275,000 passengers and 100,000 crew members, more than double the number of passengers in 2008. This growth requires infrastructure upgrades to better provide for ever-increasing traffic, while enhancing the overall cruise experience.

The Port of Montréal seeks to restore both Alexandra Pier and the marine passenger terminal. Commitment by the government of Québec is important for seeing plans through to completion.

At the Port of Québec, infrastructure is also being tailored to better satisfy the needs of growing cruise traffic.  

Besides Montréal and Québec, Destination Saint Lawrence includes Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre Saint-Pierre, Gaspésie and the Magdalen Islands.

Cruise the Saint Lawrence groups together partners that promote and develop the Saint Lawrence River. The association receives financial support from Economic Development Canada, Tourism Québec and industry partners.

CLIA Southeast Asia’s Sherry outlines key findings of 2014 cruise study

Ann Sherry: An 'historic' number of ships, passengers and ports in Asia

‘CLIA commissioned the study to give all stakeholders a compelling overview of cruise industry growth in Asia as an indication of its potential for further expansion,’ CLIA Southeast Asia chair, Ann Sherry, said.

CLIA Global chairman Adam Goldstein and Sherry first announced the findings during this year's Cruise Shipping Miami, following which Seatrade Insider reported a brief overview. Below, is a more detailed analysis of the key points

‘With cruise lines hosting nearly 1.4m Asian guests last year, a 34% increase in just two years, the global cruise industry has recognised that Asia is quickly becoming a major international market in its own right,’ Sherry said.

‘It is exciting for the first time to know the true size of Asian source markets and to present a stunning picture of the opportunities that cruising presents for the region.

‘The cruise industry is responding by offering more cruises that deliver experiences especially tailored to Asian travellers but are at the same time just as attractive to international travellers wanting to experience Asia’s wide array of fascinating destinations.'

CLIA Australasia gm Brett Jardine said the Asia cruise boom is good news for the Australasian region.

‘We welcome the continued increase in deployment in the Asian region and the potential opportunities this provides for the Australasian market, both in terms of seasonal deployments and as a source market,’ Jardine said.

‘With more ships based in the region, Australia and New Zealand will likely see a greater number of ships, as well as larger capacity ships, which would require infrastructure investment to take advantage of the growth opportunities,’ he said.

Below are key findings of the study:

1,   The capacity to carry passengers continues to soar with the introduction of new and larger ships in the region. Since 2013, passenger capacity grew at a 20% compound annual growth rate and is expected to reach almost 2.2 million in 2015. The Asia region has quickly progressed to fourth in passenger capacity deployment, tied with Australasia.

2.   From 2012 to 2014, the number of Chinese passengers grew 79% per year.  In 2014, 697,000 passengers were from mainland China which is almost as many passengers as all other Asian markets combined (701,000).

3.   China’s Generation Y (aged under 35 years) made up most of the country’s outbound travel, according to statistics from the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). This trend is echoed in the cruise industry. In four of the largest cruise markets – China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines – more than four out of 10 passengers were under 40.

4.   This year, 52 cruise ships will operate in Asia, a 10% compound annual growth rate since 2013. The number of cruises and longer voyages in the region has also grown with 1,065 sailings scheduled this year, up 11% per year. There has also been a significant increase in the number of days cruise ships are in operation, from 4,307 operating days in 2013 to 5,824 operating days in 2015.

5.   While Asian outbound tourism is exploding around the world, the study found that Asian cruisers are primarily exploring Asian destinations. More than nine out of ten Asian passengers (91%) cruised within Asia. The remaining 9% flew to cruise destinations outside the region, primarily in Europe, followed by Alaska and the Caribbean.

6.   Cruising in the region includes more than 168 destinations across 18 countries, making travelling by cruise ship one of the easiest ways to see all that Asia has to offer. While the introduction of new ports throughout Asia is great for travellers, it is also great for local economies. With a 34% increase in port calls since 2013, cruise lines are bringing more visitors to destinations in Asia having a direct impact on economic growth in the region. Japan ranks top with 646 port calls planned in 2015, followed by Malaysia (580), South Korea (377), Singapore and Thailand (374 each).

7.   Depending on the market, many Asian guests have limited holiday entitlements making short cruises preferable. In 2014, 48% of Asian passengers chose four to six day cruises, 38% chose cruises of two to three nights, and only 12% opted for seven to 13 night cruises.

8.   Cruise lines have recognised the need to bring their best ships and amenities to the region. New onboard offerings tailored to the Asian guests include inclusive onboard activities aimed at multi-generational families, high-end shopping, and adapted menus to include familiar favourites and regional cuisine.

Genting HK seeks new NCLH share disposal mandate

Genting HK seeks new NCLH share disposal mandate

Genting HK's 2014 mandate for selling up to just under 56.82m NCLH shares is expiring on April 25 and, as expected, a new 12-month mandate has been proposed.

In a filing Tuesday, Genting HK said the future disposal may constitute a major transaction or a 'very substantial disposal.'

Under the 2014 mandate, Genting HK has sold 6.25m NCLH shares to date. The company continues to own just under 50.6m NCLH shares, or 22.1% of the total issued and outstanding NCLH shares.

The mechanism for selling future shares would be in the open market at market price or through secondary public offering(s)—in either case, for not less than US$19 per share.

Genting HK said it would apply any proceeds of future NCLH share sales as general working capital and/or to fund new investments should suitable opportunities arise.

The company is in the process of acquiring Crystal Cruises and last week obtained Hong Kong Stock Exchange permission for an extension to provide a circular to shareholders with details of the purchase agreement, the financial information of Crystal and other general information.

According to stock market rules, the circular was required to be dispatched to shareholders within 15 business days of the March 3 announcement of the acquisition.

Genting HK received a waiver to extend the dispatch of the circular to June 22.

Carnival ship becomes first alongside at expanded BVI pier

Dion Stoutt
Carnival Liberty alongside on March 28

The ship tied up alongside the northeastern berth, which was completed a few weeks ago.

Work continues to have the entire pier ready in time for the official opening on April 29, when Norwegian Getaway is scheduled to arrive.

The pier has been lengthened to 1,039 feet, with mooring dolphins adding 273 feet, giving a total of 1,312 feet of berthing space. Once completed, the pier will be 60 feet wide and will accommodate two ships of 180,000gt.