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Articles from 2017 In April


Disney Wonder is first passenger ship through new Panama Canal locks

(Photo: Disney Cruise Line)
Disney Wonder passes through the new locks on April 29

The Disney Cruise Line ship was transformed in late 2016, expanding its length by about 20 feet to 984 feet.

DCL president Karl Holz and Captain Mickey were on hand for the transit.

Disney Wonder's Panama Canal crossing is part of a 14-night voyage from Port Canaveral, to San Diego, where the ship will cruise to Baja, Mexico, before a summer season from Vancouver, BC, to Alaska.

Other enhancements in the 2016 refurbishment were new spaces for children, including areas themed to the Marvel Universe, a theatrical version of Disney's 'Frozen,' plus a new restaurant, Tiana's Place, inspired by 'The Princess and the Frog.'

Thamm gets a raise with his new contract

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Michael Thamm - added leadership of Carnival Asia in December 2016

Thamm took on the added Carnival Asia role in December last year.

For achieving targets Thamm will also be eligible to receive €1.1m worth of restricted stock units, €465,000 in equity grants and $600,000 in shareholder equity alignment grants.

According to a filing, other benefits include an annual housing allowance of up to €150,000 for accommodations in Genoa, life and disability insurance and health insurance for himself and his family.

Besides being in charge of supervision and strategy for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises, and leading Carnival Asia, Thamm is the officer in charge of managing synergies such as Carnival Maritime and Carnival Europe-Asia Technology between Costa Group and Carnival UK. In addition, he is officer in charge of leading newbuild strategies for the creation of a common cutting-edge technology ship platform.

Thamm's contract doesn't specify a fixed place of work but allows him to perform his duties in the offices/countries that best allow him to accomplish his tasks in the interest of the company.

His new contract commenced April 1 and has an indefinite term.

Seattle's busiest Alaska season features HAL kickoff, NCL's expanded Pier 66

(Photo: Port of Seattle)
Eurodam alongside at Terminal 91 for the first time

This will be Seattle's biggest cruise season, with more than 1m revenue passengers (embarking, disembarking, in transit) on 218 calls.

HAL increased its Seattle visits to 58 this year, and three of its ships will sail round-trip Seattle itineraries in 2017.

Oosterdam is due to arrive Sunday, and Amsterdam on May 15. Zaandam makes one call at Seattle May 12 on a one-day repositioning cruise to Vancouver, BC, its summer homeport. Noordam visits Sept. 25 on a Pacific coastal sailing. All the options combined make a total of 58 calls by five HAL ships carrying nearly 111,000 passengers.

According to the port, Seattle's cruise industry is responsible for more than $500m in economic impact for the region, providing more than 4,000 jobs and $18.9m in state and local taxes, with each homeported vessel generating $2.7m for the local economy.

'A record number of cruise passengers this season means local agriculture and food companies, among others across our region, benefit from these provisioning ships,' Port of Seattle commissioner Stephanie Bowman said. 'We are also inviting these passengers to stay longer and spend more time and money locally, which also boosts economic impact and job growth across our region and state.'

Toward that goal the port is introducing a complimentary cruise luggage valet program to facilitate disembarking cruisers lingering for the day instead of rushing to the airport. Passengers will be able to get their airline boarding pass and check their bags on board ship so they can tour Seattle before flying home. The program is expected to become operational in the next several weeks.

Also new this year are extensive renovations at Pier 66, the homeport for Norwegian Cruise Line ships. The company's unprecedented 15-year lease is estimated to generate $2.3bn in total business revenue for the region, nearly 900 jobs and more than $65m in state and local taxes.

For its part, Holland America expects to contribute nearly $600m to the Washington state economy. The company employs 1,600 people locally and its headquarters are in Seattle.

Provisioning costs each time a ship calls average about $300,000, HAL said. The line works with nearly 700 Washington vendors, from food and beverage suppliers to piano tuners, office supply stores and marine suppliers, among many others. For example, Oosterdam requires more than 23,000 eggs and 1,375 gallons of milk each week. All come from local farmers. In addition, local growers supply 147,550 pounds of fresh produce a week.

HAL ships have been sailing from the port since the 1970s. In May 2002, the line began using Seattle as a homeport for Alaska cruises.

RCL shares shoot up 6% on strong Q1, higher guidance

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RCL shares traded as high as $110.60 before settling at $106.60, up 6.1%.

US GAAP and adjusted earnings were $214.7m, or 99 cents per share, up from US GAAP net income of 46 cents per share and adjusted net income of 57 cents per share a year ago. Revenues were $2bn, up from $1.9bn.

Royal Caribbean lifted its full year EPS guidance by a dime, to a range of $7 to $7.20 from $6.90 to $7.10. Q2 adjusted EPS is expected in the range of $1.60 to $1.65.

The business continues to progress as expected, Royal Caribbean chairman and ceo Richard Fain said. During the previous quarterly earnings call, RCL reported bookings were outstanding and predicted strong revenue growth in 2017 as a result.

Fain said that prediction is proving accurate, and the company continues to 'revel in strong daily booking reports.'

The main negative has been the China-Korea dispute that's put Korean ports off the charts for cruise ships. Itineraries were changed, and that is 'hurting,' reminiscent of the China-Japan dispute several years back.

'Fortunately, bookings in Europe and elsewhere have compensated,' Fain said.

Growing yields by 6% in Q1, which follows a 7% hike last year, is 'remarkable,' he told analysts during Friday's earnings call.

On-board revenue yield rose nearly 9%, driven by new hardware, shore excursions and high-speed Internet utilization (VOOM at Royal Caribbean International and Xcelerate at Celebrity Cruises).

CFO Jason Liberty said Royal Caribbean is booked ahead of the same time last year in occupancy and pricing for each remaining quarter, and the company has about 15% fewer passengers left to book than at this point last year.

Demand for European cruises has been particularly strong from North Americans so average per diems and load factor are 'significantly higher' than at the same time last year. Liberty said Americans typically pay more for a Europe cruise and buy more shore excursions.

Bookings from European source markets are strong. However, since the company has less inventory left to sell, it will end up carrying a greater mix of North Americans than in a usual Europe season.

North American itineraries are doing well, too. Alaska remains on track to outperform the 2016 record season, and the Caribbean—close to half of the company's capacity in 2017—is performing as expected. In the last three months, bookings and pricing have been above last year's level and Harmony of the Seas is commanding premium rates for its first summer Caribbean season.

In the Asia-Pacific region—approximately 20% of RCL capacity—China, Australia and Southeast Asia cruises are booked 'nicely higher' in load factor. Australia itineraries for next winter (austral summer) are in a strong booked position despite industry capacity growth.

Liberty said demand for China cruises decreased due to the Korea itinerary changes but that 'demand is returning to expected levels.'

NCLH to report Q1 earnings on May 10

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The company scheduled a call with analysts to discuss the results at 11 a.m. ET that day.

The call will be simultaneously webcast at www.nclhltdinvestor.com.

Cruise industry pumps $3.2bn into Canada's economy

(Photo: Port of Vancouver)
British Columbia accounts for 66% of direct cruise industry spending. Here, ships at Vancouver's Canada Place

This is according to 'The Economic Contribution of the International Cruise Industry in Canada 2016,' prepared by Business Research & Economic Advisors for Cruise Lines International Association-North West & Canada, Cruise the St. Lawrence, the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association and Cruise BC. The study is based on data from 2016 with comparisons to 2012, the last time comparable research was commissioned.

The total economic impact of $3.2bn, including direct and indirect spending, increased 34% since 2012. This was attributed to gains in cruise line, passenger and crew spending, along with increases in business taxes such as those on food, fuel and retail items, and a favorable Canadian exchange rate.

The 9% increase in passenger visits between 2012 and 2016 is about to be eclipsed by a 14% single-year growth forecast for 2017, ensuring further spending increases in the coming year.

Direct spending by cruise lines totaled $933m, including items such as goods and services (food and beverages, fuel, maintenance/repair, equipment and supplies), shoreside staffing, port fees and services, equipment and advertising/promotion.

Passengers' direct spending on lodging, tours and transportation, food and beverage and retail, totaled just over half a billion dollars, a 12% increase since 2012.

Passenger visits to all Canadian ports totaled 2.23m in 2016, 9% more than the 2.05m in 2012.

An estimated just over 23,000 direct and indirect jobs were created, paying in excess of $1bn in salaries and wages. Total employment generated by the cruise industry has increased 31% since 2012.

Of the national total, BC accounts for 66% of direct cruise industry spending, Québec for 15% and Atlantic Canada for 7%. Other provinces and territories also benefit.

'The study confirms that the international cruise industry is a major contributor to the Canadian economy, with ships generating millions of passenger visits and billions in spending every year. As cruising expands globally and passengers show more and more interest in Canada as a destination, Canada’s ports and tourism operators will need to keep pace to ensure Canada can realize the growth opportunity this industry,' said Greg Wirtz, president and ceo, CLIA North West & Canada.

According to Bardish Chagger, minister of small business and tourism and leader of the government in the House of Commons, the study illustrates 'just how important the cruise industry is in creating jobs and growth in Canada’s tourism sector. This information reinforces our government’s commitment to investment in marketing Canada’s tourism products around the world.'

Tourism, he added, is an economic driver for every Canadian community, supporting close to 1.7m jobs and 200,000 businesses from coast to coast to coast.

'With this study, we see that Canada is becoming increasingly attractive to cruise ship visitors,' said Charlotte Bell, president and ceo, Tourism Industry Association of Canada. 'We strive to ensure they continue having high quality experiences during their Pacific, Atlantic and St. Lawrence port visits and return for a longer stay, once they’ve had a taste of what Canada has to offer.'

CLIA Europe’s Anastassiadis shares views on environment, safety and demographics

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Kerry Anastassiadis addressed the Cruise Europe conference 2017

‘We live in a time when there is heightened awareness globally of the environment and in Europe we are moving forward on a number of fronts to find future technology solutions.

‘LNG as an alternative power source for cruise ships is coming to the fore but not everyone will be adopting this so we need to make sure there is active dialogue between lines, ports and suppliers so there is sufficient time to transform from one technology to another,’ he remarked.

Bombings and acts of terrorism are a daily occurance said Anastassiadis and ‘a new reality in our lives’.

The impact on tourism is real: for example there was a drop of 35% in visitors to Paris in 2016.

‘The cruise industry needs to continue to demonstrate it offers a safe and secure environment that allays any fear factors.’

On deployment, Anastassiadis reminded, ‘Mediterranean has been shrinking as a cruise destination in the past three years with the bottom half wiped off and in the last 12 months we have seen the east Med also fall off the map.’

Suddenly the Med cruise map has become Spain, France, Italy and the Greek islands, he countered.

‘We need to create an environment that improves the perception as if we are unable to operate in these areas it will be increasingly difficult to justify ROI on new investments.’

On demographics, Europe is often referred to as the Old World but literally there is an ageing population living longer, he remarked.

How better could we cater to that demographic? he asked.

‘Do we have enough facilities in ports to cater for all ages, including the physically challenged?

As many newbuilds are heading for the new frontier of Asia, in time we need to think about this rising Asian source market coming to Europe and our preparedness.

‘130m Chinese holidayed in 2016. In 2030 that is expected to rise to 230m. We do not see much Chinese signage in European cities and tourist attractions but many of those that come to visit do not speak anything other than Chinese.’

 

MBNA Thames Clippers adding two new passenger boats

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Two new 170 capacity passenger boats due to join London's growing river transport network in summer 2017 being built at the Wight Shipyard Co

Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper will provide additional capacity across the River Thames network connecting many of the capital’s top attractions and providing passengers with the opportunity to take in the iconic London skyline from the river along the way such as The Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower of London and on to Greenwich for the Old Royal Naval College and Royal Museums Greenwich.

The two newest boats follow the addition of two boats in late 2015, in total adding an additional 30% capacity in two years to the MBNA Thames Clippers fleet.  

Since the foundation of the business in 1999, MBNA Thames Clippers has hosted over 34m passengers on their network of 15 boats. The addition of two new vessels will see this number soar to over 38.5m by the end of 2017.

Both Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper are under construction at the Wight Shipyard Co at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight and represent an investment worth over £6.3m. 

The first boat, Mercury Clipper will be launched onto the water at East Cowes in June and conduct endurance trials later that month before making the journey to London for the official launch. Jupiter Clipper will follow shortly afterwards. 

 

Record number of cruise visitors to spend €63m in Stockholm

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Cruise passenger numbers expected to rise 30%

This equates to a visitor increase of 30% compared to 2016.

The cruise season begins on Sunday with the arrival of National Geographic Orion at Skeppsbron.

'This year passengers will spend around €63m, playing a major role for both the tourist industry and the entire Stockholm region,' says Thomas Andersson, ceo Visit Stockholm.

Turnarounds are set to reach a record high too with 75 ships projected to begin and/or end their cruise in Stockholm.

'Stockholm is very popular and counts as one of the "Big five" together with Helsinki, Tallinn, Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen,' says Henrik Ahlqvist, cruise marketing manager at Ports of Stockholm.

New this year are Norwegian Getaway (which is also the largest vessel this year), MSC Fantasia and a New Year cruise by Saga Sapphire

Ports of Stockholm can accept black and grey water from vessels with waste water management facilities available at all berths and offloading of waste water is included in the harbour dues.

In 2016, 80% of vessels offloaded black and grey water during a Stockholm call.

 

Norwegian cruise records set to tumble

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Cruise Norway's Sandra Diana Bratland, 'ships calling all 12 months of the year'

According to figures from the Norwegian ports, ship calls are set to increase from 1,809 to 1,887 (+ 4.31%) and day visitor numbers from 2.7m in 2016 to 3.0m making 2017 the best year ever, and will beat the 2013 record of 2.78m day visitors with good margin.

The boost in visitor numbers is first and foremost due to a strong autumn and winter season increase.

‘Norway has become an all-year-round cruise destination, with ships calling all 12 months of the year,’ said Sandra Diana Bratland, md at Cruise Norway.

‘The June, July, and August peak season is stable, whereas the May and October shoulder seasons have seen a significant increase,’ she added.

‘We receive more and more enquiries from cruise companies looking to visit Norway during winter, and it is clear that the main attraction is the possibility of experiencing the Northern Lights.

‘The chances of seeing the Northern Lights along the Norwegian coast are quite good in October, and this year there are as many as 27 scheduled calls – compared with two in 2016.’

Traditionally, this is a quiet time of year up and down the Norwegian coast, and visitors will have the fjords and the Aurora almost to themselves, says Bratland.

Winter destinations for 2017 are Alta, Bergen, Bodø, Harstad, Haugesund, Kristiansund, Narvik, Nordkapp (Honningsvåg), Molde, Åndalsnes, Stavanger, Tromsø, Trondheim, Sortland, and Ålesund.

It is a market dominated by British tourists, but this year there are also three scheduled visits for AIDA Cruises carrying German-speaking passengers.

Norway is a popular travel destination amongst Germans in general, and Germany is a market we believe offers great opportunities in terms of winter cruises to Norway, says Bratland.

Main source markets are Germany, UK, and US, followed by France, Italy, and the Netherlands.