Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Sitemap


Articles from 2004 In June


Former HAL exec sentenced for false reports

Former HAL exec sentenced for false reports

Richard Softye, who led environmental compliance at HAL, was also fined $10,000 and ordered to perform 450 hours of community service.

Softye had been in charge of leading a court-ordered environmental audit program at the Holland America brand after Carnival Corp. two years ago admitted submitting false oil-discharge records to the US Coast Guard.

NULL

Carnival UK announces board restructure

Carnival UK announces board restructure

The new board will be structured into three reporting lines of Commercial, Product Delivery and Business Strategy and Services. David Dingle, md of Carnival UK, will retain overall control of the business.

Carol Marlow, md of Swan Hellenic and UK director of Princess Cruises, will take on the additional role of director EMEA for Cunard Line. She will be responsible to Pamela Conover, president of Cunard Line, for the ongoing development of the Cunard and Seabourn brands in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Marlow replaces Peter Shanks, who takes on the role of md, Ocean Village. Nigel Esdale's roleas commercial director of P&O Cruises, with additional responsibility for the Complete Cruise Solution sales function, remains unchanged. All three directors will report to David Dingle.

In the area of Product Delivery Nick Lighton, previously md of Ocean Village, takes up the position of Fleet Management director for Carnival UK across all brands. Reporting to Dingle, his direct reports will be the Fleet Services director John Marden and Hotel Services and Entertainment director Neal Martin.

Chief Strategic and Financial Officer for Carnival UK, Ed Jones, takes on additional responsibilities. Reporting to him are Customer Services director Linda Scard, Human Resources director Frances Place and Finance director Andrew Kennedy. IT director Haydon Williams will also be responsible to Jones for UK systems matters.

'These changes will allow us to place maximum emphasis on strategic development and business efficiency whilst maintaining strong focus on customer service and operational delivery,' Dingle said.

Carnival UK's six brands are: Cunard Line, Ocean Village P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Swan Hellenic and Seabourn.

NULL

IMO: High rate of ISPS compliance

IMO: High rate of ISPS compliance

IMO secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos earlier had singled out the high rate of compliance by passenger vessels but noted that the number of approved port facility security plans, though increasing, was low.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mitropoulos said the latest figures indicate that the number of port facility security plans submitted and approved has increased 'significantly in the week before 1 July 2004.' The percentage of approved port plans 'has caught up with the percentage of International Ship Security Certificates issued,' he noted.

Mitropoulos said it was encouraging to see that IMO member governments, administrations and industry 'have pulled out all the stops over the recent weeks and a high level of compliance has been achieved globally.'

But the secretary general also called for 'a pragmatic and realistic approach' in the period following entry into force, saying that though the administrative processes may not all yet be completed, 'the overwhelming likelihood is that the work already carried out by shipping companies and port facilities in preparation for the Code means that the actual level of preparedness, vigilance and awareness on the ground will be higher than it was anticipated only one week ago.'

The US Coast Guard has warned it will be tough in enforcing security compliance.

As earlier reported, all 118 vessels of the International Council of Cruise Lines fleet are ISPS compliant, and additional non-ICCL members such as Star Clippers have confirmed their compliance. ICCL president Michael Crye said the industry will work with port facility operators to ensure that cruise itineraries will not be affected by ports that are in non-compliance.

NULL

NCL opens Hawaii customer service center

NCL opens Hawaii customer service center

NCL customers who purchase a land package at the Waikiki Beach Marriott will be able to check in at the service center for their cruise up to six days in advance of sailing. Personnel will coordinate expedited transit into the terminal upon arrival at the pier and once passengers collect their cabin card keys at a dedicated podium, they may immediately embark the ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America passengers who buy a land package at any Honolulu property can use the service center to book shipboard Mandara Spa appointments, reserve dinner at an alternative restaurant for the night of embarkation, make priority upgrade requests, arrange Honolulu excursions, book tours for any port on the itinerary and arrange on-board amenities.

NULL

CMA CGM heads for luxury cruising with CIP

CMA CGM heads for luxury cruising with CIP

Nantes-based CIP was founded in 1988 by Philippe Videau and Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, two young naval officers. Its fleet includes the three-mast sailing yacht Le Ponant (64 passagers) launched in 1991 and the motor-yacht Le Levant (90 passengers), launched in 1998. Latest addition is the 226-passenger Le Diamant (ex Song of Flower), bought in equal partnership with Paris-based tour-operator Tapis Rouge Croisière.

CIP employs 265 people(including 20 in its Nantes headquarters). 2003 consolidated turnover was EUR15.1m which is expected to increase to EUR22m this year.

The alliance with CMA CGM, heir to the famous French Line (Compagnie Générale Transatlantique) and Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes marks a new era in the cruise company's development and of the Marseille-based shipping group, which has a Cruise and Tourism branch incorporating a travel agency and a tour operator. CMA CGM also wholly owns MacAndrews, offering port agency and ground handling services to the cruise sector throughout the Iberian peninsula.

NULL

Royal Caribbean notes are convertible

Royal Caribbean notes are convertible

The notes are convertible at a rate of 15.6675 shares of common stock per $1,000 principal amount. Cash will be paid in lieu of fractional shares.

Holders may convert their notes into RCL shares by 5 p.m. New York time on Sept. 30. If all outstanding notes were surrendered for conversion, the aggregate number of shares of common stock issued would be approximately 13.8 million, Royal Caribbean said.

NULL

Uncertainties plague French tax lease schemes

Uncertainties plague French tax lease schemes

'There are no direct subsidies now,' replied Carnival chairman and ceo Micky Arison. 'It has been done in France on the MSC order,' he added. 'It would be inappropriate for us to comment.'

Arison was probably referring to tax lease deals which can shave as much as 20% or more off the cost of a vessel through a combination of accelerated depreciation and exemptions on capital gains taxes. MSC is using tax lease financing with its two-ship order announced in March but would not provide details. Seatrade Insider understands the deal is not finalized. The French-built Festival and Renaissance ships benefited, and current projects under discussion include a newbuild for the Aida brand at Chantiers de l'Atlantique.

However, there are hitches. The European Commission is investigating whether one important benefit of tax lease financing -- the exemption from capital gains tax when the ship is sold -- constitutes illicit state aid. Another separate issue is whether Brussels will approve the French government's multi-billion euro bailout of Alstom, the parent of shipbuilder Chantiers. A decision on the latter is expected next week.

Here's how tax lease financing works, according to attorney Alain Gautron of Orrick, Paris: A special-purpose company is formed by banks or other corporate investors who lease the ship to an operator for a period of eight years with an early purchase option. The lease payments are used to pay back part of the debt to the lenders who financed the ship's construction. By using accelerated depreciation and a capital gains exemption when the vessel is sold, the owner can pass along substantial savings to the operator.

Approval by tax authorities is subject to whether the deal provides 'economic and social benefit' to France. 'The shipping companies need to demonstrate they are increasing French employment,' Gautron explained. Construction in a French yard is not a stated requirement, nor is French registry.

But those things help. 'You have to prove the benefit to France in order to benefit from French taxpayers' money,' said Didier Salomon of BNP Paribas. And according to Chantiers spokesman Philippe Kasse, 'This financial scheme has been applied in our country in order to re-launch the French flag.'

One operator told Seatrade Insider that while French officials demand the flag in exchange for higher tax benefits, they are now promising the creation of a new international registry that's no more restrictive than other European international flags. Such a registry, RIF, was proposed last year but dropped after labor protests. However, sources in France said the issue is not dead.

France is not alone in offering tax lease structures. Many countries do so, but deals have come under scrutiny in the US and the UK. Paris-based attorney Nigel Ward of Norton Rose said the issue came into focus in France this year because of the EC probe of the Alstom rescue and because Chantiers has won a number of orders from state-owned entities which would benefit from the capital gains exemption. That part of the benefit has not been EC-approved, unlike the accelerated depreciation portion.

Meanwhile, uncertainty reigns. Even if Brussels approves the Alstom rescue plan in coming days, which is expected, nobody knows when the EC will decide on the capital gains exemption. That has led to a situation where shipowners are being advised they might have to repay the tax benefit if the EC later declares the capital gains benefit to be illicit state aid -- a condition that might not be palatable to operators. There's also the question of whether France will indeed push through a new international registry.

Attorneys stressed that tax lease deals are not subsidies for shipyards; they are incentives to owners. But Ward said, 'There can't be any doubt that a tax lease structure amounts to a form of state aid and it's precisely on that point that Brussels is investigating.'

Incentive or subsidy, several operators criticized these deals that were used in connection with failed companies, such as Renaissance and Festival. One source pointed to the Renaissance vessels as 'a classic example of excessive state support for ships that didn't need to be built and weren't needed in the market.' Another said, 'It would be in the whole industry's best interest to build ships based on solid economic reasons,' adding that in his opinion, tax lease deals 'undermine what the EU is trying to achieve' -- fair and open competition.

NULL

World Wide Metric opens new Ft. Lauderdale office

World Wide Metric opens new Ft. Lauderdale office

Up to now WWM has been supplying the cruise industry mainly from its three regional offices in New Jersey, Texas and California. It reports significant growth in this sector which five years ago represented less than 5% of the company's overall business.

'The last three years has seen an upward growth of 15-25% and is one of the reasons why we decided to open a new office in Fort Lauderdale to support this volume,' WWM's vice president, George Contos told Seatrade Insider.

'Since the major cruise lines are all concentrated in South Florida we decided to open this new office which will support the cruise and yacht industry, as well as commercial shipping and shipyards,' added Contos. Port Everglades and the ports of Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville will all be serviced from the new facility.

NULL

SeaDream adds Yucatan, Belize series

SeaDream adds Yucatan, Belize series

Instead of operating both its mega yachts on their previously announced Caribbean program in the upcoming winter season, the company will position the SeaDream II to the new region between December and April. The new sailings are roundtrip from Puerto Morelos, 20 minutes south of Cancún.

SeaDream president and ceo Larry Pimentel said the cruises provide 'a true SeaDream experience' with 'small and intimate yachting ports, away from the crowds and large cruise ships, and in a private and sheltered environment.'

The Yachtsman's Mayan Riviera focuses on secluded beaches with an emphasis on watersports. Ports are Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Laguna Campechen, Puerto Aventuras and Punta Venado. The Yucatan Explorer combines colonial cities, haciendas and natural history with beaches. Ports are San Felipe, Progreso, Celestun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras and Punta Venado. The Mexico-Belize Eco-Adventure includes the Mayan Riviera and Belize with a focus on ecotourism and watersports and offers an optional visit to Tikal, the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Ports are Puerto Aventuras, Punta Herradura, Belize City, Ambergris Cay and Punta Venado.

Limited-period introductory fares for the seven-day cruises start at $1,999 per person, double occupancy. Port fees and ground transfers between airport and ship are not included. Introductory prices for year-end holiday sailings are from $3,599 per person.

Passengers booked on SeaDream II's previously scheduled Caribbean program are offered a 25% reduction on any published 2004-05 SeaDream sailing -- including the new itineraries -- or a full refund. Agent commissions will be protected.

NULL

Star Clippers fleet ISPS compliant

Star Clippers fleet ISPS compliant

All matters related to security plans for the 180-passenger Star Clipper and Star Flyer and the larger 255-passenger Royal Clipper were drawn up in-house, Capt Farhat Shamim vp, operations of Star Clippers tells Seatrade Insider.

NULL