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Articles from 2017 In June

This man's mission: Treating guests like royalty in the terminal

(Photo: Marco Prosch)
Capt. Thomas Hinderhofer with his biggest customer, Anthem of the Seas

'People like to cruise from Cape Liberty. They like to come to Bayonne. It's easy to get to,' said the director of Northeast port operations for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Ships are going out 'full, full, full,' said Hinderhofer, who credits the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises sales teams for that. But he likes to think Cape Liberty's convenience plays a part.

Newark Liberty International Airport is less than 10 miles away, and for the 35% to 40% of passengers who drive to the ship, most within a 90-mile radius, Cape Liberty offers 915 parking spaces and 425 overflow spaces—ample for three vessels a week. Parking costs $20 a day.

Passenger count climbed above half a million for the first time in 2016, to a record 509,306, and Cape Liberty will grow further this year with TUI Cruises' first sailings plus new calls by Vision of the Seas and one by Viking Sea—all in the autumn. Twenty-two summer cruises by Adventure of the Seas will nudge up the 2018 numbers.

Meanwhile, Anthem of the Seas continues its varied year-round deployment to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Canada/New England, and Celebrity Summit operates seasonally to Bermuda, the Caribbean and Canada/New England.

Hinderhofer would like to entice more ships to Cape Liberty. He hopes to add bollards and a bulkhead over the next couple years to ensure the versatility to accommodate other vessels. Digital signage can brand the terminal for each user.

His deck officer background gives a special perspective. 'Having worked on a cruise ship has allowed me to have the full understanding of what the vessel needs. This takes stress off the check-in and storing,' Hinderhofer said. 'Understanding what the guest is going to experience on board spills into the terminal, even including the hospitality. When you get on board, you're royalty. You're a celebrity. My prerogative is to create that feeling in the terminal.'

Besides ensuring embarkation is safe, efficient and orderly, Hinderhofer wants it to be fun, too. After all, people are going on vacation. He plays music on the terminal's Bose sound system and has talked to the longshoreman about their importance as the first contact for the cruise guests. Ground handler Intercruises does 'an amazing job,' he said, and the security team is 'hospitable.'

One of the few US citizens who's worked as a ship's officer in the foreign-flag cruise industry, Hinderhofer is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College - Fort Schuyler and a licensed master mariner who sailed for eight years with Celebrity Cruises, ultimately as staff captain. He was navigation officer aboard Celebrity Silhouette for its inaugural season and call at Cape Liberty.

Hinderhofer went shoreside in 2014 as port captain, marine/nautical manager with Celebrity in Miami. The Long Island native returned home to the Northeast two years ago to take over regional port operations for Royal Caribbean. Besides overseeing Cape Liberty, he assists the company's vessels on turnarounds at Baltimore, Boston, Montréal and Québec City, and provides support for transit calls in the region.

Fresh from the Cruise Canada/New England Symposium in Montréal, he's keen to help support the growth of the Canada/New England itinerary. New York is a member of the Cruise Canada/New England Alliance and Hinderhofer would like to do his part—even though, unlike other members, he works for a cruise line, not a port.

Another initiative is marketing Cape Liberty for events on non-cruise days. Up to 100,000 square feet of space in the flexible, open-plan 120,000-square-foot facility can host gatherings of up to 1,200 people.

Cruises, however, are the priority. 'I find myself very fortunate,' Hinderhofer said. 'I know how important it is to the company I work for that the ships turn on time. And to manage costs gives back to the customer in the form of a reduction in the ticket pricing.'

Hinderhofer's duties are about to expand. He's also going to become the operator for Royal Caribbean's futuristic Terminal A at PortMiami.

AIDAperla is named in Palma de Mallorca

(Photo: AIDA Cruises)
Hurrah! Godmother Lena Gercke and Capt. Boris Becker rejoice after the second try was a smash

From a stage on deck and accompanied by Capt. Boris Becker, Gercke pushed a large button that released a Balthazar (12 liters) of Moët & Chandon Champagne against the hull of AIDA Cruises' 12th ship.

The bottle didn't break on the first try, and 10 minutes later, the godmother and Becker returned to the stage. The captain put his hand atop Gercke's as she proclaimed: 'One more time!' in English, and they pushed the button.

This time the bottle smashed, and fireworks exploded above AIDAperla as spotlights illuminated the distinctive AIDA eyes and lips painted on the bow.

Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison and ceo Arnold Donald accompanied AIDA Cruises president Felix Eichhorn for pictures with Gercke, who wore a blue, off-the-shoulder dress.

Stars from 'The Voice of Germany' rocked the big christening night aboard the ship in a ceremony streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and across the AIDA fleet.

Among the performers were Tay Schmedtmann, the Season 6 winner, and Jamie-Lee Kriewitz, who won Season 5 and represented Germany at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with her hit 'Ghost.' Other participants from the 2016 finale of the popular talent show included singer-songwriter Boris Alexander Stein and blues rocker Marc Amacher.

Paul Gauguin's 2019 includes return to Fiji


The Gauguin goes back to Fiji on two voyages that also visit Tonga, the Cook Islands and the Society Islands. The 13-night cruise on Sept. 7 departs Papeete, Tahiti, and calls at Moorea, Taha’a (Motu Mahana) and Bora Bora (overnight), all in the Society Islands; Aitutaki, Cook Islands; Vava’u, Tonga; and, in Fiji, Savusavu (Vanua Levu), Suva, Lautoka (Viti Levu) and Beqa Island.

The 12-night reverse cruise departs Sept. 21, 2019, and calls at the same ports except Beqa Island.

The Gauguin will also continue its most sought-after itineraries: the seven-night 'Tahiti & the Society Islands,' the 10-night 'Society Islands & Tuamotus,' 11-night 'Cook Islands & Society Islands' and 14-night 'Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands.'

New in 2018, the 'Society Islands & Tahiti Iti' seven-night itinerary will also be back in 2019.

To launch its 2019 voyages, Paul Gauguin Cruises is offering savings of 50% off standard cruise fares on all sailings, plus included airfare from Los Angeles. Past passengers get additional savings up to 15% off final cruise fares as members of the Paul Gauguin Society.

Top names confirmed for Seatrade Europe


Speakers for the opening session include Kyriakos Anastassiadis, chairman, CLIA Europe and ceo, Celestyal Cruises; David Dingle, chairman, Carnival UK; Felix Eichhorn, president, AIDA Cruises; Capt. Michael McCarthy, chairman, Cruise Europe and commercial manager, Port of Cork; Wybcke Meier, ceo, TUI Cruises; Gianni Onorato, ceo, MSC Cruises; Neil Palomba, president, Costa Crociere; Karl J. Pojer, ceo, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and chairman, CLIA Germany; and Richard J. Vogel, president and ceo, Grupo Pullmantur.

These industry leaders will discuss European source markets, supply and demand, the record orderbook, new technology, port infrastructure, geopolitical challenges, regulatory and environmental issues, future collaboration and more.

Registered delegates can hear about the challenges and opportunities facing cruising as a whole and network with executives who make decisions impacting the cruise industry in Europe.

Other topics to be aired at Seatrade Europe include a ‘Balcony Chat’ on uniting the European cruise industry in preparation for a new dawn, the impact of Brexit, how ports and destinations are operating beyond peak demand, sustainability and green shipping, ship Design and Interiors, and what's trending in shore excursions.

Plus, Seatrade Europe will feature two river cruise sessions: The rise of the river cruise—identifying river innovation, and shore activities and turnarounds—a security risk for Europe's river ship guests.

Seatrade Europe takes places at Hamburg Messe und Congress from 6-8 September. The full list of speakers and registration information are available here.

Regent ceo hosts 'travel royalty' on 48-hour whistle-stop first visit to Australia

(Photo: Helen Hutcheon)
Jason Montague, right, with Steve Odell and Lisa Pile, Regent's vp sales, at the 25th anniversary dinner

Montague arrived from Shanghai on Thursday with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings svp and md Asia Pacific, Steve Odell. They had attended the Norwegian Joy naming.

That evening he hosted a spectacular 25th anniversary dinner at Bistro Guillaume for 85 key industry partners who had flown in from around Australia and New Zealand.

To quote Odell, the dinner guests were ‘travel royalty.’

Montague said the travel agency network is ‘critical’ for the distribution of the Regent product and what Odell and his team have done in the 12 months since opening a dedicated office in Sydney has been ‘phenomenal.’

Australia is currently No. 3 source market for Regent after North America (US and Canada) and the UK.

Montague said Regent’s ships are spending more time in Australian waters than ever before.

On December 15, 2018, Seven Seas Mariner will make the company’s first circumnavigation of Australia—a 36-night ‘Grand Aussie Adventure’ round-trip from Sydney.

Last Friday the 25th Anniversary Travel Agent Appreciation Event, where an agent who makes two bookings up to July 31 receives a cruise for two, was launched locally.

Montague, who leaves for Miami Saturday morning, plans to return to Australia within a year and to stay much longer.

He said Australia has been at the top of his bucket list and he would like to combine work next time with a vacation with his wife and son.

Cruise Planners' top producers treated to a week in the Galápagos

Aboard Celebrity Xperience - Michelle Fee and Vicky Garcia, seated at center, with representatives from Celebrity Cruises and Cruise Planners’ top producing travel advisers

Each year Cruise Planners co-owners Michelle Fee and Vicky Garcia travel with top producers and this year they sailed aboard the 48-passenger Celebrity Xperience.

The goal is to 'expose the top producers to new destinations and create buzz about they places we visit,' Fee said.

'Our agents have access to fam[iliarization] trips throughout the year, but we always select bucket-list destinations for this annual tradition such as Australia, the Holy Land, Italy and India, to name a few. This year, we were excited to select the Galápagos on Celebrity Cruises.'

Invitees jetted from their hometowns to Baltra Island, Ecuador, where they embarked Celebrity Xperience. Hosted by a Celebrity team, the group explored islands including Isabella, Santa Cruz, Genovesa and Bartolomé.

'Cruise Planners' agents are some of the best in the industry, especially when it comes to selling Celebrity's premium Galápagos sailings and unique itineraries,' said Keith Lane, vp field sales and national accounts, North America, for Celebrity. 'Cruise Planners' agents know how to sell Celebrity, so it was a natural fit.'

Oceania's youngest world cruisers, 4 and 6, near end of 180-day voyage

(Photo: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Oceania Cruises)
Lorenna D’Amore Nogueira, 4, and her brother, Henrique D’Amore Nogueira, 6, were recognized as the 'Youngest World Cruisers' when Insignia docked at New York on Wednesday during its 180-day voyage

The children are sailing with their parents, Drielle D'Amore Nogueira, 30, and Diego Castilho Nogueira, 32.

The voyage departed Miami on Jan. 6, calling at 36 countries on six continents. Insignia is scheduled to return to Miami on July 6, where the family will disembark for the last time and return to their home in Brazil.

A teacher, Drielle said the education from such an extended adventure is an incredible way to learn about world history, culture and people. And, for her, 'The greatest achievement undoubtedly is English language skills.'

Regarding how her children are finding life on the ship, she said: 'They have adapted to it all very easily and willingly and are interested in new stories. This [experience] will definitely make a difference when studying, learning and understanding matters in school. How much they have learned on this trip will be uncovered in the future, when some subject will remind us all of what we saw and lived during this time.'

Diego added: 'It’s fantastic how children are sponges absorbing everything around them … The diversity encountered [on this cruise] will certainly help them grow with fewer prejudices because they met so many people from different cultures.'

Telling what he liked best about the journey, Henrique singled out the 'on-board games you can play with adults and my dad and my mom, and I love teatime. I like to visit the different countries, but sometimes I wanted to stay longer and we don’t have time. But it's cool; I already know the places that I want to go back to. Every time that we leave [for excursions], I really like returning to the ship and hearing the crew say, "Welcome back!" I love my house on the ship. I have a high bed that opens and closes and that's awesome.'

Lorenna, who turned 4 while on the voyage, likes to 'go off the ship and see the cities. I love the chef when he makes brigadeiro (a Brazilian pastry) for me, like for my birthday. I loved my birthday party on the ship.'

 As for keeping the children entertained for 180 days, Diego said: 'We adults have the idea that kids love to have toys, the more elaborate the better, but this journey also made us realize that actually children just want attention. Without any specific activity, if we give attention telling a story, painting with them, involving them around the environment, in the end they are just happy with that.'

Drielle added that their stateroom has been a place for play, family time and art. 'We have the children’s drawings on the walls of the places that we have been; they show how much they are learning with the whole experience.

'We love this experience and think it should be mandatory for every human being, as personal growth.'


Giant Cuban sandwich a tasty send-off for Carnival's Havana inaugural

(Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)
'World’s Largest Cuban Sandwich at Sea' - half Miami-style and half Tampa-style

Attendees included Carnival's Gus Antorcha, evp guest shipboard operations, representatives of Port Tampa Bay, Ybor City Museum Society and invited guests.

Today’s voyage marks the first of a dozen four- and five-day cruises, each with a day and overnight call at Havana. Five-day voyages add a stop in Cozumel or Key West.

Miami and Tampa Cuban cultures were represented in the 'World’s Largest Cuban Sandwich at Sea.' The 10-foot sandwich contained the traditional ingredients: a light white bread, slice ham (five pounds), marinated and roasted pork (50 pounds), Swiss cheese (six pounds) and dill pickles, mustard and mayonnaise (one gallon each).

There's a long-standing rivalry between Tampa and Miami over which claims the most authentic Cuban sandwich. Tampa’s Cuban community predates Miami’s and in Tampa they include one additional ingredient—Genoa salami—as a salute to the city’s large Italian population.

The 'World’s Largest Cuban Sandwich at Sea' was created to be half Miami-style and half Tampa-style with the addition of eight pounds of Genoa salami.

'Carnival is the only cruise line with a year-round ship in Tampa and we have a long-standing partnership with the local community, so it is exciting that we are inaugurating our cruises featuring Havana from this city with its very large Cuban population and strong affinity for Cuban culture,' Antorcha said. Carnival is seeing 'tremendous demand for these cruises,' he added, from consumers and travel agents who are sharing this new option with their clients.

Paul Anderson, president and ceo, Port Tampa Bay, called Carnival’s commitment to serving the market for nearly a quarter of a century 'a testament to the strong support they receive from our community.' In return, he added, the impact of Tampa's operation is substantial considering a single call from an average size cruise ship generates more than $350,000 in direct economic contribution.

Today’s event also included the $25,000 donation to the Ybor City Museum Society, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2017. This nonprofit organization's mission is preserving, promoting and celebrating the cultural heritage of Ybor City and supporting the Ybor City Museum State Park.


Early bird discount for FCCA's Mérida conference ends soon


The event is set for Oct. 23-27 at Mérida in Mexico's Yucatán state at the Yucatan Siglo XXI Convention Center. Official conference hotels are Fiesta Americana and Hyatt Regency.

Early registration is advised to take advantage of the one-on-one meetings, workshops and networking functions with key cruise line executives, including presidents and chief executives from companies in the Carnival Corp. & plc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings groups, as well MSC Cruises USA and Disney Cruise Line.

Registration and FCCA Platinum Member events take place on Oct. 23, along with an evening cocktail reception. Oct. 24 opens with the event's first round table (focused on multi-language-speaking tour guides), the conference opening ceremony, ceo and presidents round table, trade show opening ceremony, one-on-one meetings between registered delegates and cruise line executives and the welcome dinner party.

The trade show, meetings, workshops and by-invitation ceo/presidents and ministers meetings take place Oct. 25, capped by the Extravaganza Night Dinner Party at the Trade Show. Oct. 26 features a workshop, Platinum Member luncheon with cruise executives and further one-on-one meetings. The conference closing party takes place in the evening.

Complimentary post-conference tours for attendees and a private tour for Platinum Members are available Oct. 27.

Full event details are at and registration is here.

China Merchants closes $500m financing deal for two Viking newbuilds

Yi Lou, vp of CMBFL together with Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Ocean Cruises at Viking Sun's launch last December

Viking Sun and Viking Spirit, both being built by Fincantieri, are due for delivery in September 2017 and June 2018, respectively.

The transaction lifts Viking’s ocean fleet to five 47,800gt ships.

The first ship Viking Star was delivered at Fincantieri's Marghera yard in spring 2015. The second and the third ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, were both built in Ancona and delivered in early 2016 and early 2017.

A sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019.

In April this year Viking and Fincantieri signed a memorandum of agreement for the construction of two additional 47,800gt cruise ships, with an option for another two.

Viking currently operates a fleet of 67 river vessels and three ocean vessels.

Viking Sun was launched in Ancona last December in front of godmother of the ceremony Yi Lou, vp of CMBFL and Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Ocean Cruises.

Viking accounted for more than half of the North American sourced river cruise passengers at the end of 2016, noted CMBFL.

CMBFL is one of the first five bank-affiliated financial leasing firms approved by China's State Council, owning a fleet of 130 vessels, mainly containerships, LNG carriers and tankers.

China Merchants has widespread shipping interests covering operations, shipbuilding and ports.

In an expanding asset portfolio, it is targetting new investment opportunities with cruise being one sector, it reports.

Its cruise arm is based in Shenzhen.

The name came under the cruise spotlight in 2015 when Carnival inked a memorandum of understanding with China Merchants Group to explore the possibility of a domestic cruise line for China and turnaround and transit port development.

Earlier this year, China Merchants teamed with Miami-based SunStone Ships to sign a framework agreement to build four 104mtr long expedition ships with options for six more.

The vessels will be constructed by China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd. near Shanghai, with the design, equipment and management supplied by Norway's Ulstein Design & Solutions.

Genting Hong Kong entered into a strategic cooperation framework agreement with China Merchants Shekou Holdings to jointly develop Tai Zi Bay, Shekou, Shenzhen into an international cruise homeport.