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SeaDream promotes apos;09 mini groups

SeaDream promotes apos;09 mini groups

Agents who sell five staterooms on select 2009 Caribbean departures earn a free sixth stateroom. Those who sell seven staterooms on select Mediterranean voyages get the eighth free.

Each full fare stateroom will receive a $100 spa credit.

In order to qualify, all bookings must be on the same voyage and deposited by Sept. 15, 2008.

During this mini group promotion, SeaDream said it will confirm an agent/companion rate stateroom, on their group's departure, for agents who sell a minimum of three full tariff staterooms to the group. Once the group minimum is fulfilled, the agent/companion booking will convert to the free stateroom.

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Niche Alliance sets East Coast apos;Open Houseapos;

Niche Alliance sets East Coast apos;Open Houseapos;

30 at the Hyatt Fair Lakes Hotel in Fairfax, Va.

The program will cover the selling of specialty cruise products and details about Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance members. The normal tuition is being waived for agents and will be covered by a grant by member lines.

At the completion of the program, participating agents will have qualified as Certified Niche Cruise Specialists, the advanced certification level.

The first Open House was held in California in the spring, to rave reviews, said alliance executive director Larry Dessler. 'Fourteen of our 16 lines made presentations there, and we expect as many to take part in this session as well,' he added.

Information: www.nichecruise.com.

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RCCL confirms cost-saving moves, layoffs

RCCL confirms cost-saving moves, layoffs

'Too much of our profitability is being eroded by the increase in fuel prices. This is unacceptable and we are evaluating everything we do to find ways to do it more efficiently and effectively,' RCCL chairman and ceo Richard Fain said in a release.

'While our brands continue to attract premium prices even in this difficult environment, it is imperative that we find ways to reduce our costs.'

Seatrade Insider last week reported that major cost-cutting moves and a significant staff downsizing were under way. Sources familiar with the situation said that most layoffs were targeted for middle to upper management positions. News emerged over the weekend of terminations, some at the vp level.

The 400 jobs being eliminated include about 100 unfilled positions. The company employs slightly more than 4,000 staff in its various locations.

Royal Caribbean's release further mentioned the discontinuation of some non-core operations, such as The Scholar Ship, as earlier reported here.

The company said it expects to incur charges related to this restructuring of approximately $15m, or 7 cents per share, in the third quarter.

'This is a difficult period for virtually all businesses, but we are determined to improve our operating results through tight cost controls, while preserving our outstanding guest experience and continuing to strongly support our travel agent partners,' Fain said today, adding: 'We will also continue to make measured strategic investments, especially in growing the international operations of our business.'

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Fuel is a drag, but RCCL hits Q2 consensus

Fuel is a drag, but RCCL hits Q2 consensus

The company also confirmed a significant cost savings program aimed at counteracting skyrocketing fuel prices that it hopes will save approximately $125m annually.

RCCL now projects spending $772m on fuel in 2008, or 40 cents per share.

The company said the revenue environment remains solid, with net yields expected to be up 3% to 4% for the full year, and full-year results in line with expectations except for fuel. The full-year EPS estimate was adjusted to $2.55 to $2.65, including projected restructuring-related expenses of $15m, or 7 cents per share. Q3 EPS are now seen in the range of $1.65 to $1.70.

Net income for the recent quarter was $84.7m, compared to $128.7m in Q2 2007. Net yields rose 1%, lower than the 2% forecast due to a weaker than expected performance by Spanish brand Pullmantur. Net cruise costs per berth shot up 6.7% (2%, excluding fuel), lower than the guidance of an increase of 7% to 8%.

In releasing its earnings a day earlier than scheduled, after the market's close, Royal Caribbean also confirmed a cost savings initiative and the elimination of approximately 400 shoreside positions, with chairman and ceo Richard Fain stating that too much profitability is being eroded by fuel hikes. [See separate story.]

'While our brands continue to attract premium prices even in this difficult environment, it is imperative that we find ways to reduce our costs,' Fain said, adding that the company is determined to improve results through 'tight cost controls.' He said 'measured strategic investments' would continue, especially in growing international operations.

Based on the targeted reductions, SG&A per berth in 2009 is projected at 2004 levels, while net cruise costs excluding fuel are expected to be similar to 2007 levels.

Brian Rice, evp and cfo, said that costs for investments over recent years to 'seed growth' in strategic markets are now being absorbed by capacity and revenue growth in emerging markets around the world. He added that scale and brand positioning in North America are driving further efficiencies.

Aside from Pullmantur, the company's brands saw net yield improvement of approximately 2%. Close-in demand, booked within 90 days of sailing, continued to show strength and provided year-over-year pricing premiums. The company described forward bookings for 2009 as strong, with higher load factors and higher prices in the first quarter and for the full year compared to the same time a year ago.

'While we can't solve high oil prices, we are gratified that, except for the oil price, our business continues to do as well or better than expected despite the economy,' Fain said.

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Viking River promotes 2009 savings

Viking River promotes 2009 savings

Viking River Cruises is promoting a savings of $500 per person, or $1,000 per stateroom, on any 2009 river cruise or cruise-tour booked by July 31, 2008.

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FCCA gears up for Trinidad & Tobago

FCCA gears up for Trinidad & Tobago

27-31 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

The conference will include six round-table discussions led by industry experts and guest speakers focused on topics ranging from shore excursions to lessons learned from post-hurricane response.

New this year is the Care Awareness Program, providing training and skills to give more effective support for cruise passengers who experience trauma.

The conference opening ceremony is set for Oct. 28 with a keynote address by FCCA chairman Micky Arison, the chairman and ceo of Carnival Corp. & plc. Also planned, for early that day, is the FCCA's Golf Classic, to be played at the Millennium Lakes Golf & Country Club.

Pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with cruise executives are available for registered delegates and will be assigned prior to the conference only, not on site.

Information: www.f-cca.com.

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MSC touts Caribbean adventure tours

MSC touts Caribbean adventure tours

MSC Orchestra's seven-night Western Caribbean sailings offer such options as, in Cozumel, kayaking in a glass-bottom boat, Jeep or dune buggy tours, snorkeling and a visit to Xcaret Nature Park. In Grand Cayman, passengers can swim with sting rays and take introductory or certified SCUBA diving.

The ship's seven-night cruises offer choices including, in St. Maarten, horseback riding on the beach, ATV adventures, a Harley Davidson tour and racing in a 12-meter yacht.

On MSC Lirica's 10-night deep Caribbean cruises, passengers visiting Antigua can sail by catamaran to Paradise Reef for snorkeling or bottom fishing. And the ship's 10-night Panama sailings offer excursions such as a mangroves tour via canoe in Cartagena and a zip-line or bicycle rain forest tour from Puerto Limón.

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More lines target New Zealand market

More lines target New Zealand market

Olsen Cruise Lines have joined International Cruise Council Australasia in New Zealand.


Both companies are represented in New Zealand by David Bunn of Cruise Vacations who said interest in cruising in the Land of the Long White Cloud 'is at an all time high.'


As reported here, Austria's Lueftner Cruises and Compagnie des Iles du Ponant joined ICCA in New Zealand last month.


'We're pleased that cruise operators see the council as an effective way of raising their profile and reaching more travel agents,' ICCA gm Brett Jardine said, adding there are now 28 cruise line members in New Zealand.

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World Heritage listing a drawcard for New Caledonia

World Heritage listing a drawcard for New Caledonia


Foutrein, deputy gm of New Caledonia Tourism.South, said passengers arriving in Noumea are 'in a prime position' to explore the reef which is home to endangered dugongs and green sea turtles.


Diving tours to the coral reef, which is the second longest in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef, depart the cruise ship terminal and there are day trips to Amedee Island, a 30-minute boat ride across the lagoon.


Foutrein said New Caledonia Tourism.South, a member of Cruise Down Under and Cruise New Zealand that has exhibited at the annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami since 2002, is preparing to welcome a record number of passenger arrivals in the coming 2008/09 and 2009/2010 South Pacific wave seasons.


As well as regular calls by P&O Cruises Australia's resident ships, Pacific Sun and Pacific Dawn and Princess Cruises' Sun Princess and Dawn Princess, Foutrein said the ports of Noumea and Ile des Pins have forward bookings for Volendam, Rhapsody of the Seas, Amsterdam, Astoria, Rotterdam, Crystal Serenity, Black Watch, Clipper Odyssey, Hanseatic, C.Colombus, Balmoral, Amadea, Millennium and Zuiderdam.

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STX makes mandatory offer for Aker

STX makes mandatory offer for Aker

Aker Yards' board said it will review the offer in cooperation with its advisors, Arctic, JP Morgan and Wikborg Rein.

Aker shares closed at 66.25 kroner yesterday in Oslo. By midday today, shares were trading at 64 kroner.

The mandatory offer was triggered on June 23 when STX acquired more than 40% of the European builder's shares, up from its initial stake of 39.2%. STX offered 63 kroner per share for up to 7.9% of the shares, which would bring its Aker holdings to 47.15%.

That day, Aker confirmed STX had acquired 11.3m shares, expanding its stake to 40.4%.

Prior to STX's move in June, the French government announced plans to buy up to 34% of Aker Yards' entities in France to keep its shipbuilding enterprise from falling under South Korean control.

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