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Articles from 2017 In August

Costa implements WeChat for China bookings


WeChat—also known as Weixin in China—is an integrated lifestyle platform for instant messaging, commerce and payment services from Tencent Holdings Ltd., a provider of Internet value-added services in China. There were more than 963m monthly active users on WeChat and Weixin as of second quarter 2017.

Costa launched the first Mini Program to book and pay for a cruise on the WeChat platform Aug. 8. The Mini Program allows WeChat users to instantly open and access services inside WeChat without having to download the full stand-alone mobile app.

The WeChat Mini Program has been enhanced to include on-board entertainment booking and payment, among other functions. Using the program, Costa cruisers will be able to browse and book specialty restaurants, spa, duty-free shopping and other services through their ship's free Intranet, without subscribing to on-board Internet services.

'With China being one of the world's leaders in mobile and digital advancements, we see great potential in leveraging WeChat's leading position and technologies to not only facilitate hassle-free payment, but also provide a more immersive and digitized on-board experience for our guests,' said Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Group Asia.

Tourism minister welcomes Michael Bayley to St. Kitts

Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant, left, with Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley

'It was truly an honor to meet and welcome Michael Bayley to our beautiful island,' said Grant, whose portfolio also includes international trade, industry and commerce.

'The relationship between St. Kitts and the Royal Caribbean cruise line is indeed a strong one,' Grant added. 'We listen carefully to their advice and recommendations, without losing focus on addressing the wider development needs of our destination, ensuring that local people share in the benefits of our expanding cruise sector.'

Royal Caribbean showed confidence in St. Kitts by including the destination on summer itineraries for two Oasis-class ships, Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

Harmony of the Seas made five calls during the May to August period, the slowest months for cruise visits to the island.

Former Starbucks president to head Blue World Voyages as CEO

John Richards - "Blue World Voyages brings something authentically different to cruise travel'

Gene Meehan, chairman and founder of Blue World Voyages, said Richards will work closely with him and the development team to introduce this new cruise brand fully dedicated to sports, wellness and active lifestyle consumers.

Richards is an accomplished senior executive with experience building high-end consumer brands, including hospitality, travel, cruise and fitness. As chief marketing officer for Royal Viking Line in the early years of luxury cruising, he helped engage a younger audience and executed a pioneering loyalty program to drive sales, pacesetting strategies at the time.

'We are intentionally trying to break some of the rules of traditional cruising, and for that reason, we have been looking for a CEO who will help us see and implement things differently. John’s track record for growing companies into category leaders makes him the ideal person to lead Blue World Voyages as we enter the global marketplace,' Meehan said.

He expressed the confidence that with Richards on board, the company will achieve its goal of expanding to a three-ship operation within five years and create a new specialty market for active lifestyle cruising.

With the first 350-passenger, five-star ship planned to launch in 2018, Blue World Voyages aims to have a second and third ship in the water by 2022. The fleet will roam the world, with the company evaluating destinations based on the availability of outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, golf and watersports, access to areas conducive to yoga and meditation, and cultural and learning opportunities.

'By embedding the concept of wellness into every aspect of the cruise experience, including the itineraries, Blue World Voyages brings something authentically different to cruise travel consumers,' Richards said. 'I am in sync with Gene’s distinctive point of view about what he wants to accomplish, and about who he wants to accomplish it for.'

Richards sees Blue World Voyages as an 'exciting opportunity to create a product that not only supports and contributes to healthful living, but that will excel in integrating its offerings to the rapidly expanding marketplace of consumers who are committed to fitness and wellness.'

Best known for orchestrating the meteoric retail growth of Starbucks—taking that emerging start-up from 500 outlets to a national chain of 3,000 stores and growing revenues from $400m to $2.5bn in three years—Richards also achieved luxury brand leadership for Four Seasons Hotels. During his 10-year tenure, he helped expand the company from eight hotels in three countries to 42 hotels in 22 countries.

Richards accomplished similar results in the rejuvenation of the Elizabeth Arden spa and salon business. As CEO, president and board member for Elizabeth Arden Red Door, he helped restructure this multimillion-dollar entity, the largest luxury spa provider in North America.

Just prior to joining Blue World Voyages, Richards was CEO and director for The Joint Chiropractic, an operator and franchisor with more than 325 clinics in 30 states. He refocused that company’s overall strategy and led a successful IPO. Before that, he was a board member for Life Time, The Healthy Way of Life Co., a high growth company focused on fitness and the concept of healthy living.

Richards also held positions with McKinsey and Co. and the New England Consulting Group.  

Original Silversea production features Royal Philharmonic tracks

London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

The show will feature musical tracks recorded exclusively for Silversea by London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The songs will be performed live by the Voices of Silversea ensemble, including many vocalists with experience garnered at the opera houses of Europe, as well as shows from London's West End and Broadway.

Silversea said the production will be staged with elegant contemporary costuming, dramatic visual effects and a vibrant neoclassical set design evoking ancient Rome.

The musical tracks are set for recording in London in late August when Royal Philharmonic musicians will perform under the direction of renowned composer, orchestrator and arranger Richard Balcombe. Balcombe also directed the orchestra's performance for the recorded music that accompanied Silversea's well-received 'Musica Maestro show,' launched in 2014.

'Grande Amore' is currently being produced for Silversea by London-based Luna Rossa Productions. It will debut on Silver Whisper's Nov. 2 Caribbean and Central America cruise, and will then roll out fleetwide during the following months.

Royal Caribbean appoints Santini to EMEA commercial role

Ana Karina Santini - 20 years of expertise as a consultant working with ports, cruise terminal developers, local governments and tour agencies

'Karina’s experience at both Royal Caribbean and within the cruise industry poises her to be an incredible asset to this department,' said RCL's John Tercek, vp commercial development. 'Her expertise across a variety of important industries will allow her to continue expanding strategic port developments throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, representing RCL within the region.'

Santini has worked as a consultant to RCL's commercial development department since 2013, supporting the company's joint ventures in the Mediterranean region. Beginning in 2012, she served as a media coordinator for RCL in Italy.

With 20 years as an internationally recognized cruise industry consultant, Santini has worked with ports, cruise terminal developers, local governments and tour agencies in the Mediterranean and Latin America. Before launching her consulting firm she served as secretary general for MedCruise.

A native of Argentina resident in Italy, Santini holds degrees in international relations from the University of Córdoba and political science from the University of Genoa as well as a master's degree in international cooperation from the University of Bologna.

Teppanyaki venue to debut on Carnival Horizon

Bonsai Teppanyaki chefs will work at custom-built stations that form the center of the venue’s two eight-seat tables

Teppanyaki combines ancient Japanese cooking techniques with modern performance art to create a culinary and visual feast.

Located on Carnival Horizon’s Promenade Deck, Bonsai Teppanyaki will offer a wide-ranging menu of authentic delicacies from the Far East prepared by chefs at custom-built stations that form the center of the venue’s two eight-seat tables.

In keeping with Carnival’s atmosphere of spirited and participatory fun, a meal at Bonsai Teppanyaki will engage diners as the chefs show off their knife skills and other performance elements.

At the reservations-recommended restaurant, diners begin their meal with samples of five appetizers—miso soup, kabuki salad with ginger dressing, teppanyaki shrimp with soy butter and salsa vinaigrette, pork belly yakitori with sesame asparagus fries and seaweed salad, and spicy tuna on the rocks with onion-sesame sauce and den miso.

Diners then choose from a variety of entrees such as lobster tail with yuzu cream and citrus kosho ($30), filet mignon with truffle salt, garlic chips and champagne-cognac flambé ($20), teriyaki salmon with savory and sweet teriyaki glaze ($18) and black cod with soy reduction ($20). Further choices include shrimp with young lettuce and gyukuro tea ($20), shichimi spiced grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce ($18) and grilled tofu with vegetables, yaki udon and teriyaki anticucho sauce ($18).

Four combination dinners are available, including filet mignon/shrimp, shrimp/spiced grilled chicken, filet mignon/teriyaki salmon, and filet mignon/lobster tail. These combinations are priced at $20, except for the filet mignon/lobster tail, $30. Meals end on a sweet note with a chocolate bento box with green tea ice cream.

All dishes include fried rice and stir-fried vegetables. Prices for Bonsai Teppanyaki are on a per-person basis and include appetizer selections, entrée and dessert. The restaurant will be open for lunch on sea days and for dinner every night of the cruise.

The new venue will be located within Carnival Horizon’s stand-alone Bonsai Sushi restaurant that will serve traditional sushi, sashimi, rolls and 'bento ships' on an a la carte basis.

Port of Galveston reopens, cruise ships to dock Friday and Saturday

Carnival Breeze is scheduled to get underway to Galveston on Thursday night for Saturday morning arrival. Three other cruise ships are due back in Galveston on Friday

This means cruise ships can return, since Carnival Valor, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Breeze and Liberty of the Seas all have drafts under 28 feet.

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas is en route to arrive at Galveston Friday morning. The next cruise is scheduled to depart Sunday.

Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom are also expected to arrive at Galveston on Friday, while Carnival Breeze, which overnighted at New Orleans on Wednesday, was to begin sailing back to Galveston on Thursday evening with arrival set for Saturday morning.

Carnival Freedom's next cruise is scheduled to sail Saturday, while Carnival Breeze will depart Galveston Sunday and Carnival Valor on Monday.

Docking times and check-in for the next cruises are being finalized.

Also, late Wednesday afternoon Houston airports resumed operations with limited domestic passenger service. Full service is expected to resume at George Bush International Airport and Hobby Airport by this weekend.

Roadway updates are here.

The Port of Galveston had been closed last Friday in preparation for Hurricane Harvey.

New SeaDream cruises will circle Cuba in 2019

The 112-passenger SeaDream II will operate the week-long cruises

The 112-passenger mega-yacht SeaDream II will operate the week-long sailings. Ports include Trinidad, Cayo Largo, Isla de Juventud and Maria la Gorda.

'Cuba is changing now in noticeable ways, and for many there is a desire to see it before it loses its identity,' said Adrienne D’Annunzio, manager of trade marketing for SeaDream. She added: 'It truly is one of those "you have to have to see it" type of experiences. Pictures and second-hand accounts won’t do it justice.'

Bookings will open exclusively to past passengers Sept. 5-12, with general reservations opening Sept. 13.

Fares start at $4,599 per person, plus fees. The price includes ocean-view accommodations, gratuities and wine with lunch and dinner.

More details including the number of departures will be announced in the coming weeks.

FCCA announces conference dates through 2021

(Photo: Anne Kalosh)
Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison, svp Giora Israel and Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford mingle with trade show exhibitors at last year's FCCA event

This year the event is taking place in Mérida, Mexico, from Oct. 23-27. Information/registration is here.

From 2018 to 2021, the venue will be San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a shift from the usual third week in October to early November in 2018 only.

The dates are: Nov. 5-9, 2018; Oct. 21-25, 2019; Oct. 19-23, 2020; and Oct. 18-22, 2021.

New Zealand Cruise Association’s three-year strategic plan

PHOTO: Helen Hutcheon
ATEED's cruise engagement manager Karen Thompson-Smith outlines the plan

Thompson-Smith said the New Zealand Cruise Association wants to be seen as the first point of contact for cruise lines and it will work to have new ports and regions recognised and included in future cruise itineraries.

She said the 2017-2019 plan has four main aims -- to advocate, to educate, to promote and to deliver service.

She said NZCA will build and deliver a targeted stakeholder management plan, it will engage proactively with government and will work with partners, like the Australian Cruise Association and CLIA Australasia.

It will deliver pre- and post-season workshops, ‘new to cruise’ workshops, take part in industry training sessions and encourage product development in conjunction with tour operators and regional tourism offices.

It will also arrange familiarisation trips for cruise line executives and will continue to promote New Zealand as a desirable cruise destination at Seatrade Cruise Global.

Other major activities include the provision of a dynamic website with an accurate schedule of cruise visits and proactive work to maintain and increase NZCA membership.