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Articles from 2005 In September


Fantasyapos;s multimillion-dollar makeover

Fantasyapos;s multimillion-dollar makeover

The 21-day project was carried out at Norshipco in Norfolk, and Fantasy re-entered three-/four-day Bahamas service from Port Canaveral on Thursday.

The ship's 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival was completely revamped and now features 11 private treatment rooms, including two couples massage rooms, a new relaxation/waiting room, as well as updated equipment, new carpeting, tile work and other cosmetic enhancements. The Sun Deck gained a nine-hole miniature golf course, while Empress Deck sports a new art gallery for auctions.

Other enhancements are a new photo gallery on Promenade Deck and upgraded audiovisual equipment in a variety of public areas. Cosmetic upgrades include new tilework, carpeting and upholstery throughout the vessel. Updated galley and laundry equipment were installed.

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AMDETECH acquires Southern Hills Kennels

AMDETECH acquires Southern Hills Kennels

Bill Heiser, the previous president/owner of Southern Hills Kennels, will continue to supervise the operation in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and serve as the system-wide director of training for AMDETECH, said Ronald Allen, AMDETECH president and ceo.

Southern Hills Kennels trained and delivered more than 100 detector dogs last year. The Florida facility currently is able to train 40 dogs at a time. AMDETECH plans to expand at that location and at AMDETECH's kennel facility in Woodstock, Conn., Allen said.

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Harmony at FCCA meet in St. Kitts

Harmony at FCCA meet in St. Kitts

Kitts on Friday.

'We've never been closer,' said FCCA chairman Micky Arison, chairman and ceo of Carnival Corp. & plc. 'The relationship is better than it's ever been.'

More than two dozen regional ministers were among the 1,200 delegates at the event, where issues like purchasing and employment were hashed out. Signaling improved relations with destinations and hoteliers, also in attendance were Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and Berthia Parle, president of the Caribbean Hotel Association.

'The dynamic is changing,' said Cameron Fraser, director of Antigua Pier Group Ltd., who noted the importance of the CHA and CTO's participation at a high level on the FCCA stage and commended Vanderpool Wallace for his efforts to unite the Caribbean. A new joint purchasing initiative that could benefit small Caribbean hotels will go a long way toward improving cruise line-destination relations, Fraser added.

Carnival Corp.'s David Mizer, vp strategic sourcing, and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s Jeff Danis, vp supply chain management, are spearheading the purchasing effort.

'It was the biggest conference we've had and held in the smallest island,' said Matthew Sams, vp Caribbean relations for Holland America Line. 'The government of St. Kitts pulled it off fabulously.' The presidents of Panama and Taiwan were also in St. Kitts which, together with Nevis, has a population of less than 39,000.

Holland America president Stein Kruse personally met with Prime Minister Denzil Douglas and Tourism Minister Richard Skerritt to commend them on executing 'an extraordinary logistical challenge.'

Describing St. Kitts as 'very pro-business, very pro-cruise,' Kruse predicted the FCCA conference will lead to more ship calls for the island. The event was a chance to show off upgrades at Port Zante as well as new tourism offerings such as the St. Kitts Scenic Railway.

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... But retailers must adapt to the Internet

... But retailers must adapt to the Internet

CLIA proclaimed 2005 the 'Year of Technology' for agents, and numerous cruise3sixty sessions are revolving around web-based technology.

'Things are changing and the Internet is a huge change, a very, very fundamental change to your business overall,' NCL Corp. president and ceo Colin Veitch said at cruise3sixty's first general session. He warned agents their traditional role as information providers is fading.

'Your knowledge has been or very soon will be superseded by the Internet because no one person can know more than the community of tens of thousands of cruisers talking on the Internet,' Veitch said. Consumers are not turning to agents for information but do need help dealing with the 'very cumbersome, not always accurate' data on line.

'Structure your model differently,' Veitch advised. 'Focus on the service aspect and have the technology to back it up.' With the typical client buying a cruise every two to three years, agents must be ready to respond quickly when a prospect pops up. 'Your business plan must certainly revolve around selling skills,' supported by technology, the NCL chief said.

'The Internet is going to play a key role in everything,' and agents who use it will benefit, said Carnival Corp. & plc chairman and ceo Micky Arison. Noting that his children and younger people rely on the Internet, Arison said he, personally, is not Internet-dependent -- but 'I am Crack-berry,' he quipped.

At cruise3sixty's Geography Bowl, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises president Mark Conroy was asked the single biggest way agents could increase their business. 'Answer your phones on Saturday and Sunday and book cruises on line,' Conroy responded.

In a separate luxury panel session, Conroy noted that some of RSSC's biggest sellers find their customers on line. They use cruise line websites during the selling process, and they take advantage of on-line tools provided by suppliers such as customized emails.

Jan Swartz, svp customer service and sales for Princess Cruises/Cunard Line, said close to 15% of Cunard's transactions are now via the Internet in the month since the luxury brand launched its on-line booking tool for travel agents.

'It's not my enemy,' agent Rich Skinner said of the Internet. Co-owner of Cruise Holidays of Woodinville, Wash., the cruise3sixty attendee told Seatrade Insider all his national business - 15% of his total business - is generated from his company's website.

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Cruise leaders underscore agentsapos; importance ...

Cruise leaders underscore agentsapos; importance ...

The message came through loud and clear during the 'Cruise Visionaries' general session, in which CLIA president and ceo Terry Dale held one-on-one 'fireside chats' with the leaders of Carnival Corp. & plc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and NCL Corp.

Dale introduced Carnival chief Micky Arison by recalling how he watched Arison and his wife, Madeleine, sit at a large table with travel agents for lunch on a new ship. Arison said he takes advantage of talking with agents 'because they're talking to our customers ... We wouldn't be where we are if not for the travel agent.' He added: 'It's important for me to listen.'

'The travel agent community has always been our dominant source of customers. I don't see that changing,' said RCCL's Richard Fain. 'The problem with cruising has always been with understanding it,' Fain added. Advertising 'tweaks' consumer interest in cruising, but 'what really brings them in is the travel agent.'

'We see no change in the dominant distribution system being the travel agent,' agreed NCL's Colin Veitch. But he also said that suppliers and agents can't take each others' support for granted, noting that 'We had perhaps been lulled into a false sense of security in the late 1990s when everyone made money.'

Veitch pointed to a changing world where the Internet presents agents with a huge challenge and spurs them to structure their business model differently. [See also following story.]

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Arisonapos;s team plays for hurricane relief (**updated**)

Arisonapos;s team plays for hurricane relief (**updated**)

Arison owns the Miami Heat pro basketball team.

'That's our logo,' Heat owner Arison quipped, pointing to the flames projected on a screen over the stage. Asked about the upcoming season, he told the cruise3sixty audience: 'We are very, very excited ... We have lots of fire-power, lots of talent.'

Led by superstar center Shaquille O'Neal, the Heat made it to the NBA playoffs last season but the 2005 championship went to the San Antonio Spurs. The two teams will meet again in Miami on Oct. 10 for an exhibition game to benefit Hurricane Katrina relief, Arison said.

All proceeds, including ticket revenue, concessions, parking and retail sales, will be donated to the American Red Cross and to a charity chosen by the Heat, the Spurs and the National Basketball Players Association.

Carnival Cruise Lines will serve as the title sponsor of the game, which gives a guarantee the event will sell out and the donation to Katrina relief will top the $1m mark.

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U.S. budgets $175m for port security grants

U.S. budgets $175m for port security grants

The American Association of Port Authorities welcomed the news of the 17% year-over-year increase for security grants. AAPA also hailed Congress for adopting its recommendation to reject the Bush administration's proposal to eliminate port security grants and lump them into a single discretionary program for all transportation.

The compromise agreement must still be ratified by the House and Senate and signed by the president.

Over the past five funding rounds, the Department of Homeland Security has provided some $707m in security grants for ports. However, according to AAPA president Kurt Nagle, the need still far outpaces appropriations.

AAPA is calling for a funding level of $400m a year to help ports comply with the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

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MSC Cruises close to firming post-Panamax pair with Chantiers

MSC Cruises close to firming post-Panamax pair with Chantiers

The builder confirmed to Seatrade Insider in June that a letter of intent had been signed by the two parties.

'They will be the first post-Panamax ships in the MSC fleet, coming in at around 135,000gt. The number of cabins will be between 1,600 and 1,700 with deliveries in 2008 and 2009 respectively,' Vago told Seatrade Insider.

He underlined that the lines' two new future flagships will feature standard cabins of a size well above the current industry average. 'Standard cabins will be around 21sq mtr, as we prefer larger cabins to huge malls inside the ships,' he added.

Regarding the new Italian tonnage tax that had a positive $10m impact on the third quarter results of competitor Costa Crociere, Vago confirmed MSC Cruises' approach not to use the system to take advantage of the fiscal relief.

Apart from the 17,095gt Rhapsody which is under Italian flag, the rest of the MSC fleet currently flies the Panama flag. 'The flag is only a matter of fiscal preference,' he maintained adding, 'we feel we are more Italian than our competitors because our ships have been designed with an Italian taste and we employ many more Italians onboard than any other competitor.'

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Florida governor defends Carnival charters

Florida governor defends Carnival charters

'It is a generous offer to tell FEMA we're going to cancel the cruises of 100,000 passsengers to provide housing and medical care for hurricane victims. I applaud the cruise industry,' Bush said in his welcome address to the more than 1,300 travel agents and cruise line suppliers at the Cruise Lines International Association's cruise3sixty event in Fort Lauderdale.

Referring to the charters, which Bush noted 'have generated some controversy' -- several lawmakers are calling for an investigation of the deal -- the governor added: 'This goes into the category of "No good deed goes unpunished."'

Carnival Corp. & plc chairman and ceo Micky Arison told the conference that it was the idea of Dave Forney, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vessel Sanitation Program, to ask if Carnival could help out with ships following Hurricane Katrina. Carnival Cruise Lines president Bob Dickinson and his team worked around the clock to provide the three ships, Arison said, adding that he was 'extremely proud' of the team.

'We had to cancel 100,000 people. It was unfortunate but we had to do it,' Arison said.

He refuted media reports that the ships are sitting virtually empty. Of the two vessels in New Orleans, Arison said one has 50 open cabins and the other, 150 open cabins. Before Sensation and Ecstasy arrived, city workers were trying to do their jobs with no place to live. 'We have 1,000 police officers on the ships showering and eating hot meals,' Arison said to applause. More than 1,000 evacuees are on board Holiday in Mobile.

The cost of the charters will make up for lost revenue, the expense of canceling the customers and protecting agent commissions, the Carnival chairman added.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman and ceo Richard Fain also came to Carnival's defense. 'They really did make a major move that was helpful,' Fain told the cruise3sixty audience. 'There were people suffering in the convention center and the Superdome ... In a very short time [Carnival] came to the fore. It doesn't help society in the long run to second-guess them.'

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Work begins on Costaapos;s new terminal in Barcelona

Work begins on Costaapos;s new terminal in Barcelona

The stone-laying ceremony will be attended by Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman ceo of Costa Crociere; Luìs Grau, Costa's general manager in Spain; Maravila Roja, deputy mayor of Barcelona; and Joaquim Coello, chairman of the Port of Barcelona.

In keeping with Spanish tradition and as a good luck gesture a one-euro coin will be buried on the site of the new facility prior to the official commencement of construction work. Celebrations will continue on board Costa Fortuna (which, like her sister ship Costa Magica, makes weekly calls at Barcelona).

The EUR11m Barcelona Palacruceros will be located on the Adosado pier; the Port of Barcelona has given Costa a 25-year concession on the site. Costa and the other Carnival Corporation & plc brands will get berth priority for the terminal, which will be able to accommodate ships with guest capacity up to 3,500. The facility will be ready at the end of the 2006 summer season.

Palacruceros was designed by architects Luigi Vicini and Andrea Piazza from the Vicini firm in Genoa, who also contributed to the design of the Savona Palacrociere, another terminal managed by Costa. 'As is already the case in Savona, the philosophy behind the concept of the Palacruceros is to ensure optimum efficiency and comfort for our guests: we want them to feel that they're already on holiday as soon as they set foot in the new terminal,' said Foschi.

In 2005 Carnival Corp lines will make about 240 calls at Barcelona, bringing over 470,000 passengers (up 36% on the previous year). Costa forecast for 2006 is about 80 calls at Barcelona, bringing a total in excess of 200,000 passengers. From July to November next year, in addition to Costa Fortuna, the new flagship Costa Concordia will also make weekly stopovers.

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