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Articles from 2017 In September

Port of San Francisco hosts two maiden calls in a day

(Photos: Port of San Francisco)
Top row: Noordam Capt. Hendrik Draper and Michael Nerney, Port of San Francisco marketing manager, exchange plaques, and Noordam officers with officials from the port, Holland America Group, Metro Cruise Services and San Francisco Marine Exchange as well as port cruise volunteers. Bottom row: Emerald Princess Capt. Vincenzo Lubrano receives a plaque from Nerney, and Emerald Princess officers, port officials including maritime director Peter Dailey, along with representatives of Holland America Group, Metro and Marine Exchange

Noordam berthed at Pier 27 as part of a 35-night voyage from Seward, Alaska, to Sydney, Australia. The ship was under the command of Capt. Hendrik Draper.

Emerald Princess docked at Pier 35 on a six-night coastal cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Capt. Vincenzo Lubrano was at the helm.

These ships are among the many based in Seattle and Vancouver for the Alaska summer season that visit San Francisco in September and October on their way south for the winter.

Adelaide, South Australia, venue for South Pacific Tourism Exchange 2018


It will be held just before the annual Australian Tourism Exchange in Adelaide April 15-19.

SPTE combines sellers from the South Pacific Tourism Organisation’s 17 member countries, including shore excursion providers, with buyers from around the world.

It was launched in Auckland in 2014 and has since been held in Melbourne (2015), the Gold Coast (2016) and Sydney (2017).

To coincide with the announcement of the 2018 event, the SPTO has developed a new SPTE logo highlighting the new look and rebranding of the organisation which was unveiled in the Cook Islands in October 2016.

The SPTO ceo, Christopher Cocker, said the new logo reflects the drive of the brand ‘South Pacific Islands—Ours is Yours.’

Cocker said a key focus for SPTE 2018 will be the inclusion of a wider variety of tourism products to meet the increasing demand for new products by international buyers.

Canaveral taps Bermello Ajamil for new cruise terminal design


Miami-based B&A will provide architectural and engineering design and permitting services for the terminal and a new parking garage and site work.

According to a Port Canaveral spokeswoman, B&A was among three firms that participated in a competitive design review. The port's selection committee scored B&A's submission at 282 points of 300 possible points, she said.

The other two firms, Atkins of Melbourne, Florida, and BEA Architects of Miami, tied at 273 points each.

This closely follows the Canaveral Port Authority's contracting with CH2M Engineering to provide the waterside design, engineering and support services for the $150m facility, which is targeted for completion in 2019.

What of Caribbean ports that weren't storm-hit? How three are juggling hundreds of extra bookings

(File photos)
From upper left, clockwise: Pointe Simon at Fort-de-France, Martinique; St. John's, Antigua; Jamaica's Falmouth and Ocho Rios

Some of these bookings stretch to the end of the season in April.

While this is great news for those islands and brings welcome incremental revenue, none of the destinations expect all those berthing reservations will stick, and all expressed the hope for their neighbors' quick recovery while making extra effort to ensure a positive experience for travelers who didn't choose where they're ending up.

Antigua in the eastern Caribbean gained a whopping 158 calls, and more are coming in.

'While we are happy to assist the cruise lines in need of berths for their passengers and ships, our desire is for things to get back to normal in the other Islands,' said Nathan Dundas, general manager, Brysons Shipping and chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association. It's important they return to normalcy, he added, so ships stay in the eastern Caribbean.

At fellow eastern Caribbean island Martinique, where calls were already up 25% for the just-begun 2017/18 season, hurricane-related redeployments have added approximately 101 more visits. As a result, the passenger count will almost double from last season.

'As our tourism commissioner [Karine Mousseau] said from the first hurricane, our hearts go out to everybody who was impacted,' said Roger Blum of Cruise & Port Advisors, Martinique's cruise industry representative in the US. 'These destinations are going to need the cruise lines back. They're really working hard. We're helping as long as we can but we're hopeful our neighbors will get back in business.

'They need the income and it's a good psychological boost for them to have tourists returning. For people who've been through storms,' Blum continued, 'it's like a light at the end of the tunnel.'

Many ships are shifting to the western Caribbean. Ports in Jamaica collectively added more than 100 calls since the storms started.

'We're fortunate to have been spared so far. Hurricane season isn't over yet,' cautioned William Tatham, VP cruise shipping and marina operations, Port Authority of Jamaica. 'Right now we're open for business and grateful for that. We will use the incremental revenue from any unscheduled calls to strengthen the destination,' he added.

Following each of the storms Jamaica, Martinique and Antigua quickly assessed port and pier conditions, roadways and the abiility to operate tours. All immediately informed US and European cruise lines they could take ships. In Antigua's case, that required extra communication.

It's one of the Caribbean's most mature destinations, while sister island Barbuda—approximately 25 miles away—only recently has been getting into the tourism business and it was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. Antigua was fine, but Barbuda was not.

When lines understood they could come to Antigua, requests began flooding in.

'While we are grateful for these calls we have to manage them carefully so that we are not overwhelmed or overbooked,' Dundas said. A main concern is managing the number ships per day so the infrastructure can absorb the passengers.

'We want the visitors, despite the extraordinary circumstances, to have a pleasant, memorable experience of our destination,' Dundas told Seatrade Cruise News. However, due to the demand from lines, there will be a few days when congestion is unavoidable. 'We will do all we can,' he added, to plan with stakeholders to deliver the best experience possible.

Dundas's company, Brysons, handles the vast majority of cruise calls to Antigua and he is personally managing the bookings directly with the lines to keep control of the daily ship numbers and balance the berthing requests. It's a tremendous task.

To date Royal Caribbean International has requested 55 additional calls, Costa/AIDA together 25, MSC Cruises 25, P&O Cruises 12, SeaDream 10, Princess and TUI Cruises seven each, Celebrity and Norwegian five each, Disney two and additional Carnival companies five, with more expected. But the numbers are changing daily, both up and down.

Dundas noted both Carnival and Royal Caribbean canceled Antigua calls this week to assist with the humanitarian and evacuation needs of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. 'It was commendable,' he said. 'I would prefer we lose cruise calls in order for the cruise lines to assist with humanitarian needs.'

Like Antigua, Martinique has been juggling to apportion berthing and ensure its tourism services are ready for the influx.

'All these requests poured in quickly, especially after Maria,' Blum said. 'It was a jigsaw puzzle about where to put the ships. In some cases we had to get specifications about the gangway doors since some of these ships haven't visited before.'

Martinique's port captain has been able to satisfy all the requests, however some ships will have to go to the Hydrobase, a cargo pier. It's just east of the Tourelle cruise terminal and has docked TUI and MSC vessels before. For ships going to the Hydrobase, tours will operate directly from there, while independent passengers will take shuttles to Tourelle for closer proximity to downtown Fort-de-France.

Tourelle, mainly used for homeporting, has a second dock that's going to take transit calls. At the city-center Pointe Simon pier, the moorings have been adjusted so larger ships can dock on the inside. (Ships of any size can dock on the outer side.)

'Every request has been filled,' Blum said. 'Nobody's complaining. Hydrobase is no one's first or second choice but we're going to make it work.'

Martinique anticipates record-setting days so meetings are already planning for matters like tour bus staging. 'We're really trying to be proactive,' Blum said.

'We've been building up to this. If it had happened a few years ago, maybe not, but now we're ready. And we realize it's an opportunity to showcase Martinique and we want to be sure everyone has a great experience and the cruise lines are happy, too. We realize the passengers booked another itinerary so we want to be sure they enjoy themselves.'

At Jamaica, which has three main cruise ports, the situation is still fluid, according to Tatham. Some lines are spreading calls around to Falmouth, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. None is at capacity yet, though a few ships had to be turned away on peak days. Anchorages are also available, with no requests so far.

Tatham anticipates continued tweaking and changes. Thursday morning he took five more bookings for one of the lines.

For brands like Norwegian that are adding Jamaica as a result of the hurricanes, the calls are more likely to stick, he surmised, because it's a new itinerary. Whereas those with incremental stops at the same destination may find a greater challenge holding their pricing since several ships of the same brand may now be operating the same itinerary.

After the initial rush to ensure safe alternatives, once the urgency passes, the normal cruise line functions of sales and revenue management will kick in, so adjustments are likely.

And when it comes to the bread-and-butter seven-day cruises, Tatham said if just two strong destinations recover quickly, that may be enough to tilt the lines' decision to go back, even if a third port isn't ready.

As for Martinique's 100-plus added calls, 'for sure, 100% will not stick,' Blum said. 'It's easier to cancel a berth than to look for a berth that might already be taken by a competitor ... A lot of this is insurance.'

Meanwhile, the three islands and others that picked up business from redeployments are gearing up for an extraordinary season.

'We will do all we can to make the best of it,' Dundas said, 'and at the same time we are hoping that there is a speedy recovery of the affected Islands so that we all can continue to benefit from the cruise industry.'

He recounted how a number of destinations were in Hamburg as part of the Caribbean Village at Seatrade Europe 'while the hurricanes were battering our Islands and all of our hearts were heavy as we feared the worst. It was so sad to see some of our members in tears as they heard news and saw pictures of their homes destroyed.'

Tatham noted the cruel irony that the very night the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority was announced as 'Port of the Year' in the Seatrade Cruise Awards, Irma was pummeling Tortola. 'But at least they got that recognition, and maybe it will help inspire them in their recovery,' he said.

'It's really tragic what has happened this season,' Tatham added. Jamaica was devastated by Hurricane Gilbert years ago, but the recent storms affecting other islands have been of record intensity.

Even so, he thinks the destinations will recover 'and in some cases come back stronger and better because they have to start over. Maybe they'll be able to put in place some things they've been planning to do. But this is unprecedented. Never before have so many side-by-side countries been impacted.'

Portsmouth International Port welcomes Viking’s first visit

Viking Star sailed into Portsmouth International Port today

Viking Star berthed after sailing overnight from Le Havre, part of a 15 night cruise tracing the trade routes of the middles ages. The cruise started in Viking Star’s home port of Bergen, Norway. After leaving Portsmouth the ship is heading to Falmouth, and then onto stops in Portugal and Spain.

A walking tour of historic Portsmouth is one excursion being offered to Viking Star’s guests, with a focus on the city’s maritime legacy. Passengers will visit Nelson’s HMS Victory, the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission, as well as viewing the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose.

Situated just off the English Channel, Portsmouth International Port is scheduled to welcome Viking Cruises again in 2018.


More than 230 cruise ships to transit the Panama Canal in 2017/18

Disney Wonder transiting the Agua Clara Locks in April 2017

Beginning in October, this will be the first full cruise season to welcome vessels through the expanded canal.

‘In addition to the existing locks, cruise lines now have the option to include the Expanded Canal as part of their itineraries,’ said the Panama Canal’s international trade specialist Albano Aguilar.

‘This will open up additional scheduling and repositioning opportunities for the industry and its larger cruise vessels, and provide new and unique experiences for their passengers,’ he added,
In April 2017, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder became the first cruise ship to transit the newly expanded waterway.

It will transit again this season along with Caribbean Princess, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Splendor and Norwegian Bliss. Together, the five ships will make a total of 20 transits.

11 new cruise ships will transit either the Canal’s Panamax or Neopanamax Locks for the first time from the following lines: Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Viking Cruises and Lindblad with each ship making multiple transits.
Perhaps the most visible sign of the Expanded Canal's impact on the cruise market this season will be Norwegian Bliss, when it makes a repositioning transit through the waterway en-route to the US West Coast to begin an Alaska season. Currently under construction, the ship will become the largest capacity cruise vessel to ever transit the Canal.
The Panama Canal’s 2017-2018 cruise season begins October 2, 2017 with the partial transit of Princess’ Island Princess on a roundtrip voyage to and from Los Angeles with stops along the West Coast of North and Central America.


Cruise ships may be returning to USVI within weeks

(Photo: Government of the US Virgin Islands)
Gov. Mapp meets with members of the business community on St. Thomas. Merchants are eager to get cruise ships back and damage at the main, WICO-managed cruise pier was minimal

Lines would like to return to St. Thomas and St. Croix as soon as Oct. 15, the governor said, adding that he believes late October is a more realistic target. A formal announcement from the cruise lines and the USVI government is expected next week.

'This isn’t easy,' Mapp said. 'The key is to manage our emotions and figure out how we can make this an opportunity for growth.'

More than 150 representatives from the private sector met with the governor, tourism commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty and other officials.

Mapp told those assembled he was eager to hear how businesses have been managing in the aftermath of two back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes and to learn more about how the government can assist those in the private sector to get Virgin Islanders back to work.

While many had concerns about power restoration, the diesel supply and the removal of debris, optimism prevailed. Most stated they were pleased with the government’s response to the significant challenges created as a result of the storms. Many merchants recalled the experience of Hurricane Marilyn in 1995 and said they understand the realities of a difficult recovery process.

Several businesses that serve cruise passengers are prepared to welcome visitors. Pash Daswani, president of the India Association, stated that association members who own Charlotte Amalie businesses are fully operational. 'Main Street, Crown Bay and Havensight are ready to open,' he said.

Nicholson-Doty said cruise lines have requested a status report on beaches and other attractions, and that representatives would soon visit to assess sites in the territory so they can start scheduling cruise calls.

'They don’t expect perfection, but they do expect honesty,' Nicholson-Doty said.

Some restaurants, shops and beaches must be fully accessible in order for ships to return and the territory must be able to assure safety, she explained. The West Indian Co. Ltd., which manages St. Thomas’ main cruise pier, was largely undamaged by the storm, according to WICO CEO Clifford Graham. 'We did lose some security fencing and lighting, but we are working diligently on repairs and to pull any debris out of the water,' he told the meeting.

The governor said his priorities for tourism include reopening Magens Bay, working with the federal government to reopen the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John and providing power to the islands’ business districts. While many of the major hotels expect to be closed while damages are assessed and repairs are made, both the government and business owners remain optimistic about the future.

'I was very pleased and encouraged by the large turnout ... and the very positive response of the business community here,' Mapp said. 'We are going to continue to work together to rebuild a better Virgin Islands.'

Meanwhile, as earlier reported, Royal Caribbean International's Adventure of the Seas was due to arrive at St. Croix today on a humanitarian mission to drop off supplies and embark evacuees before departing for Port Everglades in Florida via St. Thomas on Saturday. The ship is arriving from Puerto Rico, where it delivered supplies and picked up evacuees. 

According to the USVI governor's office, Adventure of the Seas will carry up to 750 passengers from St. Croix, up to 200 passengers from St. John and 50 from St. Thomas.

Priority for passage has been given to high-risk pregnant women, the elderly and those with urgent medical needs. Through the Emergency Operations Command, the USVI's Department of Tourism has pre-registered the St. Thomas passengers and approximately 400 individuals from St. Croix for evacuation. 

NCL’s Wilkinson promoted to vp and md UK & Ireland, Riley exits

PHOTO: Mary Bond
Christian Boell(left) and Nick Wilkinson pictured earlier this year at the UK launch of Premium All Inclusive

Both Wilkinson and Boell now report directly to Harry Sommer, evp international business development. Francis Riley, svp international sales, marketing & operations, left the company.

The EMEA region is being restructured into two distinctive markets: continental Europe and Scandinavia, and UK, Ireland (UK&I) and Middle East and Africa (MEA). These markets will be responsible for their own sales and marketing activities.

Wilkinson will head the UK and Ireland as well as the growing and developing markets of Israel, South Africa and the Middle East. Boell will oversee all markets within continental Europe and Scandinavia.

Sommer commented on the restructure: ‘With the introduction of the Jade as the fifth ship in Europe and the increased capacity with the Getaway in the Baltic, we have increased our opportunity to sell more cruises in Europe. Also, Premium All Inclusive, which was launched earlier this year, has been particularly well received in the UK&I and we believe the opportunities here warrant a renewed emphasis and focus on the market.’ 

Sommer added that Wilkinson has spearheaded the growth in the UK&I and his promotion reflects the achievements he has made.

'We have made great strides in growing our brand and customer base,' Wilkinson said, 'and can only see greater opportunities for us continuing working closely alongside our travel agency partners.'


Queensland's Townsville readies for bigger cruise ships

The city of Townsville has a 30-year plan for its port

‘Ships are getting bigger, so widening of the channel is critical,' Port of Townsville ceo Ranee Crosby said. ‘This will result in lower shipping costs for freight and allow larger cruise and defence ships to visit the city, which is great for tourism in the region.'

She said the Queensland government has committed A$75m toward the channel works which will start next year pending Commonwealth approval.

According to Crosby, the 30-year development plan would ensure Townsville Port, a vital trade gateway for Northern Australia and the nation, keeps pace with global and domestic demands.

‘The state’s approval of the Environmental Impact Statement for the project cannot be understated,’ she said. ‘It is a milestone that has been in the making for nearly 10 years.

'The EIS was a rigorous environmental review and project assessment, so we are delighted to have now received endorsement for the project from the coordinator-general.’

New Mein Schiff 1 floated out at Meyer Turku

New Mein Schiff 1 float out starts at Meyer Turku

The 315mtr newbuild is an evolution of Mein Schiff 6 and 20mtr longer than her predecessor, which has allowed for substantial redesign and further improvement of the interior space, said the builder.

Delivery is scheduled for spring 2018.

'With the new Mein Schiff 1, TUI Cruises creates a whole new ship generation in its fleet. She is based on our existing newbuilds, which we have again developed and supplemented with new attractions. We can now see these improvements come to life,' said ceo Wybcke Meier.

'So far we could only see the designs of New Mein Schiff 1 in part or in computer renderings, but to see them in reality is always fascinating,' commented shipyard ceo Jan Meyer.                    

'Even more exciting is that we are in parallel rebuilding and modernizing the shipyard with new recruits and investment. A concrete sign is the preparations for the erection of our new gantry crane. This complicated heavy lifting procedure will start after New Mein Schiff 1 has left the dock.,' he noted.

New Mein Schiff 1 is the fifth cruise ship built by Meyer Turku shipyard for TUI.

The vessel will be named in Hamburg on May 11, 2018.