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Ports & destinations

Carnival Corporation finances the newest eco-park attraction in St. Maarten

Carnival Corporation & plc celebrated the official grand opening of Rainforest Adventure’s Rockland Estate eco-park attraction on April 11 in St. Maarten. To mark the occasion, a ceremony was attended by esteemed government officials, including Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Governor Dr. Eugene Holiday, as well as Rainforest Adventures president Josef Preschel and key Carnival Corporation officials, including David Candib, vice president of development and operations for the global port and destination development group.

With financing from Carnival Corporation and built by Rainforest Adventures, Rockland Estate is a one-of-a-kind attraction expected to quickly become one of the most popular in the Caribbean. It has something for everyone – thrill-seeking adventures, including the world’s steepest zip line and a mountain chair lift with breathtaking views and a heart-racing tube ride, as well as a museum that showcases the rich history and culture of St. Maarten and its people. Guests from eight of Carnival Corporation’s brands with itineraries visiting the island will have the opportunity to experience the new shore excursion, recently named by USA Today 10Best as a top Caribbean attraction.

“We are proud to be part of the Rockland Estate development, and we are excited that this new attraction will surely become a bucket-list item for visitors to the island, whether they’re looking to take in incredible views, experience one-of-a-kind rides or gain perspective on the rich history and culture of the island,” said David Candib, vice president of development and operations for the global port and destination development group at Carnival Corporation. “St. Maarten is already a beloved destination by guests across our eight cruise line brands that visit the island, and we’re confident that Rockland Estate will create an even more compelling reason to visit the country on a cruise vacation.”

Rockland Estate is considered an eco-adventure park committed to preserving native eco-systems while ensuring the sustainability of the estate’s physical and intangible attributes. The overall goal of the Rainforest Adventures team in building the attraction was to enhance and preserve St. Maarten’s natural and built environments and endorse its cultural and historical significance, while also promoting education through adventure.

Said Preschel, president of Rainforest Adventures: “In constructing the park, one of our goals was to uphold our commitment to environmental conservation, with less than five percent of the Emilio Wilson Estate impacted by the new Rockland Estate eco-adventure park. Our other key goal is to educate visitors on the importance of ongoing conservation in this area and to celebrate local history and culture, while also providing thrilling rides and relaxing activities.”

“St. Maarten continues to be one of the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destinations, and providing new offerings is key in attracting interest in our beautiful and friendly island from both new and returning tourists,” said Cornelius de Weever, acting minister of tourism, economic affairs, transportation and telecommunications for St. Maarten. “Rockland Estate is one of the most important attraction developments in St. Maarten in a decade, and we are confident that it will boost tourism. We’re excited for more and more visitors to experience all that the park has to offer – from a look into the rich history of St. Maarten to exciting rides that provide breathtaking views of the island.”

Located on the historic Emilio Wilson Estate a short ride from St. Maarten’s Port of Philipsburg Cruise Terminal, Rockland Estate eco-park encompasses the widest variety of thrill rides and attractions in the Caribbean. The lineup features:

– Soualiga Sky Explorer: Soualiga Sky Explorer encompasses 68 four-passenger chairs that take guests to a transfer station for zip line and tubing rides, and then on to the top of one of St. Maarten’s highest points at 1,125 feet where they can take in spectacular panoramic views.

– Sentry Hill Zip Line: From the transfer station at the midpoint of the Soualiga Sky Explorer, guests can experience the exciting Sentry Hill Zip Line, where riders traverse a 1,600-foot, four-span line that provides unforgettable vistas of the mountain ridge.

– Schooner Ride: The Schooner Ride at the midway point of the Soualiga Sky Explorer gives guests the chance to surf down the mountain in large 40-inch inner tubes across a specially designed 657-foot track of heart-pounding curves mixed with fast straightaways.

– Top of Sentry Hill: One of St. Maarten’s highest elevations, Sentry Hill, offers walkways and platforms that encircle the mountaintop, showcasing 360-degree vistas of the island with views of neighboring Saba, St. Barts, St. Eustatius and Anguilla.

– Flying Dutchman: The Flying Dutchman is Rockland Estate’s main attraction and the world’s steepest zip line. It guarantees thrill-seekers the ride of a lifetime while securely harnessed in a chair, dropping them 1,050 feet in elevation from the top of Sentry Hill down the mountain over a 2,800-foot span.

– Emilio Wilson Museum: Originally built as a plantation home in the 1700s, the museum tells the powerful story of Trace Wilson, who was born into slavery on the property, and her direct descendant, St. Maarten pioneer and preservationist Emilio Wilson. It also highlights the customs, traditions, lifestyle and stories that have earned St. Maarten the moniker “The Friendly Island.”

St. Maarten is a popular destination for cruise guests, with 1.66 million cruisers visiting the island in 2016. The country’s port has been recognized several times by the readers of Cruise Fever as the best cruise port in the Caribbean, and was chosen by cruisers as the number two Eastern Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda port of call in Cruise Critic’s Cruiser’s Choice 2017 Destination Awards. Additionally, cruise tourism plays an important role in the country’s economy, representing one third of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Carnival Corporation also partnered with Rainforest Adventures to develop Rainforest Adventures Jamaica at Mystic Mountain in Ochos Rios ­– a mainstay of Jamaica rain forest activities where guests can travel from the seashore to 700 feet above sea level at the top of a mountain, stretching over 100 acres. Additionally, Carnival Corporation worked with Rainforest Adventures to design and build the Magical Flying Beach Chair at the cruise company’s Mahogany Bay Cruise Center in Roatan. The chair lift system takes cruise ship guests from the welcome center to Mahogany Beach via a six-minute ride across nearly 1,200 feet of suspended cables, providing not only convenient beach access, but also views of the lush countryside as well.

Hotelbeds Group sells Destination Management division to TUI

Hotelbeds Group, the world's leading bedbank, has announced the sale of its Destination Management division to TUI, the world's leading tourism group, as continuation of Hotelbeds Group’s strategic focus on its bedbank core.

TUI will acquire for an enterprise value of €110 million all of the assets of Hotbeds Group's Destination Management division, which represents the Group´s incoming services offering and is made up of three main global brands: Destination Services, Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services, and Pacific World.

This news follows Hotelbeds Group doubling the size of its business by sales through the acquisitions during 2017 of Tourico Holidays and GTA, two leading bedbanks with a strong presence in North America and Asia-Pacific respectively. Following the integration of these two leading bedbank brands into the Group, there are now over 170,000 hotels selling to over 60,000 travel intermediaries globally via the Group's proprietary B2B technology platform.

Baltic Sea region sets record with more than five million cruise guests

More people than ever before are cruising in the Baltic Sea. That is what the newly published 2018 edition of the Cruise Baltic Market Review is showing, along with other positive developments from the past year.

Extensive data from 32 Baltic Sea ports lay the foundation for this year’s newly released Cruise Baltic Market Review. The report presents the developments from 2017 as well as the expected numbers for 2018, and shows growth in both calls, turnarounds and guest numbers reaching a total of 5,054,849 guests. The reason for the positive growth in the Baltic cruise business is to be found in the cruise guest satisfaction level, which is among the world’s highest.

“Cruise Baltic is very pleased to report that a record-breaking number of cruise guests are visiting the Baltic Region. Furthermore, we had a growth in both calls and turnarounds. The positive developments are caused by our high guest satisfaction level which comes from the fantastic service provided in all member ports. Our guests love the well-functioning infrastructure and the high intensity of ports that makes it possible for them to visit several capitals in a one-week cruise, where they can experience local authentic cultures but where the locals all speak English,” director of Cruise Baltic, Claus Bødker, says.

The record-breaking number of Baltic cruise guests in 2017 is equivalent to a 16,6% increase compared to 2016. In average, visitor numbers have been growing with 9,7% since 2000 going from a total of 1,1 million visitors back then to the approximately 5 million guests last year. Besides guest numbers, Cruise Baltic also experienced growth within calls and turnarounds, where the total amount of calls was increased by 15,4% and the number of turnarounds was 3,9% higher than the year before.

“Cruise Baltic had a great 2017, when looking at the growth we experienced on all parameters, and the positive development does not end there as we estimate that we in 2018, will be breaking visitor records yet again,” director of Cruise Baltic, Claus Bødker, explains.

Next year Cruise Baltic expects guest numbers to grow with another 8,4% meaning an increase of 1,2 million guests since 2016.

Global Ports Holdings wins 20 year Zadar concession

Global Ports Holdings PLC (GPH), the world’s largest cruise port operator, said it has been awarded a concession by the Port Authority of Zadar for the operating rights of the Zadar cruise port in Croatia for 20 years.

The concession of Zadar will include cruise ship passenger port and terminal services, an international ferry terminal, roll-on/roll-off services, vehicles and passenger services. It will contain a commercial area of 2,400 square miles, with leasable retail and office space.

The signing of the agreement is expected to take place within twelve months, however the company said there is no certainty when the deal will be completed.

GPH is headquartered in Istanbul and listed in London.

Cruise the Saint Lawrence to promote winter cruises

In the wake of demonstrated interest by the international cruise industry in the wonders of winter in ports of call across Québec, Cruise the Saint Lawrence (CSL) is spearheading an initiative to promote the development of winter explorer cruises for adventure travellers in search of authentic Nordic experiences. CSL is indeed set to market the merits of the winter season with an inaugural familiarization tour in mid-February.

As trends in travel substantiate a marked interest in cruise destinations such as the Arctic and Antarctic, Québec’s brand of Nordic experience features a singular blend of bracing outdoor and vibrant urban possibilities.

Three international cruise line and one trade media representatives will be setting off to discover what winter has to offer in Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec and Saguenay. Program activities include urban discovery tours, ice skating, tobogganing, a taste of Carnaval de Québec and the city’s famed ice hotel, dog sledding, skidooing and ice fishing. The tourism supply of those ports of call not on the program schedule will also be presented to participants, with topics covered to include an insight into Inuit culture in winter, baby seal observation on the ice floes off the Iles de la Madeleine and skiing in the Chic-Choc mountains of the Gaspé Peninsula.

Navigating the Saint Lawrence, Saguenay Fjord and Gulf of Saint Lawrence in winter can present challenges for cruise operators. Officials from Transport Canada, local port administrations, Canadian Coast Guard, Laurentian Pilotage Authority and other relevant authorities will therefore be taking part in an information session detailing technical requirements and services available to ensure ship and passenger safety.

The upcoming ground tour represents a first, not only for Québec but also for the entire Canada New England region. During the tour, winter offerings will be outlined for each of Québec, Atlantic Canada, the coast of Maine, Boston and New York. Participants will be outfitted by Chlorophylle, a Québec-based manufacturer of upmarket outdoor gear for which the prospect of a winter cruise season comes ripe with commercial potential.

Cruise the Saint Lawrence is a sectoral organization which groups together the nine ports of call located along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River. The mission of the organization is to grow cruise market activities in Québec and across Destination Canada New England through the provision of marketing and development services to members. Cruise the Saint Lawrence enjoys the support of partners Tourism Québec, Québec Tourism Industry Alliance and Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada.