A+ A A-

Ports & destinations

Port of Galveston appoints Captain Michael J. Mierzwa Port Director

The Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves has appointed Captain Michael J Mierzwa to the position of Port Director effective February 16, 2012.

"The Port is fortunate to have someone with Mike's expertise take the helm.," stated Roland Bassett, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves. "He has demonstrated excellent leadership skills and proven himself well-qualified in managing port operations. Unanimously the board agreed that he is the ideal choice for the position."

Prior to the appointment, Mr Mierzwa served the Port of Galveston as Deputy Port Director, handling the management of port operations. He has over 30 years executive-level marine transportation management, operations and logistics experience in both the public and private sectors. He is a 29-year veteran of the United States Coast Guard retiring with the rank of Captain in 1998. His last assignment in the Coast Guard was as the Chief of Staff for the Fourteenth Coast Guard District in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mr. Mierzwa was also the Chief of Operations for the Coast Guard in Alaska and Commanding Officer of two Coast Guard cutters.

In July 2000, Mr. Mierzwa was hired by the Port of Galveston to be the Manager of the Texas Cruise Ship Terminal on Galveston Island. In this position, he was responsible for the day to day management of the cruise facility, interacting with the cruise lines and the various Federal agencies with oversight of the cruise industry. In December 2002, Mr. Mierzwa was promoted to the position as the Port's Director of Facilities and Operations. He was responsible for cruise operations including cruise terminal development as well as Port-wide maintenance, construction and port security projects.

In the fall of 2005, Mr. Mierzwa assumed the responsibility of Deputy Port Director. In this role, in addition to his responsibilities as the Director of Facilities and Operations, he focused on strategic planning including long term port development issues as the Port continued to rebuild itself and diversify its customer base.

Mr. Mierzwa is a 1969 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. He has a Master of Science in Mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY and a Master of Arts in International Relations from Salve Regina College in Newport, RI. Mr. Mierzwa is also a graduate of the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

He is married to the former Rosalee Williams of Galveston, Texas.

The Port of Galveston is Texas' gateway for cruise sailings and international trade. The Port serves as the primary point of embarkation for cruises to the western Caribbean and handles over 860,000 cruise passengers annually with an estimated 1million in 2012. Four cruise lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean, sail from Texas' only cruise port. The Port is a self supporting enterprise fund with operating revenues of approximately $21 million. It does not rely on tax dollars for operations. 

SATS wins bid to manage new Singapore International Cruise Terminal

SATS Ltd. (SATS) has won the bid to manage and operate the new Singapore International Cruise Terminal (ICT) at Marina South.

SATS participated in the ICT tender through a consortium formed with Creuers del Port de Barcelona S.A. (Creuers), Europe’s leading cruise terminal operator which manages five cruise terminals in the Port of Barcelona. The consortium will be granted a 10-year lease to operate the ICT, with the option to renew for another five years, and is expected to commence the initial phase of operations by second quarter of 2012.

Tan Chuan Lye, Acting CEO of SATS, said of the win, "We are honoured to be chosen as the terminal operator for the ICT by Singapore Tourism Board (STB). This is a national, iconic project where SATS is tasked with not only managing the cruise terminal but also in developing Singapore as Asia’s leading cruise hub."

Mr Tan continued, "We understand the significance of ICT to the Singapore tourism sector. SATS and Creuers will leverage our respective strengths and competencies in aviation gateway and cruise terminal operations to offer innovative, quality services to the cruise lines while enhancing the travel experience of cruise passengers at the various touch points."

Carlos F. Domingo-Pagès, Managing Director of Creuers, remarked: "Creuers has accumulated extensive and in-depth knowledge of the cruise industry and has been instrumental in increasing Barcelona’s cruise passenger traffic to become the largest cruise port operator in Europe. Together with our partner SATS, we intend to collaborate with STB and the industry stakeholders to grow and anchor Singapore’s position as the premier regional cruise hub and the leading homeport for major cruise lines."

Prior to this tender, SATS has been making its foray into the cruise industry. It collaborated with Star Cruises and Changi Airport Group to launch the Fly-Cruise service in July 2011, and with Royal Caribbean International for the Cruise-Fly service in April 2011. Both services enable cruise passengers to experience a seamless and convenient check-in and travel experience in Singapore.

To manage and operate the ICT, SATS has, through its wholly-owned subsidiary SATS Airport Services Pte Ltd, formed a 60:40 joint venture company with Creuers, with SATS holding the majority stake. The new subsidiary, SATS-Creuers Cruise Services Pte Ltd, has an initial issued and paid-up capital of S$6 million consisting of 6,000,000 shares of S$1 each.

The tender award and joint venture are not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of SATS for the current financial year. None of the directors or controlling shareholders of SATS has any interest, direct or indirect, in the above joint venture other than through their respective interests (if any) in SATS.

Christmas markets and festive season boost calls at Atlantic Alliance ports

During the festive season, many of the Atlantic Alliance ports are welcoming, not for the first time, cruise ships at their quays. Those ships are on special Christmas themed cruises, an ever more interesting niche, from which everybody involved in the cruise business can benefit, the organisation said in a statement.

Last year the ports of the Atlantic Alliance have already been quite busy during the festive season. Due to the great success of the Christmas cruises, so far mainly for the English source market, some member ports of the Atlantic Alliance  are now handling a number of cruise calls during the month of December.

“Visiting the European Christmas markets is an ever increasing winter cruise theme with a lot of potential for future growth, especially for our region”, Atlantic Alliance’s manager Nadine Palatz commented. One of the main benefits for a cruise line is to have a very special and alternative program to the Caribbean and Mediterranean for the passenger. The passengers can enjoy a unique, festive, winter atmosphere. At Christmas time in Europe, almost nothing gets people into the holiday spirit like a Christmas market. The smell of mulled wine, chestnuts, wurst and traditional Christmas desserts such as the Spanish almond-based „turrón“ wafts through the air.

The other main benefit is that the cruise line doesn’t need to reposition its ship to a far away destination and as such can make big savings in fuel consumption. Furthermore, the ports also benefit from an extended season, making better use of their terminal facilities during the quieter winter season. Last but not least, the local tourism authorities and shopping malls are of course happy to welcome cruise passengers to their cities for Christmas shopping and their Christmas markets.

To attract more winter cruise traffic in the future, the member ports have developed a virtual Christmas tour, which makes the theme cruise idea more accessible for everyone. The emotive virtual tour gives a taste of actually being there and has the unbeatable advantage of being able to convey impressions and atmosphere much better than pictures.




San Francisco approves Pier 27 cruise terminal – after two decades

The San Francisco Port Commission has approved the construction of the Pier 27 James R. Herman International Cruise Terminal and Northeast Wharf Plaza.

“For more than two decades, we have been trying to find the mechanism and the money to construct a new cruise terminal that is befitting of the City’s prominence as a world class destination,” said San Francisco MayorEdwin M. Lee.  “Now that the Port Commission has adopted the Project and the San Francisco Planning Department’s certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report, work can truly begin – work whose construction and completion will bring what we need most: jobs, jobs, jobs,” the prt authority said in a statement.

It is estimated that the cruise industry last year generated nearly $40 million in economic benefits to the region. The average economic contribution per home ported vessel call was close to $1.2 million and the average impact of an in-transit call was $800,000.  Not only does the cruise industry benefit San Francisco’s leading industry, tourism, it also directly benefits San Francisco’s other maritime industries such as tug and tow operators, Bar Pilots, ship suppliers and longshore workers.

The new James R. Herman International Cruise Terminal will be named in honor of the late James R. Herman: former Port Commissioner and President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Dean Brown, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services for Princess Cruises stated, “As a longtime partner with the Port of San Francisco, Princess Cruises looks forward to calling at a new cruise terminal at Pier 27.  The new terminal will provide our guests with a more efficient and comfortable experience befitting a City like San Francisco.”

As a result of the Port Commission’s landmark approval, in the first quarter of 2012, ground breaking will commence on construction of a new 88,000 square foot cruise terminal and 2½ acre public park, the Northeast Wharf Plaza, at Piers 27-29, a 14.8 acre site located on The Embarcadero at Bay Street. The new cruise terminal on Pier 27 will serve as the primary cruise ship terminal, while the cruise terminal on Pier 35 will be used as a secondary terminal in the event that two cruise ships require berthing on the same date. The terminal will be appointed with modern passenger amenities-, be able to handle the largest classes of cruise ships and will reduce vessel emissions at the Port by providing shorepower.



Christmas cruises in Hamburg – the alternative for winter cruising

The 2011 cruising season was the most successful Hamburg has ever had. The Hanseatic metropolis is increasingly coming to be a destination for all year round cruising. During the month of December, four cruise calls are scheduled. These include one double arrival, plus the first appearance of a river cruise ship.

Cruise fans in Hamburg will have a lot of treats to enjoy in December. Almost every Sunday in December a ship will be arriving or has arrived already at the Hamburg Cruise Center in HafenCity. Mainly British visitors will be taking Christmas Market Cruises, exchanging their traditional tea time for mulled wine and Spekulatius.

At the second Advent weekend, on 4 December, the Balmoral of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines moored at the Hamburg Cruise Center HafenCity. It remained in port until around 4.00 pm on 5 December.

On the third Sunday in Advent the Saga Pearl II of Saga Cruises will be returning to Hamburg in the run-up to Christmas. It is almost exactly a year since the ship celebrated her first appearance in the hanseatic city. On her Christmas Markets of Europe Cruise she will also visit Belgium and Holland.

The official end of the season, on 17 and 18 December, will be marked by a double arrival. On the evening of 17 December at 6.00 pm, the Albatros and the Amadea of Phoenix Reisen will make fast at the Cruise Center in HafenCity. Before both ships continue on their big global trips, going in the direction of South America, on the fourth Sunday in Advent singing Santas at the terminal will put the cruise passengers in a festive mood. 

When it comes to Christmas cruises, Hamburg has a lot to offer. Eight thematic Christmas markets at once are held in the vicinity of HafenCity Cruise Center, creating an unforgettable festive atmosphere. Once again these include the Christmas Market of the Überseequartier district, which takes place in full view of the terminal – this year with an extended programme, lots of surprises and atmospheric lighting.

And then there are even more cruise ships to admire. Two cruise liners have been on view at the docks opposite since last weekend. Back on November 16 the Oriana of the P&O Cruises shipping company docked near Blohm + Voss. And since 26 November Cunard's Queen Mary 2 has also been in port, for what is now its fifth maintenance visit to the traditional shipyard. The QM2 left on 5 December for another big trip. The Oriana, on the other hand, is likely to be staying at the dock until 17 December.

But the last cruiser of this year is not an ocean-going giant. On 27 December the Frederic Chopin of Nicko Tours will be in Hamburg. She offers a New Year's river cruise, exclusively to mark this special turn of the year. Travelling eastward on the Elbe, she will be visiting the towns of Wittenberge, Meissen, Dresden and Bad Schandau.