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Grand Celebration chartered to FEMA

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The Grand Celebration, owned and operated by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, will be heading to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands at the request of FEMA. The chartered ship will have responsibility for housing the National Guard – first responders as they help to rebuild the lives of individuals and create some structure after the devastation left behind by Hurricane Irma.

The humanitarian mission is expected to start with the ship’s arrival in St. Thomas on Saturday, September 23, 2017 and last through the latter half of December. The cruise line will resume normal cruise operations beginning with the cruise on Saturday, December 23, 2017, with 2-night cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Grand Bahama Island. The ship has 750 cabins and capacity up to 1,900 passengers.

“We will be reaching out to all of our guests and travel partners this week,” explained Oneil Khosa, CEO of the cruise line. “We feel badly about this 90-day disruption but believe the extensive needs of the St. Thomas people to be of greater importance at this time.”

The island of St. Thomas now must be on alert for the path of Maria, which is a category 5 Hurricane.

Individuals who booked directly with the cruise line for cruises through December 21 can contact Bahamas Paradise’s customer service department at 800-374-4363 to review all the options that are available to guests. Direct cruise line customers can receive a full refund or reschedule their cruise with a $100 onboard credit. Other booked guests should contact their travel providers.

Joint AECO/IAATO conference promotes responsible polar tourism

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

More than 90 representatives from the Arctic and Antarctic expedition cruise industry will gather in Iceland for the second AECO/IAATO Polar Field Staff Conference on October 1-4. The topic of the conference is evolution and new challenges in the polar tourism industry.

The three-day conference program includes sessions on growth management, technological developments, safety standards, operational development, citizen science and field staff qualification.

The Polar Field Staff Conference is organized by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operations (IAATO). The conference gathers guides, expedition leaders and operations managers working for AECO and IAATO. The aim of the gathering is to support the two associations’ joint mission of advancing safe and environmentally responsible travel in the polar regions.

“It’s a chance to discuss the practical issues that staff are facing out in the field, but it’s also an opportunity to weigh in on the larger perspective of polar tourism,” says Frigg Jørgensen, Executive Director of AECO.

According to Jørgensen, with greater interest in Arctic and Antarctic itineraries, managing growth will be an important topic at this year’s conference.

“It is in the industry’s interest to ensure sustainable growth. AECO and IAATO are continually developing guidelines and raising standards to promote safe and responsible tourism. Our members have decades of polar field experience, and their expertise is one of our best resources as we prepare for growth,” says Jørgensen.

The conference also highlights how the industry is doing to have a positive impact in the polar regions. One example is the many citizen science initiatives that enable polar visitors and crew to contribute to research projects, such as collecting data for whale identification or sea-ice monitoring.

“Involving visitors in polar research is not only good for science, it also gives them a deeper understanding of the polar regions and the need to protect these unique and globally important areas,” says Damon Stanwell-Smith, Executive Director of IAATO.

MV Werften hands over second luxury river cruise ship for Crystal

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Today, just a few short weeks after delivery of the Crystal Bach, MV Werften handed over the Crystal Mahler, the second of four Rhine Class ships, to the client, Crystal River Cruises. After the ceremonial change of flags, the ship was christened at the outfitting quay of MV Werften in Wismar.

Like its sister vessel, the 135-metre long and 11.4-metre wide river cruise ship was specifically designed for exploring Europe’s beautiful rivers. It complies with the highest safety and navigation standards, including a permanently staffed, state-of-the-art navigation system as well as Azimuth thrusters for optimum maneuverability. The elegant design of this luxury ship resembles that of private yachts. The interior of the Crystal Mahler boasts light and airy public areas with floor-to-ceiling glass walls as well as spacious suites with horizontal sliding windows. Other on-board facilities include three gourmet restaurants, a spacious spa and fitness area and a swimming pool with a glass roof.

The ship carries just 110 guests in 55 all-balcony suites along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers through Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary, amongst other countries. Sixty-eight crew members guarantee the award-winning Crystal Cruises service as found on other ships in the fleet.

“A new milestone has been reached with the handing over of the Crystal Mahler to Crystal River Cruises: half of the Rhine Class river cruisers have now been delivered," said Jarmo Laakso, CEO of MV Werften, during the handover. “I would like to thank all of the employees and project partners for their commitment and this tremendous achievement and most especially our parent company Genting Hong Kong for this trust in us.”

“We are incredibly pleased to be collaborating with the experts at MV Werften, and thank them for their attention to detail and delivering the kind of innovative and stylish vessels that embody Crystal’s vision of offering travelers an unmatched experience along Europe’s rivers,” said Crystal President and CEO Tom Wolber.

The celebration continued with a traditional christening at the shipyard. Lauren Barfield, a U.S. citizen who plays for SSC Palmberg Schwerin, the reigning German volleyball champions, served as Godmother to the ship. MV Werften has sponsored her team since March 2017.

After delivery of Crystal Mahler, a further seven ships, to be delivered by 2021, are on order from the shipbuilding group. Numbers three and four of the Rhine-Class ships, Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel have been under construction since January and will be delivered in 2018. In the spring of 2018, production will begin on the first of three Endeavor Class mega yachts as well as the first of two ships of the Global Class for Star Cruises.

Norwegian refinances Senior Notes due 2020

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: More News

NCL Corporation Ltd, a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH)., launched an amendment for its existing credit facilities.

This includes repricing of the existing $750 million revolving credit facility and the existing $1,431 million term A loan facility and increase the size of the existing revolving facility and plus add a new $375 million term B loan facility due 2021,  NCLH said in a statement.

“NCLC intends to use the proceeds of the new term B loan, together with borrowings under the revolving credit facility and cash on hand, to redeem its 4.625% Senior Notes due 2020. JP Morgan is acting as lead arranger for the amendment,” NCLH stated.

Carnival Cruise Line signs a new multi-year preferred partnership with Signature Travel Network

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Carnival Cruise Line today announced a new multi-year preferred supplier partnership with Signature Travel Network.

Carnival joins its North American sister brands Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Cunard, and Seabourn as part of the World’s Leading Cruise Lines preferred supplier team with Signature. The news was shared with Signature agency owners at their annual meeting by Signature Travel Network President/CEO Alex Sharpe recently in Phoenix, Arizona.

Partnership benefits for Signature agencies begin October 1, kicking off with a “Signature Welcome” program led by Carnival and offering tailored training and support to its agency community.

“Our executive leadership and sales team are fully dedicated to growing our relationship with Signature Travel Network and leveraging the strength of both organizations to deliver an incredible experience for tens of thousands of travelers each year,” said Adolfo Perez, vice president of sales and trade marketing for Carnival Cruise Line. “Signature Travel Network is known for providing its members with outstanding marketing support and technology that drives business to its members and incremental demand for their preferred suppliers’ products. Signature’s owners and agents are widely respected for being highly skilled and knowledgeable travel experts and we’re thrilled to begin this preferred relationship so that we can work together on growing their overall business and increasing their Carnival sales.”

“On behalf of the board of directors, the larger membership and the Signature staff, we look forward to working together to maximize this new partnership with Carnival,” stated Sharpe. “I believe the network’s greatest strengths are: 1) a members first, service-oriented culture; 2) strong and supportive relationships with preferred partners; 3) customizable, turnkey tools that members use in accordance to their unique business needs and goals. Our multi-year agreement with Carnival is specifically designed to build upon these incredible strengths and offer members yet another, and important, way to broaden their reach, connect with more travelers and grow their businesses.”