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Kiel cruise forum: Cruises in Northern Europe stay popular

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The trends, potential and prospects of cruise shipping tourism were up for discussion on September 9 in Kiel’s Hotel Atlantic at the trade forum “Cruise Shipping Destinations Schleswig-Holstein” organised by the Schleswig-Holstein Tourist Agency. The forum is an information platform and an opportunity for trade experts to exchange views. Dr Dirk Claus, Managing Director of the Port of Kiel (SEEHAFEN KIEL GmbH & Co. KG) and a partner of the “Cruise Shipping Destinations Schleswig-Holstein” project said “cruises in northern Europe continue to be as popular as ever and Kiel is benefitting from this growth. The number of travellers has more than doubled to 350,000 inside just four years.” The port chief singled out three developments in particular. "As cruise ships continue to get bigger, they themselves become objects of interest, the public is getting younger and the northern Europe cruise season is getting longer," Dirk Claus said.

This year the average size of cruise ships calling at Kiel is almost 65,000 gross tons for the first time. That’s five times more than the average cruise ship size in 2001 (12,850 GT). "The increasing size of ships has placed challenging demands on port locations. Enormous investments have been made in expanding terminal facilities and further capacity expansion will be necessary," said Dirk Claus. Ships of more than 300 metres in length, carrying more than 3,000 passengers, are now increasingly being brought into service in the Baltic and require handling logistics which need to be well-planned and include good service. To continue to meet this growing future demand, not only the Ostseekai but also, from 2013, the Ostuferhafen will be in a position to host big cruise ships.

Of particular importance for port locations is the trend towards longer cruising seasons in northern Europe. Whereas cruise ships have so far traditionally operated between May and September in the Baltic, the season now starts as early as the beginning of April and lasts until mid October. "In the coming year," said Dirk Claus, "we will even welcome a cruise ship to Kiel during Advent. Why shouldn’t cruise ships , like ferry ships, soon be sailing all the year round in the Baltic.” As well as being a start and end port, Kiel is also the gateway to Schleswig-Holstein as a tourist destination. Dirk Claus said “the public is getting younger and our international guests want increasingly active land excursions. There is an opportunity here to market Schleswig-Holstein’s many tourist attractions. In this respect I heartily welcome the co-operation among tourist and port concerns which is promoted within the “Cruise Shipping Destinations Schleswig-Holstein” project.”

The SEEHAFEN KIEL operates Kiel’s commercial port on behalf of the Schleswig-Holstein state capital, of which it is a 100% subsidiary. Kiel boasts a total of three modern passenger terminals for ferry and cruise ships at the Ostseekai, Schwedenkai and Norwegenkai - all of them in inner-city locations. Smaller cruise ships and large private yachts can berth at the Sartorikai which has a very special atmosphere. Inside just five years and with the support of the state of Schleswig-Holstein and the EU, well over 60 million Euros have been invested in the expansion of port facilities. 

Norwegian unveils more Project Breakaway staterooms

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled the balance of stateroom designs, including The Studio, Spa Balcony, Spa Mini-Suite, Oceanview, Family Mini-Suite, and Inside staterooms -- for Project Breakaway, the company's two new next generation Freestyle Cruising ships scheduled for delivery in April 2013 and April 2014. Similar to the Balcony and Mini-Suite staterooms revealed this summer, these staterooms combine the form and function of the line's Jewel class ships' staterooms with the modern and contemporary design touches of Norwegian Epic.

Norwegian is continuing the popular award-winning Studio staterooms for solo travelers on the Project Breakaway ships. The 59 Studios on each ship are specifically designed and priced for the solo traveler with an innovative bathroom design that includes a separate sink and shower to provide more personal space. The Studios, the majority of which connect, feature a full-size bed with convenient lighted recess above the bed to hold books, magazines, tablet computers or electronic reading devices and have a unique window to the corridor. These rooms also have private keycard access to the Studio complex and exclusive two-story Studio Lounge with a bar.

For those who like to relax, the 28 Spa Balcony and the 20 Spa Mini-Suite staterooms feature tranquil spa décor and have easy access to the adjacent spa and fitness center, as well as complimentary access to the Thermal Spa Suite during operating hours.

On the Project Breakaway ships, Norwegian is re-introducing Oceanview staterooms that feature large picturesque windows. Of the 158 Oceanview staterooms on each ship, there are approximately 42 Family Oceanviews that sleep up to five guests and have a bathroom similar to the Mini-Suite with a modern double sink, bath tub and a second wardrobe for added storage. 

The Family Mini-Suites located on Deck 12 and 13 feature all the attributes of the Mini-Suite and are located in close proximity to the children's facilities, making it convenient and easy for families. For families with small children, there are a number of staterooms with bath tubs.

Project Breakaway ships include 449 Inside staterooms that feature two lower beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed. Many are connecting and sleep up to four guests. They are located on various decks throughout the ship and some are adjacent to the children's facilities.

Each of the 144,017 gross ton vessels will have approximately 4,000 passenger berths. Project Breakaway ships represent an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to "break away" from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true respite at sea. These new ships will take the best of the best from all of Norwegian's existing ships drawing on the line's experience of having launched 10 ships in the past 10 years - starting with Norwegian Star and Sun in 2001 and culminating with the launch of Norwegian Epic in 2010. 

Norwegian commissioned design group Priestmangoode of the United Kingdom and Tillberg Design of Sweden, to design the staterooms for Project Breakaway. Priestmangoode won accolades and awards for designing the Studios, the first staterooms designed specifically for solo travelers, on Norwegian Epic. 

Information and renderings on Project Breakaway can be found at www.ncl.com/breakaway or on our Facebook page at www.ncl.com/facebook.

Holland America Line promotes Captain Rick Krombeen to Director, Nautical Operations

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Holland America Line has promoted Capt. Rik Krombeen to director, nautical operations. In this role, he will be responsible for the safe operation and nautical oversight of the premium cruise line's 15 ships. He will report to Cees Deelstra, vice president, nautical operations.

Krombeen began the transition from sailing onboard to the corporate office this past April, splitting his time between Seattle, Wash., and serving as captain. He is now full-time in his new position.

"Captain Krombeen brings with him years of knowledge and experience that will be a valuable asset to ensuring the safe operation of our ships," said Deelstra. "He is well respected in our organization and throughout the industry, and we know he will achieve great success in his new role."

Krombeen began his career with Holland America Line in 1983 when he went to the Nautical Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, later joining the ships as a junior deck officer. After leaving the company for a brief time, he returned in 2002 and was appointed to the position of captain in 2007.

He holds a Master-All Ships license and a bachelor's degree in shipping economics.

MSC Divina floated out

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

MSC Divina, the third and latest addition to the MSC Cruises' flagship Fantasia class, floated out of dry dock B at the STX Europe ship yard in Saint-Nazaire, France on Saturday, September 3, and transferred to dock C for final fitting and furnishing prior to her christening on May 26, 2012.

Representing a major milestone in this 140,000 ton ship accommodating up to 4,363 guests, a select group gathered to witness the ship slated to become the 12th ship in MSC Cruises fleet.

"Today marks the start of the final one-million hours of work required to ensure MSC Divina is ready for her debut on May 26, 2012 in Marseille, France," said Emilio La Scala, general manager of MSC Cruises technical department.

Named in honor of Sophia Loren, Italian film legend and godmother of several MSC ships, MSC Divina will be appropriately themed as a divine goddess.

Also announced during the float out, the ship's 18 decks (13 of which are for guests use) are being named after the gods of ancient Greece; among them Urano, Afrodite, Aurora, Giunone, Artemide, Zeus, Mercurio, Cupido, Iride, Minerva, Apollo, Saturno, and Elios.

Another addition to the ship is the aft Garden Pool purposely designed and decorated as an upscale area for quiet retreat, philosophizing or simply gazing into the sunset.

Construction of MSC Divina began more than a year ago with a total of 74 mega-blocks each consisting of a set of large pre-fabricated hull components used for assembling the ship.

Work on the keel is nearly completed. Already 50 percent of the outfitting has been done including completion of the electrical networking, plumbing, and public areas. Work has also begun on 400 of the 1,751 staterooms, 100 more than her sister ships MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida.

Cutting-edge technical changes on MSC Divina include more powerful propulsion motors, rated at 21.8 MW each (compared to 20.2 MW on the MSC Splendida); new alternators, and state-of-the-art HVAC chillers. The ship will feature a new reverse osmosis system for fresh water production that requires 40 percent less power, therefore, providing less of an impact on the environment.

Royal Caribbean announces 2012 schedule for Voyager of the Seas

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Executives of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today Royal Caribbean Internationals 2012 Asia cruises deployment schedule for Voyager of the Seas – the largest and most amenity-filled cruise ship to sail in the region.

At 137,276 gross registered tons, Voyager of the Seas ranks among the world's 10 largest and most innovative cruise ships and will offer vacationers unparalleled experiences in the region. The ships inaugural Asia season will start on May 26, 2012 in Singapore, followed by sailings from Shanghai (Baoshan) and Tianjin in China.

"We have a leading market position in China," explains Dr. Zinan Liu, group managing director of China and Asia for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Customer demand is strengthening and were responding by increasing our commitment to the region with an additional, bigger ship, to offer a wider range of itineraries to even more ports."

With Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas, which has been deployed in China since 2010, Royal Caribbean International will offer 49 sailings out of the country in 2012, and will add Xiamen as its fourth homeport after Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong.

"Voyager of the Seas' deployment to Asia is another milestone for Royal Caribbean International, and a mark of our confidence and commitment to the regions potential, as well as part of our global growth strategy," says Michael Bayley, executive vice president of International, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Voyager of the Seas will offer vacationers a wide range of short cruises – three-, four-, five- seven- and eight-night itineraries in Asia – to longer, 14- to 18-night cruises in the South Pacific to New Zealand and Australia. Chinese guests can also expect to experience a greater variety of products and services tailored to their needs.

Cruises will include the seven-night Pearls of the Orient and Jewels of Asia sailings, calling at various destinations in Japan and South Korea. Vacationers also can choose a repositioning cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas from Singapore to Fremantle, Australia, departing October 22, 2012, and returning on March 9, 2013. Voyager of the Seas will reposition to begin its winter season from Sydney on November 5, 2012. Bookings for Voyager of the Seas 2012 Asia itineraries open today.

When she sails into Asia next year, Voyager of the Seas will introduce several unique concepts never before seen at sea in the region, including the following signature onboard amenities:
" Royal Promenade  an indoor main street stretching nearly the full length of the middle of the ship, lined with places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained. Guests can stroll up and down the four-story street and enjoy regular street parades. 
" Studio B Ice Rink  an ice skating rink for guests that doubles as a sensational 700-seat venue for ice show productions with world-class figure skaters.
" Eleven dining venues include specialty restaurant Portofino for classic Italian fine dining and 50s inspired American diner Johnny Rockets. Theres also the grand three-story, 1,919-seat main dining room.
" Unparalleled sports facilities including an inline skating track, Royal Caribbean Internationals signature rock-climbing wall, a nine-hole mini golf course, a golf simulator, a full size sports court with basketball court, three swimming pools and six whirlpools.

In the evenings, there are award-winning Broadway-style musical revues, or opportunities to recount the days experiences in multiple onboard bars and lounges over cocktails.

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