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AECO statement on polar bear incident in Svalbard

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Saturday July 28, a polar bear was shot dead in Svalbard after attacking a cruise ship’s polar bear guard. The guard sustained moderate injuries. The incident is being investigated by the Governor of Svalbard.

Svalbard, and the high Arctic in general, is a region of the world where wildlife habitats and human settlements overlap. As a result, there are encounters between polar bears and humans. Thanks to strict safety protocols and regulations, polar bear attacks are extremely rare. However, such attacks sometimes occur and may have tragic outcomes.

Expedition cruising is part of the tourism in Svalbard. Most expedition cruise operators in Svalbard are members of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO). The operator involved in the polar bear incident this weekend is one of the few expedition cruise operators in Svalbard that is not a member of AECO, but AECO would nevertheless take the opportunity to underline that the Arctic expedition cruise industry takes polar bear safety extremely seriously.

From AECO’s point of view, it is very sad when an incident leads to human injuries and the death of a polar bear. AECO’s objective is to ensure that expedition cruises and tourism in the Arctic is carried out with the utmost consideration for the vulnerable, natural environment, local cultures and cultural remains, as well as the challenging safety hazards at sea and on land. Keeping passengers safe and ensuring non-disturbance of Arctic wildlife is essential for AECO’s members.

Tourism is an important industry in many Arctic areas. This is also the case in Svalbard where the Norwegian government has pointed out tourism as a developing area. A year-round land-based and summer sea-based tourism brings more than 100 000 visitors to Svalbard every year.

Svalbard is a popular and well-regulated tourism destination, and incidents involving the cruise industry are rare. Expedition cruise tourism in Svalbard is subject to strict regulations and is closely monitored by the Governor of Svalbard. In accordance with Article 30 of the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act, it is prohibited to lure, pursue or otherwise seek out polar bears in such a way as to disturb them or expose either bears or humans to danger. The Governor of Svalbard enforces this law and investigates incidents where polar bears may have been disturbed.

AECO has put in place several guidelines and standards that go beyond legal requirements to further advance safe and environmentally friendly cruise tourism. AECO’s members are subject to a strict non-disturbance principle when it comes to wildlife. AECO has developed mandatory Polar bear guidelines that provide detailed instructions on how to avoid encounters with and disturbance of bears. In accordance with AECO’s Polar bear guidelines, AECO’s members should always keep a distance and ensure that polar bears are undisturbed. It is also required to have a plan and be ready to act to avoid encounters by implementing safety measures beforehand. Before undertaking shore excursions, the operator is required to check out the terrain, do reconnaissance and look out for polar bears before any passenger comes ashore. Members are also required to establish a polar bear watch system and stay in places where there is good visibility of the surrounding area.

AECO is also a forum for exchanging and advancing best practices on polar bear safety through, incident reporting, information sharing, member meetings and education, including field staff conferences and AECO’s field staff online assessment.

AECO will continue to work with regulators, research institutions, local communities and environmental organizations to ensure that AECO’s guidelines and best practices contribute to setting the highest possible operating standards for Arctic cruise tourism.

Carnival Maritime strengthens cooperation with WISTA

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) is an international organisation which aims to attract more women to the industry and support the role of women in shipping. The German arm of the international association, WISTA Germany e.V, which is headquartered in Hamburg, elected a new board of directors at the beginning of July, and for the first time a representative of Carnival Maritime, Cindy Paarmann, has taken a place on the board.

“I am very happy and honoured to be representing women in our industry in this key position. As HR Manager Development at Carnival Maritime, supporting women’s careers on board is one of my focuses. I want to encourage women to discover and embrace the many exciting and fulfilling career options in the cruise industry. The doors are open for them, because shipping companies have now realised what a great asset diversity is. Women belong on board!” Carnival Maritime is the marine service unit for AIDA Cruises and Costa Crociere. Currently, 60 female officers work on the group’s vessels: two-thirds on deck and one third in engine services.

A great example of what women can achieve in the marine industry is Germany’s first female cruise ship captain, WISTA member Nicole Langosch, who took over the helm of AIDA Cruises ships in April 2018. Paarmann’s colleague Abi Lewis, Director Itinerary and Fuel in the Carnival Maritime Nautical Department, has been participating with the WISTA mentoring programme since 2018.
“When it comes to the proportion of women in our industry, there is a lot of catching up to do and a very clear need for more information. Carnival Maritime is fully committed to encouraging women to join WISTA and explicitly supports the association’s activities and values. This way, we aim to make a positive contribution to ensuring that more women take on management roles in shipping,” says Tino Hensel, Vice President Marine HR at Carnival Maritime.

Worldwide, the proportion of female officers is 5.4%. Alongside Spain, Finland and Malta, Germany has one of the highest proportions of women in the industry.

Wärtsilä to provide comprehensive optimised maintenance for Virgin Voyages

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Virgin Voyages has assigned Wärtsilä the responsibility of the maintenance of Virgin Voyages’ three cruise ships. Wärtsilä will ensure that vessels are powered and operated reliably, efficiently and sustainably, enabling Virgin Voyages to focus on providing its cruise passengers with a unique holiday experience.

The comprehensive ten-year Optimised Maintenance Agreement, signed on 30 April 2018, gives extensive responsibility of maintenance to Wärtsilä, allowing Virgin Voyages to provide unique voyage experiences to their “Sailors” – the term Virgin Voyages has coined for their passengers.

Wärtsilä’s Dynamic Maintenance Planning allows maintenance operations to be carried out based on remotely monitored and analysed real-time performance data. This makes it possible to extend service intervals when the equipment does not yet require maintenance. Overhauls can be scheduled to fit the operations of the vessel. Availability is thereby increased and unnecessary downtime minimised. The joint risk and reward scheme allows unique opportunities for both parties.

The extensive agreement includes Remote Operational Support Services, Specific Fuel Oil Consumption (SFOC) meters and calibration, spare parts and technical advisory services for the engines. In addition, Virgin Voyages will receive comprehensive technical support and personnel training.

The three vessels forming the Virgin Voyages cruise fleet will begin operations in 2020, 2021 and 2022. All three will be equipped with technologically advanced Wärtsilä46F engines, Wärtsilä’s Hybrid Scrubber System and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems for exhaust gas cleaning, as well as Wärtsilä’s Nacos Platinum navigation solution.

Virgin Voyages is a joint venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Bain Capital. The cruise line will differentiate itself from the competition by offering Virgin-branded, stylish travel experiences to an adult customer base.

“At Virgin Voyages we’re seeking to redefine how a holiday at sea looks and feels. Building a new approach to sea travel is a massive undertaking, and our unique agreement with Wärtsilä will help us ensure that our ships are operating efficiently and sustainably. Wärtsilä’s outstanding reputation for a commitment to high-quality service and our shared values for environmental consciousness made them the ideal fit for a maintenance partner,” said Stuart Hawkins, Senior Vice President of Marine & Technical Operations for Virgin Voyages.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with Virgin Voyages. Our environmentally sound solutions and forward-looking, modern technologies will help to ensure the perfect cruise experience for Virgin Voyages’ customers. I am certain that our journey with Virgin Voyages will be mutually rewarding,” says Sean Carey, Services Unit Director USA, Wärtsilä.

Virgin Voyages unveils nine more spaces of the company's first ship

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin today revealed renderings and animations of nine new public spaces of the company’s first ship, as well as innovative programming details about its approach to well-being for sailors, which the brand refers to as ‘Vitamin Sea.’

As part of the “Epic Sea Change for All” brand purpose, Virgin Voyages has committed to delivering transformational and rejuvenating experiences for its sailors. Its ‘Vitamin Sea’ ideology is inspired by the oceans and their importance in the health and well-being for our planet and our daily lives. The approach also places healthy travel at the forefront of the delivery of its ‘Adult by Design’ experience for the 18+ sailor.

“We are all so busy with life, work and family that vacations are critical for us to be able to rebuild our energy, so that we can live our best lives,” said McAlpin. “With well-being at the heart of everything we do at Virgin Voyages, sailors will come back feeling rejuvenated, not like they need a holiday from their holiday.”

A dose of ‘Vitamin Sea’ is naturally intertwined across the entire ship, with well-being activated through a mix of high-energy moments coupled with relaxation and rejuvenation. A wide variety of group fitness classes on board are all provided complimentary within the voyage fare, allowing sailors many opportunities to revel in their favorite fitness activities or even try something new.

The ship has been designed with ample outdoor and outward looking spaces meant for sailors to enjoy any or all activities. The Crow’s Nest with its 360-degree view is a secluded sundeck for sunrise and sunset yoga. Adjacent to this area of Zen is the signature Virgin red running track called The Runway that forms a halo-like vision over the ship and where sailors will sweat, strut or skate.

Designed by Concrete Amsterdam, the rock and roll designers from Virgin’s creative collective, The Crow’s Nest and The Runway link to The Athletic Club. Offering moments of detox and ‘retox,’ the space features an outdoor training zone, including a boxing ring, strength and gymnastics equipment like you’d find in the New York sports clubs of the 1920’s, oversized gaming for outdoor adult play, cabanas for relaxation, and a sporty bar for socializing post- workout.

The B-Complex features the ultimate well-being and fitness experience with strength, spin, yoga and cardio in its Build, Burn, Bike and Balance rooms, all with dramatic ocean views. For on-demand fitness, the Burn and Build gyms will each be equipped with Technogym ARTIS, a line of sustainably crafted cutting-edge fitness technology.

After working up a sweat or finding their moment of reflection, sailors will restore themselves in the serenity zone by hopping in the Well-being Pool and boosting their performance with fresh cold-pressed juices, served at the Gym and Tonic bar. My
On deck 5, well-being will take center stage at Redemption, the ship’s spa. Inspired by an underwater cave, Redemption will serve as a mermaid and merman hideaway complete with hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge pools, quartz beds, and rejuvenating spa treatments. By night, sailors can complete their well-being journey by attending one of the voyage’s evening spa parties where a killer DJ will transform the spa’s thermal suite into a mermaid hideaway extravaganza.

Vitamin Sea is also about being pampered and well-groomed. The Scarlet Lady will offer an array of personal treatments in different spaces across the ship to transform sailors. This includes a standalone blow dry bar called the Dry Dock salon, the Stubble & Groom barbershop with a male pedicure spa overlooking a porthole ocean view and to polish it off the gorgeous mani- pedi spa.

Virgin names its first newbuild

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: More News

The steel cutting ceremony of the second of three cruise ships that Virgin Voyages (part of Virgin Group) ordered to Fincantieri took place today at the Sestri Ponente (Genoa) yard.

During the event, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin, welcomed by Giampiero Massolo and Giuseppe Bono, Chairman and CEO of Fincantieri, also revealed the name of the first ship currently under construction at the yard: Scarlet Lady, inspired by the name of one of the first aircrafts to fly for the sister company Virgin Atlantic.

Virgin Voyages second ship, as its sister ships, will weigh about 110,000 gross tons, be 278 meters long and 38 wide, with delivery scheduled in 2021, while Scarlet Lady will set sail in 2020 and the third in 2022. They will feature over 1,400 guest cabins that can host more than 2,700 passengers, accompanied by 1,150 crew members on board to deliver the famed Virgin service.

The development of Virgin Voyages ships will stand out for their design as well as for their particular attention to energy recovery, featuring cutting-edge alternative technologies that reduce the ship’s overall environmental impact. For example, their ships will be equipped with an energy production system of approximately 1 MW, which uses the diesel engine’s waste heat. While at the shipyard, Virgin Voyages also announced that they are eliminating single-use plastics for their guests and replacing them with recyclable and reusable materials.