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Edie Rodriguez joins PONANT as a newly-created executive role

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

PONANT, the only French-owned cruise line and the world leader in luxury expeditions, welcomes Luxury Cruise Industry Expert Edie Rodriguez as its new Americas Brand Chairman and Corporate Special Advisor.

Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of PONANT and Navin Sawhney, CEO of PONANT Americas are pleased to announce that Edie Rodriguez is joining the PONANT team. Edie Rodriguez, former CEO and President of Crystal, will be responsible for increasing PONANT’s brand awareness in the Americas, especially with professional networks including travel agencies, media, influencers, and prospective passengers. With her more than 30 years of experience in the cruise industry, she will act as a Corporate Advisor for the company.

Navin Sawhney, CEO of PONANT Americas said: “For the last several years now, PONANT has been building a solid strategy for the American market and has the means to achieve its objectives. Given our strong ambitions and the real potential of this market, I am happy to see our team strengthened by the arrival of Edie Rodriguez”

Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO of PONANT said: “With two great seasoned Cruise Industry Experts like Navin and Edie in our team, I’m convinced that PONANT in the USA will achieve its full capability in terms of market share. PONANT should not only be known as a French luxury expedition cruise line, but for what we really are: The World Leader in Luxury Expeditions and the Best Cultural International Cruise line with that special French touch!”

Edie Rodriguez: “I have known PONANT for the last 10 years as they have led the global expedition cruise industry expansion and I have always thought that their ships are perfectly appointed to deliver an unmatched cruise experience. I am proud to help the PONANT brand achieve recognition and realize its ambitions for growth in USA and the Americas at the level it deserves. As well, the passion of PONANT’s founder, coupled with the strength in the global Luxury marketplace of their ownership ensures the brand’s success going forward.”

In her role as the new PONANT Americas Brand Chairman and Corporate Special Advisor, Edie Rodriguez has been hired to represent PONANT Americas and help to increase brand awareness and sales growth, as well as working with PONANT’s corporate headquarter teams on several new projects. Navin Sawhney, as CEO of PONANT Americas, is responsible for company P&L, strategy definition and implementation.

Corrected - Carnival’s rumoured three ship order at Meyer Turku could accelerate removal of ageing ships

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Finnish news sources have said that Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest cruise shipping group, is in talks with Meyer Turku shipyard for three newbuildings. Should this happen, it could accelerate removal of older ships from the Carnival group fleet and demolition of old units worldwide, said Robin Farley, leisure industry analyst at UBS in new York.

The US-UK group currently has four (not three as stated earlier) 184,000 gross ton ships on order at the yard and the rumoured fresh orders that neither party has confirmed or denied, would likely be delivered in 2024-26

Withdrawal rate of older tonnage is likely to accelerate, which will bring down increases when netted against ship deliveries. Industry capacity that is at least 35 years old will go from 3,700 berths in 2016 to 10,000 by 2020, which will likely lead to higher withdrawals.

Carnival recently took a write down of about $400 million of some assets, which Farley believes may prepare them for sale to a secondary market, which could ultimately represent between 1% and 2% of North American capacity

“We think there are further opportunities for capacity to be laid up in secondary markets, as there are ships in the European discount cruise market that were built in the 1980s that if ultimately replaced by older tonnage sold out of North America could represent more than about 3% of North American supply today,” she said.

“The timing of this potential new order highlights a key point in understanding cruise supply trends: it doesn't matter that order books today are at record levels, because ships are being ordered further in advance than historically, so what matters is when they are delivered, and gross capacity in North America is set to grow on average of 5% over next two years, in line with 10 year CAGR of +5%,” she said in a research note.

Typically, a ship with 3,000 to 4,000 berths delivered mid-year could add roughly 40bps of North American capacity increase annually for 2024-2026.

“While capacity is historically a concern for investors, we believe there is some misunderstanding in the marketplace about the rate of supply growth, the rate of supply removal, and the historic rate of demand growth in cruising. See for more detail here on three key main points: (1) Supply growth is in line with historic rates; (2) Withdrawal rate of older tonnage is likely to accelerate, which will lower growth when netted against ship deliveries; (3) Demand growth also matters, not just supply growth,” Farley noted

Capacity growth will seem to "accelerate" in 2018 over 2017 before decelerating back down in 2019, but 2018-19 it is set to grow on average at 5%, in line with 10 year average.

Storm hit Caribbean ports seen to be back in business in few weeks - Goldstein

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Only four destinations in the Caribbean have been badly damaged in the hurricanes of last month and the best way people can help them to recover is to go on a cruise to the region, said senior cruise industry executives at a conference call titled “Caribbean Is Open To Business” on 16 October.

This will also be the title of a campaign, to be launched next week, to tackle conceptions that the entire region has been badly devastated and that booking a cruise there should therefore have to wait – unless a rock bottom discount price was on offer.

“Only four ports have been badly affected,” said Adam Goldstein, Chairman of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and President COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL). These are St Croix, St Thomas, St Marten and San Juan. All are expected to return to business by the end of November. Some other ports, too, have been hit, but there the damage has not been less significant, Goldstein added.

 Cruise lines will return to the affected ports as soon as they open for the trade and as soon as at least the shore excursion that are most in demand can be operated normally. “All destinations will be up and running in the next few weeks,” said Arnold Donald, Chairman of CLIA and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc. The Caribbean covers a region of more than one million square miles and it has hundreds of destinations on offer, he pointed out.

Each cruise calls injects about $500,000 to the economy of the destination, said Michele Page, President of FCCA, so the industry plays a vital role in the economic development of the region. “There is no better way to help the Caribbean than going to the Caribbean,” Donald pointed out.

The destinations that have been hit by the storms are working very hard to rebuild their facilities and they are also using the opportunity to improve them as rebuilding work had become necessary due to the storms. Land based resorts and hotels will probably take a lot longer to come back in business due to the time it will take them to do the same and e.g. damage to the airports is a limiting factor to the resumption of the land based tourist trade in the locations affected.

Donald said that Carnival group is currently examining the possibility to widen the offering of its Fathom experience that is available on the ships of its mass market Carnival Cruise Line unit to offer those willing to volunteer in rebuilding the affected destinations to do so. Goldstein said that the RCCL group is also looking into this, but the number one priority is to get “normal’ shore excursions up and running.

Regarding discounting, Goldstein said that it was “business as usual” for RCCL in the region, although some price incentives would be offered. Donald noted that the Carnival group had less inventory to sell for the final quarter of this year than what was the situation at this time last year regarding the final quarter of 2016.

Both executives declined to elaborate and said more information would be released at the final quarter and full year result conference calls of the respective companies. As far as bookings for 2018 in the region is concerned, both Goldstein and Donald said that these, too, would be discussed at the result conference calls in due time.

San Juan in Puerto Rico is not just a destination, but also a turnaround port. While the locals are working hard with those sent from the US mainland to restore essential services across the island, it would probably bear some scars of the storms of this autumn for years to come. “New Orleans is still recovering for (Hurricane) Katrina. That was more than 10 years ago,” Donald pointed out.

Due to the fact that many people sent from the US mainland are occupying hotels in San Juan at the moment, the availability of rooms is restricted in the capital of Puerto Rico. However, Goldstein pointed out that most passengers that board a cruise ship tend to arrive there on the morning of the departure and fly back home on the afternoon of the arrival, so the hotel situation is unlikely to affect the cruise industry much.











51st MedCruise General Assembly defines Mediterranean’s place in global cruise tourism

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Alan Lam reporting from Toulon

Hosted by the French port city of Toulon, MedCruise celebrated its 51st General Assembly during 11-14 October. The focus of this gathering was steadfastly on defining Mediterranean’s place in the context of today’s global cruise tourism and – under the new presidency of Airam Diaz, Commercial Director of Tenerife Ports – preparing it for the challenges of tomorrow.

For quite a while now the region has been facing obstinate geopolitical problems in the east and in the south. In the years to come MedCruise recognises that it will also have to face the issues associated with over-tourism and hosting bigger ships.

While efforts are made to attract passengers from source markets in such regions as Asia and North America, the association and its members must prepare themselves for the diverse and changing needs of cruise lines and their passengers. Shore side services cannot be one-size-fits-all; they must be tailored to meet specific needs of individual cruise brands and, as much as possible, offer personalised services to passengers in accordance to market segments and nationalities.

To achieve this, stakeholders must begin dialogues with one another and further enhance cooperation among them in order to tell the story of cruising in the Mediterranean.

For the first time, a representative of Virgin Voyages attended MedCruise conference. The line will deploy its second newbuilding, scheduled for delivery in 2021, in the Mediterranean. Craig Milan, VP, Itinerary & Destination Development, has been exploring options in the region. In response, MedCruise members have been passionately promoting their ports to this new cruise line by actively starting dialogues with Milan.

A full analytical feature of this assembly will appear in the next issue of Cruise Business Review – MedCruise’s media partner.

Viking Cruises orders seven new river ships from Neptun Werft

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Viking Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, has placed an order for seven new river ships that will debut in 2019. The newbuild order includes six additional Viking Longships, which will sail the company’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, and one additional vessel, inspired by the Longships and specifically designed for Portugal’s Douro River. The announcement was first made by Viking Chairman, Torstein Hagen, during a press conference in New York City celebrating the first call in Manhattan for the company’s third ocean ship, Viking Sky. With the addition of the new river ships, Viking will operate a fleet of 69 river vessels around the world in 2019. Also by 2019, Viking will welcome its sixth ocean ship and will become the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

“We knew there was an opportunity to do things differently when we started this company 20 years ago,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “In the last two decades, we have spent more than $1 billion marketing the concept of river cruising to North Americans, and today we are a household name. The Viking way of exploration has resonated with our target audience of experienced travelers, and this new ship order is a reflection of strong demand for more destination-focused cruises.”

Of the seven vessels on order for 2019, six are Viking Longships, which have amassed a long list of prestigious awards since their debut. Viking’s accolades include recognition by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s “Editors’ Picks Awards.” More recently, Viking topped USA Today’s annual Readers’ Choice Cruise Poll for “Best River Cruise Line,” and was named “Best Danube River Cruise Operator” in AFAR magazine’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco.

Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Staterooms include comfortable amenities such as hotel-style beds, heated bathroom floors, mini fridge, and both U.S. and EU outlets. Additionally, all Viking Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.