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Global cruise market growth accelerates to 6.5% to 24.7 million passengers, China powers to second place

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

The global cruise market grew by 6.5% to 24.7 million passengers in 2016, exceeding forecasts that the market would grow to 24.2 million people, while China is now the second largest source market of cruise passengers.

In 2015, a total of 23.2 million people took a cruise, an increase of 5.5% on the previous year.

The US remained the largest market with 11.52 million passengers, but China reached the second place by 2.1 million, surpassing Germany that produced 2.01 million passengers. The UK was pushed to the fourth place with 1.79 million passengers last year, Travel Weekly in the UK reported, citing CLIA figures.

CLIA forecast the global market to grow by 4.4% this year to reach 25.8 million passengers.

“In its findings CLIA added that the industry’s growth can be attributed to the continuing development of the Asian market, especially China, with ocean capacity in the region rising to 9.2% in 2016, 38% more overall than in 2015,” Travel Weekly said.

Fincantieri buys 66.66% of the shares in STX France

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Fincantieri, the Italian shipbuilder, said it has acquired a 66.66% stake in STX France, the French builder of e.g. cruise ships, from the South Korea based STX Offshore & Shipbuilding group, for €79.5 million.

The French government holds the rest of the shares in the St Nazaire based shipyard, whose portfolio also includes naval vessels.

After this deal, the cruise ship building sector is largely in the hands of two groups: Fincantieri, with facilities in Italy and France and Meyer, which has a shipyard in Germany and another one in Finland.

In addition, MV Werften, which is part of the Genting Hong Kong group, has a large orderbook of cruise ships, but these are all from its parent company. Some shipyards in China are showing growing interest in the passenger ship building sector as well.

Certares LP buys a stake in AmaWaterways

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

AmaWaterways is pleased to announce that it has closed on an investment from travel and hospitality investor group Certares LP. Certares joins the Schreiner/Karst, Murphy and McGeary families as the company’s fourth investor, all of whom remain committed to supporting AmaWaterways long-term growth and innovation in the river cruising industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Last week, AmaWaterways, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2017, christened its newest ship, the AmaKristina, and debuted its design and construction plans for its double-width Danube ship, the AmaMagna, which is expected to launch in 2019. Certares, whose other current investments include American Express Global Business Travel and Travel Leaders Group, is an investment company focused on the travel and hospitality sectors. Certares holds and oversees each of its portfolio companies separately.

Colin Farmer, Managing Partner of Certares, said “We are extremely excited to be joining the three family shareholders of AmaWaterways. Rudi, Kristin, the Murphys and the McGearys have built the leading luxury river cruising company in the industry and we are honored to join them in support of this next chapter of the company’s development. We are partnering with an exceptional team who have an incredible track record of customer service and product innovation.”

Rudi Schreiner, President of AmaWaterways, said: “We are happy to welcome Certares as a partner in AmaWaterways. We look forward to continuing our growth in the river cruising market with the support of our new partners and our family partners. We are proud of the company we have built over the last 15 years, the privilege we have of hosting our guests onboard every day and the opportunities we see ahead of us.”

Aurora Expeditions to charter first SunStone newbuild

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Aurora Expeditions, Australia’s leading polar adventure cruising company, has today announced the delivery of its first brand new, purpose-built, expedition vessel.

With 25 years’ experience in expedition cruising to Antarctica and the Arctic, Aurora Expeditions has worked closely with US-based ship provider SunStone Ships Inc. to create a custom-designed ship that remains true to the company’s ethos of pioneering adventures, intimate experiences with nature and exploring new regions.

The state-of-the-art ice class 1A ship will be built to the latest polar code specifications, offering unprecedented levels of safety and environmental protection – for operations not just in the high latitudes, but across the planet. Exclusively designed for expedition cruising, the 104-metre vessel will allow Aurora Expeditions to continue to provide the authentic, small-ship experience for which they are renowned.

“With the development of our purpose-built expedition ship, we stay true to our small-ship philosophy where the focus is on the experience and engagement with the environment while at the same time providing the most comfortable form of travel in these challenging environments. In the polar regions, we will have the ability to reduce passenger numbers so we can continue to visit existing landings sites as well as explore new areas where strict regulations enforce no more than 100 people ashore at any one time.” says Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director of Aurora Expeditions.

Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will be the first in a new series of high-performance vessels designed to make the ocean- going experience as safe and comfortable as possible in the polar regions.

“We are excited to be the first to market with this exciting new design. The vessel is the first to use the patented X-BOW technology which has the ability to pierce waves with much greater stability, making open sea journeys – like Antarctica’s notorious Drake Passage – more pleasant for passengers than what is currently available from other small ships on the market today.” Halfpenny says.

While a traditional bow vessel rises on the waves and then drops violently onto the surface of the water, an X-BOW vessel, less subject to the vertical motions induced by the waves, continues on course more smoothly, while maintaining its speed. Because it uses less fuel to get through the waves, it also helps to save energy versus a conventional bow designed vessel.

Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will make access to nature easier and offer passengers a more comfortable experience than ever before. It will also allow for greater adventure opportunities with a custom-designed platform to cater for additional numbers of kayakers and divers, and a mud room for easier preparation for climbers and skiers. Small inflatable Zodiac crafts will continue to carry expeditioners between ship and shore, with a dedicated sea-level Zodiac loading platform for quick and easy boarding.

In between adventures, passengers will return to the warm, friendly and inclusive onboard atmosphere for which Aurora Expeditions is well-known. Whether it’s making new friends over dinner, sharing entertaining lectures, or briefings in the lounge, the small-group experience remains the same. Add to this private bathroom facilities, cabin balconies, a 180- degree indoor observation deck, wellness facilities including gymnasium, sauna and spa, and plenty of outdoor viewing areas for additional enjoyment and comfort.

At a time when the cruising industry is focused on 6-star luxury and onboard activities to attract passengers, Aurora Expeditions remains steadfast in its belief that its destinations are best-experienced in small groups, as close as possible to the heart of nature. This means getting off the ship as often as possible with multiple daily landings and getting amongst the action; seeing up close penguin adults feeding their chicks, polar bears hunting seals on pack ice or Galapagos sea turtles diving for a meal.

The yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in time for Aurora Expeditions’ 2019/2020 Antarctic season (November to March) and will complement the company’s existing fleet of vessels and destinations. Itineraries for the new ship are expected for release later this year.

TUI interim loss deepens but cruises perform well

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

TUI AG, the German tour operator that is listed in London, has reported a deeper operating loss for second quarter of its financial year, but says its cruise operations in Germany and the UK perform well.

Operating loss (EBITDA) of continuing operations deepened to €82.1 million in the three months to 31 march from €45.6 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues rose to €3.10 billion from €2.97 billion.

Underlying EBITDA of the group’s cruise operations that comprise 100% of Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten in Germany, Thomson Cruises in the UK and 50% of TUI Cruises in Germany, rose to €47.0 million from€37.0 million.

Thomson Cruises was included in the cruise operations of TUI for the first time – previously it had been part of the UK – and the second quarter 2016 figure was restated to include Thomson Cruises.

“In the Cruises segment, advance bookings were up year-on-year with sound demand levels, primarily due to continued fleet expansion,” the company said in a statement.

Demand for cruises remains buoyant in Germany, and TUI said it remains pleased with the performance of the TUI Cruises fleet. The company will introduce the 2500 passenger Mein Schiff 6 soon.

“Thomson Cruises continues its programme of modernisation with the launch of TUI Discovery 2. The 1,800 berth ship, recently acquired from Royal Caribbean, will be based in the Mediterranean this Summer before moving to the Caribbean for Winter 2017 / 18. We are pleased with sales for the new ship, as well as the performance of the rest of the Thomson Cruises fleet,” TUI said.