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Hurricane Irma – Norwegian Sky to rescue stranded travelers from St. Thomas

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Norwegian Cruise Line is continuing to closely watch the forecasted path of major Hurricane Irma and respond as necessary to ensure the safety of our guests and crew. "We have cancelled this week’s scheduled sailings aboard our two ships that depart from Miami, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Escape and both ships are currently navigating a safe course around the path of Hurricane Irma. Norwegian Escape is sailing at full capacity with approximately 4,000 displaced guests from both ships that were unable to secure flights back home. The ship is currently alongside in Cozumel, Mexico and will remain there until 7 a.m. Sunday, September 10. Guests who have secured flights home may disembark the ship in Mexico if they wish. Due to the devastation in the Caribbean caused by Hurricane Irma, all of Norwegian Escape’s upcoming Eastern Caribbean sailings will be altered to a Western Caribbean itinerary until November. All guests scheduled to sail on any affected cruises will be notified of the change," NCL said a statement on September 9.

"Acting as a responsible corporate citizen and supporting the destinations that our ships operate in is a core value of Norwegian Cruise Line. In the wake of this devastating storm, we will be deploying Norwegian Sky from her current position off the coast of Cancun to St. Thomas, USVI to retrieve approximately 2,000 travelers who were unable to evacuate the island prior to the storm. The ship is departing immediately and will arrive in St. Thomas in the late evening hours on Monday, September 11. Norwegian Cruise Line is working closely with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association and the Governor of St. Thomas to execute this rescue mission. When all designated vacation guests have boarded the ship, Norwegian Sky will sail back to her homeport of Miami and is expected to arrive on Thursday, September 14," the company said.

CLIA releases 2016 State of the Asia Cruise Industry Report and North Asia Economic Impact Study

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

The Cruise Lines International Association, today, releases the findings from two new reports about the Asian Cruise market. The first, 2017 Asia Cruise Trends, is a comprehensive analysis of the cruise industry within Asia. The second, the 2016 North Asia Economic Impact Study, reveals the economic impact the cruise industry has had to the North Asian market.

“While the Asian cruise market has grown tremendously within the past four years – it has the potential to capture a much larger percentage of the Asian population, which could catapult Asia’s capacity share ahead of competing markets,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA. “With these studies, CLIA aims to provide industry stakeholders with actionable, meaningful information to assist in structuring and supporting this emerging region.”

Highlights from the 2017 Asia Cruise Trends Includes:

– More Passengers: A total of 3.1 million Asians took cruises in 2016, 55% more than in 2015. Of these, 68% or 2.1 million were from mainland China, a market which almost doubled as it grew by 99% last year and at a four-year CAGR of 76%, confirming China as the world’s fastest growing major source of passengers.

– More Ships in Asian Waters – In 2017, 66 cruise ships are being deployed in Asian waters. Five of these are mega ships (more than 3,500 passenger capacity), 13 are large (2,000 to 3,500 passengers), 26 of the deployed ships will be mid-size, and 17 seasonal small upscale ships will be active in the Asian region. In addition, the Expedition niche will have five ships deployed in limited seasons. In 2013, there were only 43 ships cruising in Asia, marking a 53 per cent growth since 2013.

– Increased Operating Days in 2017 – The Asian cruise industry has 10,196 operating days in Asia scheduled for 2017, an increase of 137% from 4,307 operating days in 2013, and an increase of 25% over the 8,171 operating days in 2016. The increased operating days in 2017 provide a total capacity for 4.24 million passengers. This passenger capacity has nearly tripled from 1.51 million passengers in 2013.

– Asian Travellers Prefer Exploring Asian Destinations – Asian travellers predominantly take cruises within the region. Asian cruise only passengers grew at the fastest rate mostly due to the increase in the Chinese market. In fact, out of the 2,086 sailings scheduled for Asian waters in 2017 – 1,992 cruises (or 95.4%) will remain within Asia, with exclusive Asia-to-Asia itineraries, while an additional 94 voyages are scheduled to pass through the Asia region in 2017. Total sailings in and through Asia have seen strong growth over the past four years, increasing 142%, from 861 cruises and voyages in 2013 to 2,086 in 2017.

Highlights from the 2016 North Asia Economic Impact Study:

– The direct economic contribution of cruise tourism across all of North Asia consisted of the $3.23 billion in direct expenditures, $1.51 billion in value added goods and services, and 23,697 full- and part-time jobs paying $754.5 million in employee compensation

– Wholesale & Retail Trade ($962.3 million), Other Services & Government ($693.9 million), and Financial & Business Services ($679.5 million) were the primary direct beneficiaries of cruise tourism spending. Combined, these three sectors accounted for approximately 72% of the regional direct impacts with $2.34 billion in direct expenditures, $1.18 billion in value-added goods and services, and 19,252 full- and part-time jobs paying $594.4 million in employee compensation.

– The indirect and induced economic contribution is generated by the spending of the directly impacted businesses and their employee, which is then spread throughout the corporate and consumer sectors of each economy. These impacts totalled $3.98 billion in output, $1.72 billion in value-added goods and services, and 27,934 full- and part-time jobs paying $749.6 million in employee compensation.

– Manufacturing, Financial and Business Services, and Agriculture accounted for approximately 79 per cent of the total indirect and induced impacts with $3.16 billion in output, $1.22 billion in value-added and 19,893 full- and part-time jobs paying $491.1 million in employee compensation.

– Combining the direct, indirect and induced contributions, the total economic contribution of cruise tourism in the three North Asia economies amounted to $7.21 billion in output, $3.23 billion in value-added goods and services and 51,631 full- and part-time jobs paying $1.5 billion in employee compensation.

– CLIA member cruise lines reported that they employed a total of 19,304 residents of North Asia as shore side staff or crew. China, alone, accounts for 98% of this total with 18,974 employees. Including these cruise line employees and staff, the total employment impact increases to 70,935 jobs paying $1.8 billion in compensation across the three North Asia countries.

(Updated) Brexit – business as usual for cruise industry

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Alan Lam reporting from Hamburg

On the second day of Seatrade Cruise and River Cruise Convention - currently underway in Hamburg, Germany - the topic of Brexit came under scrutiny.

The general consensus among the industry leaders is one of “business as usual”. None of the cruise lines has reported any negative impact on customer confidence and booking behaviour changes on account of the impending Brexit. The UK cruise business is still booming.

Although the biggest threat to the industry is one of uncertainty, “Fourteen months into the process we still don’t know anything about Brexit,” said Tim Reardon, Policy Director – Taxation, Ferry and Cruise, UK Chamber of Shipping. But all the indications suggest Brexit makes no difference to cruise business.”

Others in the industry share this view. “The business is buoyant,” said Stuart Leven, Vice President, EMEA and Managing Director, RCL Cruises Ltd.
“We have not seen any indication at all of the negative impact on customer confidence. Customers are resilient. I think one area of concern is the short-term currency fluctuation. The buoyancy remains as we go through the process. We are now selling cruises for after the three-year moratorium period of Brexit. There is no indication of slowing down.”

Leven also pointed out possible benefits of Brexit for the UK cruise business. “We always see the pitfalls,” he said, “but there could be benefits from Brexit. We just need to keep our focus as we go through the process,” he went on. “We are not making any itinerary changes because of Brexit.”

Looking at the broader picture there appears to be no changes based on Brexit. However, examining Brexit in detail, there are many questions need to be answered, especially those concerning free movement of passengers and labour. “I don’t think anybody will go mad and start to raise barriers,” said Thanos Pallis, Secretary General, MedCruise. “There might be some adjustments relating to customs control and duty-free sales, for example, but no major worries concerning the arrival of British passengers in short to medium term. In the longer term, everything will settle down in time once we have a clearer picture.”

The question of proposed visa requirement for UK citizens travelling to other EU countries was raised perfunctorily and dismissively. But it does not seem to have deterred either the cruise industry or its customers. If anything, the post-Brexit investment in the UK is intensifying. “We have shipping clients who are investing heavily in the UK and growing even though there is a looming Brexit,” said Javed Ali, Legal Consultant, Hill Dickinson. “We have clients from Italy who are relocating 400 staff to the UK.”

Neither the UK government nor EU has said anything to the cruise industry about Brexit. So uncertainty and currency fluctuation it brings are the only threats perceived by the industry for the moment. On the whole it is business as usual as far as Brexit is concern.

Carnival Corporation and Meyer Werft begins construction of world’s first fully LNG-powered cruise ship

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest leisure travel company, marked the official beginning of construction for the first of its seven next-generation cruise ships that will be fully-powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) with a keel-laying ceremony at Seatrade Europe in Hamburg.

Pioneering a new era in the use of low-carbon fuels, these new ships will be the first in the cruise industry that can use LNG to generate 100 percent of their power both in port and on the open sea – an innovation that will reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support Carnival Corporation’s aggressive sustainability goals. These seven ships, with delivery dates between 2018 and 2022, will be built by leading German and Finnish shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku.

Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, together with Bernard Meyer, CEO of Meyer Yards, Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, and representatives of three of the Carnival Corporation brands that will receive the LNG ships – David Dingle, chairman of Carnival UK; Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises; and Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises – gave the official “full steam ahead” signal for the keel laying of the first ship of the new LNG generation, AIDAnova, which will be delivered by Meyer Werft Papenburg in fall 2018.

“Today marked a significant milestone in the construction of this next-generation of Carnival Corporation ships featuring our ‘green cruising’ design, which will be the most environmentally friendly ships in our company’s history,” said Donald, the corporation’s CEO. “We are committed to continuing to reduce air emissions and improving air quality by evaluating both new and established solutions, including LNG. We are proud to be on the forefront of advancing LNG as a fuel source for the cruise industry, and we appreciate our long-standing partnership with Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku. We look forward to the delivery of these beautiful and innovative ships that will help us meet our top goal – to provide extraordinary vacation experiences for our guests that exceed all of their expectations.”

“We thank Carnival Corporation and AIDA Cruises very much for their trust and their pioneering decision to implement LNG technology onboard their cruise ships,” said Meyer. “The corresponding infrastructure is now being developed at numerous ports – Carnival Corporation has made a decision that not only benefits the environment, but that also is highly important for the whole cruise industry.”

Following the introduction of AIDAnova in 2018, Carnival Corporation’s Costa Cruises brand will debut the industry's next cruise ship that can be powered completely by LNG on the open seas in 2019 – the first steel-cutting ceremony for this ship is scheduled at the Meyer Turku shipyard in the coming week. LNG-powered ships for Carnival Cruise Line and P&O Cruises (UK) will follow in 2020. Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will each receive an additional LNG-powered ship in 2021, followed by an additional LNG-powered ship for Carnival Cruise Line in 2022.

Pioneering LNG fuel for the cruise industry

In October 2016, Carnival Corporation signed a framework agreement with Shell Western LNG B.V. (Shell) to be its supplier of marine LNG to power the first two of its new LNG ships for AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises with itineraries visiting popular European ports. As part of the agreement, the ships will utilize Shell's infrastructure in cruise ports to refuel with LNG throughout their itineraries. The vessels, equipped with dual-fuel engines, are the first of a new generation of cruise ships fully powered by LNG both while in port and at sea – an industry first and an environmental breakthrough that will improve air quality with cleaner emissions.

In 2015, as a pilot project, AIDAsol from the company's AIDA Cruises brand was the first cruise ship in the world to be supplied with power by an LNG Hybrid barge and, last year, the newly delivered AIDAprima became the first cruise ship to routinely use LNG with a dual-fuel powered engine while in port. Its sister ship, AIDAperla, debuted this April with the same technology.

In additional to utilizing LNG, Carnival Corporation and its brands implement extensive measures to deliver on its commitment to continue to keep guests and crew members safe and comfortable, protect the environment, develop and provide opportunities for its workforce, strengthen its stakeholder relations and enhance the communities in which the company visits and operates. Those measures are detailed in the company's recently release 2016 sustainability report and newly created sustainability website.

Asia Cruise Forum opens in Jeju: South Korea to diversify its cruise business

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Teijo Niemela reports from Jeju, South Korea

The fifth annual Asia Cruise Forum opened this morning in Jeju – a South Korean island strategically located on cruise itineraries between China and Japan. Jeju has been a great success story with a rapid expansion of cruise ship calls during the last few years, largely thanks to the development of Chinese cruise market.

However, earlier this year the fortunes reversed, as Chinese government banned Chinese tour groups to visit in South Korea. This has hit Jeju especially hard which has received 92% of its cruise business from China. In total, last year the number of cruise passengers visiting in Jeju reached 1.2 million. Just five years ago the number was 60,000.

Kim Young-Choon, Minister of Ocean and Fisheries said on his opening speech that the Ministry wants to diversify the market trying to attract more cruise ships to call South Korea from Japan, Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries. Taiwan itself is now the largest Asian cruise market after China. On the wish list is also to create home-porting business in South Korea, and develop the local source market, which is still on its infancy compared some other Asian countries.

South Korea continues also to invest its infrastructure. The Jeju Cruise Port has just experienced significant upgrades and can accommodate two cruise ships simultaneously. Next year Jeju expects to open the new Seogwipo Cruise Port, which also can accommodate two cruise ships simultaneously – one of them being the size of 220,000 gross tons.

Investments has also been made at other ports-of-call in South Korea, such as Busan and Incheon.

Meanwhile, difficulties to operate shorter itineraries from Chinese base ports has also affected the cruise operators. As they have now to bypass South Korea, some of them have changed their deployments. As an example, Princess Cruises will offer new ex-Taiwan itineraries on the new Majestic Princess next year, while re-deploying the Sapphire Princess to Europe. Dream Cruises’ President Thatcher Brown provided a figure for next year, that the lower berth capacity from China market may go down 18% compared 2017.