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Celebrity plans largest season ever in Europe, brings Solstice to Alaska

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Celebrity Cruises has shared a sneak preview of its itinerary plans for the summer of 2013. Speaking to an audience of travel partners and press in London, Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan revealed that, for the first time, joining Celebrity Eclipse in offering modern luxury vacation experiences from the UK will be the newly Solsticized Celebrity Infinity.

"Like the reaction to every stunning Solstice-class ship, the response to Celebrity Eclipse from our guests and travel partners has been extremely rewarding, ever since it debuted in Southampton in 2010," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "Our decision to expand our European vacation options from the UK on our newly Solsticized Celebrity Infinity is in direct response to increased demand for more of the modern luxury holidays that only Celebrity can provide, as validated by the expanding host of honors our brand continues to receive."

Celebrity Eclipse – which this week was named Best from the UK in Cruise Critic's Cruisers' Choice Awards – will continue to offer sailings from Southampton in the spring and summer of 2013, while Celebrity Infinity – which emerged in December 2011 from Celebrity's ambitious, four-ship, $140-million Solsticizing investment – will present enticing new British Isles and Fjords sailings from Harwich, England.

The summer of 2013 will mark Celebrity's biggest season ever in Europe, with Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Silhouette, and Celebrity Reflection – which debuts in October of this year – all joining Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Infinity in offering the broadest array of modern luxury cruises and cruisetours on the newest fleet of ships in the region.

The 2,850-guest flagship of the Solstice-class fleet, Celebrity Solstice, will become the first of its class to offer vacations in Alaska in the summer of 2013, joining Celebrity Century and Celebrity Millennium in pairing Celebrity's chic style and design, signature cuisine, exciting activities and extraordinary service with the region's breathtaking, inspiring scenery.

Cruise & Ferry newbuilding recovery slower than anticipated - STX Europe

Owners of cruise ships and ferries contemplate new orders, but they are held back by uncertainties regarding the global economy and problems related to funding of these projects, says STX Europe, which builds passenger tonnage at yards in France and Finland.

“The Cruise & Ferries business area had revenues of NOK 2 537 million in the fourth quarter, up from NOK 1 883 million in the corresponding period of 2010. The fourth quarter EBITDA was NOK -24 million. The full year EBITDA is NOK 137 million (2010: NOK -473 million), which is an improvement of NOK 610 million compared to last year,” the company said in a statement.

“The market for Cruise & Ferries in general is experiencing uncertainties both in relation to the global economic situation and a challenging climate for the funding of newbuildings. There is an increased activity among the cruise and ferry operators and reports show that the traditional cruise market is growing and that there are expectations for further development, especially within new markets,” the company continued.

However, trading conditions remain challenging: “The demand for further new buildings are expected to slowly improve but at a slower pace than previously anticipated due to the uncertainty in the global economy. The demand for more advanced and innovative technology is increasing especially in relation to fuel efficiency, safety and environmental friendliness. Market conditions, however, are expected to remain challenging.”

As a result, the business area will continue to focus on diversification into other market segments where the yards have considerable technological background, expertise and other potential competitive advantages. This includes vessels for naval operations, offshore related constructions and renewable energy/wind. The focus in ice-breaking/arctic tonnage remains a key strategic focus, predominantly in Finland.

“There is a strong focus to secure more orders and to improve its cost base and long term competitiveness. STX Europe is committed to remaining a world leading shipbuilder of cruise vessels, ferries and other specialized vessels at its yards in Finland and France.” The improvement in performance of the business area compared with 2010 is largely attributable to improved cost base and higher utilisation of the yards’ capacities in both STX France and STX Finland. The financial performance in the business area is still not satisfactory and measures are taken to further improve this.

The total order intake for the quarter was NOK 1 345 million. At the end of fourth quarter 2011, the Cruise & Ferries business area had an order backlog of NOK 16 290 million, compared with NOK 14 126 million at the end of 2010. The order backlog, including vessels in production, consisted of 14 vessels. All ongoing projects are currently proceeding according to plan. The business area has a strong focus to secure more orders and further strengthen their long term competitiveness.

Carnival to increase capacity in San Juan, to have a second ship in Europe 2013

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Carnival Cruise Lines will increase capacity on its 7-night Southern Caribbean itineraries from San Juan, as well as on its 4- and 5-night cruises from Miami, deploying newer, larger ships in both markets.

The 2,974-passenger Carnival Valor will launch a five-port, 7-night schedule from San Juan beginning Feb. 10, 2013, becoming the newest and largest ship to operate year-round from that port.

Carnival Valor will replace the 2,758-passenger Carnival Victory, which will reposition from San Juan to Miami to assume the Carnival Destiny's 4- and 5-night cruises beginning Feb. 4, 2013.

Additionally, Carnival Destiny will offer a 16-day transatlantic crossing departing Miami Feb. 4 and arriving Civitavecchia (Rome) on Feb. 20, 2013. Featured ports on the crossing include Ponta Delgada (Azores), Portugal; Malaga, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Genoa and Livorno, Italy. Details on the Carnival Destiny's deployment following the trans-Atlantic crossing will be announced at a later date.

UK cruise bookings soar 28% above year-on in latest week

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

UK cruise bookings have staged a strong recovery in latest week and year to date they lag 3% behind of the same point in time in 2011in the market in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster, Travel Weekly reports in an email newsletter.

“Sales of cruises for summer 2012 rose sharply last week, with industry analyst GfK Ascent reporting a 28% improvement on the comparable week a year ago. The surge in bookings followed a serious decline year on year during the preceding three weeks, despite some improvement at the start of February,” the report said.

“GfK Ascent recorded a 29% fall in cruise bookings year on year in the week immediately after the tragedy, and a 24% reduction in the week to January 28 which followed. Sales picked up in the third week to February 4, but remained 15% down on the comparable period in 2010.”

“Last week’s surge in bookings appears to signal a recovery, with the cruise market for the season to date just 3% down on the same time last year. The sector remains ahead of the summer 2012 holiday market as a whole, which GfK Ascent reports as 9% down year on year to date. However, the decline is in line with reduced capacity,” the report said.

Several cruise operators have offered incentives in the UK in the recent past to trigger new bookings in the form of free upgrade to balcony accommodation and  generous on board credit etc.

AIDAstella name of new ship to debut 2013, company increases sailings from German ports

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

AIDA Cruises, the German unit in Carnival Corp & plc group, will name the new shiop due to enter service next year AIDAstella, whule the company will increase the number of sailings from German ports by extending the season of AIDAsol in Hamburg so that it will run from May to December, the company said in a statement.

In addition to detailed descriptions of the destinations, the 2013/2014 catalogue contains a lot of information about onboard facilities and activities. It also contains a large number of photos from guests who responded to a call from AIDA and sent in their nicest holiday snaps. Exciting add-ons are provided by the QR codes, which enable readers to quickly access videos and other Internet pages. Those who do not want to wait for the printed version can view the online catalogue or compile their own individual catalogue at, where destinations and topics can be selected and then downloaded as a pdf file with just a few clicks of the mouse.

AIDAstella is the name of the ship that will set course on its maiden voyage through Northern Europe on 17 March 2013, following its christening ceremony. It will also spend its premiere season in northern climes, embarking on two-week cruises from Hamburg starting in May. In winter, AIDAstella will visit the fascinating world of the Canary Islands.

AIDA Cruises is further expanding its Northern European program in the 2013/2014 season, with the Rostock-based company offering cruises from Hamburg on AIDAsol for the first time from May to December. Also new is the 4-day city tour on AIDAstella, which takes guests from Hamburg to Amsterdam and London in March and April. In addition to the 10-day alternative, the popular Baltic Sea cruise will now also be offered as a 1-week trip. In future, globetrotters too can embark on great adventures from just outside their front door, e.g. from Warnemünde to New York on AIDAbella or from Hamburg to Buenos Aires on AIDAcara. In all, there will be six AIDA ships travelling on 34 different routes from Hamburg, Kiel and Warnemünde.

AIDA passengers can discover new ground in Northern Europe at Ísafjörður in Iceland as well as Klaksvik on the Faroe Islands and on the southern coast of England, the Isle of Portland will be visited by an AIDA ship for the very first time. From Le Verdon and Brest on the Atlantic coast of France, guests can embark on excursions to Brittany and the region of Bordeaux while, from the Portuguese port of Leixões, guests can visit the home of Port wine. The Dutch port city of IJmuiden, the Malaysian island of Langkawi and the Caribbean island St. Kitts are likewise new additions to the program.

In addition, AIDA guests can look forward to a greater choice of cruises in the Adriatic. From April to October, there will be four different routes to Venice, Dubrovnik and Zadar, while AIDAaura will set course from Antalya through the Bosporus and on to the Black Sea. The routes in the western and eastern Mediterranean are also a must in the AIDA program, of course. The cruises on offer range from short 3-day trips starting from Palma de Mallorca to 2-week voyages giving guests ample opportunity to explore and experience the relaxing way of life in the Mediterranean. AIDAaura will also set course for the Black Sea region again between June and August.

Those drawn to far-off places will find an extensive range of cruises to the USA and Canada, the islands of the Caribbean, as well as Brazil and further to Cape Horn, while AIDAmar, AIDAdiva and AIDAaura head for the mysterious and fascinating world of the East. Their cruises through the Red Sea, the Orient and Southeast Asia include such exotic destinations as Luxor, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. 


And it pays to book early, with an Early Booker Plus discount of up to €450 for the first and second person in the cabin. The allocation is limited, though, so be quick. And another first: AIDA is now offering the new X season as a particularly economical period to travel on a large number of cruises.