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UK private equity group Star Capital to buy Blohm + Voss civilian shipbuilding – report

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

The civilian shipbuilding business of Blohm + Voss, which is part of the German engineering group Thyssen Krupp, has been sold to British private equity company Star Capital, the Reuters news agency reports.

"The Marine Systems supervisory board approved this today," one of the two people told Reuters on Friday. Star Capital declined to comment. The assets up for sale include three civilian shipbuilding units -- yacht-builder Blohm + Voss Shipyards, ship repair unit Blohm + Voss Repair and components maker Blohm + Voss Industries,” the report said. The naval shipbuilding activity is the company is not part of the deal.

The Blohm + Voss repair yard in Hamburg has recently refurbished Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 and P&O Cruises’ Oriana. Both companies are part of the Carnival Corp & plc group. The company is also a well known builder of megayachts. 

Star Capital says on its website that it invests in capital intensive sectors in Western Europe, with focus on companies that have an enterprise value between €100 million and €1 billion and are strategically positioned in their areas of business.

Norwegian to have four ships in Europe, three in Alaska during summer 2013

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Norwegian Cruise Line today announced its summer deployment for the 2013 season with the addition of a third ship in Alaska. Norwegian Sun, sailing seven-day open jaw itineraries between Vancouver, British Columbia and Whittier, Alaska, will join Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Pearl in Alaska for the summer of 2013, marking the first time the company has offered three ships in Alaska since 2009. For a more in-depth Alaskan experience, the company is also introducing land packages that can be combined with Norwegian Sun's itinerary. The line's summer deployment also features four ships sailing in Europe, including the continuation of two year-round, along with two ships cruising to Bermuda.

These cruises* go on sale to Norwegian's top travel partners and Latitudes Rewards members (past guests) today, December 6, 2011, and to the general public on Thursday, December 8.
"Alaska, with its extraordinary beauty and wildlife, continues to be an extremely popular summer destination for cruisers and therefore there is a lot of demand for increased capacity and more varied and unique cruises," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's chief executive officer. "With the strides made by the state government, we felt the time was right to add a third ship in Alaska, and give our guests the once in a lifetime opportunity to see more of this incredible destination. We've also added the option of extending their stay with a Cruisetour that will enhance their overall experience."

Alaska deployment

In Alaska, beginning May 20, 2013, Norwegian Sun's northbound itinerary departs Vancouver, British Columbia on Mondays, and will cruise the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and make stops in the Alaskan favorites of Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau. On her southbound itineraries from Whittier, Alaska, the ship will cruise the Inside Passage, Sawyer Glacier and Hubbard Glacier, as well as making stops in Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau and Icy Strait Point.

Beginning May 18, 2013, Norwegian Jewel will sail a series of 18 seven-day Sawyer Glacier itineraries from Seattle, Washington every Saturday with stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska; along with Victoria, British Columbia. Norwegian Jewel not only offers a fantastic itinerary, but also brings extra fun for the kids with Nickelodeon family programming. The 2,394 passenger Norwegian Pearl begins a series of 18 seven-day Glacier Bay itineraries from Seattle, Washington every Sunday with stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska; along with Victoria, British Columbia.

New for the 2013 summer season in Alaska are four Cruisetour options which provide the opportunity to combine a pre or post-cruise land package with Norwegian Sun's cruises from Whittier, Alaska. Ranging in length from four to six days, the Cruisetours feature two nights in Denali National Park and are fully escorted by a local Alaskan tour guide for the most authentic experience possible. Highlights of the Cruisetours also include a stop at an Iditarod sled dog musher's house (on four and five-night tours), along with a ride on the Alaskan railroad. More details on the Alaska Cruisetours will be available in early 2012.

Europe deployment

In Europe, Norwegian Epic will return for her third season, sailing seven-day Western Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona beginning May 5, 2013 through October 14, 2013. The new Western Mediterranean itinerary features five ports of call in three countries -- Spain, Italy and France -- and a call to Palma, Majorca, Spain. Guests will also have the opportunity to sail round-trip from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy or Marseille, France giving them the flexibility to choose the homeport that is more convenient for them. There is also a four-day Western Mediterranean sailing on May 1, 2013.

Norwegian Star will make her debut in the Baltic replacing Norwegian Sun and will offer a series of 15 nine-day Baltic Capital cruises from Copenhagen, Denmark. Some highlights of this popular itinerary include two full days in St. Petersburg, Russia and an afternoon cruise of the Stockholm Archipelago upon the ship's departure from Stockholm, Sweden. Rounding out the season, Norwegian Star will offer a unique 14-day Norway, Iceland and Faroe Island cruise from Copenhagen on September 19, 2013.

Norwegian Jade returns to Venice on May 4, 2013 for the summer season and will offer alternating seven-day Greek Isles and seven-day Adriatic, Greece and Turkey itineraries. In the fall/winter, Norwegian Jade will reposition to Rome (Civitavecchia) and offer a series of eight 10-day Eastern Mediterranean and nine 11-day Mediterranean & the Holy Land beginning on October 26, 2013 through April 12, 2014.

Beginning on April 17, 2013, Norwegian Spirit will once again sail the waters of the Mediterranean offering 12-day Grand Mediterranean open jaw itineraries from Barcelona, Spain and Venice, Italy through October 14, 2013. The comprehensive itinerary highlights the best of the Mediterranean with nine ports of call in five different countries including an overnight in Venice. On October 26, 2013, Norwegian Spirit begins a series of 20 nine-day Canary Island cruises. Guests will have the option to sail round-trip from Malaga, Spain giving them the flexibility to choose the homeport that is more convenient for them.

Bermuda deployment

In the summer of 2013, Norwegian Cruise Line will significantly increase its capacity in Bermuda with the arrival of its newest ship, the 4,000-pasenger Norwegian Breakaway, sailing a series of 22 seven-day cruises from New York, New York, beginning May 12, 2013. Departing on Sundays, the ship will spend three full days in Bermuda, along with three days at sea.
The newly refurbished Norwegian Dawn will return to Boston, Massachusetts for the summer on May 3, 2013 and will sail a series of 22 seven-day Bermuda cruises departing every Friday.

Hawaii deployment, Bahamas

Pride of America will continue as the only US-flagged vessel sailing among all four of Hawai`i's main islands. Because of popular demand for this itinerary, the company is opening Pride of America's seven-day Hawai`i inter-island cruises departing Honolulu, Hawaii every Saturday through April 18, 2015**. Ports of call include: an overnight in Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; Kona, Hawai`i; an overnight in Nãwiliwili, Kaua`i; and an afternoon cruise of the breathtaking Nãpali Coast.

For a shorter cruise option, Norwegian Sky will continue sailing three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas year-round from Miami through April 25, 2014. The three-day Bahamas cruise departs on Fridays and includes stops in Nassau, Bahamas and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas, which has recently received $25 million in enhancements, including a new dining facility, marina and expanded beachfront. On Mondays, the ship departs Miami on a four-day Bahamas cruise with stops in Grand Bahama Island, Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island; and Nassau, Bahamas.

TUI Travel reports strong recovery in earnings

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

TUI Travel plc, the world’s largest tour operator that is a major retailer of cruises and operator of five ships on the UK market, has staged a strong recovery in earnings in its latest financial year.

Group pre-tax profit amounted to £144 million in financial year to 30 September compared to a loss of £73 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues increased to £14.7 billion from £13.5 billion. Cost savings and diversification of its product range helped the London based company to achieve the improvement, it said in a statement, adding that online sales had played a key role in it.

“We are very pleased with our robust performance in 2011 and have delivered another year of profit growth, against a backdrop of unrest in key North African destinations and weak consumer sentiment in some source markets,” said Peter Long, Chief Executive Officer.

“The UK, Nordic region, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and Austria delivered record results. These achievements reflect the strength of our strategy to increase differentiated and exclusive product sales, increase controlled distribution with a focus on online to enhance our customer access and reduce distribution costs, and our delivery of the turnaround and cost efficiency programmes.”

“We remain focused on this successful strategy and through our new business improvement programme we have self help measures in place to help offset the difficult macro-economic environment, including clear plans in place for Germany and France. In addition, we continue to strengthen our cash flow in order to fund the dividend and growth. All of which means that, even in the current challenging market conditions, we continue to operate from a position of strength,” Long said.

Perez, Knutson take helm at Costa Cruises North America

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Effective today, Ruben Perez has assumed his new position as general manager at Costa Cruises North America's Hollywood, Fla., office, responsible for day-to-day management of all operations, reporting directly to Costa Crociere headquarters in Genoa, Italy. Scott Knutson was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing, and is responsible for marketing, sales and travel agent relations, reporting to Perez.

The new management structure comes in the wake of the retirement of Maurice Zarmati as president and CEO of the North American office. Zarmati has been retained as a consultant to Costa Cruises for its worldwide sales, marketing and passenger-traffic initiatives.

"The cruise industry is constantly changing, but we intend to maintain continuity and the same high level of service our travel partners have come to expect of Costa Cruises North America under Maurice's leadership," said Perez. "We are committed to ensuring that it is a pleasure to work with our office for all our travel agent partners and national accounts."

"Relationships are an integral part of any successful sales organization and clearly were important to Maurice, which I learned working with him for 23 years, said Knutson. While we'll all miss his guidance, I am excited for the opportunity to lead our new sales and marketing initiatives in North America during this era of growth at Costa."

Perez has worked for Costa Cruises N.A. for 28 years, starting in the accounting department while studying for his bachelor's of science degree in professional administration at Barry University in Miami. He held several managerial positions in the credit and collection and revenue management departments before becoming senior vice president of guest services in 2008. In that role he was responsible for the accounting, guest services, groups, special services, air/sea and guest relations departments. As general manager Perez' responsibilities also include oversight of all sales and marketing functions.

Knutson is a 26-year veteran of the travel industry, with 23 years in the cruise industry. He spent two decades in the sales organization at Carnival Cruise Lines, starting as business development manager and rising to regional vice president of sales for the central and then southeast regions of the U.S. In 2008 Knutson was named vice president of sales for Costa Cruises N.A. As the new vice president of sales and marketing, he is responsible for all aspects of travel agency sales and distribution, including field sales, strategic alliances, sales operations, tour operators and incentive and inside sales.

Mayor of Miami and cruise organisations pledge support for IHAS 2012

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Tomás P Regalado, the Mayor of Miami, has pledged his support for the International Humanitarian Assistance Symposium 2012, a two day symposium that will enhance industry response to emergencies and disasters, ensuring those involved in an unforeseen tragedy are given the support they need.

"We endorse the work of the Family Assistance Foundation and believe our city is the perfect location for this symposium, with many of the organizations affected by these important issues calling Miami home. We are proud to be an official supporter of the International Humanitarian Assistance Symposium 2012 and you may count on us for whatever support you may need," Said Mayor Tomás P Regalado, City of Miami, in a letter to The Family Assistance Foundation and Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services,  the organizers of IHAS 2012.

The cruise industry has also recognized the importance of IHAS 2012, with a number of cruise lines and cruise organizations showing their support for the 2012 symposium.

"We are proud to sponsor this symposium which will help cruise ports learn what to do in the event of an unforeseen tragedy. While we can't always know when an emergency or disaster will occur, we should always be prepared to react if something happens," said Tom Spina, Director of Cruise Operations, NYCruise.

The two day symposium will consist of a series of educational panels, practical workshops and experiences recounted first hand by disaster and accident survivors and responders. This includes a cruise specific panel, with survivors, responders and cruise line representatives discussing their involvement in responding to an emergency. 

Registration is now open for the International Humanitarian Assistance Symposium at, with an early bird offer meaning the full conference and social program can be attended for as little as $250, or $199 for Family Assistance Foundation members.

For more information on the International Humanitarian Assistance Symposium 2012 visit