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Updated: Two crew members die on Hurtigruten's Nordlys fire

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines
Two crew members are dead and a total of sixteen passengers and crew members injured after a fire broke out in the engine room of Hurtgruten's Nordlys out of Aalesund today. All 207 passengers of the 1994-built Nordlys have been evacuated and transferred to the local hotels.

Nordlys sails 11-night roundtrip between Bergen and Kirkenes. The ship operates under Norwegian flag with Norwegian crew.

David Giersdorf's Global Voyages Group announces initial client portfolio

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

David A. Giersdorf has announced the initial client portfolio for Global Voyages Group (GVG), a company providing a comprehensive, cost-effective and performance improving solution for cruise companies, tour operators and other travel suppliers that seek improved performance in the all-important North America market. The GVG solution is built on a foundation of deep expertise, integrated marketing technology, sales and distribution expansion and reservations services. GVG was founded in 2010 and has been working to expand business in North America for clients Hurtigruten, Scenic Cruises, Scenic Tours, Compagnie du Ponant and Sea Voyager Expeditions.

"Global Voyages Group provides cruise companies, tour operators and other travel suppliers with expanded access to the lucrative and growing North America market in an efficient and effective way by leveraging technology and experience like never before," said David A. Giersdorf, president and CEO, Global Voyages Group. "And travel agents who are knowledgeable and focused on this category will have greater access and support in selling these very attractive experiences." The company’s mission is to provide a game-changing approach designed to meet the needs of GVG’s client companies in accessing the North America market more effectively and efficiently than is possible on a single company, stand-alone basis. The size and complexity of the North America Travel Agent distribution system, combined with the cost of reaching and engaging with qualified consumers, and the lack of benefits of scale, places many fine companies at extreme disadvantage when pursing cost-effective revenue growth and financial performance improvement in the world’s most promising leisure travel market. Each Global Voyages Group client receives a customized solution; creating a partnership that is strategic, flexible and integrated.

"GVG can provide clients with complete turnkey access to North America," said Giersdorf. "And, we can customize our services to optimize or extend the presence and activities that companies may already have in place." Initial clients include Hurtigruten, Scenic Tours, Scenic Cruises, Compagnie du Ponant and Sea Voyager Expeditions. Hurtigruten, a world leader in expedition cruising with a fleet of 12 ships, operates daily along Norway's west coast with visits to 36 ports, as well taking guests to the remote destinations of Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen. Spring sailings take in many of Europe's top ports. GVG is responsible for implementing Hurtigruten's North American marketing and communications plan, and administering sales development programs in the western United States and Canada.

"Global Voyages Group provides Hurtigruten with the efficiency and effectiveness necessary to support our focus on expanding reach and penetration in the North America market and continuing to strengthen our commitment to supporting Travel Agent partners," said Hurtigruten’s Rolf Logan, Sales Director Americas.

Scenic Cruises operates the newest and most luxurious fleet of river cruise ships in Europe. Its five 'Space-Ships' sail river voyages throughout Europe ranging from seven to 21 nights and each ship offers more than 80 percent private full sized balconies. A new 'Space-Ship', Scenic Crystal, joins the fleet in 2012 with innovative, industry leading 'Sun Lounges,' a feature that converts each Private Outdoor Balcony into a fully protected sun lounge at the touch of a button. In addition, Scenic Cruises offers cruising in Russia and Egypt. Scenic Tours offers award-winning all-inclusive escorted tours in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the world. For Scenic Cruises and Scenic Tours, GVG is responsible for all U.S. marketing, sales and reservations.

"We see great promise for Scenic Cruises and Scenic Tours in the United States market and based upon very positive results these past few years we are substantially increasing our focus and commitment to developing the opportunity," said Glen Moroney, Founder and Managing Director. "GVG's expertise and experience enables us to accelerate the marketing and distribution of our products and provide in-market support to Travel Agents through training and sales tools, cooperative marketing and U.S. based reservations services."

Established in 1988 by Jean Emmanuel Sauvée and Philippe Videau, Compagnie du Ponant's fleet of five luxurious yachts range in size from 32 to 132 staterooms and sail many of the world's most sought after itineraries, offering more than 450 destinations in 81 countries. A division of CMA CGM, the world's third largest container shipping group, Compagnie du Ponant is a member of both La Charte Bleue d'Armateurs de France and IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) and design their cruise itineraries in a manner that protects marine wildlife, coastal environments and local flora and fauna. GVG is responsible for expanding Compagnie du Ponant's US and Canada marketing & sales presence and providing call center support "GVG's state-of-the-art technology, databases and e-marketing savvy allows us to expand and amplify our presence in North America," said Terri Haas, Compagnie du Ponant Chief Commercial Officer. "GVG really understands the North America market and brings us unparalleled insights and capabilities."

Sea Voyager Expeditions operates the well-known 60-guest expedition cruise vessel, Sea Voyager. The company features unmatched expedition and discovery experiences in Central and South America, one of the great remote eco-travel frontiers on earth. Sea Voyager Expeditions destinations include Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Colombia, featuring pristine national parks, tropical rainforest, diverse marine life and authentic indigenous cultural experiences. GVG provides North America marketing, sales and reservations services for Sea Voyager Expeditions.

"As we are developing the exceptional 2012-2013 expedition cruise programs of Sea Voyager Expeditions, GVG's advisory services provide us with a depth of industry and market knowledge that would be impossible to replicate," said Denise Landau, CEO, Sea Voyager Expeditions. "Their ability to provide instant benefits of scale and excellence in marketing, sales and reservations services is invaluable to a specialty cruise operator like ourselves focused on developing the North America consumer and Travel Agent market for our unique offerings."

With significant experience at the most senior levels, Global Voyage Group’s executives include David Giersdorf, president & CEO with more than 30 years cruise and travel industry experience, managing partner Tom Russell with more than 25 years cruise industry experience and managing partner Gary Blake, a marketing expert with more than 25 years experience in advertising, consumer behavior and customer relationship management. In addition, GVG employs 15 full-time employees in its Bellevue headquarters, plus dedicated sales personnel in key markets.

The GVG team is committed to increasing North America revenues, expanding distribution, reducing marketing costs and improving financial performance for cruise and tour operators. Its services include sales and channel management, integrated marketing solutions, call center, reservations and business processing. In addition GVG provides advisory services on product development, pricing, revenue management and more.

Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway selected as names for Norwegian's new ships

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Norwegian Cruise Line has selected the winning names for its two new Freestyle Cruising ships: Norwegian Breakaway, launching in April 2013, and Norwegian Getaway, launching in April 2014. The names were selected as the culmination of its "Norwegian's Cruising for Names" contest held in conjunction with national newspaper USA Today.

Norwegian felt these names best reflected the innovation of the brand along with the freedom and flexibility of the line's signature Freestyle Cruising and invoked the feeling that these ships will provide a "break" at sea from the stress of everyday life. Breakaway is defined as "a departure or break from routine or tradition" and Getaway is defined as "a place where one escapes for relaxation, vacation, etc."

"We felt Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway epitomized both our Freestyle Cruising philosophy and our belief that these ships will offer a true respite, whisking our guests away from their everyday routines and delivering the ultimate cruise vacation," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's chief executive officer.

The contest winners are Kimberly Powell of Lafayette, Louisiana, who first submitted Norwegian Breakaway, and Dennis Hultman of Vienna, Virginia, who first submitted Norwegian Getaway. Powell took her first cruise in August on Norwegian Spirit and loved the experience. She is a self-proclaimed "news junkie" and thought it would be fun to enter the contest when she saw it on USA Today's site. Hultman is an avid cruiser and also reads USA Today daily. 

Both Powell and Hultman will receive a trip for two to Norwegian Breakaway's inaugural festivities, including the Christening Ceremony (date/location yet to be determined). The trip includes round-trip coach airfare for two, ground transportation, balcony stateroom accommodations (double occupancy), on-board meals, as well as government taxes and fees.

The contest entry period ran from July 18 to August 14, 2011, during which 230,000 entries were received.

The Breakaway class ships will each be 144,017 gross tons and will have approximately 4,000 passenger berths. These ships represent an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to "break away" from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true respite at sea. These new ships will take the best of the best from all of Norwegian's existing ships drawing on the line's experience of having launched 10 ships in the past 10 years - starting with Norwegian Star and Sun in 2001 and culminating with the launch of Norwegian Epic in 2010. To date, the company has revealed all of the ships' staterooms, which include the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers, along with The Haven by Norwegian, comprised of 42 suites at the top of the ship.

Royal Caribbean International forms a strategic relationship with Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Royal Caribbean International has entered into a strategic relationship with the Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises (CWC) in China that involves CWC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing-based property and theme park developer Shan-Hai-Shu, chartering Legend of the Seas for a total of four months in 2012.

During the four months, Royal Caribbean International will operate and market 21, three- to eight-night sailings from Xiamen, as well as Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong, to ports of call in Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and Korea. The inaugural, five-night charter sailing will depart from Hong Kong on March 20, 2012, while the first departure of guests from Xiamen will be on March 26. 

The time charter agreement is fully supported by the Xiamen Municipal Government as part of the governments development of Xiamen as the fourth cruise home port for Royal Caribbean International in China, following Shanghai, Tianjin and Hong Kong. 

"This is an incredible opportunity for Royal Caribbean International, the Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises, and is truly unique to the fast growing cruise industry in Asia," says Dr. Zinan Liu, group managing director for China and Asia, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We are the first cruise brand to bring together the support of the government and local private industry.

Working with the Xiamen municipal government, Xiamen-based CWC aims to invest around $5 billion in the Xiamen waterfront area and harbour district to develop a Cruise Homeport City, with a theme park, retail units, luxury hotels, condominiums, as well as a new, four-berth cruise terminal. Xiamen is located between Shanghai and Hong Kong, is less than 200 miles from Taipei, Taiwan, and is one of the most important and fastest growing ports along the Chinese coast. 

"China holds amazing opportunities for the cruise industry, including port infrastructure development to attracting vacationers from around the world," says Michael Bayley, executive vice president of International for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. These are exciting times and we are delighted to be working with the Xiamen Municipal Government and China World Cruises on this strategic arrangement.

"We believe Royal Caribbean International is the right cruise brand to work with in developing the cruise industry in China," says George Buge Zhang, President of China World Cruises. "In just a few years, theyve established themselves as the market leader and proven they understand local market conditions and Chinese guests needs and preferences."

The strategic relationship with the Xiamen municipal government and China World Cruises follows the announcement in June that Royal Caribbean International will deploy the 3,114-guest, double occupancy, Voyager of the Seas to China in June 2012. Offering a wide variety of itineraries, ranging from four to eight nights, Voyager of the Seas will double the size of any cruise ship operating in China, and in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Spanning 14 guest decks and with 1,556 staterooms, Voyager of the Seas will start its Asia 2012 season with a sailing from Singapore, followed by itineraries out of Shanghai (Baoshan) and Tianjin, to ports including Fukuoka and Kobe in Japan, and Busan and Jeju in Korea until October. Voyager of the Seas will begin 14-night sailings from Sydney, Australia on November 24, 2012 to ports in Australia and New Zealand, while itineraries in early 2013 will include stops in Tasmania and the South Pacific. 

Kunal S. Kamlani rejoins Prestige Cruise Holdings as President and Chief Operating Officer

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCH), the parent corporation of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced the appointment of Kunal S. Kamlani as president and chief operating officer, effective immediately. The addition of Kamlani follows the recent promotion of Oceania Cruises' co-founder and long-time president, Bob Binder, to vice chairman of PCH as the company continues its international growth.

Kamlani, 38, will assume responsibility for the strategic marketing, sales, e-commerce, public relations, promotions and procurement for both brands. He rejoins PCH from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, where he served as head of the multi-billion dollar Global Investment Solutions division with approximately 1,000 employees worldwide. Prior to that, Kamlani was the chief financial officer for PCH. His past experiences also include serving as the chief operating officer of Smith Barney and vice president of corporate development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

"I am thrilled to welcome Kunal back to PCH where we will benefit tremendously from his experience and passion for excellence," stated PCH Chairman & CEO Frank Del Rio. "Kunal is a seasoned leader, with over 15 years in the financial services and hospitality industries. I have great confidence in his ability to execute as we position the company for the future," Del Rio added.

"PCH's strategy has never been more compelling," said Kamlani. "There is a unique opportunity here to further differentiate the guest experience by leveraging both the power of these brands and the innovative thinking that is the hallmark of the PCH culture. I am delighted to be a part of this exciting growth story."

Bruce J. Himelstein, president of Oceania Cruises, and Mark Conroy, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, as well as Ben Wolber, vice president of fleet purchasing for PCH, will report to Kamlani.

Kamlani earned his MBA from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree in Economics and Political Science from Colgate University. He is married with two children and resides in South Florida.

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