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Cunard Line to refit Queen Mary 2

Cunard Line has released details of the planned refit of the company’s flagship Queen Mary 2, in preparation for her eighth birthday in January 2012. With major refurbishments and redesigns of carpets, curtains, bedcovers and linens, and other enhancements, a cruise vacation will be even more appealing aboard the grandest ocean liner at sea.

Taking place at Blohm + Voss Shipyards in Hamburg, Germany, from 24 November through 7 December, the major soft goods refurbishments will comprise all staterooms, Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the Queens Grill and Princess Grill Restaurants, the Commodore Club, the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, Sir Samuel’s, the Play Zone/Kids’ Zone, and a complete redesign of the Golden Lion Pub. To ensure that the latest changes will complement the ship’s signature elegance and glamour throughout, Cunard has again partnered with the noted Tillberg Design AB in Höganäs, Sweden, the company involved in Queen Mary 2’s original design.

“Queen Mary 2 is an iconic leader in the world of luxury ocean travel and continues to receive high ratings by guests and the cruise industry,” said Peter Shanks, president of Cunard Line. “A ship that still turns heads everywhere she goes, she is unquestionably the pride of our fleet. We are committed to maintaining that impeccable reputation, and this significant refurbishment is an important investment on behalf of our guests.”

The 14-day refit will require a team of thousands of workers replacing the equivalent of almost ten football pitches of carpet and manufacturing about 18 square miles of fabric into over 6,000 individual items. Specific plans include:

Staterooms - All 1,310 staterooms aboard Queen Mary 2 will receive a fresh look with new carpeting, curtains and beddings, and some will receive new furniture. The revised design will be in keeping with current designs but with an enhanced sense of luxurious comfort, as can be experienced in luxury hotels around the world.

Golden Lion Pub - With its increasingly popular traditional British pub lunch menus, busy bar, exciting sports events and nightly music offerings, the pub will benefit from a complete refurbishment and redesign to enhance its endearing appeal. The new design retains the British pub atmosphere and also evokes an American country club feel similar to the warm colours and plush seating in the same venues aboard sister ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. Upgraded television screens will also be installed.

Canyon Ranch SpaClub - An extensive refurbishment of the first Canyon Ranch SpaClub at sea will include the teak surrounds of the hydrotherapy pool and adjacent wet areas, and a general upgrade of all the facilities. In addition, new exercise machines in the fitness centre and new and improved features in the Beauty Salon will be installed.

Queens Grill and Princess Grill Restaurants - A new, lighter carpet design for both of Queen Mary 2’s exclusive Grill restaurants will enhance the existing ambience, maintaining the reputation of these fine dining venues as among the best at sea or on land.

Commodore Club - One of the most visited public rooms aboard Queen Mary 2, this breathtaking lounge overlooking her bow will be refreshed with a new carpet design and additions to the white leather furnishings of chairs, sofas and bar stools. Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar - A popular space especially on Transatlantic Crossings, this venue featuring the exquisite Veuve Clicquot brand of champagne will see a new carpet and soft furnishings design.

Sir Samuel’s - This busy venue which features specialty coffees during the day and an impressive menu of wines at night, will receive a new compliment of carpeting and furniture coverings.

The Play Zone/Kids’ Zone – Cunard’s first-rate facilities for younger guests will undergo a complete refurbishment, including new soft play areas, plus upgrades to the very latest in electronic gaming technology and entertainment.

Carpeting of public areas, central walkways and landings on Decks 2 and 3 will also be completed, which began with the ship’s last refit in 2008. In addition to the current major refit, when Queen Mary 2 returns to service on 8 December, she will introduce several new on board features, details of which will be disclosed soon.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Carnival Corporation & plc signs the final contract for AIDA newbuildings

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has completed shipbuilding contracts with Carnival Corporation & plc, for the construction of two large-sized cruise ships for Carnival's AIDA Cruises brand. Delivery of the two ships is scheduled for spring 2015 and spring 2016 from MHI's shipyard in Nagasaki. The shipbuilding contracts are subject to financing.

The two 125,000 gross tonnage, 3,250 passenger ships will be the largest ever constructed for AIDA Cruises. The event marks the second new shipbuilding order for MHI from the Carnival group and the third and fourth cruise ships built by MHI for the group. Earlier, MHI built two 116,000 gross ton ships for Princess Cruises: the Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess, both delivered in 2004.

Carnival Corporation & plc is the largest cruise vacation group in the world, with a portfolio of 10 cruise brands operating in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, including Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises and AIDA Cruises. Altogether the group currently operates 101 ships, with 10 new ships scheduled for delivery between 2012 and 2016.

Going forward MHI will continue to combine its accumulated comprehensive capabilities and advanced technologies in shipbuilding to attract further new orders for large cruise ships.

NCL Corporation reports 18% rise in third quarter net profit

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

NCL Corporation, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America, has reported a rise in net profit to $110.1 million in the third quarter from $93.0 million in the same period last year, while revenues increased to $666.6 million from $634.1 million.

Net yield increased 3.8%, mainly on higher ticket prices. “Benefits realized from ongoing business improvement initiatives coupled with non-recurring expenses in the third quarter of 2010 related to the launch of Norwegian Epic resulted in a decrease in Net Cruise Cost per Capacity Day of 2.0%, or 2.8% on a Constant Currency basis, after considering a 17.9% increase in the price of fuel to $598 per metric ton from $507 in 2010.  Excluding fuel expense, Net Cruise Cost per Capacity Day decreased 5.3%, or 6.2% on a Constant Currency basis,” the company said in a statement.

 "A strong summer season resulted in solid top-line growth in the quarter," said Kevin Sheehan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "Pricing was up across the fleet despite several voyages being impacted due to tropical weather conditions in the Northeast and Caribbean," continued Sheehan.

Interest expense, net of capitalized interest, increased to $49.9 million in the quarter compared to $46.2 million in 2010 due to higher average interest rates in the period resulting from the issuance of $250 million in senior notes in November of 2010. 

RCCL warns of weaker full year 2011 than earlier forecast

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), the world’s second largest cruise shipping group, has revised lower its expectations for the full year 2011 earnings per share (EPS), but on the other hand the outlook for next year is encouraging.

“For the full year 2011, the company’s Constant-Currency Net Yield improvement expectations are essentially unchanged at 2% to 3%. Including currency movements, full year Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 4%,” RCCL said in a statement.

“Full year 2011 EPS is expected to be within a range of $2.70 to $2.80, a $0.15 reduction from prior guidance primarily due to the strengthening of the U.S. Dollar and the fuel option revaluation loss,” the company said..

As far as next year is concerned, RCCL said: “Though economic uncertainty is elevated and it is still early in the booking cycle, 2012 demand thus far has been solid. Booked load factors and pricing are both running ahead of this time last year, which supports the company’s expectation of continued yield accretion during 2012.”

RCCL third quarter net profit climbs to $399 million

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), the world’s second largest cruise shipping group, has reported net income of $399.0 million, or $1.82 per share, versus $350.2 million, or $1.61 per share, in 2010.

“Results include an $0.08 per share mark-to-market revaluation loss on the company’s WTI fuel option portfolio. Absent the revaluation charge, third quarter earnings per share totaled $1.90,” the company said in a statement.

Revenues improved to $2.3 billion in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2010 as a result of capacity increases and yield improvements. Net Yields for the third quarter of 2011 increased 5.3% (2.6% on a Constant-Currency basis). "The company experienced particularly strong demand for its Caribbean and Alaska products during the third quarter with both markets experiencing increases in excess of 15% in ticket yields and Alaska yields reaching a historical high," RCCL said.

Costs in the third quarter of 2011 remained under tight control with NCC excluding fuel increasing only 0.7% on a Constant-Currency basis (2.5% on an as-reported basis).

Bunker pricing for the third quarter was consistent with earlier calculations at $608 per metric ton and consumption was 333,000 metric tons. During the quarter the company booked an $0.08 per share mark-to-market revaluation loss on its WTI fuel option portfolio.

“This loss partially offsets the revaluation gains the company recorded earlier in the year. As previously noted, these fuel options have been entered into for the purpose of protecting the company against spikes in oil prices. However, the options are not treated as hedges for accounting purposes and therefore can cause swings in quarterly earnings. Overall, they have been a successful strategy despite the swings they have caused, RCCL said.