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All Leisure Group reveal major expansion plans

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Roger Allard, Executive Chairman of All Leisure Group plc, announced a multi-million dollar investment to develop its three discovery cruising brands, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean Island Cruises.

The investment will see each small ship discovery cruising brand developed and extended over the next 12 months, with a focus on expanding each brand’s offering to its guests and extending the number of itineraries available.

Swan Hellenic announced the major refurbishment of their highly popular Minerva as part of a long term strategy to see her sail into the next era. The refurbishment comes as a response to customer feedback and a request to increase the space of the interior and exterior public areas without compromising comfort and enjoyment.  Six cabins will be removed to free up additional space, giving the refurbished mv Minerva a total of 181 cabins – all with new en-suite facilities. Of these, 32 cabins will have balconies added, bringing the number of balcony suites up to 44.

Minerva will retain her current 350 passenger level and renowned British country elegance style and ambience. Included in this refurbishment will be a significant technical upgrade to improve the ship’s efficiency, manoeuvrability, comfort and environmental performance.

Voyages of Discovery will see the introduction of new ship Voyager to the brand portfolio. Previously named Alexander von Humboldt, Voyager will complement Discovery as an enhancement of the brand’s discovery cruising ethos, but will operate with fewer passengers and larger cabins. Even more intimate than mv Discovery, the ship accommodates 550 passengers and boasts a modern hotel feel to its cabins, of which 86% are outside. Expanding the Voyages of Discovery brand with the introduction of a second ship will provide guests with more choice and flexibility in itineraries.

Voyages of Discovery also announced significant refurbishment and dry dock plans for Discovery during winter 2012/13, with upgrades being made to the teak decking, expansion of public areas, cabin improvements, updated furnishing and developments to dining areas.

Hebridean Island Cruises enjoyed a highly successful 2011 season with its Hebridean Princess, and to further grow the brand and increase its product offering, a dedicated Hebridean River Cruises program has been launched for 2012. Offering the same values as Hebridean Princess and the former mv Hebridean Spirit, Hebridean’s Royal Crown will sail on the Rhine in spring and the Danube in autumn 2012, on a 7-night itinerary basis.

Steve Novello, President of All Discovery Cruising, North America, commented: “We are very excited to be able to offer our valued travel partners and guests with an enhanced small ship cruising portfolio that delivers more options than ever before. Today’s announcements by our Executive Management team highlight our continued commitment to our current and future customers as we strengthen our brands for the years to come.”

Roger Allard, Executive Chairman, All Leisure Group plc, added: “We are delighted to introduce our exciting three new brand announcements. Our research shows that demand for cruising amongst our target audience has increased over the past few years and in order to continue to meet and exceed customer expectations, we have expanded our fleet as a direct result of specific customer feedback. We aim to be proactive in what is a challenging time for the economy and travel industry as a whole and see 2012 being an exciting year for our company and our three discovery cruising brands.” 

Regent Seven Seas Cruises to move ships to Miami in 2012

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced today that beginning in fall 2012 it will join sister company, Oceania Cruises, at the Port of Miami. The line's ultra-luxury ships presently sail out of Port Everglades. The combined brands will account for more than 30 ship calls annually.

"We are looking forward to making the Port of Miami headquarters for both our cruise brands," stated Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, the parent company of both Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises.

Regent Seven Seas will operate from Port Everglades for one more year before moving operations to Miami. "We are appreciative to Port Everglades for its many years of excellent service to our valued guests," said Mark Conroy, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. "Regent and Oceania will have a dedicated terminal in Miami and the added flexibility of operating itineraries any day of the week."

Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises ships will berth at the Port of Miami's newly renovated Cruise Terminal J. The port has invested nearly $3 million on facility renovations and dockside improvements. Additionally, the new tunnel project will greatly improve accessibility to the port.

"With the introduction of Regent, we are looking forward to growing the ultra-luxury market at our port," said Bill Johnson, director for the Port of Miami. "We are in the process of upgrading Terminal J into a 'boutique' facility to cater to the mid-size ships that serve the upscale market."

Helsinki fears 12% fairway due rise to hit cruise calls hard

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

The Port of Helsinki fears that a plan by the Finnish government to increase fairway dues by 12% from the beginning of 2012 will hit hard cruise calls to the city.

"We have done quite a bit of work to get fairway dues for cruise ships to a moderate level. And then comes this! We have made calculations about the effects of the cost (increase) and we inform the Ministry all the time. Obviously, we think that the negative effect will not be as minor one," Eeva Hietanen, head of communications and cruise development at the Port of Helsinki, told Cruise Business Online.

The port expects 270 cruise calls with a total of 370,000 passengers this year, which is broadly speaking line with the figures of 2010. Fairway dues are a tax levied by the government on ships using Finland's waterways. It is charged for each visit. The Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications has included the 12% increased of the due as part of the government's 2012 draft budget.

Viking Line says newbuilding finance not in place

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Viking Line, the Finnish cruise ferry operator that has a 58,000 gross ton cruise ferry of a new type on order at STXFinland in Turku, says financing of the vessel is not yet in place.

“Design work for a newbuilding that will be employed in service between Turku-Maarianhamina/Langnas-Stockholm has progressed according to plan. However, the European Commission as not yet approved a €28 million environmental grant granted by the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications. The environmental grant is an essential part of the financing of the vessel,” Viking line said in a statement.

It is the only major passenger vessel on order at the Finnish shipbuilder, save for P&O Ferries' Spirit of France that is nearing completion at the STX shipyard in Rauma.

Viking Line group reported a net profit of €1.3 million for three months to 30 June on revenues of €130.8 million, compared to €1.1 million and €126.9 million respectively in the same period last year.


“Marketing mistakes” sank Crystal Cruises’ load factor to 70%

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

CrystalCruises, the Los Angeles based luxury cruise brand owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha(NYK) in Tokyo, has lagged markedly behind peers in terms of load factor in the past few months, butefforts are in place to put things right, the parent company said in a statement.

“Othercompanies’ load factors for luxury class vessels are over 90%, but due tomarketing mistakes the load factor for the Crystal Cruises is onlyapproximately 70%,” an unnamed NYK official was quoted as saying in a transcriptof Q&A session of the Tokyo based shipping giant’s first quarter financialyear 2011-12 interim result. The quarter in question started 1 April 2011.

“So there is a lot of room for improvement. Wehave already deployed new personnel to bring about a 180 degree turn in ourmarketing, and are carrying out measures to improve the bottom line. At thecurrent point in time, we expect a profit from the next fiscal year, butultimately we will look at cash flows and make a judgment after consultationwith our accountants,” the official said. NYK published its interims earlier this month.

NYK’scruise operations that include NYK Cruises that operates the 50,200 gross tonAsuka II on the Japanese market in addition to Crystal Cruises, had revenues of7.1 billion yen and they made a loss of 2.3 billion yen in the first quarter ofthe current financial year. By comparison, a year earlier the figures had been 9.0billion and a loss of 1.3 billion respectively. Inthe financial year to 31 March 2011, NYK’s cruise operations made a loss of 2.6billion yen on revenues of 35.8 billion yen.