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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 

STX Europe’s Cruise & Ferry business area returns to profit

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines
A gradual improvement of market conditions helped the Cruise & Ferry business area of STX Europe, the Oslo based unit of the South Korean STX Business Group, to return to an operating profit.

In the third quarter of this year, EBITDA improved to a positive figure of NOK 96 million from a negative one of NOK38 mllion in the same period last year. For the first nine months of 2011, EBITDA was positive by NOK161 million compared to a figure negative by NOK309 million for January-September 2010.

“Market conditions have gradually and slowly improved during 2011, however the macroeconomic picture is fragile and unstable at the moment and it is difficult to predict how this will affect the market. Despite a challenging market for new buildings, the number of potential projects within the market allows us to be cautiously optimistic about the market conditions and outlook,” the company said in a statement.

“In addition to increased activity within the cruise and ferries market, STX France and STX Finland are through diversification moving into other market segments where the yards have considerable experience and know-how. Such markets include vessels for naval operations, offshore related constructions and renewable energy/wind. The focus in ice-breaking/Arctic tonnage will continue to remain a key strategic focus, predominantly in Finland,” the company continued.

“The business area has 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,” STX Europe said.

Is RCCL planning four Sunshine class ships?

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Earlier this year Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) said it had ordered one 4,200 passenger cruise liner of the new Sunshine class at Meyer Werft in Germany for its Royal Caribbean International contemporary market brand.

However, this week a subcontractor company said it has won an order for two ships of the type, plus options for two more.

“Meyer Werft GmbH, the German shipbuilder, has chosen Koja Oy to supply the air conditioning systems for two giant cruise ships. The contract also includes an option for air conditioning of further two giant ships,” said Koja Oy, the Finnish air conditioning system specliast.

Koja’s statement then said the ships would be built for RCCL and be more than 350 metres in length and accommodate 4,200 passengers each. The contract with Meyer Werft would provide work for Koja until 2015 and if the options are included until 2017, the company noted.  




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