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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.

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.

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