Saga Cruises, part of the UK based financial services to travel group Saga plc, has taken up an option for second 55,900 gross ton newbuilding at Meyer Werft in Germany, the parent company said in a statement.
The second ship will be delivered a year ahead of original plans.
Lance Batchelor, group CEO, said in the statement: “Saga is on track to deliver a fourth consecutive year of growth. Underlying profits are up again and so is our dividend. Our retail broking and travel divisions are performing well. Saga's new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will arrive in June 2019, and pre-sales are very strong. Our confidence in demand has supported our decision to purchase our second new ship, Spirit of Adventure, and to bring forward delivery to August 2020.”
Batchelor continued: “Our new cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery, is now at an advanced stage of design with construction due to begin in February 2018. She will be delivered in June 2019 for her maiden cruise. We launched the first 19 cruises to our advanced registered members on 18 July, having generated over 18,000 advanced and pre-registrations by this date. Our calls with the advanced registered members are converting into sales at around 80% and as at 18 September we had booked 6,449 passengers.”
“The strong demand for Spirit of Discovery has given us the confidence to approve Spirit of Adventure, our second new ship, and to bring forward delivery to August 2020. This decision to further invest in our shipping capacity will complete the transformation of our cruise business for us and our members,” he concluded.
The first newbuilding will replace the 1981 built Saga Pearl II, while the second one appears to replace the Saga Sapphire that is of the same vintage, but much larger, at 37,012 gross tons, compared to 18,835 of Saga Pearl II.
The company, which is based in Folkestone on the south coast of England and listed on the London Stock Exchange, offers a wide range of services to customers aged 50 and more.
Genting Hong Kong today announced the appointment of travel industry veteran Tom Wolber as the President & CEO of Crystal Cruises effective September 15th. Wolber brings over three decades of experience in general management, operations, new-build construction and business development to Crystal during the company’s most significant expansion since its founding in 1988.
“Tom’s proven leadership skills will be invaluable to Crystal as the line takes delivery of four river ships in 2017 and 2018 as well as the first of the Endeavor Class expedition yachts in 2019,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman of Genting Hong Kong and Crystal Cruises. “His leadership will be key to the finalization of specifications and design for the new Exclusive Class oceangoing vessels. Tom has our full confidence and we look forward to working closely with him to ensuring Crystal remains unmatched in the luxury travel segment.”
“Crystal has developed a venerable reputation across the travel industry and my first responsibility will be continuing to deliver the world-class service and itineraries Crystal is renowned for,” said Tom Wolber. “I thank Chairman Tan Sri Lim for placing his faith in me, and I look forward to spearheading some of the most innovative new-builds and experiences the cruise and hospitality industry has ever seen in the years ahead.”
Wolber joins Crystal most recently from the Walt Disney Company where he served in various executive roles for 28 years, 10 of which were with Disney Cruise Line where he served as Senior Vice President of Operations. Wolber was involved in transforming Disney Cruise Line from a Port Canaveral based vacation provider to a global cruise line with itineraries covering North America, the Mediterranean and the Baltic. During his time at Disney, Wolber assisted with the successful design and launch of new builds including Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Additionally, Wolber served as President and CEO of Euro Disney, Paris and has held senior executive positions in Disney theme parks and resort operations at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
“Since acquiring Crystal in 2015, Genting has worked tirelessly to expand the Crystal brand by launching two river vessels with a third imminent, an expedition yacht and a private Boeing 777 – certainly no easy feat,” added Tan Sri Lim. “Thanks to Edie Rodriquez’s leadership, Crystal has successfully launched three new brands: Crystal Yachts, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Air. We thank Edie for her service to the company, appreciate all of her hard work, and wish her the very best in future endeavors.”
“It’s been an extraordinary experience leading Crystal to global prominence, and I am very proud of my accomplishments,” said Rodriguez. “I can’t thank Chairman Tan Sri Lim enough for the confidence and investment to assure Crystal’s future with a bold expansion strategy which I’ve firmly put in place. I’m happy to turn over the reins, knowing Crystal is well served by the incredibly talented and hard-working people throughout the organization – on sea, river, air and land. I look forward to announcing my new endeavor shortly.”
Rodriguez joined Crystal as President & COO in October 2013; she was promoted to President & CEO following the acquisition of the company by Genting Hong Kong in May 2015. Prior to Crystal, Rodriguez held senior marketing, sales and business development positions with other notable luxury lines and travel companies.
Construction work began today on Costa Smeralda after her steel-cutting ceremony held at the Meyer shipyard in Turku, Finland. The new Costa Cruises' ship will be the brand’s first ship powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the world’s first cruise ship to be broadly marketed to consumers from multiple countries throughout Europe.
Construction of the Costa Smeralda is part of a strategic plan from Carnival Corporation & plc – the world’s largest cruise company with 10 brands, including Costa Cruises – to build seven LNG-powered ships for its 103-ship fleet, starting in fall 2018 when the company’s German-based AIDA Cruises brand introduces AIDAnova, which will be marketed largely to German consumers.
Costa Smeralda, which will enter service in October 2019, will exceed 180,000 gross tons and offer more than 2,600 passenger cabins for a total of about 6,600 passengers onboard. A second ship, sister to Costa Smeralda, will be delivered by Meyer Turku in 2021.
The two new Costa Cruises ships will be powered both in port and on the open sea by LNG, the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel. LNG will be stored in special tanks on board ships and will be used to generate 100 percent of the energy required for navigation and onboard services, thanks to dual-fuel hybrid engines. The use of LNG is a major innovation in terms of environmental impact, as it will significantly reduce exhaust gas emissions, in particular sulphur (SO2), nitrogen (NO2), CO2 and particulate matter.
“These ships will strengthen the leadership position for the Costa Group, which is already the market leader in all the major continental Europe markets,” said Michael Thamm, CEO of the Costa Group and Carnival Asia. “The multibillion dollar contract with Meyer, which also includes two new LNG-powered ships to be built for our German brand, AIDA Cruises, reflects our strategy of constantly innovating our vacation offerings and providing our guests with an unmatched cruise experience.”
“The two new Costa Cruises ships are a true global innovation and set new standards for the entire sector,” added Neil Palomba, president of Costa Cruises. “They will be among the first cruise ships powered by LNG, spurring the development of this green technology, especially in the Mediterranean area, and they will be the world’s first LNG-powered ships that will be marketed to consumers from multiple countries, including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland. The new ships will also offer unique services and present a state-of-the-art interior design, serving as the perfect expression of our Italy's Finest concept, which is a distinguishing feature of the Costa Cruises brand around the world for providing guests with a truly immersive Italian experience.”
“In the last two years, we have had a very intense design collaboration with our customer and the outcome is a really fresh and new design fused with the latest of technology. We are happy to bring our experience with building LNG powered passenger ships to bear. Today is a very special moment in shipbuilding, when all the ideas, creativity, technology and signature design that is going into Costa’s new ships, are finally starting to become reality.” – stated Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku.
Costa Smeralda will be offering cruises in Western Mediterranean, which will be on sale beginning the first few months of 2018. LNG bunkering will be provided by Shell Western LNG B.V. (Shell), as announced last year.
The two LNG Costa ships – as well as two new ships for AIDA Cruises – are part of a multibillion dollar contract signed with the two Meyer shipyards in Turku (Finland) and Papenburg (Germany). The contract with Meyer is the result of a larger previously announced memo of understanding between Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Costa Group, and leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft, Meyer Turku and Fincantieri S.p.A. for nine new ships between 2019 and 2022.