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Aurora Expeditions to charter first SunStone newbuild

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Top Headlines

Aurora Expeditions, Australia’s leading polar adventure cruising company, has today announced the delivery of its first brand new, purpose-built, expedition vessel.

With 25 years’ experience in expedition cruising to Antarctica and the Arctic, Aurora Expeditions has worked closely with US-based ship provider SunStone Ships Inc. to create a custom-designed ship that remains true to the company’s ethos of pioneering adventures, intimate experiences with nature and exploring new regions.

The state-of-the-art ice class 1A ship will be built to the latest polar code specifications, offering unprecedented levels of safety and environmental protection – for operations not just in the high latitudes, but across the planet. Exclusively designed for expedition cruising, the 104-metre vessel will allow Aurora Expeditions to continue to provide the authentic, small-ship experience for which they are renowned.

“With the development of our purpose-built expedition ship, we stay true to our small-ship philosophy where the focus is on the experience and engagement with the environment while at the same time providing the most comfortable form of travel in these challenging environments. In the polar regions, we will have the ability to reduce passenger numbers so we can continue to visit existing landings sites as well as explore new areas where strict regulations enforce no more than 100 people ashore at any one time.” says Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director of Aurora Expeditions.

Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will be the first in a new series of high-performance vessels designed to make the ocean- going experience as safe and comfortable as possible in the polar regions.

“We are excited to be the first to market with this exciting new design. The vessel is the first to use the patented X-BOW technology which has the ability to pierce waves with much greater stability, making open sea journeys – like Antarctica’s notorious Drake Passage – more pleasant for passengers than what is currently available from other small ships on the market today.” Halfpenny says.

While a traditional bow vessel rises on the waves and then drops violently onto the surface of the water, an X-BOW vessel, less subject to the vertical motions induced by the waves, continues on course more smoothly, while maintaining its speed. Because it uses less fuel to get through the waves, it also helps to save energy versus a conventional bow designed vessel.

Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will make access to nature easier and offer passengers a more comfortable experience than ever before. It will also allow for greater adventure opportunities with a custom-designed platform to cater for additional numbers of kayakers and divers, and a mud room for easier preparation for climbers and skiers. Small inflatable Zodiac crafts will continue to carry expeditioners between ship and shore, with a dedicated sea-level Zodiac loading platform for quick and easy boarding.

In between adventures, passengers will return to the warm, friendly and inclusive onboard atmosphere for which Aurora Expeditions is well-known. Whether it’s making new friends over dinner, sharing entertaining lectures, or briefings in the lounge, the small-group experience remains the same. Add to this private bathroom facilities, cabin balconies, a 180- degree indoor observation deck, wellness facilities including gymnasium, sauna and spa, and plenty of outdoor viewing areas for additional enjoyment and comfort.

At a time when the cruising industry is focused on 6-star luxury and onboard activities to attract passengers, Aurora Expeditions remains steadfast in its belief that its destinations are best-experienced in small groups, as close as possible to the heart of nature. This means getting off the ship as often as possible with multiple daily landings and getting amongst the action; seeing up close penguin adults feeding their chicks, polar bears hunting seals on pack ice or Galapagos sea turtles diving for a meal.

The yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in time for Aurora Expeditions’ 2019/2020 Antarctic season (November to March) and will complement the company’s existing fleet of vessels and destinations. Itineraries for the new ship are expected for release later this year.

TUI interim loss deepens but cruises perform well

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

TUI AG, the German tour operator that is listed in London, has reported a deeper operating loss for second quarter of its financial year, but says its cruise operations in Germany and the UK perform well.

Operating loss (EBITDA) of continuing operations deepened to €82.1 million in the three months to 31 march from €45.6 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues rose to €3.10 billion from €2.97 billion.

Underlying EBITDA of the group’s cruise operations that comprise 100% of Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten in Germany, Thomson Cruises in the UK and 50% of TUI Cruises in Germany, rose to €47.0 million from€37.0 million.

Thomson Cruises was included in the cruise operations of TUI for the first time – previously it had been part of the UK – and the second quarter 2016 figure was restated to include Thomson Cruises.

“In the Cruises segment, advance bookings were up year-on-year with sound demand levels, primarily due to continued fleet expansion,” the company said in a statement.

Demand for cruises remains buoyant in Germany, and TUI said it remains pleased with the performance of the TUI Cruises fleet. The company will introduce the 2500 passenger Mein Schiff 6 soon.

“Thomson Cruises continues its programme of modernisation with the launch of TUI Discovery 2. The 1,800 berth ship, recently acquired from Royal Caribbean, will be based in the Mediterranean this Summer before moving to the Caribbean for Winter 2017 / 18. We are pleased with sales for the new ship, as well as the performance of the rest of the Thomson Cruises fleet,” TUI said.



NCLH slightly raises 2017 guidance to EPS of $3.79 to $3.89, but warns of China uncertainties

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Top Headlines

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH), the world’s third largest cruise shipping group, has slightly raised its guidance for full year 2017 earnings per share (EPS) and it forecasts a record result for the year.

However, a senior company official warned about the possible negative impact of tension between China and South Korea to operations of Norwegian Joy, the company’s latest ship that is tailored to the Chinese source market.

“The Company expects to generate record earnings for full year 2017 and has increased its outlook, with Adjusted EPS now expected to be in the range of $3.79 to $3.89,” NCLH said in a statement. When the company published its final quarter and full year 2016 results, it forecast 2017 EPS in the range of $3.75 to $3.85. In 2016, the figure came at $2.78.

“2017 full year Adjusted Net Yield growth guidance on a Constant Currency basis increased 100 basis points to 2.75%,” the company added.

“A strong end to the most successful Wave season in recent history resulted in a meaningful improvement in our full year booked position, with both occupancy and pricing now well ahead of prior year," said Wendy Beck, executive vice president and chief financial officer of NCLH

 "I am pleased to report that the strong performance witnessed in our core markets and reflected in first quarter results also extended to our booked business in future quarters, allowing us to increase our full year Adjusted EPS and Adjusted Net Yield growth guidance,” she said.

 “This positive momentum has been partially offset by recent uncertainties in Norwegian Joy's Chinese source market caused by the South Korea travel restriction. Taking all factors into account, we are on track to deliver another year of solid financial performance and double-digit Adjusted EPS growth," she concluded