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Recent News Article 2008 January-May

Princess' new Chef's Table Dinners to be introduced fleetwide
Princess' Chef's Table, the exclusive dining experience that debuted to rave reviews earlier this year aboard Emerald Princess, will now be introduced across the line's fleet. Currently available on Emerald Princess, Crown Princess and Caribbean Princess, the Chef's Table is scheduled to debut aboard most vessels in the fleet in early 2008. The line's smaller ships, Tahitian Princess, Pacific Princess and Royal Princess are not part of the initial roll-out but are hoped to offer the program at a later date. Designed as a unique treat for ”foodies,” Chef's Table experience offers a select group of gourmands the rare opportunity to be welcomed into the inner sanctum of the ship's galley to enjoy a full evening of memorable sights, tastes and conversation hosted by the executive chef. While many passengers are able to enjoy galley tours during the quiet off-hours, the Chef's Table experience takes interested diners behind the scenes during the height of dinner preparation where they'll also enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, followed by a special multi-course tasting dinner paired with selected wines in the dining room.
AIDAaura to be homeported in Hamburg
The 2008 cruise season of Hamburg will be opened up with the first cruise vessel arriving in the Port of Hamburg mid April and will last once again till December with the Christmas cruises. The construction of the second berth, to be destined for cruise vessels with a maximum length of 300 meters, will start in spring 2008. This berth, in total of the third, will be completed for the cruise season start in 2009 and is located at the area Altona. For the berth development, the alignment of the terminal infrastructures, the constructions of the surrounding area and the access road, parking spaces and public areas, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg provides an investment volume of about EUR 12.5 million. Three out of ten newbuildings are expected during 2008 at the Hamburg Cruise Center. The maiden calls for the Port of Hamburg will made the Eurodam (Holland America Line, 3rd of July), the AIDAbella (AIDA Cruises, 10th of September and the Celebrity Solstice (Celebrity Cruises, from the 24th till the 26th of October). AIDA Cruises does not only send their new building to Hamburg, they will reposition the AIDAaura to the Port of Hamburg. During the 2008 season the AIDAaura will depart for eleven cruises from Hamburg. Between July 30th and August 3rd 2008, Hamburg as metropolis on the waterfront will be celebrating Hamburg Cruise Days as a new event in the port. Overall seven cruise ships, including the transatlantic liner Queen Mary 2, will be calling at Germanyís largest port during the event.
Princess, Cunard, P&O Cruises Australia selects MCP
Maritime Communications Partner (MCP), fully owned by Telenor ASA, has signed a contract to install and operate the cellular network onboard all ships in Princess Cruises, Cunard Lines and P&O Cruises Australiaís fleets. The agreement covers 21 ships at the signing of the contract. The fleet of cruise ships has a passenger capacity of approximately 45,000, as well as a crew of 20,000. The MCP service will allow  everyone onboard to use their own mobile phones when sailing on the high seas. ”This contract represents a definite breakthrough for MCP in the American cruise market,” says PÂl Bj¯rdal, CEO of MCP. ”We have won this contract despite hard competition, and we are proud to have been chosen to supply one of  the most distinguished and demanding cruise operators in the market. The agreement with Princess Cruises will be an excellent platform to further build our growth strategy on,” says Bj¯rdal.
Cunardís tandem Trans-Atlantic voyage starts in winter gale
An Atlantic crossing of two Cunard liners from the port of Southampton started in a raging gale last night. Queen Elizabeth 2 and the new Queen Victoria sailed from the UK port to the tunes of Elgarís Nimrod and a fireworks display. However, a winter gale had broken out earlier on the same day, so that passengers on the two ships had rough weather at least in the early part of their voyage to New York.
NCL closes $1 billion investment by Apollo
NCL Corporation, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line and NCL America, announced today the closing of a $1 billion cash equity investment by private equity group Apollo Management, LP in NCL. The infusion strengthens NCL's balance sheet and will enable the company to make significant investments in a number of key areas, in addition to funding continued expansion of what is already the youngest fleet in the industry. The company recently announced it will take its
signature Freestyle Cruising to the next level with the introduction of Freestyle 2.0, a major enhancement to its on-board product fleetwide. The company also announced a new travel agent program, Partnership 2.0, which includes major changes to the way NCL does business and is designed to strengthen its relationships with travel partners. Both programs will be implemented within the first half of this year, and are part of the preparation for NCL's next large step forward, the
introduction of the F3 concept ships in 2010, under construction now in France at a cost of over $1.1 billion per ship. Concurrent with the new investment, the company has bolstered its senior management team with the addition of two key executives, one to the position of EVP and CFO and the other who will spearhead a new strategic planning and business development initiative. NCL is also building on its successful brand identity campaign with increased investment in consumer marketing, including the launch of a series of six new television commercials that will air nationwide beginning today.
CLIA picks Peter Ueberroth to keynote 2008 cruise3sixty conference
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has chosen Peter Ueberroth, founder of First Travel Corporation, to deliver
the opening keynote address at the 2008 cruise3sixty conference in Fort Lauderdale, March 7-9. He is Managing Director of Contrarian Group, an investment and management company as well as owner and co-Chairman of the Pebble Beach Company. He is a familiar name in the travel agency business as founder of First Travel Corporation in 1962. From 1980 to 1984, he gained international acclaim as President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, which was responsible for staging the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. From 1984 to 1989, he was Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Ueberroth is currently serving as Chairman of the United States Olympic Committee as they prepare for the Beijing Olympic Games, and serves on the board of directors of The Coca Cola Company and Ambassadors International (AMIE). He was named Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1984 and his 1985 book, Made in America, was a bestseller.
European Cruise Council to meet at Brussels on 26 February
European Cruise Council will hold a meeting in Brussels on 26 February, in which issues related to the cruise industry, shipbuilding, ports regulatory framework and the environment will be discussed with lead from senior industry executives. The annual event will take place at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers and a reception will be held on the previous night at the Hotel de Ville.
 Brits like the Caribbean and fear Norovirus
More than a quarter of the respondents of a poll in the UK on views on cruising ranked the caribbean as their favoutrite destination, while a fifth said that the fear of getting a Norovirus kept them off ships. The Caribbean won the first place as the most popular cruise destination with a score of 28% in a poll by, the British sister site of The UK site went online earlier this week and it published a poll on British tastes regarding cruises. The main appeals of cruising emerged as varied destinations (58%) and laid back, no agenda atmosphere (11%). Spas, theme-related voyages and entertainment were all mentioned, but cuisine only received 4.3% of the votes. Perhaps surprisingly, 39% of the respondents said they would try a luxury line first and even expedition type ships (11%) went ahead of big ships (10%), despite pending introduction of Royal Caribbeanís Independence of the Seas and P&O Cruisesí Ventura this spring. The internet was rated as the most important source of information related to offerings on the market (68%), while 62% of the respondents said they are ready to spend less than £1,000 on their cruise. And 35% said they fear most getting sick, with the Norovirus and seasickness boosting the rating. The UK is the world's second largest source market for cruises, with 1.35 million passengers in 2007, which is forecast to rise to 1.55 million this year. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) per person is anticipated to rise to $23,500 per person this year, putting it ahead of the US ($23,250) for the first time in more than a century and well ahead of e.g. Germany and France. Fifteen years ago, the UK was 34% behind the US and Germany and 27% behind France in terms of gdp per person according to a report from Oxford Economics.

Azamara cancels plans for South America, World cruise
Azamara Cruises has announced new itineraries for Azamara Journey beginning in the fall of 2008. On November 12, 2008, the ship will sail a new, 12-night Western Mediterranean cruise roundtrip from Barcelona. On December 3, 2008, the ship will sail from Barcelona on a 15-night transatlantic voyage concluding in Miami, where Azamara will present two new, 16-night Panama Canal sailings, followed by a series of 12-night exotic Caribbean cruises through March 2009, when the ship will relocate to Europe. Azamara Journey will retain its current, published itinerary lineup until the November 12 sailing. The new deployment replaces the itineraries previously announced for Azamara Journey in South America from December 2008 through March 2009. ”Demand from both our travel agent partners and guests for our new Asia and exotic Caribbean cruises has led us to focus on these markets in lieu of South America and a world cruise,” said Azamaraís President and CEO Dan Hanrahan. These changes will replace Azamara's previously announced 2008-2009 sailings in South America and world cruise in 2010. Azamara Cruises plans to announce details of its 2010 cruise itineraries for both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest in late March or early April.
Wartsila moves into refurbishment
The Finnish propulsion system supplier Wartsila has diversified to ship refurbishment by signing a contract worth Ä9.5 million regarding work on the 1993 built ferry Pride of Telemark of Kystlink in Norway. The work includes the installation of new electronic systems, servicing five auxiliary engines and two main engines plus supplying and fitting new interiors to 31 cabins. Wartsila is responsible for all elements of the contract, which according to sales manager Bo Lindy Jensen means that the company can ensure quality control and efficient project management.

Italian government minister wants Fincantieri and Aker Yards to merge
Aker Yards and Fincantieri should be merged to a single company, according to Cesare de Piccoli, deputy transport minister of Italy. ìWith the finance minister, we are now working on studying the possibility of a merger,î he told the Tradewinds shipping news website. On 23 October, STX Corporation that is the fifth largest shipbuilder in South Korea, acquired a 39.2% stake in Oslo based Aker Yards, saying that it is interested in the listed Norwegian companyís cruise ship building. Aker Yards builds cruise liners in Finland and France. Fincantieri is owned in full by the Italian state. Fears that South Korea might break the European monopoly on cruise ship building has raised fears in Italy, which is the biggest builder of these ships.. ìWe think South Korea can produce a cruise ship by 2012,î said Giuseppe Bono, ceo of Fincantieri, the Italian state owned shipbuilding group, according to Fairplay Daily News on 26 November.

Korean bank sees cruise liners saviour of shipbuilding
The Korea Development Bank has urged the countryís shipbuilders to explore the construction of cruise ships to ward off growing competition from China, Fairplay Daily News reports. Cruise ship newbuildings could be the new growth driver for Korean shipyards, the bank says in a report. It has warned that Chinaís rapid expansion of yards and technological capability could mean severe competition for large tankers and container ships in which Korean yards have an edge at present. The report also points out that yards are flush with cash from the current shipbuilding boom and have the resources to invest in R&D. Shipbuilding sources, however, told Fairplay that a ìprudentî approach would be taken towards the cruise ship sector in which European yards have a clear lead, the the report says. Saga Shipping, the UK based company that operates three ships under the Saga Cruises brand name, is rumoured to work with STX to order a 34,000 gross ton cruise liner at the Korean builder. So far Korean yards have only built fast ropax ferries for export, some of which have high quality passenger accommodation. The only major cruise ships built for export in the Far East are Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess, which Mitsubishi in Japan built for Princess Cruises. Meanwhile, the possibility of competition from South Korea has raised fears in Italy: ìWe think South Korea can produce a cruise ship by 2012,î said Giuseppe Bono, ceo of Fincantieri, the Italian state owned shipbuilding group, according to Fairplay Daily News on 26 November.

U.K site content to cater to British cruising prefences
Cruise Critic (, the worlds leading online resource for consumer-oriented cruise reviews and news, has announced the launch of, a dedicated U.K. site geared toward the British cruising community and the companys first country-specific domain. As an interactive cruise community and resource for planning cruise getaways, will provide U.K. cruisers with vacation planning tools such as cruise reviews and ports of call recommendations written by both site members and Cruise Critics expert editorial staff. content will be programmed specifically for U.K.-oriented readers, catering to the style and manner in which British travelers cruise. Also, with the launch of the U.K. site, Cruise Critic can now offer unique deals and discounts specifically to U.K. cruisers, something that was not previously possible through the .com site. The British have a long tradition of cruising, as many great ships and shipping lines have British origins, said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor, Cruise Critic. Despite this lengthy cruise history, just recently, the British cruise market has experienced an unprecedented boom. This boom, coupled with an ever increasing British audience visiting the .com site made now the ideal time to launch in order to help British cruisers find the right ship, with the right amenities at the right price.
Port of Galveston homeports Voyager of the Seas
The Board of Trustees of the  Galveston Wharves has entered into a new operating agreement with  Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. effective December 23, 2007. This five year agreement continues the relationship between the Port and  RCCL that has existed since October 2001. Under this agreement, the Port of Galveston will be the homeport for the  138,000 gross ton Voyager of the Seas with 40 cruises scheduled through 2009. The agreement also provides the opportunity for RCCL to expand its  cruise operations at the Port in the future and facilitates development of  the port to accommodate this expansion. ”Hosting this ship in the Gulf will bring great economic impact to the region, adding to the success of 2006 when we saw $1.1 billion in direct  spending, the creation of 19,341 jobs and $907 million generated in new  income for  the state of Texas as a result of the cruise industry,” said  Steven M. Cernak, Port Director. The Voyager of the Seas is making her media debut as the largest cruise ship sailing from Texas on Sunday, January 13. The vessel will carry up to 3,600 guests on 7-night itineraries to the Caribbean & Mexico generating approximately 125,000 round trip passengers at the port this  cruise season. ”Voyager's arrival also marks the first time a Royal Caribbean Voyager-class ship is deployed in Texas for an entire season,” said Alice Norsworthy, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Royal Caribbean  International. ”We are excited to offer more Texans the opportunity to experience our signature style of cruising right from their backyard.”
Crew mistakes caused heeling of Crown Princess
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of an accident involving the Crown Princess was the second officer's incorrect wheel commands, executed first to counter an unanticipated high rate of turn and then to counter the vessel's heeling. Contributing to the cause of the accident were the captain's and staff captain's inappropriate inputs to the vessel's integrated navigation system while it was traveling at high speed in relatively shallow water, their failure to stabilize the vessel's heading fluctuations before leaving the bridge, and the inadequate training of crewmembers in the use of integrated navigation systems. ”We see from this accident the importance of having adequate training,” said NTSB Mark V. Rosenker. ”Had the crew been better trained in the equipment they were using, this accident may not have occurred, and implementing our recommendations is one way to help ensure this.” On July 18, 2006, the cruise ship Crown Princess, which had been in service about a month, departed Port Canaveral, Florida, for Brooklyn, New York, its last port on a 10-day round trip voyage to the Caribbean. About an hour after departing, the vessel's automatic navigation system caused the ship's heading to fluctuate around its intended course. Alarmed by a perceived high rate of turn, the second officer attempted to take corrective action that resulted in the ship heeling to a maximum angle of about 24 degrees to starboard. This caused people to be thrown about or struck by unsecured objects, resulting in 14 serious and 284 minor injuries to passengers and crewmembers. The vessel incurred no damage to its structure but sustained considerable damage to unsecured interior components, cabinets, and their contents. The report adopted by the Board today states that the Crown Princess was operating at nearly full speed when the second officer took the controls. Because of instabilities in the automatic steering system, the officer faced the problem of navigating a vessel that exhibited both increasing course deviations and high rates of turn. The second officer took manual control of the steering and steered back and forth between port and starboard in increasingly wider turns. Rather than remedying the problem, the second officer's actions aggravated the situation, resulting in a very large angle of heel. The captain quickly returned to the bridge and brought the vessel under control by centering the rudder and reducing speed. The Safety Board concluded that the incident occurred because the second officer initially turned the wheel to port, when he should have turned it to starboard to counteract the turn. The Safety Board also stated that the captain and staff captain made errors with regard to the ship's integrated navigation system. These errors included:
* Failure to recognize that the integrated navigation system could be unpredictable at high speed in shallow water.
* Failure to recognize that the rudder economy and rudder limit settings on the integrated navigation system were inappropriate for the vessel's speed and operating conditions.
The Board concluded that these errors stemmed from inadequate training and lack of familiarity with the integrated navigation system. As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board made recommendations regarding integrated navigation system training to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Cruise Lines International Association, and to SAM Electronics and Sperry Marine, manufacturers of integrated navigation systems.
Three Cunard Queens meet first and last time
New York's iconic Statue of Liberty stood tall as a fitting backdrop for a Royal Rendezvous of Cunard Line's three luxury liners - Queen Mary 2, QE2 and the new Queen Victoria, which made her maiden call to New York on Sunday. Thousands of maritime buffs lined the shores of lower Manhattan to see the regal fleet gather for the first and only time in New York.  During a celebration that began with a whistle salute by each liner, the nautical royalty made a majestic procession through New York harbor illuminated by a fireworks-filled sky as they departed on their respective voyages. It is the first time that three Cunard Queens have been in service simultaneously in the company's 168-year history. Read more from the news section of
Costa Maya re-opening sooner than expected
Following a hit by Hurricane Dean in August 2007, the Port of Costa Maya is announcing the reconstruction of berthing spaces one and two is now 58% completed. This means both positions will be ready to receive cruise ships by summer 2008. This is about three months earlier than expected. The third position is also under reconstruction but will be finished
soon after. There will not be tendering before the reopening as the port owners are focusing their efforts on the Port's reconstruction and speedy recovery. Negotiations with the cruise lines are successfully underway. Many cruise lines will be returning to Costa Maya. Final details on the new schedule of calls to the Port are expected by the beginning of February.
DFDS expands its capacity in the Baltic
DFDS is investing further to strengthen its route network in the Baltic Sea, where the market for sea transport of freight and passengers is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. Growth is being driven in particular by Russia, the CIS countries and the Baltic countries. Capacity on the route network is therefore being expanded with a new combined ropax ferry. It is being built at the Nuovi Cantieri Apuania shipyard in Italy. DFDS has acquired the vessel from Grimaldi Holding S.p.A., Palermo. The vessel is the fifth newbuilding in a series of eight ordered by Grimaldi from the yard. The vessel is 200 metres in length, 27 metres wide and will initially be fitted with 2,500 lane metres for freight and cars. There will be a high standard capacity for 600 passengers. Service speed is 23 knots. Agreement is for the vessel to be delivered in May 2009, when it will be entered into service on DFDS' route between Kiel, Germany, and Klaipeda, Lithuania.
The grass is really greener on Celebrity Solstice
When Celebrity Solstice launches in December, vacationers will find that the grass really is greener on a Celebrity Cruises vacation. The ship will present an industry first on the top deck of the ship: real, growing grass, set in an innovative new country club environment known as The Lawn Club. The half-acre Lawn Club on Celebrity Solstice will invite guests to enjoy bocce ball and croquet, practice their putting, picnic with a basket of wine and cheese, or simply feel the grass between their toes, while sailing the oceans of the world. The area also will feature the Hot Glass Show, another first in the industry, developed in collaboration with The Corning Museum of Glass; the Patio on the Lawn; the Lawn Club Shop,
and the Sunset Bar.
Ceres appointed stevedore for Carnival in Port Canaveral
Ceres Marine Terminals has been appointed to handle stevedoring operations for Carnival Cruise Lines in Port Canaveral, Florida and will commence servicing Carnivals vessels effective January 20, 2008. Ceres will service 156 vessel calls annually for Carnival and will process approximately 800,000 passengers. The company will be responsible for providing cruise vessel stevedoring and other cruise-related terminal services. Ceres currently provides cruise vessel stevedoring and terminal services for the worlds prestigious cruise lines at cruise terminals in Bayonne, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Houston, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Miami and Vancouver.
Carnival's Vicki Freed jumps to Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International today named cruise industry veteran Vicki Freed as the company's Senior Vice President, Sales. Freed joins the company after 29 years with Carnival Cruise Lines, where she spent the last 15 years as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Prior to that, Freed served in a variety of sales management positions within the cruise line. From 1998 to 2000, Freed also served as the first, and only, female chairman of the Cruise Line International Association, the marketing and travel agent training arm of the North American cruise industry. ”Vicki has an outstanding and proven background within our industry and we are very pleased to have her join our team,” said Adam Goldstein, president and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean International. ”Vicki's passionate support of travel agents has been well chronicled and recognized. She will be a great asset to our brand as we continue to grow.” In her new role, Freed will take charge of the company's 345-person sales force, the largest sales team in the cruise industry. She will also manage the company's Trade Support and Services division, which includes Reservations, Group Sales, Customer Service, and Loyalty Programs. Freed will report to Goldstein.
Delay of Balmoral refit cancels inaugural activities
Balmoral has been undergoing a lengthy and somewhat complex refit and refurbishment programme in Hamburg. She was due to arrive in Dover next week, but Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has now received notification that her arrival there will be delayed by several days. The ship will be there in good time for the inaugural cruise scheduled to depart on 30th January, but it means that the company is no longer able to entertain any guests on board prior to this date. Therefore, the company has now canceled the events planned for the period 25th - 29th January.
Saga Cruises tests regional ports with five cruises
Saga Cruises, the British company that operates three cruise liners that cater for those aged 50 and over, will operate five cruises from two regional ports this year in a departure from operating from dover and Southampton, the principal base ports in the country. The 24,400 gross ton Saga Ruby will sail from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north for one cruise each to the Baltic, Norwegian Fjords and the Mediterranean. They range in duraion for 7 to 17 nights and departures take place from 23 May to 12 June. The 24,500 gross ton Saga Rose will sail from Liverpool in the north west for an 18 night cruise to Iceland and Greenland on 11 July, followed by a 15 night cruise to Norway on 29 July. A cruise terminal opened in Liverpool last autumn; it is located near where the Princes Landing Stage used to cater for liner services of Cunard Line (up to 1966) and Canadian Pacific (up to 1971). Following the end of these services, most of the facility was scrapped, leaving only a stump to cater for ferries that sail across the River Mersey.
Club Cruise said to convert Finnjet to cruise liner
Club Cruise, the Dutch tonnage provider, is said to plan convesion of the 1977 built cruise ferry Finnjet to a cruise liner, with Phoenix Seereisen as possibler operator. A news report on carries the news, plus a picture in which the ship is being renamed Da Vinci with Nassau as home port. The report says the 32,490 gross ton ship will be sent for conversion at the Marriotti shipyard in Italy; if true, it will be the largest cruise liner in the world with ice class to allow operations in heavy ice conditions.  The ship has been laid up in Freeport following use as accommodationship in the US after the Hurricane Katrina. It was built to operate between Helsinki and Travemunde and it covered the 660 mile crossing in 22 hours with 75,000 hp Pratt &Whitney gas turbines. However, in 1981 it was fitted with an additional diesel electric propulsion plant with an output of about 32,000 hp that gives it a cruising speed of 18.5 knots. The finnjetweb report says Da Vinci would replace the 1969 bult turbo-electric Maxim Gorki in Phoenix Seereisenís service in November this year. Finnjet was put up for sale by Sea Containers, the Bermuda based former owner of the ferry company Silja Line as it filed for Chapter XI protection in 2007.

Voyager class ships pay for themselves in less than four years, banker says
The Voyager class cruise liners of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) pay for themselves in less than four years, an exceptionally short time for such a major investment, a shipping banker says. The 137,000 gross ton ships cost about $500 million each to build and they generate EBITDA of about $150 million per year, said the banker who did not want to be quoted by name. By comparison, a $600 million oil rig would require a daily charter rate of $600,000 per day, a figure that is achievable in a strong market but that is hard to sustain over a period of several years, he added.

Saga and Fred. Olsen said to consider ordering newbuildings in Korea
Saga Shipping and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are rumoured to be considering an order each for a newbuilding at South Korean shipyards. The first-named company that is based in Folkestone in the UK is looking for a ship in the 30,000 gross ton size range, while the rumours do not mention further details about the Fred.Olsen project. The Norwegian-owned Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will commission its fifth ship, the 43,000 gross ton Balmoral next week. The 1988 built ship has undergone a refit and lengthening at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Germany.

Ventura two night mini cruise sold out in three hours
All 3,016 berths on P&O Cruises' newcomer Ventura for a two night mini cruise on 11 April were sold out in about three hours. The 115,000 gross ton ship will make the mini cruise to Zeebrugge in Belgium from Southampton and bookings opened on Monday morning. Before 11 am, the company's online reservation system said that no cabins were available on that cruise.
More delays for Balmoral, inaugural cruise canceled
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has canceled the inaugural cruise of its latest ship, Balmoral, due to depart for the Canary Islands on 30th January. The ship has just undergone a very extensive refit, including a substantial lengthening process, which is an extremely complex task. A number of technical issues have now arisen and, consequently, further essential work must be undertaken before the ship can commence her cruise programme. Fred. Olsenís Managing Director, Mike Rodwell said: ”Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that we had to take this difficult decision and have apologised to the customers affected by it. The complex lengthening and refurbishment work onboard has been ongoing since we took delivery of the ship in November 2007 and we were confident that the vessel would be ready for service in good time. However, a number of unforeseen technical issues have emerged in the past week and these have led to this unfortunate decision being taken.” The cruise line is fully compensating all passengers and the second planned cruise, to the Caribbean, due to depart Dover on 13th February, remains on schedule.
Tallinkís interim profit dives on IT and bunkers
Implementation of a new group wide booking system combined with high cost of bunkers wiped out net profit of Tallink, the Estonian ferry group, in the three month period to 30 November. The profit fell to a mere Ä0.2 million  from Ä7.2 million, while net sales fell by 1.9% to Ä186.6 million from the same period a year earlier. ìThe group's performance during the first quarter of 2007/2008 financial year was impacted by the launch of the new group-wide booking and check-in system. During the transition period of the systems the bookings and sales activities were not running at their highest capacities as the use of resources was disturbed by technical issues,î Tallink said in as statement. Star, the new ropax ferry introduced last year on service between Tallinn and Helsinki, has performed well and it has improved Tallinkís result on that service.

All Leisure Group seeks further tonnage after good year
All Leisure Group PLC, the UK  based company that owns the Voyages of Discovery and Swan Hellenic cruise brands, wants to increase its fleet of two ships after good performance last year and strong bookings for 2008. ìIt is our strategy to develop more destination itineraries and it is our intention to acquire by charter, lease or purchase more quality vessels to satisfy demand from the growing mature passenger cruise marketî the company said in a statement. It made a pre tax profit of £7.0 million last year, an increase of 12.5% on 2006. Voyages of Discovery that owns the 20,636 gross ton Discovery has sold 65% of the budgeted berths and 62% of the revenue budgeted for the summer of this year. At Swan Hellenic, which will operate the 12,449 gross ton Minerva on long term charter, the figures are 88% and 91% respectively. All Leisure had £15.8 million in cash plus a bank balance of £28.0 million at the end of last year.

Recession fears have not hurt travel trade, TUI Travel ceo says
Fears may be mounting over a global slowdown or even recession in the wake of the credit crunch that started in the US, but the travel trade in Europe continues to perform well, a senior industry leader said. ìOur market research clearly indicates that weakening economic performance is not a driver of consumer spending on holidays and this is being confirmed by our current trading results,î
said chief executive Peter Long of TUI Travel PLC, the biggest tour operating company in Europe.
ìCurrent trading is encouraging, with consumer demand for holidays strong across our source markets, including the UK,î he said according to

Swan Hellenic re-enters river cruising in 2009
Swan Hellenic, the UK based s[pecialist cruise operstor, will return to river cruising next year, offering a season of cruises on the Danube and four further river cruises on the Rhone.The spring and summer/autumn river cruise programme will operate 10 night itineraries on the Danube and seven night itineraries on the Rhone. A unique 13 night Christmas cruise for 2009/10 cruise will also be available on the Danube, which will further extend the river programme. Swan Hellenic Chairman, Lord Sterling, comments:We have carefully reviewed the river cruise market in Europe and decided that our best partner will be A-Rosa, which already has an excellent river cruise programme on the Danube and the RhÙne. Swan Hellenic Managing Director, Anthony Dyson, comments: ”With a maximum number of 100 cabins accommodating just 200 passengers,  these river boats offer elegant, spacious cabins, most of which have Juliette (French) balconies.  I am confident that these low passenger numbers and the high standard of accommodation, combined with first class food produced by specially selected Chefs de Cuisine, will appeal to Swan Hellenic passengers.” The company is part of the All Leisure Group.

Thomas Cook joins upbeat tour operators but says capacity is lower
Thomas Cook PLC, the London based tour operator, has echoed the words of TUI Travel PLC by saying that the current trading conditions are good. ìSince our last update, current trading has continued to be strong, with demand for both winter and summer holidays ahead of capacity. Together with our excellent capacity left to sell position, this places us in a good position for the rest of the financial year,î said the group in a report on The group said the mainstream tour operating business continues to drive the majority of its profit but this will change. It expects revenue from mainstream will decline from 80% in 2005/06 to 72% in 2009/10. Revenue from independent travel is expected to increase from 18% in 2005/06 to 25% and financial services will rise from 2% to 3% in the same period. Overall bookings are currently 2% behind the prior year due to the group exiting unprofitable businesses. Capacity is currently 9% lower than for summer 2007, the report said.
RCCL reports record final quarter but full year profit slips
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) has reported record net profit of $70.8 million for the final quarter of 2007, up from $46.6 million on the same period year-on. However, full year profit fell to $603.4 million from $633.9 million in 2006. In the fourth quarter, strong close-in bookings boosted the groupís performance. ”It is very gratifying to see such a strong performance, especially in light of the broader consumer and economic environment,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. ”We are particularly pleased with the solid yield performance of our brands, which produced such healthy earnings despite significantly higher fuel costs.” Higher fuel prices increased operating costs by $45 million in 2007, which reduced earnings per share by $0.21.

RCCL net yields rise above guidance rate in fourth quarter
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) reported the following key metrics for the fourth quarter 2007, as compared to the fourth quarter 2006: Net Yields on a comparable basis increased 3.2%; higher than guidance of an increase in a range around 2%. Including Pullmantur, Net Yields increased 11.0%.; Excluding fuel, Net Cruise Costs per APCD on a comparable basis increased 3.4%; higher than guidance of an increase in a range around 2%. Including Pullmantur, Net Cruise Costs per APCD increased 12.1%; Fuel prices increased 41% versus the fourth quarter of 2006, while fuel costs per APCD increased 19%, benefiting from energy saving initiatives and hedging. The average at-the-pump price for the quarter was $555 per metric ton versus $395 per metric ton in 2006.;Net Cruise Costs per APCD on a comparable basis increased 5.9%; higher than guidance of an increase in a range around 2%. Including Pullmantur, Net Cruise Costs per APCD increased 13.4%
RCCLís Fain says  booking volumes healthy and pricing improves
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) ceo Richard Fain says early indications from the 'wave period' are encouraging, ìWe continue to see healthy booking volumes and improved pricing over the same time last year. Based on this improving revenue performance and our focus on controlling costs, we expect 2008 to be a year of double-digit improvement in EPS.” The company forecasts its capacity to rise by 8.8% in the first quarter and by 5.1% in the full year 2008, while for net yields the figures are 7% and 4% respectively. Net cruise costs, including fuel, are forecast to rise at 1% and 2% respectively.Based on these estimates, and assuming that fuel prices remain at today's level, the company expects its first quarter 2008 earnings per share to be $0.30 to $0.35, and expects full year 2008 earnings per share to be $3.20 to $3.40. As of December 31, 2007, liquidity was $1.4 billion, comprising $0.2 billion in cash and cash equivalents and $1.2 billion in available credit on the company's unsecured revolving credit facility. Based on current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, are estimated to be $1.9 billion, $2.0 billion, $2.2 billion, and $1.0 billion, respectively. Projected capacity increases for the same four years are estimated at 5.1%, 9.3%, 11.4%, and 6.4%, respectively.

”Cruise industry recession resistant” - RCCL's Fain
”The cruise industry is not immune to recession, but it is recession resistant,” said Richard Fain, ceo of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL). Customers focus on value of their purchases in times of a weak economic cycle and this offers the cruise industry a cushion in the downside as cruising offers exceptional value for money, he continued on a webcast news conference. Fixed price of the product further enhances the attractiveness of the cruise product.
Good performance for RCCL's business outside North America
The business outside North America has been good as well for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), according Adam Goldstein, ceo of the group's Royal Caribbean International contemporary market brand. ”it is gratifying to know that all our products are in a favourable pricing position,” Goldstein said in awebcast news conference. Independence of the Seas that will enter service on 17 April, operating from Southampton in the UK, has had ”a terrific response.” Yields for cruises in Asia, Australia and Brazil have enjoyed ”a significant yield rise year-on-year.”
Star Cruises positions SuperStar Virgo in Hong Kong and SuperStar Aquarius in Singapore
For six months, Star Cruises is changing the base ports of two of its largest ships. The company is redeploying its 1,960 guest SuperStar Virgo to Hong Kong in April until 19 October, in line with the cruise lineís commitment to providing interesting Far East cruise options for international markets such as the UK , and development in the Greater China market, the company says. ìThe deployment of the SuperStar Virgo to Hong Kong also helps to boost Hong Kong ís market significance as an international cruise centre, Star Cruises said in a statement. the itineraries comprise a five-night Sanya, Halong Bay and Xiamen cruise and a three-night Keelung , Taiwan.During the Hong Kong-based season of SuperStar Virgo, the 1,529 guest SuperStar Aquarius ñ which joined the Star Cruises fleet in June 2007 ñ will offer a combination of four night destination cruises from Singapore to Penang , Malaysia and Phuket , Thailand . The first ex-Singapore cruise of SuperStar Aquarius takes place on 30th March 2008 and SuperStar Aquarius will return to Hong Kong in October 2008
RCCL adds marketing muscle in UK, introduces brand-specific sales teams
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) has announced major developments to its UK and Ireland sales function.  The business will increase its sales team by 30 per cent through the recruitment of eight additional people.  ìThis will create a dedicated sales team for each of its major brands; namely Royal Caribbean International, and Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises.  The structure will also create a completely new Business Development function,î the company said in a statement. Until now the sales team in the UK & Ireland has been dual branded and the changes, effective 1st April 2008, deliver the cruise lineís strongest ever sales force.  The additional heads include a sales director and head of business development, as well as key sales positions. Jo Rzymowska, managing director, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, UK and Ireland commented:  ìOver the last two years it has been no secret that RCCL has been aggressively growing its market presence and sales performance. In early 2006 we doubled our sales team in the UK and Ireland and have made ongoing improvements to how we support our travel partners. We kick-off 2008 with a hugely positive development, increasing and redefining our teams so that they are dedicated to a brand or specific channel.î For the first time Celebrity Cruises will have a sales team dedicated to Celebrity Cruises and the new Azamara Cruises brand.  The team will focus on improving differentiation between the brands, and targeting travel partners that are most suited to selling Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises or Azamara Cruises.  RCCL will also introduce a new four-strong team, including a new head of business development, who will focus on providing commercial insight into the multiple sales channels that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line supports.  This will include ensuring that each channelsí maximum potential is reached via the most cost-effective route. They will also enhance return-on-investment measurements across all activity and support the sales teams in developing strategically powerful co-operative marketing campaigns.  The head of business development will report into Jo Rzymowska, managing director UK & Ireland .
Apollo closes the Regent Seven Seas transaction, announces plans for a newbuilding
Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) today announced that the acquisition of the cruise line by New York-based Apollo Management LP (Apollo) from Minneapolis-based Carlson has been completed. Terms of the transaction are not being disclosed. ”We are pleased to have finalized the acquisition of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and look forward to fueling the growth and continued success of this world-class cruise line,” stated Steve Martinez, partner at Apollo. Concurrent with the closing of the transaction, the board of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc. (PCH), an Apollo subsidiary and parent company of RSSC, announced that it has provided RSSC management the authority to enter formal discussions with shipyards for a newbuild, with a view to placing a firm order during the second half of 2008 for delivery in 2011. While specific details need to be finalized, management's initial concept for the new ship calls for a vessel of similar dimensions and guest capacity to the 700-guest all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner, but with larger standard suites, an enhanced spa, more dining venues and expanded dining options. ”PCH is extremely satisfied with RSSC's current performance in terms of occupancies, yields, profitability, product acceptance and recognition,” said Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of PCH. ”Given the continued growth of the luxury market, the new ship will allow RSSC to add capacity to meet the anticipated demand, and to offer a more diverse range of deployments to include additional longer, more exotic voyages,” he added.
Torrent moves from Costa to Carnival
With the announcement that President and CEO Lynn C. Torrent will be joining Carnival Cruise Lines as Senior Vice President of Sales and Guest Services beginning March 3, Costa Cruises currently has a search underway for her replacement and an announcement should be made in the near future. ”We are very happy that Lynn has the opportunity to join our sister company, Carnival Cruise Lines, the largest cruise brand in North America, to lead their sales efforts,” said Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Cruises. ”Lynn has done a great job of establishing the Costa brand in the
North American marketplace and all of us here will certainly miss her and wish her the best of luck in her new position.”
Construction starts for fourth AIDA newbuilding
Meyer Werft in Papenburg started the construction of the fourth club ship for the German cruise operator AIDA Cruises in January 25. Michael Ungerer, Member of the Board of AIDA Cruises, pushed the button of the computer-controlled plasma torch to start the production of the first steel plate for the new ship. The newbuilding will be completed in 2010. The 71,000 gross ton ship has a length overall of 252 meters, a breadth of 32.2 meters and has 1087 passenger cabins onboard. The AIDAdiva, which is the first ship of this series, was delivered to the owner in April 2007 and will be followed this spring by the AIDAbella. Next to the newbuilding whose construction has started last week, is the AIDAluna currently under construction at Meyer Werft. AIDAluna will be delivered in March 29, 2009, and it will commence cruises in the Northern Europe.
Dame Helen Mirren to name Ventura ñ with military assistance
Dame Helen Mirren, the actress, is to name P&O Cruisesí 115,000 gross ton newbuilding Ventura in Southampton on 16 April. ìBut  in  a  break  with  tradition, instead of Dame Helen simply pressing a button  to send a cradled Taittinger champagne bottle towards the ship she will command a crack team of Royal Marine Commandos to assist her in naming Ventura in a dramatic abseil,î P&O Cruises said in a statement. Dame Helen Mirren said, ”It is the first time I have ever named a ship, let alone one of the size of P&O Cruisesí Ventura and am really looking forward to being Godmother.î Royal  Marines  display team commanding officer, Lt Colonel Steve Richards, ”This  is  a  rather unusual assignment for our lads, but well within their capabilities. They are very keen to assist Dame Helen with the launch - they will not let her down.”

NEWBUILDING UPDATE ñ First steel for Genesis II cut in Turku
First steel has been cut at Aker Yards Finland in Turku for the second of two 220,000 gross ton Genesis class cruise liners of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) The first ship in the class will be delivered in the autumn of 2009 and the sister vessel will follow in the August of 2010. ìIt still remains a strict corporate secret what kind of new innovations the Genesis II will incorporate. For the time being, the title of the ëbiggest cruise vessel in the world' is held by the Independence of the Seas, to be delivered in less than three months. Knowing that this Freedom class ship already features a surfing pool with wave generator, indoor ice rink, and outdoor rock wall for climbing, for the Genesis, the most imaginative people are already guessing rollercoaster rides,î Aker Yards said in a statement.

Seabourn's first-ever World Cruise opens for sale
Reservations for the 2010 inaugural World Cruise of the new, ultra luxury cruise vessel Seabourn Odyssey opened on
February 4, 2008. The 108-night voyage departs from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on January 5, 2010. A 92-night, west coast alternative version departs Los Angeles, California on January 21. The voyage ends in Piraeus (Athens) Greece on April 24, 2010, by which time guests on board will have visited 42 ports in 26 countries on five continents. It also represents the first time that any of The Yachts of Seabourn has undertaken a world cruise. ”A world cruise is an exciting prospect for travelers at any time,” noted Seabourn President and CEO Pamela C. Conover. ”And for any ship, there is only ever one first time,” she continued. ”So when Seabourn Odyssey makes her maiden call at each port, it will be a special occasion that will never be repeated. And only a limited number of guests will have those memories to cherish for a lifetime.”
CDF Crosieres de France to offer all-inclusive product
CDF Crosieres de France will offer an all-inclusive product, whereby all drinks at bars as well as restaurants are included in the price of the ticket on board its first ship, Bleu de France. The 37,012 gross ton former Holiday Dream of Pullmantur and Europa of Hapag-Lloyd that was built in 1982 will enter service under the CDF houseflag in the spring, following a 30 million refurbishment in Barcelona. The ship will make seven night western Mediterranean cruises from Marseille until November, when it will sail to the Caribbean for the winter. Tips are also included in the fare on the ship, which is the first modern major cruise liner to target the French-speaking market. The company highlights on its website that all entertainment, announcements and signs on board the ship will be only in French, which is the only language used on board. CDF is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
No less than 10 dining facilities on the new Celebrity Solstice
Ten of 2008's hottest new restaurants will open this fall, but diners won't need special connections to book a table. In fact, they won't even need directions, since the GPS coordinates will change daily. That's because the 10 restaurants are all on one of the world's most eagerly awaited new cruise ships: Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice. ”The dining experience has always been central to our guests' cruise experience, and on Celebrity Solstice, we'll present the extraordinary service the brand is known for, in venues designed to perfectly complement the spectacular cuisine,” said Celebrity's President and CEO Dan Hanrahan. ”The larger size of Celebrity Solstice allows us to offer more options for our guests, with menus created by some of the best talent in the business.” Celebrity partnered with some of the world's best designers in the hospitality business to create the restaurants onboard Celebrity Solstice; among them, preeminent restaurant and hotel designer Adam Tihany, who created such lauded restaurants as Per Se, Jean Georges, Le Cirque, The Sea Grill and Osteria del Circo in New York; Aureole, Bouchon and Seablue in Las Vegas; and Monte's and the chic Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London.
Aker Yardsí shares nose dive after third profit warning
Shares in Aker yards, the largest shipbuilder in Europe, fell by more than 10% after the company issued its third profit warning since July. ìPreliminary information shows that the results for 2007 may be somewhat below previous guidance,î Aker Yards said in a statement, adding that the publication date of its fourth quarter result has been postponed to 3 March from 18 February. In December, the company reduced its net profit forecast for 2007 to NOK350M from NOK800M -900M that was published in the first profit warning, published on 6 July. The shares lost 10.25% to close at NOK 46.70.

CMA CGM orders two new luxury cruise ships
CMA CGM has signed a memorandum of understanding with Italyís Fincantieri shipyards for the construction of two luxury cruise ships to be operated by the groupís subsidiary Compagnie des Iles du Ponant (Ponant Cruises) specializing in cultural enrichment and discovery cruises. These vessels are 140 meters long and can accommodate a limited number of guests (130 all-outside cabins and suites including 75% with balconies). They will be delivered in second quarter 2010 and are to be French flagged. The vessels will be equipped with the latest advances designed to protect the environment including a dynamic positioning system that enables them to avoid damaging the sea floor during mooring. ”As new additions to the current fleet (including Le Ponant, Le Levant, and Le Diamant), these ships will offer a unique cruise experience and first-class quality service sailing to uncommon destinations. Guests will take advantage of theme cruises as well as adventure itineraries in a highly personal setting designed to pamper passengers,” the company said in a statement. Both vessels will be operating mainly in new geographic areas. The first will sail to Asia (China, Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia), Alaska, Polynesia and Oceania, with the second traveling to South America (including Antarctica) and the Mediterranean. Both ships will be able to visit quaint harbors and destinations that remain inaccessible to most larger cruise ships. This major announcement at the Compagnie des Iles du Ponant, where 2007 sales totaled 36 million euros, comes as the company celebrates its 20-year anniversary.
Pride of Aloha to leave the NCL America fleet and join Star Cruises
NCL Corporation (NCL) will withdraw the Pride of Aloha from the Hawai`i market effective May 11, 2008. The ship is being transferred to Star Cruises and will be re-flagged and deployed in Asia in the summer of 2008. The remaining year-round ship in Hawai`i will be the larger and newer Pride of America, introduced in 2005, a vessel specifically designed and built for Hawaii cruising. The company announced, and put on sale, Pride of America's sailings through 2010 offering its popular inter-island cruises departing every Saturday from Honolulu. Since the announcement a year ago of Pride of Hawai`is temporary transfer to NCLs European deployment, renamed as Norwegian Jade, the company has embarked on a major fleetwide initiative called Freestyle 2.0 featuring significant product and hardware upgrades to its modern fleet, including Pride of America.
Stelios puts easyCruise One up for sale and axes newbuilding project
easyCruise One, the 4,200 gross ton ship that launched serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannouís low-cost easyCruise venture, is up for sale. The cruise line has also confirmed its new-build programme for up to seven new ships has been ”shelved,” Cruise reports on its website. Sales and marketing director Paul Ellerby said easyCruiseOne was always just a pilot -- to see if the concept of a low-cost cruise would work. The plan now is to buy a ship similar in size to the 12,000 gross ton easyCruise Life, a second ship which easyCruise bought in September 2007 and which launches in Piraeus, Greece, on April 19. Ellerby said: ”easyCruiseone does not have enough space onboard for us to do what we want, and it makes the line more financially viable if we can get two ships the same size. The new-build programme is shelved. We are looking for short-term solutions and that isn't one.” The company had intended to build a series of 7,500 gross ton ships at the Neorion shipyard in Greece. The design was worked out by Deltamarin in Finland.

MSC Fantasia floated out in France
The technical float out of MSC Fantasia has taken place in St Nazaire, France. This is the largest ship to be commissioned by a European cruise ship owner. MSC Fantasia will join the MSC Cruises fleet on Dec. 18, 2008. The floating out operation took an hour to complete, utilizing 20 people plus 8 carriers, 4 which were constantly in use. In the days prior to the Feb. 8 float out a half-mile channel was dredged to create the depth needed (a draft of 26 feet, allowing for 21.6 feet of the hull to be submerged). In addition, special fenders were placed on the starboard side of the ship. These not only protected the ship but also assisted in keeping the vessel on course as she exited the basin against the direction of the current. The technical float out of MSC Fantasia represents another important stage for MSC Cruises, whose fleet will increase to nine ships with the arrival of MSC Poesia, due to be christened on April 5, 2008 in Dover, United Kingdom.
The 133,500 gross ton MSC Fantasia, the tenth ship in the MSC Cruises fleet, is scheduled to be christened in Naples, Italy on Dec. 18, 2008.
Sophia Loren to name MSC Poesia in Dover on 5 April
MSC Cruisesínew 89,600 gross ton  MSC Poesia, will make her debut in Dover on 5th April 2008, with a VIP star studded event to mark the first ever launch of an MSC Cruises ship outside of Italy, the company says. ”In line with MSC Cruises tradition, the magnificent launch event will be attended by glamorous Hollywood actress, Sophia Loren, godmother to the new ship, who will perform the midnight christening ceremony,” MSC said in a statement. As the part of the ëMusicaí class, the MSC Poesia, which translates as poetry, will see her first night in Dover celebrated by live performances from headline acts including the celebrated Andrea Bocelli. Italian opera legend Bocelli, having recently received a standing ovation at the Grammy awards, captures the spirit and lyricism of the new ship. In addition, multi award winning singer/songwriter KT Tunstall will be on stage in the grand new music hall as will jazz supremo, 20 year old, Peter Grant, accompanied by the renowned Ronnie Scott band.
Festivities will continue late into the night, with BBC Radio One DJ, Fearne Cotton, controlling the ships other decks, to ensure celebrity revellers and guests can enjoy the splendour of the MSC Poesia and its warm Mediterranean hospitality. Peter Pate, Chairman of MSC Cruises UK and Ireland commented: ì2008 is an important milestone in the development of the company. With the christening of the MSC Poesia in Dover we fulfil  our  promises made to the trade - offering a tangible demonstration of our long term commitment to the UK market. Our investment in new ships allows us to provide itineraries and products that cater for British holidaymakers looking for a European cruise experience. This is what sets MSC Cruises apart from the traditional product available today.î Claudia Baino, Managing Director at MSC Cruises UK, said: ìChristening  the MSC Poesia  in the UK will provide the opportunity for  both the local trade and media to experience firsthand what MSC cruises is all about and allow us to demonstrate the true spirit of our company. It is indeed a very exciting time within our companyís growth and development plans for the UK market.î


AIDA launches European Cruise Academy
AIDA Cruises announces the formation of an educational establishment. It will be named European Cruise Academy and will be headquartered in Rostock, Germany. The content of the academic education will be realised in cooperation with the University of Technology, Business and Design in Wismar. Within the scope of a so-called Public Private Partnership, the cooperation between University and AIDA comprises the formation of new courses of studies. Especially in the booming cruise market, the demand for well-trained employees and executives has risen strongly. The European Cruise Academy therefore specifically invests in the future and the qualification of the maritime trainees. The focus of the European Cruise Academy will be on the nautical-technical area on board a cruise liner. Initially, the academy offers a Masterís degree course. The first classes already start on September 1, 2008, in line with the beginning of the new academic year. Nautical, technical and electro-technical Bachelorís degree courses and further educational opportunities follow, starting with the winter semester 2009/2010. Industry and education experts will lecture at the academy. Contents will be taught in English, which makes this course of study interesting for international cruise companies as well.
Work on Genesis ships said to run behind schedule
Work on the two 220,000 gross ton Genesis class cruise liners at Aker Yards Finland is running behind schedule due to problems in planning and logistics, a media report in Finland says. Mistakes made in the design phase on the first ship are likely to lead similar problems in the second vessel, the Taloussanomat business daily reports on its website, citing sub contractor sources. Some sections that weigh 600 tons and which should have been fitted out e.g. with cabling etc have not these installed and the work needs to be done once the sections are in their place on board, which is time consuming and therefore expensive. Some of the 2,600 cabin modules needed for each ship are stored outside on parking lots, where cold weather may damage the woodwork and laminates, Taloussanomat says. First of the ships is due be handed over to Royal Caribbean International in the autumn of 2009 and the second one in August 2010. Aker Yards has issued three profit warnings since July last year due to problems in Finland, but these have been related to work on ferries. Galaxy-class newbuilding, a 48,000 gross ton cruise ferry ordered by Tallink, will be delivered in September some three months behind schedule.
Aker Yards says autumn 2009 delivery date of Genesis 1 remains unchanged
The delivery date of the first of the two 220,000 gross ton cruise liners of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) remains autumn 2009, unchanged from the time when the contract was signed between the owner and Aker Yards, says Sinikka Railo, spokewoman for Aker Yards Finland. ìThe delivery date was set as autumn 2009 already in the first press release, issued at the time when the contract was signed, and we have not changed that,î she told Cruise Business Online. Media reports have suggested that work on the two ships is running behind schedule.

P&O Cruises teams up with Temple Spa
P&O Cruises has formed a new partnership with Temple Spa to offer a complimentary range of products and therapies for all passengers. Temple Spa, available in prestigious stores including Harrods and Selfridges and in 5 star day retreats worldwide, provides an extensive treatment menu and range of products, that are formulated using the finest Mediterranean ingredients and exquisite essential oils that are a treat for all skin types, the company says. All passengers will receive a unisex selection of Temple Spa products in their cabins and younger passengers will also have complimentary tailor made ìSpa Outî packs for girls and for boys. Suite passengers will enjoy over £150 worth of individual full size products, with a selection both for men and for women. P&O Cruises, head of brand marketing, Philip Price said, ìOur passengers expect the very best and Temple Spa is just that. In addition to our on board spas we want to continue the feeling of well-being into the cabins. Temple Spa products focus on de-stressing, re-balancing and fortifying, all of which are integral elements of a restorative cruise holiday. P&O Cruises passengers expect more from a holiday. Our cabin spa packs are simply one of the many attentive touches of luxury that sets us apart from other holidays.î Cabin spa packs will be on board across the fleet from July.

Celebrity orders fifth Solstice-class ship
Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, has ordered a fifth 122,000 gross ton Solstice-class cruise liner from Meyer Werft in Papenburg. The previous contracts for  four ships of the Solstice-class are now followed by a pre-contract for the construction of a fifth cruise ship. Delivery of the fifth ship is scheduled for the autumn of 2012. The first ship of this class, the Celebrity Solstice, will be delivered in the autumn this year. The other ships will follow at one-year intervals each.
Silversea's new expedition ship to be named HSH Prince Albert II
Silversea Cruises' new expedition ship (originally acquired as World Discoverer II and originally built as Delfin Clipper at Rauma Yards, Finland) will be renamed HSH Prince Albert II, in tribute to Prince Albert of Monaco. ”We are deeply honored to have our new expedition ship named after His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco,” said Manfredi Lefebvre, Silversea's chairman. ”His passion for environmental conservation is well known and we are committed to supporting his mission by offering travelers the chance to discover and appreciate some of the world's most remote and unspoiled regions.” When Silversea's adventure ship sets sail on June 12, following a naming ceremony in Monte Carlo, it will herald the beginning of a new mode in exploration cruising -- where a luxurious ambiance is just as important as the eye-opening educational experiences it will deliver. The Lloyd's Register A1A ice-rated vessel is purpose-built for expedition cruising and is currently undergoing an extensive multimillion-dollar renovation at the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, Italy. To ensure the ship will deliver an expedition cruise experience consistent with Silversea's award-winning luxury standards, the refurbishment will include exterior design modifications, state-of-the-art technological enhancements and a comprehensive upgrade of all guest accommodations and public spaces.

Cruise industry economic impact rose 27% in Europe 2006
The economic impact of the cruise industy in Europe increased by 27% in 2006 year-on to Ä10.6 billion. The biggest incrase took place in Germany, of 60% to Ä1.8 billion thanks to cruise ship building and a rising number of cuise passengers. Italy remained in the top position as the industry's direct expenditure in the country rose by 28% to Ä3.2 billion, again aided by shipbuilding but also rising numbers of passengers visiting the country and booking cruises. The UK retained its second place, with total expenditure of Ä1.8 billion, up 8% year on, with most of the business geneated by the source market for passenges that is the lagest in Europe, figures from the European Cruise Council show.
UK, Germany and Italy dominate European source markets
The UK commanded 35% of the European source market for cruises in 2006, with 1.20 million passengers that was an increase from 1.07 million in the previous year, figures from the European Cruis Council (ECC) show. Germany the second place with a 21% share and 705,000 passenges that was up from 639,000 in 2005. In Italy, the source market by just 3,000 passengers to 517,000 that gave the country a 15% share of the cake. Spain that held a 11% share of the market increased the number of passengers to 391,000 from 379,000 while France increased its figure by 9,000 to 242,000 that is equal to 9% of the total source market in Europe in 2006.
European source market growth continues to outpace North America
The growth rate of the European source market for cruises of 11% per year is rising and continues to outpace the growth in North America that has averaged 8% in recent years, says David Dingle, chairman of the European Cruise Council (ECC). In 2006, Europe generated 3.4 million cruise passengers that equals 23% of the global source markets and ECC forecasts the volume to reach 5 million by 2015. However, Dingle who spoke in Brussels on Tuesday, said he personally expects the figure to be reached much earlier. This again means that more than half of the newbuildings to be delivered in the near future should be employed on European markets, he added.
NCL to homeport Norwegian Jade in Europe year-round
NCL Corporation will for the first time in the company's 41-year history to deploy a ship year-round in Europe. The 2,400-passenger Norwegian Jade will sail a variety of itineraries in Europe year-round, extending its inaugural season in Europe that begins on March 30, 2008. The ship will now remain in Europe full time through to the spring of 2010 instead of the current seasonal deployment that was to end in November 2008. As part of this year-round deployment, NCL is introducing three new European itineraries - a series of 12-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings and 9-night Canary Islands and Morocco sailings, along with a 14-night Eastern Mediterranean holiday cruise, all roundtrip from Barcelona. ”We've seen strong growth in Europe and Freestyle Cruising has been a big success with our European guests,” said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. ”Norwegian Jade has been very well received in her first season, and our full three-ship fleet in Europe is doing so well that we are now confident in committing a ship year-round to this strongly growing market. With one of our newest and largest Freestyle Cruising ships in Europe sailing a year-round variety of port-intensive itineraries, we can now offer an exceptional cruise experience any time of the year for our guests who want to enjoy all that Europe has to offer.” Norwegian Jade's new European sailings from November 2008 through April 2009 go on sale March 3, 2008. The balance of the new deployment through to spring 2010 will be opened for sale shortly thereafter.
Shares in Star cruise to 52-week low after deep 2007 loss
Shares in Star Cruises, the former parent of NCL Corporation, have hit a 52-week low on the Hong Kong stock exchange after the company earlier this week published poor final quarter and full year 2007 results. Starís net loss deepened to $200.9 million last year from $156.2 million in 2006, while the final quarter loss amounted to $123.6 million, a decrease from a $147.6 million loss in the last three months of 2006. Star booked a $29.8M foreign change loss in the final quarter of last year that was more than double the $13.8M figure a year earlier, while these losses for the full year again more than doubled, to $95.1M from $35.1M. However, operations outside NCL recorded a rise in net revenue and capacity days, but net revenue yield fell by 1.8%. At NCL, of which Star now owns 50%, all three indicators improved in the latest 12 month period. The losses sent shares in Star to a new 52 week low of HK$1.75 on 28 February: they have lost almost two thirds of their high of HK$4.39 in the same period that was recorded in August.

Maurice Zarmati named President & CEO of Costa North America
Maurice Zarmati has been named president and CEO of Costa Cruise Lines North America. Zarmati, who is currently Vice President of Sales for Carnival Cruise Lines, will assume his new role beginning March 31, 2008. An accomplished sales executive, Zarmati has been with Carnival Cruise Lines since 1972, leading one of the largest and most successful sales teams in North America. In his new role as President and CEO of Costa Cruise Lines North America, Zarmati will report directly to Gianni Onorato, President of Costa Crociere, and will be responsible for all sales and marketing efforts for Costa's North and Central American regions. This includes sales development, marketing, revenue management, finance, human resources and passenger services. In the interim before Zarmati begins his position, Joni L. Rein, Vice President of Sales Development and Ruben Perez, Vice President of Passenger Services, will oversee all main functionalities of the Costa North America office.
Hurtigruten losses deepen on one-off expenses
One off expenses and a seasonal slow down hurt the performance of Hurtigruten, whose 2007 pre tax losses deepened to NOK224 million from NOK62 million losses in 2006. The company that operates 13 ships on a service between Bergen and Kirkenes along the west coast of Norway had to write down the value of a contract with the regional government of Troms by NOK59 million and it also suffered an NOK29 million increase in financial expenses in the final quarter of the year. Hurtigruten also operates local ferries and coachesìWe must increase revenue by employing our capacity better outside the high season,î said Olav Fjell, md of the company, who added that the operations both in Norway and abroad need to improve their efficiency. Hurtigruten came into being in 2006 through the merger of Troms Fylkes DS and Ofotens og Vesteraalens DS. Its ships also cruise in the waters of the Antarctica, Greenland and Iceland. Last year, it took delivery of the 11,647 gross ton Fram that is the first ships the company has contracted with cruises in mind.

Aida expands Asian programme in 2009-10 as fleet grows
Aida Cruises, the market leader in Germany, will expand its programme in Asia following the expansion on its fleet. Aida Cara will operate a series of 14 night cruises between Singapore and Bangkok in the 2009-10 winter season, while two also 14 night cruises will take in the Red Sea and the west coast of India. Aida Diva will extend its reach from the Arabian Gulf to include a 11 night Christmas cruise to Mumbai and Goa. Aida Luna, a newcomer in the fleet, will sail on 22 March 2009 on a 14 night maiden voyage from Hamburg to Palma de Mallorca. The ship will then sail back to Hamburg for a series of cruises in western Europe. Furthermore, the company will offer cruises across the Atlantic via Iceland to New York plus to the Caribbean. Aida Cruises is part of Carnival Corp & PLCís Costa Crociere unit.

Julin leaves Aker Yards with immediate effect
Yrjˆ Julin has with immediate effect left the position as CEO of Aker Yards ASA. The Chairman of the Board Svein Sivertsen will in an interim period act as CEO, until a permanent CEO has been recruited, the company said in a statement.  Svein Sivertsen, Chairman and acting CEO comments: ”We present weak and disappointing results for 2007. The Board believes that it is important to have a new CEO to reestablish confidence with all stakeholders and that we can put the operational challenges behind us.  We have a very capable and experienced crew at Aker Yards, and we have a record high order backlog. I am confident that we will see improvements through 2008.” Yrjˆ Julin says in a comment: ”I have had six very exciting years with Aker Yards. But the last months has been very demanding. The Board and I had a common understanding that the best solution for the company going forward is that a new CEO takes over”

Aker Yards plunges to final quarter loss after further loss provisions
Aker Yards, the Norwegian shipbuilding group, reported a net loss of NOK 323 million in the final quarter of 2007, down from a profit of NOK 486 million a year earlier. For the full year, it reported a profit of NOK 92 million, again down from a profit of NOK 1.04 billion in 2006.  A loss provision of around NOK 600 million has been made related to the Finnish operations in the fourth quarter. A further loss provision in Flor¯ of NOK 150 million has also been made in the quarter. ”Fast growth in the very heated environment has, as previously announced, resulted in operational challenges in the quarter, and affected the 2007 results negatively. Loss provisions have been made for several projects. The loading in ferries will gradually come down to a more normalized level by the end of 2008. The guidance for 2008 is maintained at an EBITDA margin level of around 4 percent,” Aker Yards said. The market for Panamax and Post-Panamax cruise liners has remained stable and several new projects entailing smaller ships are being planned, it continued.

RCCL may order fourth Freedom class ship from Aker Yards
Aker Yards and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. have reached an understanding regarding the basis on which Royal Caribbean will order a fourth ship in the Freedom class -- currently the world's largest cruise ship, the shipbuilder said in a statement. The vessel would be delivered in the second half of 2011. The placement of the order is still subject to a number of conditions, including board approval and finalization of terms and conditions. Aker Yards, has previously delivered two of these record breaking cruise ships, and will deliver the third ship in April this year from its yard in Turku. This fourth vessel is scheduled to be delivered second half 2011.

Holland America to offer roundtrip sailings from Hong Kong
Holland America Line will feature a selection of nine voyages to the Asia Pacific region in 2009. For the first time next fall, ms Volendam will sail to destinations throughout the Pacific, calling at exotic locales in China, Southeast Asia, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and Russia. A convenient new round-trip Hong Kong itinerary is offered and for guests looking to add to their port repertoire, the 2009 Asia Pacific voyages also include four maiden ports of call: Puerto Princesa, Philippines; Otaru, Japan; Sanya, Hainan, China; and Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan. The enticing itineraries offer a comprehensive exploration of over a dozen of the most popular Pacific Rim nations on cruises from 14- to 19-days that were designed to enable guests to combine cruises for a truly unique and extended experience of up to 66 days. The Explorations Speaker Series provides further opportunities for guests to immerse themselves in the region with lectures focused on select ports of call.

Norwegian investorís share purchase triggers Aker Yards break up rumour
Share purchase by a Norwegian investment company has triggered rumours that Aker Yards, the troubled Norwegian shipbuilding group, might be broken up. Havyard Invest that is owned by the Saevik family, bought on Wednesday 2.2 million shares in Aker Yards at a price of NOK 50 each. It now has 11.56 million shares in the company that  equals to 10.17% of the shares in Aker Yards, the shipbuilder said in a statement. Media reports in Finland say that Havyard and STX Corporation, the South Korean shipbuilder that has 39.2% of the shares in Aker Yards, would be planning to break the company up by transferring the three shipyards in Finland to STX. When STX acquired its holding in October last year, it said it was interested in the cruise ship building expertise of Aker Yards. The Finnish yards build passenger ships, with the Turku facility focusing on cruise ships and the ones in Rauma and Helsinki mainly building ferries.

Havyard tight lipped over Aker Yards plans
Havyard Invest that increased its holding in Aker Yards to  a 10.17% on Wednesday, is tight lipped about its future plans regarding the biggest shipbuilder in Europe. President and ceo Geir Johan Bakke says that the company regards its holding as a financial investment and he declined to comment on rumours in the Finnish media that havyard and STX Corporation that owns 39.2% of the shares in Aker Yards, would seek to break up the group. The rumours suggest that the two companies would be planning to transfer theownership of Aker Yards' three yards in Finland to STX, which said it is interested in the Oslo based group's cruise ship building expertise when it bought its shares in October last year. Bakke also said that for the time being, Havyard is happy with its stake in Aker Yards. Meanwhile, media reports in Norway say that Havyard could block a compulsory redemption of shares in Aker Yards with its stake in case someone attempted to acquire full control of the company.
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent to attend MSC Poesia naming ceremony in Dover
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent to join Icon Sophia Loren, Andrea Bocelli and KT Tunstall at christening. ”In the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, MSC Cruisesí most exciting and anticipated ship to date, MSC Poesia, will make her debut in Dover on 5th April 2008,” MSC Cruises said in a statement  Announced today, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent will be joining Hollywood icon, Sophia Loren, godmother to the new ship, at the magnificent star studded launch event marking the first ever launch of an MSC Cruises ship outside of Italy. As part of the ëMusicaí class, the MSC Poesia, which translates as poetry, will see her first night in Dover celebrated by live performances from headline acts including the celebrated Andrea Bocelli. Italian opera legend Bocelli, having recently received a standing ovation at the Grammy awards, captures the spirit and lyricism of the new ship. In addition, multi award winning singer/songwriter KT Tunstall will be on stage in the grand new music hall as will jazz supremo, 20 year old, Peter Grant, accompanied by the renowned Ronnie Scott Orchestra, MSC said.
Second biggest shareholder calls egm in Aker Yards
Aker Yards has received a request from Havyard Invest to schedule an extraordinary shareholders' meeting, to enable the shareholders to elect a new Board of Directors. Havyard says that the company will enter into a dialogue with Aker Yards' Nomination Committee in order to develop a proposal for the composition of a new Board of Directors, the company said in a statement. Aker Yards' ordinary Annual Shareholders Meeting is scheduled to take place in Oslo; Norway at 25 April 2008. Aker Yards will now process the request from Havyard Invest in line with the relevant legislation and procedures for listed companies. Aker Yards aims at announcing a date and time for an extraordinary shareholders meeting shortly. Havyard Invest owns 5.56 percent of the shares in Aker Yards ASA. Havyard Invest says that the company in addition controls 4.62 percent of the remaining shares, and thus in total controls 10.17 percent of the shares in Aker Yards ASA. Havyard base their request for an extraordinary shareholders meeting on the legislation for Norwegian publicly listed companies, paragraph 5-7, second section. Havyard is the second biggest shareholder in the company after STX Corporation that has 39.2% of its shares.

The latest issue of Cruise Business Review, just fresh from the print, is available in Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, during March 10 to 13. Our booth number is 2337. The March issue is filled up with information from the new cruise ship market to operating mega cruise ships in Asia Pacific and the first glimpses of Color's state-of-the-art ropax ferry SuperSpeed 1. If you plan to visit at Seatrade, please feel free to stop at our booth.
Dawn Princess to operate 104 night world cruise from Sydney in July 2009
Dawn Princess, which in the autumn will become the second ship of Princess Cruises to be permanently based in Australia, will operate a 104 night world cruise from Sydney, starting 5 July 2009. The voyage will take the 77,441 gross ton ship eastbound across the Pacific to San Francisco, then to Mexico and the Panama Canal. The voyage continues to e.g. New York and Boston, after which the ship crosses the Atlantic to Southampton. It then proceeds to France and the Mediterranean, with calls in e.g. Barcelona and Istanbul, prior to transit of the Suez Canal. Here calls include Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore before the ship returns to Sydney. In May 2009, sister ship Sun Princess will operate a 48 night cruise around the Indian Ocean from Fremantle in Western Australia that takes in India, South Africa and several Indian Ocean islands. This July, the same ship will sail for a 75 night voyage round the Pacific which includes calls at various South Pacific islands, California, Alaska, Russian Far East and several other ports in other countries in Asia.
Cunard chooses MaK engines for new Queen Elizabeth
Cunard Line has chosen MaK engines for Queen Elizabeth, the 92,000 gross ton newbuilding on order at Fincantieri in Italy. The ship, which will enter service in 2010,  will be powered by four MaK 12 M 43 C and two MaK 8 M 43 C marine diesels, according to MaKís parent company Caterpillar Marine Power Systems. The company has also won repeat orders from Aida Cruises in Germany for its fifth and sixth newbuilding respectively and it will also supply the engines to Holland America Linesís Eurodam class ships and newbuildings of Costa Crociere.

Silversea's newest ship to be named Silver Spirit
Yesterday at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, Silversea Cruises announced that its newest all-suite ship will be named Silver Spirit. Currently under construction at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard, the 540-guest vessel is scheduled to join the fleet in late 2009. Renowned Italian architect Giacomo Mortola is overseeing the design of the 36,000-ton, ultra-luxury vessel.
Queen Beatrix to name Eurodam
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will name Holland America Line's new Signature-class ship, ms Eurodam, in a ceremony in Rotterdam on July 1, 2008. The 2,104-guest ship is being built by Italian shipyard Fincantieri-Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A. in Marghera, Italy. ”The upcoming naming ceremony of ms Eurodam will be a very special moment in our company's proud 135-year history,” said Stein Kruse, President and CEO, Holland America Line. ”We are truly honored that Queen Beatrix will name our new ship. This special dedication will take place steps from our historic headquarters as well as our current European head office. Like her mother did 50 years ago for the beloved ms Rotterdam V, Queen Beatrix will be the Godmother and name the largest passenger ship ever to fly the Dutch flag.”

Losses mount at Ambassadors International in final quarter
Ambassadors International, the US based niche cruise and maritime company, reported revenue of $78.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2007, compared to $48.8 million year-on. In addition, the company reported a net loss of $24.5 million, or $2.26 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $1.9 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, again on the previous year. The full year net loss of $26.9 million, or $2.48 per diluted share compares to net income of $5.6 million, or $0.49 per diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2006. Cruise revenues increased $18.8 million primarily due to $17.1 million of additional revenue generated from Windstar Cruises which was acquired in April 2007. Marine revenues increased $11.7 million over the fourth quarter of 2006 as a result of an increase in sales in Bellingham Marine, the Company's marina construction business. The company gave no guidance for 2008.
RCI gears up to Independence of the Seasí arrival in Southampton
Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is gearing up to the arrival of Independence of the Seas from a shipyard in Finland next month to commence a series of cruises from the UK. A new website, features movies to bring to life the action-packed facilities to be found onboard the new ship such as surfing demonstrations, rock climbing sessions and a glimpse at the fun to be enjoyed in the onboard H20 waterpark. All great sales tools, the movies are supported by downloadable deck plans and even further video content regarding the making of the ship, RCI said in a statement. To celebrate the launch of the 158,000gross ton ship, RCI has teamed up with national rock and pop station Virgin Radio to ensure that the biggest party in cruising, onboard the new Independence of the Seas, can be heard across the country. The new ship will host a live, exclusive gig with station favourites Scouting For Girls on the top deck of the ship and broadcast live on Virgin Radio. Saturday 26th April will see the band behind hits ëSheís So Lovelyí and ëElvis Ainít Deadí dramatically flown down to the ship in Southamptonís docks by helicopter to perform on the top deck of Independence of the Seas. The gig will broadcast live on Virgin Radio as part of Tony Hadleyís Saturday night Party Classics show.

Silver Cloud and Wind to receive major upgrade
Yesterday at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises announced major dry-dock refurbishments planned for its 296-guest sister ships Silver Cloud and Silver Wind to bring their interiors in line with the style of its newest ship, the 540-guest Silver Spirit (scheduled for delivery in December 2009). For Silver Wind , the month-long refurbishment will take place this November and Silver Cloud's in May 2009. Plans for both ships call for major suite upgrades, including new bathrooms, carpets, flat screen TVs and other appointments. Verandas will also be spruced up. And virtually all public spaces and corridors will see substantial enhancements of furnishings and carpets. Most dramatic of the upgrades, however, will be the addition of a new ocean-view spa and fitness center on Deck 9, a new Observation Lounge, eight new large suites on Decks 7 and 8, reduction of Vista Suites on Deck
4, and a new guest elevator connecting Decks 8 and 9. ”These will be the most comprehensive construction and refurbishment
initiatives ever undertaken for Silver Cloud and Silver Wind,” said Amerigo Perasso, Silversea's President and CEO. ”The projects underscore our firm commitment to keep Silversea at the forefront of ultra-luxury cruising.”
Cruise ship owners want up to 20% discount from Korean yards - Raoust
Cruise ship owners are looking to South Korean shipyards as potential new builders of this type of tonnage and three companies there - STX, Samsung and Daewoo - are the most likely candidates to win cruise ship orders, according to Barry Rogliano Salles president Jean-Bernard Raoust. However, owners will demand a 15-20% discount on any Asian order to compensate for risk, which will make it difficult for an Asian yard to turn a profit, he was reported as saying by Fairplay Daily News.
MSC Cruisesí research finds honeymoon market good niche for travel agents in UK
Almost half of the respondents in a survey of MSC Cruises, the third largest cruise shipping group in the world, spend at least £1,000 on their honeymoon. Those in the south and east are the biggest spenders, while Welsh and Scots are the least likely to hit the £1,000 figure. Some 15% of the respondents spent more than £3,000 and 1% hit the £10,000 level. The research also unveiled that 38% of honeymoon trips are booked by using the high street agent, reflecting the desire for personal contact and expert knowledge, the company said. However, those up to the age of 24 are more likely to use the internet ñ 48% of them do so, which is almost twice the rate of 25% of all respondents ìThis research shows that there is a great opportunity for travel agents to take advantage of this niche market and to go after business; many customers are still looking for personal advice, something which professional travel consultants can offer in abundance,î MSC said in a statement.

Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten enjoys strong rise in operating profit
Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten, the German operator that is part of the TUI AG group,  recorded a positive business trend in 2007. At 183.2 million euro, turnover grew by 14.3% year-on-year from previous year's 160.3 million euro. Operating profit rose at a much faster rate as the company reported underlying EBITA of 14.2 million euro, an increase from previous year's figure of 7.9 million euro, up by 79.7%, TUI said in a statement.
TUI Travel cuts loss but Island Cruises slows down
TUI Travel, the UK based tour operator, reduced net loss in the first quarter of the financial year that ended 31 December 2007 to £98 million from £164 million in the same period a year earlier. However, its Island Cruises joint venturee with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) appears to have done less well as EBITA of businesses under joint venture and associates became negative by £0.7 million against a positive figure of £1.0 million a year earlier. TUI Travel reduced capacity in the UK for winter 2007/08 by 11%, while sales rose by 4%. For the summer, sales are up 9% on 13% less capacity. There was 20% less unsold inventory for the  forthcoming summer season on the UK market than at the end of the first quarter of the previous financial year. Sales in Western and Central Europe were up by 6% and 4% respectively and the board said it is confident that the company will reach its previously stated objectives for the current financial year that will end on 30 September 2008
Aker Yards may face break up after 1 April egm
Aker Yards, the Norwegian shipbuilder with cruise liner yards in Finland and France, may face break up after an extraordinary general meeting that will be held on 1 April, media reports say. Havyard, the second largest shareholder in the company that controls 10.2% of its shares, says a break up could come into question in order to enhance shareholder value. Rumours have linked Havyard with STX Corporation, the South Korean shipbuilder that owns 39.2% of the shares in Aker Yards, saying that the two would seek breaking the company up so that STX could get its three yards in Finland. However, Havyard ceo Geir Johan Bakke has noted that other shareholders would need to support a motion to break Aker Yards up in order to get the motion a majority of the votes in the egm. Shares in Aker Yards that are listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange currently trade in the region of NOK 50 each, which is half the price its former parent Aker ASA got for its 40.2% holding in the company when it sold its entire holding on 19 March last year.
MSC Lirica scores full 100 points for third time in USPH inspection
MSC Cruises' 58,600 gross ton  MSC Lirica has earned a perfect score in a surprise inspection by U.S. Public Health (USPH), a rare achievement, according to industry experts. ”Conducting a surprise inspection on Wednesday, 12th March in San Juan , Puerto Rico , USPH officials awarded MSC Lirica a perfect score of 100 following a rigorous examination. This is the third perfect score for the MSC Cruises í vessel and the second in a row; the ship was awarded a score of 100 during a surprise Christmas Eve inspection in St. Thomas , V.I.,” the company said in a statement. This exceptionally rare scoring performance reflects the outstanding state of sanitation, safe food handling, and the general high level of understanding and compliance in the areas of food, water, air and general hygiene onboard MSC Lirica. ìOur commitment to cleanliness and safety is a priority and we are honored that the USPH has acknowledged our achievements with this top-rated score once again,î Emilio La Scala, General Manager of MSC Cruises Technical Department commented. ìThe USPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have very strict enforcement policies so to be recognised in this way is a credit to our own strict policy in passenger and crew safety and health.î

Disney Cruise Line, Canaveral reach agreement on homeporting newbuilds
Disney Cruise Line will extend its partnership at Port Canaveral for another 15 years, operating its two new 4,000-passenger vessels from its exclusive-use terminal in Canaveral. After yearlong negotiations, the Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners today voted unanimously to approve the agreement, which includes pier and terminal improvements needed for the arrival of the first new Disney ship in 2011. The second ship is scheduled for launch in 2012. ”Port Canaveral set the standard for the world's cruise terminals,” says Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne. ”The terminal, which was built exclusively for Disney, will be enlarged and enhanced for efficient handling of the additional passengers and baggage. We are pleased to continue this partnership that has been successful since the arrival of Disney 10 years ago.” In addition, a parking garage will be built to accommodate the 40% capacity increase with the two new ships. Disney currently homeports the Disney Magic, offering a 7-night itinerary to the Caribbean, and the Disney Wonder, offering 3- and 4-night voyages to the Bahamas.
Royal Caribbean to homeport Freedom of the Seas in Port Canaveral
An agreement between the Canaveral Port Authority and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is expected to be finalized in the next few months to homeport Freedom of the Seas at Port Canaveral. Royal Caribbean yesterday submitted a letter of intent to deploy the 154,407 gross ton vessel to Canaveral in May 2009. ”The Freedom of the Seas will be the largest cruise vessel homeported here,” says Port Canaveral CEO Stan Payne. ”And the agreement represents the longest commitment of Royal Caribbean to Port Canaveral.” ”Bringing a Freedom-class ship to Port Canaveral will give vacationers another homeport choice to experience the most innovative cruise ship at sea,” said Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. ”Based on the popularity of Mariner of the Seas [which will be redeployed to the West Coast] at Port Canaveral, we look forward to and anticipate similar success for Freedom of the Seas.”
RCI to operate Vision of the Seas on short cruises from three Scandinavian capitals in 2009
Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is expanding its Northern Europe programme in 2009 with  short Scandinavian itineraries aboard Vision of the Seas from its homeport of Copenhagen, Denmark, another new homeport for the cruise line; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. RCI is the only cruise shipping major that has so far introduced a programme of short cruises that also targets the local Scandinavian markets.
Carnival first quarter interims fall but match expectations
Carnival Corp & PLC, the worldís largest cruise shipping group, reported a net profit of $236 million in the first quarter of its financial year, down from $286 million in the same period last year. Earnings per share (eps) amounted to $0.30, which was the midpoint of analystsí expectations that ranged from $0.26 to $0.39. However, the figure fell from $0.35 year-on. Recovery in pricing in the Caribbean combined with strong performance of the groupís European brands was offset by continuously rising price of bunkers: the rise was 66% year-on. For the rest of the financial year to 30 November, the group has less unsold inventory than at the same time last year, but prices were higher a year ago. The company forecasts a rise in eps to rise this year despite a forecast 45% increase in the cost of fuel.

Ruby Princess to be delivered a week early
The new Ruby Princess will be delivered earlier than previously expected, announced Princess Cruises. The line's next new ship will now debut one week prior on November 8, 2008, creating a new inaugural voyage, a 7-night Western Caribbean sailing taking passengers to Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Princess Cays. Passengers booked on the ship's previously scheduled inaugural cruise on November 15 will have the opportunity to change their booking to the new November 8 sailing if they wish. Duplicate bookings have been made for all passengers booked on the original cruise, guaranteeing the same cabin on the new voyage. Those who wish to change sailings can call their travel agent or Princess by March 31, 2008. Passengers who wish to remain on the November 15 voyage need not take any action, as their duplicate reservation will expire at the end of the month. Ruby Princess, a sister ship to Emerald Princess and Crown Princess, will feature a piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing array of performing street entertainers, Princess' signature adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary, an Italian trattoria, a seafood and steak house, a ”Movies Under the Stars” giant outdoor movie screen and 900 cabins with private balconies. The 113,000-ton vessel will feature an inaugural season of Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a program of Mediterranean voyages in summer 2009.
Merchant Vessel unit stake sale overture to break up of Aker Yards?
Aker Yards, which will hold an extraordinary shareholders meeting on 1 April to elect a new board, sells 70% of the ownership in three of the yards within its business area Merchant Vessels to FLC West, a Russian owned investment company. Aker Yards receives Ä291.9 million in payment from FLC West. It is expected that the new jointly owned unit will deliver modern vessels to meet the growing demand by Russian companies in hydrocarbons exploration, production and transportation for specialised ships. Aker Yards ASA has three business areas; Cruise & Ferries, Offshore & Specialized Vessels and Merchant Vessels. The business area Merchant Vessels has shipyards in Flor¯, Norway, Nikolaev in Ukraine, and in Wismar and Warnem¸nde in Germany. FLC West will buy 70% ownership in the Norwegian based company Aker Yards Ukraine Holding AS, which in turn will own 100%  of the yards in Nikolaev, Wismar and Warnem¸nde. Aker Yards will remain as owner of 30% of Aker Yards Ukraine Holding AS. Currently, Aker Yards Ukraine Holding AS owns 100 percent of Aker Yards' Nikolaev facility in Ukraine. Before the transaction with FLC West, Aker Yards will transfer its 100 percent ownership of the company's yards in Wismar and Warnem¸nde in Germany to Aker Yards Ukraine Holding AS. FLC is a Russian state controlled investment company with $1.5 billion in leasing portfolio. The company has been established to invest in industries of strategic importance. In the interest of the Russian Federation, FLC has recently also become heavily involved in developing of the Russian shipbuilding and shipping industry. FLC West is located in Luxembourg, and is owned 50%by FLC. Rumours have circulated that STX Corporatioon, the South Korean shipbuilderr that has a 39.2% stake in Aker YArds, would seek to break the group up and acquire its three yards in Finland that build passenger ships.
STX receives conditional voting right at Aker Yards' egm
STX Corporation, the biggest shareholder in Aker Yards with a 39.2% stake,has received a conditional right to vote in an egm of the Norwegian shipbuilder that will take place on 1 April. ”Aker Yards ASA has been informed that the EU Commission has granted STX an exemption from the suspension of voting rights attached to its shares in Aker Yards ASA, due to the pending merger control approval, to the effect that STX will be allowed to vote for its shares at the extraordinary shareholders' meeting to be held 1 April 2008 provided that it exercises the voting rights for the purpose of seeking to secure that the existing members of the Board remains as such. As announced 7 March 2008, the shareholder Havyard Invest AS has called for an extraordinary shareholders' meeting 1 April where they will propose to elect a new Board of Directors,” Aker Yards said. STX is the fifith largest shipbuilder in South Korea and it acquired its holding in Aker Yards on 23 October last year, some seven months after Aker ASA, its former parent, had sold its 40.2% holding in the listed Oslo based company.
Pearl Seas faces long delay in delivery of first ship
Pearl Seas Cruises, the Connecticut, US based luxury cruise operator, has been hit with serious construction delays with its first ship. The company has canceled the maiden voyage of its as-yet-unnamed 214-passenger vessel, which was slated to debut this May and is being built at  Halifax Shipyard Limited. It's also been announced that a series of Canada Maritime voyages, which were to follow, are off as well. The new launch date has not yet been revealed, reports on its website.
Swan Hellenic to offer Danube cruise at Christmas 2009/10
While Christmas markets cruises to destinations in Northern Europe have become popular mainly from the UK on deep sea vessels, Swan Hellenic will offer a unique 13 night Christmas cruise for 2009/10 on the River Danube. The company introduced a few weeks ago a new website for its river cruise programme that will commence in May 2009  - The new site has experienced high visitor numbers since it went live earlier in the month. This confirms to the company that European river cruising has great appeal to those passengers who may typically have taken an ocean cruise. The site allows users to explore the two river boats MV A-Rosa Riva and MV A-Rosa Stella, view image galleries, access information downloads and obtain full details of latest cruise availability and fares.
Swan Hellenic will offer seven river cruises on the Danube and four further river cruises on the Rhone. The spring and summer/autumn river cruise programme will operate 10 night itineraries on the Danube and seven night itineraries on the Rhone.
RCI starts hunt on web for British godmother for Independence of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International has launched a nationwide search for a British Godmother to reign over the cruise lineís newest and largest ship, Independence of the Seas, when she launches in Southampton, next month (April 2008). Sir Steve Redgrave, five-time Olympic gold medalist and figure head of the Steve Redgrave Fund, will front the cruise lineís search for Independence of the Seasí Godmother.  Royal Caribbean International begins its nationwide call for Godmother nominations beginning Monday, March 24, 2008, working in conjunction with ITV, the UKís biggest commercial television station, the company said in a statement. The role of a Godmother is typically reserved for dignitaries or celebrities. Past Royal Caribbean Godmothers have included Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway, Lauren Bacall, Whoopi Goldberg, Gloria Estefan, Steffi Graff and champion wheelchair marathoner Jean Driscoll.  Unusually, Royal Caribbean International is calling for an ordinary British woman who has done extra-ordinary things to become Godmother to the new Independence of the Seas this April.  This special Godmother will demonstrate how she has gone above and beyond the call of duty and dedicated incredible time and effort to improve the well-being and future of young people under 18 years old in her community.
ìIndependence of the Seas is part of a family of the largest and most innovative ships in the industry, enjoyed by families and young people on holiday around the world.  As our commitment to the UK and Europe grows in line with demand for our cruises, and to mark the arrival of Independence of the Seas into Southampton, we wanted to create an extra-ordinary inaugural celebration to showcase our commitment to the UK market. Our search for a British Godmother who demonstrates an extraordinary passion for young people is just that.î said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.  All potential Godmothers must be nominated via a dedicated website To enter, applicants must explain in 250 words or less why they, or someone they know, would be the ideal Godmother for Independence of the Seas.  A special panel of judges including Royal Caribbean International executives, guest judges and Sir Steve Redgrave, will select the shipsí Godmother.

Three Queens and a Princess to meet in Southampton 22 April
Cunard Line's three Queens will meet in Southampton in the UK on 22 April, some three months after a similar meeting in New York in the US, the Southern Daily Echo newspaper says on its website. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria had been scheduled to sail from the port on that day, but a decision to carry out a refit of Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton rather than Bremerhaven added the third Cunard ship in the picture. The website of port operator ABP shows that a fourth cruise liner will be in the port as well as Royal Princess of Princess cruises will arrive there at the end of its voyage around the world.
Navigator of the Seas to Malaga as RCI deploys eight ships to Europe in 2009
Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has announced the planned deployment of a record eight ships to Europe for the 2009 summer and fall seasons that will entail  Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest Freedom-class ship; two Voyager-class ships, Navigator of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas; as well as Brilliance of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, and Vision of the Seas. In 2009, Independence of the Seas returns to Southampton, U.K., for her second Europe season, offering 14-night Western Mediterranean, 10- and 11-night Western Europe and Canary Islands, and four-night British Isles itineraries. ìNavigator of the Seas will take guests on more varied itineraries from her homeports of Malaga, Spain, a new homeport for Royal Caribbean; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; and Barcelona. Voyager of the Seas, also home porting through November 2009 in Barcelona, and Navigator will offer more opportunities for vacationers to experience a Europe cruise aboard a Voyager-class ship,î RCI said in a statement. In 2009, Brilliance of the Seas will begin her second consecutive yearin Europe. In November and December, Brilliance will offer vacationers
 a new Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean itinerary sailing roundtrip from Barcelona, featuring the Greeks Isles and calls at Port Said, last called at by a Royal Caribbean ship in 2001, and Alexandria, Egypt.Royal  Caribbean also is expanding the lineís Northern Europe program with  short Scandinavian itineraries aboard Vision of the Seas from her homeport of Copenhagen, Denmark, another new homeport for the cruise line; Oslo, Norway; and Stockholm, Sweden. Concurrently, Jewel of the Seas will specialize in 12-night Scandinavia and Baltic voyages, featuring an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. Jewel will also sail one 12-night itinerary that combines the British Isles and Norwegian Fjords, which includes a call at Geiranger, Norway, one of the highest rated ports by
 previous guests.

Princess to up Southampton presence in 2009 but season cut
Princess Cruises will operate two post-panamax ships from Southampton next year, but the season will be shorter than in 2008. The company will again bring the 109,000 gross ton Grand Princess to the UK port on 7 June, the same date as it will arrive in the coming summer. It will be joined by the 115,000 gross ton Crown Princess, a newcomer to the port, on 25 June. Both ships will cruise from the British port until 5 September. This year, Grand Princess will leave the UK port on 30 August, while its companion, the 77,400 gross ton Sea Princess will arrive there already on 10 May. It too will terminate its season in Southampton on 30 August and it is not scheduled to return in 2009.
RCI to unveil details of Project Genesis on 15 April
Information and images will be released at 1800 GMT on 15 April by Royal Caribbean International (RCI) as it unveils the first of many marvels to be featured in the next generation of its ships - Project Genesis - debuting 2009.  ìProject Genesis is the ultimate evolution of innovation in ship design and resort holiday experiences,î the company said in a statement. The first of two 220,000 gross ton newbuildings is due to be delivered from Aker Yards in Finland in the autumn of next year and the second ship is due in August 2010.

RCCL appoints UK and Ireland sales director
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) has appointed Richard Roberts as UK and Ireland sales director. Roberts will drive the set-up and operation of a 30% larger (32-strong) sales team dedicated to the UK and Ireland trade. ìThis is a key appointment and Roberts joins from British Airways franchise G B Airways, where he was head of sales and distribution until the carrierís acquisition by EasyJet, taking charge of the sales transition process. He takes up his new role on 14 April 2008 and reports in to Jo Rzymowska, managing director, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises, UK and Ireland ,î RCCL said in a statement. Roberts will oversee the newly created dedicated sales teams for both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises / Azamara Cruises.  Michael English will head up the new dedicated Celebrity Cruises / Azamara Cruises sales team reporting into Roberts.  A head of sales for Royal Caribbean International is yet to be appointed.  The nine strong national accounts sales team will be headed up by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line stalwart Karen Doyle, who will also report into Roberts.

Sarkozy said to unveil European cruise ship building alliance plan at MSC Poesia event 5 April
The French President Nicholas Sarkozy is reported to propose an alliance of European cruise ship builders, headed by Italy's state-owned shipyard Fincantieri on 5 April at the naming ceremony of MSC Poesia, a cruise liner built by Aker Yards in France for MSC Cruises, various media reports say.
Italian president opens Fincantieri exhibition and visits Ventura
Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic, officially opened ìShipyard 100î, an exhibition organised  by Fincantieri to celebrate the centenary  of the foundation of Monfalcone shipyard that took place 3 April 1908. The yard that is located in Trieste of the Adriatic coast of Italy is the largest of the eight yards in the Fincantieri Group. Nora Cosulich, granddaughter of Callisto Cosulich, one of the two brothers who founded the shipyard a century ago, was godmother to the ceremony which was very similar to a launch.  After the ceremony the President visited the shipyardís production areas and the Ventura, a cruise ship of 114,000 gross tons which will delivered to its owner, P&O Cruises, on Saturday.

Weak dollar shaves Ä50 milion from Fincantieri profit
Fincantieri, the Italian state owned shipbuilder, suffered a drop in net profit to Ä45 million last year from Ä78 million in 2006 as a weak US dollar reduced profits by some Ä50 million. However, the 2007 result was in line with the business plan, the company says. New orders totaled at Ä4.2 billion, which is a record, and the companyís orderbook has a combined value of Ä12 billion. Investment increased by 63% to Ä63 million. Fincantieri is a leading builder of cruise liners; together with Aker Yards and Meyer Werft it controls some 90% of the market, both in terms of lower berths and gross tons.

Celebrity, Azamara Cruises name new marketing head
Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises have named hospitality executive Wayne Wielgus Senior Vice President of
Marketing. In his new role, Wielgus will be responsible for the two brands' overall marketing efforts, including brand strategy and development, advertising, web marketing and research. Wielgus will report directly to Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO of the brands.
Ventura on its way to Southampton
Ventura, the at about 115,00 gross tons the largest cruise liner built exclusively for British holidaymakers has set sail for its homeport, Southampton, after being handed over to P&O Cruises by the Fincantieri shipyard at Monfalcone in Italy. The ship is due to arrive in its home port on Sunday, 6 April at 0630 am. Speaking at the handover ceremony, P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ìThis is a very exciting day for us as we prepare to cast the ropes aside and head for home. Venturaís maiden season is almost upon us and this ceremony is the culmination of many months of hard work, creativity and innovation.î Dame Helen Mirren, the actress, will perform naming ceremony of the ship in Southampton on 16 April.

Princess and Cruise Critic host online chat with Captain Stubing
In conjunction with the first-time release of ”The Love Boat” on DVD this month, Princess Cruises partnered with leading online cruise site to offer cruise fans their own opportunity to interview their favorite ”captain” - Gavin MacLeod, the series' ”Captain Stubing.” MacLeod participated in an online question and answer session, in which Cruise Critic members could pose their queries about the show and his career. MacLeod answered many of the hundreds of questions posted, and then awarded his favorite 10 questions with copies of the newly released ”The Love Boat” - Season One, Volume One on DVD. ”I never get tired of talking about 'The Love Boat' and the fun memories it has for people,” said MacLeod. ”I appreciate just what an impact the show had on the cruise industry, so it's fun sharing my insight, especially with the enthusiastic cruisers in the Cruise Critic community.”
Fifteen ports launch marketing campaign for ”Europe's Prime Cruise Destinations”
Fifteen ports on Europeís West Coast launched last month a campaign to promote a new cruise destination encompassing seven countries, seven leading cultures, and seven well-known capitals. The 15 ports, Hamburg and Bremerhaven (Germany); Ijmuiden, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam (The Netherlands); Antwerp (Belgium); Cherbourg, St. Malo, Brest, Nantes, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux (France): Santander and Vigo (Spain): and Lisbon (Portugal), founded the Atlantic Alliance to market themselves as a unique and attractive cruise destination offering many exciting possibilities of intermarries. ”Europe's West Coast is a treasure trove for travelers seeking exclusive experiences beyond what has become conventional luxury,” said Dirk Moldenhauer Managing Director, Hamburg Cruise Center and Managing Director of the Atlantic Alliance, at Seatrade 2008. Until now, Europeís Atlantic seaboard has been regarded by the cruise industry as a transit and repositioning area between the Mediterranean and the Baltic. But the Atlantic Alliance members will offer cruise passengers many more and extraordinary experiences such as rich cosmopolitan cultures, great shopping, sophisticated food and wine, and the grand capitals of Europe, all in one cruise. The Atlantic Alliance expects more ports and tourism boars to join. In August 2008, the group will issue a brochure providing the cruise lines with all necessary information about theme cruises and touristic highlights.
Aker Yards' shareholders' meeting retains existing board
An extraordinary shareholders' meeting of Aker Yards has voted to retain the existing board and decided to reject Havyard Invest AS' proposal to elect a new board. The decision was made after voting and the nomination committee's motion that no changes be made received 49.5 million votes against 35.8 million that supported Havyard's motion. Havyard has 10.17% of the shares in Aker Yards and it called the meeting early last month. There was no other business on the agenda of the meeting in addition to the question of the board.
Kaupthing sees challenges ahead for RCCL
Analysts at Kaupthing Bank downgrade Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) from ”neutral” to ”reduce,” while reducing their estimates for the company. The target price has been reduced from $42 to $30. ”In a research note published this morning (26 March), the analysts mention that the cruise industry is expected to face challenges going forward. There are growing concerns regarding the general consumer trends and the global economy, the analysts say. The target price has been reduced to reflect the oil prices and the present US dollar exchange rates, Kaupthing Bank adds. The EPS estimates for FY08 and FY09 have been reduced by 1% and 21%, respectively,” a report on website said..

Van Gogh detained in Madeira in aftermath of Travescope collapse
The Club Cruise owned Van Gogh with 460 British passengers on board has been detained in Madeira as administrators of Travelscope, the UK company that has operated the ship, claim £2 million from the owners, BBC says on its website. Travelscope went into liquidation in December, but the administrators allowed Van Gogh to sail on its world cruise, although all other business of Travelscope came to a halt. ”We can't understand why the administrators placed this claim on the vessel in Madeira, rather than waiting for her to arrive in Falmouth - obviously when the passengers would have disembarked and the ship would have been empty,î said Mark Horwood, managing director of Van Gogh Cruise Line, the Dutch owned company that now operates the vessel.

Tahitian Princess to be renamed Ocean Princess to reflect better new deployments
Tahitian Princess, one of the small ships in the Princess fleet, will be renamed in 2009, becoming Ocean Princess. The new name is intended to reflect the ship's new deployment on worldwide itineraries. The renaming will take place while the ship is out of service during a routine maintenance period in Singapore in November 2009. During next year's fall season, Pacific Princess, another of the line's small vessels, will provide cruises from Papeete, Tahiti, where the Tahitian Princess has been based. ”Tahitian Princess, along with our other two small ships, has developed a loyal following of passengers who enjoy a more intimate cruise experience, and also the opportunity to visit some off-the-beaten-path destinations,” said Jan Swartz, Princess' Senior Vice President of Customer Service and Sales. ”As this ship is now sailing on itineraries around the world, we felt its name should reflect a more global theme.” Tahitian Princess joined the Princess fleet in 2002, and has been primarily deployed on sailings in the South Pacific, particularly French Polynesia and Hawaii. Beginning this summer, the ship sets off on new worldwide deployments, featuring a Connoisseur's cruise in Alaska, a world cruise in early 2009 and a season of unique Northern Europe sailings next summer. Following the 2009 renaming, Ocean Princess will sail on a series of Asia voyages to be announced separately.
Giulio Libutti to succeed Claudia Baino as md at MSC Cruises UK
Claudia Baino, Managing Director of MSC Cruises in the UK, is to move on to a new position within the MSC group at the end of July after holding her current post since December 2006. ”At the helm from July onwards will be the newly appointed Giulio Libutti. Giulio will bring with him a wealth of travel expertise and in particular commercial airline experience,” MSC Cruises said in a statement. ”During her time the number of travel agents supporting MSC has trebled and year-on-year growth has reached 42%, with new ships, a variety of agent friendly initiatives and a more focused UK marketing strategy cited,” the company contyinued.

No newbuildings for Carnival's US brands at current dollar-euro rate - Arison
Inflation, a weak dollar, and higher shipbuilding costs have convinced Carnival Corp. & PLC to halt any new ship orders for U.S.-based brands beyond those already on the books, the Lloyds List shipping daily reports.”We recognize that we are unable to build new ships for our U.S. brands at present dollar-valued costs and our own internal return projections,î Chairman and CEO Micky Arison was quoted as saying. The principal brands affected are Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. Arison says Carnival looked at the cost per berth for ships and concluded that if they ordered now, they would not meet their  return requirement. To illustrate his point, Arison directed the reporter to check Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL's) most recent 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in which RCCL estimates the cost of the 122,000 gross ton newbuilding Celebrity Solstice is $320,000 per berth whereas earlier they had cited $230,000 per berth. ”Figures in our competitor's 10-K suggest that projected return is likely to be below the cost of debt,” Arison told Lloyd's List.

Expanding RCCL sees credit rating cut below investment grade
Standard & Poorsí the credit rating agency, has cut corporate credit rating of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) to BB+ from BBB-, adding that outlook for the rating is stable, according to media reports. Three Bs are required for a rating to be regarded as investment grade; a weaker rating means that certain institutional investors such as pension funds cannot buy debt issued by the company. The perceived higher risk tends to translate to higher cost of borrowing. Analyst Ben Bubeck pointed to RCCL's heavy fleet investment, financed in part by borrowing, and rising fuel costs as adding pressure to the company's metrics. The potential crunch comes at a time when growth may be difficult given the slowing U.S. economy, a report on the says. ”The rating on RCCL reflects an aggressive financial risk profile, the capital-intensive nature of the cruise industry, and the sensitivity of the travel and leisure sector to economic cycles,” Bubeck said. ”These factors are somewhat offset by RCCL's solid brands, a relatively young and high-quality fleet of ships, high barriers to entry in the cruise industry, and an experienced management team.” RCCL has one 158,400 gross ton Freedom class cruise liner on order and another one under initial contract; two 220,000 gross ton Genesis class vessels and five 122,000 gross ton Solstice class vessels also on order.

Van Gogh resumes voyage to Falmouth
The 15,400 gross ton Dutch owned cruise liner Van Gogh has resumed its voyage to Falmouth in the UK after some 48 hours under arrest in Madeira due to the failure of Travelscope, the British company that operated the ship prior to going into administration in December. The ship is on the final leg of a world cruise that was the only holiday the administrators of Travelscope allowed to proceed after the company had failed at around Christmas.
Somali pirates hijack Le Ponant
Somali pirates have hijacked the French cruise liner Le Ponant that was on a voyage without passengers from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean, Le Figaro newspaper says on its website. The sail cruise ship belongs to Compagnie des Iles de Ponant that is part of the CMA-CGM shipping group.  French naval vessels are in the region, both as part of the Coalition Task Force 150 that patrols these waters, plus some based in the French naval base in Djibouti. A maritime reconnaissance plane of the French air force is also based in Djibouti, Le Figaro says.
MSC Cruises in strategic China joint venture
MSC Cruises, the rapidly expanding Naples based cruise shipping company, has entered in a joint venture with Shanghai International Port Group to set up a travel agency to sell cruises in China. The move preceeds MSC's plans to position a ship in Shanghai in the near future, said ceo Pierfrancesco Vago. Partnerships are a cornerstone in MSC's strategy and the one unveiled with SIPG on board the new MSC Poesia on Saturday is the first concrete step in the company's plans to move into China. Vago said that many Chinese tourists visit principal sights of one European city, then drive up to 600 km by coach to check in to a hotel and do the same in the following day. The new agency aims to move part of that business to cruise liners - also of lines other than MSC - to grow the CHinese source market. One ship of the MS Cruises's fleet that currently comprises nine vessels will be positioned in China in the near future, Vago said, but he did not elaborate.
Sophia Loren names MSC Poesia
Sophia Loren again acted as godmother of the latest MSC Cruises' newbuilding as she on Saturday named MSC Poesia, the third unit of the Musica class of 93,000 gross ton panamax ships. The event took place in Dover in the UK in unusually cold weather, but participants followed it from monitors in public rooms on board, while Loren herself cut a ribbon that released a bottle of champagne against the side of the ship on the bridge. Prince and Princess Michael of Kent attended the event, including a concert by the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli that preceded the naming ceremony. A fourth ship of the same class, to be called MSC Maginifica, will enter service next year. However, the company will introduce its first post-panamax ship, the 133,000 gross ton MSC Fantasia before that, in late 2008.

French warship tracks hijacked Le Ponant
A French naval vessel is following the French sail cruise vessel Le Ponant that Somali pirates hijacked on Friday, media reports say.  Le Commandant Bouan, the French frigate, is being supported by HMCS Charlottetown, a Canadian frigate, whose helicopter is being used in the operation.
HM The Queen to make farewell visit on Queen Elizabeth 2 in June
Her Majesty The Queen will make a farewell visit to Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton on Monday 2 June 2008, Cunard Line said in a statement. Her Majesty launched the 70,367 gross ton ship at Clydebank on 20 SEptember 1967 and the vessel entered service in May 1969. ”Since then QE2 has travelled over 5.6 million nautical miles, more than any ship ever; has carried over 2.5 million guests; has completed 25 World Cruises; and has crossed the Atlantic 802 times. She leaves Cunard service in November 2008.” Her Majesty The Queen has visited QE2 twice since the launch ñ on 1 May 1969, immediately prior the Maiden Voyage, and on 27 July 1990 to mark Cunard Lineís 150th anniversary.
Details of the visit on 2 June will be announced shortly, but Cunardís President and Managing Director, Carol Marlow, comments: ìWe are delighted and honoured that The Queen has chosen to visit QE2 to wish her farewell. Her Majesty has taken a close interest in the ship over the last forty years, and I am certain this will be a memorable occasion for all involvedî.

Royal Caribbean names Vice President of Newbuildings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. named long-time maritime executive Christer Schoug as the company's Vice President of
Newbuildings. In his position, which is new to the company, Schoug will play a key role in the design and construction of new cruise ships within the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Cruises and CDF CroisiËres de France brands. Schoug will report to Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President of Maritime, and he will work in the company's Newbuildings office in Miami. Schoug has more than 20 years of experience in the maritime industry, most recently serving as managing director of Stena RoRo AB, a global shipping and ferry company based in Gothenburg, Sweden.
All Leisure says trading for summer in line with expectationns
All Leisure Group, the UK based destinational cruise operator, said trading and revenues for Summer 2008 are in line with expectations, but added that it is finding the current cost environment  ëchallengingí, according to a report on The group said Swan Hellenic bookings and revenues are very strong and are already well in excess of 90% of this Summer's budged. Voyages of Discovery bookings have slowed, though revenues are ahead year on year given a slightly larger programme and have already reached nearly 80% of the Summer 2008 budget. Bookings and revenues for Discover Egypt are in line with expectations. The company operates the 20,600 gross ton Discovery and the 12,500 gross ton Minerva.
Apollo Management plans IPO
Apollo Management, the US buyout firm, plans an initial public offering (IPO) of shares in New York despite the current lack of appetite on Wall Street for floating investment companies, The Times newspaper reports.  The private equity firm, which listed on a private exchange run by Goldman Sachs last summer, has applied to transfer a portion of its stock to the public markets by filing to sell 29.8 million existing shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The company does not plan to issue new stock, rather the IPO will make it easier for Apolloís beleaguered shareholders to sell their shares. The shares are presently trading at $14 a share, a 40 per cent decline on their initial price of $24-a-share, as demand from the kind of institutions and wealthy investors that trade on the private Goldman exchange has plunged. The IPO price has not been set yet, but is expected to be higher than $14 should the flotation go ahead because there is greater liquidity in the public markets, the report said. Apollo owns Prestige Cruise Holdings that again is the owner of Oceania Cruises and Regent, while the US based firm is directly the owner of a quarter of the shares in NCL Corporation, which is the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and NCL America.

Le Ponant hijackers detained by French military
The six Somali hijackers of Le Ponant, the 88 metre sail cruise vessel, have been detained by the French military after they had returned ashore with a ransom of $2 million, media reports say.  The pirates are held on board a Frenxch naval vessel after they had been captured ashore as a result of a helicopter raid. The ship was hijacked on 4 April when it was on a voyage from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean without passengers with a crew of 30 on board, of whom 22 were French nationals. The French military used four or five helicopters from Jeanne d'Arc, a 12,000 ton displacement helicopter carrier, to launch the raid against the pirates. A further two other French naval ships were also involved in the operation, Le Fiogare newspaper reports on its website. Le Ponant is owned Compagnie de iles du Ponant, which is part of the Marseilles based shipping group CMA-CGM.
France demands international maritime forces against pirates
The French government will demand that an international maritime f orce be crated under the mandate of the United Nations following the capture of the French three masted cruise ship Le Ponant earlier this month. Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, announced the initiative on a visit to Japan, Le figaro newspaper reports. He was backed up by a senior adviser of the French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who has also called for such a force to be set up. Frebch forces on Friday captured the six hijackers of the 88 metre Le Ponant who had held its crew of 30 hostage for a week. At the moment, a Coalition Task Force CTF150, currently commanded by Rear Admiral Jean L. Kerignard of the French Navy,  patrols the region outside the coast of Somalia, where the incident took place. Its mission is to ”deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material,” according to the Royal Navy of the UK.

Santos handles 25% more passengers than previous summer season
The Brazilian port of Santos has enjoyed a 25% rise in cruise passenger numbers, to 575,000, in the current austral summer season over the same period a year earlier. A strong currency combined with new offers that allow cruise passengers to pay off their holiday in 10 monthly installments without interest has helped to boost the business, a report in the Fairplay shipping magazine says.
Aida Bella delivered
Aida Cruises, the German unit of Carnival Corp & PLC, has taken delivery of the 69,200 gross ton Aida Bella from the Meyer Werft  in the  German port of Emden. It is the second ship out of a series of six
the Papenburg shipyard is building for Aida Cruises. ”On this ship luxury interiors are combined with state-of-the-art technical outfitting. Along with its new design, the new club ship offers the passengers numerous specialities and a great deal of convenience: Some 65% of the cabins are outside cabins, most of them having their own balconies,” Meyer Werft said in a statement. Both safety and entertainment meet the latest technical standards ensured by the diesel-electric propulsion system, interactive communication systems and sophisticated stage technology. The ship will call at the port of
Kiel on 17 April, and will be named in the port of Rostock/Warnem¸nde by her godmother Eva Padberg.
Aida Bella will start out on her first cruise from Rostock to Bergen on 24 April.

Conover says Seabourn remains committed to small ship experience
Yachts of Seabourn have three 32,000 gross ton newbuildings on order that are three times the size of the existing ship of the company and with 450 beds, carry twice as many passengers. However, Pamela Conover, president ceo of the Carnival Corp & PLC subsidiary, says the company remains committed to small ship experience. ìI think there is a line between a small-ship and a large-ship experience. We choose not to cross that line, because we are committed to providing the sort of individualized experience that is the reason Seabourn guests choose to travel with us. We are building for a particular sort of very discerning traveler who understands the equation between intimacy and luxury,î she said. The new ships, Seabourn Odyssey and her un-named sisters-to-be, will provide among the highest ratios of space per guest in the industry, and they will take advantage of that space to lay on amenities such as an expansive 11,500-square foot indoor/outdoor spa, spread over two decks, that will be the largest on any luxury ship. Ninety percent of the shipís guest accommodations will have private verandas, and the ships will feature four alternative dining venues, again unheard of for ships of this size, Seabourn said.

MSC Cruises starts to paint compass logo on hulls
MSC Cruises has started to restyle the exterior of their fleet.  MSC Armonia based in Brazil this winter and MSC Lirica operating from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are the first of the ships to have the MSC logo painted on their sides, with the remainder of the fleet completed at the end of the season, the company said in a statement.


Dame Helen Mirren names Ventura
Dame Helen Mirren, the British actress, last night named P&O Cruises' 116,071 gross ton Ventura in a ceremony at Southampton. The event was themed along James Bond movies and featured two members of the Royal Marine Commando abseiling down the side of the ship and each smashing a bottle of champagne - thus making sure that the bottles would be broken.
Ventura's arrival has not cannibalised sales of other P&O Cruises' ships
The arrival of the 116,017 gross ton Ventura, the largest ship ever to fly the P&O Cruises' houseflag, has not cannibalised the sales of cruises on the other five ships of the company, says David Dingle, ceo of Carnival UK.  The new ship that sailed on its maiden cruise from Southampton at the weekend has attracted lots of families with children and the average age of the passengers - excliuding the kids - is 44 against the average of 54 on the other ships of the fleet. Dingle, who spoke to journalists on board Ventura last Wednesday, said that the second ship of the same type that will join the P&O Cruises' fleet in 2010 would not replace any of the existing ships.
NCL names Andy Stuart Chief Product Officer
NCL Corporation announced that Andy Stuart has been named Executive Vice President and Chief
Product Officer. In this role, Andy, who has been leading the Freestyle 2.0 initiative in his former role as Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Passenger Services, has taken on a more broad-based responsibility for the delivery of the Freestyle Cruising product across the NCL fleet, ensuring that it provides exceptional value and quality for guests and is consistent with the marketing and brand positioning of the company. Additionally, in his new role, Andy has assumed the role of F3 Project Chief which includes the planning, coordination and oversight of NCL's two new F3 ships, including design, building, commercial and marketing launch, product development and operational delivery. The F3 multidisciplinary project team now reports to Andy. A search is
underway for an Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing to assume Andy's responsibilities in the areas of sales, marketing and public relations.

TUI Cruises' first ship to be revealed at an April 29 event
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI AG  have successfully closed on their joint venture to form TUI Cruises, a cruise line specifically designed to serve the German cruise market. ”We look forward to working with our colleagues at TUI AG to build a world class cruise line for Germany,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ”TUI Cruises is another strategic step in our efforts to meet the growing global demand for cruising.” TUI Cruises will be based in Hamburg, Germany, and Richard J. Vogel, a long time cruise industry executive, will serve as Chief Executive. The new cruise line will begin service with one ship in early 2009. Sales and marketing activities will begin in the coming months. TUI Cruises will meet the needs of German-speaking customers seeking a premium cruise experience. The onboard product will be custom-tailored to German tastes, and encompass food, entertainment and amenities. German will be the language used onboard. The companies announced their intentions to form TUI Cruises on December 10, 2007. On March 10, 2008, they received permission to move forward from European antitrust regulators. Each company holds a 50 percent interest in the joint venture. Further details regarding the brand's first ship and the TUI Cruises product will be revealed at an April 29 press event in Hamburg.
Louis acquires Norwegian Dream and Majesty
Louis plc has entered into an agreement with Star Cruises for the purchase of two of its cruise ships, namely the Norwegian Dream and the Norwegian Majesty for a total amount of US $ 380 million (Euro 240 million). The purchase price for the first one is US $218 million (Euro 138 million) and US $162 million (Euro 102 million) for the second one. As per the terms of the agreement, the two cruise ships will be chartered back to Star Cruises until November 2008 for the Norwegian Dream and December 2009 for the Norwegian Majesty. The funding has been undertaken by DVB Bank, the global specialist transportation finance bank. The purchase of these two cruise ships constitutes the most important renewal and upgrading of the Louis Cruise Lines fleet in its twenty-two year old history and at the same time it further enhances the companyís leading position in the Eastern Mediterranean cruise market.

Celebrity to deploy five ships in the Caribbean 2009-2010 - Galaxy to join TUI Cruises?
Celebrity Cruises is giving Caribbean cruise enthusiasts more varied choice in late 2009 and early 2010. For the first time in five years, Celebrity will offer a range of Caribbean itineraries lasting a week or longer on five of its ships: Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Mercury, Celebrity Solstice, and Celebrity Summit. Together, the ships will call at 26 different ports during sailings ranging from seven to 14 nights, departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. These bookings opened for sale today. Meanwhile, the only vessel on the present fleet of Celebrity Cruises, the Celebrity Galaxy, is not for sale after April 2009. So, is the Galaxy heading to TUI Cruises next year? We will find out next week.
Carnival's new 130,000 ton Dream to be based in Port Canaveral
The new 130,000 gross ton Carnival Dream - the largest ”Fun Ship” ever constructed - will be based at Port Canaveral, Florida, beginning in fall 2009. Details on the ship's itinerary will be provided at a later date. Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, the 3,652-passenger Carnival Dream is the first in a new class of ship for the line with a unique interior design, sleek hull and distinctive profile, along with a host of innovative facilities and features which will be released in the coming months.
Royal Caribbean reports improved first quarter earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today reported net income for the first quarter 2008 of $75.6 million, or $0.35 per share, compared to net income of $8.8 million, or $0.04 per share, in 2007. The significant increase in earnings per share versus the first quarter 2007 was due primarily to
increased capacity and higher yields, offset by higher fuel prices. Revenues for the first quarter 2008 increased to $1.4 billion from revenues of $1.2 billion in the first quarter 2007. Higher fuel prices increased costs by $60 million in the first quarter 2008, which reduced earnings per share by $0.28. ”It is gratifying that, despite the challenging economic times, our guests continue to appreciate the outstanding value offered by our brands,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. ”We delivered the highest first quarter yields in our company's history, with significant improvement in ticket prices and continued healthy onboard spending.”

Costa names Matti Heikkinen as Vice President of Technical Operations
Costa Cruises has appointed Matti Heikkinen as Vice President of the companyís Technical Operations, reporting to the President Gianno Onorato. As of April 28, he will oversee the Costa Cruises fleetís expansion program, based on which five new ships will be delivered by 2012, and all commissioned to Fincantieri in Italy, for a total investment of 2.4 billion euros. Matti Heikkinen will also manage the upgrading and maintenance of the 12 Costa ships currently in service. Matti Heikkinen was born in Turku, Finland in 1961, and he is married with two children. He is joining Costa backed by twenty years of shipbuilding experience after working in various key positions in the Aker Yards Group, where he was Director of the Turku Yard in Finland. In June, Franco Porcellacchia, who has been Costa Cruisesí Vice President of Technical Operations for the last 6 years, will be filling a position within Carnival Corporate Shipbuilding, the department that coordinates and supervises all new shipbuilding projects of the Carnival Corporation & plc Group.
AIDAbella christened in Rostock-Warnemunde
On 23 April around 9:30 pm the newest addition to the AIDA fleet ñ AIDAbella ñ was officially christened. The international top model Eva Padberg wished the beautiful ship the traditional six inches water under the keel. The bottle champagne broke on the bow promising smooth sailings for the new ship, its guests and the crew. AIDAbella is the second of no less than six AIDA new ships to be built at Meyer ship yard in Papenburg till 2012 and the now fifth ship of the AIDA family. Michael Thamm, President of AIDA Cruises, said in his commemorative speech: ”AIDAbella expresses our creativity and innovative strength. The ship ñ like its sister AIDAdiva ñ sets new standards on the international cruise market.” The christening ceremony took place during a glamorous show in Rostock-Warnemuende followed by approximately 1,400 guests, among them numerous prominent people from politics, economy and show business. The AIDA show ensemble  enthused the audience with scenes from the new AIDA musical ìAvalonî and breathtaking artistry. The performers were accompanied by the chamber orchestra of Berlin Symphony Orchestra. The specially created christening song Dream of Dreams was presented by Volkan Baydar, singer of the internationally successful pop duo Orange Blue. After the christening show, AIDAbella casted off on a one-night cruise on the Baltic, accompanied from spectacular fireworks and music. On 24 April, AIDAbella starts on ist maiden voyage to Bergen, Oslo, Gothenburg and Copenhagen. The ship will cruise in the Baltic Sea during summer and in the Canaries in winter.

F3 ships to feature innovative cabins
NCL Corporation revealed innovative living space at sea - New Wave Staterooms by NCL. Designed for its next generation of Freestyle Cruising ships, F3, the New Wave standard, New Wave balcony and New Wave deluxe staterooms represent a giant leap forward in cruise ship accommodations with a completely fresh take on bathroom design, contemporary curved architecture and open living space. ”From the introduction of the first Caribbean cruise more than 41 years ago to the launch of Freestyle Cruising in 2000 and beyond, NCL has always blazed a trail of innovation,” said Colin Veitch, NCL's President and CEO. ”We have thrown away the rule book with the design of F3 and today are revealing the very first element with our New Wave staterooms. Gone are the regimented typical designs and in place are sleek staterooms that are totally outside the box, designed for the needs of tomorrow's guests.” The New Wave staterooms most distinctive design element is its curved walls and lines creating a modern and chic experience. NCL has maximized the living space with a bathroom that is completely unique with a separate shower stall, separate water closet and a modern vanity top sink. The staterooms feature a sophisticated earth-tone palette accented with a splash of color and rich, dark wood. Concealed contour LED lighting and back-lit domed ceilings set a relaxing vibe. All the amenities and comforts of NCL's Freestyle 2.0 enhancements are included with upgraded bedding, linens and towels, Euro pillows, Elemis bathroom products and MP3 connectivity upon request. Balcony and deluxe staterooms have bathrobes, a customized fruit menu, a fresh-baked cookie at turn down on the last night of cruise, an escort to the stateroom on embarkation day, priority restaurant reservation and reception hotlines and special color keycard for ship-wide recognition. ”Today's announcement is just the first chapter in a series of innovations we will be revealing about our new F3 ships leading up to their launch in 2010,” Veitch said. ”These ships will further deconstruct the traditional cruise ship experience with innovations in design, accommodations, luxury and entertainment to create a cutting-edge resort vacation experience unlike any other at sea.”

Keel laying of first F3 newbuilding takes place at Aker Yards France
During a ceremony yesterday at Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France, the keel was laid for the first of Norwegian Cruise Line's F3 ships, the third generation and the next evolution of the company's innovative Freestyle Cruising ships. The first block of the keel, number 5006, a double bottom block weighing 322 tons, was put into place marking the start of the overall construction of the ship. The milestone ceremony was attended by executives from Star Cruises, Apollo Management, NCL and Aker Yards. Upholding maritime tradition, each attendee was invited to put a specially designed coin in a tube that was welded shut and placed in the keel for good luck. ”The F3 ships are our most innovative project in the company's 41-year history and will provide a totally unique vacation experience,” said Colin Veitch, NCL's president and CEO. ”Today as we lay the keel for this groundbreaking new ship, we are one step closer to revolutionizing cruising as we know it.” The two 150,000 gross ton F3 ships will each total 4,200 passenger berths, representing the largest ships in NCL's fleet.

EasyCruise Life's first cruise delayed until 17th of May
Passengers that had booked on earlier cruises have been offered generous compensation packages including full refunds and future free cruises. easyCruise Life, the second and bigger ship of had been undergoing major refurbishment in Greece since November, 2007. Due to major industrial action over the last few months affecting shipyard workers in Greece relating to the governmentís reform of the pension plan, the works have been delayed and the decision was finally made now to set the first sailing on the 17th of May, 2008. has apologized to all its customers and has offered generous compensation and alternatives.
Celebrity Galaxy to become first ship in new TUI Cruises fleet
Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Galaxy will become the first ship of TUI Cruises, a new cruise brand established through a joint venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI AG. ”We are very pleased to have Celebrity Galaxy become the first ship in the new TUI Cruises fleet,” said TUI Cruises CEO Richard J. Vogel. ”We look forward to customizing the ship for our German customer base, growing our brand, and providing our guests with an incredible vacation experience.” TUI Cruises is designed for German-speaking guests seeking a contemporary/premium cruise experience. The onboard product will be custom-tailored to German tastes in food, entertainment and amenities. Celebrity Galaxy will complete its scheduled sailings through the March 2, 2009, itinerary. It will enter service for TUI Cruises in May 2009 under a new name, and will sail in the Baltic in the summer season, and in the Caribbean in the winter. Celebrity Galaxy joined the Celebrity Cruises fleet in December 1996 and was built by Jos. L. Meyer GmbH & Co. of Papenburg, Germany. Celebrity invested $4-million in a series of upgrades on the ship this month, including new carpeting, upholstery and lighting in a variety of public spaces and staterooms. The 77,713 gross ton ship carries 1,870 guests (double occupancy) and 909 crew.
TUI Cruises to invest EUR 50 million for the Galaxy refurbishment, newbuildings planned for 2011 and 2012
Before entering service with TUI Cruises next spring, the Galaxy will receive an extensive facelift. TUI Cruises is projecting to spend EUR 50 million for the 1996-built, 77,713 gross ton vessel. Biggest improvement will be number of balconied cabins, of which will be increased to 428. The new cruise line has also confirmed plans, that it will order two newbuildings with deliveries taken place in 2011 and 2012. The new German cruise brand has opened a website at
Two Princess ships to be remodeled with line's latest signature features
Two Princess ships will be remodeled to incorporate a number of the most popular amenities that have become passenger favorites on the line's newer ships. The upcoming makeovers of Star Princess and Caribbean Princess will include a transformation of the Deck 5 atrium into the inviting piazza-style street cafÈ currently found on Crown Princess and Emerald Princess; plus will add the company's signature adults-only Sanctuary and showplace Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant, along with a more centrally located casino and seven new suites. Star Princess will receive these new features during her September drydock in San Francisco and Caribbean Princess will follow in January 2009. The ships' updated atriums will not only feature the specialty coffees, freshly baked goods, paninis and tapas of the International CafÈ, but will also introduce an expanded Vines wine bar concept, which will now include rare vintage wines, a selection of artisan meats and cheeses, plus a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle. In addition, passengers will be able to relax in the tranquility of The Sanctuary, Princess' signature adults-only retreat, featuring plush padded lounge chairs and the services of dedicated Serenity Stewards. The ships will also replace their current steakhouse with the Crown Grill restaurant featuring an open show kitchen where passengers can enjoy watching as chefs prepare chops, steaks and seafood, including live lobsters. As part of the renovation, each vessel will also receive seven new suites with ocean-view picture windows, and the casino will be relocated one deck higher to deck 7, bringing it into the ship's central entertainment area. To make room for the new features, passengers may find that some of their favorite areas have been relocated. In addition to the casino, the sports court, Internet CafÈ and wedding chapel are also among the spaces that will be moved in the renovation process.
Pride of Aloha to return NCL, to be renamed Norwegian Sky?
According to unconfirmed reports, Norwegian Cruise Line is planning to return Pride of Aloha from NCL America fleet back to Norwegian Cruise Line fleet and rename her as Norwegian Sky, the original name the ship entered service in 1999. The rumour is spreading out in various internet sites, such as Pride of Aloha will end its career under the Hawaiian U.S. flag operation in May 11 and original plan was to transfer the ship to Star Cruises' Asian operations. However, Star Cruises has been quiet on its plans and rumours once suggested the ship would be sold to Pullmantur in Spain. So far, this has not materialised, so it would make sense for NCL to re-introduce the vessel back in its international fleet. It's also suggested, Sky would enter for 3- and 4-night short cruise market out of Miami.
Finnjet sold for scrap?
According to the website of US Shipbrokers, the 1977-built Da Vinci (originally Finnjet) has been sold for demolition buyers for approximately USD 9.85 million. The ship was sold just in December last year to Club Cruise in Veenendaal, Netherlands. At the time of its delivery from Wärtsilä Helsinki shipyard, Finnjet was the fastest, longest and largest car ferry in the world, and the only one powered by gas turbines. She is still the fastest conventional ferry today, with a recorded top speed of 33 knots.
European Commission approves STX Corporation's shareholding in Aker Yards
STX Corporation has informed Aker Yards that they have received approval from the EU Commission for the acquisition of 39.23%of the Aker Yards shares. The South Korean company that is the fifth largest shipbuilder in that country now has full voting rights in Aker Yards that is headquartered in Oslo and which builds cruise liners in Finland and France. Aker Yards' sharehoilders will convene to an annual general meeting in Oslo on 25 May, in which the election of a new board is on the agenda.
Fred. Olsen to add Portsmouth to list of UK departure ports in 2010
 Fred. Olsen Cruise lines that now has five ships ships ñ Boudicca, Black Watch, Black Prince, Braemar and latest addition Balmoral - will add Portsmouth on the list of departure ports in the UK in 2010. THe company already operates cruises from Dover, Newcastele, Leith, Greenck, Belfast, Liverpool and Southampton. ”Highlights of the cruise programme include two world cruises in 2009 and a South American voyage for Black Watch in 2010.  There will also be more Mediterranean fly/cruises from Rome and Piraeus.  The use of regional departure ports continues, with Portsmouth being used for the first time in 2009, while fly/cruises depart from more regional airports than ever before,” the company said in a statement. Portsmouth, which is located near Southampton,  is better known as a naval base and a ferry port.
NCL pleads guilty for gross negligence charge over SS Norway boiler explosion
Federal prosecutors in Miami on Friday charged Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) with gross negligence almost five years after a boiler explosion on the 76,000 gross ton SS Norway that killed eight crew members and seriously injured 10 others in the Port of Miami, the Miami Herald newspaper reports on its website. The U.S. attorney's office said NCL agreed to plead guilty to the criminal charge, which alleges the cruise line operated the vessel in a ìgrossly negligent manner that endangered the lives, limbs and property of the persons on board.î The company is liable for at least $500,000 in criminal penalties for accident. ''We must realize that we have reached a point where the operation of the vessel is not safe,'' one unnamed NCL port engineer wrote in a 1998 e-mail to the company's vice president of ship operations, an NTSB report said. The engineer cited ''numerous boiler tube failures'' that were subsequently repaired. The high-pressure boilers, each holding 20 tons of 528-degree water, had a history of cracks, leaks, corrosion and repairs. Investigators also found questionable welds and crack-repair efforts; inconsistent water chemistry that led to corrosion; inadequate inspections from both NCL and Bureau Veritas, an international inspection agency, and an operating schedule that exposed the aging boilers to extreme thermal stresses, the paper aid in its website. Following the explosion, the ship was towed to Germany for repairs. However, these were not carried out and the 1962 built vessel was later renamed Blue Lady and it is currently under demolition in India.

It's official: Pride of Aloha re-joins NCL international fleet as Norwegian Sky
NCL Corporation (NCL) announced today that it will reflag and rename Pride of Aloha and launch the ship as Norwegian Sky, offering 3- and 4-night Bahamas cruises from Miami commencing this summer. The 2,002-passenger ship, built in 1999, will return to the NCL international fleet, and will be outfitted with NCL's Freestyle 2.0 enhancements. It will be the youngest and highest quality ship sailing 3- and 4-night Bahamas cruises from Miami beginning July 14, 2008.
Danish Interior to cease trading by year-end, all obligations to be met
Tough competition has forced Danish Interior, the Danish shp interior outfitter, to cease trading before the end of the year. The company says all its obligations will, however, be met before the business shuts down. ”Tough competition in the field of business that we perform in public spaces for cruise and ferry vessels increases what of course creates a reduction of the price level. For that reason on April 28th 2008 the decision was made to stop the business activities of Danish Interior within this year.  As the intention is to slowly cease the business activities ongoing projects and obligations to the customers and suppliers will of course be fulfilled. Obligations that exceed the end of 2008 will be covered by the mother company R&M Ship Interior A/S in Norway,” Danish Interior said in a statement. The ongoing business will be executed by R&M Ship Technologies GmbH in Hamburg and of course their daughter company R&M Ship Technologies USA Inc., located in Miami, it added.

Aker Yards' net profit falls to NOK 41 million in first quarter
Aker YArds, the Oslo based shipbuilder with cruise ship yards in Finland and France, has reported a fall in net profit to NOK 41 million in the first quarter of 2008 from NOK 242 million in the same period last year. The cruise ship and ferry business area continues to enjoy good demand. ”While the market and the operational environment in the entire shipbuilding industry was very heated in 2007, it is now expected that the growth rate will level out. Access to qualified personnel will remain a key focus area in most of the countries in which Aker Yards operates,” the company said in a statement.  Aker Yards agreed in the review period to take FLC West, a Russian owned investment company, as a 70% shareowner and partner in three of the yards within the business area Merchant Vessels. Aker Yards will receive EUR 291.9 million in payment from FLC West.  ”The previous guiding for Aker Yards as a group was approximately four percent EBITDA margin for 2008. The Merchant Vessels yards affected by the transaction were for 2008 expected to deliver an EBITDA margin substantially higher than this guiding for the Group. Thus, the sale of 70 percent in the three yards will result in a change in the guided EBITDA margin for Aker Yards' group results for 2008 from approximately four percent as previously guided to approximately three to four percent for 2008,” the c ompany said.
Private cabanas offered on Holland America's new Eurodam
Passengers on Holland America Line's new Eurodam who want to enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of their own private haven will delight in the cabanas on the Observation and Lido decks of the company's first Signature-class ship. The airy, tented cabanas are located on Observation Deck in an area called the Retreat and around the mid-ship pool on Lido Deck. Furnished with modern woven chaises, ottomans and upholstered settees, all cabanas come stocked with bathrobes and plush towels, handheld fans, an Evian spray mister and iPods(tm) preloaded with great music. Chilled waters are available and guests can look forward to iced fruit skewers in mid-morning and frozen grapes, chocolate-covered strawberries and a glass of champagne in the afternoon. The 14 cabanas in the Retreat offer guests a spa-like private area where they can relax and recharge surrounded by healthy refreshments and luxurious leisure amenities. Fresh fruit, salads, wraps and juices are available at the Retreat, with light breakfast options offered as well. Eight cabanas around the Lido pool offer a private respite in a lively area of the ship. Lunch at the Lido cabanas will be served upon request from a menu of poolside favorites from the Terrace Grill or Lido Restaurant. Discounted select services from the Greenhouse Spa and Salon are available on port days to guests who book the cabanas. The cabanas may be rented for the day or for an entire cruise. The Retreat cabanas are $45 on port days and $75 on sea days, while the Lido cabanas are $30 and $50 respectively.

Aker, MSC celebrates coin ceremony for MSC Magnifica
Yesterday, at the Aker Yards France shipyards in St. Nazaire, one of the oldest marine traditions was celebrated once again: the Coin Ceremony. In the presence of Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, and Jacques Hardelay, Managing Director of Aker Yards France, together sealed two coins into the central block of MSC Magnifica. The godmothers of the ceremony were Lidia Aversa, promotion manager of MSC Technical Department since 1993, and Anne Hardelay for Aker Yards France. MSC Magnifica will be delivered to the ship owner in December 2009. It will be the twelfth ship of the fleet and the fourth sister ship of the Musica-class: at 92,400 tons, it will have 1,259 staterooms ñ of which 80% are outside ñ for a double occupancy of 2,550 guests. Two other ships are currently being built at the St. Nazaire shipyards: MSC Fantasia and its sister ship, MSC Splendida. Both will be the largest ships ever built for a European ship owner (133,500 tons). They will be the start of a new management of space concept in cruise ships. The MSC Yacht Club on board MSC Fantasia is an exclusive VIP area with 99 spacious suites, exclusive service with a butler, private access and reserved common areas. MSC Fantasia will be launched in Naples December 18, 2008, while delivery of MSC Splendida is expected in June 2009.
Australian cruise market grows 14% to 263,435 passengers in 2007
The number of Australian cruise passengers increased by 14% to 263,435 last year, figures from the International Cruise Council of Australasia show. The pace of growth slowed down slightly from 18% that was recorded both in 2006 and in 2005, but remained well above the corresp[onding figures of main markets such as the US or the UK. South Pacific was the most popular destination and it accounted for 61% of the cruise holidays taken by Australians; followed by Asia (9%) and Alaska and Europe (both 8%). However, Europe recorded the strongest rise, of 67%, thanks to increased capacity and extended ctiise season. The council recorded a 32% increase in the number of travel agent members, which it says reflects an increasing consumer interest in cruising.
Fleetwide adoption of Fidelio Cruise's Fleet Management System nears completion at Holland America
The implementation of Fidelio Cruise's Fleet Management System (FMS) across Holland America Line's 13-ship cruise fleet is now almost complete. Only two vessels, Maasdam and Volendam, remain and their conversions to Fidelio's Shipboard Property Management System (SPMS)
inclusive of FMS will finish by the end of May. This will leave only Holland America Line's newbuilding Eurodam, due to be delivered from Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in June, which will have FMS in operation from day one in addition to the complete complement of solutions provided by Fidelio's SPMS and MICROS(r) 9700 Point of Sale. ”We are very pleased with the FMS installation across our fleet,” says Ron Sorozan, Holland America Line's Vice President, Information
Technology. ”We took the decision to install Fidelio Cruise's FMS on board our ships following a review of IT in which we concluded that the latest systems offer significant opportunities to raise service levels and improve operating efficiency aboard ship, while also providing better information for cruise managers ashore. This already proves to be the case,” Sorozan adds, ”and we now look forward to project completion over the next two months.” FMS breaks new ground as the first in a new generation of cruise fleet software systems. It monitors all financial transactions, passenger and crew movements, hotel maintenance issues and passenger feedback across a
fleet of ships and transfers all this data to shore-based managers at head office on a frequency to be determined, but typically once a day. Thus cruise operators can compare the relative performance of ships within a fleet and different cruise itineraries. They can even track trends in passenger demographics and the changing spending habits of their customers.

Stockholm opens new cruise terminal, predicts 11% increase in turnaround business
The grand opening of Stockholm Cruise Center Frihamnen yesterday marked the start of the Swedish capital's 2008 cruise season. The new cruise terminal will play a pivotal role as Stockholm prepares to receive a record-setting 265 ships in 2008, a 5% increase over 2007. The fifth largest cruise destination in Northern Europe, according to Cruise Europe, the Scandinavian capital is expected to receive 30 turnaround calls and upwards of 300,000 passengers during the season, which runs through September 24. ”The added capacity has not only helped serve the demand for Baltic cruising, but has also prompted new business and growth for Stockholm,” said Josefin Haraldsson, Marketing Manager, Cruises, Stockholm Visitor's Board. ”Fourteen new ships will be calling this season and an increase can already be seen for the 2009 season.” The 3,000-square-meter (32,291 square feet) former cargo terminal underwent a complete interior and exterior renovation and now includes cafÈs, Internet access, waiting areas and baggage handling. The exterior has created a new city landmark with its brightly lit colors and original design. The terminal's first call will be Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Jewel of the Seas on Sunday, May 11, beginning a series of mini-cruises with Stockholm as homeport for the line. Stockholm's popularity as a turnaround destination continues to grow with an 11% increase over 2007 projected this season. With the additional turnarounds, including the addition of Princess Cruises, more than 30,000 passengers will have additional time to explore Stockholm before or after their cruise.

Fred. Olsen to use bio diesel made from waste cooking oil
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, the Ipswich, UK based cruise operator, has signed a deal with Bio Driven of Canterbury, a new start up company dedicated to the production of high quality, compliant Bio diesel.  Waste cooking oil from the cruise ships will be collected and transformed through a carbon negative process into a clean and efficient fuel. David Chalk of Bio Driven said: ìWe use pioneering technology in our plant facility, ensuring our production process to be carbon negative.î Bio Driven is also a member of the Environmental Industries Commission and the Renewable Energy association. The waste oil will be collected from the ships in Southampton and Dover, in special containers supplied by Bio Driven.  The product is then delivered to the plant in Canterbury where it is filtered, analysed and washed, then put through a process which removes the glycerine.   The glycerine-free bio diesel created by this process is then dosed to remove any chemical impurities and undergoes a final polishing and filtration, before being packaged ready for supply as environmentally friendly fuel.

Bermello Ajamil & Partners chosen to design Singapore's new cruise terminal
Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc. (B&A) continues to broaden their global portfolio of port and maritime projects with the recent announcement that The Singapore Government has selected B&A, in a joint venture with RSP Architects Planners & Engineers (Pte) Ltd (RSP) of Singapore, to design the new International  Cruise Terminal (ICT) at Marina South in Singapore. Responding to the dramatic increase in projected passenger volumes over the next five years and the need to  accommodate the new breed of mega-size ships, B&A and RSPís proposed design of a modern and efficient terminal will  address the long-term growth in cruise operations and also serve as the catalyst for expanding opportunities that will  further enhance Singaporeís Marina South waterfront. With an estimated cost of $180-220 million (USD), the planned ICT development will include a new twin terminal building, a two berth finger pier capable of handling the largest of cruise ships currently in service and the next generation of cruise ships currently in production. This will position the Singapore Port as one of the few world destinations with the capabilities to efficiently handle this combination of fleet classes. In close proximity to the Central Business District and Marina Bay, B&A and RSPís design and development of a vibrant  cruise facility at Marina South will provide opportunities to integrate outstanding architecture, function, economic impact  and urban revitalization, providing an essential world class cruise tourism platform for residents and visitors of Singapore.
easyCruise Life launched last Weekend
easyCruise Life has set sail on its maiden cruise from Piraeus, Athens (Saturday 17th May). The ship is visiting five different Greek islands and Turkeyís number one resort, Bodrum, with an itinerary that will run until 11th October 2008. easyCruise Life will be cruising to five different Greek Islands, from the laid back Syros to the lively Kalymnos, Kos, Paros and Mykonos. The itinerary also includes easyCruiseís first visit to Bodrum, Turkey. In fact passengers will be able to enjoy a full day and night in both Mykonos and Bodrum ñ an experience which is rare with other cruise lines. Customers can also choose where to join the cruise ñ in Athens on Saturday or in Bodrum on Monday. easyCruise Life is twice the size of first ship, easyCruiseOne and carries over 500 passengers. On board, there is a bar, restaurant, spa, sauna, pool, chill out zone and outdoor wellness zone. Cabins range from twin inside cabins to panoramic suites which are also ideal for families (2 adults, 2 children).

Hurtigruten considers major shift of focus to stop losses
Hurtigruten, the Norwegian company best known for its daily service between Bergen and Kirkenes plus destinational cruises, is planning a drastic revision of its business to stem continued losses. A shareholders meeting on 15 May discussed options for the company, whose net losses deepened to NOK167 million last year from NOK136 million in 2006. The company may sell its coach and local ferry operations and focus on the shipping business that comprises 11 vessels of about 10,000 to 12,000 gross tons each. Hurtigruten was formed through the merger of Ofotens og Vesteraalens DS and Troms Fylkes DS in 2005 in a move to boost the efficience of the business. However, despite various efforts by the management to put an end to the losses, this has not happened.
New company to start Helsinki-Kotka-St Petersburg cruise ferry service
A new venture called Stella Company Group will start a cruise ferry service between Helsinki, Kotka in the south eastern Finland and St Petersburg in the summer. The company has acquired the 1980-built cruise ferry Christian IV from Color Line in Norway for EUR 13 million. The 1,860 passenger capacity ship will commence operation under the Finnish flag in July, when the Norwegian operator replaces her with the new Superspeed 2, currently under outfitting at Aker Yards Rauma shipyard.
Finnjet heading to Finland?
A group of council members of Finnish city of Espoo have suggested that the city should save the 1977-built ferry Finnjet. Espoo, which is also home for the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, is located just west of Helsinki, but lacks of port facilities. Among the group of council members is the grand old man of Finnish shipbuilding, Martin Saarikangas, who led Kvaerner Masa-Yards (predecessor of Aker Yards Finland) during the 1990s. Currently Finnjet is in the Red Sea sailing towards the scrapping. The cruise ferry, which was intended to become Da Vinci cruise vessel for Club Cruise, has historical value for the Finns. When delivered in 1977, it was the largest, longest and fastest passenger ferry ever built, and it is still a speed record holder among the conventional ferries. It took only 22 hours to sail from Helsinki to Travem¸nde with the assist of its two Pratt & Whitney gas turbines. More information on this magnificent vessel can be found from
And the Genesis names are...
Royal Caribbean International has chosen Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas for the names of two Genesis-class newbuildings. The 220,000 gross ton and 5,400-passenger vessels are currently under construction in Aker Yards Turku shipyard in Finland. Oasis will enter service before the end of 2009 and the Allure a year later.
Croisieres de France inaugurates first ship with pledge of backing from Fain
Croisieres de France (CDF), the new venture that caters for the French speaking market, has inaugurated its first vessel and received a pledge of strong backing from Richard Fain, ceo of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL). CDF presented the 37,000 gross ton Ble¸ de France, built as Europa of Hapag Lloyd in 1982, to the traver trade and media in Marseilles over the weekend. Fain said that RCCL has driven aggressively its business in any country that it has entered into and would do the same in the case of France and CDF. All services and entertainment on board are in French and in a response to markert demands, table wine and selection of drinks are included in the fare. Premium brands are charged extra under the Carte Prestige name. The vessel is scheduled to sail from Marseilles on 25 May after a refit in Barcelona, but work was still in progress during the inauguration. The spa on deck 2 reminded a construction site with bare walls and floors and with frantic activity in progress to complete it.
DFDS to close UK-Norway cruise ferry service 1 September
DFDS, the Copenhagen based cruise ferry and ¥freight logistics group, will terminate service between Newcatle ana Haugesund, Stavanger to Bergen on 1 September. The 33,000 gross ton Queen of Scandinavia that was built in 1981 and which is employed on the route will be either sold or chartered out. ”As previous information has already established, DFDSí business unit Passenger Shipping has had an unsatisfactory trend in recent years. Against this background, an analysis of operations was carried out earlier in the year with the aim of creating an improvement plan, which can ensure the business unit has a more satisfactory economic development.  Phase 1 of this improvement plan has now finished and includes the following measures: 1. The route between Bergen-Haugesund-Stavanger and Newcastle will close on 1 September 2008. Despite great efforts from the crew and the land-based employees it has not been able to live up to the targets of a profitable result. Operations on the route will remain unchanged during the summer season. The closure affects up to 270 jobs onboard. 2. The closure of the route and analyses of the business unit further provide the opportunity for bringing in a new, flatter and more focused organisation at DFDS Seaways. The new organisation means that the country and head office organisations will be reduced by a total of around 70 positions, DFDS said in a statement.

G.A.P. Shipping buys ferry to replace lost expedition cruise ship
G.A.P. Shipping on Barbados has bought the 1972 built ferry Alandsfarjan from the Finnish ferry company Viking Line for 2.6 million euro. The ship will be delivered to the buyer in mid-June 2008, Viking Line said in a statement. G.A.P. was the owner of EXplorer, an exploration cruise vessel that sank after hitting ice in the waters of Antarctica in late November last year.

Azamara Journey moors in central London as part of marketing drive
Azamara Journey of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited's (RRCL) Azamara Cruises luxury market brand, sails up the Thames and docks in London for the first time today in a marketing drive by the company that was formed last year. ”The two-night call into London in August 2008 will see an exclusive group of specialist travel agents from the UK hosted onboard for dinner and a ship tour, meeting members of the new sales team dedicated to Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises,” Azamara said in a statement. Meanwhile, RCCL group ceo Richard Fain said on Friday in France that the group drives an aggressive policy to grow its business on any market where it has established itself. This has been the case in the UK as well, where its Royal Caribbesn International contemporary market brand now operates its largest and newest ship, Independence of the Saas, out of Southampton. ”Summer 2008 is the first European season for the premium cruise brand Azamara Cruises. The deluxe cruise line, part of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line family, was formed in May 2007 to allow worldwide travellers to enjoy first-class ships that can visit less traditional cruise destinations because of their smaller size,” Azamara said.


Seabourn Odyssey construction reach a milestone
The new steel hull destined to become the ultra-luxury cruising yacht Seabourn Odyssey arrived at T.Mariotti's quay in Genoa, Italy, on May 27. The hull, built in San Giorgio di Nogaro in the Gulf of Venice, was towed southward through the Adriatic, around the heel and up the coast of Italy to the T.Mariotti shipyard, where blocks of the yacht's superstructure have been under construction while the hull was being completed. Final construction and fitting out of the vessel will be performed over the next year in time for the vessel's launch in June 2009.  The arrival of the hull marks a major milestone toward delivery of three intimate cruise vessels from T.Mariotti S.p.A. for Seabourn, the ultra-luxury brand of Miami-based Carnival Corporation & PLC. The Ä200 million Seabourn Odyssey will be the cruise industry's first ultra-luxury addition in six years. A maximum of 450 guests will travel on board, in luxurious all-suite accommodations measuring from 290 to over 1,600 square feet, over 90% with private verandas. The cruising yacht will offer guests five dining alternatives, five lounges and bars, an expansive pool and sunbathing area, and a two-deck, indoor/outdoor spa facility with more than 11,400 square feet to go around. Seabourn Odyssey's maiden season will include voyages from the grand cities and romantic isles of the Mediterraneanto the waters of the Caribbean, before embarking on Seabourn's first-ever World Cruise in January 2010.
Celebrity Solstice to enter service early
Celebrity Solstice, widely heralded as the most exciting ship entering the market even before it launches, has introduced
three additional sailings for cruisers to enjoy during its inaugural season this year. Celebrity Solstice now will enter service with a Thanksgiving cruise, November 23, 2008, three weeks prior to its previously announced date of December 14, followed by two additional 7-night Caribbean cruises. Each new 7-night cruise -- November 23, November 30 and December 7, 2008 -- will present the same itinerary, departing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, with visits to San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten, and Basseterre, St. Kitts. Acknowledging that some guests booked on Celebrity Solstice's original maiden voyage of December 14 may wish to switch to the new maiden voyage, Celebrity has established a two-week rebooking window from today through June 12. During that time, guests booked on the December 14 sailing will have the opportunity to transition to the November 23 cruise without penalty, in the same stateroom or suite as originally booked, at the original fare. Guests encountering air-change fees as a result of opting to switch will be reimbursed for those fees up to $100 per person, provided acceptable proof of fees is presented to Celebrity by January 31, 2009. Bookings for the November 23 sailing will be open exclusively to guests booked on the December 14 cruise until June 12, when the special two-week rebooking period ends. Bookings for the November 30 and December 7 sailings open today.

CBR 2/2015 contents

CBR 1/2015 contents

CBR 3/2014 contents