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HM The Queen and Baroness Thatcher on farewell lunch visit on QE2
Her Majesty The Queen pays a farewell to Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton today (2 June 2008) in recognition of QE2 leaving the Cunard fleet in November this year. The Queen will begin by touring the vessel and meeting many crew members, some of whom have served on board since QE2 entered service in 1969 and others who went with the ship when she was requisitioned as a troop carrier in the Falklands Conflict in 1982. Later she will attend a Reception and Lunch on board with 300 guests, including the former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher. Both the newest and longest-serving female crewmembers will play a role in the visit. While on the bridge, The Queen will give a signal to Cadet Jennifer Haynes, who joined QE2 in April 2008, to sound QE2ís whistle to salute Cunardís current flagship Queen Mary 2, which is also in port on 2 June and was named by The Queen in January 2004. Queen Mary 2 will respond by sounding her whistle in salute of Her Majestyís visit. After disembarking, Her Majesty will be presented with 55 red roses by QE2ís Executive Housekeeper Roz Price Evans who is the longest-serving female member of crew; this is to mark 55 years to the day since The Queenís Coronation. The Queen will also meet nine QE2 Captains including Captain Peter Jackson who became Master of QE2 in 1973 and who took the ship to the Falklands, Cunard said.

Work in progress to join new midsection to Braemar
The Fred. Olsen Cruise Linesí ship Braemar arrived at the Blohm + Voss Repair GmbH shipyard in Hamburg on 13th May for work to begin on inserting a new mid section into the vessel. The operation to cut the vessel in half  was completed on 17th May.   The new section has been moved into place and work has now begun on connecting the forward section of the ship with the new part. The 31.2 metre section will add accommodation for an additional 250 passengers, increasing the total passenger capacity from 727 to 977.   Much of this accommodation will also include balconies, bringing the total number of cabins and suites with this facility to 70 (including the Ownerís Suite). Deck 8 will see the biggest addition to passenger facilities with a brand new Observatory Lounge, Grampian Restaurant, and pool area with two pools and a  childrenís pool as well.

Orion Expedition Cruises aims to introduce newbuilding in 2011
Orion Expedition Cruises, the Sydney based  specialist cruise operator, plans to introduce a nerwbuilding in 2011 to complement its 106 passenger Orion, the Sydney Morning Herald reports on its website. The move comes after KSL Equity Partners, a private equity firm based in Denver in the US, aquired controlling interest in the company last month from Sarina Bratton, its founder and managing director.”Bratton, who retains her managing director role and a ”significant” shareholding, says the purchase will enable the company to expand beyond this status and that the new owners are already moving ahead with plans to have a purpose-built vessel in service by 2011. She says Orion, which has brochure fares of up to $1000 a person a day, regularly turns away business because of lack of capacity,” the paper said.
Aker Yards board appoints Tostein Dale Sj¯tveit as new president and ceo
Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit has been appointed new president and CEO for Aker Yards ASA. Sj¯tveit comes from the global industrial company Norsk Hydro, and brings a strong international top management experience. He will start in his new position with Aker Yards at the latest 1 September 2008. He succeeds Yrjo Julin, who resigned in March after Aker Yards had published its 2007 results that showed the compny barely broke even, while in the previous year it had made a NOK 1.04 billion net profit. Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit has held a number of key management positions in Hydro since 1981, both within oil and gas activities, within polymers and petrochemicals, industrial maintenance and other parts of the company's international business, among others he has worked in West Africa for six years. He has lately held the position as president for Hydro Aluminium Metals, Hydro's upstream aluminium business with operations in 13 countries, 5 000 employees and revenues of NOK 60 billion.
In March 2008, Aker Yards announced the start of a recruitment process for a new CEO. In the intermediate period, the chairman of the board of directors, Svein Sivertsen, has acted as CEO.
 ”We are very pleased that we get Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit in as the new CEO for Aker Yards. He brings with him an understanding of hands on management combined with a strong industrial experience and a strategic approach to further developing the business and the organisation”, says Sivertsen. 

Silversea's new expedition ship dedicated in Monaco
In the heart of Monte Carlo's harbor yesterday, the expedition ship Prince Albert II officially joined the Silversea fleet during a naming ceremony in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. As in the time-honored tradition, the dedication included a blessing of the ship by H.E. Monsignor Fabrice Gallo, Prelate of the Pope of Rome. Fresh from a multimillion dollar renovation, the Prince Albert II boasts the largest average size accommodations of any expedition ship. An unmatched selection of 20 premium suites has been created especially for the discriminating traveler with 350 to 675 square feet of luxurious living space, double private French balconies or large private verandas, and additional elite amenities including butler service. All 66 ocean-view accommodations are tastefully appointed and have private marble bathrooms with bathtubs. The Prince Albert II welcomes her first guests on June 12 as she sets sail from London on an Inaugural Season of voyages of 10 to 22 days focusing on polar adventures. Sailing first to the Arctic Circle, Svalbard, Iceland and Greenland for the summer, the ship will then reposition to South America and Antarctica for autumn and winter voyages.
Carnival to introduce Baltimore's first year-round cruise program in September 2009
Carnival Cruise Lines will launch the first year-round cruise program from the Port of Baltimore with 7-night cruises aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride beginning in fall 2009. The new program kicks off September 13, 2009, and encompasses two different weeklong itineraries departing Sundays from the historic Maryland port. Baltimore's first year-round cruise program will feature a variety of interesting ports on two distinctly different 7-night itineraries. Exotic Eastern Caribbean departures will call at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay; and Freeport, The Bahamas; while Bahamas/Florida departures visit Port Canaveral, Fla.; and Nassau and Freeport, The Bahamas. It is expected that the Carnival Pride will carry more than 115,000 guests annually from the Port of Baltimore. Including its new Baltimore-based program, Carnival Cruise Lines will operate from 17 North American departure points, including 11 year-round homeports, the most of any cruise operator.
British celebrity Myleene Klass chosen as godmother for Carnival Splendor
British celebrity Myleene Klass, a chart-topping musican, singer and television personality, is to be godmother of the new Carnival Splendor and officially name the newest ”Fun Ship” of the world's largest cruise line in Dover, England on July 10, 2008. At 113,300 tons and carrying up to 4,914 passengers, the Carnival Splendor will be the largest passenger ship ever to sail from the Kent port chosen for this summer's UK inaugural voyage departures. The naming ceremony will also mark another first with Carnival emphasizing its choice of Britain to launch the Carnival Splendor by dispensing with, for the first time ever, the traditional champagne and using the highly acclaimed Nyetimber English Sparkling wine to smash against the hull.
Fred. Olsen to increase fuel supplement to £5 per passenger and night
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has announced that, due to the rising cost of fuel, it has become necessary to increase the current fuel surcharge on all new bookings for cruises departing up to and including 16 April 2009 made on or after 10 June 2008.   Bookings confirmed prior to that date will not be affected.
The supplement will be £5.00 per person per night for the first two occupants of a cabin, and £2.00 per person per night for the 3rd and 4th occupants of the cabin.   The supplement will be capped at a maximum of £90.00 per person per cruise. ìThe global price of fuel has increased significantly and we have delayed implementing this increase for as long as we possibly canî said Mike Rodwell, managing director of  Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.   ìBecause our programme from April 2009 onwards took into account the fuel cost at that time, we are able to maintain our published prices at present for those cruisesî he continued in a statement. Fred. Olsen operates a fleet of five ships:  Black Watch, Boudicca, Braemar, Black Prince and latest addition to the fleet, Balmoral

Aker Yards surprised as French government wants stake in Aker Yards France
Aker Yards says it has through the media been informed that the French government, after discussions with the company STX, intends to buy a total of 34 percent of the shares in Aker Yards France. Aker Yards France includes two yards, in Saint Nazaire and in Loreant, STX is a shareholder in the publicly listed Aker Yards ASA, with 39.2 percent of the shares.  ”We are surprised to learn through the media that the French government has announced that they intend to buy a total of 34 percent of the shares in Aker Yards France based on a dialogue with STX Aker Yards has significantly contributed to the positive development of financial results and in employment in Aker Yards France, and we appreciate that the yards are regarded as attractive. The Board of Directors has previously not considered to sell parts of our French activities We see it as unlikely that Aker Yards will sell any part of our business if the terms are not attractive for both all of our owners and for the further development of the company. After learning about the French government's intentions today, we expect to receive more detailed information”, says Svein Sivertsen, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Aker Yards ASA.
 Aker Yards, Cruise & Ferries, consisting of three yards in Finland and two in France, has today a total of 13 passenger vessels in the orderbook, 6 of which are ferries. As one of the world's two largest cruise ship builders and the leading ferry builder, the company has for years set new standards in vessel design, size, and comfort, both in the cruise industry and the ferry transportation market
Aker Yards Finland signs loi with P&O Ferries for two largest Channel ferries
Aker Yards Finland and P&O Ferries have signed a letter of intent for building two large car-passenger ferries. The total contract price for both vessels would be approximately 360 million euro. The vessels, scheduled for delivery in 2010 and 2011 respectively, would be of crucial importance for the Finnish maritime industries. The intention is to build the vessels in Aker Yards, Rauma, where they would create some 1,800 manyears of work. Becoming the largest ferry in the English Channel means a 49,000 gross ton vessel with the length of 210 metres, taking 1,500 passengers and having 2,700 lane metres of vehicle space. ”We are glad to have P&O Ferries as our customer. The company is an esteemed operator on the English Channel vehicle and passenger traffic”. says Juha Heikinheimo, President of Aker Yards, Cruise & Ferries. ”When the contract is finalised, it will be of crucial importance for the whole Finnish maritime cluster”, he continues. P&O Ferries is a new customer to Aker Yards, but they are operating four vessels built by the company, so they have already solid experience of our products. Aker Yards, Cruise & Ferries, consisting of three yards in Finland and two in France, has today a total of 13 passenger vessels in the orderbook, 6 of which are ferries.As one of the world's two largest cruise ship builders and the leading ferry builder, the company has for years set new standards in vessel design, size, and comfort, both in the cruise industry and the ferry transportation
MSC Cruises to offer well-being cruises this summer
MSC Cruises will operate a number of well-being cruises on board MSC Opera or MSC Orchestra this summer. ”Experts will be available on board all ships, providing demonstrations, free consultations and workshops. There will be also be opportunities to learn breathing techniques, the effects of lava stones, shiatsu massage, chakras and the influence of crystals. Courses will also include practical demonstrations, special low-calorie menus and wellness cocktails, as well as specific fitness programmes.  Guests can then spoil themselves with MSC Cruises special wellness packages, choosing from Balinese and Thai massages, reflexology and manual lymph drainage therapy.  Guests can also enjoy the many facilities on board the ships such as saunas, Turkish baths, whirlpools, hairdressers and a variety of treatments at the beauty centre. Wellness Cruises are available on a range of relaxing itineraries for Summer 2008,” the company said in a statement.


More Penthouses planned for Crystal Serenity
Due to high demand, Crystal Cruises is increasing the number of luxurious Penthouse accommodations on its Crystal Serenity. During a two-week dry dock beginning November 12, the luxury line is converting 12 category AA Deluxe Staterooms with Verandahs on Deck 10 into eight Penthouses. While most cruise lines have been increasing the size of their cruise ships, Crystal is actually decreasing Crystal Serenity's guest capacity. Crystal Serenity's richly appointed 403-square-foot Penthouses boast personal butler service, large private verandah, sizeable living area, bar stocked with complimentary wine and choice of liquor, JacuzziÆ tub and separate shower, walk-in closet, flat screen television, DVD and CD player, Riedel glassware, and complimentary pressing. In addition to 24-hour in-stateroom dining from the Crystal Dining Room, Penthouse guests can order from the specialty restaurants, including signature dishes from Nobu and Piero Selvaggio, during dinner hours. ”Penthouses are among the most coveted accommodations on our ships,” says Thomas Mazloum, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations. Following the conversion, Crystal Serenity will feature 72 Penthouses (category PH), as well as 32 Penthouse Suites (PS) and four lavish 1,345-square-foot Crystal Penthouses (CP). Four of the new Penthouses can connect with Penthouse Suites. On both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, all guest rooms are appointed with such plush amenities as 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, down pillows (and a pillow menu), lavish duvets, feather beds, two hair dryers, fresh fruit and flowers. Large closets house padded and wooden hangers, Frette bathrobes, kimonos, slippers, umbrella, and English mohair lap blankets. Double sinks, make up mirrors, shower and bathtub are standard with every bathroom. Other amenities include laundry and dry-cleaning service twice-daily housekeeping, and complimentary 24-hour in-stateroom dining.
Eurodam delivered to Holland America Line
Holland America Line and its parent company, Carnival Corporation & plc, officially accepted delivery of its newest ship, Eurodam, in a formal handover ceremony near Venice, Italy, on June 16. The 2,104-guest ship, built at Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard, is the 14th ship in the premium line's fleet and the first in its Signature-class series.  ”The Eurodam is a gorgeous ship,” said Stein Kruse, President and CEO, Holland America Line. ”We are proud to be the industry's leading premium experience and the addition of this new ship allows us to offer our Signature of Excellence to even more cruisers.” The Eurodam will arrive in Southampton, England, on June 27 to begin a series of introductory events for past guests, travel sellers, media and local officials. She then sails to her homeport, Rotterdam, arriving June 29 for three days of festivities including a naming ceremony with Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands officially dedicating the ship on July 1.
NCL reveals ”hottests” clubs on its new F3 ships
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) revealed last night its vision for the future of nighttime experiences at sea designed specifically for its two next generation of Freestyle Cruising ships, F3, set to debut in 2010. From Riviera chic and Ibiza style to Miami trendy and Vegas flair, the nightclubs on NCL's new F3 ships will create never-before-seen experiences at sea and feature multiple uses for day or night, along with exclusive, adult-only venues, the company says in a press release. Five of the ships' distinct hotspots were revealed at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas at the hotel's private Venus Pool to press, NCL's Partnership 2.0 Advisory Board, local travel partners and consumers flown in for the event. The five venues include the industry's first true Ice Bar; POSH Beach Club, a first of its kind beach club at sea that offers an exclusive, adults-only setting at the top of the ship; Halo, the ‹ber Bar, a private bar and lounge in the ship-within-a-ship villa complex; Bliss Ultra Lounge, NCL's all-day entertainment and nightclub complex with four-lane bowling alley; and Spice H20, an adults-only aft pool deck experience. With these signature outlets, NCL's nightclub experience will rival even Vegas' energy and passion for nightlife. ”There is nothing ordinary about these ships. The F3s are unconventionally extraordinary,” said Colin Veitch, NCL's President and CEO. ”Every experience on board will be unique and like no other. F3 won't have massive void spaces and rooms only used for one thing. What's particularly unique about these spaces is they will have multiple uses - sunning, bowling, dining and, of course, party playgrounds. But this is just the beginning. We have a lot more to reveal in the upcoming months so stay tuned.” Visit at
Oasis of the Seas takes entertainment to new levels with AquaTheater
With its Broadway-style stage shows, the first and only ice show at sea, and lively parades leading down the centre of its ships, Royal Caribbean International is known for remarkable performances in spectacular venues. In its latest innovation, the progressive cruise line introduces AquaTheater, an impressive outdoor venue at the stern of the world's largest ship, Oasis of the Seas. Located off the ship's Boardwalk neighbourhood, this amphitheatre-style space will celebrate water with a full spectrum of activities and performances throughout the day and into the night with a backdrop of the ocean across the horizon. The first of its kind, AquaTheater will be a complete sensory experience that plays on the element of surprise, as the latest technology and design features amaze guests. Created to offer two unique environments, guests will be able to swim in the theatre's magnificent kidney-shaped pool, relax on sun loungers located on tiered platforms surrounding the pool, and even participate in SCUBA lessons in the afternoon. At night, audience members witness the venue come alive with heart-pounding performances which feature dramatic acrobatics, synchronised swimming, water ballet, and high-diving performances, as well as fountain shows synchronised to music and lights.
Loft Suites to redefine cruise accommodations on Oasis of the Seas
To say that cruise ship accommodations have evolved since the first staterooms were designed would be an understatement. With Royal Caribbean Internationals next endeavour, Oasis of the Seas, the urban living concept takes to the high seas with the introduction of industry-first loft suites. The addition of the contemporary two-level suites will redefine cruise ship accommodations with vibrant, ocean-inspired colours in a sophisticated setting. The lofts will be the highest accommodations at sea and will offer spectacular views of the ocean with floor to ceiling double-height windows to ensure the view will be enjoyed from every vantage point. Other features among these coveted 28 lofts will be a unique modern design dotted with abstract, modern art pieces, spacious living areas on the lower level with contemporary detailing, and a private balcony with sun chairs and stunning views to help guests unwind. Each loft, which will measure 545 square feet (51 square metres) or larger when combined, and will be fitted in contemporary dÈcor with a Caribbean influence. The impressive design will include an upper- level bedroom that overlooks the living area below and extended ocean views. Beds will be outfitted with white, luxurious duvets complemented by tropical blue and green accents that tie in to the lofts natural surroundings. The lofts will feature LCD televisions, separate vanity areas, a guest bathroom downstairs and master bathroom upstairs featuring his and her shower heads, fog- free mirrors, and limestone mosaic tile accents.
Oasis of the Seas maiden voyage set for December 12, 2009
With the astounding array of choices and amenities being introduced on Royal Caribbean International's next generation of cruise ships, holiday makers will be hard-pressed to find another experience as spectacular as what they will enjoy on Oasis of the Seas. Yesterday, the cruise line renowned for its innovations announced 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries for the new ships inaugural year, with the inaugural voyage planned for 12th December 2009. Bookings for Oasis of the Seas will open on 3rd September 2008. The ship's baseport is Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Oasis of the Seas will begin her inaugural season with 19 consecutive 7-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean, with ports of call at Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau, Bahamas. Starting 1st May 2010, Oasis of the Seas will alternate its Eastern Caribbean itinerary with the Western Caribbean itinerary, which will call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean International's private beach destination in Haiti; the new port of Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico. Royal Caribbean International has been working closely with the ports on the Oasis of the Seas itineraries to ensure the guest experience is seamless when the ship visits. The cruise line and St. Maarten will enhance the guest welcome facilities, while Cozumel's pier will be widened. Approaches to the docks at St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau also will be dredged. Royal Caribbean International is working in partnership with the Port Authority of Jamaica to complete the new Falmouth Cruise Pier by March 2010, as well as establish the associated infrastructure necessary to welcome cruise ship guests. A historically important 18th-century settlement, Falmouth was a colonial centre of Jamaica's sugar and fine rums industry. Royal Caribbean International is also working with the government of Haiti to construct a pier at Labadee, the cruise line's private beach destination. Additional plans are underway to expand guest offerings with an alpine coaster and fast-boat tours, among others, to complement Labadee's stunning Dragons Breath Flight Line, which has proven to be one of the destinations most popular attractions.
Carnival reports second quarter earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc reported net income of $390 million, or $0.49 diluted EPS, on revenues of $3.4 billion for its second quarter ended May 31, 2008. Net income for the second quarter of 2007 was $390 million, or $0.48 diluted EPS, on revenues of $2.9 billion. Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison said that second quarter results were better than the guidance provided in March 2008 due primarily to stronger than expected revenue yields and lower than expected cruise costs. ”Our North American and European brands continue to perform well in the current difficult economic environment and we were pleased with our second quarter results. We enjoyed strong revenue growth supported by solid cost controls, however higher fuel prices cost the company $158 million, or $0.19 per share, during the quarter,î Arison said.

Rotkirch named Chairman and CEO of Grand Bahama Shipyard
Carl-Gustaf (Calle) Rotkirch, a 32-year maritime industry veteran, has been named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Grand Bahama Shipyard, Ltd., effective August 1, 2008. In this capacity, Rotkirch will oversee all operations of the shipyard, which is one of the largest cruise ship repair facilities in the world; Grand Bahama Shipyard services more than 100 cruise ships, cargo vessels, tankers, and naval vessels annually. Managing Director David Dalgleish, who has successfully led the shipyard's operations and growth during the last three years, will continue his day to day operation of the yard while reporting directly to Rotkirch. ”I am excited about joining the Grand Bahama Shipyard, Ltd., the leading cruise ship repair facility in the world, and look forward to working with David and the other members of this talented, successful team,” Rotkirch said. Prior to assuming his new position at Grand Bahama Shipyard, Rotkirch spent the past three years at Finlandís Aker Yards Cruise and Ferries where he served in a number of executive positions, including Vice President of Sales. He previously was with Kvaerner Masa Yards in Helsinki for 16 years in various shipbuilding capacities, including Project Manager for the Atlantica/Spirit cruise ship series. His maritime industry experience also includes 13 years at Wartsila Helsinki Shipyard and Managing Director of Porsgrunn VVS A/S in Norway. A native of Finland, Rotkirch holds a masterís in naval architecture from the Helsinki University of Technology. Conveniently located in the Freeport Maritime Centre on the island of Grand Bahama, less than 100 miles from the Port of Miami and adjacent to many of the world's busiest shipping routes, Grand Bahama Shipyard began its ship repair operations in September 2000.
STX increases Aker Yards' stake above 40%, to make buy out offer
STX Corporation, the South Korean company that has held a 39.2% stake in Aker Yards, has this morning acquired a further 1.32 million shares in the company.Its holding has now risen above the 40% limit that, according to Norwegian law,  means it will have to make an offer to all shareholders to buy their holdings in the company. ”As the acquisition triggers a mandatory offer from STX for all remaining Aker Yards shares, the board of directors expects STX to reflect the fair value of the company, including an appropriate control premium, in their offer,”Aker Yards' board said in a statement. Prior to this morning's share purchase, STX had 44.56 million shares in Aker Yards.
Next-generation 'Fun Ship' Carnival Dream to offer host of innovations
The new 130,000-ton Carnival Dream - the largest ”Fun Ship” ever constructed, offering a host of on-board innovations and amenities - is slated to debut September 21, 2009, operating a diverse inaugural schedule that features visits to European and Caribbean destinations. Currently under construction at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, the 3,646-passenger ship will be a new class of vessel for the line and usher in a new era of ”Fun Ship” cruising. Unique features of the Carnival Dream include a new concept in entertainment called The Piazza, an indoor/outdoor cafÈ and live music venue; the most elaborate children's facilities at sea, including expansive play areas and a huge Carnival WaterWorks aqua park; ”scenic whirlpools” that extend over the ship's beam; and a variety of new stateroom categories, including those specifically catering to families. Carnival Dream will also offer many other exciting and innovative features that will be announced in the coming months. ”We've taken everything we've learned about shipbuilding and incorporated it into the magnificent Carnival Dream. By offering the widest variety of all-inclusive facilities and features at sea, we will create fun, memorable vacations for our guests, all at an incredible value,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival President and CEO.
Thomas Cook says summer trading strong and full-year targets to be met
Thomas Cook, the London based tour operator, confirmed health of the European holiday market by saying that trading for summer 2008 remains strong in all major markets. Looking ahead, ”The board remains confident that the business will meet its expectations for the current financial year,” it said in astatement. However pre-tax losses widened to £260.3 million for the six months ended 30 April from £115.9 million after costs related to last year's merger with MyTravel. Sales rose 72% to £2.96 billion.

CLIA urges U.S. Senate to act on environmental treaty
The Cruise Lines International Association today urged the U.S. Senate to act promptly on legislation that would permit the United States to participate fully in shaping a new international treaty to curb air emissions from commercial shipping. Without timely Senate action, the United States delegation - led by the U.S. Coast Guard - would not be permitted to vote on important amendments to the treaty, to be considered at a meeting of the International Maritime Organization in October. The treaty is known as MARPOL (Marine Pollution) Annex VI. In a letter to Senators, CLIA president Terry Dale pointed out that the far-reaching amendments will set more stringent standards for maritime air emissions, which will provide air quality benefits for America's coastlines and port communities. Specifically, the amendments will ban the use of ozone-depleting substances and set international standards to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. The United States has been a leader in discussions on these and other strengthening amendments, but without Senate action will not be considered an official party to the upcoming negotiations, Dale noted. On the other hand, Senate action on implementing legislation ”will
send an important message that the United States does not wish to sit on the sidelines and that we are committed to sound public policy that truly benefits the global environment,” Dale said.
Orient Lines to reborn?
Orient Lines, the destination cruise specialist founded by British cruise and tour entrepreneur Gerry Herrod in 1992, has now been acquired by another cruise industry visionary, Wayne Heller. Heller's Origin Cruise Group LLC purchased the brand from Star Cruises Limited. Heller is the founder of Orlando-based cruise retailer Cruises Only, which became the largest seller of cruises in North America. His great love for cruising fueled his desire to preserve Orient Lines and its unique destination-oriented worldwide itineraries. Much like the former company's beloved Marco Polo, the ”new” Orient Lines plans to acquire vessels that are rich in history and character and that can carry 600 to 800 passengers in great comfort and safety to all seven continents. Moreover, the line's hallmark cruise-tour product, which seamlessly incorporates pre- and/or post-cruise hotel stays and orientation sightseeing tours, distinguished guest lecturers and local cultural highlights, where possible, will be preserved. ”In the coming weeks we will announce our new flagship, followed by inaugural cruise itineraries and the senior management team,” said Heller. ”As for details of the onboard product, consumers and travel agents can expect the same friendly and gracious service that has endeared legions of intrepid travelers to Orient Lines over the past 15 years.”
Fincantieri launches Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica
Costa Cruises and Fincantieri, the worldís leading cruise ship builder, launched two new cruise ships on Friday. The two ships in question are the Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica, respectively the 13th and 14th members of the Costa fleet, which will both enter service next year. The Costa Luminosa, which will be able to accommodate 2828 Guests and measures 92,700 gross tonnage, was launched at Fincantieriís shipyard in Marghera (Province of Venice) in the presence of the Honorable Renato Brunetta, the Italian Minister for Public Administration and Innovation. Meanwhile, the 3,780-passenger and 114,500 gross ton Costa Pacifica was also launched in Genova-Sestri Ponente.
STX Norway AS provides short term liquidity financing to Aker Yards
A delay in the completion of Aker Yards' sales of 70% of its Merchant Vessels Business to FLC West, a Russian investment company, has caused a short-term liquidity need at Aker Yards. In order to compensate for this short term liquidity need, Aker Yards requested STX, 40.4% shareholder of Aker Yards, to support it by arranging short-term financing or by participating in a bond issue. STX Norway AS has today agreed to provide short-term financing to Aker Yards in the aggregate amount of NOK 450 million. The loan carries an interest rate of NIBOR +1.5% and shall be repaid to STX Norway AS no later than on 31st July 2008. Aker Yards agreed the USD291 million sale in March following a review of strategic options.
Aker Yards appoints Landtman to manage its three Finnish yards
Aker Yards has an ambition to strengthen the operational focus in the business area Cruise & Ferries and has decided to strengthen the management team. The new manager for the yards in Finland, Martin Landtman, will together with the manager for the yards in France and the manager for sales and marketing report directly to the CEO.  Aker Yards is the second largest shipbuilder for cruise and ferries, including the track record of building 15 of the world's largest cruise ships. The Cruise & Ferries business area counts for more than half of Aker Yards' operations, with three shipyards in Finland and two yards in France, plus several specialised units for engineering, life cycle services and specialised manufacturing.  ”We want to make sure that we are a profitable and leading shipbuilder also in the long term. With the new management model for Cruise & Ferries, we are combining the skills of three of the international shipbuilding industry's best top managers. As part of this, we are of course very pleased that Martin Landtman has joined our executive management team”, says Svein Sivertsen, chairman of Aker Yards' board of directors.  Martin Landtman will from 1 September 2008 take up the position as manager for the three yards in Turku, Rauma and Helsinki in Finland, with special focus on the operations. Landtman has since 2003 been project director for Finland's largest industrial investment, the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) nuclear power plant.  Between 1979 and 2003, he had numerous senior management positions in Aker Yards' entities in Finland and Germany.   Juha Heikinheimo has been manager for the business area Cruise & Ferries under the previous structure, and will in the new model be responsible for all sales and marketing activities within Cruise & Ferries, including a new scope to develop new business opportunities.  Jacques Hardelay continues as manager for Aker Yards France. Jacques Hardelay has solid experience in managing industrial companies, and has been manager for the groups' two French shipyards in Saint-Nazaire and Lorient since 2006
Azamara modifies itineraries to take guests closer to Thai, Vietnamese cities
Taking advantage of its ships' smaller size, Azamara Cruises has modified its 2008-09 itineraries to take guests closer
to several cities in Thailand and Vietnam. The smaller size of the deluxe, 694-guest Azamara Quest, which will begin sailing in the region in December of this year, allows the vessel to access ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships. Azamara recently announced these changes would begin with its 2009-10 Asia season, but has worked hard to implement them sooner in order to create the ideal guest experience. Azamara Quest will sail to new dock locations in Bangkok (Klong Toey), Thailand, and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi (Ha Long Bay), Vietnam. In Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, the port time will be shortened to allow for the additional transit time up the rivers into the cities; however, the amount of time guests have in each city will be the same, since their ground-transportation time into each city will be reduced.
Lenghtened Braemar rejoins Fred. Olsen fleet
Braemar, the second cruise liner Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has lenghtened and modernised, has re-entered service after work being carried out at the Blom & Voss shipyard in Germany. A 31.2 metre midsection increased the ship's length to 195 metres and gross tonnage to about 23,500 from 19,089. Earlier this year, the company lengthened Balmoral, which at 43,000 grss tons is the largest ship in its fleet, before introducing the vessel on the UK market. Fred. Olsen has increased its capacity by 60% this year thanks to these two moves.
ALMACO restructures its business
The comprehensive restructuring, the first since ALMACO was founded in 1998, integrates ALMACOís products and services into four distinct divisions, Accommodation Systems, Food Handling Systems, Ship Conversion Systems and Life Cycle Systems which will nonetheless perform under the companyís framework of collaboration. The goal of restructuring is to focus on ALMACOís product lines for enhanced development and therefore ensuring an even stronger competitive edge in the market. The four divisions represent the practical core of the new company model, with each specializing in their own products and services. However, ALMACO remains one company and continues to be the leading provider of complete system solutions for ship owners and shipbuilders around the world. Each division will be headed as follows: Accommodation Systems by Inkeri Lehti, Food Handling Systems by Joseph Kerebel, Ship Conversion Systems by Mikael Hedberg, and Life Cycle Systems by Tero Rantanen. The restructuring is a global undertaking impacting offices in 6 countries. Full implementation takes place starting July 2008.
RCI's Goldstein leaves door open to future fuel surcharge increases
Royal Caribbean International (RCI) wants to offer the best value it can to its customers and do what it can to rreduce the impact of high bunker prices, said Adam Goldstein, head of the Miami based company. However, he said in an interview on the website of BBC that the current fuel supplement of $10 per person and day does not come anywhere close to the recent increases in the cosyt of fuel. Should the rise of crude oil price continue, the company would have to review its surcharge. Goldstein added that the company's business is developing very well in Europe, South America and the Asia-Pacific region. This is gradually changing the mix of passengers on the line's ships from predomninantly North American to more international.
Norwegian Sky returns to Miami
Today, Norwegian Sky returns to Miami and will begin sailing 3- and 4-night Bahamas cruises next Monday, July 14, 2008. The ship recently underwent a two-month wet dock in Freeport, Bahamas and now features a casino and NCL's Freestyle 2.0 enhancements, the company's fleet-wide initiative to further improve the guest experience across all guest touch points from food and beverage to staterooms. ”Norwegian Sky offers guests the youngest and highest quality ship sailing 3- and 4-night cruises from Miami to the Bahamas,” said Colin Veitch, NCL's President and CEO. ”On Norwegian Sky, guests will find all that Freestyle Cruising has to offer: a variety of accommodations, including balconies and suites, a choice of seven restaurants, a multitude of on-board amenities and our new Freestyle 2.0 enhancements, such as a bubbly welcome, Lobster Galore, new linens and bedding, themed parties and much more.” Norwegian Sky's first Bahamas cruise departs Miami next Monday and the ship is set to sail four-day Bahamas cruises on Mondays with full-day stops in Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island in the Bahamas. On Fridays, the ship sails a weekend getaway three-day Bahamas itinerary, departing Miami at 5 p.m. with all-day stops in Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, returning to Miami at 7 a.m. on Monday mornings.
WWF urges cruise lines to stop discharge of sewage in the Baltic
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says that the major part of cruise liners that visit the Baltic Sea continue to pump their sewage into the sea, the Finnish broadcasting company YLE reports on its website. Nutrients in the sewage accelerate euthropication of the Baltic, which again increases the contents of blue-green algae. WWF says it has appealed to cruise lines so that they would discharge sewage from their ships in ports. However, only three international cruise lines whose ships visit the Baltic have signed the document. Cruise Linesí International Association (CLIA), the industry ceiling organization in North America, has said that its members regard signing the WWF petition premature as there is not yet full knowledge about the sources from where nutrients come to the Baltic and the capacity at different ports to receive sewage from ships. Anita Makinen, head of the maritime programme of WWF in Finland inadequacies in the capacity at some ports to receive sewage are a known fact, but this is not the main reason to discxharge sewage into the sea. Makinen says that most cruise linersí sewage treatment plants follow regulations that are in place in Alaska. They only regulate the contents of bacteria and organic substance in the sewage that is discharged in the sea, but do not say anything about nutrients. ìAccording to Makinen, international cruise lines seem to find it difficult to understand that this is not enough in the Baltic as euthropication is a serious problem here.î Helsinki alone receives some 270 international cruise liners this summer. The WWF says a ship with 4,000 passengers and crew produces about 1,000 cubic metres of sewage per day, which is equal to daily discharges of a land based community of 6,000 inhabitants. International agreements allow the discharge of sewage originating from toilets to the sea 12 miles from the coast. Other sewage can be discharged at more than three milesí distance. The countries around the Baltic have agreed that they will prpose to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that the Baltic be declared extra sensitive area, whereby the discharge of sewage would be banned from the next year, YLE reports.
Silversea's high water mark in enrichment
Silversea Cruises has announced the success of an unprecedented educational cruise program, the 2008 World Leaders Symposium.  Held aboard the all-suite Silver Whisper in March, the 2008 symposium, titled ”Rising Global Powers: China and East Asia,” brought nearly 250 participants to the East Asian cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Nagasaki.  Onboard guest speakers included former U.S. President George H.W. Bush; former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; and leading China scholar and author Jonathan D. Spence.  Participants in the ”Rising Global Powers:  China and East Asia” symposium enjoyed a luxurious journey aboard Silver Whisper and enriching events and tours ashore, including: a visit to the Joint Security Area of the DMZ between North and
 South Korea, led by former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; a gala event at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing with former President George H.W. Bush, Mrs. Bush, and U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Rundt; panel discussions featuring leaders in the environment, media, and
business in China (including the CEOs of Intel-China, Boeing-China).

Aker Yards delivered cruise ferry for Tallink
Aker Yards delivered yesterday from its Helsinki yard a cruise ferry called Baltic Princess for Tallink. The vessel worth EUR 165 million gave 1,700 man years of work for the yard. The vessel will start operations between Helsinki in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia. The ship is the fourth sophisticated cruise ferry Aker Yards has delivered for Tallink, and the production of a fifth is proceeding in the Rauma yard for delivery in spring 2009. In addition, a fast ferry called Star was delivered last spring from the Helsinki yard. The 212 metres long and 29 m wide Baltic Princess will be one of the biggest cruise ferries in the Baltic Sea, having capacity for 2,800 passengers and vehicle space of 1,130 lane metres. Service speed of the vessel is about 24 knots and the vessel's main engines are equipped with SCR converters. The guiding principle in building the vessel is paying attention to the comfort and luxury of present-day passengers. There will be maximal use of high-tech solutions onboard. 927 cabins, several restaurants and places to entertain of various styles and class as well as a remarkable conference centre with over 450 seats make the new ship a multi functional sea-based hotel with excellent ambience.
Balinese style wellness centre to grace MSC Fantasia
MSC Cruises will soon be offering passengers a varied and deluxe spa experience on board the 133,500 gross ton MSC Fantasia, the company said in a statement.  MSC Fantasia will be named  in December 2008 and as well as being the largest ship in the fleet and the first to offer passengers the choice of luxury six star accommodation, she will also offer the most extensive wellbeing facilities with the introduction of the Aurea Spa. It  will be an authentic Balinese style wellness centre offering varied treatments, executed by experienced professionals. Located on deck 14, it will occupy 1,500 square metres subdivided into specific areas including a Thalassotherapy Room, Thermal Area, Gymnasium and Relaxation Area. Each area has been designed to offer a beautiful overall experience for guests, with tasteful finishing including bronze and gold mosaics, exotic ornamental plants and the use of perfumed essential oils. The Thalassotherapy Room has three treatment cabins, each 20 square metres in size, all with a beautiful sea view. Balinese massage - the signature treatment of the Aurea Spa - will take place in this area, and among the huge choice of treatments are reflexology, lava stones, infrared massage, cranial massage and shiatsu.  Also on offer will be a full menu of treatments to balance the bodyís energy including sauna, vapour and infrared treatments, thalassotherapy and a vichy shower.


Christian Sauleau rejoins Silversea as EVP Fleet Operations
Christian Sauleau rejoined Silversea Cruises as Executive Vice President of Fleet Operations, overseeing marine, technical, hotel, crewing, entertainment and land programs. He reports to the company's CEO, Amerigo Perasso. Sauleau was the line's Senior Vice President of Operations in the mid-1990s. He will be based in the Fort Lauderdale office. Sauleau was recently the Executive Vice President of Operations at Regent Seven Seas Cruises, where he played an integral role in the expansion of their fleet, overseeing construction of new vessels. His career also includes several years at Royal Viking Line in both shipboard and shoreside capacities. A native of France, Sauleau attended hotel management school in Paris. He holds a degree in international business from the University of Miami and was enrolled in their MBA program. He has also guest lectured at Cornell University. The company also expects to finalize a management agreement shortly with V. Ships for technical management (including newbuild supervision), marine operations and crew management services. It is anticipated that a number of operations employees in Silversea's Monaco office will move to V. Ships as a result of the reorganization. In conjunction with these organizational changes, Rocco Auteri, Senior Vice President of Fleet Operations, and Silvio Rossi, Vice President of Hotel Operations, are leaving Silversea.
Spirit of Adventure buys Astoria
Spirit of Adventure, the UK based cruise line that is part of the Saga operation,  has announced the purchase of a second cruise ship to be named Quest for Adventure - a running mate for the popular Spirit of Adventure. The ship, currently known as Astoria, will undergo a multi-million pound refit before her inaugural cruise gets underway on 1st July 2009 from Harwich around the Baltic. ”Onboard experience on the 18,591 gross ton ship that was built in 1981 will be contemporary throughout, with stylish spacious public rooms and more intimate places to hide away quietly, an excellent library of over 3,000 books, a state of the art spa, dining rooms both formal and informal, bars and plenty of deck space for the usual cruise activities, the company said in a statement. Ian Coghlan, Managing Director, Spirit of Adventure commented: 'Following the huge success of our first ship, Spirit of Adventure, I am delighted to announce that we are launching a second ship Quest for Adventure.  This is in response to remarkable levels of repeat business from the first year of this venture.   We have seen a growing demand for a high-quality intimate style of discovery cruising for those who like to explore and learn about new destinations.' With just 450 passengers Quest for Adventure will offer a friendly yacht-like atmosphere allowing her to visit many of the small, shallow and lesser known ports many of the larger impersonal ships can't reach. Like her running mate, Quest for Adventure will have expert lecturers who will help to bring alive the destinations and offer a series of original excursions included in the price, allowing passengers to really discover ports such as the historical and architectural delights of the Sinai in Egypt to Dubai in the Arabian Gulf, and an exploration of 'dragons and temples' through Borneo, Indonesia and Singapore. Following her inaugural cruise to the Baltic, Quest for Adventure will have comprehensive voyages including the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, Greek Isles, North Africa, the Red Sea and Arabia, including Kuwait, and Oman, and the Far East, including Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
MSC Cruises wins Italian environmental award
MSC Cruises has been presented with an award by the CiAl (National Consortium for the Recovery and Recycling of Aluminium Packaging) in Italy, in recognition of the recycling the company has undertaken and their promotion and support of environmental issues.  Traditionally given to City Councils, MSC Cruises is one of the few cruise liners to ever receive this award ñ in acknowledgement of the fact that each and every ship is a floating town on the sea. For the past year in agreement with CiAl, MSC Cruises has been collecting and storing large quantities of aluminium for recycling, with 10,000 kg collected between May and December 2007 alone.  Drink cans, other cans, aluminium foil, boxes and aluminium packaging were all collected and given to CiAl who recycled the aluminium to be reused in new items such as household goods, furnishings, building materials and lots more.  MSC Cruises has always implemented sustainability programmes to safeguard the environment. The newest addition to the fleet MSC Fantasia and sister ship MSC Splendida will be the greenest in the fleet.  Launching in December 2008 and June 2009 respectively, both ships will feature the latest and most innovative technology, as well as energy saving systems and environmentally friendly programmes, including the treatment of black and grey water, the company says.



This is the latest in a series of green accolades for one of the worldís fastest growing cruise lines. MSC Cruises was one of the first cruise companies to adhere to the VENICE BLUE FLAG agreement which governs ships travelling through the Venice Canal using diesel oils and attempts to reduce their sulphur emissions. The company has also received a number of prestigious environmental certificates from recognised bodies ñ both national and international for their work in preserving the environment.


STX launches mandatory offer to gain full control of Aker Yards
”Reference is made to the announcement by STX 18 July 2008 concerning the mandatory offer for all issued shares in Aker Yards ASA at a price of NOK 63 per share,” Aker Yards said in a statement. Aker Yards' Board of Directors has not been advised of the details of the bid prior to the launch of the offer to the market and the shareholders. The board will now carefully review the offer and in cooperation with its advisors Arctic, JP Morgan and Wikborg Rein evaluate the offer price and details. Aker Yards will move the presentation of its second quarter financial results forward from the original schedule 15 August to now being presented 8 August 2008, to provide shareholders with the most updated information on the company as a foundation for their evaluation of the offer from STX.  The board will no later than 8 August 2008 issue a statement in compliance with the Securities Trading Act section 6-16, in which the board will inform the shareholders of whether the board recommends the offer or not, as well as the reasons for the boards views. Meanwhile, the Board's recommendation at this point is for the shareholders to await the Board's comments and the second quarter financial statement, as this will provide the shareholders with the broadest possible information and foundation.
Rzymowska to head expanding RCCL in UK
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) said it tapped two of its senior executives to lead an expanded UK and Ireland organisation. Robin Shaw was named Vice President and Managing Director, and Jo Rzymowska was appointed Associate Vice President and General Manager. ”Both are widely credited with driving the companyís record growth in this market.  Shaw assumes a new role in the UK and Ireland expanded structure.  He now has wider responsibilities for finance, HR, revenue management and guest experience.  He reports to Michael Bayley, Senior Vice President, International, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises. Bayley is based in Miami.
Rzymowska also takes on a new role in the expanded UK and Ireland organisation.  While she continues to manage sales, marketing, trade and guest services in the new structure, she now has wider support to better optimise future growth in the market. Rzymowska continues to report to Shaw in her new position.   ìThe UK and Ireland market is one of the most dynamic cruise markets in the world,î said Michael Bayley, ìRobin and Jo are a proven team that has driven much of our companyís success in this market. We are tremendously pleased that both executives will be leading our company to even greater success as we expand globally.î


Tallink warns profit to fall by more than 50% in current financial year
Tallink Group's result in the current financial year are largely influenced by significantly increased fuel costs, higher interest costs and weak traffic volumes on some routes, the company said in a statement, adding that net profit is forecast to fall to less than EUR30 million from EUR67 million in the financial year to 31 August 2007. The management is reviewing the forecasted targets reasoned by the following:  During the nine months of current financial year the total fuel cost increase for AS Tallink Grupp has been approximately 470 million EEK (EUR 30 million) compared to nine months of previous financial year. Since the start of the current financial year in September 2007 the price of the fuel for our vessels has increased by approximately 115% until today. The average fuel price in third quarter was about 93% higher than in the third quarter of last financial year. Significant additional fuel price increase of about 40% has taken place during the past four months. Cargo volumes decrease from the higher competition on the Germany route has continued and therefore affects the results of Germany route. Following the integration in Finland and Sweden and partly also from the implementation of the new booking system the sales activities have not been as effective as expected which has caused the traffic volumes between Finland and Sweden to stay below expected levels. The delivery of new cruise vessel M/S Baltic Princess from the shipyard in mid-July was later than expected and the consequent re-routings on the Turku-Stockholm and Riga-Stockholm routes are as a result also delayed which combined overall positive impact from shorter period in the current financial year will not exceed the associated extra costs. Based on the above the management estimates the net sales for the current financial year ending in 31 August 2008 to be EUR 780 million (EEK 12,2 billion). The EBITDA is estimated to be up to 15% down from the last financial year and the net profit for the year will be less than EUR 30 million (EEK 470 million). In the longer term, including the next financial year, the delivery of Baltic Princess and related consequent changes of other ships on the Turku-Stockholm and Riga-Stockholm routes are expected to have positive impact to the passenger numbers, revenues and profitability. To improve the result of the Superfast vessels currently on the Germany route a chartering of one of the three vessels was contracted. Unless no further changes will be made then starting from September two Superfast vessels are planned to continue on the Germany route with the optimized schedule. The chartering will increase the result for one vessel and reduce the operating costs by one third for the Germany route.  The two vessels which continue have possibility to operate at the higher utilisation ratio and therefore also higher profitability. The management is currently implementing action plan which includes the changes in sales strategies and sales organisation in order to strengthen and improve the passenger numbers. The management is also seeking further possibilities to cost cutting both in the operations and land organisation in all countries. While old vessels are prepared for sale other possible scenarios, including sale of any vessels, charters or reroutings could be considered as well in order to optimise the fleet usage and company's operations. The overall target is to improve the company's return by optimising or eliminating poorly performing business units and activities.

Royal Caribbean announces second quarter results
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. yesterday announced net income for the second quarter 2008 of $84.7 million, or $0.40 per share, compared to a net income of $128.7 million, or $0.60 per share, for the second quarter 2007. Net Income for the first six months was $160.4 million or $0.75 per share, compared to net income of $137.6 million, or $0.64 per share, for the same period last year.
Royal Caribbean launches cost saving program
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced a significant cost savings initiative that is expected to reduce spending by approximately $125 million annually. ”Too much of our profitability is being eroded by the increase in fuel prices. This is unacceptable and we are evaluating everything we do to find ways to do it more efficiently and effectively,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. ”While our brands continue to attract premium prices even in this difficult environment, it is imperative that we find ways to reduce our costs.” As part of the restructuring, the company announced it is eliminating approximately 400 shore-side positions. In addition, the company announced it had discontinued some non-core operations, including The Scholar Ship, an educational partnership aimed at college students studying aboard
cruise ships. The company expects to incur charges related to this restructuring of approximately $15 million, or $0.07 per share, in the third quarter 2008. ”This is a difficult period for virtually all businesses, but we are determined to improve our operating results through tight cost controls, while preserving our outstanding guest experience and continuing to strongly support our travel agent partners. We will also continue to make measured strategic investments, especially in growing the international operations of our business,” Fain continued. In 2009, based on the targeted reductions, selling, general and administrative expenses per APCD are expected to be around the levels that the company incurred in 2004, and Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel, per APCD to be similar to 2007 levels. ”Over the last few years, we have made significant investments to seed our growth in many strategic markets,” said Brian J. Rice, Executive Vice
President and Chief Financial Officer. ”These costs are now being absorbed by capacity and revenue growth in the emerging markets around the world. In addition, our scale and exceptional brand positioning in North America are enabling us to drive further efficiencies.”
MSC Splendida floated out in St Nazaire
In keeping with tradition, a momentous floating out ceremony took place Sunday at the Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France as, MSC Splendida, the newest addition to the MSC Cruises fleet, was floated out. The ship was accompanied by a fleet of eight tugboats. At the end of the hour-long floating out ceremony in which she travelled about half a mile, this giant of the sea reached the dock where she will remain until her construction has been completed.

MSC Splendida and sister ship MSC Fantasia are the two largest ships to be built by a European ship owner. Both will be 133,500 tons. Each will have 1,637 cabins able to accommodate 3,274 passengers (on double basis) and 290,000 square feet of public areas including a theatre with seating for 1,649 plus the well-being center - AUREA SPA, which covers 17,384 square feet. Additionally these ships will have 4 restaurants and 2 buffet areas, 4 pools, 12 hydro massage pools, Sports Bar, Jazz Bar, shops, casino, disco, FORMULA 1 simulator, 4D interactive cinema, Squash Court and a Childrenís and Teenagerís Area of 4,305 square feet with a pool, waterslide and dedicated Teenagersí disco.

These two ships will herald a new era for MSC Cruises by introducing MSC Yacht Club, a VIP area with 99 elegant suites, dedicated butlers and communal spaces furnished to the highest standards. While the countdown to MSC Fantasiaís launch has already started (christening is Naples, Dec.18, 2008), MSC Splendida will be christened in Barcelona during the summer of 2009.
P&O Cruises going smoke free at sea
P&O Cruises is to go smoke free in all inside areas on board three of the ships in the fleet. As of October this year two family-friendly ships, Oceana & Ventura, and adult-only Artemis will be no smoking in all inside spaces. There will beallocated outside smoking areas on all ships and passengers will be able to smoke on their cabin balconies.

P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ”Since Britain went smoke free in July 2007 the British public has become accustomed to being in a smoke free environment with 76 per cent of the general public supporting the ban.” We hope that becoming smoke free will give all our passengers, especially children, a cleaner and more pleasant environment in which at enjoy their holiday on board.
Bruce Nierenberg joins Orient Lines as Executive Vice President
Bruce Nierenberg has been appointed Executive Vice President of Orient Lines effective immediately. The announcement was made by Wayne Heller, the line's President and CEO. Nierenberg will have direct responsibility for worldwide marketing and sales, and will oversee product development.

A recognized leader in the cruise industry, Nierenberg is credited with numerous product and marketing innovations that remain staples of the cruise industry today, including the first mega ship - ss Norway; the first ”out” island - Great Stirrup Cay; the first nationwide air/sea program; and the first computerized reservations system, all while at Norwegian Cruise Line (nÈe Norwegian Caribbean Line). At SeaEscape he introduced the ”cruise-to-nowhere,” and as founder of Premier Cruise Lines created the first cruise-tour packages with Disney World.

”Bruce Nierenberg is uniquely qualified and highly regarded for his achievements and creativity,” said Heller. ”We look forward to him playing a major leadership role in guiding Orient Lines towards growth and continued success in the years ahead.”

Over the past few years Nierenberg has been a consultant on a number of projects. Prior senior management posts include serving as president at Delta Queen Steamboat Company from 2003 to 2006, president and CEO of Costa and American Family cruise lines from 1992 to 1994, and founder and partner of Premier Cruise Lines from 1983 to 1991. Nierenberg began his career in 1973 and has previously held positions as Executive Vice President; Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Passenger Service; Director of Marketing and Director of Sales.

”My career has been challenging and extremely rewarding,” said Nierenberg. ”It is most gratifying to join a company which I hold in high esteem and I look forward to working with the Hellers to maintain Orient Lines' award-winning reputation as the destination cruise specialists.”
NCL names Dennis Nau as Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations
Dennis Nau has joined NCL Corporation in the role of Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations. Nau is an accomplished and highly seasoned hotel and resort executive, having worked with Marriott Hotels & Resorts since 1985.

”The quality, consistency and distinctiveness of our on board product is critical to our success,” said Colin Veitch, NCL's
President and CEO. ”The appointment of Dennis Nau to our most senior Hotel position, taken together with the recent creation of the role of Chief Product Officer filled by Andy Stuart, underlines the importance we place on delivering our newly upgraded Freestyle 2.0 cruise experience consistently, to the highest standard, every day to every guest. We are pleased to have attracted a hotel veteran of Dennis' caliber; our guests and our travel partners can now look forward to enjoying what he will bring to NCL.”

NCL Corporation Ltd. is the holding company for various subsidiary companies involved in owning and operating the ships of
Norwegian Cruise Line. NCL is building two new third generation Freestyle Cruising (”F3”) ships for delivery in 2010.
MSC Cruises introduces on line check in
MSC Cruises has launched MSC Express, a new and innovative check-in service, available at all major ports in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. This new system will allow passengers to significantly reduce the time it takes to get on board the ship by utilising a simple, fast track system. The first port of call for passengers is the new website, which for extra convenience is also accessible via th website.  Once logged on, passengers simply enter their booking information - reservation number, passenger name and surname, together with the ship name and departure date. After inputting these brief details, a second screen is displayed where passengersí personal details need to be entered in order to complete online check-in.  This then produces a printout which allows passengers to be fast tracked through check-in at the port, thanks to the new addition of dedicated MSC Express desks.  Passengers simply present their printout and tickets at the desk on the day of embarkation, vastly reducing waiting times and queues. ìMSC Cruises has a commitment to providing innovative solutions that help our passengers have the most enjoyable trip possible. The addition of online check-in and dedicated MSC Express desks is an extra convenience that cuts queues and waiting times at the port, meeting the growing demands of busy clients.  ìWe hope that this new service will help our passengers to start their trip sooner and ultimately get their holiday off to the most relaxing start possible,î said Guilio Libutti, MD, MSC Cruises UK and Ireland. The MSC Express service is currently available to passengers departing from the ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo, Bari, Venice, Marseille, Barcelona, Valencia, Kiel, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

Pacific Sun affected by poor weather
P&O Cruisesí Pacific Sun has been affected by the severe weather conditions that have swept across the region. The ship, which was about 600km north of Auckland, was experiencing 7 metre swells and 50 knot winds when it rolled sharply just before 8 pm on July 30. As a result of the shipís sudden movement, approximately 40 passengers were seen and treated by the onboard medical staff. Pacific Sun has two doctors and three nurses onboard who are highly trained.

The ship, which was due to return to Auckland on July 31st, was delayed by at least 24 hours due to the bad weather. The ship is carrying 1732 passengers and 671 crew. She was on her return from an eight day cruise in the South Pacific.
Prince Albert II to offer cruises in French Polynesian waters Mar-Oct 2009
Silversea Cruises, the luxury cruise operator, has revealed details of its 2009 schedule of expeditions for the Prince Albert II, calling for the ship's deployment in Papeete from mid-March
 to late October 2009.

”The collection of new itineraries will feature the less-traveled  regions of Polynesia ranging from the southernmost Austral Islands to the  sprawling Tuamotu Archipelago and the northernmost Marquesas Islands. For the balance of the year, the 132-guest luxury expedition ship will offer a series of Antarctic explorations with convenient roundtrip departures from Ushuaia,”Silversea said in a statement.

The ship's positioning in Tahiti is the result of numerous efforts and successful meetings between Silversea and the French Polynesian government.

Oceania names first newbuilding Marina as construction starts
Work has started on the first opf two 65,000 Oceania class gross ton newbuildings of the Florida based upper premium operator Oceania Cruises at the Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente Shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

Presided over by Frank Del Rio, Chairman of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Oceania Cruises' parent company, and attended by some of the line's most loyal past guests, the first piece of steel was ceremoniously cut to   officially begin construction of Oceania Cruises' first brand-new ship. During the ceremony, Del Rio also revealed the name of the first ship as Marina along with design details of the Veranda Staterooms and Penthouse Suites.

Veranda Staterooms, at 312 square feet, will incorporate larger sitting areas, marble-clad bathrooms with separate tub and shower, copious closet space and extra-large private verandas for relaxation.
The Penthouse Suites will be 429 square feet and feature a large living area, space for in-suite dining, separate sleeping area, extra-large bathrooms, walk-in closets and a host of other amenities.

”Marina will not be just a ship, she will be a place of beauty that offers our guests unparalleled comfort, amenities and a culinary experience that is beyond compare. Marina, along with her sister-ship, will be
 the most beautiful ships to sail the seven seas,” added Del Rio. 

P&O Australia ditches international brands in favour of Australian and New Zealand wines
Australiaís leading cruise company P&O Cruises has announced a move to ditch international wine brands in support of local winemakers to create a new and exclusive onboard wine list.

P&O Cruises will break from tradition to showcase 64 top wines from Australia and New Zealand, including some wines that will be available exclusively onboard Pacific Dawn and Pacific Sun. In the months leading up to the revamp, the P&O Cruises team toured Australiaís best regional wineries to blind-taste their wares. Many of the 39 vineyards selected are from smaller, up-and-coming winemakers, whose wines were recognised as the best in their class..

The wine revamp is part of an overhaul to enhance guestsí culinary experiences onboard Pacific Dawn and Pacific Sun, including new dining options, innovative new menus, as well as the introduction of onboard wine-tasting sessions and lectures for passengers to learn about the local wines as they ësip and sailí:

Drive Ferrari in Italy or zip wire in Jamaica as P&O Cruises revamps shore excursion offering
P&O Cruises, the UK based contemporary brand in the Carnival Corp & PLC stable, is offering a new collection of shore excursions for holidaymakers setting sail in 2008/09. Designed to meet and exceed the needs of new and more adventurous cruise passengers, the programme offers a range of ëmust doí activities andexperiences on land, sea and in the air, the company says.Managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ìWe are now attracting more new to cruise passengers than ever before and these holidaymakers are looking for something a little different to do on shore than a guided coach tour We can now offer them experiences that simply would not be possible on anyother type of holiday. In a two week Mediterranean cruise they could charter a private yacht, go zip-wiring, learn to cook an authentic Italian specialities and make their very own fragrance.”.Highlights of the Mediterranean shore excursion programme are: Driving a red Ferrari F430 for the day through the streets of Italy from the port of Livorno; Creating a personal fragrance with master perfumers in The Galimard Studio in Grasse, from port of Cannes (from 2009); Learning how to make fresh Tuscan specialties in a farmhouse overlooking the Alps, from the port of Livorno.In the Caribbean, highlights include: Zip wiring through the rainforest, in Jamaica; Racing a private Beneteau 40 yacht, in Antigua. Highlights in the Baltic / Northern Europe are: Exploring glaciers and ice-fields on a snow truck, from Reykjavik; Floating downstream on the River SuldalslÂgen, for a 2km ëSalmon Safarií, from Stavanger in Norway.
Fred. Olsen to fit interactive TV in all ships over time after success on Balmoral
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (FOCL) plans to launch an interactive TV service on board all its five cruise ships folowing a successful pilot programme introduced on  Balmoral when it entered service in February 2008. The company chose Allin Interactive to provide this service, a company with extensive experience in the field, having worked on over 40 cruise ships.

The service personalised to Fred. Olsen, has been branded FOi (Fred. Olsen Interactive.)  Passengers using it can investigate future cruises, shore excursions and cabin shopping.  They can place orders, from the comfort of their cabin, for breakfast room service, wine with dinner, duty free shopping, order a film, book excursions or even book another cruise..

”The service has proved extremely popular with Balmoral customers and the facility has reduced queues at the shore tours desk and future cruise sales office, although those who prefer a face-to-face experience can still make their bookings in person,” FOCL said in a statement.

With the service well-established on Balmoral, it has now been rolled out to the newly lengthened and refitted Braemar which re-entered service in July 2008. 
One million attend Cruise Days in Port of Hamburg
The Port of Hamburg celebrated this weekend its first Cruise Days festival with spectacular ship parades of cruise liners. About a million visitors and the art project ìBlue Portî turned the port into a worldwide unique stage and offered completely fresh and unusual views of Hamburg as a maritime metropolis, the port said in a statement.

Could there be a better place for luxury liners to set anchor than the Port of Hamburg? The beautiful and bustling Port of Hamburg is one the ìcruise capitalsî in Northern Europe, regularly attracting cruise liners from far and wide. As a new event in the port, the metropolis on the waterfront hosted the Hamburg Cruise Days for the first time from July 30th to August 3rd. Never before has a port of Hamburgís importance offered cruise ships a comparable platform with a stunning artistic project of this type.

During Hamburg Cruise Days, within just five days the cruise ships Queen Mary 2, Deutschland, Columbus, Aida Aura  turned the river Elbe into a gigantic maritime catwalk.  Throughout the event, the specially developed and staged illumination ìBlue Portî transformed the city into an illuminated stage for the cruise ships. Cultural and culinary supporting events provided additional entertainment and information for the general public and trade visitors.

Aker Yards' board to shareholder : ”seriously consider accepting STX' offer”
The board of Aker Yards recommends to the company's shareholders that they seriously consider accepting a mandatory offer of NOK 63 per share made by STX Corporation, its biggest shareholder. The price reprresents fair value for the shares in Aker yards in the present time, although in the long run it may undervalue the company. STX' offer will run until 15 August.

Aker Yards today reported a second quarter net loss of NOK134 million that was markedly down from a profit of NOK 200 million the company made in the same perios last year. While problems related to ferries on order at the company's three yards in Finland are now past, new problems have emerged at yards in Norway that build offshore and other specialist vessels. Sub contractors have delivered poor quality, which has delayed deliveries of vessels..

Aker Yards reduced its EBITDA margin forecast for this year to 2-3% from an earlier forecast of a 3-4% margin that was published in May as a result of the new problems.
Azamara Cruises publishes brochure for UK market
Azamara Cruises, the deluxe, destination-driven cruise line in the Royal Caribbean Cruises ltd (RCCL) group, has released details on its first ever UK brochure for 2009/2010. ”The brochure is packed with a range of new itineraries and ports such as Akureyri ( Iceland ) and Zadar ( Croatia ) aimed at cruisers who are looking for a more immersive and intimate cruising experience,” azxamara said in a statement.

Jo Rzymowska, Associate Vice President and General Manager, Azamara Cruises, UK & Ireland, commented, ìAlthough Azamara Cruises was launched less than two years ago we have had fantastic feedback, particularly from cruise specialist agents throughout the UK. The new brochure dedicated to the UK market has more itineraries and destinations than ever before and is reinforced by the sales team dedicated to Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises.î

New ports of call for 2009/2010 include Amalfi ( Italy ), the Isle of Capri, La Spezia ( Italy ), Dartmouth (UK) which is inaccessible to larger ships, Rouen ( France ) which is just one hour from Paris as opposed to Le Havre , where larger ships dock, which is two-and-a-half hours from the city. Plus Volos ( Greece ) where Azamara Cruises will offer excursions to the Meteroa Monasteries, perched high atop massive granite rocks, hundreds of feet in the air.


P&O Ferries and Aker Yards seal EUR 360 million ferry deal
Aker Yards and P&O Ferries have signed a contract for building two large car-passenger ferries for the Dover-Calais service. The total contract price for both vessels is approximately EUR 360 million and signing of the deal confirms a letter of intent signed on 13 June. The vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The contract includes options on a further two vessels of the same

The vessels will be built in Aker Yards, Rauma, creating some 1,800 manyears of work. Becoming the largest ferry in the English Channel means a 49,000 gross ton vessel with the length of 210 metres and having 2,700 lane metres of vehicle space.  There will be space for more than 180 freight vehicles and additionallyfor up to 195 tourist vehicles. The vessels will be capable of carrying up to 2,000 passengers.

The ferries will be as environmentally friendly as possible, offering significant advances in fuel efficiency through a hydro-dynamically efficient hull form that will optimise vessel performance with minimumfuel consumption.

P&O Ferries, headquartered in Dover, is part of the dUbai based DP World group and should not be confused with P&O Cruises whose main offices are in Southampton and that is part of Carnival Corp & PLC
Star Cruises cuts first-half loss to $49.4 million despite $85.5 million share of NCL loss
The Asia-Pacific focused cruise shipping group Star Cruises cut its net loss to $49.4 million in the first half of this year from a loss of $56.0 million in the first six months of 2007.

The fresh figure includes an $85.5 million loss from Star's 50% holding in NCL Corporation, the other half is now contriolled by Apollo Management, the private equity group. This figure means that NCL was $171 million in the red in the first six months of the year. No comparable figure was given for the first half of last year.

However, Star was helped by a 29.0% rise in capacity and 5.2% increase in net revenue. On the other hand, net revenue yield declined by 18.6 and selling plus administrative expenses increased by 24.8%. 
Thomas Cook says business outlook strong up to summer 2009
Thomas Cook, the London based tour operator that is also major retailer of cruises, said current trading continues to be strong in the Summer 2008 season with early indicators for Winter 2008/09 and Summer 2009 ahead of last year, according to a report on

ìThe board remains confident that the business will meet its expectations for the current financial year and has taken steps to ensure resilience to changes in demand in the future,î said the group.

The group said it is increasing its flexibility for summer 2009 in capacity, accommodation, cost base and fuel hedging. Fuel has been 92% hedged for 2008/9, the report said.

New treatment to attack cellulite and fat deposits in spa on MSC Fantasia
Among new features on board MSC Fantasia, first of the two 133,500 gross ton newbuildings of MSC Cruises, and more precisely, in the Aurea Spa on board, will be Q-Frequency, a state-of-the-art machine specially designed to eliminate not just cellulite, localized fat deposits and stretch marks, but also acne and drooping facial skin, the company says.

”Using the beneficial effects of radiofrequency and biocompatible energy, Q-Frequency gives outstanding results in tissue toning, cellulite reduction, slimming and anti-wrinkle treatment, with an immediate anti-aging lifting effect,” MSC said in a statement.

Thanks to improved blood flow and a reactivated lymphatic system, the fat cells are stimulated to release toxins and excess fluids, restoring the skinís natural balance and leaving it toned and glowing.
On board MSC Cruisesí ships, the spa doctor will always be on hand for a free consultation, to help you choose the treatments that are best for you, the company reminds.

MSC Fantasia will be named in NAples on 18 December.

MSC Cruises orders two more Musica class newbuildings
The rapidly expanding Naples based cruise operator MSC Cruises has signed a contract with Aker Yards for the fifth and sixth unit of the 93,500 gross ton Musica class newbuildings.

ìThe vessels will be built at Aker Yards, Saint-Nazaire and delivered in February 2011 and February 2012 respectively. The contract is still subject to financing,î Aker Yards said in a statement. The ships will have 2,550lower berths each.

MSC Poesia, third unit of the class, was introduced in April and MSC Magnifica, the fourth ships, is due in 2010. The company also has two 133,500 gross ton newbuildings on order at the same builder and MSC Fantasia, the first of them is due to enter service in December this year and MSC Splendida in 2009.

STX has 88.4% of Aker Yards after mandatory offer expires
STX Norway AS and their financial advisors ABG Sundal Collier have on 18 August 2008 announced that STX Norway AS has received acceptances from shareholders representing a total of 54,512,583 shares under the mandatory offer to acquire shares in Aker Yards.
”Including the above shares, STX Norway AS now controls 100,396,293 shares in AKY, corresponding to 88.37 % of the total outstanding shares and votes in the company. The mandatory offer period expired Friday 15 August 2008 at 16.30 CET. The offer price was NOK 63 per share. According to STX, the final confirmed results will be published on Wednesday 20 August 2008,” Aker Yards said in a statement..

Vision of the Seas to make 4-night cruises from Stockholm June-August 2009
Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has unveiled more details about its cruise programme from Stockholm next summer. Vision of the Seas will make 15 cruises of 4 nights each from the Swedish capital beginning on 8 June and running until 3 August.The cruises will call at Tallinn in Estonia and St Petersburg in Russia and include one full day at sea on the homeward crossing from the Russian port. Following the completion of this programme, the ship will sail for Oslo via Visby on 7 August..This is the first time a major cruise line has set up a programme of cruises running from a port in Scandinavia and targeted primarily at the local market. Stockholm, the Swedish capital, has a population of 1.5 millions and around 4 million people live in the Lake Malaren valley that surrounds the city.
Orient Lines buy Maxim Gorkiy
Orient Lines, the destinational cruise line that has been dormant for some time, has acquired the 1969 built Maxim Gorkiy of 25,000 gross tons. The ship has turbo-electric machinery and it is one of the few steam driven vessels still in operation.

The ship has last been in serrvice with Phoneix Seereisen, the German operator. Orient Lines itself was sold by the NCL Corporation some time ago to private investors who have set up offices in Florida. While part of NCL Corpooration, Orient Lines used to operate the 1965 built 22,000 gross ton Marco Polo that is now in the fleet of Transocean Tours, a German company.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines slash fly cruises in favour of ex UK sailings
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has announced a revision to itineraries for two of its ships  for the summer 2009 and winter 2009/2010 seasons. The new programme affects Braemar and Boudicca, and dramatically reduces the number of fly/cruises the company will be offering over the next two years. The changes have been made in light of likely sustained higher fuel costs, which particularly affect long-haul fly/cruise programmes.

Nigel Lingard, marketing director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:  ìOur fly/cruise programme was originally designed and costed on operating costs in effect almost two years ago.   However, with the dramatic increase in fuel prices we have taken the decision to offer a more cost effective programme.   This also gives us the opportunity to further widen the choice of ex UK cruises for our traditional clientele.

Originally scheduled to operate a summer season of fly/cruises using the port of Civitavecchia as a base, Braemar  will, on return from the Caribbean in early May, now operate cruises from Dover to northern Europe and Iceland, the Baltic and Mediterranean.    The ship will return to the Caribbean in November for its normal fly/cruise programme based in Barbados instead of Miami.

Boudicca remains unchanged until December 2009 at which time the previously published programme of Caribbean fly/cruises from Barbados is replaced with an extended ex Portsmouth series until after Christmas when the ship will relocate to Southampton. Cruises from Southampton include a 28-night Caribbean round trip, as well as itineraries to the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean.

All the new itineraries will be on sale from Wednesday 20th August.
Veitch to step down as NCL president but remain CEO
Colin Veitch will step down as president of NCL Corporation but remain CEO. In a statement sent today to the UK based shipping publication Fairplay, NCL confirmed that Kevin Sheehan has been named president ”with immediate effect”. Sheehan joined NCL in November as financial chief and will retain those duties, Fairplay Daily News reports on its website.

Figures published on 13 August by NCL's former parent Star Cruises show that NCL Corporation made a first half net loss of $171 million. While no comparable figure for the same period for last year was given, NCL Corporation itself has disclosed that it made a net loss of $227 million in the full year 2007.

STX Norway AS controls 92.46% of shares in Aker Yards
STX' financial advisors ABG Sundal Collier have today confirmed that STX Norway AS has received acceptances from shareholders representing a total of 54,532,431 shares under the mandatory offer to acquire shares in Aker Yards. After settlement of the mandatory offer STX Norway AS will hold a total of 100,416,141 shares in AKY, corresponding to 88.39% of the total outstanding shares in the company.
Amidst recession talk, MSC Cruises receives record number of calls in UK
Amidst intensifying talk of recession, MSC Cruises UK and Ireland office has received an unprecedented number of phone calls to its calls centre this week, the company says. ìOn Monday 18 August the number of incoming calls was 48% above the daily average and the highest recorded figure for the office. This day also featured the highest recorded booking to conversion rate, up 60% on an average day.î

Meanwhile, on Saturday 16 August, the number of phone calls to the call centre was up 25% compared to an average Saturday. Commenting on these new records, MD of MSC Cruises UK and Ireland, Giulio Libutti, said: ìWe are delighted to see this surge in travel agent enquiries and bookings. It shows that, despite the credit crunch, the UK market is still strong and holidays continue to take priority in household spending.î

The tenth ship to join the MSC Cruises fleet is the new class MSC Fantasia, its largest ship so far, with a passenger capacity of 3,274. MSC Fantasia is the first cruise ship to contain a 5,000 square metre VIP area, the MSC Yacht Club. The ship launches in Naples, Italy on 18 December.

Fred. Olsen cancels Black Watch call in Batumi, Georgia
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has cancelled its planned call in Georgia following the continued uncertainty in the region, reports on its website. The line's 28,000 gross ton  Black Watch had been due to call in Batumi, Georgia, on 12 October as part of a Black Sea Cruise that departs from Dover on 26 September.

As troubles escalated between Russia and Georgia last week, a spokesperson for the Brit line had told Cruise Critic it would remain in close contact with the port agent in Batumi and take his advice on the situation. Now Fred. Olsen has decided to call in Constanta, Romania, instead -- the port lies on the western coast of the Black Sea and is the third largest city in Romania, the report says.

Carnival announces re-deployments
Carnival Announces Redeployments

In a flurry of activity, Carnival Cruise Lines announced new deployments for three ships: The Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Triumph, and Carnival Elation. In the first of these moves, the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy will replace the 1,452-passenger Holiday sailing on year-round 4- and 5-night cruises from Mobile, Alabama, beginning in November 2009. By adding the larger Carnival Fantasy, the line will increase capacity by 42% and expects to carry 170,000 passengers annually from this Gulf of Mexico homeport. The Fantasy is scheduled to receive significant upgrades during its fall dry dock as part of Carnivalís $250 million ìEvolutions of Funî refit program, which includes installation of a new Carnival WaterWorks aqua park.

Meanwhile in nearby New Orleans, Carnival will increase capacity by 34% when the 2,758-passenger Carnival Triumph begins year-round service replacing the Fantasy with a new series of 4-, 5 and 7-night cruises. The Triumph will operate 65 departures annually and is expected to host 200,000 passengers---the most of any cruise line sailing from New Orleans. On the West Coast, the 2,052-passenger Carnival Elation will switch to a rotation of 3- and 4-night cruises out of San Diego, starting in February 2009. The Elation currently operates a schedule of 4- and 5-night cruises from this homeport. The new departures aboard the Elation will augment a similar program of short cruises offered by the Carnival Paradise out of Long Beach.

Hurtigruten to continue asset sales after weak second quarter interims
Hurtigruten, the Norwegian company that operates the Bergen-Kirkenes coastal express service and destinational cruises, will continue asset sales after posting weak second quarter interim results. Net profit fell to NOK26 million from nOK 102 million in the same period last year as a result of an increase in financial costs to NOK 69 million from NOK 39 million and a 38% rise in bunkee costs.

The company has sold its travel agency business and hotels in Bergen, but the sale of non-core assets as well as of ships will continue, the company said in a statement. On a positiver note, both the number of passengers carried and yields have improved.

Hurtigruten also operates domestic ferries and coaches in the western part of Norway.
Color Group first half loss deepens fivefold
Color Group, parent company of the Oslo based ferry company Color Line, has reported a significantly deeper loss for the first half of 2008 than in the same period last year. Pre tax loss widened to NOK76 million from NOK15 million as high cost of bunkers and reorganising operations affected the bottom line. The company has closed short haul services from Oslo and laid up the 1981 built Prinsesse Ragnhild that was last used on a service from Bergen in Norway to Hirtshals in Denmark, now also terminated. At the same time, it has introduced two fast Super Speed ropax ferries of 33,000 gross tons on service from Norway to Denmark.The number of passengers carried rose by 1% to 1.85 million, while that of freight units increased by 22.9% to 7,528. The company now has six ships in operation compared to 10 a year ago. Color Group, which is privately owned, company described the year so fas as the most challenging in its history and forecast a weakening of the full year result.
LIVE REPORT FROM THE EURODAM: Holland America returns to Bermuda roundtrip cruises in 2010
Beginning in 2010, Holland America Line will once again sail on regularly scheduled cruises between New York City and Bermuda. Holland America is the only major cruise line that calls on both Hamilton and St. Georgeís, Bermudaís cultural and shopping hubs. Additionally, guests of Holland America Line will have an opportunity to fully experience Bermudaís British charm and its unique island culture by day and by night with multi-day stays in each port.

When the 1,350-guest ms Veendam sails in late August 2010 on the first of 10 roundtrips to the island, it will mark Holland America Lineís return to New York City as a home port and to Bermuda as a destination.

Holland America Line worked closely with the Bermudian government to form the partnership that takes Holland America Line back to the island that it first visited more than 70 years ago. In 1926, Veendam II, with a guest capacity of approximately 500, left New York on the companyís first Caribbean cruise. During the summers of 1930 and 1931, Veendam II sailed on five-day roundtrip cruises between New York and Bermuda.

ìWe are thrilled to homeport a ship in New York City again and especially to be returning to Bermuda,î said Richard D. Meadows, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs, ìand itís particularly relevant to be doing so on a ship with the same name as the one that sailed to Bermuda so many years ago.

ìVeendam is ideal for this itinerary,î Meadows noted. ìShe is a premium mid-size ship, the perfect size to navigate the narrow entrances to the harbors in Hamilton and St. Georgeís. Veendamís guests are able to step off the ship right in the center of each town. Ships larger than Veendam must tie up at the Dockyard facility a considerable distance from both towns.

ìWith overnight stays in Hamilton and St. Georgeís, guests will truly have the time to explore Bermuda and gain an appreciation of its culture, its people and its history as well as the time to relax on the islandís beaches, play a full round ñ or two ñ of golf on its world-renowned golf courses or partake of the many activities offered.î

LIVE REPORT FROM THE EURODAM: Holland America announces $200 million in enhancements to five ships
As part of its ongoing Signature of Excellence, Holland America Line is doubling the amount to be spent in upgrades, enhancements and new features on five of the lineís most popular ships.  Over the next two years, the ms Statendam, ms Ryndam, ms Maasdam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam will undergo extensive dry docks to create new venues, new staterooms, new dÈcor and more.  The 18-month, $200 million program will begin when Veendam enters an extended dock in spring 2009, and the last ship is slated for completion in late 2010.

The investment in this new series of enhancements will include a new resort pool concept, innovative lanai staterooms, new entertainment and enrichment options, all new stateroom dÈcor and more.  Holland America Lineís commitment to enhancing its premium fleet now exceeds $525 million.

Signature of Excellence features and amenities are evident in every aspect of the Holland America Line cruise experience, offering guests more luxurious accommodations, more enticing destinations, enhanced dining experiences, more creative activities and even higher levels of service.

Previously, during the first phase of Signature of Excellence, these five ships were enhanced with the Explorations CafÈ, Culinary Arts Center, expanded Club HAL youth facilities and more. This next installment reinforces Holland America Lineís commitment to its popular mid-sized ships.  The enhancements will add more verandah staterooms, introduce a new category of stateroom, expand the Lido Deckís pool feature with The Retreat, create a showroom at sea and upgrade staterooms, bathrooms and fixtures.

ìHolland America Line has long been the leader in the premium cruise segment,î said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president of sales, marketing and guest services. ìThis significant and continued investment reaffirms our commitment to our fleet of mid-sized ships and our ongoing leadership in the premium category by continually raising the bar in terms of products and services.

ìIn an era where cruise lines are building ships to carry more than 5,000 passengers, Holland America Line remains focused on mid-sized vessels,î said Meadows. ìThese enhancements will blend the latest innovations for premium travel into our ships, creating a deluxe experience that is unparalleled.î

The most dramatic alteration will be to the aft portion of the ships, allowing for a new resort-style pool area on Lido deck called The Retreat with a shallow area where guests may lounge in chairs and dip their fingers and toes in the water or relax on the bench and dangle their legs in the refreshing water. A new pool bar and an upscale pizzeria called Slice will be installed, as well as a canopy and wind screens to provide additional covered seating for the Lido Restaurant.

All staterooms will receive new dÈcor, carpeting and soft goods.  Each ship also will have an additional 44 to 46 staterooms, 32 with verandahs and the remaining will be inside staterooms. On the four S-class ships, twelve staterooms near the spa (on Deck 9) also will have verandahs added, and along with three inside staterooms, become ëspa stateroomsí featuring a variety of enhanced spa amenities.  On the Rotterdam, 23 staterooms on Verandah deck will become spa staterooms. On the five ships, forty-six new lanai staterooms will be created by replacing existing windows of 42 staterooms (on Lower Promenade Deck 6) with lanai doors that open directly onto the walk-around promenade, and adding four additional staterooms.

The program also involves enhancements to several of the public rooms. A Merabella luxury jewelry shop will be added. The Casino and Piano bars will be reconfigured into a multi-themed area called Mix with three separate barsóMartinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales. Next door, the high-energy casino will be redesigned highlighting the always trendy table and slot games.   The main show space will be transformed into the Showroom at Sea with the ambiance of a glamorous nightclub. The ever-popular Ocean Bar will be refurbished and carpets will be replaced in most public areas. The new Sky Room on Sports Deck will feature the latest in multi-generational video games and high-tech entertainment.

Entertainment and enrichment,†or ìedutainment,î is taking on a new, contemporary look and feel across the fleet. †A new Explorations Team employs cruise staff, each specializing in a particular area, to educate and entertain guests with an expanded menu of activities including flower arranging, hands-on cooking, dancing and working with digital photos, blogs and movies.††Each team consists of a party planner, a travel guide, dance directors and a ìtechspert.î On longer cruises, a book club leader joins the team to lead lively group discussions.

Renowned for service levels provided by its award-winning staff, the program will also include significant crew area enhancements including a new fitness facility, internet centers, staterooms and recreational areas.

The industry-leading Signature of Excellence initiative announced nearly five years ago in November 2003 has evolved into an ongoing and comprehensive review of every aspect of the Holland America Line experience.   Signature of Excellence is Holland America Lineís brand promise and continues to bring innovation and relevance to guests.

UK cruise trade expects busiest day ever 3 Sep as Oasis of the Seas bookings open
The UK cruise industry is tipped for its busiest ever sales day on Wednesday 3 September when Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever to be built, goes on general sale. Travel agents across the country are predicting record business both through traditional stores and online when the ship goes on sale at 1pm. Special events are taking place in high street agencies such as Thomson, Thomas Cook and First Choice all over the UK and Ireland to mark the occasion.

Seamus Conlon, managing director of major online cruise retailer,, said:  ìThe internet buzz around Oasis of the Seas is already higher than we have ever seen before; over 50 per cent of people who have visited this week have been looking at the new images and wonders of Oasis of the Seas. We now have over 50 images of the ship that are hugely popular with browsers. The good news for our industry is that this is also expected to apply to bookings. Our prediction is that cruises onboard Oasis of the Seas will be the fastest selling, and at the strongest prices, ever experienced by our business.î

The shipís owner, Royal Caribbean International, is expecting interest from UK consumers on 3 September to be 50 per cent higher than its previous busiest-ever sales day. Additional reservations staff have been brought in to cope with the anticipated call volume, while senior managers are also being drafted in to take booking enquiries.

Royal Caribbean International has yet to unveil the full range of facilities onboard Oasis of the Seas. However, some of the key attractions already announced include an outdoor park area, Central Park , which spans a space longer than a football field and is open to the elements with surrounding balcony accommodation. The ship will be made up of seven distinct neighbourhoods, with attractions including a Boardwalk family entertainment area featuring fairground-style attractions such as a carousel, an outdoor water amphitheatre, a sports deck stretching the entire length of the ship,  and a two-level shopping street.

Viking Line records healthy passenger and car volume increases June-August
During the summer months of June ñ August, a total of 2,038,051 passengers or 291,722 more passengers travelled on Viking Line than during the summer of 2007, the company says. The increase compared to the year-earlier period was 16.7% for passenger figures and 18.5% for cars, of which were carried 215,195. ”The largest increases occurred between Finland and Estonia on the new high-speed ferry M/S Viking XPRS and on the route between Mariehamn (≈land Islands, Finland) and Kapellskär (Sweden), where the M/S Rosella replaced the M/S ≈landsfärjan in May 2008.

Placing the newly built Viking XPRS on the Helsinki (Finland)ñ Tallinn (Estonia) route strengthened Viking Line both in terms of quality and capacity. During the three summer months, 475,947 passengers chose to travel on the Viking XPRS. The corresponding year-earlier figure on the same route for the Rosella was 294,990. In other words, there was an increase of more than 180,000 passengers or 61.3%

The Viking XPRS transported an average of 5,173 passengers daily. The number of cars rose by 74.1%. îIt has been a busy period on board the Viking XPRS this summer. What we are especially pleased about is the response we have received from our customers concerning the good, friendly service on board the vessel. That inspires us,î says Product Mette Lindroth in Helsinki.

Color Line sells Prinsesse Ragnhild to Celebration Cruises for Ä23 million
Color Line, the Norwegian ferry operator,  has sold the 1981 built 35,438 gross ton cruise ferry Prinsesse Ragnhild to Celebration Cruises in the US for Ä23 milion.

The German built ship that was lengthened from 172 metrs to 205 metres and upgraded in 1992 in Spain. It can accommodate 1,875 passengers and has a lane metre capacity of 900.

It fetched significantly less than the mid-1980s built Color Festival and Kronprins Harald the company sold previously, in both cases for more than Ä40 million.  However, Prinsesse Ragnhild has reportedly suffered from engine trouble, including a minor engine room fire in July 1999.

The sale completes Color Line's disposal programme of old vessels that comprised five vessels and raised  Ä156.6 million since 2007. It has introduced four newbuildings since December 2004 at a cost of more than  Ä1 billion.
P&O Cruises replaces Oriana's 2010 world voyage with two month-long Caribbean itineraries
In a break with tradition, P&O Cruises is offering two new Caribbean Connoisseur sailings in early 2010, each of five weeks, instead of the traditional world voyage, on the 69,000 gross ton Oriana.

”The itineraries both depart from and return to Southampton, meaning British holidaymakers can sail to, from and around the Caribbean without having to fly ñ or endure any of the stresses associated with airports and flying,” P&O Cruises said.

Departing on 8 January 2010, the first new itinerary spends 36 nights visiting popular Caribbean islands and Central American ports of call such as St. Lucia, Barbados, Limon, Santo Tomas de Castilla and Montego Bay. It includes a partial transit through the Panama Canal and costs from £2,499 per person.

The second newly added voyage sails on 13 February 2010 and visits 13 ports in the Caribbean and USA in 35 nights, with prices starting from £2,399 per person. Destinations on the itinerary include St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, New Orleans, Tampa and Princess Cays.

P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ìThese new holidays will offer UK holidaymakers a more leisurely and relaxing way to escape the British winter and visit warmer climes. They will appeal to people who want a comprehensive exploration of the Caribbean, without having to set foot on an aeroplane, and to those who canít be away for such a long period of time as a world voyage.î

Aker Yards' shareholders elect new board and rename company STX Europe
An extraordinary shareholders' meeting Aker Yards on 3 September elected a new board and agreed to change the name of the company to STX Europe.

The meeting re-elected Su-Jou Kim who became chairman, Mimi Berdal and FranÁoise Gri were also re-elected as members and Kwang-Gi Lo as new member.

It also approved the boardís proposal to rename the company STX Europe.
Korean COO for Aker Yards
Sang-Ho Shin has been appointed chief operating officer of Aker Yards that is about to be renamed STX Europe. He comes from a position as vice president of STX Shipbuilding in Korea, where he has been chief for the Jinhae shipyard. Sang-Ho Shin has held several senior management positions within the STX group since 1980, and has a university education within industrial strategy and mechanical engineering. In Aker Yards, Mr. Shin will focus on production efficiency, procurement, logistics, knowledge transfer, technology & innovation. ”We are very pleased that we get Sang-Ho Shin as COO for Aker Yards. The recruitment strengthens the corporate management and the support of the business operations” says Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit, CEO of Aker Yards.

Holland America to revamp bars on five ships
Centrally located bars and lounges aboard five Holland America Line ships are being upgraded and reconfigured to bring a new concept to the shipboard bar scene, the company says.  The highlight is a large, new space located in the heart of the ship, called Mix, that incorporates three specialty theme bars - Martinis, Champagne, and Spirits & Ales. These enhancements are part of a new $200-million Signature of Excellence upgrade to ms Statendam, ms Maasdam, ms Ryndam, ms Veendam and ms Rotterdam.

”A focus of this latest Signature of Excellence series of enhancements is our entertainment venues, where we've created the ultimate place to both socialize and be entertained,” said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs.  ”Our guests are looking for an upscale, trendy spot where they can gather together and be part of this exciting new ambiance.”

A new entertainment space called Mix is set to become the destination lounge where guests can meet and mingle throughout the day and night.  Mix is an open and inviting space anchored by a pianist providing entertainment for three distinctly themed areas.

The bubbly will flow at Champagne, which offers a variety of 20 different champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world. The centerpiece of this bar is a cool, ice-filled counter top chilling champagne bottles that invites guests to indulge by the glass or by the bottle served in traditional silver buckets.  This venue will offer events such as late champagne breakfast, pre-lunch Mimosa and Bellini hour, champagne tea time and pre-dinner champagne hour with caviar canapÈs.  Champagne will be the ship's premier celebration venue.

Martinis serves up 25 Grey Goose martinis elegantly offered in individual shakers as well as a full range of cocktails.  Guests can also enjoy a martini flight made up of several mini martini concoctions. The martini flight includes Holland America Line's signature martini, the Yellow Tulip, a mixture of Grey Goose vodka, lychee juice, pineapple juice, guava juice, coconut cream and fresh lime juice. Other martinis included in the flight are the Peartini, Cosmopolitan, Sunshine Martini, Rum Sundae and High Tide Martini.  A house specialty will be a signature Martini for Two with aged Cognac served with a dish of caviar and traditional garnishes.

Spirits & Ales will feature an international selection of beers and premium whiskeys and brandies sure to entice even the most selective connoisseur. Here guests can drop by to enjoy a wide selection of beers on tap while watching sporting events or relax after some shopping in the nearby boutiques.

The Ocean Bar will be enhanced to refresh its look.  Guests wanting to learn new moves or brush up on their ballroom dancing skills can sign up for lessons given by the Line's experienced staff.  Providing tunes from the Great American Songbook, The Neptunes - Holland America Line's resident three-piece music combo - will keep things lively as guests dance the night away and enjoy a cocktail in the luxuriously appointed lounge.

This $200 million phase in the Signature of Excellence commitment brings the latest innovations at sea to Holland America Line's Statendam, Maasdam, Ryndam, Veendam and Rotterdam.  The first of the extensive dry dock periods begins with the Veendam in spring 2009 and the last will be completed on the Maasdam in late 2010.  While in dry dock, ships will expand the aft deck to create a new resort pool concept, The Retreat. Enhancements will be made to all existing staterooms and additional staterooms will be added to the ships.  The ships also will introduce 46 innovative lanai staterooms with direct access to the Lower Promenade Deck. New spa staterooms near the Greenhouse Spa and Salon will offer special in-room spa amenities.  Overall, Holland America Line has committed $525 million to its Signature of Excellence program that redefines premium cruising, the company said.

MSC Cruises name  fifth and sixth Musica class ships MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa
MSC Cruises has named the fifth and sixth unit of its Musica class ships  MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa respectively. The new ships are due for delivery in 2011 and 2012 respectively. They will be the fifth and sixth sister ships in the Musica class, with 93,000 tons of gross tonnage, 1,275 cabins and a maximum occupancy of 3,013 passengers each. 

Speaking at the press conference, Mr Vago stated: ìI can say with pride that MSC Cruises has the most modern fleet in the world. The arrival of MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa carries us forward to 2012, when we will be able to accommodate more than 1.4 million guests on board.”

The arrival of MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa will bring the MSC Cruises fleet to a total of 14 ships, completing the companyís development plan and achieving a number of records.

Holland America names 2010 Signature-class ship Nieuw Amsterdam
Holland America Line will name its latest Signature Class ship and the 15th in its fleet, ms Nieuw Amsterdam. To be delivered in 2010, the 86,000-ton Nieuw Amsterdam will be built at Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard and its interior design and art collection will reflect the glamour and history of New York City, formerly called Nieuw Amsterdam.

”The Signature Class marks Holland America Line's latest series of new-build vessels and with a guest capacity of 2,106 for Nieuw Amsterdam, it reaffirms our commitment to the mid-sized cruise ship market,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO, Holland America Line. ”This name has a rich heritage in our company with this ship being our fourth in 135 years. We are proud to extend this illustrious ship name to our current fleet.”
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines appoints Malcolm Cullen as hotel operations director
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, which operates five ships from headquarters in Ipswich in the UK, has announced the appointment of Malcolm Cullen as Director of Hotel Operations.

”Malcolm brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having many yearsí experience working with cruise lines. He originally qualified as a chef, graduating form Ealing College in 1984 and started his sea-going career in 1986 aboard Pacific Princess. He has worked for Princess Cruises, P&O and Fred. Olsen as a Bar Manager, Food and Beverage Manager and Hotel Manager,” the company said in a statement.

In 2002 he left the seafaring life and bought a hotel which he renovated, but land-based life quickly lost its charm and Malcolm returned to the sea, serving about Fred. Olsenís Black Watch in 2007.  In October 2007, he joined the Hotel Operations Team in the Ipswich office.

Managing Director Mike Rodwell said: ìWe are delighted that Malcolm is now heading up our hotel operations team, as his many years of hands-on service on board ship, followed by a stint in the office prove his all-round experience of this very important sector of our cruise operations. ì

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. gets a new board member
The board of directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has elected shipping industry veteran Morten Arntzen as its
newest member. Arntzen replaces retiring board member Arvid Grudekjoen, and will serve on the board's Environment, Safety and Security Committee.

Arntzen has been involved in the global shipping industry since 1979, and was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. (NYSE: OSG) in January 2004. That company is a market leader in global energy transportation services and owns and operates an international and U.S. flagged fleet of 157 vessels (120
operating vessels and 37 under construction) that transport crude oil, petroleum products, liquid natural gas and dry bulk commodities throughout the world.
Viking Line's interim profit falls but market share exceeds 50%
Viking Line, the Finnish cruise ferry company, experiennced a fall in net profit in nine months to 31 July despite a significant increase in passenger volumes and higher yields as the cost of bunkers continued to hurt the bottom line.

Net profit fell to Ä14.3 million from Ä16.8 million in the same period last year. The number of passengers carried rose by 8% to 4.62 million. The company now has a combined 50.3% market share on the routes that it operates, an increase of one percentage point from the same period last year.

The board repeated its earlier view that Viking Lineís result for the full financial year would decrease from a net profit of Ä13.8 million in 2006/06 as a result of high cost of bunkers that have a significant adverse effect on the companyís performance.

Regent Seven Seas to spend $40 million for refits of its three ships
Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced that it will invest approximately $40 million dollars to implement an extensive refurbishment and enhancement of the line's all-suite vessels: Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, and Seven Seas Navigator. This investment is in addition to the $20 million that was spent on the fleet over the past two years as the line re-branded under the Regent moniker.

”We are not only refurbishing the ships, we are adding many new luxury features that will enhance the guest experience,” said Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. ”This comprehensive enhancement program will see each of the ships emerge essentially brand new and positions our fleet as the standard-bearer in the luxury cruise category,” he added.

The refurbishments will commence in December 2008 with the dry-dock of Seven Seas Voyager, followed by Seven Seas Mariner in January 2009, and Seven Seas Navigator in the first half of 2010, and result in a new look that is fresh, elegant and luxurious yet retains the familial warmth and charm for which Regent Seven Seas Cruises is lauded.

In addition to the scheduled technical work, almost every area of the ships will be refurbished, with public rooms being substantially re-designed with new furniture, using sumptuous materials like imported leathers, suede, and mahogany, along with warm color schemes and rich fabrics offset by lustrous marble and granite accents. The renowned marine architectural firm of Yran and Storbraaten of Oslo, Norway, is overseeing the design work along with Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Vessel Operations team. Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Mariner will be refurbished at the Grand Bahama shipyard in Freeport, Bahamas. Final details and the location of Seven Seas Navigator's 2010 dry dock will be announced at a later date.

MSC Cruises extends call centre opening hours in UK and Ireland
Showing its continued support to the travel trade, MSC Cruises UK and Ireland office is extending its call centre opening hours to meet increased customer demand for bookings and information. From 20 September, the call centre will be open for an additional hour on Monday to Friday to 6.30pm, and, in a first, will also open on Sunday. This means the trade can reach MSC Cruises seven days a week.

Giulio Libutti, Managing Director of MSC Cruises UK and Ireland, said: ìMSC Cruises is dedicated to supporting travel agents and to working alongside them as closely as possible. By extending our hours during the week and opening on Sunday for the first time, we are meeting the needs of agents and acknowledging their demands in this ever-changing booking market.î

The new opening hours will be as follows: Monday to Friday 9am to 6.30pm, Saturday 9am to 5.30pm
and Sunday 10am to 4pm.

Next Oasis reveal: Entertainment neighborhood
The curtain has been raised on another neighborhood aboard Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Internationals newest and highly anticipated ship set to launch in November 2009. Entertainment Place, a complex of diverse entertainment venues, is one of seven neighborhoods on the worlds largest and most revolutionary cruise ship  a unique concept providing vacationers with the opportunity to seek out relevant experiences based on their personal style, preference or mood. Previously announced neighborhoods include, Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, and the Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center.

Details of Entertainment Place and other entertainment offerings onboard Oasis of the Seas were unveiled last night at the CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. National Conference held on a cruise to Alaska this week. A contemporary night club district, Entertainment Place will introduce new signature after-dark spaces in more intimate venues that offer a variety of entertainment experiences. The new collection of venues will include Blaze, the hottest nightclub at sea; Jazz on 4, an intimate lounge filled with live jazz and blues; and Comedy Live, featuring side-splitting comedy. Dance enthusiasts also will be able to enjoy an elegant evening in Dazzles, a dance lounge featuring musically themed evenings, dance lessons and competitions. A video showing a preview of Entertainment Place with interviews from Royal Caribbeans executives can be viewed on

We are extremely proud that our partners were the very first to get a glimpse of the exciting new entertainment complex on Oasis of the Seas, said Brad Tolkin, Co-CEO of World Travel Holdings. This reveal underscores the relationship between Royal Caribbean and our World Travel Holdings, CruiseOne and Cruises, Inc. family - one we look forward to continuing to grow into the future.

Whether guests are looking for a mellow low-key evening or an exhilarating high-energy night on the town, Entertainment Place will have an experience to suit any mood. Those in need of a good belly laugh will be drawn to Comedy Live, the comedy club where headline acts will interact with the audience and provide engaging and customized performances each evening. The festive space with dÈcor inspired by a New York subway station, features an underground theme with bright casual furnishings, glazed tiling and a ceiling map of the subway system.

Inspired by prohibition-era Chicago, Jazz on 4, with its warm tones of rich walnut paneling, plush sofas and chairs and velvety drapes accented with hand-stitched Swarovski crystals, will provide an intimate experience as guests enjoy soulful rhythms. Blaze, with its dramatic entrance of doors burning with hot flames and a charred threshold, delivers the quintessential nightclub experience where guests can dance the night away to pulsating music in a hip and trendy atmosphere.

Oasis of the Seas also will offer guests some of the most captivating theatrical productions ever created by the cruise lines award-winning Royal Caribbean Productions team. The Opal Theater, Oasis of the Seas state-of-the-art 1,380-seat main theater, will feature a thrust stage and proscenium extending into the audience space to create a more intimate and interactive environment. Entertainers will make their entrances from unexpected locations around the venue and perform aerial acrobatics enveloping audience members in an experience which unfolds around and above them. The popular Studio B with its ice skating rink will continue to awe guests with spectacular and vibrant ice shows and serve as the locale for a variety of themed events.

The late-night energy of Entertainment Place will center around Casino Royale, the largest and most sophisticated casino at sea. Guests will enter through two themed walkway entrances - the first showcasing the 40-year legacy of Royal Caribbean International and the second, the Museum of Gaming, which immerses guests in the history of gaming. The elegant and stylish casino, reminiscent of the classic casinos found on the French Riviera, features dramatic sculptured architecture, sparkling crystal chandeliers and dÈcor in jewel-toned hues of amethyst, aquamarine and ruby. Casino Royale will feature 450 slot machines; extensive table games including Blackjack, roulette, craps, and Caribbean Stud Poker; and a bar and lounge area from which to take in the casino action. Other amenities include a poker room and players club.

Sure to be popular with guests, Dazzles is a spectacular venue - spanning two decks - with an expansive floor-to-ceiling window offering breathtaking views of the Boardwalk below. The new dance lounge will offer a variety of musical experiences ranging from 1940s big band to disco to ballroom evenings. In the evenings, the elegant space is theatrically illuminated with dazzling constellations of small twinkling lights reflecting off glass and mirrored surfaces above and below. During the day, Dazzles will be open for guests to enjoy the view of the bustling activity on the Boardwalk over a drink or to learn a new dance move with a professional dance instructor.

A multitude of entertainment experiences will be found in all of the seven neighborhoods on Oasis of the Seas whereguests will be engaged throughout their cruise vacation. From musical and theatrical street performances in the tranquil gardens of Central Park or on the festive Boardwalk, to daring aerial acrobatic performances in the Royal Promenade, which will introduce a new dimension to Royal Caribbeans signature street parades. AquaTheater will deliver a complete sensory experience playing on the element of surprise as audience members witness the venue come alive with heart-pounding aerial and aquatic acrobatics, as well as elaborate fountain shows synchronized to music and lights.

The On Air Club, located in the Royal Promenade, will radiate energy day and night with television monitors featuring news, sporting events and music. In addition, guests can put on a performance of their own on stage singing karaoke or create their own music video in a private video booth. Also in Royal Promenade, are other popular Royal Caribbean venues, Boleros Latin club and the Schooner Bar, featuring sing-along entertainment. Club 20, a high-energy late night dance club experience under the stars, will transform the adults-only Solarium into an evening hot spot.
Carnival's Galveston-based ships to operate from Port of Houston
As a result of the closure of the Port of Galveston due to damage from Hurricane Ike, Carnival Cruise Lines' two Galveston-based ships, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, are scheduled to operate their regular cruise programs from the Port of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal effective with this weekend's departures. The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will resume its 4- and 5-night Mexico schedule from the Port of Houston starting with a 5-night cruise departing Saturday, Sept. 20. Beginning with the departure of Sunday, Sept. 21, the 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest will depart Houston on 7-night cruises to the western Caribbean.

Both vessels are currently docked in New Orleans where they were deployed following the closure of the Port of Galveston. Carnival Conquest will arrive at the Port of Houston on Thursday, Sept. 18, and Carnival Ecstasy on Friday, Sept. 19, to disembark those guests who opted to remain aboard the vessels following their previous voyages.
”We are pleased to continue our Texas operations from the Port of Houston, which will be a convenient option for guests who have already made travel arrangements for previously scheduled Galveston departures,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival President and CEO. ”We are especially grateful to the Port of Houston for their responsiveness. Many of their personnel involved in making this happen were dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ike but set that aside to work with us on very short notice to assure that these vessels would continue to have a Texas homeport and with minimal disruption to our guests,” he added.

Cahill indicated that the company plans to return to Galveston as soon as the necessary repairs to the port facilities are completed. ”The Port of Galveston has been a valued and important partner since we launched year-round cruising from there in 2000. We look forward to bringing both the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy back to the city as quickly as we can. We have enjoyed an outstanding relationship with Galveston over the years and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of this wonderful city during this difficult time,” he said.

The Port of Houston's newly opened Bayport Terminal is an $81 million state-of-the-art facility with 96,000 square feet of space. It is conveniently accessed from both of the city's airports, and a variety of fine restaurants and shops are located nearby. The Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy will be the first cruise ships to utilize the new facility.
Assonave warns of rising costs and changing business structure in shipbuilding
Rising costs and changing business environment following the takeover of Aker Yards by STX, the South Korean shipbuilder, raise concerns for shipbuilders in Europe, was the message from Assonave, the association of ship builders, repairers and suppliers in Italy that met in Rome under the chairmanship of Corrado Antonini and in the presence of Roberto Castelli, Under Secretary of the Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

The slowdown in merchant shipsí demand, and, on the other hand, the positive forecasts in the passenger ship market (regarding cruise ships but also ferries, in view of the development of the Highways of the Sea) are the main reasons behind the recent take-over of Aker Yards Group by Korean STX, Antonini said in a statement. 

ìSuch an operation, allowed by Brussels after an evaluation of a solely technical-juridical nature, threatens to modify the whole business structure, first of all with the transfer outside Europe of the know-how developed within such a high-qualified market niche,î he said. 

Conversely, it must be underlined that the Korean government has shown a totally opposite approach, in a market of global competition, preventing foreign capitals from taking part in the privatization process of the Daewoo shipyard, Antonini continued. 

ìThe increase of production costs, especially supplies, and the unfavourable evolution of the USD/Euro exchange rate have burdened, in our country and in the rest of Europe, commercial activities and penalized the cost-effectiveness of new buildings. Such factors are affecting, to a decidedly lesser extent, also the Far East, where almost all standard merchant vessels and an increasing share of high-tech ships are now  being built,î he stated. 

ìOur competitiveness in the shipbuilding sector cannot be consolidated without a systematic application of adequate incentives to R&D. The financing foreseen by the 2007 Financial Act in favour of innovation should be regularly renewed for its strategic role in supporting the development of the high-tech products of our shipbuilding industry.î

NCL's first F3 could be delayed, media reports say
A significant dispute may have erupted between NCL Corporation (NCL) and Aker Yards France, the shipyard that is building NCL's two 150,000 gross ton F3 ships, media reports say. The dispute, according to the report on Cruise Week and cited on Cruise, could cause major delay in the delivery of the first of two as-yet-unnamed ships. The 4,200-passenger F3 is considered one of the most innovative designs ever with already announced features that include ”new wave” staterooms; nightlife options that mimic Miami's ultra-exclusive South Beach clubs; the first at-sea Ice Bar; and Spice H20, a combo pool deck, dining venue and outdoor theater. And all outside cabins come with balconies. The first F3 ship was slated for delivery in March 2010; the second scheduled to launch that October. The keel laying of the first vessel took place on April 24th, Cruise Critic said.  ”NCL Corporation Ltd., in response to reports that one of its subsidiaries may be involved in a contractual dispute with Aker Yards S.A. of France regarding a shipbuilding contract, will not comment on commercial or legal disputes,” NCL said in a statement according to the same source. ”In the current circumstances, nothing is really surprising. It could have something to do with finance. Anyway, nothing shocks me right now,” an analyst that follows Aker Yards, told Cruise Business Online.
Financing F3 unlikely reason behind rumoured dispute between NCL and Aker Yards
Financing is unlikely to be the reason behind rumoured dispute between NCL Corporation and Aker yards France regarding first of the two 150,000 gross ton F3 class newbuildings. ”The contracts (for the two F3s) are covered by export guarantee. Any bank would finance a contract that is covered by the export guarantee of that country,” a senior industry source that preferred not to be quoted by name told Cruise Business.

NCL Corporation announced on 7 September 2006  that it has entered into a contract with Aker Yards France to build up to three new cruise ships, totaling 12,600 berths for delivery between 2009 and 2011. The contract price, comprising two firm ships and one option, is Ä2.17 billion. The NCL Corporation later cancelled the option for the third ship.

The ships will be built for the company's Norwegian Cruise Line brand (NCL) and will each be approximately 150,000 gross tons and 4,200 passenger berths. The order is firm for two ships for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2010, and there is an option for a third sister ship for delivery in the first quarter of 2011. The contract price for each of the first two ships is Ä735 million, and for the optional third ship is Ä700 million, the company said two years ago.

Carnival Corp & PLC  third quarter net dips but is better than own forecast
Carnival Corporation & PLC reported a slight fall in net income to $1.3 billion, or $1.65 diluted EPS, on revenues of $4.8 billion for its third quarter ended August 31, 2008. Net income for the third quarter of 2007 was $1.4 billion, or $1.67 diluted EPS, on revenues of $4.3 billion.  

However, Chairman and CEO Micky Arison indicated third quarter results were better than the previous guidance provided in June. This was due primarily to lower than expected cruise costs, including an insurance recovery of $0.02 per share.

ìWe are very pleased with our results for the third quarter which is seasonally our strongest of the year. Despite the uncertain economy, all our major brands globally performed quite well with increased corporate-wide revenue yields. Our North American brands, which had an increase in yields, continued to benefit from strength in Caribbean demand. Our European brands introduced significant new capacity which was well-received in their respective markets,î he said. The companyís European brands benefited from a 24 percent capacity increase, although local currency yields were lower against strong comparisons from the prior year. 

Advance bookings lag behind last year but prices are higher at Carnival Corp & PLC
Advance bookings are slightly below the levels compared with the same period last year, but ticket prices are higher, Carnival Corp & PLC said in a statement.

Looking forward Chairman and CEO Micky Arison noted, ìWhile occupancy levels at this time are slightly behind the historically high levels of last year, they remain well ahead of 2006.  Although bookings have slowed compared to the strong booking levels of a year ago, pricing is holding up well given the current difficult economic environment. This is a testament to the strength of our global cruise brands which are the most recognized in the world. The value of brand recognition and the consumer confidence they inspire is an important asset for us in uncertain economic times.î 

The group operates 88 ships totaling more than 167,000 lower berths with 18 new ships scheduled to be delivered between October 2008 and June 2012. Carnival Corporation & plc also operates Holland America Tours and Princess Tours, the leading tour companies in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon

Carnival Corp & PLC forecasts slight drop in final quarter profit
Carnival Corp & PLC fourth quarter fuel expense is still expected to increase by $135 million compared to 2007, which reduces earnings by $0.17 per share. As a result, the company expects earnings for the fourth quarter of 2008 to be in the range of $0.36 to $0.38 per share, down from $0.44 per share in 2007.During the fourth quarter, the company will add one new ship to its fleet, Princess Cruisesí 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess, which will offer seven-day Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.
Aker Yards rumoured to offer NCL's F3 for sale
The future of NCL Corporation's (NCL) 150,000 gross ton F3 innovative new-build due out in early 2010, seems to be hanging in the balance, Cruise reports.

Just two days after reports surfaced suggesting significant contractual disputes between NCL and Aker France, the yard responsible for F3's construction, talks seem to have broken down further. Seatrade Insider, an industry publication, is reporting that Aker is actually shopping the project.

According to the report, Carnival Corp & PLC  and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd  and MSC Cruises, have all been contacted.  The NCL-Aker fallout is said to stem from disagreements over the cost of altering certain specs on the vessel, which has been under construction for months (keel was laid back in April).

The chance of another line picking up the project seems highly unlikely, given the unusual nature of the F3 design -- structurally unique curved wave cabins, no main dining room, no main theater -- which represents a dramatic shift away from more traditionally designed ships. Seatrade's source notes that if another line agreed to take on the project, a lot of changes would need to be made.

Aker Yards won an order for two similar vessels from NCL in September 2006. NCL later decided not take up an option for the third ship.

Russia considers extending visa exemption to include up to three day stay in country
The Russian government is reported to be considering to extend exemption from visa requirement to include passengers that arrive by sea or river going vessels and who stay in the country less than 72 hours, Finnish media reports say.

At the moment, passengers who arrive to the country on cruise liners do not require individual visas. The new rule would include a number of ports of arrival that will be decided later, the reports say, adding that St Petersburg is expected to be high on the list.

The change would benefit cruise ferry operators, whose passengers could spend a few nights at hotels in Russia and sail back without obtaining a visa. At the moment, a ferry service operate e.g. from Helsinki to st Petersburg. However, in the past there have also been services linking the Russian second city with e.g. Stockholm, Tallinn and Rostock.
Second royal farewell visitor to QE2 while Queen Mary 2 starts 100th crossing
Cunard Line's 1969 built Queen Elizabeth 2 will receive a second royal visitor on a farwell call on board, while the line's Queen Mary 2 has started its 100th crossing of the Atlantic.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will make a farewell visit to Queen Elizabeth 2 in her homeport of Southampton on Tuesday 11 November 2008 ñ the shipís last day in the UK before leaving on her Final Voyage at 1915 hours. The ship will depart for Dubai where she will become a first class hotel and entertainment centre. 

Previuously, Her Majesty The Queen visited the ship in Southampton on 2 June. She lanched Queen Elizabeth 2 at Clydebank in Scotland on 20 September 1969.

Since then the ship has travelled almost 5.9 million nautical miles, more than any ship ever; has carried 2.5 million guests; has completed 25 World Cruises; and has crossed the Atlantic 804 times, Cunard said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Queen Mary 2 sailed on its 100th Atlantic crossing from Southampton on 21 September. The ship has carried 229,000 passengers on the Norh Atlantic since entering service in January 2004.

Aker Yards confirms dispute with NCL over cost of first F3
Aker Yards France is in a dispute with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) over the costs of the construction of the first of two 150,000 gross ton F3 class cruise vessels. ”Aker Yards France is in a process to find solutions to the dispute, including a dialogue with NCL and its involved subsidiaries with the objective of establishing an agreement,” the company said.  ”The dispute relates to the ongoing construction of the vessel currently named C33. This is the first of two vessels ordered by NCL in 2006, with a total value for both ships of EUR 1,470 million. The vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2010. The dispute is not related to the second of the two ships, named Hull D33. While the process to  find a solution is  ongoing, Aker Yards  France aims at continuing  the ongoing  work on the  C33  vessel, which  is approximately 25 percent complete.” Jacques Hardelay, President of  Aker Yards France  said in a  comment ”In projects  with this  magnitude  of complexity,  we have  in  this industry several examples that  discussions arise during the  project execution. We regret that we have  a situation with a dispute.  While we are in  the middle of  this process,  it would not  be correct  to speculate on the outcome, or on possible alternatives. Our focus  is to find a  solution, including continuing  the planned activities  at our yard in Saint Nazaire.”
Celebrity axes 2009-10 Australia-New Zealand itineraries of two ships
Celebrity Cruises will axe planned Australia-New Zealand itineraties of  Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Mercury in late 2009 and early 2010. INstead, the ships will sail from  Baltimore, Maryland, and Charleston, South Carolina, along withSan Juan, Puerto Rico. ”Australia and New Zealand are charming and beautiful destinations, and we're confident we'll return again as our brand and fleet grows,” said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. ”Currently, though, our travel  agent partners and guests have repeatedly said they want more options to sail with Celebrity from the Eastern seaboard, where our brand was  founded, and still has a very large and loyal base of cruisers. So, we're pleased to present some very attractive new cruise vacations from that region.”
Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White opens two more venues on P&O Cruises' ships
Marco Pierre White, the celebrity British chef whose first sea going restaurant opened on P&O Cruises' new ship Ventura in April, has opened a further two new restaurants, on Aurora and Oceana  of the same company respectively. 

Oceanaís CafÈ Jardinís galley and restaurant was upgraded during a recent refit and served the first Marco Pierre White dishes last weekend on a two-night cruise whilst Auroraís CafÈ Bordeaux opens its doors this weekend or passengers to sample the new menus.

Both menus will serve classic Mediterranean dishes which have been given the Marco treatment especially for passengers on board.  Dishes on the current menus include quailís eggs Hollandaise, Marcoís confit de Canard and pannacotta with poached pears.

Marco Pierre White said: ìI enjoyed working with P&O Cruises so much, creating the White Room and Frankieís Bar & Grill for Ventura, that I leapt at the chance when invited to expand the Marco Pierre White experience to Aurora and Oceana. The two new restaurants on Aurora and Oceana will offer passengers completely different dining experiences and both will encompass the best possible ingredients cooked in my unique way.î

P&O Cruises managing director Nigel Esdale said: ìMarco Pierre White is a great talent and his menus add a unique twist to our passengersí dining experience. The addition of ëBritishí icons like Marco Pierre White and Tate Modern on board is an important element adding to the passenger experience.î

Residential Cruise Line receives patent for its Magellan design
Residential Cruise Line Ltd. has received a United States Design Patent for the Magellan, the worldís largest residential cruise ship. Patent number US D570, 277 S was issued to President and CEO Randall Jackson on June 3, 2008. According to the
Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the patent protects the shipís design from others making, using, offering for sale or selling the design throughout the United States or importing the design into the United States for 14 years from the date of the grant of the patent.<BR<

The original design patent was requested in August of 2006. Randall Jackson worked in conjunction with the internationally acclaimed Norwegian firm of Peter Yarn and Bjorn Storbraaten Architects AS, to design a residential cruise ship with exclusive features and amenities never before been seen on a residential cruise ship of this magnitude.
Sign of times as NCL offers 3-nights Bahamas cruises starting at $99
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) that has been discounting quite heavily for some time is now offering three night Bahamas cruises from $99 per peson in an inside cabin. An oceaview cabin costs $119 per person, a balcony one $199 and a suite retails at $949.

The 77,000 gross ton Norwegian Sky, which was known until recently as Pride of Aloha of sister brand NCL America,  operates the programme and it is the most modern ship to offer three and four night itineraries from Miami and it also has the highest number of balcony cabins that any of the ships have.

Meanwhile, on the UK market NCL offers upgrades of up to seven cabin categories for new bookings on certain itineraries.
Fire hits Oasis of the Seas, 1,500 workers evacuated
A fire broke out on board Oasis of the Seas, the first in a series of two 225,000 gross ton cruise liners Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has on order at Aker Yards Finland.

Some 1,500 workers that were on board the ship at the time the fire started at about midday on Thursday were evacuated. Insulation material on deck 9 caught fire in connection wityh welding work and the yard's own fire fighters were able to put it out before it could cause extensive damage, the Kauppalehti business daily reports on its website.

Although the were no casualties, the fire caused a lot of smoke, which spread from deck 9 to various decks higher up on the ship, the report said.

Germany's largest cruise ship to leave Papenburg on Sunday
Next Sunday the biggest cruise ship ever built in Germany so far, the Celebrity Solstice (122,000 gt), will leave Meyer Werft for the North Sea. Watch this place, as Cruise Business Online will be onboard the Solstice this Weekend. Alternatively, you can also visit at Cruise Critic.
TUI Cruises to offer gourmet and wellness packages
TUI Cruises, the new German venture between Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) and the shipping to tourism grioup TUI, will offer a range of wellness packages and a gourmet package on its first and as yet unnamed ship that will enter serrvice next spring.

The Feinschmecker gourmet package comprises lunch at the Blaue welt Bar with Japanese menu, including skae. In the afternoon follows wine tasting in the ship's wine bar with light snacks. In the evening, dinnerat at the Jakob's gourmet restaurant completes the offering.

The ship will offer a steakhouse, sushi bar, tapas bar, seafood restaurant plus an Italian style bistro in addition to the main dining room, poolside barbecue and lido buffet

On the wellness front, the company will offer four different spa treatment packages, one of which is geared for men. All can be booked ahead of sailing online.
Fred. Olsen to limit smoking on board to designated outdoor areas
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is to introduce a totally smoke free indoors environment on all five vessels in the fleet beginning early in 2009. Smoking will be banned in all indoor areas, and permitted only on cabin balconies, and on specially designated areas of deck space, the company says.

This new ruling will come into effect initially on three vessels:  Boudicca, Black Prince, and Braemar will become smoke free from their first sailings in 2009 (January 1st, 5th and 8th respectively). Black Watch and Balmoral will follow suit after completion of their 2009 world cruises (13th April and 29th May).

ìA recent very extensive survey amongst our current and past passengers has proved to us without a doubt that this course of action is what most people want and, frankly, expect. Even those passengers who are committed smokers understand the situation and accept that smoking on board will be restricted to balconies and specified deck areasî said Mike Rodwell, managing director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. He continued:  ìWhilst we may have a few negative comments initially, I am confident that many new customers who are non-smokers will be encouraged to cruise with us in the future.î
Celebrity Solstice sets sail for first time
Perhaps the most widely heralded ship to enter the cruise market this year, Celebrity Solstice, departed Meyer Werft shipyard yesterday in Papenburg, Germany, as the largest ship ever built in Germany. In a milestone event known as ”The Conveyance,” the 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice made its way down the River Eems, as tens of thousands of area residents lining the river banks cheered and photographed the historic event.”This is a very momentous occasion for Celebrity Cruises,” said the brand?s President and CEO Dan Hanrahan. ”Celebrity Solstice is the perfect manifestation of what the Celebrity brand is all about: extraordinary service, spectacular dining, and fabulous style and design. And as the first in a series of five Solstice-class ships, it's a vivid example of the growth and momentum of the Celebrity brand, and our commitment to meet our guests' and travel agent partners' demands for morevacation options with Celebrity.”Cruise Business Online was among the first media outlets to see the vessel as nearly as 98% completed. Celebrity Solstice will be a cover feature in our print publication Cruise Business Review's December issue.
Where is NCL's F3 link?
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which has declined to comment its dispute with Aker Yards on F3 newbuildings, has quietly removed a link to sub-page promoting the new class of newbuildings. Instead, there is now a new link to promote New England & Canada cruises.

However, as we tried to access the website directly (, it was still working properly at the time of writing.

On 22 September the shipbuilder said in a statement: ”Aker Yards France is in a process to find solutions to the dispute, including a dialogue with NCL and its involved subsidiaries with the objective of establishing an agreement.”

”The dispute relates to the ongoing construction of the vessel currently named C33. This is the first of two vessels ordered by NCL in 2006, with a total value for both ships of EUR 1,470 million. The vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2010. The dispute is not related to the second of the two ships, named Hull D33. While the process to find a solution is ongoing, Aker Yards France aims at continuing the ongoing work on the C33 vessel, which is approximately 25 percent complete,” Aker Yards France said.

No Dream for Louis Cruises
Star Cruises has today terminated the agreement to sell the 1992-built Norwegian Dream for Louis Cruises and Marzio Shipholding, the Asian company announced for Hong Kong Kong Stock Exchange. Star Cruises originally announced the sale of its two remaining mid-generation ships, Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Majesty for Louis last spring at a price of $218 million and $162 million, respectively.The disposal of Norwegian Dream was not completed on the scheduled completion date, September 29, as a result of Louis' faiolure to accept the delivery of Norwegian Dream according to the contract. The company is now contionuing to review its fleet portfolio in light of the prevailing circumstances and market conditions and may enter into appropriate arrangements including, inter alia, such as acquisition, disposal, deployment and/or charter arrangements to meet the business development and financial requirements of the group from time to time.

Louis plc announced that due to technical issues relating to the vessel, and following legal advice, has proceeded to the rescission of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the purchase of the Norwegian Dream. Louis plc, however, underlines that it has already concluded the purchase of the Norwegian Majesty, which was chartered back to the sellers Star Cruises Ltd until December 1st 2009. Louis plc will continue implementing its fleet renewal program, with the pursuit of alternative solutions.
Technical rather than commercial reasons behind Norwegian Dream sale collapse
Louis PLC, the Cypriot company that had intenended to buy the 1992 built Norwegian Dream from Star Cruises said it had taken the decision due to technical issues relating to the vessel and following legal advice.

ìFinancing (after all we had announced that DVB was financing the purchase) as well as the deployment of the vessel were in place. As stated in our announcement, the decision was taken purely due to technical issues relating to the vessel,î a spokesman for Louis said, declining further comment.

Louis had agreed earlier this year to buy the 50,760 gross ton ship for $218 million.
Copenhagen booms as Baltic overtakes Alaska in popularity as destination
This yearís cruise season was the best ever in Copenhagn, where 306 cruise ships with a total of 580,000 cruise guests on board, making a 15%  increase over the previous year.  This makes Copenhagen the most popular city in the Baltic region for cruises, and the city cements its position as the leading cruise port in Northern Europe, port operator Copenhagen Mamo Port (CMP) said in a statement, adding that the Baltic has overtaken Alsaska in popularity as destination.

ìCopenhagen is a very attractive cruise destination, so this year's record will be beaten already next year. For 2009 Copenhagen holds bookings already for 332 cruise calls and reaches the 650.000 mark in total number of passengers. 160 calls of the total will be so called Turn Around calls, which can today  be accommodated  - Copenhagen being the only port in the area which can operate five Turn Around ships simultaneously.

The Caribbean remains biggest cruise destination market, closely followed by the Mediterranean. But now the Baltic region has grown more popular for cruises than Alaska, and represents the third most popular cruise region in the world. Many Baltic ports and cities benefit from this fact and Copenhagen prospers being the port in the Baltic region where most passengers begin and end their cruises.

On an annual basis, it is estimated that cruise passengers spend some $100 million in  Copenhagen, to which must be added the income from the ships themselves in provisioning, fuelling, fresh water purchases, repairs and harbour fees etc, which amount to a further $80 million.

Katherine Jenkins to perform on Saga Ruby - again
Following a performance on Saga Ruby in June, Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins has been re-booked by Saga, the UKís leading cruise specialist for the over-50ís, to perform an exclusive concert onboard Saga Ruby in Cadiz for the Ancient Egypt and Suez Canal cruise on November 21 this year.

Katherine has performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House and is the recipient of two consecutive Classical BRIT Awards. Her debut album, released when she was just 23, topped the classical charts for eight weeks, making her the fastest-selling female opera singer since Maria Callas.

Katherine made her cruise ship premiere aboard Sagaís recent Celebrated Cities of the Mediterranean cruise, where the passengers enjoyed the chance to speak to the singer after her stunning performance in the ballroom.  On this cruise Katherine will also be signing copies of her new CD, Sacred Arias. Andrew Goodsell, Chief Executive of Saga Group commented: ìKatherine is returning by popular demand for another show, which will provide an excellent accompaniment to the classical landscapes of this cruise.î

The 29-night cruise departs from Southampton on November 18, 2008, and explores southern Italy before travelling to Alexandria and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt followed by the ëlost cityí of Petra in Jordan. From there it takes in the ancient ruins of Leptis Magna, the magnificent Palace of Knossos before finally travelling on the Suez Canal and returning to Southampton via Libya, Malta and Spain on December 17, 2008. Prices for this cruise start at £2831  per person.


It is also possible to book a shorter voyage for 17-nights, disembarking in Port Suez and flying home overnight, or to enjoy an optional three-night hotel stay at the Cairo Marriott Hotel in Cairo and fly home on December 8, 2008.  Prices for this sector start from £2239* per person.


”Heavenly” AIDAluna to be named 4 April 2009 in Palma de Mallorca
The sixth ship of the AIDA fleet will be named  on 4 April 2009 in an event held against the backdrop of the harbour at Palma de Mallorca. ”The inside of the heavenly AIDAluna incorporates a large number of innovations and individual designs. The interior interprets maritime elements in a modern style: classic shades of blue contrast with warm teak and rich orange. Chrome ornaments remind us of the silvery shine of the moon on the sea. Highlights include the giant LED screen, a highly modern laser show system and the worlds largest floating wellness area in Indian style,” the company said in a statement. Among the features on the 69,200 gross ton ship,  the 4D Cinemare movie theatre on Deck 11 films become an unforgettable experience. ”Moving easy chairs, jets for water spray and air movement, as well as the ingenious sound system give the audience the impression of being right at the centre of the movie and being part of the action. The computer-animated films provide fantastic enjoyment for every taste and the entire family.” ”The 2,300 square metre wellness area provides everything to care for your body and mind. The Body & Soul Spa transports its visitors to the world of a gloriously colourful Indian temple. Enchanted by the romantic ambiance, seductive scents and stylish pleasures of the spa, the guest feels like an Indian maharajah. Sensuously rich colours, floral patterns and inlay in the four treatment booths, as well as Indian sculptures and fine fabric on the walls characterise the informally elegant design. A Spa Suite with its own sauna, large heated water-bed, special wellness bath and separate balcony invites couples to appreciate an individual wellness experience with a view of the ocean, while savouring sparkling champagne and canapÈs,” AIDA said. ”The view of the horizon can also be enjoyed by visitors to the sauna, which opens out onto the sea through large panoramic windows. Right next door is the Massage Suite, where guests are cared for by an Indian therapist with Ayurvedic herbal oil. The palm landscape of the Wellness Oasis designed as an Indian jungle is the centre point of the spa area. With its huge Jacuzzi, cosy rest islands and a tingling shower experience, the Oasis, decorated with elephant sculptures, provides for pure relaxation. Special highlight: the roof with the glass patio spanning the Oasis can be opened in fine weather.”
Sea Dream's Pimentel says ”2009 shows a strength that belies the economic headlines”
In spite of the financial meltdown, a global credit crunch and the U.S. election year, SeaDream Yacht Club continues to sell well with affluent consumers and has published an update of 2009's Caribbean winter andEuropean summer itineraries for those travelers who are planning ahead, the company said in a statement.

Commenting on the economic implosion, Larry Pimentel, President,CEO and Co-Owner of SeaDream Yacht Club, stated ”Bookings for 2008 continue to sell briskly at good yields and 2009 shows a strength that belies the economic headlines.”

Turning to itineraries for next year he said ”As in previous years, 2009 will find our small, sleek, 50-couple yachts sailing in the Caribbean in the winter months and European waters in the summer. They will call not only at vibrant port cities (for pre- and post-voyage visits), but at small and exclusive seaside towns and villages where the big passengerships can't go.”

In the Caribbean from January through April of 2009, the two SeaDream mega- yachts will sail in the British Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico's Virgin Islands, French West Indies, Netherlands
Antilles and the Windward and Leeward Islands. Embarkation and debarkation ports include convenient and accessible air gateways---San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua, St. Maarten and Miami on a westbound transatlantic crossing.

In Europe from May through October 2009, SeaDream I and II will sail in the Mediterranean, the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, up into Croatia and even down to Tunisia. Embarkation ports include Barcelona, Seville, Tenerife, Lisbon, Nice, Monte Carlo, Rome, Venice, Athens and Dubrovnik.
New balcony cabins to be added on three Destiny-class ships
Underscoring the tremendous popularity of its balcony staterooms, Carnival Cruise Lines will add balconies to a number of cabins on three ships during upcoming drydocks over the next few months. Staterooms on the Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty that currently feature floor-to-ceiling windows will be retrofitted with private balconies, creating a total of 48 additional 230-square-foot verandah staterooms on these vessels.

Additionally, two new 750-square-foot ”deluxe penthouse suites” - nearly double the size of the largest staterooms in the fleet - will be added to the Carnival Liberty. ”Balcony staterooms continue to be in great demand - in fact, they're often the first cabin category to sell out,” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival's Executive Vice President of Marketing and Guest Experience. ”Therefore, we are pleased to incorporate additional balcony staterooms on Carnival Destiny, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Liberty, which will offer guests their own private, relaxing venue for viewing magnificent ocean vistas and scenery,” he added.
Work underway at Ä29.5 million cruise terminal at Hamburg-Altona
Work has started in the port of Hamburg in Germany to construct a cruise terminal at Altona, further downriver of the existing facilities on the River Elbe. When completed, the work represents an investment of Ä29.5 million.”Preparatory work for the project on the marine side has been going on since August. Before the end of this year a start will be made with the construction of the quay wall, so that the first cruiser will be able to put in to the new berthing space by mid-August 2009,” the port said in a statement. The complex should be finally completed in time for the 2010 cruise season. ”The external design of the terminal building is being carried out in close consultation with the Altona district council. The new cruise terminal at Hamburg is needed, because marine holidays are the most rapidly growing sector of international tourism, and Hamburg is benefiting to an exceptional degree from the cruise boom,” port of Hamburg continued.
Royal Caribbean to switch UK focus to promoting Celebrity
Following a successful drive to grow the business of its contemporary market Royal Caribbean International (RCI) brand in the UK, parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) will now switch its focus to grow the sister brand Celebrity Cruises, according to Robin Shaw, UK managing director of the worldís second largest cruise shipping group.

Describing the premium market Celebrity Cruises as ìthe unsung hero of the cruise industry,î Shaw told Cruise Business that the company is gearing up to grow the footprint of Celebrity in the UK and in Ireland.

RCI introduced the 70,000 gross ton Legend of the Seas on a series of cruises from Southampton in 2005 and thanks to the growth of demand, it was replaced by the 137,000 gross ton Navigator of the Seas two years later. In April, the brand new Independence of the Seas of 158,000 gross tons took over the programme and it will return to the UK next spring

Rostock's most successful season
Sunday 27 September marked the end of this yearís cruise season in Rostock with a visit by the Balmoral of the Fred. Olsen Cruises. ”With 171,500 passengers and 31 different cruise ships from 20 international cruise operators, Rostock topped all other German cruise ports in this yearís cruise season,” comments Ulrich Bauermeister, Managing Director of Hafen-Entwicklungsgesellschaft Rostock.Rostock hosted 116 port calls by cruise ships with a passenger volume of 171,500. A total of 41,500 cruise passengers started and ended their cruises on one of the 22 passenger turnarounds that were carried out at the cruise port ñ 19 by AIDA Cruises with the AIDAbella, and 3 by Transocean Tours with the Astor. This means that a total of 213,000 cruise passengers were cleared at the port this year.”This yearís cruise season was our most successful yet. Cruise passengers and crew members spent at total of Ä8.6 million this year in Warnem¸nde, Rostock and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,” remarks Ulrich Bauermeister. These figures are extrapolated based on the results of a study of the cruise industry carried out by the University of Rostock in 2007.
Disney to sail Northern Europe first time in 2010
In response to guest demand, Disney Cruise Line will reposition one of its ships, Disney Magic, to Europe for an
unprecedented five-month season of Northern European and Mediterranean cruises in 2010. With a wide variety of European itineraries in 2010, families have the ability to explore exotic and unexpected destinations with the safety
and comfort of traveling with Disney Cruise Line, the leader in family cruising.

For the first time, Disney Cruise Line will offer a 12-night Northern European Capitals cruise, where guests can experience breathtaking fjords, historic city centers and Viking lore at enchanting Scandinavian ports such as Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm. The ship will also sail to Warnem¸nde, Germany, gateway to Berlin, and to St. Petersburg, Russia. The Disney Magic will overnight in St. Petersburg, allowing Disney Cruise Line guests time to experience the city known as the
”Cultural Capital of Russia” or use the second day to book a shore excursion to Moscow.

”The Northern European Capitals itinerary provides our guests with an amazing collection of destinations to explore,” said Disney Cruise Line President Tom McAlpin. ”We're excited to bring the rich history, culture and folklore these ports offer to life for our guests in a family-friendly way only Disney Cruise Line can deliver.”

Departing out of Dover, England, the Disney Magic will sail a total of four 12-night cruises to the Northern European capitals in June and July 2010. Rates for the 12-night Northern European Capitals itinerary start at $3,649 per person for a category 11 stateroom. Book-ending the summer season in Northern Europe, the Disney Magic will once again return to the Mediterranean with 10- and 11-night cruises, but with three new ports of call not offered when Disney Cruise Line
last sailed the Mediterranean. In addition to popular ports in Italy, France and Spain, the Disney Magic will visit Tunis, in Northern Africa, the island nation of Malta, and Corsica, an island oasis off the southern coast of France known as the birthplace of Napoleon.

”The response from guests who sailed on our Mediterranean voyages in 2007 was overwhelmingly positive,” said McAlpin. ”We're thrilled to bring the ship back and look to make the 2010 season in the Mediterranean even better, with new destinations and more one-of-a-kind Disney experiences for our guests.”

Royal Caribbean to sell its interest in Island Cruises ñ to redeploy Island Star to Pullmantur
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) has agreed to sell its 50% interest in Island Cruises  to First Choice Holidays Ltd., the other 50% owner in the joint venture and a subsidiary of British-based tour operator TUI Travel PLC (TUI). As part of the transaction, RCL and TUI agreed to an early termination of the charter of Island Star, one of two ships in the Island
Cruises fleet. RCL is the owner of Island Star and had chartered it to Island Cruises.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval in Ireland. RCL will also recognize a small gain on the sale of its interest in Island Cruises and the early termination of the Island Star charter.

”We thank TUI for their efforts and cooperation throughout the life of the joint venture. Island Cruises has been a rewarding investment for us, but over the past year our priorities have shifted,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ”We believe by focusing on developing and expanding the Royal Caribbean
International and Celebrity Cruises brands in the U.K. we will be better able to serve our customers and create value for our shareholders. This belief has been strengthened by the success of the inaugural season of Independence of the Seas, which has served the U.K. market from Southampton, U.K., since it entered service in May 2008,” Fain added.

Upon its return in April 2009, RCL plans to redeploy the Island Star to Pullmantur Cruises, its Spanish brand. ”Redeploying the Island Star to our expanding Pullmantur fleet allows us to better serve the strategically important Spanish market,” said Fain.
Aker Yards France suspends work on second F3 ship of NCL - media report
AKER Yards France has reportedly stopped work on the second of the two 150,000 gross ton F3 cruise ships under construction for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) at its Saint Nazaire yard, the Lloyds List shipping daily reports on its website.

Torbjorn Andersen, svp in charge of investoir relations and media contacts at the Oslo based shipbuilder says the vessel is under construction but declined to comment the matter further.

Lloyds List says the shipbuilder has yet to confirm the information but has sent a letter to sub-contractors ordering them to ìsuspendî work on the ship immediately for a period of at least six weeks so as to avoid ìunnecessary expenseî.  Construction of the second vessel has barely begun, although materials and equipment have been ordered, the paper said.

On 22 September, Aker Yards acknowledged that it is in dispute with NCL over the construction of the first F3 ship.

Helsinki - St Petersburg ferry service closed
A ferry service operated between the Finnish capital Helsinki and St Petersburg in Russia has closed. Stella Naves Russia, the operator that traded as Stella Line, operated the service that only started in July by the 1980 built ferry Julia. It acquired the former Christian IV from Color Line in Norway for EUR 13 million. It can carry 1,860 passengers.
Hurtigruten may lay up two ships
Hurtigruten, the listed Norwegian destinational cruise and coastal express company, may lay up two of its 11 ships unless the government increases funding of the company's services.  A total of 11 ships operate the coastal express service between Bergen on the west coast and Kirkenes in the north.
The two ships, which have not been speficied yet, will be laid up from the beginning of November unless the company and the government that subsidises the service, which is part of national infrastructure, reach an agreement of a higher subsidy. In addition, the company will seek annual savings of NOK150 million in sales and administration to stem a long streak of weak financial results.
Hurtigruten also operates short haul ferries and coach services. Its larger coastal express vessels operate destinational cruises e.g. in the Antarctica and in Greenland. Last year, it introduced the 11,647 gross ton Fram, the first ship designed primarily with the cruise operations in mind.

MSC Cruises introduces new logo to boost brand awareness
MSC Cruises, the rapidly expanding Naples based company,  has launched a new logo, designed to have a strong immediate impact and give more visibility to the company name. Unlike the previous logo, which had a horizontal and vertical edition, there is only one version of the new one, which comes with either a dark blue or white background. More space has been assigned to the acronym ëMSCí to give it a clear identity and promote brand awareness, the company says.

The new logo will be used internationally by MSC Cruises and has been translated from the original Italian into English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatian and Chinese. Further translations may be launched in the future. It has been introduced alongside the companyís latest key message: ëMSC Cruises, the most modern fleet in the worldí.

With the imminent launch of its largest ship to date, MSC Fantasia, in Naples, Italy in December, the line will have a total of ten ships in its fleet. A further two ships, one in the Fantasia class - MSC Splendida, and MSC Magnifica in the Musica class, will be launched next year. Last month, MSC Cruises also announced it has placed orders with Aker Ship Yard in St Nazaire, France, to build two more ships in the Musica class, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa, due for delivery in 2011 and 2012.

Commenting on the new company logo, MSC Cruises CEO, Pierfrancesco Vago said: ìIt has been a very fast process, whereby from an unknown brand we now want not only to differentiate ourselves, but above all to make a point about our unique product, our newest hardware and especially our professionalism. MSC now needs to be a known brand in the consumer world.íí



With the imminent launch of its largest ship to date, MSC Fantasia, in Naples, Italy in December, the cruise line will have a total of ten ships in its fleet. A further two ships, one in the Fantasia class - MSC Splendida, and MSC Magnifica in the Musica class, will be launched next year. Last month, MSC Cruises also announced it has placed orders with Aker Ship Yard in St Nazaire, France, to build two more ships in the Musica class, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa, due for delivery in 2011 and 2012.


Commenting on the new company logo, MSC Cruises CEO, Pierfrancesco Vago said: ìIt has been a very fast process, whereby from an unknown brand we now want not only to differentiate ourselves, but above all to make a point about our unique product, our newest hardware and especially our professionalism. MSC now needs to be a known brand in the consumer world.íí


Carnival to eliminate fuel supplement
Six brands of Carnival Corporation & plc -- Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and The Yachts of Seabourn -- have announced that effective October 31, 2008, the existing fuel supplement will be eliminated for all new bookings on 2010 departures. At that same time, a price increase on 2010 sailings will become effective. Additionally, the company has established specific guidelines under which the current fuel supplement may be reimbursed to consumers for 2008 and 2009 voyages.

For 2008 and 2009 departures, if the price of light sweet crude oil according to the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange Index) is $70 per barrel or less at the 2:30 p.m. close of business as reported by Reuters on each of the 25 consecutive trading days ending five trading days prior to the guest's cruise departure date, the fuel supplement will be refunded in the form of a shipboard credit. Guests who book a 2010 cruise prior to October 31, 2008, will be charged the current fuel supplement but will also be eligible for a refund of the fuel supplement in accordance with the same fuel price conditions that are being implemented for the 2008 and 2009 departures.

Bill Harber, director of marketing for Carnival Corporation & plc, said the company was implementing these initiatives due to the recent trends in declining fuel prices in an effort to migrate away from charging a separate fuel supplement. ”If fuel prices stabilize below $70 a barrel, we will be able to effectively eliminate a separate fuel supplement.” However, he cautioned that there is still a risk that fuel prices could move higher ”which would require us to maintain or reinstate a fuel supplement but the company is hopeful that the goal of eliminating the fuel supplement can be achieved.” Harber added that ”these industry-leading initiatives demonstrate our commitment to our guests and travel agents to make our brands the most attractive cruise vacations available.”

The fuel supplement for five of the six Carnival Corporation & plc brands is currently $9 per person per day for the first and second guest (not to exceed $126 per person per voyage) and $4 per person per day for third, fourth and fifth guests (not to exceed $56 per person per voyage). Seabourn's fuel supplement is $15 per person per day for the first and second guest (not to exceed $210 per person per voyage) and $4 per person per day for third and fourth guests (not to exceed $56 per person per voyage).
Royal Caribbean deploys Brilliance to Dubai in 2010
Royal Caribbean International today announced its entry into Dubai in the United Arab Emirates with the deployment of Brilliance of the Seas in 2010. From January to April 2010, the cruise line will offer its signature style of cruising for active vacationers to an international mix of guests, on 7-night sailings from this increasingly popular destination. Itineraries for the new cruises from Dubai will be announced in the coming weeks.

”Dubai is a dynamic and thriving city that shows great growth potential. Building on our reputation for introducing revolutionary cruise experiences, we are excited to provide a different cruise vacation than traditionally offered in this region,” said Michael Bayley, Senior Vice President, international, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ”Royal Caribbean continues to attract vacationers globally and we are thrilled to offer new and exciting choices for our guests - combining our distinct onboard amenities with compelling itineraries including the Arabian Gulfs most popular destinations.”

During a visit to Dubai this week, Rama Rebbapragada, Regional Vice President, International Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. added, ”We continue to win devotees from throughout the Middle East and are pleased to have exceeded our 2008 sales target for the region, achieving significant growth over last year.”
Martini to head Iberocruceros, Greppi new Corporate Marketing & Communication Department at Costa
Costa Crociere, the Italian unit in the Carnival Corporation & PLC group, has announced two management changes. Mario Martini, currently senior vice president sales & marketing Europe and new markets at Costa, hasa been appointed president of Ibercocruceros, the Spanish cruise line in which Carnival has a 75% stake.

Martiniís task will be to reinforce the executive structure of the new cruise line, so as to support its expansion in Spain, a strategic market with strong growth potential, Costa said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Gianni Onorato, president of Costa, will take over the responsibility for sales initiatives in Europe and new markets. All the country managers will be reporting to him.

Costa Cruisesí current vice president corporate communication Fabrizia Greppi, will be in charge of the new Corporate Marketing & Communication Department. The newly created department will strive to implement a common international communication strategy supporting the brand and the corporation while addressing the specific needs of the target market segments, Costa said
SuperStar Virgo returns to Singapore, SuperStar Aquarius to call at Danang winter 2008/09
Star Cruises, the leading cruise line in Asia-Pacific, has confirmed the winter 2008 ñ 09 season itineraries of its fleet, the SuperStar Virgo, SuperStar Libra and SuperStar Aquarius. Highlights include the return of SuperStar Virgo to Singapore, SuperStar Libraís first ever season alternating cruises from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, plus a new Danang (Vietnam) cruise onboard SuperStar Aquarius, the company says.
Star Princess emerges from drydock with new features
Star Princess set sail last weekend after a three-week drydock that transformed several spaces onboard, including turning the ship's atrium into a vibrant street cafÈ-like piazza, adding the company's signature adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary, and installing a 300-square-foot Movies Under the Stars poolside screen.

These features, which have been enjoyed by passengers on Princess Cruises' newest vessels, have inspired an expansion to other ships in the fleet, and Star Princess is the first to be revitalized with these favorite elements. Star Princess' updated pizza-style atrium will now feature an array of dining and entertainment opportunities including the specialty coffees, freshly baked goods, paninis, salads and tapas of the International CafÈ. It will also introduce an expanded Vines wine bar concept, which will feature more than 30 wines by the glass, a selection of artisan meats and cheeses, plus a wine shop where passengers can purchase their favorite bottle.

On the top deck of the ship, passengers can now relax in the tranquil environment of The Sanctuary, Princess' signature adults-only retreat featuring plush padded lounge chairs and the services of dedicated Serenity Stewards. Along with enjoying refreshing beverages and light snacks, visitors to this exclusive space can also receive a massage in one of two private cabanas.

Princess' trademark Times Square-style Movies Under the Stars poolside screen is now in place and will show a variety of films, concerts and special events daily. And in the evenings it becomes an outdoor theater with specially covered lounge chairs and cozy blankets, where moviegoers can enjoy free popcorn, plus other snacks and beverages. Additional changes made during the drydock include a new Internet CafÈ and library area, enhancements to the onboard boutiques, the addition of LCD flat screen televisions in all staterooms, and a variety of other cosmetic updates.

Star Princess is the first of three ships to receive these updates. Caribbean Princess and Golden Princess will also receive similar transformations in subsequent drydocks, in January and April of 2009, respectively. Caribbean Princess and Golden Princess will also receive additional enhancements including a new Crown Grill steak and seafood restaurant, a new casino area and six additional suites.
Celebrity Solstice to call in Hamburg
The largest cruise ship built in Germany, the Celebrity Solstice, will arrive in the port of Hamburg in the evening of 20 October, where she will undergo final inspection in dock 17 of Blohm + Voss shipyard. The latest newbuilding of Meyer Werft has already completed her technical and nautical sea trials in the North Sea with great success. Prior to delivery to the owner, Celebrity Cruises in Miami, a final docking is scheduled, during which a few technical adjustments on the bow thrusters and stabilizers will be checked.

The Celebrity Solstice (122,000 gross tons) is the largest cruise ship that has been built in Germany to date. She has a length overall of 317,2 m, a breadth of 36.80  m, and can accommodate 2,850 passengers in 1,425 cabins. The ship is likely to stay in Hamburg for three days. Upon her return to the port of Eemshaven in the Netherlands she will be delivered to Celebrity Cruises on 24 October.
Big balcony boost for Carnival Sensation
Carnival Cruise Lines will add balconies to 98 existing staterooms aboard the 2,052-passenger Carnival Sensation during a 35-day scheduled dry dock taking place in January 2009. Ocean view staterooms will be retrofitted with new balconies that will extend from the ship and measure approximately 230 square feet. Twenty-four of the new balcony staterooms will be located mid-ship on both the port and starboard sides and 12 will be located near the stern, while the other 62 will be located within the aft section of the ship, with several of these cabins featuring extended balconies.

Additionally, a number of the Carnival Sensation's suites will be modified to feature larger, extended balconies to create a more spacious area from which to enjoy panoramic sea views. The stateroom modifications are just one aspect of the ship's extensive multi-million-dollar renovation, all part of the line's wide-ranging ”Evolutions of Fun” product enhancement initiative. Carnival Sensation's ”extreme makeover” will also include a previously announced Carnival WaterWorks aqua park, Serenity adults-only area, and a redesigned tropical-themed main pool area.

Additionally, all staterooms will be completely refurbished, as well as virtually all dining, dancing and entertainment venues. Guest corridors will be renovated and a new ”Circle C” facility catering to 12- to 14-year olds will be added, as well. ”These new stateroom modifications represent a significant investment in our product and, when combined with the many other 'Evolutions of Fun' amenities, add exciting new features and choices to an already spectacular 'Fun Ship,'” said Ruben Rodriguez, Carnival's Executive Vice President of Marketing and Guest Experience.
Copenhagen wins Europe's Leading Cruise Port title - for the fifth time in row
Copenhagen has won the title of Europeís Leading Cruise Port for the fifth year in a row. This yearís competitors were Amsterdam, Barcelona, Genova, Istanbul, Las Palmas, Marseille, Oslo, Southampton, Split and Stockholm. Around 170,000 representatives from the global travel industry voted on which destinations, hotels and airlines should win World Travel Awards, which is the travel industryís Oscar.

”We are very happy and proud to win Europeís Leading Port for the fifth time in a row. It is the amazing co-operation between the partners in Cruise Copenhagen Network, among these the airport and the portís effective service, which has created the good result. That the award is given out by the industry itself makes it even better, says Per Schmidt, Chairman at Cruise Copenhagen Network and General Manager at Copenhagen Malmˆ Port.”

The cruise industry has flourished in Copenhagen over the last years. By the end of 2008, Copenhagen will have had a record year with 580,000 cruise-passenger-visits. This is more than a twofold increase of passengers compared to 2003. In total 301 ships will call into port this year, half of which are turnaround ships where passengers begin or end their trip in Copenhagen. The number of turnarounds has increased by 23 percent this year compared to last year. Cruise tourists created an annual turnover of DKK 978 million DKK in Copenhagen in 2007 ñ a figure that is set to rise to DK1.3 billion in 2008. 

”This trend appears to continue despite the current financial crisis. It is positive for both Copenhagen and the Baltic Sea Region that Copenhagen maintains its leading position as the city where passengers begin and end their cruise, says Ole Andersen, sales and marketing director at Wonderful Copenhagen.

RCCL appoints Ian Bailey as VP of Investor Relations
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has named Ian Bailey as its new Vice President of Investor Relations.
He joined the company in 2000 and has been the Vice President of Corporate and Capital Planning for the past 18 months.

Bailey will now serve as the company's principle liaison with analysts, investors and the financial press. He will work closely with the New York and Oslo stock exchanges, and coordinate analyst calls, investor conferences and financial presentations. The appointment is effective immediately. Analysts and investors may reach Ian Bailey at 305-982-2625 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Greg Johnson, who previously served as AVP, Investor Relations has assumed a new role within the company's Corporate and Strategic Planning department.

Fred Olsen to retire Black Prince in October 2009
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has announced it will retire Black Prince in October 2009. The 441 passenger ship, which was built for the company by Flender Werft in Lubeck in 1966, will operate a series of four Farewell Cruises starting on 9th September from Liverpool, and ending on 16th October in Southampton.

When Black Prince entered service for Fred. Olsen Ltd on 19th October, 1966, it was in the role of a joint passenger/freight ferry operating between the UK and the Canary islands in the winter, and the UK and Norway in the summer. The ship was converted to a full-time cruise ship in 1987 and from February that year became a key player in the cruising market in the UK.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines managing director Mike Rodwell said: ìThis is a very sad announcement for the company to make as Black Prince is one of the best loved ships that caters to the UK market, and many passengers have cruised on her so often that even they have lost track of the number of holidays they have taken. We know that there will be thousands of passengers who have sailed on her who will be very sad on that final day.î

Black Princeís Farewell Season will begin on 9th September 2009 with a ten night Around the UK cruise from Liverpool, then a three night mini cruise from Liverpool to Southampton. The season continues with a 10 night Historic Home Ports cruise from Southampton back to Southampton; followed by her final cruise of 14 nights to the Canary Islands. The ship returns to Southampton on Friday 16th October, 2009.

Cruise West returns to Vietnam in 2009
Cruise West, the global leader in small-ship exploration voyages and the largest American-owned cruise line, is
reintroducing its Vietnam itinerary in 2009. Back by popular demand, Cruise West's Vietnam voyage will take place upon the company's flagship and most luxurious vessel, the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus. The itinerary will give travelers the chance to experience Asian destinations such as Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hue while discovering Vietnam's architecture, art, and ancient shrines. Along the way, guests will sample traditional Vietnamese cuisine, enjoy beautiful
dance, martial arts and colorful puppet theater.

The 12-day journey commencing in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City will depart on November 21, 2009, and includes tours along the Gulf of Tonkin - some 1,600 mostly uninhabited islands and islets; Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River; the temples and picturesque fishing boats of Nha Trang and more. Other highlights include the Cham Museum,
a special private performance of traditional martial arts in Qui Nhon and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay.

”Cruse West's Asian itineraries are an important component of our goal to be an international cruise line,” stated Dietmar R. Wertanzl, newly appointed President and CEO of Cruise West. ”The decision to reintroduce our Vietnam itinerary was an obvious one given the interest in the destination our guests continue to express.”
Fincanteri's first half net profit falls to Ä15.1 million on exchange rate and materials cost
Fincantieri, the worldís most important cruise ship builder, saw its first half 2008 net profit to halve to Ä15.1 million from Ä37.0 million in the same period last year.

EBITDA decreased to Ä74.6 million from Ä103,2 million following the negative impacts of the euro/dollar exchange rate, of the exceptional increase of raw materials costs - primarily steel and oil- and of the economical impact of the renewal of the labour contract agreement. As a consequence EBIT, excluding non-recurring income and expenses, decreased to Ä44.6 million from Ä74.4 million.

The group won new orders worth Ä1.43 billion in the period, down from Ä2.67 billion in the first half of 2007, in the wake of the credit crunch. However, the order portfolio increased by Ä1.0 billion from year on to Ä11.6 billion. The Fincantieri board decribed the order reserve as ìrobust and impressive,î but noted that they ìcannot guarantee saturation of all company shipyards in the medium term, considering also the specific products lifecycle requirements.î

Atlantic Alliance launches brochure to promote region
The 16 members of the Atlantic Alliance have created their first manual to promote itineraries along Europeís West Coast.

”The Atlantic Alliance is the cruise lines partner for creating and promoting this unique cruise destination, which stretches from Germany to Portugal giving cruise passengers the chance to explore 7 of Europeís greatest countries. Portugal, Spain, France, England, Belgium, Holland and Germany represent 7 of Europeís top capitals such as Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon through 16 of the most beautiful ports along the Atlantic Coast of Europe in just one cruise,” The Alliance said in a statement.

The members of Atlantic Alliance Project have developed a number of new theme cruises to facilitate the cruise linesí marketing efforts. ”These themes will also inspire the cruise lines to see the region with new eyes as it symbolizes the real European flair and offers cultural highlights and exclusivity beyond conventional luxury.”

The member ports of the Atlantic Alliance are: Hamburg &#8729; Bremerhaven &#8729; IJmuiden &#8729; Amsterdam &#8729; Rotterdam &#8729; Zeeland &#8729; Antwerp &#8729; Dover &#8729; Portland &#8729; Cherbourg &#8729; Nantes &#8729; La Rochelle &#8729; Bordeaux &#8729; Santander &#8729; Vigo &#8729; Lisbon

Seven Arcadia passengers caught for attempt to smuggle drugs to UK
Four people have been charged with attempting to smuggle cocaine with an estimated street value of £1.2m on the P&O liner Arcadia in Southampton, the BBC reports on its website.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators and UK Border Agency officers seized about 30 kilos of cocaine from the cruise ship on Sunday.  Three woman and one man are due before Southampton magistrates later.  Three other people held have been released on bail. All seven are from the Birmingham and Manchester area.

None of those held is a crew member, a statement issued by HMRC said.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines to continue sailings from Liverpool after Black Prince's withdrawal
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will continue to operate cruises from the port of Liverpool in the north wst of England following the withdrawal in October 2009 of Black Prince that is currently based there, a company official says.

”The regional departure programme that has worked so well for us over recent years will definitely continue and although I can't at this stage confirm which ship will take up the Liverpool slot we will certainly continue to operate cruises from there,” Wendy Hooper-Greenhill, spokeswoman for the Ipswich based company, told cruise Business Online.

Black Prince was built in 1966 as a dual purpose ferry-cruise liner and converted to become a full time cruise ship in 1987. At some 11,400 gross tons, it is not one of the largest ships in service, but it has punched above its weight in developing the British cruise market by developing a loyal following.

After the withdrawal of Black Prince, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will operate the 43,500 gros ton Balmoral, the 28,000 gross ton sister ships Black Watch and Boudicca plus the 23,000 gross ton Braemar.
New features to arrive on Ruby Princess
When Ruby Princess launches on November 8, the ship will introduce a host of new shipboard services and special features, underscoring Princess' tradition of continually evolving the onboard experience for its passengers. Among the new options is a pub lunch, an exclusive breakfast for suite passengers, unique enrichment programs from astronomy to mixology, two new stage shows, plus expanded wireless Internet and cell phone connectivity.

The 3,070-passenger vessel will feature the familiar favorites that have become passenger pleasers aboard its sister ships Crown Princess and Emerald Princess but, in addition, other special touches and innovations will be found throughout the service, dining and entertainment areas. ”The new features aboard Ruby Princess are a perfect example of our commitment to provide passengers with the widest array of intriguing options to customize their cruise vacation,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Senior Vice President.

Many of the ship's enhancements are slated to become staples across the Princess fleet following their debut on Princess' newest ship. Among the new features being introduced on Ruby Princess:

Wheelhouse Bar Pub Lunch: On sea days, Ruby Princess' Wheelhouse Bar will be transformed into an authentic English-style pub, serving a selection of traditional fare. A menu of British favorites, including bangers & mash, fish & chips, ploughman's lunch and cottage pie, will complement a selection of traditional pub brews such as Stella Artois, Bass Ale or Guinness. Pub lunch meal service is free of charge and will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Sabatini's Breakfast for Suite Passengers: Suite passengers aboard Ruby Princess will have the opportunity to enjoy an exclusive breakfast in Sabatini's. Beginning with a ”Good Morning Mimosa,” the menu features a variety of breakfast favorites, plus specialty items such as brioche French toast with apple & cinnamon compote, yogurt and super granola parfait with raspberry swirl, soft-poached egg over potato & vegetables with hollandaise sauce, and freshly made Belgian waffles. Suite passengers can enjoy this new amenity, along with the restaurant's dramatic top-of-ship views, from approximately 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Artisan Cheeses at Vines: In addition to serving more than 30 wines by the glass and seafood appetizers that have made Vines a passenger favorite, the atrium-area bar on Ruby Princess will now feature a selection of domestic and imported artisan cheeses. Twelve varieties - including unique choices such as boschetto al tartufo bianchetto, reblochon, and cambozola - will be featured each day for a nominal fee. Vines will also host a series of lively events where passengers can meet members of the ship's staff, and will continue to offer wine flights and parings.

New Enrichment Programs: A number of new ScholarShip@Sea enrichment programs debut aboard Ruby Princess to expand passengers' horizons, whether they aspire to host the perfect party or increase their maritime knowledge. The Art of Entertaining offers passengers the opportunity to learn party-planning tips from lifestyle expert Susie Coelho via a multimedia presentation hosted by the cruise director. Navigation@Sea focuses on the history of navigation as well as the complexities of plotting the route of a modern cruise ship, with a presentation by the ship's navigator. Mixology@Sea lets passengers channel their inner bartender with a hands-on course taught by the ship's bar manager. For star gazers, the new Astronomy@Sea program provides passengers with the opportunity to explore the night sky through a telescope on the top deck, with the expert guidance of a ship's bridge officer. Developed in conjunction with Dr. Thomai Serdari, Professor of Art History and Director of Research Collections for New York University, Art History@Sea: Botticelli to Warhol, The Evolution of Art makes 500 years of art come to life with a special hour-long presentation.

Two New Production Shows: Ruby Princess audiences will be able to enjoy two new Princess-produced shows in the ship's theater. ”Broadway Ballroom” presents the music of the 'Great White Way' with a ballroom flair, pairing the songs of hit musicals with dance numbers ranging from foxtrot to rumba. The show also features the talents of a costume designer and choreographer from the TV hit ”Dancing with the Stars.” Meanwhile, ”Once Upon a Dream” uses unique multidimensional cinematic projection to follow a dreamscape unlike anything seen a sea. The audience will accompany a young woman's journey as she dreams of everything from a tea party in an English garden to singing camels in the desert, and even a trip through a waterfall and brief nightmare before waking to a new day.

The Audience Gets in the Act: A variety of new audience-participation events will also debut on the ship, giving passengers a number of ways to seek their 15 minutes of fame. Karaoke fans can go a bit farther with Love Boat Legends, where they are actually transformed into a famous artist of the past. So You Wanna Be A Rock Star? moves beyond pre-recorded Karaoke tunes to give audience members the opportunity to rock out with a live band on stage. Oceans of Talent puts passenger talent center stage - whether they play a musical instrument or want to try out their comedic timing. The Wake Up Show takes Princess' popular morning show with the cruise director to a new level with an irreverent talk show format, live band, special guests and an opportunity for passengers to join the ”studio” audience, as the show is taped in the evening before its broadcast the next morning.

A Few Fine Touches: A number of new service touches will be introduced to delight passengers. In the Horizon Court buffet, new waffle stations will offer fresh cooked-to-order waffles at breakfast and throughout lunchtime, and the buffet will also begin serving complimentary lemonade as a beverage choice. In the evening, passengers will find a selection of canapÈs in several of the ship's public lounges. Passengers arriving back from shore will be greeted with chilled face cloths, and by the pool, ”misting stewards” will offer a quick refreshing spritz with Evian to cool off.

Kid Stuff: Young passengers can enjoy a new Wizards Academy, an exclusive presentation from the award-winning California Science Center. This enriching new program lets children explore the connection between science and magic in a fun and participative environment. Kids will also enjoy activities and projects from popular arts and crafts company Klutz, or participate in Yoga for Kids, a healthy and fun course designed specifically for children.

Wireless Internet and Cell Phones: Expanding on Princess' Internet and phone connectivity, Ruby Princess will offer laptop users additional wireless hotspots around the vessel, including staterooms. The ship will also be equipped so that passengers can use their personal cellular phones, if they have international roaming plans, while onboard.

Ultimate Ship Tour: A new exclusive opportunity to experience an array of ”back of house” areas that are key to a ship's daily operations, the Ultimate Ship Tour will give passengers the unique opportunity to explore beyond the public areas with visits to the ship's engine control room, medical center, print shop, laundry, photo lab, funnel, bridge and other spaces. In addition to getting a rare insider's view of many areas typically seen only by the ship's crew, participants will receive a variety of themed mementos at many of the stops along the route.

Ruby Princess also includes a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing array of performing street entertainers, Princess' signature adults-only oasis called The Sanctuary, Sabatini's Italian restaurant, Crown Grill seafood and steak house, ”Movies Under the Stars” giant outdoor movie screen, and Hearts and Minds wedding chapel. The ship will feature an inaugural season of Western Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a program of Mediterranean voyages in summer 2009.
Fourth AIDA newbuilding named AIDAblu
The fourth newbuilding in the current programme of six ships of AIDA Cruises will be named AIDAblu. The keel for the 71,100 gross ton vessel was laid at the Meyer Werft in Papenburg in Germany earlier this week. AIDAblu and its two sister ships will be extended versions of the 68,500 gross ton Sphinx class trip delivered by the same yard to the German brand of the Carnival Corporation & PLC. AIDAblu will enter service early in 2010 and it will feature a larger spa area with spa suites plus larger restaurants that the previous trio. The ship will have 1,087 cabins, of which 728 will be outside.
Hurtigruten lays up one ship and plans to withdraw second one.
Hurtigruten, which has a fleet of 11 ships that serve the Norwegian Coastal Express, has laid up one of the ships and plans to withdraw another one on 11 November unless the company and the Norwegian government reach an agreement on higher subsidy for the service.

The company has already withdrawn from service the 1983 built Vesteralen that represents a generation in between traditional coastal mailships and modern generation of cruise ferry type tonnage.

However, the lay up candidate, the 1994 built Nordlys belongs to the modern generation of tonnage employed on the 11 night round voyage between Bergen and Kirkenes. The company says an agreement in the talks with the government must be reached before 1 November to prevent the second ship from being laid up as well.

Cruise Critic unveils 2008 Editors Picks Awards
Cruise Critic, a leading website for cruise reviews, has unveiled its Editors Picks Awards for this year. Royal Caribbean International won the title for the best family cruise line, Crystal Cruises took the award for the best luxury ships and Oceania Cruises reached the number one position in dining.

A full list of the award winners can be found on:
Carnival returns to Galveston November 1
Carnival Cruise Lines, the Port of Galveston's only year-round cruise operator, will resume service from the Texas port on November 1, 2008 following a temporary seize in cruise operations due to Hurricane Ike last month. The 2,052-passenger Carnival Ecstasy will resume year-round 4- and 5-night cruises from Galveston with a 5-night voyage departing on Saturday, Nov. 1. The 2,974-passenger Carnival Conquest will begin year-round 7-night service from Galveston Sunday, Nov. 2.

Up until that time, the ships will continue to operate round-trip from the Port of Houston's Bayport Cruise Terminal where they were shifted temporarily following Hurricane Ike. The Carnival Ecstasy cruises on October 23 and October 27; and the Carnival Conquest cruise on October 26 will operate round-trip from Houston.

”We are extremely pleased to be resuming service from the Port of Galveston and extend our congratulations and appreciation to the port and the Galveston community as a whole for enabling us to return so quickly,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival's President and CEO.
Four cruise lines launch Asia Cruise Association
The Asian cruise industry has received a boost with a first step towards the formation of the Asia Cruise Association (ACA) to promote the development, professional growth and commercial success of the cruise industry in the region. Driving this initiative are four cruise lines which have a long tradition operating in the region, namely Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Silversea and Star Cruises. They have affirmed their commitment as founding members of the ACA at signing of the Memorandum of Understanding today at the Seatrade All Asia Cruise Convention in Shanghai, China.
Paul Gauguin to depart Regent fleet in January 2010
Next year will be the Farewell Season for the 332-guest luxury cruise ship Paul Gauguin, which will depart the Regent Seven Seas fleet in January 2010 upon completion of the current management agreement with Paul Gauguin Shipping Limited (PGSL), the owners of the vessel.

”We are extremely proud of the incredible product we created in French Polynesia. For more than ten years, the magical and unique qualities of the Regent Tahiti experience has provided countless indelible memories for discerning travelers of all ages,” said Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. ”As we look to the future and consider our position as the leader in the luxury cruise segment, we have chosen to focus on the all-suite ships that are the core of our fleet, which are undergoing a $40 million dollar refurbishment project beginning December 2008.”

For the final year under the RSSC flag, guests will benefit from a host of dramatic cosmetic and physical upgrades which will be performed during the ships scheduled 12-day dry-dock in January 2009. The ship will receive all new upholstery and carpeting and will see the addition of 26 private balconies to existing staterooms.

PGSL will shortly be announcing reservations and sales information for the ship for departures in January 2010 and beyond in French Polynesia and the South Pacific.
Canadian ferry pioneer in use of new Wärtsilä propulsion system
Wärtsilä, the Finnish propulsion system supplier, has signed a contract for the first Low Loss Concept system for a passenger vessel.

The Canadian shipowner Transport DesgagnÈs has chosn the system for installation in a 95 metre passenger/vehicle/container vessel, to be built at Croatia's Kraljevica Shipyard. The Low Loss Concept was developed by Wärtsilä to save both fuel and installation costs, as well as reducing emissions and the amount of space required for component installation. This innovation also delivers greater redundancy in the electrical propulsion system, and makes commissioning work easier.

It has already established considerable support from owners in the offshore vessel segment. ”In a conventional diesel-electric propulsion arrangement, you need many large distribution transformers. But we have developed a system that obviates the need for transformers in the propulsion line, so we can eliminate these huge, heavy components, and their associated equipment and utilities. This reduces investment costs, operational costs, and the space required for the equipment onboard,” says Piotr Kabacinski, Project Manager, Wärtsilä Ship Power. 

The decision by Transport DesgagnÈs to opt for the LLC arrangement was reinforced by consultant Deltamarin Ltd, who found that the LLC was favourable over conventional power distribution solutions due to the high level of energy efficiency and redundancy it affords.

Ruby Princess delivered by Fincantieri yesterday
The newest addition to the Princess fleet, Ruby Princess, was delivered to Princess Cruises yesterday in Monfalcone, Italy by the ship's builder, Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani. The 3,070-passenger vessel has set sail for Fort Lauderdale where she is scheduled to arrive on November 4.

The ship will be christened on November 6 by celebrity couple Trista and Ryan Sutter from ABC's hit reality series, The Bachelorette. In keeping with the launch's ”romantic milestones” theme, Princess will help the duo celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary.

Ruby Princess will then set sail on her maiden voyage from Fort Lauderdale on November 8, beginning a program of Western Caribbean sailings taking passengers to Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Princess Cays. Following her inaugural Caribbean season, the ship will offer a program of Mediterranean voyages in summer 2009.
Star Cruises to cancel Libra's 2009 program from Singapore
Rumours were spreading in Seatrade All Asia Cruise Conference, that Star Cruises has decided to cancel 2009 ex-Singapore cruise program for its SuperStar Libra. Libra was to take over the 7-night program of SuperStar Gemini, which has been sold and is going to be delivered for its new owners. There are no word yet, when SuperStar Libra would return back to service.

Currently, Star Cruises operates also its flagship SuperStar Virgo from Singapore and SuperStar Aquarius from Hong Kong. SuperStar Libra is presently based in Keelung, Taiwan.
Meyer Werft delivers Celebrity Solstice
Meyer Werft delivered the 122,000 gross ton cruise ship Celebrity Solstice to the cruise company Celebrity Cruises (Miami, USA) in the Dutch port of Eemshaven today. Celebrity Solstice is the first ship out of a series of five cruise liners the Papenburg shipyard is building for Celebrity Cruises. Meyer Werft and Celebrity Cruises have built an extremely eco-friendly ship. A total energy saving of 30% compared to previous ships is achieved by highly energy-efficient components such as a photovoltaic system, optimised hydrodynamics, an extremely efficient underwater coating or an energy-saving lighting system using LEDs.

Celebrity Solstice is the very first ship that keeps the new rules and regulations regarding damaged stability which will be valid as of 2009 and which help to increase safety considerably in case the ship is damaged due to a leak. Along with its new design and innovate technical equipment, the luxury liner offers the passengers numerous specialities and a great deal of convenience: Roughly 90% of the passenger cabins are outside cabins; most of them having their own balconies.

Safety as well as entertainment on board in accordance with the latest technical standards is ensured by a diesel-electric pod propulsion system, complex alarm and safety systems, interactive communication systems and state-of-the-art stage technology. The Celebrity Solstice does not only meet the usual requirements of a modern cruise ship, but also the propulsion system and fire safety in the engine room fulfil the highest standards.

Following the delivery, the Celebrity Solstice will leave the Dutch port of Eemshaven for Port Everglades (USA) where her naming ceremony take place on 14 November 2008 and from where she will set sail for a couple of mini cruises with passengers.
Royal Caribbean to end fuel supplement
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that the company's fuel supplement will no longer apply to new Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises bookings made on or after November 10, 2008, anywhere in the world, for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010.

This decision takes into consideration the recent reductions in global fuel prices. The company has also established specific guidelines that will determine whether fuel supplement refunds will be provided for sailings that begin in 2009 and later, which were booked prior to November 10, 2008, if fuel prices remain below a specific price threshold.

For 2009 sailings and 2010 sailings booked before November 10, 2008, the company will determine on a quarterly basis whether fuel supplements will be refunded. Refunds, in the form of an onboard credit, will be provided if the closing price of West Texas Intermediate fuel is $65 or less, at the closing time of the New York Mercantile Exchange, two weeks prior to the beginning of the upcoming calendar quarter. When those conditions are met, an onboard credit will be provided to all guests on sailings that begin during the upcoming calendar quarter.

Carnival Dream launched in Monfalcone
Carnival Dream, the largest passenger ship ever built by Fincantieri, was launched in Monfalcone: it will be flagship of Carnival Cruise Lines' fleet, a brand of Carnival Group,. Delivery is scheduled for Fall 2009. With its 130,000 gross tonnage, 306 meters of length and 2,559 cabins, the ship will be able to accommodate up to 4,631 passengers.

The project for Carnival Dream is an evolution of the Conquest-class design and shows several modifications with respect to the original layout. The Conquest series includes six ships built at Monfalcone, Marghera and Sestri Ponente. Significant alterations have been made in the public areasí layout, in particular on deck 5, that will feature a promenade running around the entire  length of the ship. Moreover, numerous restaurants and public areas will overlook the sea.

Carnival Dream will ube outfitted in the next months following to a very high standard of comfort. The ship will also feature two new Water Parks located on the open decks, one for adults and one for children.

Fincantieri is the world leader in the construction of cruise ships with a current market share of approximately 40%. With Carnival Dream the Fincantieri fleet will amount to 62 passenger ships, of which 47 have been delivered since 1990, and 15 on order or under construction at the various shipyards of the Group.

GAP's Expedition to head Spitsbergen
Spitsbergen Travel has signed an agreement with G.A.P Adventures on charter of the Expedition for cruises around Spitsbergen. The ship will take the same route as Polar Star around the island. The weekly cruise will start and
end Tuesdays from the beginning of June till the beginning of September. The ship is currently being rebuilt, and will offer 58 brand new top-of-the-line cabins in five different price categories, with a total of 120 beds. All rooms provide outside cabins with views and full private en-suite bathrooms.
The Expedition was built in Helsing¯r, Denmark in 1972 and has been owned by Viking Line for the last 15 years. It has been used as a ferry between Sweden, ≈land and Finland and is now undergoing an extensive reconstruction and upgrading to expeditions in polar waters. The Expedition is 105 m long and has a gross tonnage of 6336. Top speed is 16 knots and the ships holds ice class 1B.
MSC Cruises launches website for MSC Fantasia
MSC Cruises has introduced a website describing the 133,500 gross ton MSC Fantasia that will enter service in December.

Available in five languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish), the site -- -- is characterised by the presence of a clock counting down to the launch day. In the background, the image of the ship, whose godmother will be Sofia Loren, changes colours according to the time of connection.

”The site allows curious visitors to become involved in cruise life, thanks to the presence of five special assistants, who accompany the visitor through a virtual journey to discover the ship. Each of them, in his/her own role, reveals the secrets of MSC Fantasia: the Captain talks about his ship; the Chef recommends restaurants and specialties; the Entertainment Organiser talks about her work and the areas dedicated to children and kids; the Butler guides visitors through the exclusive MSC Yacht Club; and the Director of the MSC Aurea Spa opens the doors to the relaxation and well-being areas,” the company said.

The different site sections contain photo galleries with three-dimensional images and plans, providing a global vision of all the shipís areas. There is also a Questions & Answers area for frequently-asked questions. Through MSC Navigator, users can visit the ship interactively, check all the latest itineraries, access maps of the ports, information and images on the areas visited, and even check out the comforts of the MSC Yacht Club.



The evocative introductory video recounts the shipís story and construction, recalling its magical atmosphere, breathtaking panoramas, and the elegance and uniqueness of a vacation on board the worldís most exclusive cruise ship.


The site allows curious visitors to become involved in cruise life, thanks to the presence of five special assistants, who accompany the visitor through a virtual journey to discover the ship. Each of them, in his/her own role, reveals the secrets of MSC Fantasia: the Captain talks about his ship; the Chef recommends restaurants and specialties; the Entertainment Organiser talks about her work and the areas dedicated to children and kids; the Butler guides visitors through the exclusive MSC Yacht Club; and the Director of the MSC Aurea Spa opens the doors to the relaxation and well-being areas.


The different site sections contain photo galleries with three-dimensional images and plans, providing a global vision of all the shipís areas. There is also a Questions & Answers area for frequently-asked questions.


Through MSC Navigator, users can visit the ship interactively, check all the latest itineraries, access maps of the ports, information and images on the areas visited, and even check out the comforts of the exclusive MSC Yacht Club.


Ventura's sister ship to be called Azura
A ceremony marking the keel-laying for the newest ship for P&O Cruises will be held today at the Monfalcone shipyard of Fincantieri near Trieste, Italy. One of the two largest ships ever built for P&O Cruises and for the British cruise market, the new ship will be named Azura, the company said.

P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ìEvoking images of the ocean and capturing the thrill of cruise travel, the name Azura is very fitting for this most sophisticated of superliners. It is also appropriate for a ship that will be a haven of serenity and the embodiment the choice and service excellence for which P&O Cruises is renowned.î

The keel-laying involved the placement in the dry dock of one section of the shipís hull. This section is made up of six pre-manufactured blocks, weighs 650 tons and is ready-fitted with piping and other internal structure.

The ceremony follows an intensive period of design and development. Fifty sections and several additional interconnecting steel blocks will be used in the construction of Azura and the ship will take to the water for the first time at her float out in summer 2009, before her delivery to P&O Cruises in spring 2010.

Azuraís 3,100 passengers will enjoy fifteen public decks, 11 restaurants, five boutiques, four pools, two lounges and over 900 private balconies. Azura will depart on her maiden voyage in late spring 2010, details of which will be announced early next year. Further details of Azuraís build, partnerships and interior design will be announced in November 2008.
No Carnival in Europe next summer
Carnival Cruise Lines' Miami-based Carnival Liberty, which was originally scheduled to reposition to Europe in May 2009, will instead remain in Miami to operate year-round Caribbean cruises. The Carnival Liberty will continue to offer its existing schedule of 7-night Caribbean cruises through next spring and then introduce a new 7-night program from Miami beginning in April 2009. In turn, the Carnival Pride, currently based in Long Beach, California, and originally scheduled to shift to Miami for a five-month Caribbean deployment from April through August, will instead launch its Baltimore-based program on April 27, 2009.

Prior to its Baltimore deployment, Carnival Pride will operate its previously scheduled Panama Canal cruise from Long Beach to Miami March 22-April 5, 2009, as well as a 6-night cruise departing April 5 and two 7-night Caribbean cruises departing April 11 and 18, 2009, all operating from Miami.

”Based on current market conditions, continued economic uncertainty and high air costs to Europe, we are shifting our focus to an even greater extent toward our core, close-to-home cruise options which are clearly the preference of the vast majority of the mainstream vacation market right now,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival President and CEO. ”We are excited that this change in deployment will also enable us to bring the Carnival Pride to Baltimore four months earlier than originally planned to start up that city's first year-round cruise program, which is proving to be extremely popular based on advanced bookings so far,” he added.

Cahill noted that Carnival will still offer several European cruises next year when the 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream - the line's newest and largest ship - debuts with a series of three 12-night Grand Mediterranean cruises from Rome (Civitavecchia) in September and October 2009. Carnival Dream will also operate a 16-night trans-Atlantic crossing from Rome (Civitavecchia) to New York in late October 2009.
RCCL reports record third quarter net profit of $411.9 million
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) has announced record net income for the third quarter 2008 of $411.9 million, or $1.92 per share, compared to net income of $395.0 million, or $1.84 per share, in 2007. ”This improvement was due primarily to increased capacity, higher yields, and lower net cruise costs, partially offset by higher fuel prices. As previously announced, these figures also include the receipt of a legal settlement of $17.6 million,” the company said in a statement.

Higher fuel prices increased costs by $65.1 million, or $0.30 per share. While fuel costs per metric ton increased 46% versus 2007, they were $48 per metric ton, or $0.07 per share lower than previous guidance. Selling, general and administrative expense was $17.2 million, or $0.08 per share better than previous guidance due primarily to timing and management's focus on cost containment.BR>

Significant strengthening of the U.S. dollar during the quarter affected Net Revenue Yield and Net Cruise Cost per APCD compared to previous guidance, but largely offset one another and were not material to the company's third quarter net income. Absent this currency fluctuation, Net Revenue Yields for the quarter would have been consistent with previous guidance. Net Cruise Costs per APCD would still have been lower than previous guidance due to fuel pricing, timing and continued cost focus, RCCL said.

RCCL says financing arrangements adequate to meet operations and capital expenditure
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) says it  expects that  financing arrangements currently in place will be adequate to meet its ongoing operations and capital expenditure requirements and the company does not anticipate any other requirements to access the capital markets in the foreseeable future.

As of September 30, 2008, liquidity was $1.4 billion, including cash and cash equivalents and the undrawn portion of the company's unsecured revolving credit facility. In response to recent events in the credit markets, the company provided more details about its Newbuild financing arrangements.

The company took delivery of the Celebrity Solstice on October 24. The vessel was financed through a $519.1 million loan facility with KfW Ipex-Bank GMBH and BNP Paribas S.A. The facility is a 12-year unsecured loan bearing interest of LIBOR plus 45 basis points, or a total of 4.28% at today's interest rates.

The company has four additional Solstice Class vessels under construction in Germany, all of which have committed bank financing arrangements and include financing guarantees for a portion of the financed amount from HERMES (Euler Hermes Kreditrersicherungs AG), the export credit agency of the German government. The terms of the financing guarantees and bank commitments are similar to those established for the Celebrity Solstice and are executable at the company's option.

The company also has two Oasis Class vessels for its Royal Caribbean International brand under construction in Finland, both of which have commitments for financing guarantees which can be used at the company's option. Oasis of the Seas is scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009 and Allure of the Seas is scheduled for delivery in late 2010. The guarantee commitments are from Finnvera, the export credit agency of Finland and provide potential lenders with government guarantees of up to 80% of the financed amount.

RCCL predicts $255 million bunker cost drop, says bookings start to recover
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) says that current 2009 fuel cost projections have dropped from $890 million in its previous guidance to $635 million currently. This drop of $255 million equates to $1.19 in EPS improvement.

For 2009 the company's fuel consumption is 39% hedged, and assuming the company's fuel costs correlate with movement in the price of WTI, a $10 change in WTI per barrel, would equate to a $51 million change in the company's fuel expense for the full year. Historically, the company's price at-the-pump has correlated well with WTI, but over the past few quarters fluctuations in this relationship have caused volatility in these estimations.

The company noted that new bookings slowed considerably during the month of September, but have leveled off over the last couple of weeks. ”As we have seen during other challenging periods, our customers are delaying their further out purchase decisions,” said Brian J. Rice, executive vice president and chief financial officer. ”It is too early to respond to this atmosphere in a systematic way, but we have attracted short term volume in the traditionally weak fourth quarter using discounts. Had the value of the U.S. dollar not strengthened, we would be forecasting flat yields in the fourth quarter.

In conjunction with the release of the company's second quarter earnings, a $125 million cost cutting initiative was announced. The initiative was primarily targeted at the company's general and administrative expenses and was specifically designed to preserve the company's guest experience, trade relationships and global expansion efforts. The program is on track to deliver the announced 2009 cost savings and has produced better than expected results in 2008. Given the success of the program, the company is reiterating its previous guidance to reduce 2009 Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel per APCD to 2007 levels. 

In summarizing the company's third quarter 2008 results and outlook President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain added: ”The company's performance, during a period of such economic uncertainty and unprecedented market volatility, is a testament to our business model. Nonetheless, we are taking proactive steps to respond to these challenges. Our strong brand positioning, a management team focused on cost improvement and the most innovative fleet in the industry provide a strong and stable platform from which to weather a difficult 2009 and to capture the eventual benefit of a rebounding economy and a more optimistic consumer.”

STX Europe voices concerns of booking trends in Cruise & Ferry
The credit crunch is biting consumer confidence that hurts cruise and ferry newbuilding sectors, while owners of offshore and specialist vessels are struggling to raise funding for new projects, warns STX Europe, the Oslo based shipbuilderformerly known as Aker Yards . In the Cruise & Ferry business aresa, the company was able to increase EBITDA to NOK133 million from NK104 million year on, but warned of a softer trend as major operators have stated that bookings trends for 2009 are weakening as consumers are reigning in spending as the economic outlook is deteriorating
RCCL forecasts 4-5% net yield fall in final quarter
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) says that while the company's order book remains solid, there has been a significant deterioration recently in new bookings due to economic and financial turmoil. The company expects fourth quarter yields to decrease approximately 4% to 5%. Just over half of the decline from prior guidance is due to the stronger U.S. dollar. ”While we are pleased with our third quarter results, the operating environment has changed dramatically in recent weeks,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. ”We are focused on responding to this challenge, but it is reassuring to know that our liquidity is good, that we entered this period with a solid order book, and that we have a business model that has proven resilient during tough times.”

Fincantieri's UK naval alliance has cruise dimension
Fincantieri is forming an alliance with the Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd (NSL) in the UK to pursue a naval contract that could also lead to cruise ship refurbishment work being undertaken at the British yard.

”This alliance will enhance support to Fincantieri in pursuit of the tender to build six fleet replenishment tankers for UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) programme known as the MARS project. When built these vessels will join the existing Royal Fleet Auxiliary fleet.,” NSL said in a statement. BR>

Cruise Business Online asked an industry source if the alliance could lead to refurbishment of cruise liners, who said ìdefinitively yes.î He declined further comment or to be quoted by name.

NSL uses the same premises as the former Cammell Laird companhy that was bankrupted earlier in the millennium. NSL carries out refurbishment of ferries on a regular basis and has three graving docks, the largest of which is 289 metres long, 42.7 metres wide with a depth of 11.5 metres.

Carnival rationalises brand portfolio ñ Ocean Village to be phased out
Carnival UK is rationalising its portfolio with the phasing out of the Ocean Village brand, beginning in Autumn 2009.  Consistent with Carnivalís strategy of investing in brands which show the greatest growth potential, both Ocean Village ships will transfer to the P&O Cruises Australia brand, the first in time for Christmas 2009 and the second a year later.

Commenting on the move, David Dingle, CEO of Carnival UK and Chair of the Carnival Australia Management Committee, said: ”In reviewing the most effective deployment of our ships, we have recognised the major growth potential in the Australian market and the profit opportunity which awaits. Clearly it is disappointing to wind down our Ocean Village operation which has been superbly created and delivered by an excellent management team, but we must recognise the need to maximise profit performance from our assets. Ocean Village has done much to change the face of British cruising, and all our UK brands have benefited from this.  The arrival of new ships for P&O Cruises and Cunard in 2010 and the continuing development of Princess Cruises in Britain will ensure that Carnival UK continues its growth despite the redeployment of the Ocean Village vessels.”

Ocean Village will operate a single ship in the Caribbean in Winter 2009-2010 and the previously published programme will be adjusted, with existing bookings amended accordingly.  A European programme will be operated in 2010. P&O Cruises will take delivery of the 3,100 bed Azura in March 2010 and the new 2,100 bed Queen Elizabeth will join the Cunard fleet in October 2010.

New tonnage to increase P&O Cruises Australia's presence in Fremantle, Brisbane and Auckland
P&O Cruises, which is part of the Carnival Corp & PLC group, will double its fleet over the next two years to keep pace with Australiansí growing love affair with cruising. The company will get two ships from Ocean Village, the British brand that Carnival has decided to close down.  The new tonnage will boost the Australian company's presence in Fremantle and Brisbane in Australia and Auckland in New Zealand.

The first ship, to be named Pacific Jewel, currently trading as Ocean Village 2, will begin sailing year round from Brisbane in December 2009. A second ship, the current Ocean Village of 63,524 gross tons and the new name of which has not been disclosed, will arrive in late 2010 and will sail from Auckland and possibly Sydney, but this is yet to be decided.

Brisbane will welcome its first full-time superliner, the 70,310-tonne Pacific Jewel, in December 2009, building on the success of Pacific Sun, which moved to Brisbane in 2007.  Fremantle will become a home port for a P&O Cruisesí ship for the first time with the arrival of Pacific Sun in December 2009. ”The decision to expand into a new market is in response to West Australiansí passion for cruising, which has been steadily growing in recent years,” P&O Cruises Australia said.

P&O Cruises will continue to sail from Auckland with Pacific Sun and, from 2010, a new liner offering a range of cruising seasons.  Once the two latest ships are added to the fleet, P&O Cruises will be carrying about 8000 passengers and 3000 crew at any given time.  Ann Sherry, Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Australia which owns P&O Cruises, said the popularity of cruising was growing steadily because Australians wanted good value, relaxing holidays.

ìIn these tougher times, cruising is the success story of Australian tourism because people are increasingly looking for good value holidays, paid in Australian dollars but still want to travel to exotic destinations,î Sherry said.  ìIt is commonsense that the current economic conditions mean people will think twice about their discretionary spend but we have found that cruising is holding its own because it is good value and allows families to budget.

Carnival Australia anticipates busy peak season
Australia is in the process of experienced a markedly businer peak cruise season than a year ago, Carnival Australia said in a statement.

The Australian company that operates several Carnival Corp & PLC brands in the country says that in the six months from 30 September, 12 Carnival group ships will make a total of 227 calls Australia, both figures up from 11 ships and 201 calls respectively in the 2007/08 season.

ìAustralians are becoming more aware of the diverse cruise itineraries now on offer as well as the
range of vessels, from boutique ships to megaliners, so weíre seeing unprecedented interest in
cruise holidays,î Carnival Australia CEO Sherry said. The company expects to carry 168,000 passengers in the six months from the end of September.
Carnival Corp & PLC to suspend first quarter dividend and updates on market
Carnival Corporation & PLC  has decided to suspend first quarter dividend for the 2008/09 financial year and increased guidance for earnings per share in the current year. Booking volumes are slowing down, but prices are slightly higher than a year earlier.

Carnival has declared a December dividend of $0.40 per share and that its Board of Directors has voted to suspend its quarterly dividend for the next quarter as a result of the highly volatile state of the financial markets. The company intends to maintain the dividend suspension throughout 2009 but will reevaluate its dividend policy based on the circumstances prevailing during the year.

”The company's cash flow remains strong. However, in light of the unusually high cost of raising new capital, continuing concerns about financial institution liquidity and current uncertainties in the global economy, we believe that preserving cash is a prudent step which will further strengthen the company's balance sheet and enhance our financial flexibility,” said Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation & plc chairman and CEO. The dividend suspension would result in annualized cash savings of approximately $1.3 billion. The significant liquidity provided by the dividend suspension gives the company the flexibility to fund its 2009 capacity growth without the need to access credit markets.

The company has increased its previous full year 2008 earnings per share guidance from $2.79 to $2.81, to $2.81 to $2.83 primarily based on revised currency exchange rates and fuel prices.

However, the company has experienced a further slowdown in booking volumes during the recent turmoil in the financial markets. Looking at the first half of 2009, occupancy levels for advance bookings lag the prior year, with ticket prices for these bookings on a constant dollar basis at slightly higher levels compared to the prior year.

Tallink Grupp's revenues exceeded EUR 780 million
During financial year 2007/2008 the revenues of the Estonian shipping company AS Tallink Grupp were EUR 786, 8 million, the net profit EUR 20,3 million, according to the unaudited results. According to the management report of AS Tallink Grupp, the financial year 2007/2008 was one of the busiest for the company. ”Only just in one year we took delivery of two new vessels, made several changes in the routeís operations and launched new booking and check-in system. The start of the new 2008/2009 financial year is very good. Traffic volumes are indicating strong growth in autumn 2008 as an impact of the previous development,” said the management.

The Groupís revenues increased strongly on the newest Sweden-Latvia route and also on the Finland-Estonia route where the new Shuttle service is the main contributor. The results were also influenced by the late delivery of the new cruise ferry Baltic Princess, significant increase of fuel costs and interest rates and difficulties during the launching phase of the new booking and check-in system.

The sales in the fourth quarter amounted to EUR 237 million  and net profit for the quarter was EUR 29.5 million. So far, besides the interest rate decrease in last summer, we do not notice other significant direct impact of the global financial crisis on Tallinkís operations. The Groupís loans are on average with 10 years maturity and are being paid back based on agreed repayment schedule served from the business cash flows. There will not be large bullet payments due before the year 2013.
Aker Yards changes name to STX Europe
The world's leading builder of cruise and offshore vessels, Aker Yards, changes name to STX Europe. The name change reflects the entry of the South Korean-based STX Business Group as principal shareholder in the company during summer 2008. Effective 3 November, the international shipbuilding group Aker Yards, with head office in Oslo, Norway, and all its subsidiaries, will share the common brand STX Europe.

”As Aker Yards, this company established a track record for building some of the world's most innovative ships. As STX Europe, we approach the market with a new brand and the sharper strategic focus of attaining international market leadership within our two key segments: cruise and offshore vessels,” says Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit, President & CEO of STX Europe ASA.

STX Europe specializes in designing and building advanced cruise ships and purpose-built vessels for offshore oil and gas operations, and other specialized ships. All the largest cruise ships in the world were built or are currently under construction at STX Europe's yards. In 2008, STX Europe will deliver 9 state-of-the-art cruise ships, 28 cutting-edge offshore and other specialized vessels, and 2 chemical tankers.

”Going forward, we have a high order backlog, an outstanding product range, and STX as a strong industrial owner. Together, this comprises a solid foundation from which to address a challenging market”, says Sj¯tveit.

Aker Yards ASA became part of the South Korean based STX Business Group in August 2008, when STX became the principal shareholder, with an ownership share of 92.46 percent. STX Business Group is an international industrial group with broad shipbuilding and shipping activities, total revenues of EUR 9.05 billion last year and 39 000 employees at year end 2007.

”Our focus has always been to develop cutting-edge maritime solutions that provide maximum profitability and efficiency for our customers. We see many opportunities for synergies with other parts of the STX Business Group, as we leverage STX' combined maritime experience, skills and resources”, comments Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit. The company is listed at the Oslo stock exchange under the ticker STXEUR (former AKY).
France becomes strategic owner in STX Europe's French yards
STX Europe and the French Republic have agreed that the French state becomes a 33.34 percent shareholder in STX France and its shipyards in Saint Nazaire and Lorient. The combined ownership of STX and the French Republic will expand the strategic opportunities for one of the few sophisticated large capacity shipyards in Europe.

STX Europe is today one of the world's leading builders of cruise ships and ferries, with a market share of 35-40%. The
company builds all of the world's largest and most advanced cruise ships at its yards in France and Finland. The French yards have also experience with navy vessels. Other shipyards in STX Europe are market leaders for specialised offshore vessels.

The new agreement between STX Europe and the French Republic is a realization of the memorandum of understanding announced by the two parties at 12 June this year. The French Republic will acquire the 33.34% interest in STX France via an equity investment of in total EUR 110 million which is expected to be made on 7 November 2008.

The French state's initial payment will be supplemented, based on STX France's performance over the period 2009-2011, by an earn out mechanism whereby the French state will make a direct payment of up to 83,3 million to STX Europe. If the parties decide to increase the capitalization of STX France, this amount can be reinvested in STX France and supplemented by the French state, so that STX France will receive a total amount of up to Euros 125 million. The total equity injection would then be EUR 235 million, with an implied value of STX France of EUR 470 million.

”STX France is one of very few shipbuilders with experience, technology and competence to deliver large and advanced ships, tailor made for specific purposes. Through the new agreement, this foundation is further strengthened by combining STX and the French state as solid owners with an industrial perspective”, says Torstein Dale Sj¯tveit, president and CEO of STX Europe.

Based on the new ownership model, STX France aims to expand the business within today's primary market for both cruise ships and ferries. The yards will also explore opportunities in other segments where STX Europe already has solid experience and skills, for example for ships to the navy or for very large and advanced offshore vessels.
TUI Cruises to unveil name of refit yard on 12.11.
TUI Cruises will unveil the name of the shjipyard that will refit its first ship, the 77,000 gross ton Galaxy that will be transferred from Celebrity Cruises. The ship will be renamed as well prior to its entry into service on the German market in April next year. TUI Cruises is a joint venture between the German tour operating company TUI and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the world's second largest cruise shipping group.
Silversea's Silver Cloud to sail Atlantic Canada and New England in fall 2009
Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises today announced Silver Cloud will sail to the Atlantic provinces of Canada and America's New England next fall. The ship's revised schedule replaces a London-to-Barbados repositioning voyage and three Caribbean cruises with four new itineraries spanning from London, Reykjavik and Montreal to New York and Bermuda.

”The last time we offered fall cruises to this region was three years ago and Silver Cloud has not visited since 1999,” said David Morris, Silversea's Executive Vice President of worldwide sales and marketing. ”We offered a couple of expedition cruises in the north Atlantic earlier this year on the Prince Albert II, and they were extremely popular. We think that indicates it's time to start featuring these destinations again on one of the ships in our classic fleet, especially during the spectacular fall foliage season.”
Ruby Princess christened in Port Everglades
In a ”ruby red” themed ceremony celebrating romance, Princess Cruises yesterday named its newest ship, Ruby Princess. America's reigning reality couple, Trista and Ryan Sutter of The Bachelorette did the honors, breaking the traditional bottle of champagne to mark the ship's launch, and their own fifth anniversary. The new godparents were surrounded by hundreds of guests decked out in ruby red-tie formal attire, and a ruby-haired singer serenaded the crowd. As befitting the most romantic cruise line, and an event celebrating ”romantic moments and milestones,” the official naming was followed by the ultimate romantic milestone ñ a wedding in the midst of the festivities. The California couple joined in matrimony not only had Trista and Ryan as wedding attendants, but the Love Boat captain himself, Gavin MacLeod, gave away the bride.

Yesterday night the ship hosted a ”Ruby Red Tie” gala and sailed on a two-night cruise for hundreds of VIP guests who will enjoy a special preview of Princess' newest vessel. During the mini sailing, the ship will host an array of romantic activities, including a massive renewal of vows for all couples today while the ship is at sea. Ruby Princess then returns to Port Everglades on November 8 for its inaugural 7-night sailing to the Western Caribbean.

”It's only fitting that as the most romantic cruise line in the industry, we celebrate the naming of our newest ship with a tribute to &#145;romantic milestones,'” said Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises president and chief executive officer. ”It was exciting to have Trista and Ryan Sutter serve as godparents of Ruby Princess and of course the wedding during the ceremony added an appropriate touch to the festivities.”

Princess Cruises has long been associated with romance on the high seas, dating back to its days as the setting for the now-iconic TV show The Love Boat. Cementing that connection, Princess was just named the ”Best Cruise Line for Romance” and ”Best Cruise Line for Weddings” in the 2008 Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards. The Ruby Princess naming ceremony continued the line's tradition of romance with godparents Trista and Ryan, who were introduced to America in 2003 on the television hit The Bachelorette.

The Ruby Princess naming ceremony will be available for viewing on line at beginning November 7.
The 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess includes a dramatic piazza-style atrium featuring small-bite eateries and an ever-changing line-up of street performers. Passengers will also enjoy Princess' other array of dining venues including the signature Sabatini's Italian restaurant and the Crown Grill steak house, plus a relaxing oasis just for adults called The Sanctuary. The new ship will also offer the many other innovations that define the Princess experience, including the popular Movies Under the Stars poolside movie screen, Personal Choice Dining featuring traditional or Anytime seating, multiple entertainment venues, a relaxing Asian-style Lotus Spa with fitness center, an extensive children and teen's center, and a wedding chapel.

During Ruby Princess' inaugural season she will make seven-day weekly sailings from Fort Lauderdale to the Western Caribbean. Calls include Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico and Princess Cays in the Bahamas. Next spring the ship will move to Europe for 12-day sailings in the Mediterranean and Greek Islands.
Berra named Chief Marketing Officer for Carnival Cruise Lines
Jim Berra, a highly accomplished marketing professional with proven expertise in the areas of customer marketing, brand development and digital, has been named senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest cruise operator. In this newly created position, Berra will oversee all of the company's advertising programs, marketing communications and public relations He will also oversee all digital efforts, including the audience and site development for

Berra, 37, will join Carnival on Nov. 10 and will report to Ruben Rodriguez, the company's Executive Vice President of Marketing and Guest Experience. Prior to joining Carnival, Berra spent the past three years at Rodale, Inc., most recently as senior vice president and general manager for Rodale Interactive, where he led the development and marketing of the company's online businesses. Rodale is a global media company publishing some of the best-known health and wellness lifestyle magazines including Men's Health, Prevention, Women's Health and books such as New York Times bestseller An Inconvenient Truth by former Vice President Al Gore.

Prior to that, he was at Starwood Hotels & Resorts for seven years holding various managerial marketing posts, including senior vice president of customer marketing and strategic alliances where he oversaw Starwood's customer relationship management, loyalty programs, and strategic alliances. Berra started his career at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts serving in a variety of marketing positions.

”Jim brings wide-ranging experience in all facets of marketing and advertising. His expertise in loyalty programs, direct marketing and digital marketing in particular will be a tremendous asset to our company as we continue to build the Carnival brand,” Rodriguez said. ”Carnival has many exciting events and developments taking place over the next few months and Jim's creative and proven brand-building strategies will be of great benefit to these efforts,” he added.
Berra has won numerous marketing awards and accolades over the years, including being named one of Travel Agent Magazine's Rising Stars, as well as a Top 25 Marketer by HSMAI. He has also received the Industry Impact Award by Inside Flyer Magazine, and was included in Brand Week's list of Next Generation Marketers. Berra holds bachelor's degrees in economics and philosophy from Northwestern University.
Kevin Sheehan assumes also NCL's CEO role
NCL Corporation Ltd. announced yesterday that Kevin Sheehan, currently President and Chief Financial Officer, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, as well. Colin Veitch, current CEO, will be transitioning his responsibilities and assume a new advisory role to the Board of Directors. In addition, Andy Stuart has been appointed Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Passenger Services. These senior organizational announcements are being made as the company is also reporting record third quarter results.

In this expanded leadership role, Sheehan is now responsible for both the day-to-day operations of the business, and a broader focus on long term corporate strategy. Sheehan joined NCL in November 2007 as Chief Financial Officer and was named President in August 2008. He has an extensive 30-year business career that has included, most recently, being Chairman and CEO of Cendant Corporation's Vehicle Services Division, which consisted of a group of companies, including the Avis and Budget rental car companies, PHH Corporation and Wright Express. He also served as CFO of Cendant Corporation, and prior thereto as President and CFO of Avis Group Inc.

In his new role, 20-year NCL veteran Andy Stuart is responsible for global sales, revenue management, passenger services and public relations. Specifically, Stuart will direct the Company's global distribution strategy, ensuring NCL continues to enhance and strengthen its relationships with travel partners as its primary distribution system. He will lead the further development of Partnership 2.0, a core strategy to position NCL as the first choice of travel partners when selecting and booking a cruise for their clients. He will also ensure revenue optimization and oversee the Company's public relations efforts.
Financials, higher yields turn NCL to healthy third quarter profit
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has reported a healthy third quarter profit compared to a loss in the same period last year on marked improvement in financial items and higher yields.

The company reported net income of $171.2 million on total revenues of $639.0 million compared to a net loss of $8.6 million on total revenues of $632.5 million for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007. Revenues for the third quarter of 2008 increased 1.0% due to a slight increase in Capacity Days coupled with a 7.0% increase in Net Yields.

The increase in Net Yields was the result of higher passenger ticket pricing and onboard revenues. These increases were partially offset by lower air add-on participation primarily due to changes in our Hawaii deployment. Occupancy remained steady for the third quarter of 2008 at 111.3% compared to 111.2% in the same quarter of 2007.

The company benefited from lower interest rates and favorable exchange rates. Interest expense (net of capitalized interest and interest income) decreased 20.1% to $34.0 million in the third quarter of 2008 compared to $42.6 million in the third quarter of 2007. Other income (expenses), net improved from a loss of $42.9 million in 2007 to a gain of $104.6 million in 2008.

Due to the strengthening of the Dollar/Euro exchange rate in the quarter, the Company reported a non-cash foreign exchange translation gain of $133.7 million primarily related to marking-to-market the Company's Euro-denominated debt partially offset by $28.8 million of losses due to the change in fair value of our derivative contracts. During the third quarter of 2007, the Company reported a non-cash foreign exchange loss of $44.4 million.

Net Cruise Costs per Capacity Day for the third quarter of 2008 increased 1.0% compared to the same period in the prior year. A year-over-year increase in fuel costs was principally offset by reduced payroll and related expenses. The reduction in payroll and related expenses was primarily due to the re-flagging and redeployment of Pride of Hawai'i and Pride of Aloha from the Company's U.S.-flagged fleet to its international fleet as Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sky, respectively.

During the third quarter of 2008, average fuel prices, including the impact of fuel swaps, increased approximately 75% to $706 per metric ton from $405 per metric ton in the third quarter of 2007. Excluding fuel expenses, Net Cruise Costs per Capacity Day decreased 10.3% when compared to the same period in the prior year.

”We are extremely pleased with the revenue performance achieved in the quarter and the significant improvement in our profitability,” said the company's new CEO Kevin Sheehan. ”Our Hawai'i operation is now profitable, the growth of our international fleet has had a very positive impact, Partnership 2.0 and Freestyle 2.0 are already having a strong impact on both travel partners and consumers, and we ended the quarter with over $525 million in liquidity, positioning us very strongly for the future.”

Norwegian Spirit to receive multi-million dollar refit
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Spirit is undergoing a multi-million dollar refurbishment focused on enhancing the total guest experience. The 1,936-passenger Freestyle Cruising ship is receiving a total renovation to its public areas, staterooms and suites. These refurbishments are in addition to the enhancements already made as part of Freestyle 2.0, the company's fleet-wide initiative to further improve the guest experience across all guest touch points from food and beverage to staterooms.

”Norwegian Spirit's multi-million dollar renovation will enrich the overall guest experience by making significant enhancements to the ship overall,” said Andy Stuart, NCL's Executive Vice President. ”With the combination of our recent Freestyle 2.0 enhancements and all of the refurbishments being made, Norwegian Spirit will emerge refreshed and revitalized for her winter season sailing 7-night Exotic Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans.”

Following the completion of the refurbishment, Norwegian Spirit will re-enter service on November 23, 2008 and begin a series of 21 seven-night Exotic Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, her homeport for the winter season, with calls in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; and Belize City, Belize.
Helsinki-St. Petersburg operator files for bankruptcy
Stella Naves Russia, which inaugurated Helsinki-St. Petersburg ferry service in August, filed for bankruptcy in Helsinki, Finland on Thursday. The company was part of larger Stella Naves Group.

According to press reports, Stella was looking new funding for its ferry service, which it ceased last month due to the lack of demand.
RCCLís Fain says no to newbuilding orders in current economic climate
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) is unlikely to place newbuilding orders in the current economic situation, according to Richard Fain, chairman of the second largest cruise shipping group in the world.

ìWe donít envision ordering any new vessels under the current circumstances,î Fain told Fairplay, the UK based shipping weekly. ìThe operating environment has changed dramatically. It is necessary for us to re-examine all aspects of our business and ensure weíre taking all the steps to prepare for a different market than weíd hope for,î he was quoted as saying.

RCCL has an initial contract with STX Europe (formerly Aker Yards) for a fourth 158,400 gross ton Voyager class ship for its Royal Caribbean International (RCI) brand. The group has also been rumoured to seek a newbuilding for TUI Cruises, a joint venture between RCCL and the German tour operating group TUI, which will commence operations next spring using a second hand ship.

(Updated) F3 back in the track, or ”a copy and paste” mistake in a release?
Norwegian Cruise Line, which announced its third quarter results last week, says in its press release, that ”NCL is building two new Third Generation Freestyle Cruising (”F3”) ships for delivery in 2010.” Whether it's a copy and paste mistake, or STX Europe and NCL have truly solved their problems, there is no official word out yet.

NCL has today sent out its quarter results press release as many members of the media did not receive it last week, but is now referring only for one F3 newbuilding. The press release on the homepage, however, still talks about two ships
STX Europe says F3 dispute still ongoing
STX Europe and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) have not reached a settlement in the dispute regarding first of the two F3 class cruise liners on order at the Korean controlled shipbuilders' yard in France.

”While the process to try to solve the dispute is still ongoing, we are not able to speculate in possible outcomes,” Torbj¯rn Andersen  Senior Vice President  Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, told Cruise Business Online.

Earlier, a cruise industry analyst had written in a report that the dispute might have been solved.

Palm Beach Princess gambling ship receives new owner
The Palm Beach Princess day-gambling cruise ship has been acquired for about $6 million, reports South Florida Sun Sentinel. The ship is former Ilmatar of Silja Line.

South Florida resident Mauro Sebben is the new owner, according to a company press release. His purchase clears the company's debt, a spokeswoman said, and breathes new life into a the Princess, which has been financially troubled for years. Since 2003 its owners have filed for bankruptcy twice, most recently in late 2006, the newspaper reports.

This year, the Princess also has struggled with new casino competition from the Seminole Tribe, which now offers blackjack and other table games at its hotel and casino in Hollywood. Palm Beach Princess sails out from Port of Palm Beach.

Royal Caribbean launches new brand campaign
In an unprecedented move, Royal Caribbean International has officially seceded from land and declared itself The Nation of Why Not, in the first new integrated advertising campaign for the global cruise line in nearly ten years. Created in partnership with Royal Caribbeans lead agency, JWT NY, and a group of WPP agencies, including Mindshare and RMG, the campaign was rolled out yesterday in North America and globally in 2009 and includes print and online advertising, television commercials, collateral, as well as a new social networking website

The Nation of Why Not kicks off with two television commercials (30-second and 60-second versions) inviting vacationers to secede from land and become citizens of the nation. The tongue-in-cheek spots  a combination of live action and animation  begin November 10, during morning show programming on ABC and NBC television networks, and during primetime programming on ABC and CBS. The commercials highlight Royal Caribbeans global destinations and innovative onboard amenities, challenging viewers to do things at sea that they could not do on land, such as Why not ice skate on the equator and climb mountains at sea? Additionally, print ads will launch in forty newspapers nationwide on Sunday, November 16, 2008.
Problems mount after Cruise Value Center collapse
Problems are arising with client-related issues surrounding the closure of Cruise Value Center, one of the nation's larger cruise-oriented retailers, the Cruise Week reports on its website. ” One insider reports that it's estimated almost  $3 million in client final payments were never forwarded to the  suppliers. Also, sources say Cruise Value Center has in excess of $1.5 million of insurance paid in, but never paid out to the vendor,” the report says.

Prime Travel Protection, the company that issues the travel protection policies that Cruise Value Center sells to  customers, mailed on Friday notifications of cancellations to 1500+ customers of Cruise Value Center.  ”The notice explained that these policies,  believed to be in force by the consumer, were actually cancelled  for non-payment,” said one insider according to the report. ” Even though the customers had  remitted the premium to Cruise Value Center, the agency did not  forward payment to Prime Travel.”

Saga changes plans for former Astoria
Saga Cruises, the UK based company that sells only to customers only aged 50 or more, has changed its plans regarding the18,891 gross ton Astoria it acquired with an intention to operate it as Quest for Adventure on fly cruise basis under the Spirit of Adventure brand.

The ship will now be renamed Saga Pearl II and operate under the Saga Cruises brand as a replacement of the 24,300 gross ton Saga Rose that will be retired next year. Saga has published itineraries for two Mediterranean cruises from Southampton and a Christmas cruise to the Caribbean from the same port. The first Mediterranean cruise will depart on 30 October.

Saga said on 14 July that the ship will undergo a multi-million pound refit before its inaugural cruise as Quest for Adventure gets underway on 1 July 2009 from Harwich around the Baltic.

QE2's final farewell to Southampton
QE2's Final Farewell to Southampton on Tuesday was marked by festivities, fireworks and moving tributes. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh made his seventh and final visit to the most famous ship in the world. While onboard, His Royal Highness observed two minutes of silence at 11:00 am prior to meeting crew members who served on the ship to the Falklands. His Royal Highness then toured the vessel, including the Wardroom, Bridge, Engine Control Room and Hospital, before attending a reception in the Queens Room.

One million poppies were dropped over the ship from Tiger Moth aircrafts to commemorate Remembrance Day, mark QE2's role in the Falklands and note the ships final farewell. This was followed by a flypast of a Harrier jet which hovered and bowed to QE2 approximately 500-feet off her stern.

After leaving her berth, QE2 sailed to Mayflower Park where she remained for a period while a message from her Master, Captain Ian McNaught, was broadcast on a specially-erected screen in the park. McNaughts remarks featured a tribute to Southampton and he said that QE2 had strived to serve the city and her country with flair and fortitude for 40 years. Following a spectacular firework display, QE2 made her way downriver with her whistle blasting, accompanied by a large flotilla of well-wishers.

During QE2s many years in service to Cunard, the iconic ocean liner has sailed 5.9 million nautical miles, completed 806 transatlantic crossings, carried over 2.5 million guests, undertaken 25 World Cruises and answered her country's call during the Falklands Campaign. Her new home will be in Dubai where she will become a first class hotel and entertainment centre.

As QE2 leaves the Cunard fleet, the company's flagship Queen Mary 2 - the largest and grandest ocean liner in the world - spearheads the revival of the Golden Age of Ocean Travel by continuing to offer the regular transatlantic service started by Cunard in 1840. In addition, Queen Victoria, which entered service in December 2007, has redefined style on the high seas and offers Cunard's historic European routes. Along with Queen Mary 2, she also continues the tradition of World Cruises that Cunard began in1922. Cunard wil now become the youngest fleet in the cruise industry and is poised to continue this distinction upon the debut of the companys new ship, Queen Elizabeth, in 2010.
TUI Cruises commissions Lloyd Werft with conversion of Galaxy
TUI Cruises has awarded the Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, Germany, with the contract to refit the first ship of its new cruise brand. In March 2009, the ship that is currently operating for Celebrity Cruises as the Galaxy, will undergo a thorough
conversion. The total conversion investment will be EUR 50 million. The ship will dock in Bremerhaven in mid-March and be christened in Hamburg on May 15, 2009.

The four-star-plus ship will be converted to better suit the needs of German guests. At the same time the conversion will
significantly raise the quality of the ship. Upon completion of the work, the ship will have a total of 974 staterooms. Of the 653 outside staterooms, some 430 of them will have a veranda or balcony. The pool deck and casino will undergo renovations and the fitness center will be expanded. A special highlight will be the Blue World Bar, which will spread over three levels of the ship. The bar will have alternating projections on large, wall sized screens that will convey a marine feeling to the guests.

The Galaxy was built by the Meyer Werft and was commissioned in 1996. It is 263 meters long and 77,713 gross registered tons. It is presently operated by Celebrity Cruises, which is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. TUI Cruises is a joint venture between TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Following its christening, the ship will make its maiden voyage for TUI Cruises when it departs from Kiel, Germany, on May 23, on a sailing to the Baltic.
Celebrity Eclipse to be homeported in Southampton
Celebrity Cruises anticipates its largest growth will come from the UK market over the next few years as it announces that the new 122,000 gross ton Celebrity Eclipse will be based at Southampton in summer 2010 offering cruises to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. The ship will also enjoy its launch celebrations in Southampton where the trend-setting new ship will be showcased to UK and Ireland consumers and trade partners over a week long event.

Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, explained: ”Celebrity Cruises has enjoyed a strong relationship with the UK and Ireland market and experienced steadily increasing guest numbers in recent years. Investing in the future of that relationship with Celebrity Eclipse homeporting from Southampton is an exciting development for our business. In 2009 we have the huge opportunity of the two newest ships from Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox, based in Europe. This increases in 2010 as Celebrity Eclipse leads the charge to further maximise the potential of the UK and Ireland market.

The news was announced on 13th November 2008 onboard the newest ship from Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice, the first ship in the brands Solstice-class, during the inaugural celebrations to launch the ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Celebrity Solstice named by female scientiest
Celebrity Cruises yesterday announced the Godmother of the most widely-heralded cruise ship to enter the market this year, Celebrity Solstice. Atypically, she's not a star of stage and screen; instead, she stars in a field of enormous importance to Celebrity Cruises: the world's oceans. Professor Sharon L. Smith, the first ocean scientist ever to serve as Godmother of a cruise ship, joined Celebrity executives yesterday to name the brand's sleek, 2,850-guest ship in formal ceremonies at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

”We are genuinely privileged to have such a remarkable woman serve as Godmother of this remarkable ship,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman of Celebrity Cruises and Chairman and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ?Sharon Smith is exceptional in ways well beyond
her academic achievements.”

Cruise Business Online & Review is currently onboard the Celebrity Solstice to preview the cover feature for our December issue.

MSC Cruises enjoyed 84% leap in UK and Ireland bookings in October
October may have seen the consumer confidence slump in many parts of the world in the wake of the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, but MSC Cruises' UK and Ireland office recorded a huge increase in phone enquiries to its call centre and in bookings during October.

 ”The number of calls made throughout October rose by 47% while the number of bookings increased a staggering 84% over the same period in 2007,” the company swaid in a statement. Managing director, MSC Cruises UK and Ireland, Giulio Libutti, attributes this substantial rise in calls and bookings to a number of factors: ìWe extended our opening hours in September, to stay open for longer during the week and are now open on Sunday for the first time and we have definitely seen good results from this move.”

 ìWe are also seeing an amazing response to our sailings from Dover on MSC Lirica next year ñ the cabins are already filling up. The launch of our largest ship so far, MSC Fantasia, in Naples, Italy this December is also creating a lot of interest, thanks to its fantastic design, innovative onboard facilities and exclusive MSC Yacht Club, where guests are waited on hand and foot by our professional-trained butlers.î


Two captains for Oasis of the Seas
When Oasis of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, will leave the STX Europe Turku shipyard next fall, it will sail under command of two masters. Captain Bill Wright, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Marine Operations, will join Captain Tom Olsen for its inaugural season.”With lot of inaugural activities planned for first weeks of operations, we felt that it is appropriate to operate Oasis with two masters rather than one,” Bill Wright told Cruise Business Online while onboard Celebrity Solstice's preview sailing this weekend. Captain Wright was part of a similar scenario when Freedom of the Seas launched in 2006; that ship had two captains at the helm for the first few weeks of operation.The 225,000 gross ton and 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas is currently under construction in Turku, Finland. It will be floated out next Friday.
MSC Cruises, Port Everglades sign two-year agreement
MSC Cruises and Port Everglades have entered into a two-year agreement for the use of both a berth and terminal at the port. The agreement will serve as an interim agreement while a long-term agreement is worked out. Broward County Mayor Lois Wexler and other senior port officials (including Port Director Phil Allen) met with key MSC Cruises executives to explore the potential of a long-term agreement, which is in development.
MSC Cruises is guaranteeing 135,000 passengers in the first year of the agreement and 160,000 passengers in its second year, said Carlos Buqueras, Business Development Director for the port. ”We have consistently had an excellent relationship with Port Everglades and are looking forward to continuing that relationship well into the future as we anticipate expanding our presence in the North American market,” says Richard E. Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc. ”This also illustrates our continued commitment to Broward County, which serves as home base to our North American offices,” says Sasso.
”Port Everglades has a long history as the winter home for the cruise industryís newest ships.  So it is fitting that we continue to develop a strong relationship with MSC, which has the most modern fleet in the industry, and is also one of the Portís largest cargo customers,” says Port Everglades Director Phillip C. Allen.
In past year, two of the lineís Lirica-class vessels had been operating from the port during the winter Caribbean season. This year, MSC Lirica will be joined by MSC Orchestra, one of the lineís newest Musica-class vessels. During the winter 2009-2010 season, the line is expected to have two Musica-class ships ñ MSC Poesia and the brand new MSC Magnifica ñ sailing Caribbean itineraries.
Fresh from the drydock ñ Queen Mary 2 sails out with better connectivity
Following Queen Mary 2's recently completed refurbishment, there is now increased connectivity throughout the ship. In these days of instant communication, guests can now access their emails or websites while aboard the ship as easily as in the comfort of their own home. This makes a voyage on Queen Mary 2, and especially a Transatlantic Crossing, a real opportunity for those who want to get away from it all and still be able to get in touch whenever they want to for personal or business reasons.

Guests have the convenience of using their laptop computers in the privacy and comfort of their staterooms with the addition of in-room wireless connectivity. In addition, mobile phone and handheld service while the ship is at sea is now available. The upgrades enhance the ships already existing high technology services, which include WiFi accessibility found in public rooms throughout the ship. Sister ship Queen Victoria already offers these services.

To use mobile phones at sea, guests must have a device capable of roaming internationally and their service provider must have a roaming agreement with Maritime Communications Partner AS, as does AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Cunard encourages guests to contact their mobile phone/handheld service provider in advance of the voyages departure date to verify their plan for pricing and international roaming capabilities. All mobile phone/handheld data charges will be conveniently billed by the service provider. Charges generated by guests using their laptop computers who register onboard for wireless access packages will be billed to their stateroom folios ñ standard shipboard Internet charges apply.

This is available in most areas around the ship; however, similar to fine restaurants and theatres on land, mobile phone service will not be accessible in the Royal Court Theatre, Illuminations, the Queens Room or in the ships dining rooms.

Queen Mary 2s drydock has allowed Cunard to ensure the ship is looking pristine for her fifth anniversary year with a new refurbishment of the nautically themed Chart Room, featuring a new colour scheme and layout, carpet, drapes and furniture; the installation of a canopy providing a wonderful al fresco dining option for our Todd English Restaurant guests; and the replacement of some stateroom corridor carpets as well as French polishing and upholstery work in the Britannia restaurant, Royal Court Theatre and Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

Queen Mary 2 is now sailing westbound, en route to New York, arriving on November 21. She will then commence her Caribbean season, followed in January by her second World Cruise. Cunards flagship will celebrate her fifth anniversary that month, having been christened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in January 2004.
Rick Sasso of MSC Cruises takes helm of CLIA Marketing Committee in January
Richard E. Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., has been named Chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Marketing Committee effective January 1, 2009. He takes over from Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, who provided direction for the committee and CLIA during the last 2 years.

”We are delighted that Rick Sasso, in addition to his responsibilities of running MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., has offered to take the helm of the CLIA Marketing Committee at a time when the industry needs dynamic, innovative leadership and strategic thinking,” said Terry L. Dale, CLIA's President and CEO. ”Marketing is going to be more important than ever in the months to come and we are extremely grateful that industry leaders such as Dan Hanrahan, whose service has been above and beyond the call of duty, and now Rick Sasso are willing to give CLIA much of their valuable time.”

Rick Sasso is one of the most popular and well-respected figures in the cruise industry for more than 36 years and involved in the travel industry for 40 years.

After holding key positions at Costa Cruises and Chandris Cruises, he was part of the senior management team that launched Celebrity Cruises in 1990. He served as president of that line from 1995 to 2001 and was instrumental in establishing it as a top premium cruise line.

Sasso was named president and chief executive officer of MSC Cruises (USA) Inc. in April 2004 and has been charged with establishing a strong position for MSC Cruises in the North American market as the line dramatically increased its fleet to make MSC Cruises the fastest growing cruise line with the youngest, most modern fleet.

David Giersdorf to lead Paul Gauguin Shipping Limited as Acting President and CEO
Paul Gauguin Shipping Limited today announced that David Giersdorf has joined the company as Acting President and CEO as the company assumes full operation of Paul Gauguin beginning in January 2010. Giersdorf has more than 30 years of experience in the cruise industry and business management, including senior management and/or ownership positions at Exploration Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Holland America, Ambassadors Cruise Group, Glacier Bay Lodge, and the marketing services firm CF2GS. He is a former Chairman of CLIA.

With Davidís strong leadership skills and expertise in small ship cruising, the company looks forward to delivering continued excellence on its five-plus star Paul Gauguin, to expanding relationships with travel agents and other sellers, and to growing the business as it assumes full operation of all aspects of Paul Gauguin in 2010 and beyond.

David Giersdorf, CEO of Giersdorf Group, will lead the Paul Gauguin transition team by serving as Acting President and CEO for an initial period of six months. Paul Gauguin Shipping Limited and Giersdorf Group have entered into an agreement that will ensure a successful transition and continuation for the luxury vessel Paul Gauguin, which will operate under the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet through 2009 and then operate independently thereafter.

Prior to establishing Giersdorf Group, Giersdorf was President of Ambassadors Cruise Group, the parent company of Majestic America Line and Windstar Cruises, where he oversaw cruise operations. Before that, he served as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Holland America Cruise Line.

Royal Caribbean Cruises to discontinue the dividends
The Board of Directors of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., as a result of its quarterly review of dividend policy, decided today to discontinue the company's common stock dividend. ”We recognize our dividend is important to many of our shareholders,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO. ”However, the best way to reward all of our shareholders is to continue to position the company for future earnings growth and enhance our liquidity during this period of heightened economic and financial market volatility.”

”As we have described previously, Royal Caribbean has been proactive in arranging financing commitments or government guarantees for all of its remaining ship orders,” Fain continued. ”We expect these financing arrangements will be adequate to meet our ongoing operations and capital expenditure requirements. Nonetheless, in the current economic and capital markets environment, we feel it is prudent to actively manage our liquidity profile and add to our financial flexibility.”

The company has been aggressive in the last several months in taking actions to improve both its profitability and liquidity including reductions in running costs, general and administrative expenses and capital expenditures. Discontinuing the dividend is a natural corollary to these ongoing efforts.

This is the time of year that the Board of Directors normally considers fourth quarter dividends. The quarterly dividends have recently been at a rate of $0.15 per share, totaling approximately $130 million per year. The cost savings previously announced are estimated to save the company approximately $125 million per year. The company continues to focus on savings opportunities and will continue to assess its liquidity position as the global economy and financial markets begin to stabilize.

Three weeks ago, the company provided information about current booking patterns and future trends. While the economic outlook continues to evolve, the general booking patterns have not changed and the company reaffirms the guidance it then provided.
Orient Lines delays launch
Orient Lines has now confirmed that due to the current world economic climate, it shall delay the launch of its cruises currently scheduled to commence in April 2009.

Orient Linesí President and CEO Wayne Heller stated that, ”All guests that have booked a cruise with Orient Lines shall be given a full and prompt refund and, if requested, we will endeavor to offer them assistance with making alternate cruise vacation arrangements.”

Heller added, ”Even though the launch of Orient Lines is delayed, we are exploring possible options to re-launch our cruise program at a more favorable time in the near future.” He did, however, not comment the future of Maxim Gorkiy, the ship which was to become Marco Polo II.

Croisieres de France reaches 84% occupancy ratio in first Mediterranean season
Croisieres de France (CDF), the French brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), reached an occupancy ratio of 84% in its first season in the Mediterranean. The company started business at the end of May using the 37,000 gross ton Bleu de France that was built as Europa of Hapag-Lloyd in 1982. The ship is about to commence a season of fly cruises in the Caribbean that will run from 29 November to 21 March next year. The base port for the 7-night cruises is La Romana in the Dominican Republic. ”It is unique for a cruise line to possess its own Boeing 747 fleet. This means that we will be able to accompany our passenger all the way from Paris to Paris and ensure our unique service,” Manging Director Nicholas Sharp said in a statemnent. CDF will use airlift provided by Pullmantur Air, its Spanish sister company.
Carnival Glory to operate Atlantic Canada and fall foliage cruises
Carnival Cruise Lines will increase capacity on its seasonal cruise program from New York in 2010 with the 2,978-passenger Carnival Glory scheduled to operate a variety of 4- and 5-night Atlantic Canada voyages from June to September, followed by a series of five week-long fall foliage cruises. It marks the first time that Carnival has deployed one of its largest ships on the highly popular program. The 110,000-ton Carnival Glory features a wide variety of exceptional facilities, amenities and stateroom accommodation categories. Additionally, departing from New York makes these cruises extremely convenient and attractive for the huge population base within driving distance of Manhattan, as well as for those in the larger eastern U.S. region who can take a short-haul flight to one of the area's three major airports.
4-night cruises departing Thursdays feature a call at Saint John, New Brunswick and scenic cruising in the Bay of Fundy, while 5-night cruises departing on Mondays and Saturdays include stops at Saint John and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The program commences with a 4-night voyage departing June 6, 2010 (a one-time Sunday departure).
Week-long fall foliage itineraries beginning Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, feature four different ports of call, including Boston, Mass., Portland, Maine, Saint John and Halifax, offering a variety of opportunities to view stunning fall colors and explore these charming coastal cities.
STX Europe Turku shipyard floats out Oasis of the Seas
In just over one year, Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas will make her long awaited debut. The ship, under construction at STX Europe in Turku, Finland, reached an important maritime milestone today when she was floated out to begin the final stages of interior work.

At official ceremonies held at the shipyard, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. executives, Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO and Harri Kulovaara, Executive Vice President, Maritime were joined by Martin Landtman, President, STX Finland Cruise Oy, and Toivo Ilvonen, Project Director, Oasis-class, to turn the valve releasing 87 million gallons of water into the wet dock area.

”This is a historic day for our company. After more than three years of intense planning and collaboration and with 65 percent of the ship already complete, its exciting to see Oasis entering its final stages,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ”Oasis of the Seas truly represents the innovative spirit that our company is known for and to see that come to fruition is wonderful.”

As already reported in Cruise Business Online on Monday, the line chose this important milestone to announce that Oasis of the Seas will enter service under the command of Captain William S. Wright and Captain Tor Olsen. Wright, a 15-year veteran of Royal Caribbean International, was also the start up Captain for Freedom of the Seas, currently the largest ship in the world with sister ships Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, and 40% smaller than Oasis of the Seas. Wright also is one of the few American captains in international cruising and currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Marine Operations for the cruise line.

Born in Norway, Captain Tor Olsen has been on the high seas since the age of 16. He joined Royal Caribbean International in 1987 working on Song of America and has served as Captain on five Royal Caribbean ships from the Voyager-class to the Vision-class.
Seabourn's second newbuilding named as Seabourn Sojourn
Seabourn Cruise Line has named its second newbuilding as Seabourn Sojourn, Cruise Critic revealed yesterday. The 32,000 gross ton and 450-newbuilding is currently under construction at T. Mariotti shipyard and it will be delivered in summer 2010. She will be based in the UK for an inaugural season, Cruise Critic reported.
Celebrity returns to Bermuda in 2010
During preview cruises this month on its new Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruises revealed plans to resume cruises to
Bermuda in 2010. ”Celebrity has a long and positive history with the beautiful island of Bermuda, and we're thrilled to respond to demand that we return, from our longtime guests and travel agent partners alike,” said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

On April 17, 2010, Celebrity Summit will reposition from San Juan to Cape Liberty (Bayonne), New Jersey, to present a series of 7-night roundtrip Bermuda itineraries. The ship will dock at King's Wharf, also known as the Royal Naval Dockyard.

”Travelers and travel agents have spoken, and they say they want Bermuda and Celebrity reunited,” said Bermuda Premier Dr. Ewart F. Brown, also Minister of Tourism and Transport. ”I am pleased to say that we have delivered. Guests on the Bermuda-bound Celebrity Summit are in for a spectacular vacation experience both on land and at sea come April 2010.” In July 2010, Celebrity Summit's new Bermuda sailings will alternate with 7-night Canada/New England cruises. Full deployment details for both destinations will be announced when bookings open in 2009. Celebrity Cruises' most recent season in Bermuda ended in October 2006, with the line's former Celebrity Zenith.
MSC Cruises offers second passenger rate of £1 on selected sailings
MSC Cruises is kick-starting Christmas in the UK by giving passengers the chance to cruise for just £1. ”When one adult books an MSC cruise for next year between 1 to 7 December 2008 and pays brochure price, the second passenger travelling with them will pay only £1. More than 100 departures are available, from March to November 2009, for seven, eight or 11 nights,” the company said in a statement.

 The special offer is valid for selected sailings on: MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Melody, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Lirica, MSC Poesia, MSC Fantasia ñ launching on 18 December ñ and MSC Splendida, launching in July 2009. MSC Fantasia and its sister ship MSC Splendida are the largest cruise ships ever built by a European ship owner.

Itineraries include east and west Mediterranean, with departures from Barcelona, Genoa, Venice or Livorno, and Northern Europe, covering the immensely popular Baltic capitals, Norwegian fjords and North Cape. Passengers must book between 1 to 7 December to take advantage of this exclusive offer.


Consumers regard main holiday as essential - TUI Travel ceo Long
TUI Travel, the largest tour operator in Europe, has said its full-year pre-tax profit rose 43% to £319.7m as a result of cost cuts, the BBC reports.

”Our customers continue to regard their main holiday as an essential, not a luxury, which they are reluctant to forgo,” said chief executive Peter Long. The company said its profit margins improved after it cut loss-making flights and sold fewer holidays at higher prices. It added that winter bookings were going well despite a 10% increase in average prices due to reduced capacity.

Long also said that it has seen promising signs in early trading for the summer of 2009 in a further indication that the company is resilient to the economic downturn.

TUI Travel is headquartered and listed in London.  It was formed through the merger of the travel division of TUI AG of Germany and First Choice Holidays of the UK. TUI AG controls 51% of the shares in the company.
Azura to feature Indian fine dining, single cabins and spa treatment rooms with balconies
A number of new innovations combined with a refined and modern interpretation of the classic cruise experience will be the defining qualities for P&O Cruisesí Azura, which set to launch in 2010. The ship will be a sister ship of the 116,017 gross ton Ventura introduced in April, but it will have a number of differences compared to that vessel.

To harness eclectic British tastes and honour the rich history of P&O Cruises, Azura will feature an Indian fine dining restaurant, Sindhu, the creation of celebrated Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar. Sindhu means meeting point, amalgamation or fusion, and the menu will offer a fusion of fine British and Indian cuisine. Dishes such as pan-fried lobster tail in coconut milk and tamarind sauce will tempt passengers through the doors of this ñ just one of 11 ñ dining venues on board, P&O Cruises said in a statement.

Azura will feature 18 single staterooms, a first in the P&O Cruises fleet, and two large suites for extended families or groups of friends to share, meaning more affordable travel suited to today's diverse market. The ship will offer a record 900 staterooms with private balconies and a select number of spa staterooms, offering exclusive access to the Oasis Spa and added in-cabin extras.

TV wine expert Olly Smith has also been enlisted to help create a new ëSelect Diningí restaurant and wine bar concept ñ The Glass House. A must for wine lovers, The Glass House menu will feature different wines recommended with each course, all served by the glass and expertly matched by Olly. The Saturday Kitchen star will also lend his skill on the drinks menus for Azuraís other bars and restaurants, and will travel regularly throughout the year to host light hearted tasting sessions in his own irreverent style.

P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ìWe have a rich heritage of providing British cruise passengers with an exceptional holiday experience, and it is this unprecedented experience that gives us a unique insight into their needs and tastes. We are perfectly positioned to design a ship to appeal to todayís sophisticated consumers and have done exactly this with Azura.

ìModern travellers have diverse needs and require more than a ëone size fits allí approach. Azura will cater for every kind of consumer, from newcomers to cruising to our more experienced repeat customers; from singles and couples to families and multi-generational groups, empty nesters to parties or simply friends reunited ñ Azura will deliver them all with an authentic, large ship experience. Among the new developments Azura also features all the qualities inherent in the P&O Cruises experience, such as fine dining, a world-class spa, extensive family friendly facilities and specially commissioned works of British art.î

New design highlights include an open air cinema by the Aqua Pool and a secluded on deck spa area, The Retreat, with private cabanas for al-fresco massages, luxurious sun loungers and personal waiter service. Treatment rooms within the spa will also have balconies, so that passengers can be pampered in the open air.

Oceania Cruises' Nautica on the target of pirates
On November 30, 2008, at approximately 0928 local time, 0528 GMT, Nautica was transiting through the Gulf of Aden within the prescribed Maritime Safety Protection Area which is patrolled by international anti-piracy task forces. As the vessel sailed past several groups of non-hostile fishing vessels, two small skiffs were sighted by the Officer on Duty and deemed potentially hostile. The skiffs, approaching from a range of approximately 1000 meters, attempted to intercept the vesselís course. Captain Jurica Brajcic and his officers immediately began evasive maneuvers and took all prescribed precautions. Nautica was immediately brought to flank speed and was able to out run the two skiffs. One of the skiffs did manage to close the range to approximately 300 yards and fired eight rifle shots in the direction of the vessel before trailing off. No one aboard Nautica was harmed and no damage was sustained.

All guests and crew onboard are safe and there were no injuries. All requisite international authorities have been notified and all anti-piracy precautions were in place prior to the event and all necessary measures were taken during the event.

P&O Cruises Australia may add Newcastle to list of home ports
P&O Cruises Australia, which will grow from two to four ships in in the next 24 months or so, is investigating making Newcastle its next home port to keep pace with the growing demand for a cruise holiday.

Ann Sherry, Chief Executive of Carnival Australia which owns P&O Cruises Australia, visited Newcastle at the end of September to look at Newcastleís existing shipping facilities.  She met representatives from Newcastle Ports Corporation and Cruise Hunter to discuss the possibility of the company basing at least one of its 2000-passenger ships in the Newcastle Harbour for at least part of the year if not longer.

The announcement follows P&O Cruises Australiaís recent decision to double its fleet from two to four ships by receiving the vessels currently operated in the UK under the Ocean Village brand name over the next two years to keep pace with Australiansí growing love affair with cruising. However, Ms Sherry said the company would need certainty it could refuel in Newcastle before being able to progress plans.

Currently, the large visiting passenger ships can only berth at Dyke Point, however, thousands of passengers have to be tendered from the ship to the nearby Queens Wharf.  While this can be managed for visiting international ships, it is impossible to start and finish a cruise at this location. This is because each time a ship ”turnsaround” about 2000 passengers disembark and a further 2000 embark with luggage and stores.

Ms Sherry said the company was interested in using facilities at Throsby in the short term. ”Newcastle has existing shipping facilities that could be modified to suit cruise ships,” she said. ”People in the Central Coast and Hunter Regions love cruising, so it makes sense to base a ship closer to this growing market as we grow as a business.”

A decision to base ships out of Newcastle could have an enormous economic impact on the region, with each ship turnaround contributing about AUD 1 million to the local economy.  ”Each turnaround by one of our superliners is equivalent to five jumbo jet loads of holidaymakers arriving and departing on one day, so itís great news for local businesses,” Ms Sherry said.  The Hunter region is also increasing its attraction as a destination, with Newcastle attracting three visits from P&O Cruises sister company, Princess Cruises, late next year. ”We have already shown our confidence in the region with plans for two of our superliners, Sun Princess and the Dawn Princess, to make three calls at Newcastle from late next year.”

Thomas Cook ceo confirms cosumers want their holiday
A few days after TUI Travel, the Europe's biggest tour operator, stated that consumers regard annual holiday as essential and not a luxury, Thomas Cook, another London based tour operator, has confirmed the message despite a weak economic climate.

ìWhilst it is still early in the booking cycle for most of our markets, current trading is in line with our expectations,î said chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa in a report published on  ìRecent research and the high load factors we are currently experiencing give us confidence that consumers remain intent on taking their holidays.î

It said winter 2008/09 trading is progressing well, with average selling prices up 10%, 9% and 11% in UK charter, Germany and France respectively. It also noted encouraging early trading for summer 2009, with UK charter average selling prices up 10%.

Pre tax profit in the financial year to 30 September increased 32% to £309.3 million, helped by e.g. acquisitions.
P&O Cruises' Arcadia to receive 34 new cabins and boutique cinema in major refit
P&O Cruises 2005 built Arcadia is currently undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment, during which a total of 34 new staterooms will be added in line with Vista class ships of sister company Holland America Line, of which Arcadia's design is derived. .

The refit is being done in the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. Arcadia arrived in the yard on 26 November and will return to Southampton on 20 December 2008. P&O Cruises' managing director Nigel Esdale, said: ìThis is Arcadiaís first major refurbishment since she joined the fleet in April 2005 and we are taking the opportunity to enhance and improve the features of this already
very successful child free ship. The work that we are undertaking will add to Arcadiaís contemporary charmand she will emerge with even more facilities to surprise and delight her passengers.î .

A new section of staterooms with private balconies will be added to the aft end of the ship that measured 82,972 gross tons prior to the work. This will result in the creation of an enlarged deck area
around the already popular Aquarius Pool. To further enhance this area, a larger and more stylish, new bar has been created, the company said in a statement.

A further new feature for passengers will be a 30-seat boutique cinema, creating a dedicated space for showing films on board. The cinema will be added in place of the existing Cyb@Study - wireless internet access will continue to be offered on board. The photo gallery is to be revamped with more space and privacy given for portrait sittings and the addition of equipment for passengers to download
images from their own cameras to be printed directly on board. .

Further refurbishment is taking place throughout the ship, with new carpets, soft furnishings and upholstery added in areas including the Spinnaker Bar, Neptune Pool and passenger cabins. New teak furniture will enhance open deck space and a sprung wooden floor in the gym will improve delivery of exercise classes..

The first passengers to sail on the new look Arcadia will be departing on a 16 night Mediterranean cruise from Southampton on 20 December 2008.

STX Europe laid keel of Allure of the Seas
The keel of Allure of the Seas, the second in the series of two of the world's largest cruise ships was laid today at the Turku yards of STX Europe. The keel laying ceremony marked the placement of the very first block of Allure of the Seas in the dry dock where the ship will begin to take shape. The event also included the coin laying ceremony, with representatives of the owner, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and the Builder, STX Europe placing the lucky coins under the keel, the tradition for bringing luck and also symbolising the keen cooperation between the owner and the yard.

The ”keelblock” of this size of the vessel weighs several hundreds of tons. Building of this big challenge has been compared to a huge 3-dimensional puzzle. One vessel consists of 180 grand blocks, the biggest with a size of length 22 m, width 30 m and weight 600 tons! The vessel s weight is 12 times the weight of the Eiffel tower.

STX Europe in Turku has in its orderbook two huge luxury cruise vessels of the Oasis-class to be delivered for Royal Caribbean in 2009 and 2010. Behemoth, leviathan, colossal, overwhelming are words that have been used to describe these giants; and the truth is they will be the world s largest cruise vessels taking an enormous step into the future with their bold design, daring innovation and technological advancements.

The vessels called Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will be 47 metres wide and 360 metres long, i.e. 40 m longer than the height of the Eiffel tower! Height over the water line will be 65 m.
Princess Cruises' newbuilding talks with Mitsubishi end without contract - paper
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has reportedly postponed plans to re-enter into cruiseship construction as early as 2012 after Princess Cruises are said to have scrapped talks on newbuildings. The Lloyds List cited Nikkei Daily, which reported that the yard was believed to have been in the final stages of negotiations with Carnival Corp & PLC  for two large 1,000-passenger-plus vessels priced in the region of JPY 100bn ($845m) each.

Mitsubishi pulled out of the cruise business in 2002 after a fire broke out during the construction of the 115,000 gross ton Diamond Princess that was delivered in 2004. It signalled it was back in the cruise business last year, due to a sharp rise in demand mainly in the US and Europe, Lloyds List said.

The first ship was to have been delivered in the spring of 2013 and the other a year later.The order had been expected to be finalised by year-end at the earliest. Mitsubishi was worried that the rising yen would hit profitability on cruiseship building, the report said.

The two ships were reportedly planned to exceed the 115,000 gross ton size of the Diamon Princess and Sapphire Princess that Mitsubishi built for Princess earloer in the millennium.

MSC Sinfonia in dry dock to enhance environmental aspects and facilities
MSC Cruises'  MSC Sinfonia recently entered into dry dock for the installation of new ìclean cruisingî equipment and systems.  ìThe work on MSC Sinfonia represents MSC Cruisesí continued commitment to maintain the highest environmental standards not only for the new ships under construction but also for all our ships in the fleet,î says Richard E. Sasso, president and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc.

The first phase of the work on MSC Sinfonia includes sandblasting the keel and recoating the shipís underwater hull area with silicon paint, an outstanding non-toxic material that respects the marine environment. Following the thorough sandblasting, the keel received an epoxy anticorrosive application before application of Intersleek 970, an environmentally friendly, inert marine coating material that contains no active ingredient. The new hull coating fully complies with current international IMO Antifouling Systems standards. Continuing the strong commitment by MSC Cruises to safeguard the environment, MSC Sinfonia recently entered into dry dock for the installation of new ìclean cruisingî equipment and systems.

At 58,625 gross rated tons, MSC Sinfonia has 777 staterooms with a capacity of 1,544 guests (double occupancy). It is equipped with engines that use low sulphur fuel and utilizes state-of-the-art waste disposal equipment to reduce trash generated onboard to ash for clean disposal or to process recyclable materials for transfer to recycling centers on shore..

During the current drydock service, MSC Sinfonia will also receive routine maintenance and upgrades in public areas, including Shelinghís House, English Pub, Ambassador Cigar Room, Area Reception, Manhattan Bar, CafË Le Baroque, San Remo Casino, Buddha Bar, Il Covo Restaurant, Discoteca Pash‡ Club, and Buffet.


At 58,625 gross rated tons, MSC Sinfonia has 777 staterooms with a capacity of 1,544 guests (double occupancy). It is equipped with engines that use low sulphur fuel and utilizes state-of-the-art waste disposal equipment to reduce trash generated onboard to ash for clean disposal or to process recyclable materials for transfer to recycling centers on shore.

During the current drydock service, MSC Sinfonia will also receive routine maintenance and upgrades in public areas, including Shelinghís House, English Pub, Ambassador Cigar Room, Area Reception, Manhattan Bar, CafË Le Baroque, San Remo Casino, Buddha Bar, Il Covo Restaurant, Discoteca Pash‡ Club, and Buffet.


Supply growth to hurt yields but attract new people to cruising in 2009 - report
While cruise lines will significantly increase passenger capacity with the addition of new ships, pricing pressures to fill them in 2009 should negatively impact per passenger revenues. However, the combination of attractive pricing, innovative ships designs for select traveler markets and significant marketing efforts around the astounding new ships will provide opportunity to introduce new cruisers to the cruising experience, a report issued by Cruise Market Watch in the US summarised. This will stimulate market growth for the industry through 2011. By the end of 2011, revenues are projected to increase 13.5% and passengers carried 13.8% from 2009. Total worldwide cruise passenger capacity will increase 7.0% over 2008 next year, while annualized total passengers carried worldwide in 2009 is estimated at 16.5 million  The total worldwide cruise market is estimated at $26.9 billion, a 1.4% decline from 2008. ”With cruise line stocks Carnival Corp & PLC and Royal Caribbean  trading around 70% off 52-week highs shares appear oversold, according to Ryan Wahlstrom, founder and publisher of Cruise Market Watch. The cruise industry has seen fears of overcapacity before. In 1990 new ship construction by cruise lines resulted in the addition of 15,000 berths - a 26% increase from 1987. Cruise lines proceeded to perform exceptionally well over the subsequent two decades. With cruise currently accounting for just 2% to 4% of market share for the total vacation industry, there remains plenty of room for growth,” the report says.”It's all about creative ways to get the cruise line's brand in front of non-cruisers,” comments Wahlstrom. By partnering with non-travel brands that resonate with a given line's target market and by communicating the experiences of the ships, such as spas or exotic destinations, prospects that are already vacationing in other ways will try a cruise.
RCCL names Gavin Smith to head operations in Australia
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) has named Gavin  Smith managing director for its operations in
Australia. ”In his position, Smith will lead the Australia office and oversee all  commercial and operational activities in Australia, for three of the  company's cruise brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises. Smith and the Australian team will support the
growing demand for cruise itineraries in and around Australia, New Zealand  and the South Pacific, which includes the increasing number of Australians  interested in cruising<” RCCL said in a statement.

”We are delighted to have Gavin join our team,” said Michael Bayley,  senior vice president of international for RCCL. ”Gavin will further strengthen our ongoing commitment to providing unique
and award-winning cruise experiences to the Australian market.  Gavin's experience in working with multiple cruise brands and driving business  growth will be invaluable in this new role of managing our Australian activities and implementing our regional growth strategies.”

Smith has over 20 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry. Most recently, he served as general manager for one of Australia's leading retail travel groups, Jetset Travelworld.  Previously, he served as managing director for P&O Cruises Australia and President for Carnival Australia, where he managed the organization through a period of significant growth.  He has held various senior sales, marketing and communications positions in Australia and the United Kingdom. Smith received a Bachelor of Business Studies, with a major in marketing, from the University of Technology in Sydney.

MSC Cruises ”Sail for £1” offer triggers more than 2,000 enquiries in first two days
Further evidence that the travel sector is doing quite well despite a weak economic climate comes from MSC Cruises as response to its ëSail for £1í offer has been ”huge” as in the first two days of the special offer, which runs from 1-7 December, more than 2,000 enquiries and a high proportion of bookings were taken, the company says.

ìOur reservations team has been manning the phones constantly and we have had to bring in extra staff to help cope with demand,î said Operations and Reservations Manager, Milica Mocevic. ìEven the managers have been fielding calls as all our lines are constantly busy. We would ask any agents trying to get through to please be patient, as we will answer their call as soon as we can.î

Under the exclusive deal, when the first passenger pays full brochure price on select sailings in 2009, the second passenger sails for only £1. The offer is available on ten ships in the MSC Cruises fleet, including MSC Fantasia, launching on 18 December in Naples, Italy, and its sister ship MSC Splendida, launching in Barcelona in July 2009.

Managing Director Giulio Libutti remarked: ìWe had no doubt in our minds that this offer would receive such strong feedback and interest. MSC Cruises is now well recognised in the market, not least because of the high-profile launch of MSC Poesia in Dover in April, and our latest addition MSC Fantasia, our biggest ship so far and featuring the exclusive MSC Yacht Club.

ìThis proves that people are still willing to travel abroad next year for their annual holiday, despite all the doom and gloom in the media regarding the credit crunch at the moment,î Mr Libutti added.

London based tour operators TUI Travel and Thomas Cook, both of which have extensive international business,  have also recently stated that the sector is doing quite well even in the current economic downturn. TUI Travel's ceo stated that main holiday is regarded as  essential rather than luxury in the company's latest result release that came out last week.

Carnival sues Rolls-Royce for alleged Mermaid defects - paper
Carnival Corp. has sued Rolls-Royce for more than $100 million over allegations that Rolls-Royce marketed and sold defective propulsion systems for the Queen Mary 2, the Orlando Business Jourmal reports on its website.

The Mermaid pod propulsion system has been targeted in lawsuits by other cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The complaint states: ìproblems with the Mermaid pods on the QM2 began shortly after the ship was put into operation and have continued to date. The Mermaids are simply defective and do not function as it was represented that they would.î

No single surcharges on NCL's Transatlantic voyage in April
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is offering a Transatlantic voyage from Miami to Dover in April at special prices that include cabins for single travelers at no supplement.

Norwegian Jewel will set sail on the 11 night crossing on 11 April and fares range from 499 euro per person in an inside cabin to 1,199 in a minisuite, according to an enewsletter issued by the company's office in Wiesbaden in Germany.
P&O Cruises reports influx of bookings and launches new offers
P&O Cruises says it has seen an influx of bookings in the last week and it introduces new incentives for those who book a cruise before 31 January.

”A seven night cruise on board Ventura in April 2009 starts from £538 per person, including all main meals, entertainment, facilities and child care,” the company said in a statement, pointing oout that cruising that used to be a reserve of the well-heeled now offers good value for money.

Going into the December and January peak booking period, P&O Cruises is making holidays even more affordable by offering significant savings and up to £120 on board credit per stateroom, on bookings made before 31 January 2009. In addition, up to £100 per person discount is being offered on Ventura 2009 sailings.

P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale, said: ìThe current economic climate is understandably making people nervous about committing to holidays but we aim to reassure people that luxury need not break the bank and a holiday with us is a very sensible, as well as inspiring, choice. This is especially true with the additional savings we are offering on top of our already considerable discounts, meaning holidays can be booked for as little as £76 per person per night.î

P&O Cruises is part of Carnival Corp & PLC and it operates six ships on the British market. A seventh vessel, the 116,000 gross ton Azura is due to join the fleet in 2010.

Port of Seattle and Carnival Corporation to sign 10-year agreement
The Port of Seattle Commission voted this week in favor of a 10-year agreement with Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. The agreement formalizes what many cruise passengers have known for years, that Seattle is a great place to begin a voyage, and that partnerships such as these will insure that this remains a growing market for years to come.

Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani said, ”The cruise business has been a very lucrative investment for the citizens of King County,” he said. ”In less than ten years, we've gone from six vessel calls a year to 210, and each vessel call brings $1.7 million to the local economy. This agreement keeps the jobs and economic growth that cruise ships bring to the region in place well into the future.”

The agreement calls on Carnival Corporation to bring a minimum of 420,000 revenue passengers a year to Seattle's new two-berth cruise facility at Terminal 91 scheduled to open in April, 2009. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises currently serve the Alaska market with five homeported ships in Seattle, and will add the Pacfic Princess with 14-day itineraries for the upcoming season.

”Overall we have been very pleased with our cruise operations in Seattle,” said Dan Grausz, senior vice president, fleet, Holland America Line. ”This agreement demonstrates our commitment and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Port and city.”

”Princess has been homeporting our ships in Seattle for five years now, and we know our passengers enjoy beginning and ending their cruise here,” said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. ”We now look forward to continuing this successful program for many years to come.”

Speaking to the economic impact on the city and region Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO said, ”A first class cruise terminal drives tourism. This long-term investment in Terminal 91 promises to return near-term economic impact as well as future growth in our regional tourism economy.”

The new passenger terminal ñ located just north of downtown Seattle ñ provides a quick vessel approach, panoramic views of the city's skyline, Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. Features of the terminal include concierge services, luggage storage, on-board airline check-in, rental cars and secure parking. The two-story, 143,000 square foot facility
offers mobile gangways and shore power at each 1200 foot berth.

The two shore-power equipped berths will eliminate the need for running engines to generate onboard electricity. This environmentally-friendly service eliminates vessel air emissions while in port. Seattle remains the only port world-wide to offer this level of service.

In 2008, Seattle hosted a record 210 vessels and 886,000 passengers, nearly all destined for Alaska's pristine wilderness. This was the first time Seattle surpassed Vancouver, BC in passenger numbers.
Three RCCL brands suspend fuel supplement
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced on 5 December the suspension of its fuel supplement for Royal Caribbean International (RCI), Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises sailings that depart on or after 1st January 2009, anywhere in the world.

The decision reflects the recently sustained lower price of fuel. Effective Monday 8th December, guests making new bookings for sailings that depart on or after 1st January 2009, will not be charged the fuel supplement.

Guests already booked on sailings that depart on or after 1st January 2009, will receive a refund of any fuel supplement paid, as follows: Guests with existing bookings for sailings that depart on or after 1st January 2009, and who are now paid in full, will have the supplement automatically refunded to them in the form of an onboard credit during their sailing.
Guests with existing bookings for sailings that depart on or after 1st January 2009, and who are not yet paid in full, will have the supplement automatically removed from their outstanding balance.

The company reserves the right to reinstate fuel supplement charges if the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel exceeded $65 per barrel, on the quarterly milestone dates mentioned in the companyís 24th October 2008, press release, RCCL said in a stsatement. 


RCCL appoints Briony Peters as PR manager in UK and Ireland
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, the company that operates the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises brands in the UK and Ireland has appointed a new PR manager, Briony Peters.

With an international PR background Peters was the former PR director for Kerzner International overseeing the strategic communications plan around the launch of the new Atlantic The Palm resort in Dubai . Additional experience spans account director roles at PR agency Hill and Knowlton in Hong Kong and Dubai working on major consumer and technology brands, plus additional experience in pan-European roles in various London PR agencies, the company says.

Peters will report to associate vice president and general manager for the business in the UK and Ireland , Jo Rzymowska, and be supported by an in house PR coordinator, Surinder Manku. Based in the UK and Ireland office of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Weybridge, Surrey , Peters will work alongside a PR manager for the international markets.

Jo Rzymowska, associate vice president and general manager, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, UK and Ireland commented:   ìIn recent years the Royal Caribbean International brand has enjoyed significant PR success around the launch of major ships and in our share of voice against traditional competitors. Moving forward the newly enhanced PR function is charged with continuing to build on our success with Royal Caribbean International and deliver this kind of impact for the Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises brands to the UK and Ireland media. Briony Peters has an impressive PR pedigree that will compliment our existing team skills and expanding international business.î

Peters will work with the retained PR agency for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Siren PR.  The role will encompass consumer, trade, corporate and internal communications functions. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is a fully owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the Miami based company that is the second largest cruise shipping group in the world.

Costa expects European cruise market to grow 30% by 2012
Costa Cruises expects that the number of European cruise passengers is expected to increase by
30% between 2008 and 2012, from 4.6 million passengers to 6.0 million. <R>

At the same time, the company has reported a decline in its environmental footrpint. Highlights in terms of  environmental performance in 2007 are:  15% reduction in consumption of the water supply on board the ships, 10% less garbage generated, 18% increase in the amount of waste recycled, Costa said in a statement.

Hapag-Lloyd sends Columbus passengers by air past Gulf of Aden
Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten, the German cruise shipping company, has decided to fly the 246 passengers booked on a three month world cruise on the 14,900 gross ton Columbus to Dubai rather than to sail across the Gulf of Aden. Most of the crew will also be flown to the same destination and the ship will only have the personnel required to run the empty ship on board as it sails through the pirate infested waters., the company said in a statement.Media reports say that Transocean Tours' cruise liner Astor came close to being attacked by pirates, but the presence of the German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern deterred them from attacking the 21,000 gross ton ship.Hapag-Kreuzfahrten said it supports the demand of the German shipowners' association that the Federal government increase the German naval presence in the region. The European Union has sent six warships to the theatre with an aim to protect shipping against pirates. The operation that is scheduled to start on 15 December will be commanded by a British admiral.
RCCL to have record 22 ships in Europe summer 2009
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) will have 22 ships of its 39 strong fleet sailing in Europe in 2009, which will offer cruisers more choices than ever before, the company said in a statement.

”The international markets show the greatest growth potential, with Europe and the Mediterranean representing the ideal center,? said Michael Bayley, senior vice president, International, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  Bayley made his comments during his opening address at the Seatrade Med
convention, being held in Venice, Italy, this week.  ”Extending our deployments and our seasons in Europe and the Mediterranean reflects our commitment to, and the importance of, the region as an integral part of our international growth strategy. We see strong development opportunities in Europe and the Mediterranean as a destination, as well as a source market, and we are making the necessary investments to further grow our market share in these key regions.”

Royal Caribbean International has announced plans to deploy a record eight ships to the region for summer and fall of 2009.  Vacationers can select from four- to 14-nights itineraries aboard some of the world?s most innovative cruise ships: 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 May 2008, Royal Caribbean International's Brilliance of the Seas began sailing year-round in the Mediterranean, a first for the brand.  Departing from Barcelona, Spain, the ship offers an array of cruise options and destinations.

With its largest European deployment ever slated, in 2009, Celebrity Cruises will be offering guests the opportunity to take the ideal cruise on a premium brand.  For the first time in the line's history, five ships will visit the region in a single European season.  They will include the brand's two newest ships, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox.

Joining them will be Celebrity Constellation, built in 2002; Celebrity Summit, launched in 2001; and Celebrity Century, which underwent a $55 million revitalization in 2006.  The line will visit 76 ports in 29 countries, five of which are new to Celebrity Cruises.  Celebrity's ships will sail from six different homeports, and spend overnight port calls in eight different ports.

Azamara Cruises will offer deluxe cruise experiences onboard both their ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, in the Mediterranean between April and December 2009.  No other deluxe brand offers the number of ports that Azamara Cruises? ships will visit next year, nor matches the breadth
of distinct itineraries.  Azamara?s seven- to 15-night Europe itineraries will visit 91 ports in 36 countries, and depart from five different homeports.  Overnight calls will be offered in seven ports and late-night departures (10 p.m. or after) will be offered in 10 ports, allowing guests to capture more of the flavor of each locale's nightlife and a more immersive destination experience.

Additionally, all six Pullmantur Cruises? ships and CDF Croisieres de France's Bleu de France  both Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. brands will operate in the Mediterranean in 2009.

MSC Cruises takes delivery of MSC Fantasia
MSC Cruises has taken delivery of its flagship, the 133,500 gross ton  MSC Fantasia, at a hand-over ceremony at the STX France shipyard in St Nazaire, France.

At the tender age of four, the godmother at the flag ceremony was Asia Aponte, granddaughter of MSC Cruises owner Gianluigi Aponte. MSC Cruisesís CEO Pierfrancesco Vago, and Jacques Hardelay, General Manager of the shipyard, were also present.

The official handover of the flagship from the shipyard to MSC Cruises saw the lowering of the French flag and the flag of STX France, and the raising of the MSC Cruises flag, along with the flags of Italy and Panama, the flag used by all MSC Cruises' ships.

At the ceremony, Mr Vago said: ìI am particularly proud to launch this new ship, which is a revolution in the cruising world, due to the technologically advanced systems on board. Not only does MSC Fantasia stand out for her technical innovations, but also for her environmentally-friendly systems and structure.”

ìThis ship will capture the imagination of every single guest who comes onboard, as she is a destination in herself and so beautifully designed. She features the stunning MSC Yacht Club, which introduces a new concept in luxury sailing, and our signature MSC Aurea Spa, for the ultimate in well-being.

ìWith so much choice of activities and entertainment on board this visually stunning ship, I am sure you will agree MSC Fantasia truly is the most beautiful ship in the world,î Mr Vago added.

The largest ship in the fleet with a total passenger capacity of 3,959, MSC Fantasia introduces a new class of cruising with MSC Yacht Club, a luxury area with 24-hour butler and concierge service.

MSC Fantasia is the sixth new build for MSC Cruises from STX France. Her sister ship MSC Splendida will join the fleet in July 2009, to be followed by three further ships ñ MSC Magnifica, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa ñ by 2012, giving MSC Cruises the fastest-growing and most modern fleet in the world.

Following the flag ceremony, MSC Fantasia sails to Italy via Lisbon, Gibraltar, Alicante, Barcelona and Marseilles, to reach Naples, where she will be christened on 18 December. After her inaugural cruise, she will be based in Genoa sailing the Mediterranean year-round.

RCCL opens Brazil office and appoints local managing director
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) continues its expansion buy opening offices in new countries and has selected Brazilian cruise industry veteran Ricardo Amaral as managing director of  its operations in Brazil.

In the newly created position, Amaral will oversee all commercial and operational activities for three of the company's brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises.  Amaral will assume his new position in January.

”We are very pleased to have such a seasoned cruise professional joining us and helping us establish a team in Brazil,” said Michael Bayley, senior vice president, International, for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  ”Ricardo has a proven track record of success in our industry, and a long working relationship with our company.  This will serve him well as he works toward opening our new office in Brazil, in 2009.,” Bayley said in a statement.

NCL unveils 2010-2011 summer deployments
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has announced its 2010-2011 summer deployment and itineraries with new choices in Europe and Alaska, along with a long-term commitment to its profitable Hawai`i deployment on Pride of America. ”For the summer of 2010, we have some of the most diverse and interesting itineraries in the key summer destinations.  With exciting new offerings from Venice and Vancouver, we have added to the already diverse range of choices in these popular destinations,” said Kevin Sheehan, NCL's president and CEO.  ”These itineraries aboard the youngest fleet in the industry, combined with the freedom and flexibility that Freestyle Cruising offers, ensure that our guests will experience the vacation of a lifetime when sailing with NCL.”In Europe, NCL will continue its largest ever deployment with three of its newest Freestyle Cruising ships positioned there.  For the first time ever, NCL will homeport a ship, Norwegian Gem, in Venice, Italy sailing two different seven-day Adriatic, Greek Isles and Turkey cruises.  Norwegian Jade will homeport in Barcelona and Norwegian Jewel will sail a 12-day Baltic Capitals cruise round-trip from Dover, England. In Alaska, NCL is positioning three Freestyle Cruising ships, including Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Star sailing seven-day Sawyer Glacier and Glacier Bay cruises from Seattle, and Norwegian Sun sailing a seven-day itinerary between Vancouver, British Columbia and Whittier, Alaska featuring Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord.  Norwegian Sun's new itinerary also features two new ports -- Icy Strait Point and Sitka, Alaska.  In addition, several land packages from Whittier will be offered as part of a pre- or post-cruise package.  NCL continues sailing to Bermuda with Norwegian Dawn sailing seven-day cruises with three full days in Bermuda and the newly renovated Norwegian Spirit exclusively sailing seven-day cruises from Boston.  Pride of America's successful deployment in Hawai`i, sailing seven-day Hawai'i inter-island cruises round-trip from Honolulu, Oahu, has been extended through January 2012.

Silver Wind re-enters service after major upgrade
Silversea Cruises has just put the finishing touches on a multimillion-dollar renovation of the 1995 built Silver Wind, involving virtually every aspect of the ultra-luxury ship, the company said in a statement.

Undertaken over the past month during a dry dock at the San Giorgio shipyard in Genoa, Italy, the comprehensive refurbishment of Silver Wind ”sets a visionary course for the future with a refreshed dÈcor embodying a sophisticated contemporary style that is warm and inviting with touches of natural cherry wood, russet and golden tones.”

A centerpiece of the project was the addition of an Observation Lounge seating 60 guests, Spa, Beauty Salon and Fitness Center on the forward section of Deck 9 of the 16,927 gross ton ship, altering the ship's exterior appearance with floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the new space.  A new two-floor, glass-enclosed elevator was also installed connecting Decks 8 and 9.

”We're delighted with the results of this major renovation,” said Amerigo Perasso, Silversea's president and CEO.  ”Silver Wind has a refreshed look and feel, yet the ship retains her elegance and charm throughout.  The company has made an important investment to bring this vessel in line with the style and design themes that are planned for our new ship, Silver Spirit, currently under construction.  With these enhancements, our guests are sure to enjoy a renewed sense of luxury and comfort aboard Silver Wind.”

Perasso added, ”Despite the challenging economic environment, our company is showing a strong commitment with this important investment. This is clearly a difficult and unpredictable time and while our business is not immune, we have the strength of our assets, brand and management team that
position us well in the long term.”

Costa Crociere to base new Costa Luminosa in Dubai winter 2009/10
Costa Crociere will increase its footprint in the Arabian Gulf by positioning the new 92,700 gross ton Costa Luminosa in Dubai in the winter of 2009/10. Meanwhile, the 54,000 gross ton Costa Europa will be used on a new itinerary of 8 cruises between Savona and Dubai.

Pier Luigi Foschi, ceo of the Italian company that is part of the Carnival Corp & PLC group, said that the decision to base Costa Luminosa, which will enter service in June 2009, in Dubai follows great response of customers that come not only from Europe, but also from China and other Asian countries.

In the current winter season, Costa Classica and Costa Victoria will operate from Dubai, while Aida Cruises, also part of the Carnival group, will emply its biggest ship, the Aida Diva, from Dubai on cruises that cater for the German speaking market.

Pacific Sun to call at Christmas Island on series of cruises from Fremantle
P&O Cruises Australia will base the 47,000 gross ton Pacific Sun in Fremantle, Western Australia, for a part of next year and it has launched its inaugural cruise programme from there. Pacific Sun is set to become the first cruise ship ever to visit the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island.

The  visits will form part of a series of 16-night voyages to Indonesia, which will see the cruise line paying maiden visits to the exotic ports of Lombok, Komodo and Semarang as well as the Western Australian towns of Broome and Geraldton. Passengers on the cruises will also enjoy sailing by the remarkable cliff faces of Australiaís most westerly point, Steep Point, as well as paying a memorable visit to the location of HMAS Sydney.

On sale from 15 December, the new cruise programme covers the period from December 2009 to February 2010, with Pacific Sun offering a total of six cruises from Fremantle, including four voyages to Indonesia and two three-night sampler cruises. Announcing the new itineraries, Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said the cruise line was excited to introduce so many new ports to its cruise offerings.

”Weíre particularly thrilled to be the first cruise line ever to offer Christmas Island - a destination so many Australians have heard of but so few have been to,” Sherry said. ”Itís a place that is rich in history and in flora and fauna, with ecologists describing the annual red crab mass migration to the sea to spawn as one of the wonders of the natural world.”

Sherry said the company was working with the Federal Government and tourism authorities to ensure the anchoring facilities at the island could cater for cruise ships. ”Christmas Island will be a wonderful point of interest on the way to Indonesia, a country which an estimated 200,000-plus Australian holidaymakers visit each year,” she said.

”Australians are great travellers who love experiencing different cultures, so we think they'll be keen to try Pacific Sunís new itinerary. It mixes adventure and comfort and really shows how fast the cruise industry is maturing in this country.”

Three RCCL brands introduce North American travel agent support promme
In light of current economic conditions and the impact on travel agents, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises have created an extraordinary support programme expressly designed to help agents offset todays business challenges. On the heels of suspending fuel supplements, the three brands today announced ASAP, orAgent Support Action Program, group parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) dsaid in a statement.

This economic environment is unprecedented, and our travel agent partners need our unprecedented support, said Vicki Freed, Senior VP of Sales for Royal Caribbean International. Like everyone, they are feeling the pain, and we need to help them through this.

The goal of ASAP is to help the agency community during this period and to encourage proactive activities that will not only help in these unique circumstances, but also ensure that agents emerge from the recession strong and prepared to take advantage of the upturn when it occurs.

Were listening to our travel partners, and want to do all we can to offset the impact of the recession, said Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior VP of Sales for Celebrity and Azamara Cruises. Everyone is feeling the pain, and we cant eliminate it altogether; but, we can help make it more bearable and show our appreciation for our agents who go the extra mile.

The three brands will maintain their ongoing consumer marketing efforts to drive more business to travel partners, and already have extensive, ongoing educational tools which will be enhanced through the new programme. ASAP also will incorporate a series of special initiatives effective across all three brands for agencies in North America through the upcoming Wave period (January 1 through February 28, 2009), including: 1 percent commission supplement on any cruise bookings for sailings from January 2009 through March 2010; increased coop funding for qualifying agencies undertaking significant marketing plans; a reduction in Tour Conductor credits, from 1-for-16 to 1-for-10, which will help agents earn more money while encouraging group bookings; a 50% reduction in deposits for all FIT bookings and an individual agent booking incentive through which agents can earn a complimentary cruise.

”We will continue to pursue consumer-driven initiatives, as well, but this is a strategic attempt to help our long-term partners who have a short-term challenge,” said Ritzenthaler. ”These are challenging times, but ours is a resilient business, added Freed. Were committed to doing all we can to support our travel partners, and believe the attributes of ASAP will help drive more business and solidify their and our strategic positions.

Holland America Line unveils six point vacation stimulus plan to boost bookings
 Looking at novel ways to encourage a commitment to cruising during the coming year, Holland America Line says it has unveiled its Vacation Stimulus Plan.  ”There's never been a better time to get more, pay less and sail away from it all,” says Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs.  ”And the return on investment is guaranteed.

”Plus, travel sellers have great opportunities to earn commissions, win cruise prizes and enhance groups with increased tour conductor credits,” added Meadows. To boost cruise sales, the six-point agent plan encompasses (1) unprecedented low fares, (2) deposits reduced by 50% on cruises and cruisetours departing on or after May 1, 2009,  (3) a 25% savings on standard Cancellation Protection Plan on cruises and cruisetours departing on or after May 1, 2009, (4) suspended fuel supplements for cruises departing on or after Dec. 17, 2008, (5) exclusive cruise prizes for booking by Feb. 28, 2009, and (6) increased tour conductor credits on select sailings in 2009.

”Our message is to buy low and live high.  With great fares, reduced deposits and a lower fee to protect the cost of a vacation, there really has never been a better time to cruise with Holland America Line,” added Meadows.  ”Vacationers are increasingly looking for best values, and Holland America Line's Vacation Stimulus Plan provides a number of extra features and benefits.”

Tremendous values are available on most itineraries worldwide, including the current View and Verandah Cruise sale Promotion that offers outside and verandah staterooms at terrific values.  Guests can enjoy an upgrade from an inside stateroom to an outside stateroom for as little as $50 or upgrade from an outside stateroom to verandah accommodations from just $100.

Lead fares for the View and Verandah promotion start at $499 for 7-day Alaska cruises, $549 for 7-day Caribbean sailing, and $999 for 12-day Europe and Panama Canal voyages.  There are savings to exotic destinations,  like $999 for 16-day South America cruises, $899 for 14-day Australia/New Zealand cruises, and $1,299 for 16-day Southeast Asia sailings.  On select sailings, third and fourths in staterooms are as little as $99 per person.  Taxes are additional on all per person cruise fares.

For a limited time, Holland America Line has reduced the deposit requirements by 50% on all cruises and Alaska cruisetours departing on or after May 1, 2009.  For example a $350 per-person deposit required on most seven-day cruises is reduced to $175.   Reduced deposits apply to group bookings as well. 

The Vacation Stimulus Plan also offers a 25% savings on the popular standard Cancellation Protection Plan when purchased with a new booking for departures on or after May 1, 2009.  Cancellation Protection Plan covers a portion of the cost of a cruise fare in the event of cancellation by the guest for any reason. 

In addition, Holland America Line has suspended the $9 per guest per day fuel supplement for departures on or after Dec. 17, 2008.    Several sailings in 2009 will also offer tour conductor credits at one for 10 guests booked or one for 12 instead of the standard 1 for 15 policy.  Almost every cruise destination is represented in these selected departures, including Caribbean, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada/New England, Baltic and Mediterranean, South America, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and Alaska cruises and cruisetours.

Once agents register at the View and Verandah promotional webpage at <>  every booking made through Feb. 28, 2009, enters them to win one of three Holland America Line cruises:  a 14-day Australia and New Zealand cruise, a 14-day full Panama Canal transit and a 7-day Alaskan Explorer cruise.  Travel agents using POLAR Online, Holland America Line's 24/7 booking engine, or another GDS system will receive two prize drawing entries per booking.

For more information on the Vacation Stimulus Plan and pricing promotions travel agents should visit Holland America Line's Travel Agent Headquarters at <> . Agents are encouraged to take advantage of the wide range of sales tools online including free e-postcards, personalized PDFs, letterhead and promotional flyers.   Agents can also book clients with POLAR online.

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Port of Miami and NCL sign 10-year berthing agreement
The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners today approved a 10-year berthing agreement with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). This represents the first long-term agreement between the Port of Miami and NCL since the company began operating from the Port as the first Caribbean cruise line 42 years ago.<BR<

The agreement gives NCL priority access to two large-ship berths at Terminals B and C. In return, NCL will guarantee a minimum of $98 million in port fees over the term of the agreement. In addition, the Port is making a $10 million investment in upgrades to the terminals, including a new gangway and general improvements to make the guest experience more enjoyable and efficient.

”With berthing space becoming increasingly scarce and our recent extension of Norwegian Sky's deployment in Miami year-round, we are pleased to have reached this agreement with the Port of Miami to guarantee NCL access to some of the last remaining large ship berths,” said Kevin Sheehan, NCL's President and CEO. ”The Port of Miami has been a long-term partner of ours and we see the Port as a vital part of our future.”

”NCL and the Port of Miami have grown together to expand our region's business,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. ”Today, the Port of Miami, our community's second largest economic engine, contributes approximately $17 billion to the local economy. We are very proud that this agreement cements NCL's commitment to our community and ensures the Port's standing as the Cruise Capital of the World.”

”The Port of Miami and NCL have had a long business relationship,” added Port of Miami Director Bill Johnson. ”NCL began
operations from the Port of Miami 42 years ago when the Sunward became the industry's first ship to offer weekly passenger departures from Miami to the Caribbean. We are very pleased with the new berthing agreement with NCL, as this agreement provides a total minimum guaranteed revenue stream of more than $98 million throughout the 10- year initial term. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment and look forward to a continued partnership with NCL.”

The agreement takes effect immediately and renovations to Terminals B and C are expected to continue throughout the next 12-18 months.

Bureau Veritas showers MSC Fantasia with awards
MSC Fantasia was awarded the prestigious ëSix Golden Pearlsí award December 10 by the international classification society Bureau Veritas. The 133,500 gross ton MSC Fantasia will be named in Naples on December 18 and is the first ship in the world to achieve this coveted title, MSC Cruises said in a statement.
Six Golden Pearls is an integrated voluntary program that certifies corporate compliance with the three highest international standards in the areas of environment (ISO 14001), health and safety (OHSAS 18001) and food safety (ISO 22000). It includes an extra notation Cleanship 2 AWT, for the 3 domains ìpotential pollutionî: air, water, waste.

ìMSC Fantasia is the first cruise ship in the world to obtain this important recognition and, for us, the award is truly deserved in every aspect,î says Didier Chaleat, Senior Vice President of Bureau Veritas Paris.

Emilio La Scala, General Manager of the MSC Cruise Technical Department, says the environmentally friendly technology on MSC Fantasia demonstrates the companyís expansion is growing in tandem with environmental responsibility. He says all the onboard processes are integrated to reach the companyís target of excellence.

  ìQuality, health, safety and environment are at the top of our priority list from the moment of first design. For all of us, MSC Fantasia is a fantastic example of all our dreams, plans and technologies coming together in one beautiful result,î he says.

ìWe set our sights on controlling these processes from A to Z right from the start and we accepted no compromise,î states Chief Executive Officer Pierfrancesco Vago. ìThe award of the Six Golden Pearls is a fitting recognition for our operations ashore and onboard our fleet. It demonstrates very clearly that clear focus, professionalism and teamwork in this business is a formula for success.î

Carnival Corp & PLC expected to report fall in full year and final quarter EPS
Carnival Corp & PLC, the world's largest cruise shipping group, is expected to report a fall in both final quarter and full financial year earnings per share (EPS), when the company releases the figures tomorrow (18 December).

Analysts forecast final quarter EPS of $0.40 per share, down from $0.44 in the same period last year. The estimates for the fresh figure range from $0.39 to $0.44.

For the 12 months to 30 November, analysts expect EPS to drop to $2.58 from $2.95 in the previous financial year. The estimates range from a low of $1.88 to a high of $3.35, according to figures posted on the company's website.

Carnival will release its figures at 15.00 UK time (10.00 Eastern time in the US).

MSC Fantasia named in Naples
Naples plays host to naming ceremony for MSC Cruisesí  new flagship, the 133,500 gross ton MSC Fantasia today, 18 December. ”A spectacular launch event has been devised for the occasion, featuring internationally acclaimed artists with Neapolitan origins ñ Renzo Arbore and the Orchestra Italiana, Lucio Dalla and Pino Daniele - who will perform in a specially created high-tech arena,” the company said in a statement.

And in what is now a tradition for MSC Cruises, the ribbon will be cut by Sophia Loren, a true legend, an Oscarñwinning actress and ambassador for Naples and Italy around the world.

MSC Fantasia was designed by one of the worldís leading names in naval architecture, De Jorio Design International. ”She combines traditional Italian elegance with ground-breaking technological features, all dedicated to superior guest comfort and unprecedented environmental protection. MSC Fantasia marks the beginning of a new era in cruising, where the ship becomes a destination in itself,” MSC Cruises said.

ìI am immensely proud that the christening of this exceptional vessel is taking place in the extraordinary city of Naples,î said Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises. îMSC Fantasia is not only a beautiful ship, but also a triumph of environmentally-friendly design and technological innovation, where every step taken on board holds the promise of exciting new experiences.

The official naming ceremony will be preceded by a suitably glamorous evening of entertainment, staged in an innovative, purpose-built structure that holds over 2,500 people. Performed on a set inspired by coral - a perfect symbol for MSC Cruisesí love of the sea and respect for the environment - the show will create a kaleidoscope of changing emotions. An exclusive and energetic dance display by AEROS will complement the exuberant blend of diverse musical and singing styles.

And for an extra surge of adrenalin, at 2:00pm on the day of the event, Formula One driver Jarno Trulli will officially open one of MSC Fantasiaís unique attractions, a thrilling high-tech Formula One Simulator.

Vikng Line full year profit falls to  Ä14.8 million
Viking Line, the Finnish cruise ferry group, reported a fall in net profit to Ä14.8 million for 12 months to 31 October from Ä24.9 million a year earlier.

Bunker costs increased by Ä16.7 million and net financing expenses increased three and a half fold to Ä3.5 million following the delivery of the 34,000gross ton fast ropax ferry Viking XPRS for its Helsinki-Tallinn service in April.

The number of passengers increased by 8.4% to 6.7 million  and yield per passenger, which combines ticket sales plus onboard spending,  grew at an even faster rate of 9.3%. Freight revenue rose by 7.6%, but the company did not give a figure for volume.

The cost of bunkers plays a significant role in the companyís financial performance, while financing costs will increase due to refurbishment of existing vessels and delivery of Viking XPRS. Intensifying competition means added uncertainty regarding the 2008/09 result, the company said.

NCL and STX Europe agree to build one F3, second ship cancelled
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and STX France Cruise SA, STX Europe's French shipyard, announced today that they have reached an agreement and are moving forward with the construction of the F3 cruise ship project: only one rather than two ships will be built.

”NCL and STX Europe have agreed to revise the original F3 order. STX France Cruise is now building one F3 ship at 150,000-tons with a total of 4,200 passenger berths, representing the largest ship in NCL's fleet. This will mean a continuation of the original hull which is currently in the early phases of construction, with delivery set for late May 2010, as originally scheduled, ” STX Europe said in a statement.

The planned second vessel, currently only in the preparatory stages, will not be built.  Further terms of the agreement were not disclosed. ”With this agreement, we can all focus on completing the new vessel successfully,” said Kevin Sheehan, NCL's president and CEO. ”We are looking forward to the arrival of our much-anticipated F3 ship as it represents a major step forward for NCL in terms of ship size, design and innovation.” 

”We are pleased that the ongoing construction of the ship for NCL will continue. We, along with our subcontractors, will now make the necessary adjustments to our plans for this project,” said Jacques Hardelay, president of STX France Cruise SA. To date, information has only been revealed regarding F3's staterooms and nightlife.  NCL plans to unveil the full F3 story in the near future. 

Carnival Corp & PLC reports better than forecast figures
Carnival Corporation & PLC has reported higher than profit for both the final quarter and full financial year to 30 November.
The group reached net income of $371 million, or $0.47 diluted EPS, on revenues of $3.3 billion for its fourth quarter ended November 30, 2008. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $358 million, or $0.44 diluted EPS, on revenues of $3.1 billion. Included in the 2008 fourth quarter results is a gain of $31 million on the sale of Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth 2.
The company reported net income for the full year ended November 30, 2008 of $2.3 billion, or $2.90 diluted EPS, compared to net income of $2.4 billion, or $2.95 diluted EPS, for the prior year. Revenues for the full year 2008 increased to $14.6 billion from $13.0 billion for the prior year.
Analysts forecast final quarter EPS of $0.40 per share, down from $0.44 in the same period last year. The estimates for the fresh figure range from $0.39 to $0.44.
For the 12 months to 30 November, analysts expect EPS to drop to $2.58 from $2.95 in the previous financial year. The estimates range from a low of $1.88 to a high of $3.35, according to figures posted on the company's website

Higher ticket prices of North American brands and cheaper fuel lifted Carnival
Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison indicated that operating results in the fourth quarter were better than the company's September guidance primarily due to lower fuel costs, and stronger than expected revenue yields on close-in bookings.
Commenting on fourth quarter results, Arison said that ”achieving increased fourth quarter earnings is a significant accomplishment considering the challenging environment. Higher ticket prices for our North American brands, combined with our continued focus on managing controllable costs helped us offset $84 million of higher fuel expense during the quarter.”
For the full year, Arison said that ”even though fuel increased 55 percent, costing the company $626 million more than in 2007, excellent cost controls and a 2.4 percent revenue yield improvement allowed us to post solid earnings in a very difficult year.”

Carnival cuts 2009 eps guidance to $2.25 - $2.75 range from $2.50 -$3.00
Carnival Corp & PLC has revised down 2009 guidance, which is based on current spot prices for fuel of $295 per metric ton and currency exchange rates of $1.38 to the euro and $1.53 to sterling. Taking all the above factors into consideration, the company now forecasts full year 2009 earnings per share to be in the range of $2.25 to $2.75, compared to its previous guidance range of $2.50 to $3.00.
For 2009, occupancy levels for advance bookings are running behind the prior year, with ticket prices for these bookings also at lower levels.
”As expected, 2009 is shaping up to be a challenging year in the travel industry. Over the years we have positioned the company to weather the difficult economic environment we now face. We have strong cash flows from operations, a solid balance sheet, and a secure liquidity position. In addition, we have maintained our high investment grade credit rating. These factors combined with the outstanding value proposition inherent in a cruise vacation and our low cost structure will prove to be significant assets in the current environment,” ceo Micky Arison said. ”Our brands also have the most talented and experienced management teams in the business. They will play an important role in guiding us through these trying times,” he added.
On a constant dollar basis, the company expects full year net revenue yields to decrease 6% to 10% compared to 1% to 5% in the company's October guidance. The reduction in the company's yield guidance is due in large part to the recently announced fuel supplement refund for 2009 bookings combined with a further forecasted reduction in revenues due to deteriorating economic conditions. As a result of changes in currency exchange rates, the company forecasts an 11% to 15% decline in net revenue yields for the full year 2009 compared to 2008.
The company expects net cruise costs excluding fuel for the full year 2009 to be higher by approximately 2% on a constant dollar basis of which approximately 1% is due to one-time credits which reduced 2008 costs. The continued decline in fuel prices are forecasted to reduce fuel expense in 2009 by $278 million compared to our previous guidance.

UK consumer confidence rises for second month
Consumer confidence in the UK, which is the world's second largest source market for cruises, has improved for the second month in a row, a survey has shown, suggesting the recent cuts in VAT and interest rates are working.

The consumer confidence index from market research group GFK NOP rose by two points to -33 in December. However, it remains near all-time lows, the BBC reports on its website.

The rise was led by an increased confidence in making major purchases. The survey comes a day after official figures showed a surprise increase in retail sales in November. Sales increased by 0.3% from October against economists' expectations of a 0.6% fall. The internet accounted for 3.8% of all retail sales in November, a rapid increase from 3.2% in the previous month.

Travel industry exectives have said main holiday is regarded as essential rather than luxury and therefore many people are not willing to axe it first in the current weak economic cycle. However,  Carnival Corp & PLC , the world's largest cruise shipping group, yesterday reduced its earnigs guidance for the financial year to 30 November 2009, citing a weak outlook for the global economy.

Net yields to fall faster than forecast in October, Carnival says
Carnival Corp & PLC, the world's largest cruise shipping group, says that on a constant dollar basis, the company expects full year net revenue yields to decrease 6% to 10% compared to 1% to 5% in the company's October guidance.

The reduction in the company's yield guidance is due in large part to the recently announced fuel supplement refund for 2009 bookings combined with a further forecasted reduction in revenues due to deteriorating economic conditions.

As a result of changes in currency exchange rates, the company forecasts an 11% to 15% decline in net revenue yields for the full year 2009 compared to 2008.

Costa Crociere launches Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa -- online
Costa Crociere has launched minisites for Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa, the two new ships that will be named together at an event to be staged in Genoa on 5 June  2009 .

The two ships, the 13th and 14th Costa fleet members, both built by Fincantieri for a total investment of about 900 million euros, are currently being fitted out in Marghera (Venice) and Genoa-Sestri Ponente.
But web surfers can already have a sneak preview of the new ships at and, Costa said in a statement.

”This way, people can savor the atmosphere on these two jewels of the fleet, which combine the very best of the Costa Cruises product:  the Costa Luminosa, the ship of light at the cutting edge of the fleet, and the Costa Pacifica, the ship of music.”

”Thanks to pictures and videos, will provide visitors online with a preview of the trendsetting design, superior materials (fine marble, timbers, mother of pearl and Murano glass chandeliers), and stunning light and color effects on the Costa Luminosa.  Plus the superb works of art, the highlight being the monumental sculpture ìDonna Sdraiata 2004î (Reclining woman 2004) by Fernando Botero.  The website will feature all the exclusive amenities available on board:  4D cinema, rollerskate track, golf simulator, Playstation World, and the Samsara Spa with the Kinesis room. ”

Meanwhile, on you will be able to sample ìthe new form of musicî, constituting an integral part of the cruise experience on board the Costa Pacifica and personalizing the various public spaces on the ship, with the chance to listen to the 29 pieces forming the exclusive compilation specially arranged by composer Mauro Pagani, which will become the ìsound trackî to the vacation. ìVirtual tourî of all the areas on the ship will be included soon in the website.

On the websites of the Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica, visitors will also be able to leaf through both shipsí brochures, which have already been distributed to travel agencies.  The promotional items linked to the arrival of the two new vessels include a special gift box, reserved for the Companyís main partners, with a reproduction of Fernando Boteroís ìDonna Sdraiata 2004î, a CD containing six tracks from the sound track of the Costa Pacifica and the two brochures, Costa says.

AIDAluna to be named in Palma de Mallorca on 4 April
AIDAluna, the latest newcomer in the aida Cruises' fleet, will be named at a ceremony in Palma de Mallorca on 4 April, the company says.

The ceremony will be performed by Franziska Knuppe, an international top model, and entertainment will be provided by German bands Pur and Marquess and singer Loona.

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CBR 1/2015 contents

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