News

Royal Caribbean International voted best cruise operator Print E-mail
Tourism news
Thursday, 25 December 2014 15:35

Royal Caribbean International was named "Best Cruise Line Overall" in the 2014 edition of thelow_sbw_al_2071.786b4155712.w300 Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards, which are based on the votes of the magazine's readers. The award was announced at a ceremony in New York on December 16.

This is the 12th consecutive year the cruise company has received this distinction.  Royal Caribbean International also claimed the awards for "Best Sales & Service" and "Best Cruise Line in the Caribbean" this year.

Furthermore, its giant Allure of the Seas was named "Best Ship" by the magazine's readers for the second consecutive year.  At around 1200 feet long (362 meters), the cruise ship is among the world's largest, with room for 5,400 passengers.

Innovation in travel is among the key qualities honored by the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards, and Royal Caribbean's latest ships, the Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas (due to set sail in March 2015), are part of a new generation of ships with activities never before offered on the sea, including a sky-diving simulator, bumper cars and even circus arts lessons.

 
Паром на Дунае: какие возможности открывает новый погранпереход в самой южной точке Украины Print E-mail
Tourism news
Monday, 22 December 2014 10:00
There are no translations available.

dunaiРешение Кабмина об организации международного пункта пропуска Орловкам - Исакча на Дунае дает старт украинско-румынскому паромному сообщению. Но тормозом проекта является полностью разбитая автотрасса Одесса-Рени.

Кабмин Украины принял распоряжение об открытии международного пункта пропуска через украинско-румынскую границу на Дунае – в Ренийском районе Одесской области. Формально документ одобрил соглашение (в форме обмена нотами) между правительствами двух стран об организации паромного, пассажирского и грузового сообщения между населенными пунктами Орловка (Украина) и Исакча (Румыния). По словам министра инфраструктуры Украины (ныне экс-министра) Максима Бурбака, представившего проект документа на обсуждение правительства, таким образом, создается правовая основа не только для сотрудничества в сфере паромных перевозок между Украиной и Румынией, но и для развития транспортно-логистической инфраструктуры на юге Одесской области, привлечения дополнительных грузопотоков и укрепления торгово-экономических взаимоотношений между нашими странами.

История вопроса -  Данное распоряжение сдвинуло с мертвой точки процесс, который варился на протяжении почти двух десятков лет. Первые идеи и намерения организации украинско-румынской переправы через Дунай высказывали власти Одесской области еще в 90-е годы. В начале 2000-х портовики Рени пытались наладить паромное сообщение с румынской Тулчей. В "Программе комплексного развития Украинского Придунавья на 2004-2011 годы" также говорилось о необходимости организации автомобильно-паромного "моста" на юг Европы. В 2011-12 годах одним из наиболее действенных возможных вариантов рассматривался маршрут Измаил-Тулча. Но в силу ряда причин, в том числе и экономического характера, он не "выиграл" (длина перехода между Измаилом и Тулчей составляет 32 километра, в то время как ширина Дуная между Орловкой и Исакчей – до километра, что весьма существенно влияет на затраты в организации паромного сообщения).

Румынская сторона шла на шаг впереди. Во второй половине 2000-х годов необходимость переправы через Дунай уже не ставилась у южного соседа под сомнение, а в 2012 году было принято решение об открытии международного пункта пропуска через румынско-украинскую границу. Вскоре компания "МБС-Инвест", выступившая инвестором проекта, получила участок земли в районе села Исакча в концессию на 40 лет. И в дальнейшем Румыния ожидала "подвижек" с украинской стороны. Так, генконсул Эмил Рапча, в ходе встречи с руководителями предприятий Одесского региона летом 2013 года, заявлял, что власти его страны намерены активизировать переговоры с украинским МИДом по вопросу создания паромной переправы между Орловкой и Исакчей.

Ожидаемый эффект - Главная ценность будущей переправы – организация долгожданного прямого транспортного сообщения между Украиной и Южной Европой. "Несмотря на то, что Украина на Дунае имеет почти двести километров общей границы с Евросоюзом, коим сегодня является Румыния, на этом участке нет ни одного транспортного перехода – ни моста, ни переправы. И сегодня есть два пути для того, чтобы попасть из нашей страны в Южную Европу, точнее в Румынию: через Черновицкую область или через Молдову, в некоторых случаях – через Приднестровье, что прибавляет дополнительные риски", – заявил Центру транспортных стратегий депутат Одесского облсовета Юрий Димчогло, генеральный директор ООО "Паромный комплекс Орловка", компании-инвестора проекта. Собеседник ЦТС подчеркивает: сегодня Молдова зарабатывает миллионы на транспортных сборах. Ведь через ее территорию транзитом ежегодно следует порядка 170 тысяч единиц транспорта из Украины в Европу, треть которого – грузовой.

Главная ценность будущей переправы – организация долгожданного прямого транспортного сообщения между Украиной и Южной Европой.

У каждого из двух вариантов имеются свои недостатки: путь через Буковину значительно увеличивает расстояние и время в дороге. Путь через Молдову чреват простоями на двух границах (так как приходится преодолевать четыре пункта пропуска), а значит – опять же затратами на логистику. "У прямого пути через украинское Придунавье в Румынию упомянутых недостатков нет, – говорит Юрий Димчогло. – Кроме того, паромная переправа представляет собой мощный фактор регионального развития. Тулчанский уезд, как и украинская Бессарабия, – в значительной мере депрессивные районы. И наш проект способен экономически "оживить" обе эти территории. Во-первых, это рабочие места, во-вторых – дополнительная инфраструктура, то есть гостиницы, кемпинги, паркинги, сфера питания. И не только близ Орловки, но и вдоль всего маршрута транспортного потока – от Белгорода-Днестровского до Измаила и Рени".

"Ренийский синдром" Вместе с тем, у проекта паромного сообщения есть один существенный "минус". Для его нормального функционирования необходима реконструкция автотрассы Одесса-Рени. Инвесторы паромного комплекса, понимая масштабность такого мероприятия и способности нынешнего бюджета, все же надеются, что когда международный транспортный и грузовой поток "обозначится" по территории Украины, решить этот вопрос будет легче – если не за государственные деньги, то за средства Евросоюза.

Пока что свет в конце туннеля не наблюдается. Трасса местами уже разрушена, а вопрос финансирования реконструкции никак не продвинулся за последние пять лет. В 2012 году тогдашний одесский вице-губернатор (в дальнейшем – первый заместитель министра инфраструктуры) Александр Малин заявлял, что стоимость строительства дороги превышает 3 млрд евро. Украинское государство не способно ассигновать такие средства, поэтому в свое время зашла речь о поиске инвестора и варианте концессии для него. В ноябре 2013 года ключевым условием привлечения инвестиций в данный проект было названо изменение маршрута международного транспортного автомобильного коридора из Южной Европы через Украину в Азию.

Несколько лет назад усилиями румынского правительства, пролоббировавшего совместные с молдавскими коллегами интересы, в межправительственных документах был закреплен вариант части коридора в формате "Бухарест-Кишинев-Одесса". По мнению украинской стороны, это не соответствует потребностям перевозчиков, так как заставляет их делать лишний "крюк" через столицу Молдовы (не говоря уже о том, что оставляет в стороне от внимания бизнеса трассу Одесса-Рени). В случае возврата в международные соглашения формата "Бухарест-Рени-Одесса", по мнению украинских властей, привлечь концессионные средства будет значительно легче. В любом случае, с тех пор вопрос реконструкции трассы в сторону решения не продвинулся.

Тем не менее, паромный комплекс в Орловке будет построен. Параллельно он будет сооружен и в Исакче. "Мы достигли соглашения с "МБС-Инвест" о синхронном начале и окончании работ по строительству переправы", – отмечает Юрий Димчогло. Он показывает уже готовый рабочий проект комплекса в Орловке, который включает в себя, в частности, административное и служебное здания, пункт пропуска через границу, помещение для углубленного досмотра, парковку и вертолетную площадку, гостиницу и кафе. Гидротехническая часть проекта, среди прочего, предусматривает сооружение двух причалов.

Предприятие-инвестор (ООО "Паромный комплекс Орловка") учреждено в 2013 году. В начале 2014 года был заключен меморандум с Одесской облгосадминистрацией – о том, что инвестор за свои средства строит инфраструктуру, необходимую для организации международного пункта пропуска, – и передает государству бесплатно или за символическую цену в одну гривну (в дальнейшем ООО будет являться оператором комплекса, так как получило земельный участок в аренду на 49 лет).

Стоимость всех подготовительных и строительных работ составляет порядка 5,5 млн евро. А начнутся они, по прогнозам Ю.Димчогло, весной 2015 года – к тому времени должны завершиться все технические процедуры, связанные с отводом земли и государственной экспертизой проекта. Паромный комплекс с гидротехническими сооружениями и международным пунктом пропуска будет построен к концу года, в крайнем случае – к весне 2016 года, если непредвиденные задержки отодвинут окончание работ.

Что касается функционирования будущей переправы, то, по словам гендиректора ООО, паромов будет два – и они будут ходить через каждые полчаса. Время перехода от одной точки до другой – десять минут. Паром сможет принять на борт более 40 транспортных средств. "Пропускная способность комплекса составит тысячу единиц транспорта в сутки, то есть, при работе в режиме "10 часов в день" мы в два раза перекрываем имеющийся транзитный поток в 170 тысяч автомобилей, – говорит Юрий Димчогло. – При этом у нас есть значительные возможности для роста: мы можем задействовать второй причал и запустить еще один паром, а также выйти на круглосуточный режим работы".

Остается добавить: если для украинского Дуная это будет первый подобный опыт, то Румыния данную практику уже давно опробовала и внедрила: на румынско-болгарской границе сегодня действуют речные паромные переправы Бекет – Оряхово, Турну-Мэгуреле – Никопол, Зимнича – Свищов и Калараш – Силистра.

http://cfts.org.ua/articles/parom_na_dunae_kakie_vozmozhnosti_otkryvaet_novyy_pogranperekhod_v_samoy_yuzhnoy_tochke_ukrainy_719

 
Proven Veterans Named To Lead The Largest Lines At Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Print E-mail
Tourism news
Thursday, 18 December 2014 11:42

Recognizing the deep bench of internal talent that has powered its long-term success, Royal CaribbeanRoyal-Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE, OSLO: RCL) named two senior company executives to chart the future course of the company's two largest brands.

Michael Bayley, who worked his way up from an assistant purser's position aboard the Nordic Prince, will serve as President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, the world's largest cruise brand. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, whose career at the company began in the New England sales office, will serve as President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, a leader in the premium market.

Both appointments are effective immediately.

Said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd: "This is a happy day for Michael and Lisa, and a proud day for all of us at the company. To recognize these two incredibly talented people with these vital leadership positions after years of dedication, effort and innovative thinking is gratifying for everyone here. I am impressed with the skills they have demonstrated over the course of their careers, and I am excited to see where they take these powerful brands next."

Bayley assumes Royal's helm after a successful term as Celebrity's President and CEO. At Celebrity, he delivered strong results while building the company's "modern luxury" positioning, which resonated successfully with Celebrity's sophisticated customer base. Before his Celebrity role, Bayley served in several senior roles at Royal Caribbean International, including Executive Vice President of Operations. He is credited for playing a key role in the company's international expansion, helping launch company operations in markets around the world.

Said Bayley: "Royal Caribbean International is a brand with an incredible history – and unlimited potential. The ships, personified in the new Quantum class, are some of the best and most innovative in the world. And the crews that service Royal Caribbean International guests have a track record of delighting guests from every culture around the world. I look forward to an exciting future as we raise our game to an even higher level of performance."

Lutoff-Perlo began her company career as a district sales manager in her native New England. She moves to her new role from her position as Executive Vice President, Operations at Royal Caribbean, where she played a critical role in the recent successful launch of Quantum of the Seas, the first in the company's newest class of ships. After a successful sales career, Lutoff-Perlo made her mark as a specialist at bringing new ships to market for both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity. In addition to the Quantum class, she played a key role in the launch of Royal Caribbean International's Voyager and Radiance classes, as well as Celebrity's Solstice Class.

Said Lutoff-Perlo: "Celebrity Cruises has done a remarkable job differentiating itself in a crowded and competitive premium marketplace, and with its newly announced Edge class ships, the brand has the opportunity to push its leadership position even farther. I'm excited to tackle that challenge with a team of men and women I know well, including crews that consistently exceed our guests' highest expectations."

Fain said: "No one who has seen either of these two exceptional executives in action can be surprised by their continuing growth as leaders. As a company, we have a mantra of continuous improvement; in Michael and Lisa, we have two talented leaders who will help us continue to deliver on that commitment to our shareholders, employees and guests."

 
Celebrity Cruises Orders Two New Ships Print E-mail
Tourism news
Monday, 15 December 2014 15:49

Celebrity Cruises has signed of a letter of intent for a new class of vesse2_new_shipsls, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and French shipbuilder STX France announced today.

The two 2,900-guest, 117,000-gross-registered-ton ships, developed under the project name EDGE will build upon the modern luxury experience of the brand's Millennium and Solstice class vessels.

At 984 feet long, 123 feet wide and 190 feet high, Project EDGE will deliver small ship itineraries with large ship amenities, a perfect vacation experience in step with today's premium vacationer.

"The addition of two project EDGE vessels to our fleet delivers on our long-term strategic plan of moderate capacity growth, and continues the positive momentum the Celebrity brand has achieved in the premium segment of our industry," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

"Our new class of ship will set the standard for premium world travel and deliver the next generation of modern luxury experiences that our guests know and love," said Michael Bayley, president and chief executive officer of Celebrity Cruises.

"STX France designs and builds some of the most innovative and stylish cruise ships in the world, and project EDGE offers them the opportunity to again set a new standard for modern iconic architecture. On this stunning new ship we will bring our guests even closer to the must-see destinations of the world, while indulging them onboard in the most luxurious accommodations, the finest culinary experiences, and the best hospitality delivered by our dedicated staff."

"We are excited to be collaborating with Celebrity on this dramatic step forward in premium cruise ship design," said Laurent Castaing, managing director of STX France. "This class of ships will be designed to deliver the destination to vacationers who want to experience all the world has to offer."

These vessels also represent a significant leap forward in environmentally friendly ship design, benefiting from new technologies to drive significant fuel efficiency and an ongoing process to ensure the extensive use of sustainable materials.

The company expects delivery of the first ship in Fall 2018, with the second vessel delivered in the early part of 2020. The order is contingent upon the completion of customary conditions, including financing.  

 

 
Virgin Group confirms entry into cruise business Print E-mail
Tourism news
Thursday, 11 December 2014 15:24

We're excited to announce the formation of Virgin Cruises, a brand new cruise liner business that willCruises_team make waves in the industry.

The company will be based in the Miami area and plans to design and construct two new world class cruise ships. Virgin Cruises will offer guests an outstanding experience, although their launch date is strictly under wraps for the moment.  

“We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love,”Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, said. “They’ll be sailing on the latest ships offering a great quality, a real sense of fun and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service.”

Image from Virgin Cruises

Tom McAlpin joins the Virgin Cruise management team as CEO, fresh from his position as President and CEO of The World, Residences at Sea. Previously Tom was the president of Disney Cruise Line having joined as part of the founding management team.

“Cruise guests deserve something better and different to what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them and a new generation of guests,” he said. “Opportunities like this do not come often, so I am very excited to lead this business and introduce the Virgin brand to the cruise industry, as it has always put customers at the heart of what it does.”

 

To work on this new venture, Virgin has teamed up with one of the world’s leading private investment firms, Bain Capital. 

“From our earliest conversations with the Virgin team, we recognized there is a unique opportunity here to help build the next great cruise line serving travelers from around the world,” Stephen Pagliuca, a Managing Director with Bain Capital said.

Image from Virgin Cruises

“We know that thanks to the strategic vision laid out by our collective team – and now under the guidance of Tom McAlpin – Virgin Cruises will help reshape consumers’ expectations of what a cruise experience can be.  All of us at Bain Capital are thrilled to partner with the Virgin team on this compelling opportunity.”

“We are pleased to pursue this exciting opportunity with Virgin, one of the world’s most respected and iconic brands,” Ryan Cotton, a principal with Bain Capital added. “With a small number of global players, an experience in need of refreshing, and consumers ready for something new and exciting, the industry exhibits all the characteristics of one that is ripe for a new entrant.”

 
The first cruises of the liner ms Koningsdam will ply the azure waters of the Mediterranean Print E-mail
Tourism news
Tuesday, 09 December 2014 09:56

12day3CollageWhen Holland America Line’s ms Koningsdam sets sail in February 2016 the new ship will ply the azure waters of the Mediterranean on a seven-day Premiere Voyage and continue on a series of 12-day Premiere Sailings in Europe through early May 2016. The debut cruises will explore some of the region’s most popular capitals, culturally rich cities, charming villages and beautiful beaches. Bookings for the Premiere Voyage and Sailings open Dec. 1, 2014.

The 2,650-guest ship is scheduled for delivery by Fincantieri’s Marghera, Italy, shipyard in Feb. 2016. Following its repositioning to Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, ms Koningsdam will sail a seven-day Premiere Voyage roundtrip from Civitavecchia departing Feb. 20 to Dubrovnik, Croatia; K?rkira (Corfu) and Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; and Naples, Italy.

“Since we announced ms Koningsdam, guests have been anxiously awaiting itinerary details, so we’re pleased to share the spring Mediterranean season,” said Richard Meadows, Holland America Line’s executive vice president, sales, marketing and guest relations. “We have a very loyal following and we anticipate these cruises will fill up quickly, so I recommend booking early.”

Following the Premiere Voyage, from the end of February through early May ms Koningsdam will cruise a series of six 12-day Premiere Sailings on two alternating itineraries roundtrip from Civitavecchia. The first “Greek & Turkish Treasures” itinerary calls at Katakolon, Piraeus (Athens), Rhodes and Crete, Greece; Istanbul (overnight) and Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey; and Naples, Italy.

The “Mediterranean Mosaic” itinerary spends 12-days visiting to Naples, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Cagliari, Sardinia; Gibraltar, British Territory; and C?diz, M?laga, Cartagena and Barcelona (overnight), Spain, sailing roundtrip from Civitavecchia (Rome.) These two itineraries may be combined into a 24-day Collectors’ Voyage that spans the breadth of popular ports of calls lining the massive Mediterranean and idealic Athenian Seas.

The seven-day Premier Voyage and the Feb. 27 12-day Mediterranean Mosaic voyage can be combined to form a 19-day Collectors’ Voyage.

Holland America Line is finalizing details on the ship’s summer and fall 2016 cruises and information will be released in the coming months.

 
Royal Caribbean to Transfer Majesty of the Seas to Pullmantur Print E-mail
Tourism news
Thursday, 04 December 2014 10:07

MIAMI, Nov. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today pulllannounced that Majesty of the Seas will transfer from its Royal Caribbean International cruise brand to its Pullmantur brand in 2016.  Majesty of the Seas' last 3-night sailing for Royal Caribbean International will depart on April 29, 2016.  She will then enter dry dock before joining the Pullmantur fleet, allowing her to be tailored to fit Pullmantur's brand standards and offerings.


"Majesty of the Seas
 has created wonderful memories for millions of guests, and we expect this record of success to continue as she transitions to Pullmantur," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.  "The vessel's transfer is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur. We are fortunate that our mix of brands allows us the flexibility and opportunity to expand in key strategic markets."

With the addition of Majesty of the Seas, Pullmantur's total guest capacity will increase by more than 20 percent.

''The transfer of Majesty of the Seas will play an important role in Pullmantur's Latin American growth strategy, and helps us become one of the most widely recognized brands in that market,'' said Pullmantur's president and chief executive officer, Jorge Vilches.  "The additional capacity will help us meet the rising demand for Pullmantur's distinctive Latin-style cruise holidays."

Majesty of the Seas was built at Chantiers de L'Atlantique (now STX France) in St. Nazaire, France and sailed its maiden voyage on April 26, 1992. The 74,077-ton ship carries 2,350 guests (double occupancy) and 912 crew.  Most recently, Majesty of the Seas was sailing year-round three- and four-night cruises from Miami, often visiting Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, Bahamas.  While Majesty of the Seas caters to all types of cruise passengers, she is known for her first-time cruisers, offering newcomers the opportunity to get a feel of the cruising experience.  Following the transition, all three Sovereign class ships - Sovereign, Monarch, and Majesty - will be operated byPullmantur Cruises.

Over the past 40 years, Pullmantur has built a position as the leader in the Spanish cruise market. Since 2006 it has belonged to U.S.based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Currently, Pullmantur's fleet of five ships has a daily capacity of more than 11,000 passengers. Since 2013, it has promoted a strategic growth plan in the Latin American cruise market, where more than half of its business is located.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE/OSE: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisi?res de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.  Together, these six brands operate a combined total of 42 ships with an additional seven under construction contracts.  They operate diverse itineraries around the world that call on approximately 490 destinations on all seven continents. 

 
Savona opens cruise terminal Print E-mail
Tourism news
Monday, 01 December 2014 09:39

savoSavona’s second Palacrociere passenger terminal was inaugurated on 8 November when Costa Cruises’ newly christened flagship Costa Diadema made her maiden call at the port.

The terminal, which was built by Costa for €9 million, covers a total area of 3,000 sqm and has been designed as a satellite terminal. The terminal will be connected to the existing Palacrociere, so that it can use its services, but will also able to operate as a free-standing facility with its own waiting, transit and baggage handling areas. There will also be separate policing by the various authorities such as the police, Guardia di Finanza and customs.

Several firms from Liguria designed the terminal including architects Studio Vicini Architetti, who also contributed to the designs of the original Palacrociere and the Barcelona Palacruceros; Studio Tecnico Ingg. Montaldo e Canale; and CVD Progetti.

With the addition of the new terminal, the interior of the Palacrociere have expanded to 11,000 sqm, while the total area of the facility has been increased to 45,500 sqm.

Savona will be the main homeport for Costa Diadema, which will call at the Palacrociere every week until the end of the 2015 summer season in the Mediterranean, amounting to a total of 60 calls. The ship will offer seven-day cruises in the Mediterranean, including stopovers in Marseille, France; Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; and Naples and La Spezia in Italy.

In 2015, Costa plans to make 236 calls and more than one million passenger movements at the Palacrociere.

Costa began visiting Savona in November 1996 when Costa Riviera became the first Italian cruise ship to dock there. Since then, Costa, the Port Authority of Savona and local institutions have worked together to increase cruise traffic in the city, with Costa helping to co-finance the first Palacrociere passenger terminal, which opened on 24 November 2003 and is directly managed by the company.

 

 
P&O Cruises and Cunard have cancelled all Black Sea port visits in 2015 Print E-mail
Tourism news
Thursday, 27 November 2014 15:48

A total of 13 cruises are affected by the decision - two of them on P&O Cruises' ships and the others on Cunard'sleave Queen Victoria.

The ships will go as far as Istanbul then turn round, rather than go into the Black Sea itself.

Since March eight cruise lines -- including Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Windstar -- have canceled Ukraine port stops, replacing them with calls in Turkey, Romania, Georgia and Bulgaria. Some sailings also spent more time in Greece.

The cruises affected are:

• P&O's Arcadia, August 26 to September 20, 2015.

• P&O's Adonia, September 7 to October 7, 2015.

• All Queen Victoria's July to October cruises.

The changes first surfaced on the Cruise Critic Message Boards from member Dangerwoman21, who wrote on November 10: "Hi. Just been informed that P&O do not consider that changing Black Sea cruise destinations. (effectively cutting out the Black Sea!) is a substantial change and therefore not eligible for a refund. Any thoughts?"

The lines have since released the following joint statement: "Passengers or travel agents have been contacted and updated on the changes including compensation options for the above holidays.

"Due to ongoing security concerns regarding the crisis in Ukraine and upon advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, P&O Cruises and Cunard have cancelled all scheduled Black Sea ports of call in 2015. The safety of our guests and crew members is always our top priority and concern."

 

 
Cruise control Print E-mail
Tourism news
Monday, 24 November 2014 09:29

http://www.cruiseandferry.net/article/Interviews/001834/Cruise-control

Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and CEO Kevin Sheehan is fond of outlining the cruise_control_5upward trajectory that has taken place on his watch since he joined the company less than six years ago. To be fair, the figures are impressive. “Our company continues to be on a very strong momentum,” he says. “We’ve had 22 quarters of consecutive growth year over year in our cash flows, and our operating margins have increased by well over 10%. We see that continuing for the next five to six years at least.”

Sheehan’s confidence is based on the success of his early interventions. “I had the opportunity to optimise our business when I came in a few years ago because the company had not been performing to the level it could have,” he says. “We had these great ships, so making sure we were thoughtful and consistent about how they operated enabled us to drive better results, more engagement from our crew and more satisfaction from our guests.”

The market responded enthusiastically when the company went public at the beginning of 2013 and now, says cruise_control_2Sheehan, “in guidance put out to the investment community for 2014 the estimate was that our EPS would grow by 60 per cent.” He says this growth is driven by a combination of ticket yields and the introduction of Norwegian Getaway earlier this year. The two newbuild orders announced in July add to the bullish mood surrounding the company.

New business ventures are keeping Sheehan occupied, in particular the line’s purchase of a second Belize island destination. “The next ship coming into our fleet, Norwegian Escape, will be in the eastern Caribbean year-round so we will move Getaway to the western Caribbean year-round. In addition to that, we seasonally have other ships in that market, such as Norwegian Sky, which sails out of Miami on three- and four-day itineraries year-round. So what we wanted to do is have a very similar destination in the western Caribbean as we do in the eastern Caribbean.”

The company has spent more than US$30 million in four years on its facilities in the region, says Sheehan. “We’ve improved the beach and marina, putting in beautiful bar opportunities, a really improved food service and a lot of shade areas; we’ve expanded the beaches fivefold. It’s one of the most important things cited by our guests that made their experience a tremendous experience.”

This investment is part of the game plan Sheehan put in place when he joined the company. “When I came in we needed to fix the business first; in the first three or four years we got pounded by the economic downturn in 2009. Then we needed to get all of our ships ordered and build the brand – and now the third leg is about taking control over the destinations and making sure we have enough variety for people that want to come on the same sailing multiple times.”

Progress on the Norwegian Escape build is a source of great satisfaction to him for several reasons, the first being its status as the tenth newbuild the line has commissioned from Meyer Werft. “It was a great decision to move our shipbuilding back to Germany, knowing with certainty that a family that’s run the business for 225 years or so is going to make sure that they get it done and that they’ve thought it through and there’s no surprises. Each ship we’ve built there since we’ve moved back has been completed in time and on budget andcruise_control_1 the guests love the ships.”

Escape’s reflection of Norwegian’s environmental credentials is another plus point for him. The choice of conservation-focused artist Guy Harvey to paint the hull is significant. “It made a lot of sense to align our company with conservationists and we’re going to help fund his foundation as we want to be mindful about the oceans and what they are for us.”

Finding new ways to boost onboard revenue is always a topic that interests Sheehan. “With each ship we’ve learned a little bit more about the experience for the guest. When I first came into the industry, you typically went to dinner and then you went to a show and went to bed. These new ships offer the freedom and flexibility to have your dinner any time you want, wherever you want. They also have entertainment dispersed throughout the ship, from a big Broadway show to a cirque show, an illusionarium or a comedy club.”

The reorganisation of the dining and drinking areas on Norwegian’s new ships aims to leverage the possibilities that come with this plethora of opportunities, he says. “It keeps people out enjoying themselves significantly later. Having the big pub in the middle of the ship, people congregate and at the end of the evening they will get together and have a beer and maybe talk about the day.”

Regarding Norwegian’s deployment strategies, Sheehan says he is pleased the company stuck to its decision to stay in Europe during a time when other operators were moving their ships. “It’s funny, five years ago everyone wanted cruise_control_6to bring their ships to Europe as it was significantly underpenetrated compared to the US. Then we went through the economic downturn and all of the other brands started moving ships away. We kept all our ships there; we put our stake in the ground and said: this is where we want to be. For me there’s a touching point there for the European consumer, but it also is an important market for us. We love the different itineraries, whether it’s throughout the Mediterranean, or the really interesting Baltic experiences in the season up there.”

Casting a potential negative as a virtue in typical Sheehan style, he remarks: “The thing that’s a little different with Norwegian is that we have 13 ships and we compete with brands that have twice as many. So we can be a little bit more selective. Out of those 13 ships, one is our proposition in Hawaii which nobody else has, and one has three- and four-day itineraries in Miami. We have a relationship with New York with two ships there year-round. There’s a ship up in Boston for the season, that goes up to Canada and New England, as well as ships out in New Orleans, and we’re about to have a ship out of Houston. So we really don’t have a lot of different places that we have to worry about moving a ship into.

“We think we have a very good recipe that provides us with a pretty consistent result. We’ll be very cautious about our itineraries while we’re small; we’re not taking any unnecessary risks.”

Sometimes, risks are unpredictable, as the cruise line found this year when it faced difficult situations in Tunisia (Israeli guests were refused entry and Sheehan pulled all planned calls) and Honduras (a crew member was stabbed to death in an onshore robbery incident). How does Sheehan manage crises such as these and their aftermath – and what are the criteria for restoring cruise calls?

Regarding Tunisia, he explains: “I immediately said we can’t go to a place that’s going to do that. So that was very quick and bold and it cost us a lot of money but it was the right decision.” He says communication is ongoing to try to normalise the situation and return to the country’s ports. “What happened in Honduras was a terrible tragedy. I went on the ship to lend my support to everybody and all of our crew. We pulled the calls out until we had clarity.” Escalated levels of police and security in the areas where cruise ships dock have allowed the line to resume calls. “For the most part all of these places are very safe,” says Sheehan. “I live in Miami Beach and somebody could make the case that there’s more crime here.”

He is sanguine about the sometimes volatile aspects of cruising: “In this industry there’s always something coming out of the blue but that’s part of the business. You have to keep your eyes wide open and address things when they confront you, mitigate them and continue onwards.”

He is vocal in his appreciation of the role played by the crew on his ships in buoying up the company on its onward journey. “I’m probably the only guy who leads a company in this industry who has been on a ship every month since I started. I listen to the crew members; I have breakfast and lunch with them. I roam the galleys and the laundry. I listen to everything they say – I love their questions and their insights. Then I come back to the office here, I talk to the people who are responsible for the particular areas and we make changes.”

Some of these changes that have benefited crew members are shortened contracts, cheaper internet, improved cabins and better food. But Sheehan protests: “You shouldn’t hear that from me, you should hear it from the crew. When I get on a ship it’s like being a movie star. They all know who I am – every single crew member knows I care. I’m just the spokesperson. It’s really the 25,000 hardworking souls that are the ones that make this a business that is successful and has been for 22 straight quarters.”

 

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 6 of 41