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Royal Caribbean International to invest $900 million in fleet modernization

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Royal Caribbean International is amping up vacation adventures by reimagining its fleet with a $900 million investment. The Royal Amplified program spans 10 ships in four years, and touches every facet of the guest experience on a lineup of its ships, including Oasis and Allure of the Seas, as well as all Freedom and Voyager class ships. "The program is set to introduce a wide range of innovative features and bold new experiences that will further build on Royal Caribbean’s best-in-class global vacation offering," the company said in a statement.

In developing Royal Amplified, the global cruise line analyzed multiple years of guest satisfaction ratings, venue utilization data and crew interviews to focus the major investment on key features and experiences that matter most to travelers. Full details on each ship’s new amenities will be revealed on a continuous basis in the next three years.

“Royal Amplified is built on our passion for innovation, relentless attention to detail and commitment to always exceeding our guests’ expectations,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We sail with more than five million guests worldwide each year, and recognize the need to always innovate and stay ahead of the curve. We have designed this program to wow our loyal guests while also attracting the next generation of adventurers.”

Iconic pools and attractions

With Royal Amplified, outside decks will be reimagined for thrill seekers to discover everything they want under the sun and beneath the stars. From pools specifically designed for family fun and relaxing spa-like environments, to lively activities day and night, more specialized pool spaces will catering to diverse preferences. Upper decks will be amped up and evolved with exciting new attractions and first-of-its-kind thrills such as Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience along with waterslides, and waterparks.

Elevated dining and nightlife

Guests crave cornerstone cuisines, like Italian, seafood and Mexican, and Royal Caribbean will deliver on that with the introduction of more experiential dining concepts. Travelers also will see more of the cruise line’s recently unveiled experiences, including Hooked Seafood, Royal Caribbean’s New England-style restaurant; Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, and family-friendly El Loco Fresh with popular Mexican fare. Additional casual, grab-and-go eateries to keep guests fueled between their adventures will also make their debut.

What’s more, adventurers will have the opportunity to drink, clink and live it up in distinct new bars and nightlife spots that deliver on the three tenets of a great night out: unique drinks, delicious food and live entertainment. This makes for more multidimensional nightlife venues offering food, live music and craft cocktails, like The Bamboo Room, and a signature outdoor Caribbean Bar. Other new concepts include a world-class music hall, a go-to spot for karaoke, and a lounge-style nightclub that will take the nightlife to a whole new level.

Redefined short Caribbean getaways

Royal Caribbean believes that vacations should provide maximum levels of adventure no matter how long or short. With quick getaways becoming increasingly popular and necessary for today’s traveler, the cruise line will ensure that its 3- and 4-night cruises are just as exceptional as longer escapes. With the Royal Amplified focus on innovative attractions, iconic pools, distinct bars and dining, guests can enjoy an ample variety of options and features that will allow them to escape from their routine and redefine their weekends.

Royal Caribbean is not only amping up the adventure on its ships with the Royal Amplified program. The cruise line is also set to raise the bar in vacation adventures on land with the introduction of its Perfect Day Island Collection of unrivaled private island destinations around the world. The first in the collection, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas, scheduled for completion in fall 2019, will offer the ultimate in thrill and chill with a number of distinct experiences and iconic features giving guests first-time experiences that will top any bucket list. Four Royal Caribbean ships in the Royal Amplified program, departing from New York, Maryland and Florida, will call at Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas, providing guests with a vacation like no other in the Caribbean.

A look ahead at Royal Amplified

Freedom class – Independence of the Seas will be the first ship in the Royal Amplified program to reveal multimillion-dollar upgrades, including Sky Pad, Battle for Planet Z, a glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience; The Perfect Storm trio of waterslides and a new Escape Room: The Observatorium challenge, where competitors can solve a series of high-tech riddles to unravel a mystery. Not to mention the addition of new dining venues, from Fish and Ships – a seaside seafood spot with freshly battered fish and chips and other guest favorites – to Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, Izumi Hibachi and Sushi and Sugar Beach. Independence will offer 3- to 14-night sailings from Southampton, England beginning in May 2018, before she heads across the pond in Nov. 2018 to sail from Ft. Lauderdale, FL on 4- to 5-night Caribbean cruises. Freedom of the Seas will be up next, debuting new features in 2020, followed by Liberty of the Seas in 2021.

Voyager class – In summer 2018, the transformation of Royal Caribbean’s short Caribbean cruises will begin with the $90 million amp-up of Mariner of the Seas. Mariner will redefine the quick getaway by giving guests the chance to take their weekends to new heights with the addition of new thrills, such as Sky Pad and laser tag; The Bamboo Room, a retro lounge with its tiki-chic décor; and the fun and vibrant Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade. The program will continue in 2019 on sister ship Navigator of the Seas, which also will be redesigned to specifically cater to those who seek a quick getaway.

Oasis class – Oasis of the Seas will be completely reimagined in fall 2019, ten years after her revolutionary debut. The ship will gain new thrills, pools, bars and culinary creations, as well as introduce new restaurants and onboard adventures found on the newest Oasis class ship, Symphony of the Seas. These enhancements will cascade to Allure of the Seas in spring 2020, making every ship in the class more adventurous than ever.

Cruise industry’s struggle to win over UK Millennials far from over

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

The efforts of the cruise industry to attract Millennials – roughly those born between 1980 and 2000 - on board ships appear to face stiff headwinds, figures released by CLIA Europe suggest.

Meanwhile, CLIA UK & Ireland figures show that in 2017, the only age category in which the passenger count increased was those over the age of 70.

The average age of cruise passengers from the UK was 56 years in 2017, the highest among major European markets. The corresponding figure in Germany was 50 years, while it was lowest in Italy, at 42 years, CLIA Europe said.

CLIA UK & Ireland figures show that the average age of British cruise passengers was 55.4 years in 2016 and 56.2 years in the previous year. In a review period that started in 2005, the figure hit a high at 58.2 years in 2014 and a low at 53.2 years in 2007.

CLIA Europe noted that the average length of cruises booked by British passengers was also the highest among major European source markets, 10.4 nights compared to just under nine in Germany and about 7 in Italy.

Older people tend to book longer cruises, which according to CLIA Europe explains the high average age of British passengers.

Meanwhile, CLIA UK & Ireland figures show that 17% of the British cruise passengers were aged up to 44 years in 2016, a drop of one percentage point on the previous year. The figure hit a low at 14% in 2014 and it has not exceeded one fifth of the total passenger count since 2011, when the figure stood at 22%.

In the 2005-11 period, the figure dropped below the 20% threshold only once, in 2009 when it hit 19%, while in both 2005 and 2006 it had hit the high of the review period, at 24%.

In the 2018 Cruise Report, CLIA UK & Ireland changed the way it looks at the composition of passengers numbers in terms of their age and the age brackets it is using in the latest report differ from those it used in the previous years. 

The fresh figures show the in the up to 12 year age group, the number of passengers fell by 5.0% to 53,000, in the 13 to 19 year range the fall was 8.1% to 47,000 while those aged 20 to 29 numbered 63,000, which was 2.7% fewer than in 2016.

In the 30 to 39 year age category the passenger count also fell by 2.7% and came to 77,000, while those aged 40 to 49 numbered 143,000, a fall of 9.1% and the sharpest fall in any age category. The lines carried 298,000 passengers aged 50 to 59 last year, a decrease of 5.8% on 2016 and 384,000 passengers that were aged 60 to 69, marking a fall of 7.0%.

The only increase took place in the 70 year old plus age category, with 342,000 passengers in 2017, an increase of 3.9% year on.





MV Werften starts construction on the first 204,000 gross ton Global Class ship

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Accompanied by the sound of ships' horns, construction work began on the first Global Class ship today. The Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Manuela Schwesig, and the Chairman and CEO of Genting Hong Kong, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, launched the flame cutter for the first steel cut in the Wismar yard of MV Werften. Just a few minutes later, first steel was cut in the Rostock yard. Both sites will be needed to manufacture the 204,000 gross ton Global Class ship, the largest to be built in Germany.

Production will take place in parallel in Wismar and Rostock, with final assembly to be carried out in the Wismar yard. The first Global Class ship is to be delivered at the end of 2020. Approximately 600 companies are involved in the construction process.

“After designing the Global Class ships for the last three years and investing over 210 million euros to make MV Werften the-state-of-the-art cruise shipbuilding yard in the last two years, we are very pleased to finally start construction on the first Global cruise ship today,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. “These ships are not only the largest cruise ships to be built in Germany; they are also the most technologically advanced with artificial intelligence. The Global Class ships will follow the embrace of Asians of artificial intelligence in their daily lives, with facial and voice recognition for most services onboard and robots to perform mundane tasks, allowing the crew to focus on service delivery”, he added.

The Global Class ships are designed specifically for the rapidly growing Asian cruise market with popular features such as a Cineplex, theme park, Asian spa, authentic multiple Asian dining experiences including fast food alternatives and affordable shopping facilities in addition to luxury shopping facilities.

The Global Class ships will be 342 meters long and 46.40 meters wide with a draft of 9.50 meters. With a capacity of 204,000 gross tons (GT), the ship can accommodate about 5,000 passengers in 2,500 cabins based on a twin share basis. However, the cabins are uniquely designed for the Asian family and can comfortably sleep two, three or four persons with split (two) bathrooms, allowing for a wider price point for the Asian market. With total life-saving capacity of up to 9,500 passengers, the Global Class ships can cater for the extremely high peak holiday periods in Asia. In addition to the usual 28 large elevators, the Global Class will also have eight sets of escalators connecting the public areas, the first cruise ship to have escalators. With facial recognition, there will be minimal queuing for boarding, disembarkation and payments; contextual marketing to even out demand on ship facilities and other artificial intelligent systems.

Jarmo Laakso, CEO of MV Werften, said: “We are manning up to the major challenge to build these magnificent ships and we will use all our skills and expertise to promote ‘Shipbuilding made in MV’ worldwide as a trademark of quality. We would like to thank our employees and partners for their excellent work during the design and planning phase. This achievement must now be carried forward in the construction phase.”

“The shipyards have a long tradition in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. They are important employers in our state. The building of cruise ships is a new challenge and the great chance to prove that shipbuilding in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has a future,” said the Prime Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Manuela Schwesig.

“The start of construction is an important step for the maritime industry in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania,” explained Harry Glawe, Minister of Economics, Employment and Health. “With the onset of the construction of the Global Class cruise ship, MV WERFTEN continues to implement its strategy for the future of our country, supporting the construction of ships with the involvement of domestic suppliers and service providers. The outstanding orders will ensure the creation of important industrial jobs here in Germany.”

"Today is a truly historic day," said Wismar's mayor, Thomas Beyer. "The construction of the largest ship ever to be built in Wismar will now begin. We share in MV Werften's celebration and wish them great success and a productive and accident-free construction process."

MV Werften’s order book includes six more ships, to be completed by 2021; the Crystal Ravel will be handed over in April. The company began construction on the first of three expedition mega yachts in Stralsund this past January with the first delivery at the end of 2019. Construction on the second Global Class ship will begin in early 2019 for delivery at the end of 2021.

Norwegian announces new, dedicated terminal at PortMiami

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., a leading global cruise company which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, today unveiled the design of the new and dedicated Norwegian Cruise Line terminal at PortMiami. The terminal at PortMiami represents the continued relationship and strong ties between Norwegian and Miami, which has been the company’s home since its launch in 1966. Pending the final approval by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, the project will commence in May 2018, and is scheduled for completion by the fall of 2019, as Norwegian Encore, the newest ship of the Breakaway Plus class, makes her debut in Miami with seasonal cruises to the Caribbean.

"Norwegian has been sailing from Miami for over fifty years, longer than any other cruise line, and we are honored to be partnering with PortMiami and Miami-Dade County to construct an iconic terminal that will contribute to Miami's world famous skyline and strengthen its position as the Cruise Capital of the World," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "This terminal marks the latest step in our continual efforts to strengthen our presence in strategic home ports around the world. We look forward to welcoming Norwegian Encore and the thousands of guests sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line and her sister brands to this state-of-the-art terminal."

Norwegian is widely recognized for introducing modern-day cruising more than 50 years ago, by transforming a common means of transportation to a new style of vacation with its first Caribbean voyages out of the port of Miami and launching the city’s status as the "cruising capital of the world." As a result of the continued relationship, Miami-Dade County will invest $100 million to build a new terminal dedicated to Norwegian Cruise Line, with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. augmenting the county’s allocated funds with its own contribution to PortMiami, as was unveiled today at a press conference held at the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Global exhibition.

"Investing in PortMiami's infrastructure positions Miami as a global destination for visitors," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. "The construction of a new cruise terminal with the capacity to berth an additional 5,000-passenger cruise ship represents thousands of jobs and increased opportunities for our community. We are grateful for Norwegian Cruise Line's continued partnership."

"PortMiami is proud to be recognized as the Cruise Capital of the World, welcoming more passengers than any other port in the world," said Chairwoman of the Miami-Dade County Economic Development and Tourism Committee Rebeca Sosa. "Norwegian Cruise Line's partnership is a big win for the growth and expansion of tourism in Miami-Dade County. We are honored by our partner's commitment to PortMiami and Miami-Dade County."

Globally recognized for their award-winning designs and projects around the world, the Miami-based firm of Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc., was selected to design the new terminal. The project will be constructed to LEED Silver standards, focusing on innovation in design and terminal operation to create a platform that will optimize energy performance, indoor air quality, water efficiencies and maximize the use of local materials and resources. After the press conference, attendees were able to get a close-up look of the new terminal through an interactive 3D virtual reality experience and model on display.

"The new Norwegian terminal will set the standard for passenger comfort and experience and will become an iconic building on Miami’s waterfront, a true representation of the role that Norwegian and PortMiami played as the pioneers of modern cruising," says Luis Ajamil, president and chief executive officer of Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc.

The modern terminal draws its inspiration from a nautilus, with its spiraled and multi-level façade, opening up to grand ocean views. Once complete it will be the new "pearl" of Miami, redefining the landscape of the city’s skyline. Innovative lighting, inviting indoor and outdoor waiting areas and other guest-centric elements will enhance the overall passenger experience. At nearly 166,500 square feet, the debuting Norwegian terminal will accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers, and feature new technology to support faster and more efficient embarkation and disembarkation processes, as well as expedited security screening and luggage check-in. A dedicated lounge and service area will facilitate a warm and welcoming sense of arrival for large groups and charters, and a new parking garage, and valet parking area with direct access to the terminal and lounge are also scheduled to be completed.

CMV buys Pacific Eden for Australian and German markets - report

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

CMV Travel & Leisure Group (CMV) in the UK has bought Pacific Eden, delivered in 1993 as Statendam of Holland America Line, from P&O Cruises Australia, which is part of the Carnival Corporation & plc group Travel Weekly reports.

“The ship will operate under CMV’s German brand, TransOcean Kreuzfahrten, between May and October from both Bremerhaven and Kiel. It will then operate during the Australian December-March summer season from Fremantle and Adelaide,” the report said.

Pacific Eden is of about 55,000 gross tons and it will join the 21,000 gross ton Astor on the German and Australian itineraries of CMV

Following the delivery, which will take place in Singapore in April 2019, the ship will be docked for a short period during which it will undergo a livery change and rebranding plus renaming. It will then carry out its inaugural voyage to northern Europe via the Suez Canal. The summer 2019 German-based programme for the new ship will go on sale midway through next month.

CMV’s UK, North American and wider global markets will be marketing the voyages between Europe and the Antipodes and the wider Australian season.

The vessel will operate alongside CMV’s 1,400 passenger Columbus, 1,300-passenger Magellan, 800-passenger Marco Polo, 600-passenger Astor and 550-assenger Astoria.

Christian Verhounig, CMV’s chief executive and chairman,was quoted as saying: “We are very pleased to have concluded this deal and firmly believe that Pacific Eden will be a very popular addition to our fleet. This stylish traditional vessel is ideally suited to our business model and is in very good shape following a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2016. As part of our mid-term growth plans the ship will provide the requirement level of extra capacity needed in Australia and Germany