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Star Cruises’ losses mount in April-June period to $21.7 million

Star Cruises, the Asia-Pacific focused cruise shipping unit of Genting Hong Kong group, has reported a significant widening of loss year on for the April-June period.

Revenues totaled at $274.9 million compared to $252.9 million a year earlier, but loss deepened to $21.7 million from $14.3 million.  “Onboard and other revenues grew 5.7% to $32.7 million primarily driven by higher onboard retail sales. Passenger ticket revenue decreased 6.5% to $68.3 million mainly due to m.v. SuperStar Virgo’s drydock and its relocation to Hong Kong,” Genting Hong Kong said in a statement.

Star Cruises receives most of its income from gaming on board its ships and revenues from this activity increased to $167.0 million from $146.8 million.

Total cost and expenses, excluding depreciation and amortisation, increased to $261.4 million in 1H2014 compared with $232.8 million in 1H2013, mainly attributable to higher salaries and marketing and promotion expenses. Total costs and expenses, excluding fuel expenses and depreciation and amortisation, increased 15.3% to $229.7 million but increased only 10.7% on a per-capacity-day basis compared with that of 1H2013.

Fuel expenses, included in total costs and expenses, declined 5.4% to $31.6 million due to lower overall fuel consumption mainly as a result of the drydock of m.v. Superstar Virgo in January 2014 coupled with a 2.8% decrease in average fuel price. Star Cruises’ average fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, was $636 in 1H2014 compared with $654 in 1H2013.

Total depreciation and amortisation expenses increased 7.0% to $41.5 million in 1H2014, primarily due to the additional capitalised drydock expenses of m.v. Superstar Virgo in 1H2014.

From November 2014, m.v. SuperStar Virgo and m.v. SuperStar Gemini will continue their homeport deployment in Hong Kong and Singapore, respectively. M.v. SuperStar Gemini will be offering various itineraries cruising to destinations including Penang, Langkawi, Port Klang and Malacca while m.v. SuperStar Virgo will focus on offering over-night cruises to the high seas from its homeport.

To enhance customer experience, m.v. SuperStar Virgo is scheduled to undergo minor facility enhancement projects in the third quarter of 2014 for its Hong Kong deployment. M.v. SuperStar Aquarius will commence its seasonal homeport deployment for the 2014/15 winter season, returning to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysia.

Star Cruises’ announced newbuild programme has made good progress. Two new ships are on order with Meyer Werft GmbH at Papenburg, Germany for delivery scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Each of these sister ships is approximately 150,000 gross tons and will be designed to offer a wide variety of Asian and international food & beverage outlets as well as world-class recreation, health & fitness and conference facilities catering to the unique demand of the Asian clientele. The two new ships are expected to reinforce Star Cruises’ leading position in Asia-Pacific and our commitment to develop the region as an international cruise destination.

Quantum class ships to float on bed of air bubbles, waste glass etc. frozen to prevent bacteria growth

Microscopic bubbles of air will be injected under the hull of the Quantum class ships as a way to reduce friction and fuel consumption, said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL).

The feature will save about 4% of the fuel bill of the ship. Through a host of energy saving measures, the ships of the Quantum class will be 20% more fuel efficient than the Oasis class vessels.

Hull design, lighting, air conditioning etc. have all been looked at to reduce fuel consumption and environmental footprint.

Everything used on board will be either reused or incinerated on board or recycled. Glass and other similar waste will be frozen on board in order to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Quantum class Two70 windows to become video screens, Bionic bar robots mix drinks

The huge Two70 lounge at the stern of the Quantum class ships of Royal Caribbean International will become video screens. The three deck high lounge will have no pillars, rather the ceiling is hung from the above rather than supported from below, said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL).

The room will feature projectors eight times the definition of an HD television. In addition, the room will feature robotic screens that feature entertainment. They can dance or an present an abstract scene.  Most of the time, the lounge is a living room with sea view, with occasional entertainment.

Inside cabins will feature a virtual balcony that produces the view of the sea. Cameras mounted on the sides of the ship feed image from the perspective of respective cabins rather than video or a single spot of footage.

Other design features give the virtual balcony a three dimensional feel. You can turn the feature off and pull the curtains if you like, but it will not feature functions like TV or games.

Bionic bar features robots that mix your drinks; you will place your order via tablets in the room, Fain said. As experience builds up, a wider range of drinks will be available.

Fain said that he and his team are “scared to death” as so much new technology is going on board the Quantum of the Seas that has never been used on board ship and with very little experience ashore either in some cases.

 

Quantum to offer six times faster Internet than other cruise ships, allows streaming video, use of Facetime, Skype

Internet connection has been a problem, with new technology will allow six times faster connection than on any cruise ship in service at the moment. This will allow passengers to use Skype, Facetime, to stream video etc. while on the cruise, said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), in a webcast presentation from the Meyer shipyard in Germany.

Internet will still be charged form, but the service will be faster and the rates lower than so far. All cruise members, 40,000 in all,  on all Royal Caribbean International ships will receive their own Windows tablet as the fast connection will be introduced on all ships of the company for the use of both passengers and crew. 

The smokestack of Quantum of the Seas can be lowered to allow passage under e.g. the Verrazano Bridge in New York to allow the ship to pass under it and with Smart Check in, the first inclination was to make it easer, but it was decided to eliminate it altogether. You can prepare all the boarding documents, including loading a selfie for embarkation documents, 

With the new technology on the Quantum class, the first day of the cruise will not involve long queues at check in, but to ensure boarding in 10 minutes from arrival to terminal to boarding.

However, the old system will be retained to those that feel uncomfortable to e.g. download their photo to the documents, Fain said.

Passengers will have an option to use Royal Caribbean app to follow the seven steps that their check in luggage goes through from delivery to staff at terminal to delivery to the cabin. The app will also allow passengers to manage their dining, spa booking etc other arrangements.

 

Quantum of the Seas to introduce robotic entertainment, eliminates check in counter in host of high tech firsts at sea

Tech-savvy modern travelers will be wowed by Royal Caribbean International's newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, which incorporates unprecedented levels of technology to amp up the vacation experience, the company said in a statement.

“Cruise vacations have a romantic past – but they also have a lively, adventurous, state-of-the-art future,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.  “We were determined to take the best advances in modern technology, turn them into shipboard WOWs, and take the frustration out of the vacation.  This ship’s combination of ease and flexibility would make a yoga instructor proud.”

Boatloads of bandwidth keep guests connected; easy-to-use systems expand guest choices and simplify schedules; and RFID technology speeds the boarding process and allows guests to keep track of their luggage every step of the way.

Altogether, customer-centered technology makes Quantum of the Sea six kinds of SMART:

SMART Check-In:  From sidewalk to ship in record time

A Quantum vacation begins at home, where guests can generate boarding documents online, upload their own ID photo, and receive digital boarding credentials.  By the time they arrive at the cruise terminal for departure, Royal Caribbean guests can go from “sidewalk to ship” in 10 minutes with no check-in counter, no forms to fill out and no lines to stand in. 

Guests will be able to track luggage in real time on their smartphones.  Luggage will be tagged curbside with RFID technology at drop-off, and guests can monitor their bags’ progress through key points en route to the stateroom.  On departure, the process is reversed.   

SMART Concierge: Flexibility at your fingertips

Quantum of the Seas will offer new RFID WOWband wristbands, which require only a simple tap to quickly navigate the ship, make onboard purchases, serve as the room key and more. 

Simplicity and efficiency are also at the heart of two new apps that put guests in charge of their cruise choices: Cruise Planner, which allows guests to research and book dining reservations, shore excursions, spa appointments and more before their vacation begins; and Royal iQ, available as a downloadable app and provided at freestanding iQ stations around the ship.

Royal iQ allows guests to manage details during the cruise, includes a convenient calendar that provides at-a-glance views of their program, and keep in touch with one another and home via phone and text capabilities.

“Every vacation minute counts, especially on Quantum of the Seas where there is so much to see and do,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International. “Guests can now tailor everything about their cruise in advance, so they can start enjoying their vacation the minute they step onboard.  In essence, they get back the first day of their cruise.” 

Taken together, these features take the company’s time-saving efforts to a new level,” Lutoff-Perlo said. “Every minute we can save our guests is another minute of their vacation they have to enjoy.”

SMART Connect: Downloads at the speed of modern life

Quantum of the Seas will operate with unprecedented bandwidth using satellites launched by tech partner O3b Networks.  With speeds that match fast broadband connections onshore, guests can be online 24/7, no matter what personal device they bring onboard.  Guests can watch streaming video, check email, share images on social media and enjoy face-to-face video conversations – even in the middle of the ocean.

“Even when they are getting away from it all on vacation, people want to be able to connect,” said Lutoff-Perlo.  “Our satellite network will make things possible at sea that could never have been done before, and will make all the difference in the way guests share their Royal Caribbean experience.”

In addition, Quantum’s connectivity makes it possible for one of the SeaPods in SeaPlex to become a live global video gaming suite where guests can enjoy Xbox Live and compete with other gamers worldwide. 

SMART Experiences: Shaking martinis and spinning screens

Technology also powers surprise-and-delight elements on Quantum of the Seas.  A brand new venue, Bionic Bar, is set to make waves with robots at center stage.  Guests place orders via tablets and then have fun watching robotic bartenders hard at work mixing cocktails.  

Robots drive another entertaining feature on Quantum of the Seas.  Two70 is home to a playful and agile troupe of six Roboscreens that stage surprise performances during every cruise, creating scenes while soaring and twisting solo, or uniting as one.  Guests will also experience Vistarama, floor-to-ceiling glass walls that transform into an expansive ambient surface that projects any scene, real or imagined, including the multidimensional performance spectacle, Starwater.

Quantum of the Seas will take advantage of technology in functional forms as well.  Guest staterooms are equipped with device-charging USB outlets, as well as energy efficient and environmentally friendly lighting systems. Interior accommodations are outfitted with Virtual Balconies that display real-time sights and sounds of the sea through 80-inch LED screens, ensuring every stateroom has a view.

SMART Service: Crew can connect better with guests – and with home.

The technology benefits of Quantum of the Seas extend to the ship’s crew.  Custom apps will allow crew members to keep better track of guests’ tastes and preferences, allowing staff to tailor their already remarkably personalized service to an even higher degree.  Whether a guest prefers gluten-free dining, early show seating, or shiatsu massage, the features of the smart ship allow crew members to anticipate every need.

And the ship’s remarkable capabilities give the company an opportunity to make life better for crew members too, since Royal Caribbean will present every crew member on Quantum of the Seas with a free, personal Microsoft tablet, with a suite of services and apps, that is theirs to keep. 

And as technology upgrades are made across the company’s fleet, every shipboard employee in the entire Royal Caribbean International fleet will also receive their own tablet – a total of 40,000 tablets.  

“The Royal Caribbean men and women who provide such great vacations are the real heroes of our fleet and these gifts demonstrate our appreciation in a tangible way,” Fain said. “This technology isn't only about giving our guests a better vacation – it’s also about giving our crew and their families a closer connection than we’ve ever been able to.” 

SMART Sustainability: Cleaner and greener

Technology has even played a part in making the ship more environmentally friendly.  Sophisticated computer modeling was used to reduce the vessel’s energy consumption with efficient hull configuration, engine design and energy saving devices. 

The ship has eliminated the use of incandescent bulbs; all lighting will be provided by low-energy LED or fluorescents.  Motion sensors even dim hallway lighting when no one is present.