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Wybecke Meier appointed new TUI Cruises’ CEO

Wybecke Meier has been appointed new chief executive officer of TUI Cruises, the Hamburg based premium market cruise shipping company. She will assume her position on 1 October and she follows Richard Vogel, who resigned last week.

She comes from outside the TUI group and she has worked in the travel industry for many years.

Mein Schiff 3, the first newbuilding of TUI Cruises, which is 50% owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) and 50% by TUI AG, was named in Hamburg on Thursday. The 99,300 gross ton vessel will be followed by a sister ship next spring. The first two ships of the company were transfers from Celebrity Cruises.

Richard Fain, chairman and ceo of RCCL, said in a statement that TUI Cruises has not moved from stage of establishing and building up its business to stage of expansion.

TUI Cruises' CEO Richard Vogel to leave company

Richard Vogel, CEO of the Hamburg based premium cruise market line TUI Cruises, has decided to leave the company and assume a senior position in a company outside the TUI group, TUI Cruises said in a statement.

“We have built TUI Cruises to a successful and profitable enterprise. With Mein Schiff 3, we will introduce our first newbuilding into service. For me personally, this is a good point in time to chart a new course,” Vogel said in the statement.

Mein Schiff 3 is a 99,300 gross ton ship that will officially becommissioned on Thursday. Vogel will leave the company at an unspecified time this year, TUI Cruises said.

The company is 50/50 owned by TUI AG, the German travel to shipping group and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the Miami based  company that is the second largest cruise shipping company in the world.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to develop Cape Liberty Cruise Port

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced that it has entered into an agreement with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the cruise company to develop the next phase of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J. The $55 million project will include the construction of a new, state-of-the-art guest terminal, with 125,000 sq. ft. of check-in, customs and immigration, and luggage processing space, as well as a 900-car parking structure and pier improvements. The new facilities will be erected adjacent to the current terminal used to welcome guests and will accommodate the cruise company’s ships, including the next-generation Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, each to start service at Cape Liberty in November 2014 and 2015, respectively. Ground breaking has already occurred and the new terminal is scheduled to be completed in November 2014.

“The planned state-of-the-art cruise terminal at Cape Liberty will perfectly complement our Quantum-class ships, which will be the most technologically advanced ships in the world,” said Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are glad to work with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to develop world-class facilities for vacationers to embark on the most innovative cruise ships for an experience that can only be found on Royal Caribbean.”

Opened in May 2004, Cape Liberty Cruise Port is located 15 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport and seven miles south of Manhattan. The port is the year-round home of Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas, and seasonally for Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit. The port will welcome the highly anticipated Quantum of the Seas for its inaugural season sailing to the Caribbean and Bahamas starting in November 2014. Liberty of the Seas will then homeport at Cape Liberty in summer 2015 and become Royal Caribbean International’s largest and most innovative cruise ship to sail to Bermuda. In winter 2015, Cape Liberty will be the homeport for Quantum of the Seas’ sister-ship Anthem of the Seas, after the ship completes its inaugural season in Europe.

“The City of Bayonne welcomes the expansion of Royal Caribbean’s Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal along with the related construction and permanent jobs, enhanced tourism and commerce that will be created as Royal Caribbean expands their home port at the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor,” said Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith. “Their plans fully complement our plans to develop Harbor Station South as a full service retail, and commercial destination with flagship hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues close to the port.”

Jorge Vilches named President and CEO of Pullmantur

Jorge Vilches has been named president and chief executive officer of Pullmantur, one of  Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s six brands.  Vilches will be responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the brand to ensure its continuous growth and success. He will report directly to Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Vilches has spent the past 10 years in the travel industry, holding various positions with the LATAM Group, a leader in the airline industry in South America.  Most recently, he served as CEO of LATAM's long haul business unit, the group's biggest division in terms of capacity and revenue.  Vilches' previous management positions at LATAM include CEO of LAN Peru, the main carrier in that South American country, and CEO at LAN Express, LAN's domestic operation in Chile.  Vilches was born in Spain and has lived in a number of Latin American countries, most recently in Brazil.

"Jorge has a proven track record of success in the travel industry, and extensive knowledge of the market.  I look forward to his leadership at Pullmantur," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Pullmantur plays an important role in Royal Caribbean's long term strategy, particularly as we expand the brand's reach into Latin America. We are confident that Jorge will use his strategic insights and market awareness to make Pullmantur the undisputed cruise leader in Spain and Latin America."

Said Vilches: "I am very excited to join the Pullmantur family.  I'm a believer in strong, committed teams and sharp strategic focus. Together with an outstanding group of employees, I look forward to delivering fantastic vacations to Pullmantur guests around the world. I also look forward to joining the team at Royal Caribbean, one of the true leaders of the travel industry."

Changi, STB and Princess partners to promote Singapore

Changi Airport Group (CAG), Singapore Tourism Board (STB), and Princess Cruises have announced an initiative aimed at growing Asia’s fly-cruise segment and promoting demand for cruise holidays from Singapore.

This multi-million dollar tripartite collaboration commenced last month with a series of marketing campaigns promoting Princess Cruises’ sailings not just in Asia, but also further afield in Australia, United Kingdom and the United States. The Asian countries earmarked are China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. Princess Cruises is part of Carnival Corporation, the world largest cruise company

With a low penetration of cruising in Asia, there is a huge potential for cruise companies to grow in this region by developing new passenger source markets. Cruise lines that are looking to begin or extend sailings out of Singapore will benefit by working with CAG and STB. Jan Swartz, President of Princess Cruises said, “Princess Cruises is proud to be a partner of CAG and STB. We are confident that this collaboration will complement our expansion efforts in Asia and we look forward to developing the regional cruise market through continued investment in our people and resources.”

Further strengthening this collaboration is Changi Airport’s strong connectivity to 270 cities worldwide, combined with some 6,600 weekly flights, giving Singapore a strategic advantage to effectively tap fly-cruise traffic from across the globe and serve as a cruise hub for Asia.

According to the Asia Cruise Association, Asia has a penetration rate of less than 0.1% compared to 3.3% in the USA.

Long Term Commitment to Cruise

Since 2012, CAG and STB have been partnering cruise liners on initiatives to anchor more ships within Singapore’s waters. In September 2012, CAG and STB jointly supported Costa Cruises – one of the cruise brands under the Carnival Corporation – on a multi-million dollar collaboration to deploy more ships and to market the cruise liner within Asia Pacific. In the first year of collaboration, Costa Cruises received support to intensify marketing efforts to Asian consumers, yielding positive results, recording 5,000 Asian cruise passengers flying through Changi Airport and spending time in Singapore before and after their cruises.

In tandem, CAG has also been actively collaborating with airlines and travel agents on marketing campaigns to promote fly-cruise packages in markets such as China and India.

Mr Lim Ching Kiat, CAG’s Senior Vice-President for Market Development, said, “Changi Airport Group welcomes this opportunity to partner STB to grow passenger source markets in Asia and heighten awareness of cruising as a desired travel option. This second tripartite collaboration with the Carnival Corporation’s group of cruise brands further highlights our synergistic efforts to grow the fly-cruise segment in Singapore. With Changi Airport’s strong connectivity to destinations across the world, this serves to complement STB’s vision of making Singapore a global cruise hub, whilst supporting Princess Cruises’ new offerings in Singapore.”

As a champion for the Singapore cruise industry, STB is also committed to helping cruise stakeholders succeed. For example, market research indicated that many Asian consumers have low awareness but high receptivity towards cruising. Given that the majority of cruise bookings are made through travel agents, a training programme for travel agents across Southeast Asia was launched in 2013, led by the Asia Cruise Association and facilitated by STB. The on-going training is steadily building a pool of cruise specialists, thus expanding the trade network and making Southeast Asia even more attractive to cruise companies.

In particular, fly-cruise is a key topic of discussion during the training. Travel agents learn of the benefits of fly-cruise holidays, where consumers enjoy greater convenience, competitive prices, and a wider range of itineraries. This ties in with CAG and STB’s united objective. “Through this complementary partnership, STB and CAG will work together to promote the concept of flying into Singapore to cruise. We are excited that Princess Cruises has come on board, and look forward to more cruise lines joining us in tapping on the immense potential of cruising in Southeast Asia,” said Ms Neeta Lachmandas, Assistant Chief Executive, Business Development Group, Singapore Tourism Board.

“Changi Airport is world-renowned and travellers would be able to relate to the convenience and seamlessness associated with both Changi Airport and fly-cruise holidays. Together, our goal is to make Singapore the preferred regional cruise hub. We look forward to more of such fruitful collaborations in the future,” she added.

Viking Star