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MSC Cruises to reposition MSC Bellissima to Asia in spring 2020 making it the largest cruise ship ever deployed in Far East

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Today, as MSC Splendida arrived in Chinese waters, MSC Cruises – the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line as well as leading cruise brand in Europe and South America – announced that MSC Bellissima will be deployed in Asia in Spring 2020, becoming MSC Cruises’ newest flagship for the region. MSC Bellissima, MSC Cruises’ second Meraviglia-class ship, is currently being constructed at STX France’s shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and is due to first come into service in March 2019.

Following her inaugural season in the Mediterranean next summer, MSC Bellissima will bring a range of cutting-edge innovations to China and Japan, including the longest LED Sky Screen at Sea, at 262 feet long, within a stunning 315 ft. long Mediterranean-style promenade, designed to become the social hub of the ship. Guests will be able to enjoy brand new and exclusive to MSC Cruises Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows every night as well as a next-generation MSC Yacht Club, with new features and luxurious accommodations spanning three decks, private facilities and butler service around-the-clock. MSC Bellissima will be among the biggest and most innovative cruise ships deployed in the region.

While MSC Bellissima will be mostly based in Shanghai to serve the Chinese home market, she will also offer a number of sailings from Japan to cater to the growing demand for the MSC Cruises product and experience from Japanese consumers.

Speaking at an official meeting with Mr CHEN Qun, Vice Mayor of Shanghai, Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, commented, “MSC Splendida does not mark the end of our ambitions in China and Asia overall. This market is a global priority, and we are committed to serving it with our very best ships and products. For this reason, I’m delighted to announce that MSC Bellissima will homeport in Asia as of Spring 2020, marking the next step of our growth in one of the world’s most appealing cruise markets.”

In addition, MSC Splendida has completed her Maritime Silk Road sailing, which has taken her from Dubai, UAE, to Shanghai, China. During her season in Asia, she will also operate mostly out of Shanghai as well as Yokohama, Japan. With 137,936 gross ton, MSC Splendida is one of the largest, most modern cruise ships currently operating in the Asia region. She features 1,637 staterooms, 76 percent of which feature a balcony and can accommodate up to a total of 4,363 guests (3,274 double occupancy).

MSC Splendida, a favorite for Asian guests cruising in Europe, will introduce the MSC Yacht Club to the Chinese and Asian markets. This exclusive, “ship-within-a-ship” high-end concept has been designed for the most discerning guests who desire exclusivity and privacy with all of the choices of a larger ship. Offering a broad range of private facilities, MSC Yacht Club’s guests also benefit from exclusive services including 24-hour butler service, a dedicated concierge service as well as priority boarding and disembarkation.

Prior to today’s arrival, MSC Splendida went through an extensive overhaul to renovate her interiors, install new features of and upgraded on board experiences and add features that meet the expectations of Chinese and Asian guests. MSC Splendida now features an exclusive selection of Asian and Western cuisines in three new restaurants: the signature hot pot restaurant, Sea Pavilion, by the acclaimed Chinese chef Jereme Leung, who is globally recognized for his contemporary interpretation of Chinese cuisine; the Hong Kong style Dim Sum & Teahouse; and the Butcher’s Cut, a popular American-style steak house on board MSC Cruises’ fleet.

MSC Splendida is also now equipped with the latest evolution of MSC for Me, MSC Cruises’ digital innovation program bringing the very latest advances in customer-centric technology to guests at sea. The comprehensive program is focused on connecting guests to their desired vacation experience through cutting-edge technology that is specially engineered to meet their every need, providing guests with smart features geared toward a fully optimized cruise. These include a dedicated app to help guests tailor their experience at any point on their journey, whether booking their excursions prior to embarkation or reserving a specialty restaurant while relaxing by the top-deck pool. The technology will improve the overall guest experience allowing for more free time to enjoy the cruise. MSC Splendida also provides portable Wi-Fi translator enabled by Baidu’s AI technology, and supports payments via Alipay, an easy to use payment method providing discounted exchange rates without internet connection.

MSC Splendida is due to arrive in Yokohama on April 27, where MSC Cruises will also celebrate its ten-year anniversary in Japan.

Royal Caribbean to increase Singapore capacity with Quantum of the Seas' six-month season

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Royal Caribbean International has announced that its Asia’s largest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, will be back in Singapore for a six-month homeporting season in 2019 to 2020 – the cruise line’s longest ever Singapore deployment for a Quantum Class ship.

The announcement with this ship which redefined cruising in Asia in terms of size and innovative amenities, reaffirms Royal Caribbean’s confidence in Singapore as the region’s leading cruising gateway, and its commitment to grow its cruise offerings in Singapore and the region.

Over her 34 sailings during the six months from November 2019 to April 2020, Quantum of the Seas is expected to add some 150,000 guests to the Singapore cruising scene. With this 18-deck high, 168,666 gross ton ship which can carry 4,905 guests in total, Royal Caribbean will increase its capacity in Singapore by 30 percent.

Her itineraries include 4-night cruises to Penang or Phuket, 5-night cruises to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket, a 7-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket (with an overnight) and a 7-night cruise to Bangkok (Laem Chabang) (with an overnight) and Ho Chi Minh City.

Quantum of the Seas will also be revitalised prior to her return to Singapore. The multi-million dollar project will see the ship refreshed and upgraded to provide the best of the next-generation cruise experience for guests in this region.

President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, said that the commitment to bring in bigger and better ships like Quantum of the Seas demonstrates Royal Caribbean’s confidence in the region to continue experiencing record-breaking growth.

“The Asian cruise market has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, and Singapore has been leading growth as one of the most significant cruise destinations and cruise source markets in the region,” said Bayley.

He added, “In response to the strong demand from Singapore and the region, we have decided to bring in longer cruises for Quantum of the Seas’ return. The season will feature cruises starting from four nights and the first ever 7-night round trip cruises on a Quantum Class ship here. With this ground-breaking itinerary design for the Asian cruise market, our guests will get the opportunity to enjoy a more comprehensive Quantum Class experience and take in more of what this amazing ship has to offer.”

Yap Chin Siang, Assistant Chief Executive, Policy and Planning Group, Singapore Tourism Board, said, “We are pleased to welcome the new and improved Quantum of the Seas to Singapore. The Quantum’s upcoming deployment is a strong endorsement from Royal Caribbean International, our trusted industry partner, of Singapore’s status as Southeast Asia’s homeport of choice. The Quantum of the Seas will be a key addition to Singapore’s vibrant and diverse line-up of cruise offerings, catering to the strong demand for cruising from Singapore.”

The smart ship Quantum of the Seas currently offer the ‘North Star’, an observation capsule that rises 92 metres over the ocean; ‘Two70’ – a hi-tech entertainment venue; cocktails served by robots at the ‘Bionic Bar’; skydiving and surfing experiences; and ‘SeaPlex’, the largest indoor activity space at sea – housing a basketball court, roller-skating, bumper cars and more.

The ship also boasts 18 restaurant venues with cuisines from around the globe, including imaginative cuisine at Wonderland and Jamie’s Italian by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

MV Werften appoints Peter Fetten as President and CEO

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Peter Fetten, a 38-year maritime industry veteran, will take over the President & CEO position of MV Werften as of May 1, 2018 and Jarmo Laakso will remain as Managing Director and step into the position of COO to focus on cruise shipbuilding.

Prior to joining MV Werften, Fetten was the Senior Vice President of Corporate Ship Refits at Carnival Corporation & PLC for the past nine years. He was also Vice President Newbuilding and Fleet Design of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. for eight years and held several executive positions during his 16 years at Blohm+Voss Shipyard. Fetten is also a past member of the board of directors of Grand Bahamas Shipyard and has worked together with Laakso at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

“We are pleased that Mr. Fetten is joining the MV Werften team. With his wealth of international experience in the design and construction of mega cruise ships and shipyard management, he will lead MV Werften on its mission to build Dream Cruises’ 204,000 gross ton Global Class ship, the largest ship to be built in Germany and Crystal Cruises’ 20,000 gross ton Endeavor Class ship, the world’s most luxurious expedition ship,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman & CEO of Genting Hong Kong.

Fetten is a German national and holds degrees in naval architecture and welding engineering from the University of Hamburg. “I look forward to returning to Germany and playing a pivotal role in revitalizing the shipbuilding industry in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, creating thousands of jobs in the cruise shipbuilding industry for the state,” said Peter Fetten.

Laakso, in his new role as COO, will focus on the overall yard and building strategy. He will report to Fetten and will remain as a Managing Director of the MV Werften group. “I welcome the opportunity to work with Peter Fetten again and together we will build good quality cruise ships that Germany will be proud of,” said Jarmo Laakso.

Vard wins two plus two ship contract from Viking

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Vard Holdings Limited, which is controlled ny the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, has signed a Letter of Intent for the design and construction of two special cruise vessels for Viking Ocean Cruises, with an option for two more vessels. “The ships, with deliveries scheduled in Norway in 2Q 2021 and 2Q 2022 respectively, will be the first that Vard will build for this ship owner,” Vard said in a statement.

The potential contract value for two vessels is expected to be approximately NOK4.5 billion, equal to more than €460 million. The parties have a common intention to enter into final contract by mid-2018.

“The project, totally innovative, will be developed by Vard Design in close cooperation with the customer, according to the highest safety and reduction of the environmental impact standards, drivers which have increasingly greater weight also in the cruise sector.” Vard said, but did not provide further details.

Genting Hong Kong reports $244.3 million loss for 2017

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Revenue from cruise and cruise-related activities of the Genting Hong Kong Group increased 11.9% to US$1,016.0 million in 2017 compared with US$908.1 million in 2016. Net Revenue in 2017 increased 14.0% to US$786.0 million from US$689.7 million in 2016 due to an increase in capacity days of 33.7%. The increase in capacity days was primarily due to the inclusion of full year operation of Genting Dream and Crystal Mozart as well as the launch of World Dream, Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler during 2017.

Loss for the year of the Group improved from US$504.2 million in 2016 to US$244.3 million in 2017. The reduction in loss is mainly attributable to a number of factors including:

– One-off gain of US$205.0 million in respect of the disposal of certain available-for-sale investments and the absence of an impairment loss on ordinary shares in Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. of US$305.0 million in 2016; offset by:
– Start-up losses in the Dream Cruises brand for World Dream that arrived in Hong Kong and the re- positioning of Genting Dream to Singapore in November 2017, Crystal Cruises brand extensions in river cruises and the launch of AirCruises;
– Dream Cruises, launched slightly more than a year ago is performing well with improving occupancies and net yields in both the Hong Kong/Guangzhou and Singapore markets. However, the arrivals of new and large ships of competitors have caused smaller and older ships to relocate to ports where Star Cruises ships are positioned, creating downward pressures on occupancies and yields. This situation is expected to improve as competitors had announced approximately 18% reduction in capacity by the end of this year. Crystal Cruises faces significant competition in 2017, as competitors have launched new luxury ships, leading to approximately 16% increase in berth capacity in the luxury sector. The renovation of Crystal Symphony in late 2017 and Crystal Serenity in late 2018 with less passengers, more suites and an additional Chinese restaurant will enable free seating, an essential feature for Crystal Cruises to compete more effectively in the luxury sector;
– MV Werften recorded a full year start-up losses in 2017 as compared to an eight months losses in 2016. However, with the steel cutting for both the Endeavor Class and Global Class ships in January and March 2018 respectively, the Group will capitalise the shipbuilding cost as part of the new builds;
– Additional depreciation and amortisation of the shipyards along with new Dream and Crystal vessels; and
– Additional finance costs on new Dream and Crystal vessels.

The Directors have recommended a final dividend of US$0.01 per ordinary share for the year ended 31 December 2017 (2016: US$0.01 per ordinary share), which will be payable subject to shareholders’ approval at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the Company.