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Odo-CBR Commentary - Fathom sails into perfect storm before launch

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Fathom, the new impact travel brand of Carnival Corporation & Plc group, has sailed into as perfect storm even before it has been able to commence operations. Unveiled with a great fanfare at an event in New York in June last year, the one-ship brand accounts for 3.2% of Carnival group's 220,000 lower bed capacity. However, its problems could carry more weight than that when it comes to negative publicity and absorption of management resources.

Fathom will operate the 710 berth Adonia, transferred from P&O Cruises in the UK, which will continue to manage the 2001 built 30,277 gross ton vessel. A planned first two week cruise that was due to sail on 18 April had to be cancelled as the ship failed to pass US Coast Guard's inspection.

Adonia is due to call in Cuba and this has been a key selling point of the new brand, However, it emerged that Cuban authorities would not allow passengers born in Cuba to travel on the vessel to their native land. Passengers travelling by air from the US do not face similar restrictions.

On 18 April, Carnival Corporation & plc issued a statement in which it said that it remained in talks with Cuban authorities to solve the issue. "We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc in the statement.

"While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly," Carnival added.

In our opinion, the future of the new brand largely depends on the success of these talks. Should they fail or to be seriously prolonged, the ship would only call in the Dominican Republic, which would greatly reduce the brand's appeal. This outcome could release an angry backlash from those passengers that have booked on Adonia with an anticipation that the ship will take them to Cuba.

The Carnival group would survive such a storm, but it could occupy lots of management resources and result in lots of negative publicity, without which the brand, the group and the cruise industry could all be better off.

Deep problems in a small unit of a large organisation can result in problems far more significant that the weight of the troubled unit in that organisation: Greece accounts only for 2% of the euro zone GDP, yet problems with its economy have, from time to time, virtually paralysed the European Union that ultimately stands behind the single currency.

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Odo Maritime Research, in cooperation with Cruise Business Review, will publish Global Ocean Cruise Market Analysis & Forecast 2016 in June.

This will be the second issue of the bi-annual report, which will study and analyse the recent development of the cruise industry in terms of fleet growth deployment of tonnage, various aspects of the newbuilding sector and the financial performance of the industry.

The pdf format report will comprise about 125 pages and feature a large number of graphs, charts and other visual forms of presentation of information, which makes it easier for readers to form a comprehensive picture of the industry than if lots of text had been used.

To pre-order your copy, please send an email to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

The price of the report will remain unchanged from two years ago, at £520, €650 or $860.

Koningsdam to be christened by a member of the Dutch Royal Family

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Holland America Line will continue tradition when Her Majesty Queen Máxima of The Netherlands christens Holland America Line’s new Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, in a ceremony in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 20 May, 2016, on board the ship. The 2,650-guest ship is the first in a new class of vessel for the line.

Members of the Dutch Royal Family have launched 11 Holland America Line ships. Most recently, then-Princess Máxima christened Nieuw Amsterdam in 2010 and then-Queen Beatrix served as ms Eurodam’s godmother in 2008. Statendam III in 1929 was launched by Prince Hendrik, and Nieuw Amsterdam II in 1937 by Queen Wilhelmina. Then-Princess Beatrix named Statendam IV in 1957 and Prinses Margriet in 1960. Rotterdam V was launched in 1958 by Queen Juliana. Princess Margriet dedicated Prinsendam in 1972, Nieuw Amsterdam II in 1983, Rotterdam VI in 1997 and Oosterdam in 2003.

Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, said, “We are incredibly honoured that Her Majesty Queen Máxima will carry on the tradition of Dutch Royalty christening Holland America Line ships, which began 87 years ago. We chose Rotterdam as the location for the official ceremony because of the deep historic connection between Holland America Line, the city, and the people of the Netherlands. May 20 will be a very special day in our company’s 143-year history as we officially dedicate ms Koningsdam.”

The official ceremony will take place in Rotterdam onboard the ship during a special 13-day Christening Cruise departing Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, May 9. Following that voyage Koningsdam will spend the summer sailing from the port of Amsterdam on itineraries to Norway, the Baltic and Iceland.

Following its Europe season, Koningsdam will sail to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for winter and spring Caribbean cruises.

Carnival Corporation continues talks with Cuba, now accepting bookings for Cuba voyages from all travelers on its Fathom brand

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest leisure travel company, today announced that the company is continuing discussions with Cuba to allow cruise ships to operate in the same manner as current air charter operations, which transport Cuba-born individuals to and from Cuba.

Fathom will begin sailing its 704-passenger Adonia cruise ship to Cuba every other week starting on May 1, marking the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship has sailed from the U.S. to Cuba.

Carnival Corporation also announced that it is accepting bookings on its 10th and newest brand, Fathom, from all travelers to Cuba, regardless of their country of origin, and is looking forward to its historic inaugural voyage to Cuba on May 1, 2016. While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly.

Carnival Corporation continues active discussions with Cuba, asking that travel on Fathom be on a level playing field with air charter travel to Cuba and remains confident its discussions with Cuba will result in a positive outcome for everyone who wants to travel to Cuba, including those who are Cuba-born.

Fathom has updated its reservations process and all travelers can book its cruises to Cuba, including Cuban-born individuals, in anticipation of Cuba allowing travel on a similar basis as they would if they were traveling by air.

"We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We remain excited about this historic opportunity to give our guests an extraordinary vacation experience in Cuba."

"We have already seen tremendous consumer interest in the incredible Cuba journey we have put together," said Tara Russell, president of Fathom. “Our guests will visit three beautiful and unique destinations on the island all in one week, with the convenience of only having to unpack once while we sail on the Fathom Adonia, our premium small ship with its excellent and diverse dining, service and accommodations.”

During each sailing, Fathom will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired food and films, music and dancing, and much more.

Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation to Cuba's history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, along with conversational Spanish lessons.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation's Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET). The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. ET. The Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season.

The Costa Group continues to grow in China and Asia with the deployment of Costa neoRomantica in April 2017

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

The Costa Group today announced that starting in April 2017 Costa neoRomantica (56,800 gross tonnage and 1,800 total guests) will be based in Asia year-round.

She will be the fifth Costa ship deployed regularly in Asia and operated by the Costa Asia brand, offering cruises marketed for local Guests.

"The deployment of a fifth Costa ship in Asia in 2017, in addition to the two new fleet members that will be built specially for Costa Asia, will allow us to continue to significantly grow the Asian cruise market in particular China, which is set to become the second largest in the world by the end of the decade," said Costa Group CEO Michael Thamm.

Costa neoRomantica will arrive in Shanghai on April 10, 2017, after a 23-day positioning cruise departing on March 18, 2017, from Port Louis, Mauritius; and calling at Port Victoria, Seychelles; Malè, Maldives; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Phuket, Thailand; Singapore; Da Nang, Vietnam; and Hong Kong, China.

Then, Costa neoRomantica will be dry docked in Shanghai, to perform renewal works that will customize the ship for its new Asian guests and boosts its "Italy at Sea" appeal. The first cruise dedicated to the local market is scheduled to sail from Shanghai April 24.

At present there are three Costa ships already cruising in Asia, while a fourth, Costa Fortuna, will arrive in Shanghai April 22, 2016. In addition, the Costa Group recently announced an order for two new ships for Costa Asia, to be built by Fincantieri in Italy, with delivery in 2019 and 2020.

The Costa Group was the first cruise company to enter the Chinese market back in 2006. Costa's cruises are marketed in China as "Italy at Sea," offering an authentic Italian and European experience for Chinese guests, with inimitable Italian-style hospitality, cuisine and entertainment.

Thomson Cruises to re-brand

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Thomson Cruises yesterday announced that its new addition will be named TUI Discovery as part of the re-brand which will see the whole of Thomson transition to TUI over the next eighteen months. TUI Discovery will also be the first of the Thomson Cruises fleet to offer an all-inclusive drinks package as standard, as well as giving customers a wider choice of dining and entertainment included in the price of their holiday.

The move to name the newest addition to the fleet TUI Discovery is part of the strategy to start introducing the TUI brand to UK customers. Investment in product to enhance and personalise the customer experience is fundamental to the ethos of the TUI brand and unveiling the new ship as TUI Discovery demonstrates this on-going commitment.

As the first of the Thomson Cruises fleet to offer all-inclusive drinks as standard TUI Discovery customers will be able to enjoy the wide range of restaurants and bars on-board alongside a selection of premium drinks, all included in their holiday. From succulent Italian cuisine in the new restaurant, Gallery 47, or laid-back street food from the Snack Shack, families and couples alike will all be able to get the most from their holiday.

TUI Discovery will also see the introduction of innovative new technology to modernise and personalise the on-board experience. Customers will be able to summon their favourite tipple at the touch of a button from their sun lounger on adults-only deck, The Veranda, make dinner, spa and entertainment reservations at self-service kiosks, and browse and buy photos of their cruise. A hi-tech holiday and shore excursion shop will showcase what to see in the many destinations the ship will visit, as well as inspiring customers on future holidays.

Nick Longman, Managing Director of TUI UK & Ireland said: “TUI is a recognised and trusted brand in other countries and we want customers in the UK to get to know and love it too as we transition from Thomson to TUI. Investment in our product to enhance and personalise the customer experience is fundamental to the ethos of the TUI brand and what better way to demonstrate this than unveiling our newest addition as TUI Discovery and introducing all-inclusive as standard. The introduction of TUI Discovery marks a new era for our cruise business in the UK which will continue with the introduction of two more TUI ships to the fleet over the next three years.”

The update on TUI Discovery comes as Thomson Cruises also announces it new programme for summer 2017 which will see the fleet based in the western Mediterranean, eastern Mediterranean and the UK for the first time since 2014. With its smaller ships, Thomson Cruises not only offers a more personal service, but is also able to call at some of these regions’ less-visited ports that other cruise ships can’t reach.

TUI Discovery and Thomson Majesty will both be based in Palma, Majorca whilst Thomson Dream will sail from Corfu and offer customers the ultimate island hopping experience. Thomson Spirit will move to Dubrovnik, Croatia and offer adult-only cruising whilst the fifth ship in the fleet, Thomson Celebration, will split its summer between Malaga, Spain in May and October and ex UK sailings from Newcastle between June and September.

This will result in the introduction of 12 brand new itineraries including UK sailings to ports in the Norwegian Fjords, Scandinavia and the Baltics; more choice in the Mediterranean visiting classics like Venice, Italy; and Athens (Piraeus), Greece; Cadiz, Spain; and a range of durations from four to 14 nights.

New ports of call for summer 2017 will include Wismar in Germany which offers access to the country’s two biggest cities, Berlin and Hamburg; Gdynia in Poland for customer’s to experience the architectural wonders of the region’s capital Gdansk; and Arendal in the Norwegian Riviera to see the inspiration for Disney’s smash hit, Frozen and visit the stunning offshore islands of Merdø, Tromøy and Hisøy.

In the Mediterranean, Thomson Cruises will visit Roses, Spain with its huge bay – endorsed by UNESCO’s Most Beautiful Bays in the World, Blue Flag beaches and secluded coves; Piombino, the gateway to Italy’s Tuscan cities of Siena and Pisa; and Pula, where ancient Rome and modern Croatia collide.

Also new for summer 2017 are the ports of Taranto, Italy; Ciutadella, Menorca; and Zakynthos Town, Zakynthos.

Helen Caron, Managing Director of Thomson Cruises said: “The line-up for summer 2017 is set to be our most exciting programme yet with some incredible new itineraries and ports of call. From the culture of cities likes Casablanca and Copenhagen to the culinary delights of the Tuscan Riviera and the spectacular scenery in Croatia and the Norwegian Fjords we have something to offer families and couples alike. All this, alongside tips and service charges included and flights from 22 airports across the UK. We’re confident that our customers will love everything that summer 2017 has in store.”

On sale from late April, Thomson Cruises’ summer 2017 programme includes flights from 22 regional airports with new routes from London Southend to Palma, and Doncaster Sheffield to Dubrovnik. Early bookers for the summer 2017 season will benefit from a free drinks package upgrade on all summer 2017 sailings and selected winter 2016/17 sailings across the fleet.

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CBR 2/2015 contents