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Baleària to build Spain’s first LNG-powered passenger ferries

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Alan Lam reporting

Baleària, the Spanish ferry operator, has just announced that it has signed a letter of intend with LaNaval, the Spanish shipbuilder, to build two LNG-powered ferries. They aim to sign the final contract within two months.

Baleària is investing €350 million in this project. The ships will be the first LNG ro-pax units built in Spain. Moreover, with 225 metres long and 30.4 metres wide, they will be among the biggest ferries operating in Europe and the biggest passenger vessels ever built a Spanish shipyard.

The construction will begin next year and the first delivery is expected in 2018.

The ships will in fact be dual fuelled – LNG and diesel. They will help the company achieving a 30% reduction in over all CO2 emissions from its fleet.

“This investment in new ships demonstrates our strength to grow and become more competitive,” said Adolfo Utor, President of Baleària. “These will be very innovative and technologically advanced ships, not only in terms of their propulsion systems, but also enable us to be more eco-friendly and offering better services.”

José Ignacio Irasuegui, MD of LaNaval, said: “This agreement marks a new milestone for LaNaval. We have secured a new major client in the form of Baleària, with whom we hope to establish a long and fruitful relationship in the passenger shipping market by designing and constructing ships with high tech contents.”

Baleària has been in partnership with Rolls Royce in developing marine LNG engines. LaNaval has just launched a modern ro-pax unit for TESO, the Dutch ferry company.

MSC Cruises enters China partnership, to homeport MSC Lirica in Shanghai from May 2016

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

MSC Cruises, the world’s fourth largest cruise shipping group, says it has teamed up with a Chinese company to operate MSC Lirica from Shanghai, starting next May.

The Geneva baased cruise line and CAISSA Touristic Group, China's leading outbound tourism service provider, have entered into a strategic partnership. “As part of the agreement, from May 2016, MSC Lirica will homeport in Shanghai to serve the Chinese home market,” MSC Cruises said in a statement.

The ship will undergo a major refit and it will also be lengthened. This will raise its gross tonnage to 65,600 from the current figure of  59,058 and its length will increase to 274.4 metres from 251.2. The work will be completed in nOvember 2015, MSC Cruises said on its website

“The strategic cooperation agreement between the two companies will be the longest-running and financially most significant between a cruise line and a tour operator in the history of cruising in China,” MSC Cruises said in the statement.

CAISSA Touristic’s President Chen Xiaobing emphasised the popularity of MSC Cruises’ European and South American routes with travellers from around the world and that it had recently been named number one cruise line in Europe.

Chen Xiaobing added: “MSC Cruises’ distinctive European flavour resonates well with Caissa Touristic’s brand spirit, as it also originates from Europe. This partnership standouts from other traditional agreements between China-based tour agencies and cruise lines by the emphasis that will be placed on the training of the entire on-board staff to ensure that guests receive MSC Cruises’ best-in-class experience and service as well as the degree of the adaptation of the ship’s hardware and software (like facilities renovation, service design and operation, on-board commodities and more) to fit the customs and tastes of the Chinese guests that it is designed to serve.”

“We are convinced that the newly-renovated MSC Lirica will bring exciting new holiday-making choices to Chinese guests and are looking forward to welcoming numerous would-be cruisers aboard, at a time when the cruise market in the country for this particular type of product is thriving,” concluded Chen Xiaobing.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ Chief Executive Officer, commented: “MSC Cruises has been present in China since 2010, successfully bringing Chinese guests to cruise on its ultra-modern fleet to its many global destinations and, especially, to Europe and the Mediterranean, where our distinctive product made us the number one cruise line across the entire Continent. We are now delighted and excited that through this partnership we are taking our presence in China to the next level. Thus, with CAISSA Touristic we will partner to bring our unique MSC Cruises’ experience directly to Chinese consumers.”

Onorato continued: “The soon-to-be completely renovated MSC Lirica, as part of MSC Cruises’ ground-breaking Renaissance programme, will feature many distinctive traits – including some industry firsts in service - especially designed for the cruising enjoyment of Chinese consumers. This will make it a much sought-after choice for cruises in the region.”

MSC Lirica is scheduled to reach her new homeport of Shanghai on 1 May 2016, after a 60-day grand voyage from Rio de Janeiro via Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa and Dubai that was announced recently.

Michael Giresi named Senior Vice President and CIO for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that Michael Giresi has been named senior vice president and chief information officer.  Giresi joins Royal Caribbean with more than 20 years of experience in implementing technology initiatives for leading brands including Tory Burch, LLC, Direct Brands, Inc., Godiva Chocolatier and The Estee Lauder Companies Inc. Giresi will report directly to Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
"Michael's background and experience implementing leading edge technology, combined with the skills of our seasoned management team, will be vital as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. continues to innovate and accelerate its global expansion,” said Goldstein. "His broad experience and proven leadership will provide the company with the necessary tools to marry technology solutions that will continue to differentiate us."
Giresi most recently served as senior vice president and CIO for Tory Burch, where he was responsible for the implementation of new infrastructure and technology initiatives for one of the fastest growing fashion brands in the world.  Prior to that, Giresi was executive vice president and CIO at Direct Brands, Inc.  Throughout his career, he has held various management positions, including CIO for Godiva Chocolatier and director of information technology for the Campbell Soup Company.
“I am looking forward for the opportunity to join Royal Caribbean, a company that stands for excellence in the travel industry,” said Giresi. “Working with the IT team, we will create the infrastructure necessary to move the company to the next level.”
Giresi graduated from Saint Joseph’s University’s Erivan K. Haub School of Business with a MBA, and from Seton Hall University with a B.A. in English.

Genting Hong Kong interim profit soars on sale gains

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Gains from the previously published sales of shares in Norwegian Cruise Line Holding (NCLH) group helped Genting Hong Kong, the cruise and leisure industry group, to report a huge increase in net profit in the first half the year, the company said in a statement.

Net profit reached $2.16 billion compare to $216.7 million in the same period last year. Sale gains soared to $2.17 billion from $167.0 million. Revenues contracted slightly, to $275.0 million from $281.6 million.

The number of capacity days rose to 1.37 million from 1.29 million as a result of the acquisition of Crystal Cruises, the Los Angeles based luxury market operator, which was completed on 15 May.

Occupancy ratio rose to 69.4% from 68.7%, but gross yield fell to $193.2 from $200.5. Net yield, however, remained largely stable at $158.9 compared to $158.7 in the first six months of last year. Net cruise costs fell to $162.8 per capacity day from $179.4

“The stable Net Yield was mainly due to higher passenger ticket revenue as a result of the acquisition of Crystal Cruises, offset by lower onboard revenue attributable to lower gaming revenue,” Genting said.

Crystal in 2025: six ships, 10 river yachts, five ocean yachts, four aircraft - Rodriguez

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Crystal Cruises, the luxury cruise company in the Genting Hong Kong group, plans to continue its expansion by investing in new vessels and aircraft, Edie Rodriguez, CEO and President of the company told Cruise Business.

Asked how Crystal would like in 2025, she said: "The fleet has six ships, five yachts, 10 river (yachts) and four aircraft." In addition, the company plans to expand into further new areas of which Rodriguez declined to discuss. "There will be investment in organic growth, the demand is there, so why not," she added.

Crystal currently has two cruise ships in the water and it plans to build three more at the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany from 2017 onwards. In addition, it will introduce a 62 passenger yacht called Crystal Esprit, which will enter service later this year after a major refit.

The company will also introduce two river yachts, one in the Rhine-Main-Danube river system and the other one on the Seine in 2017. A second luxury plane has been ordered following an earlier decision to enter the luxury air travel sector with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The second plane will be smaller, however, and offer 14 night tours compared to 28 night ones on the Dreamliner.

Rodriguez said that when she took up her current position two and a half years ago, her motto was "Seven ships to the seven seas and seven continents." However, since Crystal Cruises was acquired by Genting Hong Kong earlier this year, the chairman of the group had told her that ther Los Angeles based cruise shipping company could grow further than that.

Crystal currently generates slightly more than 50% of its business in North America, but the figure is likely to decrease as the company expands. "As far as English is your first or second language, you will be comfortable with Crystal," she said. However, as the company continues to generate healthy business in Japan, the home country of its previous owner, it makes special arrangements for Japanese passengers

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