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GAC sets its sights on UK cruise business

GAC UK is boosting its services for the cruise industry with the appointment of industry veteran Fergus Poole as Cruise Manager.

For nearly two decades, Poole has specialised in the sector and has held a number of managerial and operations posts dedicated to serving cruise and passenger vessels, most recently for services at UK and Irish ports. He joined GAC on 1 May and is based in Sunderland, from where he will coordinate cruise calls at ports nationwide.

Ports in the UK have always been popular as cruise destinations. In particular, Scottish stopovers like Edinburgh, Kirkwall, Invergordon and ports along the western coast have become popular choices for cruise companies seeking an alternative to offer their passengers to more traditional destinations.

Poole says GAC is in a good position to meet the needs of growing cruise activity: “We’re in a great position to grow and enhance our support for the cruise sector, as we already have the port and agent infrastructure well established around the country.

“Furthermore, we have a wide range of frontline expertise available, both in port operations and in niche sectors like bunker fuels, marine leisure and superyachts. We are working those synergies to provide an integrated service package for our cruise customers that frees them of the burden of looking after the details and allows them to focus on delivering a memorable trip for their passengers.”

Poole foresees further development of the GAC cruise portfolio to include shore expeditions and other related services. "Cruise clients of other GAC companies throughout Europe, from northernmost Norway to the southern Mediterranean, have been very appreciative of the added value services on offer, and that's what we want to replicate in the UK," he concludes.

Seaspan Marine appoints Bart Reynolds as president

Seaspan today announced that Bart Reynolds has joined Seaspan Marine as President.

Bart will provide vision, leadership and direction for Seaspan’s Marine Division and assumes ultimate accountability for the short and long term profitability of the marine business. A significant part of his role will involve developing strategies and providing leadership around building exceptional customer relations, as well as creating longstanding positive employee and union relationships. In addition, Bart will promote and strengthen Seaspan Marine’s external reputation through high-level, industry-wide representation and marine community involvement.

“Today is an exciting day for Seaspan and the future of its Marine Division,” said Jonathan Whitworth, CEO, Seaspan. “We performed an exhaustive search across North America to find a leader with Bart’s world-class experience and track record of success, and I am thrilled to welcome him to the Seaspan family.”

Bart joins Seaspan with over 20 years experience in positions of leadership and senior management.

The last 15 years have consisted of positions in the offshore supply boat business in the United States, West Africa, the Mediterranean and Latin America. He most recently served as Vice President, Americas at GulfMark Offshore Inc. - a company which operates 72 offshore vessels in various markets around the world. Prior to that, he worked at Tidewater Marine LLC as Area Manager, US Operations - a company that owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of offshore supply vessels.

Bart is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin’s Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program. He also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of New Mexico.

Ctrip appoints WSS as General Agent for cruise ship venture

China’s leading travel services provider Ctrip has strengthened its expansion into the cruise market with the appointment of Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) as its General Agent in China.

The partnership, which was announced at the official Ctrip vessel naming ceremony last week, will see WSS China providing full ships agency services in Japan to Ctrip’s brand new fleet, the SkySea Golden Era, cruise vessel operating across routes between China and Japan.

Speaking at the event, WSS Ships Agency Manager for China, Emilia Shao said: “Working with Ctrip as their cruise vessel port agent, we will assist in ensuring that scheduled voyages are completed as efficiently as possible. Amongst the services that we will provide, we will manage tourist berthing and unberthing, enabling a smooth turnaround in port.”

This new relationship comes at a significant time, as the Chinese cruise market continues to expand at a rapid rate. Ms Shao continues: “With a general improvement in standards of living across China, more and more people are choosing cruise as a travel option. The Chinese maritime industry is seeing a shift from the traditional merchant shipping sector to the cruise market.”

“This new and exciting Chinese cruise market brings with it opportunities for entertainment, catering and tourism, subsequently improving our employment rate and the steadily blooming Chinese economy.”

The Port Operations Director of Skysea Cruise Line said: “The port calls that our cruise vessels will make will typically be short, and the ability to coordinate timely and safe berthing with local authorities is vital. Working with a global ships agency such as WSS, who has extensive experience in the Asian cruise market and who can provide a fast, accurate, end to end service, makes perfect sense.”

Working closely with growing numbers of cruise customers around the world, WSS provides full agency services including port call and vessel service pre-planning, arrival and clearance arrangements, monitoring of vessel operations, boarding and departure management and disbursement accounts.

WSS’s Global Ships Agency Agreement aims to streamline and simplify multiple port call operations for customers by predefining their requirements and appointing a Global Agent. Customers receive the same level of service and documentation wherever they are in the world, saving time and resources and avoiding complex administration and varying service levels.

Bendable LED advertising displays under development

VTT, Technical Research Centre for Finland, says it is involved in a European project, developing novel LED advertising displays, which combine thin, lightweight and bendable structures with advanced optical quality. The project will implement, for example, a LED display that will give the viewers a 3D experience without their having to wear glasses designed for the purpose.

The OptIntegral project, launched at the beginning of the year, uses a manufacturing process based on in-mould hybrid integration of TOLAE (Thin, Organic and Large Area Electronics) and photonics components. This enables manufacturing of LED displays at a lower cost and higher display resolution than is possible today. In the manufacturing phase, the optics are moulded directly upon a bendable LED substrate in an injection moulding process.

This will make the displays energy-efficient, very lightweight, bendable and even three-dimensional. The three-year project will develop, for example, bendable illuminated advertisement board suited for transport and other applications requiring 3D designs and light weight.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd will implement the bendable LED substrates for the displays with a roll-to-roll manufacturing process. As a future vision, VTT is developing the in-mould hybrid integration technology integrated directly into the roll-to-roll manufacturing process. This would make it possible to benefit from mass production and significant cost-savings in the future.

Wärtsilä and Carnival group sign technical operations agreement

Wärtsilä, the marine industry's leading solutions and services provider, and Carnival Corporation & plc, the largest cruise company in the world, have partnered to optimise engine room operations aboard the company's fleet of 101 ships across its nine global brands, Wärtsilä said in a statement.

“Wärtsilä's solutions will be tested in pilot projects in which Wärtsilä's technologies and systems will be installed on several of Carnival Corporation's vessels. The technologies and systems include engine control and monitoring systems and safety and fuel efficiency packages as well as Wärtsilä's Asset Performance Optimisation Solution,” the company said.

Wärtsilä's Asset Performance Optimisation Solution maximises vessel performance and ensures that systems are operating at their full capabilities, increasing predictability of maintenance needs and fuel management. The fuel engine package is designed to significantly contribute to reducing fuel consumption.

"Since last summer, teams from Carnival Corporation and Wärtsilä have met regularly to ensure that each of these solutions adds value to the company's fleet," said Bill Burke, Chief Maritime Officer, Carnival Corporation. "Ultimately, our goal is to continuously improve our operations in order to accomplish our number-one priority - providing safe and comfortable voyages for our guests, along with a great vacation experience."

"We have focused on finding an agile and mutually beneficial way of cooperating and establishing a structure that drives performance in both organisations," said Tomas Hakala, Vice President, Services, Wärtsilä. "We believe this is the beginning of a close and fruitful relationship between Carnival Corporation and Wärtsilä. The valuable insights that we are gaining can also be further utilised with other product families and vessels."

Wärtsilä Asset Performance Optimisation Solution provides users with guidance on obtaining optimal performance from Wärtsilä engines and makes recommendations on how to rectify potential issues. While the service aims to optimise performance, it also finds deviations from normal operating parameters of the engines and equipment. Engine fault sources and emerging operational problems can be rectified before they occur.