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Royal Caribbean announces 2016-17 Caribbean itineraries, Harmony to be based in Port Everglades, Oasis to move Port Canaveral

Royal Caribbean International today announced the upcoming Caribbean openings for the cruise line’s new 2016-17 Adventure Collection. Vacationers can book an unforgettable Caribbean cruise aboard 15 of the world’s most innovative and award-winning cruise ships, sailing from nine convenient U.S. homeports to 39 spectacular ports of call in 18 Caribbean countries, and Bermuda and Canada. The new Caribbean adventures will mark the Quantum class’ maiden call and season in Bermuda with Anthem of the Seas, and offers a choice of three industry-acclaimed Oasis-class ships, including the new record-setting Harmony of the Seas. Royal Caribbean’s new 2016-17 Caribbean Adventures Collection will open for booking starting March 2015.

Royal Caribbean’s new Adventure Collection encompasses the cruise line’s 2016-17 cruise vacations aboard unrivaled ships, which will sail exciting itineraries across six continents. Vacationers can choose between the industry’s newest, biggest, and best ships, which sail in the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska and beyond. On most Caribbean cruises, guests will enjoy more than 400 total acres of pristine beaches, exhilarating thrill rides and activities, and plenty of opportunities to relax under the Caribbean sun during a call at Royal Caribbean’s private island CocoCay or its exclusive beach destination Labadee.

Caribbean, Bermuda, and Canada & New England Adventures from Northeast U.S.

– Quantum-class Anthem of the Seas will continue year-round sailings from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J., and make its maiden season at Bermuda. Vacationers have a choice of five-night Bermuda or nine-night Bermuda and Caribbean itineraries throughout the summer, and eight- to 12-night Bahamas, Eastern, Western or Southern Caribbean cruises during the winter.

– Throughout September and October, Anthem of the Seas will sail nine-night Canada and New England cruises from Cape Liberty, and Serenade of the Seas will offer seven-night Canada and New England cruises from Boston, Mass.

– Grandeur of the Seas will sail five-night Bermuda, nine-night Bermuda and Bahamas, and nine-night Canada and New England cruises throughout the summer. In the winter, the ship will sail nine-night Southeast Coast & Bahamas and 12-night Southern Caribbean cruises.

Everywhere in the Caribbean, conveniently from South Florida

– From Miami, Enchantment of the Seas will sail three- and four-night short Bahamas getaways year-round, while Navigator of the Seas will alternate five-night Bahamas and Mexico with nine-night Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Labadee cruises in the winter.

– Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will sail a Western Caribbean and two new Eastern Caribbean itineraries in summer 2016, all seven nights in length and departing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Allure of the Seas will then be joined by the next groundbreaking, Oasis-class cruise ship Harmony of the Seas to offer a seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary for winter 2016-17. Oasis of the Seas, meanwhile, will reposition to its new winter home of Port Canaveral along Florida’s Coast.

– In the winter, Independence of the Seas will follow a sequence of four- and five-night short Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Everglades, while sister-ship Freedom of the Seas will alternate a six-night Western Caribbean with an eight-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary. For a longer vacation, Serenade of the Seas alternates a 10- and 11-night Southern Caribbean itinerary.

‘Out-of-this-world’ Caribbean Vacations from Florida’s Space Coast

– Freedom of the Seas will continue alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries during the summer 2016, and then reposition to Port Everglades for its new winter season.

– For the winter 2016-17, Oasis of the Seas will inaugurate Oasis-class adventures from Port Canaveral, alternating a seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itinerary. Rhapsody of the Seas will take over three- and four-night Bahamas cruises from Enchantment of the Seas.

– Vacationers also can choose quick four- and five-night Western Caribbean cruises throughout winter aboard Brilliance of the Seas from Tampa, Fla.

Mexico and Southern Caribbean from Galveston and Puerto Rico

– Liberty of the Seas will continue its year-round deployment sailing from Galveston, Texas, offering vacationers a wide selection of seven-night Mexico and Western Caribbean cruises.

– Vacationers also can choose seven-night, Southern Caribbean itineraries, sailing year-round from San Juan, Puerto Rico, aboard Adventure of the Seas. In the winter, Jewel of the Seas also will homeport at San Juan and sail to the Southern Caribbean.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay and David Chua Ming Huat resign from NCLH board

Two members that represent Genting Hong Kong in the board of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) have resigned, Genting Hong Kong said in a statement.

"The board of directors of Genting Hong Kong Limited announces that its nominees serving as directors of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., namely Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay (the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Acting- President and an executive director of the Company) and Mr. David Chua Ming Huat, resigned from the board of NCLH with effect from 3 March 2015, respectively," Genting said in a statement.

"Two replacement directors have been nominated by the Company to the board of NCLH and are expected to be appointed in due course," the company continued.

The resignations came a day after Genting Hong Kong had acquired Crystal Cruises, the Los Angeles based luxury cruise brand from Tokyo based Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) group. Crystal could be viewed as c competitor of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which NCLH acquired last year, together with Oceania Cruises, in a $3.025 billion deal.

Commenting on Genting Hong Kong's position as shareholder of NCLH, Robin Farley, cruise industry analyst at UBS in New York said: "We had written last week about overhang of NCLH largest (25-26%) shareholder Genting HK having filed last year for HK shareholder approval to sell its stake in NCLH. That approval will expire in May, but we noted last week that Genting may renew the approval for another year."

"NCLH has authorized $500 million in repo last year but we believe balance sheet constraints make it unlikely before 2H this year, so perhaps a selling shareholder would want to wait till 2H if NCLH could then buy a block. We view this as a positive for the stock that any block share sale may be pushed further out," she said in a research note.

Genting's Crystal acquisition highlights luxury segment's need to make money - UBS' Farley

The acquisition of Crystal Cruises, the Los Angeles based luxury cruise operator, by Genting Hong Kong from Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) is good for the luxury segment as it highlights its need to be profitable, said Robin Farley, cruise industry analyst at UBS in New York.

"We believe it'll also make for a healthier competitive environment to now have three of the four luxury brands owned by public co's that view such assets as a business that needs to make money rather than a trophy property. That is also marginally positive for CCL (Carnival Corp & plc), whose Seabourn brand is one of industry's 4 luxury brands," she said in a research note.

NYK is a major Tokyo based shipping group that has interest in container, crude carrier, dry bulk and vehicle shipping sectors. It retains one cruise liner, the 1990 built Asuka II that caters for rhe Japanese narket.

"It's unclear what Genting HK's plans are for the brand outside of their expressed intention to order a new ship for the brand, which is currently comprised of only two ships, & that would still taketwo to three years to enter service since it is not currently on order. But if Genting were to target the luxury brand to the Chinese market, for example, that could eventually help pave the way for other luxury brands in the Chinese market, also a potential positive for NCLH's (Norwegian Cruise L:ine Holdings') Regent brand and CCL's Seabourn brand," she pointed out.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. appoints Andy Stuart President and COO for Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced that company veteran Andy Stuart has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line effective today,  following the resignation of Drew Madsen.  Stuart has been with Norwegian Cruise Line since 1988 and has held a number of leadership positions, most recently as Executive Vice President of Sales.

“Given the recent restructuring of the role and job responsibilities, Drew has decided to step down. We thank him for his contributions and wish him well,” said Frank Del Rio, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “As we continue to build the newly merged organization, we are tapping into the tremendous company and industry knowledge that Andy has, along with the strong relationships he has built with our travel partners.”

“Andy and Norwegian are virtually synonymous. He is very well known and respected by our guests, travel partners, officers, crew, and team members. I am extremely confident that he is the perfect leader for the next phase of Norwegian’s growth,” added Del Rio. In this role, Stuart will report to Del Rio.

Stuart has been instrumental in building the Norwegian brand, particularly in the roll out and marketing of the line’s signature Freestyle Cruising. He also greatly strengthened relationships with travel partners with the introduction of Partners First, the company’s corporate philosophy of always putting its travel partners first.  During his 27-year tenure with the company, he has held responsibility for a number of key areas including: Global Sales, Passenger Services, Revenue Management, Marketing and Public Relations. He also served as Chief Product Officer, responsible for delivery of the Freestyle Cruising product across the Norwegian fleet, ensuring that it provided exceptional value and quality for guests and was consistent with the marketing and brand positioning of the company.

“Having seen Norwegian Cruise Line grow significantly during the course of my career, I am thrilled and proud to lead this incredible company as we continue to enhance and build the brand,” said Stuart. “The future is extremely bright and I am looking forward to continuing to work with our travel partners through our expanded sales team, delivering an exceptional product to our guests in conjunction with our hard-working officers and crew and ensuring that our team members are motivated and engaged, all the while building value for our shareholders.”

CBR-Odo Commentary: Acquisitions, ship sales indicate growing cruise industry dynamism

Recent corporate acquisition and ship sale news suggest that the cruise industry is entering a period of growing dynamism after a number of years when weak earnings plagued it.

This morning's news that Genting Hong Kong, owner of Asia focused Star Cruises, has acquired Crystal Cruises, the Los Angeles based luxury market operator, from Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) for $550 million, significantly raises the profile of Genting in the cruise industry.

It acquired Norwegian Cruise Line in 1999-2000, but over the years it has gradually reduced its stake: Norwegian is now a listed company and Genting's remaining stake cannot be seen as a strategic asset.

Genting has two 150,000 gross ton ships on order at Meyer Werft for Star Cruises, a move that reversed decline in the group's interest in cruising. Genting has also pledged to order a newbuilding for Crystal.

Norwegian's acquisition of Prestige gave it strong foothold on the premium market with Oceania Cruises and also on the luxury market with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Norwegian Cruise Line is not, as yet, present in the Far East, but senior executives have indicated that this could be on the cards as new ships join the company's fleet.

To sum up, the acquisition of Prestige gave Norwegian group strong foothold in the market segments where it had no presence, while Norwegian Cruise Line's organic growth may soon bring to the Far East.

The picture is far less straightforward with Genting: Star Cruises is an Asia focused contemporary market brand, while Crystal Cruises has its focus on the top end of the US source market. The synergies are less clear here than in the case of Norwegian-Prestige.

Meanwhile, TUI AG's announcement on 02 March that its Hamburg based TUI Cruises joint venture with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) has acquired the 69,130 gross ton Splendour of the Seas from RCCL marks a change in TUI Cruises' strategy. So far, it has operated ships solely under its own brand, but Splendour of the Seas will, after being renamed, join the fleet of TUI's UK based Thomson Cruises operation.

TUI has said that it wants to bring the TUI Cruises and Thomson Cruises operations closer to each other and that Thomson, which charters four of its five ships from third parties, could use owned tonnage in the future. The 1996 built Splendour of the Seas is a Vision class ship and given the fact that Thomson needs to move away from its mainly 1980s vintage tonnage, further transfers of these ships to the UK brand may well be on the cards. The fact that TUI Cruises owns the newly acquired vessel of Thomson Cruises brings this operation closer to the sphere of influence of RCCL.

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