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CLIA names Thomas P. Ostebo as President and CEO

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today announced Thomas P. Ostebo will join CLIA as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective July 6, 2015. Selected by CLIA’s Global Executive Committee, Ostebo will oversee CLIA operations both domestically and internationally, working directly with his senior leadership team to execute the organization’s vision and work on behalf of CLIA members.

A seasoned senior executive leader, Ostebo has more than 30 years of experience leading large, sophisticated and complex organizations. He joins CLIA from the United States Coast Guard where he served as Rear Admiral. Most recently, Ostebo was Director of Strategic Management where he supported strategy and budget policy for the Coast Guard. Ostebo also served as Commander for the Coast Guard 17th District and led all Coast Guard Operations in Alaska, the Arctic and North Pacific where he was responsible for protecting life and property, enforcing federal laws and treaties, preserving the living marine resources and promoting national security.

“After a thorough search process, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new President and CEO, Thomas Ostebo,” said Global CLIA Chairman, Adam M. Goldstein. “Tom brings years of outstanding maritime and strategic business leadership experience to this important position that leads the cruise industry’s global association. We are confident CLIA will thrive under his direction for years to come. More importantly, Tom’s strong communication skills and energy made him the ideal person for this role.”

Ostebo will lead CLIA’s work to help all its members succeed and unify, represent, advocate and promote the common interests of the global cruise industry. Among his priorities, he will continue to enhance the Travel Agency, Individual Travel Agent and Executive Partner member programs that were introduced in fall 2014, as well as the new Travel Agent professional development training. Ostebo will be located at CLIA global headquarters in Washington D.C., and work with CLIA’s 15 offices across the globe, including Abremar-Brasil, Alaska, Australasia, Belgium & Luxembourg, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, North America, North Asia, North West & Canada, Southeast Asia, Spain and UK & Ireland.

“I am incredibly humbled, honored and excited to join an industry with such a rich history of success and growth. This appointment is a perfect next step in my career as it allows me to leverage my experiences and passions, from leading large complex teams to advocating for marine resources,” said Ostebo. “CLIA currently has a strong foundation and outstanding senior leadership, so I look forward to building upon this and providing new strategies and approaches to move CLIA and the cruise industry forward. Ultimately, my goal is to perform meaningful work and build strong relationships.”

The appointment follows the departure of Christine Duffy, former CLIA President and Chief Executive Officer, on January 31, 2015. CLIA relied on the services of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to lead the search for a new President and CEO.

Genting Hong Kong completes acquisition of Crystal Cruises, announces new Chairman and management positions

Genting Hong Kong (GHK) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of “The World’s Most Awarded and Best Luxury Cruise Line,” Crystal Cruises (Crystal), from Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), for a total transaction of US$550 million. GHK also announced a new Chairman of Crystal and promotions for Crystal’s current senior management team, guaranteeing a streamlined transition and virtually no interruption in operations and ensuring award-winning service.

Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Executive Chairman of the Genting Group and the former Chairman of Norwegian Cruise Line, assumes the position of Chairman of Crystal, replacing Nobuyoshi Kuzuya who will return to NYK in a key executive position. Edie Rodriguez, a 34-year travel industry veteran who was previously President and Chief Operating Officer will be promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer. Thomas Mazloum, a 20-plus year veteran of Crystal’s management team who was previously Executive Vice-President will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

“Genting Hong Kong is delighted and honored to add Crystal to our global hospitality and leisure brands,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. “We will ensure Crystal’s reputation as “The World’s Best and Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line,” by maintaining its integrity and work to continue elevating its status as the highest standard of luxury cruising. The current management team and crew will continue to lead Crystal’s six-star operation while Genting will provide the financial resources and proven expertise in innovative ship design to deliver a new ultra-luxury ocean vessel by 2018.”

“We are extremely grateful for the unwavering support of our former parent company, NYK and the wonderful leadership and guidance of Mr. Kuzuya,” said Rodriguez. “We look forward to ushering in a new era of luxury cruising with Genting Hong Kong’s support. With the support of GHK and its reputation for creating world-renowned leisure, entertainment and exquisite hospitality properties, Crystal is set to embark upon new opportunities that will expand our offerings for our guests and travel partners, as well as broader opportunities for our wonderful team of Crystal employees on land and at sea.

Established in 1993, GHK is part of the Genting Group, a global hospitality and leisure company with business in over 20 countries, including the United States in New York, Florida and Nevada. GHK wholly owns Star Cruises, “The Leading Cruise Line in Asia Pacific”, and is a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. GHK is a public company primarily listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and secondarily on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Crystal Cruises’ first award-winning luxury vessel, Crystal Harmony embarked in 1990, with sister ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity joining the fleet in 1995 and 2003, respectively.  Since Crystal Harmony’s retirement in 2005, the line has operated its enriching global itineraries with the two remaining ships, often pioneering cruise ship access to ports and experiences throughout the world.  Continuing innovative momentum, in 2016, Crystal will be the first large luxury cruise line to navigate the elusive Northwest Passage, while in 2018, the cruise line will expand its coveted World Cruise portfolio with four separate global itineraries.

Crystal Cruises’ passion for delivering six star service in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more “World’s Best” awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history.  Crystal Cruises has won “World’s Best Cruise Ship” in Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader Choice Awards for 21 years; voted “World’s Best Large Ship Cruise Line” by Travel + Leisure readers for 19-consecutive years; and the “Best Luxury Cruise Line” by Virtuoso.

Daewoo interested in acquiring STX France stake -- report

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) said on Tuesday that it is considering acquiring STX France, a European subsidiary of struggling STX Offshore & Shipbuilding, which builds cruise ships, a report in Korea Times said

The world's second-largest shipbuilder said its main stakeholder, Korea Development Bank (KDB), had asked it to look into the possibility of taking over the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, northwestern France.

"We just began the study and, at this point, it is too early to say what we will do," a DSME spokesman was quoted as saying. "The review process may gain speed after our new CEO takes office later this month." Daewoo has staredan ambitionto enter the cruise ship building sector in the past and it has built a number of large overnight ferries to European owners.

KDB, which holds a 31.5% stake in DSME, has sought to dispose of STX Europe as part of a restructuring programme to get STX Offshore & Shipbuilding back on track. STX Europe has two subsidiaries _ STX France and STX Finland.

KDB holds a 48.15% in STX, which owns a 66.66% stake in STX France through STX Europe, which is based in Norway. The remaining 33.34% is held by the French government, who has been pressing KDB to sell the French shipyard as soon as possible. Initially, KDB had sought to complete the sale in 2014, but has been unable to find a buyer for STX France, the report said.

The STX group acquired Aker Yards that it renamed STX Europe in 2008-09 as part of its expansion strategy. However, the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008 led to a sharp fall in newbuilding orders, which forced STX group to start to restructure its business. It first floated the offshore services vessel unit of STX Europe, which was later acquired by Fincantieri and renamed Vard. STX Finland was acquired by Meyer Werft last year and it is today known as Meyer Turku Shipyard.


TUI AG’s cruise performance continues to improve

The performance of cruise activities of TUI AG, the world’s largest tour operator, improved further in the second quarter and first half of its financial year.

Operating profit (EBITDA) rose to €16.3 million in three months to 31 March, the second quarter of the group’s financial year, from €5.1 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues decreased to €82.7 million from €94.0 million.

In the six months to the end of March, EBITDA rose to €18.3 million from a figure negative by €3.4 million in the same period a year earlier. Revenues fell to €136.2 million from €149.2 million.

The revenue figures refer to Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten alone, as this company is 100% owned by TUI AG. However, the result figures also include TUI’s 50% stake in TUI Cruises.

Consequently. the decline in revenue was attributable to the decommissioning of Columbus 2 from the fleet in April 2014. no turnover is carried for TUI Cruises as the joint venture is measuredat equity in the consolidated financial statements.

There was significant improvement in operating performance of Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten and lower financing costs due to the purchase of Europa 2 of €5m. With the successful market launch of Mein Schiff 3 in the prior year, TUI cruises continued to expand its competitive position in the winter season and delivered a very successful performance in the first half of the financial year, the company said.

United Caribbean Lines granted licence to operate ferry to Cuba

As soon as the U.S. government having approved the re-establishment of ferry links with Cuba, the jostling for positions among the potential service providers began in earnest. Within days United Caribbean Lines (UCL) announced that it had been granted licence by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to operate ferry services between the U.S. and Cuba. Alan Lam reports.

UCL plans to start cruise ferry services from several of the main ports in Florida, including Miami, Tampa, Port Everglades, and Key West, using modern overnight tonnage designed for international services. The company will operate daily passenger services from autumn 2015 onwards under the guidelines of the current U.S. regulations for travelling to Cuba. Arrangements are being made with Cuban authorities.

The UCL plan also includes extending the links to Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

The other known contender is the Spanish ferry operator, Baleària, which has also applied for a licence to operate the same service.

Baleària has been operating ferry services in the Caribbean since 2011. It currently connects Fort Lauderdale with Freeport, using BAHAMAS MAMA (formerly ALHUCEMAS) under the Bahamas Express brand name. The route was previously served by the fast ferry PINAR DEL RÍO, which is still based in the region and it is likely to be deployed on a Cuban route should the licence be granted. The ship is already in possession of all the necessary certificates required by the U.S. Coast Guard according to Adolfo Utor, the company’s president.

Baleària initially has plans to operate two routes from the U.S. to Havana: one high-speed service from Key West and the other (probably conventional) from Port Everglades.

The company also plans to establish another link in the region this year, between Fort Lauderdale and Nassau.

Within the same region, Baleària’s “internationalization” strategy also has Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in its sight.

With the inclusion of Cuba, and possibly Mexico, the ferry business in the Caribbean is set to take off soon. The competition will be equally fierce.